The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Apr. 7, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Breton Bay Nursing Home (Sydney): Long-Term Care Workers -
Wage Parity, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5459
Educ. - Pictou Co.: School Closures - Oppose, Ms. E. O'Connell 5460
Health - Alderwood Nursing Home (Baddeck): Long-Term Care Workers -
Wage Parity, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5460
Health - Alderwood Nursing Home (Baddeck): Long-Term Care Workers -
Wage Parity, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5461
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. - Americana '99: Participants - Recognize, Hon. M. Samson 5461
Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Bridgetown: Britex - Expansion,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 5464
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2559, Health : World Health Day (07/04/99) - Recognize,
Hon. J. Smith 5466
Vote - Affirmative 5467
Res. 2560, Agric. - NSAC: Internationalization Award of Excellence
(AUCC-Scotiabank) - Congrats., Hon. E. Lorraine 5467
Vote - Affirmative 5467
Res. 2561, SCS - Older Persons (Internat. Year): Theme Song (Can.) -
Composers (Hfx. [3]) Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 5468
Vote - Affirmative 5468
Res. 2562, Fish. - High Liner Foods Inc. (Lun.): Anniv. 100th -
Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 5468
Vote - Affirmative 5469
Res. 2563, Nat. Res. - Natl. Wildlife Week: Observation - Encourage,
Hon. K. MacAskill 5469
Vote - Affirmative 5470
Res. 2564, SCS - Older Persons (Internat. Year): Contributions -
Recognize, Hon. F. Cosman 5470
Vote - Affirmative 5470
Res. 2565, Justice - Supreme Court (N.S.) Family Division: Creation -
Volunteers Recognize, Hon. R. Harrison 5471
Vote - Affirmative 5471
Res. 2566, Agric. - Awareness Conf. (Can.): Importance (N.S.) -
Recognize, Hon. E. Lorraine 5471
Vote - Affirmative 5472
Res. 2567, Educ. - Schools: Internet Province-Wide - Achievement
Acknowledge, Hon. W. Gaudet 5472
Vote - Affirmative 5473
Res. 2568, Health - Cancer Soc. (Cdn.): Daffodil Fundraiser - Support,
Hon. J. Smith 5474
Vote - Affirmative 5474
Res. 2569, Human Res. - Cancer Soc. (Cdn.): Daffodil Campaign -
Employees Support Recognize, Hon. F. Cosman 5475
Vote - Affirmative 5475
Res. 2570, Justice - Crime: Response Improvement - Develop,
Hon. R. Harrison 5476
Vote - Affirmative 5476
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 95, Lunenburg Common Lands Act, Mr. M. Baker 5476
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2571, Health - Nursing Home Workers: Compensation -
Respond Positively, Mr. R. Chisholm 5477
Res. 2572, Sysco - Plan: NDP - Policy Indicate, Dr. J. Hamm 5477
Res. 2573, Nat. Res. - Cole Hbr. Park: Cole Hbr. Parks & Trails Assoc. -
Congrats., Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5478
Vote - Affirmative 5478
Res. 2574, Walter Purdy (Amherst), Death of: Commun. Contributions-
Applaud/Condolences - Extend, Mr. E. Fage 5478
Vote - Affirmative 5479
Res. 2575, Educ. - NSCC (Lun. Campus): Anniv. 30th - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Downe 5479
Vote - Affirmative 5480
Res. 2576, Sports: Yar. Multi-Purpose Sportsplex - Support,
Mr. John Deveau 5480
Res. 2577, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101 (Mt. Uniacke-
St. Croix): Twinning - Funding Ensure, Dr. J. Hamm 5481
Res. 2578, NDP (N.S.) - Future Gov't. (N.S.): Economic Disaster -
Avoid, Mr. P. MacEwan 5481
Res. 2579, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 333 (Upper Tantallon-
Peggy's Cove): Repave - Fall, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5482
Res. 2580, Health - Cancer Care Specialists: Shortage - Acknowledge,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5482
Res. 2581, RCL (Middleton Branch No. 1): Dedication - Recognize,
Mr. L. Montgomery 5483
Vote - Affirmative 5484
Res. 2582, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Question Period: Answers -
Provide, Mr. G. Balser 5484
Res. 2583, Opposition Leader - Prostitution: NDP Policy - Reveal,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 5485
Res. 2584, Walter Purdy (Mayor of Amherst 1988-94) - Death of:
Sympathy - Extend, Hon. E. Lorraine 5485
Vote - Affirmative 5486
Res. 2585, Sports - Hockey (Baddeck & Area Atom "B" Boys/
Bantam Girls): Success - Congrats., Hon. K. MacAskill 5486
Vote - Affirmative 5487
Res. 2586, Culture - East Hants Historical Soc.: Maitland Cenotaph -
Work Recognize, Mr. J. Muir 5487
Vote - Affirmative 5488
Res. 2587, Nat. Res. - Anglers & Hunters (N.S. Fed.): Convention
(Bridgewater-9-11/04/99) - Success Wish, Hon. D. Downe 5488
Vote - Affirmative 5488
Res. 2588, Culture - Ben Kinsman (Wolfville): Natl. Youth Orchestra
(French Horn) - Accomplishments Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 5488
Vote - Affirmative 5489
Res. 2589, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Snow Clearance - Funding Ensure,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5489
Res. 2590, LWF Fire Dept./Ladies Auxiliary: Anniv. 35th - Congrats.,
Hon. F. Cosman 5490
Vote - Affirmative 5491
Res. 2591, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Riverport: Bank of Montreal Branch -
Closure Condemn, Mr. M. Baker 5491
Res. 2592, B.C. - Economy: Suffering (NDP Policies) - Recognize,
Mr. P. MacEwan 5491
Res. 2593, Justice - Bill C-68: Registration Component -
Removal Support, Mr. M. Scott 5492
Res. 2594, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Britex: Bridgetown Commitment -
Recognize, Mr. L. Montgomery 5493
Vote - Affirmative 5493
Res. 2595, Co-op Atlantic - Ellen McFetridge (Musquodoboit Valley):
Volunteerism - Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 5493
Vote - Affirmative 5494
Res. 2596, Sports - Hockey (Cheticamp Atom "A" Trail Riders):
Success - Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 5494
Vote - Affirmative 5495
Res. 2597, Fall River RCMP - Constable Al Seward: Commun Serv. -
Thank, Hon. F. Cosman 5495
Vote - Affirmative 5495
Res. 2598, Fish. - TAGS 2 Prog.: Change - Act, Mr. N. LeBlanc 5496
Res. 2599, Sports - Hockey (Maritime Junior "A"-Bent Div. Champs.):
Antigonish Bulldogs - Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 5496
Vote - Affirmative 5497
Res. 2600, Econ. Dev. & Tourism/Educ. - IT Sector: Jobs - Report
(Building The IT Workforce) Review, Mr. G. Balser 5497
Res. 2601, Educ. - Horton HS: Prefects - Appointment Congrats.,
Hon. R Harrison 5497
Vote - Affirmative 5498
Res. 2602, Justice Ronald Pugsley (Supreme Court [N.S.]):
Public Service Award - Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 5498
Vote - Affirmative 5499
Res. 2603, Educ. - Prince Andrew HS: Diversity Day - Congrats.,
Mr. E. Fage 5499
Vote - Affirmative 5500
Res. 2604, RCL (Somme Branch 31 [Dart. Zone 15]): Call to
Remembrance Comp. - Winners Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 5500
Vote - Affirmative 5500
Res. 2605, Recreation (N.S.) - Multicultural Volunteer (1999):
Prem Dhir (Truro) - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 5501
Vote - Affirmative 5501
Res. 2606, Educ. - Mahone Bay School: Music Instruments Award
(CARAS) - Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 5501
Vote - Affirmative 5502
Res. 2607, Educ. - Lun. Academy: Battle of the Books Comp. -
Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 5502
Vote - Affirmative 5503
Res. 2608, Boys & Girls Clubs (N.S.) - Kurl for Kids
(17/04/99-CFB Hfx.): Success - Wish, Hon. J. Smith 5503
Vote - Affirmative 5504
Res. 2609, Agric. - Curtmar Farms (Stewiacke): Dairy Farm-
Open House (10/04/99) - Commend, Mr. B. Taylor 5504,
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 831, Health - Medical Soc.: Agreement - Conditions,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5504
No. 832, Health - Long-Term Care Workers: Demands - Comment
(Premier), Mr. G. Moody 5506
No. 833, Health - Medical Soc.: Agreement - Restrictions,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5507
No. 834, Gov'ts. (Atl. & Maritime) - Cooperation: Agreement -
Jeopardy, Dr. J. Hamm 5508
No. 835, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Empire/Oshawa Group Merger:
Competition Bureau - Input (Premier), Mr. P. Delefes 5509
No. 836, Health - Ambulance Serv.: Reduction - Confirm, Dr. J. Hamm 5510
No. 837, Human Rights Comm'n.: Appointments - Process,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5511
No. 838, Justice - Law Reform Comm'n.: Tribunals -
Recommendations Implement, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5512
No. 839, Health - Musquodoboit Valley: Ambulance Service -
Institute, Mr. B. Taylor 5514
No. 840, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Action, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5515
No. 841, Nat. Res.: Logging Illegal - Action, Mr. J. DeWolfe 5516
No. 842, Health - Nurses: Employment (Casual) - Cease,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5517
No. 843, Justice - Seniors: Criminal Attacks - Address, Mr. M. Scott 5518
No. 844, Fin. - Gaming Corp.: Addiction - Revenue Allocated,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 5519
No. 845, Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Inquiries, Mr. M. Scott 5520
No. 846, Nat. Res. - Logging (Aboriginal): Illegal - Charges,
Mr. John MacDonell 5521
No. 847, Fin. - Overexpenditure: Resolution (1998-99) - Table,
Mr. H. Epstein 5522
No. 848, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Staples Call Centre - Incentives,
Mr. G. Balser 5523
No. 849, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Mac Timber: Creditors - Contact,
Mr. D. Dexter 5524
No. 850, Commun. Serv. - Residential Care Facilities: Per Diem Rates -
Discrepancies, Mr. J. Muir 5525
No. 851, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B.: Jobs - Provide, Mr. R. Chisholm 5526
No. 852, Health - Long-Term Care Beds: Shortage - Crisis, Mr. M. Baker 5527
No. 853, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads: Grading - Commence,
Mr. John MacDonell 5528
No. 854, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants (Frederick St.) -
Residents Meet, Dr. J. Hamm 5529
No. 855, Environ. - Hfx. Hbr. Clean-Up: Costs - Assist., Mr. D. Chard 5530
No. 856, Fish. - Digby: Wharf - Future, Mr. John Deveau 5531
No. 857, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Litter - Clean-Up,
Mr. B. Taylor 5532
No. 858, Educ. - Schools: Busing - Criteria, Mr. D. Dexter 5533
No. 859, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Budget: Businesses Assist. -
Deficit Increase, Mr. G. Balser 5534
No. 860, Health - Paramedics/Ambulance Workers: Benefits -
Increase, Mr. F. Corbett 5535
No. 861, Health - Gaming: Addiction - Treatment Adequacy,
Mr. G. Moody 5536
No. 862, Commun. Serv. - Cerebral Palsy (Children):
Conductive Educ. Prog. - Update, Mr. D. Dexter 5537
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 79, Homes for Special Care Standards Development (1998) Act 5538
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5538
Hon. J. Smith 5540
Hon. F. Cosman 5543
Mr. J. Muir 5543
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 5545
Mr. H. Fraser 5547
No. 94, Dangerous Goods Transportation Act 5547
Mr. R. Chisholm 5547
Hon. C. Huskilson 5550
Hon. M. Samson 5551
Mr. B. Taylor 5552
Mr. D. Chard 5555
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Devco - Actions (NDP): Concern - Express:
Mr. P. MacEwan 5558
Mr. F. Corbett 5561
Mr. J. Leefe 5563
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 8th at 12:00 p.m. 5566

[Page 5459]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

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

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its concern as regards the proposed Michelle Dockrill cooperative coal company as advocated by the NDP and urge full and undivided support for the efforts of this government, and of District 26, United Mine Workers of America, to secure better terms for the Cape Breton coal miners.

That will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m. (Interruptions)

Order, please. The daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing 20 signatures from Breton Bay Nursing Home, . . .

5459

[Page 5460]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . a long-term care facility in Sydney, the operative clauses which read as follows:

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I cannot hear.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: "We the Personal Care Workers, Dietary, Activity, Maintenance and Housekeeping staff in the Nova Scotia Nursing home facilities, along with our family and friends, resent the government's decision in excluding us from wage parity with the acute care sector.

We petition the government to end this discrimination and treat us respectfully as you have treated our R.N.s and L.P.N.s. We are all an essential part of the health care team in the Province of Nova Scotia.". Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to this document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing 233 signatures from residents of Pictou County concerned about public-private partnering in the construction of new schools. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned, are opposed to the closure of our seven high schools in Pictou County, which are to be replaced by two 'Mega Schools'.". I have affixed my signature to the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing 58 signatures from Alderwood Guest Home, a long-term care facility in Baddeck, the operative clauses of which read as follows: "We the Personal Care Workers, Dietary, Activity, Maintenance and Housekeeping staff in the Nova Scotia Nursing home facilities, along with our family and friends, resent the government's decision in excluding us from wage parity with the acute care sector.

We petition the government to end this discrimination and treat us respectfully as you have treated our R.N.s and L.P.N.s. We are all an essential part of the health care team in the Province of Nova Scotia.". Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to this document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5461]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition bearing 44 signatures of residents and family members of the Alderwood Guest Home, a long-term care facility in Baddeck, the operative clauses which I have already read into the record with the previous petitions. I have affixed my signature to this document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity today to acknowledge the successful efforts of a group of Nova Scotia environmental technology companies who recently returned from Montreal as participants in Americana '99. This is the environmental industry's biggest trade show, with some 7,000 participants from North America, Europe and South America attending the three day event in Montreal.

While there, our Nova Scotia companies generated a great deal of interest in the many environmental products and services being produced here in this province. Already, their efforts have led to business opportunities with distribution deals and new customers obtained, along with new leads to follow up.

Mr. Speaker, I would specifically like to acknowledge the following companies from Nova Scotia who attended the trade show. They are: Envirosoil Ltd., Environmental Disposal Concepts, Phase Remediation Inc., Downtown Halifax Business Commission, Enviro Waste, Satlantic, Trihedral Engineering, ASA Consulting, Stinnes Enerco, J&K Environmental, HDI, and Bebbington Industries.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the attention of the House one company in particular which attended Americana '99. Because of Nova Scotia's participation in this show, Environmental Disposal Concepts has landed a lucrative distribution and licensing agreement for the Bulb Eater, a crushing unit for spent fluorescent light tubes.

Just a few weeks before Americana '99, this company landed another such deal in Japan. That new deal arose after the company participated in a program sponsored by the Japan External Trade Organization known as JETRO. JETRO learned of this company through the

[Page 5462]

Environmental Industries and Technologies Division of the Department of the Environment during a visit to Nova Scotia last fall.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that we are joined by the principal and founder of this company this afternoon, and I would ask all of the members of this House to give a warm welcome to Mr. Dana Emmerson, seated in the east gallery. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Emmerson's company is just one example of Nova Scotia's entrepreneurship and ingenuity. It now employs 3 people, but hopes to ultimately hire 10 as a result of recent trade initiatives. His success demonstrates how important our efforts are in helping Nova Scotia's environmental technologies sector do business both here at home and throughout the world. His success also shows what can happen when agencies come together to support our Nova Scotia firms.

In this case, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the Black Business Initiative and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism also played a key role in helping to develop this company. I want to take this opportunity to thank the hard-working and dedicated staff of both these groups for assistance.

Mr. Speaker, there is a large demand globally for new environmental technology and our Nova Scotia companies have what it takes to compete. Staff within our Environmental Industries and Technologies Division are sharing that message with the world and people are listening. Also joining Mr. Emmerson today is Mr. Tad Borden who I would ask the House to give a warm welcome to on behalf of the EIT Division. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, it is employees, such as Mr. Borden, in our Environmental Industries and Technologies Division, who help Nova Scotia companies develop and market their products and I want to take this opportunity, and I am sure the former Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Finance will join me in thanking the hard-working and dedicated people that we have, not just in this department, but that we are blessed with having throughout our entire Civil Service. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, in the last year alone delegations from 29 different countries have come to Nova Scotia to get a first-hand look at our environmental technologies. More specifically, in the past few weeks we welcomed delegations from Sweden, Mexico and Guyana. Next month we will welcome a Russian delegation also.

The technologies here in Nova Scotia include water, waste water, computer controls, soil remediation, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and coastal zone management. We have significant expertise to ensure a growing environmental industry in this province. We have tremendous research facilities and institutions which are helping to produce new technologies and we have an excellent working relationship with other provincial organizations such as the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, the

[Page 5463]

Department of Natural Resources, and with Innovacorp and other educational institutions throughout this province.

Mr. Speaker, with partnerships like the one I have just mentioned and with Nova Scotians such as Dana Emmerson, I have every confidence that we will succeed in addressing the many environmental issues and challenges that face us here in Nova Scotia while creating many more jobs and more opportunities for Nova Scotians in the months and years ahead. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP welcome this announcement. We appreciate seeing the support that is being made available to small businesses and particularly to businesses in the field of environmental technology. It is welcome news that technology being developed and produced here in Nova Scotia is being exported, as in the case of Mr. Emmerson's company, to Japan and I believe the other deal was with the United States although that was not referenced in the announcement.

I should also mention, Mr. Speaker, not to be remiss on this point, that I do welcome the advance notice that the minister has given of this announcement. I would also like to say that we welcome the efforts, particularly in the area of environmental disposal concepts, of Mr. Emmerson's company and are pleased to see the progress that he and his partners in the Bulb Eater, 3D Marketing, are making. I am particularly pleased to see that Dartmouth companies are in the vanguard in this and I trust we will not have to wait very long before we see noxious products like these used fluorescent bulbs banned from our landfills here in Nova Scotia so we can set an example to the jurisdictions to which we are exporting these products and that we can lead by example in these areas. But again I would like to say how pleased I am to see the progress these Nova Scotian companies are making. Thank you. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Progressive Conservative Party, I certainly want to congratulate all the companies that participated in this trade show. Their success is very important to all Nova Scotians. I encourage the minister to ensure that these companies are able to grow and to thrive in work in Nova Scotia. I have noted that the minister mentioned that technology areas included water and waste water, and I think it is also important therefore that the minister remember that there are communities in Nova Scotia that still do not have access to safe drinking water. It is important for the Department of Environment to work with these successful companies on behalf of Nova Scotia communities in need of their technology. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 5464]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House about the expansion of another company in rural Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Britex has been a part of the Bridgetown business landscape for 40 years. It used to be called United Elastics Limited. Back then it was owned by Americans. It was manufacturing elastic fabrics for nearly 30 different Canadian industries, everything from clothing and medical products to furniture. In 1980, the plant was shut down and six of the managers bought it out. It is now owned and operated by Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, those new owners focused their strategy, concentrating on researching and developing new products within very specific segments of the industry. It is a strategy that is working. Britex Group is now a major supplier of elastic fabrics to Canada's biggest players in the intimate apparel sector.

This is a fiercely competitive industry, yet the company has been able to expand its sales in North America and overseas, in places like Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Australia. And now the company is setting its sights on opportunities with such American giants as Warnaco and Playtex. It is no wonder that today, nearly 27 years later, this company continues to adapt and grow.

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of joining company management and employees in Bridgetown this morning to announce the latest chapter in this Nova Scotia success story. Britex is expanding its operation. The company is installing new technology that will enable it to develop new products and improve its manufacturing process to become more competitive and to go after those giants south of the border.

