The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., Oct. 29, 1998

First Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1998

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pictou Co.: School Closures - Oppose, Ms. E. O'Connell 2914
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Nat. Res. - Cabot Strait: Boundary (N.S./Nfld.) - Arbitration,
The Premier 2914
Fin. - Retirees: Pensions - Increase, Hon. D. Downe 2917
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1404, Agric. - George MacKenzie (Asst. Director): Retirement -
Recognize, Hon. E. Lorraine 2920
Vote - Affirmative 2920
Res. 1405, Nat. Res. - Hunters: Safety Record - Applaud,
Hon. K. MacAskill 2921
Vote - Affirmative 2921
Res. 1406, Housing & Mun. Affs.: UNSM Executive (Outgoing) -
Thank, Hon. W. Gaudet 2921
Vote - Affirmative 2922
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 52, Business Efficiency (1998) Act, Hon. K. Colwell 2922
No. 53, Trade Union Act, Mr. M. Baker 2922
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1407, Quebec - Election Campaign: Premier (N.S.) - Avoid,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2923
Res. 1408, Health - Min.: Responsibilities Other - Relieve, Dr. J. Hamm 2923
Res. 1409, Sports - Hockey: Maritime Junior A League -
Head Injury Prevention Clinic Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 2924
Vote - Affirmative 2924
Res. 1410, Lib. - Patronage Job (WCB): Fight (Multiple) - Explain,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2924
Res. 1411, Transport (Can.) - Halifax, Port of: Letters Patent Change -
Contact (Premier-PM/Min.), Dr. J. Hamm 2925
Vote - Affirmative 2926
Res. 1412, NDP/Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Marriage:
Consummation - Encourage, Mr. P. MacEwan 2926
Res. 1413, NDP (MPs) - Fishers: Unsympathetic (Comment Premier) -
Thought Urge, Mr. John Deveau 2926
Res. 1414, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Amalgamation (HRM & CBRM):
Costs - Disclose, Mr. J. Leefe 2927
Res. 1415, Churches (World Council) - Assembly (Zimbabwe):
Eleanor Scarlett (Timberlea & Goodwood) Attendee - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2928
Vote - Affirmative 2928
Res. 1416, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA: Voters - Face, Mr. H. Fraser 2928
Res. 1417, NDP - Patronage Politics: Addiction - Illustrated,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2929
Res. 1418, Fin. - Budget (1998-99): Deficit - WWW Display,
Mr. H. Epstein 2929
Res. 1419, Fish. - TAGS 2 - Buy Back Prog. (N.S.) -
Independence Demand, Mr. N. LeBlanc 2930
Res. 1420, Liberal MLAs - Hallowe'en Callers: Orange Clothing -
Refrain, Mr. D. Dexter 2931
Res. 1421, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Quebec Election: Result -
Hopes Reveal, Mr. J. Leefe 2931
Res. 1422, NASA - John Glenn (Aged 77): Space Flight -
Success Extend, Mr. J. Pye 2932
Vote - Affirmative 2933
Res. 1423, Health - W. Reg. Health Ctr. (Yar.): Wing New - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Fraser 2933
Vote - Affirmative 2933
Res. 1424, Women - History Month (Oct.): Significance - Recognize,
Mr. M. Scott 2934
Vote - Affirmative 2934
Res. 1425, URB - Gasoline Prices: Jurisdiction - Legislate, Mr. C. Parker 2934
Res. 1426, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Future: Solace - Take,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 2935
Res. 1427, Human Res. - Unpaid Leave: Voluntary - Ensure,
Mr. G. Archibald 2936
Res. 1428, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Hfx. (Serv.): HRM -
Impact Recognize, Mr. P. Delefes 2936
Res. 1429, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Shaw Woods (Cornwallis Plant):
Opening - Congrats., Mr. G. Balser 2937
Vote - Affirmative 2937
Res. 1430, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Cos. (ISO 9000): Achievement -
Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 2938
Vote - Affirmative 2938
Res. 1431, Human Res. - Budget (1998-99) Deficit: NSGEU -
Cooperate, Ms. Helen MacDonald 2938
Res. 1432, Educ.: Maritime Museum (Atl.)/Titanic Model
(Mark Boudreau [Port Hawkesbury]) - Success Congrats.,
Mr. R. White 2939
Vote - Affirmative 2939
Res. 1433, Agric. - Anna. Valley: Potato Farmers/Hostess Frito-Lay -
Expansion Congrats., Mr. G. Archibald 2940
Vote - Affirmative 2940
Res. 1434, Culture - S.S. Atl. Heritage Comm.: CED (N.S.)
Cooperation Award Nominee - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2940
Vote - Affirmative 2941
Res. 1435, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Rural (N.S.): Ignored (Mar. 1998) -
Explain, Mr. B. Taylor 2941
Res. 1436, NDP (N.S.) Leader - Midas (Muffler) Touch: Acquisition -
Congrats., Mr. R. White 2942
Res. 1437, Health - Long-Term Care Facilities: Seniors' Relocation -
Avoid, Mr. J. Muir 2942
Res. 1438, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Resign, Mr. M. Samson 2943
Res. 1439, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Official Tree (Red Spruce-
Alder Bush): Apparent Change - Condemn, Mr. M. Baker 2944
Res. 1440, Maitland: Anniv. 250th. - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 2944
Vote - Affirmative 2945
Res. 1441, Health - Aberdeen Hospital: Parking Charge -
Removal Ensure, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2945
Res. 1442, Culture: Pugwash Heritage Day - Recognize, Mr. E. Fage 2946
Vote - Affirmative 2946
Res. 1443, Chester-St. Margaret's MLA - Resign, Mr. M. Samson 2946
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 363, Health - Long-Term Facilities: Wildcat Strikes -
Contingency Plans, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2947
No. 364, Educ.: Pictou Co. - School Closures, Mr. J. DeWolfe 2949
No. 365, Health - Physicians: Recruitment - Strategy Develop,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2950
No. 366, Human Res. - Unpaid Leave: Proposal - Info., Dr. J. Hamm 2952
No. 367, Educ. - P3: Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea -
Site Selection, Mr. W. Estabrooks 2953
No. 368, Educ. - East Pictou: School Closure - Hearing,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2954
No. 369, Health - Northwood Manor: Residents - Responsibility,
Dr. J. Hamm 2955
No. 370, Educ. - Rural High Schools (Small): Funding - Alternative,
Mr. C. Parker 2956
No. 371, Commun. Serv. - Nursing Homes: Seniors - Removal,
Mr. B. Taylor 2957
No. 372, Educ. - Enfield/Elmsdale: School (P-5) New - Clarify,
Mr. John MacDonell 2959
No. 373, Coast Guard - Service Cutbacks: Protection - Ensure,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 2960
No. 374, Educ.: O'Connell Dr. School - Overcrowding, Ms. Y. Atwell 2961
No. 375, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. School Bd.: Deficit - Action, Mr. E. Fage 2962
No. 376, Educ. - Eastern Passage JHS: Completion - Date,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2963
No. 377, Commun. Serv.: Secure Treatment Centre (Truro-Bible Hill) -
Status, Mr. J. Muir 2965
No. 378, Educ. - Amherst RHS: Builder (N.B.) Selection -
Consultation (Springhill CC) Failure, Ms. E. O'Connell 2966
No. 379, Educ. - Whycocomagh HS: Students - Relocation,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 2967
No. 380, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - Y2K Problem: Funding - Commitment,
Mr. G. Balser 2968
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 38, Private Career Colleges Regulation Act 2970
Mr. J. Muir 2970
Mr. John MacDonell 2976
Mr. E. Fage 2977
Mr. J. Holm 2981
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2993
Adjourned debate 2993
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Commun. Serv. - Working Poor: All-Party Comm. - Form:
Mr. G. Balser 2994
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 2997
Hon. F. Cosman 2999
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 30th at 9:00 a.m. 3002

[Page 2913]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 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 begin the daily routine.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday, in the House, in Resolution No. 1380, the critic opposite requested my intervention in a matter involving the Resource Recovery Fund Board and the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation. The information the member opposite brought to the House yesterday was wrong and I would like to inform the House that this matter concerning the boards of these organizations was resolved last spring after it was raised by the Auditor General. In fact, there is no one with a seat on both boards. Today I would like to table the names of those on boards of the RRF and the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation so members of this House can see for themselves that there is no conflict.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister may table that information but it is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

2913

[Page 2914]

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, if I could take that as a ministerial statement.

MR. SPEAKER: No, it is a point of order and there is no point of order. (Interruptions)

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, there are 586 signatures on this petition and I have affixed my name to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and all members of the House, a former member of this Legislature, a colleague of mine for many years . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: A distinguished member.

MR. MOODY: A distinguished member, for Lunenburg West. I never thought he would want to come back to this place, Mr. Speaker, but it is nice that Mel Pickings and his wife Mary came to visit today and I would ask all members to welcome them. (Applause)

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise today to report to the House on an important aspect of our future offshore potential. As you know, the boundary in the Cabot Strait between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is now moving to arbitration. The Government of Nova Scotia has every intention of protecting the province's

[Page 2915]

rights to its resources beneath the seas. In order to do that, the government has assembled a team of the finest legal minds in the country.

That team will be led by Mr. L. Yves Fortier, Q.C. and Companion of the Order of Canada. Mr. Fortier is a senior partner in the law firm of Ogilvy Renault in Montreal and he is one of the most capable lawyers and respected legal intellects in the world today. He is a seasoned trial lawyer who has pleaded important court cases in Canada. Most recently, he successfully argued the reference to the Supreme Court of Canada on the Quebec question on behalf of the Government of Canada. He has also served as an arbitrator on many international tribunals.

His intimate knowledge of boundary issues in this region complements his international reputation and experience. In 1984, he represented Canada before the World Court in the Canada-U.S. Gulf of Maine case that enshrined our rights on Georges Bank. Mr. Fortier also served as Canada's Chief Negotiator in the Canada-France Fishing Dispute. In 1991, he was Counsel for Canada before the International Panel of Arbitrators that determined the boundary between Canada and France in the area near St. Pierre and Miquelon.

This former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations and President of the U.N. Security Council has been called upon to settle such contentious issues as the land and maritime boundaries between Bahrain and Qatar and to chair the committee overseeing compensation to Kuwait for the effects of the Iraqi invasion and subsequent Gulf War.

Mr. Speaker, the team Mr. Fortier will lead is one of the most formidable in Canada and, indeed, international circles. Members of his own law firm are assisting him as well as lawyers from Dalhousie Law School, who are internationally respected for their work on the Law of the Sea. Consultants and experts in the principles of international law will ensure that Nova Scotia's interests are well represented. Our Department of Justice will provide support and assistance.

The only thing that matches the strength of our legal team is the strength of our arguments. The boundary between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland is clearly defined in federal and provincial accord legislation. International legal precedents will support our representations to the arbitration panel.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia did not want or start this fight with our neighbours across the Cabot Strait. We attempted to settle this in a respectful and amicable manner. We have been forced, however, onto the legal battle field.

Mr. Speaker, as I conclude, let me remind this House what lies at the centre of this unnecessary dispute. The Laurentian Sub-Basin has mammoth oil and natural gas potential. The Geological Survey of Canada estimates the sub-basin holds 8 trillion to 9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That is three times the size of the current Sable project. Besides natural

[Page 2916]

gas, the Geological Survey believes the sub-basin holds between 600 million and 700 million barrels of crude oil. That is twice as much as Hibernia.

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the members of the House and all Nova Scotians that we intend to keep what is rightfully ours. The sooner we can fairly conclude this unnecessary arbitration and get that oil and gas to market, the better for everyone. We hope to have the matter concluded next year. Let us get on with this matter. Let us get it out of the hands of lawyers so that Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Laurentian Sub-Basin can takes its rightful place in the growing economy of our province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I certainly wish Mr. Fortier and his team well in trying to represent Nova Scotia in this dispute.

Let me say that this is a dispute that was settled back in the 1980's and the only reason that we are now forced to go to court is because the Premier of Newfoundland has been wearing out the carpet in the Prime Minister's office and he has got the federal government to back off on a position that was already solved. I am deeply concerned that, once again, Nova Scotia is getting pushed around by another province, in this case by Newfoundland.

Clearly the job of Mr. Fortier is serious and significant. I wish we hadn't come to this point. I wish Nova Scotia could have stood up for itself in the halls of power in Ottawa where we were supposed to have so much influence and that Mr. Tobin would not have been able to muscle his way in, which is exactly what has happened here. As a result, Nova Scotians' right to this resource is in jeopardy and we are going to be forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to protect a decision that was made well over 10 years ago. Mr. Speaker, I certainly though, and so do my caucus colleagues, wish Mr. Fortier well. (Applause)

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I share the Premier's enthusiasm for the career of Mr. Fortier. He certainly is an exemplary Canadian. I think of the tremendous advantage that the Laurentian Sub-Basin is going to be to the people of Cape Breton. What better place could it be than near industrial Cape Breton and eventually, we hope, that the gas and the oil for the tremendous reserves out there will flow to that part of Nova Scotia and provide them with the kind of prosperity that only offshore oil and gas can bring.

My memory may be failing me, but I believe it was August 1986 that the Canada-Nova Scotia accord was signed by the Premier of Nova Scotia then and the then Prime Minister of Canada, that clearly delineates the division through the Laurentian Sub-Basin between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Nothing was said until such time as Premier Tobin realized that

[Page 2917]

Nova Scotia has a tremendous resource on their side of the line and being the aggressive pursuer of all that is good for Newfoundland, he said, perhaps that line is not where it should be and he said I am going to challenge it despite the fact that the coordinates of that line are clearly delineated.

When he stood up for the people of Newfoundland, what did our Premier say? Our Premier said, well, perhaps we will talk about the line. The minute the Premier said that, we were starting to lose the battle, a battle in which we should never be engaged in the first place.

What else did Premier Tobin do? He immediately sent his ministers to Ottawa to lobby the federal minister about their position on the line that divides the Laurentian Sub-Basin, the line that determines that much of that resource, if not almost all of it, is on our side of the line. Our minister did not go to Ottawa. Our Premier did not go to Ottawa on the issue and as a result the issue is going to arbitration - a battle that we should never be involved in in the first place. If this Premier and this government had done its work early on, then we would not be in the position that we would be employing Mr. Fortier at all. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to report to the House on a measure announced in the budget of June 4, 1998. At that time I announced that certain pensioners had seen a significant loss in their purchasing power in the years when inflation was high. All members will remember the relentless increases in the cost of living during the 1970's and into the early 1980's. International events caused annual prices to often rise in double digits. Unfortunately, our pension plans could not keep up. Indexing has been limited to 6 per cent and thus any increase beyond that amount was a real reduction in the purchasing power of the retirees or their spouses.

[2:30 p.m.]

These people are the real victims of economic policies that failed to cope with the rising prices. Those who lived on fixed incomes paid a real price for the years when government built up debt and let monetary policy run free. We now live in a much better time, with inflation below 2 per cent and interest rates on mortgages at 6 per cent rather than 16 to 18 per cent.

Today, those pensioners who were hurt the most are receiving a measure of justice as the government moves to restore the purchasing power lost in those times. Those most affected were the pensioners who retired in the 1970's or earlier; in fact, those who retired before 1971 are seeing a 70 per cent increase in their pension payment today. The exact amount of the increase received depends on the year in which the employee retired. Since 1983, inflation has been at or below 6 per cent, and thus all pensions started during this period of time have been fully protected.

[Page 2918]

For the information of the House, I am tabling a copy of the table that shows the increases for each year. I would also mention that as the implementation date for this measure was July 1, 1998, the amounts being received by pensioners today also includes an increase for the previous three months. This figure is shown as "Adjustment" on the October pension advice statements.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would simply note that I am pleased to be able to follow through on this measure to improve the lot of our pensioners who served this province well in their working years.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I am sure all members of this House remember well in the budget that was presented in June, at that time the government announced that it had four potential uses for what was then regarded as a very extensive surplus in the Public Service Superannuation Plan. One element was the proposed pension contribution holiday; the other was a change in the assumptions that would underlie the pension plan; two others had to do with changes of benefits for people who were already retired: one was an inflation increase, a compensation for inflation which is what we are hearing about today; and the final one had to do with changes for benefits for surviving spouses. Altogether, these proposed increases would total $247 million in terms of a reduction in the surplus, as calculated at that time as existing in the Public Service Superannuation Plan.

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a very good idea to pay increases to those people who are already retired, the former civil service members who are already retired and who have seen the value of their pensions eroded through inflation over the years. We know, from looking at the attached table, that there have been very extensive problems with some of those pensions. At the same time, we now know that the underlying assumption behind the budgetary measure that came in in June, that is to say, how extensive the surplus is in the pension plan may well not be the case; there have been severe changes since that time.

It is entirely appropriate to make these payments. I think it is right that these payments should be made. At the same time, when we finally do get, next month, the details of the actuarial evaluation of the plan, it will mean that our attention will have to be focused very carefully on what decisions, if any, we make about the other proposed uses for the surplus. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for making this statement here today in the House. I think the minister has made the claim, and I think it is true, that many of the men and women who worked for this province, and did so with

[Page 2919]

distinction and had planned for their retirement, basically were left in the lurch. Through events beyond their control, with interest inflation rates which were unheard of, basically most of these people were left almost living on - the fact of the matter is that perhaps there was no retirement income other than what was given equal to what was given to people who had never planned for their retirement - they were, in a sense, in the same situation as someone receiving a supplement, without making any contributions.

