The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Oct. 22, 1998

First Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pictou Co.: School Closures - Oppose, Ms. Helen MacDonald 2453
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Vehicles (Long/Brier Islands): Ferry Pass -
Provide, Mr. G. Balser 2454
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Nat. Res. - Westray Mine: Former Workers - Severance Pay,
The Premier 2454
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1187, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Street Cents (CBC TV):
Season (10th) - Credit, Hon. K. Colwell 2456
Vote - Affirmative 2457
Res. 1188, Educ. - Street Cents (CBC TV): Season (10th) -
Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 2457
Vote - Affirmative 2457
INTRODUCTIONS OF BILLS:
No. 38, Private Career Colleges Regulation Act, Hon. R. Harrison 2458
No. 39, Gas Distribution Act, Mr. J. Holm 2458
No. 40, Expenditure Control Act, Dr. J. Hamm 2458
No. 41, Centennial Arena Commission Act, Mr. G. Fogarty 2458
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1189, NDP (N.S.) - Resolutions: Price Tag - Affix,
Hon. R. MacKinnon 2459
Res. 1190, Fin. - Atl. Lottery Corp.: Young Players Targeting -
Reject, Ms. Helen MacDonald 2459
Res. 1191, Fin. - Surplus (Gov't. [Can.]): Share - Ensure, Dr. J. Hamm 2460
Res. 1192, Health - Care: Policies (C.B.) - Support, Mr. P. MacEwan 2460
Res. 1193, Educ. - Internat. Space Univ. (Strasbourg):
Andrew Ray (Dart.) - Acceptance Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 2461
Vote - Affirmative 2461
Res. 1194, Commun. Serv. - Metro Turning Pt. Ctr.: Commitment -
Explain, Mr. J. Muir 2462
Res. 1195, Inverness MLA: MacKenzie King Biography [Stacey] - Read,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2463
Res. 1196, Timberlea-Prospect MLA: Comments
(Hwy. No. 103-Garbage Expressway) - Apologize, Mr. G. Fogarty 2463
Res. 1197, Coast Guard: Job Cuts - Intervene (Premier), Mr. N. LeBlanc 2464
Res. 1198, Upper Hammonds Plains Vol. Fire Dept.: Anniv. 32nd -
Congrats., Ms. R. Godin 2465
Vote - Affirmative 2465
Res. 1199, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Guys. Co. BDC & RDA:
Business Expo - Best Wishes Extend, Mr. R. White 2466
Vote - Affirmative 2466
Res. 1200, Commun. Serv.: Hope Cottage (1m Meals) - Recognize,
Dr. J. Hamm 2466
Vote - Affirmative 2467
Res. 1201, Commun. Serv.: Poverty - Reduce, Mr. J. Pye 2467
Res. 1202, NDP (N.S.) - Office Opposition: Role - Condemn,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 2468
Res. 1203, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Roads Secondary/Rural -
Improve, Mr. B. Taylor 2468
Res. 1204, Educ. - High-Tech H.S. Facilities: Fin. Commitment -
Ensure, Mr. D. Dexter 2469
Res. 1205, NDP (N.S.) - Recognition (Res. 98): Failure - Sad,
Mr. H. Fraser 2470
Res. 1206, Devco - Donkin Mine: Dev. - Promote (Gov't. [N.S.]),
Mr. R. Matheson 2470
Res. 1207, Health - Aberdeen Hospital: Quality Care - Ensure,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 2471
Res. 1208, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Prospect Rd.: Tour Bike Route -
Removal Request, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2472
Res. 1209, Leader of Opposition - Socialists Fantasy Land: Cost -
Reveal, Hon. K. Colwell 2472
Res. 1210, Health - Springhill: Physician Recruitment - Prioritize,
Mr. M. Scott 2473
Res. 1211, Devco: Privatization (Part) - Support, Mr. R. Matheson 2473
Res. 1212, Educ.: School Bus Safety Awareness Week - Recognize,
Mr. E. Fage 2474
Vote - Affirmative 2475
Res. 1213, NDP (N.S.) - Recognition (Res. 98): Confusion - Example,
Mr. H. Fraser 2475
Res. 1214, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Deficit: Resolution Plan - Identify,
Mr. G. Balser 2475
Res. 1215, Health: Environ. Illness Month (Oct.) - Recognize,
Mr. G. Moody 2476
Vote - Affirmative 2477
Res. 1216, NDP (N.S.) - Socialist Vision: Tax Increase - Outline,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 2477
Res. 1217, Educ. - Univ. (Atl.): Teaching Excellence
[B.W. Frank (MSVU) & T.D.G. Lee (Dal)] - Congrats.,
Mr. E. Fage 2477
Vote - Affirmative 2478
Res. 1218, BDB (Can.) - Small Bus. Week: Entrepreneurs
(J.P. Comeau & M.A. Kuttner) - Award Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 2478
Vote - Affirmative 2479
Res. 1219, DND - Helicopters: Replacement Failure -
Irresponsibility Condemn, Mr. G. Archibald 2479
Res. 1220, NDP (Can.) MPs (N.S.): Resignation - Request,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2480
Res. 1221, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Vehicles (Long/Brier Islands):
Ferry Pass - Provide, Mr. G. Balser 2480
Res. 1222, Nat. Res. - Insects New: Warfare - Prepare, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2481
Res. 1223, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Fish. Museum (Atl.) Lun.:
Visitors (2m) - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 2482
Vote - Affirmative 2482
Res. 1224, Berwick - Margeson Pty.: Museum - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Moody 2483
Vote - Affirmative 2483
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 306, Lbr. - Volvo: Employees - Severance, Mr. R. Chisholm 2483
No. 307, Health - Mother Berchman's Ctr.: Nursing Home -
Rejection, Mr. G. Moody 2485
No. 308, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Volvo Closure - Contingency Plan,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2486
No. 309, Commun. Serv. - Sisters of Charity: Home Care Support -
Refusal, Dr. J. Hamm 2488
No. 310, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Distribution - Policy Clarify,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2489
No. 311, Health - Springhill: Physicians - Recruitment, Mr. M. Scott 2490
No. 312, WCB - Directors: Appointment - Process, Mr. F. Corbett 2491
No. 313, WCAT: Appointments - Process, Mr. F. Corbett 2493
No. 314, Commun. Serv.: Metro Turning Point (Hfx.) - Suitability,
Mr. J. Muir 2494
No. 315, Lbr. - Construction (C.B.): Older Workers - Proposal Action,
Mr. F. Corbett 2496
No. 316, Justice - Donald Marshall Jr.: Court Case - Intervention,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 2497
No. 317, Sysco: Lay-Offs - Cause, Ms. Helen MacDonald 2498
No. 318, NSLC - Truro Store: Contract - Untendered, Mr. J. Muir 2499
No. 319, Health: Cancer Rate - Cape Breton, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2500
No. 320, Commun. Serv. - Nursing Homes: Seniors -
Transfer (Ex-Local), Mr. B. Taylor 2502
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 4, Mi'kmaq Education Act 2503
Hon. R. Harrison 2503
Ms. Helen MacDonald 2505
Mr. E. Fage 2506
Mr. John MacDonell 2507
Mr. G. Balser 2507
Hon. R. Harrison 2508
Vote - Affirmative 2508
No. 5, Forests Act 2509
^^Hon. K. MacAskill 2509
HOUSE RECESSED AT 4:20 P.M. 2509
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:26 P.M. 2509
Hon. K. MacAskill 2509
Mr. John MacDonell 2511
Mr. J. DeWolfe 2513
Mr. E. Fage 2513
Ms. R. Godin 2515
Mr. J. Muir 2517
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2520
Mr. B. Taylor 2527
Adjourned debate 2535
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Lbr. - Construction (C.B.): Older Workers - Proposal Action:
Mr. F. Corbett 2536
Mr. M. Baker 2538
Hon. R. MacKinnon 2540
Mr. M. Samson 2542
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 23rd at 9:00 a.m. 2543
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
H.O. 1, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Roads - Priority Lists (1997-2000),
Mr. M. Scott 2544
H.O. 2, Commun. Serv. - Children-Benefits/Soc. Assist., Mr. J. Muir 2544
H.O. 3, NSLC - Truro Store: Location Search - Corres., Mr. J. Muir 2544
H.O. 4, Sports - Fin. Assist. (1997-99), Mr. J. Muir 2545

[Page 2453]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 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 the daily routine, I would advise members that tonight at 6:00 p.m., the late show will be the one drawn last Thursday for the member for Pictou West which reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia commit itself to acting on the proposal as presented by the Older Workers Committee of the Cape Breton Island Building and Trades Council.".

We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Pictou County. The operative provision of the petition reads:

2453

[Page 2454]

"We, The undersigned, are opposed to the closure of our seven high schools in Pictou County, which are to be replaced by two 'MEGA SCHOOLS'".

The petition contains 214 signatures.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Brier and Long Islands. The operative clause of the petition reads:

"As the Petite Passage and Grand Passage Ferry crossings are an extension of Highway 217, and the Department of Transportation has an accurate record of all motor vehicles that are registered on Long Island and Brier Island, we the undersigned request that all motor vehicles that are registered on Long Island and Brier Island be issued with a yearly ferry pass that would permit residents to travel freely from the Islands to the Mainland.".

There are 317 names and I have affixed my name.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in this House today to make an announcement that has been a long time coming, an announcement about what is right and what is responsible, an announcement that is about fair treatment for people and families. Today, I am pleased to announce that the Government of Nova Scotia will pay severance to the former workers of the Westray coal mine. (Standing Ovation) We will make this payment now. We will collect the money later.

Over the past year, we have stated our intention to pay workers after the assets were sold. Unfortunately, this process has taken longer than originally expected. Over the past number of months, we have been looking for ways to fast track this process. We have been

[Page 2455]

talking to other levels of government. We have been looking at our rules. Today, we have found a better, quicker way to pay these workers the money they deserve.

Without question, May 9, 1992 was one of the darkest and saddest days in the history of Nova Scotia. The Westray disaster left families without loved ones. It left a big void and tremendous sadness in the Pictou County area. It deeply impacted people right across the province and around the world.

We sometimes forget that it also left many people without their livelihood. It left workers without employment and without any severance whatsoever. Without a doubt, the last few years have been tough ones for many workers. Today, we are going to do what is fair and what is right.

The Department of Labour is now contacting the workers and processing the paper to get the cheques into the mail. Without question, it has been a long time coming. Today, we are pleased to be able to stand up and do the right thing. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, indeed it is a good thing to stand here today and respond to the Premier when he says they did the right thing.

These workers, as we all know, waited six long years for this day. I hope they do not have to wait another moment longer. I am happy to hear the Premier say that basically the cheque is in the mail. I hope and I certainly understand and believe the Premier when he says that, that that is not that old saying, the cheque is in the mail, that he is doing it and he will do it forthwith.

Mr. Speaker, not to repeat too much of what the Premier said, but certainly these past six years have hung like a cloud over the people of Pictou County. Coming from a mining area myself, we all know how dangerous an occupation that could be and when we have something of this severity, how it impacts on not just the direct workers but the whole community.

I commend the government for doing this. We should get on with it. Let's put this behind us, move forward and make Nova Scotia the best and the most accessible place to work in a safe and friendly environment. Thank you. (Applause)

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, Mr. Premier for your announcement today. Over 150 unionized and non-unionized employees of Westray have been waiting over six years for the message that you have delivered to us today and have

[Page 2456]

delivered to them. It is particularly appropriate because all us know that many of these employees have suffered severe financial hardship in the six and a half years since the mine accident. I had a call the other day from a representative of many of the former Westray employees, who went west to Campbell River and got employment only to, in the last few weeks, have been laid off indefinitely from that mining operation. They now again are asking, where is their severance? They too, will be extremely pleased to hear the Premier's announcement today.

Again, I thank the Premier, and I thank the Minister of Labour and the minister's deputy, who I believe played a large role in coming up with a solution that allows government to make this announcement here today. This time, I believe, the cheque is in the mail. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1187

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

Whereas CBC Television's show, Street Cents, helps educate Canada's 2.5 million teenagers, who spend more than $6 billion annually on consumer goods, to make smart consumer choices in the market place; and

Whereas the show recognizes the significant economic contribution by young consumers and their influence on household spending in a forum free of advertising and marketing influence; and

Whereas the show's young reporters advocate on behalf of all youth, encouraging them to be smart, critical shoppers, demanding excellent service and value for their dollar, while at the same time sending a clear message to retailers, marketers and advertisers that they are a market and media-savvy group of consumers to be treated fairly and with respect;

Therefore be it resolved that this House credit the producer, crew and cast of CBC's Street Cents on their tenth season of providing young Nova Scotians, and youth across the country, with bold, informative and entertaining programming, and a voice that speaks out and speaks tough on consumer issues.

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

[Page 2457]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 1188

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

Whereas Street Cents, North America's only consumer financial television program produced for young people celebrates its 10th Anniversary this season; and

Whereas Street Cents has earned over 40 national and international awards, including five Geminis and two New York Festival Gold Medals for best teen series; and

Whereas this acclaimed television program, hosted by Anna Dirksen, Demore Barnes, and Andrew Bush, is seen in over 6,000 Canadian public school classrooms via cable in the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to CBC Television and the production team of Street Cents for a decade of highest-quality youth-oriented consumer education available on the airwaves, and wish them, Street Cents, every continued success as it embarks upon its second decade of broadcasts.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2458]

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to make some introductions in the gallery, prior to introducing this bill. To all members of the House, may I first of all introduce members of a sector, private trade schools and career college sector, who are here today on the occasion of the tabling of this bill, respecting their industry and the partnership that will devolve.

[2:15 p.m.]

First of all the President of the Association of Private Trainers and Career Colleges of Nova Scotia, Judy Smith, who in her own business world is the President of Justwrite Career College - I will ask them all to stand in a moment - from CDI School of Business & Technology, the students and instructor were here for the bill briefing and I will mention their names: Lorne Momborquette, Mark Pettigrew, Margo Bell and Mona Chowdry; from CompuCollege School of Business here in Halifax, its President, Ian MacGillivray, and two student representatives, Chris Altass and Peter MacLean; and from the Maritime Art Institute of Holistic Esthetics, the owners, Maureen and Cyril Serroul from Cape Breton. Ladies and gentlemen, members of the House, I ask you to afford our guests in the gallery today, your warm welcome. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 38 - Entitled an Act to Regulate Private Career Colleges. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

Bill No. 39 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1997. The Gas Distribution Act to Ensure Distribution of Natural Gas Throughout Nova Scotia and to Make Municipalities Full Participants in Gas Distribution. (Mr. John Holm)

Bill No. 40 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1993. The Expenditure Control Act. (Dr. John Hamm)

Bill No. 41 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 113 of the Acts of 1965. An Act to Incorporate the Centennial Arena Commission. (Mr. Gerald Fogarty)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 2459]

RESOLUTION NO. 1189

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

Whereas on Thursday, October 15, 1998, members of the socialist New Democratic Party introduced a number of resolutions that would cost Nova Scotians in excess of $115 million to implement; and

Whereas on Friday, October 16, 1998, members of the socialist NDP caucus tabled additional resolutions that would cost more than $50 million further; and

Whereas the Finance Critic for the socialist NDP has publicly indicated that he would put the cost of these programs on the backs of middle income earners by raising taxes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the NDP socialist Party put a price tag themselves on their resolutions so that Nova Scotians can see the real Robert Chisholm and how a government led by him would have a negative impact on each and every Nova Scotian residing in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1190

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

Whereas the Atlantic Lottery Corporation is proposing to increase revenues by $36 million by the year 2001, mainly by targetting young players; and

Whereas the corporation's proposal would mean introducing instant products to grocery checkout lines, lottery ticket vending machines, and even home computers; and

Whereas the corporation is using the same tactics as tobacco companies to take aim at young people in order to hook them early;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government tell the Atlantic Lottery Corporation, in no uncertain terms, that it wants no part of a scheme to encourage young people to gamble and that it will absolutely not back Atlantic Lottery's proposal.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 2460]

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1191

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

Whereas federal Finance Minister Paul Martin is now forecasting a $3.5 billion surplus from the federal government's 1997-98 budget; and

Whereas despite this surplus, Martin's continued uncertainty as to what to do with it has left Nova Scotians wondering whether they will see any improvements to health care as well as lower university tuitions and tax relief; and

Whereas the present Liberal Government in Nova Scotia has been an abysmal failure in securing Nova Scotia's fair share of federal dollars from Ottawa;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Ministers of Finance and Health ensure Nova Scotians are treated fairly for a change by Ottawa and demand some of Ottawa's $3.5 billion surplus is returned to Nova Scotia, providing improvements in health care, education and tax relief.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1192

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

Whereas thanks to the progressive health-care policies of this government, the future of the New Waterford Consolidated Hospital has been assured by provision of 22 long-term care beds; and

Whereas thanks to the progressive health-care policies of this government, a plastic surgeon has for the first time ever been located at the New Waterford hospital to save Cape Bretoners the need to travel to Antigonish or Halifax for such surgery; and

Whereas thanks to the progressive health-care policies of this government, the Cape Breton Cancer Centre has been opened, meaning that Cape Breton cancer victims and their families will no longer have to travel to Halifax;

[Page 2461]

Therefore be it resolved that the health-care policies of the Russell MacLellan Liberal Government have been highly beneficial to Cape Breton and strongly warrant the support of all men and women of goodwill, irrespective of politics.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1193

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

Whereas Dartmouth's Andrew Ray was recently accepted into the Masters Program in Space Engineering at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France; and

Whereas Mr. Ray is the first Nova Scotian to be accepted to this program, which includes the study of space law, space craft design, space instrument design, and other disciplines; and

Whereas Andrew graduated from St. Mary's University with a Bachelor of Science with Honours, majoring in astrophysics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Andrew Ray on his achievement.

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to make an introduction in advance of reading my resolution.

[Page 2462]

I would like to introduce to all members of the House two members from Metro Turning Point: Mike Humphries, the Administrator; and Belinda Thorne, the Assistant Administrator. They are seated in the west gallery. I would like all members of the House to give them a warm welcome, please. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1194

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 Department of Community Services knew that Metro Turning Point Centre had been declared a public health hazard since October 1996, but has steadfastly refused to provide the necessary financing to build a replacement shelter; and

Whereas the half-hearted response of the Minister of Community Services to the request by Metro Turning Point Centre for the capital costs needed to replace the existing mould-infested night shelter may result in homeless men spending many winter nights on the streets of Halifax; and

Whereas despite a generous contribution from the Halifax Regional Municipality, the Department of Community Services is refusing to acknowledge that it has primary responsibility for providing services to the indigent population of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services immediately meet with the board of the Metro Turning Point to explain her commitment to the homeless and further that she identify a clear plan with strict timelines and adequate funding to replace the existing mould-infested structure.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. (Interruption)

Order, please. I did not hear any Noes.

I am requesting again, there is a request for waiver of notice.

