The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
February 21, 2017

Hansard -- Wed., Oct. 28, 1998

First Session

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Digby Co.: Hwy. No. 101 - Bypass,
Mr. G. Balser 2813
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Smith 2814
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Nat. Res. - SOEP: Jobs (N.S.) - Increase, The Premier 2814
Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Anna. Valley: Shaw Wood Plant - Opening,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 2817
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1365, Nat. Res. - Land Surveyors (N.S.): AGM - Welcome,
Hon. K. MacAskill 2818
Vote - Affirmative 2819
Res. 1366, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Auto. Dealer Serv.: Expansion -
Recognize, Hon. K. Colwell 2819
Vote - Affirmative 2819
Res. 1367, Hants East MLA - Agric. (Res. 1353): Homework -
Undertake, Hon. E. Lorraine 2820
Res. 1368, Educ. - Literacy Dev. (African Cdn. Commun.-Preston):
Laura Cain - Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 2821
Vote - Affirmative 2822
Res. 1369, Housing & Mun. Affs. - UNSM: Table Officers (1998-99) -
Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 2822
Vote - Affirmative 2822
Res. 1370, Educ. & Culture - Timothy Boutilier (Mushaboom):
GED/AECL Awards-Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 2823
Vote - Affirmative 2823
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 50, Sales Tax Termination Act, Mr. H. Epstein 2823
No. 51, Queens Regional Municipality Act, Mr. J. Leefe 2823
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1371, Health - Cancer Soc. (Can.-Sydney): Dedication -
Honorees Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 2824
Vote - Affirmative 2824
Res. 1372, Fin. - Budget (1998-99): Revival - Outline, Dr. J. Hamm 2824
Res. 1373, Health - Political Diet: Food Priorities Mirror -
Poultry Top, Hon. D. Downe 2825
Vote - Affirmative 2826
Res. 1374, Kings North MLA - PC Caucus: Collegial Atmosphere -
Demonstration Thank, Mr. D. Dexter 2826
Res. 1375, NDP - Chester-St. Margaret's: MLA Membership -
Consideration Condemn, Mr. M. Samson 2826
Res. 1376, Vet. Affs. Comm.: Post Card of Thanks Project - Encourage,
Mr. M. Scott 2827
Vote - Affirmative 2828
Res. 1377, Fish. - Restructuring: Progs. (DFO) - Urge, Mr. John Deveau 2828
Res. 1378, Commun. Serv. - Seniors Homes: Residents Relocation -
Cease, Mr. B. Taylor 2828
Res. 1379, NDP Caucus - NDP (N.S.) Leader: Identity - Info.,
Mr. R. White 2829
Res. 1380, Environ. - RRFB: Conflict of Interest - Address,
Mr. D. Chard 2829
Res. 1381, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101 (Digby-Weymouth):
Complete (2000) - Commit, Mr. G. Balser 2830
Res. 1382, Metro United Way Campaign (Prov. Gov't.):
"Sharing the Harvest" Concert - Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 2831
Vote - Affirmative 2831
Res. 1383, Educ. - Acadia Univ.: William Parker DCL - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Harrison 2831
Vote - Affirmative 2832
Res. 1384, Justice - Court Fees: New - Rescind, Mr. M. Scott 2832
Res. 1385, C.B. The Lakes MLA - Human Res. Comm.
(WCB Nominee [C.B.]): Opposition - Explain, Mr. H. Fraser 2833
Res. 1386, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Trucking Industry:
Robert Power - Innovation Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 2833
Vote - Affirmative 2834
Res. 1387, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Representation: Self-Interest Group -
Explain, Mr. Charles MacDonald 2834
Res. 1388, SCS - Gerontology Conf. (Cdn. Assoc.): Success - Congrats.,
Hon. F. Cosman 2835
Vote - Affirmative 2836
Res. 1389, Housing & Mun. Affs. - UNSM President: Mayor Bolivar -
Congrats., Hon. D. Downe 2836
Vote - Affirmative 2836
Res. 1390, NDP (N.S.) - Miners (C.B.) & UMWA: Hostility - Regret,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2837
Res. 1391, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Atl. Digital Media Festival:
Entrepreneurs - Encourage, Hon. K. MacAskill 2837
Vote - Affirmative 2838
Res. 1392, Sports - Water Skiing: Lyndsey Horton -
Achievements Applaud, Hon. F. Cosman 2838
Vote - Affirmative 2839
Res. 1393, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Resign: Voters - Choice Allow,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 2839
Res. 1394, NDP (N.S.) - Chester-St. Margaret's MLA: NDP Affiliation -
Reject, Mr. L. Montgomery 2840
Res. 1395, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Health Critic (NDP): Future - Reveal,
Mr. H. Fraser 2840
Res. 1396, Chester-St. Margaret's - Voters: Lib. Party -
Membership Encourage, Hon. K. Colwell 2841
Res. 1397, NDP (Can. & N.S.) Miners (C.B.)/WCB [Brendon MacIntyre]:
Inactions - Support Useless, Mr. P. MacEwan 2841
Res. 1398, Culture - Shel.: Inuit Visitors [Jean Revillon Connection] -
Welcome, Hon. C. Huskilson 2842
Vote - Affirmative 2843
Res. 1399, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Resign: Constituents -
Choice Permit, Mr. L. Montgomery 2843
Res. 1400, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Chester-St. Margaret's MLA:
NDP Membership - Deny, Mr. M. Samson 2843
Res. 1401, Fin. - Economic Growth: Performance - Commend,
Mr. G. Fogarty 2844
Res. 1402, Educ.: Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Comp. (St. F.X.) -
Congrats., Hon. K. MacAskill 2845
Vote - Affirmative 2845
Res. 1403, Educ. - Ian Forsythe School (Dart. East): Breakfast Prog. -
Acknowledge, Hon. J. Smith 2845
Vote - Affirmative 2846
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 337, Health - Yarmouth: Physicians - Recruitment,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2847
No. 338, Health - QE II Health Sc. Centre: Debt - Amount,
Dr. J. Hamm 2848
No. 339, Health - Long-Term Care Facilities: Employees - Fairness,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2850
No. 340, Health - Ambulance Service: MMC - Contract Provide,
Mr. G. Moody 2851
No. 341, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Laterals (C.B.) - Size, Mr. J. Holm 2852
No. 342, Commun. Serv. - Seniors Homes: Residents Relocation -
Moratorium Impose, Mr. J. Muir 2854
No. 343, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Dominion Bridge Co.: Employees -
Assist, Mr. D. Dexter 2856
No. 344, Agric. - Drought: Assistance - Immediacy, Mr. John MacDonell 2857
No. 345, Housing & Mun. Affs. - HRM: Amalgamation Costs -
Assistance, Mr. B. Taylor 2858
No. 346, Agric. - Middleton (Anna. Co.): Grain Centre -
Importance Recognize, Mr. John MacDonell 2859
No. 347, Nat. Res. - Natl. Energy Bd.: Laterals (C.B./Hfx.) - Size,
Dr. J. Hamm 2860
No. 348, Agric. - Milk Producers Assoc.: Legislation - Mandate,
Mr. John MacDonell 2861
No. 349, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Offshore (Pipe Laying) - Jobs,
Mr. G. Archibald 2863
No. 350, Health - Reg. Board: Surplus - Identify, Mr. H. Epstein 2864
No. 351, Nat. Res.: Forestry Agreement (Can.-N.S.) - Status,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 2865
No. 352, Lbr.: Occup. Health & Safety Regs. - Update,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2866
No. 353, Commun. Serv. - Women's Centres: Funding - Ensure,
Ms. Y. Atwell 2867
No. 354, Commun. Serv. - Adoptions: Report - Inaction, Mr. J. Muir 2868
No. 355, Sports: Yarmouth Multi-Purpose Complex - Funding,
Mr. John Deveau 2869
No. 356, WCAT - Independence: Right - Ensure, Mr. M. Baker 2870
No. 357, Fish. - TAGS 2: Workers Former - Retirement Age,
Mr. John Deveau 2872
No. 358, Justice - Donald Marshall, Jr.: Court Case - Intervention,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 2873
No. 359, Educ.: Y2K Problem - Readiness, Mr. P. Delefes 2874
No. 360, Commun. Serv. - Rocking Chair Haven: Residents Relocation -
Proximity Ensure, Mr. J. Muir 2875
No. 361, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Waterfront Dev. Corp.:
Bishop's Landing - Public Input, Mr. P. Delefes 2877
No. 362, Nat. Res. - Gas Distribution: URB Hearings -
Intervener Status, Mr. J. Holm 2878
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 29, Canadian Firearms Registration System Act 2879
Mr. M. Scott 2879
Hon. R. Harrison 2882
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2886
Mr. John Deveau 2888
Mr. G. Balser 2889
Mr. B. Taylor 2890
Hon. F. Cosman 2892
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1172, Health: Home Support Workers - Concerns,
Mr. G. Moody 2892
Mr. G. Moody 2892
Hon. R. Harrison 2896
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2901
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
WCB - Brendon MacIntyre Appointment: NDP Opposition -
Regret:
Mr. P. MacEwan 2904
Ms. Helen MacDonald 2906
Mr. M. Baker 2908
Mr. F. Corbett 2910
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 29th at 2:00 p.m. 2911

[Page 2813]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 1998

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Digby County living along Highway No. 101 between Digby and Weymouth. The operative clause of the petition reads as follows:

"We, the undersigned, residents of Digby County along the last remaining stretch of the old Highway 101 that has not been bypassed by an alternative route with restricted access status, put our names to this petition as an expression of our profound disappointment in our officials and politicians responsible for the safety and comfort of our citizens and for the efficiency of Highway transportation in this particular region of Nova Scotia.".

There are 487 names and I have affixed my name.

2813

[Page 2814]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 4 - Mi'kmaq Education Act.

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

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

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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that, in a one month period, the number of Nova Scotia jobs on the Sable Offshore Energy Project has grown by 308 people. (Applause) Not 2 or 20 or even 100 jobs, but 308 more people are working on the offshore project today than were working one short month ago; that is an increase of 18 per cent in the number of jobs in a one month period. It is a significant increase and one which all Nova Scotians can be proud of. Good news for the economy and good news for the people of this province.

What is even better news, Mr. Speaker, is that this figure will continue to grow in the months ahead. The benefits of the Sable project are enormous. I am pleased to report on what is just one example of how this project is fuelling our economy, putting increasingly large numbers of Nova Scotians to work and providing them with an unprecedented opportunity to gain expertise in an industry that continues to gather steam on the East Coast. When combined with the previous month's figures, these 308 new jobs bring the total number of Sable jobs, here in Nova Scotia, to 1,697. (Applause)

[Page 2815]

Almost 1,700 people directly employed as a result of the natural gas project. These new figures were recently released by the Sable Offshore Energy Project. They are current as of September 30th. As I mentioned previously in this House, the Sable office is supplying the Nova Scotia Petroleum Directorate with a monthly employment report.

I will take pride in continuing to share these excellent employment figures with my esteemed colleagues and with the people of Nova Scotia in the days and months ahead. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the members on the government benches are anxious to hear my comments. I want to say, first of all, I am pleased to see that there are more people working on the offshore here in Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, nobody has ever questioned for one minute but that there will be at least in the short term a bleep in the economic prospects here in Nova Scotia because of what is going on. What we are very concerned about is providing long-term employment opportunities within the Province of Nova Scotia as a result of our gas. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, when one takes a look at the kind of benefit packages that the province has entered into and the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Agreement provides projections of 34 per cent plus or minus 25 per cent by the end of the project. It is not enforceable, there are no guarantees. And the kind of royalty regime that the government has put in place does not provide the incentive for long-term job creation here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, as an example, why is it that the Santa Fe Galaxy II . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Why wasn't that built here in Nova Scotia? Many of the SEDCO rigs were built in the Halifax Shipyard, and they also did some semi-submersible drilling rigs. In addition, those are more difficult to build and would be creating jobs for Nova Scotians and building skills here in this. The mini jack-ups are going to be needed for this drilling operation and others. Are those jobs to be here in Nova Scotia, creating those products, onshore as well as offshore?

There is a lot that can be done. One of the things that this government can do is change the royalty regime so that the companies are going to be paying a flat rate when they take the gas out of the ground, from which they deduct dollars spent hiring Nova Scotians and

[Page 2816]

purchasing products manufactured here in Nova Scotia. (Applause) That would create long-term economic opportunities in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The Premier can stand up and he can quote some short-term figures, and their projections from the last quarterly report came out showing that they were actually 6 per cent lower than the level that they were projected to be at that point in time. But this government, we do know, has entered into an agreement where there are no fixed amounts of Nova Scotian content that has to be employed, and they have agreed to a process that isn't even enforceable. (Applause)

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the cacophony of clapping that accompanied the Premier's announcement indicates how desperate the Liberal Government is to put a shine on what they have done for Sable. The Premier gets up and he talks about 308 jobs in Nova Scotia. Of course there are jobs in Nova Scotia. I meet people from all over this country, from all over the world in this province, who are working on the offshore.

What I want to know Mr. Premier is how many Nova Scotians are working? How many of those salaries are going to be spent here? How many are putting bread on the table of Nova Scotians? That is the question that you have failed to answer in your announcement here today. The Premier indicated that he is going to provide us with a monthly report. The Premier conveniently ignored the second quarter report of Sable that indicated of the $1.5 million having been spent up until that point, only 19 to 20 per cent had been spent on labour and materials here in Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) The benefits plan clearly indicates 34 per cent of that should have been spent here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we have a situation here that many Nova Scotians who are ready, willing and able to participate in the Sable offshore are being excluded, because of the tendering practices of Sable, and this government does not have the gumption to stand up and do something about it. (Applause) Just think, who would be in a better position to participate in the Sable offshore than the shipyards here in Nova Scotia? They are out looking now, many of them, for government help to provide work for the shipyards in Nova Scotia, because Sable work has not come their way because this government has not seen fit to make a requirement that this work be done in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would certainly hope that next month the Premier will have something more substantial to say than he just said in the last few minutes. (Applause)

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

[Page 2817]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today in the Annapolis Valley, we marked another economic success in this province with the official opening of the Shaw Wood plant. As members of this House will recall, Shaw Wood is manufacturing ready-to-assemble furniture for the Swedish retailing giant, IKEA.

The company is making use of a renewable natural resource, Nova Scotia white pine, to make a finished product. All of the value-added processing is taking place right here in Nova Scotia. And that finished product is being shipped from the Cornwallis plant directly to retailers all over North America.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, Shaw Wood is also providing a tremendous boost to the Annapolis County economy in spin-off activity. Another 225 local jobs can be directly attributed to this project in related industries. Companies like N.F. Douglas of Caledonia and Bowater Mersey are supplying the 7 million feet of white pine that this operation needs every year. Shaw Wood is a fine example of what can happen when the private sector, government and the community work together to grow the economy. Through partnerships such as this, we create much-needed jobs in rural Nova Scotia, add value to our resources and increase exports.

Mr. Speaker, the Province of Nova Scotia is proud to be a partner. Just under a year ago, the Premier announced the province's support for this project. The $7.3 million loan and $2 million contribution for staff training are solid investments for Nova Scotia taxpayers. Not only is the loan being paid back with interest, but Nova Scotians are benefitting from the taxes generated from the new jobs. That's what our investments are all about. When we invest $1.00 in economic growth, we get $2.00 back for health care and education. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say that this is, in fact, a good-news announcement. The reality is that it is this kind of operation that capitalizes not only on the strengths of the industry but also capitalizes on the strengths of the communities. That is an important aspect of any development that takes place in this province. It is also important to note that this is a value added product and adding value to our natural resources is exactly the direction that we ought to be going in with economic development in this province.

I would add that one hopes that when another of our great resources in this province is brought onstream, natural gas, that when that is delivered to these communities throughout the province, that what we will see is yet a more sustainable growth in value added industries throughout the province and certainly what we do know is that when natural gas is distributed throughout the province, what we will see is lower overheads and the ability to grow these industries at the community level. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

[Page 2818]

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise and respond to the announcement. Perhaps I am even more pleased than the minister himself since that business is located in my riding. It is wonderful to see the opportunity for business to expand in the Valley. The point was raised that the Cornwallis Development Park has a long history, since the closure of CFB Cornwallis, trying to attract business and it is nice to see that this has finally come to pass.

I am a bit concerned though in light of the fact that it represents a contribution of substantial money in a time when the Department of Economic Development is already facing a deficit of $18.5 million. That having been said though, the fact that it will create a great deal of employment, economic benefit and spin-off is overall an advantage to my area and to the Province of Nova Scotia. The recognition that value added production is important to sustainable economic development in this province is also important to highlight. So overall I think this is a positive thing and a step in the right direction. I close though by saying it is interesting to note the minister has said when we invest $1.00 in economic growth, we get $2.00 back to support health and education. I think in actual fact they need to get $2.00 back to fight the deficit they have created. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1365

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

Whereas there are more than 200 land surveyors in the province and the 48th Annual Meeting of the Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors is currently underway in Halifax; and

Whereas land surveyors have played and continue to play an important role in the development of our province and history indicates surveyors were engaged by the Government of Nova Scotia as early as 1731; and

Whereas land surveyors from every province in Canada and some from the State of Maine are visiting Nova Scotia and attending the Halifax meeting;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House welcome these visiting surveyors, congratulate the Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors on its 48th Annual Meeting and extend best wishes for a productive and successful conference.

[Page 2819]

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1366

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

Whereas it is the mission of the Department of Business and Consumer Services to deliver innovative, convenient and quality service to our customers and clients; and

Whereas on October 1st of this year, automotive dealer services, previously only available in Halifax and Dartmouth, were extended to 12 regional offices from Yarmouth to Sydney; and

Whereas these changes are in a large part a result of staff input and support of the department's mission of service excellence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the ongoing efforts to make government services more accessible for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

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.

[Page 2820]

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1367

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

Whereas yesterday the NDP member for Hants East misled this House with his resolution about a fictional potato conference; and

Whereas there never was a potato conference nor did any representative of another province ever speak on behalf of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in fact I was the only provincial minister from Atlantic Canada to chair a business meeting in conjunction with the federal Minister of Agriculture during a recent Agricultural Trade Mission to Latin America;

Therefore be it resolved that before introducing any more resolutions in this House the member for Hants East do his homework, get his facts straight, and maybe consult an elementary school textbook to find out what a potato really is.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation.

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

Whereas a photo of the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's appeared in the October 8th edition of the Chronicle Herald, captioned "farmer for a day"; and

Whereas the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's appeared to be in overalls and accompanied by a sickle; and

[Page 2821]

Whereas the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's was apparently trying to fill in a road rut with the sickle;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Official Opposition on recognizing how important it is to have the right tool for the job.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

That notice of motion is out of order.

We are on Government Notices of Motion and that is not a Government Notice of Motion.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1368

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 Department of Education and Culture has recognized the pioneering work of the late Dr. William Perley Oliver in promoting literacy and adult education in African-Canadian Communities throughout Nova Scotia and has established an award to recognize educators who have sustained the tradition of excellence fostered by Dr. Oliver; and

Whereas Ms. Laura Cain has dedicated many years to promoting literacy development within the African-Canadian community in the Preston area and has been an active volunteer in activities from community learning initiatives to the Congress of Black Women of Canada; and

Whereas Ms. Laura Cain is being honoured by the African-Canadian Services Division of the department as the first recipient of the late Dr. William Perley Oliver Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Ms. Laura Cain for her receipt of this award and for her invaluable contribution to the cause of adult education in Nova Scotia and her service to our African-Canadian communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2822]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 1369

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

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities held its annual conference last week in Yarmouth; and

Whereas certain municipal representatives were chosen to serve as table officers for the coming year; and

Whereas UNSM plays a vital role in representing the interests of the province's 55 municipalities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the new Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities President, Mayor Ernie Boliver; Vice President, Councillor Duart MacAulay, Secretary Treasurer, Deputy Mayor Anna Allen; and Past President, Mayor Walter Fitzgerald.