I think today that this announcement is excellent. I think those people deserve some sort of retribution for all that they suffered in the years that have transpired, especially between 1970 and today. I look with regret that there are many women and men who will never have a chance to get these advantages, because they passed away before today's announcement. I do believe that of all the changes the minister announced in the budget, regarding the Public Service Superannuation Fund, this is one that is dear to my heart because I personally have communicated with many retired civil servants who feel that they have basically been abandoned. I think this is correcting a wrong and for that I congratulate the minister and I welcome the comments here today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on an introduction.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to introduce through you to the House today 16 Grade 11 students from the Halifax Christian Academy. The Halifax Christian Academy draws students from all over the metro area but it is situated on Downs Avenue in Halifax Fairview. They are with their leader, Daphne Thurber, today in the west gallery and I would ask the House to do the usual thing and to welcome them when they stand up to greet you. (Applause)

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

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, we have in the west gallery today the paralegal class of the Career Academy of Canada located in Sackville and their instructor, Greta Scott. I would ask them to stand and receive the welcome of this House. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery we have a long-time member of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Emery Foote and her parents, Patrick and Madonna Doyle of St. Lawrence, Newfoundland. If they could stand to receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

[Page 2920]

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

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to introduce some members in the gallery. The MLAs for Pictou County perhaps cannot see our guests but there are a number of people here today from the East Pictou and Pictou County area who have come to express some concern both directly to me and to the members in this House about decisions recently taken by their school board. I would ask the members that I can see at least from the East Pictou and Pictou County area to rise and receive the welcome of the House today. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 1404

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

Whereas George MacKenzie, Assistant Director of the Rural Leadership Branch has been with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing for 40 years and is retiring on October 30, 1998; and

Whereas he has served in a number of key positions in the department and has worked tirelessly for the betterment of the industry; and

Whereas George MacKenzie has served as a mentor for many young staff joining the extension field;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize George MacKenzie's retirement and the immense contribution that he has made to the Department of Agriculture and Marketing.

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.

[Page 2921]

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 1405

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

Whereas the annual regular deer hunting season opens on Friday, October 30th and the government has issued a limited number of permits to hunt antlerless deer in certain management zones; and

Whereas nearly 50,000 Nova Scotians take part in the deer hunt each year and have taken the mandatory hunter education course and practice safe hunting; and

Whereas there has not been a hunting fatality in Nova Scotia for the past five years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and applaud Nova Scotia hunters for their excellent safety record and wish them good luck and continued safe hunting.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 1406

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 their annual conference last week in Yarmouth with 350 councillors in attendance; and

[Page 2922]

Whereas at each conference a new executive is chosen to represent municipal concerns for the upcoming year; and

Whereas the UNSM executive has been instrumental in a number of provincial-municipal initiatives this past year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the outgoing UNSM executive for a job well done.

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 52 - Entitled an Act to Promote Efficiency in the Delivery of Government Services. (Hon. Keith Colwell)

Bill No. 53 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 475 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Trade Union Act. (Mr. Michael Baker)

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

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party on an introduction.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to some guests in the Speaker's Gallery. We have with us today Mrs. Cathy Cotter, the Mayor of Trenton; the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Jim Fraser; and the Chief Administrative Officer, Mr. Robin Campbell. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the greeting of the House. (Applause)

[Page 2923]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1407

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

Whereas the Premier has publicly offered to support Tory cum Liberal Leader Jean Charest in the current Quebec election in any way he can; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are eagerly awaiting the day when the Premier makes a similar commitment to help the people of this province; and

Whereas Nova Scotians would not want to see Quebec go the way of Dynatek or Mentor;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier help out the federalist cause in the best way he can by staying out of Quebec politics and staying focused on the problems facing him right here at home.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1408

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

Whereas the part-time Minister of Health indicated that he has no up to date information about the debt situation at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre; and

Whereas the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre consumes 19 per cent of the health budget in this province; and

Whereas mismanaged reform of the tertiary care service has resulted in huge, unnecessary expense to Nova Scotia taxpayers;

Therefore be it resolved that the part-time Minister of Health go to the Premier and ask to be relieved of all other responsibilities so he has time to learn about what is happening in the Department of Health.

[Page 2924]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1409

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

Whereas increasing concerns are being expressed over the number of head injuries being suffered in hockey; and

Whereas many of these head injuries are having a career-ending effect on hockey players from Pee Wee to professional; and

Whereas the Maritime Junior A Hockey League has recognized the need for proactive action and will on Saturday, October 31, 1998, have well-known Halifax physician, Dr. Ernie Johnson, conduct a mandatory coaches clinic on the dangers and preventions of head injuries;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Maritime Junior A Hockey League and encourage all other Nova Scotia hockey organizations to follow this excellent example.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[2:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1410

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

[Page 2925]

Whereas during the first two weeks of this fall sitting, Liberal MLAs did not introduce a single resolution to protest or seek solutions to the lay-off of some 500 Devco workers; and

Whereas yesterday, Liberal MLAs popped up like toast to protest the failure of the Labour Minister to have one of his hand-picked nominees approved by the Human Resources Committee; and

Whereas this exhibition gave coal miners and other Cape Bretoners an invaluable insight into the true priorities of the Liberal rump in this House;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals should explain why it takes all seven of their remaining Cape Breton MLAs to fight for one patronage job when none of them will lift a finger for hundreds of laid off miners. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1411

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

Whereas the development of the Port of Halifax is critical to the economic well-being of the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the federal Liberal Government has failed to honour its commitment to ensure local interests and port users have a strong voice in determining the future of the Port of Halifax; and

Whereas the International Longshoreman's Association, the Halifax Shipping Association and the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce have jointly called on Transport Minister David Collenette to identify terms that are acceptable to the local community for inclusion in the letters patent for the Halifax Port Authority;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately contact both the Prime Minister and Minister Collenette and demand that the federal government adopt the recommendations put forth by the local community for changes to the letters patent.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 2926]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1412

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

Whereas the strident rhetoric of the NDP seems to suggest that they believe that the problems of the Cape Breton Development Corporation and the Cape Breton coal industry will be solved by a plethora of resolutions introduced here in this Legislature; and

Whereas such thinking is so far-fetched from reality that it indicates why their Party would be attractive to the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's; and (Laughter)

Whereas the honourable member and the NDP would make a good pair since both are completely impractical and have no idea of how to run a government;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourages the NDP and the honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's to get on with it and consummate their marriage so that these like minds can operate in happy unison and no longer be separated by the vast space now distancing them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1413

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

[Page 2927]

Whereas the Premier recently made the suggestion that NDP MPs have no sympathy for fishers in this province and that they have not raised fishery issues in the House of Commons; and

Whereas the truth of the matter is that NDP MPs have spoken on behalf of fishers and their families in the House of Commons on many occasions while the Premier, during his time in Ottawa, barely raised the issue at all; and

Whereas the Premier's erroneous comments about NDP MPs is indicative of a far graver misunderstanding of what goes on in Ottawa and a fundamental disrespect to fishers in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the House urge the Premier to think before he speaks and to double-check that his subscription to The Hill Times has been properly renewed.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1414

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

Whereas municipal amalgamation has been a source of ongoing frustration in both the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has had more than enough time to assess the costs and the future needs of the residents of these two municipalities; and

Whereas both the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality have reported huge deficits in the millions of dollars, despite the Liberal Government's assurances that amalgamation would save money;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier disclose fully the true cost of amalgamation to the residents of both of these regions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 2928]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1415

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

Whereas the World Council of Churches 8th Assembly will be held in Harare, Zimbabwe, from November 26th to December 14th; and

Whereas 50 Canadian women from various denominations will be in attendance to celebrate the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women; and

Whereas the United Church Minister for the communities of Timberlea and Goodwood, Eleanor L. Scarlett, will be the only representative from the Maritimes and will also serve as a seminar leader on the topic of Black Spirituality with the Americas;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Eleanor Scarlett, with wishes for a great trip and a meaningful experience.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1416

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

[Page 2929]

Whereas the road to Damascus has yet another traveller, seeking conversion; and

Whereas this well-travelled road is intended to lead to the Promised Land; and

Whereas the member for Chester-St. Margaret's has been down this road before crying, my way or the highway;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's try a trip out Highway No. 103 and face the voters of Chester-St. Margaret's to get the message he has been seeking.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1417

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

Whereas the Human Resources Committee majority rejected the appointment of a Cape Breton coal miner, Brendon MacIntyre, to the Workers' Compensation Board; and

Whereas the United Mine Workers of America were bang on the mark in identifying the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes as quarterbacking this denial; and

Whereas the NDP opposed Brendon MacIntyre's nomination because they wanted Charlene Long, who had been NDP candidate for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough in the 1997 federal election;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP addiction to patronage politics is well-illustrated in this example, for they considered Brendon MacIntyre to be politically incorrect while to them Ms. Long was 100 per cent politically correct.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member of Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1418

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

[Page 2930]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government home page on the World Wide Web provides a direct link to a much-neglected special report entitled Nova Scotia Counts; and

Whereas web surfers and researchers around the world will read there that "One of the key ingredients in moving toward greater fiscal stability is to make sure the budget each year is in balance."; and

Whereas they will read further that "The goal is to maintain a balanced budget," and see a table showing that the budget is balanced this year, a veritable snowstorm of propaganda;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interests of truth in government, the Nova Scotia home page on the World Wide Web should display the government's latest deficit projection and lack of any plan for a balanced budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 1419

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

Whereas the federal government has initiated, through TAGS 2, a buy-back program which is diametrically opposite to what our fishermen are asking for; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's situation differs from other provinces in that the make-up of its fishing fleet is made up of generalists rather than specialists; and

Whereas it is apparent that this plan is geared specifically to please Newfoundland's interests rather than our own;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture demand the federal government allow Nova Scotia to go its own way and not have to play second fiddle to Newfoundland's interest in the application of this buy-back program.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice and the question be put without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 2931]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1420

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

Whereas there is an old saying that if you throw a stone into a pack of dogs and hear a yelp, you know you hit something; and

Whereas many yelps were heard in the House yesterday; and

Whereas this Halloween seems already to be very, very scary for Liberal MLAs;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interest of decency and humane treatment, trick or treaters should refrain from wearing the colour orange when calling upon Liberal MLAs on Saturday night.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on an introduction.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, in the intervening moments since the House opened, a great many more members of the Pictou County community have come into the gallery. I wanted to mention to the House that they are here. There are over 45 of them here this afternoon. I would like to welcome them and ask the House, through you, to welcome them as well. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1421

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

Whereas the provincial election in Quebec is vital to all Canadians; and

Whereas the outcome of the Quebec provincial election may well determine whether Canada survives as a nation; and

[Page 2932]

Whereas the Leader of the New Democratic Party uses the serious issue of the Quebec election as though as it were some matter trivial or of no consequence to Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the New Democratic Party be fully candid and explain to Nova Scotians just who he does hope wins the Quebec election, Jean Charest or his socialist democratic brother, Lucien Bouchard. (Prolonged Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North. (Interruptions)

Order, please! Order. Order.

Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. JERRY PYE: Birds of a feather flock together, I guess. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1422

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that birds of a feather flock together.

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

Whereas the International Year of the Older Person kicked off this month; and

Whereas today, 77 year old astronaut, John Glenn, is making history once again as the most senior crew member on the 123rd manned U.S. space flight; and

Whereas his example is an inspiration for all of us and a reminder that age need not be a barrier but instead should be a measure of experience and wisdom;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature wish John Glenn well in his flight today and that we remind ourselves that the sky is the limit for those of every age who dare to dream.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 2933]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 1423

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

Whereas last week, the last load of concrete was poured in the construction of the new wing of the Western Regional Health Centre in Yarmouth; and

Whereas around 55 people are currently working on the site and that number is expected to grow as work begins on the interior; and

[3:00 p.m.]

Whereas like the announcement of CAT scanners for St. Martha's Hospital in Antigonish and other provincial hospitals, the new hospital wing in Yarmouth will serve as a drawing card in efforts to recruit new physicians to the area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the significant commitment this new hospital wing in Yarmouth represents to health care in the Western Region.

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.

[Page 2934]

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 1424

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

Whereas October is Women's History Month; and

Whereas Women's History Month was created in 1992 to encourage greater awareness of the many contributions and achievements made by women in Canadian history; and

Whereas this year's theme is women in business, celebrating the fact that women-owned businesses employ approximately 175,000 people in the Atlantic Region;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the significance of Women's History Month and the many past and present contributions made by women.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1425

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

Whereas gasoline prices vary from region to region across Nova Scotia and are higher in price than on Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas the Public Utilities Board reviews gasoline prices from time to time on Prince Edward Island; and

[Page 2935]

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities unanimously endorsed, at their annual meeting last week, that a provincially managed authority regulate gasoline prices in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government bring in legislation to allow the Utility and Review Board to have jurisdiction over gasoline prices in Nova Scotia.

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 member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 1426

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

Whereas the member for Chester-St. Margaret's stated publicly that in the western hemisphere, it is difficult to perform as an Independent member of the Legislature; and

Whereas the member for Chester-St. Margaret's is beginning to find his decision to leave the Tory caucus has been bitter-sweet; and

Whereas the member for Chester-St. Margaret's now reacts like a jilted lover and is trying to embrace the socialists on his leap from the far right to the far left;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's take solace as he grapples with his place in this House through an old saying, the saying goes like this, nobody is completely useless, they can always serve as a bad example.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 2936]

RESOLUTION NO. 1427

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

Whereas the Minister of Human Resources is looking at unpaid time off for government employees as a method of saving money; and

Whereas employees have, since 1993, dealt with a wage roll-back, a wage freeze and forced unpaid leave; and

Whereas government employees feel they have not been treated fairly by government;

Therefore be it resolved that for Nova Scotia Government employees, any unpaid leave would be totally and completely voluntary.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1428

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality continues to announce cutbacks to services as it battles an estimated $19.2 million deficit; and

Whereas the HRM will close the beautiful and unique sanctuary, the Public Gardens one month early this year; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Library has shelved its proposal for a much needed new building, because of the financial constraints forced by the HRM deficit;

[Page 2937]

Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize that the short-sightedness of a forced amalgamation has had a severe impact on tourism and culture in Halifax.

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 member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1429

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

Whereas the Shaw Wood manufacturing plan was officially opened at the Cornwallis Park Development Agency; and

Whereas Shaw Wood will manufacture pine furniture for IKEA and will be a cornerstone industry in the Cornwallis Park; and

Whereas it is projected that the plant will employ 120 members of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Shaw Wood and offer best wishes for a long and successful operation.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

[Page 2938]

The honourable member for Halifax-Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 1430

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

Whereas over the past year more than 65 Nova Scotia companies have had their quality systems certified to ISO 9000 standards; and

Whereas this certification required a significant investment in time and money by the companies involved; and

Whereas on Monday, October 26th, each of these companies was awarded the Premier's Commendation Award in recognition of this achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations and best wishes to these companies on this significant achievement and wish them every success in the future.

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 The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1431

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

Whereas the Department of Human Resources has approached the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union about the possibility of voluntary unpaid leave days between Christmas and the new year; and

Whereas this suggestion, if implemented, would save the government money; and

[Page 2939]

Whereas it is critical that any unpaid leave must be voluntary and must be carried out in accordance with the collective agreement;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Human Resources work closely with the NSGEU and that this government resolve not to place the burden of the deficit once again on the backs of public servants.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 1432

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

Whereas interest in the Titanic tragedy has provided the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic with its busiest season in its 16 year history, with numbers up 140 per cent from last year; and

Whereas a major piece of the museum's Titanic exhibit is a scale model of the ill-fated ship handcrafted by Port Hawkesbury carpenter and craftsman, Mark Boudreau; and

Whereas the fine detail in the Titanic model is a trademark of Mr. Boudreau's ship models, many of which have been featured at the Maritime Museum over the years;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on its success, and extend appreciation and thanks to Mark Boudreau for his contribution to preserving Nova Scotia's unique maritime heritage.

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 Kings North.

[Page 2940]

RESOLUTION NO. 1433

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

Whereas the potato industry leaders met recently in Kentville; and

Whereas Hostess Frito-Lay, Farmers, the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, the banking industry, in fact, the entire potato industry was consulted; and

Whereas Hostess Frito-Lay is enjoying an expanding market for these high-quality chips and need more potatoes;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulates the Annapolis Valley potato farmers and Hostess Frito-Lay for combining to create such a viable and expanding industry.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1434

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Development Agency has nominated the S.S. Atlantic Heritage Committee for a provincial community economic development award for Excellence in Co-operation; and

Whereas the S.S. Atlantic Heritage Committee has given of their time freely to make this project such a success; and

[Page 2941]

Whereas this group of volunteers has made a concentrated effort to make this park in Terence Bay a meaningful historical and tourist attraction;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to the S.S. Atlantic Heritage Committee on its nomination and best of luck for this community economic development award.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1435

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

Whereas the NDP is attempting to have Nova Scotians believe that rural Nova Scotia now somehow actually exists; and

Whereas the NDP should understand that rural Nova Scotia has existed longer than any urban area of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas despite trying to convince Nova Scotians that they have found rural Nova Scotia on the map and now feel that roads should be repaired;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP explain to rural Nova Scotians why they ignored them during last winter's election campaign.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 2942]

RESOLUTION NO. 1436

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

Whereas New Democratic socialists attempt to portray themselves as having all the answers when many times they don't even have the questions; and

Whereas the New Democratic socialist grandiose agenda will be paid for by increasing taxes; and

Whereas this Party worries about half-drilled gas wells and turns it back on 70 per cent of Nova Scotians interested in serving on boards, agencies and commissions;

Therefore be it resolved that we congratulate the Leader, Robert Chisholm, for acquiring the Midas touch, everything he touches turns to a muffler.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 1437

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

Whereas there are a number of family members who, justifiably, are extremely upset because their loved ones may be removed from their homes because the criteria used by the Departments of Community Services and Health to assess some seniors' residences have changed since the homes began operations; and

Whereas many of the loved ones being moved from their homes have been long-term residents and are extremely upset about the possibility of being forced out; and

Whereas these seniors' homes have provided the residents with excellent, safe and loving care for many years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Health and Community Services agree to allow these homes to continue to provide care to those residents, according to their wishes, and those of family members and guarantee continuation by grandfathering operations of those homes that have cared for senior citizens successfully under old regulations.

