The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Oct. 27, 1998

First Session

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pictou Co.: School Closures - Oppose, Ms. E. O'Connell 2719
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1322, National Post: Publishers - Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 2720
Res. 1323, Agric. - NSAC: Mindful of Earth Workshop - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Lorraine 2721
Vote - Affirmative 2721
Res. 1324, Bus. & Cons. Affs. - Economy Underground:
Town Visitation Prog. - Recognize, Hon. K. Colwell 2721
Vote - Affirmative 2722
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 47, Municipal Government Act, Hon. W. Gaudet 2722
No. 48, Highway Construction and Maintenance Act, Mr. B. Taylor 2722
No. 49, Health Services and Insurance Act, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2722
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1325, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Distribution Costs -
Unequal Apologize, Mr. R. Chisholm 2723
Res. 1326, Commun. Serv. - Accessible Transport. (Disabled):
Erosion - Acknowledge, Mr. J. Muir 2723
Res. 1327, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Business (Support/Criticism):
Duplicity - Recognize, Mr. M. Samson 2724
Res. 1328, Nat. Res. - SOEP: Agreements - Benefits Reveal,
Mr. J. Holm 2725
Res. 1329, Fin. - Min.: Maths - Basic Skills Essential, Dr. J. Hamm 2725
Res. 1330, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Business: Assist. - Expand,
Mr. R. White 2726
Res. 1331, Sports - Canoe (World Champs.): Steve Giles (Lake Echo) -
Achievements Congrats., Ms. Y. Atwell 2727
Vote - Affirmative 2727
Res. 1332, Opposition Leader - Legislation: Plans (Unions) - Reveal,
Mr. G. Archibald 2727
Res. 1333, Justice - Sunday Shopping: Stand (Premier) - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Fogarty 2728
Res. 1334, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ.: X-Project (Literacy) -
Canada Post Award Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 2729
Vote - Affirmative 2729
Res. 1335, Health - Home Care Coordinator (N. Reg.):
Approach Difference - Explain, Mr. E. Fage 2729
Vote - Affirmative 2730
Res. 1336, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103 Beechville
Twinning Completion: Workers - Gratitude Express,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2730
Res. 1337, Devco - Crisis: C.B. (MPs [Lib.]) - Needed, Mr. P. MacEwan 2731
Res. 1338, Justice - Lun. Co.: Probate Court Facilities - Plan Develop,
Mr. M. Baker 2732
Res. 1339, Health - Pap Tests: User Fees - Ban, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2732
Res. 1340, Educ. - ITI: Success - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 2733
Vote - Affirmative 2733
Res. 1341, Educ. - Digby RHS: Fund-Raising - Assist, Mr. G. Balser 2734
Res. 1342, Fin. - Mins. (Natl.): Public Statement - Issue, Mr. H. Epstein 2734
Res. 1343, Educ. - Women Entrepreneur (Can.) 1998:
Janna MacLachlan & Robin Sutherland (Shel. RHS) -
Participants Congrats., Hon. C. Huskilson 2735
Vote - Affirmative 2735
Res. 1344, NDP (N.S.) - Dal. Criticism: Objections (Lib.) - Unjustified,
Mr. D. Dexter 2736
Res. 1345, Culture - Novel "Lily": Author (Christina Gunn
[Whycocomagh]) - Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 2737
Vote - Affirmative 2737
Res. 1346, Opposition Leader - Prog.: Cuts/Taxes - Explain,
Mr. G. Archibald 2738
Res. 1347, Commun. Serv. - Disabilities: Strategy - Ensure, Mr. J. Pye 2738
Res. 1348, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Econ. Growth - Encourage,
Mr. H. Fraser 2739
Res. 1349, Culture - Music: Bruce Guthro - Accomplishments Applaud,
Dr. J. Hamm 2739
Vote - Affirmative 2740
Res. 1350, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 376 (Pictou Co.):
Heavy Trucks - Ban, Mr. C. Parker 2740
Res. 1351, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Sante Fe Galaxy II - Welcome,
Mr. G. Fogarty 2741
Vote - Affirmative 2741
Res. 1352, Metro Food Bank: Contributions - Applaud, Mr. J. Muir 2742
Vote - Affirmative 2742
Res. 1353, Agric. - Travel (Min.): Latin America - Documents Table,
Mr. John MacDonell 2742
Res. 1354, Public Archives Bill - Archaic Ideas: Amdt. (NDP) -
Introduce, Mr. H. Fraser 2743
Res. 1355, Maritime of the Week (ATV): Cathy Fisher (Springhill) -
Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 2743
Vote - Affirmative 2744
Res. 1356, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Upper Hammonds Plains: Water -
Fund, Ms. R. Godin 2744
Res. 1357, Halifax Chebucto MLA - Cynical Claims: NDP (N.S.)
Leader - Censure, Mr. M. Samson 2745
Res. 1358, Educ. - Chignecto-Central School Bd.: P3 Schools (2) -
Rescission Order, Ms. E. O'Connell 2745
Res. 1359, Gov't. (N.S.) - Choice: Correct - Important, Mr. P. MacEwan 2746
Speaker's Ruling: Out of Order 2746
Res. 1360, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM: Benefits - Snowing Stop,
Mr. J. Holm 2746
Res. 1361, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Attitude: Tiresome - Drop,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 2747
Res. 1362, Health - Black Women's Prog.: Ongoing Outreach -
Congrats., Ms. Y. Atwell 2748
^^Vote - Affirmative 2748
Res. 1363, Environ. - Dump Sites Illegal: Clean-Up - Instruct,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2749
Res. 1364, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - MacKay Bridge:
Lighting Improvement - Direct, Mr. D. Dexter 2749
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 321, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Distribution Costs - Promise Broken,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2750
No. 322, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Prices - Level (N.S.), Dr. J. Hamm 2752
No. 323, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: C.B. - Access, Mr. J. Holm 2753
No. 324, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Price - Assurances, Mr. G. Archibald 2754
No. 325, Justice - Westray Disaster: Prosecution - Reopening,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2756
No. 326, Nat. Res.: Nat. Gas - Trucking Rate, Mr. B. Taylor 2757
No. 327, Justice: Court Fees - Roll Back, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2758
No. 328, Justice - DPP: Search - Continuation, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2760
No. 329, NSRL: Chairman (Mr. David Thompson) - Qualifications,
Mr. G. Archibald 2761
No. 330, Justice - Supreme Court (N.S.): Appts. Comm. -
Nominee (Min.), Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2762
No. 331, Health - Care: Nurses - Wage Parity, Mr. G. Moody 2763
No. 332, Justice - Westray Mine: Prosecution - Info. Provide,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2764
No. 333, Environ.: Emission Reductions - Target Dates, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2765
No. 334, Health - Oncologists: Shortage - Address,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2766
No. 335, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Louisbourg: Fish Plant Agreement -
Status, Mr. G. Balser 2768
No. 336, Health - Long-Term Care Facilities: Strikes - Avert,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2769
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 34, Teachers' Pension Act 2770
Mr. N. LeBlanc 2770
Ms. E. O'Connell 2774
Ms. Helen MacDonald 2777
Mr. D. Chard 2779
Hon. D. Downe 2780
Vote - Affirmative 2781
No. 38, Private Career Colleges Regulation Act 2781
Hon. R. Harrison 2781
Ms. E. O'Connell 2782
Mr. B. Taylor 2792
Mr. P. Delefes 2794
Mr. J. Muir 2797
Adjourned debate 2800
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE (5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Secondary Roads: Neglect - End:
Mr. G. Balser 2801
Hon. C. Huskilson 2805
Mr. P. MacEwan 2806
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2808
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 28th at 2:00 p.m. 2811

[Page 2719]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 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 start with the daily routine, I wish to advise members that the late debate today was submitted by the honourable member for Lunenburg. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government re-examine its transportation priorities and ensure that this province's secondary road system does not continue to be neglected in the interest of both safety and economic reasons.

We will debate that motion at 6:00 p.m.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition from some residents of Pictou East. The operative clause reads:

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

2719

[Page 2720]

Mr. Speaker, there are 200 names on this petition and I have affixed my signature to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1322

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

Whereas Southam Incorporated, Canada's largest newspaper group with 33 daily newspapers from St. John's to Victoria, including The Daily News, today launched the National Post; and

Whereas this paper is this country's first truly national newspaper; and

Whereas the National Post will be printed and distributed in this region by The Daily News, creating more jobs for the local economy;

Therefore be it resolved that House congratulates the publishers of the National Post and wish them well in their endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

[Page 2721]

RESOLUTION NO. 1323

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

Whereas the Atlantic Agricultural Sciences and Technology Workshop, Mindful of Earth, is being held at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College on October 29th and October 30th; and

Whereas this workshop is sponsored by the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in cooperation with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing, our Atlantic counterparts, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and the Atlantic Veterinarian College; and

Whereas topics to be covered include environment and farming, new commodities to watch, biotech and biosafety issues, new international projects, new opportunities, aquaculture and research issues;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and its partners for organizing and hosting, Mindful of Earth, an informative and educational workshop that highlights agriculture's concern for the environment.

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 Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1324

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

Whereas the underground economy leads to unfair competition and places a disproportionate tax burden on honest taxpayers; and

[Page 2722]

Whereas the Department of Business and Consumer Services, along with Revenue Canada, have begun a series of town visitations in communities throughout this province; and

Whereas this process will help identify those who participate in the underground economy by consulting with affected groups to find solutions, informing the public about the underground economy and encouraging voluntary compliance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Town Visitation Program as part of the government's commitment to protect honest Nova Scotians and level the playing field for all taxpayers.

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.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, with your permission, before I introduce this bill, I would like to introduce to you and, through you, to all members of the House, the new President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and also Mayor of Bridgewater, Mayor Ernie Bolivar. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 47 - Entitled an Act Respecting Municipal Government. (Hon. Wayne Gaudet)

Bill No. 48 - Entitled an Act to Provide for the Construction and Maintenance of Highways and Other Transportation Links. (Mr. Brooke Taylor)

Bill No. 49 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 197 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Health Services and Insurance Act, to Prohibit Fees for Services or Supplies Necessarily Incidental to Insured Professional Services. (Ms. Maureen MacDonald) (Applause)

[Page 2723]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1325

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

Whereas the Premier told the UNSM six days ago that gas distribution costs must be fair to all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Premier explained that principle by stating that "Industry, which will benefit from a lower cost energy source, must also pay its share"; and

Whereas yesterday, the Premier caught in a deal for major industries to avoid paying any share of distribution costs, tried to divert attention by pointing to the transport toll that all gas users will pay;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should apologize to the municipal and industry representatives who heard his October 21st speech for wasting their time by pretending that this Liberal Government will actually ensure that gas distribution costs are fair to all.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1326

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

Whereas representatives from the League for Equal Opportunities were at this Legislature yesterday to impress upon members of all three Parties, the desperate need for accessible transportation and other services for Nova Scotians with disabilities; and

Whereas their visit to Province House was longer than expected as transportation services were not readily available to take them across town to their hotel; and

Whereas this ironic and unfortunate situation helped to underscore the desperate need for improved transportation services for Nova Scotians with disabilities;

[Page 2724]

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government acknowledge that it has eroded accessible transportation by cutting accessible transportation grants, and further, that it stop wasting dollars in wasteful studies, and instead begin addressing an urgent and all too obvious problem.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1327

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

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition has stated that the deal reached between Mobil Oil Canada and Stora and CGC for natural gas will mean other Nova Scotians will face increased costs for natural gas; and

Whereas this constant criticism of the efforts of Nova Scotian industries like Stora and CGC is placing in jeopardy the jobs of hard-working Nova Scotians, especially those in the Strait area; and

Whereas when Stora was celebrating the opening of its super-calendered mill, with a dinner reception in Halifax and one in Port Hawkesbury, the Leader of the Opposition did not hesitate to accept Stora's invitation to participate;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians will soon recognize the duplicity of the Leader of the NDP who, on the one hand says his Party is supportive of business in Nova Scotia, while at the same time, he is critical of those very same companies who hire Nova Scotian workers helping our economy to become one of the best in the country.

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

[Page 2725]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

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

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1328

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

Whereas the Sable project developers only predict Nova Scotian content will reach 34 per cent, plus or minus 25 per cent by the end of the first stage, Tier One; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas no penalties can be imposed if the projected Nova Scotia content does not materialize and no method to enforce a minimum projection become a reality; and

Whereas the Liberal Government's blind faith in their SOEP friends has and will continue to place at risk our ability to guarantee Nova Scotians gain maximum advantage in terms of jobs and business opportunities from the development of our offshore resource;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier MacLellan and his Liberal Government tell Nova Scotians the truth about the benefits or lack thereof of agreements in place.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1329

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

Whereas the Chronicle-Herald today reported that Finance Minister Don Downe was in Pictou where he whipped up a financial omelet for the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce; and

[Page 2726]

Whereas the omelet the former poultry farmer is serving up to Nova Scotians hungry for his promised balanced budget has been scorched by government bungling and mismanagement; and

Whereas it is becoming increasingly clear the former poultry farmer has no future as a credible Finance Minister or, for that matter, short order cook;

Therefore be it resolved that the former poultry farmer and would-be Julia Childs hit the books and recognize that basic math skills are essential to being a successful poultry farmer, a decent short order cook or, for that matter, a credible Minister of Finance.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1330

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 Opposition have attacked government over assistance to business despite the fact that over 900 businesses throughout Nova Scotia have received assistance from the Department of Economic Development and Tourism; and

Whereas a recent survey of businesses in Cumberland County suggests that a full 20 per cent of their businesses will expand by the year 2000, echoing similar studies in Pictou, Lunenburg and Queens Counties; and

Whereas the survey also shows that 40 per cent of survey respondents require more government assistance to achieve their goals to create jobs, not less as advocated by the Opposition;

Therefore be it resolved that the House encourage the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to continue and expand its assistance to business.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 2727]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1331

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

Whereas the World Canoe Championships were held in Hungary from September 3rd to September 6th of this year; and

Whereas Orenda Canoe Club paddler Steve Giles of Lake Echo won a gold medal in the C1-1000 race and placed eighth in the C1-500-metre race and ninth in the C1-200 metre event; and

Whereas Steve Giles has displayed extraordinary talent and commitment to the Orenda Canoe Club;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Steve Giles for his outstanding achievements and contributions to the community.

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1332

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 Leader of the Opposition wants to be Premier; and

[Page 2728]

Whereas the NDP reported it was heavily in debt this time last year; and

Whereas the NDP spent hundreds of thousands of union dollars during last spring's election;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition tell Nova Scotians the plans the unions have for legislation in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1333

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

Whereas on Friday, October 16th, Premier MacLellan stood in this House to announce that a request from the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors to allow Sunday shopping would not be granted; and

Whereas Premier MacLellan made this wise decision based on the concerns of small retail operators in rural Nova Scotia, their employees and their employees' families; and

Whereas a report from New Brunswick indicates that Sunday shopping does not increase sales for retailers, made no impact on job creation, and may possibly lead to higher prices for consumers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Premier Russell MacLellan for his compassionate stand on Sunday shopping, but also recognize that the Premier's decision is an economically responsible reply to the concerns of small Nova Scotia businesses.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Minister of Education.

[Page 2729]

RESOLUTION NO. 1334

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

Whereas the Canada Post Flight for Freedom Literacy Leadership Awards recognize the outstanding contribution of agencies active in the promotion of literacy and lifelong learning in our communities; and

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish has long been associated with a tradition of strong support for community development through education in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the X Project, a volunteer tutoring project at St. Francis Xavier, recently won a Canada Post Flight for Freedom Literacy Leadership Award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to the X Project and St. Francis Xavier University for their outstanding support for literacy in our communities and for the recognition they have earned through the receipt of this award.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1335

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

Whereas private home care agencies outside of the northern region are being called on to provide supplementary support to the VON in order to meet the home care needs of Nova Scotians; and

[Page 2730]

Whereas Home Care Nova Scotia in the northern region refuses to engage the home care services of private agencies such as Positive Changes Homecare & Nursing Limited, which maintains it has been blacklisted by the local home care coordinators; and

Whereas private, public and non-profit providers should be working cooperatively to ensure the home care services provided are effective and efficiently delivered to residents of the northern region;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health explain why the home care coordinator in the northern region is not following the same approach as home care coordinators in other regions of the province and, further, that he fully investigate the concerns repeatedly brought to his attention by Positive Changes Homecare & Nursing Limited.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1336

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 section of highway between the Beechville Interchange and the Otter Lake Landfill site is almost completed; and

Whereas the highway project is part of the proposed twinning of Highway No. 103 beyond the entrance to metro's dump, as far as the Tantallon exit; and

Whereas local residents are fully aware that this project was undertaken to ensure easier transport of metro's garbage to this site and, as a result, has been dubbed the garbage expressway, with absolutely no reflection on the quality of work on this stretch of busy highway;

[Page 2731]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation express the community's gratitude to the workers for the completion of this section of the twinning of Highway No. 103.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honorable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1337

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 current crisis in the Cape Breton coal industry centres on the Cape Breton Development Corporation, a federal Crown Corporation, and the policies of the Government of Canada; and

Whereas at present, due to the mistakes made on a single day of June, 1997, the people of Cape Breton suffer being condemned to having no elected voice within the Government of Canada until the next federal election is held, presumably in the year 2001; and

Whereas the greatest contribution the New Democratic Party could make would be to convince its two elected Members of Parliament from Cape Breton Island to resign so that, through by-elections, the people might have the opportunity to regain their lost voices in Ottawa;

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Cape Breton desperately need effective voices in Ottawa who can plug in to the government in power and participate in finding solutions, and that their right to effective representation ought not to be further denied.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

[Page 2732]

RESOLUTION NO. 1338

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

Whereas the Lunenburg County Barristers Association has had numerous meetings with the Minister of Justice and officials from his department concerning the Probate Court in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas despite the expressions of concern about the adequacy of Probate Court facilities in Lunenburg County nothing has been done; and

Whereas the Probate Court facilities require immediate improvement and the government has failed to appoint a permanent Registrar of Probate;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice meet with representatives of the Lunenburg County Barristers' Association to develop a plan for eliminating the deficiencies in Probate Court facilities in Lunenburg County.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1339

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

Whereas October 25th to October 31st has been designated Pap Test Awareness Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has unacceptably high rates of cervical cancer with 13 out of every 100,000 women diagnosed each year while the rate of pap screening is less than 45 per cent of women at risk; and

Whereas currently in Nova Scotia doctors may charge a tray fee for pap tests, a practise which discourages women with low incomes;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health make a commitment to ban user and service fees for insured health services such as pap tests.

