The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

First Session

TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3010, re Estimates - Comm. of Whole House on Supply,
Hon. D. Downe 6493
Hon. D. Downe 6493
Mr. H. Epstein 6512
Adjourned debate 6515
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fish. - J.B. Fish Farms (St. Margaret's Bay): Aquaculture Equipment -
Remove, Hon. K. Colwell 6516
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3138, Annie MacLeod: Birthday (109th) - Congrats.,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 6518
Vote - Affirmative 6519
Res. 3139, Justice - Home Invasions: Curb - Actions Detail, Mr. M. Scott 6519
Res. 3140, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Golden Apple Awards -
Pam Demone & Tom McLean (B-L-T Sch.) Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6520
Vote - Affirmative 6520
Res. 3141, Commun. Serv. - Equal Opportunities (N.S.) League For:
Bike-Ability Tour (N.S.) - Organizers Commend, Dr. J. Hamm 6521
Vote - Affirmative 6521
Res. 3142, NDP (N.S.): Gov't. Future (Rt.-Wing) - Not Required,
Mr. P. MacEwan 6521
Res. 3143, Culture - Don Warner (Band Ldr.): Death Of - Mourn,
Mr. H. Epstein 6522
Vote - Affirmative 6522
Res. 3144, Culture - Riverport & Area Commun. Choir: Music Educ.
Bursary - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 6523
Vote - Affirmative 6523
Res. 3145, Educ. - Sea School (N.S.): Boat Launch - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Delefes 6523
Vote - Affirmative 6524
Res. 3146, Fish. - Lobster: Illegal Fishing - Law Enforce,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 6524
Res. 3147, Sports - Hockey (Old-Timers-St. Margaret's Area):
Richard Doubleday Mem. Award - Bernie MacNeil-Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6525
Vote - Affirmative 6525
Res. 3148, Fish. - Lobster: Illegal Fishing - Law Enforce, Mr. J. Leefe 6526
Res. 3149, NDP (N.S.) - Gov't. Future: Catastrophic Form - Avoid,
Mr. P. MacEwan 6526
Res. 3150, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Business Hall of Fame:
Inductees (1999) - Congrats., Mr. G. Balser 6527
Vote - Affirmative 6527
Res. 3151, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Guysborough Co.:
Goldboro Hwy. - Replace, Mr. G. Archibald 6527
Res. 3152, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Musquodoboit Valley: Roads -
Improve, Mr. B. Taylor 6528
Res. 3153, Health - Aberdeen Hospital Fdn.: Ned White (New Glasgow)
Bequest - Generosity Recognize, Dr. J. Hamm 6529
Vote - Affirmative 6529
Res. 3154, Sports - Basketball (Bantam B Girls [N.S.] Champs):
Truro Greco Wildcats - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 6529
Vote - Affirmative 6530
Res. 3155, Environ. - Clean N.S. Fdn.: Beach Sweep (04-06/06/99) -
Volunteers Recognize, Mr. J. DeWolfe 6530
Vote - Affirmative 6531
Res. 3156, Health - Rosedale Home for Special Care: Extension -
Grant Approve, Mr. M. Baker 6531
Res. 3157, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ.: Louise Mahoney (Truro) -
Achievements Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 6532
Vote - Affirmative 6532
Res. 3158, Royal Cdn. Legions (N.S.): Commun. Contributions -
Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 6532
Vote - Affirmative 6533
Res. 3159, Air Cadet Sq. (Regiment 652-Milford & Dist. Lions):
Dedication - Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 6533
Vote - Affirmative 6534
HOUSE RECESSED AT 4:03 P.M. 6534
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:13 P.M. 6534
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1052, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Unbalanced - Unstated,
Mr. R. Chisholm 6534
No. 1053, Fish. - Salmon (Atl.): Licence Fees - Reinvestment,
Mr. J. Leefe 6535
No. 1054, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Unbalanced - Promise Broken,
Mr. H. Epstein 6537
No. 1055, Justice - Pub. Prosecution Serv.: Working Group -
Implementation Delay, Mr. M. Scott 6538
No. 1056, Health - Care: Deficiencies Address - Plan Reveal,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6539
No. 1057, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Funding (Gov't. [Can.])
Cut - Plan, Mr. B. Taylor 6540
No. 1058, Health - Long-Term Care: Nursing Crisis - Address Plan,
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 6541
No. 1059, Health - Care: Expenditure - Poll Data Table, Mr. D. Dexter 6542
No. 1060, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Secondary Rds.: Tenders - Call,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6542
No. 1061, Lbr. - Pay Equity Comm'n.: Legislation - Inadequate,
Ms. Y. Atwell 6543
No. 1062, Educ.: New Germany Elem. Sch. - Improvements,
Mr. M. Baker 6544
No. 1063, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Residents Relocation -
Info. Provide, Mr. D. Chard 6545
No. 1064, Educ. - Clare: English School - Attendees Location,
Mr. G. Balser 6546
No. 1065, Fish. - Harbours: Wharf Maintenance - Address,
Mr. John Deveau 6547
No. 1066, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Business Occupancy Tax:
Uniformity - Address, Mr. E. Fage 6548
No. 1067, Health - Youth: Eating Disorders - Bed Shortage,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6549
No. 1068, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sydport: CBRM - Position Support,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 6550
No. 1069, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101: Mt. Uniacke
Surveying - Mission, Mr. G. Archibald 6551
No. 1070, Environ.: PCB Shortage (Hubley) - Criteria,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6552
No. 1071, Health - Colchester Reg. Hosp.: Dialysis Unit - Criteria,
Mr. J. Muir 6553
No. 1072, Justice - Pub. Prosecution Serv.: DPP - Selection Process,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 6554
No. 1073, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cumb. Co.: Rds. - Repair,
Mr. M. Scott 6555
No. 1074, Justice - Crown Prosecutors: Arbitration - Dispute Resolve,
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 6556
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 92, Applied Science Technology Act 6557
Hon. C. Huskilson 6557
Mr. P. Delefes 6557
Mr. J. Leefe 6558
Mr. Kevin Deveaux 6558
Mr. M. Baker 6558
Vote - Affirmative 6558
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 5:20 P.M. 6559
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:27 P.M. 6559
CWH REPORTS 6559
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Care: Budget Current - Value Max. Achieve:
Mr. E. Fage 6560
Hon. J. Smith 6563
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6566
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., June 2nd at 2:00 p.m. 6568

[Page 6493]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

[Res. No. 3010, re Estimates - Comm. of Whole House on Supply - notice given May 27/99 - (Hon. D. Downe)]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance. (Applause)

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to notice of motion given by me on May 27, 1999, and the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly, I have the honour, by command, to present a message from His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia, relating to the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the Province of Nova Scotia for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000, which is:

6493

[Page 6494]

"I hereby transmit Estimates of Sums required for the Public Service of the Province of Nova Scotia for the year ending March 31, 2000, and in accordance with the Constitution Act of 1867, recommend them together with the Budget Address of my Minister of Finance and any resolutions or bills necessary or advisable to approve the Estimates and implement the budget measures to the House of Assembly.

Signed,

John James Kinley

Lieutenant Governor"

Mr. Speaker, at this time I wish to table the message from His Honour the Lieutenant Governor transmitting the Estimates for the consideration of this House. I would also like to table the Estimates Book, the Crown Corporation Business Plans, the Estimates and the Crown Corporation Business Plans Resolutions, deliver my Budget Speech and move that the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000, being Supply, to be granted to Her Majesty and the Crown Corporation Business Plans be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

MR. SPEAKER: The documents are tabled.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a budget that will carry Nova Scotia into the next century, a century where, more than ever, our young people will need the resources to learn new skills; a century where our seniors will live longer and have new priorities in health care; a century where our economy will be built on the efforts of our workers and our entrepreneurs. So, at a time like this, it makes sense to stop for a moment to think about not only where we are but where we want to be.