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

[Page 2943]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1438

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 member for Chester-St. Margaret's has stated that he once supported the Liberal Party; and

Whereas the member for Chester-St. Margaret's was elected to this House of Assembly as a Progressive Conservative; and

Whereas the member for Chester-St. Margaret's now sits as an Independent while he begs for membership in the New Democratic Party;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, who has made more moves in a month than Allied but failed to deliver the goods, resign his seat and apply to a local university to teach Political Science 101, the art of survival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

[Page 2944]

RESOLUTION NO. 1439

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

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has no policy to ensure that signs along Nova Scotia's roads are replaced and bushes are cut; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has failed to meet the most basic test for road maintenance of the province's highway system; and

Whereas the only useful function which the high bushes along roadsides are being put to is to hold up the traffic signs which would have fallen over out of government neglect;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly condemn the government for its apparent attempt to change the official tree from the red spruce to the alder bush.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 1440

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

[3:15 p.m.]

Whereas the Village of Maitland recently celebrated its 250th Anniversary; and

Whereas the village was named the province's first heritage conservation district due to its success in incorporating its past with its present through the preservation of its historic houses and its pride in the area's shipyard; and

Whereas Maitland was the site of construction and launching of the W. D. Lawrence, known as the Great Ship, which won a place in history for Maitland and its builder as the largest wooden hulled ship built in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the residents of Maitland, organizers and participants of the village's 250th Anniversary celebrations for taking pride in their community and for honouring its rich history.

[Page 2945]

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1441

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

Whereas concerns over the parking fee implemented by the Northern Regional Health Board at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow was brought earlier today before the legislative Committee on Veterans' Affairs; and

Whereas seniors and veterans and numerous individuals from across Pictou County are opposed to the regional health board's in-the-back-door approach to taxing for something as simple as parking; and

Whereas since the community supported the building and expansion of the Aberdeen Hospital with such an open and generous heart but will now be hindered with future fund-raising initiatives as a result of this parking tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately instill some common sense within the bureaucratic framework of the Northern Regional Health Board and ensure that the parking charge is removed at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 2946]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1442

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

Whereas this year marks the 50th year that the Village of Pugwash has been incorporated, making it the first village to receive this status in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas to honour this unique occasion, the village celebrated its first Pugwash Heritage Day on August 1st of this year; and

Whereas during the August 1st celebration the Pugwash Train Station was designated a Municipal Heritage Site in Cumberland County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize and applaud the residents of Pugwash and the organizers of the Pugwash Heritage Day for demonstrating such pride in the rich history of their community.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 1443

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

[Page 2947]

Whereas the NDP seems to be ready to welcome the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, even though the NDP ran a different candidate in the last election; and

Whereas the NDP have already put their integrity on the shelf by allowing the member for Cape Breton East to stand as a candidate, secretly planning to raise taxes and calling for a balanced budget while introducing spending bills in the tens of millions of dollars; and

Whereas the NDP are proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have no ambition beyond power and they will sink to new lows to gain it;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP agree that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's should resign his seat so the people can decide the fate of the good doctor.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Before moving on to Orders of the Day, I will advise members that the debate this evening at the moment of interruption was submitted by the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill and it reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier act immediately to form an all-Party committee with the mandate to gather information from the working poor of this province so that policies can be developed which will address the very serious issues affecting them.

That will be debated at 6:00 o'clock.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM FACILITIES:

WILDCAT STRIKES - CONTINGENCY PLANS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Out of frustration, nursing home workers at Miners' Memorial Guest Home in Cape Breton are on wildcat strike today and Northwood care workers in Halifax are in a legal strike position. When Northwood workers held a wildcat strike in August the level of care suffered. Meals for elderly residents were hours late, soiled linens were not changed, volunteers, family members and other residents were expected to provide specialized care. This government keeps saying it has a contingency plan.

[Page 2948]

My question for the Premier is simple. What are the details of your government's contingency plans to ensure quality care in the event of widespread strikes in nursing homes across Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure all members of the House that the care of senior citizens in this province is uppermost in the minds of every member of this government. We are very concerned with this, but we cannot give everything everybody would like to have. The fact of the matter is I spoke to the Miners Memorial Manor this morning to see if they were able to cope in view of this illegal walkout, and they said they were able to do so. All we can hope is that the collective bargaining process will resolve these issues.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Health stated that his department is not actively involved in negotiations with workers at long-term care facilities, yet I am being told that the government has, indeed, issued negotiating guidelines to employers, guidelines which suggest that employers should not offer wage parity with workers in acute-care facilities, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . a standard the Premier himself established . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question for the Premier. Will he confirm or deny that his government has, in fact, issued guidelines telling employers not to offer wage parity with acute-care workers?

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

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Just as we have seen this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the NDP would actually trivialize national unity for the sake of political expediency . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: . . . what, in fact, we are dealing with and the pattern that is being established is an attempt by the NDP to pit workers against management. We are committed to full, free collective bargaining, we have a track record to prove it. These things will be settled by agencies and by private sector owners throughout this province.

[Page 2949]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is for the Premier. Long-term care workers and operators are frustrated; residents are frightened; and families and untrained volunteers are overwhelmed by the possibility of having to provide care. Will the Premier remove the restrictions his government has placed on employers and let free collective bargaining take its course?

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

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite talks about fear in the sector. Who is creating fear here today? We have fair and collective bargaining occurring from one end of the province to the other. The Department of Health has committed $21 million to the sector, an additional 400 jobs to the sector, in the interests of serving the seniors of this province, and we will continue to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

EDUC.: PICTOU CO. - SCHOOL CLOSURES

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education. This government has caused unnecessary anguish to the residents of Pictou County, pitting one community against another with school closures and school constructions. My question to the minister. What leadership role is this minister providing for the concerned residents of Pictou County who have travelled here today?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to devolving responsible decision-making to communities. We have seen it in health care, we have seen it in education, and we have seen it in school-community groups. I have met with many of these parents and students here today, who are here to express concern about a decision by a fully elected school board. They have concerns about that decision and about how that decision was arrived, the process that was undertaken, and they have come here to express those concerns today. The member opposite asks, what leadership? We have heard those concerns and will continue to hear those concerns.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, by way of first supplementary back to the minister, I have seen no leadership. Will the minister please tell me and the people of Pictou County who is in charge of our education system, the minister and his department or the school board?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, it is the member opposite's Party that actually amalgamated some 100-plus school trustees into 22. In the belief that amalgamating school boards and working with school boards in partnership was in the best interests of the 164,000 students we have in this province, that kind of leadership is a partnership between the department, fully elected school boards and advisory councils. The member opposite is

[Page 2950]

questioning whether or not those leadership structures work in this province. We are committed to making them work.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, apparently he is not in charge. The minister met very briefly with some representatives of this group today. Will he please tell the House what measures he proposes to take to address their concerns?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we met for about 20 minutes today, we met for some 15 minutes on the sidewalk, we met last week with the East Pictou area parents who were expressing concerns about the process and about the decision. That is their right to do, that is their job. They have elected school board members in their area to serve their interests and in this case, these parents do not believe those interests were served and they have expressed that here in this House.

It is dangerous ground, indeed, for the member opposite to suggest that because a certain decision which has yet to even arrive at the department is one that he dislikes or is concerned about, that he would dismantle school boards in this province the way they have done in New Brunswick.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - PHYSICIANS: RECRUITMENT - STRATEGY DEVELOP

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Yesterday I tabled a copy of a letter to the Minister of Health from the Chairman of the Yarmouth Physician Recruitment Committee. The letter shows that the people in that town are extremely unhappy with the government's recruitment strategy. As I indicated yesterday, I had met with some of those people last Friday and it was clear that they are unhappy with that strategy. Today I want to table a copy of a letter from the Strait- Richmond Recruitment Committee which shows that they have also been extremely unhappy with the strategy being followed by this government and they do not believe this government deserves any credit. I want to ask the Premier, when will the Premier finally undertake, on behalf of this government, to ensure that a new physician recruitment strategy, one more responsive to the needs of the communities, is developed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully and with a great deal of respect to the question put forward by the Leader of the Opposition because evidently he has solved his own physician recruitment problem and his physician shortage in the New Democratic Party caucus is about to be overcome.

[Page 2951]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, that explains a great deal as to why the people of Yarmouth, the people of Amherst and the people of the Strait-Richmond area are in such dire need right now when an issue as important as physician recruitment comes to this floor and the Premier of this province simply dismisses it out of hand.

This government continues to tell us that they have a fabulous recruitment strategy in this province yet yesterday, the Minister of Health indicated well, we have got a few problems in places like Yarmouth, Amherst and a few other communities. Newfoundland has a strategy that attracts doctors to isolated areas. I want to ask the Premier why, when provinces that are more poor than Nova Scotia can attract doctors with less trouble than we have, why does the Premier not even admit that there is obviously a problem with our recruitment strategy?

[3:30 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are communities in Nova Scotia that are having difficulty in recruiting doctors. There is no question about that. We have made gains, this year over last year, in the number of physicians and specialists in rural Nova Scotia. We are hoping to be able to build on that. But as we build on that, there are still going to be doctors leaving and retiring, it is an ongoing problem. Believe me, we are doing everything we possibly can to make sure that every community has an adequate number of doctors.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the crisis I talk about is not just a crisis for rural communities like Amherst and Yarmouth. Perhaps the Premier isn't aware, but this month the tenth doctor this year has left Dartmouth, and there is no one to replace him.

MR. SPEAKER: Question please.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier is this. How can this government offer to the people in difficult rural communities like Yarmouth and Amherst and Springhill, if he can't solve the problem and begin to solve the problem in urban communities like Dartmouth? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Leader of the Opposition referred to a letter from the Strait-Richmond Board, and just in the last few weeks, there have been three new doctors brought to the Strait-Richmond area. That shows that the process is working. It is not working everywhere, but we are going to be continuing to work to do everything we can to make sure there are doctors in every community that needs them. (Applause)

[Page 2952]

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

HUMAN RES. - UNPAID LEAVE: PROPOSAL - INFO.

DR. JOHN HAMM: To the Premier, a few weeks ago, the Premier's Minister of Finance, when trying to come up with some way to correct his horrendous deficit that developed so dramatically in a matter of months, talked about restricting purchases, he talked about unpaid leave and he talked about restricting of travel. Now the Premier has been talking about unpaid leave. I wonder if the Premier would explain to the members of the House and the members of the public sector, what exactly he is talking about. What days, what unpaid leave, what are the details?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there has been no formal policy set yet, but the key word is voluntary. It has been proposed that perhaps during the holiday season, there would be the voluntary option to members of the Civil Service not to work for a certain length of time, of which a portion of that length of time would be paid.

DR. HAMM: The Premier's answer was somewhat devoid of any real detail. It would seem to me that there is an objective in all of this, because the Minister of Finance clearly said that he wants to save some $30 million, and part of that would be saved by unpaid leave. It suddenly occurred to me, we talked about Savage days, I guess we are talking about Russell's rest days. Will the Premier confirm whether or not quotas have been set to meet the objectives of the Minister of Finance as he tries to balance his unbalanced budget?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is not even a firm proposal. I can't give the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party any details, because there isn't a firm proposal. There certainly is no objective of any saving. We can't possibly anticipate, even if it was a proposal, how many would be interested in talking this leave.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, if these are the kinds of plans that are going to be utilized to balance the budget, then the Minister of Finance is going to have an unbalanced budget for some time to come. My final supplementary to the Premier, will this Premier commit unequivocally that this program will be entirely voluntary and that there will be no persuasion used within government departments to do other than a voluntary unpaid leave?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, without any hesitation, I give my absolute commitment that if there is a program like this, it would be voluntary. I also give my commitment that we will not force leave on any civil servant in the Province of Nova Scotia. They have a collective agreement. It is important that the civil servants maintain respect for the collective bargaining process in Nova Scotia and we are going to do everything as a government to make sure that respect is justified.

[Page 2953]

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

EDUC. - P3: BEECHVILLE-LAKESIDE-TIMBERLEA -

SITE SELECTION

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Mr. Minister, on September 2nd, you met with me, the school board representative from my area and the two representatives from the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea School Action Committee. At that time, and during that meeting, you assured us that the wishes of the community would be listened to when building their long-awaited school. My question to the minister. Can you reassure my constituents that his introduction of a private partner into school construction in our community will not have an adverse effect on the wishes of the community?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I have been informed that the Armoyan Group has used its position as part of the site selection committee to attempt to convince the local committee to choose an Armoyan site as the site for the new school. The Armoyan land was not on the short list but the Armoyan Group had told . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: . . . the committee to choose this or miss your school.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: The site selection committee has been blindfolded.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question. Has the site selection committee wasted its time, Mr. Speaker, and are you willing, Mr. Minister, to intervene on behalf of the community to put an end to any attempts by the Armoyans to get the committee to agree?

MR. HARRISON: In an effort to score political points, Mr. Speaker, the NDP will try and drive wedges between urban and rural, between private sector and the public. The member opposite full well knows . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question.

[Page 2954]

MR. HARRISON: Answer the question, says the NDP member over there. The member opposite full well knows that tonight in his riding a meeting of that committee will take place and he full well knows that the recommendation for site is an arm's length recommendation from a committee established by the board, to the board and then to the department, and that that will be a full, public meeting this evening in his community.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, you are aware of that meeting. Could you please be in attendance?

MR. HARRISON: Once again, Mr. Speaker, the Party that believes in devolving authority, in devolving authority from Halifax and the capital out into the rural areas, the minute that there is a hint of anything that the public might not be able to stand, they will wade in and take that power back and make sure that the right decisions are made. I have confidence in that community. I have confidence in that board, and I have confidence in the process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - EAST PICTOU: SCHOOL CLOSURE - HEARING

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, for all the things that the minister has said about devolving responsibility, this government has stuck its nose into school construction and school closing decisions at every opportunity, so they could give expensive contracts and deliver P3 schools to their friends. At the same time, they have said that they consult, consult, consult. My question to the minister, since he already has his nose so far in there . . .

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

MS. O'CONNELL: . . . is he satisfied that the citizens of East Pictou had a full and fair opportunity to be heard?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite full well knows that the responsibility of fully elected school boards is an attempt to make decisions whether it is capital or operating, whether it is staffing or the provision of resources, to make sure that each and every child in this province receives the finest quality education in this country. Is the member opposite suggesting for a moment that this province should consider the strategy of New Brunswick, to abandon school boards, to do away with them, because if she is, I would be interested to hear her solution. If it is to eliminate school boards because she disagrees with the decision, then have her say so on the floor.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I heard the minister say there was a partnership here. That is not what I heard him just say. In the course of all these discussions with the Chignecto school board, the citizens of other communities were heard and the board responded. My

[Page 2955]

question is will the minister show that leadership and work with the board to make sure that the voice of East Pictou is heard?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, at the meeting we held just 10 days ago, I believe, with members of the East Pictou community, representing the interests of their community, we heard two things, that they felt that the process which had been put forth did not welcome their ideas. They described a criticism of the process and they described what they felt would be criticism of an impending decision. Members of the school board, members of the department and parents sat down in a room to examine those concerns. That is partnership, Mr. Speaker.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I just heard the minister say that he did intervene. Well, they are back. They are here now. They are not gone yet and they are not happy. Will the minister right now agree to sit down with them again, stop just hearing, and do something?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is a difference I think between what the member opposite would describe as intervention and what has been described as a process for hearing the concerns of people. That responsibility is a responsibility of the board. It is a responsibility of this department. These people came today to express some concerns and those concerns have been heard. They know full well that additional concerns can be expressed both at the board level and to this ministry.

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

HEALTH - NORTHWOOD MANOR: RESIDENTS - RESPONSIBILITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. As of 1:00 p.m. tomorrow, 430 personal care workers, practical nurses, kitchen staff and maintenance workers will be in a legal strike position at Northwood Manor. Would you tell members of the House how many of the residents of Northwood Manor are your responsibility?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would defer to the Acting Minister of Health. Northwood Manor comes under the Department of Health.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think the member's question is, are those who reside in Northwood Manor the responsibility of the Department of Health. They are the responsibility of Northwood Manor and the Department of Health as a partner with Northwood Manor.