Mr. Speaker, I ask waiver.

[Page 2733]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1340

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

Whereas the Halifax-based education company ITI released its financial report yesterday showing a revenue increase of 73 per cent from October 1997 to September 1998; and

Whereas since its last report to shareholders IT Institute opened a new school in Vancouver and will open a Calgary location in 1999; and

Whereas ITI is another Nova Scotia success story with 100 per cent of graduates finding work in the booming information technology industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to the management, staff and faculty of the IT Institute and extend best wishes for success to all students as they help shape the new economy of Nova Scotia and the rest of Canada.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 2734]

RESOLUTION NO. 1341

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 Digby Regional High School replacement project has been at or near the top of the school capital construction priority list since 1991; and

Whereas the project has now been slated for completion as a non-P3 project requiring non-essential facilities to be cost shared; and

Whereas the long overdue $8 million project is now causing local organizations to fund raise to address the very real possibility of an approximate shortfall of $50,000;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and Culture agree, in keeping with school fund-raising activities across this province, to coordinate a provincial bottle drive and bake sale so the necessary funds can be generated.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1342

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance attended a national meeting of all Ministers of Finance in Winnipeg last week; and

Whereas serious issues of importance to Nova Scotia were to be discussed, including possible use of the federal surplus for health care purposes; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance has made no public statement about how he fared in obtaining any benefits for Nova Scotians;

[Page 2735]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance issue a public statement forthwith on the results of the ministers' meeting.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 1343

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

Whereas the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Youth Conference occurs in Toronto on November 6th; and

Whereas youth entrepreneur students in Shelburne Regional High School, Robin Sutherland and Janna MacLachlan, launched their successful businesses, Robin's Relish and Janna's Fudge Factory, with expertise acquired from the entrepreneurial courses they completed at the high school; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas their deserved participation in this important national youth entrepreneurial conference is facilitated by the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Ms. Robin Sutherland and Ms. Janna MacLachlan for their enterprising initiative and business success and for the representation they give to all youth entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia by their participation in the Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Youth Conference next month in Toronto.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 2736]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

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

Whereas members of the Progressive Conservative caucus have stated their concerns over and over again on the over-cutting of Nova Scotia forest land; and

Whereas like roads, the NDP, all of a sudden, are muttering a few words about forestry in rural Nova Scotia, even though in their smoke-and-mirrors document entitled NDP Priorities and Action Plan for the fall sitting in the Legislature, the issue of forestry was completely ignored as it was in their election platform last February; and

Whereas the NDP Hansard archives, as well as their electioneering papers, are void of what they would do to assist with silviculture and enhancing the lifespan of Nova Scotia's forest industry if they were ever elected;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP inform Nova Scotians that, if it means attracting a potential vote, they are prepared to say anything, anytime, despite the fact the NDP will crank up their socialist agenda, upon being elected, while ignoring industries such as the forestry which is worth $1.2 billion to Nova Scotia's economy.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice motion is much too long and I am going to rule it out of order. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1344

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

Whereas the MLA for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour is one of many members who is proud to be a Dalhousie graduate; and

Whereas the Education Minister and his Liberal colleagues have wrung their hands and written their resolutions to express dismay that any member of this House would disparage the Dalhousie University Department of Education; and

[Page 2737]

Whereas no one could have disparaged the Dalhousie Education Department more than the Liberal Government when they shut it down, over that department's protests;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House, tea and sympathy from this Liberal Government is just as enjoyable as a visit to a tarantula's parlour.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1345

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

Whereas 16 year old Christina Gunn of Whycocomagh has launched her first novel entitled Lily; and

Whereas this novel is an imaginative extension of the medieval Robin Hood adventure, a story that follows the folk hero's long-lost sister, Lily; and

Whereas Christina has scheduled public readings of her novel near Lockeport on November 1st and at the Spring Garden Road Branch of the Halifax Regional Library on November 12th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to Christina on the publication of her first novel and wish her every success with her second novel, which is presently in the works.

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 Kings North.

[Page 2738]

RESOLUTION NO. 1346

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 NDP Leader of the Opposition has told all and sundry that he can't wait to be Premier; and

Whereas the NDP Leader has stated he believes in a balanced budget; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition has said he would not add one penny to the deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition explain which programs he would cut and how high he would raise taxes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1347

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

Whereas in late 1996 the NEEDS Project, sponsored by the Maritime School of Social Work, the Metro Resource Centre for Independent Living, and the Disabled Persons Commission, reported on the state of the services for the disabled in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunity has identified this broad range of requirements that are still not being met on behalf of the disabled in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the League for Equal Opportunities proposes a comprehensive strategy to address the unmet needs, service gaps, and service inefficiencies facing the disabled;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to take leadership and ensure the implementation of a comprehensive strategy for the provision of services to Nova Scotians with disabilities and that disabled Nova Scotians be fully involved in this process.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2739]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1348

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

Whereas a recent survey says Cumberland County business owners are so optimistic about the economy that 20 per cent plan to expand their operations within the next two years; and

Whereas this follows a busy renovation period over the past two years that saw one-quarter of Cumberland County's businesses expand; and

Whereas this survey mirrors similar studies in Pictou, Lunenburg and Queens Counties;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the economic growth that stems from the new optimism felt by Nova Scotia's business community and recognize that this growth would be halted if the NDP had a chance to implement their secret plan to raise taxes for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1349

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

Whereas Sydney Mines native, Bruce Guthro, has recently been honoured by the Canadian Country Music Association with a 1998 Rising Star Award, recognizing the best new artist in Canadian country music; and

[Page 2740]

Whereas Mr. Guthro's name, voice and talent have been known to Nova Scotians for many years and have recently received national recognition; and

Whereas Mr. Guthro's ability to successfully combine both modern and traditional styles in a manner that captivates the soul is a shining example of the deep and rich talent pool of Nova Scotia musicians and entertainers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the recent accomplishments, indeed one of Canada's rising stars in the music industry and wish him continued success in all of his 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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1350

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

Whereas Highway No. 376 in Pictou County continues to be used as a thoroughfare for large gravel trucks from Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas this highway is highly residential through Lyons Brook, Durham, and Central West River with many driveways, businesses and also schools and churches; and

Whereas residents along this route are fearful for their safety and the danger to their children and pets;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate action to close Highway No. 376 to heavy truck traffic, except for local service and reroute this traffic to Trans Canada Highway No. 106 and Highway No. 104.

[Page 2741]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1351

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

Whereas yesterday the Sante Fe Galaxy II drilling rig entered Halifax Harbour to prepare for drilling on the Scotian Shelf; and

Whereas 91 Nova Scotians will be employed in the total rig crew of 110, including the 20 Nova Scotians who received training with Sante Fe in the U.K. and Singapore; and

Whereas the rig will complete five wells off Sable Island in time for the first natural gas production at the processing plant in Goldboro, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with the citizens of Nova Scotia in welcoming the Sante Fe Galaxy II to our waters and extend best of luck to the crew for a safe and successful operation on the offshore project.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

[Page 2742]

RESOLUTION NO. 1352

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

Whereas food banks provide tremendous support to many Nova Scotians who find themselves in need of assistance to meet their basic needs; and

Whereas the number of metro residents drawing on the resources of food banks has increased by 30 per cent in the last four years; and

Whereas local businesses and community members continue to contribute their time and resources to support the efforts of the Metro Food Bank;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the contributions of the Metro Food Bank, its many volunteers and all of the local groups and businesses working together to help meet the daily needs of those less fortunate.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1353

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture spent taxpayers' money to go to an international potato conference as part of a three country Latin American tour; and

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture is supposed to be the ultimate spokesman for agriculture on behalf of this province; and

[Page 2743]

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture asked the representative from Prince Edward Island to speak for Nova Scotia at this conference;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask this minister to table documentation showing that taxpayers received value for their dollar on this Latin American tour and did not merely pay for a vacation by the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1354

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

Whereas the Minister of Education tabled a bill in this House that when enacted would revamp the powers of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this represents the first modernization of the Public Archives since 1929; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia NDP socialists continue to live in the past, drawing from the failures of Bob Rae, Ed Broadbent, Glen Clark and others;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP bring forth an amendment to the bill and have a special section of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia set aside for their archaic ideas and policies.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1355

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

Whereas Cathy Fisher of Springhill dedicates many volunteer hours to make Cumberland County a better place to live; and

Whereas she has contributed her time and energy to the children of this community by helping with lunch hour duties, the Springhill Youth Centre and the annual Overnight Hallowe'en Party which is held in Springhill; and

[Page 2744]

Whereas Cathy Fisher was recently named Maritimer of the Week by Atlantic Television System for her caring approach and her selfless contributions to her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Cathy Fisher on this award and applaud her dedication to her community.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1356

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

Whereas construction season is coming to an end; and

Whereas the community of Upper Hammonds Plains includes the drinking water supply for most of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas this community does not have water service but does have acknowledged well water problems;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Municipal Affairs take the lead in finding the financial means to help provide water to this deserving community as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

[Page 2745]

RESOLUTION NO. 1357

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

Whereas last week the Premier rightfully moved to provide Westray workers with their due severance, admitting he could not wait on the sale of former Westray assets; and

Whereas the Premier acted without considering the cold bottom line in this instance because he recognizes compassion for working people must take precedence; and

Whereas in a display of cheap politics the member for Halifax Chebucto used this occasion to point out that the deficit would increase because of this compassionate action, despite the fact that the NDP claim to support the interests of the worker;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP Leader quickly move to censure the member for Halifax Chebucto, remove him from his Finance Critic responsibilities and apologize to the hard-working people of Nova Scotia, the people who he cynically claims to represent.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1358

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

Whereas on Friday, October 23rd, the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board made a decision to go ahead with two P3 schools based on a flawed process including undemocratic closed meetings; and

Whereas Section 59 of the Education Act states, "All meetings of a school board shall be open to the public."; and

Whereas Section 141 of the Education Act permits the Minister of Education to effect improvement in the conduct and administration of a school board;

[2:45 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education use his powers to enforce the Act and order the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board to rescind its decision until all citizens of East Pictou are assured of a fair hearing in an open and democratic forum.

[Page 2746]

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

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1359

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 greatest single asset that Nova Scotia enjoys remains the goodwill that Premier Russell MacLellan possesses with the federal government in Ottawa; and

Whereas those who are unpersuaded of this should reflect as to how Ottawa would likely react were it to learn that the honourable Leader of the Opposition was replacing the Premier as Premier, assisted by the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto as senior adviser and minister; and

Whereas the shudder which passed through Ottawa on the election of the funny-money Social Credit Government of Alberta in 1936 or the disdain which greeted the first election of the separatist Parti Québécois in 1976 would no doubt be equalled or surpassed where such a thing to happen;

Therefore be it resolved that this House reject notions that we can elect just anybody and it will make no difference and recognize that the wise voter will want for Nova Scotia, the maximum possible clout with Ottawa, in other words the Premier and the government we have right now.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That was a speech. I will not table it.

It is not tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1360

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

[Page 2747]

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality's proposed $1 million cuts to its snowplowing budget would leave secondary roads unplowed for up to 12 hours after a snowstorm; and

Whereas this situation would pose a serious and unacceptable risk to drivers, passengers, pedestrians and would deter the speedy and safe passage of ambulances, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles; and

Whereas the cuts being considered are one more example of decreasing municipal services as a result of enforced amalgamation which the Liberals promised would actually save money but hasn't;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government should stop snowing the public about the benefits of amalgamation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1361

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

Whereas the Leader of the NDP proudly repeats his Party's pro-labour, anti-business claims each time he speaks to a union gathering; and

Whereas this past weekend the NDP in P.E.I. decided to ignore their own rules regarding fund-raising and will now accept political donations from business; and

Whereas federal NDP Leader Alexa McDonough abandoned labour unions by trying to jump in bed with business interests;

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask the Leader of the NDP to drop his tiresome holier than thou attitude, and admit the erosion of long-standing NDP policies prove that their outdated philosophy has no place in the global economy of the 21st Century.

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

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2748]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 1362

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

Whereas the Black Women's Health Program was established in 1996 to promote holistic health in Black communities of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas this program specifically relates to the Black woman, with an emphasis on all the determinants of health and is involved with ongoing community research as it pertains to Black women's health; and

Whereas the Black Women's Health Program held their first graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 27th of this year, in recognition of the participants involved since its inception;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Black Women's Health Program for its ongoing outreach and research initiatives in promoting education within our communities on issues as they relate to the health care of the Black woman, thus aiding in building healthier communities.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 2749]

RESOLUTION NO. 1363

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

Whereas illegal dumpsites throughout the province are of growing concern to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas there appears to be an ever-increasing number of these unsightly and dangerous sites; and

Whereas Nova Scotians expect government to take leadership on such important environmental issues;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment instruct his staff to deal with the clean-up of these sites as soon as possible and to follow up with charges against those individuals dumping illegally to the fullest extent of the law.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1364

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

Whereas highway safety and the protection of the travelling public is the number one priority of the Department of Transportation; and

Whereas the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge is presently undergoing substantial repair and renovation increasing the vehicular traffic on the MacKay Bridge and its approaches; and

Whereas approximately 80 per cent of the street lights on the approaches and the ramps to the approaches of the MacKay Bridge are not functioning;

[Page 2750]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation immediately direct his department to undertake appropriate action to remedy this serious deficiency before a tragedy forces this issue upon him.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time being 2:52 p.m., we will conclude at 3:52 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: DISTRIBUTION COSTS - PROMISE BROKEN

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. The Premier announced last week that industry will share in the cost of natural gas distribution. He did so in the House, he did so elsewhere. He vowed that the costs for distribution will not be borne solely by individual homeowners. Yet less than 48 hours after making those empty promises this Premier allowed two industrial users to avoid in sharing the costs of distribution of gas to the rest of Nova Scotia. As a result of the deal, the rest of Nova Scotia will now have to pay more for natural gas.

My question to the Premier is, simply, why did the Premier tell Nova Scotians on Wednesday that everyone will pay their fair share when he knew that a deal had already been cut that would make that promise impossible?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I said it before, I said it in Yarmouth, I will say it again, the businesses are going to pay their fair share along with the consumers of Nova Scotia. This is a direct sale to Stora and to Canadian Gypsum. These are anchor loads. Only a few weeks ago the NDP were moaning about the fact they did not see how the natural gas line was going to go to the Strait of Canso. They did not think it was going to go there. They did not believe it was going to go. Now they finally accept that

[Page 2751]

it is going to go and they want to know why we are selling gas to Stora. Well, I mean, it has to go through the pipeline. You do not put it in the mail. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what we are talking about here and what Nova Scotians are concerned about is what is called cherry-picking. The Premier does not want to listen to us. Maybe he will listen to John Parker of the Antigonish Regional Development Authority who says that this kind of cherry-picking will be devastating and have a devastating effect on rural Nova Scotia. The people of Nova Scotia deserve to see right now how much more cherry-picking is going to be allowed through those regulations.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask the Premier, because of the confusion, because of the controversy that has been created by this Premier's misinformation, will he ensure that those regulations are tabled in this House this week?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has it backwards. The reason that we have said that we are going to insist that natural gas be distributed throughout Nova Scotia is to prohibit cherry-picking, that the distributors cannot only choose the high density areas but have to supply natural gas throughout this province. It is the anchor loads such as Stora, such as Nova Scotia Power, that are going to ensure that there is a supply of natural gas going through those lines. That is why the lines were promised in the first place.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier won his Party's leadership back last summer by promising a good deal on Sable and he has been promising that ever since.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: But what we have seen in the last few days is that we have got cherry picking and we have got . . .

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

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier is this, Mr. Speaker, why can the Premier not make a firm commitment to table in this Legislature, this week, the regulations over which there is so much confusion and so much controversy, why can he not make that commitment here in this House today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I said there would be a good deal for Nova Scotia. We are going to have thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of investment, trillions of Btu of natural gas at a lower price than any other jurisdiction, an economically viable source of fuel. The fact that we are going to be able to benefit from this and billions of dollars in royalties, only the NDP could consider that bad news.

[Page 2752]

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: PRICES - LEVEL (N.S.)

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to question the Premier. The Premier, on Wednesday, did go to the UNSM and he delivered a speech, which I read. In that speech, the Premier said, the price of gas in Yarmouth must be competitive with the price in Halifax, Truro or Sydney. The Premier said, we want to set level rates across this province. What did the Premier mean on Wednesday?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I meant was that the natural gas in Yarmouth will be a comparable price to natural gas in Halifax, Sydney or Truro, that in fact that because Truro is at the other end of the province, it is not paying an exorbitantly high rate for natural gas as opposed to Halifax. This is Nova Scotia. This natural gas belongs to people throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, not just in any one place, and they are entitled to natural gas at a fair price.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the Premier that Truro is in the centre of the province, not at the other end. On Thursday, the day after the Premier delivered his speech to the UNSM, the Deputy Minister of the Petroleum Directorate indicated to that same meeting that Stora will, in fact, access gas through the industrial bypass, providing cheaper gas to Stora than other businesses of Nova Scotia. Clearly this contradicts what the Premier said on Wednesday. My question to the Premier is, overnight, did you change your mind or did the Deputy Minister of the Petroleum Directorate not tell you the facts, or did you simply not agree with the deputy minister?

MR. SPEAKER: Just one question at a time.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I said is what I meant, that there is going to be a fair price for all of Nova Scotians. The reason that Stora is able to get it at a cheaper price is because Mobil is selling directly to Stora. They are not going through the pipeline distribution company so they are able to get it at a lower price. That is direct accessing. The tribunal gave the bypass option to companies that want to set up in Nova Scotia. We want industry in Nova Scotia. Stora is a tremendous employer and they are entitled to a fair price.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, well the Premier has just clearly indicated today that his position is entirely different than the position he took as recently as last Wednesday. There is no plan for Sable. My question to the Premier is very simple. Following the request of the UNSM to have a comprehensive energy plan for this province, will you commit today to a combined effort of all parties of the UNSM to develop a comprehensive plan, developing a vision to provide Nova Scotia the best benefits from Sable that we can possibly get?

[Page 2753]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that plan for the best benefits of Nova Scotia is presently being developed. It is almost completed and I will be very happy when the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party has a chance to read it in a very short time.

[3:00 p.m.]