In Nova Scotia today, I see people who know we are on the threshold of new prosperity, people who look to the world and say, we can compete; people who see new industries in energy and information technology and know we can lead; people who can look to their children and think what a great, bright future they will have.

Mr. Speaker, I also see people who are in despair. They look at the world and fear for their jobs. They look and see new technology and simply say, I cannot learn. They look to their children and worry about their future. We must address these concerns and, as a Liberal Government, we will. (Applause)

The task of this government is to let our confident entrepreneurs, our citizens and our educators achieve their dreams. We must celebrate their progress and their achievements, but we must also replace fear with hope. Our education system must offer opportunities for our young people to realize their full potential. Our social policies must offer people a way to manage the change in their own lives, to turn disadvantage into advantages. Our economic

[Page 6495]

policies must encourage people to be creative and take a chance on new ideas. This then, Mr. Speaker, is our vision for the future, but our vision includes one more vital element, a strong and sustainable health care system for the 21st Century. (Applause)

A system that deserves the confidence of every Nova Scotian; a caring system where one telephone call will bring quality, long-term help for our seniors; a community system with a clinic to be able to mend the broken arms of adventurous young boys and girls; an efficient system where your doctor can call up your test results in the time it takes you to walk from the waiting room to her office; a healthy system where preventing illness is just as important as curing a disease; a balanced system where the right care is delivered at the right place by the right provider at the right time. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I see a dependable, accountable and sustainable system that is, and will be, universally acceptable and available to all Nova Scotians wherever they may live in this province.

Mr. Speaker, this is the right time to build this system. After years of federal cuts, Ottawa is finally putting money back into the national health care system, but it is not enough. So we, as Nova Scotians, must do more ourselves. Now is the time. As we get older, our health care needs change. As the baby boom generation ages, we will have unprecedented increases in need. We must start now by putting the right health care system in place for today and tomorrow.

To achieve this, Mr. Speaker, we are announcing today a significant investment in our health care system. We are wiping the slate clean for hospitals and health boards. (Applause) We are providing the funds to meet the changing needs of the people of this province and we are making preventing illness a priority. A healthy, well-educated people is a fundamental requirement to a healthy society. We believe it is the foundation of a healthy economy and a healthy future.

Mr. Speaker, for many Nova Scotians the prosperity of the next century has literally already arrived. Our forest industries are adding value. Wood is being turned into furniture. Our agriculture and seafood industries are also specializing in high-value-added products. Our manufacturers are producing more and literally selling them around the world. Our information technology sector continues to expand rapidly. Of course, our tourism and hospitality industries continue to break new records. All of this reflects a growing economy in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The most recent statistics show a remarkable picture. In April of this year, the unemployment rate stood at 9.2 per cent. The last time we had a month with a lower rate was in 1976; that was 23 years ago. This number underpins the very real optimism in many parts of this province. People see their children coming home to work for the first time, their neighbours succeeding; and their friends starting new businesses.

[Page 6496]

[2:15 p.m.]

What is driving this growth? One important element is the private sector investment. Every year, the private sector invests billions of dollars into our economy. These new investment dollars modernize existing operations and, yes, increase productivity and create jobs. They also reflect real economic expansion as new businesses start up and existing businesses grow.

Mr. Speaker, I want to note that our economy grew last year much as we had expected. We believe the final numbers that will be released this fall will show the growth rate in the Province of Nova Scotia was at 3.3 per cent for 1998. That is above the national average, and we are forecasting that this year Nova Scotia will again surpass the national average. (Applause) Our forecast this year calls for a 2.9 per cent growth rate in 1999.

Mr. Speaker, one major reason for this stellar performance, of course, is the Sable Offshore Energy Project. This two year project is on budget and on time. Gas starts flowing in a few months from today, in November of this year. No longer a promise or a hope, but a reality in the Province of Nova Scotia in November of this year. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, to achieve this target, 3,000 Nova Scotians will be working directly on this project this summer, and another 2,000 jobs have been created indirectly. That is performance, that is leadership, and that is economic opportunity. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, this is only the beginning. Sable also puts in place the infrastructure to make other reserves of natural gas easier to develop. All of us were extremely pleased and proud when our Premier stood up in Houston to announce the fact that the private sector is prepared to invest nearly $600 million committed for exploration spending over the next five years. That is an investment not only in natural gas, but an investment in our Premier and our government and our Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, as I said, this is confidence. Confidence in Nova Scotia; confidence in the royalty regime; and confidence in the royalty regime that this government has created. The impact of Sable goes well beyond this one project. As we saw at an offshore conference in Houston recently, Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians now have an international profile. That story sold and went literally around the world, and the profile of this province has gone up. We only dreamed a few years ago that we would have such a profile on an international basis. Our companies are now becoming partners with internationally experienced firms.

This will result in more Nova Scotian content in future projects. This will result in Nova Scotian bids for projects literally around the world, and we can say that we were able to build them right here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 6497]

Mr. Speaker, this is the positive side of the economy and one that we should all be very proud of, but we also have to be aware that economic growth is not even all over this province. Some parts of this province, outside the Halifax area, are doing extremely well. Port Hawkesbury, Trenton, Bridgewater, Wolfville and Cornwallis, to name a few but, for the most part, we have two economies in Nova Scotia: one inside metro Halifax, and one outside.

More than half the new jobs created this last year were created in metropolitan Halifax. That region represents one-third of the population. Unemployment in the Halifax area is about 7 per cent, well below the national average. In Canso, in Parrsboro, in Dominion, in Glace Bay, and in many other parts of this province, the unemployment rate is double that or more.

Mr. Speaker, an economy so divided creates very difficult problems and challenges for society. The population, history, and geography of Halifax has given great opportunities for this community. Building on that opportunity, our people here have created prosperity. We cannot equalize prosperity throughout the province but, I can assure you, we can equalize opportunity and we are proposing to do that in this budget. (Applause)

In a few moments, I will explain how this budget will help do that. But, first Mr. Speaker, I want to turn to the fiscal challenges of 1998-99. It was not an easy year. Last summer the world economy hit a pocket of turbulence. An economic slowdown in Asia that spread over to Russia and was later felt in South America. Lower world demand led to lower prices for commodities which was literally felt around the world. Foreign exchange markets assumed lower prices would lead to a weak Canadian economy. That assumption then led to a tremendous, unprecedented drop in the value of the Canadian dollar.

With the fall in the dollar came a rise in the cost of servicing our foreign debt. Some people panicked, some people said, the world is coming to an end, the crisis is here. They wanted immediate if somewhat Draconian action. We rejected that option and set our course for the long term. We placed our confidence in Canada and yes, the Canadian economy.

In the short term we looked at some administrative belt-tightening. We trimmed spending and as it turned out we were right, we were successful. Seven departments and most of the Public Service votes ended this year with a surplus. By year end, the dollar recovered a fair bit. Time proved our decisions were correct.