[Page 2463]

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes this time.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1195

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

Whereas the MLA for Inverness is obviously an admirer of William Lyon MacKenzie King and his "political legacy"; and

Whereas it would be advisable that this member become aware of Mr. King's musings with his deceased mother and his favourite dogs by reading the now published diaries of this past Liberal Prime Minister; and

Whereas the staff of the Legislative Library have reserved a copy of C.P. Stacey's biography of Mr. King entitled, A Very Double Life: The Private World of MacKenzie King;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier instruct the MLA for Inverness to read A Very Double Life and present a five page book review of this revealing work with the hope that future contacts from Mr. King's spirit world could be arranged for the member for Inverness.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1196

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

Whereas Highway No. 103 between Beechville and Upper Tantallon, through the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect, has seen a 30 per cent increase in traffic in the past five years; and

Whereas the twinning of this road is a $22 million, five-year project that will provide commuters with a safer, more reliable and less congested trip as well as make the area more attractive to business and industry; and

[Page 2464]

Whereas last night in this House the NDP member for Timberlea-Prospect dismissed this project as the garbage expressway;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Timberlea-Prospect apologize for this disparaging remark and explain to this House why he insulted the safety concerns of his constituents, many of whom attended a public consultation meeting on the Highway No. 103 project long before the landfill site opened.

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?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1197

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

Whereas the federal government continues to launch an all-out frontal attack on Nova Scotia in the reduction of federal government jobs; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has 3 per cent of the federal government workforce but has been forced to endure 17 per cent of federal job cutbacks; and

Whereas the federal Minister of Fisheries is confirming today that the axe will fall on Coast Guard operations with fear existing the cuts could be as high as $50 million with the jobs of 155 casual workers in this region alone being threatened;

[2:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier not sit idly by, as he as done so many other times, when Nova Scotia was being victimized by federal job cuts, and immediately intervene and tell the Fisheries Minister to take the shortfall he requires from the billions of dollars in surplus which the federal government will have this fiscal year.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2465]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1198

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

Whereas volunteer firefighters provide a crucial service to their communities each and every day; and

Whereas approximately 8,000 Nova Scotian men and women think nothing of running into buildings that the rest of us are eager to run out of; and

Whereas we must always strive to recognize our appreciation of firefighters at every opportunity;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Upper Hammonds Plains Volunteer Fire Department as it celebrates it 32nd Anniversary this weekend.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 2466]

RESOLUTION NO. 1199

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 1st Annual Guysborough County Business Expo will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. today in Guysborough at the Guysborough Lions Centre; and

Whereas this business expo is being sponsored by the Guysborough County Business Development Centre and the Regional Development Authority; and

Whereas there will be over 40 booths with displays at this expo;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend best wishes to the Guysborough County Business Development Centre and the Guysborough Regional Development Authority for a successful first business expo and wish them success with future endeavours.

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. 1200

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

Whereas Hope Cottage has been an invaluable source of nourishment and fellowship to members of the metro community since 1971; and

Whereas due to shrinking social assistance payments and high unemployment rates, the significance of Hope Cottage, which was originally founded as a temporary solution to an immediate problem, continues to serve a great need; and

[Page 2467]

Whereas Hope Cottage recently served its one millionth meal;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize and thank the board and volunteers of Hope Cottage who have so generously come to the aid of those in need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1201

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

Whereas according to a study just released by the Centre for Social Justice in Toronto, the gap between the rich and the poor in Canada is quickly growing; and

Whereas the study reports that in the last decade the number of millionaires in Canada has tripled while the number of poor people living below the poverty level has grown by even more; and

Whereas there is a growing trend by this government to cut public services and social assistance while supporting programs that favour handouts to profitable multinationals;

Therefore be it resolved that this government make a commitment to start reversing the national trend by implementing programs aimed at bringing up the standards of living of Nova Scotians living in poverty.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2468]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1202

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

Whereas last night the NDP proved that they can't competently debate their own resolutions in the House; and

Whereas the fiasco of the road improvement bill introduced by the member for Timberlea-Prospect proves the NDP do not have the ability to properly research or even write legislation; and

Whereas NDP promises of a fairer tax system evaporated when it was revealed that the NDP will raise taxes to pay for their expensive promises;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the NDP for failing miserably in their role as Official Opposition, and demand an apology from the NDP Leader for hoodwinking the voters of Nova Scotia about his Party's secret agenda.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1203

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

Whereas safety for the travelling public on hundreds of secondary and rural roads across Nova Scotia remains at risk; and

[Page 2469]

Whereas a very clear picture of this ridiculous state of our secondary and rural roads was provided Monday, on the road connecting Elmvale and Tangier in Halifax County, when a log truck trying to avoid potholes literally sank into the soft shoulder of the road with the truck tipping into a swamp; and

Whereas this five kilometre section of road is presently used heavily by trucks en route to the gold mine in Tangier and the dock near Sheet Harbour and is an important stretch of highway being used for economic development in rural Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that somehow, some way, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works get a grip on the devastating conditions which truly exist on our many secondary and rural roads in this province and put forth a comprehensive plan of road reconstruction and repair that will see improvements to our roads begin, instead of allowing them to deteriorate any more.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1204

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

Whereas Auburn Drive High School was the first high school in Nova Scotia built as a high-tech institution; and

Whereas the delivery of this school's programs and curriculum are dependent on wired technology; and

Whereas the cash-strapped Halifax Regional School Board has downgraded computer technical services and removed Auburn Drive's computer network administrator;

[Page 2470]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education recognize the short-sightedness of building high-tech facilities without the long-term financial commitment to our local school boards to support these institutions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1205

MR. HYLAND FRASER: 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, during debate on Resolution No. 98, not only did the member for Halifax Needham not recognize her own resolution; and

Whereas the member for Dartmouth North also rose in his place to join the debate on Resolution No. 98; and

Whereas in his introductory comments, the member for Dartmouth North recognized the honourable member across the floor for bringing this particular resolution before the House;

Therefore be it resolved that it is a sad state of affairs in the NDP when they expect to gain the confidence of Nova Scotia's voters, yet, not only one, but two NDP MLAs cannot recognize their own resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1206

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

Whereas any planned closure of Phalen Colliery would seriously affect the ability of the coal industry in Cape Breton to meet its supply commitments to Nova Scotia Power, due to the loss of supplies of metallurgical coal burned at the Lingan power generating station; and

Whereas geological evidence available suggests a high grade of metallurgical coal exists in the Donkin Seam off Morien Bay;

[Page 2471]

Therefore be it resolved that in any plan for the future of the coal industry that this government promote the development of the Donkin Mine in tandem with the planned closure of Phalen Mine so as to ensure a continuous supply of metallurgical coal to be burned at the Lingan power generating station.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1207

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 Nova Scotia Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association is on record as saying the Nova Scotia Department of Health is moving mentally ill people out of hospitals and then turning its back on them; and

Whereas the Minister of Health is on record as essentially agreeing with this particular statement; and

Whereas the mental health unit at the Aberdeen Hospital is now at six beds and people are being put on either a waiting list or being sent to Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health waste no time at all to ensure that the most vulnerable in society have the quality care which they so urgently need and ensure that patients are not turned away at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow or any other medical facility in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 2472]

RESOLUTION NO. 1208

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

Whereas the Prospect Road continues to be one of the most neglected secondary roads in this province; and

Whereas the highway shoulders on this road have been allowed to deteriorate to the point where it is impossible to pull off for safety reasons; and

Whereas many tourists have attempted to use this road as a bike touring route;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works request tourist officials to remove the Prospect Road as a suggested bike route for tour bikes from department literature as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1209

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

Whereas to date the NDP in Nova Scotia has refused to reveal to the voters of this province how they will pay for their wish-list of big spending promises; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition finally tipped his hand by revealing to the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that an NDP Government would have to substantially increase taxes on Nova Scotian families to pay for their big government, big labour agenda; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition still refuses to come clean with Nova Scotian families and chooses to hide behind hollow, shallow platitudes instead of telling them what he really plans to do if he ever becomes Premier;

Therefore be it resolved that this House challenge the Leader of the Opposition to indicate how much Nova Scotian families will be forced to pay to help him create his socialist fantasy land.

[Page 2473]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1210

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

Whereas the Minister of Health attended a Liberal love-in social Friday evening in Springhill where he shamefully boasted of his government's success in attracting doctors in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Minister of Health failed to note that since the Liberals initiated their failed and misguided health reforms Nova Scotia has witnessed a net loss of 180 full-time doctors; and

Whereas despite what the minister claims, thousands of Springhill and area residents fear for the loss of one or both of the two remaining doctors;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of citing nonsense statistics and revelling in his own mistaken glory, the Minister of Health immediately declare Springhill and the surrounding areas as the government's number one priority in terms of securing the services of full-time physicians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1211

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

[Page 2474]

Whereas it appears that the federal government is determined to withdraw from direct involvement with the coal industry in Cape Breton; and

Whereas it is imperative that another operator be found to assume control of the industry in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, in any discussion respecting the future of coal on Cape Breton, support any reasonable proposal for a private sector involvement in the development and operation of the coal mining industry on Cape Breton Island.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1212

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

Whereas every day thousands of children travel to Nova Scotia schools by bus; and

Whereas the safety of our children is a primary concern not only to parents and guardians but also to school administrators, educators, school bus drivers and all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the week of October 18th to October 24th is School Bus Safety Awareness Week in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the importance of School Bus Safety Awareness Week to educate the children, parents, guardians, school officials, school bus drivers and motorists, to ensure the safety of all children travelling on Nova Scotia's highways and roads.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 2475]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1213

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

Whereas yesterday during debate in this House, Resolution No. 98 which was submitted by the member for Halifax Needham, was debated; and

Whereas the same member for Halifax Needham in her opening remarks stated that the NDP caucus would not be supporting Resolution No. 98; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Needham went on to say, "One word could be used to describe this resolution and that is misdirected, or it could characterized as a resolution that makes use of selective use of facts.";

Therefore be it resolved that if this is an example of the total confusion that would exist if the NDP ever formed the government, then God help Nova Scotia.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1214

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 Premier flip-flopped on promised HST relief; and

Whereas the Premier flip-flopped on gas tolling, the Boudreau deal and the latest round of concessions to ITT Sheraton; and

Whereas the most recent flip-flop by the Premier was on the issue of the balanced budget;

[Page 2476]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier acknowledge that he is as constant as a weather vane in a hurricane, and further that he immediately sit down with his Cabinet to identify a strategic plan for resolving the current deficit, that includes reining in his fiscally irresponsible Minister of Economic Development.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1215

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

Whereas over 4.5 million Canadians suffer from illnesses caused by their working environment; and

Whereas October marks the first National Environmental Illness Awareness Month; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Allergy and Environmental Health Association has laboured tirelessly for more than 14 years educating Nova Scotians about the illness;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize October as National Environmental Illness Awareness Month, congratulate the Nova Scotia Allergy and Environmental Health Association for their efforts, and support them as they contribute to this national campaign.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2477]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1216

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

Whereas recent revelations indicate that the NDP have a secret plan to raise taxes for Nova Scotians once they seize power; and

Whereas this plan was hinted at in a candidates debate during the provincial election when the current NDP member for Halifax-Chebucto admitted taxes will go up for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the vague policies and election platform of the NDP never came with a price tag, but the many costly commissions they propose can only cost taxpayers more money;

Therefore be it resolved that once and for all the NDP outline for this House exactly how they plan to pay for their socialist vision, and to tell Nova Scotians that their taxes will go up under an NDP Government.

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 member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1217

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

[Page 2478]

Whereas in September, three university educators from the Maritimes were recognized by the Association of Atlantic Universities for excellence in teaching; and

Whereas two of the three honoured are educators at universities in Nova Scotia, Blye W. Frank, of Mount Saint Vincent University; and Timothy D. G. Lee, of Dalhousie University; and

Whereas Mr. Frank and Mr. Lee have been honoured with the Distinguished Teacher Award, recognizing their many years of outstanding teaching;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Frank and Mr. Lee for their outstanding achievements and for their years of dedicated service to educating students at Nova Scotia's schools for higher learning.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1218

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

Whereas each year for the past 11 years, the Business Development Bank of Canada has recognized the achievements of outstanding young Canadian entrepreneurs during October's Small Business Week; and

Whereas this award is presented to outstanding business people ages 29 or younger, from each province or territory; and

Whereas this year's Nova Scotia recipients are Steven J.P. Comeau and Michael Andreas Kuttner, co-founders of Collideascope Digital Productions;

[Page 2479]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Kuttner and Mr. Comeau on their award and applaud them as role models for other young Nova Scotians.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1219

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

Whereas the Chretien Liberal Government cancelled the EH-101 program at a cost of $1 billion to the Canadian taxpayers, at the expense of rural Nova Scotians and, indeed, all Canadians, putting at further peril our brave crews who fly our Labrador helicopters; and

Whereas the same irresponsible Liberal Government then sold seven CH-47D Chinook helicopters which were worth $300 million, and were suitable for search and rescue, to the Netherlands for a mere $16 million; and

Whereas the 35 year old Labrador helicopter fleet is still grounded and the 35 year old unreliable Sea King helicopter fleet is now flying search and rescue in the Labradors' place, as it has been doing secretly for months and will have to continue to do so until 2001 when the EH-101s arrive;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the Chretien Liberal Government for its irresponsible attitude toward rural Nova Scotia, our Labrador crews, and our search and rescue teams who are all so important to the safety of Nova Scotians and Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2480]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1220

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 primary achievement of the New Democratic Party in Nova Scotia to date has been the procurement of the election of six Members of Parliament, four from metropolitan Halifax-Dartmouth and two for the Island of Cape Breton; and

Whereas these elected NDP MPs have demonstrated, after completing one-third of their terms, that they are incapable of influencing the course of events in any way; and

Whereas the NDP MPs have replaced input with impotence, influence with irrelevance, and disempowered those whom they represent by denying them any part in the decision-making process;

Therefore be it resolved that Power to the People should be restored by requesting these NDP MPs to resign so that by-elections can be held and the people given a second chance to revisit the issue of what quality of representation they wish to have in the corridors of power at Ottawa.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1221

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 Petite and Grand Passage ferry crossings are extensions of Highway No. 217; and

[Page 2481]

Whereas the residents of Long Island and Brier Island have no other vehicle link to mainland of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas over 53 per cent of the registered voters on these islands have signed a petition which was tabled in the House of Assembly today;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works provide a ferry pass to those vehicles which have their registered address as either Long Island or Brier Island.

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. 1222

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 Nova Scotia Government was slow off the mark in addressing the outbreak of the tussock moth which ravaged forests in regions across Nova Scotia this past summer; and

Whereas U.S., Mexican and Canadian officials are meeting here in Halifax today and are expressing concern about two new insects entering Canada with Nova Scotia being a prime location for them; and

Whereas these insects known as the Asian long-horned beetle and the European spruce bark beetle devastate hardwood, maple and spruce trees;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources, unlike the tussock moth spray program, table in this Legislature advance plans which are in place and any reports presented to him by staff in his department which indicate that the department is prepared to do a full-scale war with these insects before additional Nova Scotia forest land is ruined.

[Page 2482]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1223

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

Whereas Lunenburg's Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic was opened in 1967 as a feature of the celebration of Canada's 100th birthday; and

Whereas since 1967, tourists have come to view the exhibits and learn more about the story of Canada's fishing industry; and

Whereas in early September the museum, its curator, and the people of Lunenburg marked a significant milestone by welcoming its two-millionth visitor;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the people of Lunenburg and the operators of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic for their efforts in ensuring that the story of Canada's fishing industry be told.

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 Kings West.

[Page 2483]

RESOLUTION NO. 1224

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 Town of Berwick is celebrating the 75th Anniversary of its incorporation as a town; and

Whereas a business property initially constructed in 1839 and located on Commercial Street has been donated to the town by the family of the late H.E. Margeson; and

Whereas the Margeson property will now become a museum that celebrates Berwick's proud history;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize and congratulate the efforts of the Town of Berwick and the Margeson family in preserving and celebrating their past through the creation of this museum.

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 time being 2:56 p.m., Question Period today goes for one hour.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

LBR. - VOLVO: EMPLOYEES - SEVERANCE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. This morning I had the opportunity to visit the Volvo plant and the workers, both

[Page 2484]

inside and outside, who are fighting for the very survival of their families in response to the decision by Volvo to pull out of Nova Scotia a week before Christmas.

The Premier said in this House, yesterday, that he wanted the workers to know that he was supporting them in any way that he can. I want to ask the Premier - in fact, I am responding to the request by those workers that this question be asked of the Premier - what is this Premier, the Premier of the Government of Nova Scotia, doing to see that these workers, these women and men who have worked so hard for Volvo are, in fact, treated properly by receiving a fair severance and pension package?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are presently working on that very important procedure. When I say that we will do everything we can to help the workers, we will.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, once again, platitudes, no specifics. Yesterday in this House the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism said that he had offered to send a representative of his department to Sweden with the workers to talk to Volvo officials. He said the workers did not take him up on the offer. I asked the workers today if this, in fact, was the case. They tell me that they phoned the Premier's Office and spoke to the Premier directly. The Premier then passed them on to the minister's office. The minister told union officials that he was too busy to help. I want to ask the Premier, why is it the minister and the Premier are too busy to help 200 high-paying, good, committed workers in the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition seems to be having a lot of difficulty getting his facts straight lately.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the CAW representative would be happy to explain to anybody that is interested that he was given the kiss-off by the Minister of Economic Development. I want to ask the Premier in my final supplementary, when we asked a question to the Premier yesterday about the unfair severance package being offered to Nova Scotia Volvo workers, the Premier said he was looking into it and would hopefully have a response to this House before too long.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, is he going to give these workers who are out in the cold trying to support their families, trying to protect their futures, is he going to tell those workers today what he is going to do to make sure that they get a fair and proper settlement package from this company that has pulled out of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are going to do everything we possibly can, every initiative we can make with Volvo, to get the best severance package we can for these workers. Maybe the honourable Leader of the Opposition, the next time he visits J.K. Irving in Saint John, can ask him to help. (Interruptions)

[Page 2485]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[3:00 p.m.]

The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - MOTHER BERCHMAN'S CTR.:

NURSING HOME - REJECTION

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. The minister, I am sure, is aware that the Sisters of Charity who operate the Mother Berchman's Centre in Rockingham, made application to the Department of Health in 1996 for a nursing home facility. They were encouraged by the Department of Health and the Y spent $4 million to bring the Motherhouse up to the Fire Marshal's standard. So they were encouraged by the department but then later their application was rejected by the department. I wonder if the minister could state why the Sisters' application was rejected and that the Shannex Corporation was given the green light to provide a licensed nursing home in the area immediately behind the Motherhouse?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have some information relative to the question the member is asking. He did qualify it by saying that it was made in 1996 and I can only go from some of the history and some of the meetings that I have had. The process is clearly in place. The honourable member knows the process for nursing homes. There was encouragement, perhaps, to develop a proposal. It was evaluated and action was taken on that. That is as good as an answer as I can give today. It is my understanding of that issue and if there are some other questions that the honourable member has on that particular issue, I will try to address them as well as I can.