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: C.B. - ACCESS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, last week the Premier scoffed when I raised questions and concerns about the size of the lateral that is going to be going to Point Tupper and raised concerns about that lateral being too small.

Mr. Speaker, last week, down at the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Conference, I spoke with a number of councillors from Cape Breton, from the Strait area, who expressed those very same concerns. I ask the Premier through you, Mr. Speaker, why is it that he is scoffing at the elected representatives from that area rather than supporting them in their efforts to try to ensure that there is sufficient quantity to meet the current and future needs on the Island?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that I am not scoffing at the elected representatives of the Strait region, I am still scoffing at the honourable member. The honourable member and the NDP talk about giving a fair price to the consumers of Nova Scotia yet they want this gigantic pipeline, that is not necessary, that will drive up the cost of natural gas to the consumers. What we want is an appropriate size line. If we look at the 8 inch line that is presently contemplated, this will deliver 71 million Btu of natural gas per day. All that has been promised so far is 15.6 million Btu of natural gas a day. There is lots of room and that is without pressurizing the gas to make even more available.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Premier for not answering my question. The Premier, of course, discounts concerns that are brought forward by people from Cape Breton, from across the province and he can discount mine. He can discount those concerns as being unwarranted even though his government, nor Maritimes & Northeast, has done a proper market analysis to determine what the needs are. The Premier promised during his leadership campaign that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 2754]

MR. HOLM: . . . he was going to get tough with Mobil. My question is, why is it that the Premier has now chosen to put his faith in those companies, to believe Mobil, and your friends in Maritimes & Northeast, and to put your faith in them and believe that they are going to be putting the interests of Nova Scotians and Cape Bretoners ahead (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no distribution company is going to put a line in that is smaller than the line they need to distribute the natural gas. No one is going to do that. We are saying that an eight inch line will distribute 71 million cubic feet of natural gas a day. We have promised 15.6. There is a lot of latitude left. If the honourable member can make a case for a larger gas line, then fine. I am willing to listen to it. We are doing a study on both ends throughout the province as to the size of the pipeline that is needed. We are doing everything we can but all we are getting is empty rhetoric. You cannot throw that at the people of Nova Scotia and expect it to stick.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is very simply this, you are giving us all kinds of assurances that there is plenty of gas for any and all Nova Scotian residents and businesses who may want it, I want to ask the Premier how it is that it is possible for you to give such assurances when by your own admission here on the floor again today you are only now starting to do an analysis to determine the gas needs of Nova Scotians today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is plenty of natural gas. Nova Scotia Resources has 8.4 per cent of the natural gas which we have not allocated as yet. There is only a small amount that has been allocated by the other partners in SOEP. There is no problem with the amount of natural gas and for the NDP to continually make that allegation is totally ridiculous.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: PRICE - ASSURANCES

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. He was just talking with the member previously and he was saying that the 8 inch pipe across the Strait was fine and last spring the Premier was saying that it was 12 inches or nothing and now we are getting 8 inches and he is arguing that it is good. I am just wondering, the Premier indicated that it was good and the government has been thinking it is great that Stora is able to go through the buy back and pick up natural gas. (Interruptions) Pardon me?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 2755]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the NDP are so nice, aren't they? Bowater is considerably farther away from the gas source than Stora. What assurance can the Premier give us under the postage stamp program that Bowater is going to have gas at the same availability and at the same price as Stora?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the natural gas line to the Strait may be 8 inches, it may need to be more. All I am saying is we are doing a study and the amount that can be carried in that line is 71 million cubic feet a day. We have only committed 15.6 million cubic feet a day. There is room for five times more natural gas in that line without compression. Now the Opposition has got to make a case for a larger line and we are looking into it because we said we would. We are doing everything we can to give assurance to the people of Nova Scotia, but this is absolutely a waste of time.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, we have the postage stamp system of pricing in Nova Scotia and they used to have that in Alberta but they are doing away with it. Could the Premier indicate what effect that is going to have on the pricing of natural gas in Nova Scotia now that the oil companies, all of them, CAP and the Small Producers Association, all the players in Alberta have agreed to do away with the postage stamp system and from now on people purchasing gas, the consumer, is going to be paying for the gas depending on how far they are from the source? What effect is this going to have on Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have given the assurance to Nova Scotians that the price throughout the province is going to be comparable from Yarmouth to the price in Halifax, Truro or Sydney, as has been accurately recited by the NDP. With respect to Bowater, if they want a direct sale from Mobil, Shell or Imperial, then they have got to approach them for that option. That is up to them, it is a straight business deal. It will only be allowed by the Province of Nova Scotia if it is perceived by the Province of Nova Scotia to be in the public interest to do so.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier brings up something else that is equally important. Under the legislation and under the agreement that was negotiated last spring by the Natural Energy Board, Nova Scotians do not have any say in the pipelines that are part of the program going from Halifax and the one going across to the Strait. Those are being administered by NEB . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Pardon?

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Do you have one?

[Page 2756]

MR. SPEAKER: You are on your third supplementary.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of fairness I want to know how the Premier can stand in the House and tell us that there is any fairness involved between Bowater and Stora when, in fact, it is the National Energy Board that is controlling it and not the Utility and Review Board?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is awfully hard to stand in the House and explain anything after that. The Utility and Review Board will have the control of the laterals from Halifax south and from Port Hawkesbury north. They will be dealing with them fairly and in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia.

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

JUSTICE - WESTRAY DISASTER: PROSECUTION - REOPENING

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice. I want to take the minister back to June 30, 1998, a day which I am sure he will recall, it is the day this House closed and it is also the day that the Westray prosecution was stayed. To the chagrin of many people that was done and it is probably a coincidence that it happened on the last day of the spring sitting. It has been widely reported that there is still a chance that the Westray case could be reopened. In fact, Justice Kaufman is reviewing the prosecution and may very well make that recommendation.

Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Justice. Will the minister now tell this House whether or not it is his understanding that there still remains a possibility that the Westray prosecution could be restarted?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member has mentioned, Justice Kaufman is conducting an inquiry. He has recently made the public statement that he would look into Westray and expand his inquiry into matters surrounding that. He has designated two lawyers to work on that particularly, and he will be making recommendations to that effect. In answer to the question, that would be one possibility, that Justice Kaufman could make that recommendation to extend an inquiry.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Minister of Justice. Well, it has come to my attention that it is not possible for the Westray prosecution to be restarted. The Public Prosecution Service has given an irrevocable promise, called an undertaking, that the prosecution will never be started again. My question to this minister, why has this minister buried this undertaking and shut out the families of Westray to prevent justice in this case?

[Page 2757]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Public Prosecution Service has made certain statements relative to this matter; that is correct. Those statements have made it difficult, perhaps, to open the case. I am not quite sure what the honourable member is quoting, that it cannot be opened. The matter will receive Justice Kaufman's report, and we will go from there. The statements have been made though, by learned people, that it is considered in light of the statements made by the Public Prosecution Service that any prosecution on the Westray matter would be difficult in a court of law.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice has fumbled the ball on this prosecution from day one. In particular, he should know - and if he was a lawyer, he might very well know - that a verbal undertaking is as good as a written undertaking. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question, please.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question to the Minister of Justice, will he table that undertaking in the House by this time tomorrow?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House, and I make no apologies to the House or to that member or the people of Nova Scotia for the fact that I am not a lawyer. I have been a member of this House of Assembly since 1984. I take my job very seriously, and I will conduct my business in a thoughtful and caring manner, as well as I can do; that is all that any member of the House can do. As far as that type of comment, I am not standing here to defend my ability in that. (Applause)

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

NAT. RES.: NAT. GAS - TRUCKING RATE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Premier a question. When oil companies and contractors set up shop in the provinces of New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, they are required by law, by contract, and by the benefits package to honour and respect the national pipeline oilfield trucking rate. Why is that not upheld here in the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there was a disturbance in the Strait area where there was a blockade, and that was looked into. We are quite prepared as a government to meet with the truckers on this question. There are varying rates, and those rates are negotiated according to the job. That is when the job is under way, it is a cause for discussion between the truckers and the contractors. This is something that is open, and we are quite prepared to discuss it with the honourable member or truckers, but we are certainly not going to unilaterally make a pronouncement on that.

[Page 2758]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in a previous Question Period I asked the Minister of Transportation and Public Works what leadership role he was providing and he, essentially, told us that he wasn't providing any. So, again, I go to the Premier, who is the minister responsible for energy in this province. Nova Scotia truckers are clearly being shut out, they are being offered Depression era and starvation wages, $19 an hour and their counterparts in New Brunswick are getting $65 an hour, for working on a project that is essentially related to our resource. Again, I appeal to the Premier, what steps, what measures are you going to take as the First Minister of this province to ensure that the Nova Scotia trucker is offered a job, not only offered a job, but is offered a fair rate?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have tremendous respect for the truckers in Nova Scotia but they haven't come to me to make any application. I presume they have to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, so I will turn the question to him.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I would like to inform the honourable member that as we had said the other day, it is a private company but we do support the truckers here in the Province of Nova Scotia and I will certainly take it on, to get in touch with them to try to sort this out and encourage them to meet with the two parties, so that they can work something out. If we can be a go-between or a liaison, we would certainly want to do that.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, we do have, as the government knows, the Canada-Nova Scotia accord. We do have a contract, this province has a contract between the Sable Offshore Energy Project and again, I wonder who is responsible? I ask the Premier if he and his government are not responsible to ensure that the trucking component of the pipeline project is honoured and adhered to in this province and respected?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have given my assurance to that honourable member in the House that we want Nova Scotians to benefit as much as possible from the offshore natural gas and that certainly includes the truckers. I take his comments as being very constructive and we will do what we can to make this a more suitable arrangement.

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

JUSTICE: COURT FEES - ROLL BACK

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is again to the Minister of Justice. We know that back in late September this minister increased the court fees, an illegal tax that was placed on the people of Nova Scotia. In a resolution dated, October 16, 1998, and I will table it for the House, a council of the Nova Scotia Barristers'

[Page 2759]

Society, which included such prominent Liberals as John Young and Dara Gordon condemned the Liberal implementation of higher fees and asked that they be suspended.

My question to the Minister of Justice is straight. In light of such strong opposition, will you now pledge to roll back these fees?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member called this an illegal tax and I am not sure that is proper within the House, if he has evidence of that.

The Department of Justice has moved to improving services, technology within the court system, to bring it into modern times. The honourable member knows that. The public interest will best be served through these measures. I am totally convinced of that. It is bringing the court fees in line with other provinces and it is fair and just. As far as the public interest, I think the public interest will be better served by that. I will not respond to the public opinion and the representations made but we will review that it will not interfere with the representation of justice.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Well, I say they are an illegal tax for a good reason, Mr. Speaker, because last Thursday in a Supreme Court of Canada decision, the Supreme Court of Canada found very similar fees in Ontario unconstitutional. Now, in light of that decision, in light of the overwhelming condemnation by the various stakeholders in this province, why does the Minister of Justice still insist on forcing these taxes on Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, these are fees within the court system. They are quite fair and they are just and they will not interfere with the administration of justice. The honourable member is referring to probate tax in Ontario and if I could quote, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: No, you cannot.

Order, please.

DR. SMITH: Can I quote from the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Very briefly, not to read the whole thing, no.

DR. SMITH: No, Mr. Speaker, I would never do that, no, but it has been quoted that had the Ontario New Democratic Government not grown too greedy in 1992 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cole-Harbour Eastern Passage, your final supplementary. The honourable minister will take his seat. (Applause)

[Page 2760]

Order, please.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, a court fee is a court fee and this court fee is an illegal tax grab and why is this Minister of Justice continuing to impose it on the people of Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, to allow the proper administration of justice and within the court system, we are addressing the technology and the other changes. These court fees will go to that. It has put us in the middle of the pack overall with our court fees. They are fair and they are just.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, a new question.

JUSTICE - DPP: SEARCH - CONTINUATION

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question is again for the Minister of Justice. The Honourable Fred Kaufman, the justice from Quebec, is currently conducting a review of the prosecution service. My question for the minister, given Justice Kaufman is currently reviewing the Public Prosecution Services, is the Minister of Justice continuing to search for a Director of Public Prosecutions?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Good question, Mr. Speaker. This has been advertised. This position has been advertised. It is a very important position. We have had good people in that position who for some reason have chosen not to serve in this province. The list is in. It is being handled through the Human Resources Department and this is actively being pursued.

It has been pointed out to me that my light was off when I mentioned that the Ontario New Democratic Party had increased the fees times three.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on August 6th, in the Chronicle-Herald, the Crown Attorneys made it quite clear to this Minister of Justice that he should delay selection of a DPP until Justice Kaufman has had a chance to make his comments known. Given that Justice Kaufman is reviewing this matter and given that his recommendations are going to be crucial with regard to the selection of a DPP, will this Minister of Justice stop his search for a DPP until Mr. Kaufman has had a chance to complete his review?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the member. I think this is a very valid question and it is of concern. It has been the matter of some discussion. However, you cannot have it both ways. We get criticized for not having a director in place. We are going through the proper process and I think that that person, if properly chosen, will be able to adapt to

[Page 2761]

whatever recommendations that Justice Kaufman will make. I have every confidence in that. If the process in some way needs to be revisited, then it can be. Right now we are pursuing, looking for an individual that I hope will be capable and I am sure they will.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, Justice Kaufman's report quite clearly is going to have a direct impact on what the Director of Public Prosecutions will do and who it should be. So my question to the Minister of Justice is this. Don't you think, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Justice is crippling the ability of Justice Kaufman to do a legitimate review of the Public Prosecution Services?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that honourable member has met with Justice Kaufman at least on two occasions. If his opinion of him speaks so lowly, that it would cripple in some way some activities of advertising in a newspaper for a position, then really that discredits that honourable person. I cannot respond in a different way.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NSRL: CHAIRMAN (MR. DAVID THOMPSON) - QUALIFICATIONS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier who is the minister in charge of energy for the province. I am just wondering, I have been told by a couple of different people that Mr. David Thompson, formerly on the staff of the Premier, is now the person in charge of NSRL. I am just wondering, could the Premier indicate whether that is true and what the qualifications for the position were?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson was Chairman of the Board of Nova Scotia Resources Limited when he was also Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning. He is no longer Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning, but he is still Chairman of the Board of Nova Scotia Resources Limited.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Now, NSRL is the same Crown Corporation that Mr. Jim Livingstone used to work for, and you remember they fired him and had to give him $500,000 after they fired him. I am just wondering, what is the salary of Mr. Thompson where he is working as Chairman of the Board of Nova Scotia Resources Limited?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson is continuing on in the salary that he had as Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning. He never did get anything for being Chairman of the Board of Nova Scotia Resources Limited and he is not getting any extra remuneration for that now.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Now I am shocked, really. The Premier has indicated that his salary is the same as a deputy minister's, roughly $100,000. He is no longer having to do the work in the Premier's Office, all he is doing is part

[Page 2762]

time over at Nova Scotia Resources Limited. I am just wondering, why didn't the Premier advertise the position of Chairman of the Board of Nova Scotia Resources Limited, to try to hire somebody with some oil and gas qualifications rather than put in a political person who has been around since years? I am just wondering, are we getting any value for the money? I mean, $100,000, you could have gotten a lot of people to work for that.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson is getting a lot less than Jim Livingstone was getting. He is working there as he was before, in the same position as he was before.

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

JUSTICE - SUPREME COURT (N.S.):

APPTS. COMM. - NOMINEE (MIN.)

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, again through you, my question is to the Minister of Justice. Getting back to June 30th of this year, it was clearly a black day for justice in this province. A prominent Liberal was also appointed on that day to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Heather Robertson was appointed after being approved by the Federal Justice Appointment Advisory Committee. Will the minister confirm one member on the appointments committee was nominated by him, and will he tell this House who that nominee was?

HON. JAMES SMITH: I am lost for the name of the person; I will provide it to the honourable member.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my sources tell me it is Bill Wade from Port Williams.

Another member of that committee, Justice Nancy Bateman of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, resigned, apparently because of the appointment of Justice Robertson and a letter was sent to all the members of that committee. My question to the Minister of Justice. Our caucus has filed a Freedom of Information request, will this minister now instruct his representative, Mr. Wade, on that committee, to release the letter of Justice Bateman?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, would I instruct a member of a committee to act in a certain way? Of course not. What is this this afternoon? A character assassination or what, from that person? The appointments are made, they are qualified and the proper appointment procedures have been followed.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: The idea that this Minister of Justice has no control over Mr. Wade is just laughable. He has given lots of money to this Liberal Party and is also involved in the P3 school contracts. Mr. Wade is on this committee, either as a Liberal favour or as the

[Page 2763]

eyes and ears of the Minister of Justice. My question to the Minister of Justice, will this minister stop hiding the truth and order Mr. Wade to release the letter?

[3:30 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Freedom of Information requests are handled in an appropriate manner. It is well known to that honourable member and that process will be followed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - CARE: NURSES - WAGE PARITY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. As the Premier knows, many of the workers in long-term care and continuing care have been without a wage settlement for almost a year now and without a salary increase for over seven years. During the election the Premier said - and we know that they were negotiating - a nurse is a nurse whether you are in Yarmouth, whether you are in Sydney, whether you are in the hospital, or whether you are in long-term care. The Premier made the statement that there should be wage parity for nurses across the province. I applaud the Premier for that. I would ask the Premier at the time that he made that statement during the election did he think that that would interfere with negotiations at that time because negotiations were going on?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no, I feel very strongly that nurses all through the province in acute care should be paid the same wage. With respect to long-term care, the difficulty is that they have different employers and it is very difficult. We are trying to get a handle on that so that there is more of a parity situation. Northwood Manor has agreed to their contract. We can only hope that we will make progress in this round of negotiations.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, the Premier believes in wage parity, he believes in fairness and apparently that is what happened because as we know the nurses across the province, even in long-term care, are getting parity over a period of time and we understand that. Would the Premier agree that whether you are cleaning the floors, working in the kitchen preparing the food, whether you are a personal care worker, an LPN, looking after the elderly, or whether you are looking after them in the hospital or in long-term care, would he agree that fairness would apply for those workers in the long term that wage parity would be fair?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there has to be fairness. That fairness is a backbone of contract negotiations. If you do not have the precept of fairness then you are not going to get a good contract. Certainly, there has to be fairness with respect to different jobs, nurses in different jobs, we have to have a little more information before we could comment on that. There are nurses in different roles that cannot be considered as comparable.