Another challenge we faced over the course of the year was a significant swing in revenue estimates. About 80 per cent of our revenue sources are now based on economic modelling rather than simple accounting. That data mainly comes from Ottawa and is often adjusted later on. In times of economic stability across the province, this is really not an issue. In times of sudden unanticipated economic changes, the model gets thrown out of step with actual events on a national basis. In the long run we are working with the federal government to help us anticipate such swings, or at least smooth them out. We also have to be responsible

[Page 6498]

in our revenue forecasts. Indeed, Nova Scotia is the only province in this country to hold up our revenue assumptions to the scrutiny of the Auditor General.

The other major challenge we faced in 1998-99 was the rising demand for health care. Outside of this area, we were able to hold the program spending within 1 per cent of target. As a result, when the revenue increases did arrive, we were able to balance the budget and eventually forecast a $22.6 million surplus for the year ending 1998-99.

We must recognize that this state of affairs with regard to the health concerns of this province cannot continue to go on the way they have. We must act because at the current rate of growth of health care, expenditures would grow faster than any revenue target or projection anyone could think of. In fact, they would grow at a rate of 11 per cent and would represent $2.7 billion of the budget in less than five years.

Added to that, an aging population will require even more help from the health care system in the future. By the year 2012-13 a far greater proportion of our population will be at 65 years of age and older. There is no question across this province of the fact that the kind of health care needed for the changing older population is more acute and deserves more attention. Now is the time to address this issue. Now is the time for action and a lasting answer to the health care concerns of the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say very clearly that we have examined many alternatives. We looked at stretching our resources. We looked at cutting every service but health and education literally to the bone. We looked at trying to find investment dollars inside the present budgets.

The easy choice was to stand pat here today with a budget that ignores the real health care challenges of tomorrow. Such action while perhaps politically expedient to some would be devastating and a disservice to the people of this province and we will not do that. (Applause)

People are speaking clearly on this issue. I hear it every day. My Cabinet colleagues, my caucus colleagues hear it every day. People tell us, very clearly, that they want significant investment in health care. They want investment in new medical equipment. They want us to manage the system more efficiently. They want more nurses. They want a more responsive health care system that better meets the needs of all Nova Scotians.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have a challenge and yes, we have an opportunity. Investing in health care today will mean a dependable, sustainable system, today and for generations to come. To turn away from this challenge is to jeopardize Nova Scotia's health care system and literally to put at risk the health of every Nova Scotian. Knowing this, how can anyone deny a commitment for new investment in health care in the Province of Nova Scotia? (Applause)

[Page 6499]

With this budget, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that this government is taking a bold and new investment initiative - we are taking a bold step where so many people would never want to travel because they are too weak to address the real challenges and the future challenges of this province - one that will put a solid in a lasting foundation under the entire health care system.

This initiative that we are announcing today, Mr. Speaker, will, one, give our hospitals and our regional health boards a clean slate by removing their debt. Number two, it will provide funding that ensures our hospitals and our health boards meet their commitments and three, allow strategic and targetted investments in health services in communities right across our province. These strategic investments are at the heart of this budget.

Today, we are announcing creation of a $600 million Health Investment Fund, Mr. Speaker. (Applause) For Nova Scotia, this is the largest single new investment in health care since the inception of Medicare literally three decades ago. This measure holds the key to better health care for all Nova Scotians. It is separate and apart from the $1.7 billion budget administered by the Department of Health.

This three year program will improve the quality of care for Nova Scotians by strengthening primary and continuing care and, Mr. Speaker, this is crucial. By strengthening primary and continuing care, we will relieve the burden on our acute-care hospital system. This investment means Nova Scotians who need hospital care will have easier, better and faster access. The whole system will be more responsive to the true needs of Nova Scotians.

Briefly, Mr. Speaker, let me put this investment in terms that are easy to understand. It means more nurses for our hospitals, nursing homes, and home care system. It means more emphasis on prevention of illness and promotion of healthy lifestyles. It means a single access point - one phone call - for people who need home care or a nursing home bed. It means more money for training. It means better tracking of costs and better decisions by our health care managers that all of us would agree need to be done.

Better management decisions are critical to the success of the health initiative. By investing in the tools to manage health care properly, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians realize we can deliver a better health care system. We also know that better management will lead to health care costs that are affordable in the future for all of us to be able to live within our means.

All of this will take some time. So the Health Investment Fund will also provide a limited amount of money for hospitals and health board operating budgets over the next two years while they put the new plans in place. What we are recognizing is that we need to finish building the new home for health care system, literally, before we move in.

[Page 6500]

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, our plan announced today means debts already incurred by our hospitals and health boards are assumed by our province. All health costs in Nova Scotia are now consolidated on the books of the province. Our hospitals and regional boards can now move forward with confidence that the appropriate funding levels are in place. We will also begin discussions with our boards on appropriate safeguards to prevent future debts.

Investments from the Health Investment Fund will be transparent to all Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker. We will provide report cards on health performances to this House and to all Nova Scotians each and every year so they know exactly what is going on in health care. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, criteria for investment decisions will be clearly laid out in regulations and legislation. There will be a report card, as I said, each and every year. It will tell Nova Scotians exactly where the money is being spent and the results of that investment. What it is going to show, not only what we are planning to do with health care, but what health care will look like for them in the future. We want Nova Scotians to realize where we are going with health care and what it will look like so that they have a sense of security and a sense that the direction is the right direction for them and their tax dollars that are investing in our decision making for health care.

Communities will empowered to determine their own health care priorities and the principles established in the 1994 report by the Blueprint Committee on Health will be the guiding way, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, these investments will be made in a prudent fashion. Our Health Investment Fund will operate like a mortgage. It will not permanently increase the debt of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause) We are going one step further. Legislation will be introduced to ensure that every penny borrowed to invest in medical equipment, in nurses' training or better management systems, will be paid back. No government will be able to simply refinance this special borrowing. They must pay it back and we will. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, this is an absolute priority for our government and in this regard I am announcing several important measures that will ensure that we will repay the $600 million Health Investment Fund as soon as possible. First, beginning fiscal 1999-2000, we will require that the budget surpluses will be used solely for debt reduction. Tax cuts may be budgeted for but budget surpluses will be treated as an appropriation and a benefit to paying down the Health Investment Fund.

[Page 6501]

Secondly, we require all the net royalties from Sable gas to be directed to the debt repayment. This alone, Mr. Speaker, amounts to over one-half the required payments by the year 2012-13. Once the health investment funds are paid off, the net royalty payment will continue to be used to reduce the debt as previously announced by our administration.

Thirdly, we will introduce legislation to require a schedule of principal repayments to be included in any budget starting in the year 2003-04. This repayment schedule will take into account the impact of expected Sable royalties and any budgetary surplus to that date and then set in motion a repayment schedule to allow for a complete pay down of the Health Investment Fund as quickly as possible and no later than the year 2012-13. (Applause)

Each of these measures to repay the health investments is designed to ensure that we remain on a path of financial as well as social responsibility. That has been the hallmark of our Liberal Government. That is the hallmark that we plan to keep.

Mr. Speaker, currently we have a growth rate in health care spending of 11.3 per cent annually. Without this investment, the cost of our health care system would quickly exceed our ability to pay. At this current rate of growth, within five years the system would cost an estimated $2.7 billion. In other words, we currently spend about $200,000 an hour, every hour of every day, of every day of every week, of every week of every month, of every month in a year. At the current rate of growth, that funding would go to in excess of $300,000 every hour of every day, of every week of every month, 365 days a year. We all realize the effect that would have on the ability to service the people of this province. There would be no money left to deal with any other issue except health care, possibly education and debt servicing.