MR. MOODY: Well, the minister is correct when he said he knew a little bit about it because he was at a meeting with Premier John Savage, Ron Stewart and himself initially and carried on as the Sisters were encouraged by his Department of Health to spend $4 million. I would ask the minister, and I am sure he knows a lot more about it than he just said, I wonder if he is prepared today, that the decision not to allow the Sisters of Charity to open up the nursing complex but the decision to allow Joe Shannon to do that, that politics had nothing to do with that decision?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, any decision that was made at that time had nothing to do with the $4 million that the organization later went out and spent. There is some inference that they were given the go-ahead and they incurred the debt and that was the responsibility of the Department of Health. I did attend that meeting as Minister of Community Services, or one meeting at that time. There was no such commitment made on that endeavour. Any initiatives they had taken would have been done on sound business principles that they were adhering to. So, that is my understanding of the issue at the time.

[Page 2486]

MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, apparently Joe Shannon had better credentials than the Sisters of Charity. This is what Sister Schoner says, that she had a conversation with a senior official in the Department of Health who confided in her that the decision was primarily political and the government didn't want the Sisters of Charity in competition with the private sector.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MOODY: Now, the question, Mr. Speaker, I want to know if the minister, are you suggesting that Sister Schoner is not telling the truth?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh!

MR. MOODY: Who am I to believe?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my information at that time, in those days, that Mr. Shannon was, in fact, a big Tory, I think that he had some association with Mr. Moody. Maybe that is when those things were undertaken and the commitments had been fulfilled. I am not here on the House of Assembly floor today to address the politics of either the Sisters of Charity or Mr. Shannon. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: VOLVO CLOSURE - CONTINGENCY PLAN

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Yesterday the Premier said in this House with respect to the closure of Volvo, that it wasn't a surprise. I wonder if the Premier would confirm with the House that he, in fact, knew that Volvo was leaving and will he tell us and maybe trot out the contingency plan that his government had put in place for that event?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the 9.2 per cent auto pact tariff protection was reduced to 6.1 per cent which reduced the profit level of Volvo to about $500 per. That was felt by Volvo not to be sufficient when you had to get into the design of new vehicles. Volvo had been speaking to the Halifax Regional Municipality and they have talked to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism about the problems that they had. So they were having difficulties. The Government of Nova Scotia and the Halifax Regional Municipality tried to work with them to overcome those problems but to no avail. But we had no advance notice that they were going to shut down the plant.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, that certainly does not square with what the Premier said in this House yesterday. It does not square with what the Department of Economic Development and Tourism said at the time of the announcement. It has been nearly five weeks

[Page 2487]

now since the announcement was made that Volvo was going to pull out of the Province of Nova Scotia a week before Christmas. On the day the closure was announced we got calls in our office from workers expressing frustration and great shock.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, what has the government done whether it was before the announcement was made or since to ensure that these workers get a just and proper settlement from this company that is pulling up and leaving Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to believe that the Leader of the Opposition did not know that because of the auto pact tariff protection reduction of that amount which reduced the savings from $1,500 to $500, or has not heard of that since the announcement by Volvo. The fact of the matter is we are working every way that we can not only to safeguard the operation of something in that plant but also to help the workers wherever we possibly can.

We cannot, at this point, go out and give assurances or make statements about what we are doing because we do not have results yet. The cruelest thing would be to give unjustified hope to the workers when we honestly do not have concrete results ourselves to justify that hope. We are doing everything we possibly can and believe me, as soon as we have reason to give those workers hope we will make that information available.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say that the Premier is correct, we have been trying to cope with the consequences of the free trade deal that his government supported, no question. The Premier stands in this House and says to all Nova Scotians, do not worry, we are doing everything we can but I cannot tell you what that is. My final supplementary question to the Premier is - he was asked by the president of the Canadian Auto Workers to intervene to get Volvo to postpone their decision - other than trying to call the president of Volvo and getting a busy signal, what will the Premier do and will he move on the request by Mr. Hargrove to intervene on behalf of these workers to get Volvo to delay their announced departure?

THE PREMIER: These lapses of memory seem to be catching among NDP members. At no time did Mr. Hargrove ask me to go to Volvo, to contact Volvo, to send smoke signals to Volvo, to do anything to Volvo, to delay the closure. What he did ask was if we, the Province of Nova Scotia, would work with the Canadian Auto Workers on a proposal that he had to try to find another way of utilizing the plant. We said we would do that.

[Page 2488]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SISTERS OF CHARITY:

HOME CARE SUPPORT - REFUSAL

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Community Services. It was established by the member for Kings West that the Sisters of Charity, after spending $4 million in upgrading Mother Berchman's Centre, were refused a license for ongoing residential care. The same Sisters of Charity applied to the minister's department for a home care program for one of their retired employees, and they received the home care that was asked for. They made the same application for a home care support for four Sisters of Charity, and they were refused. Will the minister explain why?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would if I could. That is the first I have heard about home care coming to my department. I am sorry, home care is not under the Department of Community Services.

DR. HAMM: Then I will ask the Minister of Health. The Sisters of Charity asked, when they were refused in-home support, why it was refused. The department people said they were refused home care because they took a voluntary vow of poverty and that they would be the responsibility of their congregation. So we have the spectre of four Sisters of Charity, who have spent their life dispensing charity, and could receive none from this government. I don't even believe that Mother Theresa could have gotten through to this government and gotten their aid. My question is, does this minister support the decision of this government to refuse home care support for the Sisters of Charity simply because they took a vow of poverty?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important issue, it is a very sensitive issue, obviously. I cannot respond to information that is coming here in a verbal form. If the honourable member has some information on this matter, I would be pleased to have him table it and receive it here in the House of Assembly. Anyone in this province that is applying for home care is given an assessment, this is of a nursing and a social service component, that is well documented.

This service is working well. If there are appeals, then they may well be reassessed. I am not going to answer a question today on the basis of four persons being denied home care. I have to have more information on that, and when I am provided with that information, the names of the people and whatever, then I will follow that up. That is a commitment that I would make.

[Page 2489]

DR. HAMM: The facts are as I presented them. The documentation is there, but the facts are as I presented them. Will this minister commit that home care services will be as available to the Sisters of Charity, despite the fact that they took a vow of poverty, as are available to any other deserving citizen of Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a Home Care Program now that is now a real home care program. That has been developed in the last few years, since 1995 and built on what was brought in by the previous government in 1988. People are evaluated fairly, it is done in a professional manner and it is done with sensitivity and caring. That is extended to all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: DISTRIBUTION - POLICY CLARIFY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct a question to the Premier. Last night at the UNSM meeting in Yarmouth, the Premier said that the government is committed to a gas distribution policy that ensures large business won't get preferential treatment. I want to ask the Premier, how he squares that claim with the deal that he has signed with Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. for the construction of the Cape Breton lateral?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, before we distribute natural gas to the homeowners in Nova Scotia, we have to have a pipeline. Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. are the ones that are going to build that pipeline. What we are talking about with respect to distribution is the fact that there are industrial users, commercial users and residential users and we cannot have the whole burden of the distribution of natural gas put on the backs of the homeowners. We have to coincide their interests and certainly the interests over and above the interests of industry in the commercial sector.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows full well that the Memorandum of Understanding he signed with so much fanfare last December, allows Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline Ltd. to sell directly to Stora and other Strait area industries including the fractionation plant and it commits the government to supporting regulatory approval of the deal in front of the NEB. A question to the Premier, if he, in fact, is committed to ensuring gas is available to all Nova Scotians, why did he sign a deal that will allow industrial bypass on the Cape Breton lateral?

[Page 2490]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, not only that but I pushed for and received from the tribunal, the bypass right at Goldboro so that we would have the right to bypass the gas plant and to attract industry to Nova Scotia at the 20 per cent preferential rate that is available to this province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear! (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: We are talking about preferential treatment and the fact that the Premier's claim that gas is going to be available to all Nova Scotians is just that, it is gas, Mr. Speaker. My final question to the Premier is this, will he be going to the Point Tupper hearings next month to make it clear to the National Energy Board that direct service to Stora, CGC and SOEP Inc. by the pipeline is just not on in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we will have our gas distribution regulations available in a couple of weeks for the Leader of the Opposition and all members to see for themselves.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HEALTH - SPRINGHILL: PHYSICIANS - RECRUITMENT

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. Last Friday evening, the minister, as well as the Premier, were in Springhill bragging about what a great job this government is doing particularly to do with the retention of doctors in this province. The minister alluded to the fact that there is a net value of 40 more doctors in the province this year than there had been previously. Mr. Minister, you are well aware that Springhill, at one point, had 10 doctors. Today we are down to two full-time doctors and there is a threat today in that community that those two doctors could be gone very shortly. Mr. Minister, that will place my community in a crisis situation and my question to you is this. What are you, your department and this government and the provincial recruiter of physicians doing for Springhill today to help them in this situation?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to report that we are actively involved in that community. There are some indications that there are physicians looking at that area and there is every indication that we, over the next short period of time, the next couple of months, that there will be people looking at that community.

It is a very difficult issue to sometimes retain physicians and I am not sure why some areas have so much more difficulty than others but I do appreciate the efforts of the people in that community to aid and to assist our department, the Medical Society and all the other groups that are working to bring physicians into this province. We have stopped the outflow of physicians from this province. We have some of the best programs for rural and small communities, right across this country, and that will work and I will ask for the cooperation of the honourable member in assisting.

[Page 2491]

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, that is not the answer we are looking for because Springhill residents can't wait a while until the problem is solved. If this government had addressed the situation in 1993, we wouldn't be facing that today. Obviously the Department of Health doesn't have a short-term solution. Mr. Minister, what is the long-term solution?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member if a lot of things had been addressed in this province we would not be so far behind in some of the areas. Home care that we spoke of earlier, we lost a decade in this province but we are catching up and making progress. The Strait Richmond area is a demonstration of the community working together and the working of the MLAs and how they have done that so we are working. We have the one of the best re-entry programs of specialists and physicians coming back into medical schools and training programs. We have locums and we have rural programs for doctors coming to those communities. I would put these programs up against any in this country, it is working.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, the minister and I agree on one thing because Cumberland South was represented by Liberals for 24 years and that is why we are in the situation we are today. I will work with you and I will ask you to make a commitment here today. Will you and the recruiter come to Springhill with me and you can tell the people of Springhill what you are going to do for them?

DR. SMITH: The responsibilities of standards and quality care is the responsibility of the Minister and the Department of Health, there is no question and part of that is physician services. It is a multiplicity of programs, hospital programs, nursing and home care. The answer is, we will work with any community and we have demonstrated that within the last weeks. It is working.

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

WCB - DIRECTORS: APPOINTMENT - PROCESS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Labour. We all know that this is a critical time in the history of the Workers' Compensation Board. Many of us on the select committee have travelled the length and breadth of this province and have heard heart-breaking stories and the hardships that have to be endured by injured workers. At this critical time the board of directors need experience and wisdom there. Could the Minister of Labour explain to this House the consultations that he undertook to get the best possible people on the board of directors?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. As the honourable member well knows there was a public advertising process that took place for, I believe, nearly 11 agencies, boards and commissions within the Department of Labour. The closure date on that, I believe, was September 18, 1998. Upon receiving all of the applications they were reviewed in a thorough process in consultation with

[Page 2492]

departmental staff, in consultation with a senior CEO and the Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Workers' Compensation Board and indeed, as the honourable member well knows, the new process that is now in place that requires the Minister of the Crown to sign an additional certification requires that the minister will become further involved in the process as well.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I have a letter here from the employer's group organized by the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses. The members include major associations like CFIB, the Construction Association, the Forest Industries Association. This large and knowledgable group of employers have told you who they want on the board. They want you to re-appoint two employer representatives who sat on the WCB for several years, including a Mr. Barry Wark. My question is, why will the minister not appoint such an experienced, able representative as Mr. Wark, when Mr. Wark is supported by so many employers?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, yes, Mr. Wark was a member on the Workers' Compensation Board. We received, I believe - and I do not want to be held to the exact number but I believe it was - somewhere in the vicinity of 37 applications for positions on the Workers' Compensation Board. We received a number of submissions and recommendations from various groups, one in particular, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and I believe this is what the honourable member is alluding to. One of the recommendations that came forth from that particular interest group was accepted. There was a recommendation from another large organization, a national organization as well as provincial. That recommendation was accepted over Mr. Wark and that is the process that we followed.

MR. CORBETT: By way of clarification, Mr. Speaker, I wish to table this letter too that the minister has. I think it goes to the fact that the minister holds this whole appointment process in contempt. We have learned this week the WCB was planning to send the minister's nominee to Vancouver for a workers' compensation conference before the nominee was appointed and before the nominee was even vetted by the Human Resources Committee.

My question for the minister, when will he best show respect for the appointment process for the best people and not the best connected people?

MR. MACKINNON: I will table a letter here dated October 21, 1998, and signed by the CEO of the Workers' Compensation Board which will clearly clarify any misunderstanding and, of course, misinformation that the honourable member usually associates himself with. It clearly indicates that the board of directors, the CEO and the chairman of the board made that decision of their own volition. There was no interference from the minister's office as has been suggested. I will table this letter.

Plus, Mr. Speaker, it is very important to note that one of the organizations (Interruptions)

[Page 2493]

Mr. Speaker, it goes right to the heart of his question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: With the approbation of the House (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable minister will finish his reply.

MR. MACKINNON: The organization to which he refers his letter approached me after the advertising process was completed, after the selection process was completed, and asked that I set aside the public consultation process and ignore the people of Nova Scotia and I will not do it, to capitulate to that foolishness.

MR. SPEAKER: The next question, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

WCAT: APPOINTMENTS - PROCESS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: There is some exposed meat here, I guess.

Mr. Speaker, I guess we will stay on the topic, for my second question, about appointments. As the minister knows, recently there were eight new appointments to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. The problem is that these appointments were not vetted by the Human Resources Committee of this House as required by the Rules of this House. Will the minister tell this House why he is ignoring its rules and bypassing the Human Resources Committee.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, again the honourable member, had he at least had the courtesy of a phone call to somebody within the department, he would have gotten the correct information. We went through the public advertising process. The interviews were conducted by the appropriate committees, I believe headed by Ms. Judith Ferguson, head of WCAT, and the recommendations were put forth, they were submitted for my approbation. I followed the process as was provided to myself. I do not know what more. (Interruptions) Well, if the next step is to go to the Human Resources Committee, so be it.

MR. CORBETT: They talk about this process being open. I have here a memo from Ms. Ferguson from WCAT who is also in charge of the recruitment process. The memo is to the minister and it is dated July 29, 1998. The chairman of WCAT who is the chair of an independent tribunal, independent I think it is proper to put in here, is writing to the minister asking for permission to check the candidates' references. So we know the minister was

[Page 2494]

intimately involved with the hiring. Is the minister still prepared to tell this House that it was an open competition?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I do not know if these people are living in la-la land or what the problem is. The NDP on the Human Resources Committee demanded that any Minister of the Crown give a personal certification that he or she must certify that the person who is being appointed is the most qualified. They demand the minister to become involved in the process, and as soon as we do, then they go back reversing their position. Again, hypocrisy is all you get.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, what is amazing about this is that there were 10 names put forward by Ms. Ferguson but there were only eight selected. Were these political reasons? I ask the minister is this an open process?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I never heard of such naivete in all my life.

AN HON. MEMBER: What happened to the other two?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Ask the chief of the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal and she will advise you but, no, they will not do that. They do not want the truth. They take cheap theatrical politics.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I cannot control that type of naivete and stupidity.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: METRO TURNING POINT (HFX.) - SUITABILITY

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The number of homeless people in Nova Scotia is increasing unfortunately each year. In the summer many of these people live on the streets and they can sleep in parks and whatever they can find.

Now the leaves are dropping from the trees. This month the time changes, it goes back to Atlantic Standard Time and when the time changes, it means winter in Nova Scotia is coming. There is a shelter for homeless men in Halifax and most of us I think know where that is. It is down on Barrington Street, not very far from this Legislature. My question for

[Page 2495]

the minister is does she believe that this shelter - Metro Turning Point - is a suitable shelter or a suitable housing facility for homeless men?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think the question should be put to the honourable member, does he have one single clue around the amount of work our department is doing on this issue? I do not think he does. We are already supporting 98 per cent of the operational costs of Metro Turning Point and we have been working along with their staff and their people to get a satisfactory building for these homeless people to the tune of offering to fund half of their building requirements over a 15 year mortgage. I do not think the honourable member is doing his homework. (Applause)

MR. MUIR: I am delighted to hear the charitable explanation from the minister over there despite her obviously hard heart when she deals with these people. The Metro Turning Point building on Barrington Street, hardly 500 yards from this Legislature, has been condemned for two years but the department has done nothing. Would the minister agree that the responsibility for homeless people is a provincial responsibility and will she commit the necessary funding to see that the homeless can be housed?

MRS. COSMAN: Well, Mr. Speaker, again, the honourable member opposite is not doing his homework because if he took a look at the Statute Books, he would realize that this is not a statutory responsibility but it is a moral responsibility and we take that responsibility very seriously and it is why we are working with Metro Turning Point to get them an adequate solution.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I guess we have to get into legislation or something to get the minister to accept her responsibility. My third question is for the minister. The Halifax Regional Municipality has provided land for a new facility. They have provided $100,000 as startup costs, organizational or engineering architectural costs for a new building. The new building that is proposed is going to cost $800,000 and this is a bare bones building. This is a dormitory type thing. It is like an airplane hanger with some beds, a kitchen and things like that. It is not fancy.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MUIR: What I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, is when and what is that minister going to do to see that there is a new facility constructed as needed for the homeless men here in Halifax?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think that there is not a Nova Scotian or a Canadian living who does not recognize that the problems with homeless people are getting worse every year, particularly in urban centres, as we see here in Halifax. Clearly, we are working with this group. We have given a very strong commitment to continue to work with them. We have offered half their mortgage costs. They also have a working relationship with other

[Page 2496]

agencies in this community to help raise the funds for the building that they want to build. They may have to go and look for another building or a building that is not brand new. There are other agencies that are involved in this very important issue, and we are not the only player in this field, but we have certainly committed 98 per cent of their operational funds and 50 per cent of their mortgage request.

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

LBR. - CONSTRUCTION (C.B.):

OLDER WORKERS - PROPOSAL ACTION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is the Minister of Education. The Older Workers Committee of the Cape Breton Island Building and Trades Council made a proposal to the federal government to pension off its older workers as an alternative to the now defunct POWA program. The proposal would create a volunteer corps of workers aged 55 to 64. The feds turned them down. The HRD Minister, his executive assistant, the defeated Francis LeBlanc pronounced it dead on arrival. Would the Minister of Education please advise the House what efforts he made on behalf of these Cape Breton trades workers to advance the proposal with his federal colleagues?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think this question is probably better put to the Minister of Labour, so I will send this question over to him.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I believe it was in early July, certainly earlier in the year, I met with representatives of the injured workers and received their presentation on this most important issue. Subsequent to that (Interruption) I am sorry, on behalf of the older workers. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, subsequent to that, I made representation in Ottawa to the senior director of the Human Resources division in Ottawa on behalf of the Older Workers and this most important program. The concern that was raised at that time was the fact that there were a number of different interest groups, labour organizations from not only Cape Breton but from across Nova Scotia, that had raised concerns on this. The cost of the program was being evaluated at the federal level.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know which one it will deflect off, but I will go over that way again anyhow. In the last two years, the province signed a labour market agreement with the feds under Part 2 of the EI Act. As I understand it, Nova Scotia opted for a strategic partnership with HRDC, that is, it decided to work together with the feds to streamline common programs. Could the minister tell these Cape Breton workers whether these proposals could be entertained under this streamlined system?