[Page 2764]

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, you want to make it clear that there is going to be wage parity for the nurses over a period of time, that policy is out there and that is happening. I want to know from the Premier, for the other workers in continuing care and long-term care who have been offered anywhere from a 1.4 per cent to a 1.9 per cent increase no matter what job you are doing, does he feel that they deserve to be treated fairly and will he say today to those people, yes, I believe that you should have wage parity, the same as the nurses across this province when negotiations are finished? Does he believe in that?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, when I spoke to the nurses during the election campaign I said to them that I believe they should be treated fairly in the contract negotiations. (Interruption) But the fact of the matter is I did not bargain with the nurses of the sidewalk and I am certainly not going to bargain with the other workers in long-term care in the Legislature. We have collective bargaining teams that are doing that and they are quite competent in what they are doing.

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

JUSTICE - WESTRAY MINE: PROSECUTION - INFO. PROVIDE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question again through you is to the Minister of Justice. In June 1997, there was an application to the Public Prosecution Service with regard to certain reports from the Westray prosecution. On August 24, 1998, the Freedom of Information Review Officer reported that the Public Prosecution Service had stonewalled that application and failed to provide the information as required. Indeed, the information still has not been provided even though the review officer recommended that it be done immediately. My question is what is the minister doing to ensure that information about the Westray prosecution is made available as quickly as possible, as recommended by the independent review officer?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Public Prosecution Service is an independent service that directives may be issued from the Attorney General. What I have done in looking at the operation of that service is to order an inquiry by Justice Kaufman and that is being carried out as we speak. We are looking forward to an interim report perhaps toward the end of the year, then a further report and then his recommendations will be treated seriously.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Justice, I don't recall Justice Kaufman's mandate including a review of this particular incident, but I want to say, in the same FOI report, the review officer said that the Public Prosecution Service had not been candid, it was highly technical in its response and that dealing with the Public Prosecution Service was frustrating for him. There is a clear implication in all of this, the Public Prosecution Service has something to hide on Westray. My question to the Minister of Justice is, quite simply, what is he hiding?

[Page 2765]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the function of the Public Prosecution Service is an independent body from government. It is designed to stop and prevent interference from elected public ministers and that is the process that I would follow. The freedom of information is an Act, there is a balance between the release of information and the protection of privacy. I will respect that process.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, whether or not the Minister of Justice is responsible for the Public Prosecution Service, he is responsible for the freedom of information Act; particularly, it is one of the few things that is keeping this government honest, and the review officer is the glue that binds it. My question to the Minister of Justice is quite straightforward. When is this government going to stop hiding the truth and give us the freedom of information law which this province so sadly deserves?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the freedom of information Act is one that is continually going to review and update. I feel that we have an Act that is working in this province. There are issues. People are sometimes dissatisfied, but as I say, there is a balance between the public right to know, and information released there, and the privacy of persons. I have respect for the Public Prosecution Service, and that is one that will be reviewed under the current review.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

ENVIRON.: EMISSION REDUCTIONS - TARGET DATES

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of the Environment. It is clear that this government and the federal government are prepared to spend over $1 million talking about climate change, without actually doing anything about it. I ask the minister, what specific emission reduction targets, beginning today and over the next five years, has he set for Nova Scotians?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the member opposite is referring back to the meetings that we held last week with the joint Ministers of Environment and Energy from across the country. I am very proud to stand here today to say that, for the first time ever, we have an agreement with all provinces in Canada to go forward with addressing the issue of climate change. Add to that the fact that our Premier and the New England Governors and First Ministers in Atlantic Canada, have agreed in principle toward a stronger initiative within the American system to go forward to address the challenge. We now have the vehicle in Canada to go forward to set targets, to set dates, and to set volumes so this provinces can be better off. Thank you very much.

MR. DEWOLFE: The minister has not convinced me, in his reply, that he is processing positively on this. Canada, under the Progressive Conservative Government, made firm commitments at Rio, and I ask the minister again, what has your Liberal Government been

[Page 2766]

doing? I ask the minister to convince me and to convince Nova Scotians that the next five years will not be a repeat of the last five years of the Liberals doing nothing.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, if you want to talk about history on the issues of global warming and you want to talk about environmental histories in the Province of Nova Scotia, then I would be very happy, in this House, to debate any policy with regard to the environmental integrity of this province, when they were in power. I want to say, I am above that, and I wouldn't want to get into that argument, because they know the difference.

The reality is, for the first time we are moving forward and we were able to convince every jurisdiction, from the territories and every province nationally, that we finally have a vehicle to go forward to establish the time lines, to establish the degree of effective global warming and to set targets that we can attain so this province will have a better environment.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be nice to the minister again. It is clear that reducing emissions will impact Nova Scotia and potentially everywhere else in the world. There are both positive and negative implications involved in this. Will the minister commit to asking Voluntary Planning to work with the private sector and government to establish emission goals and targets and plans for meeting them, such that while protecting the environment there is minimal disruption to the Nova Scotia economy and possibly even economic gain?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know, perhaps the member opposite has not been briefed fully on the issue of VCR, voluntary compliances that we have agreed to and have been working on for quite some time. In fact, we have partnered together with Nova Scotia Power, with other corporations, with the private sector, through a voluntary challenge agreement to be able to reduce emissions and reduce the energy components and reduce the consumption side so that we in turn can be able to provide a better environment for Nova Scotians. This minister, when I was previously Minister of Energy and the former Minister of the Environment, the minister sitting right beside me here, led a charge in Nova Scotia and we have been able to have an agreement in principle where other private sectors . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - ONCOLOGISTS: SHORTAGE - ADDRESS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Another oncologist is leaving the QE II. She follows the two who resigned in August. It is ironic that this latest announcement comes during Pap Test Awareness Week. Nova Scotian women are twice as likely to get cervical cancer than the average Canadian woman, yet we have only three oncologists to treat all cancer patients in this province.

[Page 2767]

My question is, how does the minister propose to meet the growing needs for cancer care in this province with such a small number of doctors?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I agree that this is Pap Test Awareness Week and this is a really important issue. It is one in Nova Scotia where we have much work to do. The question, though, was the small number of physicians. I would imagine she is referring to oncologists, I am not sure, because her preamble had something to do at the QE II. There has been an announcement of a resignation of one of the oncologists. Dr. Skillings will be going to a pharmaceutical company in the United States. We already have a commitment that before she leaves there will be an additional person coming to the centre. Dr. Padmos is working very diligently and with good results at this juncture, interviewing people from across this country to come and replace the oncologist.

I think the honourable member would want me to say also that the attack on cancer is a broad issue, involving many people, involving all the community, and not only dependent on physicians.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, three oncologists have left. Cancer rates are rising and Nova Scotians continue to hear the same tired line from the minister. Things are going to get better. There are plans. We deserve better than part-time cancer care from doctors who are not trained oncologists. My question for the minister is, will he tell us what steps his department is taking to retain the few remaining oncologists we have?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is a very important issue and a good question. We have involved one of the leading provinces in this country on what is known as alternate funding. That is a guaranteed salary for physicians such as the oncologists at the QE II Health Sciences Centre. We have signed contracts with paediatricians, now with plastic surgeons and other groups that one may not have thought would have agreed to such an arrangement a few years ago. We are moving away from a fee for service where doctors and physicians and others can spend more time on preventive medicine, on support to families, those people with cancers, those types of initiatives. We have a plan. We have Cancer Care Nova Scotia with an advisory board. It is up and it is functioning.

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the minister, we are not moving fast enough. There are 50 vacancies for medical oncologists across Canada. Our new Cancer Commissioner says we need to attract at least five here in the province. Oncologists in other parts of Canada are making $20,000 more than in this province. Will the minister provide us with details on how he intends to attract oncologists to Nova Scotia in such a competitive market?

[Page 2768]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, decisions where these types of physicians, medical oncologists specifically, would go and locate depends on many factors, some of which is money, but today, if we were to markedly increase the salaries at the expense of other services within our health care program, I do not think that would make a great deal of difference. They come here because we have a good research centre. We have a good lifestyle in Nova Scotia and we have a community of support. We have a physician like Dr. Padmos and we have a whole group of volunteers that are supporting him in that endeavour. There is a plan, Mr. Speaker. It is working.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - LOUISBOURG:

FISH PLANT AGREEMENT - STATUS

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. On December 21, 1997, in the Town of Louisbourg, in the cafeteria of the former National Sea Products Limited, several federal and provincial politicians stood in front of the crowd and said great things were about to unfold for the folks of Louisbourg and surrounding areas. In light of the events of the last little while, would the minister tell me what the province's commitment is to the Han Beck fish plant?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for the question. The province remains committed to the Han Beck fishery. It is a very important and necessary employment situation for the Town of Louisbourg. The NatSea Plant, as you know, has been empty for some time and the Han Beck company has succeeded in obtaining a quota for an underutilized species for that particular plant. However, the federal government has, for reasons known to them and to the public and known to the members of this House, decided to withdraw their funding from Han Beck. The Province of Nova Scotia has not done that but the Province of Nova Scotia has simply asked Han Beck to go out and access private funding to take the place of the federal government funding that was withheld.

Mr. Speaker, that is the same answer I gave last week. I am giving it again this week. We hope that Han Beck can make it in Louisbourg.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again, the future economic prosperity of the Louisbourg area is linked to Han Beck. For the last little while you have been handing out platitudes, false hopes and promises. When will the people of Louisbourg, one way or the other, be told what is going to happen?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have just assisted the people of Louisbourg with another project most recently that put a number of people to work in that particular community which was very well received by the people. (Interruption) Those are jobs. Those are jobs and I might remind the member opposite that this government remains

[Page 2769]

committed and still remains committed to that particular operation at Louisbourg, Mr. Speaker.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my final question is directed to the Minister of Labour. Local media in the Louisbourg area have reported you as stating that the Han Beck deal doesn't work out, they - and I am assuming you mean the government - have someone waiting in the wings to take over. Would you please tell me who is waiting and when they will come forward?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. Through all the noise I did not hear the actual question but if he could ask the question again?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member, please, repeat his supplementary.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, if I may, the question is you are quoted as saying there is someone waiting in the wings. If there is someone waiting in the wings, would you tell us who they are and when they are going to do something?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, actually it was the Minister of Economic Development who made that statement and not the Minister of Labour. So I will turn it to him.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again the honourable gentleman opposite does not have any idea what he is talking about and I hope would not purport to speak for Cape Bretoners, that is for sure, and what they need down there. I can tell you that the situation at Han Beck in Louisbourg is a serious situation. There is nobody waiting in the wings. The quota for the underutilized species is not transferable and that member knows that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES: STRIKES - AVERT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week's good news that workers at Northwood Manor might avoid a strike is no cause for the Minister of Health to sit back and celebrate a job well done. The fact is, those workers are voting today on whether or not they will ratify that contract, and we should wait to see what they decide. At the same time, hundreds of workers at other unionized facilities, such as Chester's Shoreham Village, are also now in a legal strike position, thanks to years of government neglect and mismanagement.

MR. SPEAKER: If the honourable member doesn't put her question pretty soon, you are going to be out of question time.

[Page 2770]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Will the minister tell us what steps he has taken in the past week to avert strikes at long-term care facilities?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the long-term care is a very important sector of health care and the health care system. There is no question that it has been an area that in many ways has been neglected over the years. Our government has decided to do something about that. We have put $22 million this year into long-term care. We are doing that. That is not going to solve all the problems, but it will give some flexibility in the negotiations that are taking place through the workers and their union and the administrators of those homes.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: What mandate has your department given employers to ensure fairness, the fairness that your Premier has promised for workers in the health care system?

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

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. 34.

Bill No. 34 - Teachers' Pension Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Bill No. 34, debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Argyle. You have roughly 40 minutes, if you wish to use that much.

The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have no intention of using all my allotted time on this bill. I made most of my comments last night. As I mentioned last night, this is enabling legislation. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Would those vacating the Chamber please do so quietly. Thank you.

[Page 2771]

MR. LEBLANC: I did want to make mention, I have a few concerns specifically about some clauses that I wanted to bring to the attention of the minister. One of which pertains to Clause 7(2) which indicates that the expenses of the administration can be charged to the pension plan. When you read that, then you listen to it, it sounds very reasonable. I have had retired teachers, especially, and I have also had some current teachers who are active and still in the teaching profession express some concern with that.

I think that whether it is right or it is wrong, they want to make sure that the funds that are expended into this are publicly accountable, and that they as both union members and retired teachers can hold the administrators of this fund accountable. When I say accountable, it means that if there are funds to be spent, both in the form of travel or expenses or salaries or so forth, they want to be able to look at that. They are asking that this type of information be publicly released or into a forum whereby the teachers could take a look and say, who is administering this fund and are they being accountable; are they being reasonable in the way that the expenses are spent?

I look at myself as a legislator, and asking whether or not the appropriate expenses from the department are being charged to the fund that are being incurred, or are more being charged. I think we should be fair with teachers, and whatever funds are going to be charged to it should be proper and appropriate. If they are exorbitant, then we are going to get ourselves into a credibility problem with teachers and retired teachers. I think we should make some provisions in here whereby those would be disclosed yearly and so forth. I am offering suggestions to the minister which I will also be bringing forward at the Law Amendments Committee so that people can hopefully come up with some amendments, and that we can refine this bill.

I would also like to say that in Clause 6 of this bill - and also, I think there is another provision further on - the minister and the union can enter into an agreement to appoint a trustee. I ask myself the question, why would we do that? This is a new clause and in the past the minister has always been responsible for the Public Service Superannuation Fund and he has also been responsible for the Nova Scotia Teachers' Pension Fund. I look at this type of provision and ask myself, why are we making this deviation? If we are going to be appointing a trustee, who does he have in mind because I am asking myself, why are we putting in this provision?

It is a change of course and the obvious question is, why? This has not been clearly outlined in the minister's remarks when he tabled the legislation and his briefing notes that came along with it. So I will ask the minister to prepare himself for the Law Amendments Committee to explain why we would possibly be appointing a trustee and whether or not this is a provision that he would be looking for.

[Page 2772]

If there are good reasons for this and it is the way that we should be going, then why are we not doing it for the Public Service Superannuation Fund? I am not promoting that, I just do not know why we are putting it in this legislation and why it is not in other types of pension legislation. At the same time that I am standing on the floor, the other bill is before the Law Amendments Committee - which I am supposed to be at by the way - having some hearings and making amendments to bring forward to the House. I think that as an Assembly we should be consistent and say if there is a good reason for doing this, why are we not doing it for the other ones? I will ask the minister to be prepared so that when we bring this before the Law Amendments Committee, he can explain that and I am sure that he can perhaps go into a little more detail.

I have to make the members of the House aware that even since last night, after making my comments, that I have had more retired teachers contact our caucus office today about the fact that they would like to be represented. This goes into the administration of the fund and I go back to the investment committee that works on making recommendations as to where the funds should be invested and that retired teachers, I think, are no different than retired civil servants. They feel though they are no longer part of their union and are not part of the bargaining process, that they have a vested interest in these funds. They would like to be more part of it and I tend to think they have a lot to offer; they have experience.

Hopefully, with age, I will get a little more wise than I am now; I have a long way to go and I guess I am probably no different than most members of this House. (Interruptions) My hair is grey, I qualify, I agree. I am not ready for retirement just yet. I am having a lot of help from my colleagues on all sides of the House so I have to get back to the bill.

I would just like to say that I always feel that from listening to retired civil servants with regard to the previous bill and listening to retired teachers with regard to this bill, that they have something to offer. They are not looking for appointments to boards, they are not looking for remuneration for sitting on these boards or these committees, what they are looking for is input. What they are looking for is a chance to partake. They feel that they have a lot to offer, to have their future benefits for themselves as retired teachers that, hopefully, they can improve upon and so as such, they feel they want to partake actively in it and not only let the union themselves make the decisions.

The union, as much as they would like to say they represent both retired and active teachers, their focus is on the active teachers. I have heard this many times before that even in the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, the retired employees want very much to be part of the process of the negotiations, especially when it comes to their pension fund. When a lot of the changes in the payback for the holiday were announced for the Public Service Superannuation Fund, a lot of them were not very pleased that the funds they had worked very hard, over many years, to accumulate were being paid back to people who had only one year of service in the Public Service; they questioned whether that was the way they should be going.

[Page 2773]

These are questions probably that you could never bring to everyone's satisfaction but they are questions, I think, if they were at the table they would have a chance to put forward their positions and as such, when the decision is finally made, at least they would have had their day in court. As it is now, they are being made aware of it subsequent to the fact and, as such, then they could only offer advice subsequent to the event. I think it leaves a bad taste in their mouths for a lot of them.

[4:00 p.m.]

I am telling the minister, as much as possible that we should try to put provisions in these bills that allow for their participation. I think they have a lot of good advice. I think if we do it, most of the people will feel, in a sense, that justice has been done and that all sides have been heard. I think if we can do that, then we will have accomplished something as legislators, in making sure that everyone has a say.

Just one more time, I want to emphasize to the minister that we have some concerns as a caucus, and the reasons are that this legislation is basically enabling and that most of the regulations are not present in the bill, and has not been. There was the suggestion by one of my colleagues in the House that the minister, if he could table the proposed regulations, it would be good for us; we would feel a lot more comfortable. I don't disagree with that.

Part of the problem, too, is that no matter what the minister proposes today, it can be changed tomorrow. That is a problem when you have regulations. What you pass today can be changed next week or the week after, or two years from now or whatever. The fact that most of the guts of the bill is not here is a concern to us, so we are going to be taking a look at this at our caucus and try to offer some suggestions as to whether or not we could make ourselves a little more comfortable with the process.

I appreciate that many times we want small changes to be brought about and regulatory changes allow you to do that, which oftentimes has been precluded in the past. Many times we have had to wait a couple of years to bring about some changes that could have been brought forward much quicker. If we could maybe bring about a balance between not everything being a regulation, but maybe some of it being a regulation and some of it being in this bill, then I think that perhaps that would be a better solution.

I tell the minister today that our caucus will look at this in greater depth because we really didn't anticipate this bill being called so soon. I think that if we had a little more time to reflect upon it, we may very well come up with some suggestions at the Law Amendments Committee further than what I am saying here today.

[Page 2774]

Mr. Speaker, this brings my comments to a conclusion. I will be supporting this bill to go to the Law Amendments Committee. I hope we will get some comments from people at the Law Amendments Committee to hopefully to make this bill even better than what it is today. So thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I want so say a very few words in support of the bill. First I want to say that I am a teacher with money invested in this pension fund that is under discussion with this bill. I want to tell you a little bit of the history from the perspective of a teacher on the job when this agreement was signed.