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 Minister of Education.

[Page 2823]

RESOLUTION NO. 1370

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 Department of Education and Culture recognizes that lifelong learning is an essential practice for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the General Education Development section of the department provides adults with the opportunity to gain high school equivalency and, each year, grants a National Award for Outstanding Achievement to the individual who achieved the highest scores on the GED test within Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited provides a $1,000 Scholarship Award to a GED graduate who is enrolled in the full-time post-secondary program in science, or math-related, at a recognized Nova Scotia institution;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Timothy L. Boutilier of Mushaboom for his receipt of both the GED National Award for Outstanding Achievement and the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited $1,000 GED Scholarship 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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 50 - Entitled an Act to Provide for the Termination of the Comprehensive Integrated Tax Co-ordination Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia. (Mr. Howard Epstein)

Bill No. 51 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 9 of the Acts of 1995. The Queens Regional Municipality Act. (Mr. John Leefe)

[Page 2824]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1371

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

Whereas this past Monday, four Cape Bretoners were honoured for their promotion and dedication to the Sydney unit of the Canadian Cancer Society; and

Whereas Dr. Rick Bedard was given a certificate of merit for his work with the society, while Agnes Poshay was singled out for her dedication to the annual April fund-raising campaign; and

Whereas Ronnie Martin, owner of Ronnie's Hairline and Esthetics, received a certificate for his support, and Mary Jane MacPhail, owner of MJ's Naturally, was recognized for her decision to establish her new business as a smoke-free environment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these Nova Scotians for their outstanding dedication to the fight against cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1372

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

[Page 2825]

Whereas the Minister of Finance promised Nova Scotians a balanced budget; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Minister of Finance indicated that his budget is already flawed to the tune of $82 million; and

Whereas a further $29 million addition to the deficit may occur after the actuarial study of the Public Sector Superannuation Pension Fund;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance outline in detail how he will revive his dying budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1373

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

Whereas the Canada Food and Nutrition Guide clearly spells out the need for protein as part of a healthy, balanced diet; and

Whereas poultry is recognized as a very popular and very healthy source of this protein; and

Whereas other forms of protein such as Hamm and even a few nuts may also be introduced as a basic building block for a healthy diet;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge Nova Scotians to continue to mirror these food priorities when they consider their political diet and, therefore, keep us poultry producers on top of the food chain with the occasional and measured helpings of Hamm and even a few nuts.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2826]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1374

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 Chester-St. Margaret's stated publicly that sniping and efforts to undermine him by other Tory MLAs was one reason for him leaving that political Party; and

Whereas many loyal Progressive Conservatives must have doubted whether any of their own MLAs would undermine a colleague, particularly if the perceived fault was voting to honour the Tory platform; and

Whereas on October 27th in the foyer of this House the MLA for Kings North laid to rest any questions about this issue;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the MLA for Kings North for providing a public demonstration of the collegial atmosphere, personal respect and professional approach that are the hallmark of a united legislative caucus. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1375

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

Whereas in the last election NDP candidate, Doris Maley, worked hard to become the member for Chester-St. Margaret's with the help of a large number of paid staff and volunteers; and

Whereas NDP candidate, Doris Maley, should be commended for offering to be a candidate even though she does not share the same views of those of us on this side of the House; and

[Page 2827]

Whereas the present member for Chester-St. Margaret's seems to be ready to join the NDP even though last election's NDP candidate put a great deal of time and effort into her failed election bid;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP should be condemned for even considering the present member for Chester-St. Margaret's and that they should apologize to the former NDP candidate for wasting her valuable time and effort.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1376

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

Whereas the Veteran's Affairs Committee announced today its Post Card of Thanks project, a project we hope will benefit future generations tenfold through a very simple gesture of gratitude; and

Whereas that benefit will begin with stamped postcards sent to all of the province's Grade 6 classroom students who, if participating, will send a note to a veteran living in our province offering their thanks for that veteran's service to province and country; and

Whereas this project will come to life through the simple comments of those Grade 6 students, but also importantly thanks to committee member, Gordon Balser, the member for Digby-Annapolis; and his assistant, Kristy Bishop; the Department of Veteran's Affairs; Canada Post; the Royal Canadian Legion; along with funding from Olands/Labatt Breweries, J.D. Irving, TRA Maritime and the Royal Bank;

Therefore be it resolved that as we approach Remembrance Day the members of this House encourage the project as much as they can within their communities so that those postcards reach our veterans as a tangible symbol of the heartfelt indebtedness all generations feel now and evermore for the risks taken and sacrifices made in the name of world freedom and peace.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2828]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1377

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

Whereas unlike Newfoundland, Nova Scotia has a varied fishery featuring many species; and

Whereas past federal efforts to rationalize the East Coast fishery have failed to consider these differences; and

Where the Halifax West Commercial Fishermen's Association has asked the federal Fisheries Minister to implement a license buy-back program that respects these regional differences;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial Minister of Fisheries urge his federal counterparts to implement restructuring programs that take these differences into account.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1378

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

[Page 2829]

Whereas the Department of Community Services is ripping seniors out of community seniors' facilities and placing them in towns far from family and friends; and

Whereas most privately-run facilities provide a safe and healthy environment for their residents; and

Whereas seniors have rights too;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Community Services immediately cease and desist with its predatory actions and leave the seniors in their present facilities, provided they are safe and that their needs are being met. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1379

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 Independent member for Chester-St. Margaret's contacted the NDP member for Halifax Chebucto; and

Whereas the reason for this contact was to discuss membership in the NDP; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Chebucto said there is no hurry to make a decision;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP caucus inform the House of the identity of the real Leader of the NDP, so that we can be aware of who will be swallowing the bitter pill. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1380

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

Whereas the Board of Directors of the Resource Recovery Fund Board includes members of the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation; and

[Page 2830]

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board is doing business with the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation; and

Whereas the Auditor General indicated this morning at Public Accounts Committee that he has had concerns about a possible conflict of interest in this regard;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment take immediate action to address this concern.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1381

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

Whereas a petition containing the names of 487 residents living on Highway No. 101 between Digby and Weymouth was tabled in the House today; and

Whereas the residents living along Highway No. 101 between Digby and Weymouth have repeatedly voiced their concerns that this section of the 100-Series Highway is one of the last in the entire province which remains incomplete; and

Whereas the heavy volume of truck traffic along this unlimited access residential section of highway creates profound safety issues;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works make a commitment to the people living between Digby and Weymouth that this section of highway will be a priority for his department and that it will be completed by the year 2000.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of the Environment.

[Page 2831]

RESOLUTION NO. 1382

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

Whereas the provincial government Metro United Way Campaign was officially launched on September 10, 1998 and will conclude the first week of December 1998; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment is the lead department for this year's campaign and has been instrumental in organizing government-wide events, in particular the Variety Concert held on October 23rd at the Nova Scotia Institute of Technology; and

Whereas the featured performers were the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, with performances from staff of the Departments of Environment, Health, Tourism, Alcohol and Gaming Authority, and two members of this House, Mr. Jim DeWolfe and Mr. Brooke Taylor, proving that there is more than one "Ham" within the Third Party;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the Nova Scotia Mass Choir, government employees and MLAs who have contributed unselfishly in sharing the harvest, and encourage continued government-wide support of this worthwhile cause.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1383

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

Whereas William F.G. Parker of Wolfville was awarded the degree of Doctor of Civil Law, honoris causa, at Acadia University's fall convocation on October 24, 1998; and

[Page 2832]

Whereas Bill Parker has had a lifelong connection with Acadia, being a third generation graduate of the university, the life President of the Class of 1956 and having served Acadia in various roles from 1963 to 1996, retiring as Vice-President of External Affairs; and

Whereas Bill Parker is known affectionately as Mr. Acadia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend William (Bill) Parker for his dedicated service to Acadia University and congratulate him for this honour bestowed upon him by his alma mater.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1384

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

Whereas this Liberal Government has once again found a way to tax Nova Scotians; and

Whereas by introducing new court fees, the Liberals will be placing undue hardship on innocent parties and essentially denying court access to those with lower incomes; and

Whereas this is an example of the Liberal philosophy that those who can least afford to pay will have to do so, thereby creating a two-tiered court system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, Minister of Justice and Minister of Finance consider the consequences of their inexcusable actions and rescind their Notice of Change to Court Fees.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2833]

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. 1385

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

Whereas the New Democratic Party would like to lead Cape Bretoners to believe that they, and they alone, are the true champions of all their causes; and

Whereas yesterday at a meeting of the Human Resources Committee, the sincerity of that boast was put to the test when a respected and qualified Cape Breton resident's name came up for discussion for a position on the Workers' Compensation Board; and

Whereas the NDP members of the Human Resources Committee voted against the appointment of this Cape Bretoner despite the fact that he was deemed the most qualified under the terms of the Human Resources Committee's guidelines;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP member for Cape Breton The Lakes explain to the residents of Cape Breton why, when it came time to demonstrate their support for Cape Breton, they once again deserted them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1386

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

Whereas as President and General Manager of the Commercial Safety College in Masstown, Robert Power was able to set the standards in truck driver training for Atlantic Canada and, in fact, for all of Canada; and

[Page 2834]

Whereas Mr. Power pioneered computer assisted training, satellite training and an internship program, and about 95 per cent of the college graduates from each course found immediate employment; and

Whereas last week Mr. Power was presented with the auspicious Safety to Motor Transportation Award for his dedication and hard work to the trucking industry;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Robert Power for his innovative contributions to many aspects of the trucking industry.

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 Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1387

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

Whereas members of the New Democratic socialist Party have constantly portrayed themselves as the champions of labour, the true defenders of the masses; and

Whereas yesterday, at a meeting of the Human Resources Committee, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes informed the committee that unless the recommended appointee had the approval of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, the appointment would not be brought forward; and

Whereas the NDP support of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour represents 30 per cent of Nova Scotians, leaving 70 per cent of the population frozen out of the democratic process;

[Page 2835]

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP explain to the people of Nova Scotia that while he wants their support at the ballot box, only 30 per cent of Nova Scotians, individuals who are members of a self-interest group, leaving 70 per cent to twist in the wind.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear some Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1388

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

Whereas the Canadian Association on Gerontology Conference has recently been held in Halifax, with more than 800 delegates visiting here from across Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States; and

Whereas these professionals gathered to discuss the challenges of an aging society and to promote understanding, harmony and mutual support across generations not only during the International Year of Older Persons 1999, but to encourage all sectors of society to be responsible to a diverse and aging population; and

Whereas this conference was supported by the first provincial seniors' secretariat in Canada, the Nova Scotia Senior Citizens' Secretariat, and involved the efforts of many volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the volunteers, the staff of the secretariat, and the chair of the conference for their efforts in making this a successful conference.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2836]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 1389

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

Whereas Bridgewater Mayor Ernie Bolivar was elected as the new President of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities at the 93rd Annual Conference held in Yarmouth, October 22nd to 24th, 1998; and

Whereas Mayor Bolivar has served as an executive member of the UNSM for the past four years, including the 1997-98 term, in the capacity of vice president; and

Whereas His Worship has been a long-standing councillor, in excess of 20 years, and is now entering his third term as Mayor of the beautiful Town of Bridgewater;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations and best wishes to Mayor Bolivar as he assumes the presidency of the UNSM.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 2837]

RESOLUTION NO. 1390

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

Whereas Mr. Brendon MacIntyre, of 5 University Avenue, Sydney, a constituent of mine and representative of the United Mine Workers of America, had been proposed by this government for appointment as a member of the Workers' Compensation Board; and

Whereas Mr. MacIntyre's nomination was rejected by the Human Resources Committee on the strength of a torrent of opposition expressed by the New Democratic Party; and

Whereas if Brendon MacIntyre's appointment had been recommended by the Human Resources Committee it would have given the coal miners a direct voice on the board, which formulates policy and supervises operations of tremendous importance to the Cape Breton coal miner;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the continued hostility of the New Democratic Party to the Cape Breton miner and to the United Mine Workers of America, a policy which is most detrimental to the interests of the mining community.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1391

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

Whereas this past weekend, I had the honour of representing our province in officially opening the Atlantic Digital Media Festival and Awards Showcase held in Baddeck at the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, which brought in exhibitors from all over the world; and

Whereas this event was another prime example of the ever-increasing interest and advancement in the growing multimedia industry in Nova Scotia, which sees the knowledge-based sector in Cape Breton alone being a $24 million industry, providing employment for 800 people; and

Whereas it was very fitting that this event be held at Bell's museum, whose invention of the telephone more than 120 years ago set the standard of the time, clearly demonstrating how long a way we have come over the years in the information technology field, with standards continuously being raised to a higher level;

[Page 2838]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in offering encouragement to all the entrepreneurs and companies across Nova Scotia who work in the multimedia sector, to show them our province's firm support for their continued inspiration, keeping Nova Scotia on the leading edge of this technology.

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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1392

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

Whereas over the years the athletes of Nova Scotia have brought honour to our province through their athletic activities; and

Whereas Lyndsey Horton, a young woman who has been water skiing since the age of three and has been competitively water skiing since 1992; and

Whereas Lyndsey, since 1993, has consistently captured regional and national titles and just this summer at the Atlantic Canadian Championships won the Dennis Graves Most Improved Jumper Award, won the Bruce Fergusson Top Overall Female Water Skier under the age of 21 award and won the Top Overall Female National Water Ski Award, and at the Canadian Nationals Championships won silver medals in the Girls 3 Slalom, Trick and Jump events and overall was first, winning the National Girls 3 Overall title, and was also one of the 10 junior athletes in Canada invited to a training camp in Florida;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the remarkable achievement of this fine athlete.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2839]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1393

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

Whereas in a recent national radio interview the member for Chester-St. Margaret's admitted that he was a one-issue candidate who did not believe he had a long future in politics; and

Whereas while we hope his prediction comes sooner than later it might have been a good idea to prepare for the fact that an MLA must perform many tasks when serving their constituents; and

Whereas the member's agenda may be one issue but he is now flirting with a Party who wishes to model themselves after the Saskatchewan NDP, a government whose contribution to health care was the closure of 50 hospitals in rural areas;

Therefore be it resolved that the member Chester-St. Margaret's resign before he becomes disillusioned with his new Party, at least in this way the voters will be able to decide whether they want an NDP member.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 2840]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1394

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

Whereas in his lust for power, the Leader of the NDP allowed the NDP nomination in Cape Breton East to stand, despite knowing that the NDP candidate was under investigation for wrongdoing; and

Whereas the Leader of the NDP is now performing a mating dance with the member for Chester-St. Margaret's who has betrayed the trust of voters and his former constituency association; and

Whereas the NDP ran on the platform that included a code of ethics for NDP members;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP demonstrate the courage of his convictions and reject the member for Chester-St. Margaret's just like that member rejected the principles of the democratic Party system.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1395

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 NDP are now engaged in a courtship ritual with the Independent member for Chester-St. Margaret's; and

Whereas the latest de facto NDP member is an outspoken critic of health care who often blurred the line between his political office and medical duties; and

[Page 2841]

Whereas reports from his former Party indicate that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's is a loose cannon who holds his caucus in contempt;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP please tell this House and the people of Nova Scotia who will act as Opposition Health Critic once the relationship between the NDP and the independent MLA is consummated.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1396

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 member for Chester-St. Margaret's recently announced that he was leaving the Progressive Conservative caucus and now sits as an Independent in this House; and

Whereas his decision to leave the PC caucus has left Conservative supporters in his riding upset and disillusioned; and

Whereas the news that the same member may now join the NDP is certain to upset New Democrats in the riding who knocked on doors and passed out pamphlets on their own candidate during the last provincial election;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the voters of Chester-St. Margaret's to join the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia where their candidates will not turn their backs on them and where their hard work for local candidates will not be ignored by Party brass.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1397

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

Whereas although there has been much debate of the Cape Breton coal mining industry on the floor of this Legislature, it has scarcely been mentioned in the House of Commons at Ottawa at all; and

[Page 2842]

Whereas this stems in part from the reticence and insignificance of the two elected NDP Members of Parliament from Cape Breton; and

Whereas this stems still more from the absolute refusal of NDP federal Leader Alexa McDonough to ever once raise the topic of Devco or the Cape Breton coal miner in the House of Commons, lest this might offend some of her more important friends in the environmental lobby;

Therefore be it resolved that the combination of Alexa's refusal to speak out for the miner in Ottawa and the provincial NDP's denial of a seat on the Workers Compensation Board to Brendon MacIntyre indicates the uselessness of the coal mining community supporting the New Democratic Party politically.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation.

RESOLUTION NO. 1398

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 fur schooner Jean Revillon, built in Shelburne, became the second vessel to make it through the Northwest Passage to reach the magnetic North Pole; and

Whereas this vessel returned to Shelburne for repairs in 1925 accompanied by four Inuit crew, the first Inuit to visit Shelburne; and

Whereas recently two of the sons of the original Inuit visitors had the opportunity to visit Shelburne and this province as part of Saint Mary's University's Nunavut Awareness Days, recognizing what will become Canada's newest territory on April 1st of next year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House add it welcome to these visitors and congratulate them on the exciting opportunities the new territory will bring.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2843]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1399

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

Whereas in the riding of Chester-St. Margaret's during the last election a whopping 69 per cent of those who voted rejected the socialist policies of the NDP; and

Whereas the present member for Chester-St. Margaret's is now hoping to cast his lot with a Party whose policies were clearly rebuked by his constituents; and

Whereas it is evident that the present member does as he pleases with little or no consultation with his constituents;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's do the proper thing and resign his seat so that his constituents can decide whether he should be their representative or not.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1400

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 Independent member for Chester-St. Margaret's has shown callous disregard for the wishes of the constituency association that worked hard to get him elected; and

Whereas the people of Chester-St. Margaret's have been without real representation since the member they elected began to blatantly ignore his caucus duties shortly after March 24th; and

Whereas the Independent member for Chester-St. Margaret's has demonstrated a lack of respect for the democratic process;

[Page 2844]

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask the Leader of the NDP to show some integrity and ignore the overtures of the now Independent member, just as the said member ignored the concerns of his constituents.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1401

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

Whereas the Royal Bank has forecast that economic growth in Nova Scotia is expected to rank third, behind Newfoundland and Alberta over the next two years; and

Whereas in its forecast, released on Friday, the bank predicts Nova Scotia will have real GDP growth rates of 3.6 per cent this year, 2.6 per cent next year and 2.5 per cent in the year 2000; and

Whereas non-residential investment growth primarily related to the Sable Island Offshore Energy and Pipeline Project is expected to remain the highest in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend this government for its excellent performance in laying the groundwork for this superb economic projection.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 2845]

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

[3:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1402

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

Whereas this past weekend in Antigonish, the 15th Annual Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Competition was held which attracted top-quality student debaters to St. F.X. from across our province; and

Whereas debaters from my riding of Victoria were very successful at this two day event, as Tamzin Gillis placed second in the individual category, picking up a $500 scholarship to St. F.X.; and

Whereas in the team debating competition, Baddeck Academy also took second place, with students Tamzin Gillis, Shauna Fuller and Jennifer Andrews making their school and community proud;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating all those who played a role, both participants and organizers, in the Dr. Moses M. Coady Debating Competition, a job well done by all.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1403

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

[Page 2846]

Whereas all children require proper nutrition to function effectively in the classroom; and

Whereas the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club, Ian Forsythe School and Stevens Road United Baptist Church have been working collaboratively to establish a breakfast program for some students attending the Ian Forsythe School; and

Whereas staff of the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club, along with 50 volunteers, ensure that these students are provided with a healthy breakfast prior to school;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge and extend our gratitude to the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club, Ian Forsythe School staff and Stevens Road United Baptist Church for their very worthwhile project in the Dartmouth East community.