[Page 2956]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Acting Minister of Health has said that there is shared responsibility which, unfortunately, with this government often covers a multitude of sins. My question to the Acting Minister of Health is, how will you as Acting Minister of Health perform your responsibility to those residents who are in Northwood Manor, those 500 residents . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. HAMM: . . . after 1:00 p.m., Friday, whenever the legal strike occurs?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, first of all, we all hope that no strike occurs. That is the first. We have a track record of at least six agencies and private homes that have already bargained in good faith and produced results. We have an unfortunate situation of a membership not accepting their own union's recommendation. Northwood Manor is responsible for their residents. They have a plan in the event that things do not work out. The important thing here is to, and they will assure their residents and are doing so, that care will continue. I think the important thing for this House is that we hope that fair collective bargaining will produce a result at 1:00 p.m. on Friday.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Acting Minister of Health, the substance of his answer is he hopes there is not a strike. My question is, what contingency plan do you have, bearing in mind you have admitted a shared responsibility with Northwood Manor, give us the details of the contingency plan that will give some sense of comfort to the 500 residents of Northwood Manor?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, not only to the residents of Northwood Manor but to their families and others who are concerned about a labour disruption, first of all, the department has committed more than $21 million to the home care sector to ensure that fair collective bargaining results in every single one of the institutions, that is part of the answer. The question is, is there a contingency plan; Northwood Manor has such a plan. They are reassuring their residents and their families that quality care will continue in the event of a disruption. We hope there will be no disruption.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

EDUC. - RURAL HIGH SCHOOLS (SMALL):

FUNDING - ALTERNATIVE

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Minister of Education. The minister is probably familiar with the Small High Schools Task Force Report of 1993 and in that it showed the value of keeping small rural high schools in Nova

[Page 2957]

Scotia. Certainly if they are going to be viable in this province, they need funding based on a different system and it is called program funding. My question, is the department willing to look at a different funding arrangement for small rural high schools so that quality education can be ensured for all rural Nova Scotians?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education works with the school boards, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and the Department of Finance every year. That group, that formula review working group looks at all factors related to quality education in the province and recommended that $117 million needed to be reinvested in the public education system. In the last budget alone, more than $100 million was reinvested in the public schools of Nova Scotia.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, small rural high schools are important in this province and another aspect of keeping our rural schools open is bussing and the recent decision on schools that came down in Pictou County is that there be additional bussing required certainly for regional schools and for small rural high schools. Is the department willing to help fund the extra cost of bussing for both regional schools and small rural high schools?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, again we take very seriously the recommendations that come from school boards that relate to all aspects. One has to look from the child back at the school board and the ministry to ensure there is fair and equitable education from one end of Nova Scotia to the other. Transportation is an important factor in the overall, close to $750 million, budgeted by this province for its children.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Education. The issues of rural schools are certainly very important to Nova Scotians and that is certainly evidenced here today. In our galleries we have a lot of residents from the East Pictou rural area, in fact, we have 48 different communities represented from East Pictou. My question to the minister is they still want to hear from you and they want some answers on small rural schools and so I am asking, what is your position on helping East Pictou rural high schools?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, one thing we are not going to do is stoop to the low degree that the New Democratic Party chooses to pit urban versus rural. We are concerned about children from one end of Nova Scotia to the other. We want them to have the finest education in this country and we will work with our partners to deliver that quality education.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - NURSING HOMES: SENIORS - REMOVAL

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Community Services. The minister is still yanking seniors out of nursing homes in spite of the fact that many of these homes are providing a safe and healthy

[Page 2958]

environment to the residents. Case in point, Rocking Chair Haven in Beaver Brook, Colchester County. The recent fire marshal's report revealed no infractions, a clean slate. Will the minister immediately issue a cease and desist order regarding these predatory and hostile actions that her department is taking? Will she further wait until the Standing Committee on Community Services finishes holding their hearings across the province and reports back?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think if there is any yanking back it ought be with that honourable member opposite to get a reality check around safety and life issues. For the purposes of safety and the record, I want to tell you about a letter that I am willing to table here from the Nova Scotia Association of Health Care Organizations, who happen to say that they applaud the Department of Community Services for stepping forward and doing what they have to do to protect the well-being and the safety of residents cared for in our homes. I would like to table that.

MR. TAYLOR: Seeing as how we are tabling letters, Mr. Speaker, I have a letter here today too from Dr. Robert D. Graham. Dr. Robert Graham is the medical doctor for a resident, and his patient in Williams Nursing Home, in Hilden, Colchester County. Williams Nursing Home has also received a green light from the fire marshal's office.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, the question is this, Mr. Speaker, does the minister disagree, when the doctor of the patient says, I see this lady frequently, and it is my opinion that the care is appropriate, I therefore feel that it would be inappropriate to remove this 86 year old lady to another community and facility. A doctor, her physician says that, how can she argue with that?

MRS. COSMAN: I am obviously not going to comment on a doctor's comment. I am not going to comment on an individual in the care of any of these homes. But I will comment that if as a result of the Act's enforcement, there are individuals who are required to move to alternative care settings where their needs will be more appropriately met, then this may be an indication that (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MRS. COSMAN: . . . the previous provider was not able to meet those needs.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could you make a very brief quote, and that is it.

MRS. COSMAN: That is from the workers who are providing the front-line care.

[Page 2959]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, during nighttime, the ratio in some of the licensed nursing homes is 1 employee to 20 residents. I commend the employees at the licensed nursing homes. They work very hard under very trying conditions, but the ratio on average in a small options home is 1 personal care worker to 4 residents. Does the minister not admit that the lower ratio is more likely to provide the seniors with a greater degree of safety and care?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite again doesn't know the difference between four residents in care and three residents in care. If there are four in care, they are breaking the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

EDUC. - ENFIELD/ELMSDALE: SCHOOL (P-5) NEW - CLARIFY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, through you I will direct my question to the Minister of Education. The communities of Enfield and Elmsdale, both historically have had a Primary to Grade 5 school. The minister should know Enfield was promised its Primary to Grade 5 school, and I have a letter from the deputy minister stating that in June, that the new school in Enfield would be a Primary to Grade 5. During a meeting on October 8th in Milford, Dave White of his department said the deputy minister was wrong, and the school in Enfield would be a Grade 3 to Grade 5. My question to the minister is, why was Mr. White saying one thing and the deputy minister saying another?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the question of school configuration in the area that the member describes is the responsibility primarily of the school board. It is the school board's intention to work with the communities to determine what is in the best interests of the children. The issue is being examined by those communities with the board, and a recommendation will follow that is in the best interests of the children of that area.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, to the minister again, it was stated in this meeting on October 8th that the original release by the department was a misprint. Other documents sent to me from his department, six months after, refer to this school as being a Primary to Grade 5 school. My question, will the minister clear up the confusion within his own department and tell us what grades the new Enfield school will host?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to explain to the member opposite and perhaps he is not hearing, but the board is sitting down with the community to determine what is in the best interests of their children. That is taking place in many communities across Nova Scotia. It is precisely what should take place, parents working with the board, in the best interests of their children.

[Page 2960]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table these documents. My question to the minister is, will he come out to my constituency and listen to the communities, instead of trying to confuse the people about what his department is planning?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, one has to question, who is trying to confuse whom here? The parents are sitting down with the board to determine what is in the best interests of their children. They are in the position to recommend to the department, the renovations or new construction that is necessary to serve those very children for many years to come. It is happening in communities across Nova Scotia. Parents are pleased with the process.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: In fact, even some of the members opposite in the Opposition Party are pleased . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Next question.

The honourable member for Argyle.

COAST GUARD - SERVICE CUTBACKS: PROTECTION - ENSURE

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. In the past days and weeks in this province there has been the news that there have been cutbacks with regard to Coast Guard service. Can the Premier inform the House today what he has done to ensure both the protection of our coastline and, I guess, even more importantly, the safety of the people of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are still trying to get further information. This is a concern. There is no question that Nova Scotia is a province with a very long coastline and we have to be assured that the people who go to sea are going to have every facility they can to guard their safety. So we are still looking into this and we will be able to get back to the honourable member, hopefully before too long.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in the reports that came out today there are reports even from union members who operate on these Coast Guard vessels were very concerned about their own safety and the decline in numbers. The fact of the matter is that up to half of the casual employees of the Coast Guard will be laid off, according to the reports, and three vessels are supposed to be tied up during the winter months. Mr. Premier, I think all Nova Scotians would like to have the people operating in safe conditions and I implore him today to make representations to the federal government to ensure that the funding levels are there so that people can serve the Province of Nova Scotia in relative safety and provide the services required.

[Page 2961]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will give the honourable member that assurance because I share his concern in this regard.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in addition to the comments that are brought forward, I represent many fishermen in this province and they are concerned about the fact that the Coast Guard is aligned with DFO and that it also become a consequence that there be less monitoring of illegal activities in this province. I think that the Premier should emphasize to his federal counterparts that this has many applications and the Coast Guard has to be in place in this province to provide the services.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, certainly one of the jobs of the Coast Guard is to guard the coastline against the importation of illicit drugs and that is something that we have to consider, certainly if the Coast Guard is to be reduced.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

EDUC.: O'CONNELL DR. SCHOOL - OVERCROWDING

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In his report on July 21st of this year on the O'Connell Drive Elementary School lease, the Auditor General indicated that there were many important aspects of the arrangements which he had concerns about, such as the impact of education on students and the economy of the province that he did not address in his report. This school originally was constructed to accommodate only 350 students. At the present value of $8.3 million, my question to the minister is, can the minister indicate to this House why there is currently overcrowding at this school where there are now 442 students, Grade 6 is in the art room and Grade 3 is now in the music room. Can the minister answer this question for me?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the school was built for 440 students and has roughly 460 in it, but the larger question is, what is this government's commitment to making sure that the 461 schools in the province are kept up to date in terms of their replacement, their renovation and modernization in terms of equipment? We have committed enough funds for the leases for at least 31 new schools and enough money for the renovation of 60 others in an effort to make sure our children have the finest facilities in which to learn.

MS. ATWELL: No new students are allowed to attend O'Connell Drive School unless they live in the existing subdivision, yet this is a new area of growth where young people come to live. There is also extra space at the school for four classrooms, however, this school is now at the bottom of the list because of the nine new schools. My question to the minister is, will the minister explain why the board would not only not be able to meet the current needs of the school but did not contemplate or see last year, one year ago, that the school was going to be overcrowded?

[Page 2962]

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite is trying to get me to answer a question which says how good is our planning, how good is the board's planning. The answer to that I have answered to a number of questions this afternoon. Boards are sitting down with their planners, their public, their communities, to design new schools and to renovate others. We have committed the funds to help them do that and we will ensure that new schools are provided or renovated in time to serve the children.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my final question is, the Auditor General points out that the leasing arrangements of the O'Connell Drive Elementary School do not include provisions for technology refreshment. The school is now overcrowded. There are not enough computers in the school any more. So, therefore, my question to the minister is, can the minister explain to this House how he expects to deal with the mess of costs to these students and the board at O'Connell Drive Elementary School?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, once again, we see an example of pitting private sector versus public sector interest - a classic pattern of the NDP - pitting one group in this province against another. And it is all done for political purpose. It is a shame because this province needs to harness the energy of its private and public sector to serve our children and we are proud of doing that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - HFX. REG. SCHOOL BD.: DEFICIT - ACTION

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to ask a question through you to the Minister of Education. Mr. Minister, the school board deficit of the Halifax Regional School Board is projected halfway through the year to be $6.3 million. What will the minister be doing about that deficit?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the boards are responsible for balanced budgets, not unlike this province. They are also responsible (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: I would not be too quick to talk about financial legacy, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: Neither Party has much of a track record. (Interruption)

[Page 2963]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HARRISON: The board, Mr. Speaker, is undertaking steps to bring its budget under control.

MR. FAGE: Thank you to the minister for that response but I think the minister should maybe collect his thoughts and remember back to the estimates of the budget for the Department of Education, when the minister guaranteed this House, in this spring session, that he was proud to put more money into education to ensure that no boards had a deficit.

What are you going to do about the deficit? You are the one that guaranteed the money, that there would not be a deficit this year?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, thanks to this government's action over the past five years, we have more significantly improved the debt to GDP ratio for this province than any other jurisdiction in Canada, including the nation, and that is fiscal responsibility. Members opposite, I caution them not to go back too far, going back much before 1993, things start to get cloudy. The answer is we have been able to invest over $100 million in our children because of good fiscal management.

MR FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the minister fails to address the situation. He told this House in estimates that he was providing the money to ensure there would be no deficits to the school boards. There is a deficit showing. He has a responsibility to make sure that deficit does not translate to the school board. What is he going to do about it?

MR. HARRISON: There is a pattern, Mr. Speaker. Every time a board announces something by way of a problem, both of these Parties are quick to grab the power back, you know, in New Brunswick, we will just eliminate them. That will solve the problem. They have a responsibility. They will live up to their responsibility. We have a responsibility and because of good fiscal management we are investing in the children of this province. I would put our record up against their record any day of the week.

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

EDUC. - EASTERN PASSAGE JHS: COMPLETION - DATE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is as well to the Minister of Education. In September the Department of Education announced the construction of P3 schools for the Halifax Regional School Board. Indeed, that same day the Department of Education put out a press release stating that the urgent schools would be built by September 1999. One of your staff people, I should say to the Minister of Education, stated the next day that it was up to the school board to decide which schools would be urgent and which ones would not be built by September 1999.

[Page 2964]

So my question to the Minister of Education through you, Mr. Speaker, is can the Minister of Education confirm to this House today whether or not Eastern Passage Junior High School, the new one, will be built by September 1999?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: It is amazing, Mr. Speaker. It is amazing. For months we are doing all the wrong thing. Now the question is are we doing it quickly enough, are we working with our boards. I will be pleased to provide the member opposite with regular updates on the construction schedule. We made sure that the money was there to make sure that the schools that were needed were delivered.

It is the member opposite's own Leader that tried to describe that certain schools in certain areas were his priority for fast track, not for the communities, Mr. Speaker. We are proud to work with our partners. We will make sure schools are delivered all over this province.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: For the record, he didn't answer my question, Mr. Speaker, but I will go on to the next one, again, through you, to the Minister of Education. In order to meet current and future population demands in Eastern Passage, that new junior high school must have 24 classrooms. It has come to my attention that the school being built only has 14 classrooms. My question to the Minister of Education is, can he confirm in this House today that they are building a school too small for the needs of Eastern Passage?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I have already told him that we would provide him with all the detail necessary on every project because we are proud of the process. The process is communities and boards working together; if it is new school construction, with the private sector, to deliver programs for their children. They are doing so with projected enrolments out 5, 10 and even 15 years. So I would be happy to provide the member opposite with the details.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, we saw in the spring the problems caused by overcrowding in our communities, in particular Eastern Passage. They have been forced to endure split shifts and the way that this minister is going, he will make them endure it even longer.

My question to the Minister of Education, is he condemning Eastern Passage to permanent split shifts?

MR. HARRISON: Once again, Mr. Speaker, in the interest of political points, we are going to pit one community against another. This government doesn't do that. This government is not selective in terms of which community needs what. We examine with our boards the entire problem. Let me give you an example. I will table a letter from his colleague (Interruption)

[Page 2965]

AN HON. MEMBER: Table it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: Listen to the letter.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member is not going to read a letter. He may table it.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

COMMUN. SERV.:

SECURE TREATMENT CENTRE (TRURO-BIBLE HILL) - STATUS

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Community Services. In recent times, your department issued a report entitled, "Too Good to Lose", which talked about training facilities for young offenders and others here in Nova Scotia. In that report, it was strongly recommended that a secure treatment centre for young people be built or be established, and it be established on the site of the former Nova Scotia Residential Centre in the Town of Truro. Will the minister please confirm for me and the residents of my constituency and the members of this House that that project is going ahead?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, once again, I think if the honourable member searches back through his memory, he will know that my answer today is no different than it was in the spring sitting of the House. Yes, we are committed to secure treatment. We aren't looking at any other site.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, you then, Minister, are committing to build that facility on the site of the former Nova Scotia Residential Centre. Last spring, in response to a question, you indicated there were some structural deficiencies in the building which were preventing you from going ahead. Have those structural deficiencies be remedied?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, they have not been remedied. They have been identified through a process of extensive engineering assessment.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my final question, again, for the Minister of Community Services. Will she be prepared to table in this House a timetable which indicates when those structural deficiencies will be repaired and when that centre will open?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the members of this House that when we dealt with the report, "Too Good to Lose", we looked at putting in place the structures that would help us keep these children closer to home as a foundation for moving forward to secure treatment. That is where we are today.

[Page 2966]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - AMHERST RHS: BUILDER (N.B.) SELECTION -

CONSULTATION (SPRINGHILL CC) FAILURE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. It was recently announced that the Moncton-based Oulton Business College has been selected by the New Brunswick-based private construction firm building the P3 regional high school at Amherst. My question for the minister. Why didn't the province consult with the Springhill Community College about what it could contribute to the new high school?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there are community decisions going on with respect to the private sector final disposition of the partners at that school. There are discussions going on with communities in this province and I am confident, once again, that those communities will make sound decisions in the best interests of their communities and their children.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister probably knows that the Springhill Community College has a capacity for 300 students and it has only 200 students in it. In a letter on September 10th, he indicated he would look into this to ensure that the private school would not compete with the local community college. My question is how does he propose to determine that the Oulton Business College will not compete with the existing community college campus?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about competition. The member opposite will know full well that with 7,000 or 8,000 full-time and 12,000 part-time students in our community college system and another 6,500 in our private system, we have all kinds of capacity needs for the training of our young people. If our communities are making good decisions to ensure that the youth and workers, and those in community college and high school, are going to get good educational opportunities beyond graduation, then I am all for them and we will work with them to ensure that our workforce, our young people, get the best training in the country.

MS. O'CONNELL: That is just lovely, Mr. Speaker, except the report by GTA Consultants released last week said the Nova Scotia Community College is on the brink of financial crisis, beginning in 1999. I ask the minister, why won't he acknowledge that profit-driven, commercialized P3 schooling is in direct conflict with the existing publicly-funded community college?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the report she refers to does not even include the investment made last year in our community college system, along with our university system, along with our public school system; in other words, an unprecedented commitment to publicly-funded education in this province.

[Page 2967]

Mr. Speaker, I will table a letter and I will read the paragraph that is appropriate here: "While my Party's opposition to your method of building schools is well-known, the situation in my constituency is so desperate that I urge you to follow through with your government's construction promises as soon as possible.". That is from a member of the NDP caucus. (Applause)

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

EDUC. - WHYCOCOMAGH HS: STUDENTS - RELOCATION

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is, as well, to the honourable Minister of Education. The Strait Regional School Board has proposed that the Grade 9 to Grade 12 students from Whycocomagh High School be relocated to the new P3 school in Mabou. The parents have a number of concerns, including safety issues re travelling that distance, and the fact that the student body will be moved from the school and from the community. Can the minister explain what he believes the role to be of small schools in rural Nova Scotia?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we are committed to the quality education of all our children. There are success stories from one end of this province to the other, at high school and junior high school levels. The parents of this community have a tremendous involvement in their school and the children are learning well in this school community, and they are in discussions with their board about their future.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the minister indicated, Whycocomagh school has a constant enrolment, excellent education and parents who want their kids in this school. A community study was done, led by Dr. Theresa MacNeil and, after a whole winter of consultation, the parents still say they want their kids to remain there. Can the minister explain to this House why a good, small rural school seems to have no place?