When teachers became aware that the pension fund was in some difficulty, I was in what they call mid-career; in fact I was six months off the average age of teachers at that time, so I was very similar to the largest number of teachers who had been working for a number of years and were probably making that early transition towards what will I do with the rest of my life when the day comes when I can retire from this job, if I choose to, and so on.

It was very scary. The discussions in the staff rooms and so on were very unnerving for teachers in mid-career and later. We came to understand that there was a big, big problem with this fund. The government had made that investment, we understood and the union, our union had provided good pension benefits, but they may have negotiated them without corresponding funding increases, so we were caught between the government of the day and the attempts by the NSTU to service its own members and provide them at the end of the day with a decent and fair pension for their years of work, Mr. Speaker.

Before this 1993 agreement, the government had the control of the pension fund. Now, I have a great respect for the comments of the member for Halifax Chebucto, who is our Finance Critic, because I am not a lawyer. As I said, I am a teacher and I am looking at this from another perspective. I have a great respect for proper wording in legislation and accuracy and so many of the points that were raised. But I have to say that if the problem before was that there was not a genuine partnership between the union and the government to make this thing work and to secure the rightful retirement benefits of a large number of hard-working public servants, then something had to be done to prevent that and to remedy that.

It seems to me that the difficulty was that there was not some kind of equal partnership or say, some equal contribution to the whole process and the structure; how much money was there, was there enough, how was it going to be invested, what were the benefits going to be, and so on. That had to be some kind of a holistic process. It had to be put together in some way that would make some sense and there had to be communication in order to make that work. That agreement that was signed overcame that estrangement between the government and the union. I have to say that as a teacher I felt great relief and I know that others did

[Page 2775]

because we felt that the problem was being addressed and that it was in better hands because our union would have a larger say in the matter than it had before, a substantially larger say in the matter.

When we get into the whole question of moving the terms and conditions of the plan into regulations, I went home last night thinking about that. It seems to me that if teachers, through their union, are going to have some kind of a genuine participation in this, that the old way was not going to work. If it was all in the legislation, and I am open to correction here, but it seems to me that if it was all in the legislation, every word of it was in the legislation, then any government with a majority could come into this House unilaterally and make changes to a pension plan that was jointly funded by the teachers of this province and that there was very little protection indeed for those working people.

So if it means, if it is moved to the regulations in order to make this joint governance, if you like, work, maybe that is the only way and maybe there is something wrong with the wording, but maybe that is the only way for this pension fund to be jointly administered. Normally, I would be somewhat reluctant to see so much in a set of regulations. Under normal circumstances because I think one of the things that has happened in this province and in this country is that more and more we get government by regulation, things get moved out of legislation and into regulation.

I think this can be problematical because it moves it away from public scrutiny and public debate. But I am wondering if in this case this might not have been the only way to make joint governance work so that each party has a fair responsibility, a clear responsibility and a fair and open way of negotiating any changes to the plan. It seems to me that that shared responsibility that this enabling legislation creates is utterly crucial. Speaking as a teacher, it seems to me it is critically important, Mr. Speaker, that that shared responsibility is there.

So I would speak in support of the principle that is expressed there in that shared responsibility. It is also shared accountability because this pension plan was most unnerving to those of us in the profession and the problems with it were enough to make us worry. If the bill, and it seems so to me, keeps people accountable, both sets of parties, if it cleans up the mess and if, as I understand it, the remedies for the underfunding and the governance were equally shared, then I would say that in principle at least, without reference to the ifs and the buts and the ands, that this would be a wise bill for us to support.

I think it is really important for us to remember, and I would say this if I were not a teacher, that both parties involved seem to be satisfied with the arrangement. We went to the bill briefing, Mr. Speaker, and the president of the Teachers Union expressed his satisfaction on behalf of teachers with it and I think it might be, at least in the general sense, somewhat arrogant of us who are not in the profession to say that, well, they think they know what is good for them but, in fact, we know what is better for them.

[Page 2776]

So, Mr. Speaker, I speak in support of the principle of a solution. It has been kind of a long time coming. That agreement was signed in 1993. I am not quite sure what has been going on all this time but there it is and it is before us now. One of the key provisions I think in this shared governance in this enabling legislation is Clause 14(1) which very clearly states the commitment to allowing only funded benefit changes. I think that is absolutely crucial to put that in the legislation because it acts as a clear statement of the responsibility of both parties in this situation.

Mr. Speaker, there may be amendments. I am not so sure that there are because I think the difficulty here was around how to structure a partnership agreement and make it work. It seems to me, and I am sure that many teachers, if not all, would agree with me, that the last thing we need is to go back to the bad old days when the government of the day could simply come in, do what it pleased with money that we had contributed to our own retirement, and that we could suffer from this without absolutely any control over it. It is somewhat reassuring to me, both that it is here finally, that the union is satisfied with the arrangements that have been made and has said so, and that there will be in future this shared governance of the funds that are put there and are entrusted to both the government of the day and our own union to ensure some kind of security in the future of teachers.

Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to just say before I sit down that I do strongly support the principle of this bill but I am totally open to hearing the discussion if there are amendments that need to be made, totally open to hearing them, and weighing them to see whether they would improve the lot of teachers around their pension benefits. There are other issues that I think need to be talked about. I have heard a couple of members say some things that show a certain amount of confusion around this. For example, there was a mention of health benefits which are an entirely separate thing. They have nothing to do with this at all and it is a completely separate issue. It is strictly a pension plan and that the whole issue about retired teachers, I think the member for Cape Breton The Lakes might address that a little bit. This is a pension plan that is cut and dried, it is clearly spelled out. Once you have retired, your benefits kick in according to an exact and precise formula. Now that does not mean retired teachers should not participate in the governance of the plan, for sure. What I am saying is, I am getting a little bit of a sense around here that somehow people think that if teachers are already retired and receiving their benefits, that something could be done to those benefits. I am not at all clear that that could happen.

[4:15 p.m.]

I think we need to look at this plan on its own merits and I take the point of the honourable member for Argyle who said it would be very nice to peruse the draft regulations so we have a comfort level with this governance and a sense of security around the notion that it will be well entrusted to the partners in this arrangement. But, nonetheless, I think we need to clear up some of the confusion. It is a different pension plan from the NSGEU, it is a separate thing. Some of the issues that arise there don't really arise here and it is not a

[Page 2777]

health plan, it is something that has fixed, clear limits. As long as we know that the changes that will be made will be joint and will be funded, then I think we have some comfort level supporting this bill. So thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to address a few of the issues reflected as well by Bill No. 34, an Act to Provide a Pension System for the Teachers in Nova Scotia. If I may, I would like to begin by describing some of the historical events that led us to this bill today. I do this so we will be able to understand the context of this bill.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the Teachers' Pension Plan, as has been stated by many people, was seriously underfunded for many years. In 1992, discussions to find ways to solve this unfunded liability began with representatives of the Department of Education and Culture and the Department of Finance, along with the NSTU. The Progressive Conservative Party was in government at that time. A Dr. David Slater was engaged to act as a facilitator for these discussions and as a mediator. A deal was struck in February 1992, that later became knows as the Slater deal. Shortly after the parties agreeing to the deal, the then Tory Government called an election campaign. It was during this campaign that we ended up having some difficulties around this deal.

In the beginning of that campaign, as many of us who were activists in the teachers' movement remember, the then leader of the Liberal Party and later Premier, indicated quite clearly that he was not ready to support that deal. Of course this caused quite a wave throughout the province. Later the same Leader then tempered his remarks by saying that he would have to see the province's books before he would actually know whether or not he could support the deal, but that he certainly supported solving the problem. Well, the Slater deal was the formula that in the end solved many of the plan's problems.

We had an influx, of course, of some special payments but, as well, teachers took reduced benefits and increased contributions. This had an immediate effect of raising the funded level, I think, to somewhere in the vicinity of about 60 to 65 per cent; it previously had been at about 46 per cent. In addition at that time, the low inflation that caused the plan to pay less indexing, obviously there was an assumption made with evaluation about the amount of indexing and the fact that we had low inflation. This ended up having a positive impact as well on the funding level.

Perhaps, if I may, the government's main contribution to addressing the unfunded liability was, in fact, freezing the wages of teachers in this province. What that did, in effect, was to reduce the amount of pension that would be paid, for example, at the present time because people who retire, their pension is based on the salary that they had before. If their salary was frozen that would, in effect, reduce the amount of pension they would get in the end. Valuations of the plan assume a certain future salary increase. When it was lower than

[Page 2778]

assumed, again, we had a positive impact on the plan because it was a positive impact, obviously, on the funding.

So those issues certainly are the issues that underpin this bill. The bill that we have before us is a result of the Slater deal, it is a result of the agreement that was reached. As some of my colleagues have indicated, the bill certainly has had the effect of levelling the playing field. Previously, our opportunity to share in decision-making was not there and now as we know with this bill we have what is called the teachers' pension partners board. This is a board that is equally represented by NSTU and by government. The board provides for joint and equal participation in the governance of the teachers' pension plan. Certainly, for teachers in Nova Scotia that was a step forward and something that we were pleased with.

Under the board, I guess, they have many responsibilities but most critical, of course, is that the board is responsible to see that our benefits be protected. Of course, as the honourable member who spoke before me indicated, this is critical when we are talking about a teachers' pension plan, that benefits be protected. Other issues that the teachers' pension partners board must address is the fact that the fund now will be subject to annual actuarial studies rather than valuations that were done every three years. Now we have it built in that it has to be done annually, which we consider to be a move certainly in the right direction. That future benefits can no longer be supported unless they are supported by the funding, and this, as responsible members of the partners board, we have to make sure of. We have to make sure that any benefit changes only happen when the funding is there.

So there are many issues that bring forth a positive reaction from teachers in respect to this bill. I don't see it addressed in the bill, but I am sure that we will have some clarification on it. I do know that there is a Minister Advisory Committee on Investment, and on this committee, again we have representation from the Teachers Union and from the government. My understanding is that presently on that committee - looking at the investments and how our investments are done - we do have a retired teacher serving as one of the NSTU members. Certainly, we recognize the importance of the retired teachers in this bill.

The issue of regulations, a number of speakers have indicated their concern around regulations. I do, as well, say that I would like to see the regulations come forward. I believe there was a motion, a resolution in writing from the teachers' pension partners board that indicated that the Act and the regulations be brought to this Assembly. Hopefully, the minister responsible will do that. We do know that the regulations now are determined by this partners board which certainly is something that is a much better arrangement than what we have had in the past.

Mr. Speaker, the concern about retired teachers being represented, certainly we want to make sure that there is always an opportunity for input by all groups. A pension plan is for retired people, that is the intention of the pension plan, and that is who the partners board are working on behalf of, on behalf of retired teachers. There are many mechanisms within our

[Page 2779]

association, or within the association I should say, of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union in order that retired teachers, through their association, the Retired Teachers' Association, can bring forth recommendations, and the avenues are open for input through the staff officers who are responsible for retired teachers, through their representatives on the investment committee, and through many other avenues that are available for them.

Mr. Speaker, it is critical that all teachers, including retirees, have the opportunity to be heard, and hopefully the mechanism that we are looking at, this Act, and hopefully when we look at the regulations, we will see that retired teachers will have the opportunity to have their input, and that this not only be provided for on a regular basis, but that it be something that be protected.

Mr. Speaker, having a long history of involvement in the teaching profession, and in the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, I lived through many of the days of uncertainty around our pension plan. When I see the gains and the strength that we can have with the teachers' pensions partners board that this bill, in fact, solidifies or puts in place, I certainly feel very comfortable with the bill.

No doubt there are always ways of improving the language of the bill, making sure it is clear and says what we intend it to say. If there are some issues around that, I am sure it will be brought forward in the Law Amendments Committee. At this point I, as a person who has been involved in the profession for a long time, would certainly like to go back to the early days and compliment all the players who have been involved since 1992 in trying to bring this issue to the point it is today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, it is not my intention to speak at length on this subject. Not having been a teacher in public schools, I don't have the same experience with this subject that some of the other honourable members have. However, there are a few points that I think might be raised in relation to this bill. One hardly knows, looking at how brief it is, to applaud the government for the brevity of the bill or to question the government for what has been left out here.

It certainly is, as other speakers have pointed out, a marvel of compression, that we have gone from 50 pages in the existing Act to a bill of merely four pages. That does give me some concern because it seems to reflect a trend today in many areas, to bring about legislation or planning measures that are so brief that it is often difficult to know for sure exactly where the legislation or where the planning documents are taking us. In this instance, we have a bill which is so short it really is very difficult to know where it is going. As some

[Page 2780]

people have commented on this nature, the devil is often in the details. Certainly there are very few details in this bill, as we have it in front of us.

Now I think we certainly have to recognize that major strides have been made in dealing with the issue we faced some five or six years ago, a seriously underfunded pension. I think it is to the credit of the government that it has addressed that issue and worked with the union to ensure the plan is properly funded. I would applaud the government for recognizing the wisdom of sharing in the administration of the pension plan so that teachers themselves and their union may be involved and, at the very minimum, consulted on how the plan is to be administered.

I am bothered, however, by what appear to be some discrepancies here between the comments the honourable Minister of Finance made in introducing this measure and the actual words in the legislation itself. In introducing the bill, the Minister of Finance spoke of the 1993 agreement for equal participation by the province and the teachers in the governance of the pension plan.

Elsewhere in his remarks, he spoke of the partnership between the NSTU and the government. He stated that the province maintains administrative control under the new structure in several key areas. The Minister of Finance on behalf of the province retains the responsibility for the Act, the trusteeship of the pension fund, the day-to-day administration of the plan and represents the province in a partnership arrangement referred to in the 1993 Memorandum of Understanding.

The difficulty I have here is that although the bill speaks of sharing, it speaks of joint management and partnership, I am at a loss to understand if, in fact, the words which the minister has uttered in his introduction are actually reflected in the bill. I would hope that when this measure goes to the Law Amendments Committee that we can get some explanation and perhaps a little elaboration and not have everything left to regulations which will not be part of the actual legislation. That is really all I have to say on this measure, thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I recognize the Minister of Finance to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to close the debate and move on to the Law Amendments Committee. I will say that the comments that were coming forward today and again last night, I believe, will be clarified in the Law Amendments Committee and I look forward to the discussion that takes place there. I note with interest some of the issues of involvement of the retired pensioners and I would state that there is a process underway that is moving forward in a very fast way, not as fast as some people would like to see it but, in fact, there is a process underway that has already taken it into account. In fact, if you quote

[Page 2781]

some of the members that are in the Law Amendments Committee on other issues it will indicate very clearly that, in fact, that there has been a commitment by government to work closely together. I look forward to that discussion in the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 34. 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. 38.

Bill No. 38 - Private Career Colleges Regulation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I will be pleased to make a few brief remarks in support of the move recommending Bill No. 38 for second reading. The Private Career Colleges Regulation Act supports three main principles. Its design is to improve student protection; secondly to support accessible and responsive training in the private sector; and third to establish a sustaining shared responsibility between government and industry in supporting and regulating quality education in the private career education system of Nova Scotia.

This legislation and the regulations to follow, and those regulations will be developed in consultation with the stakeholder groups, primarily industry but also the students involved and others, will clearly define roles and responsibilities that support this ongoing partnership. It is our intention to create an atmosphere for healthy exporting, private sector educational services institutions in the Province of Nova Scotia, to make sure that they are available not only to our own workforce but as export services and products conceivably throughout the world. Some of them already are doing that and at the same time to find the right balance between consumer protection, the right to engage in private business activity in this province and an ongoing role that both supports the regulatory framework and those who would invest their dollars, their talent and their time in these institutions.

It is interesting in this day of private and public relations in a dynamic economy like Nova Scotia's that we have an industry sector that has helped build the framework within these Statutes and is committed to building a regulatory environment with government that supports the industry, in the belief that the proper regulatory environment will actually lead

[Page 2782]

to a healthier industry. We are firmly committed to the same objectives. We are going to achieve a balance that we hope is as good a balance between regulation and private sector enterprise as there is in the country and we intend to do so with all of the stakeholders in the months to come. Our target is to aim for April 1999 and we hope to exceed that target in terms of the full regulatory follow-up to this bill. With that, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise primarily in support of Bill No. 38, an Act to Regulate Private Career Colleges. I cannot say that it is a pleasure to do that. I would have to describe after this six months that the students and instructors have been through with one particular school, the Career Academy of Aviation - if you like the Frankenstein of private trade schools in Nova Scotia - I have to say that my primary emotion is relief that this bill is before the House. I think it is the only proper emotion that a person could have after the disruption and outright torture and distress of 100 students approximately and 43 staff members in this particular private trade school which I am quite sure has hastened the government's bringing of this bill forward.

Mr. Speaker, the horse is out of the barn and the government is now slamming the door or we hope trying to slam the door shut now that the horse is out of the barn. You cannot say we did not warn them. For years and years, long before I ever came to this place, our caucus had concerns about this. These concerns escalated in the last couple of years and in the last six months they escalated about as high as they could go. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MS. O'CONNELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In order to explain our support for this bill, I want to go back a little bit and talk about that, to relate that to the principle of the regulation of the schools. I want to tell a little story. I think it was April 9th when four young men walked into my constituency office. After two minutes, it became totally clear that they were extremely intelligent, totally focused, exceptionally courteous and exceptionally reasonable human beings. They came in and they sat down in my office and they told me their troubles. They said that they had paid a great deal of money to a particular school because all they wanted to do was fly. They wanted to be pilots. They wanted proper training. Some of them had been there for almost two years and that was not happening for them.

They had big problems. They were not getting enough flying hours. There were not enough planes to give them their flying hours. They had a ground school curriculum which was poor and portions of it seemed to be totally irrelevant and, in fact, seemed to be filler to fill up the length of the program. They had signed contracts which said that the program was

[Page 2783]

fixed and then the program would change. Most of the students were behind and, indeed, of the first group of students who went to that school, six of them had graduated two years later, three years later I believe, two of them on time. It was outrageous. Side deals had been made with some students whose needs had not been met and whose contracts had not been kept.

MR. SPEAKER: I understand that there is some relevance to the principle of the bill in this story?

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, what I am hoping to do is to deal with these issues because much of it, to the credit of the government, does come up in the bill but also to give the picture of how important it is here to have stronger regulations. So I do not know if I am wandering too far. I hope I am not.

MR. SPEAKER: All right, go ahead.