Mr. Speaker, the elastic products that are being developed and manufactured in Bridgetown are expanding more than just clothes. Britex is also expanding the number of jobs in Annapolis County. The company already employs more than 200 people in rural Nova Scotia. This new initiative is expected to create jobs for another 60 Nova Scotians by the year 2001.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to report that this project is being financed with the help of a $4.9 million loan from Economic Development and Tourism. Our support, coupled with a new sales strategy in the United States and overseas marketplace will help ensure the continued success of this important Valley employer and exporter. Successful exporters like Britex are important to the province and to Nova Scotians. These are companies we are proud to support.

[Page 5465]

Economic Development and Tourism provides business counselling, export assistance and financial support to more than 900 Nova Scotian companies; 80 per cent of those are in rural areas of this province, just like Britex. These companies sell more than $2.5 billion in goods and services each year; 70 per cent of those sales are exports. These companies also generate $110 million in provincial tax revenues each year. The department's support helps these companies become more competitive, create new jobs and increase exports, all of which are necessary for a growing economy.

Mr. Speaker, I would like the honourable members to join me in congratulating Britex on this expansion and extend best wishes of the House to the management and staff of the company for continued success. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for making the statement available prior to today's sitting of the House. I guess this is an example of elastic demand in action. Growing companies from within the province with a proven track record and with a commitment to Nova Scotia and Nova Scotian workers is an infinitely preferable way for the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to work.

This company, as I understand it, has a profit-sharing plan with its employees; it encourages employee ownership. These are examples of progressive and responsible business practices, Mr. Speaker.

Of course, in any investment of taxpayers' money, there are always questions. While I understand that this company still has an outstanding debenture with this province for $1.5 million, I don't know if that had been repaid, it certainly is an undischarged debenture at this point in time. So, perhaps in the months, hopefully the weeks to come, we will know about this and the other aspects of investment by the Department of Economic Development and Tourism when the minister files his report on the Economic Development Department's activities. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to offer our caucus' congratulations to the minister on the announcement. It is indeed a good-news announcement for Bridgetown. Britex has a long history in the Valley of being a company that treats employees fairly and has a vision for the future. I think the fact that it is located in rural Nova Scotia is a clear indication of where we need to focus economic development for the future. The fact that it does include the employees in the decision-making process and was, in fact, taken over from the brink of bankruptcy by six people who were directly involved and had intimate knowledge of the company, the management team there has a strong vision of where they should be going in the future and this is a good thing.

[Page 5466]

I am somewhat concerned about the amount of funding that is being placed with the company. As was mentioned earlier, there are always concerns when taxpayers' monies are directed to support industrial development, but the point is that it is a good-news announcement and we look forward to the progress the company will make in the future. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. LAWRENCE MONTGOMERY: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the particular development of the Britex group in Bridgetown. This is wonderful news for our constituency and I want to thank the minister as well as the Cabinet of the Liberal Government for this support for this very important industry in our riding. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova on an introduction.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, to stretch a point, I would like to introduce to the House seated in your gallery, sir, my oldest son, Paul Richard MacEwan and two grandchildren, Jillian and Jamie from Sydney. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2559

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

Whereas April 7, 1999, is World Health Day; and

Whereas the theme this year is, Active Aging makes the difference; and

Whereas as the world's population grows older, efforts are shifting to focus on how all of us can work together to ensure that the latter years are healthy ones;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House take the opportunity to recognize April 7th as World Health Day and encourage Nova Scotians to maintain healthy lifestyles throughout their entire lives.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 5467]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2560

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

Whereas the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, in cooperation with Scotiabank, recently presented its Awards of Excellence in Internationalization; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Agricultural College received an honourable mention in the curriculum change category for its course on Island Food Systems; and

Whereas NSAC has focused on providing its faculty and students an international focus for their personal and professional growth, and for the betterment of agriculture in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Agricultural College for receiving this honour for its international curriculum and recognize the importance of the college to agriculture in Nova Scotia.

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 mined, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 5468]

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2561

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

Whereas the year-long celebration of our senior population during this International Year of Older Persons is being coordinated by a national coordinating committee; and

Whereas this committee selected as the national theme song for this year, Let's Live Every Minute, a song written by three Halifax musicians; and

Whereas those three musicians - Rick Gautreau, George Antoniak and Wayne Hunt - capture the positive spirit of what it means to be a senior and how we all benefit from the senior's experience and wisdom;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud these three musicians on the selection of their song as the theme song for the national celebration of the International Year of Older Persons.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2562

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

Whereas High Liner Foods Incorporated's original company was founded in 1899 in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia; and

[Page 5469]

Whereas High Liner Foods Incorporated employs 2,080 people directly and indirectly in the Province of Nova Scotia and its impacts on Nova Scotia economy is estimated to be $70 million; and

Whereas High Liner Foods Incorporated will celebrate its 100th Anniversary at the Fisherman's Museum of the Atlantic in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, on May 14, 1999;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate High Liner Foods Incorporated for their 100 years of successful operation and wish them many more prosperous years.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2563

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

Whereas April 4th to April 10th has been proclaimed as National Wildlife Week with the theme of Home is Where There's Habitat; and

Whereas all of us depend on a healthy environment for our food, water and shelter; and

Whereas by working together to sustain wildlife populations, habitats and ecosystems we can ensure a healthy environment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage all Nova Scotians to observe National Wildlife Week by taking a nature walk, planting a tree, exploring local habitats and getting to know the wildlife living there, or in their own unique way.

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

[Page 5470]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2564

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

Whereas 1999 has been declared the International Year of Older Persons; and

Whereas this year-long observance provides us with the opportunity of addressing issues arising from early retirement and an increase in lifespans; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia organizing committee, a group of dedicated volunteers has endorsed the Canadian theme, Canada, a society for all ages, in order to focus attention on the importance of educating society to the reality of an increased lifespan as more individuals move into a healthier and longer old age;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize not only the contribution to the International Year of Older Persons by the Nova Scotia committee but also acknowledge the value and contributions of our seniors' population to the overall quality of life in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5471]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2565

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

Whereas April 6, 1999, marked the beginning of a new era in family law in our province through the creation of the Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia; and

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas this new division places the needs of our children first by helping families in conflict, find solutions for mediation, conciliation and counselling; and

Whereas the creation of this new division is the combination of the remarkable efforts by more than 140 volunteers within the Department of Justice and the legal community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the contribution of those volunteers, who have spent countless hours ensuring that the vision of the new Family Division of the Supreme Court has become a reality that will support our families and our children.

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 Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 2566

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

[Page 5472]

Whereas the 1999 National Agriculture Awareness Conference was held March 28th to March 30th in Ottawa; and

Whereas the conference provides an opportunity for government and agricultural groups to work together to build awareness and understanding of the importance of agriculture; and

Whereas the province has an active agricultural awareness program that promotes agriculture and the key role it plays in the lives of Nova Scotians and the provincial economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the importance of the province's agricultural awareness activities and highlight that we all have an important role to play in supporting the continued growth of agriculture in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2567

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 Nova Scotia school system has reached an important milestone with all of our 460 schools connected to the Internet; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is only the second province in Canada to do so; and

Whereas our young people are now not only communicating with each other, but with astronauts orbiting the earth, northern explorers, and archaeologists searching for Mayan artifacts in Central America;

[Page 5473]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly acknowledge this major achievement, which one provincial newspaper has pronounced as significant an event in our history as driving the last spike in the national railway one century ago.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is celebrating its 30th Anniversary on Thursday, April 8th; and

Whereas the school has grown and evolved over the past 30 years to include over 1,300 students and 60 full-time and part-time staff; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College, Lunenburg Campus has been providing the highest quality education and experience to their students while making contributions every day to the surrounding communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House send its sincere congratulations to Principal Catherine MacLean, students and staff at the Nova Scotia Community College, Lunenburg Campus and best wishes for continued success well into the next millennium.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5474]

I am not too sure whether or not that comes under the terms of reference of Government Notices of Motion. So, before we vote or we table it, I would like to take a look at it.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2568

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

Whereas on April 8, 1999, the Canadian Cancer Society will kick off its annual spring fund-raiser when daffodils go on sale throughout metro; and

Whereas province-wide sales are expected to raise more than $400,000 for cancer research, cancer prevention programs and services for families coping with cancer; and

Whereas the Canadian Cancer Society has been, and continues to provide, invaluable support to communities for more than 50 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House support the Canadian Cancer Society's daffodil fund-raiser and encourage others to do the same.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance read a Government Notice of Motion and I am ruling that that notice of motion was out of order under that particular business. However, he is free to introduce it under Notices of Motion.

The honourable Minister of . . .

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Human Resources.

[Page 5475]

MR. SPEAKER: Well, your last two resolutions have been with regard to Community Services, were they not?

MRS. COSMAN: Yes. This is for Human Resources, sir.

MR. SPEAKER: I beg your pardon?

MRS. COSMAN: This is as Minister of Human Resources.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources may go ahead.

RESOLUTION NO. 2569

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

Whereas today marks the start of the Canadian Cancer Society's spring fund-raising initiative, the Daffodil Campaign; and

Whereas employees across government have pledged their support to this campaign by ordering bouquets of daffodils; and

Whereas the money raised in the campaign will help fund valuable cancer research;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the support government employees and other Nova Scotians are pledging to the Canadian Cancer Society's Daffodil Campaign.

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 Minister of Justice.

[Page 5476]

RESOLUTION NO. 2570

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

Whereas in recent years, public confidence in the Canadian justice system has been declining due to a feeling that offenders are not held accountable for their actions and that victims in communities have little say in the justice system; and

Whereas here in Nova Scotia we recognize that reducing repeat offences, increasing victim satisfaction and public confidence in our justice system will require smarter, more effective ways to respond to crime and conflict that can be captured by the phrase, restorative justice; and

Whereas restorative justice focuses on holding offenders accountable in a more meaningful way, repairing the harm caused by the offence, re-integrating the offender into the community and achieving a sense of healing for both the victim and the community;

Therefore be it resolved that we continue to work with justice agencies and communities to develop improved responses to crime and conflict that will create safer, more secure communities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 95 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 72 of the Acts of 1897. The Lunenburg Common Lands Act. (Mr. Michael Baker)

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

[Page 5477]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2571

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 says nursing home workers are unreasonable to expect wage parity with hospital staff doing equivalent work; and

Whereas last year the Premier declared that hospital and nursing home workers should have the same pay because they are doing the same work; and

Whereas while nursing home workers are pushed to the brink of a strike, the government found the money for a progressive new fee schedule for physicians;

Therefore be it resolved that this government respond in a positive and reasonable manner to the nursing home workers who have waited so long for the equal compensation the Premier promised them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2572

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

Whereas on one hand the NDP say they support the government's $44 million loan guarantee to Sysco; and

Whereas on the other hand they say they are not sure if they do or they don't, they must first examine the Hoogovens business plan; and

Whereas last week I tabled in this House the business plan presented to my caucus by Hoogovens;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP indicate to this House if they are still sitting on the fence or if they are still the kindred spirits of the Liberals or if they have finally come to the conclusion the plan will not save the troubled mill.

[Page 5478]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 2573

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

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources has recently recognized the Cole Harbour Heritage Park as a provincial park; and

Whereas the Cole Harbour Heritage Park is a great example of a multi-purpose nature park easily accessible to metro residents; and

Whereas the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association has worked hard to have the heritage park recognized and continues to work to improve the park;

Therefore be it resolved that the Cole Harbour Parks and Trails Association be congratulated on its success in obtaining a new park in Cole Harbour and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2574

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

Whereas on Monday evening the former Mayor of the Town of Amherst, Walter Purdy, passed away after a lengthy illness; and

[Page 5479]

Whereas Mr. Purdy, who served two terms as mayor, was known throughout the town for his volunteer efforts, his hard work and his tireless dedication to the community of Amherst as well as to all of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas among his numerous life-long achievements, Mr. Purdy was featured on a nationally broadcast variety show during the war and was a tenor soloist and a choir member at Trinity-St. Stephens United Church in Amherst for over 55 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the contributions made to Amherst and indeed to all of Nova Scotia by Walter Purdy and extend sincere condolences to his family members.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2575

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College is celebrating its 30th Anniversary on Thursday, April 8th; and

Whereas the school has grown and evolved over the past 30 years to include over 1,300 students and 60 full-time and part-time staff; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College, Lunenburg Campus has been providing the highest quality education and experience to their students while making contributions every day to the surrounding communities;

[Page 5480]

Therefore be it resolved that this House send its sincere congratulations to the Principal, Catherine MacLean, students and staff at the Nova Scotia Community College, Lunenburg Campus and best wishes for continued success well into the next millennium.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 2576

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

Whereas yesterday in Yarmouth, the Sport and Recreation Commission launched its Healthier Communities program to remind the public how important sport and recreation is to the quality of life; and

Whereas the commission used the occasion to declare that recreation matters and sport make a difference; and

Whereas residents of Yarmouth have been waiting 20 years for Liberal and Progressive Conservative Governments to honour their promise of a new multi-purpose sportsplex;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to heed the advice of the Sport and Recreation Commission by finally keeping the Premier's promise to provide the support necessary for a new Yarmouth multi-purpose sportsplex.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5481]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2577

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

Whereas Highway No. 101 is a death trap for motorists who are helpless in the event of a motor vehicle coming at them head on at a high rate of speed; and

Whereas over 40 people have perished on Highway No. 101 in recent years, the majority of them as a result of head-on collisions; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has been repeatedly informed of the necessity to begin the twinning process on this stretch of highway beginning with an especially dangerous stretch of Highway No. 101 between Mount Uniacke and St. Croix;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works ensure that enough capital funding is set aside in the 1999-2000 fiscal budget allowing for grubbing, staking and surveying work to be completed so construction work can begin almost immediately when additional funding is made available by the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2578

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

Whereas many coastal communities in Nova Scotia are experiencing unprecedented opportunity in boat building, aquaculture, tourism, offshore development and other areas; and

Whereas this opportunity is a result of the positive economic climate and spirit of cooperation fostered by this Liberal Government; and

Whereas today, the Globe and Mail reports that British Columbia's economic downturn is crippling coastal communities, which are slipping into depression-like stagnation;

[Page 5482]

Therefore be it resolved that a New Democratic Party Government has been a major step backwards for British Columbia, and a similar economic disaster can be avoided here in Nova Scotia through continued support for this Liberal Government.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2579

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

Whereas business operators who own businesses along Highway No. 333, from Upper Tantallon to Peggy's Cove, have described the Transportation Department's scheduled repaving this road as ludicrous; and

Whereas during last year's tourist season, residents and tourists were frustrated because of the two months that it took to repave this six kilometres; and

Whereas businesses suffered this past summer due to this major disruption;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works instruct his staff to complete the next stage of this repaving project in the fall and not during the busy tourist months of July and August.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Order, please. There is just too much noise in the Chamber. If you want to have a chat, please leave the Chamber.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2580

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has among the highest cancer rates in the country; and

[Page 5483]

Whereas Nova Scotia continues to suffer from a critical shortage of medical oncologists; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has repeatedly missed his own self-imposed deadlines for recruiting new medical oncologists to replace those that have left;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health acknowledge his government has failed in its duties to retain and recruit an adequate number of cancer-care specialists to serve Nova Scotians who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2581

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

Whereas the Middleton Legion Branch No. 1 was forced to discontinue its twice weekly, fund-raising bingos because of lack of interest; and

Whereas despite this setback, the Legion branch members still honoured their commitment to support local charities, seniors, veterans, the local hospital, Scouts and other organizations; and

Whereas the support the Legion was able to muster for their community totalled a remarkable $5,462;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the unwavering dedication of the many Legion branches across Nova Scotia, and give a special congratulations to the member of the Legion Branch No. 1 in Middleton.

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

[Page 5484]

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 Yarmouth, on an introduction.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, through you, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to the House, Mr. Bill Crawford, who is the President of the HOPE Organization in Yarmouth, the Handicap Organization Promoting Equality. I would like the House to offer its warm welcome to Mr. Crawford. Thank you. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2582

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

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is becoming renowned as the master of political obfuscation, manipulation and calculation; and

Whereas he has steadfastly refused to provide taxpayers with details regarding his multimillion dollar giveaways; and

Whereas his childish and churlish responses to legitimate questions of public interest are an affront to the taxpayers of this House;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism show some respect for taxpayers and the House of Assembly by providing reasoned and responsible answers to the questions Nova Scotians want answered.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to take a look at that notice of motion before it is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

[Page 5485]

RESOLUTION NO. 2583

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

Whereas prostitution is a concern of many Nova Scotians since it involves the serious issues of poverty, violence, drug addiction, and the exploitation of women; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are worried about what secret plans the NDP may have for regulating prostitutes if the NDP ever gained power; and

Whereas, as usual, the only leadership decision on this issue was taken by the MLA for Halifax Chebucto, who said he wanted to see a red-light district set up in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Nova Scotia are still waiting to hear from the Leader of the Opposition who has failed to offer the official NDP stand on the issue of prostitution.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The notice of motion submitted by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis is acceptable but I do not like the adjectives used in that particular notice of motion.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 2584

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

Whereas Walter Purdy, who served as Mayor of Amherst from 1988-94, passed away on Monday; and

Whereas during his lifetime Mr. Purdy served on many volunteer committees in his community including the VON, which elected him a lifetime member of VON Canada in 1988; and

Whereas Mr. Purdy was a lifelong member of the Liberal Party, having been a voting delegate at every national and provincial leadership convention since 1958 and also being a candidate in provincial elections in 1956 and 1960 as well as the federal general election in 1980;

[Page 5486]

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its sincere expression of sympathy and condolences to the family members of this active and dedicated servant of his community, his province and his country.

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 Cape Breton Centre on an introduction.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, through you, I wish to extend the warm wishes of the House to two gentlemen in the east gallery, Mr. Doug MacIntosh and Mr. Lauchie MacLeod, both executive members of the Cape Breton Injured Workers Association. I would appreciate the warm welcome of the House to those two gentlemen in the east gallery. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 2585

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

Whereas last weekend both the Baddeck and Area Atom B Boys and Bantam Girls Hockey Teams were victorious in the respective season-ending tournaments which they played in; and

Whereas it was the Baddeck and Area Boys Atom B Bobcats hockey team who overcame many odds and claimed the Provincial Championship by defeating Stellarton 11-1 in the Gold Medal Game on Sunday; and

Whereas it was the Baddeck and Area Bantam Female hockey players who claimed victory in their league championship playdowns;

[Page 5487]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend well-deserved congratulations to the hockey players and coaches of both of these Baddeck and Area hockey teams for their hard work, dedication and perseverance in attaining their goals.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2586

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

Whereas the East Hants Historical Society is raising funds to be put toward the erection of a memorial cenotaph in Maitland; and

Whereas the cenotaph is intended as a tribute to be paid to those who served in the country's wartime armed services on peacekeeping duties and, as well, members of the Merchant Marines; and

Whereas the erection of such a monument will add significantly to the already rich history of this community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and applaud the hard work of the East Hants Historical Society in pursuing this worthwhile endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5488]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 2587

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers & Hunters, formerly the Nova Scotia Wildlife Federation, is hosting its 69th Annual Convention and meeting in Bridgewater on April 9, 10 and 11, 1999; and

Whereas their theme is the Participation of Seniors in Wildlife Conservation; and

Whereas the federation membership under the leadership of their elected executive and the Executive Director, Tony Rodgers, has been a proactive advocacy group who provided valuable advice and comment particularly during the passage of the 1998 endangered species legislation;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly extend best wishes to the convention delegates for their most successful and productive meeting to date.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2588

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

[Page 5489]

Whereas Ben Kinsman of Wolfville and a music student at Acadia University has excelled in the playing of the French horn since school band days at Wolfville Junior High School; and

Whereas Ben Kinsman plays principal horn with the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra and has been selected to play horn with the National Youth Orchestra in Kingston, Ontario this summer; and

Whereas the 1999 Halifax Kiwanis Music Festival recognized Ben's outstanding musical abilities and awarded him the Rose Bowl as top brass or woodwind musician, as well as the prestigious President's Cup recognizing the high marks attained by this accomplished musician;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ben for his accomplishments and extend him best wishes for continued success with his musical career.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2589

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has attempted to defend his government's snow-clearing operations but without any success; and

Whereas despite the efforts of the many hard-working snowplow operators, they can only do the work assigned to them by their supervisors who operate within a budget allocated to them; and

[Page 5490]

Whereas snow-clearing was a disgrace over the past few days, with some roads not even being plowed until this morning, with many people having had great difficulty reaching the Aberdeen Hospital in emergency situations;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works climb down from his high horse and face the facts, that in the case of major snowfalls, such as this past weekend, adequate funding must be put in place to allow for the efficient and prompt removal of snow from rural roads while removing the potential for someone not having access to an emergency vehicle or a clear route to the hospital in time of need.