We faced a choice. We dealt with that problem head-on today and will end up with a health care system that, at the end of the day, we will be able to afford. We cannot postpone this decision, Mr. Speaker. We only have a few years before our aging population puts another wave of pressure on health care and continues to grow. We must slow the escalation of costs. We must have a system that is truly sustainable.

By investing wisely today, we can improve health care and slow down the escalation of costs. We have chosen this path because we believe it is the right path, the only path for Nova Scotia and Nova Scotians today. We are, Mr. Speaker, prepared to defend this decision in any forum, at any time, anywhere in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Further details of the operation of these health initiatives and the Health Investment Fund will be provided by my colleague the Minister of Health, the Honourable James Smith, over the next few days. I know he started that today and more information will be made available to all Nova Scotians to truly understand.

[Page 6502]

Mr. Speaker, I also want to spend a few minutes on the main health care budget. This government understands that health care in Nova Scotia depends on the dedicated, professional people who deliver the health care system. It is our responsibility, first and foremost, to ensure that they have the tools to do their job. We have increased the basic health budget by $107 million for 1999-2000 compared to last year's budget estimate.

Nurses and doctors are the front line of the health care delivery system. This budget addresses the fundamental concerns of those professionals. In fact, I met with some of them this morning. This budget recognizes that the current and pending shortage of nurses in our health care system is real. Indeed, many of the community and continuing care programs we see will mean expanding roles for nurses right across this province.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce an additional 400 full-time nursing positions in the system. (Applause) Up to 200 of these positions will be converted from casual to full time within five months. Another 200 positions are new; 100 of those will be created immediately. They will accommodate new graduates and nurses currently in the system who wish to convert to full-time employment. We are committing a total of $10 million for nursing initiatives this year.

Mr. Speaker, this government has forged a new relationship with doctors. As a measure of this success, we look no further than the doctor recruitment record. We reversed the decline in doctor numbers in this province. (Applause) You will see the report this week. Doctors have been found for 26 of the 29 underserviced identified areas in 1997. Nova Scotia has a better per capita ratio of both family doctors and specialists than the national average. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, this budget includes funding for cancer detection programs, for the recruitment and the retention of specialists and for better public information within the health care system. It includes more funding for medical research, for home care, for nurses, for doctors and long-term care workers in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, by increasing the budget of the Department of Health and through the additional resources of the Health Investment Fund, our government has made its absolute commitment and made it absolutely clear that our absolute commitment to health care and the well-being of Nova Scotia is real, it is legitimate, it is not just talk, it is action, and we care about that. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, another measure of the integrity of a government, a government that cares about the future, is our government's commitment to our families and to our children. Providing good education for our children is really fundamental. It is fundamental to succeed and to have economic prosperity, it is the foundation of a healthy, educated community. Last year we made a promise on how those commitments would be met. Today I am able to inform

[Page 6503]

the House, we have delivered on our commitment to our children and to our families. (Applause)

Last year, we committed $82 million more for the public school system. This year's budget will again add to that; in fact, we are budgeting an additional $38.8 million more for the public school system. We promised more money to reduce class sizes. This budget offers an additional $300,000 over last year to help school boards reduce class sizes. We explained and told the municipalities their contributions to future educational funding growth would be limited to 10 per cent, and we delivered on that. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, in last year's budget, we promised a significant start on a new school construction program. New schools mean new centres for learning, healthier buildings and more economically run operations. I am pleased to say that a total of 55 new schools will be opened across this province by the year 2005-2006. As well, a total of $25.1 million is earmarked for renovations and additions to existing schools and equipment. (Applause)

School boards will also see a change in a portion of the funding formula, so that students across this province will have access to the same high-quality programs. With a portion of their funding based on program requirements rather than simple student enrolment only, smaller boards will be better able to offer their students the programs they need to be ready for the great opportunities that this province has before it. (Applause)

Programs for our young people are improving. A $2 million investment is being earmarked for textbooks, learning resources and professional development for teachers. This investment will support new courses in areas such as mathematics, language arts, science and entrepreneurship. We are also rapidly putting more new technology into junior and senior high schools. Within one year, 6,000 new computers will be delivered to 181 schools throughout Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, we believe each child deserves every chance for success. To help us with that objective, $2 million is being added to the programs and services for students with special needs. Our commitment to our children goes beyond their public education system. Many parents in this province are well positioned to help their children, but many are not. We have a responsibility to close that gap, to equalize the opportunity for learning. The first step is to improve family resources.

[2:45 p.m.]

We believe families across this province want employment income, not social assistance. Too often though, the system works against taking a job. You gain self-esteem when you have a job - we all understand and know that - but too often you lose your support. The National Child Benefit Program provides benefits to families with low incomes, regardless of where they receive their cheques. The second year of the National Child Benefit Program will

[Page 6504]

see a total reinvestment for Nova Scotia increase to $20.4 million. We will also provide more funding for our Healthy Child Development Initiatives. These initiatives enhance early intervention programs.

This budget provides the funds to open new facilities and services for children and youth who have behavioural or emotional problems. We want to provide opportunities for our children close to home. The Ralph Allen Centre is open in Dartmouth and the new facility in Dayspring, Lunenburg County, will be officially opened next month. Services and facilities are also planned for Cape Breton and Stellarton. Through these initiatives, children will be able to stay close to home, where they have families and friends.

Now that these regional placement options are in place, we will proceed with the secure treatment facility planned for Truro. We will proclaim the remaining sections of the Children and Family Services Act. (Interruption) Nova Scotian children with special needs can be served here. It may also help bring some children with special behavioural problems back home, and many of us know of people in that situation.

In 1999-2000, we will see significant changes in our foster care programs with the introduction of a new training model. This will allow for different levels of payments for foster parents. We will be adding at least 20 new staff across the province to the child welfare system. These people will focus on child protection, placement and prevention.

This budget almost doubles the funding for women's centres across the Province of Nova Scotia. The extra funding recognizes the important contribution they make to deliver services to women and their children. Services that include crisis intervention and problem solving; support assistance for self-help and support groups; and development programs such as literacy and skills upgrading.

Our government is proud of its track record in giving those in need a hand up, not a handout. We have introduced a series of measures that have effectively eliminated the provincial income tax for many low-income families in this province. This measure was enhanced when we introduced the harmonized sales tax system in 1997. At that time, we introduced a companion program for those who made so little that they paid insufficient tax to receive a credit. This measure was called the Direct Assistance Program and for the past two years, people literally had to apply for it. That will continue for 1999 but, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that this requirement will soon be removed and starting in the spring of the year 2000, those who qualify will automatically receive the help simply by filling out the income tax form. This revised HST credit should be a benefit for many more Nova Scotians than currently have ever taken that program up. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, that program was initially targeted for some 70,000 Nova Scotians. We had about 16,000 to 17,000 take it up. This new initiative will not only meet the 70,000 that we believe are out there in the system, but even more people will be able to fit into that