MS. O'CONNELL: I am nearly through this list. One of the issues, of course, was very large tuitions, Mr. Speaker. They were paying $42,000 plus $1,700 in books and fees. Many of them were paying with student loans, most of them.

So we have here a supposedly regulated school, a private trade school. We have another department of the Department of Education providing large sums of money in support of this school. We have a group of students who in despair have come to a politician even though they do not understand that it is a regulated industry and they do not know what anybody can do. They come to me and they want me to go and speak nicely to a business. They think that is what a politician can do. That is where Civics 101 begins because these students began to learn that in order for them to get a proper education, there had to be protections for them and that these protections had to be enforced. That is where it began.

[4:45 p.m.]

In the last 10 years, there has been enormous growth of private trade schools in Nova Scotia as elsewhere. From 1987 to 1997 it has gone from, I think, 30-something to over 100. The particular company that is such a bad example of corporate responsibility here is a school that had gone through massive growth in Newfoundland with the benefit of TAGS money and with the benefit of loose student loan regulations in Newfoundland as well.

There is another factor here, though, which I think has to be addressed. That factor is what was it in the climate of this province, in the political climate, in the regulatory climate of this province, that made it possible for these schools, good ones as well as bad ones, but without clear regulation to distinguish them, what was it that contributed to this explosive growth?

[Page 2784]

I have to say that it has never been clearer to me than today how ideological education is in this province and how ideological it has been for this government. We are accused of being the ideological Party. I think the other day we were called the anarchist socialists and I tried to figure out what that was. I couldn't decide whether it was a bunch of people that get together and ignore each other or a bunch of people who get together and try to trip each other up. But in any case, the ideology of privatization of education has been so clear, certainly from the minute that I came to this place. The minister has said a number of times, countless times, more times than I can count, more times than we can count, the province is open for business. We want a flourishing industry. The government's own report on the matter said, translated those words into buyer beware.

The Department of Education's own labour development report said that, that the situation as of last June was buyer beware and that there were no protections. So what we have here is a province where education is now about what I would call crony capitalism everywhere we look. The minister indicated in his comments today: What are they? Products. Who are they? Consumers. What are we going to do with them? We are going to export them, as if they were widgets or patty stackers or something like that.

So the ideology here is very clear and we see it in the P3 school construction. We see it in the sale of seats in high schools. We see it in paid recruiters flitting around the world trying to recruit people to come here and pay money for something, for this commodity called education. We see it in the construction of a private trade school joined on with a public high school in the Town of Amherst. So it would be nice to think that it just got out of control here, and the government just in a regulatory way couldn't keep up with this explosive growth, but the fact of the matter is that what we had here was a deliberate hands-off policy that said come and get us, we are not going to get in your way and, if you are a bad corporation or a bad company, why, who knows what can happen? We are not going to get in your way.

Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of evidence that this is true. Okay? The Auditor General saw this coming. Over 18 months ago, the Auditor General wrote a fairly substantial report on this particular department of the Department of Education, and the problems were numerous, they were countless.

They ranged from the department registering schools that didn't qualify under the Act, but registering them anyway so that they could get money from student loans. They ranged from poor quality, because there were no standards established. They had no policy or procedures to direct the staff in that department. They had inadequate accountability of the board that operated in conjunction with it. They had out-of-date job descriptions. Staff shortages. We discover, when we go back and look at that report, that they had even stopped doing pre-inspections before they granted licenses to schools and, in addition, almost no post-opening inspections. Inadequate paperwork and documentation of files, and inadequate surety bonds to protect the students against the very kind of monster, the very kind of train that was

[Page 2785]

coming down the track for these students at the Career Academy. It was a shambles, and the Auditor General said so.

So what does the government do? It goes out and has one of its squishy consultations. They send out a questionnaire to private business, the private trade schools, and they ask, how would you like it folks? They write back and they say, well, we don't mind a little regulation, or we would rather not have too much. Almost no students were consulted in this. The minister takes credit for this squishy consultation in his briefing notes with the bill.

Then along comes a report in June from their own department that just lays it out, and says - and this is Gerrie Masters' report - it is buyer beware. Nothing has progressed.

Let's go back, the Career Academy students have discovered that Transport Canada is about the pull the accreditation of the school on May 9th, if the school doesn't clean up its act and, in the meantime, I write a letter to the minister who says, okay, don't worry, everything is under control. Then Transport Canada holds up the axe and, in order for this school to continue for three more months - before it really socks it to these students - in order for that happen, Transport Canada orders a complete management reorganization, and orders them to lease five planes and give these students the hundreds of flying hours that they are behind.

The department says it is okay, they have been meeting with the school since October. The students tell me they have had problems for two years, and the problems were ongoing. So here we have a nightmare waiting to happen. For the government not to have moved sooner on this, it must have squeezed its eyes tight, tightly shut, covered its ears, and said, see no evil, hear no evil, because the evidence was there; the evidence was there.

In the meantime, students refused to pay their tuition because they are not getting what they contracted for. So the school threatens them, the school collects $100,000-plus in back tuition fees in the 10 days before it locks its doors and shuts them out.

Now Mr. Speaker, here we have it. Career Academy of Aviation in Newfoundland alone, displaced 1,400 students and more than 200 teachers; in Nova Scotia, it was 100 students and 43 instructors. The Academy's debts were estimated to be $17 million, at least $10 million to banks and other lending institutions. The Academy's list of creditors was 350 companies and individuals. This is a company that had opened half a dozen schools in five years in Newfoundland, hired the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre to put on motivational spectacles where students danced around at the command of instructors and owners to cheer for the school. The owner was driving a pink Jaguar, while the instructors, this is the truth. (Interruptions) The owner was driving a pink Jaguar while the instructors were getting paid $13,000 a year.

[Page 2786]

The student loan money piled on, it was just like pennies from Heaven. It was almost, and I say almost, because I am not a lawyer, it was almost a Ponzi scheme. You get a whole bunch of money, you open another school, you get another bunch of student loan money. (Interruptions) Well, that is terrible. I can't believe that the member opposite finds this amusing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Now, we had a Private Trade Schools Act, pathetic as it was, it had three clauses in it that this government could have used to stop this debacle. It had a clause against misleading advertising. It had a clause that said the minister could inspect, examine or inspect the books of a private trade school. And they didn't do anything.

Under Section 15(2) of the old Act, the minister could have examined the books, and he didn't. He could have monitored the school for curriculum compliance, and he didn't. He could have charged the school for false advertising, and he didn't. One has to ask the question, if this is a better bill, is anybody going to enforce it? Well, I think it is a good question.

Now, it gets worse. Honourable members, Mr. Speaker, you may remember in June, a small group of students came to this place to participate in the democratic process when questions were being asked, and some of them went to a lawyer, because they were having their contracts violated. One of the students who came to this place in June was drummed out of the school, instructors told us afterwards that management said, get rid of him, he is trouble. So two weeks before the school collapsed, or shut its doors, this student is put out of the Career Academy of Aviation because he is trouble. All he was doing was exercising his democratic rights.

Then the school collected all that tuition, back tuition, and locked its doors. What would a government do in a situation like this? We have a discredited school that has not met its obligations, that has dunned over $100,000 out of students and then closed its doors. This young man goes to the government, when it struggles, and to its credit, attempts to set up a community college program that works to clean up its own mess. The mess that it is responsible for. He goes to the government and applies to the community college, and they say, no, you were flunked out of the Career Academy of Aviation. They are going to tell this poor man, from a totally disreputable school, a man who was bullied and treated like dirt by a disreputable business for exercising his democratic right. and this government accepts the school's evaluation of him.

[5:00 p.m.]

Now, Mr. Speaker, we were successful. It is shameful. We were able to make that change and the minister did agree to make it.

[Page 2787]

MR. SPEAKER: I think we are wandering a little far from the principle of Bill No. 38. Could you come back to Bill No. 38, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: It is funny that you should mention that, Mr. Speaker, because I was just getting to the bill itself. I do say, with all respect, that I think we have to understand the context here. I am not particularly interested in breaking the rules, but it seems to me that this particular bill has a history that has to be known and that history has to be on the record, and we will talk about whether or not the barn door is going to be closed now, and I am perfectly willing to do this.

The second question with this bill is if the door swings open, does this bill have the force to close it again? Does the bill say, in all its clauses and all its manifestations, that when businesses decided to exploit students and the system, and when they pay the lowest possible wages to teach moderately useless curriculum and decide not to keep commitments, does the bill say no, I am sorry, you can't do that? That is what this bill has to say.

I want to take a little skip through it then - which should please you, Mr. Speaker, to no end - to make comments about things I think are good and about things I think are bad, and I have no problem commending the government where there is an improvement. Now it is clear from looking at this bill that it is much more comprehensive. Some people might say, isn't this a little bit picky, but I would say, the pickier the better because there is a lot to be covered and there are a lot of protections that have to be built in.

Given the discussion on a previous bill, the first note I have made was the whole question about regulations. There is a great deal in this bill, but there is also a great deal left to the regulations.

AN HON. MEMBER: Almost all regulations, isn't it?

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, there some useful things here and I think the government can learn and we see some evidence of it here. The first one is instructor qualifications.

Now the minister - and this relates to curriculum too - says that instructor qualifications will be in the regulations. Now I don't know where those are going to come from. Are they going to come from industry? As the minister has acknowledged, not every industry has an association that can provide that kind of support, although many do.

So this is the first question, instructor qualifications. Mr. Speaker, that raises a good question because there is a clause in this that talks about teachers and teaching assistants. Now I am very interested in the notion of teacher assistants because I wonder - and I don't know the answer to this - whether that has been built into the bill so that private schools can continue to pay $13,000 a year and call people teaching assistants instead of teachers;

[Page 2788]

$13,000 a year is not a living wage, so I have questions about that. Who is going to decide what the instructor qualifications are and are they going to be paid a living wage?

Now in the briefing notes the minister gave us, the minister said that the outside review of curriculum - and this is good, Mr. Speaker - the bill demands that the curriculum have an external review, which I think would have helped in this particular case that I have outlined before the House. In Clause 6(4), the bill says that there has to be an outside review of curriculum but the bill does not say by whom. It just says outside review. The briefing notes assume that it is by the industry so I have serious questions about that. We need to know that the external reviews of curriculum are done by competent people who understand the particular trade or profession.

AN HON. MEMBER: And that it is going to be followed.

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, compliance is a whole other issue.

Clause 14 in the bill - and I think that maybe I will just make a little more extensive reference to it - Mr. Speaker, says, "Every private career college that is a corporation shall immediately notify, in writing, the Manager . . .", and in the bill the manager is the person designated in the Department of Education, called, I think, superintendent in the old Act, ". . . of (a) a change in the ownership or share or equity holdings of the corporation; and (b) any continuance, amalgamation or other material change involving the corporation.".

There is the phrase "other material change" here, but other things are specified such as continuance and amalgamation. There is nothing here that talks about expansion because it seems to me that from this incident we learned that expansion is a clue to something or other. I do not know whether it needs to be specified or whether material change covers everything, but I think it is somewhat inconsistent to specify continuance and amalgamation and not specify expansion and then leave it to material change. Clause 13 is the one that has a specific reference to instructor qualifications as prescribed in the regulations. I have mentioned my concerns about that.

There is a far more serious concern with Clause 18(1). Clause 18(1) says, "In the event of a dispute between a student and an operator . . .", and boy, is this significant because of the way that students were handled at least in this particular case, ". . . and with the consent of the student and the operator, the Minister may appoint and pay for a mediator to assist the student and the operator in resolving the dispute.". That is just not good enough because in the case of this monster that I have been discussing, the company would never have agreed to mediation because they were busy making side deals behind closed doors and using very strong manipulation. I would strongly support altering that clause to say with the consent of one of the parties.

[Page 2789]

I am willing to admit that there may be instances where the school might want a mediator and the student might not. I am not suggesting that everybody in this world on one side or another is pure, but I cannot imagine if you have a situation like we had here that both of them should have to consent because of what would happen when one person refuses.

Clause 22 is truly significant in the light of recent history. "No person who operates a private career college shall (a) offer instruction in an occupation not specified in the certificate of registration; . . .", well, that is fairly straightforward. You teach what your registration form says you are qualified to teach. But Clause 22(b) says, "enter into any student contract other than that set out in the application for registration.". This is utterly crucial because what happened to these students in this instance was side deals were made over and over again that were aberrations of the student contract and then caused even more trouble later.

Mr. Speaker, Clause 23(4) of the bill is really interesting and, again, I would like to hear what others would say about it. Clause 23 is a very powerful section in the bill. It gives much more power to the department to find out, to put it kind of colloquially, what the heck is going on in the event of problems in a private trade school. It says that the minister, or anyone authorized, may at any time inspect a college, examine the business affairs, et cetera; that no person shall obstruct or hinder the minister or any person authorized by the minister. Clause 23(3), "The Minister, or person authorized . . . shall not enter a private dwelling without a warrant issued pursuant to subsection (4) . . .", and subsection (4) says, "The Minister may apply to a judge of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia for a warrant authorizing an officer of the Department to enter and search . . .", it goes on to specify what may be searched, what may be removed, and to say that it should be returned.

I am of two minds about this because in the previous Act, which was not enforced, there was a rather weak sort of may clause there that I presume could have been effected or put into effect. What may be true here is that this is the only way in the case of a really recalcitrant and difficult situation for the department to find out what is really going on in a school that is not keeping its commitments. In Clause 32(7), and this is where again I have questions, "Notwithstanding subsection (6) . . .", which is about, subsection (6) says that the minister shall not refuse to issue or renew a certificate of registration, impose any terms, et cetera, or suspend a certificate without giving an operator the right to a fair hearing. It is called here an opportunity to be heard. That makes common sense. I mean we live in a democracy and there should be procedures and checks and balances on everything.

Clause 32(7) says, "Notwithstanding subsection (6), where the Minister considers it necessary to protect students or to protect the public interest, the Minister may immediately impose conditions on, suspend or cancel a certificate . . . without giving the operator an opportunity to be heard, . . .". It does say but shall give him or her an opportunity to be heard as prescribed in this Act or the regulations. I guess it means that you can close it first and talk later.

[Page 2790]

Again, you know, if you have a good career college Act, if you have the checks and balances in it, I just raise the question, do we need to actually suspend the liberties of a business, even briefly, in order to shut them down. Would I have wanted that in the case of the bad instance that I have used today? Probably, but I am not sure that it would have been right to want that. I am going to leave that on the table, Mr. Speaker, for people to discuss and enlighten.

Now, of course, we come to the big issue which is the Training Completion Fund. The Training Completion Fund is a substitute for the pathetic provision in the old Act for a surety bond. In the case of the Career Academy, there was never a hope in Hades, Mr. Speaker, that anybody's costs would be covered. This particular school charged $42,000 in tuition over two years and had to put up $50,000. I must say while I am on the subject that I do believe those 100 students are still waiting for their piddling $500 from the surety bond. They have not yet received it to my knowledge.

[5:15 p.m.]

The Training Completion Fund is there in the legislation but the Governor in Council is going to decide how much the school pays and I have to think about that. If there is a reasonable range of costs for particular kinds of programs, let us say a computer program, or a flying program, or a veterinary assistants program, surely this should at least be in regulations, if not some provisions in the bill for how to calculate what is a reasonable training completion rate.

Now we all know because they are businesses that the money has to come from somewhere and it is going to increase tuitions because business is business. But a thoughtful, careful planning of what the real costs are and efforts on the part of the government to ensure that students are not having their education completely overpriced so that the profits of the company can be inflated, would mean that the lowest possible number could be used in each case in order to ensure the maximum protection for these students.

I have one area of the bill which I would like to address before I sit down and that is Clause 3 (g). I am going to read this because for a government that professes to be aware of the modern age, it seems to me that there is a hole in this bill that a person could run a truck through. I raised it with the Department of Education already but there has been no attempt, here at least, to deal with it. Under Clause 3 is says that, "This Act does not apply to . . ." and it makes a list. It doesn't apply to a university; a community college governed under the Act; a school governed by the Education Act, by any other Act or by an Act of Parliament.

Then it goes on to talk about occupational training within an organization; a school provided by an employer for employees; a school or institution that is prescribed in the regulations. But the last one, I think, is the real problem. Clause 3(g) says, "This Act does not apply to a person, organization or body corporate that provides occupational training

[Page 2791]

programs by correspondence, the Internet, direct video conference, distance education or other electronic means when that person, organization or body corporate is operating from outside the Province.".

As I have said many times, I am not a lawyer and I am certainly not an expert on interprovincial trade and the laws pertaining to that. But I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, and I have to tell the House that we have been dealing for several months in my constituency with problems arising from this very inadequacy.

We have a constituent who responded to an ad on the television for computer training. She paid quite a lot of money, I cannot remember how much and the promise that was made to her by this company which, by the way, is located in New Brunswick, was that she would get this program for this amount of money and then she would keep all her computer equipment which the operator of the school said was worth $5,000. She had it appraised and it was worth $400.

If you are taking a computer course it is because you don't know anything about it and you want to learn, so she accepted equipment that was, basically, obsolete junk. So, she finds herself out several thousand dollars, and she doesn't seem to have any recourse here. When we look at the tremendous explosion in, whether it is Internet or video or distance education - distance everything: distance scams, telemarketing scams and everything - we don't seem to have addressed this whole new level of business that this government is constantly touting and praising and professing to be part of.

I can't say I know what the solution is, but I think that as time goes on, I mean we have closed the barn door - maybe - and the horse is out, but is there another horse that is going to kick the door down here and is this the next wave? Have we done with, perhaps, the total abuse of students by schools located in a specific geographic place, and are we walking into a new hornet's nest which is going to be related to all the ways that education businesses can cross provincial and national boundaries, and are there any protections that we can put in place? We have all followed, I think, with some interest, the issues around the Internet and the crossing of national boundaries there. So, I think, in a way, this is reactive and it is yesterday's bill in the sense that we have not addressed not just the very near future but, in fact, a very real situation in the present.

Here we are, Mr. Speaker, so many months later, and at least the bill is here. It hasn't done a thing for the 43 employees of the Career Academy of Aviation. The government has gone some way, although incompletely, towards rectifying at least some of the damage that the students have incurred, and that is included just so we know what the wreckage is here when we have bad legislation. The wreckage here is close to 100 people who owe a lot of money to the banks, who have had to extend their school life, find living expenses to do that, give up part-time jobs or other jobs in order to go to another location in Nova Scotia to get their flying time, and leave their families in some cases.