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

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.

Before proceeding with Orders of the Day, I would advise members that the debate at 6:00 p.m. tonight will be the one introduced by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets and deplores the opposition of the New Democratic Party to the appointment of Brendon MacIntyre to the Workers' Compensation Board, especially when compounded by news that the same group may be welcoming the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's into their ranks.

That subject will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

The time is 3:03 p.m. We have one hour and 30 minutes today, so we will go until 4:33 p.m.

[Page 2847]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - YARMOUTH: PHYSICIANS - RECRUITMENT

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. We continue to have a very serious problem throughout this province with respect to doctor shortages. In many communities that situation is reaching a crisis situation. It is true for both rural and urban communities. On Friday, I was in Yarmouth and met with members of that community who told me that in the past five years, six doctors have left Yarmouth. This leaves them now with about 5,000 people who don't have a family doctor, and the community will soon be short two surgical specialists. My question to the minister is, what is his plan for physician recruitment for Yarmouth?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a plan. We have a recruiting program in coordination with various communities, the community health boards and the regional health boards in those communities. Yarmouth and Amherst and a couple of other communities have been quite difficult to attract physicians and to keep physicians. Many who go there, stay for a couple of years. It is a coordinated program, we have stopped the flow of physicians out of this province. There are pockets and some areas that need work, and we are pursuing that. There is a concentrated plan, and we have people within the department working with those in the community to address those issues. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the minister, directly from the people of Yarmouth, it ain't working. I want to table a copy of a letter that the minister has seen. It is from the Chairman of the Recruiting Committee, Yarmouth Regional Hospital. In this letter, the author says, "The messages we are receiving from physicians who deal with the province's recruiter are clear . . . They are surprised to think the province is even serious in its efforts to recruit physicians.".

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health, obviously the people of Yarmouth and the committee responsible for recruiting are not happy with what this government is doing. Will the Minister of Health explain why it is that he is purposely getting in the way of the recruitment of doctors to Yarmouth?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have visited that community, I toured the hospital, the new facility, a beautiful, large facility there that is evolving, next door to the hospital it is a great facility. We are making progress. These are not easy issues. I would ask the honourable

[Page 2848]

member if he would table the letter and then we could make a more appropriate response and have that tabled. Thank you.

There is no question, we are supporting, we have stopped the flow. We have programs in this province, Mr. Speaker, to attract physicians to rural and small communities that no other province in Canada has. We have a program at Dalhousie that are encouraging physicians to go into a community work for a while and then perhaps take a specialty and return to that community. We are innovative. We have done things in this province that other NDP-led - you read the headlines in British Columbia, doctors on strike; doctors slowdown. Read them.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I remind the minister that we are talking about Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I want to focus the minister's attention on Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. I want to table another letter from the Town of Yarmouth, October 20, 1998, where the council debated and is supporting that letter of complaint from the recruitment committee.

I want to ask the Minister of Health in my final supplementary. Clearly, his fumbling community by community is not working, the band-aids . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question. Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . don't work. When is he going to meet with the people of Yarmouth and try to come up with a solution?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have been to Yarmouth. I have met with physicians. I have met with the people in that community. It is working and I stood in this House a few days ago and we announced two new physicians for Springhill; we announced physicians for the Strait-Richmond area. There is success every day and we are doing as well and better than most provinces in Canada. This is Nova Scotia, yes, and we are doing well here.

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

HEALTH - QE II HEALTH SC. CENTRE: DEBT - AMOUNT

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the red-faced Minister of Health. (Interruptions) Would the minister indicate the latest information on the accumulated debt at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre?

HON. JAMES SMITH: That's a rather broad question, Mr. Speaker. We are working with the QE II, like we are working with the regional health boards and the non-designated hospitals. It is ongoing. We are receiving plans. We have a business plan from them. We are

[Page 2849]

working back and forth. Our senior staff is working with their staff. It is manageable. We have some long-term plans that will evolve out of that. So there is no question, we have seen new people come into that facility.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister clearly failed to comprehend what I asked. (Laughter) Will the minister confirm here today that on October 15th, John Walsh and Mary-Ann Hood made a presentation to the management forum of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre indicating clearly that the projected debt of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre at the end of the current fiscal year will be $152 million?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I cannot confirm that nor will I confirm that. That is already in the media. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: That has already been reported in the media. That is a projected figure, if certain things are done. There are changes that can be made. That is not a realistic figure, Mr . Speaker.

DR. HAMM: I find it extremely disappointing that the minister would not know something as important as what we are talking about here. Will the minister commit that between now and Question Period tomorrow he will go out of his way to find out what is going on up at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre so he is prepared to answer a question about it here in this House?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have been to the QE II on several occasions. In fact, I have just spent the large part of a week there, and saw that hospital in action. The QE II Hospital, the Halifax Infirmary, or any of the other facilities, cannot turn people away. Patients are being sent from all over this province. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: There is a great service being performed there and being offered to the people. There is quality care and there is quality administration, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 2850]

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES:

EMPLOYEES - FAIRNESS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is also to the Minister of Health. Contrary to the Premier's statement in this House yesterday, long-term care workers at Northwood Care have not ratified a new contract. In fact, they voted against it almost by two-thirds. I would like the Minister of Health to answer the question I started to ask yesterday. What mandate has your department given to long-term care employers to ensure fairness, the fairness that the Premier has promised again and again for workers in the long-term care sector?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, our department is not actively involved in negotiations. Negotiations are proceeding. We will have to look at why this particular offer was rejected after being recommended by the union to the staff. That is very important and we take this very seriously. There are guidelines that we have worked with the various owners. It is a very complex issue. There are many owners, different unions, non-unions, throughout this province. The long-term care sector is being addressed by this government. We have put $21 million in this year. Jobs are being created in that sector and there is need for work to be done and it is being done now.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has had plenty of warning around this situation. This has been going on since November of last year. Almost one-half of the 72 homes across the province are moving rapidly into legal strike positions and in the past week we have heard members of this government say they have got a contingency plan.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is will the Minister of Health tell this House what specific plans he has to avert labour disruptions at long-term care facilities across the province?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we believe, and rightly so, and my opinion is that you do this at the bargaining table. You do not conduct this in public and that will be the process that we will use. There is a contingency plan in place and I believe that we will be making progress. Northwood, she has mentioned, is a large institution. It has obviously been targeted early and when we get through there, we will move on to the others. It is a very complex issue. We need flexibility. We have guidelines to provide those.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, last week the Premier told this House that he was committed to being fair to long-term care workers and yesterday he told us that fairness is the backbone of contract negotiations. I would sure like to know, as would

[Page 2851]

workers, family members and residents in these facilities, just how this government defines fairness.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, is how does the minister justify offering wage parity to one group of workers in long-term care facilities while allowing others to continue to work for inadequate wages?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, headlines in British Columbia, "B.C. Nurses issue strike notice. B.C. doctors withdraw services".

Mr. Speaker, there is an issue of parity within the sector. I think that is the first thing that must be addressed. Then we can look at other areas within the acute care and the long-term but long-term care has been long-term neglected in this province. We are doing something. We have put in $21 million this year to provide monies to allow some flexibility within these negotiations that are proceeding.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERVICE: MMC - CONTRACT PROVIDE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. In June 1997, the minister of the day, the Honourable Bernard Boudreau, announced emergency medical care and ambulances would be contracted out to Maritime Medical Corporation. Now, in October 1998, I have asked the minister - and so has the Leader of our Party - for the interim agreement. Obviously, MMC have been paid since June 1997. I would ask the minister, is he prepared to give us a copy of the agreement with Maritime Medical Care?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a very important service that has evolved and it is one of the true success stories within this province. A period of time has elapsed between the Department of Health and Maritime Medical Care, there is no question. There has been recent increased communications and negotiations between the department and Maritime Medical Care. The cost of this service will be reported in the proper manner and brought to the House, but there is an agreement being worked on. I have had the question asked of me, is it okay to speak to the Third Party on these matters and I have agreed to that.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, the government of the day promised, when they introduced the new legislation, that the independent ambulance operators would be part of the new system. Well, they did not keep that promise. Now they have given it to Maritime

[Page 2852]

Medical, sole-sourced it, and all I am asking - government funds have been spent since 1997 - will the minister agree to give the information publicly, the agreement as a review officer indicated under the Freedom of Information Act that should be given, will the minister say today that a year and six months is a reasonable time, when you sole-source a contract, to release the information?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on the sole-sourcing, I would wonder if the honourable member has another company waiting in the wings to take over this operation. Does he have a problem with that particular initiative? This company has worked well in the management and administration. As I said, the accounting will be done in a proper manner and the House will be advised of that in due course and in the appropriate way.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, it is like this government says, trust me with numbers. I do not trust them with numbers. I am told that the amount of money spent on ambulance service today has gone from $13 million, in 1993, to $39 million. I would ask the minister, will he immediately release the amount of money in the agreement we are contracting out, that is over $30 million with MMC, so that the public will know the kind of price they are actually paying for emergency health service in this province?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will make the commitment to make available any material that will not interfere with the sensitive negotiations that are taking place. I would like to remind that honourable member that when he was Minister of Health in this province, all you needed was a driver's license and a strong back to run and ambulance and we have changed that and, yes, it costs money, but it is saving Nova Scotian lives.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: LATERALS (C.B.) - SIZE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you to the Premier on the Point Tupper lateral. I would never want to suggest that the Premier has been wrong, but the list of those who are saying that he is not right is growing. Most recently we saw that Sempra Gas, one of those companies applying to distribute gas to Cape Breton, has done an analysis of Maritime & Northeast loading information and they state that their analysis has shown that the proposed pipe size of 8 inches will not be capable of serving the loads that we expect to see in the Cape Breton region within a five year period.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, that is my question. This is my question. Given the fact that the Premier supports Maritime's position that an 8 inch lateral is sufficient, will the Premier, please, table in this House his analysis that supports his and Maritimes' position?

[Page 2853]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, just in the eventuality of a stupid question like that, we decided we would do a study. I was asked the other day why we are doing the study. Well, the reason we are doing the study on gas needs in Nova Scotia is because of ridiculous statements like that. We will have the results of that study and we will be able to put them before this House.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am not even going to try to follow the Premier's class act. I am going to ignore the Premier's class act because there are more important issues at stake. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier, and the Premier will know that the profits of companies that transport natural gas are regulated and that those profits increase as their capital expenditures increase. Therefore, if they undersize that line now and build one later on, because their capital costs are going to go up, so too will their profits.

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

MR. HOLM: My question to the Premier is why is the Premier allowing himself to be led around by Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline instead of having done your own independent analysis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member comes and says we are being led around. The fact of the matter is he takes a cock and bull story from some company in the United States without any back-up information and expects us all to fall down on the floor and roll over. I have never heard anything so ridiculous. We are doing our own study on the question of the needs of natural gas in Nova Scotia. We will make those results available to the House. We have also said that we will be an intervener in the hearings before the Utility and Review Board to make sure that the gas line is properly sized.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier, who had 18 years sitting on the backbenches in Ottawa as an Energy Critic, will know, for example, that if you are going to build compression stations or do looping, that that is going to be extremely expensive. It is going to be more expensive to do that than to put a line in that is properly sized now.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. HOLM: My question to the Premier is, why is he so intent on siding with big oil instead of siding with the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia?

[Page 2854]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, for the amount of natural gas that is committed, the 8 inch line will take five times that amount of natural gas that is already committed. That is before pressuring the amount of natural gas to get more. The fact of the matter is that (Interruption) The honourable member says he wants to keep the prices to the consumer down.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: But he wants to put a great big line in that will drive up the cost of natural gas. There is absolutely no sense in what the honourable member has said. That is the same honourable member who said there was not going to be a line to Cape Breton.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SENIORS HOMES:

RESIDENTS RELOCATION - MORATORIUM IMPOSE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Over the past two weeks I have received a number of phone calls from family members who have parents or other loved ones in facilities that I will call seniors homes. They have been informed that their loved ones are going to be moved from these homes and they just do not understand why. Members of her department have talked about regulations for small options homes and homes for special care and all these things but the fact is that many members of my constituency are extremely upset by the government's decision.

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

MR. MUIR: My question for the minister, Mr. Speaker, is she prepared to put a moratorium on moving any of these seniors from the places that they call home until she can meet with the parents and explain the situation to them?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I hear lots of catcalls over there saying it is a good question. In fact, the honourable member and a few others have been on the media scaring the dickens out of people about these homes for seniors. I want this House to know very clearly that we have standards in place. We have an Act that legislates these homes and I will not be a minister who breaks the Statutes of Nova Scotia and puts people at risk.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's comment, but again she did not answer the question. They have been very good about not answering questions recently. The matter of fact is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Please put the question.

[Page 2855]

MR. MUIR: . . . is that these homes are home to senior citizens and you have a senior, one of your own loved ones, in a home and they do not want to move.

MR. SPEAKER: Please put the question.

MR. MUIR: The problem, Mr. Speaker, is that they are not only being moved from where they are now, which people do not understand why and they don't know where . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Is this the question?

MR. MUIR: They are being moved far away from the community which makes it very difficult . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I will have to ask the member to take his seat if he does not immediately put his question.

MR. MUIR: Is the minister prepared to deal with these homes and to try to prescribe some regulations?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I wish to reiterate that the safety issues and the life issues in these homes have to be my priority concern.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I agree with safety concerns but the fact of the matter is that seniors' rights also should be taken into consideration. My question this time is for the Minister of Health. One of the problems that has arisen is that there are not enough long-term care beds in this province. The Minister of Health promised long-term care beds and I would like to know when they are going to come to my constituency.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would have to check the boundaries, but there were 20 or 30 beds already went to Colchester County just recently, along with New Waterford for the other member. We have put money into long-term care under very difficult financial times and we have made sacrifices in that area that it would be addressed. There are 170 beds allocated, about 30 have been now allocated as of this date and one of them has been in the general area, at least, in Colchester County.

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

[Page 2856]

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - DOMINION BRIDGE CO.:

EMPLOYEES - ASSIST

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this question is through you to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. I have learned today through the office of the receiver for Dominion Bridge that they have been offered a bid for the Amherst plant and that they may well accept that bid. That will concern many employees who fear that a competitor is snapping up the plant to strip it down and then to slowly shut it down. My question for the troubled Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is what will he do to ensure that these workers will have their jobs for more than just a few months?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. We are aware of the difficulties facing Dominion Bridge and I have been engaged in discussions with my department which is discussing the very situation as we speak. Our department is working on it and I am certainly not going to discuss the business transactions taking place on the floor of this Legislature.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, 100 workers at Amherst's Dominion Bridge have faced turmoil over these past weeks since the plant shut down but they have not given up. These people have worked hard to create a cooperative to buy the plant themselves. They have a business plan and they have a vision. My question is what has the minister done to help these people in their efforts to restart the plant as a viable long-term operation?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I stated before, we are working on that project. We have a number of companies in the province which are facing some difficulties and our department is well aware of the difficulties facing this particular one and we are trying to work through those difficulties with the management and the workers at Dominion Bridge.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the deadline for bids to the receiver of Dominion Bridge is November 19th. This minister has spent hundreds of millions on fly-by-night companies and profitable corporations but has nothing to offer 100 Nova Scotians in Amherst waiting to save their jobs.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DEXTER: My question to the minister is, why will he not act to try and get the employees the opportunity to buy this plant and to keep it operating for the long term before the deadline expires?

[Page 2857]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite once again is showing just how little the NDP know about business in Nova Scotia or care to know about business in Nova Scotia. They are engaged again in hit and run politics. One day they are up here telling me not to assist a company, the next day they are up on their feet telling me to assist one. I wish they would get their act together and tell me where they stand on business in Nova Scotia. I certainly know where our government stands on it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - DROUGHT: ASSISTANCE - IMMEDIACY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture. There are a number of farmers throughout the province who were devastated by the 1997 drought and who, if unable to show creditors some kind of cash asset in 1998, will risk foreclosure. In August 1998, the Department of Agriculture co-authored a report which identified approximately $30 million in lost revenue to the provincial agricultural economy. An agricultural association focus group placed their best guess for compensation at $50 million. Can the minister explain why, although he has known since August that many Nova Scotian farmers are confronted with impossible hardship, he insisted that compensation could not be offered until November?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, number one, we have a committee consisting of department staff and the Federation of Agriculture, who we have met with, who are studying the situation, who are bringing in recommendations, and I hope to have a report as early as this Friday, and maybe no later than next Monday.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that the report will possibly be ready by Friday. The information we have is that the Premier will receive it on Friday. So can the minister name the date, since he has known about the problem all summer, that cash-strapped farmers will receive their portion of the proposed compensation?

MR. LORRAINE: This government supports the agricultural industry in this province, and we will support them, but we are not throwing money at it until we know exactly what the problem is.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Farmers have been confronted with a series of dry summers. The report points to the need for an overall improvement to the process for providing disaster relief as well as the development of infrastructure such as irrigation, improved technology and ponds. Why won't the minister admit that the status quo is inadequate and assure the farmers of Nova Scotia that infrastructure programs will be changed so their future needs will be met?

[Page 2858]

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, that is part of the program that they are studying right now. That is the reason we have an appointed committee of department staff and the federation who will bring in the report. That infrastructure program re water - we first have to identify water - that is not short term, that is long term, and we are working on that. We will receive the report, and that will be part of the report, hopefully no later than the first of next week.

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - HRM:

AMALGAMATION COSTS - ASSISTANCE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. Budgetary considerations essentially have necessitated the Halifax Regional Municipality Council to cut back on the city's snowplowing program for this winter. Now in the event of an emergency on a Class 2 road, which may not be plowed for 24 hours, there seems to be a great potential that, in fact, safety could be compromised and lives could be put in danger. My question to the Premier is, simply, will the Premier please tell the residents of the HRM and the council when he is going to follow through with his election promise and assist the Halifax Regional Municipality with the atrocious costs of amalgamation, so it doesn't have to take such measures?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we promised that we would help set up the new agreement with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, and we have done that.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, before and during the election campaign, the Premier made commitments, as did other members of his government, to Mayor Walter Fitzgerald that, in fact, he would look at whether some money could be found, because of fuel taxes, fines and penalties that the municipality has to endure, and things of that nature. My question to the Premier is simply this, will the Premier admit today that his promises were nothing more than an election gimmick?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there were no promises made to the Halifax Regional Municipality (Interruptions) and I would be very surprised if the honourable member believes that.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that is some kind of answer from that Premier but it is typical. (Interruption) You're participating in elder abuse, so you better be very, very quiet. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to withdraw that remark regarding elder abuse.

[Page 2859]

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, as you would know, a number of seniors . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I would just asked for you to withdraw the remark.

MR. TAYLOR: Okay, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw the statement. The HRM faced amalgamation and it means that the municipality has an incredible debt of some $360 million and for 1997-98, they are projecting a deficit of sone $20 million. Will this Liberal Government sit idly by and watch streets not being plowed this winter and lives being compromised?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member talks about what is typical. What is typical is the honourable member talking about something that he knows absolutely nothing about; and two, not having anything to substantiate the charge he makes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - MIDDLETON (ANNA. CO.):

GRAIN CENTRE - IMPORTANCE REGOGNIZE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question, again, is to the Minister of Agriculture. Agriculture contributes a total of $1 billion annually to the Nova Scotia economy and the minister, himself, has often stated that he regards agriculture as the backbone of the Nova Scotia economy. A recent report released by the Western Valley Development Authority says the closure of the Middleton grain centre has cost the local economy close to $6 million in lost revenues and increased costs. Why won't the minister recognize the importance of this grain centre to the farmers in the Middleton area?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Well, I am sure the member who poses that question is aware as I am of what took place in regard to the Middleton grain centre. It was privatized. I went through, one day in the office with him, I explained the whole background. He wasn't willing to accept it but the grain centre was not closed by this government.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Fairly close to this government. The closure of the Middleton grain centre has affected not just the farming industry but also many other businesses. One such business is the trucking industry, which no longer has access to the scales for weighing their load. Why would the Middleton grain centre have been closed despite the protest of not only farmers but also associated businesses?