[Page 2497]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. All I can do is give the honourable member my assurance that I will endeavour to do everything I can to meet the essence of his request.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to the Minister of Labour again. Then finally we have been advised by the office of the senior adviser, Labour and Market Development that a Labour Market Development strategy may be coming forth to the minister shortly for his and Cabinet's possible consideration. If this strategy doesn't already incorporate a solution for these older workers facing this dilemma, will the minister undertake to this House and to these workers that he will include their report into developing this Labour Market Development strategy and that he will do so in a timely and efficient basis?

MR. MACKINNON: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

JUSTICE - DONALD MARSHALL JR.: COURT CASE - INTERVENTION

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice. As many members of the House are aware, the appeal case of Donald Marshall, Jr. regarding fishing rights is being appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada and is scheduled to be heard on November 5th. Could the minister please inform this House whether the province has any intention to intervene in this case and if not, why not, and whether or not the Minister of Fisheries has approached him?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I didn't get the last part about the Minister of Fisheries, but the information that I have with me today is that there is no plan for the province to intervene and justice would take its course through that appeal.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to the Minister of Justice and I will pick up on that, if he didn't hear the question. If you could indicate to the House whether or not the Minister of Fisheries has approached you regarding this case and if he has, and in order to intervene, whether he could table any documents that he so presented to you?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would be pleased to respond that the Minister of Fisheries has not forwarded information directly to me. Now, if there have been communications between our various departments, that may be taking place and has not yet been forwarded to me but as of now, I have no information from the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Fisheries. There are four groups that have intervened in this case and one of them is the Province of New Brunswick. I believe that the Province of New Brunswick obviously thinks that this case and the consequences that could come out of it are important enough that

[Page 2498]

they should intervene. We have thousands and thousands of fishermen in this province that could very well have their livelihood threatened by this case. I ask today in the House of Assembly, why the Minister of Fisheries has not put forward to the Minister of Justice a reason to intervene in this case, which could have far-reaching consequences for every fisherman in this province?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that our department has talked and worked very closely with the Department of Justice on this very important issue. We have concluded that it is totally a federal issue and an issue that the federal government is very, very comfortable with in resolving on an Aboriginal basis and a fishing basis. Therefore, the decision was made by the Department of Justice legal litigation people that the federal government should look after the problem.

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

SYSCO: LAY-OFFS - CAUSE

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Cape Breton is one of the most beautiful parts of this country, at least in my opinion, and Cape Bretoners are hard workers and they do deserve a bright future, but yesterday there was more bad news out of Cape Breton. Up to 150 Sydney steelworkers face lay-off. My question to the minister is, will he tell the House why this lay-off will be taking place at this time?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. It is a very important question. The reason is there is an inventory of blooms there that is sufficient to carry the workload at Sydney Steel right through to the new year. The steel shop is going down for approximately a month because of that, which will mean there will be, approximately, somewhere between 100 and 150 steelworkers temporarily laid off. In the meantime, there are still 500 steelworkers working at the plant and the mills are at full production and the head hardening mill will be working around the clock until the first of the year.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, but 150 steelworkers laid off is still important. The final deadline for the sale of Sydney Steel is now about nine weeks away. What assurance can the minister responsible for Sysco give the people of Cape Breton that this sale will take place?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I am not going to negotiate the sale of Sydney Steel on the floor of this House but I can tell you this, it is a very important subject for the people not only of Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, but for the entire Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2499]

Mr. Speaker, it is awfully interesting to note that we keep referring to Sydney Steel as a Cape Breton problem. Sydney Steel injects $120 million into the Nova Scotia economy every year. So it is indeed a very important industry for all of Nova Scotia. Having said that, we have an excellent management company working toward the sale of Sydney Steel and that is our ultimate goal. Hopefully, that will be done sooner rather than later.

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well, GAN, Minmetals, Global, the Russians, Mentor, Dynatek, PLI Clean-up, all lists of failures by this government and by this minister. Will this minister comfort the steelworkers at least, those sitting at home today, by promising them he will stay away from Hoogovens as it attempts to sell this plant?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes talks about my role in this. I can tell you what my role will be, this minister will not preside over the closure of Sydney Steel, I can tell you that. I can further tell you and all members of the House that the employment levels at Sydney Steel were the highest in the last two years until this recent lay-off that is going to be temporary. But I can tell you we are working toward a very successful conclusion of the sale.

I have to tell you that I have had some conversation with the Leader of the Third Party regarding Sydney Steel. Not one member of the NDP has asked me about the situation at Sydney Steel in the past number of months, not one inquiry from the NDP.

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

NSLC - TRURO STORE: CONTRACT - UNTENDERED

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources as Minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act. Yesterday in the House just before quitting time for Question Period I reported that in the Truro Daily News last Friday a local businessman was quoted as saying that the main liquor store in Truro was to be closed and a new one opened. This new building was going to be constructed yet it had not gone to tender. My question for the minister is in contravention probably of everything we have heard from this government, why did it not go to tender?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission has three stores in the Truro area, I believe. They have one on Queen Street in the old Dominion Store, one on the esplanade in the old train station and one in Bible Hill. My understanding is that the liquor store in question is the one on Queen Street in the old Dominion Store, it is moving across the street because their lease will soon be up in their present location. (Interruption) Did you ask the question?

[Page 2500]

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. Would the honourable minister please complete his answer?

MR. MACASKILL: The Liquor Commission is in the retail business and there is nothing unusual about them relocating their store in Truro.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it seems that there has been a great propensity by the members of the government today to not answer questions. My question for the minister was why did this particular lease not go out for tender. I will ask that question again.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is in the retail business and service to the public. If a store is to be relocated to a specific area and it meets the procurement guidelines of the province, they have the right to do it.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will ask a question to the minister that maybe he is willing to understand. Officials in the Liquor Commission offices in Halifax have indicated they received three proposals for that new liquor store. Would the minister be prepared to table in this House the details of each proposal, including the cost per square foot of the rent? How does this rent that will be paid compare to other retail space in Truro and the cost of the last lease?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I will provide that information to the honourable member within days.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: CANCER RATE - CAPE BRETON

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The latest study on cancer rates in Cape Breton is based on independent research, but it began in 1994 with provincial funding. Former coke oven workers and health advocates have fought a long battle to get an epidemiological study of the links between occupational exposure and cancer rates. The then Health Minister Ron Stewart praised the study as something industrial Cape Breton had waited for and badly needed, a community based approach which would have practical results. Yesterday, the Premier wanted studies, studies, studies, yet the provincial government suddenly withdrew its support for Dr. Guernsey's research in 1996. My question is simple, why?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would be very pleased to turn this over to the Minister of Health.

[Page 2501]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the report has been received as forwarded now. I understand, at the time, that there was some concern about the quality of the research being done and the work being done and that is always ongoing. However, we do have some information coming from that and we will take that report and, along with the other reports, put it together and, under the direction of Dr. Padmos and some other experts in the epidemiological field of community cancer, we will be looking at that and making an appropriate response. Also, we are designing a plan of action to address the issue of the reports that are coming out of the Sydney community.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have known for years that industrial Cape Breton had high cancer rates, and now that the extraordinary rates in Sydney have been revealed, the province pulled out funding for Dr. Guernsey's project. Former coke oven workers accuse the government of deliberately delaying the research process in a cowardly attempt to avoid lawsuits and compensation claims.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Health. Will he confirm or deny that the government pulled out funding for the Sydney cancer study in 1996 in an attempt to avoid responsibility, and why is this so clearly a motivating factor for his government today?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there has been evidence for a period of time, and several studies that indicate as we all know, that the cancer rates are high in Nova Scotia, but particularly high in the Sydney community. Any withdrawal of funds had to do with the quality of the study.

Mr. Speaker, we have made a commitment; this government has made a commitment. We have just opened a cancer treatment centre in that particular community that will not only give treatment, but it will be an awareness program. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the federal government to proceed with the clean-up in case - and I say in case - there are some negative impacts of the environmental factors.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the quality of this study was certainly not in question for the external funding sources that Dr. Guernsey got funding from and her results are not in question now, more and more people in Sydney have become sick. When will this government stop prolonging the suffering by trying to avoid any responsibility for the tragic consequences of unhealthy practices?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that demonstrates part of the problem that we are having throughout with issues relative to health delivery; it is the fear-mongering. I am not clear, maybe that honourable member understands that report, but I am not clear. That report is not clear and it needs some evaluation and it needs to be folded in with other studies. We are taking action. We have an action plan coming forward and we have made a commitment to that area. That community needs help in cleaning up the environmental waste and, also, in the lifestyle issues.

[Page 2502]

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

You only have about one minute.

COMMUN. SERV. - NURSING HOMES:

SENIORS - TRANSFER (EX-LOCAL)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Why is the minister removing dozens of senior citizens, who are residents in private-pay nursing homes, from their communities and placing them in licensed nursing homes that are far removed from their loved ones, and why is this minister approving this elder abuse?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I am rather amazed that this member opposite is saying I am approving of elder abuse. He knows nothing is further from the truth than that kind of a statement. The question right now is arising as we respond to our review of homes for special care and realize that some homes are in violation of our own Statutes, that they either have life safety issues, fire issues, numbers issues, . . .

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

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order or a point of information of two matters arising out of Question Period today. I would like to inform the House that yesterday we were able to sign two physicians for the Springhill-Oxford area. One will start November 1st and one will start in January. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: I would just like to inform the honourable member that the letter is in the mail. (Laughter) I appreciate his support and, Mr. Speaker, that is performance.

The other is a much more sensitive issue. I was very concerned about some of the so-called information that was flying back and forth in the House here this morning on the matters relative to the Sisters of Charity for whom I personally have great affection. Sister Nuala Kenny and those other people have made such a great contribution and in no way would I want to leave this House today with some idea that we did not have great sensitivities to that particular Sisters of Charity but all Nova Scotians. The Shannex group, as reported, have not received approval. This is information that I wanted to be sure of. They have not received approval for nursing home beds as was so stated during Question Period.

[Page 2503]

Mr. Speaker, there has been no recent communications in our department from the Sisters of Charity nor have we had a request . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I think I will have to cut the honourable minister off here because there is no order of business for explanations.

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 Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House leader.

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

Bill No. 4 - Mi'kmaq Education Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise and move second reading of Bill No. 4, An Act Respecting Education of Mi'kmaq Reserves in Nova Scotia, and to say a few words in support of this bill. This bill recognizes the right of Mi'kmaq bands to govern their children's education on reserves.

Mr. Speaker, I know during second reading we are to stay on the principles of the bill before us but if I can beg the indulgence of the House, first let me make an introduction, and share some comments on a new council announced this week that supports Mi'kmaq education in our public schools. The province's first Council on Mi'kmaq Education is now in place. The new Council on Mi'kmaq Education will ensure that the lines of communication are open between the Department of Education and Culture and the Mi'kmaq community. The council will guide the development, the implementation, the evaluation and the funding of educational programs and services to Mi'kmaq students in the public school and adult education systems.

Mr. Speaker, joining us in the gallery today is a member of that council, Bernard Knockwood. In addition to his role on the council, Mr. Knockwood is the Mi'kmaq representative for the Chignecto Central School Board and is an active volunteer in his

[Page 2504]

community. Mr. Knockwood is also the regional addictions consultant for Health Canada. I ask all members of this House to accord Mr. Knockwood the welcome that we so richly extend to him today for his work in our province. (Applause)

I look very much forward to the advice of Mr. Knockwood and other members of the Council on Mi'kmaq Education as we add new programs in Mi'kmaq studies in our schools. I assure Mr. Knockwood and his council and all members of this House that we will continue to work to ensure that the curriculum reflects the importance of Mi'kmaq history, language and culture.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, to return to the issue at hand today, the Mi'kmaq Education Act. In 1992 Mi'kmaq bands in Nova Scotia began a long process of ongoing discussions with federal and provincial governments to transfer jurisdiction of education on reserves to local bands. Thirteen of those bands participated in the signing of the framework agreement at that time.

In 1994 the political accord was signed among the bands and the provincial and federal governments. In 1996 the agreement in principle was signed by the three parties and in 1997, the final agreement was reached by the nine participating Mi'kmaq communities. In that agreement it states, "Nova Scotia undertakes to make best efforts to encourage its Legislature . . . to enable the Mi'kmaq bands to exercise jurisdiction with respect to education in accordance with the Final Agreement.". That is what we are here to accomplish now.

This past January, Bill C-30 was moved forward and tabled in the House of Commons. The legislation was passed on June 18th. Worthy of note, this is the first legislation in the country transferring jurisdiction of education to native bands. I assure you and the members of this House that this provincial legislation parallels and supports Bill C-30.

I am pleased at this time to fulfil our commitment in the final agreement. Our government recognizes the right of Mi'kmaq bands to govern their children's education on reserves and supports this transfer of jurisdiction. Although there is still much work to be done, we have accomplished a great deal to this point.

The Department of Education and Culture continues to work closely with Mi'kmaq education leaders to ensure quality education is provided to all Mi'kmaq students. This responsibility will include the approximately 1,200 Mi'kmaq students attending band-controlled schools and the 1,000 students attending public schools, again with the support of the Council on Mi'kmaq Education.

[Page 2505]

The recent re-formation of the Mi'kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum will address educational issues relating to all Mi'kmaq in Nova Scotia, both on and off reserves. In addition, the department is collaborating with the Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey to develop Mi'kmaq language programs that can be used in both public and band-operated schools.

I would like to close by remembering the words of one of the original promoters of this initiative, the late Chief Noel Doucette. Chief Doucette said, "Taking control of education is not given to us. We are given back what was rightfully ours.". With his words in mind, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 4, an Act Respecting Education on Mi'kmaq Reserves in Nova Scotia.

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

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour for me to have the privilege this afternoon to speak on Bill No. 4, an Act Respecting Education on Mi'kmaq Reserves in Nova Scotia. As the honourable minister noted, this bill transfers the jurisdiction of education to the First Nations people and indeed on February 14, 1997, nine of the chiefs of bands in Nova Scotia signed that agreement. As we observe and reflect on education of Mi'kmaq people in Nova Scotia, we know that the development of this idea has been a long time in the making. Mi'kmaq have been struggling to preserve and develop their education for a very long time. A friend of mine who worked as a curriculum coordinator in Eskasoni, Dr. Marie Battiste, would describe their school board in 1992 as a place where language instruction in their native tongue was going on, where they were providing cultural integration into the curriculum and where they were doing a lot of curriculum enhancement, enrichment, all kinds of things they felt would have positive outcomes. Now, today, we see that realized in a bill.

Throughout the Royal Commission hearings on aboriginal people presenters told the commission over and over again that education is part of the development of their children and their youth. An aboriginal citizen linguistically and culturally competent to assume the responsibilities of their nations is their goal. Youth must emerge from school grounded in a strong, positive aboriginal identity. Consistent with aboriginal traditions, education must develop the whole of the child, intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically. When we talk about education, we are always cognizant in this province that education is for the whole child. We will certainly see this truly reflected in our Mi'kmaq communities. I am certain that this is the principle on which this bill is based.

There are, as we note, as we look at the bill, a couple of areas where I am sure the council and the groups cooperating will be able to work through. We do know that the bill prohibits students who live off the reserve from attending schools on the reserve. Yet, at the same time, if non-native students are living on reserve, they are able to take advantage of the education on the reserve. So I am sure there will have to work out that issue between the bands and the council.

[Page 2506]

If students choose to be educated off-reserve, they also will not be funded. So I am sure, as we grow in this area, we will find ways of solving that.

The bill does not mention this but I would like to hope we will see that program materials and services, for example some of the most current Canadian curriculum development is taking place in this province over the past number of years. I would like to hope that the educators who live in native communities will have the opportunity to take advantage of that curriculum development, either through the in-services that we do provincially or that boards do.

The area of resources, of course, will be a concern. We know how difficult it is to acquire resources for schools and I hope that the Department of Education will continue to work with our First Nations community to make sure they are able to provide all the curriculum materials and services necessary to give students the opportunity for the excellent education they should have the opportunity for.

History has recorded very well the results of an attempt to assimilate and have our First Nations children blend in. We know all too well the examples through the residential school system, one that robbed these children of their culture, history and dignity. Education in all its dimensions belongs to the people and in this situation it belongs to the people of the First Nations, the Mi'kmaq people. I hope this bill addresses their concerns and needs for their young people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise this afternoon and speak on behalf of our caucus on second reading of Bill No. 4, An Act Respecting Education on Mi'kmaq Reserves in Nova Scotia. This bill is a momentous bill, it is certainly not a small change, it is a momentous change and, we believe, a step forward. This legislation mirrors federal legislation which, for the first time, takes in the concerns, the needs, the destiny and the requirements of the Mi'kmaq and First Nations people. This bill clearly allows the destiny of educational instruction and training, the history and heritage of the Mi'kmaq people to take precedence, and that precedence is extremely important to our aboriginal people.

We are here, as a caucus, to support this bill in the main. Certainly there are sections of the bill that will have to be changed and maybe be modified somewhat in the future regarding the circumstances of educational services supplied on and off the reserve and who is entitled to it. This bill moves forward the destiny of the First Nations people to educate their young people to allow them the pride and privilege to take care of their own heritage and provide them the avenue to preserve it. I will not belabour the point, but this is a momentous bill, and we are proud to support it forward into second reading. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 2507]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to address this bill. I have taught school for 15 years and, through those 15 years, practically every year I have had native students in my classes. For that time, I always felt that there should be another option available to our native students, and I think this bill addresses that need. For those students, even presently, they have guidelines here that ensure that there will be movement from one institution to another, or from the regular school program, and I think that gives some protection for those students.

I think, if we were to examine culturally that these students can work within their own community, be educated in their community, this is a definite good first step. You can't always assume that you know everything about anyone, and I think that teachers realize this better than anybody else simply because they get such large numbers of students and get them for such short periods of time that they have to make all their decisions relatively instantly, and they have to be right on the mark. For these students, certainly being in their own environment, that would help aid that decision-making process.

I have discussed education with people in the Mi'kmaq community in my constituency and they see this as a wonderful opportunity to instil some of their own culture into the program, and yet get all of the other parts of the program. For the minister to bring forward this bill, I would congratulate him. I can see that this certainly can bring positive benefits to the Mi'kmaq community here in this province, for any of those who wish to take part in it. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and speak in support of Bill No. 4, An Act Respecting Education on Mi'kmaq Reserves in Nova Scotia. This bill is a parallel of the federal legislation and, as such helps to transfer the jurisdiction for education on reserves to Mi'kmaq bands. This bill will entrench, in legislation, the Mi'kmaq people's right to oversee and control educational opportunities for their children. There are about 2,200 Mi'kmaq students living on reserves and half of them will be directly affected by this legislation which supports the continued development of services and programs for these young people.