[Page 6505]

system. We project that program, in the year 2000, will cost $12 million and that is putting $12 million into the hands and the pockets of families that can hardly afford to live in the Province of Nova Scotia. We are proud of that initiative and our Premier is proud and our government is proud that we are doing the right thing. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, who we are and what we can do are largely based upon the influence of our families and our communities. My father has often told me that you are a product of your environment. If everyone in this House would stop for a minute and reflect on that, they would probably agree, you are a product of your environment. The lessons and values we learn in our childhood form the foundation of our future. Our government believes it is crucial to strengthen the community values of shared voluntary effort and cooperation. One way to be able to do this is by giving greater recognition to our rural emergency volunteers, the people who are the backbone of the community volunteer effort, the volunteer firefighters of the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, no one exhibits a greater sense of caring, community pride, and a potential heroism than volunteer firefighters. First on the scene, it is their job to turn fire and similar emergencies away from the path of possible tragedy. Today, I am pleased to announce province-wide recognition related to the critical part of their job. Effective July 1, 1999, renewal for motor vehicle registration by properly accredited firefighter volunteers will be done at no cost to them. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Labour for working with the industry so hard over the last while. Today I met the president, the chairman of the firefighters, and thanked him for the leadership and the effort that was made in making that a reality. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I also want to mention two areas where we have been able to build upon existing provincial tax rebate programs. Another critical organization and crucial organization in our rural communities is our voluntary Emergency Measures Organizations. The strength of those organizations and the dedication of their volunteers were amply demonstrated when we had the aftermath of Swissair Flight 111. Today I am pleased to announce that effective April 1, 1999, those groups will qualify for the same provincial tax rebate currently available for volunteer fire departments when it comes to the purchase of new vehicles. (Applause)

Across this province, our veterans play an important role in community life. Their contribution to this country is universally recognized in the many veteran war memorials. Our government believes it is only right that this province provide some assistance and repairs to those monuments. Therefore, I am pleased to announced that effective April 1, 1999, repairs to veteran war memorials will qualify for the same provincial tax rebate treatment currently extended to heritage properties. (Applause)

[Page 6506]

Mr. Speaker, the strength of our coastal communities depends upon people having a secure livelihood. Many fishing communities prosper because they have a variety of seafood sources. But others depended upon groundfish and are not so fortunate. Equally unfortunate are those near retirement who cannot easily learn a new trade. For them, we are helping to provide a bridge to retirement. This budget provides $5 million towards the federal-provincial Fisheries Early Retirement Program. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, last year the province made a major commitment toward municipal-provincial financial fairness. The commitment means municipal payments for social services will be phased out over the next number of years. We said we were going to move to a single-tiered system. It was our Liberal Government that said we wanted to move to a system that was fair across the board, from one end of this province to another. I am pleased today to announce an additional $8.8 million living up to the commitment of universal care across the province for that.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to announce that under the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, the budget also includes funds for improved access for public facilities for persons with disabilities. More details of that, I am sure, will be rolled out over the next couple of days.

Mr. Speaker, I now want to return to the subject of the economy. I come from rural Nova Scotia and am very proud of it. People in my area understand the importance of our natural resource sectors like forestry, agriculture, the fishery and others. They understand the importance they play in the economy of this province. I am pleased to say that this budget has supported their efforts. I am pleased to announce an additional $1 million in a silviculture program for the Province of Nova Scotia, bringing a total of $4 million. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, in our agricultural sector, we all realize in this House over the last year or two the serious crisis that the agricultural community was going through with regard to the drought and the crisis in the hog industry and the problems in the beef sector. This budget reconfirms its $7.5 million investment in the agricultural community to sustain agriculture in the long run. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, our commitment for research and development in the aquaculture industry is shown in the budget as well. Today, I am pleased to say, the long-awaited aquaculture facilities at the Agricultural College should be completed this fall.

Mr. Speaker, the difficulties in Cape Breton deserve special mention. The coal industry on the Island is facing a major crisis. Our government is determined to help the people of industrial Cape Breton through these troubled times. We are working with Ottawa on a four year $80 million community economic development fund. The direction of this money will come from the people in the community itself. It represents a very significant source of hope

[Page 6507]

for people in that community who are looking for hope for the future. It will also ensure a source of funds to help lever some of the other initiatives that I am about to announce.

Mr. Speaker, our government has encouraged economic growth through the use of the tax system. Over the past few years, tax credits have represented an investment of $71.8 million by the government in the form of foregone tax revenues to industry in this province. The most significant is the manufacturing and processing investment tax credit, but the equity tax credit, the small business tax holiday, the film industry tax credit have also helped many small businesses raise the necessary capital to improve reinvestment in the Province of Nova Scotia and yes, creating jobs.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, all the measures that I have just discussed work to strengthen critical industries, especially those in rural Nova Scotia, but more is needed. I believe that a strong rural economy means a strong provincial economy. We know that growth outside Halifax has a positive impact on our capital city as well. More people working from one end of this province to another means the commercial, retail, entertainment and business support services in Halifax will do better. Our policy is to give rural businesses additional development opportunities.

To assist in their economic growth, we believe the area outside the urban Halifax region needs an edge. Outside metro, enterprises need a financial advantage to overcome population and distance to market. This budget provides that advantage through the creation of the Enterprise Zones.

The concept of the Enterprise Zones builds on generally available programs to raise capital and encourage production in designated areas. It is designed to assist small businesses raise capital for investment and growth. Enhanced tax advantages under the following programs will be offered to the Enterprise Zones: the equity tax credit, the tax holiday for small business, the film industry tax credit and our labour-sponsored venture capital funds.

Mr. Speaker, this means new benefits for business growth. We are extending the current small business corporate tax holiday from three years to five years for businesses starting up in the Enterprise Zone. (Applause) The film and video productions inside the Enterprise Zone will qualify for a 37.5 per cent tax credit on labour costs rather than the normal 32.5 per cent in the province. (Applause) Investors using the equity tax credit for small businesses located inside the Enterprise Zone will receive a 35 per cent credit instead of the 30 per cent credit currently offered.

[Page 6508]

The Enterprise Zone is initially defined as areas in Nova Scotia, except the urban area of the Halifax Regional Municipality; basically, Halifax, Dartmouth, Sackville and Bedford. Regulations will also allow us to define parts of HRM and if the unemployment in that part has above-average unemployment, we will deal with it, Mr. Speaker, we will address it.

As a result of these initiatives, high unemployment areas such as Cape Breton, Yarmouth, Amherst and Shelburne, will all have better opportunities to attract investment dollars. Greater equity investment will enable those businesses to leverage those dollars for additional conventional loans. Mr. Speaker, we expect more business growth and more jobs to be a result of this initiative. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, it is not enough to simply support the existing economies of this province. Everyone understands that we are entering a new era. Our open borders, the knowledge economy, our resource wealth, are creating opportunities that we have not seen since the 1800's. The opportunities, for example, of working and raising a family here in Nova Scotia, rather than having to move away, as our young people have done for generations and generations. We were known as the brain drain capital, Atlantic Canada. It is time to change that course, it is time to put that course on the right course and that is, of course, to allow our families to have opportunities right here in the Province of Nova Scotia, and tell our children to come home. (Applause)

To give our young people these choices, we will need to redouble our efforts in skill development and training. We must improve the ability of our community college system to match the talents of our young people with the jobs of tomorrow. Already our community college is recognized nationally for ground-breaking new programs and partnerships with the private sector. They literally work together in developing programs and options for people to be able to succeed in our province. Our government values its key role in economic development, and we have honoured our previous commitment to preserve and enhance the college's current operations with a $5.3 million increase in funding; that is an 11 per cent growth in the community college budget for the Province of Nova Scotia.

However, the demand for new training outstrips the ability of the community college to offer seats to Nova Scotians who are eager to join the workforce, whether in the field of digital animation or new jobs in the gas industry.

Today, this government is announcing a three stage plan to expand the capacity of the college and address its infrastructure needs. First, we will support the growth of an exciting new part of the community college - its virtual campus for apprenticeship training - by providing new investments of $250,000 in the budget. Literally what we are able to do is offer individuals, whether they are in the workplace or at home on their computer, the ability to access the community college and end up with a degree or a course of their making.