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

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2590

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

Whereas our communities throughout Nova Scotia are blessed with a wealth of dedicated workers and volunteers who enrich each community; and

Whereas local fire departments are often staffed by just such individuals who provide a vital and important role and service to all; and

Whereas these fire departments are often supported in many ways by a group of community volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the L.W.F. Fire Department and the L.W.F. Ladies Auxiliary on their recent celebration of their 35th Anniversary.

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.

[Page 5491]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2591

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 Community of Riverport was long served by a branch of the Bank of Montreal which provided an important service to local businesses and other members of the community; and

Whereas the Bank of Montreal has recently announced that it will be closing its branch on May 14, 1999; and

Whereas this is another example of the withdrawal of services to a small Nova Scotia community by the chartered banks;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly condemn the closure of the Riverport Branch of the Bank of Montreal and encourage the chartered banks to demonstrate their commitment to rural Nova Scotia by keeping bank branches open.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2592

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

Whereas despite criticism from the NDP Opposition, Nova Scotia's credit rating has remained firm due to the responsible economic policies of this Liberal Government; and

[Page 5492]

Whereas the careless economic policies of the NDP have caused British Columbia's long-term debt rating to be downgraded; and

Whereas this is the second downgrading in one year and is a result of the disastrous NDP budget which calls for a deficit of close to $1 billion;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the once prosperous Province of sunny British Columbia is suffering due to the NDP policies which are dangerous, irresponsible and damaging to the economy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2593

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

Whereas the Premier continues to completely ignore any and all issues relating to the registration component of Bill C-68; and

Whereas thousands and thousands of Nova Scotians want the Premier and his government to voice their displeasure with registration before the Supreme Court of Canada; and

[3:00 p.m.]

Whereas the Premier and his Liberal Government can still intercede on this issue by filing for intervention status before the Supreme Court of Canada hears an application later this fall that has been put forward by the Provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario as well as the two territorial governments;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Justice recognize the ill conceived registration part of Bill No. C-68 and move forward by asking the Supreme Court of Canada to strike the registration component from the legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5493]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2594

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

Whereas the elastic manufacturer Britex is expanding its operation in Bridgetown; and

Whereas this expansion will allow the company to export to new markets and add 60 jobs to its workforce in two years: and

Whereas this investment in jobs in rural Nova Scotia was made possible with the help of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the commitment Britex has made to Bridgetown and offer best wishes to the company as it continues to develop products and expand into new markets of the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2595

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

Whereas Co-op Atlantic has named their co-op member of the year; and

[Page 5494]

Whereas the 1999 recipient is Ellen McFetridge from the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley; and

Whereas Ellen was one of 12 co-op members nominated by other co-op members throughout Atlantic Canada and Quebec based on her contribution toward volunteer organizations in her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the efforts of Ellen McFetridge and wish her every success with her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2596

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 Cheticamp Atom A Trail Riders hockey team received a hero's welcome when they returned home from the provincial tournament in Westville on March 19th to March 21st; and

Whereas the team defeated West Hants in the championship game to bring home the Atom A Provincial Champion Banner; and

Whereas the Trail Riders can be proud of a winning streak of 15 games and two tournaments;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all players of the undefeated Cheticamp Trail Riders on their success, with special recognition to the coaches and volunteers who made their championship victory possible.

[Page 5495]

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2597

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

Whereas Constable Al Seward was the first officer to serve in the RCMP Community Office in Fall River; and

Whereas he provided an important law enforcement service for the community as well as being a valuable friend and neighbour; and

Whereas Constable Seward will be replaced in the office by Constable Roger Long since Constable Seward is involved in the ongoing investigations of the Swissair disaster;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its thanks to Constable Seward for his service over the years to the community and welcome Constable Long to his new duties.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5496]

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 2598

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 TAGS 2 program announced by the federal government failed to initiate an early retirement program for older workers from 50 to 55 years of age; and

Whereas despite numerous attempts to have the retirement age lowered, the federal and provincial Liberal Governments have refused to listen; and

Whereas the "don't blame me, blame Ottawa" attitude of this Liberal Government is no comfort to the former workers of the age group of 50 to 55 who now have an uncertain future;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the entire Liberal caucus find a new attitude that would indicate they are prepared to do the job that they were elected to do by standing up for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 2599

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

Whereas the Antigonish Bulldogs proved their bite is as bad as their bark by defeating the Halifax Oland Exports 5 to 2 on Sunday; and

Whereas the win by the Bulldogs was the clincher for the Maritime Junior 'A' Hockey League Bent Division; and

Whereas the Bulldogs came back after trailing 2 to 1 at the end of the second period;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer congratulations to the Antigonish Bulldogs on their exciting win and wish them luck in the league final against Charlottetown.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 5497]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2600

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

Whereas the Premier last week in this Legislature stated that Nova Scotia's unemployment rate stands at 10 per cent; and

Whereas the Premier has only to look at a recently prepared report entitled 'Building the IT Workforce' to see that Nova Scotia's information technology sector has immediate need for 475 trained workers; and

Whereas the information technology sector is presently contributing $3 billion annually to Nova Scotia's economy with the sector expecting to add 5,000 jobs in the next three to five years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Education and Economic Development immediately review the study so as to develop a detailed process where additional workers can be trained for employment in the information technology sector where jobs exist.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2601

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

[Page 5498]

Whereas one of the goals of the new Horton High School is to give students a meaningful say in school life and to work together with teachers and staff to make school a safe and enjoyable learning experience; and

Whereas the Principal of Horton High School, Andrew Clinch and teachers, Jim Salmon and Barry Leslie have instituted a prefect system so that students can demonstrate leadership by example; and

Whereas 40 Horton High School students have become prefects and are serving as role models and leaders of the student body to create a positive atmosphere and maintain a learning culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the student prefects and the staff of Horton High School for taking an old idea and making it work in their new school.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2602

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Ronald Pugsley was recently presented with a public service award for his extensive community work and excellence in the legal field; and

Whereas Justice Pugsley, an Appeal Court Judge in Halifax, was presented the Weldon Award for unselfish public service from Dalhousie's Law School; and

[Page 5499]

Whereas Mr. Pugsley served two terms as head of the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society, was president of the Dalhousie Law School Alumni Association and is deeply involved in the arts, church and community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Justice Pugsley on his recent award and applaud his extensive public service and contribution to his community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2603

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

Whereas students and staff at Dartmouth's Prince Andrew High School designated last Wednesday as Diversity Day; and

Whereas Principal Doug Melville described Diversity Day as a chance for students to learn more about and appreciate those differences that make their school and their community unique; and

Whereas some 35 individuals representing almost an equal number of interests were present to explore the significant issues and provoke discussion;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Principal Doug Melville and the students and staff at Prince Andrew High School and all who participated in Diversity Day.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5500]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2604

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

Whereas Somme Branch 31 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Dartmouth Zone 15 recently held its annual Call to Remembrance competition; and

Whereas four students from Admiral Westphal School in Dartmouth East were this year's zone winners; and

Whereas this competition challenges our young people to remember the past and respect the freedom that our Canadian Armed Forces fought and died for;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend our appreciation to the Royal Canadian Legion for supporting this most worthwhile competition and to congratulate Kaitie Ryan, Steven O'Rourke, Danny Cashen and Gordon Simms and wish them well as they move on to the provincial play-offs in Bridgewater later this spring.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5501]

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2605

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

Whereas Prem Dhir, a Truro resident, has been named Multicultural Volunteer of 1999 by Recreation Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Prem Dhir is the President of the Multicultural Society of Colchester County; and

Whereas Prem Dhir was the 1997 recipient of the Pettigrew Recreation Leadership Award which is presented annually by the Municipality of Colchester County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Prem Dhir on being named Multicultural Volunteer of 1999 and thank him for his continuing outstanding contribution to the betterment of our province.

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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 2606

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 Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences grants three awards of $10,000 in musical instruments to schools across Canada through its Band-aid program; and

[Page 5502]

Whereas the outstanding application submitted by the Mahone Bay School, a Primary to Grade 9 school, convinced the Academy to seek additional funds to grant four applications; and

Whereas the grant has doubled the size of the music program this year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mahone Bay School for its outstanding application and for drumming up support for its music programs.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2607

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

Whereas Lunenburg Academy students are entered in the Woozles' Battle of the Books Competition; and

Whereas students from the Lunenburg Academy have read 32,000 pages of books as part of the competition; and

Whereas Lunenburg Academy students: Nicholas Pollock, Martha Purcell, Ann Pottie, Caleb Langille, Kayla Moore, Adrian Rodgers, Courtney Glen and Christina Levy travelled to Halifax on Wednesday, March 31, 1999, and won first place in a competition against St. Mary's Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the students of the Lunenburg Academy for their participation in the Battle of the Books competition which proves that good teachers and committed students are the key to a good education.

[Page 5503]

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2608

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

Whereas on Saturday, April 17, 1999, the 4th Annual Kurl for Kids, in support of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Nova Scotia, will take place at CFB Halifax; and

Whereas this event, sponsored by ATV/CTV, is but one of many curling events being held across this country in support of Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide; and

Whereas nine Boys and Girls Clubs in Nova Scotia provide valuable programming and growth opportunities for more than 4,000 children and youth;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our appreciation to the sponsors of this event, ATV/CTV, and wish all of the participants and organizers of the 4th Annual Kurl for Kids in support of Boys and Girls Clubs of Nova Scotia a very successful day.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 5504]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2609

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

Whereas Curtmar Farms, owned and operated by Curtis Moxsom and sons of Stewiacke-Fort Ellis, will showcase one of the most modern dairy barns in Nova Scotia on Saturday between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., complete with barbecue; and

Whereas the new innovative structure will enable Curtmar Farms to expand their dairy herd from 60 to at least 150 in the coming years; and

Whereas the Moxsoms plan to make their new addition open to school tours because of their belief in the importance of teaching our young people today about Nova Scotia's agriculture industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend Curtis Moxsom and his family for showcasing the latest addition to their dairy farm operation and if at all possible, make it a point to visit the Moxsom farm in Stewiacke during Saturday's Open House, complete with barbecue.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: It being Wednesday, the time being 3:15 p.m., we will go until 4:45 p.m. finish time.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - MEDICAL SOC.: AGREEMENT - CONDITIONS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. I want to first of all commend the Medical Society for recently reaching a progressive agreement with the government that is good for patients and for doctors. It is an agreement that should speak for itself, it should stand on its own feet, yet, we understand that

[Page 5505]

this government has imposed stringent conditions on what doctors can publicly say about the health care system.

I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, why did the Premier and his government feel it necessary to get the Medical Society to commit to never criticizing this government?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): I don't know why they would anyway, Mr. Speaker. I want to suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that largely we have this agreement through the work of the Minister of Health who has worked very hard in securing this agreement.

As to the Leader of the Opposition's concerns, Mr. Speaker, I would refer the question to the Minister of Health. (Interruptions)

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the medical profession has been a very independent and proud professional group and I am sure the honourable member would know that and I would suspect that they will continue to address matters in a forthright manner. However, there are issues and that honourable member and his caucus have brought issues to the floor of the House regarding tray fees and other fees. There are issues there that we have reached an agreement on how we will proceed to the betterment of health care in Nova Scotia.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will return to the Premier and that is exactly why I commended the Medical Society for being able to negotiate this deal. I am going to table, for all members of the House, a copy of a letter from the president of the Medical Society to its members. I want to ask the Premier, as I do so, will he explain why one of the government's conditions, when negotiating with the society, was that doctors must cease and desist from speaking out, clearly a basic human right, still, in the province? Why was that one of the conditions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Province of Nova Scotia cannot impose on anyone the hindrances or any kind of harnessing of freedom of speech. With respect to the agreement, however, I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Health.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Medical Society and the Department of Health had an agreement that had a life of four years. There were some matters that came before the Department of Health, requests for some increases in fees, readjusting and ongoing deliberations and negotiations were being held. This was brought to arbitration so the whole agreement that you see, that is copied in the letter which I received at my own home a few days ago, has been agreed upon by both parties, they were brought before an arbitration body and that has been agreed to. There has been no coercion and forcing . . .

[Page 5506]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition, your final supplementary.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the Premier. In light of the problems in health care in the Province of Nova Scotia - long-term care, oncology, nursing shortages, waiting lists - I want to ask the Premier, why would this government be so concerned with silencing legitimate criticism from those who would understand the problems the best?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that our health care program in Nova Scotia is considerably better than he and the NDP like to point out. I think that it is time for him and other members of his Party to start dwelling on the positives of our health care system instead of scaring the people on a regular basis.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE WORKERS:

DEMANDS - COMMENT (PREMIER)

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. The Premier recognizes that we have two nursing homes on strike and 41 other ones posed to strike. He has indicated the government is going back to the table but I heard the Premier on the radio saying that the reason there was a strike and there wasn't a settlement was that the people are asking for too much money. I would ask the Premier what he meant by the fact that these people were asking for too much money?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I meant was that we are putting forward $84 million over three years to deal with the wage demands of the long-term care workers. That is a sizeable sum of money. For years, the long-term care workers have had different settlements in that sector and we have said that we have to make sure that they are treated better. This contract, we want standardization within that sector. We think that is a meaningful first step before we look at the question of parity with acute care.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed, look at parity, I thought he was committed to parity. I would ask the Premier if he feels that the PCWs and other workers, who are giving such good care to those people in the nursing homes, if those people making $6.00 to $8.00 an hour are making a reasonable wage and if he thinks they are making too much money?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, at no time did I ever indicate that I felt those workers were making too much money. The question is how much can we do in one contract and the fact of the matter is that it is going to take more than one contract to allow these people to be where they want to be. That is understandable by most of the people in the long-term care facilities. All we are asking for is acknowledgement that this government is doing what it

[Page 5507]

possibly can to help them. It is well overdue to take the first step that we, in fact, are taking right now.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. You know those kind of promises are empty. What the people want is a full commitment. I would ask the Premier. Since he believes in fairness and since he believes over a period of time they should get wage parity, will he, in some manner, assure those people that, over that period of time that he talks about, they will receive the fairness and the wage parity that he talks about? Will he ensure that by putting something permanently, other than words, to paper to make that happen?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable member and myself both agree that fairness is required here, and he would acknowledge as well that neither he nor I can negotiate that settlement on the floor of the Legislature.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - MEDICAL SOC.: AGREEMENT - RESTRICTIONS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to return to the government gag order placed on doctors and the Medical Society letter that I tabled a moment ago. I want to quote briefly from that letter. "The Medical Society will not publish opinion articles or letters to the editor in newspapers decrying government funding of physicians." I want to ask the Premier why this government is so desperate that it will quash legitimate criticism and stoop to these kinds of totalitarian measures?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know that the Leader of the Opposition wouldn't understand the concept of an agreement where both parties on both sides make undertakings, but I would refer the question to the Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier has just mentioned, this is an agreement that came before an arbitration body that was thought to be fair and it is. How the wording is, I am sure that we will see lots of comments from the president of the Medical Society and others, and other physicians individually, but there is no question, and if you look, and I refer you to last month's Family Physician Journal where a Nova Scotia physician had information in that journal that was incorrect, and I am personally writing a letter to that journal.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's be clear that we are not under a gag order. We can ask questions, and I want to quote again briefly from the letter. "Any negative communications, including posters from previous communications programs should be taken down if still displayed in doctors' offices." I want to ask the Premier. How is this going to be enforced? Can we expect propaganda police to be making a quick inspection in doctors' offices? Is that what we are going to . . .

[Page 5508]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no point in trying to tell the NDP, but the fact of the matter is that for some patient to go into a doctor's office and see a poster that absolutely tears shreds out of the health care system in Nova Scotia is not going to help the healing process. The NDP have to try to understand that, to wrap their minds around that concept.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier. The Premier said not too long ago that the problems in health care in the Province of Nova Scotia are a result of the millions of dollars that have been ripped out by the federal government. Now we understand that he is trying to suggest . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . that it is a result of a public relations problem. Will the Premier confirm that in fact now he has changed his story, it is a question of public relations, and he is going to shut criticism down?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the Medical Society had concerns about the health care system, they never would have signed the agreement in the first place.

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

GOV'TS. (ATL. & MARITIME) - COOPERATION:

AGREEMENT - JEOPARDY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. The Premier is aware that the issue of Maritime cooperation, Atlantic cooperation, has resulted in the School of Forestry, the Agricultural College in Truro benefitting, the IWK-Grace, the Medical School, the School of Dentistry, the Fixed Wing Airplane Ambulance Service, and so on. The Premier has indicated to his Minister of Finance that he is in agreement that we were forced out of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. As well, the Atlantic Police Academy has been jeopardized by Nova Scotia's activity.

My question to the Premier is, will he confirm today that as a result of recent events that other Maritime cooperation agreements are not in jeopardy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know of any other agreements that would be in jeopardy.

[Page 5509]

DR. HAMM: My question to the Premier is, and I hope the question will serve notice that he will perhaps think about this a bit. My question is, was he told by his Minister of Finance that the reason for pulling Atlantic Loto was we could not effect change from within or was it because Maritime or Atlantic cooperation is simply breaking down? Which is the answer?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is the third possibility and that is that we were losing $4.5 million in this arrangement. We could not in all fairness tell the people of Nova Scotia that we were in difficulty as far as finances in this province, that we had to watch where we spent our money, and at the same time give the three other Atlantic Provinces $4.5 million of Nova Scotia's money.

DR. HAMM: I believe in a roundabout way what the Premier said is we were forced out and I accept that. To continue with the Premier and to conclude with the Premier, the Premier is the chairman of the Council of Atlantic Premiers, the Council of Maritime Premiers. Will he undertake to call a meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers and put as a very important part of the agenda Maritime cooperation or Atlantic cooperation? I feel it is in jeopardy and it is something that this Premier and this province should promote.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I quite agree with the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party that Atlantic cooperation is very important, and a lot of the things with which we are dealing now are things that have been problems for a while. We would like nothing better than to be able to cooperate with the other Atlantic provinces but on terms that give fair deals to Nova Scotia; that has to be a prerequisite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - EMPIRE/OSHAWA GROUP MERGER:

COMPETITION BUREAU - INPUT (PREMIER)

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question this afternoon is for the Premier. After the merger of the Empire Company and the Oshawa Group, 80 per cent to 90 per cent of the food service wholesale business in Nova Scotia is going to be in the hands of one company, but this merger of the Sobeys and IGA food distribution networks is still subject to the approval of the federal competition bureau. Mr. Premier, did you write to the competition bureau in support of this merger?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I did write to the competition bureau supporting the fact that Sobeys had the right to the merger. They were a good Nova Scotia company, but acknowledging at the same time that the decision had to be the competition bureau's to make.

[Page 5510]

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, this merger has serious implications both for the consumer and for the food and restaurant industry. Many people are worried about the effect it will have on food prices. Will the Premier inform this House what consultations he held with consumer groups and with the food industry before he threw his weight behind this merger?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, any organization in the Province of Nova Scotia has the right to write the same letter to make the same application. There is no question that if there is a concern, they can make the same overtures.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DELEFES: My final question to the Premier, what studies has your government done of the impact of this merger on food prices in Nova Scotia and will you release those studies to public scrutiny?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question of whether this merger is going to hurt, either in reality or in supposition, any group in Nova Scotia is not going to make any difference in what information they have. They have access to the same information we do and they have the right to complain about the merger the same as any group in Nova Scotia.