It is welcome to see that nine of the bands have signed the document and will bring it to fruition. This bill is the end result of a great deal of hard work and commitment on the part of all partners involved. This is a monumental step forward for Mi'kmaq people. It is often said that a nation's future rests with its children. This legislation will help lay the cornerstone on which the Mi'kmaq people will begin to build this future.

[Page 2508]

[4:15 p.m.]

For a number of years, the Mi'kmaq community have expressed concern about the loss of their cultural identity. In the past, education programs and opportunities available to Mi'kmaq children, by and large, were insensitive to this problem. This bill will help address this area of concern. It is critically important that these children have the opportunity to gain the knowledge of their traditions and language. Knowledge of themselves, their heritage and their history will help build self-esteem and self-confidence, which will be of benefit to all Mi'kmaq people.

Most of the funding required to bring this program forward is possible in the funding that already exists to support Mi'kmaq education. Mi'kmaq school boards will be able to develop their own curricula. This in itself is important as a component of developing their cultural identity. It will bring members of the community together, the elders sharing knowledge of history and heritage to benefit the youth and then, by extension, all Mi'kmaq people. There is a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. For the Mi'kmaq people, this bill provides the opportunity to become that village.

In closing, this bill is an important first step in empowering Mi'kmaq people to forge their own future. In the words of John F. Kennedy, our nation's future lies in the education of our children. For the Mi'kmaq people, this bill will make that future a little brighter. Thank you. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 4. 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 Law Amendments.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 5

[Page 2509]

Bill No. 5 - Forests Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 5. Just before we commence debate on Bill No. 5, I would just like to point out that it is not mandatory, but it is normal, that when we have a government bill amending existing government legislation, that there is normally explanatory notes in the bill. I am not sure why that is not in this particular case.

However, as I say, it is not mandatory, but I think, as a matter of courtesy to all members, particularly in the Opposition who will be debating the bill and for government members as well, that they be aware of what the intent and the end result is of certain amendments made to certain clauses within existing legislation.

As I say, I would appreciate it if ministers, when they submit legislation, if they would, if necessary, include explanatory notes. Now, possibly, I am not correct. Possibly this bill is so self-explanatory that it does not require explanatory notes. However, having made that point, I will recognize somebody to speak on Bill No. 5.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, if it is your wish and the wish of the House, I am sure I could find some notes and pass them around. Could we adjourn for a couple of minutes?

MR. SPEAKER: We can recess for five minutes. We will reconvene at 4:25 p.m.

[The House recessed at 4:20 p.m.]

[The House reconvened at 4:26 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to move Bill No. 5, an Act containing certain amendments to the Forests Act, for second reading. These amendments are basically enabling legislation. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that sustainable forest management is practised on both Crown lands and private woodlands in Nova Scotia. It provides the mechanism to set Nova Scotia on the path of sustainable forestry. A position paper outlining this new direction in forestry was made public last October. It has been generally well received within the forestry sector, where it has been known for some time that changes in forest management policy are needed.

[Page 2510]

One change that has already taken place since the position paper was presented last fall was the establishment during the past winter of a buyer's registry. The establishment of the buyer's registry will provide much better information on the volume of wood actually being harvested in our province.

Mr. Speaker, all buyers and exporters of Nova Scotia wood must now register with the Department of Natural Resources. Registration of existing buyers began in the winter and was completed in March of this year. New buyers must register as they establish to do business in our province. The registry was established under authority that already exists in the Forests Act. Under the amended Act buyers of more than 450 cords of wood per year will be required to submit a wood acquisition plan to show how their timber supply will be sustainable. The requirement for a wood acquisition plan links demand directly with silviculture needs, something to be worked out among buyers and suppliers themselves.

There are various options available to buyers, including direct financial contributions to silviculture programs on private woodlands. Mr. Speaker, the amended Act also allows for establishment of a Sustainable Forestry Fund. The purpose of the fund is to receive financial contributions for silviculture programs in cases where buyers choose to proceed in that manner. The buyer registry, wood acquisition plans, and the forestry fund obviously place more responsibility on the industry to replenish the forest resources than is now the case.

In addition to the changes affecting wood buyers, the amended Act provides for regulations that will require sustainable forest management practices on all woodlots. The regulations will be based on the current Forest/Wildlife Guidelines and Standards. The guidelines and standards are designated to protect the forest environment, the watercourses and the wildlife habitats. They also limit the size of clear-cuts. They can only be beneficial to woodlots and to the woodlot environment.

[4:30 p.m.]

Another change in the Act will require reporting of information from industrial harvesting operations which will mean more effective monitoring of wood supply by the Department of Natural Resources staff. The reporting requirement will not apply to woodlot owners or operators who harvest less than 200 cords per year. In other words, it will not affect small operators.

As with all legislation of this nature, Mr. Speaker, there is a provision for penalties and fines for violations of the Act and it can be ordered by the courts but there are limits of $100,000 for corporations and half that amount for individuals. That is a brief summary of the amendments to the Forests Act.

[Page 2511]

These changes and those outlined in the government's forestry position paper last fall represent a new direction for forestry in Nova Scotia. They provide a framework to help achieve sustainable forestry. This will help to maintain forestry related jobs and incomes and help protect the forest environment. More important, it will ensure that we do not cut more timber than we can grow.

Mr. Speaker, we believe this is good legislation. It is in the best interests of Nova Scotia forestry and the people who work so hard to make the forest industry successful in Nova Scotia. I move the bill for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate an opportunity to speak to this bill. I think first and foremost when we discuss amendments to the Forests Act, we should try to visualize what it is we want our forests to be. In doing that, I guess we should think about what our forests are right now. For years now in this province, we have had an industry that was basically guided by large business and the needs for small woodlot owners have not been taken into consideration. But it is purely based on tonnage or biomass and not necessarily on wildlife habitats, small woodlot owner requirements, recreation, any of these other components, for the people who use our forests have a variety of needs in those uses and not all of those needs are taken care of in this Act.

The question is what is it we hope our forests will be in 50 years or 100 years or what our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will inherit from us. If we want a forest that is identified as a forest, that will supply a continuous supply of wood fibre to the end of time, then we do not have that now for sure. There are a number of reasons for that. But if we want to ensure that it will supply that biomass to the end of time, plus meet the needs of a population that is growing, will hopefully have more recreational time on its hands, a greater concern for wildlife, then that is not all entirely encompassed in this bill.

The buyers' registry is an excellent idea. Before we will ever be able to get a handle on sustainability of forests in this province, we have to know how much wood is being cut and that is something we do not know to this day. In order to determine how much we can cut, we have to know how much is still here, how much do we have left, and regulate, based on what our annual cut is, whether or not we can sustain that cut. So the registry of buyers, hopefully, will supply some information that we can use to determine how much wood is actually being cut in this province and that is a good thing.

It will be beneficial to see greater regulation in the Act as to determine what will be done with that information once we achieve it. The minister has stated about smaller clear-cuts. That is definitely a move in the right direction. Clear-cuts as a harvesting technique are something that we have to change. Some critics would say that we are against the wall now as far as the amount of timber that we have cut in this province and there is no going back.

[Page 2512]

In other words, we do not have enough time in the way of a buffer to guarantee that we will ever grow enough trees fast enough to ensure we will get to the sustainable level. Perhaps the buyer's registry and the statistics that we can accumulate from that will give us a more accurate idea of that information. What is left out is some clear-cut idea of how we would manage this forest. There is information here that indicates that is a concern of the department but there is no regulation in the bill to indicate how that will be done.

The Premier made the following commitment in the Liberal's November 1997 Speech from the Throne, "We will protect the thousands of jobs that depend on a secure forestry by amending legislation to ensure that harvesting does not exceed the capacity to grow timber and that reforestation, environmental protection, and wildlife habitat conservation are practised on Crown and private woodlands.". Without instilling some clear-cut guidelines as to forest management practices, there is no way to ensure that. The buyer's registry alone will not ensure that we will ever act any differently in how we will cut the forests or how much wood will be taken. It is a good first step.

Silviculture practices have taken a back burner for years now. We can see that this year the money that was allocated for silviculture was cut again in this budget. We can see that in the case of private woodlot owners, there are no extension services, or educational services for those people. There has been no innovative thinking by the Department of Natural Resources on any of these programs, not a proactive approach, more a reactive approach. There is no strategic plan for the future of the forests even when new information comes in.

The forestry fund perhaps is a good idea but if it is going to be monitored mostly by the industry then I do not see that as a good idea. The amendments fail to address greed in the industry although the registry, we hope, will do that. But without clear-cut guidelines to emphasize what can be done, or how much wood can be cut, then the registry really has no great effect. Even if we cut subsidization or help to small woodlot owners as far as silviculture is concerned - because science has indicated that if you are going to maintain this forest silviculture is necessary - there actually is no way for small woodlot owners, at least in my constituency, to be able to sell their product. In other words, if they go into their lot, do the spacing that they want to do and allow the trees to be released and grow faster, if they pile that up at roadside they cannot sell it.

One of the largest buyers in my area would be Stora Forest Products. They are interested in coming in, buying the stumpage, clear-cutting the land and taking the wood. But they are not interested in coming and buying wood at roadside. If we are going to cut the money that is supplied to small woodlot owners or private woodlot owners with regard to silviculture, then they have to have some mechanism to recoup the money that they spend. If there is no ability on their part to sell the product that they cut then they cannot even get any money in that regard. The extent of the silviculture program, if anybody is going to partake in it, that has to come out of their pocket. Because industry has the ear of government more so than small woodlot owners do, then private woodlot owners or small woodlot

[Page 2513]

owners really do not have much say in how these regulations are implemented. That has been a continuous problem in this province for 30 years anyway.

So, if this bill will address the need for greater money for silviculture, which I see it does not, if this bill can assure us that greater regulation will take place, then those are good things. We have to realize that in this province the forest sector provides, in indirect jobs, somewhere in the area of 60,000 jobs. If anybody here had to wake up in the morning and generate 60,000 jobs, they would have a lot of difficulty in doing that. We have a sustainable, renewable resource here, and the buyers' register is one positive aspect that may go toward ensuring that we can achieve greater sustainability in this resource; to that point, I am supportive. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: The forestry industry is the largest resource-based industry in Pictou East, my constituency, and certainly extremely important and valuable, throughout Nova Scotia, to our economy. The amendments proposed in Bill No. 5 to the Forestry Act are timely. They are timely to the already uncertain future of our forest resources. Natural Resource's own figures indicate that overcutting has taken place to the extent of one million cubic metres in the year 1997 in Nova Scotia. Indications are overwhelming that proper funding has not been injected into silviculture and related long-term investment initiatives.

This government's cuts to the silviculture have been very counter-productive to this industry. We require selective cutting and replanting to ensure sustainability, and the costs should be shared by all who benefit, including the landowner. Since 70 per cent of Nova Scotia's forests are owned by the private sector, it is hard to put demands in place to these owners. This bill does put registration requirements on buyers and exporters, and I think that is an important start.

We must protect the forestry jobs and protect this important industry and manage our forest resources in a competent sustainable manner. The impact of this bill in reality may be somewhat less than the minister's expectations. I do, however, consider this bill a good start toward protecting the sustainability of our forests, and I will support it for second reading. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, my colleague from the south is right. He delivered two doctors' positions today within a matter of minutes and, obviously, I am a little jealous. The minister didn't even know about it, and you knew about it.

[Page 2514]

Mr. Speaker, the bill before us is a step in the right direction but, before we categorically decide that provisions in this bill are what the forestry industry in this province require and need to put it on a sustainable footing, I think there are some important things we have to examine. In the area I represent, Cumberland North, our situation is a little unique in the province. It was the first area of the province where out-of-province cutting occurred, and it put our area in Cumberland County under extreme pressure for export of wood fibre, saw logs, pulpwood, all those things, to neighbouring provinces and even down into the eastern United States.

The situation there at this point is one where local sawmills are beginning to have a hard job to find quality saw logs, or stud wood, to keep their mills operating because of the situation of cutting for export. There are large areas and tracts of land now that do not have sustainable fibre on them, and I think it is incumbent upon us in this Legislature, when we are talking about forestry programs and changes to the bills, that active silviculture programs, the sustainability and renewability of our forests are paramount.

[4:45 p.m.]

Currently, we are looking at a situation in a bill that offers some support there in that regard, but, also, I am looking at areas such as Group Ventures, who are receiving very little, or a much smaller amount of funding than they received in previous years for that sustainability. We are looking at Group Ventures in my area that are receiving virtually no funding; 10 or 12 hectares is the amount of thinnings that will happen in our area when normally there would be hundreds, maybe even thousands, of hectares under those type of programs. The same with replanting.

I think it is extremely important this year where the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources have set aside $3 million in that program that is going to be bridged with private funding. Those private companies don't have their plans in place. Negotiations are occurring, Mr. Speaker, but in a year such as this and as the fall winds down, employment in the forestry is important. I really feel that the minister should commit some of those funds that he obviously knows are not going to be spent to those programs quickly and immediately. It has to occur within a matter of days so those contractors, those silviculture workers get back to work and there is some sustainability into the future going to occur.

It is very disheartening dealing with forestry workers at this point in time when most of them have been idle all summer. They have families to feed. The resource needs to be thinned and improved and there are no government dollars coming forward. The private sector will be onstream, as in the processing side of the equation, in the coming year. The dollars are in the budget, Mr. Speaker. It is extremely important that the minister commit those portions of government funding that normally would have gone, instead of leaving them in a budget surplus; allow that forestry work to be taken care of and allow those workers to get back to work and support their families.

[Page 2515]

When we look at what is needed out there for sustainability, obviously, supply is the key word. It costs very little to ensure supply in this province. That supply can be rendered for the use of local sawmill owners, of further processors. All those type of industries need to receive some priority of treatment in this province because they create employment. The shipment of the raw product, saw logs and wood fibre, directly out of the province in large volumes does not suit the needs of the manufacturing industry. It doesn't suit the needs of rural communities. It doesn't suit the needs of this province, in particular, and it doesn't suit the needs of government. We need those tax revenues to ensure that bills are paid, that services are provided, roads are maintained and silviculture work occurs.

That sustainability portion, I really believe, Mr. Speaker, is only addressed in a mild way with this bill. This bill does not, in any major way, ensure that there is going to be sustainability in the province in the years to come. It is a first step and that, certainly, in my view, is what we have here, a first step. It is going to require much more refinement. It is going to require improvements in regulation in the future that puts Nova Scotia first. It is Nova Scotia's resource. Let's ensure that Nova Scotians benefit first from that resource. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, when we send our postcards out from this province and we bring tourists in, we tend to focus on the ocean. We are Canada's Atlantic playground, but our forests, as has been said by many speakers here today earlier, are a real jewel in this province, not only to look at, but as an important resource and a source of income for thousands of Nova Scotians. I have the honour, and I do mean that, Mr. Speaker, of having several forest producers in my riding of Sackville-Beaver Bank. Each one is a small family-based business and very valuable to the economy of people in their respective communities.

That is why I was so glad to read in Bill No. 5, Clause 2, Subsection 5(1)(a) which would require government to enter, ". . . into agreements with buyers of forest products or producers to provide for the more effective management of forest lands in the Province:". That is a very welcome clause and one that I am sure the entire industry welcomes. I will tell you why I say that. I am hoping that if this bill is passed and it will, in truth even if it is not passed, that this government will not forget the small and medium-sized or family-owned forestry businesses in this province and will include them, and I mean include them, in any consultations that involve the policy-making process that will eventually and hopefully produce effective management of forest lands in Nova Scotia, as is mentioned in Bill No. 5.

Our policies and our bills that come from this House must stress the need to further develop small and medium sized enterprises. The best way to do this is to dole out not just money to large businesses, but fair treatment to all in the industry.

[Page 2516]

This brings me to the proposed Sustainable Forestry Fund as is outlined in Clause t, Section 19A of Bill No. 5. If anyone in this province has more of an interest and a stake in sustainable forestry it is the private woodlot owner who, by the way, makes up 75 per cent of woodland owners in this province. These are the very businesses that this province should be supporting, and I would like to give the example of Barrett Lumber with a 72 year history of business in Nova Scotia. I know that family wants many more years of business. This is exactly the type of company that understands and lives and operates daily using good forestry practices that include planting and replacing trees and getting a higher yield from logs and developing added value practices.

Bill No. 5, Clause 5, Section 19A does not say specifically who will benefit from the Sustainable Forestry Fund, but I want to say to the government that the public is watching. It is an increasingly informed and aware public that wants to see money go to our businesses, our small and medium-sized Nova Scotia businesses that have a real commitment to this province. These businesses want to run efficient, sustainable operations but as good as they are, they cannot survive by sawing air. They need wood between the saws. Unless this bill encourages and supports good forest management practices and the maintenance of our small and medium producers and buyers, they will go the way of the dodo. This government must take all of its focus off the Irvings and the Mactaras of this world. These are not the companies that need to be helped. Forestry is no doubt one area where government does not have to pamper big business.

The forest management policies in this province and legislated through Acts of this House must support local community-based companies better than they have in the past. That is my hope, that this bill will do, although it does need to be worked on. The minister spoke earlier about Clause 4, Section 10A, which calls for regulations respecting mandatory standards that will protect the forest environment. I am glad to see this clause and I commend him and his department for this. In fact, I welcome it and hope that if enacted, stringent adherence to this clause will ensue. We have to send a message to everyone who does business in Nova Scotia that we will not tolerate any form of slash and burn development. It will never be accepted any longer in this province to ignore our natural environment. I was glad to hear the minister indicate that this regulation can be enacted without negatively impacting on small business.

Again, I have to return to the small and medium sized businesses in this industry. Many of them have long been aware of and sensitive to the absolute necessity of protecting the wildlife habitats and watercourses, as is hoped will happen with amendment to Section 10A. I think at this time, and I would like to use as an example, another company in my riding, not known as an NDP supporter but a good company, Hefler Forest Products in Lucasville. Nonetheless this is a company that understands. (Interruption) Heflers are open-minded, yes they are and they are good corporate citizens.

[Page 2517]

The Sackville River flows right by Hefler's mill operation. Yet this river has never ever been negatively affected by this operation. The Sackville River Association has had more support than it could dream of from this company in successfully developing salmon habitat and, in fact, a fish ladder was put in where the river runs past the mill. Dozens of people just trek through the Hefler Mill to go and see the salmon.

I have to say I see the Minister of Community Services is still here but I do not know whether to say the salmon start down at the ocean in that riding and move up to mine, or whether it is the other way around, but anyway both ridings are affected. (Interruptions) From the ocean up, okay. I do know that if they go up, though, they have to come back. In closing, I just want to say that this is exactly the type of company that I hope that this bill will support. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak about . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Forestry in Truro.

MR. MUIR: . . . forestry in Truro, you are right, about this bill. I think we all know how important the forest industry is to this province. It has been well pointed out there are about 20,000 jobs in it and it is a major, probably the largest resource based sector we have in the province.