[Page 2792]

One student had to give up three part-time jobs and now has nothing to live on, and we have students who, in the short term at least, have had their education damaged, wrecked, trod into the ground. We don't know yet what the long-term damage will be or how many of them will be able to hold on to finish the rather limited program that the government is providing for them, to go on to find employment as pilots and then be able to pay back their massive students loans. So it isn't over.

This bill, at least in some of its provisions, goes some of the way to address the kinds of things that happened here, but there are two things about it: the first one is it has to be enforced, it absolutely has to be enforced; and the second thing is - and I am going to say this because I think it is absolutely true - that in my two years here in this place, I have never seen a bill come into the House, brought in by a government, which is basically a stinging indictment of its own policies.

Mr. Speaker, the government should not waste a minute of its time feeling the least bit proud about this. This is not something to be proud of. This is essential, this is an emergency, this is something that should have happened long before now.

When it hit this House we knew that it was here because this government has, through every kind of inaction and philosophical marauding, if you like, and almost a belief in the faith healing of private business, this government has allowed this to happen. That it should have to come in here now is to say serious improvement of legislation.

But wouldn't it have been nice, Mr. Speaker, if the mess and the confusion and the total chaos that ensued over the last six months had not had to happen? Because I don't think this bill would ever have come here today if 100 people, 100 students and 43 students, didn't have their lives put in the gutter (Applause) by the neglect that borders on abuse, of this government to students who, in good faith, go out into the private sector to seek employment training so they can better their lives.

So don't get too proud of yourselves, boys. This had to be here and it should have been here a long time ago and it bloody well better be enforced when it is passed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on an Act to Regulate Private Career Colleges. As you would know, the former Career Academy School of Aviation resides in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I was as dismayed and upset as perhaps anybody was when the college closed down. A number of my constituents, a number of constituents across this province found they, in fact, could not further their career in terms of obtaining licenses.

[Page 2793]

As the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I was requested to attend a couple of meetings and was pleased to support the initiative. In fact, out in the fire hall in Lantz, in the constituency of Hants East, I had the privilege of sitting at the head table with the Member of Parliament for Sackville-Eastern Shore, the honourable Peter Stoffer. Unbelievably, the NDP showed up in droves that night. We had the member for Sackville-Cobequid; we had the previous speaker, the member for Halifax Fairview; and, at a previous meeting on another occasion on another concern, the Leader of the Official Opposition was there and signed an agreement in support of a P3 school to be built in Hants East. Yes he did, he took the lead from the Tories, the community needed their school. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member will take his seat.

MR. TAYLOR: Anyway, that meeting was very well attended and most in the audience were in support of the students. Unfortunately, the flight instructors were not well represented and I know I have some concerns about that myself and I know my caucus is concerned about the former flight instructors of CASA and, hopefully, all those people were able to find work, I trust they did. I know some have. A couple of weeks ago I heard that a few instructors did not find work.

So, Mr. Speaker, I believe this legislation does have some merit. At this point we have had an opportunity to peruse it in general terms and I do believe that it has the students' best interests at heart; for that, I find favour. However, there are some clauses in here that give the minister, and rightfully so, jurisdiction to make appointments in accordance with the Civil Service Act. We understand why that is included in the legislation. I also understand that no private career college shall employ as an instructor or instructor assistant a person who has not met the qualifications prescribed in the regulations.

[5:30 p.m.]

I know that when this legislation comes back for careful examination in Committee of the Whole House on Bills that we will have an opportunity then to go through it clause by clause. There are occasions where you are going to have disputes between students and the operators, and it is important that mechanisms are in place to address those concerns and hopefully, alleviate the situation.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to more comment and conversation on this legislation, and I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development on an introduction.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to your attention and to the attention of the members of the House, in your gallery is a distinguished

[Page 2794]

gentleman, a businessman and community worker from the City of Sydney, and the past president of that great organization called the Cape Breton South Liberal Association, Greg Delaney. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I guess there are a few other speakers lined up to follow me, but I do wish to take a few moments to comment on Bill No. 38 - An Act to Regulate Private Career Colleges. The need for such an Act, of course, is the result of the tremendous growth in private trade schools in recent years. I think the number has gone from some 39 in 1993, to 106 in 1998. It is really a phenomenal growth since 1993 to 1998, phenomenal.

This fast growth in the private career colleges has raised the need to provide regulations governing these career colleges. Occupational training used to be centred on traditional programs such as secretarial, business, hairdressing and cosmetology programs and occupations. What they used to be called then was vocational schools. They are now community colleges. Of course, there has been an escalation of these courses, particularly in the private career colleges. The range of career offerings has increased. Now we have training in computer programming, in massage therapy, in pilot training, truck driving, tourism and so on. There are even correspondence courses now which provide training in what traditionally used to be called trades.

When I was a teacher a few years ago, most students considering a trade went to, as we said, vocational school. Many high school students chose to attend university when graduating from high school, because there used to be, at that time, a good likelihood of obtaining good employment upon graduation from a university. That is not the case today. Today, of course, students graduating from high school are looking at a variety of alternatives, and the possibilities of securing employment seem to be perhaps more secure through these trade schools.

As I said, there were a fairly limited number of trades or vocations available through the vocational school; auto repair, carpentry, plumbing, sheet metal were among the most common of those available, and they were most traditionally referred to as the trades. With the changing economy and the rapid advances in technology, the emergence of such new industries as those in the information technology sector have made their advance. Today there is a need for higher tech programs and courses such as those we find in the information technology field.

Cutbacks in education in recent years have meant that our community colleges were not able to provide the variety of new career programs needed in the new economy. This slack was taken up by the private sector and hence the proliferation of private trade schools. One of the serious problems associated with the rapid growth of these career colleges is that the

[Page 2795]

provincial private trade school legislation provided inadequate protection for students and staff in the colleges. The worst example of the failure of existing trade school legislation was the fiasco of the Career Academy School of Aviation. It was a sorry situation and my colleague, of course, the member for Halifax Fairview, alluded to that in her remarks. It was a great upset for the students who lost, of course, a great deal of money and a setback in their career.

I will not itemize all of the sorry and sordid facts around the fly-by-night aviation school. As you are aware students did file a civil action suit against the school. Students had paid $30,000 to $40,000 in fees for a two year program for inadequate or non-existent instruction. There was improper training equipment made available to the students and one student was quoted as saying, I could have rented a Windows 95 Flight Simulator and gotten more practical experience.

Staff were poorly paid and that, of course, resulted in a huge turnover in instructors and in turn resulted in little continuity for the students. One student had 13 separate flight instructors during the course of one year. The planes were frequently out of service as a result of improper and inadequate maintenance. The school did not have enough aircraft to go around and of course, it was charging the students a fortune in tuition fees. The school also took on more students than it could handle. So in short, the greed and mismanagement of the owners of the academy and the vulnerability of the students were and has been of great concern to Nova Scotians. This has highlighted the need for immediate action to improve the regulations of private trade schools.

Our Education Critic, the member for Halifax Fairview, has met with the beleaguered students and of course, presented their case to the Minister of Education. The reaction of the academy to all of this was a demand that the students pay additional fees, up to $10,000 more. The reaction of the minister was to advise the students to pay the extra school fees.

The truth of the matter is that there have been serious problems with private trade schools for a long time. In fact, in 1996, the Auditor General identified inadequacies in the legislation governing private career schools. There has been a serious problem in the way the Department of Education has been licensing and maintaining these schools. Many of the private schools did not have clearly identified educational standards. There were concerns over whether course curricula met minimum occupational requirements. Many were critical of the Department of Education for failing to monitor and research private training schools. It was too easy for questionable companies to set up their operations in this province and regular monitoring and inspection of the private schools was lacking. In short, it was evident that departmental control of private training schools was grossly inadequate.

As a result of the inadequacies of the private trade school Act in overseeing, monitoring and supervising private career schools, the government has introduced the proposed legislation we are considering today. The Auditor General's Report set the stage for the

[Page 2796]

Department of Education and Culture to begin a review process with a goal of developing new guidelines to regulate private trade career schools.

The government also conducted consultation with private trade schools regarding the regulation of these schools, and out of these deliberations arose the government's bill, Bill No. 38, to deal with the myriad of problems associated with private career colleges in Nova Scotia. Many suggestions and recommendations came out of these consultations. I think some of these concerns are addressed in the bill, and I would just like to highlight some of the concerns that were raised through this consultative process with people in the trades field.

The level and means of financial security is required of private operators in these schools; there is a need for contractual arrangements over financial commitments; private trainers should have to provide the information to the government and to the purchaser; and the government's responsibility is for reviewing and approving all trade school advertisements.

There were also recommendations as to what should be communicated to the public about trade school legislation; there were suggestions about the categories of private training which should be subject to registration; the recommendations for the department regarding the inspection of private trade schools; the recommendations about access of information by prospective students, such as graduate placement rates, student success rates, and so on; there were suggestions with respect to the steps the private training industry should take to assure quality and the government's role in that process; and there were also suggestions with respect to reasonable fee levels. Mr. Speaker, there were penalties considered, which should apply for failure by private operators to register.

Bill No. 38 seeks to address some of the regulation problems and the shortcomings I have just alluded to. The bill refers to occupational training programs in private career colleges and it does not refer to programs in universities and in community colleges. Specifically, I would like to comment on some of the measures that I deem to be positive in this bill. I think that, if implemented, these will help assure that private career colleges will be better regulated in this province and we can avoid the situation which arose with respect to the aviation academy.

Under the bill, the minister is to appoint a manager of the private career colleges, and I see this as a sort of watchdog role. The manager's job would be to oversee course offerings and requirements as per the certification process. The manager would also authorize the registration and make sure that the proper courses are being offered. He or she would also conduct a curriculum review of the institutions and the manager could make recommendations to the minister with respect to renewal or withholding of registration. The bill would require the owner of private career colleges to hold a valid certificate of registration. It would authorize the operator to offer the programs listed on the certificate; in other words, the operator cannot offer programs that are not listed. The bill would

[Page 2797]

introduce measures to ensure that the applicant is not insolvent and not likely to be insolvent, thus the school should not go belly-up, so to speak, leaving students in the lurch financially.

Another of the measures in the bill would ensure that the private career colleges have staff members who are properly qualified, and the bill would ensure that the school will have accommodations, facilities, equipment and the materials required to teach the courses for which they are certified. The applicant also has to have an outside review of its curriculum, and it would have to supply a report of the review to the manager and, of course, the purpose of that is to assure that the course content is appropriate.

So as indicated, Mr. Speaker, these measures should go a long way to improving the situation regarding the regulation, certification, monitoring, and fiscal viability of the private career colleges and I would certainly support them. Thank you.

[5:45 p.m.]

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

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise and to speak for a few minutes on an Act to Regulate Private Career Colleges. As the previous speakers have said, this certainly is a bill that was needed. Like others here, I had constituents who did get burned in that unfortunate situation that was ongoing actually this fall and did have some communication with them and tried to help as best I could.

The issue of regulation of private career colleges has been an increasing problem. It has been a problem, I think, ever since we had them and I suspect there are a number of members in this Legislature who remember the difficulty we had about five or six years ago when there was a lot of federal money around for vocational retraining. There were records or cases of schools in this province that opened but never really functioned because they took the money but the students did not attend. There are a couple of those, unfortunately, on record.

Similarly, in the past five years, according to the information provided by the minister in his briefing notes, the number of career schools has increased by over 300 per cent. That is a significant amount. This is both a blessing because it does provide, clearly, other options for young and not so young Nova Scotians to obtain vital skills that are needed for employment. Most of these schools are aimed directly at employment and that is one of the things that distinguishes them from the universities, although unfortunately, and I say that universities are often geared for employment now and, in fact, would be somewhat in competition with some of these.

[Page 2798]

It does however point out to me that the community college system in the province, which was intended to perform many of the functions that these private trade schools are performing - that was the intent of the community college system - and it does indicate that that particular organization has not lived up to some of the promises that were made by the government. I look forward, though, Mr. Speaker, with the appointment of a new president in that particular institution that it will move ahead and, as it does under this new leadership, that conceivably the need for more of these private trade schools may diminish and indeed the numbers that are presently in operation now may diminish.

There are some reasons for that. First of all, the community college system is set up at significantly less cost than these private trade schools and for many of these that are covered by this bill, they are pretty expensive. Whereas some of them clearly, I guess, are worth the dollars, if you want to look at it that way, there are some that probably are not. That function could be absorbed in a community college where the cost to students could perhaps be a little bit less.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is true and much more control.

MR. MUIR: And much more controlled. On the other hand, I would say, too, just reflecting on some of the knowledge that I have about university programs and community college programs, too, is that when the minister is thinking of introducing these regulations for private career colleges, we do have some public institutions in the province that have been delinquent from time to time and we should not just look at the private trade schools as sort of being the only bad people that we have had. There are some instances that can be cited.

AN HON. MEMBER: Can you give us some examples?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MUIR: Yes, the one at the community college in Truro. Minister, you might want to take a look at that. Somebody paid the students off.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Things are getting out of hand. The honourable member will address the Chair.

MR. MUIR: Sorry, Mr. Speaker, I was asked that question. I wanted to tell him that I knew.

Mr. Speaker, getting back to this particular legislation, I am pleased to see it, as I said, and certainly support it in going through to third reading. There are a number of things about it that are a little problematic for me and I would like to go (Interruption) you would like to hear them and I will go through some of them. One of the things that it does is give a tremendous amount of power to the minister or his agent. We would have to have some

[Page 2799]

assurance that the minister or his agent is, indeed - his or her agent, whoever the minister would happen to be at that particular time - would be competent and qualified to actually exercise wisely the power that is going to be given to them under this Act.

It will also require the Minister of Education, as the person responsible for this Act, they are appointing a manager for this, Mr. Speaker, and looking at the duties of a manager. As the minister well knows, at one time in that department there was a section in his department of vocational and trades training, or occupational and vocational - it used to change its name every couple of years, as people remember (Interruption) every couple of months. Were you the minister of that at one time? Okay. The point I am saying is that there is going to have to be a bureaucracy established within the minister's department certainly to oversee this.

I hope that the minister, when this department is set up, will be very wise in selecting the manager. The manager is going to have to be a person skilled in human relations, in curriculum development, in administration and also, if there are 103 institutions, he is going to have to have a red cape so he or she can fly around the province at the rate that some of the things required in this Act will demand. (Interruption) Good horse sense, yes.

Mr. Speaker, I would now like to go through some sections of the bill and comment individually on them. First of all I would perhaps have to support my colleague from Halifax Fairview who spoke so eloquently earlier this afternoon on this bill and very wisely, when she commented on Clause 3(g). I hope if it is not in this bill that there will be some opportunity for the minister - and I am not sure how it is going to be done - to control schools that come into this province, by either Internet or video conference or by correspondence. It may be a matter for the business department, you know the right to do educational business in Nova Scotia may require the institution to be accredited.

Now there are a number of these institutions that are accredited but today, with communication being so much improved and a lot of people looking for an easy way out and looking at all these great promises, there are (Interruption) They could be bogus, as my colleague from Halifax Fairview pointed out so eloquently.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the bill will restrict the courses of study that can be offered by an individual trade or career academy. What it means is that the bill, as the member for Halifax Citadel pointed out, can provide only those studies for which it has been endorsed. Now I don't know whether this has been a particular problem but it certainly is something that has the potential to be a problem and this particular clause should put that out.

Now there is one I would like to look at and perhaps in the Law Amendments Committee somebody will deal with this, Clause 6(2)(f) says; "the private career college will be staffed with instructors and instructor assistants who meet the requirements that are prescribed in this Act or the regulations;". I am really happy to see that the instructors are

[Page 2800]

going to have to have some type of endorsement or certification but I am not sure that the minister or his agent is going to be a person who is really competent or qualified to know what the particular qualifications would be for a person who is engaged as an instructor in any particular course. There are clearly some of these things, where perhaps the combination of experience and non-academic experience might indeed qualify a person to assume a role as an instructor or an instructor's assistant. I just really look at that, and I think that is going to provide some difficulty for the minister. I hope that maybe that will be considered.

Looking at Clause 18, and it was one that says that in the event of a dispute between a student and an operator, and with the consent of the student and the operator, and I know that was spoken on before this evening or this afternoon, but it does say that an operator with the consent of the student and the operator, if there is not consent by either of those two parties, despite the fact that it is something that perhaps should go for review or for mediation, it is not possible to do that. So this particular clause, as it is written, may not have the teeth that it was intended to have. They may wish to consider taking a look at that as they go through the Law Amendments process.

I am looking too at Clause 20, which says, "No operator of a private career college shall either verbally or in writing (a) guarantee employment to a student or prospective student . . .". That seems to me to make sense, and although I am not so sure that too many of them would actually go so far as to make that guarantee, or make a false and misleading statement with respect to the earnings of any person who has completed a program or a course at the private career college, and I am glad to see that in there. That is something that could be misrepresented, and what it means is that you find that somebody went through that career college, did a particular course, and then is off doing something else, not related to the career college, and you can say, well, their income is x, and it may not be at all related to the training.

MR. SPEAKER: Maybe the honourable member would like to sort of wind down his remarks and adjourn the debate on Bill No. 38 for today.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I move adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 38. 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, tomorrow the House will sit from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and it is Opposition Day, so I would ask the House Leader in the Third Party to outline the agenda for tomorrow.

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MR. SPEAKER: The Third Party House Leader, the honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, personally I think we are the First Party, but I won't get into that. (Interruption) First in our hearts, that is good.

I would like to say that tomorrow, Opposition Day, we will be calling Bill No. 29 - Canadian Firearms Registration System Act. We will also be debating Resolution No. 1172.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

The late debate today was submitted by the member for Lunenburg:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government re-examine its transportation priorities and ensure that this province's secondary road system does not continue to be neglected - in the interest of both safety and economic reasons.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SECONDARY ROADS: NEGLECT - END

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise and speak to the resolution, "Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government re-examine its transportation priorities and ensure this province's secondary road system does not continue to be neglected - in the interest of both safety and economic reasons.".

Mr. Speaker, roads seem to be a topic that get debated and discussed, and no one ever really seems to do anything about the problem. We can all speak at length about problems in our riding, and each and every member in the Legislature has done that from time to time.

[Page 2802]

Each day, there are resolutions expressing concerns. Each day, there are discussions. And again, nothing seems to happen.

[6:00 p.m.]

The Department of Transportation has had its budget decimated over the years. Money has been robbed from Transportation to shore up Education, health care and other sectors of the budget.

AN HON. MEMBER: Finance.