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

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERV.: REDUCTION - CONFIRM

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The minister is aware that we are now operating in this province with 40 ambulances less than we did before EHS took over the system. Will the minister confirm that the system status planner of EMC is reviewing the number of ambulances in service in this province with the idea of reducing the number of ambulances even further?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will not confirm that. I am not aware that that is so, but they are continually looking at an upgrading and deployment of those ambulances. This has probably been one of the most successful parts of health reform. I think it is a very positive initiative and the whole contract with that group is based on performance evaluation.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would like through you to inform the minister that, in fact, the system status planner for EMC has been to Pictou County and has recommended that in the New Glasgow area there be one fewer ambulance. My question to the minister is, does he have any information that would allow him to agree with and support further ambulance reductions in the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 5511]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is misinformed. There was not an ambulance removed from that particular community that he is speaking of. There was an extra one that was being held there. The ambulances in Nova Scotia work now. They run. We had counts that he is referring to, there was actually one community in northern Nova Scotia that was down as having four ambulances; two did not have engines in them when that Party over there was running the ambulance service.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to inform the minister that we are not down one ambulance in New Glasgow, we are down two. We used to have five where now it has been suggested we get along with three.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

DR. HAMM: My question is - and I understand that there are performance standards available which EMC must rely on and conform to - will the minister express whether or not he has any concern that despite these performance standards, many paramedics in this province are still being required to work 68 hour shifts?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the issue of workers and their qualifications and training is a matter of review. It is all part of what is built into the performance standards. I have concern when anyone has to work long hours, particularly in the health care system. That honourable member is quite aware of that, but there are initiatives in place. These will be monitored and a lot of that time, although it is counted as hours, is actually on-call time, although that can be demanding as well and I admit that.

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

HUMAN RIGHTS COMM'N.: APPOINTMENTS - PROCESS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, through you my question is to the Premier. We all know how tremendous and important human rights are to Nova Scotians and to Canadians. We are also very well aware of the role of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission in protecting the rights of those people who live in this province. My question to the Premier is, can the Premier explain to this House the process by which his government scoured the province for the best, most highly qualified members of the Human Rights Commission?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that no government puts a higher value on human rights than does this one, but to give the answer to that question, I would like to refer the matter to the Minister of Justice.

[Page 5512]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as stated yesterday, it is absolutely fundamental that the Human Rights Commission reflect the diversity, the ethnicity, the geography of this province and the gender balance that is necessary in the full fulfilment of their duties.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the government appears to be convinced that it has found the best available people for the new Human Rights Commission. My question, again to the Premier, is, when will the government release, for confidential scrutiny to the other Parties, the names of the 150 unsuccessful applicants for the jobs?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the members opposite were ruled out of order for imputing motives to people who volunteered to serve their province and whose names were brought before the Human Resources Committee of this Legislature, with all documents appertaining thereto, and are now in their place as commissioners of the Human Rights Commission.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if that is a yes or a no. The new chair of the Human Rights Commission, as we all know, was the Minister of Justice's official agent in 1998. He is also a white male lawyer with no track record in the human rights area.

My final question to the Premier is, why didn't the Premier's government seek out an appointed chair to the Human Rights Commission that has personal and professional experience with human rights protection?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government undertook a process that is fair and one that works. I would like to refer to the Minister of Justice for further response.

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Justice Critic last week, in his question, criticized the Associate Chief Justice's appointment and recommendation by this government, having served 21 years the people of this province. The member opposite is asking what qualifications do Nova Scotians have to serve their province? Those qualifications are laid out in all the detail that had been provided to the Human Resources Committee, fine Nova Scotians working on behalf of the people of this province.

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

JUSTICE - LAW REFORM COMM'N.:

TRIBUNALS - RECOMMENDATIONS IMPLEMENT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Justice. The Nova Scotia Law Reform Commission in 1997 recommended that appointments to boards and tribunals in this province be clarified and improved. My question to the Minister

[Page 5513]

of Justice is, why has the Minister of Justice's government refused to implement the Law Reform Commission recommendations for improving the appointment process for tribunals?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, I assume, is referring to the appointment process for agencies, boards and commissions. A committee of this Legislature sits and scrutinizes every document that comes before it. A wide advertising campaign is done to find Nova Scotians willing to serve their province, and the members opposite would have us believe that they have cornered the market on human rights. I can assure you that we take our job seriously on the government side.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Justice is serious, then I suggest he look at the Law Reform Commission report that said that both the position description and the appointment process must be open, clear and impartial, all of which are sound bases for democracy. So my question is, why is the Minister of Justice opposed to an open, clear and impartial process for the appointments to tribunals?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the members opposite would have us believe that they have cornered the market on openness and transparency. Until one of the members that wants to serve this province does not quite meet their criteria, fine Nova Scotians serving their province in a full and open process through a committee of the Legislature.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice yesterday, outside this House, was very proud to say that the selection of the new Human Rights Commission was done in a fair manner. My question is, if the selection process is truly fair, then why has he and his government rejected the Law Reform Commission's recommendations to improve the process?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party has a knack of trying to pit one Nova Scotian against another when it doesn't suit their political agenda. (Interruptions)

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

MR. HARRISON: One day criticizing one of the finest justices in the province for a cheap political point, Mr. Speaker. The people of this province will continue to see the condemnation of Nova Scotians from the floor of this House and they will judge the NDP. They will judge.

[Page 5514]

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

HEALTH - MUSQUODOBOIT VALLEY:

AMBULANCE SERVICE - INSTITUTE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Health. Is the Minister of Health aware that in the Musquodoboit Valley, because of our growing industrial base, the two largest sawmills in the province, farms, heavy commercial traffic, hospitals, homes for special care, seniors' homes, et cetera, that we have hundreds of ambulance calls on an annual basis to the Musquodoboit Valley. Will the minister tell this House why no ambulance has been placed in the Musquodoboit Valley as recommended by the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley Regional Health Board nearly two years ago?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the whole system of the deployment of ambulances is done on a very sound and practical way throughout this province. We have an ambulance service in this province that is second to none. Yes, sometimes they are not as visible as they used to be, parked by a hospital perhaps, but they are in the communities and they are serving the communities. If there are specific problems in that area, this is being monitored. I think the system is working well. We are saving lives in Nova Scotia.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the system isn't working well and most of those calls are either outside the maximum allowable time or just within the maximum allowable time. Is the minister aware that those calls are at the far end of the permitted time limits?

DR. SMITH: I don't review all times, Mr. Speaker, but if they are exceeding the limits, the whole function of the contract that has been signed is based on performance and that is built in, that's part of it and that will be dealt with in the process.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Director of Emergency Health Services, Dr. Michael Murphy, has, in fact, told the Eastern Shore-Musquodoboit Valley Regional Health Board that he is very concerned about the lack of ambulance response times, about how poor they are. When is this government going to do something about it?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is a hypothetical question. I am not sure that Dr. Murphy went and told that the responses were poor and outside the limits and inadequate. If he has something in writing to that effect, table it in the House and not come here with this rumour-mongering stuff.

[Page 5515]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - NURSES: SHORTAGE - ACTION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Recent changes as to how doctors are paid is one of the first signs we have seen that this government is thinking seriously about the doctor shortage, but we face an equally serious problem and that is a nursing shortage. My question is, will nurses have to wait as long as doctors have for action from this government?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the payment of physicians within Nova Scotia relative to the rest of Canada does not substantiate what that person just said about physicians waiting long periods of time. We have kept ground.

The question about nurses is a very good question and very important. Nurses are the backbone of the health care system, there is no question. We are actively working. I have met with groups as recently as a week ago, Mr. Speaker, and we have an action plan, we have a working group in place and we will be addressing this particular issue, especially the issue that the honourable member for Kings West brought . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham, your first supplementary.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Nurses were expecting an answer from this government at the end of March. They still don't have it. Since 1993 this government has cut community-based public health jobs for nurses. My question is, if the minister is really committed to improving rural health care, why has he cut back community-based nursing services?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are working with the regional health boards and the needs of the community are being assessed. I have visited communities such as the Yarmouth community and have had direct reports relative to nursing services. There have been changes made where it is weak but this is a system that is delivering service closer to the people in their own communities and we are supporting that.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, our nurses are both overworked and in need of jobs that make better use of their skills. My question is, what are the minister's plans for providing sustainable funding for full-time nursing jobs throughout the province?

[Page 5516]

[3:45 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, within the budgetary process, this will be addressed with the non-designated hospitals, the regional health boards and through them will flow budgetary resources that will address the issue, particularly the issue of casuality of nurses. I think the acuity of care is an important issue, but, also, the casual workers are important within the nursing profession and we are working with the regional boards and the hospitals to address that issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES.: LOGGING ILLEGAL - ACTION

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Through you to the minister, the Progressive Conservative Party raised concerns last year concerning illegal logging operations that were taking place on Crown land. Can the minister tell me what concrete action he has taken? What changes have taken place since the concern was first raised.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. The situation, relative to native harvesting, we are monitoring what is happening. For a year and one-half, we have been dealing with representatives of the Mi'kmaq chiefs through the Fish and Wildlife Commission and they have stopped negotiations with us, but our doors are always open for the Mi'kmaq or any other body or persons to talk about native harvesting.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, back to the minister. I am confused, the cutting seems to be still taking place. There seems to be two sets of regulations. Can the minister explain why his department has permitted illegal operations on Crown land to continue in Kemptown, Colchester County, while halting Crown land cutting only five kilometres away at Mount Thom, Pictou County?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, any harvesting, whether it is illegal or legal, our department monitors what is happening and we will continue to do that. If people are harvesting, they could be charged and we will continue to do that.

MR. DEWOLFE: The trees continue to be cut. Will the minister commit today that he will apply the law evenly across the province, so that the law applies to every county?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I think that is what our department is doing. We are monitoring what is taking place in the forest industry and if there are lawbreakers, we will deal with that.

[Page 5517]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - NURSES: EMPLOYMENT (CASUAL) - CEASE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This government's approach to health care is directly responsible for turning full-time nursing jobs into casual positions. Almost 70 per cent of nurses who graduated in 1997 could only find casual employment. My question is, what are the minister's plans to stop the trend of employing nurses on a casual basis?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as I said in answering the previous question, these are matters that I have brought before the non-designated hospitals, the organizations and the regional boards, the issue of casuality. This is an issue and we are working with that. I don't believe, in the long run, that that really saves money. That is primarily, I think, what all organizations and all businesses try to do when they offer casual employment. But I think, in the long run, it is contributing to low morale in the nursing profession.

I would like to say that nursing issues are really across this country today. A walk-out by nurses could mean a care crisis. Saskatchewan may act to force staff back to work.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: In Saskatchewan they are talking about forcing nurses back to work.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister will table the document.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham, your first supplementary.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well, nurses are about to graduate from nursing schools throughout the province and they will be leaving this province very soon for better opportunities if we don't know what the plan is. My question is, what is the minister prepared to do to make sure that those nurses can find secure, full-time opportunities here? What will he offer them?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, you hope that reasonable people will do reasonable things. We are working with the facilities that hire nurses. We are working with the Nurses' Union, with the registered nurses and all the other groups, and we are dealing with the stakeholders, I guess that is the common word to use. Out of that will come a plan, and we will try to provide funding within our budget that will meet any increased demands of that. It is a commitment that we have made and we have a plan for that.

[Page 5518]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It sounds like the same plan the minister has for the long-term care sector. Will the minister table his plans for dealing with the nursing shortage by the end of today, if he has the plan?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no, it is a work in progress. There is some information that will be available to her in the fullness of time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - SENIORS: CRIMINAL ATTACKS - ADDRESS

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. This government is encouraging senior citizens to stay in their own homes which, by the way, we feel is a good initiative, but too many times today we are seeing seniors' homes illegally entered in this province and vicious assaults and robberies committed on these people. Seniors are scared to death; many are afraid to stay in their own homes. My question to the Minister of Justice. What is he doing to address this very serious situation in the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, not only is the crime rate reducing in Canada, but also in Nova Scotia. Notwithstanding the fact that crime rates are going down, including violent crimes, I don't know that there has ever been a time in the province's history where the police forces, municipal and RCMP, have worked in partnership more effectively with community groups across this province to accomplish the safe communities that this member opposite is asking for.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Justice Minister. Will the Justice Minister agree that home invasions, as they have become known, are violent and vicious crimes which cannot be tolerated and must be addressed now?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I didn't hear the descriptive adjectives.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member please repeat his question?

MR. SCOTT: Again to the minister. I am wondering if the minister would agree that these home invasions as, they have become known, are vicious crimes against seniors and must be addressed now?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question. There is no question that in the definition of safe society what police forces will do - again municipal and provincial police forces - they will go and assess a particular area, the pattern of crimes committed in that area, work with the communities, not imposing solutions but working with the

[Page 5519]

communities to reach solutions, and that is happening in community after community across the province.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister. Will the Justice Minister agree today in the Legislature, on behalf of the seniors in Nova Scotia, to forming a task force, which has been done in this province before, including police, Crown Prosecutors and Justice officials, to determine ways these criminals of cowardly acts can be taken off our streets so seniors can feel safe in their homes once again?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice meets more often than once with the Senior Citizens Secretariat of this province. Let me reassure the member opposite that by not committing to a provincial task force, what we are committed to are regional and community-based task forces that go after the pattern of the problem and more importantly, benchmarked and measurable solutions to crime prevention and safe communities, and that is happening now and it will continue to happen.

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

FIN. - GAMING CORP.: ADDICTION - REVENUE ALLOCATED

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Mr. Minister, your government is addicted to gaming revenues. It is an addiction that has cost Nova Scotians dearly. These dollars are being earned at the expense of Nova Scotian families. My question is how much of your profit have you set aside to help families suffering from government sponsored addiction?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this is a serious issue and one that our government takes seriously. I know programs that are currently being dealt with through the Department of Health have spent millions of dollars, programs within Community Services are being reviewed, and the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation has provided funds to help individuals who are addicted to gambling. We take this matter very seriously and are spending millions of dollars provincially to help deal with this issue.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Well, my question quite simply. I would like to know what is the government doing to actually assist the people suffering from gambling addiction, especially in rural Nova Scotia?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy if the member opposite wants to sit down and go through the detailed programs that we currently have with Health and other departments and programs that we are currently working on. I would be happy to share that information with her at any time.

[Page 5520]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think that all Nova Scotians would like to know what it is that is happening because they are asking us about it. They do not see the evidence out there.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: I am asking the minister again, the Gaming Corporation intends to provide only start-up costs.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: How does the government expect any programs that it institutes to survive?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of programs that we are currently providing to Nova Scotians that are having addiction problems but notwithstanding that, the issue is that the monies that are driven to the province from gambling, whether you like gambling or you are opposed to gambling, all go back into programs such as health, such as education, such as community services, and all the main departments of government. They are there to provide additional revenue for Nova Scotians. Let her not forget that. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

FISH. - SENIORS: LICENCES - INQUIRIES

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I wonder if the minister can tell us today if he or his office have received any phone calls from seniors regarding the fishing license decision yesterday that was made here in this Legislature pertaining to 1999 fees, contrary to a previous resolution that was passed?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, we have received a few calls on the issue.

MR. SCOTT: Will the minister tell the seniors of this province who have many concerns that are being ignored by this government why his department continues to ignore this important issue?

MR. COLWELL: This is a very important issue, but it is an issue (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 5521]

MR. COLWELL: It is a licensing program that was put in place a long time ago for conservation and to ensure that our fishery is there for the future and the children of the future. Evidently, the Opposition and the Opposition members are not interested in conservation and ensuring that people be able to go fishing in the future.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my last question is to the Premier. Will the Premier tell the members of this House and all Nova Scotians today when, in fact, if a resolution receives unanimous consent of the members of this House, is it not indeed a commitment of the Nova Scotia Legislature?

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

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, again I am going to repeat what I have already said, it is very important to make sure we conserve the industry and to make sure that the seniors and their grandchildren can go fishing in the future, in another 25 or 30 years. You only have to look at the commercial fishery to see what has happened there, if we do not do these things. The money that goes forward to the conservation is so important to the whole industry. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - LOGGING (ABORIGINAL): ILLEGAL - CHARGES

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. One of my constituents, Blaine MacLeod, gave up work to start a job with a native trucking contractor. He and others have been warned that if they haul logs cut by native loggers, they are at risk of being charged. He has stopped and others have not. My question to the minister, and the answer they need to know, is will these truckers be charged? (Applause)

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I would assume if any trucker is out on the highway with an illegal cargo, he could be charged.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Again, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Natural Resources, is his department threatening the mill owners that are buying logs cut by native loggers and has he made the mill owners aware of his intentions?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, we are always in dialogue with the mill owners. The mill owners know very well what is happening out there. I have no evidence that they are buying illegal timber. If they are, or if the honourable member knows that somebody is buying illegal material, then he should report it to the proper sources.

[Page 5522]

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: It is the minister's department. He might be interested in finding out himself. A year and one-half of negotiation, why has this government continued to negotiate in a confrontational way with native loggers?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, again, if the honourable member has any information, I wish he would table it or send it to our department because I have no evidence that such activity that he states here today is happening.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - OVEREXPENDITURE: RESOLUTION (1998-99) - TABLE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature will know that in the laws of the province, the Expenditure Control Act and the Provincial Finance Act require that, before overexpenditures are made, the consent of this House be obtained by way of a specific resolution. That did not happen in 1997-98. The resolution for $184 million was not even introduced until last November and has never been called. My question is, for the Minister of Finance, when will we see the resolution required for 1998-99?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: The resolution for 1998-99, the year was just completed, Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite will realize, over history, that they have normally been tabled within the fiscal year, not unlike what we did last year. We tabled it. The House is still in session. It is before the House and I presented those numbers, clearly, to the members of this House with the resolution and, not only that, we came in with a balanced budget and a surplus in the Province of Nova Scotia of $38 million.

MR. EPSTEIN: The requirement, Mr. Speaker, is not just that a resolution be tabled, let alone that it be tabled a good seven or eight months after the end of the fiscal year, the requirement, under law, is that it be tabled before the end of the fiscal year. I am prepared to see some allowance, but it is, in fact, an offence under the laws of this province not to bring that in. My question is, is the minister aware that it is an offence and a serious requirement, under the laws of this province, that such a resolution be obtained?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is the crystal-ball gazer of the world, the one who can predict everything that is going to happen. I would like to know if the honourable member could possibly determine any overexpenditure before the year-end, and it was only a matter of one week or so away that we had finished the year-end. The books are not even finished for the month of March. So the member opposite understands that we have complied and filled out and presented that information to the Legislative Assembly in accordance with the Act.

[Page 5523]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, we are perfectly prepared to be reasonable and flexible, but the question is, it is required in the law, why not bring in the requisite resolution now? What is the problem?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the additional appropriations that were spent over last year was presented to this House. They are on the docket. The numbers are there. I read the resolution. We came in with a balanced budget, the second balanced budget. We are going to have more balanced budgets in the Province of Nova Scotia. They are just frustrated by the fact that this is the only administration that has brought fiscal sanity to the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: STAPLES CALL CENTRE - INCENTIVES

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is directed to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Last week, I asked the minister if he would tell the taxpayers what the government provided Staples, by way of incentives, to locate in Halifax. The minister responded by saying he does not negotiate, nor will he discuss such details on the floor of the House. Would the minister tell the House if he has concluded the deal with Staples, or is it still being negotiated?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. The deal with Staples has been concluded some time ago. Staples is a very important initiative for the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is located in Sackville and it is providing jobs for a number of people in the Halifax Regional Municipality and I think it is an excellent addition to the province and to the workforce.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, once again, to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Would the minister indicate then why it is that he is not prepared to tell the taxpayers what it has cost them to have the Staples call centre come to Halifax?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as you well know and as the honourable members opposite know, we conclude agreements with every company that comes to Nova Scotia and wants to locate in Nova Scotia. There is a lot of proprietary information in those agreements that we do. I have said it before and I will say it again, I don't negotiate agreements on the floor of this Legislature.