The bill is, I think, a good first step. In my short period as an MLA, I have been approached by the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association and a major lumber company, and asked for my support in establishing a code of conduct for the harvesting of forest products in Nova Scotia. So this particular bill, it is important to point out, I think, is not just simply an initiative of the government. It is something that the forest industry itself has been clamouring for for years.

One of the points that the forestry industry has made to me, Mr. Speaker, and by others in the natural resources area, including employees of the Department of Natural Resources, was the need for an inventory of how much forestry land we have here in Nova Scotia. As you would be well aware, Mr. Speaker, a major problem we have in terms of the industry and the management of it here in Nova Scotia is that somewhere between 70 per cent and 75 per cent of the forest land in Nova Scotia is owned by small woodlot operators. You can go to the big guys and find out how much land they have and how much they cut, so it is possible to get that inventory from the big people.

[Page 2518]

[5:00 p.m.]

A lot of the data that is missing is from the small woodlot owners who, for obvious reasons, don't keep close track of how much land they have, how much they cut. Quite often with small woodlot owners, Mr. Speaker, wood is cut on an as-need basis. In other words, if my son or daughter is going off to university this year and I happen to have a woodlot and somebody comes along and offers to buy the stumpage, then there is my ticket for my son or daughter's university education or my new truck or my new car or furniture for my home.

Small woodlot owners are integral in this province. They control so much of the industry that I hope the bill does not get lost as something to control "the big guys" because it isn't really the big guys who need as much controlling as the small guys. I don't create that statement myself, Mr. Speaker, this is what the people in the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association tell me, the Department of Natural Resources and also people I know who are small woodlot owners. Now, obviously, some of the small woodlot owners work in co-ops and they have good forest stewardship practices but there are a number who are not in these co-ops; therefore, the stewardship practices are not as great.

Let me give you an example of what I mean, Mr. Speaker. It is not that these operators are not practising particularly good stewardship programs but if I am a big company and I come in and buy wood off your lot, the silviculture and other aspects of management of that woodlot are then your problems. So when the big companies buy the product from the smaller companies, they are not, or have not been, required to execute replenishment practices. On their own lands you will see the big companies doing a very good job of forest stewardship. Most of them are very responsible on the land they own. It is on the land that they don't own where the major problems come in.

One of the things that happened with small operators this year, Mr. Speaker, and I did talk about this back in the spring session, was the reduction in the amount of money available for silviculture. The big companies basically have their own silviculture operators, they do their own, but the small companies or the smaller operators, if they do it, they hire silviculture companies. I am told, this year, by people in the industry that when this government tabled the budget back in the spring, I believe that the amount of money included for silviculture had been reduced by about 50 per cent over the year before and that money had basically been committed before the budget was ever tabled.

What that meant - particularly up in Cumberland County where my colleagues Fage and Scott come from - was that there was no money left for silviculture that was not already committed. So there was a lot of land up there that needed work this year and there was no money available to do it. So I hope that when the minister talks about implementing this bill that he will, at the same time, ensure there is sufficient money available for silviculture. There was not this year and we are paying the price.

[Page 2519]

As well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to add, my constituency is a service area for a number of small and medium-sized lumber mills. I would like to draw to your attention that one of the things when we operate these large mills - and I will speak specifically of the Sproule Irving Lumber Company which is in the constituency of my good friend from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley - when the trucks come through there to get to that mill, they have to come through the Town of Truro, these great big trucks, and go out through the Town of Truro and go across the bridge and they are tearing up our highways, our streets in Truro.

I would think, Mr. Speaker, that when the Mayor of the Town of Truro, Bill Mills, writes to the Department of Transportation and says that we need help because the forestry sector is tearing up our streets in the Town of Truro and requests maintenance money, that some ought to be available. I think if the bill is going to govern all aspects of forestry, then the infrastructure is something that the minister, in conjunction with his ministerial colleague the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, should be concerned about that, because infrastructure is essential if we are going to have a healthy forestry industry.

I was pleased, Mr. Speaker, to hear the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank - not Beaver Brook, we have Beaver Brook just outside our constituency and it was in the news today, a beautiful constituency - mention wildlife. I don't know if this bill covers it, but one of the things seems to me to be that we are seeing more road kill all the time, and one of the reasons we are seeing more road kill is that there is no buffer strip, or not a sufficient buffer, between the highways and the forests. When they go in and cut right up to the roadside, therefore these animals they go seek and they cross the road. I hope that when the minister is considering all of the things about this bill, that they implement of some sort of a buffer strip to protect the highways and, of course, the people that are travelling the highways is something that might be considered in the future as a regulation.

Another thing I would like to mention, Mr. Speaker, in relation to this bill is, again, living in the centre of the province, some days, when I am not on my way to Halifax, or even when I am, I look out and I see these trucks bypassing Truro just loaded with lumber or loaded with saw logs and pulp. They are not stopping between Truro and the border; they are going right across the border and they are going to mills in New Brunswick. In other words, there are certain individuals who are in the lumber business in New Brunswick, who come down into our province and reap the harvest of our forests and remove all that material across the border, into their province. If they do that, it means they don't have to cut their own forests. If they cut ours, they can take it.

I know that we do it and it comes back the other way too in some of those things, but what I am suggesting, Mr. Speaker, is that I would like to see part of our forest management policy as sort of a Nova Scotia-first thing. If we are going to harvest that material in Nova Scotia, it would be better to produce value-added products here, rather than sending it out

[Page 2520]

of province and then buying it back. (Applause) Now I realize that goes a little bit outside the scope of this bill, but it seems to me to be sort of a reasonable thing.

They talk about the state of the forestry report every three to five years. Mr. Speaker, I think that is a good idea. What I would like to know though, Mr. Minister, when will the first of those state-of-the-forest reports be done? The industry has been clamouring for those reports for years and years. I think that is a tremendously important thing. When your briefing notes were put together, one of the things I would have liked to have seen is that particular note at the top of the page, because that is the beginning point, rather than hidden down at the bottom where people might miss it.

Mr. Speaker, the forestry industry is tremendously important to this province. I certainly support the bill in principle, and will support it through to the Law Amendments Committee, but I do think, when we look through it clause by clause, there are some things, like any piece of legislation, as one of the members from the other side of the House said the other night, there is very seldom a piece of legislation that goes through this House or at least is presented in this House that cannot stand improvement. I hope that the minister, when it does come up for these suggestions, that he will certainly seriously consider them. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, like my previous colleagues, I stand to speak on Bill No. 5, which is entitled, an Act to Amend Chapter 179 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Forests Act. I appreciate the words of the Minister of Natural Resources earlier today, discussing in some detail the changes that are proposed in this piece of legislation. I appreciate him taking the time to do that. I am going to specifically address some fairly technical issues in the piece of legislation. I will discuss some of the areas around forestry, but also some of the issues around the powers of inspectors and officers as well, that I noted when I was reading the legislation that I would like to have put on the record.

I want to start first - I will go through in chronological order - Clause 5 of Bill No. 5, which deals with a revision and amendment to Section 19 of the Forests Act. In particular, in that section, to paraphrase briefly, we are creating self-regulation within the industry. In particular, what we are doing is requiring those who purchase primary forest products over a certain level to submit and have approved a wood acquisition plan. A wood acquisition plan is not specifically detailed in this Act, and I will get to that in a moment. But I want to deal first with the issue of self-regulation and the move to self-regulation, not only in this piece of legislation but generally within governments in Canada. I think it is a vital point with regard to Bill No. 5 and how it is treated by this Legislature and by the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2521]

Self-regulation can work. I have always been a proponent of self-regulation of the industry and those involved being able to be active in the regulation of their own industries and having an opportunity, because they know the industry best, and they are best able to provide input and feedback to ensure that the regulations that are in place meet their needs, but at the same time, allowing flexibility, so that there is an opportunity, whether it be, in this case, those with wood acquisition plans or even the workers to have feedback and know that they are able to be flexible in how they meet the end result of the regulations. It is not necessarily always the means that is best, but the result that counts.

In the case of self-regulation, there has to be a clear definition as to what the results are that need to be put in place, in particular in this case with regard to sustainable forest management. In particular there is the issue of the wood acquisition plan, which presumably is a plan that is put forward in this legislation to ensure that those who will be buying primary forest products are identifying exactly how that will be done. I commend the government for moving in that direction. However, there are a couple of points I would like to make on it.

First the issue of self-regulation only works if there is government enforcement. All too often, within Nova Scotia and within Canada, it is easy for provincial governments to say that self-regulation is the best way of proceeding, without actually using or having the ability to enforce the regulations when necessary. It is easy to say that those who are involved in the purchase of primary forest products will be able to create a plan, and therefore they will move forward and ensure that that plan is being implemented. But, if the government is not there to ensure that those plans are being implemented, ensure that those plans are sufficient and ensure that those companies and those individuals are doing the job properly, then self-regulation becomes no regulation.

The key to self-regulation is knowing that government is there as a back-up, as the enforcer in this matter. Sometimes government doesn't want to be the enforcer, sometimes they want to use cute words like facilitator or mediator. Those are important roles as well, but in the end, laws must be enforced or laws stand for nothing. In the case of the Forests Act, I would hope that the Minister of Natural Resources and his government appreciate the fact that producing self-regulation and allowing the industry to regulate itself will not result in better forest management unless the government is willing to take a leading role in enforcing it and that is a key component of this. The specific point I make with regard to this goes to the issue where some say that anything that can be done by regulation can be done by an Act of the Legislature.

[5:15 p.m.]

If you look at Section 19(4), as amended by Clause 5 of Bill No. 5, it states, "A wood acquisition plan shall provide such information as is required by regulation.". Quite frankly, the wood acquisition plan is one of the key components of this legislation, from my reading of it, and to allow the definition of a wood acquisition plan and the information to be in that

[Page 2522]

plan to be dealt with through regulation, I think, is a shame. There is an opportunity here for the Legislature and the legislators in this province to define quite clearly what is going to be in the wood acquisition plan. It allows for it to be entrenched in legislation so it cannot be easily changed. The old adage is, regulations are more flexible and they give the Cabinet an opportunity to change them where necessary while legislation is more entrenched and should be used for those things that should not be changed on a regular basis.

In the case of a wood acquisition plan, Mr. Speaker, I would submit that it is the key component to this legislation - or at least one of them - and therefore it should be defined quite clearly in this legislation so that we do not allow the flexibility that could potentially result in the whole intent of this legislation being thrown out. The definition of a wood acquisition plan and the information inside must be in this legislation, must be clearly defined, in order for this legislation to work. It must be entrenched so that the companies know that lobbying of government or discussion with government cannot change it, that an Act of this Legislature would have to change the rules that are in place.

That is what is required to ensure, again, that self-regulation works. This is a bad sign from my perspective. If the government is not willing to define what that plan is and what should be in that plan, then how can we trust them when it comes to enforcement of this? That is where self-regulation, as I said, can fall down. That is a very key point in this particular legislation.

I also want to talk a bit about Clause 6 of Bill No. 5 which deals with the enforcement of the legislation, as I talked about a little earlier, and the conservation officers and their powers. I will commend the Minister of Natural Resources for presenting legislation that updates to some extent the powers of conservation officers. I am not familiar with the current provisions of the Forests Act but I see there are some opportunities here to increase their powers or at least redefine the powers of conservation officers, and an opportunity to ensure that they are both being done constitutionally and not in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but at the same time done in a way that ensures that they can do their jobs.

Again, going back to the point, self-regulation only works if enforcement is part of the job. In particular, there are a few points with regard to this. Under the powers under what is defined as Section 32 of the Act, amended by Clause 6 of the bill, there are five specific powers identified, the first one being that the conservation officers have the power to enter and inspect any forestry operation at any reasonable hour. That is something that is quite common, quite well known and accepted within Nova Scotia provincial powers of officers, whether it be forestry officers or health and safety inspectors or environment officers.

The second is they require the production of records or documents in the possession of a buyer of forest products. Again, quite necessary that they be able to go in and obtain the documents necessary to ensure that they can enforce it. If they do not have that power, then it really limits their ability to enforce the legislation.

[Page 2523]

Number three, Clause 6, Section 32(c), "make any examination or inquiry as the person considers necessary to ascertain whether there is compliance with this Act and the regulations and any order made under this Act or the regulations;". Again, it is key to the whole aspect with regard to the powers of a conservation officer.

The fourth one is the ability to inspect or examine and to be accompanied by a specialist. The fifth one is Clause 6, Section 32(e), "enter upon any land for the purpose of performing the person's duties and functions pursuant to this Act and the regulations, including the monitoring of the implementation of a wood acquisition plan.". Again, a key component of this is the ability to ensure that wood acquisition plan is being complied with appropriately.

There are a couple of points with regard to this that I think are missing. First of all, other legislation within this province is allowed - and I think it is a good point, given the various officers enforcing legislation - the power to summons people in order to get information from them. It is a small point, not used very often but, again, when it is required it is vital. I think in this particular case the Minister of Natural Resources would be well advised to take a look at the ability to ensure that the parties can be summonsed by the conservation officers and give them an opportunity to have that power, when necessary - the big stick so to speak - in order to be able to ensure that this legislation can be complied with.

The second one is more of a constitutional question than it is a particular comment. That is, there are no search warrant provisions within this legislation. I know that the Summary Proceedings Act, as I believe it is called in Nova Scotia, does have search warrant provisions, but I do believe that with regard to searches most legislation now and most advice being given by counsel to the various departments does say that search warrant provisions should be put into the legislation to ensure that in the case where a search warrant must be obtained, the conservation officers not only have the power to do it but also have clear definition as to how to proceed. This legislation, as far as I can see here, at least the amended version, does not have search warrant provisions and unless this legislation has been amended - and it has not been since 1989 - I would submit that any search warrant provisions that may be in it now are probably out of date, given potential case law.

I would submit that the minister take a look at the need for search warrant provisions in this legislation to ensure that the people who are enforcing it are not going, in the end again, back to the enforcement of self-regulation; it becomes more crucial under self-regulation that we ensure that their powers are not only adequate but appropriate given legal texts. I think in this particular case there is an absolute necessity that they have search warrant powers where necessary. They may never use them but the fact that people in the industry know they have it and they can use it, makes them feel more comfortable with the fact that they should be complying with their own wood acquisition plans. That is vital to this piece of legislation as well.

[Page 2524]

I want to talk about Clause 7 of Bill No. 5 which deals with revisions to Section 36 of the legislation. In particular Clause 7, Section 36(1) states, "Every person who fails to comply with this Act or the regulations or with an order made pursuant to this Act or the regulations is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction (a) in the case of a corporation, to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars or (b) in the case of an individual, to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand dollars; or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both.".

The imprisonment provisions are quite specific but also around the range that most legislation within this province now recognizes. But when you look at the issue of fines, I must say I must make a few comments on that. More recently, in the past few years - and it probably is higher; I am not sure exactly what the level of fine is now; it is probably somewhat higher - if you look at other legislation that deals with the environment or occupational health and safety, which are legislations that obviously are related to this, health, safety and environment of our province, and in particular this piece of legislation, will for a long time be the definition of how this province deals with the issue of conservation and sustainable forest measures.

I think, again, if self-regulation is the way we are going, then enforcement has to be vital to this and that means there should be high fines to ensure that those corporations and individuals that may violate it know the possible ramifications. In particular, I am not sure exactly under the Environmental Protection Act that was passed by Dr. Savage's Government what the level of fines were, but I believe it was quite high, at least over $500,000 or $1 million.

With regard to occupational health and safety, I know the fines are $250,000. I would think this piece of legislation warrants a similar level of fines, particularly for corporations and if individuals are to have a lower one, I think that is something that can be discussed through the Law Amendments Committee. I think a $100,000 fine is a little low, given the importance of this legislation and the importance of those who violate it being properly punished by our courts. I think that is vital to this particular matter.

Subsection 3 of Clause 7, Section 36 which is also being redefined in this particular bill says, "Where a person has been convicted of an offence under this Act or the regulations and the court is satisfied that monetary benefits accrued to the person as a result of the commission of the offence, (a) the court may order the person to pay an additional fine in an amount equal to the court's estimation of the amount of the monetary benefits; and (b) the additional fine may exceed the maximum amount of any fine that may otherwise be imposed pursuant to this Act.".

I have a couple of comments on this one, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I commend the Minister of Natural Resources for moving with this particular piece. I think it is vital. It is something that is new in this province and I think it is good. It allows the courts to see where

[Page 2525]

profits have been earned by violation of the legislation and allows the courts to reach in and take those profits. I think that is vital to ensuring proper enforcement of this legislation, sending a clear message to play by the rules. Use our forest products, produce forest products, but understand that if you do not play by the rules, you will be imposed with certain penalties.

The other aspect of this, and I think it is crucial, is that the courts understand that this is in addition to the regular fine and that is what has worried me in the past with other legislation, that the judges in Provincial Court, when they sentence someone they will use this as an alternative to the main fines imposed. But this is not an alternative, it says in Clause 7, Section 36(3)(b) an additional fine. That is crucial and I applaud the Minister of Natural Resources for doing it. All I would say is I encourage him to ensure that is made clear whenever there is enforcement of this legislation, if it does pass this particular House, Mr. Speaker.

Clause 7, Section 36A(3), as it would be amended, according to this particular Bill No. 5, says, "Unless otherwise provided in this Act, no person shall be convicted of an offence under this Act or the regulations if the person establishes that the person exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.". This is the classic defence clause that has to be provided after the 1970 Supreme Court decision of Sault Ste. Marie now has to be put into legislation to ensure that those parties that potentially are charged with a violation of provincial offences, quasi-criminal offences, do have the ability to rely on the due diligence defence.

My particular concern with this clause, Mr. Speaker, is this is the first time I have ever seen the words ". . . exercised all due diligence . . .". Quite frankly, it is quite surprising because those are terms that are not necessarily well defined. The term that I believe is well defined in this province is every reasonable precaution. That is the one that should be put into this legislation. If this does pass second reading, I will pursue it at the Law Amendments Committee because I think it is difficult and disturbing that the government would rely on the words, due diligence, the term that is bandied about quite freely among a lot of people, whether they be within the legal industry or not, but within the legislation it should say, every reasonable precaution, because that is more clearly defined. That is what the courts have defined, that is what the case law says and that is what it should be. I am actually quite surprised that they would move to the words, ". . . all due diligence . . .", because I don't think that is the proper way of defining this.

Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of other matters I want to address before I am done. Clause 8 of Bill No. 5 deals with, I believe, the creation of regulations under the Act. It states at the top of Page 6 of the bill, Clause 8(j), "prescribing methods and standards for sustainable forest management practices to protect wildlife habitats, watercourses, wetlands and other significant resources and requiring compliance with the prescribed methods and standards;".

[Page 2526]

Again, I will reiterate my earlier point, anything that can be done by regulation can be done through an Act of this Legislature. To allow Cabinet to be flexible with regard to what I believe is a key point in this legislation, I don't think is appropriate, particularly dealing with this issue. First of all, if this legislation is meant to create sustainable forest management practices then it should be stated in the legislation how and what those practices would be. To leave that to regulation, in theory, Mr. Speaker, this whole legislation can pass unchanged and nothing will ever be done to define what sustainable forest practices are if Cabinet doesn't pass it.