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, when I visited the school and sat down in the Grade 11 and Grade 12 classrooms with those students, you can feel the respect in that school between students, between staff and students, between the many community members who are in volunteering. It is an excellent school. The school boards of this province are attempting to look down the road at the future, they are building a new high school in Inverness and that high school will serve children for many years to come. The school boards of this province are delivering quality education to the children of Nova Scotia.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier met with the parents from Whycocomagh, in fact twice, and he encouraged this group to meet with their superintendent. To me, that would sound as if he was encouraging them along their route. My question to the

[Page 2968]

Premier this time, is this another case where he is making a commitment to a community that he is not able to keep?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I met with them twice and I will be meeting with them again before Christmas, that was my commitment to them.

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

TECH. & SC. SEC'T. - Y2K PROBLEM: FUNDING - COMMITMENT

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I could not help but notice yesterday when the question was asked regarding the millennium bug problem that there was no answer and that the minister who was responding was more interested in hurling insults than he was in directing an answer to the question. The question I have for the Premier is how much money has been committed by the government to address this very serious problem since it affects not only every Nova Scotian, but every Canadian and every department within every government in this country?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. (Interruptions)

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am trying to speak. I am somewhat overwhelmed by all the congratulatory remarks from across the House. The member opposite talks about hurling insults. Was it not two days ago that he criticized the opening of a new business in his area and just today read a resolution in support of it? Is that what the member opposite is suggesting?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I did not criticize the business opening, I merely indicated that the funding would have to go toward paying a bill. In any event, my second supplementary question would be to the Premier. Would the Premier confirm to me, with time running out, that the Department of Health has already given over to the fact that not everything can be fixed? Is it true that X-ray machines and ultrasounds, for example, will not be ready for the turn of the century when the millennium bug comes into effect and that officials in the Department of Health are just at this point concentrating on life saving mechanisms?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure I heard the comment about whether he is for or against the Shaw Group, I did not hear that. We said over and over again that essential services of this province from department to department, out in the private sector

[Page 2969]

in the communities, people are taking steps to ensure that essential services are protected and provided for at the turn of the century.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is for the Premier. Would the Premier provide details to this House this afternoon concerning the secret meeting held all day Friday, October 23rd, between senior policy analysts within the government to discuss the potentially dangerous situation, keeping in mind that the military and the RCMP nation-wide have cancelled leave? What measures have been put in place to ensure that we do not have a crisis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer this question to the honourable Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have indicated that each department has a management structure for dealing with the risk management analysis and the corrective steps necessary to ensure that essential services are looked after and that the government does its part. We will be pleased to provide the member opposite with any and all detail as that work progresses.

MR. SPEAKER: We only have about ten seconds left so we will consider the Question Period finished for today.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs for an introduction.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, through you and to all members of the House I would like to introduce, sitting in the east gallery, the Clerk of the Municipality of Argyle, accompanied by his wife, Robert Thibeau and his wife Janice. I would ask all members of the House to welcome them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader on an introduction.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, seated today in the east gallery, presently talking to a distinguished minister of this government, is a good personal friend of mine from Cape Breton, Ken Langley, who, as you and members opposite would know, is a former executive assistant to a former Premier of this province, a distinguished Cape Bretoner, Ken Langley. Would you give him a warm welcome please. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 2970]

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 38 - Private Career Colleges Regulation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Debate was adjourned by the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill. I believe you had about 10 minutes of debate, so you have about 50 minutes left.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to continue speaking about this bill, which talks about regulating private career colleges. I said the other day that I had supported the bill on principle, and I think it is a laudable thing, as most members of my caucus do. However, I did indicate that one of the things that I unfortunately felt, and I suppose I could thank my own constituency of Truro-Bible Hill for the great number of high-tech colleges that are springing up, private trade schools. We had been promised by this government that a high-tech school to end all high-tech schools would replace the former Nova Scotia Teachers College, and of course, that really didn't materialize.

Mr. Speaker, continuing on, the other day when I had stopped, I was talking about individual regulations in the bill, and I would like to continue on with that. A number of the clauses in the bill are good ones and make common sense and, indeed, I think would be the practice even if they weren't in the bill. If they weren't in practice, I don't think the school would operate for very long.

However, turning to the Clause 26, where it talks about the composition of the private career college board, it says that that is going to be appointed by the Governor in Council, and people are going to be appointed for three years. I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, where are these people going to come from and what will their backgrounds be? The record of the government in appointing community boards for the past five years, or more than five years, has not really always been laudatory, and occasionally one would actually question if political affiliation may have been substituted for competence when some of these appointments were made.

I would hope that the minister and the Governor in Council, if they make these appointments, that they will do so, not before they consult widely with particular groups in the province. Those particular groups would probably include the community colleges because, in some ways, the private trade schools would be partners in an educational system of that type and also with the universities. The reason I say that, it was in the paper earlier this week, or perhaps I heard it on the radio, where one of the high-tech computer schools in

[Page 2971]

Nova Scotia was actually partnering with Dalhousie University and offering a Masters or a graduate study in conjunction with that university.

Mr. Speaker, the functions of the board are varied. One of the things it says, trying to determine which comes first, it says the minister has the right, basically, to cancel or suspend certificates, and then the institution that has had their certificate suspended or cancelled has the right to appeal to the board. I would wonder, Mr. Speaker, how effective the board might be, if it is not sort of at arm's length from the government, indeed if it is the minister who makes the decision to suspend or cancel the licence of a particular operation, if all the members of the board which was going to hear the appeal were appointed by the minister that would probably leave some question as to how fair or how objectively the appeal might be dealt with.

I can remember, just as a parallel to this, which perhaps illustrates what I am talking about, when I was an inspector of schools, when they used to suspend students from school one of the school boards had a Suspension Committee which consisted of the chair of the school board, the chair of the Education Committee and one other member. When this suspension was appealed, they would appeal to the whole board but, fortunately or unfortunately, the members who made the original suspension were members of the board which held the appeal. One would be led to perhaps conclude that it may not have been an entirely objective process when the appeal went forth. I give that as an illustration to indicate that in the appeal process, if it is the minister who suspends the licence or cancels it and a board which is appointed by the ministry and filled with ministry officials, the chances of an objective appeal at least may give the appearance of objectivity being in question.

The next thing I would like to comment on, Mr. Speaker, is something called the Training Completion Fund, to be established as a special fund of the province, as defined in the Provincial Finance Act. The fund consists of fees that operators are required by the regulations to pay into the fund. Well I guess there has to be some sort of a fund set up. This is the intent of this thing, I think, for the province to set up some sort of a surety bond so that if schools do not live up their obligations, such as in the case of the Atlantic Career Aviation Academy, that there is some recourse and it won't be left to the government itself and governments also are requested to bail out private enterprises.

I would say, Mr. Speaker, that I have received two submissions about Clause 33. Unfortunately, they are not consistent. One said that they were afraid that if this security bond, or the Training Completion Fund which has to be paid by the employer, was too much, it was going to really damage, and, let's face it, most of these things are in operation for profit, that it would damage the profitability of the company.

The other comment said it would be paid by students. Students are paying too much now and if it is added onto their bill, it will create an undue hardship on students. Well, as I said, one on the employer and one on the students, but the fact of the matter is that we all

[Page 2972]

know that is going to be passed on to the student one way or another, it is immaterial. So I am saying, Mr. Speaker, that what these people are concerned about is that some common sense be used in setting this fee so that it doesn't hinder the students or the operator. In other words, if we go back later in the bill we can see something about the government taking the initiative to stick their nose into tuition fee in that there is a maximum tuition fees and it can't then be passed on to the student if that should ever happen, then it is going to go on the operator.

There are some schools in this province, believe it or not, that are going to be reckoned under this bill or are going to fall under this bill which are not-for-profit institutions. In the construction of this bill, I think when the people drafted it they were talking about and using the words private trade schools, career academies, career colleges, private career colleges, they did not do it with the understanding that there were some basically not-for-profit institutions in this province that are going to be covered by it.

When the bill is being reviewed, I hope the government sees it is reviewed and some thought be given to the not-for-profit institutions that are going to be covered by it.

[4:30 p.m.]

Continuing on with the fund, in Clause 33(4), "Subject to the approval of the Department of Finance, the Minister . . .", or board, ". . . may make direct payments out of the Fund . . .". It was interesting, both submissions that were given to me, Mr. Speaker, did indicate that they were rather suspicious of the government playing around with the monies in this fund. They, perhaps, were implying that the financial record of the Minister of Finance and his colleagues might not have been too starry in the last little while and they were a little leery of providing them with the ability to spend that money, particularly that it is not theirs in the first place and is paid by the private trade schools.

What they were suggesting is that the minister not be allowed to do this unilaterally, but that there would have to be some mechanism built in here for this board, assuming that the board is not just a clone of the government policy, and that it have some input into seeing how those funds are expended. I would hope, again, that when this bill continues on through the legislative process, that some recognition will be made of this and, indeed, perhaps an amendment can take place.

Nothing is more contentious, I think, than trust funds that are totally administered by government and this is the same question that was raised, as you know, in the debate on the Financial Measures Act over the union thing, the clause with the pension holiday, that this not be left entirely to the government.

[Page 2973]

I was looking too, Mr. Speaker, at the regulations that the government may make. Now, in general, I think I believe that in most cases less government is often good government - the less we have the better off we are - but I was looking at this lengthy list of regulations. Let me just go through some of these things where I would wonder why the government would think they have the expertise to do this or, secondly, perhaps even why they might wish to get involved in it.

Clause 37(1)(c), "prescribing the minimum number of hours of instruction in any occupation that constitutes a course of instruction in that occupation;". Now, we had enough problems with that in the public schools, trying to prescribe the number of hours in a course of instruction. I just don't think that the province is going to have all that much expertise.

One of the things that is supposed to happen to these, as I understand this bill, is that any course of study that goes forward is supposed to be subject to external verification; in other words, it is going to be externally accredited. The department is going to be administering this. I would see that probably, if the thing was going to be accredited, sent out for external evaluation - I have done this with courses of study - one of the things you talk about is the projected length of time. The other thing, of course, as everybody knows, is there are different ways to do things, and length is not necessarily the only way we can measure. The time to accomplish something varies from individual to individual.

Another thing which caused some concern to those people who spoke to me was Clause 37(1)(b), "prescribing the accommodation and equipment required by private career colleges and the means of instruction to be used;". Now, I understand that clearly they are interested in seeing that quality takes place but, again, I can't see that the minister is really going to have the time or the knowledge to make such a determination. It seems to me, as desirable as it is, it may not be practical, and I am not sure if the ministry may even be interested in doing that.

When I looked at all these regulations, as desirable as they are, I would like to see them re-examined, Mr. Speaker, because it looked to me as though they wanted to cover every possible thing. In other words, the minister talked here earlier in response to a couple of questions about his department's intent to devolve responsibility, and when I look at the regulations, the ability of the Governor in Council to make, they are clearly clawing all of this back. I am not talking about doing away with the safety or the standards of these courses, I am talking about, perhaps, some practicality.

"(c) prescribing the minimum number of hours of instruction in any occupation that constitutes a course of instruction in that occupation;". One of the things that we are doing today, Mr. Speaker, universities are doing it, community colleges are doing it, is recognizing life experiences. If the minimum hours you are sort of prescribed, I am not saying that it is not a good idea, but there has to be some flexibility in these things. Maybe the regulations could reflect that.

[Page 2974]

"prescribing the maximum fees to be charged or received . . .". Again, if they are going to do that, it is sort of controlling the fees. In some ways, it is a buyers market or a sellers market, or whatever you wish, but some of these things are operated on a free-market basis. I don't think that the government is going to tell one of the grocery stores how much they have to charge for a box of Corn Flakes. If it is too high, people won't buy it. They will go to a competitor. Most of these things have competitors.

I think, "(e) prescribing a tuition-refund policy . . .", is a good thing.

"exempting an occupation, course or private career college or any particular type . . . from the operation of this Act;". Again, only the regulations, and I don't know exactly what that means, but it seemed to me that this was put in as an umbrella bill. Here they are, we have a regulation in there that says, well, it is an umbrella, except that we can throw out some of them.

The other thing is, "(l) prescribing the form and content of or the qualification for a diploma or certificate of any kind issued by a private career college'". My understanding is that if this regulation was to be implemented, then it would be the Governor in Council who would be prescribing the course of study. I have some difficulty with that. I don't know if they do it in their own community colleges, whether the Governor in Council prescribes their own courses in community college. Again, it sounds good, but I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, reading that at face value, if it is something that the government really wishes to be involved in or should be involved in. I hope that that regulation, perhaps, can be looked at, as well.

It also talks, Mr. Speaker, about, "(n) prescribing qualifications for instructors;". Well, in public schools which they finance, they can prescribe. For example, I don't think the government, again, prescribes any qualifications for instructors in community colleges now. In vocational schools, as you well know, there used to be some. But I think community colleges, when we get into prescribing qualifications and would this mean that a person has to have a B.A. or a B.Sc. and 10 years of industrial experience or something, particularly some of these new high-tech things that are evolving so quickly, the computer technologies and all of these high-tech programs. It may not be possible to lay down a list of qualifications because there may not have been time for anybody to get them. I think that has to be looked at.

I was very interested, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure most of the others were that have been in the field of education, when we look at one of the proposed regulations that is, "(w) providing for a maximum student-teacher ratio in each course;". Again, I don't know how the Governor in Council is going to know what is a maximum student-teacher ratio, or optimum student-teacher ratio for each course. When I look at the preamble, what the minister said, in releasing this, I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I can't find my note, but it looked to me like there was about 100-and some courses there, the number of courses listed. If you did the arithmetic, it may be about five students per course, according to the departmental briefing

[Page 2975]

notes. So if you are talking about five students per course, I am not sure at this particular time that being concerned about maximum student-teacher ratios in each course - I guess what I would say is if he is going to be concerned about it here, then I would hope that he would be concerned about it, perhaps, in the public schools or the community colleges, too. It sounds great on paper, but if it is not going to be a practical thing, I think these regulations, we can sit down and have a whole wish list and a whole restrictive list, but common sense has to kick in here someplace. Where they are providing for a maximum student-teacher ratio in each course, how do you determine it?

Providing for a maximum number of students in each private career college, and I guess these two regulations would be tied together, but what they are going to do now is they are going to licence the school for x number of students, like a nursing home or another governable institution and we all know what has happened. We just had the member for Preston question the Minister of Education saying, well, you prescribed the school at Eastern Passage for, what was it, 400.

AN HON. MEMBER: Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. MUIR: Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and here we are. So I am not so sure in every case that the government, despite the fact that he tried to put it back on the community, always makes wise decisions. Certainly Clause 37(1)(y), "requiring that accurate and current evaluation and examination statistics be kept for review by the Minister or the Minister's representative;", is a good thing.

Getting down into some of these others, Mr. Speaker, and I am going to be sitting down very shortly, setting performance standards for private career colleges, I would like to see that clarified. I am not entirely sure what it means. With all of the other regulations here, there cannot be much left in terms of performance not covered somewhere else. Clause 37(1)(ag), "establishing criteria for the purchase and sale of goods and services provided by students and limiting the amount of goods or services provided;". Again, I would like to see that clarified.

It seems to me once more that the government may be enabled by these regulations to get their hands into a business, stick their hand into a business. They don't do this really with public schools or with community colleges. I think one of the things that has been problematic in introducing this bill is that we had a bad situation last spring and this bill is, in some ways, a response to that. In other words, the construction of the bill was based on a bad situation and the good situations were not taken into consideration as much as they should have been.

Thus, I think some of these things which I have pointed out probably appear and if those who constructed the bill had looked at the good as well as the bad, it might have had a slightly different direction. I hope when this bill goes to the Law Amendments Committee that the minister or whoever does this will perhaps think a little bit about that.

[Page 2976]

As I say, I certainly support the bill in principle. I think it is a good measure. I think the bill needs a fair bit of work to be useful and I would hope some of these comments will be taken into consideration during the Law Amendments process and I think there will be a number of people from the private career trade schools putting forth positions at that time. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will take a few minutes to speak to this bill and I think we should analyze why it is we even need legislation at all. In a perfect world, we should not need it and in this province we do not live in a perfect world, we live in a Liberal one. I think that legislation should be designed to protect the students. That is what this is all about, not necessarily to set up some type of playing ground for business. We can see that since 1993 the number of private training schools have grown. There has not been a whole lot of accountability as to how that growth should occur.

[4:45 p.m.]

I live close to the airport. Although the Career Academy School of Aviation was not in my riding, it was very close to my riding. A number of students there were in my riding. Even those students could not go on a wing and a prayer because quite often there was no wing. A new low was reached when the ministers inaction reached a new high; actually it was the only thing that really gained an altitude. So why is it that students would pay good money and then have to worry about that money, whether they were going to get anything for that? That topic was brought up in this House in the spring session. The Education Critic for our caucus had mentioned it months before that there were problems there but yet nothing really was done.

In the release that the department has put out that does give some information, which I think is good information to work with. To build accountability, it says, all private career colleges must now register with the Department of Education and Culture. The college must provide details on specific programs, instructor qualifications, facilities, equipment and finances.