MR. BALSER: Once again to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. He has already indicated that negotiations are finished. I find it curious, and perhaps he can explain, why the Premier, in commenting on the Staples deal said, the details of this project will be released as the project progresses. When will they know?

[Page 5524]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the details are being released. We have put out numbers of people. The important thing here is that we are providing jobs for Nova Scotians who need these jobs.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MAC TIMBER: CREDITORS - CONTACT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Last week this government announced that the troubled Minister of Economic Development is conducting an internal investigation into his Mac Timber fiasco. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that this comes as little comfort to those who are owed millions by Mac Timber.

My question is, has the minister spoken with any of the creditors? Has he spoken with the Maritime Lumber Bureau? Has he spoken to Ivan Sorensen, the former plant manager?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: No.

MR. DEXTER: I can tell this House that the minister's investigation into his own failing has not even included a phone call to Mr. Sorensen, the former plant manager, who has documents relevant to any serious investigation.

My question, Mr. Speaker, the minister has known about the concern surrounding Mac Timber for more than two months. Why hasn't he contacted the person who has made the most serious allegations in this case?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite well knows, I stated in this House a few days ago that if Mr. Sorensen or anybody else connected with that particular operation has a problem, instead of bringing the problem to the member opposite, they should write to me and I will deal with the problem which I hear from him.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my final question is to the Premier. He stated publicly that there will be an investigation. How can the public have any confidence when this minister has not lifted a finger?

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in keeping with what I have heard about economic policies of the NDP in this province, nothing would surprise me. I told the honourable member, and I will tell him again, that we are meeting with the receiver. We are investigating everything that went wrong with that particular operation. Given the fact that

[Page 5525]

we were not the lead agent - the federal government was - we feel very badly that that situation ended up the way it did and we are getting to the bottom of it.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - RESIDENTIAL CARE FACILITIES:

PER DIEM RATES - DISCREPANCIES

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. It appears that there is a major discrepancy among the per diem rates received by licensed residential care facilities in Nova Scotia. Will the minister confirm that some residential care facilities receive as much as $250 as a per diem rate while others are paid a per diem rate of $43.54?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think when the honourable member opposite asks a question like this it really reflects his failure to understand the complexity of care giving that goes on in our sector, with all our people we serve. Some have a certain set of needs, others have an enormous set of needs. Based on the needs, the care is adjusted accordingly and, of course, the per diem is adjusted accordingly.

MR. MUIR: Back to the Minister of Community Services - you know that there is a Dartmouth facility operated by Miss Abbass that receives $250 per diem as its rate, which is more than 600 per cent the rate received by other facilities of a similar type that are operating in the province. Could you explain why that facility should be entitled to 600 per cent of the per diem of other facilities?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it comes back to what I just said in my first answer. Across this province we serve a number of people with a huge variety of needs, and those needs have to be met on an individual case-plan basis. That drives the cost factors associated with the per diem rate. Some people have enormous needs; other people have lesser needs. That is the cost-driving factor.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Community Services. Madam Minister, you have explained that there are differences in the levels of care provided. Will you commit now to providing a transparent account of the distinguishing features among those licenced care facilities by tabling a breakdown of how per diem rates are determined, and provide the rates for each of the facilities?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, that almost sounds like a request for a House Order, but I will certainly do my best. We have absolutely nothing to hide in this area of how rates are set, the rates we provide. It is a very transparent process and has been for years. I would be happy to try to comply with as much information to make sure that this member is well informed.

[Page 5526]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - C.B.: JOBS - PROVIDE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Such people as Father Greg MacLeod, Mayor David Muise and international experts like Donald Savoie, say that the relocation and location of government jobs must be part of an effective Devco transition plan for Cape Breton. I would like to ask the Premier, is it the policy of this government that it will locate new jobs, and relocate other jobs, to Cape Breton to help shield that region's economy from the Devco shutdown?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have said on numerous occasions that we are going to be working with the community on projects for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. We, as a government, are looking at possibilities and we will replace jobs in Cape Breton, and we give that undertaking.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the Cape Breton Post this week, a Cabinet Minister says he is optimistic that he can convince the Department of Finance to place 100 new lottery jobs in Cape Breton. My question to the Premier is, why has the Premier made the location of government jobs the subject of lobbying for political favours among his Cabinet Ministers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has no understanding of the situation that exists in Cape Breton. You have an area that has chronic unemployment and is very concerned about the future. Certainly when they see that Nova Scotia may be doing its own lottery, they would naturally expect that they would be given attention for the location of those jobs there. That is a natural reaction from a group and a community that wants economic success in their community; no one can fault them for that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the question has to be asked, don't government employees and Nova Scotians expect better than a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" strategy for this province? What is this government's overall policy on the location of new governments jobs? Show some leadership; give us your policy.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government's policy is to develop the economy of Cape Breton, as the rest of the province. The fact of the matter is there is no point in throwing money at a situation until we are actually sure that the jobs are going to be successful and are going to be meaningful in that area. We will give that undertaking to the people of Nova Scotia that the jobs will be meaningful.

[Page 5527]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE BEDS: SHORTAGE - CRISIS

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Will the Minister of Health confirm to this House that he feels that the shortage of long-term care beds in this province is a critical shortage that requires immediate attention?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the need for long-term care beds has long been identified. It is not critical, but there is a need and we are working on that. The Premier has made commitments to that. The Department of Health is going through a process of evaluating requests for additional beds throughout this province and being assessed region by region.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health earlier accused another member in this House of rumour-mongering. Was the minister rumour-mongering when in the Speech from the Throne he announced all those extra long-term care beds in the province, because if they weren't needed on an immediate basis, what was the point of announcing them last year?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if you understood that question, but I didn't. I don't know if you can direct me through it. Rumour-mongering, is there a definition within the House of Assembly on this particular issue? We have made a commitment to the long-term care sector. It has been long neglected. When that honourable member's Party held office for 15 years, it certainly was a neglected system within the health care system and we have recognized that. We are addressing it and we have a plan.

MR. BAKER: It is a very simple question, Mr. Minister. The question is - it is like the old commercial, where is the beef? Well, Mr. Minister - where are the beds and when are they going to be open?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, 41 beds have been allotted, some in the Cape Breton area, some in the Colchester area. The evaluations are being made of proposals. Some are local. (Interruption) Yes, the honourable member from the Sackville area will be making his point. Everyone in this House of Assembly has areas of which they would like to see the long-term care bed issue be addressed and we are working on that. We are not pitting one group against another.

[Page 5528]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ROADS: GRADING - COMMENCE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The minister's department says that graders cannot be taken onto gravel roads because the roads are too soft. Well, spring has come early and roads are drying out earlier, therefore they are not so soft. Will the minister get the graders out on these roads early so that residents are able to travel these roads without endangering themselves or wrecking their vehicles?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, first of all I would like to just explain to him that we cannot put a very heavy vehicle out on the gravel roads that are that soft, because what would happen is we would lose that vehicle down through that roadbed and it would cost the department a lot more to go out and have another vehicle pull that vehicle out of the mud. As the road hardens up, we will have our graders out there, just as soon as the roadbed is dry enough to do that.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that is my point. The roadbed is drying out. On April 5th the spring weight restrictions were lifted for several communities in this province, however, not in Hants County. Will the minister lift spring weight restrictions in Hants County earlier so people making a living as woods contractors, construction contractors and truckers can get back to work?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, first of all I would like to say that you have to wait until the roadbeds dry out. In southern counties, for example Yarmouth County and in the southern area, the roads have dried out a lot earlier this year. We have staff that are monitoring these roads in central Nova Scotia and in northern Nova Scotia, and as soon as they reach the factor that they have dried out enough, then we will push ahead to open the highways.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister's department has a policy of forcing individual depots to rent equipment from the department, including graders. Why is the minister charging high rental fees to taxpayers to use equipment purchased with taxpayers' dollars?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, could the honourable member repeat that question, I didn't hear the last part of it?

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, why is the minister charging high rental fees to taxpayers to use equipment purchased with taxpayers' dollars?

[Page 5529]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I believe what the honourable member is referring to, after we complete grading all our roads in the province, there might be some private roads that private contractors or private individuals want us to go in and grade. We can't do that for free. We have a set rate, a set fee that they have to pay to grade private roads.

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

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS:

POLLUTANTS (FREDERICK ST.) - RESIDENTS MEET

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. The minister is quite aware of the concerns of the residents of Frederick Street, concern about the conditions that exist in their neighbourhood. My question to the minister is, have you had one formal pre-arranged meeting with the residents of Frederick Street?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. As the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party knows, I took the opportunity, shortly after being appointed to the post of the Department of the Environment, to go down directly to Frederick Street and, as minister, I went and actually knocked on each door, went inside, sat at the residents' kitchen tables, talked with them, heard their concerns in an environment where they could each individually tell me as minister what their concerns were, the concerns they had with their children, the concerns they had with their family. We went to each home and we discussed this with each resident.

DR. HAMM: The minister indicated shortly after being sworn in as Minister of the Environment that he was going to treat Frederick Street as a top priority. Since that time, by his own admission, other than a drop-in, he has not fulfilled a commitment to have a formal meeting that would allow the residents to be prepared. Does this mean that the minister now does not consider Frederick Street a top priority?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable leader is well aware, this government takes this issue very seriously. There are a number of government agencies working on this issue. As I said, right after my appointment, I went down there and I wanted to meet with the residents personally. Unlike the NDP, I did not want to make a road show and try to get some publicity for myself personally. I wanted to go down there, meet with each resident personally, not play on their fears and not play on their concerns, but to give serious consideration to those people's concerns, and we are continuing to give that consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 5530]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, will the minister, who acknowledges that the people on Frederick Street live next door to one of the worst toxic sites in North America, commit today to arranging a formal meeting with the residents of Frederick Street so they can, in an organized way, provide the minister with their concerns and what it is they would like done on their behalf?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier in my response, as minister I wanted to go down there and speak to each resident personally. For someone in this House to say that the residents of Frederick Street are not organized, are not well aware of their concerns, and need some sort of a time-frame before they convey to me and this government what their concerns are is an insult to the residents.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted the opportunity to go down there and speak with each resident individually and hear their concerns, not have a show, not have a circus like what the NDP would do, but to speak to them individually.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - HFX. HBR. CLEAN-UP: COSTS - ASSIST.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, last night the Halifax Regional Council decided to spend $316 million on the Halifax Harbour clean-up. This is a much-needed initiative and a long overdue project, and very important to the environment of this city. My question for the Premier. What will the province be doing to help out with the cost of the clean-up? (Applause)

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

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, Mr. Premier. I think it is clear to say that we are all quite proud of the decision taken last night by the Halifax Regional Council; it has been a long time coming. It is a difficult decision, but certainly one that we are proud that they made. A decision was made last night to go ahead with this and we are waiting for the proposal to come from Halifax Regional Council so that we can continue, as we have done for years, to discuss with them this issue, to work towards the proposal, and we are going to wait to have that proposal before us before we make any further comments on this.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, it is good to hear that there is a commitment there, but I think we need to see the exact nature of that commitment. Plans for the clean-up have been in the works since well before the province's initial promise back in 1988 of a $73 million contribution. My question is for whomever would care to answer it. This government has had a long-standing commitment to fund this project, where is the money?

[Page 5531]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is quite clear that this government has been working for years with the HRM to address this issue and we are going to continue to work with them. We are waiting right now for a formal proposal to come forward from Halifax City Council and we are going to continue to work with them, and once we have that before us, we will be able to discuss this in more detail and, at this point, to try to make statements before we see a proposal is premature and is irresponsible.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, like Halifax, Little Dover and many other communities throughout Nova Scotia need money for their sewage treatment plants. Through you, to the Minister of the Environment, when will there be a firm commitment from this government to help these communities?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, once again, the NDP only talk about the outstanding issues. They don't talk about the government accomplishments. Just last week, I stood here and announced funding for the Sherbrooke community water facility. The week before, we announced another for the Sydney water facility.

MR. SPEAKER: This is not the time for a ministerial statement.

MR. SAMSON: We will continue to work on this. We have a $1 million fund . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

FISH. - DIGBY: WHARF - FUTURE

MR JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Like most coastal communities in this province, the community of Digby is confronted with uncertainty about what is going to happen to its wharf. They need to have it transferred from Transport Canada to DFO, so it can be turned over to the local harbour authority. My question to the Minister of Fisheries is, what is he doing to help Digby?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: It is a real difficult question to answer because they never approached me for any help.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, Transport Canada is currently negotiating with a private consultant, who determined there was no community interest in operating the wharf and that he would like to have a go at operating it. He expressed that.

My question to the Minister of Fisheries is, what is he doing to ensure that the Digby wharf, which supports about 1,000 jobs, will not be taken out of community control?

[Page 5532]

MR. COLWELL: Again, Mr. Speaker, I have never been approached by the community of Digby to intervene on their behalf and I would be only to glad to do so. There is a whole process through the harbour authorities to take harbours over. From what I can understand, and just going from recollection from newspaper reports and one thing or another I have seen, that nobody in the community was interested. If they are not interested, they cannot take it over.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Well I am really pleased that he is aware and I am glad he keeps up with the Chronicle-Herald, Mr. Speaker. My question to the minister is this. What is his department doing to make sure that community economic development programs of the government work to help coastal communities keep their wharves?

MR. COLWELL: I would like to thank the honourable member for that question. That is a very important question in Nova Scotia, especially to the fishing industry in the rural areas. As he knows, the federal government is divesting themselves of wharves in Nova Scotia. It is a serious concern for us and we are working with many harbour authorities to ensure that they can maintain their wharves and maintain the rural communities and the fishing industry in those communities.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWYS.: LITTER - CLEAN-UP

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. For some time now, the Progressive Conservative caucus has been receiving a lot of complaints from Nova Scotians and tourists alike saying that not only do we have the roughest and poorest roads in Nova Scotia, we have the dirtiest highways in Nova Scotia.

My question is simply this, excluding volunteer groups and Adopt-a-Highway programs, what is the government doing to clean-up our highways?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, we have the Adopt-a-Highway project, which the honourable member mentioned. We have crews that are out that clean up the highways, that cut the grass and look after them all over the Province of Nova Scotia.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I said to the minister, excluding volunteer groups, adopt-a-highway, et cetera. What is the government specifically doing to clean up the highways in this province, to make them more presentable?

[Page 5533]

MR. HUSKILSON: To the honourable member, I have just stated that we do have crews out that are working on the highways. We have them working in the summer and in the spring. They are out cleaning the highways all over the province.

MR. TAYLOR: This Liberal Government decided a few years back to let the weeds grow up on the sides of the highways, probably so we couldn't see some of the garbage. But nonetheless, Mr. Speaker, I want the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to tell Nova Scotians and tourists how much they have budgeted to actually clean up the highways in this province?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I would like to inform the honourable member that we pay approximately $800 million a year to pay down the debt that that government ran up in 15 years. If I had that $800 million a year, I would pave a lot of roads in the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: BUSING - CRITERIA

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Parents of Grade Primary students in my riding are justifiably concerned about the requirement that their five year old and six year old children will be required to walk 2.4 kilometres to their elementary school. The Minister of Education is responsible for the safety of students. The question for the Minister of Education is, have you required school boards to adopt comprehensive criteria for the provision of busing?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for raising that question. I will take that question under advisement. I want to make sure just whose responsibility it falls under, in terms of providing transportation service to the students across Nova Scotia. I will get back to the honourable member with an answer to his question.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the safety of the students in those schools is ultimately the responsibility of the Minister of Education. I want to ask him, will the minister require school boards to include safety in the criteria for determining whether or not busing will be provided?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the honourable member that when it comes to the safety of students in Nova Scotia, whether it is the Department of Education and Culture or the local school board's jurisdiction, I think everyone, both partners, certainly look at providing the safety to all students across Nova Scotia.

As I have indicated to the honourable member, I will take that question he raises under advisement and I will certainly, in time, report back to the honourable member.

[Page 5534]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, regardless of whose responsibility it is to draft the plan, will the minister direct the school board to protect the students of this province and to file with the minister a comprehensive busing plan which addresses the safety of those children?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated through you to the honourable member, I will take that question under advisement and I will provide the honourable member with the information he is requesting this afternoon.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - BUDGET:

BUSINESSES ASSIST. - DEFICIT INCREASE

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, in the past few months the minister has, with great fanfare, announced his department's financial support to a number of businesses in this province. The announcements have included $200,000 to Mac Timber, $10 million in loan forgiveness to Michelin, $2.5 million to Watts Communication, and the list goes on.

In the December reports, the Finance Minister has indicated that the Department of Economic Development is $18.5 over budget. Will the minister indicate how much that deficit has grown as a result of his largesse?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I see that if nothing else has happened in this session so far, the honourable member opposite has learned a new word - largesse, and I want to compliment him for that, I really do.

To answer the question, this member and all honourable members will have a chance to look at the estimates of my department when we table our budget.

MR. BALSER: The question remains, the minister's reluctance to talk about the details of his department's business deals leaves the taxpayers wondering. He is going to clearly state to the taxpayers of this province in the budget estimates how much they are on the hook for? Is that what we are given to understand, to have to wait until then?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: No, Mr. Speaker, what they are going to hear leading up to that is the fact that my department has had a 96 per cent success rate in this province. We have loaned over $400 million since 1993 to 900 different companies and 96 per cent of them are doing very well, thank you.

MR. BALSER: On March 12th the Daily News carried an article that quoted department officials as saying that they were moving to develop a more prudent and responsible way of spending taxpayers' money to attract new business. Would the minister

[Page 5535]

comment on what that prudent and responsible way of accounting for taxpayers' money will be?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: No, Mr. Speaker, but I will tell you and tell the honourable member opposite that we will continue to develop initiatives in this province that will create jobs, including the ones we have recently created in his constituency.

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

HEALTH - PARAMEDICS/AMBULANCE WORKERS:

BENEFITS - INCREASE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health, through you. Paramedics and ambulance workers are the latest groups of health care workers to threaten walkouts. Most of them earn about $20 less per hour than their counterparts in other provinces. They are forced to work extra days without their consent. My question to the minister is, what is this minister doing to bring these workers up to the national standards in this industry?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the paramedics are a very important part of the pre-hospital care in this province. Finally, there is some order coming out of chaos, really, within the emergency health services in this province. This will be a first time for a negotiated settlement. There is a process that is taking place and we, in turn, will follow with interest the results of that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, as the minister is aware, some dispatch officers do not even have enough staff to cover vacations, sick days, or even lunch periods. Will the minister make sure these workers do not continue to put their own health at risk and the health of their patients at risk and will he commit to hiring more permanent emergency service employees?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I may have missed part of that so-called question, but really I think he is describing it as it was. I think he should get a dose of reality and look at what is happening out there now since one owner has really taken over across this province.

MR. CORBETT: That same minister, Mr. Speaker, about evidence of what was going on in the Town of New Waterford when they could not get an ambulance and he knows very well . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. CORBETT: My question is, why has this minister allowed this situation to get so bad? Why has he again waited for a situation to become a near crisis?

[Page 5536]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am just waiting now for the next election so we can see the ads again that the NDP are going to run to scare the people of Nova Scotia. There might be a crisis in New Waterford but it is not the ambulance situation. It is probably the member that has come to this House of Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Kings West. (Applause)

HEALTH - GAMING: ADDICTION - TREATMENT ADEQUACY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, it is nice to get a warm round of applause before you start.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health I know is aware of the problem with gaming addiction in the province. He is also aware of the money that has been put aside to the Gaming Corporation to deal with those are addicted by gaming. I would ask the minister if he feels the level of treatment provided to gamblers in this province that are addicted presently today, the programs are adequate?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think that is a pretty fair question because I think the area of treatment of addiction for gambling is new. I think it is grounds that are not well documented and known. We have had studies available to us that have indicated the problem gambler and one highest at risk. Programs have been designed for that, but in all fairness I think there is work to be done in that area. We are working with other jurisdictions. I think we are doing better than many jurisdictions, but there is work to be done.