MR. LORRAINE: Again, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the Department of Agriculture under this government didn't close the Middleton grain centre. He is fully aware of why the grain centre was closed by East Coast Commodities. If you want details, I will go into details and get you the figures of the usage of that grain centre. They required 3,600 tons to make it a bit viable, and that is not going to make any money, and 1,014 tons - I am going

[Page 2860]

from memory - last year alone went through that centre from the producers in Annapolis County.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I am glad the minister is so well aware of the situation there. The minister indicated in meetings with groups working to save the centre that their proposal appeared to be worth considering. Yet, the minister's representative on East Coast Commodities voted against the solution. Recently, the honourable member for Annapolis . . .

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

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: . . . had indicated publicly that there has been, "There has been some movement . . .

MR. SPEAKER: This is your final supplementary.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: . . . behind the scenes.".

MR. SPEAKER: Can I have the question please or I will ask you to take your seat.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: My question, will the minister acknowledge that his failure to support the grain centre was a mistake and on what date will the centre be fully operational?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I have met with East Coast Commodities. I have met with the producers that use the grain centre. I have made certain offers, the producers made a proposal to me and I was prepared to support them but East Coast Commodities would not go along with it. He knows full well what the background is of this. He does not need to pose these kinds of questions but I am prepared to give him a lot more detail if necessary.

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

NAT. RES. - NATL. ENERGY BD.: LATERALS (C.B./HFX.) - SIZE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. My question to the Premier is quite simple. Does the Premier believe that the National Energy Board, after their hearing in Antigonish on November 23rd, will have enough information available to determine the size of the lateral that goes to Cape Breton and the size of the lateral that comes to Halifax?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the role of the National Energy Board is to find out that information and it is up to all of us, all of the interveners and the people submitting proposals to make that information available to the National Energy Board. The National Energy Board

[Page 2861]

will only determine decisions based on the information they are given. They have to be given the information to make their decision.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said exactly what I wanted him to say. The National Energy Board can only make their decision on the basis of information given. Now this province has dragged its feet in having URB hearings to allow those that want to distribute gas in this province to determine how much gas is required next year, the year after and for the next number of years. Because this Premier has failed to order those hearings that information is not available. Will the Premier confirm that, in fact, by delaying the URB hearings he is preventing the National Energy Board from determining the size of laterals that we require here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do not agree with that at all. There is no reason that the National Energy Board cannot get information to base a decision on the amount of gas necessary for Nova Scotia.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary to the Premier, this province is hampered in developing an energy policy because this government does not seem to know what Nova Scotians need in the way of gas. My question to the Premier is, is he prepared to answer in a positive way to a proposal that I put to the Premier and the Leader of the New Democratic Party of a position supported in a resolution by the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, a position that I find out today is supported by the Antigonish Regional Development Authority that a comprehensive plan be developed by an all-Party committee in consultation with the UNSM to provide . . .

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the comprehensive plan is being developed and the UNSM is going to be able to have an employee in the Petroleum Directorate to be part of that plan. The UNSM is very pleased with the direction that energy planning is taking in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - MILK PRODUCERS ASSOC.: LEGISLATION - MANDATE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, through you I will direct my question to the Minister of Agriculture. The Nova Scotia Milk Producers Association is proposing a new Act and regulations for the dairy industry in Nova Scotia. This will be a major restructuring and is designed to give milk producers authority and control over their industry. Can the minister assure this House that the association has the mandate to undertake such a proposal?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I met with milk producers last June and I said to them at that time that when they requested that we amend the Agriculture and Marketing Act with regard to milk production, I said I would want to see a vote, a mailed

[Page 2862]

ballot, from the 405 producers with the vast majority in favour. I met with them the week before last and that mailed in ballot is supposed to be in on the 23rd of this month. We will know the first of next week what the results of that ballot are.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, dairy producers were provided with the details of the restructuring proposal of the Nova Scotia Milk Producers Association Board and that was mailed out, as the minister indicates, on September 14th and the ballots were to be postmarked for October 23rd as he stated. The public regional meetings throughout the province were crammed into a one-week period. The board hopes to have the new regulations introduced and passed this November.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Will the minister explain to this House why a proposal with such vast ramifications for the dairy producers of Nova Scotia would not allow the membership adequate time to carefully consider the proposal, and to make an informed decision, before casting their vote?

MR. LORRAINE: I did not catch all the question. It was quite lengthy and there were probably a dozen questions there. I did meet with the president of the Nova Scotia Dairy Producers the week before last and another member of the Nova Scotia Dairy Producers. They did have a travelling circuit around the province, not too well-attended, according to what they told me. That bill, when they have it finalized and it goes through all the processes it must go through, we will certainly take a look at introducing it and that is what our problems have been.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I think you are right, Mr. Minister, I think you did not hear my question.

We know from the documents provided to the members of the Nova Scotia Milk Producers Association, the proposed bill and regulations set out a plan for forming a board of directors from six regions, in addition to three members-at-large who will be elected. Under the proposed regulation regional boundaries . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Question.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: . . . up to seven of the nine tend to be concentrated in the central part of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. This is your final supplementary.

[Page 2863]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Is the minister able to assure this House that all dairy producers throughout rural Nova Scotia will have equal and fair representation?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, as I have told the dairy producers in the province, if the majority of them vote in favour of the proposed legislation, then we will bring in the amendment to the Agriculture and Marketing Act. Yes, it will be satisfying them, and if they get 67 per cent to 70 per cent of the producers supporting it, I do not think he or I, either one of us, should question what the dairy producers want and we will try to assist the dairy producers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: OFFSHORE (PIPE LAYING) - JOBS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier, the minister in charge of the offshore and energy. Earlier today the Premier was announcing with some degree of joy and glee that there are several hundred jobs related to the offshore in Nova Scotia. (Applause) Well, thank you very much. The Premier was indicating there were 1,600 or something. Well, very shortly the AllSeas, the Norwegian pipeline-laying ship and the barge, will be working off our coast, and there are almost 1,200 people employed.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker. How many Nova Scotians will be among the 1,200 that are going to be working on the AllSeas pipe-laying ship?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the AllSeas is not due here for quite a few months yet but I can give him information on the Santa Fe Galaxy II which is in Halifax Harbour. There are 110 people employed on that, and 91 are Nova Scotians.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you, I was going to ask him about Galaxy II about a week ago, but then I read in the paper this morning, Mr. Speaker, the complement of Nova Scotians.

My question to the Premier. Now that we have all this lead time - it will be here sometime in February - would the Premier make sure that Nova Scotians are employed on that ship because, if there are 1,200 jobs, Nova Scotians should be first in line, and how many jobs of the 1,200 will the Premier insist go to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have to admit the honourable member makes a very good point, that it is important to get as many jobs for Nova Scotians on the AllSeas vessel as we possibly can, and we will endeavour to do just that.

[Page 2864]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that and we will be keeping track of the AllSeas employment records because I want you to know in these offshore ships, among the 1,200 jobs are Nova Scotian jobs that do not require a great deal of offshore skill. There are going to be cooks and cleaners, engineers, oilers, all those occupations and trades are available in Nova Scotia and I want to make sure that the Premier will, in fact, ensure that Nova Scotians have first opportunity.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I cannot disagree with the honourable member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

HEALTH - REG. BOARD: SURPLUS - IDENTIFY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. Perhaps it can be redirected if he is not here.

MR. SPEAKER: Do you wish to have somebody else take the question?

MR. EPSTEIN: I think perhaps the Minister of Finance might take this question, Mr. Speaker. I will ask it and we will see if there is a volunteer on the other benches.

News reports last week suggested that the government had been able, in fact, to find some money hidden down behind the seat cushions. The report which was published in The Daily News, and I will table it, said that the government had found a regional health board with $2 million to spare. I wonder if the minister can confirm if that is in fact the case and if so, which regional health board was it.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I cannot confirm that. We will check that information with the Department of Health.

MR. EPSTEIN: Also addressed then to the Minister of Finance, the second question. The same report suggested that the Department of Labour had $700,000 that it did not need. Now, this was very strange because the previous day the Cabinet had to adopt a special supplementary allocation for an addition $1.8 million for the Department of Labour, presumably for the Westray severance. Could the minister or the Minister of Labour confirm that the Department of Labour has now donated $700,000 to the provincial Treasury.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. First and foremost the figure of $700,000 is totally erroneous. It is obviously something he has read in the paper and that figure was not correct. It is approximately $200,000 and it is part of our commitment to become more efficient and effective within the department and we will use the $200,000 in the best way that we see fit.

[Page 2865]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder then if the Minister of Finance can help us understand how it is that we are hearing contrary information all the time and how it is that anyone in Nova Scotia can have any confidence that this government is able to keep track from day to day what is going in in any of those departments.

MR. DOWNE: It is interesting, Mr. Speaker, when you hear the sucking and blowing, one minute wanting this, the next minute condemning that. You know, from the Party opposite, one is confused as a Nova Scotian exactly what their values and principles are.

With regard to where we are financially, I indicated to the House some time ago that I am prepared to go forward with the second quarter report on the forecast of the Province of Nova Scotia and at that time we are very pleased to be able to present to Nova Scotians exactly where the finances of the province are, the same as what we have done consistently for the past number of years.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES.: FORESTRY AGREEMENT (CAN.-N.S.) - STATUS

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister will know that the forest industry represents some 25,000 direct and indirect jobs in Nova Scotia. Will the minister please advise when Nova Scotians can expect a new federal-provincial forestry agreement?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question, but to the best of my knowledge there is nothing on the horizon for a federal-provincial agreement relative to the forestry.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, by way of supplementary to the Minister of Natural Resources, would the minister please advise this House and for information of all Nova Scotians how much the Nova Scotia forestry industry is required, through taxes, fees, et cetera, to contribute to the federal government.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry again. I do not have that information for the member but I will get it for him within the next day or two.

MR. DEWOLFE: Again, by way of supplementary to the minister, I do have that figure and my information is that $200 million is flowing out of Nova Scotia to the feds. Mr. Speaker, not one cent is coming back from Ottawa into this industry. That is not good enough. I, along with all Nova Scotians ask, when may we expect some assistance from the federal government?

[Page 2866]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, again I want to be very clear to the honourable member that there is always a flow of money between the province and the federal government. I would just refer him back to last year during the tussock moth spray, when the federal government was very involved, both in monetary issues as well as information. That dialogue will continue between the two governments, and we will continue to protect the forests with what money we have available and what money we can get from the federal government.

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

LBR.: OCCUP. HEALTH & SAFETY REGS. - UPDATE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Labour. Every province in Canada requires construction equipment to have roll-over protective structures, except one and that is the Province of Nova Scotia. In 1997, Trevor Higgins unfortunately was killed when a steam roller he was on was tipped over, and it did not have a roll-over protective structure, because this province doesn't require it. The Minister of Labour has had draft regulations on his desk for three years that have been approved by union and management representatives. My question to the Minister of Labour through you Mr. Speaker is quite simple, why has the government failed to pass basic safety regulations that would save the lives of people like Trevor Higgins?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. As the honourable member well knows, since the new Occupational Health and Safety Act came in several years ago, we are dealing with at least, I think in sum total, both combined and individually, some 16 different sets of regulations with that particular Act. The honourable member raises a very important question. I have raised that issue with the director in my department within the last few days after the decision was handed down and the evidence was put forth. I will give the honourable member an undertaking that I will get an answer for him within the next 24 hours and clarify the position as to where this issue stands.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, through you my question is again to the Minister of Labour. We have had construction safety regulations that haven't changed in this province for up to 40 years. They are so out of date, and yet we have draft regulations that have been in place for three years, ready to be approved. Last week, the co-chairs of the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council, which are employer and union reps, were told by the minister's deputy minister and his executive assistant that the general safety regulations, which would include roll-over protective structures are no longer a priority. My question to the minister is this, the current regulations are 45 years old, why has this government dropped the draft regulations off the priority list?

[Page 2867]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that is not exactly the essence of the way the conversation went as I understand. I did meet with the advisory committee several months ago, and they outlined to myself and to the deputy minister within the department as to what regulations they saw as a priority, and we are working with each set of regulations as they are dealt with by the committee, then passed on to P & P, and eventually Cabinet. The regulations that the honourable member refers to was not the senior priority.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Not a senior priority; 29 workers died in this province last year, and already 19 this year. How many more workers must die before this government is willing to pass the safety regulations this province needs? (Applause)

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. First and foremost, the honourable member has recognized the fact that the total number of accidents is down 10 from the previous year. (Interruptions) 29 last year and to date 19 this year. One death is too many. Anybody of a reasoned mind would conclude that. (Interruptions) We are doing them as recommended by the advisory council, both labour and management and we are doing them in accordance with the recommendations that come forth . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Next question please.

MR. MACKINNON: . . . and I am not going to usurp the authority . . .

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

COMMUN. SERV. - WOMEN'S CENTRES: FUNDING - ENSURE

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Demands for services provided by the six women's centres throughout the province is escalating. This year, the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre had more than 9,000 calls and visits. In one day this centre usually responds to more than five emergency cases. Women's Centre Connect told us that women's centres in this province have not yet received their second instalment of funding for this fiscal year. This money was due October 1st. My question to the minister is why has she not made sure these centres receive this funding so that women in Nova Scotia who need the help can get the help?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think that is a very important question and the member opposite will remember that during budget time we did increase the dollars so that all six centres in Nova Scotia are funded equally.

[Page 2868]

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, these women are desperate. We heard what was in the Speech from the Throne, it did not commit to anything, they do not have the money. The representatives of the women's centres have outlined the urgency of this situation to the department, they have met with department members and they have told them how desperate they are. This department is talking about a vague long-term planning process, some process that is not relevant to these women. My question is when are these centres going to get the money?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think that for the honourable member opposite to say that the women's centres are engaged in a process that is not relevant to them and they are engaged in that process, is an insult to those women's centres. They are working together with the department on an operational plan that will explore their linkages with other government departments and help them achieve their funding goals.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, on September 23rd the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre had to ask for emergency funding. On March 31, 1998, it will lose the $40,000 in federal funding. My question is will the minister today name the date that the money will be available to the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think it is fair to say that if the honourable member is asking will we make a substitution of dollars for federal programs, we are not in a position to do that. But we are working with these centres to achieve their goals, we have increased their funding for equity, we are working on a long-term plan with them, with their full support.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - ADOPTIONS: REPORT - INACTION

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In 1994, the Ministerial Committee on the Release of Adoptive Information recommended that the government make it possible for adult adoptees and birth parents to obtain identifying information. That report made a number of recommendations, that was 1994. In 1994 the then minister committed to doing something about it. Why has the Department of Community Services not acted on this report?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I am glad for the question because it shows that the honourable member is looking into the past and looking at issues around adoption which are very important to the adoption community in this province. We put a new Act in place just a little over a year ago and we do have an advisory committee in place that meets to discuss issues of concern that are raised with them and they give me advice on these matters.

[Page 2869]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I do not doubt that the minister gets advice but I do doubt that she takes it. I would like the minister to guarantee that she is going to revisit those recommendations of that ministerial committee and not only that but reconcile any legislation, regulations and policies to see that they comply with the recommendations that were contained in that report and will she agree to do this?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, once again I want to remind the member opposite that there is a section in the Act, Section 88, that provides the advisory committee the mandate to review submissions, review concerns that are raised with them and to bring forward advice to me. That is an ongoing process which I honour and respect.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am sure she has honoured it, but the members of the Parent Finders Group are telling me that nothing has been done. I would hope that the minister, therefore, will commit today to consult with that Parent Finders Group and to receive their input and continually get their opinions about what form this legislation should have and to do it rapidly.

MRS. COSMAN: I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, there was a question in there, but there was more a statement of his hopes and ambitions. Certainly, the Parent Finders Group is widely respected for the role that they play in these issues. I have been listening to them, as well as writing them and e-mailing, and they are giving submissions to the advisory committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

SPORTS: YARMOUTH MULTI-PURPOSE COMPLEX - FUNDING

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. I am very concerned about where the much-promised funding for the multi-purpose sportsplex is in Yarmouth. Can he tell the House today, what is the reason for the delay for the much-needed funding for the multi-purpose sports complex?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is quite interesting how each question sort of flip-flops the NDP position. At one moment they are outraged. After we made the most rapid growth of any province in the country on debt to GDP ratio, they are outraged at a legal annual reporting to the people. Now the question is, where is the commitment for funding for a project in his area.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the municipal units wanting these sportsplexes have fulfilled their commitment to the project by agreeing to increase their financial part of it. They have been told by the province not to begin spending their portion until they have

[Page 2870]

received the commitment from the province. The province has still not produced their share of the costs.

My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission, would he tell the good people of Yarmouth and this House today why they have been unable to secure the funding for a sportsplex and why Yarmouth continues to be ignored?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, unlike his colleagues who complain when businesses are established in the Digby area, badly-needed jobs for those people - and they complain about that - this member, when it suits his riding, as opposed to his Party, asks for more money. If we add it all up, there is a real difference between what the Party says about fiscal discipline and what each one of those members says about fiscal discipline. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, again, my question, through you, is for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission. The people of Yarmouth are sick and tired of empty promises. Successive Liberal and Tory Governments have made promises in the last 30 years.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: My question is, will the minister, today, confirm a date when Yarmouth will receive the much-promised funding for this sportsplex?

MR. HARRISON: I don't know how long this member has lived in Yarmouth, Mr. Speaker, but, obviously, not too long. Because the people of Yarmouth have credited this government with waterfront development projects, with a new hospital, with a brand new Meadowfields school, just the other day, for the people and the children of Yarmouth, for business development in their area. The people of Yarmouth are quite thankful for the support received by this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

WCAT - INDEPENDENCE: RIGHT - ENSURE

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour. The most fundamental issue that any litigant in the justice system can have is the right to have their case heard by an independent and unbiased arbitrator. That is the most fundamental right that anyone has. My question to the minister is, when are the people appearing in front of WCAT in this province going to be entitled to that right? Today, in this province, they are not getting an independent hearing by someone who is not a friend of the government.

[Page 2871]

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member has evidence of that, I would certainly be willing to take it and we will certainly deal with it because, obviously, he has indicated that he has some evidence to demonstrate a specific case and I would like to know exactly what he is referring to.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy for the opportunity to provide that evidence. What happened is that this government approved 10 appointments to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. Independently, 10 individuals were interviewed and their names were submitted, through an interview process that was independent of the government, to the Cabinet. The Cabinet refused to approve the names . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. BAKER: . . . of two of the individuals, one of whom is a former Conservative candidate . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. BAKER: . . . for political reasons. Will the minister tell Nova Scotians that this won't happen anymore?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No. No. No.

AN HON. MEMBER: Russell, say it isn't so.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, do they want an answer or do they want to just keep cat-calling?

MR. SPEAKER: Is the minister going to answer the question?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, there were 10 names submitted to our department, and eight were given final approval. One of the two that were not approved was a non-resident, a resident of New Brunswick and I didn't feel it was appropriate to start employing New Brunswickers. The second individual was an individual who had not practised any labour law and his primary expertise was in communications. I felt it would be unfair for the businesses of Nova Scotia to be paying to train lawyers to do something at a critical time.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is very interesting that the minister chose the person who is a former Conservative candidate as the person who isn't qualified. Imagine what a surprise that is; what a coincidence. What is the purpose in having an interview process? Will the minister commit that from now on he will accept the recommendation of an independent committee to appoint people to WCAT?