Presently, schools are supposed to provide courses of instruction as filed with the Department of Education; provide the equipment and facilities needed to complete the program; and to provide instructors that are competent and of good character. So what is the difference? Well, really, not much, only in the wording. So if the wording is all that is changed, then what is going to happen even if we support this bill? That I see as a flaw. The fact that the businesses themselves, or the trade schools themselves, will regulate themselves, I see as another flaw.

[Page 2977]

It still comes under the onus of the Department of Education. The minister is ultimately responsible and there should be some mechanism to ensure that these schools, if they provide details of specific programs, et cetera, that someone knows for sure that on an ongoing basis that they are living up to what they have already told the department. If there is no one to check on that, other than the schools themselves, then that is no security for the students. The Training Completion Fund is a great idea, a necessary idea, so that there is some form of compensation in case there are problems, but the students should not be paying for the fund. That ultimately is what is going to happen and the question is how long is the time-frame before that fund is built up to really secure that those students will be taken care of. There does not seem to be any evidence to indicate at what level that will occur.

What is the mechanism to ensure that if any of the schools do not comply with what they have said or what they have told the department, Mr. Speaker, then who is going to ensure that they do? If they do not comply, what happens to them? I have a fear that in the case of doing this as a private business, competition seems to generate how these businesses perform and the question would be, if they had to try to attract students based on price, in other words they could offer the programs at a reduced price, will they be offering reduced programs?

Some of the people in my riding, you have to consider that usually these are young people, they are people with not many resources. The money they use is borrowed money and, therefore, they are really putting all their eggs into one educational basket. Without some safeguard to ensure that they will be taken care of. The completion fund should do that but I am not entirely sure that it can, if something were to happen as soon as the completion fund is initiated, whether that would require some time to build that fund up.

What we basically need to ensure, more important than anything, is that we are taking care of the students and we are not setting new ground for new businesses. That should be secondary. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to make a few comments on the Education and Culture bill, the Private Career Colleges Regulation Act. When I look through the recommendations or the guidelines in the bill I think it is extremely important we note why these additions have to be introduced. I think there are a number of examples where the Private Trade Schools Act was a good start but there was no protection built in for students in the beginning.

Taking that particular clause in that vein, I think it is important to look at the aviation school and what happened this summer. Were the students protected? No, they were not. I think it is important that the government didn't abdicate its authority, the government moved

[Page 2978]

in, trying to ensure these students that at least they will finish their program, hopefully in a comparable situation on the type of course offered to them.

I get some correspondence, though, from numerous students that is distressing. The students have been guaranteed the fulfilment of their course but when it comes to the payment part of that course, they tend to have problems securing their student loan to make sure that commitment is honoured. Obviously, many of those students I met with through the summer and early fall assumed that was part of the commitment made to them by government, that that student loan would be honoured and the dollars that were needed to ensure that those program hours that were available to them to finish their course and get their certificate would be made available. Many of them are in difficult straits and I would certainly urge the minister and the department to have a second look at many of those students in that regard because it certainly endangers their opportunity and ability to finish that course.

When you look at the source of funding for the stability of that course going into the future, I think there are obviously two ways it can be done; that is, the government can underwrite it by way of a bond or security or insurance scheme that would allow all students who would be members or attending private school an opportunity if the program failed or was not up to expectations, that they would receive their money.

Government has chosen in this bill to propose that a fund be established and that fund would grow over a number of years and would protect those students or those courses, if they did not meet expectations or failed. That option gives me some concern; especially in the initial years, there will not be enough funding there. What will happen in the short term if another catastrophe like this happens? Secondly, this becomes a direct expense, obviously, of the student, rather than the owner of the private school because tuition fees, in all probability, would go up to accommodate for the cost of that type of protection.

I think when we look at how hard students are pressed out there right now, the number of student loan complaints and concerns that arise at any MLA's office, that anything that can be done to lower student debt and allow them an opportunity to graduate from their chosen profession or course so that they can integrate into the workforce with reasonable debt loads is the way the government and, I would think, certainly all members of this House would want the situation to arise in.

The other situation concerning the protection of the student and payment that is of concern as we go down this course is obviously who is in charge here. Is it the private associations that establish a code of conduct or a code of standards or is it the Department of Education and Culture's job to regulate?

This bill I really feel, Mr. Speaker, hardly adequately addresses that fact. If the government is going to regulate, then they should also inspect and the help of those associations, no question, is essential but at the end of the day it is government's obligation

[Page 2979]

to certify that a course is sound, that a course offers real employment opportunity to those students, and that the course and value are relevant, that somebody has not been sold a bill of goods, and that a class, two classes, have gone through an entire procedure of receiving their certification from that course either to find that they were improperly trained or that there is no opportunity for real employment to them. At that point it would kick in. I think that is far too late. Government has an obligation to ensure that if we are going to train and educate people, that those standards are met.

Also in that regard, we have situations where community colleges certainly are in competition somewhat with the private sector. Competition is healthy. There is no question that competition, though, for the sake of offering courses, where private companies can offer it just as well, that government should shy away from those. Community colleges are there to offer a lower cost program in most cases and a more generally broad-based program usually than you would find at a private school.

I think the regulation of computer technology, of the field of technology enrichment, is one area that really highlights that there is no body, no certification industry group, or representative of industry, that would be out there being the guideline, or the watchdog, or the advocate of standards for that group. When we look at the technology, the computerization, those types of courses that would be offered to our students and young people and, indeed, any citizen of Nova Scotia, there is no association. There is no guideline and it clearly shows the deficiency between government's obligation to regulate and a code of conduct between a trades association, or a guild, that would put that code of conduct out there. I think that one, more than any other, certainly would highlight that kind of problem.

Also I think it is really important in that regulation aspect that that external review of what is happening there becomes very important. That external review also, that courses are pertinent, that they are teaching proper course structure becomes government's responsibility as well. That external review, if it is not conducted by at least an auditing firm with broad-ranging understanding of industry, or educational opportunities and educational training techniques, that is the delivery and then the structure, what programs are offered, how can we have any type of assessment that is independent that would protect the credibility of the private system as well as the credibility of the government-funded system, Mr. Speaker. I think it is extremely important that those type of actions, those type of situations become the prerogative of government and government has a responsibility that has to be carried out there.

When we look at private trade school training in this province, there is no question there is a place for that private industry and they offer some great opportunities. When we look at technology enrichment, when we look at some basic ones like cosmetology, when we look at some of the courses indeed offered by community colleges as well, this Act does start the process of initially tightening up and enforcing guidelines and controls in places that protect students because students will appear at all of our offices with complaints, in the last

[Page 2980]

year or two, and many of them strongly justified, that they did not feel that the course or the instructors were professional when they applied at a private trade school. When they took their complaint to government, the Department of Education, they then felt exceptionally hard done by because nobody there seemed to be willing to take their situation, investigate it and address it.

[5:00 p.m.]

There really was nothing in place that allowed that to happen; that was a strong deficiency of the original Act that should have been taken into consideration. It is good to see these types of things beginning to be addressed in this situation, but I think this bill still needs some more addressing to fully protect students and employers.

I have correspondence from a few employers here and I would like to list a few places where they certainly have questions and I hope these questions will be answered before we get through the Law Amendments Committee and into the Community of the Whole. In Clause 37(1)(t), there are such clarifications, "respecting the functions and duties of the Board.". This individual is the owner of a private trade school and he is wondering, what is the responsibility of the board? Also in that section a committee is mentioned, a committee picked from industry. He asked this question, is it to be either or both a committee and/or a board working together? These types of questions are fundamental for the clear understanding and interpretation once a bill is adopted. There is no question that certainly students, citizens and schools administered under the Private Career Colleges Regulation Act are concerned in that regard.

There are constraints, certainly, when you look at another situation where this instructor on the 24th talks about an in-service with private trade schools, and the Department of Education, as well as community colleges, they talk about situations where the system is duplicating itself. Is there a waste of taxpayer's dollars when we see other forms of the educational system - and I think of the college system, the post-secondary community colleges themselves that were addressed in legislation of two to five years ago - where certain courses offered by government institutions were streamlined? That streamlining appears to be bogged down somewhat at this point and this individual asked the question, is that on purpose or is that streamlining going to be looked after?

I have another intervention here from another constituent. This constituent is an owner also and concerned about a number of sections, in particular Clause 33 of the bill. He asks questions. If the school operator, not the student, has to pay into the fund it could be a significant financial burden on the school. For example, if the student pays 0.5 per cent of his or her tuition, the student fee, or insurance, it will be a burden on the student. Universities have student fees. A maximum of $50 could be set. This individual is looking for a proper definition of what that fee is going to be, who will pay it and what the maximum and, I assume, the minimum amount is. These are the types of concerns that need to be fully

[Page 2981]

addressed to the students to be responsible and to the owners of the private trade schools if we are to put forth a meaningful Act that satisfies the concerns of those individuals that are involved.

Also in Clause 33(3), this constituent is concerned, and I feel very strongly that it should be administered by a board or a committee comprised of training, industry representatives and government with the majority from industry. This would be in the best interest of the student. Obviously, this is talking about the board that will set standards and that setting of the standards, this individual feels, should be strongly controlled by industry. It is the job of the House to balance that off with proper legislation. Also in Clause 33(5)(d), the fund or investment interests should be specifically used for private training industry purposes and perhaps student scholarships after it reaches its cap or maximum. This is a good question that has to be asked. What happens if there are no bankruptcies, or defaults, or problems and the fund matures in two or three years, as projected by the minister?

Do students, do private trade schools continue to contribute? If they continue to contribute, is it used for scholarships? Is it used for other purposes? Do people in the future not have to contribute, or just the group that was in the initial phase of fulfilling that fund so it is up to what is prescribed as the maximum amount that should be contributed? Those are solid questions and concerns that have to be addressed as this bill moves along and are just a few of the concerns that have been brought forward to my office by people involved with the private trade schools or the students.

Mr. Speaker, the bill is a start of fulfilling deficiencies that should have been there, and I add, should have been in the original bill. But this bill needs some improvements, as well, and I am hopeful that members, as it moves through the House, will suggest amendments that satisfy the needs of not only the students, but the operators of the private schools and ensures high-quality education that provides real job opportunities to our people in this province, whether they receive their professional training from a private trade school or a community college. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand for a few minutes this afternoon to speak about this bill, an Act to Regulate Private Career Colleges. My interest in this matter goes back many years. It goes back, certainly, a lot longer than the aviation school that we have talked about. As I begin my remarks, I would pay a compliment to a former colleague of yours, a gentleman who, when he was in this House on many occasions, I had very deep differences of opinions with, philosophically and we had many battles. But I do want to congratulate him publicly, and that is one Edmund Morris. When Mr. Morris, back in the late 1980's, I believe it was, was minister responsible for post-secondary education, he had to deal with another private trade school issue and not only did he have to deal with it, but he shut it down once and then the following year he had to shut it down again

[Page 2982]

as it was resurrected in a different name. All they did was, basically, switched around who the primary people involved in the company were. The person who had been the principal became the registrar in the new school and the person who was the registrar of the old school became the new principal. I say that as I am starting out because that is one of the difficulties that exists with this bill, is that that possibility still could exist, that they could start up in that manner.

Mr. Speaker, post-secondary education is extremely important. We know, for example, with the demise of the old vocational school system, that many individuals who once had been able to receive an education or a training through the public vocational school system have found themselves left out in the cold, that they have been unable to obtain education for employment in the new community college system and that is in part because the standards and the abilities to get into community college programs are often much more strict now than they were before and those who are seeking to enter also have much higher academic standings, which means that many people who would have once been able to get into a vocational school system have not been able to do so.

That is one of the areas into which, in some cases, private trade schools have developed a niche and they are designing and preparing programs that can assist some of those individuals, or some persons who have been employed for many years and have become unemployed and did not have the skills to market at this particular time to gain new employment. They also have gone through. When we take a look at the tremendous growth in the number of private trade schools, that is not only as a result of the fact that these entrepreneurs have developed a niche where they feel that they are able to start a business, but I am sure, as the Minister of Education and Culture will know, it is also in part because of a change in the federal government policy, and that the federal government is not as anxious as they once were - and this has been a major hit for the community college system in this province - the federal government is not as anxious any more to buy seats in the community college system, which has created tremendous strains on the community college system.

When the federal government, through Manpower as it used to be and now it is Human Resources, as they call themselves, as they used to when they purchased a seat in a community college, they didn't pay the straight tuition that a student who was going there on their own would pay, whether it be the $600 or $1,000 or previously $300, what they actually paid was the full cost of delivering education to that student. That was the true cost. That included the cost, not only of the student tuition but it also included in it, the cost that provincial government would be paying towards the portion of that educational seat. It was much higher.

Part of the reason why the private trade schools have proliferated to such a great extent, tripling in numbers in this province over the last five years, has been that the federal government is no longer willing, to any kind of degree like they used to, to purchase seats in

[Page 2983]

our community college systems, because they found that it was less expensive for them to purchase a seat in a private trade school. Now the private trade school's tuition that you or I or somebody else would pay if we are going in to register is much higher than what it would be in a community college system. But when you factor in the government's proportion of the costs in the community college system, the private trade schools were less expensive for the federal government, for the Department of Manpower in those days, or now Human Resources. So to save money, they have certainly been trying to encourage people to go into the private trade school route.

Mr. Speaker, we now have well over 100 private trade schools in this province today, and we don't know how many there are going to be in the future, but certainly there are indications that the numbers are going to rise. Those private trade schools - and I say this upfront, because I am not trying to paint a brush where I am casting them all as being money-grubbers or casting them all as being poor schools - the unfortunate reality is that they are not all of the same standard. There are some of them that are quite suspect, in terms of the kinds of programs that they deliver and the way in which students are being treated.

That is not to suggest that that is all nor am I trying to suggest that it is the majority. But the reality is, as long as there are one or two or three within the province which are not acting in a prudent fiscal manner, we have to be vigilant to protect those individuals who are going to those schools. Now the government's reaction, and I am certainly thinking of the schools that have been shut down that used to be located up in the Scotia Square Tower, those particular ones were shut down, as have some others.

The government's reaction has always been, really, buyer beware. But when you are going out to purchase your education, if you are going to go to a community college system, you know that the community college system is monitored, that it is regulated and that it is accountable to the Department of Education and, therefore, to the Minister of Education. You know, Mr. Speaker, that the programs are evaluated, and we all in this House or most of us in this House can remember knowing of community college programs that were closed because it was determined that there were not employment opportunities for those who would be attending and graduating in those programs.

So those programs ended up being eliminated. In their stead, monies were transferred and new programs have been started which will give the young people in this province and anybody, in fact, who wishes to enrol in a community college system, some kind of an assurance, an assurance that if they enrol in this program, it is at least a program for which studies, analyses have shown - that is in part by dealing with Human Resources, looking at what job prospects, what opportunities are there for employment in the Province of Nova Scotia now or are likely to be and, in fact, across the country. So we would try in a community college system to gear our courses to those that would create employment.

[Page 2984]

[5:15 p.m.]

I ask the members opposite, I ask the member for Inverness or I ask the member for Bedford-Fall River, would you recommend or would you yourself go into a training program and spend many thousands of your dollars without any kind of an indication or without there having been any kind of an assessment done to determine if, in fact, there are going to be job prospects for you when you finish. The community college system on a regular basis, and we get reports, I cannot remember if one came out last year, but it must have, at least I am assuming it did, because it is supposed to come out every year, they do that evaluation. They are, of course, sanctioned by the Department of Education.

Private trade schools, the government would argue and has argued for years, are really buyers beware. We register them, yes, but we do not necessarily certify them. But you talk to the people of this province, the students who go and register in these programs, they see on the wall a certificate that says they are certified by the Department of Education. That is like getting a certificate of approval, we will call it the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, but it is like receiving the stamp or the certificate, but it gives the students, it gives those people who will be enrolling in those courses, unfortunately, the false impression that this course that they are enrolling in is one that has been rigorously examined by government because they have certified that school.

Not only do they certify that school, but when they do that certification, that means that students can then apply for a student loan. That is fine, Mr. Speaker, and I am not trying to suggest that it should be any other way, but if the government is going to give its good seal of approval by registering a program, I would suggest and I would suggest very strongly that the government has an obligation, it has a responsibility, to ensure that the program that is being delivered meets the highest of standards. They have a responsibility to ensure that those students who are paying $5,000, $10,000, sometimes over $20,000 for a one year course and who can be left with huge debts as a result of them trying to do the right thing and the right thing being what we would all be advocating, I think, and that is that people maximize their education so that they will enhance their employability and their economic well-being in the months and years to come.

If they are spending this kind of money, monies that are guaranteed by the banks and, when we say by the banks that means in the student loans, by governments, we have a responsibility to ensure that we not only act on a complaint basis, but that we very vigorously examine the programs, we examine the qualifications of those who are delivering it, we examine the content of the courses to be offered. You cannot expect it within the Department of Education, you are going to have the experts - you cannot do that, you cannot afford to have that - who will be knowledgeable and have the kind of information necessary to do that in every kind of course that can be offered.

[Page 2985]

They can get that expertise. That is one of the things money is for, to buy those services you need. We have an obligation and I am sure the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, who was an educator himself, would want to ensure, when he was a principal, I believe, of a school, he would want to, if he was doing his job as a principal, ensure that the course content being delivered to the students in his charge, in his school, is going to be a course content that is appropriate for that which they are supposedly doing. You are not going to want to have a course program delivered that is five years above or five years below the level of the students who are in that course, nor, I am sure, would he have wanted to be advocating the delivery of an education program that had absolutely zero value for anything in their future.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately some, a few of the private trade schools have been very wanton. They have not - a few - I am not trying to cast aspersions, I am not trying to suggest that the vast majority or all of them are not trying to deliver good programs, that is not where I am coming from. What I am saying is that if the Province of Nova Scotia is going to give its good seal of approval to any courses or programs, it has a responsibility. It is, in a sense, a partner, it must ensure that the instructors and the programs being delivered are of the highest order. Surely even this government would want to make sure students are not going to compromise their financial future by spending $5,000 or $10,000 or $20,000 on programs that will get them nowhere, that will not get them employment.