MR. MOODY: I am pleased that the minister is saying there is work to be done, and I agree, this is the new addiction. The minister is aware of the work being done at Recovery House in Antigonish and they have had success in dealing with addicted in-patients; in other words, it is longer term than by a telephone conversation.

I would ask the minister, since he is willing to work with people outside the province, is he willing to work with people inside the province, like Recovery House, to assess their programs to see if they are working, on an in-patient basis, with those who are addicted?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Recovery House that the honourable member refers to is under the Eastern Regional Health Board. Of all the programs that we look at, generally it is not recommended that permanent residency be part of the gambling addiction treatment. I think that is not an initiative that I, as Minister of Health, would want to pursue, that we set up recovery houses throughout Nova Scotia where you have resident programs. I think programs lend themselves, I think you have to have people in the community to have access.

[Page 5537]

We have that with very skilled counsellors on open lines, that can be called in, and that is where we are putting our efforts.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. On one hand the minister acknowledges the new addiction and he doesn't know what works. Now he is telling me that in-patient treatment doesn't work. I want to know on what authority he is saying it doesn't work and would he please - if he hasn't - go down to Recovery House and they can show him and prove to him that it actually does work with many of their clients. I ask the minister, would he reconsider the Recovery House and the good work they do; at least give them the courtesy of giving them the opportunity for some funding to continue their work?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the issue of treatment of addiction is very complex. There are usually cross-addictions involved and, yes, in residency programs, addictions to gambling are addressed along with alcohol and drugs; it is multifaceted. The point being, it is not an initiative of this government at this time to set up houses for gambling addicts.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour. You only have a few minutes.

COMMUN. SERV. - CEREBRAL PALSY (CHILDREN):

CONDUCTIVE EDUC. PROG. - UPDATE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, last fall I wrote to the Minister of Community Services about the province's lack of a conductive education program for children with cerebral palsy. I also questioned the minister about this issue last December. On both occasions I was assured that a consultation process had begun. I would like to ask the minister, what are the results of those consultations?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I had a problem hearing the question, I am sorry, but I believe you were asking about consultations around care for . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Conductive education.

MRS. COSMAN: Oh, I am sorry, conductive education. Yes, there is a process as you know, and I tried to outline it very fully to you in the letter that I sent you back, and the answer is no different today than it was when I wrote you.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, at that time the indication was that consultations were ongoing. Unfortunately, all the responses with respect to conductive education have been very vague. I would ask the minister to explain what specific measures will be put in place to help the families access this very expensive treatment?

[Page 5538]

MRS. COSMAN: I thank the honourable member opposite, Mr. Speaker. It is obvious as we go down this road, in this area - and you did point out in your earlier correspondence that some of these new modalities are just really breaking in Canada and across North America - we do have to go down the road of assessing how well these work, and how we would deliver a model if we were to accept that that was the way we were going to go. The process of consultation brings out those various elements, there is no quick answer on any of this. It is very complex, as I know you will appreciate.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, a real quick question.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in fact I agree with the minister. I would ask though, when will the minister introduce conductive education pilot projects so that Nova Scotians can access these programs in their own province?

MRS. COSMAN: Clearly, if it becomes a decision of the department that that is the way we would go, then you certainly would be made well aware of that. I cannot commit to a certain date on that question because we are not there yet with the analysis.

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I believe the agenda has been given to you and to both of the other House Leaders. So, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 79.

Bill No. 79 - Homes for Special Care Standards Development (1998) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this is an bill to require the government to develop modern standards for homes for special care, and this is a very important bill in front of us today. As recent as yesterday, the honourable Minister of Health

[Page 5539]

admitted that this sector, the continuing care sector, is one that has been neglected. A statement that he made when we were here in the fall session and a statement that he made last year when we were here in the spring session.

[4:45 p.m.]

The intention of this bill is to require the government, to push the government, to nudge the government along to address what is a very serious situation and has been an ongoing problem for many years now, and that is the lack of modern standards in the continuing care sector. First of all, it is very important that we are all on the same page when we talk about homes for special care.

The homes for special care include nursing homes but they also include residential care facilities that are not necessarily facilities that house seniors but can also include facilities that house and provide services and care to people who are unable to live independently or people who are unable to be cared for by family members but who are people who have developmental disabilities, perhaps mental health problems. Homes for special care encompass a variety of residential settings not merely settings where senior citizens are housed when they require care in a nursing home.

Now what this Act would require by way of moving us to a situation where we have modern standards is a process of consultation. We think that consultation is the basis on which you can arrive at very good, very healthy, very comprehensive standards in this industry, the continuing care industry. Consultation would occur by involving the administrators in these homes for special care, by involving residents and representatives of residents in the homes for special care, by involving family members of residents in the homes for special care.

A very important feature, I think, of providing services needs to be the inclusion and the involvement of family members who frequently feel alienated and isolated in terms of having any input into the way nursing homes are operated. I know that through my own constituency, quite often I see people, people who have family members in a nursing home or in a residential facility and they find it very difficult to have input into the licensing, the operation of the homes, they are rarely included in consultations and meetings with the Department of Health. I think this is something that we really need to look at and we need to address.

Additionally, employees in homes for special care and their unions, their associations that represent their collective interests need to be involved in the developing of standards and the community at large. There are many interest groups that have a significant expertise in working with various populations, such as the Alzheimer's Society which comes to mind. They are frequently aware of the kinds of programs and support required in these facilities to adequately stimulate and provide the kinds of environments required by people in such

[Page 5540]

facilities, to make their lives comfortable and meaningful. I think all these things are very important in terms of moving us toward a more modern set of standards for homes for special care.

This bill also sets out some of the issues, the parameters, the mandates, if you will, that such a consultation process would have to take into consideration. In addition to preparing guidelines and standards for care and guidelines with respect to issuing licences for homes, I think a very important aspect of what needs to be assessed, in light of the current situation and the current context of health care and health reform in Nova Scotia, we really need to look at how we fund homes for special care. We have had situations in Nova Scotia where there is a huge inequity in the per diems across the province. We see that standards around accommodation often are not equitable as well.

Certainly one of the very real problems in homes for special care today is the inadequate attention to staff/patient ratios. I have been told that it is a common practice in many homes for special care to have shifts understaffed, that if a staff member calls in and is unable to come to work, that person will not necessarily be replaced on that shift. In fact, often if you have two people who call in and are unable to come in for a shift, only one person will be replaced. This results in serious difficulties for residents inside nursing homes. So we really need to pay attention to this.

One of the things that has occurred in our facilities in the last few years is that more and more of the people who are housed in the long-term care sector are people who require heavy care, Level II care, when initially what was required in this sector was Level I care. So these are things that certainly must be paid attention to. They need urgent attention. Obviously we need to look at the concern of wage parity for the staff, which we spoke to last night in the resolution. The workers in this sector are doing work that is equal to the work being performed in acute care sectors. We need to rectify the inequity of that situation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to join in debate on Bill No. 79, an Act to Require the Government to Develop Modern Standards for Homes for Special Care. I would like to thank the honourable member for his interest in homes for special care. I am sure that this government is very much committed to ensuring quality care in these facilities. I think whatever happens, however the funding is done, however the regional boards are involved or whatever, in the programs in the community, sooner or later the standards really come back to be the responsibility of the minister and the Department of Health, and I accept that. So I think this is a very important topic.

[Page 5541]

Before I really begin I would like to explain that the Minister of Community Services, the Honourable Francene Cosman, will be joining me in this debate this afternoon, as part of the existing Homes for Special Care Standards Development (1998) Act is shared between the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services.

The Department of Health uses the Act to ensure standards for the 70 nursing homes in this province. We provide financial assistance to residents in nursing homes and homes for the aged and are responsible for licensing these facilities. We take the job very seriously and we are committed to responding to the needs of the long-term care sector.

The Department of Community Services is responsible for all of their homes under the Act, including the residential care facilities which the minister will explain in just a few minutes.

Mr. Speaker, we have achieved many accomplishments under the existing Homes for Special Care Act and are confident that we are sufficiently addressing the needs of the long-term care sector. There are standards in place. They do exist and they are being followed. At the same time, I want to acknowledge that we are currently working with the Department of Community Services to enhance our overall approach to continuing care and program planning, including standards for funding, licensing and other key areas.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 79 is not telling us anything that we don't already know. In fact, it is supporting many of our current initiatives. The Auditor General's Report for 1998 noted areas we need to review and which we will address in 1999. For example, we will address the issue of single entry access this year. As usual, the honourable member opposite is long in rhetoric, but very short in the detail. I was listening very carefully. She is asking us to develop modern standards for homes for special care, but does not say what these standards should be to back up the Act. I appreciate her concern, but it is not necessary.

Let me tell you what we have accomplished under the current Act. In accordance with the current Act, we approved and funded 12 major capital construction projects in the long-term care sector over the last four years. We built brand new facilities to replace nursing homes in Pictou, Caledonia, Lockeport and Glace Bay. In addition, we will completely replace the nursing home in Truro and, in fact, we will expand it by 20 beds. Additional capital projects include major renovations on nursing homes in Antigonish, Beaver Bank, Eastern Passage, Annapolis Royal and Inverness.

Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of these initiatives, which reiterate our commitment to the long-term care sector. There has been approximately a 10 per cent increase in staff during the last four years in long-term care. This means more than 570 new staff, including registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. They have been hired to care for the men and women living in nursing homes across this province. We believe this had made tangible progress in addressing staff-patient ratios across the province. There was an 18 per cent

[Page 5542]

increase in funding to the long-term care sector last year. This translates into an additional $20 million being spent in nursing homes in Nova Scotia, bringing the 1998-99 year budget to $133 million for the long-term care sector. This is, indeed, quite a fiscal accomplishment.

Now let me address the area of licensing. To begin, I would like to quote a section of the 1998 Auditor General's Report, "We attended an inspection of a nursing home in late 1997 and found the inspection to be thorough, including a detailed discussion with administrative staff on the findings resulting from the inspection.". During the Auditor General's review of our licensing process, we did mention that we are currently reviewing legislation surrounding nursing homes and homes for the aged, to better reflect current practices. In addition, we are currently reviewing a draft document outlining some standards of care in nursing homes.

Consultation seems to be an area of concern for the honourable member opposite. On that note, I want to say that current regulations require the operator of a nursing home to ensure there is an opportunity for management and employees and management and residents to meet together to discuss the operation of the home, as it relates to the care and well-being of the residents and the safety and security of the home itself. We recognize that residents and staff should have an opportunity for input, and that is why we have put forward this regulation.

In addition, staff in the department have met with staff representatives from homes and members of boards of directors. These meetings take place in a formal and informal basis. In addition, during site inspections, staff meet with the home administrators, residents and staff. We always review and respond to any issue raised. Accordingly, to Bill No. 79, the honourable member opposite would like us to ". . . prepare guidelines for staff requirements, qualifications, remuneration, safety, training and work environment;".

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, any adjustments in remuneration rates would indeed be respectful, would have to be respectful, of the collective bargaining process. We don't want to circumvent the collective bargaining process which is so valued in our health care system. Regarding her concern about safety, training and work environment, these are all areas which are already being mandated through the Occupational Health and Safety Act. This is an Act which mandates requirements for all employers including the long-term care sector to adhere to.

Mr. Speaker, we are pleased with our many accomplishments to date, but certainly do recognize there is more work to do. My department is committed to pursuing that work through established working relationships, relationships that are already up and working. We will continue to make progress in the enhancement of the important program area of long-term care. Therefore, in effect and in summary, I see absolutely no need for Bill No. 79 and I will not support it. Thank you.

[Page 5543]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I find it intriguing in standing to respond to this debate that we have before us a request for an Act for the government to develop modern standards when we are already there. I think it just indicates once more that the member who introduced this bill really doesn't have comprehension of exactly the momentum and the progress that is being made in this field over the past few years.

I think what is important is to begin by educating you, since the honourable member is requesting that, about the fact that just a few years ago we did set up a joint ministerial committee (Interruption) Do I only have one minute? Wow. Okay.

We have a number of things in progress not the least of which was the question around common standards, common qualifications and new minimum training and qualification standards for the direct care staff working in this sector which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Community Services. This is really an important first step in the implementation of standards which will really enhance the quality of care and programming for persons that our sector services.

It will greatly benefit the workers in this sector as well, because as you go down the road over a few years achieving standardization of qualifications, you then get the capacity to look at how people are being paid relative to the qualifications they have, and you have the capacity for comparability which is something we hear quite often in this House. We have a provincial advisory committee in place.

I see that I am being signalled that my 60 seconds is up, and it is unfortunate because this is such an important topic. I will be voting against the bill. Thank you.

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak about Bill No. 79, an Act to Require the Government to Develop Modern Standards for Homes for Special Care. The person who introduced the bill, the honourable member for Halifax Needham, I am not entirely clear on her rationale for the introduction of the bill. I would have welcomed a little bit more clarity in her comments.

Mr. Speaker, we discussed it in our caucus, and to be quite frank, it is sort of a motherhood thing. The Minister of Community Services and the full-time Minister of Health also spoke in rather glowing generalities that everything was fine. The fact of the matter is that everything is not fine in this sector. I am not sure that this particular bill as it is presented would add anything to make it any better. If the bill was going to make the situation better, then I would look at it a little bit more favourably.

[Page 5544]

Clearly qualifications and standards, there have to be these things, and the question is whether the standards are appropriate. One of the things that bothers me about the bill the way it has been presented is that if we look at Clause 3 where it does list a number of people who should be consulted, and perhaps others as well, I guess one of the things that strikes me about the way the bill has been presented, it is clear that when the bill was developed that they were thinking that homes for special care or nursing homes, the staff there would be represented by labour unions. I would submit there may be situations, and very good situations, where staff is not organized, at least their representatives would not be recognized under the Trade Union Act, but there may be other associations or, indeed, simply the individual association in a particular facility to represent the concerns of the employees. (Interruption) Yes, indeed, it could include people who are organized, no question. Indeed, in most of the province I think they are.

One of the things that does concern me, Mr. Speaker, is that as everybody knows, and it has been raised on the floor of this Legislature, there are a number of Nova Scotians who are being well cared for by homes for special care or nursing homes which don't necessarily meet the requirements that are currently in existence in the province. I would like to see any attempt at redefining the standards to take a broad and new and fresh look at the care of people, particularly seniors or others who might need special care. There is a failure to recognize currently, and I congratulate the Minister of Community Services and I assume the Minister of Health, for finally getting to the point where they would recognize that the regulations that currently exist or the standards that are currently in place to govern these operations, could be expanded and that there are other ways of caring for people and providing excellent care for needy people who do not necessarily fall into the parameters we have now.

Another thing I find with this bill, it tends to restrict to what currently exists. It really doesn't seem to provide much opportunity for looking for maybe a different system. Clearly it seems to me to have been based on what currently exists. In the community I represent we have a broader spectrum of special care facilities than this would probably incorporate.

I am also inclined to say, Mr. Speaker, that there is a difference between practicality and ideality. I think maybe the member who introduced the bill may have been thinking on the ideal level and forgetting about the practical level at the same time. For example, she does mention safety. I agree that the safety of the residents is paramount, but she doesn't include that there are also safety regulations; the Occupational Health and Safety Act regulations I think would be mandatory for any of these organizations. (Interruptions) They aren't? I am surprised, I thought everybody was covered by that.

MR. SPEAKER: There is too much chatter on both sides of the House.

[Page 5545]

MR. MUIR: Another thing is the definition, Mr. Speaker, of consultation. What I think the bill implies is necessarily that the government would take direction from these groups. I think they are all groups that should have input but, if the implication, the intent of the bill is that these groups would be dictating, as opposed to providing valuable input, I would like to have that clarified because when you introduce a bill like this, to me, sort of common sense would say that if you are seeking input about how to improve standards for homes for special care or residential care centres, then you would consult these people. I think that would go without saying.

Looking, as well, Mr. Speaker, at qualifications. When I hear qualifications and I am afraid, despite my background in education, I think we are becoming an overqualified society. We are requiring people to get qualifications that are not necessarily - over-credentialed, I guess, is what I am saying rather than qualified. I change that word to credential as opposed to qualification. We have to have qualified people, but I get afraid of too much credentialism.

The Party standing to my right have spoken on this a number of times, about a fair return for your investment, a fair wage. One of the things that we have a problem with right now is that people go off and they get great credentials and all you have to do is take a look at the student loan problem. People have gone out and gotten credentialed, which is good, but the way the situation, the job market is, for them to really to have the opportunity to pay back their loans, given the wages they have, I just think sometimes it is impractical. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak for a few minutes on Bill No. 79, An Act to Require the Government to Develop Modern Standards for Homes for Special Care, tabled by the member of our caucus, the honourable member for Halifax Needham.

Mr. Speaker, it is amazing to hear the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill opposing basically the gist of this bill. But it is only surprising to somebody who does not know what is going on in this House. Isn't it so that today, on this memorable day, the news broke that Dr. Mullan, the President of the Medical Society, put a gag order on his GPs. He is, obviously, the Minister of Health, putting a gag order on his Tory junior partners and so a very good bill that would virtually improve the sorry lot of our seniors and of our participants in special care homes will be forgotten. This is what I call a very obedient servant and I congratulate the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill for his act. What do we expect of a junior partner in what I call a failing coalition, nothing more, but it was, nonetheless, very telling.

[Page 5546]

Mr. Speaker, in my riding, there are two homes for special care, by definition. One is for seniors, Shoreham Village, and the other is Bonny Lea Farm, a home for special care founded by private citizens some 30 years ago, where participants, for whatever challenge they are admitted, are cared for, often over a lifetime. I think the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill has done a rush job on the needs of these two particular institutions.

At Shoreham Village, there are about 80 residents cared for by 120 totally dedicated nursing home workers, underpaid nurses, underpaid PCWs, underpaid cleaning staff, underpaid kitchen staff and underpaid administrators. If that is not reason enough to remind the government that it is its duty to start thinking of putting the whole sector of special care into some form that is predictable, that can be developed, the standards of which can basically spread all over the province. If that is not reason enough, I do not know what is reason to sit in this House.

[5:15 p.m.]

A Greek philosopher, whose name I do not remember at this moment, was asked by one of his pupils what type of future does Athens have? The philosopher answered, the type of future can be read by what you do for your infirm, for your young and for your old. Is that not so? Those are the people that are in our homes. They are not necessarily sick. They are not necessarily infirm, but most of them are either young or old and if that is not reason enough that the Third Party and the governing Party get their act together and listen to what the honourable member for Halifax Needham very clearly outlined in a one page bill and that is set standards for care, set standards for recruitment of staff, set standards for qualifications of staff, if that is not understandable, what do we have to do to make this government realize that the people at Shoreham Village, that work there, are in a strike position because the government has forgotten that it is not just seniors that live in those homes. There are people that care for them.

Had there been a universal Act in this province, Mr. Speaker, that governs those homes for special care, there would at this moment not be 3,000 employees in our long-term care facilities in a legal strike position. The Minister of Health, all he has done, he has recently said, well, we will discuss it with them sometime next week. They have been in a strike position for nearly one-half a year. If those seniors were living in Athens in ancient Greece, the prophecy of that philosopher would come true. It would mean Nova Scotia would have no future because, after all, is it not so that how we care for our seniors, or for our residents in our special care homes, is a reflection of the fibre of the morality of our society?

These are people that cannot lobby for themselves. These are people that at the best of times can go to their union, if they are unionized, and ask for help, but the participants and residents in those homes cannot strike. They can only wait and pray that people like the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill understands that Nova Scotia is developing rapidly into something of a two-tiered society. There are the people that are Liberal and then there

[Page 5547]

are the people that are close to the Liberals, the Tories, and then there are people that are neither.