It may be the intention of Cabinet to pass it some day, maybe they already have the regulations produced. Why not put them into the Act? Why not allow the legislation itself to clearly define? It is a crucial and vital part of this legislation and it should be clearly defined within the legislation. Again, the flexibility of regulation is not what is necessary and what is required for these particular aspects of the legislation. What is required is entrenching it in the Forests Act so they can't be changed easily, so that any lobbying efforts by companies that are not happy with them will have to result in a bill coming to this House and a debate much like we are having now, by elected officials. That is the vital aspect of Clause 8(j) and I believe that is what must be done. Again, in the Law Amendments Committee I hope to bring forward an amendment in regard to that.

I think it is vital for the Minister of Natural Resources and his department to clearly define what sustainable forest management practices are. They have not done this here. Again, maybe they have the regulations ready. If they do, then I urge them to make an amendment to this legislation and put them into the legislation to entrench those particular sustainable forest management practices.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about something that I think was raised by the member for Truro-Bible Hill, the issue of forest products being put toward secondary uses and tertiary uses. All too often in Canada, in fact I think at times we have been called the drawer of water and hewer of wood - or is it the other way around, I am not sure - but when you get down to the issue it is that we are very good at exploiting our natural resources, shipping them to other countries, having them build products for us and then sending them back. When we have these products here, I think it is vital that we ensure they remain here and as much encouragement as possible be done to ensure we build secondary products.

[5:30 p.m.]

Some might say the Forests Act doesn't necessarily deal with that but at least encouraging - and whether that be through motivation or enforcement - companies to ensure that some aspect of their primary forest products that are harvested here in this province go towards secondary production in this province. I am not saying necessarily it has to be done through legislation, it could be done through the tax system, or what have you, but I think it is vital that we start moving in the direction of secondary products from our natural resources.

[Page 2527]

Otherwise, as I think some have quoted before, we are on the road to becoming a Third World country that just wastes its resources and that is not what we want to do, Mr. Speaker. We want to move in the other direction and I would hope that this legislation would at least reflect that principle. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon and speak on An Act to Amend Chapter 179 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Forests Act. When the minister brought this legislation forward in the spring session, the Progressive Conservatives indicated that we were in support of this legislation. We considered it to be a step in the right direction, quite frankly. For several years the Progressive Conservatives lobbied then Ministers of Natural Resources, Don Downe and Eleanor Norrie, to do something because we believed - and we had it on good source and authority - that the annual allowable cuts in the respective counties were being exceeded. They were being exceeded by numbers that were quite shocking if, in fact, the truth was known.

This legislation here, I believe, has essentially three basic components. One, the government is rolling the wildlife guidelines and the forest guidelines into regulations. It should be known that through Voluntary Planning in 1987 those guidelines were basically established and while they are just that, standards so to speak, standards of principle, those guidelines, Mr. Speaker, are not as contemporary as perhaps they could be because the technology has advanced to such a degree that some of the machines and things of that nature that are now harvesting the resource are able to do so in greater numbers. The resource is being harvested at an unbelievable rate and the industry, while one of the major employers in the province, could in fact employ more. I am not suggesting we go back to the past but I am afraid that the job opportunities that were there yesterday are not there today.

One of the reasons is because we do have these large chippers, these processors and things of that nature. In a province this size I think it is very important that we do things in proportion relative to the resource because sustainability essentially means you cannot cut more than we grow. I am not saying for a moment that that is happening but I am saying that I am very concerned that it could be happening. The Minister of Natural Resources and his department does not have the necessary resources. I am not saying they do not have the necessary manpower because from the information we have, and we do have the Public Accounts and the Supplementary to the Public Accounts that the minister provided us with that indicate there are quite a number of employees working with the Department of Natural Resources. However, I do not believe that the minister has the necessary budget, and perhaps will not have because of the economic climate that we have in Nova Scotia today, I do not think the minister is going to be able to monitor and subsequently enforce this legislation.

[Page 2528]

What devices are going to be put in place. Conservation officers, Mr. Speaker, have already taken training relative to the federal gun legislation, Bill C-68. That is going to take some power, if you will, some people, employees of the minister's department, away from other important activities. I am very concerned that provinces, such as Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, the Yukon and so on and so forth, are saying to the federal government, look, our budgets are limited. You are coming in with legislation. You have a large surplus here, you have a large surplus there; according to the Honourable Paul Martin, the Chretien Liberals have all kinds of money. Why are they downloading the responsibility of the federal legislation, Bill C-68, on to the provinces, especially the Department of Natural Resources? The minister should be very concerned about the additional responsibility that his department will be required, and probably has been required to assume as a consequence of Bill C-68. It is really alarming.

Now, the forestry position paper, there are some key messages in this legislation. The minister tell us that he is setting out a new direction for forestry. In fact, if the department has the ability, and again the Progressive Conservatives question the ability of the Department of Natural Resources to enforce and monitor this, but if it has the ability, there probably is some support for his statement that we are going in a new direction, we are taking a new direction for forestry.

My constituency, the people's constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, has the largest number of sawmills in the province. We have eight large sawmills. We have the largest in Upper Musquodoboit, employing nearly 300 people, Mactara Ltd. You could believe, perish the thought, should that mill ever have to shut down. So I support legislation that is going to provide for a sustainable resource. We have Ledwidge Lumber in Enfield, another major employer, employs nearly 75 people on any given day, 75 people. The job opportunities and economic benefits that this province accrues through forestry is just phenomenal, unbelievable. Next to the trucking industry and agriculture, forestry employs the most employees.

It is an extremely important industry to this province, one that must sustain. It can sustain through careful management. Another mill is the Taylor Lumber Limited mill in the small community of Chaswood, just outside of the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley. I have had the opportunity, as a young boy growing up in Chaswood, to work at my relative's sawmill, and things have changed. That old sawmill was steam powered. No, I am not kidding. My father was a fireman at that sawmill, it had the big long tubes in the boiler. I had an opportunity to work on the slab chain, they called it, where they slid down the ends and run the saw. You have your hand and pull the saw back, and cut it up into slabs. Neighbours and people in the community come in and buy a load of slab wood. (Interruption) I still have all my fingers and thumbs.

[Page 2529]

The forest industry in Nova Scotia is very important. My relatives, as time went by, they purchased a mill in Middle Musquodoboit, and that mill is employing approximately 50 employees today. They run two shifts. They ship a lot of lumber, they ship lumber to St. Pierre and Miquelon. They have a contract, and they truck the lumber into Halifax here, take it down to one of the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism's favourite companies, Ceres Corp. They take in the lumber to Ceres Corp., it is unloaded, it is reloaded in a container and that lumber is shipped, if you will, over to St. Pierre and Miquelon. They have an ongoing contract, they have had it for years. By golly, in St. Pierre and Miquelon, they claim that lumber from the Musquodoboit Valley is some of the best lumber that that island has ever received; home-grown right here in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley.

We are extremely proud of the forestry sector in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. That mill, as I indicated, employs approximately 50 workers, and then we have, if you will, you go over Stewart Hill into the beautiful Upper Stewiacke Valley, and you will find Blaikie's. Blaikie's Sawmill, that mill is not steam powered, it is powered by diesel, but that mill employs, just a small mill, nearly 25 people right in the heart of the Upper Stewiacke Valley. They cut primarily stud wood. They ship that stud wood all over the place. They have contracts. Everybody is familiar with the term globalization and, in fact, that small sawmill right in the heart of the beautiful Upper Stewiacke Valley ships lumber all over this world; a big important industry.

Then if we move down from Upper Stewiacke, down through Middle Stewiacke, in across the Brenton Crossroads, you will come into the community of Brookfield. Brookfield is a very vibrant community. It has a proud and glorious tradition in the sports community. They also have Brookfield Lumber right there and, yes, the Brookfield Bakery. I spoke to the owner yesterday, Robbie Cooke at the Brookfield Bakery. He lives almost next door to the Brookfield sawmill and they make the best darn . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He makes brown bread . . .

MR. TAYLOR: Yes bread, but I am kind of getting off track here because the Brookfield Bakery is good. I will come back to the bill, Mr. Speaker, you need not warn me, I certainly appreciate where you are going.

The Brookfield Box Company have a hardware store right next door to the Brookfield Lumber Mill and in that hardware store you can buy any forestry product made today in Nova Scotia. It is just a fabulous little type of business. One complements the other. They employ nearly 60 people at the Brookfield Box mill. The owner, Ronnie Creelman, is a heck of a fine gentleman, and he lives in the beautiful community of Hilden, just a stone's throw away from Brookfield. Ronnie and his family employ a lot of people. The forestry industry is so important.

[Page 2530]

When you leave Brookfield, we will take a little journey down the beautiful Stewiacke Valley. Now we left Upper Stewiacke, we got into Brookfield, let's go down to Pleasant Valley, out towards the cement plant. Most people in Brookfield know where the cement plant is. Julimar Lumber Company, I don't know the owners well, but they are real fine people. They certainly appreciate an MLA stopping by for a visit, so if anybody gets an opportunity, stop in to Julimar Lumber because they like to talk to politicians. I believe they are actually from Israel, the proprietors, excellent people to talk to. I believe they cut somewhere around 35 million board feet per year, which is quite substantial. The mill is not as modern as perhaps some of the other mills, but it is a decent mill and it employs people in the constituency.

So again, Mr. Speaker, we will go out, and my learned colleague from Truro-Bible Hill, Jamie Muir, talked about Sproule Lumber, which is owned by Irving. Now that mill out there, when Chuckie Sproule and his father owned that mill it employed around 39 or 40 people. When Irving took over that mill - and there are a lot of people in here who like to kick Irving around - I have to tell you this, the employment numbers went from 39 to 135 at Sproule Lumber. I know the minister has been to Sproule Lumber, I trust he has been. Do you know what Irving said? Irving said, look, because all that . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: They plan to put everyone else out of business.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, I don't think they are planning on putting everybody else out of business, but they do have a problem with this government. I will tell you what happened.

Mr. Speaker, there is a bridge, an old, one-lane, horse-and-wagon bridge that crosses the Salmon River right behind Sproule Lumber. The Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Natural Resources know that the B trains cannot cross the single-lane bridge, so what the trucks have to do is go through the Town of Truro and tear the road up. The Mayor of Truro, Bill Mills, wrote several letters, and the MLAs for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Truro-Bible Hill wrote several letters to the Minister of Transportation. He always replies that due to budgetary considerations we are unable to do anything at this time, but we will look at it down the road in the future.

It is not even prioritized, it is not even on the list of bridges to be replaced. That is a shame because Irving now is saying look, our employment numbers went from 39 to 135, and our employees and the employer are making a large contribution to this province. The government does not recognize that and give it enough consideration and they say, well, yes, you know we won't be able to do anything in this fiscal year but next year, the plans are in place. That thing has been surveyed to death, especially when the election comes around.

The member for Colchester North knows exactly where that bridge is because one end of that bridge sits in the constituency of Colchester North, and I know that Irving has brought it to his attention that that bridge has to be replaced and I know that the Mayor of Truro

[Page 2531]

brought it to his attention, because those big trucks travel through the Town of Truro to get to the sawmill because they cannot cross a bridge. If they could cross that bridge right off the Trans Canada Highway, it would certainly be a lot a cheaper.

So you know it is nothing to laugh about or snicker about, Irving now has said - and I copied the minister, Mr. Speaker, because we have to get the forest product into that mill - Irving now has said that if the government does not replace that bridge, they are not going to spend any more money on expanding that sawmill. They have an opportunity to develop a shingle mill, and you talk about value added, Irving is looking at value adding a lot of the products and Irving also has a tremendous reforestation program.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, they do not leave everything up to regeneration like the government believes so much in. This province, on Crown land, when they were, and they are not spending any money, they have not spent any money this year in silviculture, but this province used to engage in some replanting. The forest nursery complex in Middle Musquodoboit - which I just received a press release from the Minister of Education today, is being converted into an elementary school - used to produce a lot of seedlings, a lot of little plants. It is strategically located but because that Liberal Government does not support, as far as I am concerned, sound forest management practices, they decided to shut down and sell. They sold the greenhouses that produced those little seedlings. They are leaving everything up to regeneration.

I have got to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the community, rather than see that big nursery complex sitting up there largely underutilized, supports the government converting it into a school because we have a school down in Middle Musquodoboit, the Musquodoboit Central Elementary School, that has so many deficiencies and shortcomings that we needed a school. (Interruption)

Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you very much for letting me digress a little bit here but the key features of this legislation are the buyer registry and, again, we have to question the minister. You know, the Official Opposition was kind enough to go through this legislation already clause by clause. It was very important we got the legal interpretation from the Official Opposition as to what this legislation means. I tend to agree with the honourable member that preceded my few very brief comments, that he, in fact, raised a very valid concern that pertained to sustainable forest management practices and just how they are going to be prescribed and who is going to actually draft them up.

The existing legislation is not clear but we do know that a forest practice code must be established. Animal, wildlife habitat is not being given enough consideration by some companies when they come in. I know in the beautiful constituency of Hants West that a lot of your resource is finding its way up to sawmills; some of the sawmills that I just named, in

[Page 2532]

fact, are recipients of your resource. I just wonder if all the harvesters are actually conscious and very careful of the animals, the wildlife habitat. It is very important. Different members have talked about . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You stop for deer at crossings.

MR. TAYLOR: Oh, absolutely. One time, you know, by golly, a deer jumped out by the ballfield in Alton and pretty near wrote my car off.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is trying to improve forest management practices and for that we are grateful but the minister is talking about establishing a code of forest practices for Crown land. In the legislation there is no provision for private land and, by gosh, 70 (Interruption) Well, the Minister of Labour is saying now, yes, there is for private land but I know how difficult it is when you are dealing with all the various stakeholders that own private land and you have the group ventures - they are not private - you have the Nova Scotia Forest Products Association, kind of telling you one thing. You have the Woodlot Owner Operators Association telling you another, the group ventures, this and that, and I know I have attended a number of meetings and, quite frankly, I was pleased that the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, I do not know if she is still the critic for the Official Opposition, she attended a number of meetings, too, and she raised a lot of good points about how this resource can sustain. I know that she will certainly be making a contribution to this debate because she has some valid points.

One area we did not talk about, and I notice the minister spent quite a bit of time this summer answering questions from the Progressive Conservatives about his government's program relative to the tussock moth. It is important, Mr. Speaker, because it does somehow devastate the resource through different means, the tussock moth and it spread right across Nova Scotia.

One of the first times I visited with Sproule Lumber since Irving took it over, one of the major concerns they had was the tussock moth and this government's inactivity. I forget how many hectares it was that that tussock moth was devastating at that time but that moth had to be brought under control. The program that the government brought in, while helpful, it just was not big enough. I know it took a considerable amount of money out of the department's budget and that budget was cut by the Minister of Finance, of course, and the Minister of Natural Resources obviously felt the wrath of the Minister of Finance's scalpel. As a consequence, we only have $3 million left now for silviculture projects.

I know the minister some time is going to tell us what type of agreements he has with group ventures for private woodland and sustainable forest management and just how that $3 million, generally, we do not expect specific details because I consider that to be business between group ventures and the minister, but I think it would be incumbent upon the minister to provide this House with details about just how the $3 million for silviculture is going to be

[Page 2533]

expended. I do not think there is a member in this House who feels that is anywhere near enough money to do the job. There probably will not be because we all have information on good source that the $81 million deficit may be double that or even triple that.

Nonetheless, this legislation has to be supported. We talk about smoke and mirrors and huff and puff but, by gosh, if you do not have the employees and the employees do not have the necessary tools to carry out the legislation, then it is nothing more than that, it is just huff and puff. This government went out and hired four enforcement officers. That kind of sticks in my craw that they went out and spent a great deal of money employing and in training these enforcement officers to carry out the necessary requirements relative to Bill C-68. That does take away, any way you cut it and I want to know and I believe the Official Opposition probably would like to know although they do not say a whole lot about Bill C-68, I think it is incumbent and in an effort to provide accountability to the taxpayers of this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: We are not debating Bill C-68.

MR. TAYLOR: No. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This province used to have, and I think it was in 1991, the then Tory Government was able to arrange some cooperative agreements, federal-provincial agreements, all resources: agriculture; forestry; fishery; tourism; and mining; all had cooperative agreements. The federal government indicates that they have a fair amount of money now and I know that the Minister of Transportation, the Premier goes to Ottawa every once in a while.

The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, when he isn't down in Cuba or Quebec, he could just take a little short jaunt across to the neighbouring Province of Ontario because we have got to have some federal dollars spent on our resource based industries. The federal government through fuel tax, through federal income tax, they extract a lot of money, they siphon a lot of money. (Interruption)

I absolutely have nothing against Ceres Corp. It is not Ceres Corp. And Mr. Whidden . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable members will ignore the remarks of the Minister of Economic Development.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, yes. This legislation will ensure that there is more responsibility on industry to replenish the resource. Who could argue with that? It is nice to make a profit and a lot of things are profit driven, there is no question about it. But you can find a lot of clauses, a lot of provisions in this legislation that indicates that industry shall be responsible and for that I do commend the minister.

[Page 2534]

The buyer registry requires the buyers to have a wood acquisition plan and that is an important component of this legislation. How is that supply going to be sustained and I have some questions as to who is going to monitor, who is going to enforce the wood acquisition plan? We are not sure of that, Mr. Speaker. When you look at this there are some gray areas, as there usually is, in this legislation. I think that the plan links directly to silviculture. Any way you cut it, if you do not have a silviculture program, you are not going to have a sustainable resource.

A suggestion to the Minister of Natural Resources. Ottawa is a nice place to visit. I would not want to live there, but I do not know if the Minister of Natural Resources had the opportunity to go to Ottawa and talk to his federal counterpart. We will not name names here, Mr. Speaker, but we have seen a lot of members opposite travel to Ottawa and come back, cap in hand. Every one of them that has gone up has come back cap in hand. By gosh, how about the honourable Minister of Natural Resources? Right now there are some seat sales, you can get a cheap rate up to Ottawa and I know the minister will do the best he can to try to bring back a reasonable arrangement, a reasonable federal-provincial deal, but somebody has to make an effort. Somebody is not getting Ottawa's ear.

In 1993, we had 11 federal Liberal members of Parliament and yesterday there was some discussion from the Premier and we are talking about money to fund this legislation. Different people called the 11 federal members of Parliament, the choir that didn't sing. As a consequence the choir didn't sing about forestry agreements, they didn't sing about agriculture agreements, they didn't sing about gun registration again, they didn't sing about hardly anything. You know what happened? After the last federal election there were no federal Liberal members going back to Ottawa. Now what we have is a government here that tries from time to time to have the people of Nova Scotia believe that they will be able to receive funds, they will be able to make arrangements with Ottawa and perhaps - they hold out hope, I will say that, they seem to try to hold out hope - Ottawa is going to bail them out. Right now, we have an $81 million deficit. I question how in the name of . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The Minister of Fisheries is rising on a question. Will the honourable member accept a question?