Mr. Speaker, that is where I am really coming to on this point. I suggest, as politely as I can, through you to the Minister of Education, who I am sure is listening, and I say to him and to the Minister of Finance with whom he is sitting - and who is going to administer finances, and is also going to want to make sure that these people are going to be employable so that they will be able to pay taxes into the revenue of Nova Scotia - I say to the Minister of Education, whose attention I now have, that I believe there should be a requirement for those private trade schools that are delivering a program, much as is done with the community college system, to show the employability, to find out which programs are going to actually be on an ongoing basis. That has got to be, not a may, it is a shall. It is imperative, that has to be done vigorously each and every year. That is crucial. There are so many things in this bill that have may in front of them, that are permissive. I want to say to the minister that that is something that has to be obligatory, it is crucial.

When one takes a look at the bill, and this is a point and I am not disputing any of these particular clauses in here, under one clause which is giving the minister the power to refuse certain things, like to refuse to register or to renew the registration of a private career college, I am not opposed to any of these. One of them says, Clause 7(2)(f), "that has, as one of its principals . . .", with an a-l-s, not the l-e, Mr. Speaker, ". . . a person who was a principal of a private career college to which clause (e) and (g) applies;". Clause 7(2)(e) and Clause 7(2)(g) deal with people who have been convicted of offences or, "that has previously had a certificate of registration or its equivalent cancelled in any other province, that was not re-

[Page 2986]

instated by an appeal process in that province;". So the minister has the ability, if the principal is the same in any other province.

I would also want that to say, Mr. Speaker, or who was one of the principles - l-e-s - in those particular companies, because the schools that I was referring to back in the late 1980's, I think it was around 1988, 1989 or 1990, I can't remember the exact date (Interruption) it was 1989. You remember that well. I appreciate the date. I won't get into the names or the details of who they were, but I can tell you that it was a hot issue at the time, much like the aviation school. Actually, the government paid tuitions for those students that they had. The principal, when that school was closed down, became the registrar of the following school that opened up the next year. The person who had been the registrar simply moved on to become the principal. The principals were the same, the partners were the same, all they did was change the company name and switch their positions within that company. That, also, cannot be allowed.

When one takes a look at some of the other provisions, Clause 16(1), "The Manager may, at any time, request a private career college to provide the Manager with copies of completed student contracts . . .". I am assuming, Mr. Speaker, that he can ask for copies of any and all of the contracts signed by all of the individual students. Unless I am missing it, that should address part of a problem that had existed in the most recent episode and so I am glad to see that.

I have some difficulties with the method for dispute resolution. That is that, Clause 18(l), "In the event of a dispute between a student and an operator and with the consent of the student and the operator, the Minister may appoint and pay for a mediator to assist the student and the operator in resolving the dispute.". I know the argument can be made that unless both parties agree to the mediation, then you can't really have a mediation. So that you have to have both of them consenting to become involved in order to resolve the issue. I know that that is a very logical or legitimate kind of an argument. However, what I am saying to the minister is that it also can be used very easily by one side or the other who does not wish to be cooperative as simply saying, we don't consent to that.

What I am saying here, Mr. Speaker, before you go and you take away licenses, or before a student would be suspended, I believe that the manager or his designate should have the powers to order that the two sides come together with a mediator to try to resolve the dispute. I think that the power has got to be there to instruct, to require that, in fact, there is a process in place to try to mediate, to try to resolve disputes.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased, and I don't think that this is a change, Clause 23(1), "The Minister, or any person who the Minister authorizes in writing, may at any time inspect . . .", the private trade schools and examine their business affairs and so on. That is fine. It also goes on in another provision to say that, Clause 24(3), "The Minister may examine, audit or inquire into the financial accounts respecting any private career college, or

[Page 2987]

may cause such examination audit or inquiry to be carried out.". I have problems with the permissive term here, may.

[5:30 p.m.]

The Aviation Career Academy is not the only private trade school, private career academy, to go bankrupt. In fact, this fall there was another major one. In that situation another company, from what I understand, from another province stepped in and bought out that school and assumed presumably a lot of its debts but that also happened a short period after the registration took place, the bankruptcy, and a very short time after the tuition had been paid.

What I am saying, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, I think it is reasonable if students are going to be expected to spend many thousands of dollars on a course of study to which public money in the form of student loans can go into them, and which carries very importantly the government's good housekeeping seal of approval, because you register it, I believe that the government should or shall have audited, independently, independent audits conducted on the books of each and every one of those schools on a yearly basis and that those audits must be provided to the department prior to that school having its licence renewed.

I think that is good business sense. I am not designating. I am not saying who that auditor should be but I think that it is reasonable if we are trying to protect the security of those who are investing many thousands of dollars into this fund, I think that it is infinitely reasonable to expect that their books - and this is not for public distribution - we are not talking about the information that will be showing how much profit they make being broadcast and published but I think that an audit should be done and that that audit provided to the Department of Education and Culture, which would be registering them, to show that, in fact, they are solvent, to show that they do have good business practices and that that school is not likely to fold as a consequence of being insolvent.

I do not know if the minister is agreeable to that kind of a suggestion, but I hope that he will at least give it serious consideration as we move forward through the Law Amendment Committee process in the Red Chamber because I will, and I say it, and I do not think I said it at the start, I will be myself voting for this bill to go on when I finally finish my remarks and when I have an opportunity maybe tomorrow to vote on the bill. I think that it is important, good solid business sense, to have an independent audit done to ensure the viability of that because I know I would not be amused if a member of my family, or somebody I knew, or anybody at all as far as that goes, paid the registration of $5,000 in September and found out in October or November that that business has gone bankrupt and to find out that the problems have been ongoing but that the department, which may examine them, had not done so and nor had they required that those audits be provided.

[Page 2988]

It may be, Mr. Speaker, that is something that the minister is planning to do by regulation, I do not know. There are so many things in here that can be left up to regulation and it is possibly something that they will say, well, we planned to do by regulation. I do not know that because we do not have the draft regulations accompanying this bill but regardless of whether they are planning to do it by regulation or not, I think it is something that is very easy to insert in the legislation and I believe it should be there.

I have not canvassed them, but I would think that the majority of private trade schools would not have any problem with that because they have their books done on a regular basis, they have them checked, they want to make sure that they are, indeed, secure. So long as pertinent, personal financial information about how they do certain things is not being released to others, as long as that information is being kept in confidence, I do not think that they would have any difficulty - I would certainly hope not - being willing to provide to the minister an audit that shows, in fact, that the books are balanced and that they are viable. You might say it is a kind of grant system that is being provided to them when the government gives them the good seal of approval.

I have some concerns with the level of support that the minister may provide in the enforcement of this Act. Although we are going to have a board, and that is important, I would hope that on that board there are going to be people who are knowledgeable about business. I do not know if there is going to be any kind of crossover or any kind of suggestion that some of those who may have expertise - for example, from the community college boards - may want to sit on this because they might have some kind of experience in dealing with academic or training programs, post-secondary education. Certainly, there will need to be business persons on this board.

Those people are not going to be going around themselves and doing all of the individual examination and you cannot possibly have a board that is going to be large enough to have, on that board, experts in each and every single type of course or program that is offered. So the examination, the evaluation of programs is going to be done by those people who are going to be designated to work with the board. The minister may designate two persons in the department to assist the board in carrying out their duties - two people, may - and it does not even say two full-time positions.

Part of the problem with what has happened over recent years has not been that the department could not have done something had they known. Part of the problem is if you have one or one and one-half people responsible for administering all of the private trade schools and overseeing the private trade schools in this province, it is an impossible task. Unless on a waiting-list basis they are going to be responding to complaints.

If they are going to, in any way, be proactive or able to have time to show up unannounced at one of these schools to examine what is being offered, to examine what equipment and so on is there - versus what they said in the application was supposed to be

[Page 2989]

there - to examine and to see and find out if, in fact, the instructors who are listed on the forms have the qualifications that they state they do and if they are employed. You cannot do that from Sydney to Yarmouth and all points in between with a couple of people and a couple of people that the bill does not even say shall be full-time positions. Give them a cape and they still cannot do it, so that causes me grave concern.

I am pleased that the board will have an opportunity to review decisions being made by the minister, to determine whether they are good decisions or bad decisions, whether that deals with cancelling a license or not permitting one in the first place. I am pleased that there is this independent appeal. That is crucial, Mr. Speaker, if we are going to have a system of fairness, but it is also crucial, therefore, that that board be very carefully picked and that they be people who understand the whole education process.

Under the bill, there is another question, and maybe it is answered somewhere else, but I don't know where. If it is, I may have missed it, and that wouldn't be the first time I have missed something in a piece of legislation and I am sure it won't be the last. However, I haven't found the answer yet, so I will pose the question, because under the bill as it is proposed, the minister will have the power to suspend a program or suspend the licence of a school, and they can give notice in accordance with the procedure that is laid out, mailing out the notices, or delivering it, whatever method they wish to choose. They have the ability to suspend the licence and, when that registration is suspended, the operator of that school shall not, as long as that suspension remains in effect, operate a private career college or act as an agent for a person who operates a private career college, as the case may be.

My question is, what happens then to all of those students who are attending that career college. We know in the situation of the aviation school, when that school was closed, when it closed its doors, the community college system - and I am not going to get into whether or not the solution was or was not completely satisfactory, that is not an issue here for the purpose of this debate - but the community college system did, in that situation, step in and they did provide a program for students who had been enrolled.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance would like to make an introduction and I would be happy to yield the floor to allow him to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, to my colleague, thank you for the opportunity to introduce a guest in the east gallery, a councillor who has had some 15 years of illustrious representation of the people of Bridgewater. I would like the House today to welcome the councillor from the Bridgewater area, Mr. Rick Lord, who is also a Christmas tree producer and marketer. He is part of the balsam fir Christmas tree capital of the world, Lunenburg County. Mr. Rick Lord. I ask the members to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

[Page 2990]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I resisted a comment. Going back to the point that I was trying to address here, and I am sure that the good councillor from the fine Town of Bridgewater would also be wanting to make sure that the students from his constituency, from the area that he represents, are going to be well taken care of in a post-secondary education system, which is really what a private trade school is, although it is not necessarily post-secondary, because many of the people who enrol in the programs have not finished high school. But it is a skill-training, job-training type of training in most cases.

I ask the minister, and maybe when the minister wraps up or is going to be addressing this, probably tomorrow morning, on the bill, maybe he can explain what the intentions are if a licence, if a registration is suspended part way through the year. Is it the intention of the government to step in and then ensure that the educational program that the students purchased, in a program that has received the government's good seal of approval, is going to be continued, or is he going to allow them to hit the streets after a door is closed, because of the suspension? That is not fair.

[5:45 p.m.]

So there has to be some kind of mechanism, some kind of assurance given that if the government in the first place approves a program - therefore gives its stamp of approval because that is what you are doing - you must ensure that, if for some reason, you end up cancelling that registration or suspending that registration, those who are enrolled in the program, that you gave your good seal of approval to, are not going to pay a consequence themselves, personally, as a result of your actions or your lack of actions. That is crucial.

Under this legislation, Mr. Speaker, there is to be a Training Completion Fund. Of course into this fund there are going to be monies - and the amounts have not been determined yet - that are going to be paid, that will compensate students who have entered into a student contract with an operator who has become insolvent. So you might say, gee, that is the answer to the question I raised before, but it isn't. You may give them back some money, but you are not going to give them back the six months or the year of their life they have committed to that program; you can't do that. That is why, I go back to saying it is crucial that the government truly examine the programs being offered and why it is crucial that you ensure the financial viability of the company delivering that program before you give it your stamp of approval.

You also have in here that you can compensate third party sponsors who have paid tuition on behalf of the students. I am just wondering if a student loan is considered to be a third party sponsor, because many of those who are paying $5,000 or $10,000 or $20,000 for tuition do not have the money in their own pocket to pay for that, they have borrowed it. So if a student is enrolled in a program and that school folds because of financial mismanagement that the government should have known about, but they didn't because they didn't have that independent audit of the finances done, and the student has, let's say, a $10,000 debt, is the

[Page 2991]

government going to pay back their student loan? I don't know, Mr. Speaker, maybe that is what that means.

We do know that the delinquency rate of those who have gone to the private trade schools is about 50 per cent higher than those who go to universities. Yet the government gives the good seal of approval. So I look forward to the minister addressing that.

A final point - or one of the final points before I take my seat - has to do with the penalties under Clause 36(1). On first blush it looks pretty hefty because under this provision it says that any person who violates an Act or regulation can be subject to a penalty not exceeding $25,000. Not exceeding $25,000, it does not mean it will be $25,000, but up to $25,000, and a corporation that violates this Act or regulation is liable to a penalty not exceeding $50,000. Now that sounds like a lot of money, and, to me it is; however, if I am running a career academy of some sort, or whatever I want to call it, and the tuition is $6,000 a year, and I have just 100 students, that is $600,000. In a lot of these schools it is a lot more, Mr. Speaker, than 100 students. In fact, a school that I referenced before had students in the daytime, it had programs in the evening and the total take, if you added up in just one area, one segment of their travel type of curriculum that they offered, the take in tuition would have been well over $0.5 million.

If the penalty is $50,000, it sounds like a lot and, yes, nobody would like to get that kind of a slap on the hands, but I would say, Mr. Speaker, that the penalty should be commensurate with the offence that they commit. If they have a larger school where they have violated and created even more harm to more people and had the potential of making a much larger profit in that manner, I would say the penalty should be higher. So if somebody is able to operate things in a slipshod way, or in a slightly devious way, and able to bring in $1 million in tuition fees and somehow manage to spend it all by paying themselves $100,000 a semester and buy themselves all kinds of extravagant items and all different kinds of things which I won't get into, a $50,000 penalty sounds high for a lot of offences.

I am not saying that for every offence there should be a $50,000 fine, obviously, because a lot of the offences could be unintentional and they could be very minor. I am not suggesting you be throwing the maximum penalties at people for each and every kind of infraction. That is the farthest thing from my mind in terms of what I am suggesting.

I am saying, however, for those few - and I underscore few - who would try to use this as a system to greatly enhance their wealth, and who are not putting the well-being of those who are enrolling in their programs as any kind of a high priority, Mr. Speaker, and who are creating great harm, both short term and long term to those students, I would suggest that a $50,000 fine may not be a sufficient deterrent to ensure that doesn't happen. For the vast majority, their intent, I am sure, would be to create no problems whatsoever, but to deliver the best program. What I want to do is to ensure that the minister and this government give

[Page 2992]

them even more motivation to ensure that the programs they are delivering are of the highest calibre possible.

Mr. Speaker, in my closing comments - and I know that the time for our debate this afternoon is running short - the one last point that I want to really address in the bill - I think it is, if I look at my notes, has to do with the date that this bill shall be proclaimed. We can stand here and we can talk and there can be the best public relations exercise in the world. I know that I have seen, on several occasions, I can even remember there was going to be a protected places piece of legislation introduced in this House before the last election and it was announced that it was going to be done. That got a lot of positive public relations for the Liberal Government. Then actually they laid a piece of paper on the table and that brought even more and people thought it had passed.

We can go even farther than that. We could actually pass this legislation on the floor of this House, but Clause 40 says, "This Act comes into force on such day as the Governor in Council orders and declares by proclamation.". So if this bill is debated here on the floor of the House, as it is being, goes down the hall to the Law Amendments Committee, comes back from the Law Amendments Committee process, hopefully with some amendments to toughen it up a little bit, comes to the floor of the House, goes through the Committee of the Whole House stage and, Mr. Speaker, gets voted on in third reading, Nova Scotians are going to assume that this bill is in place and it isn't. There is no target date for this.

I appreciate, and I say this sincerely to the Minister of Education, that I know you cannot in a matter of a week or two weeks or whatever, come up with all of the regulations and all of the things that are going to be needed to put this bill into force. But surely this is now the end of October, we want this bill in full force and effect at the absolute latest before the next academic year begins. I do not think that is unreasonable. I would like it before that and if the minister is able to tell us that he can do that before that time, I would be happy to have that done.

All I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that clause 40, I think, should be amended to set a firm target. I would like to see a date imposed. I would like to say, and I pull this one out just on the basis that that is when an academic year in the public school system begins, August 1st. I would like to see that amended to say that the Act comes into force on or before August 1, 1999. That would not preclude the government; if they are ready, they can then proclaim it at any time as soon as possible, when it is ready with the regulations and so on. But it also means that they cannot dilly-dally, either this government or any other government that may be sitting on the benches a year from now. I don't know who that is going to be, whoever it is. I think one of the members opposite said we are, but I am not that presumptuous. It means, however, that there is a target, there is a commitment, the work has to be done to ensure the legislation is in effect prior to that time or by that time.

[Page 2993]

Mr. Speaker, with those few brief comments, I want to say to the Minister of Education that I have welcomed the opportunity to have these few remarks and I look forward to working and continuing to work with you in whatever positive way I can to make this legislation be even stronger. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Given the late hour of debate, Mr. Speaker, I will ask for adjournment on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment on Bill No. 38.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. We will continue with Bill No. 38.

I move that we now adjourn until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bill No. 47.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I announced yesterday that when we complete Bill No. 38, we will go to Bill No. 47, but I am not so sure we will complete Bill No. 38 tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment.