Our residents in our long-term facilities are non-political. All they have in common is that they are old. They have belonged to any Party but they are old or they are sick or they are infirm or they are young and have problems. Isn't that a truly bipartisan effort, this bill, to get our act together - no pun intended - and make the long-term care and special care sector a shining example of what Nova Scotia should be? If we do that, Mr. Speaker, our province will indeed have a good future. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Antigonish.

MR. HYLAND FRASER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place to speak for a minute or so on Bill No. 79 that was proposed by the member from the opposite side. I would like to tell you that in my riding we have one of the finest long-term care facilities in the province and I believe the first facility of its kind in the province to receive a three year accreditation approval some years ago; it was the first in the province to do that and it has continued to receive that kind of accreditation by outside agencies ever since.

I was proud to have served on the board of that nursing home that was referred to earlier for approximately 13 years. One of the things and one of the priorities of the board, besides its policy setting job, was to ensure that top quality care was always available to the citizens of our community who were forced to spend their remaining days in a facility of long-term care. I am pleased to say that through the years of the service that I provided in that community, that nursing home always provided top-notch care. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 94.

Bill No. 94 - Dangerous Goods Transportation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak for a few moments on Bill No. 94 which I was happy to introduce last week. I did so on behalf of my caucus in response to indications from the federal government that they would be accepting huge quantities of weapons grade plutonium into this country and potentially through the Port of Halifax.

[Page 5548]

I thought it was extremely important, as my colleagues did, that we ensure, given the fact that this decision was made without any consultation with Nova Scotia, without any consultation in fact with the Canadian public, that we try to do what we can to make sure that we don't allow the federal government to just begin to ship this very hazardous product in through our harbour and ultimately through our province. That is want we wanted to do.

It has been interesting because the government has said, when the bill was introduced and when questions were asked in the House, well, gee, we don't know, we don't know what is going on with this, and it is not a problem anyway. They sound like the executives of tobacco companies who are still saying that there is nothing wrong with cigarette tobacco, that smoke doesn't do anything to people, all the while they are paying out lawsuits outside of court in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The point is here, that we have a waste from nuclear weapons which is very dangerous. Do we want to have that product transported through the Province of Nova Scotia and exposed to the people of Nova Scotia? I say no. The Minister of the Environment may think it is okay, and he may be like so many other pathetic politicians who have stood up and played with hazardous products like the member for Cape Breton Nova who rubs himself in arsenic to show that it is okay. But Nova Scotians are fair-minded, Nova Scotians understand the implications of a product that is as hazardous as this.

You know what? In December 1998 a Liberal-dominated House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee rejected this proposal. They rejected the proposal that was being produced, that was being ramroded through by the federal government because they understood that with the evidence they had collected, with the expert advice they had received, that in fact we didn't know enough about the dangers associated with this substance, that we didn't know enough about the procedure that was going to be employed to supposedly get rid of this product, and therefore they recommended that we not proceed.

There have been a number of concerns that have been raised. This is something that dates back to 1996, as Jean Chretien said at a nuclear safety summit that they would allow plutonium from nuclear warheads here in the Province of Nova Scotia from both Russia and the United States to be imported to Canada and burned in the nuclear generating stations.

AECL and Ontario Hydro have been lobbying since 1993 to have this happen, Mr. Speaker, but you have to wonder whether or not this is not simply an attempt by the nuclear industry, in Ontario in particular, to try to keep themselves rolling. An industry that has been subsidized to the tune of about $15 billion, nearly $16 billion, is pushing this. They want to see this because they see it as being an opportunity to keep their industry alive. Not a good enough reason as far as I am concerned; not a good enough reason at all.

[Page 5549]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has examined this question and there is not enough evidence to suggest that this process will, in fact, do what it is that AECL claims it will. Only a tiny portion of the plutonium is eliminated in this process, Mr. Speaker, meaning that Canada will be left with 40 per cent to 70 per cent of the original amount and we will still need to find a solution to the nuclear waste disposal problem. I think it is important, given the seriousness of this issue, that we understand, that we put up whatever protections we can as a provincial jurisdiction and that we understand what it is that could potentially happen, instead of all of a sudden we get a report that there are unmarked vans travelling through Nova Scotia from the U.S., full of weapons-grade plutonium. Then, what is the Minister of the Environment going to do? He is going to get up and he is going to shake his finger at us. He is going to shake his finger at the NDP and say, oh, it is your fault; it is your fault. Shameful, shameful, shameful response.

There has been no discussion in public about this issue. There has been no discussion publicly about this happening and yet they have already approved the test burns going on in Ontario, Mr. Speaker. They are already beginning to make commitments. The public is worried and we have to do something about it to protect Nova Scotians from this hazard and that is why we introduced this bill.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is an amendment to the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act. It is pretty straightforward. It ensures that nuclear material used or intended to be used in, or nuclear waste from nuclear weapons, will not be allowed to be transported into or through the Province of Nova Scotia. We already have some laws that protect the transportation of dangerous goods in the Province of Nova Scotia, the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act, but we believe that as the Act is currently written that it would not prohibit the shipment of this particular substance. So we want to make sure that any loopholes that may exist are, in fact, closed and that is why, in fact, we have introduced this legislation.

Who could be against this? Who could be against protecting Nova Scotians from a very serious potential hazard to their health and safety? Who could possibly be against it? You know there are some, Mr. Speaker, who say that this is not a problem and you can rub it on your body or you can do whatever you want to do to protect yourselves, but do you know what? This product is encased in a ceramic-like material, zirconium alloy tubes, so that it supposedly cannot spill, ignite. I mean if it is so safe, why doesn't the Minister of the Environment stick it in his back pocket and drive his own car through Nova Scotia to Ontario? No, Mr. Speaker, because he understands, even though he wants to play politics with an issue as important as this, that this is a very dangerous substance.

Mr. Speaker, weapons-grade plutonium is a very serious product that we need to ensure that we protect Nova Scotians from. I would like to hear anybody in this House from either of the other Parties stand up and explain to me why it is that members of this House should not try to protect Nova Scotians from this dangerous substance. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 5550]

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Bill No. 94 that amends Chapter 119 of the Statutes to prohibit the transportation of nuclear material. As a point of reference for all members of the House and all Nova Scotians, there are four million packages of regulated, radioactive material transported every year in Canada. In fact, it may surprise the honourable Leader of the Opposition to know that transportation of radioactive material happens on almost a daily basis within the Province of Nova Scotia. This transport occurs safely and without incident due to the excellent regulatory regime that the federal government has put in place. I would also note that the certified shippers are required to undergo training before they can move dangerous goods in this country.

Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I am responsible for the Dangerous Goods Transportation Act. This legislation complements the federal legislation and regulations. The provincial Act outlines the responsibilities of the government, its agencies, the shippers and the offences and penalties. Our regulations offer clarity for shippers of dangerous goods and define the appropriate forms and certificates needed to be filed to ensure compliance.

While Nova Scotia has its own Act and regulations, the federal Act and regulations take precedence. The reason for this is to ensure the uniformity throughout Canada. The transportation of dangerous goods within Canada is recognized as an area of federal jurisdiction.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think I need to table the province's regulations because they are freely available on the Internet for anyone to read. I think the honourable Leader of the Opposition should have read them before introducing this bill. The provincial Act says that Nova Scotia can adopt federal regulations. Sections 2 through 4 of our regulations identify federal regulations as the regulations-in-force for the transportation of dangerous goods in Nova Scotia. The federal law which was enacted in 1992 clearly identifies the federal government as having the jurisdiction over the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada.

It may also interest the honourable Leader of the Opposition to know that the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada follows international protocols established by the United Nations Committee of Experts. This committee, a panel of internationally recognized experts, puts forward recommendations every two years. Not surprisingly, Canada follows the recommendations of this UN committee for governing the safe transportation of dangerous goods within our borders. Canada has its own experts on this committee.

[Page 5551]

It is also relevant to point out that the International Atomic Energy Agency regulates shipments of radioactive material between countries. Canada is a player in this agency, through both the Atomic Energy Control Board and Transport Canada.

To review, Nova Scotia has regulations that follow the federal regulations. The federal regulations are developed through the participation of Canadian experts in several international efforts, including a United Nations committee. Finally, those same regulations require any shipper of dangerous goods to file an emergency response assistance plan with the federal government.

Let me address the specific legislation for one moment, please. Clause 3, Section 5A(2) says that, ". . . nothing in this Section is intended to infringe upon the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada.". So I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what is the point? This bill is nothing more than a scare tactic designed to promote a political agenda. It is shameless and beyond reproach. All the international United Nations experts don't know a thing but the Leader of the Opposition knows it all. That is what the NDP bill is saying - the NDP knows what way is the best, so throw out rational science, dispense with experts, don't confuse the NDP with facts.

Mr. Speaker, I am against this bill because: it confuses an important issue; it fails to recognize the federal jurisdiction; it does not account for the international expertise Canada has incorporated in its regulations. It is capital "P" political posturing at its worst. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak on Bill No. 94. To start off with, I want to make it clear, as Minister of the Environment, to the citizens of Nova Scotia and members of this House, that this government would not support any activity that would present unacceptable risk to the health and safety of Nova Scotians. This request to amend the dangerous goods legislation, in order to ban the transport of nuclear material is political posturing at best, fear-mongering at its worst.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, and maybe the Leader of the Opposition should listen to this, is the fact that nuclear materials are used safely in medical and research institutions throughout this province on a daily basis. If we applied the principle of this amendment broadly, hospitals and research facilities could be severely affected in their ability to provide essential services to Nova Scotians. Is that what the Leader of the Opposition wants to do to this province?

Mr. Speaker, after having looked at Bill No. 94, and it is ironic that this was introduced on April Fool's Day, because I think it is just an April Fool's joke, to start off with, and after having read it, as Minister of the Environment, I am concerned about the issue and the safety

[Page 5552]

of Nova Scotians. But I want to tell you, after having read this and other NDP legislation, I seriously think we should implement it as part of our waste management strategy in the Province of Nova Scotia, because that is exactly what it is, it is waste.

Mr. Speaker, when an issue like this comes to light, the government here, as elected members of this Assembly, have to say to ourselves, well let's get the education. Let's get all the information about it. Let's make an informed decision that is in the best interest of Nova Scotians as a whole. Let's put politics aside and let's see what is best. When this issue came, right away the Leader of the NDP, and you hear blabbing there. If the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage would just shut-up for a minute, I could finish what I am saying.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, when this issue arose right away, this was a serious issue. This was brought forward as a proposal. It was brought forward to try to address a global problem. We see here in the Daily News, Monday, April 5th, Port has role in disarmament. It talks about how, as a province here in Nova Scotia, we need to be responsible when issues like this arise. We need to assess it. We need to see what the impact is and what we can do as a province. Because, in Nova Scotia, we are leading in technology. We are leading in innovation and we have a duty, not just here in the province, but throughout the world and throughout the country, but the Leader of the Opposition can't see past the end of his nose. So instead he says, what are we going to do with plutonium. Well, he looks at the member for Sackville-Cobequid, the real leader, and he says, well, do you know what plutonium is? No. I don't know what plutonium is.

So what is the best thing for us to do? Let's ban it. Let's not ask what the implications are. Let's not wait for a concrete proposal. Let's ban it. Mr. Speaker, that is an insult to the intelligence of Nova Scotians. I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to go to one of our many leading institutions, our universities, and sit there and tell them, look, this issue came before me Nova Scotians and what was my decision? Did I study it? Did I wait for a proposal? I said no. Ban it and play fear-mongering. Play on the fears of the people. Mock their intelligence and say, let's ban it. Let's not study it. Let's not see what we, as Nova Scotians, can do to help a global problem. Let's not assess it and let's not wait for a concrete proposal, ban it. Don't do anything. Don't study it. Don't look at it. On pure ignorance and on pure fear-mongering and pure politics, let's pass the bill, which is only one page long, which is a disgrace to Nova Scotians. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity this afternoon to rise and speak to the NDP amendment, Bill No. 94. Many times in this Legislature the Progressive Conservative caucus is accused by government of fear-mongering, rumour-mongering, frightening the people. Usually, it is relative to a health concern. A

[Page 5553]

number of times we have pointed out that, in fact, there are no bone densitometer machines at the Colchester Regional Hospital. There is no dialysis at the Colchester Regional Hospital and, in fact, there is very poor ambulance service in many communities across Nova Scotia. The point is that when we raised those concerns, the government says, oh, you are fear-mongering, but those are real life concerns.

Mr. Speaker, if anybody in Nova Scotia listened to the presenter and the Leader of the Official Opposition speak on Bill No. 94, they will then know what real fear-mongering and rumour-mongering and frightening the people is all about. Let us make it very clear, and I speak from experience, before a member of the transportation industry can get a dangerous goods certificate, you must write an exam. I would be pleased to table two of 26 pages, I would like to introduce to the Official Opposition the Dangerous Goods Lesson Plan, because it is something they have never looked at. I would table those documents.

I want to make it clear, before you can get a dangerous goods certificate, you must write an exam and take a test. Now the Leader of the Official Opposition said a while ago, I think, and during his comments he indicated that vans would be travelling through Nova Scotia, unmarked vans. Placards must go on the front, on the sides and on the rear of any dangerous goods commercial vehicle that goes through this province.

Mr. Speaker, let us make it clear, that is real fear-mongering. And what happened as far as we are concerned in the Progressive Conservative caucus - because we raised what we felt was a very legitimate concern and we brought it to the Legislature - that the Chretien Government in Ottawa does not communicate very well with the Nova Scotia Government and in turn the Halifax Regional Municipality thought that they were left out, and in fact they were left out of the conversation and communication regarding this whole concern. The New Democratic Party, I believe, is providing nothing more to the people of Nova Scotia than political grandstanding. That is what they are doing, and it is very unfortunate.

Let us be clear, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, landmines, no question about it, are unacceptable, but as was pointed out in an editorial in the Halifax Daily News on Monday, New Democratic Party Leader Robert Chisholm says the risk of shipping plutonium to Halifax and trucking it to Ontario is totally unnecessary and unacceptable and the editorial reads: "Well, nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles are becoming unacceptable too.". And what is wrong, if we can do it in a safe manner, if this port can operate within the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act and all the other federal legislation that is out there, what is wrong with Nova Scotia and Canada doing its part to rid this country and to rid this globe, to rid Earth of all these unacceptable weapons?

What is wrong with doing something responsible? Are we going to ship it off to a Third World country that doesn't have the capacity? I have had an opportunity during my previous career to transport transformers from Ontario to Newfoundland Hydro to Quebec and there are nuclear components in transformers, there are nuclear components in medical supplies.

[Page 5554]

If you look at the knee-jerk legislation you will see very quickly the bill prohibits under the Explanatory Note, ". . . the transportation of nuclear material within or through the province.".

There wasn't a lot of thought given to this legislation as far as we are concerned. There wasn't a lot of thought given. Let us be very careful. It doesn't matter if you are talking about dangerous goods or you are talking about nuclear waste or you are talking about agriculture concerns or transportation concerns, there is a lack of communication between the Prime Minister and the Premier, the two levels of government. Let us make it clear, what exhilarated and precipitated this legislation was the need to be perceived to be out in the front, the need to be perceived to be doing what the public wants instead of looking at the legislation, instead of looking at the exam, instead of looking, what they were trying to do was seek political favour because one or two people pulled up the alarm bells, the red flag went up.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this is just the tip of the iceberg, let's go a little further. Every time there is a major concern that comes to the Province of Nova Scotia, are we going to see legislation introduced whereby we will just do away, out of sight, out of mind, is that what the NDP is about?

Some people will say that you have to be very careful, and I don't dispute that. When you are dealing with nuclear material you have to be very careful. I have confidence that the regulations we have in place, whether the nuclear material comes to Halifax or not, who knows, but I have confidence in the trucking industry and I have confidence in the rail and the train systems in this province and in this country. (Interruptions) The member for Dartmouth North wants to know what rail. Well, I could probably say Canadian National. If he is offended by that, I can't help that, Mr. Speaker.

The fact of the matter is that from time to time there are nuclear components in a lot of different commodities that come into this province, a lot of commodities that go through this province. We can't simply say we are going to ban the transportation of nuclear materials, as the Explanatory Note says in this legislation. We have to be more responsible than that. We can't just go and do our grandstanding and hope we are going to win favour with the electorate out there.

I hope the electorate is really listening and really concerned about this legislation. How will it impact on other countries that are concerned? How about Russia? How about the United States and some of the countries that are trying to rid themselves of nuclear material, ballistic missiles, land mines? No, no, not in my backyard.

[Page 5555]

All we are simply saying is that Nova Scotia might have a role to play. I have confidence if nuclear material does come here, Mr. Speaker, that we have the expertise in Nova Scotia to do our job right and to do it safe. The next time the NDP comes in with legislation, they ought to do a little bit of research and look at the existing legislation, to see whether or not it covers concerns that they might have. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, this has, indeed, been an interesting debate. Unfortunately, what we have heard from the government side and from the Third Party has sounded too much like the character in Shakespeare who spoke full of sound and fury but signifying absolutely nothing. (Applause)

There are certainly questions about jurisdiction in this issue, in the question of transporting dangerous substances such as plutonium. I think we have to look at the track record of this area. The Daily News recently spoke about the wonderful advances we have made in the Port of Halifax since 1918, a reference no doubt to the little problem we had here with an explosion when two ships collided. (Interruption) They may have said 1918, but when we had the Halifax Explosion, and suggested we have made major advances here.

Mr. Speaker, I can recall in the relatively short period of time that I have lived in Halifax, two gypsum carriers that in spite of a radar navigation system, ran aground. One of them ran right into Georges Island, which houses one of the radar domes that controls the system. The other one was so badly damaged on a shoal off McNab's Island that it had to be scrapped.

We have also seen oil drilling rigs break loose from their moorings and nearly take out the Macdonald Bridge. We have seen Navy vessels get stranded on the shoals off Point Pleasant Park. Yet it is suggested to us that we can handle this, we can take the 50 to 500 tons of plutonium that Russia would be shipping to North America if the test this year suggests that either Chalk River or the Bruce nuclear power plant can deal with these materials.

I would also like to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that we have not really dealt with what is going on here. I would suggest that this government is extremely embarrassed at the lack of knowledge it has demonstrated on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, this issue was explored two nights in succession on local television, before a member of the Third Party raised it in the House, only to get a response from the government that they really didn't know what this was all about. Well, why don't they know what this is all about? This scheme has been in the works for years and years. It is not good enough for this government to sit back and say, well, we don't really know what is involved here. Why don't they know? Why aren't they taking steps to deal with this? Why haven't they

[Page 5556]

consulted with the federal government? Why haven't they responded to the fact that as the Leader of the Official Opposition has mentioned, this scheme was rejected by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, which said that this is an unwarranted risk.

There is absolutely no question that it is a risk. One individual who has spoken on this issue to the Foreign Affairs Committee, Professor Franklyn Griffiths of the University of Toronto . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He wouldn't be an expert, would he?

MR. CHARD: He just might be an expert on this. He has pointed out that the proposal raises a number of serious risks; these related to the integrity of the Canadian environmental and regulatory process which, as he suggested, will be very severely strained if this proposal goes through and we actually have to conduct an assessment on what will be, as he put it, an utterly unique international security proposition.

Why doesn't the government want to deal with this? Could it be that it is embarrassed by the fact that this scheme represents a massive subsidy for the nuclear power industry in this country, at a time when the federal government is withdrawing its support for the coal industry in Nova Scotia? (Applause) In spite of the pious words from the member for the Third Party who has spoken on this, about the noble intentions of the Canadian Government to do its share in dealing with nuclear disarmament, one has to ask why, with all of their capability in western Europe, aren't the Russian materials, being disposed of there? The fact is that they recognize that their industry would have problems dealing with this. The fact is that in the early 1970's there was a major scandal revealed over the British nuclear reprocessing plant which was dumping nuclear materials in the Irish Sea under a Tory Government in that country.