[Page 6509]

Secondly, in high-demand programs with immediate strategic benefits to the economy, the government will invest additional funds to modify classrooms and labs, and run extra shifts that will create new spaces for Nova Scotia students this fall. These measures will address some immediate pressures, but this government is also committed to the long-term vision for the college.

Today, I am pleased to announced that we are asking the board of governors of the college to consult with the stakeholders and bring forward a plan that will increase the total number of seats by 50 per cent over the next four years for our community colleges. We are committing $100,000 in funding to create this plan and we are asking that it be brought forward by the end of this fiscal year. We are determined to build a community college for the new century, one that will open new doors and opportunities for Nova Scotians, especially our young people.

Mr. Speaker, in 1998-99, our government made a commitment to increase our investment in universities by $24 million over the next three years. Our budget today keeps that promise. As a result, we expect any tuition increases to be kept to a minimum, and the university's contributions to the economic development of this province will continue to rise. Much progress has already been made in making that a reality.

The growth of our computer industry is now blurring the boundaries of another growth industry of this province. Film and video production in Nova Scotia is expanding rapidly. The industry has reached its present state with help from our Film Industry Tax Credit. Today I am pleased to announce that this credit will be extended for another year. I will also introduce amendments to the tax credit, so that it may continue to be used by large Nova Scotia-based production companies. We plan to consult widely in the coming months on how to continue to support this industry in the most up-to-date, effective, and competitive way.

For an example, we are finding that more and more often our film and video companies are branching out. They record their images and stories in a digital form. The end result is often a computer screen rather than a movie screen. The delivery system in no longer a projector but, instead, a CD-ROM or a file downloaded from the Internet. Technology is redefining the medium, so we are redefining the message. Effective April 1, 1999, we will allow firms combining traditional media and digital output a 15 per cent tax credit on salaries and wages paid to employees of qualified corporations in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

We already have a tremendously creative community in the arts, music and writing in this province. In Halifax and in Sydney the multimedia industry is finding its wings. We already have a strong base of computer education. This tax measure will help pull all these elements together to encourage new businesses to grow here and literally serve the world.

[Page 6510]

Mr. Speaker, I want to mention another aspect of economic development and support in our general tax rate. This government is committed to responsible tax reduction. I am pleased to confirm, effective July 1, 1999, Nova Scotians will see the impact of an annual $20 million reduction in provincial personal income taxes across the board as we follow the recent federal initiative. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, this effectively represents a 2 per cent reduction in provincial income tax. This decision decreases a flow of provincial income tax cuts from 1997. In over a two-year period, Nova Scotians have seen this provincial income tax reduced in the Province of Nova Scotia to a total of $60 million. That is $60 million more in the pockets of Nova Scotians, to be able to go out and spend on goods and services and be able to reinvest in the Province of Nova Scotia. We are proud of our responsible record on taxation, and we are continuing to do more as time goes on.

Effective this fiscal year, we will also end the Transitional Tax on motor vehicle purchases, as we already announced. All these measures encourage consumer spending and economic growth by leaving more money in the hands of taxpayers, and that is exactly what we should be doing as a government in the Province of Nova Scotia and in this country. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, we have a well-established track record on taking a balanced approach. In 1993, nothing was in balance; everything was in the red. The hospitals and the schools were in debt. The provincial budget was borrowing money to pay the interest on the money it had borrowed the previous year. And the roads, although built with good intentions, they were also built with IOUs.

Consistently we made the necessary changes to go forward. First, we balanced the day-to-day spending, that came in 1995. Then we moved the standard higher. We raised the bar and balanced the entire budget on current and capital. All the budgeted spending, from road construction to Civil Service wages, have been in balance since 1997. Now is the time to move the bar again. It is time to set a new goal. It is time to reach full balance across the public sector in Nova Scotia.

I laid out our plan to increase fiscal responsibility a year ago in our document entitled Financial Accountability: A Blueprint for Success. This document anticipated our assumption of responsibility for the full health care sector. We acknowledge financial responsibility for the finances for our health and our health boards, the four non-designated hospitals including the QE II, as well as our Crown Corporations, and our departments and agencies.

Today, we are reaffirming our commitment to fiscal responsibility. Yes, we must invest significantly in Nova Scotians' health care system, and yes, that investment requires us to finance it outside the current revenues, but that financial decision is justified because we must

[Page 6511]

bring greater long-term financial accountability, predictability and sustainability to the health care system in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

In addition, we are committed to repaying the dollars borrowed for this special investment by no later than the year 2012-13. Even when the need is urgent, we are not prepared to throw away the fruits of our hard-won battles.

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, in every department and agency of government, except Health and Education, the budget has been basically kept to the line. Increases in other department estimates reflect only long overdue wage increases to the Public Service and very few new programs specifically mentioned in this speech. In fact, the budget explicitly requires us to find significant program reductions or productivity gains in our operations.

The people of Nova Scotia would insist that we look at every corner of government for every dollar to see where we can save. We started that process last year. A team of senior deputy ministers and officials in my department looked at many areas for saving. In this year we will build on the work that we already started. Programs will be reviewed to see if they still serve the original purpose and our payments for travel and accommodations are higher than they should be, Mr. Speaker. We are working across the public sector to get better value for our travel dollars inside and outside of the province.

Other areas for cost reduction includes printing, telecommunications costs, including the use of cellular phones and the purchase of office supplies. We are also launching a long-term review of our office space rental, government warehouses and vehicle purchases. Surplus buildings, machinery and equipment will be liquidated. In each case, our message is clear. Nova Scotians work hard to earn their living. People are prepared to pay their taxes and allow us to invest, on their behalf, to create a better future. But in return, Mr. Speaker, the government must respect the trust we are given by managing those tax dollars wisely. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, in concluding my remarks today, I want to offer the following observation. Today, we are on the threshold of a new century but our values are timeless. Throughout history, society has been measured by how well they serve their people, whether creativity and learning flourished, whether wealth increased broadly, whether a practical society has respect for the resources of our land and air and whether they tolerated and even encouraged dissenting opinions and values and whether their children are born with the prospect of a long and healthy future.

Today, we must ask our children, will they say that we passed those tests? A confident and creative people achieve good futures. I believe the budget before this House today gives our people the tools to do just that. Our young people are better to realize their full potential.

[Page 6512]

Our communities, our entrepreneurs have better ways to make opportunities become realities. All of us can have the confidence that our health care system is dependable and secure as we go forward in the 21st Century. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, more than anything, this budget is about investment, investing in Nova Scotia and yes, investing in Nova Scotians. This is the right budget for our province and for our people. It is right now and it is right in the future. I ask all Nova Scotians to support the choices our government have made to build and continue to build a promise for the future of the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much. (Extended Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto. (Applause)

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to have to say that this budget is not good enough. It doesn't do the job. (Laughter) (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: It is not acceptable. I am asking the minister to withdraw this budget, go back, rewrite it and do it again. (Applause) The reasons for this are fairly obvious and apparent, and it is not just the fact that the budget is in deficit. That is not appropriate, we do not find that a good way to write the budget, but that is not the only factor. It is not just the size of the deficit, which by our calculation is $248.5 million; that is not acceptable. It is not just that the minister has brought forward a budget that has added to the debt; that is not a good thing to do either. It is not just that he has added massively to the debt; that, in fact, is very unacceptable. All of these factors, as important as they are, are not as important as a realization that the minister, through this budget and through his government, has failed to be frank, to be open, to be completely accountable to the people of Nova Scotia for the conduct of the finances of this province.