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

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the time for the late debate and this evening as I indicated to the House earlier, the winner of the late debate was the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill:

[Page 2994]

[Therefore be it resolved that the Premier act immediately to form an all-party committee with the mandate to gather information from the working poor of this province so that policies can be developed which will address the very serious issues affecting them.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

COMMUN. SERV. - WORKING POOR: ALL-PARTY COMM. - FORM

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

"Therefore be it resolved that the Premier act immediately to form an all-party committee with the mandate to gather information from the working poor of this province so that policies can be developed which will address the very serious issues affecting them.".

I heard a comment from one of the members opposite, in the government, that the Standing Committee on Community Services, a committee of the House is, in fact, doing that right now, that they are travelling the province holding forums to seek information from the public at large about ways in which to reform the Department of Community Services. The reality is that we have gone to seven different communities spread across the province and listened to well in excess of 50 submissions. Out of all of those submissions the words, working poor, have come up only in passing in terms of conversation and only in passing in terms of reference.

I also heard a member of the Official Opposition speaking about what it was when we used the term, working poor, what did that mean; in fact, are not poor people poor people generally? The reality is they are not. Working poor are a group of people who live in poverty but who are gainfully employed. They are people who get up every morning and go to work. The difficulty is that their jobs, by and large, are short-term, irregular, with no real future and the rate of remuneration is such that they do not receive a level of wage that allows them to live beyond the level of poverty. The difficulty is that because of the fact that they are gainfully employed, they do not fit into the current structure that exists as a community services social net. What happens to them is that they find themselves too rich to access services but too poor to provide anything beyond the basic necessities.

Working poor by definition, as I have said earlier, are people who are working. Generally speaking, they are single parents and predominantly female. They must juggle the reality of raising a family with that of finding a job and making sure that their children are cared for. They live with the belief and the commitment that they can, in fact, by working

[Page 2995]

hard, better their lot. The reality is because of that belief they are overlooked. They do not tend to be vocal in terms of their wanting to access services. They go to their job and they hope that things will get better.

The difficulty or the problem facing the members of this Legislature and the people who are going to be involved in reforming the Department of Community Services, is that they must look at ways in which they can put in place mechanisms that will catch these people. What we are looking at is a group of people who, by and large, only need a little assistance to get out of the situation that they are in. They are above a certain level but not far enough above a level so that they can ensure that their children have opportunities that other children have. When we have gone with the Community Services Committee, we have heard people speaking about the lack of opportunities for their children to take part in activities that many people take for granted, minor hockey, minor baseball, those kinds of events that go on. By and large, people who have a certain standard of income can assume that their children, by divine right for lack of a better term, have that opportunity.

Henry David Thoreau said that, ". . . men lead lives of quiet desperation,", and I think that quote is very applicable to the people who live in poverty as a result of being working poor. There are ways in which to alleviate these difficulties and one of them is the fact that, by and large, working poor are people who have not been able to complete school for whatever reason. At some point in their maturation, they decided that school was not going to be the vehicle that they would need to enter the job market and they would leave school prior to getting a high school leaving certificate. What that has done in the changing environment we live in today is it has eliminated a number of work opportunities for them. One of the ways in which to address that problem is to allow people who have been in the workforce for some time to get credit for their work experience.

Many of the programs that are currently in place to retrain people who want to enter the workforce or transfer from one work area to another is that they have to have a Grade 12 leaving certificate to enter a training program. I feel, and the members of our caucus feel, that one of the ways to implement a program that will address this is to allow them credit for prior learning experiences and that would mean then that they would not have to go back and take upgrading courses to merely enter retraining that would provide them with vocational opportunities.

Another desperate need, and we have heard this repeatedly in the Community Service Committee meetings, is that there is a need for universal, subsidized, flexible day care. Because that is so critical I will repeat it. There is a need in this province and in this country for universal, flexible, subsidized day care so that people who work irregular hours can have a place where their children will be safe and cared for. One of the crying complaints is that this is not being made available. When it is, there are not enough slots for the people, the demand that is there.

[Page 2996]

Another issue is the need to address whether or not the current rate of minimum wage in this country is sufficient. There is a need to elevate that but it has to go over time. There is no way to make a massive jump at once and it has to be done through a consultative process. There should be incentives for people who are entering the workplace so that companies that hire working poor, who can increase wage levels for working poor, will be subsidized either through tax credits or through HRDC funding.

There is also a need for the Pharmacare Program to be introduced. There are a number of young people whose parents are working poor. They work but the level of income they receive is not enough to adequately pay for very expensive medicines. Because their level of income is too high to allow them to access the Community Services network they find that they have to dig into their pocket and in many instances they have to forgo groceries so that they can buy cough medicine, aspirin and basic medicines for their children. The program that is currently in place does not meet the needs.

The issue of dental care is another one. The cost of having children's teeth cared for is very expensive. The other thing is that the changes that have been made to the program is that you have children now who are 12 and 13 who are not covered. That is the time when they are getting their second teeth and problems with regard to dental care that occur when they are that age will follow them throughout their life.

We need to look at ways to subsidize transportation. Often times because of the nature of the work that these people have to take, the fact that it is flexible, varying jobs, most of them hold down two or three jobs in two or three different locations. The catch phrase now is a McJob and that simply means that you get 12 hours in one area, 8 hours in another, and you have to juggle back and, again, with rural Nova Scotians, there is a very chronic issue with transportation and that is that for the working poor the cost of having an automobile, in rural Nova Scotia is a necessity. So we need to look at a way in which we can subsidize transportation.

It is interesting to note, and I am digressing a bit in terms of this idiosyncrasy, but the fact that the telephone is looked at by Community Services as being a luxury as opposed to a necessity and the reality is, especially for people who are working poor, or people who are trying to rise out of the social assistance network, having a phone means that they will have the opportunity to call and look around for work. We need to really look at what we are putting in place to support people. The issue, as I see it, I am differentiating between the people who are currently living on social assistance and those who are living as working poor and that level of poverty, and what I see is that by and large these people still subscribe to the belief, they have not given up I guess is what I would say. They have not abandoned hope entirely. They still believe in the puritan ethic that hard work and honesty will allow them to rise above their current situation.

[Page 2997]

The difficulty is that because they are working, they find that they have to pay taxes, income taxes and so on. So I think what we really need to do, it is fine to say that we are going to reform the Department of Community Services and, for example, the child tax credit, there was some discussion about the fact that that money would be put into programs but by and large the people who have children, the people I am talking about, they look at that money and it was taken away from them. It was taken away from them and they do not see all kinds of new programs being created. That is a problem. I think if we want to help these people, we have to restore their belief that the system will help and by and large when they look to us as elected representatives, they do not have a whole lot of faith that that is going to happen. In fact, I raised the question when I was talking to people at these travelling meetings and I said, do you really believe things will change and, unfortunately, some of them said no. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be able to speak on this particular resolution. "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier act immediately to form an all-party committee with the mandate to gather information from the working poor of this province so that policies can be developed which will address the very serious issues affecting them.".

I thank the member for Digby-Annapolis for bringing forward a lot of suggestions and ideas which I think he would agree that the members for this Official Opposition would agree with, particularly issues around increasing the minimum wage and subsidizing day care and dealing with Pharmacare. This is the backbone of ensuring that those who are the working poor are given a helping hand to become middle-class, strong citizens in our country and to have the ability to live a life of dignity.

I want to speak a bit about why this is actually an issue in Canada. For the past several years - and I can't remember if it is four or five years, Mr. Speaker - this country has been identified as the best country in the world to live in, yet we hear ourselves debating the issue of why the working poor need to be addressed and why poverty, in general, is increasing in this country. I think that is what we must start with because I think, in the end, when we have an opportunity to discuss this, we will see that the Party represented by the member for Digby-Annapolis and this government will find that they are the cause of why we have the poverty that is here today.

I want to talk about, first of all, Canada. As I said, a country that has been identified, Mr. Speaker, as the best country in the world to live in, but there are a few little issues and statistics that I want to bring up about my country, a country I am very proud to be a citizen of. Poverty has increased in this country and it has increased in a dramatic rate in the past 10 years, and I might suggest the past 14 years. From 1984, when we had our first right-wing

[Page 2998]

government of Brian Mulroney and from then, successive Tory and Liberal Governments, we have had the number of poor in this country skyrocket.

In a recent study - I believe it was only last week - it was found that there were three times as many millionaires in Canada as a decade ago and an even greater increase in the number of people who are below the poverty line. What we have, clearly, with these statistics, is the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The number of poor is increasing more quickly than the number of wealthy. That is a key problem to what is wrong with Canada today.

There used to be good, well-paying jobs that people would be guaranteed if they had a decent education in this country. Those jobs moved south of the border with NAFTA, an agreement that was produced, signed and adopted by the Tory Government, federally, and then back-pedalled on by the Chretien Government later on. What has it been replaced with, Mr. Speaker? It has been replaced with McJobs, as my friend just noted, that people either cannot get full-time work, or they get full-time work that is very poorly paid.

That is why we have such an increase in poverty in this country. Indeed, our middle class is dwindling because of these particular policies, fourteen years of policies that have resulted in wealth distribution policies being turned around and flipped on their head. No federal government in the past 14 years has even been committed to bridging the gap between rich and poor.

I want to talk a bit about Nova Scotia. In 1988, the third lowest poverty rate in Canada for children was in Nova Scotia, something we could be proud of with, I think, the sixth smallest population in Canada, and considered one of the poorer provinces. We had the third lowest poverty rate in Canada. That is something to be proud of, 14.2 per cent of Nova Scotian children under the age of 17 - 31,000 of them - were living under the poverty line at that time. In 1994, Mr. Speaker, we had the third highest rate of poverty in Canada for children, 20.2 per cent of the population and 44,000 children under the age of 17. I would suggest - I don't have the statistics to back it up - that rate has probably even gone up since then.

So in 1994, one in five children were living below the poverty line and now I would suspect it is even higher. Those are some key problems with the inability of the working poor to get ahead in this province and this country. Again, since 1984 at least, in the last 14 years, we have had successive Tory and Liberal Governments that have done absolutely nothing to address the increasing levels of poverty in this country.

I want to talk a bit about my specific riding, Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, a riding that has a fair number of its own people who are working poor, areas of Woodside, Cole Harbour, Eastern Passage and Cow Bay. It is a beautiful part of this province, but it is a part, like other parts, where people used to be able to be guaranteed that if they worked hard and

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were able to get a decent education, they would get ahead and have a decent working-class and middle class lifestyle. But, in the past 14 years they have been hammered by government apathy that has driven them to collapse, people who are not actually able to get ahead any more because of the policies that have been in place.

[6:15 p.m.]

It was only 15 or 20 years ago, Mr. Speaker, that a person from a working class community or any community, who wanted to proceed to post-secondary education, could do so, get an education, get a good job and be able to get ahead in life. Now those costs have become so prohibitive, and the number of jobs that are well-paying jobs to pay off the debts you accumulate are gone, so it is not even worthwhile proceeding, many say. That is the real problem why the poverty level has increased in this country and in this province and in my communities.

So I agree with the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis that we need consultation, absolutely, that it is important. But let's remember, action is what is really required. Words are not enough. We can have as many committees as possible discuss this particular issue and I would be more than glad to join any of those committees, Mr. Speaker, but until the Tories and Liberals in this House and in the federal Parliament are willing to stand up and actually act on the words they say, there is nothing that is going to change the level of poverty in this country and we had better start acting now. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure this evening to engage in this debate around the resolution, particularly to discuss the resolution about forming an all-Party committee to gather information about the working poor in this province, so that policies can be addressed which will address their very serious issues.

I want to start out by saying that the first speaker mentioned there is a standing committee going around the province with the task of reforming the Department of Community Services. I think he has the mandate wrong, the standing committee is actually going around hearing from concerned Nova Scotians about social assistance restructuring initiative. That is important work, I think he should get a little bit more knowledgeable about it so that he does not confuse and blur this issue.

I also listened to the socialist member opposite speaking the usual doom and gloom that we hear so often. I really think that what is important here is not that we put together another committee to move around the province and to cost the taxpayers more money but to get on with the discussion and the resolution around these issues that each and every one of us, if we are doing our jobs as MLAs and are in touch with our constituents, each and every one of us knows about these issues of poverty, we know who in our constituencies are affected

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by poverty. This is not a problem unique to Nova Scotia and every one of us in this House knows that as well.

I want to assure the House that the Government of Nova Scotia does have the needs of low income Nova Scotians at heart. With all its programs, the policies are developed in consultation with stakeholders, no matter which department I am talking about. The issues are complex and they go across this land from British Columbia to Newfoundland. I think we have seen a change in the demographics, we have seen more and more stories and research coming out about the widening gap between rich and poor in Canada. That has to be a major concern to anyone with a social conscience in any elected body in the country.

The issues are systemic, there are no simple, quick fixes, no short-term fixes in the form or the guise of a committee going around to have 8 or 10 meetings in Nova Scotia that will be able to resolve these issues in two or three months. Clearly we need to address the systemic issues that are there around poverty.

The Ministers of Social Services and the Ministers of Community Services across Canada are meeting regularly, discussing these issues, formulating action plans around them, looking at current research not only in Canada but in the rest of the globe, on the issue of poverty and child poverty and family poverty. There is a tremendous amount of information sharing and action that comes out of those meetings.

The honourable member opposite did mention that yes, Canada is considered to be one of the greatest places in the world, if not the greatest place in the world, to live, and that our standard of living is relatively high, we all know that, and yes, there are signs of an improved economy, particularly in Nova Scotia. But this is not filtering down to people below certain levels of income and it isn't filtering down to women, in particular, who head up single-parent families with children. So that not all Canadians share this wealth that is in this great land, and obviously that is the challenge for our social programs in the country, let alone Nova Scotia. Across Canada, people see the systemic changes that are occurring in the labour market, there are fewer jobs and there are fewer jobs for people who don't complete high school and don't have certain areas of qualifications. And there are certainly fewer high-paying jobs for people with little education.

This is a global phenomenon, it is not just Nova Scotia, it is not just Canada. Having said that, as members of Legislatures across this nation, we have to take responsibility for action to resolve these issues. I think that Nova Scotia has some strategies in place that we should be very proud of, and they are as innovative as anywhere in the world. I can say that with some definition, because we have people coming from other countries to look at how we do business here, around these issues and taking away copies of our Statutes and copies of our policies, and saying, we are doing some very good things. I am not here to toot a horn. We are doing good things, and we have better things yet to do. I would be the first one to

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admit that. We are long past the time where we can just throw a quick fix together and resolve these issues.

I want to talk about the National Child Benefit program, because there is a lot of discussion around that as the committee travels across Nova Scotia and hears from people about this. The federal, provincial and territorial governments came together and worked together to come up with the program planning around the National Child Benefit, and basically the federal government offered $850 million on the table to try and put in place, for the first year of the program, a direction to deal and address the child poverty issues that were seen coming out in all the statistics that we are hearing about lately.

Part of the goal of that program with the federal government was to try and address and reduce the depth of child poverty, to try and reduce overlap and duplication between federal and provincial programs. Obviously, part of that goal is to help people move into the work force and to stay in the work force. I mentioned the $850 million that the federal government has committed in the first year of this national program. That funding is being used to enrich the National Child Tax Benefit, and over the next two years, another $850 million will be put into the program.

Now when you say $850 million, it sounds like a lot of money and it is, when you divide it up between the provinces and the territories, Nova Scotia will see somewhere around $13 million or $14 million in the first year of the program. I have to say, because of its complexity, the National Child Benefit is often misinterpreted and misunderstood, and I think the basis of it is, it is grounded in the notion that children in low income working families need extra support, and that their parents should have some helping incentives to be working rather than to be on social assistance.

Starting in July, working families in this nation started to receive the National Child Benefit supplement. That is an extra $605 per year for the first child, up to $405 per year for the second child, and up to $330 per year for the third and subsequent children. Through that National Child Benefit program, Nova Scotia is able to create a reinvestment pool of monies for programs in this province. Just last week, over 30,000 low income families including social assistance families got extra help from the Government of Nova Scotia through the first instalment of the Nova Scotia Child Benefit. A key component of the National Child Benefit Program is the cash payment for each child under 18, it is available to all Nova Scotian families with yearly incomes below $16,000, including, I will say it again, those with social assistance. Eligible families receive the annual Nova Scotia Child Benefit payments of $250 for the first child. If they have two children, it is $418, and if they have three, it is $554, and the amount with each subsequent child changes again.

This is sent out monthly, it is not sent out once a year. It adds to the amounts provided by the Government of Canada which helps those low income families cover the costs of entering and staying in the workforce. This is one of two components of the Nova Scotia's

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Reinvestment Fund under the National Child Benefit Program. Another $2.2 million is going into parenting education, support programs and services known under the collective title of Healthy Child Development Initiatives.

One of the honourable members opposite talked about the need for more child care spaces. We have grown the child care subsidized spaces roughly at 50 seats a year, at $5,000 a seat. That, at that rate, is never going to catch up with the demand and I would be the first one to recognize that.

We know that there are a number of initiatives under the Healthy Child Development Program. We are allocating money to help overburdened families in many circumstances. A community-based prevention program is one of them. We are building on established partnerships with parent education programs and parent support programs and we will enhance the community-based prevention efforts across Nova Scotia.

Expanded early intervention programs. We have heard so much about this from families who need this and we currently, with our early intervention programs, serve children with special needs in pre-school years and we are going to enhance that program. We are going to expand centre-based child care, up to 80 subsidized seats this year and we are going to expand family child care which will provide better options for low income families who have needs and are looking for work in rural parts of the province.

Mr. Speaker, we are working with a multitude of partners and I know my time is running out but obviously, this is not just about the Department of Community Services, it crosses over into Education, it crosses over with our federal partners and other partnerships that we develop. We estimate about 3,700 people who are on social assistance this year will be successful in finding a job and that is a good-news story. I recognize that you have signalled that my time is up and I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to enter into this debate. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If there are no further speakers we will adjourn the debate. The House stands adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:27 p.m.]