MR. BALSER: Yes, perhaps so but not wise financing. What happens is that we neglect a very critical component of the infrastructure of this province and, over time, it has reached the point where it is critical. Unless the government puts in place a mechanism which will address this very serious problem, we will no longer have the infrastructure to support economic development. We have a program of robbing Peter to pay Paul and that must stop.

In the riding of Digby-Annapolis, there are literally tens of kilometres that are in need of repaving. Route 217, the road that runs from Digby Neck to the islands, a road that I mentioned here last week in the form of a resolution and in the form of a petition is critical to the development of that area. It was paved in the 1960's and has had no repairs done since that time. What has happened is that the islands have become noted as whale watching areas and also as birding areas. This means that there are literally hundreds of thousands of vehicles using that road and unless there is money committed to resurfacing that road, it will have serious implications for the continued development of tourism.

In another area of my riding, the Bear River Road, that leads from Highway No. 101 to the beautiful Town of Bear River. That road is, by the Department of Transportation's own admission in abominable shape. It has been at the top of the priority list for the last number of years and yet it never seems to reach the point where the department will commit funds to a contract to see that road recapped. It is literally a wagon path. In fact, because of the increased reliance on forestry for our economic base, there are more and more heavy trucks travelling that road daily. It is a narrow gauge road and it means there are significant safety risks and the fact that it is also a road on which a number of school students live means that every day, twice a day, school buses are stopping to load or unload children and putting them at risk.

The road that runs from Bear River out through Clementsvale to Bear River East is another road that has been severely neglected over the years. It has gradually become cracked and worn and, again, heavy truck traffic has compounded the problem. Unless that road's problems are addressed there will be very great difficulty in terms of substantiating the economic development.

[Page 2803]

Roads in the area are deplorable. In fact, one of the largest employers in that area, Irving Woodlands, has committed their own funds to develop their own highway infrastructure so they will no longer have to rely on the government maintained roads. They have actually committed funds and said simply, it is no good waiting for the Department of Transportation and Public Works to look after this problem, we will do it ourselves. Again, it was interesting to note in a press release that my federal counterpart, Mark Muise, the honourable member for West Nova, raised the whole issue of highway infrastructure funding with his federal counterparts. The fact is that the 100-Series Highways have been neglected. We raised this issue in the spring session and raise it again.

This province has to address the fact that there are sections of the highway that are not completed. Without a complete, all-weather highway around the circumference of this province, it places areas like Digby at a serious economic disadvantage. What we have is a continued, increasing reliance on heavy trucks to transport goods. The removal of rail service means that we have to have a highway that will allow heavy truck transportation to connect with larger centres.

The other thing is that the East Coast is very dependent on tourism. Tourists want to be able to travel to each area of the province. In fact, in the spring session of the Legislature, I attended a public meeting in Timberlea-Prospect where the whole issue of the Peggy's Cove Road was raised. It was interesting to note that the Liberal Government failed to even send a representative to hear the concerns of those people. My understanding is once that was raised with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, he sent messages that say he would be more than happy to attend a subsequent meeting that will be held some time this fall to discuss those very issues.

The problem is that we need a long-range plan that will ensure that highway development takes place in a sequential manner. It is not enough for funds to be allocated based on partisan politics, what we need is a plan that will allow for rural roads to be fixed on a priority needs basis and there are ridings in this province that have been severely neglected over the years.

In part, it is not entirely the government's fault. Well, it is, in terms of the fact that they make conscious budget decisions to rob transportation so they can put funds in other areas and I would like to make it very clear that that policy must stop. When the next budget is developed, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works must stand his ground and very clearly say to his colleagues in Cabinet, you can no longer do this because what it means is that rural Nova Scotia is going to be placed at a serious disadvantage.

We have concerns about what is happening with regard to natural gas and the fact that it may not be available to all areas of Nova Scotia. The same is equally true for highway infrastructure. Without railroads and without adequate roads, some areas of Nova Scotia will not be able to develop their economic base and sustain a population in that area. I could go

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on and on about the severe problems that are facing the roads. My colleague from Cumberland has indicated that his riding has had not one kilometre paved. That is not acceptable. The fact that there are areas that in this day and age have cow paths for highways is not something that should be allowed to happen as we face the next millennium. The fact, too, that the government has seen fit to introduce toll roads as a means of paying for these highways is not acceptable either.

Certainly the gasoline excise tax is more than sufficient, if they develop a long-range strategy, to ensure that road repair, construction and maintenance is addressed in a sequential, logical manner. Just today in the paper it spoke of the fact that the Halifax Regional Municipality is probably not going to have enough money in its budget to ensure adequate snowplowing and snow removal. This is deplorable. What needs to happen is funds must be allocated so that these kinds of things can go on. Just this summer, we had the summer maintenance crews laid off in a number of areas because of budget shortfalls. What it meant was in my riding all that could occur in terms of summer maintenance after a certain point was absolute emergency repairs. I get calls every day from constituents who are concerned about the fact that they have culverts that are plugged, that they have roads that have not been graded or chlorided in the summer. It is a little bit different problem now and I am sure that once we get some snow on the ground, I am going to get calls every day about the fact that the snow removal is not taking place.

Not only is it a problem in terms of what is happening with the roads, it is a problem in terms of what happens to the people who are employed by the Department of Transportation and Public Works. It is hard to have long-term commitment with your employees when, in fact, they are wondering whether or not they are going to be laid off in the next batch of lay-offs. What we need is a plan that ensures adequate funding.

The other thing that is difficult is that you have regional supervisors who have been dropped into an area to inherit problems that have existed from before their arrival and they are expected to solve these problems in a time when there is less and less money available to do that. What it requires is a coordinated effort and not only that, but it requires the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to go to Ottawa and to talk to the federal counterparts so that he has commitments that the funding will be there. Without adequate funding, there cannot be this plan that is needed to ensure roads will be repaired.

In my area I was fortunate there were some parts that were paved. In fact, one of the roads that was paved is a road that if you are one side of the road, you are in the beautiful riding of Digby-Annapolis, if you were to cross the street, you would, lo and behold, be in the riding of Clare. Interesting enough, Clare happens to be a riding that is held by the government. Now, I was fortunate enough to be able to get some paving done there and I am most appreciative because it will allow the Irvings to be able to expand their mill and be able to transport their wood products to the mill without concern about the safety of the people living in the area. What I wish was that perhaps I had a few more roads that bordered on the

[Page 2805]

beautiful riding of Clare so I would get even more paving done because that would mean that at least some of the road problems in my area are being addressed.

I would like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to speak about the issue of rural roads. It is one that really must be addressed by the government. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the resolution tabled by the member for Lunenburg. I want to thank my honourable friend for raising the issue of the province's secondary roads and the challenges we face in maintaining these critical rural links. These roads keep our rural communities connected and support the economic development of rural Nova Scotia.

Ever since becoming the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I have undertaken tours of the province's rural areas to see first-hand the condition of our secondary roads. My tours have taken me all over the province. I have visited nine counties as well as the Eastern Shore and Musquodoboit Valley areas. I have been to constituencies held by members from all Parties in this House. The most important thing I have learned so far is that we need to ensure that the existing infrastructure we have is adequately and properly maintained.

This resolution says we need to re-examine our transportation priorities so we do not continue to neglect our secondary road system. I ask my honourable colleague, the member for Lunenburg if he considers the $53 million my department spent this year to repair structures and repave secondary roads to be neglectful. This year the Department of Transportation and Public Works repaved 36 kilometres of road, repaired a couple of structures and sand sealed over 88 kilometres of roads in Lunenburg County. Yet this member would like us to re-examine our priorities.

The Tory Party wants Nova Scotians to believe that the problems we have with our rural roads developed overnight. Imagine that. The problems did not come overnight. I can tell them we are still working to fix the problems we inherited over five years ago.

Let's examine transportation priorities for a moment. In case the member missed it the last three times I spoke about it in the House, the Department of Transportation and Public Works develops its priorities based on an analyzing of a range of objective factors, including: traffic volumes; accident rates; including property damage, personal injury and fatalities, pavement condition, economic factors; roughness, rut depth; and the professional assessment of field staff and engineers. If that is not enough for my colleague for Lunenburg, let me also point out that we continually re-examine our priorities to ensure we can respond immediately.

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Members of the House frequently assist my department in re-evaluating priorities through their letters, phone calls and invitations to tour their areas. This is appreciated by me and by my staff. Of course, safety is the number one concern, it is a primary concern for my department. Safety is why we have focused our efforts on maintaining rather than new paving.

Mr. Speaker, I know there are many roads out there in rural areas that need work. I have visited many of them. I have driven across many of them in the Province of Nova Scotia. This is not new or unique to Nova Scotia and I will be the first to admit it. The fact is we do not need to do more to improve secondary roads. We need to allocate more funds for this purpose.

If we receive federal assistance for our major arterial systems through a new national highway program, we will be able to direct more of our resources to our secondary and our rural roads. Until the federal government awakens to Nova Scotia's need in this respect, we are forced to live within our means and that means striking a careful balance between all areas of this province. It means we must spend scarce resources carefully to ensure a reasonable level of service. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: My apologies, I didn't see you rise.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, to defend the Minister and the Department of Transportation and Public Works, perhaps for a short period of time, I don't think there is a rural member in the House who would not like to get more pavement, at least I have never met one during my years of service here.

I know that the minister and the department would dearly love to be able to do more, there is always much more to be done, because as soon as pavement is laid, it begins to disintegrate. There is a lifespan to any stretch of pavement, depending on the volume of traffic, weather conditions and general conditions, that varies, but certainly I have never seen a stretch of paved road that would be in good condition say 20 years after it was first laid anywhere. They have to constantly maintain and upkeep existing roads. There is a priority system that exists within the Department of Transportation and it is to maintain existing investment before taking on new tasks. That is true no matter what government is in power. It is the professional development strategy of the staff of the Department of Transportation. Transportation would love to take the place of budget allocations where debt financing currently sits, Mr. Speaker, but that is not possible because of accumulated debts from the past.

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[6:15 p.m.]

The department does not set its priorities according to provincial electoral districts. They are set according to districts that are devised by the Department of Transportation on a regional basis, that is to say the eastern district in which my constituency exists which is part of a large unit that takes in all of Cape Breton Island and eastern Nova Scotia. The department spent $53 million this fiscal year repaving roads and repairing structures, indicating to me some substantial degree of commitment that I certainly would love to see more. If our friends opposite could just tell us where to find the dollars, I am sure that we would go get them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ottawa.

MR. MACEWAN: Well, I am all for that but we do not have effective representation in Ottawa right now and so we are not getting what we ought to be able to get. If we had better representation in Ottawa, we would be getting them and Mr. Dingwall would be just the man to do it, Mr. Speaker.

Now, getting back to where I was, I would like to say that we have members who come into this House and complain. I suppose we all want to complain. As I stand here looking over the House this evening I see down at the far end of the row my dear friend the honourable member for Inverness. I know if the honourable member for Inverness could get perhaps even half the paving that is currently going into the constituency of Cape Breton The Lakes, I think he would be a very happy camper. In any event, the system does not work that way. It does not work on the basis of your constituency. It works on the basis of the recommendations of staff who are professional, who are responsible for maintaining the highways and making recommendations as to what work is needed.

I have here two press clippings from the Cape Breton Post of recent date, one of October 16th and the other of October 26th, outlining a total of seven specific initiatives undertaken in the constituency of Cape Breton The Lakes, the first being the realignment of the Alder Point Road, the second the completion of the Point Aconi Road paving, the third what is called here "work on Seaview Drive", but if anyone went to Seaview Drive and saw that work, it is pretty extensive. It is pretty thorough. It is a rehabilitation, reconstruction and repavement of Seaview Drive from the Trans Canada Highway or the bypass Highway No. 125 right to the boundary of the Town of North Sydney. I would say it is a distant of about four or five kilometres.

Then there is the upgrading and signal project at the intersection of Keltic Drive and Westmount Road, that is number four. Number five, ditching and minor repairs on the Barrachois Mountain area through to Leitches Creek. That is on the road that goes down to Grand Narrows. Six, there is speed limit signs to be posted shortly with a review of existing speed limit signs in Florence and Millville and there is a quote, regardless of what the

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Department of Transportation can do, they accommodate our requests with a quick response. That is all from the member for Cape Breton The Lakes. She does not mention, of course, the enormous expenditure underway on Highway No. 125 which is being twinned through that constituency. Tremendous expenditure of money.

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could get half that amount for my constituency, but you see that is not the way the system works. The system works fairly. It is no longer governed by the red, blue and green colour-coded files that used to exist when the Third Party was in power prior to 1993. We have changed that. We have put into effect a fair system. I grant that it is underfunded but if there had not been such huge debts run up in the past we would have more money to work with and we could do even more.

My time may be up, Mr. Speaker, but I certainly want to say that I salute this minister for the efforts he is making. He is doing a darn good job and I wish him every success in the days ahead.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is nice to see you back, perhaps we should talk about the New Zealand roads sometime, after your experience there. It is with some seriousness however, here we are in late debate, and the topic of course is roads. I think, first of all, it would be only right if we paid some compliments as they are due.

First of all, I would like to compliment the MLA for Digby-Annapolis for attending a meeting in my constituency in the fall, at which time he represented the members of the Third Party on an issue concerning the safety and the need for improvements on a very dangerous stretch of road. It was noted earlier that the minister has given a commitment at a January 17th meeting in the community on the very same topic, the minister has assured us that he will be present at that time. I thank you for that commitment, Mr. Minister, because the Prospect Road is a busy section of road.

However, I would like to talk about, I understand, the bill. Now it seemed to me that the member for Lunenburg introduced a resolution which said, "Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government re-examine its transportation priorities and ensure that this province's secondary road system does not continue to be neglected in the interest of both safety and economic reasons.". During the comments that I listened from the member of the Third Party, I heard no reference to priorities or how those prioritization decisions are going to be made. It is easy to talk, but it is darn more difficult to walk that talk when you are in the position of having to make those decisions.

For example, economic development, without doubt, one of the more dangerous turns in Timberlea-Prospect is adjacent to Jennifer's of Nova Scotia. It does need attention. I have, through the efforts of the transportation crew in my community, brought it to their attention.

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And in good time, I know that those dutiful workers, when the budget is right, they will respond.

However, the criteria for such things as economic development, public facilities, tonnage of vehicles, does this sound like something called the proposed Bill No. 30, that the members of the Third Party basically far from supported, basically had no way on God's good earth, they were even going to consider. That bill was introduced as Bill No. 30, and the members of the Third Party, with their concern about secondary roads and their concern about rural development, would not support the idea being put forward at that time by this Party, that the process be more open, less secretive and expand the criteria.

Mr. Minister, I know, rightfully so, that you have gone out of your way over the last three months or so, you have been throughout this province, and I compliment you on that. I know that you have been in Pictou County and I know that you, on occasion, have remarked to me personally about the developments that are taking place on the twinning of Highway No. 103. I compliment you on that.

The concern that I have is, however, it comes down to making those correct decisions. Are those decisions completely justified by the people within your department? If they are, Mr. Minister, I believe that it is quite appropriate that the prioritized list should be quite open, and that we should not have to dig and scratch and ask, what is wrong with doing some work on a particular section of road. I can mention, for example, Route 215, which goes from Shubenacadie to Noel. My colleague, the member for Hants East, is very concerned about this road not being addressed. I can mention the problems the member for Preston has brought to our attention about concerns in her area.

We all have those concerns. What frustrates drivers and voters in this province or operators of motor vehicles, where do they fit on the road improvement policy? Let's continually emphasize the fact that we are very well aware of the fact that there are secondary roads that need attention. I think all members have come to that realization, regardless of where we are. What people want to know, Mr. Speaker, is if in the year 2000 or 2001, a particular section of secondary road is going to receive attention. I am sure that those people would say, I know why now and when the time comes I will make sure that particular minister fulfils that commitment.

I heard the member for Digby-Annapolis say in his comments that there was a particular road which obviously he probably travelled to and from school, that had not received any pavement since 1960. One of the criteria that were earlier introduced by this Party was that the history of a road was important, in terms of when did it last receive attention, when did that road last get an upgrading. Having a piece of road in that important tourist area in this province that has received no attention, and I believe the member at his word, since 1960, is deplorable. It is unacceptable. There is no other way to say that it should be addressed.

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The problem is and I am sure the member for Digby-Annapolis is aware of this, that when roads are assessed it is decided by the district supervisors what roads are going to be assessed. Instead, should we not go through this with the department officials that every road should be assessed? It would be a major undertaking but then it should be done. After all, we talk about this issue a great deal but what is the eventual follow-up going to be.

I want to remind the members present that there are a number of sections of road that if you look back over the history of those roads and the historical relevance of them and where they go, some of those roads go back deep into our history. For example, I can bring to your attention the Hammonds Plains Road. The Hammonds Plains Road at one time was a wonderful, little rural road that connected the quiet village, perhaps town at the time, of Bedford and the tourists or for whatever reason travelling across to St. Margarets Bay.

Not to make my geography lesson go too far but the Hammonds Plains Road is no longer a neglected stretch of highway by drivers, it is a neglected stretch of highway by the Department of Transportation. That road is now a major thoroughfare and subdivisions upon subdivisions have spun off that road. The concern should be the amount of volume of traffic, the amount of volume of truck traffic. The concern should also be about the tonnage on that road, regardless of the fact there are signs that say, local truck traffic only. There is still far too much heavy duty traffic on that stretch of road.

I heard the minister say that the federal government should wake up to the needs of roads in this province. Sarcastic comments aside, I believe that that is the minister's job. I know that he is continuing to press the federal government so that we can get a fair return on our gas tax, so that we can get a fair return on what we contribute to the federal coffers. We no longer have an adequate railway system. We are constantly pushing this particular issue of roads to the forefront. However, the twinning of highways in certain metro areas is not solving the problem of getting people on secondary roads from the rural communities to the twinning of those highways.

I understand the importance and safety of twinning certain areas of roads in this province. However, I hope that the minister continues to have his voice at the Cabinet Table heard. Anything that this Party can do to continue to assist with comments, either from our federal Members of Parliament, who happen to be members of the New Democratic Party and other comments that we can address to Ottawa because I will completely concur with the minister, we have to wake them up.

We have to make them aware that we in this province cannot continue with our economic development or our tourist industry without support from our federal friends who will know that Nova Scotia must stay on the map. I thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker and thank the members present for their attendance. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I must draw to the attention of the honourable members the fact that the time allotted to the Adjournment debate has expired. The House stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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