The minister in the Red Room is prepared to admit that his budget is in deficit, yet to bring in here a document that purports to show a surplus, this is not a standard of conduct with respect to the finances of this province that we find acceptable. Our Party has learned long ago that in politics the important currency is not the value of the Canadian dollar or the value of the American dollar or the value of the Swiss franc or the value of the Japanese yen, the important currency in politics is the currency of trust. Like all those other currencies, the currency of trust has to be earned and it has to be earned through honest work. (Applause)

What the people of Nova Scotia, I believe, are looking for in their budgets and looking for in their governments, is some indication that if problems as important as health are going to be tackled - and there is no one to whom we in our Party would take second place when it comes to recognizing the importance of dealing with the health care system - and what Nova Scotians are looking for, when they want those problems tackled, is they are looking, as anyone would, to see if there is just some basic competence there. They are looking to see

[Page 6513]

if there are actual plans to deliver what is promised. They are going to judge those things, first and foremost, according to past performance.

Let me just start with the question of basic competence. I observed the other day that this budget is absolutely the last budget to come forward in any province across Canada. This is not a standard of performance designed to give anyone confidence in the basic competence of the government. At this point, more than two months into the fiscal year, $750 million of taxpayers' dollars will have been spent by this government without a budget having been brought forward and subject to the scrutiny of this House. That is not the way that public finance ought to be carried on in this province.

Furthermore, it is important to the many entities out there that they know what the level of funding will be. It is important to the municipalities, to the universities, to the schools, to the hospitals, to all of those entities which, likewise, are at least two months now into their financial year, without having seen, prior to this the details of what it is that their budgets are going to be. So, it is not just a question of why is the minister late and perhaps it is excusable, maybe there is some reason why he, unlike Ministers of Finance in other provinces, was unable to come forward but no explanation was ever offered. There are consequences. There are consequences for the broader public sector about that.

We know that we have seen a virtual wastage of the time of this Legislature for the last two weeks while there was a deliberate delay in bringing forward this budget. The only thing that can be said for it is at least it came in three days earlier than last year's budget. But neither of them were acceptably on time. It is just not appropriate to find the minister regularly and deliberately coming in with a budget this late.

Furthermore, when the minister does bring in a budget this late and finally comes forward with documents that he is prepared to call plans, because it is so late in the financial year, that gives that much less time to entities like the Department of Health to implement those plans. That's not acceptable. So the whole question of the timing of the budget is a serious one and a serious negative indicator as to whether there is even basic competence being displayed when it comes to managing the financial affairs of the province.

There is another aspect of how this budget has been developed that is of concern to many people at large. It has to do with the very limited nature of the consultation that has gone on. If the government wants to come forward with plans - and that's what budget in the end represent, they represent the essence of what it is that the government is saying it is going to try to accomplish this coming year - then they had better get their plans right and they had better talk to the people who know what it is that is really needed out in our society. That didn't happen, yet again this year, that did not happen.

[Page 6514]

All of the entities that might have been consulted, who know things about what the budget needs, were not consulted. Certainly the Opposition Parties were not consulted. In a minority government, one might have thought that that was appropriate but it didn't happen last year and it certainly didn't happen this year. But in the community at large, there were formal consultations, as the minister often has, with representatives of the business community. That's entirely appropriate when the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce meet with him, when the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses meet with him, that should happen. No reason why not. But that should not be the limit of public consultation.

Was the Federation of Labour asked in? Was the CLC? No, they weren't. Were those people who run shelters for the homeless or shelters for the battered invited in? No, they were not. Was the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union - in a time when we are supposedly being presented with the health care budget focusing on nursing care - asked for a formal consultation? This is not appropriate to exclude from formal consultation all of this broad range of groups.

In addition, the minister has changed the way in which the books of the province are now being presented. He didn't consult either with the Public Accounts Committee as was specifically promised last year. That was specifically promised in last year's budget.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, senior officials in the Department of Finance came early to the Public Accounts Committee last year and said they were interested in having consultation with the Public Accounts Committee about proposed changes. That should have taken place. How can we believe that the government is going to come up with the appropriate plans and how can we have faith that they are going to be able to implement them if they haven't done the proper consultation.

The most serious issue is this matter of past performance. When an attempt is being made by Nova Scotians to decide whether they really have trust in this government. They are going to look back at the past performance of this government and they are going to say, what has actually happened in the past? Why should we believe this government now based on what it has done in the past?

[3:30 p.m.]

I am going to remind all members of this House, and the public, of a number of instances of difficulties in the performance of this government in the past. Let's start by looking back at the last five years of financial projections done by this government in each year. Each year a budget is brought in, estimates are given as to what the expenditures are likely to be but at the end of the year we are told what the actual expenditures are. When we look back at the last five years, the number of years in which the government's targeted expenditures - that is what they said they were going to do in their budget - were actually matched, was zero. The number of years in which their expenditure target - that is what they budgeted - was exceeded, was four out of those five years. In four out of those five years the

[Page 6515]

government overspent. How can we have any faith that they are going to be able to do the job any differently now?

Furthermore, when it comes to a question of financial responsibility, all members of this House will know that we have outstanding in front of us a resolution that has not been called for voting, even though it is absolutely required under the financial legislation of this province, that there be specific authorization given by this House for over-expenditures. I am referring to the $184 million of over-expenditures in the fiscal year 1997-98 that the minister and his government spent, failed to bring in a resolution dealing with that matter, though it is required by law in advance of the spending, until last November or December and has not yet called that for a vote. This is a flagrant violation of the laws of this province and should not have ever been allowed to happen and Nova Scotians looking at that have to look at it and say, is this acceptable and why, on the basis of this example of past performance, should we believe anything that this government says it is going to do in the financial field?

Another instance; I pointed out that the historical record of this government over the last six years has not been good. It has particularly been bad in the last year. In this last year the wild ride that we have seen with respect to the quarterly statements has just been amazing. When I look back at last year's budget statement, I see promises on things like the establishment of an economic advisory council. That never happened and when things like that never happen, disappear from sight, I look at this and I say, how can I have any faith, how can Nova Scotians have any faith that this government will do now what it says it is going to do?

We have heard the minister say today and we have heard confirmation from the Auditor General that if he is going to take into debt three or four accumulative past year's over-expenditures by hospitals, then he should really go back and restate the books of the province for those years. We will know that contrary to the ads that we saw run in the newspaper just a few weeks ago, every one of those years those budgets were in deficit, not in surplus, as a result of that. So when we see that how can we or Nova Scotians have any faith that what we are being told now is believable?

There are many different ways this budget could have been presented. We intend to go through the details of this as it is presented if it is necessary and if the minister does not take our suggestion and advice that he simply goes back and redoes it because that seems to be the appropriate thing to do. Mr. Speaker, I would like to adjourn the debate Thursday.

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

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

The debate on the Budget Speech is adjourned.

[Page 6516]

We will now commence with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, on an introduction.

HON. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, through you and to the members of the House, I am pleased to introduce a former member of the House, Mr. Richie Hubbard and his beautiful wife, Barb from Yarmouth, seated in the Speaker's Gallery. I would ask that they stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce, through you, to the members of the House my riding president, Kevin Ball, and my trusted CA, Lillian Viau, who came here today for fireworks, and I think they got it. Please applaud them. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, also in the west gallery today, I would like to introduce Paulette Sadoway, who is the regional representative with the Canadian Labour Congress, and also my constituency assistant, Leon Thomas. I would ask them to stand and receive the reception of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery, I would like to introduce the President of the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley PC Association and a resident of Dutch Settlement and a proud Nova Scotian, Mr. Clifford Hines. Please rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform the House that today an order is being issued for the removal of aquaculture gear and equipment on a site in St.