[Page 2872]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we have done that. It would be absolutely irresponsible just to rubber stamp everything that comes across our desk; otherwise, there is no purpose in having any ministry.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

FISH. - TAGS 2: WORKERS FORMER - RETIREMENT AGE

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: In the last sitting of the House, I rose to question the Premier about the TAGS 2 program. My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, is for the Premier. The Premier said this government is not going to allow the people of Nova Scotia to suffer. He said that the weaknesses of the TAGS 2 program would simply show up in the province's social assistance cost. Well, people are suffering. I have a news item from August of this year. The headline is, "TAGS recipients fear for the future: former fisheries workers under 50 years of age facing welfare.".

My question for the Premier. What, beyond fine words, is he offering to former fisheries workers? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, . . .

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Trust me.

THE PREMIER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition says trust me. The man who says he is going to fight a deficit by raising taxes. How are they going to trust you? (Interruptions)

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

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, this past summer the Leader of the Opposition travelled around this province and he met with former fisheries workers who pleaded with him not to forget them. They asked him to remind this government that the original TAGS 2 deal put the retirement age at 50, but the federal and provincial Liberal Governments later raised the retirement age to 55, consigning some of these workers to poverty.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I have, for the Premier, a simple question. Does he or does he not support setting the TAGS 2 retirement age at 50?

[Page 2873]

THE PREMIER: We will never really know what the Leader of the Opposition heard as he travelled around the province, because we have to wiggle our way through the ins and outs and the little odds and ends that come out but I would say to the honourable member that certainly this government supports a retirement age at 50 and the support age at 50.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my final question through you is for the Premier. When I raised the TAGS 2 issue back in June, the Premier mentioned twice that he had spoken to the Prime Minister. We have all seen the results. My question then is why should impoverished fishery workers believe that this Premier has any influence whatsoever with the federal government?

THE PREMIER: What I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, is what kind of sympathy do the federal NDP members have to the fishermen and the fish plant workers in Nova Scotia? How many questions have been asked in the House of Commons about the poor fishermen who have to suffer through this substandard program and all of the whining and wailing by the Leader of the Opposition in his travelling around Nova Scotia and the J.K. Bell in Saint John isn't going to make a darn bit of difference because they just do not care.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

JUSTICE - DONALD MARSHALL, JR.: COURT CASE - INTERVENTION

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Fisheries. Last week I asked on behalf of the fishermen of Nova Scotia whether or not the province had prepared an intervention into the Donald Marshall, Jr. appeal case and at which time the province had indicated that that had not happened. I would like to ask the Minister of Fisheries today as to whether or not he has reconsidered his position?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for his question. It is a very important question to all Canadians actually and it is a constitutional issue that the Department of Justice in the Province of Nova Scotia has reviewed and concluded that it is best left to the federal government to handle.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that this province can intervene in other hearings such as the oil and gas interventions but when it comes to protecting the interests of fishermen in this province, we have a selective process. I ask again to the minister, why will he not stand up and defend the interests of the fishermen in this province? Why will you not prepare an intervention?

[Page 2874]

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for his question and, again, it is a very important question. I do not think he heard my answer the first time. The answer to the question is it is a constitutional issue between the Mi'kmaq Nation and the federal government's Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

MR. LEBLANC: It is very interesting, that Nova Scotia has no guts but New Brunswick has it and they prepared an intervention. Are they all stupid in New Brunswick, Mr. Speaker? I ask my question to the Premier. I wrote a letter to the Premier indicating that he should force or direct his Minister of Justice and Minister of Fisheries to intervene in this case. I ask him today will he take my directions to heart and so direct both ministers to prepare an intervention?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that question to the Minister of Fisheries.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, again I will answer the question. The answer to the question is it is a federal constitutional issue. It has a far-reaching impact in Canada and other provinces have not intervened and all provinces in this country are affected by this. It is a federal constitutional issue and the federal government is looking after it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

EDUC.: Y2K PROBLEM - READINESS

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture and the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. We all know that the millennium bug is coming. In fact, there are a little over 400 days until January 1, 2000. There is a growing concern everywhere about whether the public infrastructure will continue to function after January 1, 2000. My question for the minister is simply this. Is our government ready?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have made repeated commitments in this House and in the public that essential public service is the responsibility of this government. Each department is working through the risk management, management and technical decisions to ensure that Nova Scotians receive the essential services that are necessary and that steps are taken to correct whatever problems exist.

MR. DELEFES: I thank the minister for his response. I am not the only person concerned about whether this government is, in fact prepared for the millennium bug. We are hearing from a number of people, inside and outside of government, telling us that there are going to be some very serious problems, Mr. Speaker. Another person who is concerned and very concerned is the Auditor General. My question is will the minister confirm that the Auditor General is investigating the government's year 2000 preparations and when is the minister expecting his report?

[Page 2875]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the members opposite know full well that the Auditor General undertakes the auditing of functions of government. We have listed as a risk element in terms of the financial auditing of this province the potential risk of the Y2K problem. We have each department with their own management team and IT personnel working not only within their department but with their client group and of course the Auditor General is looking at a function of government, a management and technical function, just as he is looking at many other operations of government.

MR. DELEFES: I am not clear from the minister's response as to when, in fact, the report will be coming. However, the minister knows that our caucus office has filed a Freedom of Information request to try to get the real story as to whether or not the government is ready for the millennium bug. Our office and his are working together on this matter and I understand that a response has been promised by the end of November. The only problem, Mr. Speaker, is it seems unlikely that this House will be sitting until the end of November, so will the minister please tell this House, while he still can, which government systems run the greatest risk of failure.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I heard the word fear-mongering, actually from the Opposition members. Part of the problem is that when the Freedom of Information requests are made of each and every department, tying up the hands of each and every person on the management team to find information on an extensive fishing trip by the members opposite, who then would like to reassure the people of this province that those very managers who are attempting to work out the solutions within the departments are, in fact, doing their job. Once again you have an example of the left hand of the NDP saying one thing and the right hand of the NDP doing something quite different.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - ROCKING CHAIR HAVEN:

RESIDENTS RELOCATION - PROXIMITY ENSURE

MR JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I continue my question with the Minister of Community Services. I have been told that one of the seniors' homes just outside of the Truro area which housed 11 seniors announced today that it was going to close its doors because the Department of Community Services or the Department of Health indicated that it was in violation and therefore it was going to remove five or six of the residents. I might add that I have received calls from not only my constituency but from three others, including Pictou County, about the excellent level of service offered in this home. Is the minister prepared to guarantee that all of those people who are dislocated from this home, even the ones who are private paying and most of them are, will be housed adequately . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

[Page 2876]

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry but the question sort of got cut off and I did not hear the end of it. If you would permit the questioner to put the last bit of his question again?

MR. MUIR: The end of the question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services, is, of the people who are being displaced from Rocking Chair Haven, will she be prepared to guarantee their families that these people will be relocated in an area which is geographically convenient so that they can be visited?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that indulgence. I have to say that I cannot discuss any individual home on the floor of this House as the honourable member opposite knows, but certainly if there are clients who are in our care who must be moved because of fire issues and life safety issues, we will certainly work very closely with the operators to achieve a goal that suits the clients' needs and gives them a place close to home wherever possible.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that I got a direct answer to that question from the minister. Really, what I want to know is, will your department work to locate these people and, indeed, guarantee the families that they will have access to their loved ones, if they are moved from a particular home?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think what is very important here is that all of us recognize that these issues for seniors and for loved ones are very serious issues because nobody wants to have to go a great distance for visits and all of us with elderly family and elderly parents recognize that. We will work very closely with the homes to get adequate and proper placements. I think the member is referring perhaps to Level II placements, we might have to go a further distance to locate those. But we are working very closely with the caregivers in every instance.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I was referring, for the minister's clarification, to Level I and Level II patients. One of the difficulties, of course, that arises is exactly what is the difference between a Level I and Level II, that is confusing. There are a number of these homes who would like the opportunity to become licensed. Will the minister undertake to immediately set in a process where they can indeed become licensed?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is demanding that we immediately license facilities. At the present time we have just concluded a review. We are working with homes that in violation of our Act. We are trying to resolve those problems as best we can with their cooperation. Obviously, the answer is not to go out and license 100 new facilities tomorrow, the answer is to work with the existing facilities to make them better.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 2877]

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - WATERFRONT DEV. CORP.:

BISHOP'S LANDING - PUBLIC INPUT

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism whose responsibilities also include the Halifax Waterfront Development Corporation. At present the Utility and Review Board is dealing with an appeal by a group of concerned citizens to the Bishop's Landing project, a development project along the Halifax waterfront. This development is being carried out by the Waterfront Development Corporation, a provincial Crown Corporation, along with a private developer. My question for the minister is, is the minister aware of the concerns of the Save the Waterfront Committee and thousands of other citizens regarding the lack of public input into the planning process utilized by the Waterfront Development Corporation for the development of the Halifax waterfront lands? Specifically the lack of public input.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I believe in the last session of the House I answered this question for the same member but I will answer it again. I do know about the problem down there. It has been quite rightly stated by the member that it is under discussion at the present time by the Utility and Review Board. It is also of concern to the Halifax Regional Municipality and I stated that in the House the last time the question was asked of me on this particular subject. I will tell you this, I have not had a call from anybody on it personally.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I am glad the minister is aware because I did speak about the concerns of citizens over the lack of public involvement. I also tabled a petition that was signed by a few thousand citizens opposed to the Bishop's Landing development and I am sure the minister remembers that petition. My question is, is the government aware that the Waterfront Development Corporation in response to the public outcry against the Bishop's Landing development issued a new set of development guidelines - and I do have the document here - a new set of guidelines regarding all future development along the Halifax waterfront and that henceforth, public consultation will take place before any new waterfront initiatives are taken?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have every confidence in the Halifax Waterfront Development Corporation and I think that the new set of guidelines they have put in place will probably be sufficient to tend to the needs of that particular area in the future.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, in light of these new guidelines, will the minister request that the Waterfront Development Corporation withdraw its support for the Bishop's Landing project and insist that its new guidelines for public input be implemented in the planning of the entire waterfront area, including the south battery lot where Bishop's Landing has been proposed?

[Page 2878]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite is asking me to retroactively enforce something. Obviously, there is a strong lobby that has an interest in that particular Bishop's Landing project that has attracted the attention of the honourable member opposite and I applaud him for bringing it to the House. Let me tell you I also have great confidence in the Waterfront Development Corporation to look after the mandate that they have.

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

NAT. RES. - GAS DISTRIBUTION:

URB HEARINGS - INTERVENER STATUS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the confusion was that the minister that another question was going to be directed to is not available at this moment so I will pose a question to the Premier if I may. Certainly, I was very pleased in the new Municipal Act that is coming out that it recognizes that municipal governments are a responsible level of government and that they are accountable to the people. My question to the Premier. Does he believe that municipalities should, as a matter of right, have intervener status at the URB hearings that are going to be determining who will be distributing natural gas within those municipal boundaries?

[4:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: I think, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member makes a very good point that the municipalities are involved, and it is only right that they have a right to express their opinion at the hearings.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Premier's answer on that, but the Premier, of course, will also know that many municipalities don't have and they can't have on staff the expert advice and so on that would be needed to assist in those interventions, and providing advice. My question to the Premier. Is he prepared, through his regulations, to give the Utility and Review Board the authority to provide intervener funding to those municipalities to help them prepare for such interventions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the reasons we didn't push ahead immediately with the regulations is we wanted the municipalities to have the opportunity to bring themselves up to speed on the whole question of gas. We will not be making that recommendation to the Utility and Review Board; however, as I said previously, we will not have municipalities or cooperatives not be able to appear because of a fee. If they don't have the money, we will certainly waive that requirement.

[Page 2879]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is really mixing apples and oranges here. The fee has to do with whether or not they would be the distributor for the gas. The intervener would be asking questions of those who would be applying to distribute it, to ensure that the maximum benefits are delivered to the citizens in those municipalities and the Premier will know that many municipalities cannot afford the resources. My question to the Premier . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Unfortunately, you are going to run out of time.

MR. HOLM: . . . will the Premier go to the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and be prepared to offer them that . . .

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

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources on an introduction.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the House, seated in your gallery today, is the President of the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation - and I want to remind the House also of the hours and hours that Mr. Rodgers has put in relative to the Swissair disaster - I would ask Tony Rodgers to stand and receive the warm welcome of all members of the House. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

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

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

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

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 29.

Bill No. 29 - Canadian Firearms Registration System Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure today in rising in support of Bill No. 29.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: What is it? Say what it is.

[Page 2880]

MR. SCOTT: It is an Act to Prohibit any Participation by the Government of Nova Scotia in respect of the Operation of the Canadian Firearms Registration System. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue about rural Nova Scotia. It is not an issue about public safety and it is not an issue about fighting crime. This is an issue about money. This is a tax grab. The firearms tax is exactly what this is. Today in Nova Scotia, to purchase a firearm you have to have a firearm acquisition certificate. At one time it cost $10 for this certificate; today it is $50. The police in this province process the application. They do a records check on the individual who is applying, they do a family check and they do a reference check.

Mr. Speaker, you also have to have a firearm acquisition certificate to borrow or buy a firearm in this province or in this country. To transport a firearm presently, you have to either do so safely by way of the firearm being cased or with a trigger lock, or both. You also have to store this firearm safely in the home, again with a trigger lock or chains for the trigger guard, and ammunition has to be stored securely away from the firearm in a different place in the home.

What exactly, Mr. Speaker, will Bill C-68 do? According to the Firearms Act Regulations, 1998, Bill C-68, for non-restricted firearms, will cost a resident in this country $60. For possession of a licence for a minor, it will rise to $30; non-residents, $30; possession and acquisition certificate for a licence, $60.

Mr. Speaker, to identify exactly what this bill is all about, in Schedule II, Fees for Licences for Businesses, it says you first have to identify the actual business activity and, secondly, choose one fee and, in brackets, it says, the highest. That identifies exactly what this bill is all about.

Also, Mr. Speaker, under Business Applications, to display or store firearms by the Royal Canadian Legion or an organized group of veterans of any armed force of Canada or police force, again, $25. Newly acquired or transferred firearms, non-restricted, $25. If an individual in this province or in this country has a break-in in their home and a collection of firearms of 30 or more, for example, was stolen, is it going to cost $25 to replace these? I believe it will. Again, this is about money.

Mr. Speaker, in regard to the applications, it is going to be very difficult for seniors and the low income to apply for these firearm registration certificates. In one place in the registration, it states that if the owner has more than two firearms, he is welcome to photocopy these applications, as many as he needs. Where are people in rural areas or seniors or farmers going to have access to photocopy machines? Also, they are very complicated forms. Who is going to help them fill them out?

[Page 2881]

Mr. Speaker, firearms have been passed down from generation to generation. Ironically, we are heading into Veterans Week; people in this county have died in wars and fought for the right for people to own firearms. We have seen firearms passed down from generation to generation and stay within families. But the cost of doing this in the future will prohibit many people from carrying on this tradition, or it will force law-abiding citizens to become criminals by refusing to register these firearms.

Mr. Speaker, I know many hunters who are struggling to pay for the necessities of life for their children and families, and whether it be for themselves or their young families, or because they are on a low income, some of these people need to hunt. They use the means of hunting as a way to put food on the table for the winter. Although a lot of members of this House may have a hard time believing that, I know people, personally, who are in that situation.

Mr. Speaker, has anyone taken a serious look at what effect on the economy registration of firearms in this province is going to have? We have many people who depend on the sale of firearms and supplies to hunters. Their livelihood depends on it. What this bill is going to do is force a lot of people to give up their firearms because they simply cannot afford to keep them. Is that what this House and members of this Assembly really want to happen?

It has been said, Mr. Speaker, that for the safety of police, registering firearms will be a positive thing. Police officers in this country are trained to respond to dangerous situations. They are trained to respond that firearms are in all these situations, not just the ones that notify the dispatchers that there are firearms in the residence.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is something that you know a little about, too.

MR. SCOTT: I know a lot about this. That is right. With regard to the security aspect of registering firearms, Mr. Speaker, it has been said that a registration of this system will partially take place in the Miramichi region, and where else, but the Province of Quebec. This is a province that is presently entertaining the idea of leaving this country and they are going to be registering all the firearms in this country.

Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, this is a rural issue. We have western provinces who are fighting this issue because it is just that, a rural issue. Eventually the Supreme Court of Canada will decide whether this is constitutionally permissible or not. Here is an opportunity to represent the views of rural Nova Scotia and to tell the federal government that we will not support Bill C-68. The bill has been put on hold for two months, due to none other than administration problems which have arisen already and there is not one firearm registered in this country. It has been stated that the cost to Nova Scotians in regards to dollars will be nil, but after all, aren't federal taxes as opposed to provincial taxes the same to the people of Nova Scotia. We will be paying for this.

[Page 2882]

How will the Department of Justice determine which costs are provincial as opposed to federal? How will police departments determine how much time they spend on investigating law-abiding citizens as opposed to searching for criminals, which is their mandate? How will they determine which of those costs are provincial, which should be borne by the province? Municipalities have taken over the cost of policing in this province, and if the provincial government is going to be reimbursed for gun registration, then perhaps the municipalities should be billing the provincial government for these costs that they are going to incur.

Mr. Speaker, I have been contacted by hunters, gun club members, Wildlife Federation members, seniors, war veterans, and they all agree with me and my caucus in our belief that the federal government has gone too far on this issue, that this gun tax is unfair and should not be implemented in Nova Scotia. I am asking other members of this House who have publicly stated that they are standing up for issues in regards to Nova Scotians, well, this is their opportunity; if they are true to their word, and they honestly realize that there are people out there in rural Nova Scotia, this is a concern of theirs. This is your opportunity, everyone in this House, to stand up and speak on behalf of the people of rural Nova Scotia, and vote and support Bill No. 29.

Mr. Speaker, this is none other than a tax grab as I alluded to earlier. We have to recognize the fact that criminals in this country will not register their firearms. On the Internet, for example, in an afternoon, you can learn how to build a firearm, from the directions on the Internet. We also have to recognize their actions are better controlled through education and not through force.

Mr. Speaker, I will close with this statement. Violent crime in Canada, at this time, has been reported to be on the decrease, and that is without gun registration. Gun registration will not lead to decreased crime in this country, but it will lead to forcing law-abiding citizens to become criminals by their failure or refusal to register their firearms. Again, I would ask all members of this House to support the people of rural Nova Scotia and vote in support of Bill No. 29. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to Bill No. 29 today, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so. I know the issue is one for which the member opposite has some intimate knowledge, given his years - I understand almost two decades, if not a full two decades - as a police officer. However, and I listened to the comments of the member opposite during this debate about the issue here and the sentiments and feelings of rural Nova Scotians. The difficulty is that the honourable member has introduced a bill which suggests to me that the full appreciation of the firearms legislation and this bill are not perhaps as well understood as they should be by the member opposite, because Bill No. 29 in fact tries to make a statement about costs and about administration.

[Page 2883]

The member opposite alluded to many other things that this bill is intended to do, but in fact Bill No. 29 urges the provincial government not to expend any funds for the administration or enforcement of the Canadian Firearms Registration system. Well, we don't need Bill No. 29 to accomplish that. We don't need a bill to provide us with that assurance, because the federal government is covering the full cost for the Province of Nova Scotia. Bill No. 29, as a mechanism for doing what the member opposite is suggesting is a mechanism for reducing costs, costs which are not going to impact on the provincial budget or in this province.

[4:45 p.m.]