It is interesting to note, Mr. Speaker, that some years ago this proposal was discussed with the Russians and it was reported that they seemed pleased with the symmetry of the proposal to bring the plutonium to Canada, to bring the American plutonium to Canada by road and the Russian plutonium by sea.

I would add, Mr. Speaker, that a senior technical consultant in Ontario Hydro's nuclear division, an individual named John Luxat, said some years ago that transportation of the fuel - it could conceivably be moved in unmarked vehicles, but what he suggested in dealing with the security requirements of moving these materials, that the transportation of this fuel would require elaborate precautions involving convoys of armed escorts and satellite tracking. This is not coming from some environmental extremist, this is the advice of a nuclear expert with Ontario Hydro. He is on record as suggesting that the cost of training and maintaining an emergency response team will be far from trivial.

[Page 5557]

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that this scheme has to be looked at much more carefully than it has been. There is a very serious need to look at the implications of moving these materials through Nova Scotia because there is very little doubt that these materials are not going to go up the St. Lawrence River to the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Russian nuclear materials, we are not talking about a thimble full of plutonium, we are talking about anywhere from 50 to 100 to 500 tons of plutonium and enriched uranium. That is on the record. This is not speculation. It is weapons grade uranium.

Mr. Speaker, the risks are considerable and it is only responsible to suggest that we use whatever tools that are at our disposal to ensure that if this boneheaded scheme comes to fruition, that the people of Nova Scotia will be adequately protected from the risk of any accidents.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would point out that while AECL has said that the materials would be transported in a form where they can withstand, in case of an accident or fire, temperatures of up to 800 degrees, they had no response when it was pointed out that there have been accidents in Europe where temperatures have gone as high as 1,000 degrees. Where are the safeguards? Where is the protection? I would suggest that the government is remiss in its responsibilities in trying to slough off and avoid this question. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Does the honourable member for Antigonish wish to speak on the subject? No. The time has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will meet from the hours of 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will reconvene in Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will be calling Bill No. 90. I move that we do now adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn.

Is it agreed.

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We will accept this as being the moment of interruption and we will now debate, in the late debate, the motion put forward by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 5558]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

DEVCO - ACTIONS (NDP): CONCERN - EXPRESS

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the Adjournment motion reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House express its concern as regards the proposed Michelle Dockrill cooperative coal company as advocated by the NDP and urge full and undivided support for the efforts of this government, and of District 26, United Mine Workers of America, to secure better terms for the Cape Breton coal miners.".

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious matter and while some have asked, who is Michelle Dockrill, I have never heard of her, Michelle Dockrill is the Member of Parliament for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton constituency who defeated the honourable David C. Dingwall in the last federal election, to the great loss and sorrow of the people of Cape Breton Island. Ms. Dockrill, of course, is the individual the NDP would have you believe can do more for you than Mr. Dingwall could ever do. So that is who Ms. Dockrill is.

What is this cooperative coal company? Well, I picked up the Cape Breton Post on March 23rd and I read therein an article headed, MP advocates Devco Co-op. The following day or two, March 25th, on the front page of the Chronicle-Herald, there was a much larger article entitled, Co-op wants to buy Devco, and finally, on March 26th, on the Glace Bay-New Waterford page of the Cape Breton Post appeared an article called, Drake calls for united front in battle for industry. Those three exhibits constitute my package of evidence as to what this is all about. I have here one copy to table and additional copies to circulate to honourable members who may care to avail themselves of this material.

The idea, as I understand it, is that Ms. Dockrill advocates that a cooperative coal company should be formed, to be financed, apparently by severance packages, severance payments that will be made to displaced miners, who would apparently volunteer their severance payments to the NDP, who would use that as a pool of capital from which to operate a cooperative coal company, which apparently would operate Prince Colliery on the Northside.

[6:00 p.m.]

The plan is entirely uncritical of the plans that have been announced by the federal government with respect to the future of the Cape Breton coal mining industry. It accepts as a given that these terms and conditions are not going to be changed, that no substantial

[Page 5559]

benefits will be won for anyone, and that the best that can be done is to capitulate and accept the terms offered by Mr. Goodale, but then to encourage miners to come forward with the $40,000 or so net that they may receive, volunteer that to the share capital of a cooperative coal company and attempt to operate Prince Colliery from that source.

The package also involves the idea that the assets of Devco should be given to this group for $1.00. It is not a well-researched proposal; it does not contain any business plan, or feasibility study, or other detailed prospectus that one can refer to. It is just these newspaper items, but they have made the front pages of leading newspapers and they quoted Ms. Dockrill and her uncle, Father Bob Neville, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Cousin.

MR. MACEWAN: Her cousin. Well, they correct me. They know more about this than I do. These two cousins together want to propose this idea and the Reverend Neville states, according to the Chronicle-Herald of March 25, 1999, that he is interested in buying it - that is Devco - lock, stock and barrel. They are interested in the mines and everything related to them and New Democrat Michelle Dockrill confirms that local credit unions, trade unions and clergy are discussing options for buying the coal mines and all equipment and structures owned by the Cape Breton Development Corporation. Ms. Dockrill boasts one supporter for this idea by name and that is Natural Resources Minister Ralph Goodale, who she has apparently gone to on a private basis and made her proposal to Mr. Goodale, who seemed receptive when she presented him with the idea in person at a briefing on Tuesday night in Ottawa.

This is a proposal that has been made without the endorsement of the United Mine Workers of America, which is the union that represents those miners, a union that is struggling right now, Mr. Speaker, for its very existence and for the very existence of the jobs that this scheme would seem to dismiss in large part.

I have here an item from the Cape Breton Post, dated March 26th, headed: Drake calls for United Front and Battle for Industry. I have discussed this matter with Mr. Drake and the newspaper account does accurately report and reflect his views. Mr. Drake, it states, is worried that splinter groups are going off in different directions and this will not help to resolve the Devco situation. A community cooperative ownership plan being quoted by MP Michelle Dockrill has not been endorsed by the United Mine Workers. Our focus has been to try to keep everybody working, the District 26 President stated Thursday.

He goes on to state that Father Robert Neville has not contacted the United Mine Workers; they do not have employee support for this issue. The four unions have asked to meet with Father Neville, but he has refused to meet with the UMW. Now that is from Mr. Drake and he cautioned the priest not to hurt the efforts of the miner. It is the obligation of an MP, he stated - with respect to Ms. Dockrill - to discuss with the union before she goes

[Page 5560]

public. If there are four or five different agendas being floated, then it will cut the legs out from under us, the union president stated with reference to the NDP proposals advanced by Dockrill and Neville.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that since the Devco crisis was unleashed by the announcement of January 28th, a tremendous struggle has been waged to seek better terms or to insist that there be either jobs or pensions for all. The provincial Government of Nova Scotia, headed by Premier Russell MacLellan, has supported 100 per cent the efforts of the United Mine Workers of America District 26. It has not gone off in a different direction. It has sought to harmonize whatever it sought with what the union was seeking and to have the two walking together in step singing from the same song sheet.

That has been a fundamental goal of our government that whatever we did, we did with the support of the community, with the support of the coal miners, and with the support of the union. Our Premier is going to Ottawa next month to meet with the Prime Minister, to seek better terms based on the proposals of the union and based on the proposals of those who are the actual workers in the industry, not of some splinter group that wants to break off in a different direction.

I think that it is a serious matter. I think that there ought to be a united front on this matter. I know that the New Democratic Party have called for a united front, but then we see that their actions and what they say veer in two different directions. The Dockerill-Neville proposal is completely the opposite of what this government is seeking in terms of better terms for the coal mining industry.

I believe that the leadership that our government has shown in this matter is singular, because it has stood in such stark contrast with the lack of leadership provided by the local Members of Parliament, the representatives of the New Democratic Party. Those people ought to be the leaders, those people ought to be the ones to take the bull by the horns. Certainly normally with any federal government policy that adversely affected a community, one would expect that the local Member of Parliament or Members of Parliament would be the leaders in seeking better terms from Ottawa on that particular issue, whatever it was. The provincial governments and municipal governments would serve in a support capacity and a back-up capacity, but would not be asked to fill a vacuum that exists because of the complete ineffectiveness and the complete lack of political influence of the federal Members of Parliament.

In this situation, such has been the case, because no one expected Dockerill or Peter Mancini, the other federal New Democratic Party member from Cape Breton Island to do anything, to assume any significant role; everyone instinctively looked to Premier Russell MacLellan to fill the vacuum and to exercise the political leadership in this matter, which he has done.

[Page 5561]

When you contrast the stand, the effort, the commitment, the sincerity of Premier MacLellan on the one hand with this half-baked, ill-researched, ill-thought-through scheme for a cooperative coal company as advocated by the New Democratic Party on the other, I think you see a very fundamental difference between the two Parties and good reason to support the Liberal Party and to reject the false and vain appeals of the New Democratic Party. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again, I should not be amazed but to my amazement again I have listened to the member for Cape Breton Nova make these insane accusations about the work that his Premier is doing on behalf of miners. Part of his motion tonight is to urge full support, full and undivided support for the efforts of this government.

Mr. Speaker, you have been in that very Chair many times. We asked that Premier, what are you doing? Then he sticks his head down and says, nothing, absolutely nothing. He does nothing on this. He goes there and he goes to Ottawa, they don't even tell him what is going on. He is on his plane, he comes back here, they are closing Devco. This Premier is not included in any plans. They are not even listening to him in Ottawa.

For 17 years he sat silently watching the coal industry being dismantled in Cape Breton, on the outside. Now he goes back with cap in hand and this member would have you believe that he is going to do something. In this very House last week, we asked the Premier would he support the union's plan for the Phalen mine. (Interruptions) What does he say? No, no. I support it but I am not going to go pushing it. I support it but I am not going to do anything about it. It is ludicrous, the statement. I support it but I am not going to help you.

This whole idea that he is going to go up there and Ralph Goodale is going to do this big spin around and say, oh, I was wrong, Russell, bang, we are going to give you everything you want. What is he going to do? He has not unveiled a plan. When urged by the Leader of the Third Party, by the Leader of our Party to go in an all-Party committee to show solidarity coming from this province, what is this Premier's reaction? This Premier's reaction is I will go it alone. Well, when we go along, look, irresponsibility. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, here is the same guy who drinks arsenic. Irresponsible. He should be ashamed of himself for saying that. We know all about that member and having shots in this House. So let's move on from there.

He is wanting us to believe that this Premier has all the answers, that he is going to lead us and lead the Cape Breton coal miners into a brighter future. Well, it is not going to happen. We would wish, and there certainly is a way to try to get, as we did with the port here in Halifax, an all-Party committee to go up and say, look, we are all singing off the same page here. We want to support that industry. Let's see what is going on here. But this Premier, for

[Page 5562]

some reason, feels that that is not necessary. He feels that if he goes up and gets a few more pensions, that everyone is happy in Cape Breton.

There is nothing substantive. He has not said, this is what we should do with Lingan-Phalen, that the Phalen Mine should be operated in this manner and we can elongate the life. If sites have to be closed, that UMW members should be the ones that are employed to remediate those sites. They should be done under a Crown Corporation, where these people will be credited with their work experience going towards their pension credits. He has not once said that publicly in this House, Mr. Speaker.

We have advocated in this House the support for the union's plans, unequivocal. We have said, that is the way it goes. That is what should be supported. Yet, the Premier, when pressed on it, kind of says, well, I support them, but I don't want to say it out loud. They bring this towards us and then talk about the cooperative and what is wrong with it. Well, there is nothing coming from that side of the House in the way of ideas of what to do with the coal industry. Is it a cooperative? Is it status quo? I don't think there is a person in industrial Cape Breton who sees the Devco situation staying the status quo. I think the UMW sees it, CAW sees it, CUPE sees it and AIM sees it. There are all these various unions involved who see that there is going to be change in the work dynamic there. Everyone of them, to a person, wants to see that change done in a positive direction. I would hope that that is what the government of this province wants to be seen, if there is going to be change, that it is in a positive direction.

Whatever we do, if there are people severed, what are we going to do with their severance package? What are they going to do? Should there be discussions with the federal government about a tax exemption for those payments. They would have an ability, if they wanted to, to invest in funds in industrial Cape Breton. It certainly would make it more enhancing than the measly $68 million that the federal government is proposing now for economic development and the $8,000 per person that they are now advocating for re-training. In all honesty, Mr. Speaker, $8,000 is not going to get a person through one year of university. Where are they going to go after year one?

These are the things that we would like answered. I think if we went to Ottawa as one voice, that we could do these things. We could tell the federal government that, no, we don't agree with your measly pittance that you are sending these workers after years in the workforce and in a workforce that, I might add, is a very dangerous calling. So these people are not coming out of that workforce, Mr. Speaker, fully intact without the years of that hard industrial work taking its toll on them. These people are coming out tired and sore. It is not like coming out of office work at 45 or 46 or 47. These are hard jobs. We think we have to look at what is out there for their marketability. Yet, everyone wants to put their hands over their ears and over their eyes and say, it is going to be business as usual.

[Page 5563]

I had reason yesterday in the Economic Development Committee to listen to Mr. Joe Shannon, Chairman of the Board, and Mr. George White, President of Devco.

[6:15 p.m.]

We can only assume that both the provincial and federal Liberal Governments support the Devco plan. Here is my reason for that assumption, Mr. Speaker, is that that board has two members appointed by the provincial government.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, out of how many?

MR. CORBETT: Two, and there were no dissenting votes, Mr. Speaker, it was unanimous. The closure was unanimous. The two people that are on that board supported (Interruption) the board supports that decision. The board supports it, every member. The two that are appointed by this provincial government support that. Let's make that perfectly clear. So we have got them in agreement. We have got Mr. Shannon who is in agreement, who is also by the way put in there by this federal Liberal Government, in support of the co-op. Now, whether we support the co-op is of little consequence.

What we are saying is there is going to be a change at Devco. It is going to be a change that is supported by this provincial government and by the federal Liberal Government and if these people are not willing to recognize that there is going to be a change, that we have to fight for the best package to support everybody all around and not just support the Premier's ego, to let him pretend that he is on his white horse, going to Ottawa to save this group of people's employment. That is a shame. We should go there in one united voice and urge Ottawa to support everybody. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I want to, through you, thank the member who brought this very important matter to the floor of the House for discussion and debate this evening. I must say at the beginning that, of course, I cannot bring the same visceral quality to the debate as can my colleagues who live in the very communities that are so distressed with the news of the pending closure of parts of the Devco operation and the dramatic impact, negative impact that that undoubtedly will have at least in the short term on their community.

I must say, however, as a Nova Scotian and even more broadly, I would think, as a Canadian, that I along with all other Nova Scotians and, I would hope, Canadians who have been aware of this move on the part of the federal government and Devco, that it is absolutely essential that this matter be dealt with in such a manner that those who are most adversely affected, firstly the employees and their families and, secondly, the communities in which they reside, not only are fairly dealt with but indeed are seen to be fairly dealt with as part of a healing process, to assist that community in moving forward and to building a new economy

[Page 5564]

which will sustain them through the future as coal and indeed steel have sustained that industrial Cape Breton community through the end of the last century and through a significant part of this century.

I find myself in agreement with some of the observations and the recommendations put forward by both of my colleagues who preceded me here tonight. I think it is absolutely essential that we as a community, as an industrial Cape Breton community, as the larger Cape Breton community, as a Nova Scotian community, come to grips with what we think is the best solution to this problem. The problem will not go away. The problem is there. The problem will be resolved. The best resolution to that problem can only come as a consequence of Nova Scotians banning together and determining what is in the best interests of Nova Scotia and putting that solution forward to the federal government which has the final authority, as the owner of Devco, to make the determination of what the future of those employees and those assets will be.

I must say that while I understand the idealism of those who would seek to create a co-op with ownership placed in the hands of the community, and I would gather from what I have read and heard, principally of employees and former employees of Devco, that there is a certain grasping at straws with respect to that idea. I don't think we should be dismissive of those people. I think we should thank them for their thoughtfulness, but invite them to join what I think is probably a larger and wiser body of opinion at this juncture, and that is to find the best means of sustaining the employees as they move forward from their current employment, and sustaining that community as it goes through the catharsis of moving away from a significant economic dependence on coal mining to the creation of new economic opportunity, not only for those who have been involved in the coal mining sector either directly or indirectly but, indeed, for other Cape Bretoners who are seeking employment on the Island which they love so dearly.

Certainly it has been the view of my Leader, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, that the best way we in this place can assist that community in resolving the problem and coming forward with a solution is for us to work on it cooperatively and together. As difficult as it is for those of us who serve in political Parties, we must do our very best insofar as we are able to set our own political considerations aside and work together for the benefit of those who are really on the cusp of facing a very difficult future if they are not given the kinds of opportunities that generally we would all want them to have, but which specifically we have not yet defined in such a way that we can take that definition to the federal government in Ottawa and encourage the federal government to respond to a Nova Scotia plan created for Nova Scotians and implemented by Nova Scotians, more particularly by people living in industrial Cape Breton, albeit with significant help from the federal Government of Canada, which has a very direct responsibility with respect to coming to a resolution of this pending crisis.

[Page 5565]

It is, indeed, a pending crisis, Mr. Speaker, because as those jobs are phased out, so too will be a significant portion of the Cape Breton economy. It must be, in part, refuelled by a fair package for employees who will cease to be employees of Devco and, indeed, by the creation of new jobs in an industrial and economic climate which looks forward into the 21st Century rather than looking wistfully back at the beginning of the 20th Century, or perhaps even to what those who, through rose-coloured glasses, may deem to be the halcyon days of the close of the 19th Century, which even those of us who have been around here for a long time are too young to remember.

I think the Premier has a great opportunity here if he chooses to exercise it, and that is to respond to the offer of our Leader, and I believe I am correct in saying that the Leader of the New Democratic Party has also indicated his full preparedness to join together to build a Nova Scotia solution and take it to Ottawa. I think it is absolutely essential - and I say this as one who had the opportunity to serve Nova Scotians in government - that we do, as my honourable friend has wisely said, sing from a single song sheet and that we all sing in harmony.

We cannot, indeed, fault the federal government if, in our confusion, they are confused with respect to what is best for that Cape Breton community. If we, in fact, can set our confusion aside and create a plan and have that plan forwarded to Ottawa personally by the combined political leadership in Nova Scotia with a clear focus, a clear statement of purpose and a clear plan for moving forward into the future, and not depending on the illusions of the past, then I think we can be successful. In that, not only will those who currently work for Devco be well served and the industrial Cape Breton community be well served, but so, too, will all of the people of Nova Scotia and, indeed, the taxpayers of Canada, who have a direct and abiding interest in what happens with respect to this pending crisis as I have described it with respect to the changes that we all know are coming to Devco.

We can either stand back and throw rocks at the federal government as a means of getting their attention, and that usually doesn't draw very favourable attention, or we can join together, we can work together, we can strive as a community at large to build for the future to ensure that those who currently work for Devco are truly and fairly dealt with, that we can work to rebuild the Cape Breton economy, not only for those who will suffer as a consequence of the closure of Devco if we don't put the appropriate countermeasures in place, but indeed for the young men and women of Cape Breton who are looking forward to the future, looking forward to economic opportunity in a new economy which will not be fraught with the kinds of difficulties that we have seen the old economy suffer from over the past two to three decades.

Mr. Speaker, this is an issue which is far more important than politics. It is far more important than political Parties. The people will remember those politicians who sought to achieve their own best interests on the backs of those who are going to suffer if Devco is not wound up in an appropriate manner. But they will also remember the wisdom of those who

[Page 5566]

are prepared to band together and to provide the leadership which Cape Breton needs, which Nova Scotia needs, and indeed, which broadly speaking, Canadians need, to bring this problem to an appropriate and fair and equitable closure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:26 p.m.]