MR. TAYLOR: I would like to have a question from the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Business and Consumer Services.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: The member has been talking about representation in Ottawa and he has very aptly described that the Liberal Party has no representation in Ottawa. Unfortunately it is causing a great deal of grief, knowing we have no members in government caucus to acquire things for Nova Scotia. I contend the representation that the federal members are giving Nova Scotia is less than adequate and perhaps the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Does the honourable minister have a question somewhere in there?

[Page 2535]

MR. COLWELL: Yes, I am getting to the question, if you don't mind, Mr. Speaker. Just ask the member how effective his MP is in his area representing the needs of Nova Scotians and actually getting money for Nova Scotia?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, can make a quick answer and then adjourn debate.

MR. TAYLOR: I will just mention the MP from Sackville-Eastern Shore because my riding is represented by two federal Members of Parliament, the honourable Bill Casey and the honourable Peter Stoffer. Mr. Casey is very concerned about the forestry in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I see you looking at your clock and I don't want to infringe upon time and your next agenda, so I would like to adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that finishes Government Business for today. Tomorrow, we will meet between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. We will continue with the Forests Act, Bill No. 5, and if we have time tomorrow we intend to call Bill No. 22 and Bill No. 35.

I move we do now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

We have reached the hour of 6:00 p.m. and I recognize the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre who is going to lead the late debate tonight. The late debate is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia commit itself to acting on the proposal as presented by the Older Workers Committee of the Cape Breton Island Building and Trades Council.".

[Page 2536]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

LBR. - CONSTRUCTION (C.B.):

OLDER WORKERS - PROPOSAL ACTION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise in support of the Older Workers Committee of the Cape Breton Island Building and Trades Council in their document labelled, Third Force Volunteer Corps, which I have here in my hand. Perhaps after I am finished with my remarks, I will also table this document for the perusal of other members.

Mr. Speaker, as I am sure most members of this House are aware, the large unemployed group that now exists in Cape Breton, and this is not just to do with building tradespeople but people in all sectors in Cape Breton, whether it is the resource sector, anything, even the retail are facing tremendous cutbacks. Here is a group, these older tradesmen, it is an industry where you sell your services on an as-needed basis. If construction is going good, then there is a great demand for your service.

As we see today in many aspects, this service is becoming harder and harder to find for the majority, but it is even more difficult on those older workers. The workers I am talking about here are aged 55 to 64. That group, roughly 80 per cent of them are unemployed. They have been unemployed through no fault of their own. They have been cast upon the junk heap, if you will, because they cannot do their job. What is happening moreover is that this group is finding less and less chance to get employment, because employers don't want them.

We have no legislation in there to stop them theoretically from being discriminated against. These people can't climb like they used to. These people aren't as strong as they used to be, maybe. This whole idea is deplorable when one thinks of these people and what they have done for the workforce and what they have built in this province. They have built road constructions, they have built our hospitals, they have built our schools, they have built most of our industrial complexes. And when coming to the autumn of their career, they should be treated with some respectability. But what has happened is that this group is being ignored.

My discussion around this document today is not one of trying to lambaste one government over another. What I want to say today is, there has been much talk in this House about an era of cooperation. We would certainly want to be part of that cooperative group here today, Madam Speaker. I think one way we can be cooperative, and I will talk in terms about the province's role here in EI, and in particular part two of the Employment Insurance Act.

[Page 2537]

One of the sections says, working in concert with provincial governments, and I will read from that section, if I may; to give effect to the purpose and guidelines of this part, the commission shall work in concert with governments of each province in which employment benefits and support measures are to be implemented in deciding the benefits and measures determining, how they are to be implemented and establishing a framework for evaluating their success; and just one short line after that, on agreements with provinces, the commission shall invite the government of each province to enter into agreements for the purpose of subsection (2) or any other agreements authorized by this part.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is why this plan arises in this House, and we see clearly that the province has a role to play in part two of the EI Act. We are asking the provincial government to give this document its due recognition. This document would go a long way to getting people off the rolls, if you will, of the various unions and would allow - and it is important to note this - younger workers to get into the workforce. I am sure that many of you in this room know that the hiring hall practices, if you will, of trade unions are often first-come, first-served. So if we have the effect of getting a lot of these older workers, with much more seniority, into another program, then we will make room on the bottom for young people who are trying to get into the trades; therefore, I think that is one of the positive aspects.

Another one of the very major aspects is the fact that this group had the foresight to say, look, this is for all older workers, this is not just for workers who belong to trade unions - we appreciate that whether it is the person who is plying the trade on their own, outside the spectre of a trade union - but for all people, to be inclusive.

Another positive thing they bring up in this, Mr. Speaker, is that they realize that there would be an awful burden here for people plying in and plying out, so they thought about that and said, look, it's a one-shot deal, you are in and, if you move back out for some reason, you are out for good. They don't want this onerous responsibility on government, coming back and saying, okay, you were out for two months and we are putting you back in. It's, this is your program, go by it.

Another positive aspect, Mr. Speaker, is the volunteer aspect of it. In this document - when I table it, it is there for everybody to see, the host of projects that these workers are willing to take part in - it runs the gamut from sporting events to home repairs. They are doing things. They are saying things like, we will go out and help low income people, either doing the work or preparing them to do the work and teaching them how to do the work, which is an invaluable aspect of life.

I see it is not that far off when my time will be coming to a close, and I think I would be remiss if I didn't speak about the cost of the plan. Now the figure bandied about is about $40 million over the term of the agreement. Again, it seems like a large figure of money, but I say there may be money in an EI surplus that these people could use. I would think that would be money well spent. I think the money they are talking about fits surely into part two,

[Page 2538]

that it does go to a form of retraining if you see it as new workers getting into the workforce, and it is sustainable in the fact that it keeps on giving, it gives to the community. I think that this is something they vetted through different groups, they all realized it is a one-shot deal, not having other groups piling in on them.

I would ask the government to look at this, to give it support, to watch it grow and follow it. I think it could be a model across this country to help that group of aged workers, Mr. Speaker, and I think it would go a long way to alleviating some of the youth unemployment in this province, particularly in Cape Breton. I thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure and privilege to speak on the resolution. When I was in Cape Breton, at the workers' compensation hearings, the select committee hearings, I had the good fortune to be able to meet with a large number of the members of the executive of the Cape Breton Older Workers Association. They described for me the very large amount of effort that they had put into this particular project. In fact, they described at great length the plight that these older workers, particularly tradesmen, were having on the Island of Cape Breton.

I had the good fortune to be able to view a video that had been prepared for government by the workers and to talk to them about the problems they were suffering. What struck me was, and I must be candid, is that I felt that they had been - I will be delicate - misled by Dave Dingwall when he was minister, into believing that if they were quiet, did not rock the boat and did not make any waves, that everything would be fine and dandy. In the true spirit of tri-partisanship, I had occasion to watch the video and frankly the video had been attempting to appeal to the then minister Dingwall and took a little bit of a kick at the Progressive Conservative Party. I am prepared to rise above that because I think it is a good idea.

This group of workers have truly got problems that need to be addressed. What this group of workers need most, rather than, as I said, partisanship, is they need a helping hand from the Government of Nova Scotia, from the Premier and from the Minister of Labour. I would encourage the Minister of Labour and the Premier to look at this particular proposal, to talk to their Liberal colleagues in Ottawa and to get them on side.

Now the first speaker, the member for Cape Breton Centre, waxed eloquently about the technical details of the plan. I am not going to spend a lot of time on that except to say that this plan is good for the communities that these folks are from, it is good for the economy. It will take a large number of tradespeople with very sporadic income out of the system and allow those people that are there to become more fully employed and hopefully, maybe make some room for younger people to get into the building trades on the Island. I was struck because this proposal is not just a proposal to help unionized tradespeople, it is

[Page 2539]

a proposal that will help all tradespeople, whether or not they have had unionized positions in the past or whether they are non-unionized.

The amount of money that we are talking about here initially sounds very large. But it is also, of course, a one-shot deal to get them off the EI rolls, get them off the welfare rolls, to make them productive until their retirement years. We all know, from having spoken to many people in our communities, how difficult it is for many older workers in this province to be fully employed. These people describe to me the difficulty they had while they were working, many of them had worked at the Stora project. When they were working at the Stora project they would often times be the first hired. The unfortunate part is because they were older and perhaps could not be as physically fit as some of the younger people they told me that they were often times the people first let go.

I am not throwing bricks at anybody but that happened to be the reality of what happened and these people have had it tough. They are people who have, in many cases, gone away all across Canada to work in the building trades and have come back to their home on Cape Breton Island in hopes that they would spend their retirement years working and then retire on the Island and have not been able to do so in any kind of decent standard of living. I think this proposal has a great deal of merit and preferably would be fully implemented but at the very least should be looked at and if nothing else partially implemented.

I understand from these folks that they have gone to the trouble to make sure that the Government of Canada and the governments of the provinces are not going to be beaten over the head by doing this project in another part of the country by the old line, well, you did it for them, you got to do it for me. They have covered that base off. They know and they have made it very clear that they are not going to have other trade unions, other groups across the country, coming forward and saying, you did it for the unemployed people on Cape Breton Island. Now you have to do it for all of us.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that the Progressive Conservative Party has stood for is the principle that people should be treated as individuals, that each situation should be dealt with on its own merits. That proposal does just that. It allows those people to contribute, to have a decent standard of living, to have a decent retirement and to live in their own communities and to assist their communities. Some of the people I met with clearly felt that they were not contributing to society. They were not able to get work. They were not able to do anything. They were able-bodied people but they were not able to get the kind of work that they needed.

Mr. Speaker, you know, the Stora project is over and the large number of construction trade jobs that went with that are gone. We have to do something to help these people. I think, frankly, government has made - particularly the federal government - some tacit

[Page 2540]

commitments to these people which should be honoured because that is another principle. There is nothing that breeds contempt for government more than when people are given commitments and they are not kept.

I think that it is incumbent upon each and every member of the House to make sure that governments at every level, both federal and provincial, honour their obligation. These people did what they were asked. They set up the proposal the way they were asked. They did their lobbying in the method that was requested and, all of a sudden, the federal election occurs and Nova Scotia has the good fortune not to have any Liberal Members of Parliament. As a result of that good fortune, Mr. Speaker, these people have been punished. Well, in Canada I would suggest that we do not want to be in a situation where citizens are penalized for voting in a particular way.

Mr. Speaker, I would digress to roads, if my time permitted, and the interesting statistics that can be quoted in that regard but my time does not permit except to say that I think this proposal deserves the support of the Government of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada. It is a serious issue for these people and it requires real action.

Certainly, my friends across the floor in the House often tout the advantages to Nova Scotians of having governments of the same political persuasion in Ottawa and in Halifax. This is an opportunity to demonstrate to those people in a concrete way some small benefit to that which I have not hitherto been able to see. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I hope the Minister of Labour and the government will take that into consideration. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to provide some intervention on this most important resolution and I thank the honourable member for bringing it forth here this evening because I believe it is a very worthwhile resolution.

As we know, Mr. Speaker, the construction industry in Cape Breton is in serious difficulty and Statistics Canada reported a loss of some 5,000 construction jobs between 1989 and 1994 in this province, with modest growth in 1996. The situation is magnified in Cape Breton where the Cape Breton Island Building and Trades Council reports an unemployment rate of 80 per cent, as the honourable member has pointed out. The older workers in this occupation are at a particular physical and financial risk.

St. Francis Xavier University and the Cape Breton Island Building and Trades Council have a plan and this is the plan, the Third Force Volunteer Corp, Mr. Speaker, that will assist the older workers in the construction industry in Cape Breton and utilize these talents of many of these individuals in various communities throughout Cape Breton. It is certainly a unique proposal in that the older workers would be required to volunteer their time to new and existing community projects in order to receive benefits. I know that many Cape Breton

[Page 2541]

members share my concern for older construction workers as they attempt to bridge to retirement. It is an issue which is very close to my heart, and which affects myself directly at home. Having met with the representatives from this organization, I can certainly attest to many of the commonalities. The father of my colleague, Michel Samson is a former fisherman and long-time member of the carpenters union. His uncle is also a long-time member of this union, I believe he is in his 60's. I can say that because he has said that publicly. I am very concerned about their ability along with other construction workers who are past the age of 50 to obtain gainful employment in the face of competition from younger workers.

This proposal seeks funding from federal, provincial and municipal sources. First, this is the type of proposal that requires a great deal of cooperation, as has been indicated by both my colleagues who preceded me in speaking, between the federal, provincial and municipal levels to be successful. Secondly, I have contacted the federal minister in support of this program for Cape Breton workers. When I was in Ottawa recently, I met personally with senior staff from Human Resources Development Canada, and they have indicated that they will certainly review the proposal.

While we are committed to meeting the challenge of a balanced budget, we would be very supportive if access to federal program money is involved, because as we do know, it is a $24 million price tag. This proposal presents an excellent opportunity to rejuvenate the Cape Breton region, and empower older workers who have good skills and can contribute a lot to their community. This investment, and I underline the point, it is an investment, which could have a positive impact for seniors, the environment and certainly for our youth, as the member for Cape Breton Centre has so aptly pointed out.

My predecessor in the Department of Labour had contacted the Mayor of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality on this issue on a previous day. I believe he certainly recognized the need to look for federal funding for support of this initiative. In other words, both provincially and municipally, they have committed themselves to this program. There certainly would be many administrative and logistical details that would have to be worked out as well. That can certainly be accomplished.

The key is to persuading the federal government, obviously, that it is a viable program. The Department of Labour is committed towards working solutions that will support working Nova Scotians, and in particular in Cape Breton, throughout all aspects of their working lives. I certainly am focusing my energies as minister to further support these programs. I will just take a moment before I pass it over to my colleague, the member for Richmond, who has a particular interest as well, to point out on Page 47 of this proposal, that the total cost of the program is $24.6 million, but when you subtract the value of the volunteer labour contributed over the 10 years of the program, the real cost is $13.6 million.

[Page 2542]

I think, when you are dealing with 300 people who really need employment, they need a program that they can say that they are worthwhile contributing citizens to our community and to our province, rather than to be put in a position where they feel like they are just thrown to the garbage heap, as my colleague has said; 300 individuals, very productive. I think it is a very worthwhile program, and indeed they have my full support. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today and speak on this resolution brought forward by the honourable member from Cape Breton Centre. I certainly want to take this time to make it clear that I fully support this proposal brought forward by the Cape Breton Island Building and Trades Council. I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Mr. Cliff Murphy. I certainly heard his name numerous times at home. As my honourable colleague, the Minister of Labour, has indicated my father has been a long-time member of the carpenters union, along with my uncle and godfather. My father is now 57 and my godfather is, I think, around 62. They have been long-time members of the Carpenters Union and my honourable colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, pointed out that 80 per cent of the older construction workers are unemployed. I guess we have been fortunate in my family and my uncle's family that they have not fallen into that category. They have been able to maintain gainful employment the majority of the time, especially with the massive Stora project which created a great deal of employment for all Cape Breton workers.

Without a doubt it is something that is a serious problem and I would certainly ask the members to think how it must be when you are 62 years old and you are working outside and having to climb 30 levels of staging to work on some of the massive buildings they were building at Stora. I know myself, I am 25 and I can only imagine what kind of work it must be at the age of 60 or even late 50's, it must be quite a challenging task. The problem is that there are so many other young people out there who can do just a little bit more work in their younger years than many of these older construction workers. I certainly wouldn't say they can do the same quality of work because having seen some of the work from these gentleman, it is as close to perfection as you can get.

One of the main points that was highlighted when I met with Mr. Murphy, and it is an interesting point when talking about government responsibility, the point he made was that in the late 1950's, the 1960's and 1970's the government of the day in the areas of Cape Breton was actively recruiting young gentlemen to get involved in the construction industry. They were actively recruiting them. We saw the construction of the heavy water plant in Point Tupper, a heavy water plant in Glace Bay, was it, and a number of other massive projects. The government was actually encouraging many of these young people to get into the construction industry. It was the industry of the future for them. They were going to be able to raise their families on this industry.

[Page 2543]

It reminds me a lot of the fishery and what we have gone through with the TAGS program. That was another example of where government encouraged people to get into the fishery. They put out programs encouraging people to get into the fishery and making them dependent on them. When the fishery collapsed, there was a responsibility there that the government had to take care of these people whom they had encouraged to dedicate their lives to this industry which suddenly was gone. Mr. Speaker, I would respectfully submit to all the members of this House that the same comparison can be made with the construction industry, in Cape Breton specifically. There was a period of boom in the late 1950's, 1960's and 1970's and the government actively encouraged these people to get involved. They did so and now in their older years where they just cannot compete as they once could, they are more and more seeing that it is more difficult for them to find employment to take care of their families and provide a reasonable income.

One of the parts that I like most about this whole proposal is that it is not a handout. It is not a handout at all. What they are saying is that they want to provide a service. They almost want to become employees of the government. They say, put us on the payroll and let us work for the government. Give us an income with which we can take care of our families, but we are going to give this service in return. One of the things that really struck me was the issue of working on housing. As we know, the problems with housing in this province, the idea that we could have these skilled workers working on housing might be a tremendous opportunity for this province to address some of the inadequate housing that many Nova Scotians face, especially here on Cape Breton Island.

The one thing that I would emphasize to all members of this House here is that we know the cost of this is quite high. I think we have to focus our attention aggressively on the federal government and look for the federal government to take the lead on this in funding, but that the province remain actively involved in the implementation, but the money must come from the feds. We know the financial situation we are in. We know that if we are going to do this we need federal funds to accomplish it. I think the members should stand together united and work towards getting funds from the federal government to achieve this worthwhile program.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this. I thank the member for Cape Breton Centre for bringing this very important issue to the floor. I have had the opportunity to raise these concerns with the Minister of Labour and I appreciate the opportunity to have a member from each Party give their support to this proposal.

MR. SPEAKER: We stand adjourned.

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

[Page 2544]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

HOUSE ORDER NO. 1

By: Mr. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Transportation and Public Works:

(1) Copies of the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works road priority lists for both 1997-98, 1998-99 and the pending fiscal year 1999-2000 including a list of all work completed to date from these lists and for priority roads that work has not yet been undertaken, a detailed description why the work has not been done.

HOUSE ORDER NO. 2

By: Mr. James Muir (Truro-Bible Hill)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Community Services:

(1) A county-by-county breakdown including the number of children presently under the age of 19 drawing benefits from the Department of Community Services; and

(2) A county-by-county breakdown of the number of people presently on social assistance in the Province of Nova Scotia.

HOUSE ORDER NO. 3

By: Mr. James Muir (Truro-Bible Hill)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Department of Transportation and Public Works:

(1) All documented correspondence between the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and potential leaseholders during the search for a new location for the main Liquor Commission outlet in Truro which will change locations April 1, 1999.

[Page 2545]

HOUSE ORDER NO. 4

By: Mr. James Muir (Truro-Bible Hill)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move that an order of this House do issue for a return showing, with respect to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission:

(1) A detailed breakdown of all financial assistance provided to various sport bodies and associations in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 fiscal years and any projected financial targets to these same sport bodies and associations for the fiscal year 1999-2000.