It is important, again, to remember that this is federal legislation, obviously, and the member opposite is introducing Bill No. 29 as a mechanism here at the provincial level to make changes to that federal level. Whether Nova Scotia participates in the administration of the registration system, does not change the fact that firearm owners will require a license in the year 2001, that all firearms will have to be registered by the year 2003 and that this legislation will be implemented on December 1st of this year.

The member indicates, by the bill itself, notwithstanding all the other comments he has made, that the member is concerned about costs and that is a very conscientious view on his part. However, the fact is, once again, Mr. Speaker, I will repeat it, the federal government is covering all the costs. The federal government is covering all of the costs of the administrations associated with the Firearms Act. All operational costs for maintaining the provincial firearms office will continue to be recovered through a federal-provincial agreement. We currently have an agreement in place with the federal government that covers any and all transition costs, as we prepare to implement the federal legislation. Nova Scotia has now received agreement in principle on our service delivery model and associated cost recovery for the administration of the Firearms Act.

I go back to the point of this bill, Bill No. 29 is a bill intended to eliminate provincial costs, Mr. Speaker. It will not accomplish that. It will accomplish something quite different, but it won't accomplish that. Its stated purpose is unnecessary. In other words, the federal government is covering all costs related to the administration of their new legislation. Obviously, if they bring in legislation, that is precisely how it should be. The federal government is incurring the cost.

What would happen if Nova Scotia, like other provinces, opted out of the registration process? Well the answer, and I am sure the member opposite knows, is the RCMP would be called upon to carry on in place of the province. It would be left to the RCMP to carry out this function. The process would carry on. The only thing that would change is that Nova Scotia would have no input, none whatsoever, into the administration issues associated with the legislation, if we decline to participate in the process, Mr. Speaker. An input into such a vital process is extremely important, in our point of view. We would not advocate giving that

[Page 2884]

up for a moment, nor would organizations like the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association, or the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women, who support the federal Firearms Act, nor would they want to give up the opportunity.

Again, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 29 is designed to eliminate costs of administration. Those costs are not incurred by the province in the first place. The member opposite is, obviously, trying to drive another message with this bill. What we are speaking to is the bill itself. The bill itself suggests that if we enact this bill, that not only would we lose the ability to influence the administration process, lose the advocacy of important organizations within our province, but there would be no cost saving to the province. The RCMP would step in. In fact, there are some negative consequences.

When we look at the broader issue of gun control in this country, as a university professor, Martin Friedland, did in an essay put forward during a seminar on Canadian-American relations, and it fits well with the member opposite's and the Third Party's position, through comments raised on the floor of this House this afternoon during debate, that crime rates are reducing, that the serious impact of tragic gun created crimes are, in fact, quite different. I will help, through Mr. Friedland's essay, to paint a contrast between the United States and Canada, because we can learn a great deal from the experience of the United States.

In 1979, there were fewer than 60 homicides committed with handguns in all of Canada. In Toronto, only four handgun homicides occurred in the same year. By contrast, almost 900 killings in New York City occurred, about 300 in Detroit, 75 in the area of Boston. For almost 100 years, Canada has controlled the possession of handguns. Further and tighter controls were introduced into the criminal code in 1977. What has this accomplished? Mr. Speaker, according to Professor Friedland, the per capita acquisition rate for handguns is about 10 times as high in the United States as it is in Canada. The per capita homicide rate with handguns is almost 20 times as high in the United States as it is in Canada.

What about our homicide rates today? We have the very latest figures released from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics on homicide in Canada. The figures show that our homicide rate decreased in 1997 by 9 per cent, resulting in the lowest rate since 1969. The statistics also show that between 1975 and 1990, 1 in 10 homicides were committed each year with a handgun. In 1997 firearms were the most common weapons used in homicides. Let us not forget for a moment that the key aspects of the Firearms Act include stiffer penalties for crimes involving firearms along with the licensing of all gun owners and the universal registration of firearms.

Where do Canadians stand on this issue, Mr. Speaker? Part of the answer to the question of debate tonight is what impact this bill will have. I go back to the point again that not only 8 in 10 Canadians approve of the need for gun owners to register their rifles, in Nova Scotia 81 per cent approve of the need for registration. We have a history of carefully

[Page 2885]

controlling firearms in this country. The federal Firearms Act is an attempt to do that, to continue that 100 year history.

The issue on Bill No. 29, Mr. Speaker, however, is whether Nova Scotia participates in the administration of the legislation. Will Nova Scotia participate in the administration of this legislation? It will not change the fact that federal law will require firearm owners to be licensed. It will not change the fact of costs for Nova Scotia because, as is indicated, the RCMP will step in where the province decides not to. It will change nothing in terms of the costs, the bill purports to eliminate the cost. It will change nothing in terms of what happens to the province other than that Nova Scotia will not be involved in the administration, will not incur those costs, and will have an opportunity to have less control over a process by virtue of being outside of the administration.

In our opinion, Mr. Speaker, the federal legislation will be implemented and just as we must abide by the Criminal Code of Canada, we must as Nova Scotians abide by this legislation. We can be part of the process and hence the need for adopting a position contrary to Bill No. 29, which suggests that we opt out of the process for cost reasons. It will not have any impact on costs, that we opt out for administration reasons. We will lose the ability, Mr. Speaker, to continue to express the wishes and concerns of Nova Scotians as we move forward with this federal legislation.

Nova Scotians are law abiding people. It is our intent to comply. It is our province's responsibility not to support this legislation because it sends messages to rural Nova Scotia. There are important messages that need to be delivered to rural Nova Scotia. This bill, Mr. Speaker, intends to narrow the focus on administrative costs, on administrative structures and, in fact, will have no impact on whether or not Nova Scotians are expected to abide by federal legislation. In fact, it will take away the province's ability through organizations like the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police, organizations like the Status of Women, to have some input in the process going forward to try and improve the input that Nova Scotians need as we move forward with this federal initiative.

It is important to have input into the administrative requirements of this legislation. The bill suggests that we step aside and simply let someone else do it for us. It argues by inference that we do so to save money. We will not be saving any money. It does so because the administrative pickup would be by another agency, a federal agency, in this case the RCMP. We cannot support Bill No. 29 because it sets out to accomplish things that will not be accomplished by this legislation. We choose to stay involved on an administrative side. We choose to stay involved from a federal-provincial joint MOU, legislative requirement that we conduct the administrative cost and they pay the full share of that administration.

The honourable member has introduced a bill and, quite clearly, in his comments he is trying to send another message related to the more controversial aspects of gun control in this country but the issue here, Mr. Speaker, is whether Bill No. 29 accomplishes those aims.

[Page 2886]

Clearly, the bill is restricted to cost saving measures and, as we have pointed out throughout this debate, that will not occur. What does that mean, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately one minute left.

MR. HARRISON: Thank you. Mr. Speaker, the other thing that the bill purports to do is to take Nova Scotia out of the administration picture. As we have said before, by simply stepping aside and allowing the RCMP, in this case, to do it for us, how then will voices in Nova Scotia have a chance to get through, as this process unfolds, to make sure that it is improved, if necessary, so that Nova Scotians views are heard, so they are able to influence the progress of gun control for all of the objectives that are necessary.

Primarily, this bill does not aim at the right place; it does not accomplish anything for the province; it does not save costs; and it does not impact one iota on whether or not Nova Scotians will have to comply with federal legislation. Nova Scotians are law-abiding people and this bill just does not accomplish what the member opposite in his debate suggested needs to be done in this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, as the Justice Critic for the Official Opposition, I stand in support of Bill No. 29. I want to start by discussing a little bit about where our Party stands with regard to Bill No. 29 and gun control specifically. I will also note, though, that this time will be split and that the member for Yarmouth will also be speaking on this issue.

The purpose of Bill No. 29 is fairly clear. No funding from the Nova Scotia Government will go to the payment of start-up or maintenance of the Gun Registration Program that has been approved by Parliament, under Bill C-68, and is still awaiting implementation. Interestingly enough, almost all the Canadian Provinces have opted out of participating in this program and I note particularly that British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory, which are all New Democratic Party Governments, have all opted out of participating in this particular program.

I want to make the position of the Official Opposition and the NDP clear, gun control is a vital component of Canadian society and it is what ensures that our communities remain safe; however, this gun registration program is not a form of gun control, but a tax grab on law-abiding Canadians and Nova Scotians. (Applause)

I want to talk a bit about the history of gun control in this country, because I think it is important that the people in Nova Scotia have an understanding of where we are coming from for the record. There has been a form of gun control in this country since 1877, when Canada first provided some rules with regard to the control of guns in Canada. More recently,

[Page 2887]

in 1968, the federal government classified guns as prohibited, restricted, or non-restricted, which were some of the first steps - the baby steps you might say - toward identifying those guns, again, classifying those guns that really serve no purpose other than to perform crimes and those firearms that serve lawful purposes.

In 1977, Firearm Acquisition Certificates were created and introduced. The intent of those were to screen out those who are acquiring firearms before they could actually purchase them. At the same time, the Criminal Code of Canada was amended to prohibit certain types of firearms, specifically automatic weapons, sawed-off shotguns and rifles and silencers, and in 1991, the age for purchasing firearms was increased from 16 years old to 18 years old, certain people were barred from acquiring guns, and storage, loading and transport rules were improved.

There is a similarity between all of the legislation up until 1995 in Bill C-68 and that is that it dealt with no user fees necessarily on people who were dealing with guns. It addressed the question of guns in the use of crime and it clearly addressed firearms that had no real practical purpose.

In 1995, Bill C-68 was introduced and was later passed and it took a dramatic turn. It deals with the registration and user fees for all firearms, it deals with criminal penalties for those who do not register, but I will also say, it deals with the enhanced inspection powers for police officers and increased penalties for use of firearms during a crime. There is a line that should be drawn between those two types, between the registration and the provisions in Bill C-68 that deal with gun control.

[5:00 p.m.]

Gun control is vital to maintaining and improving the safety of our communities, as I have already said. We must only look to the south, as my friend, the member for Kings South, noted, the differences between Canada and the United States, and how their lax gun control rules have impacted on them compared to how we run our society. Along with Medicare, the limitations on firearms is a key component as to why we are different from Americans, and one of the things that makes us very proud.

But let's address real gun control, and that includes tightly controlling concealable weapons, completely prohibiting automatic weapons, remove weapons from houses where domestic violence is a serious threat. That is real gun control, and that is where we should be going. This House and all Nova Scotians must have a clear debate on the difference between gun control and gun registration.

The NDP has always supported gun control to regulate the use of firearms in Canada, but gun registration, and in particular, this gun registration program is not a form of gun control, it is a form of taxation. It is costly, having been $85 million originally projected, and

[Page 2888]

now projected at $185 million. It is cumbersome, and given the deficit situation of this province, which this government knows all about, this province cannot afford to put its money toward the program. Based on all those reasons, I support Bill No. 29. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of Bill No. 29. (Applause) I have many reservations regarding the federal legislation, Bill C-68. This government should recognize that Bill C-68 is regarded by many as a tax grab that has no teeth, and could possibly turn honest people into criminals. For you see, if one doesn't register one's firearm under the terms of Bill C-68, then one is a criminal for not doing so.

Many people have spoken to me over the issue of gun control, and they have many concerns. One of the concerns that they have addressed to me is the one-time only registration fee. The question is, could it become an annual fee or an annual process? I am saying, sure it could. Could that be a deterrent for people not to register their firearms? Absolutely. Another concern would be firearms that are family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation.

Mr. Speaker, I am a hunter. I must add though, I am not a very successful hunter. My family would go hungry actually. But I do own a firearm and when my hunting days are over, I would like to be able to hand down my firearm to my children, if they want it. But if my children don't have an FAC, legally they would have to turn it over to the proper authorities to be destroyed. Is that a deterrent not to register? Sure it is.

Mr. Speaker, when I took up hunting, it was something that I was very serious about and still am today. I took it upon myself to learn and be trained in the proper use of firearms, such as safety, proper storage and respect for that weapon. I took training in the Hunter Safety Course, which I found very informative, it was very instructional, at a cost of only $15. Then being successful with that, I made application for my FAC, the Firearm Acquisition Certificate. To the best of my understanding, the RCMP interviewed some of my family members, friends and co-workers. I was successful with my application. I then applied for my FAC at a cost of $20.

Under the federal legislation, Bill C-68, the costs to be a hunter and purchase a firearm will skyrocket, far exceeding the costs I have mentioned above. How could I justify to my father-in-law, who has been a hunter for 40 years, a safe hunter, a respectful hunter, that basically he has to retrain, re-qualify, for the privilege of buying a firearm. That is ludicrous. The support of Bill No. 29 by this House would send a clear message to the federal government to take a more serious look at proposed gun law legislation, a law that would not burden honest law-abiding citizens, a law that would not turn them into potential criminals, a law that would not financially burden gun owners.

[Page 2889]

When we hear members opposite talk about the federal government absorbing the cost of this registry, Allan Rock, back when this first was coming out, said it would only cost $85 million. We are upwards now of $185 million. What would the provincial cost be, what would we have to incur? I would say that as a province, with the deficit that we have incurred, we do not need the additional cost that this registry would impose on the province.

I support a form of gun control, my Party supports a form of gun control, but I do not support the federal legislation, Bill C-68. I do support, though, Bill No. 29. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: I would like to note, too, that I will be splitting my time with the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

It gives me pleasure to rise today to speak in support of Bill No. 29, the Canadian Firearms Registration System Act. Ownership of firearms and the issues associated with safe storage and gun registration are contentious. The issue of long-gun registration has become the focal point of arguments being put forward as a means to reduce crimes of violence. Proponents of gun registration see it as a positive and logical step toward controlling gun ownership in Canada. Gun owners, on the other hand, see Bill C-68 as a direct attack on their rights as Canadian citizens.

Clouding this whole debate is the fact that conflicting views have been aligned largely on rural-urban lines. Urban residents, to some degree, see gun ownership as reflective of a frontier mentality. There is a perception that long rifles are linked to crimes of violence. The reality is that most firearms, particularly long rifles, are bought by people who use them for hunting purposes, people who are responsible in the handling and safe storage, people who obey the law and are mindful and respectful of nature.

There is a perception that hunters are exploiting wildlife and nothing could be further from the truth. Many hunters who are true hunters have a great appreciation for wildlife and respect and value its contribution to the cycle. In fact, there is an argument to be mounted that hunting is in fact good forest management, that it contributes to the overall maintaining of the balance. On the other hand, there is evidence to support the view that the implementation of a provincially registered firearms system would force a number of these law-abiding citizens to become criminals. The fact that there are many hunters who have spoken openly of the fact that they will not comply with the legislation if it is brought to pass, means that people who are, by and large, law-abiding will be forced to become criminals.

There is no evidence, really, to support the view that registration of firearms, long rifles in particular - not handguns, long rifles - will in fact result in a reduction of crimes of violence. The big problem is that we do not feel it is appropriate for the federal government to

[Page 2890]

unilaterally impose legislation on provinces and require that they carry out and develop a structure and fund the cost of registration. Secondly, there is the fact that this means that millions of dollars will be put into a scheme that is not proven. If there was, in fact, proof, it would be one thing.

I would like to close and turn over the remainder of my time to the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to say, right off the top, that the Progressive Conservatives believe in and support gun control. We believe in and support crime control, but Bill C-68 is not gun control and it is not crime control. What it is, is an infringement upon people's rights, especially people in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, let's just go back a little way to the aftermath of the last federal election. One of the consequences of federal Members of Parliament, federal Liberal Members of Parliament not being re-elected, along with their silence on the hated HST, is the fact that they said not one word, not one sentence, about Bill No. C-68. As a consequence, Dianne Brushett, Roseanne Skoke, John Murphy, Harry Verran, Geoff Regan, Dave Dingwall and if the Premier had run, he would have met with the same fate. He was afraid to offer. He didn't have the guts, he didn't have the courage, to face the federal electorate. As a consequence, we now have him as the Premier of this minority government right here in Nova Scotia.

I do commend the Minister of Education for at least standing and speaking relative to Bill No. 29. Mr. Speaker, we are very concerned. Bill No. 29, An Act to Prohibit Any Participation by the Government of Nova Scotia in Respect of the Operation of the Canadian Firearms Registration System. I am also pleased that the Official Opposition has spoken in support of the legislation that was introduced by the Progressive Conservative member, Mr. Murray Scott, member for Cumberland South. It is decent legislation. It is good legislation. We won't get into arguing the merits of the federal legislation. Let's talk a little bit about this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the Provincial Firearms Office, the Minister of Education told us that, somehow, this is going to be revenue neutral. The federal government is going to compensate Nova Scotia for the cost, but that is not what the Honourable Anne McLellan, the federal Minister of Justice is saying. She is saying because the costs have escalated so much, the rationale and the reason for that is because the NDP Province of Saskatchewan, the Provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Manitoba opted out of the start-up costs, the costs have skyrocketed. What I am asking this Liberal Government, and I would ask the part-time Justice Minister, if he was here, who is paying for the four regional enforcement officers that have been hired by this government? Who is paying for those four regional enforcement officers? Who is

[Page 2891]

paying for the clothing, the training of the conservation officers that have taken extra? The taxpayers, that is who is paying. The taxpayers are paying.

Who is paying to update and educate the justice system, Mr. Speaker? The taxpayers are paying. I ask that minister to table a document so all Nova Scotians can see the agreement, the arrangement that the MacLellan Government has with their federal cousins in Ottawa. I stand here and say that that there is absolutely no agreement, because if Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario have not agreements, and all the provinces that said you pay for the start-up costs, Ottawa, you are bringing in this asinine legislation.

Mr. Speaker, present federal legislation provides for the safe storage of firearms and ammunition. There is already legislation is place. This is nothing more than a money grab, another form of taxation. Why in the world is this government participating in such asinine legislation and law when they can opt out of it? It is absolutely ridiculous. The Minister of Community Services, well, I was going to suggest she cannot see the forest for the trees because for her, there are not trees, but this legislation before us today is asking the government to have a little common sense. When Dr. Savage was the head of that government, he issued a directive, he issued a gag order that not one Liberal MLA was to speak. They followed, they shuddered in their shoes, they listened to Mr. Savage, and as a result and as an aftermath of that decree, they never said one word, not one sentence, and that member never said anything. So I am pleased to see the Minister of Education and Culture stand in his place today at least and speak, although he spoke against this legislation, at lease somebody finally broke the silence. Somebody over there broke the silence.

[5:15 p.m.]

It is a shame, the way this government acts and treats rural Nova Scotians. Rural Nova Scotians are responsible gun owners. It is just absolutely outrageous. The legislation before us is asking that the government withdraw all financial support for the federal legislation, the Canadian Firearms Registration system. I think it would be responsible, if this government is really concerned about its deficit, as most members in this Legislature are, that they support this kind of legislation, because our documentation, and we have it on good source and authority, that this is going to cost the MacLellan Government and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia some $5 million.

I ask that government to be accountable, stand up to Nova Scotians and tell them where you are going to get that $5 million. Why can't that be put into health care? Why can't that be spent on education? Why can't that be spent on roads? Mr. Speaker, could you tell me how much time I would have approximately?

MR. SPEAKER: The information I have here shows 5:18 p.m. is the end of the debate.

[Page 2892]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I think it is important that we do call for a vote on this legislation. It is supported by the majority of members in this House, and we are looking for unanimous consent here. This is good legislation. It is legislation that deals with the cost and not the firearms registration. I would make a motion that this bill receive unanimous consent and passage of second reading. (Applause) I ask that you call for the vote.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is still another speaker on the bill.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: What do I have, half a minute left?

MR. SPEAKER: You have about 30 seconds, yes.

MRS. COSMAN: Well, you know, in Canada there are tons of endorsers of this bill, and I want to tell you that I can table this entire list, that they are national organizations, police organizations, health care - in support of gun control - boards of education, educational organizations, universities, churches, crime and justice organizations, labour organizations, domestic violence and women's organizations, community organizations, and there are pages and pages.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, the time allotted for Bill No. 29 has expired.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 1172.

Res. No. 1172, re Health: Home Support Workers - Concerns - notice given Oct. 21/98 - (Mr. G. Moody)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to discuss Resolution No. 1172, and I might just introduce it:

"Whereas there is a serious shortage of home support workers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the salary of these workers in mainland Nova Scotia is grossly inadequate at $7.00 to $8.00 per hour, or $12,000 to $14,000 per year, making recruitment difficult; and

[Page 2893]

Whereas the Minister of Health has not yet followed through with his commitment to establish communication links with the Home Support Workers Council;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and this government follow through with their commitment and address the concerns of home support workers in this province.".

Mr. Speaker, we had a group of home support workers come to this Legislature last week. They are very concerned because these home support workers are the people who provide the care to the elderly and the sick in this province. Unfortunately, this government has failed to bring in any standards. We have various people employing home support workers - in one part of Cape Breton, you may make $12 an hour, if you are in Richmond, you may make $6.00 an hour.

Also Mr. Speaker, the government fails to bring in standards, so whether you live in Sydney, whether you live in Truro, or whether you live in Yarmouth or the Valley, that there are standards there and we know that the people are getting that kind of care. These people that I met with were very dedicated people. Most of them, I was told, love their job and they are good at what they do. One of them said to me, if it was not for the credit union being very understanding - I have to have a car to go to work and I borrowed money to get a car and there are some months that I cannot even make the payment, I can just barely pay the interest let alone feed myself and my family. That lady is working for something like $6 an hour and they are not even guaranteed hours.

Do you know what they get for travel? They are paid to their first stop and what's done is their first stop is probably two to five kilometres away and the rest of the day they travel about 50 kilometres or 100 kilometres and they get no pay for that. They only get paid for the time they are actually working with the client. In other words, the time they spend travelling not only costs them money for gas, they are not paid for that and, imagine, they are paid $6.00 an hour.

Now if this government is serious about supporting our elderly in their homes and making some continuity and having the same worker revisit the home, because they build up a trust, and I am sure we can understand that when a worker goes in there is a trust built between the senior and that worker and all of a sudden, these people cannot work for $6.00 an hour, they have to go somewhere else to work, and then another worker goes the next week, and another worker the next week or the next month, you do not have that kind of trust and the kind of care that we should be providing, and this government made a commitment.

I put this resolution of the floor of the House that day and all I asked of the government was - I wanted nothing new for the home support workers than this government already committed to and promised; I was not adding anything to their commitment - I was only asking this government to fulfil the commitment they made, and do you know what? They

[Page 2894]

voted against their own commitment to the home support workers out there across this province. I was almost ashamed to be in here, to think that a group could make a commitment and then vote against the commitment. No wonder people have no faith in government. No wonder people have no faith in politicians, because who are they to believe? The government makes a commitment to them, you come to the House and ask them to fulfil that commitment and they vote no. They say nay, we will not support our commitment.

It is pretty discouraging. These people are not asking for a lot. They are making a contribution to this province and to our elderly and they are doing that because they love the work and they love helping others. They are not coming to the Legislature asking for something that is unreasonable, you know, but they are asking for something that is fair. They are asking people to understand their plight, understand what it is they do, and understand what it is they are trying to achieve, and I am thinking to myself that that is not too much to ask of any group.

Here they came to the Legislature to try to get the government to fulfil that commitment and the government sent them home with a no. Some of them travelled a long distance and I felt bad for each one of those workers who came here believing that if people understood what it was they were talking about, maybe, just maybe, they would get their support.

We had the Premier say during the election that if you are a nurse in Yarmouth, if you are a nurse in Truro, if you are a nurse at the hospital, if you are a nurse in long-term care or in continuing care you should all be treated fairly and the same. I agree. I applaud that, but when it comes to home support workers, what is the difference? In one area of the province they are paid $12 an hour and in another area $6.00 and they are doing exactly the same work, working with seniors in the same manner, travelling the same distance, all the same working conditions. How come they don't deserve for the Premier to get up and say, let us treat those people fairly?

Was it because we had an election at that time and, all of a sudden, a bell went on that it might affect the outcome of the vote if he didn't say that we have to treat the nurses fairly with wage parity across the province? What about these other workers? How can anyone in here, in all conscience as an MLA, say to these home support workers, whether you work in Richmond, or whether you work in Cape Breton, or whether you work in Yarmouth, you shouldn't have the same wage parity? You don't deserve the same? You don't deserve to be treated fairly? I don't understand, I really don't.

Mr. Speaker, we have to get back if we are going to get any faith from Nova Scotians in this system that we have, any faith in politicians, any faith in government. When we stand up and we say that one group should be treated fairly and when the other people get up in the morning and they look in the mirror and they say, what is wrong with me, am I second class? I do the same work. What about fairness for me? You know what? They weren't expecting

[Page 2895]

it tomorrow. They said, we understand the government's position with the finances, but we want a commitment that over a period of time, wage parity and fairness will prevail across this province.

Mr. Speaker, that is a laudable goal, but we couldn't get the government to commit that that was the fair way to go. No wonder we have demonstrations. No wonder people are upset, because even when they come here with a reasonable request, government turns them off and says, no. If you have a good reason, you say to the home support worker, I am sorry. Just because you spend hours bathing the elderly and looking after their personal needs, we don't think wage parity applies to you, but it does to others.

It is time, if we are going to have a society, where fairness starts to raise its head so that people can get up in the morning and look in the mirror and say, I am human. I am just as human as the next person and I am going to be treated just as fair, no better, but fairness is going to play a role, no matter what level of care I provide. The government is going to look at me and say, look, if the home support workers are worth $10 an hour in any county, they are worth $10 an hour everywhere, because you are going to have to have the same training. You are going to have to have the same skills and, yes, I agree there should be standards. If you meet those standards, then, by golly, let's be fair and let's treat them fair.

It is no wonder these people are discouraged. How do you think they feel in the morning? How cheery do you think they feel when they have these kinds of financial problems and they are trying to cheer up the elderly and cheer up those who cannot fend for themselves. What a way to go to work, worrying about your finances. I was even told by some of these workers - and I believe every word they told me, Mr. Speaker - that some of them have even had to go to food banks. I suspect if any one of us here wasn't even guaranteed 40 hours a week, and maybe we would get 20 hours or 25 hours, figure that out at $6.00 an hour and try living on it and putting gas in your car so you can go to work and look after those people that you care most about.

I was so amazed last week when this government stood firm and said, we are not going to make any kind of commitment like that to fair play; even though we said that was our commitment, we will not allow that to pass. Mr. Speaker, it was probably one of the saddest days I ever sat here. It asks for nothing new, only fairness. People out there took the time to come here to Halifax to make their concerns known.

Maybe we could look at a wage parity across the province that is fair, that is reasonable. Maybe we could look at some sort of guaranteed hours. Do you think you could live on 12 hours a week? Do you think you could live on 20 hours? What is fair? What is reasonable? Do you think it would be reasonable if you are paid to go from point A to point B to visit Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Moody, or whoever you are going to see? Just maybe, in some way, they could be reimbursed, just a small amount of money? That, to me, is reasonable. We all say that we care about those people.

[Page 2896]

Mr. Speaker, some of those home support workers told me about personal cases, about people who became very dependent on them and were very upset if a new worker came, very upset, emotionally upset. They have enough problems without us adding those kinds of emotional problems to it.

We have a shortage. How can we address the shortage? We could address the shortage by having some standards and by saying to the workers, we are going to treat you fairly. We are not going to put you on the food bank lines when you have to go to work so that we can boast about our home support workers in this province. We are going to treat you fairly. No, you are not going to become rich, you wouldn't be in that business if you were going to become rich, but you are going to be able to make enough money so that you can actually put food on the table and pay your bills. That is all they are asking for.

[5:30 p.m.]

AN HON. MEMBER: Live with dignity.

MR. MOODY: To live with dignity, that is what they are asking for. So we have to recognize that these shortages have to be addressed and we have to address and make sure that once the standards are set in place, that somebody monitors those standards because who is to protect, Mr. Speaker, the seniors out there that these people are going to visit, making sure that these people have the skills, making sure that these standards are met as they do their visits. There is nothing wrong with that.

I would ask that those that follow that speak on this resolution recognize the problem that the home support workers brought to us, recognize that these people want to be treated fairly over a period of time, and recognize the important role they play in giving personal care to the seniors of our province and the contribution, Mr. Speaker, that they are making because they care. If we care, we will help them do just that. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in my place on the floor of this House this evening on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. James Smith, in response to Resolution No. 1172 concerning home support workers in Nova Scotia.

First and foremost, I want to thank the honourable member opposite for acknowledging home support workers here in this House. There is no question that the government shares his interest and concern for these men and women who are such a vital part of Nova Scotia's home care team. It is also important to note that we are in a period of negotiation in this province and members opposite, the Premier and others, have talked about the fairness. It is important to state for the record the track record of this government in the past two years, in dealing with - both in terms of our partners and ourselves - over 1,000 collective

[Page 2897]

agreements. These are some collective agreements that have yet to be resolved but throughout all that time and given all the difficulty of the economic circumstance of this province, even though we have made considerable progress over a five year period, we have nonetheless been able face to face at the bargaining table deal with public workers in a variety of sectors, have our partners, in my case school boards, deal with issues of parity, issues with different situations in different areas of the province, bringing those together, trying to work our way through an unprecedented challenge of public sector negotiation, of negotiation in sectors related to the Public Service.

For the most part, Mr. Speaker, we have been quite successful. I guess the greatest test of that is that all of those collective agreements have been dealt with face to face and have been resolved at the bargaining table. That is quite an accomplishment. That speaks not just of the government, or its negotiation teams, or the amount of money that we were able to find, it speaks of a will in this province to restore full collective bargaining, to deal with people face to face, to work out problems and to deal with complex issues. Some of the issues we are dealing with have been not dealt with as effectively as they could or should have been in years past. This government did not shy away from those complex challenges. It sat down face to face at bargaining tables and worked through those situations and its partners are following suit.

There are controversies and there are difficulties and there are issues and even after all these rounds are complete, there will still be unfinished business. Nevertheless the record of this government has been one of dealing in a fair, collective bargaining way, face to face at tables, and so far has been successful.

The other people to thank are the people on the other side of the table who recognize the situation in the province. Although bargaining and negotiation can have its stresses and strains, in many cases have put the interest of the province, at least the context in which we are in, fairly and squarely on that table as well. They, too, in equal proportion have contributed to the success at those tables. What has been preserved throughout all this process, in probably a context that has been as difficult as any in the last number of decades, has been the will of the people on both sides of the table to reach agreements and to strike resolutions.

Just last month the Minister of Health attended the Home Support Association of Nova Scotia's annual meeting in Yarmouth. It was a chance for him to personally thank, face to face, and acknowledge the many home support workers for their valuable contribution to the health care system in our province. In his remarks, the minister recognized that employees of home support agencies are a key element in the delivery of quality home care services since the introduction of home care in 1988 with the coordinated Home Care Program.

[Page 2898]

In honour of Home Support Worker Week from October 12th to October 18th, the minister issued a proclamation acknowledging the week as the time to acknowledge the men and women in this province who are committed to delivering quality care services to people in their homes. Mr. Speaker, this province does recognize and support the role of home support workers as a pivotal part of our home care delivery system. Approximately two-thirds of all services delivered in the community by Home Care Nova Scotia are delivered by home support workers. They are in the front line, they are on the front lines of our efforts to deliver good and ever-improving quality care to Nova Scotians. In fact, over 18,000 Nova Scotians now benefit and have benefitted from home care services in the past fiscal year alone. That is a dramatic change from the spring of 1993.

On two fronts it is a dramatic change. First of all, we were playing catch-up with a nation that had already invested time, energy and talent and resources into home care provisions. We had to reform the system, deliver it effectively and, as the minister has indicated, his thanks have been delivered personally and directly to one pivotal and critical element of that team. Home support workers help to make that transition from 5,000 to 18,000 from a few million to well over $70 million in the provision of home care services in our present day. They are giving people, those home support workers, the opportunity to get the care they need in the comfort of their own homes while they are surrounded by family and friends. It is an invaluable opportunity for both the home care client and their relatives.

As you are well aware, Mr. Speaker, home care is a vital part of Nova Scotia's overall health care system delivery. It demonstrates what can be accomplished when government and hospitals, regional health boards, communities and others work together to a common goal. As Canadians we face no greater and more complex challenge than protecting the world's finest health care system. Cost controls, the difficulty of teamwork and collaborative delivery systems, the transition that is needed, has been difficult for Canadians. It has not been an easy task. The team effort that is going on in Nova Scotia, and we have much work left to do, is a mark of a will by this province, and I am sure it is shared in every province, to succeed before a demographic cohort, the so-called baby boomers, arrive at the critical stage where they become major consumers of our Canadian health care system.

We all have a responsibility to ensure that that team effort produces not just a restructured system - restructuring is relatively easy - but the reforms that are needed to ensure that Canada's universally accessible health care system with all its elements, including home care, is able to sustain itself well into the next millennium and literally forever. We have come a long way together in our province. It has not always been easy. And we hope to continue to work with the different home support agencies and others as home care, its vital role in the system, moves forward into the next century.

Home support workers continue to be part of the ongoing development of their own role as part of the home care team. They have opportunity to give input on a variety of topics, including the ongoing development of the role of service providers, development of standards

[Page 2899]

as the member opposite referred to for home support curricula, the continuing education program for home support workers and continuing quality management initiatives throughout this province. In addition, home support workers participated in discussions on the content of the orientation program for new home support workers. As we continue to work together there will be other areas which will need joint attention, discussions on various issues taking place right across Canada at the moment, home support workers are being recognized on a national level.

The resolution we are debating today states that there is a shortage of home care workers in Nova Scotia. We too are concerned about recruitment and retention of home support workers. We want to be sure that the personnel are there to respond to the varying needs of Nova Scotians. The resolution goes on to say that the minister has not yet established communication links with the Home Support Workers Council. Well, if the honourable member who introduced this resolution had checked his facts, he would clearly see that staff have agreed to attend the Home Support Workers Council Annual General Meeting, in fact the interim director of the Integrated Services Delivery Branch met with Ruth Meister, President of the Home Support Workers Council this very morning. The meeting went very well this morning. Recruitment and retention issues were discussed. They spoke of how the department and different home support agencies can work together more collaboratively in finding solutions to this challenge. Staff have scheduled another meeting with Ruth next month, and will also be meeting with her at the annual general meeting at the end of November.

The honourable member opposite raises salaries as an issue. Again, if he was up to date on his facts, he would realize that these issues are currently being discussed at the bargaining table with the majority of home support agencies. They are contract issues being discussed between the employer and the employees, and must be resolved as a part of ongoing, face to face, at the table collective bargaining negotiations. Staff from the Department of Health have met with the association members to address all of these issues and more. Recruitment and retention of home support workers, better ways to support family caregivers are all part of future program growth.

As I am sure you can appreciate Mr. Speaker, we can't find all of these answers overnight. Not in health care and not in home care. It is going to take time, and it is going to take the will of all Nova Scotians, in fact, all Canadians, to make sure that our health care system is sustainable and provides the kind of quality care necessary in a team-like collaborative atmosphere throughout this country. Let me assure you, that we are committed as a province and on behalf of Dr. Smith, as the Department of Health to finding these answers together with home support workers. We need their input, and we will encourage their feedback every step of the way, as they are vital members of this team. We remain committed to improving communication between Home Care Nova Scotia and the provider agencies. Home Care Nova Scotia is still a relatively new program for this province. We have

[Page 2900]

come a long way, an incredible journey over the last three or four years. Clearly, there is more work to be done.

As you can see, Mr. Speaker, we are addressing those issues of concern raised by the members opposite. Action has been taken. We are actively responding to the concerns of the home support worker community. We are and will continue to work with them to ensure that these complex issues are put to rest. Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to reiterate this government's ongoing appreciation for the home support workers of this province. They don't have an easy job. Many of us, during the campaign, and when we go door to door between campaigns - I am sure if their experience is anything like mine - very often come across home situations where home care, one aspect or another, is being provided in the home. The home support worker has a relationship with those individuals that is professional, caring and important to those individuals.

Each and every day, those people enhance the lives of those for whom they are caring. Their kind generosity and giving nature and overall commitment to providing quality care service is second to none. I can restate, one of the members opposite suggests that they need pay. I can only restate the track record of a government that is committed to fair and full collective bargaining, to issues like parity, to complex issues of catching up with a massive transition in the case of health and home care delivery services, of important workers within that system. We could go on to talk about the complete transformation of the paramedic corps now serving Nova Scotians through emergency health services, of a variety of members of the health care delivery team, and there will be issues to deal with down the road.

The minister, through this opportunity I have to represent him, is restating his commitment to these people. He has delivered it personally, his staff meets with them regularly, their input is required to make their job a crucial and important job within the team that much more effective, and within the larger context of this government's track record on collective bargaining, it is a record I am very proud of. All of those agreements, whether they are with us or with our partners have been worked out face to face at tables in a tough economic climate.

[5:45 p.m.]

Nova Scotians are fortunate to have this high-calibre group of men and women who are part of that home care team. I appreciate members opposite who are standing up and advocating for a group of people they feel need support at this time of negotiation, I understand that. I also understand that behind those comments and some of the rhetoric is as much will on the part of each of the Opposition and Third Party members, to play their role in the provincial team of literally 950,000 people, to ensure that we do our part in this nation to preserve the finest health care system in the world. It is under great stress, financial and otherwise and we will work with our people, those members of this team, as a government,

[Page 2901]

face to face, to resolve these issues with them and for them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by thanking the honourable member for Kings West for introducing this resolution. I am very pleased to hear from the honourable Minister of Education that officials from the Department of Health indeed met this morning with Ruth Meisner from Home Support Workers Council. No doubt, the introduction of this resolution and perhaps the press conference that we had last week in which I was very pleased to participate in along with the member for Kings West, might have had something to do with nudging the Minister of Health and the government to follow through on their commitment to address the concerns of home support workers in this province. I am very pleased to know that that meeting took place and I am very pleased to know that it will be the beginning of an ongoing dialogue between the Department of Health and the Home Support Workers Council.

I think it is important to register the concern that certainly we in our Party had when the Department of Health and the Minister of Health could not even get it together during National Home Care Week to involve and include the Home Support Workers Council in the planning of an event to recognize that week and to invite, encourage and allow the participation of home support workers in the council in naming their own representatives for the public photo opportunity that went with that Home Support Worker Week announcement. Perhaps this meeting today signifies some change of heart on the part of government, an indication that they are open to a true partnership, a participatory process of working with this group of workers.

When we talk about home support workers we are talking about a relatively large group of workers in the health care system in this province. We are talking about approximately 1,500 workers who are predominantly, almost 100 per cent, female workers. We are talking about workers who by any definition, in terms of low income cutoffs, are members of the working poor. We are talking about workers who provide two-thirds of all of the home care services that are provided. As the honourable Minister of Education indicated, we are talking about workers who provide services directly to approximately 18,000 Nova Scotians annually and indirectly many more Nova Scotians have a vested interest in the work of these workers because they are providing services to family members.

Home care is a fundamental and extremely necessary part of our health care system. It is not a frill, it is a basic service. In a time when we have realized bed closures and the shutting down of many community hospitals, the absolute requirement that you have a strong effective, efficient, Home Care Program couldn't be more important. What we have seen, in this province, is a loss of 5,000 jobs in the health care sector through that process of downsizing and closing community hospitals and beds in all of our remaining hospitals. These

[Page 2902]

1,500 workers are the workers who are there to care for people who are sent home from hospital early, or they are the workers who are there to provide a level of caring service that is essential to maintain the health and the well-being of people, so that they will not require hospitalization in a system that has been downsized and almost squeezed to death.

Mr. Speaker, these workers and their well-being have to be foremost in our minds when we think about what kind of health care system and what kind of services we are able to provide to people who are elderly, who are sick, who are infirm, who are persons with disabilities, who quite often are in very vulnerable states.

Mr. Speaker, home support workers are not maids. They are not cleaners. They are caregivers, in spite of a health care system that, increasingly, is devoid of care, that has organized itself in a way that fails to permit workers the kind of time that is required to provide a caring service. I talked to many home support workers and this is a very big issue for them. They want to provide a caring, responsive service and one that people in their homes require, request, demand. So, it upsets me a great deal when I talk to these workers and they tell me about the situations that confront me as they try to do their work. It upsets me a great deal when they tell me how their work is being organized in a way where they often feel that they are being reduced to being simply cleaners in a way that is very undervaluing for them and for what it is that they truly do.

I ask the members of this House to think about the importance of caregiving in the home. A matter, Mr. Speaker, which has always been undervalued, there is a large literature that indicates that women's caregiving work in households has always been rendered invisible and undervalued and this bias has followed women workers out of the household into the home care business. This is something that we have to say is not appropriate. We will not allow it. It is not a matter of good public policy and we need to address it and we need to address it now. The work that these women do in the household of home care clients is extremely important. After all, where would any one of us be without clean homes, clean shelters, sheets, towels, personal care, laundry, nutritious meals and the friendly faces that accompany these women as they go about their work. This work is not light work, it is not easy work, it is not unskilled work. These women are confronting many kinds of circumstances, and often difficult circumstances over which they have very little control, circumstances where you cannot anticipate what you are going to find when you go into the home of some other person, what the expectations may be.

Mr. Speaker, we have all probably had situations in our own constituencies where people have come to us for assistance around their home care needs. Sometimes we encounter very difficult situations. One example, from my own constituency, was a case where an elderly woman living on her own had begun to enter the very early stages of dementia. She was physically in fairly fine condition but emotionally and in terms of her mental health, she was starting to be confused about who was around her in her home. For the home care worker this resulted in a fair amount of abusive behaviour. This was a home

[Page 2903]

care worker who had worked with this woman for several years. She was very committed to this woman and to the family as well. She endured a series of verbal assaults that eventually led to physical assaults that I am not sure any of us here today would be prepared to put up with.

She stayed there, Mr. Speaker, and she dealt with this situation in a very empathetic and compassionate way because she understood that this elderly person was a person who was entering a point in her life cycle where she had an illness that she had no control over and she still required care. That woman stayed to provide care in spite of the absolute limitations of the way her work was organized to support her and to care for her, the caregiver.

Mr. Speaker, the expectations we have of this group of workers are extremely high. We expect professionalism. We expect performance and we expect efficiency but I am sad to say that we provide very little back to these women in terms of our willingness to pay them adequately or to organize their work in a reasonable and secure fashion. If there is any group of workers in the health care system that has been subjected to what is called the casualization of work, this would be the group of workers that has felt the impact of that phenomenon the hardest.

What has happened is that home care in Nova Scotia evolved essentially from municipalities that were providing home care services, quite often with contingents of full-time home care workers who were salaried, who had benefits and so on. As the province took over the home care process, that changed and increasingly workers in this sector are workers who not only are not in bargaining units, Mr. Speaker, where they have the protection of collective bargaining and collective processes, these workers are workers who have no idea from day to day what the conditions, the hours of their work might be. They get sent here and sent there. These workers can put in as many as 13 and 14 hours a day and receive compensation for only six hours of work. We have minimum wage laws in this province. This is wrong. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will meet from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and following the daily routine and Question Period, we will continue with Bill No. 38. If we complete Bill No. 38 tomorrow and send it off to the Law Amendments Committee, the government is prepared to call Bill No. 47, Municipal Government Act.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The hour of interruption is now upon us. We stand adjourned until tomorrow afternoon. We will now go into late debate. The topic for the late debate is the following resolution, submitted by the member for Cape Breton Nova:

[Page 2904]

"Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets and deplores the opposition of the New Democratic Party to the appointment of Brendon MacIntyre to the Workers' Compensation Board, especially when compounded by news that the same group may be welcoming the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's into their ranks.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

WCB - BRENDON MACINTYRE APPOINTMENT:

NDP OPPOSITION - REGRET

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it has been a long and hard struggle to get a coal miner on the Workers' Compensation Board. It ought not to be a difficult struggle, one would think. The coal miners are a group of workers that the Workers' Compensation Act is particularly important to. No one would question that there is a very high accident rate in coal mining. No one would question the presence of occupational disease peculiar to coal mining, such as silicosis and pneumoconiosis. No one would question the fact that there are specific sections of the Workers' Compensation Act allowing certain benefits and certain openness to application for coal miners that do not exist for other categories of workers. For example, the presumption if a coal miner is found dead in a coal mine is that he died in the course of his employment. That is written into the law. But, in spite of all that, it has been a very difficult struggle to get a coal miner onto the Workers' Compensation Board.

The last coal miner that I know that served on the Workers' Compensation Board was the late Robert Murrant from Glace Bay, who was appointed to the Workers' Compensation Board by the Stanfield Government and served on the board at the time I was first elected, and for some years thereafter. However, since Mr. Murrant retired, there hasn't been a coal miner on the Workers' Compensation Board. The board, in the meantime, has expanded greatly. When Robert Murrant was a commissioner on the board, there were only three members on the board, including the chair: the chair and two commissioners. Today, there are nine directors, plus the chair, for a total of 10.

It has become a big board and there ought to be room on it for at least one coal miner, especially considering that issues such as chronic pain are to be dealt with by the board at this time. Considering, too, the expertise that the Select Committee on the Workers' Compensation Act has recognized in its hiring of Mr. Jim Neville to serve as consultant to that select committee; Mr. Neville being a product of the United Mine Workers of America, a long-time president of the International Piers local union.

[Page 2905]

In any event, Mr. Speaker, the District 26 United Mine Workers of America organization proposed the name of Brendon MacIntyre to serve as a commissioner of the Workers' Compensation Board. Brendon MacIntyre is a resident of my constituency, well known to me, who has been a coal miner for many years. He first came to my attention when he was serving as the president of the Phalen local union at the UMW. More recently, after a long and distinguished term of office as the president of the Phalen local union, he was successfully elected sub-district board member on the district executive board of District 26, UMW of A.

I am reliably advised, Mr. Speaker, that for certain vacancies that existed on the Workers' Compensation Board, 35 applications were made, 35 people applied. It is the Minister of Labour's duty to go over all applications and then to certify, after having considered them all and examined them all very carefully, that he or she is recommending one candidate as being the most qualified, the best qualified person to carry out the duties of all the candidates who applied. The minister has to certify that so and so is the most qualified of all the applicants. In this case, the most qualified applicant was found to be Brendon MacIntyre.

AN HON. MEMBER: By whom?

MR. MACEWAN: By the Minister of Labour of Nova Scotia, that's by whom.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it came to my attention that the NDP was opposing the nomination of Brendon MacIntyre to the Workers' Compensation Board. I didn't make any public comment on this matter, although I was aware that the district executive board had made very strong representations - pleas you might say - pleadings to the NDP to relent in their opposition and to allow this nomination to go forward.

If Mr. MacIntyre was not the most qualified applicant, well then fine; if better were available, then that is that, but when Mr. MacIntyre's application was found to be the best of all those applying and the NDP continued to oppose it with a stubborn opposition that was impervious to any reason or to any pleading, I was confounded. I was dismayed. Dismayed. The New Democratic Party was put to the test yesterday, at the meeting of the Human Resources Committee, when the honourable member for Richmond moved that Brendon MacIntyre be appointed to the Workers' Compensation Board and the NDP-line majority on that committee voted Nay.

AN HON. MEMBER: Majority?

MR. MACEWAN: The NDP-line majority, comprising the NDP and those within their orbit. They voted Nay and opposed Mr. MacIntyre's nomination, and he was defeated.

[Page 2906]

I want to say this about yesterday's meeting of the Human Resources Committee. I am told that there were over 50 names that were proposed for various agencies, boards and commissions and all were passed but two. There were only two of those 50 names that were from the Island of Cape Breton, and the NDP saw to it that one of those two names from Cape Breton was defeated. That is what happens when the NDP get a certain degree of influence in the business of this province. Thanks to the NDP, the coal miners of Cape Breton are denied a voice on the Workers' Compensation Board and have been disempowered, have been shafted and sold out and betrayed once again, thanks to that so-called political arm of labour.

Now that is chapter one, Mr. Speaker, in this tale of two cities. That is chapter one, because we must move on to chapter two (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order.

MR. MACEWAN: Chapter two of this drama, of this tale of two cities, is the very warm and benevolent and tender and loving overtures of the NDP to the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's, a Tory, who was elected as a Tory and sat here as a Tory until only a day or two ago. Ah, but one should read the comforting words of the Leader of the New Democratic Party, reported in the press, concerning that individual. So we see, a very peculiar dichotomy, one standard for the Cape Breton coal miner - one standard for Brendon MacIntyre, the Cape Breton coal miner - and a very different standard for those who were elected to office on the Tory ticket, and are unrepentant Tories simply looking to climb up the ladder of success.

The NDP is drunk with power right now, power not yet attained. The euphoria being of such dimensions they feel they can do anything they like, but they are answerable to the polls. They shall stand answerable for these things. The miners will not forget this betrayal and they will not forget who it was that denied the Cape Breton coal miner a voice on the Workers' Compensation Board, when the opportunity to do so was there, thanks to the proposals of this Liberal Government. I believe my time has expired.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. (Applause)

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise tonight to give the story, at least the story that should be given around this whole issue. Unfortunately, the member for Cape Breton Nova, as usual, does not remember too well nor does he have his information in order.

[Page 2907]

Brendon MacIntyre indeed represents Devco coal miners. Almost every day since this sitting began on October 15th, Devco coal miners' issues have been raised in this House by the New Democratic Party and Independent MLAs. An emergency debate was held about the loss of some 500 Devco jobs, at the earliest opportunity that we had, on the initiative of the Leader of the Opposition, on October 15th. But where were the Liberals, who tonight pretend they are the champions of coal miners?

The very first Liberal resolution about Devco was moved eight days after this House resumed, eight days after the emergency debate. Instead of addressing the crisis at Devco that resolution called for the political resurrection of David C. Dingwall, the minister under whose guidance the federal government adopted a plan to wind down or to privatize Devco. That is what they asked for. The Liberals are winding Devco down right now with horrendous results, including massive coal imports, while people in Cape Breton go unemployed. The Premier is clearing the path for a change in his own position, wiggling - to use one of the Premier's words, wiggling - toward support for Devco privatization. If the Liberals can divert attention from the grim reality they will.

In total, there has been a grand number of two Liberal Devco resolutions out of some 400 resolutions that have been brought up in the last two weeks. Yet, today, when the Labour Minister was blocked in his attempt to hand-pick a member of the Workers' Compensation Board, instead of using the usual nomination process, the Liberals in this House howled like babies without their bottles. Resolution after resolution because a Liberal minister did not get away with his appointment. Compare the Liberal silence about the loss of 500 Devco jobs with the volcano of Liberal outrage about this one appointment. More has been said about this one appointment than 500 jobs lost at Devco.

Was this appointment part of a deal to get Steve Drake to forget everything he ever fought for, run, or lose as a Liberal? Our Labour Critic had a preference for his appointment, and it is Brendon MacIntyre, but our Party respects the principle that the labour and employee bodies should select the labour and employee representatives on that board. We made no attempt to impose our choice on labour or on employees. What did the minister do? He represented his personal picks in a misleading picture to Human Resources Committee. He pretended that another handpicked choice, Elwood Dillman, had support from employer associations. Well, those associations have a different story to tell and I will table the letters from those associations endorsing Barry Wark and Mr. Sapp. This debate is all about the mad scramble to get a seat on a lifeboat before the Liberal ship goes down.

[6:15 p.m.]

On that side they are pushing and shoving to grab onto any appointment that might survive the voters' verdict on this government. If the Liberal howls about its mismanagement and devastation of Devco were as loud as their cries about this one appointment, members on this side and Cape Bretoners might take them seriously, but the record is clear. It is clear

[Page 2908]

to the development workers who were laid off at Devco. It is clear to the voters who never heard a word from this Premier about Devco during his last four years as a Member of Parliament. It is clear to the people in Cape Breton what it is that this government stands for. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is with extreme pleasure that I speak on this resolution. I have watched with great interest and, in fact, amazement, the performance, particularly of the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova who talks that he is absolutely shocked and appalled, I think he would forgive me if I use that phrase, shocked and appalled that someone would leave one political Party to go to another. I am a little amazed at that, particularly in light of the history of that, and to describe the honourable member sitting in my place and others as being in the orbit of the NDP, strains credulity. Frankly, he has been a lot closer to the orbit than I have ever been, frankly, or ever intend to be. In fact, I would liken the honourable member to Pluto which as I understand in astronomy is a satellite that was captured, a small insignificant satellite that was captured and doomed to spend forever circling at a distance from the sun, never feeling its warmth and being of no great significance. (Applause)

The honourable member from Pluto is of no great interest to me and, frankly, we will leave the electors of Chester-St. Margaret's, as part of his resolution, to deal with the issue, as I am sure they will in the fullness of time.

However, there is a serious issue raised by the member's resolution and the serious issue raised is the Workers' Compensation Board. I have had the opportunity of travelling throughout Nova Scotia, as some of the colleagues who are here in the House today have been, to hear the plight of the workers' compensation system in our province. This is a classic example of why we have the problems we have today. The reason we have the problems we have today is because the government says one thing and does another. Now the difficulty is, and I am not going to get tied up with the specifics of Mr. MacIntyre who is certified by the Minister of Labour and may or may not have been certified by the member for Cape Breton Centre. That is not the issue because (Interruptions)

No, that is not the issue. The issue for people in Nova Scotia is that the process has not been followed and it is the process that has to be protected. I may have no particular affection for a particular candidate or for the other candidate that may be proposed, but the principle is you have to have a process to take politics and political favouritism out of appointments to the Workers' Compensation Board and, frankly, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Labour's effort to ram Brendon MacIntyre's appointment through the Human Resources Committee is an example of what should not be done.

[Page 2909]

Mr. MacIntyre may be the best appointment in the world. He may not be the best appointment in the world but the process followed here was completely flawed. The process that should have been followed is to go and reach an understanding with worker and labour groups in this province on the process for appointing worker representatives because as long as the government can cherry-pick who they want to put on the Workers' Compensation Board, it is going to be nothing more than a bunch of tired hacks for the government and we cannot afford that.

Mr. Speaker, the issue here is that we cannot have the government going around and - to be frank, Mr. MacIntyre is, I understand, a friend of the government. That does not surprise me. Earlier today I asked the Minister of Labour about the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal and the surprising revelation that the only person, although he is qualified, who did not get appointed was surprisingly enough the Progressive Conservative. What a surprise. (Interruption)

Absolutely, I was absolutely shocked and appalled, to quote other people and, Mr. Speaker, this is what we cannot have. We have to have a process where people can be vetted, where people can be approved so they do represent the two parties that are represented on the Workers' Compensation Board because the Workers' Compensation Board is designed to represent all workers and all employers in this province. As long as the government can pick and choose anybody they want, we are going to be standing here in this House arguing over the appointments.

If the government wants to bring forward an appropriate process for having people named to the Workers' Compensation Board, I am extremely interested, as are the other members of my Party, in that process but the process is not to go around and find someone in the labour movement who might be a Liberal. That, Mr. Speaker, is not the way you get the appropriate process followed.

Mr. Speaker, I might also indicate that, with all due deference to my friends in the Federation of Labour, they should get their act together, too, because I was a little bit surprised that the United Mine Workers, who I understand are part of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, muddied the waters and allowed the government to bring forward this nomination.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to make it absolutely clear that it is the position of my Party that a process has to be developed to ensure that the Workers' Compensation Board represents all workers, both unionized and non-unionized, and all employers in the province but that process can only be brought forward when and if you have a protocol. You cannot have the government just going around and picking and choosing because, frankly, all you are going to have is the chaos that the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova referred to. In closing, I cannot help but notice that the government side of the House has been awfully quiet

[Page 2910]

on issues involving Cape Breton and Devco, and singing the praises of Mr. Dingwall would not seem to be in the interests of anybody on Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Dingwall was repudiated by the voters in Cape Breton for good reason. Again, I may not like who replaced him but the voters have a right to choose and the voters have a right to choose without being penalized for choosing. If there is anyone in this House who is suggesting that the people of Cape Breton Island should be punished for voting a particular way, then I have a problem with that because it is the same problem with the people in my riding. Should they be penalized and punished because they voted Progressive Conservative because they were dissatisfied with this government? They should not be. They should get the same treatment as the honourable members opposite get on their roads.

In closing I would indicate to this House that perhaps the next time we have a resolution brought forward, it should be done with a bit more thought, and I will be honest with you (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, it may be the most creative resolution, but I do not know if it was the best.

In closing, I will say that all members of this House should look at a better appointment process, and certainly I think the government has an obligation to bring forward names to the Human Resources Committee which have a real chance of being approved. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The member for Cape Breton Centre noted that he wanted to speak first, and the member for Cape Breton The Lakes did not use all of her time.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to say it gives me pleasure to be here tonight, but to hear the bamboozle that is put forward by the people from across the way about appointments to boards and commissions in this province is appalling. We tell people to come forward, we need people to represent everybody in this province but, Heaven forfend, as soon as one of their little kitty cats gets shunted aside, they wail and moan. You would think it was Hallowe'en, instead of coming up to Hallowe'en.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you something about the process that they don't get, and what they don't get is that it should be a fair process, that everybody should be treated fairly. They don't want to treat anybody fairly, they want their little clique in there. As the member for Cape Breton The Lakes said before, they are on this sinking ship but, you know they must have dumb rats over there, because the rats are not jumping off, those rats are jumping on. So what happens is they get their little buddies and they try to get them in the little boards here and there and it is not working anymore.

[Page 2911]

On March 24th, the people of this province spoke and they said, no, it is not business as usual, it is not fair to punish me because I did not vote for the government. The Premier himself says this is a minority government and we must work together. When is that sun going to rise on that fellow and when is he going to start working with people? He is not working with our colleagues over here and he certainly is not working with his colleagues in the New Democratic Party. He does not want to speak to anybody. It is business as usual. These guys do not get it. They did not get it in the election and, certainly, they are not getting it today.

There was a gaggle over there saying, ask the member for Cape Breton Centre why he supported him. Well, I supported Mr. MacIntyre through the process of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. I did not go in there intervening like certain members across the way do. He asked me to put his name forward and I supported it and put his name forward. Did he win? Obviously not. They don't get it. They want us to interfere and they do not want us to interfere. These fellows are completely off the wall; they just don't get it.

There were three appointments for that board. One was a renewal, and two were new people, and that is what has to be understood here. You've got a board in a time of flux and we wanted some continuity and we needed that, but the minister would rather meddle than see that board work properly. Then he wants to put forward somebody from Devco and, being from Cape Breton, I certainly understand that, but what we have to look at is how in the stream was that member put forward.

I had conversations with members of the United Mine Workers of America and I told them exactly where I stood on it. I said look, we are not going to go and make a noise to the minister, because that is not where it is done. That is the problem. There is too much political interference in appointments to agencies, boards and commissions in this province, and that is what is dragging the process down. It is not whether or not the NDP are supportive of anybody. So I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, thank you for a chance to speak on this. (Applause)

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 will resume at 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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