[Page 6517]

Margaret's Bay. The order is being issued under Section 100 of the Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act against J. B. Fish Farms for the removal of three cages and any fish on the site in Redmonds Cove.

My department staff visited the site yesterday and have recommended this course of action. This is a case where a site licensed for shellfish is being used for finfish, contravening the legislation. It is resulting in this order to cease activities. I will be signing this order because we have rules in the industry and they must be followed. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, this is a prime example of citizens' initiatives, and through them, because of their prodding of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, action was taken. I would like to congratulate Wendy Crocker and her group from the St. Margaret's Bay area, of whom the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was quoted as saying that their concerns were overstating and dwelling on the alarmist and negative views regarding aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, for half a year, Wendy Crocker and her group were given the run-around. The inability of the provincial fisheries to meet with concerned citizens, the inability to bring all the stakeholders to the table was very frustrating. It was very frustrating to Wendy Crocker and her group, but action was taken. It is very heartening to see when citizens' groups take on such a serious issue that their prodding of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture got the appropriate action necessary in the St. Margaret's Bay area. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for giving me a copy of the statement before rising in the House. Aquaculture is an industry that I think most of us in this province realize we haven't been promoting very much. The situation, in comparison to New Brunswick, is that we are quite a bit further behind. I think the situation here today though is one whereby one operator was not in compliance with the regulations of the department, which is different.

I would like to say that this area of St. Margaret's Bay is one, I think, that we, as Nova Scotians, are very proud of. It is very pristine waters. It is well used, especially for recreation. I think if we want to have trust between users of our environment and people want to get involved in aquaculture, that we have to have a much more open process between government and the people that we are trying to convince that this is in the best interest of the community to have these types of industries there.

[Page 6518]

The support for mussel farming and so forth is much higher than it is finfish. Today, there has been a lot of negative press in regard to finfish, to some of the adverse effects about it and whether they get released into the environment and I think that the minister did say something, there is a lot of miscommunication out there and I admit that. At the same time, I think people have concerns and those concerns deserve to be addressed. Wendy Crocker in this area, has contacted our caucus, as I am sure they contacted the NDP caucus, and they had some concerns that they were in violation of the Acts that you, as minister, are empowered to enforce. So when that happens, the minister should really act much quicker. I think the fact of having an open dialogue when you always refer to RADAC committees and say that you should meet with them, you are the minister, you are the one in charge of that department. If you have a problem, I have always found that if you sit down with people and you are frank with them, then you can resolve it. This is an example that, I think, if the minister would have intervened personally, would have met those people, I think that perhaps this would have been resolved earlier.

I still go back, in my closing comments, Mr. Speaker, is that as much as this one had to be rectified by removing equipment, I think the minister has a long way to go in convincing Nova Scotians that we have to work in developing aquaculture across this province.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3138

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

Whereas Annie MacLeod, a former Port Morien resident, now of the Cove Guest Home, is heading towards being a part of three centuries; and

Whereas Annie MacLeod attended Nova Scotia Normal College and taught children for countless years; and

Whereas Annie loves to read, especially the Bible and the magazine Woman's Day, and is always ready to pass on a tip she has just read;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Annie MacLeod on her 109th birthday and wish her many more years of reading and sharing her knowledge.

[Page 6519]

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 member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3139

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 latest cowardly act of a home invasion in this province took place at Woodside near Canning, Kings County, over the weekend; and

Whereas the perpetrator broke into the home of Elsie and Leo Rafuse and stole a briefcase containing valuable Second World War medals belonging to Mr. Rafuse; and

Whereas this latest invasion into the homes of seniors has resulted in the Minister of Justice sitting idly by in his own county while refusing to recognize the significant importance of seniors having their homes broken into and in some cases badly beaten;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice provide some indication to all Nova Scotians as to what actions are being contemplated by his government to curb these disgraceful acts of home invasions.

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.

[Page 6520]

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on an introduction, if I may. I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House, a very special individual. She is not only a life member of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union for the Province of Nova Scotia, after 45 years of service, she is not only the longest serving 4-H leader in Canada, she is a very strong supporter of politics in many ways. She is also a great mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I would like to introduce my mother, Dr. Marion MacKinnon. (Applause)

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

[3:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3140

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

Whereas schools throughout our province rely heavily on the volunteerism of parents and community members; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional School Board has recognized these efforts by awarding Golden Apple Awards to these deserving volunteers; and

Whereas parents Pam Demone and Tom McLean were recent winners of this award for the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea school community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Pam Demone and Tom McLean on their Golden Apple Awards.

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.

[Page 6521]

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3141

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Bike-Ability tour concluded early last evening at the Parade Square in Halifax; and

Whereas the Bike-Ability tour is a seven day bicycle trip between Yarmouth and Sydney to promote the abilities of people with physical disabilities; and

Whereas four cyclists, including Julianne Acker-Verney who is visually impaired, arrived at Parade Square in Halifax last evening from their seven day province-wide trip;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature commend the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities for helping to organize this year's Bike-Ability tour, while bringing awareness to all Nova Scotians of what people with physical disabilities can really do.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3142

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

Whereas the Saskatchewan NDP has become so right-wing, it makes the United Alternative look like a group of socialists; and

[Page 6522]

Whereas this is the type of government that the NDP seeks to import to Nova Scotia, just as they will import a swarm of paid election organizers from Saskatchewan to run their election campaign here; and

Whereas the anti-labour, hospital-closing approach of the Saskatchewan NDP would be to the right of anything ever known here, even much to the right of Donald Cameron;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians do not want right-wing government of the type offered by the NDP, but far prefer the sensible, moderate, pro-people approach of Premier Russell MacLellan and this Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3143

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

Whereas bandleader and broadcaster Don Warner died in Halifax on Saturday; and

Whereas Mr. Warner's music gave pleasure to people all over Canada, but especially to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas as host of Warner's Waxworks and later Jazzland, he shared his passion and knowledge with CBC Radio listeners;

Therefore be it resolved that this House mourn the passing of Don Warner, musician and broadcaster, and with him the passing of an era of musical history.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 6523]

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 3144

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 Riverport and Area Community Choir has established a music camp bursary program in memory of founding director Ken Matheson; and

Whereas the purpose of the bursary is to assist young people attend a music camp of their choice; and

Whereas the bursary is for the benefit of children attending Riverport and District Elementary School where Mr. Matheson had been a teacher for many years;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Riverport and Area Community Choir for fostering music education among our young people.

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 Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 3145

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

Whereas on Saturday, May 29th, at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia, students of the Nova Scotia Sea School launched their sixth boat, a 16 foot wooden sailing skiff, the Molly Kool, which they built at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic; and

[Page 6524]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Sea School provides a unique learning experience for 15 to 18 year olds who collaborate in building their own sailboat during part of the school year, and in summer sail along the South Shore for periods of 2 to 21 days, leaving the luxuries of modern life behind; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Sea School teaches traditional boat-building, seamanship and navigation, and gives teenagers a chance to discover Nova Scotia's heritage and to discover themselves;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students, staff and sponsors of the Nova Scotia Sea School for providing more than 300 Nova Scotia youth with the unique experience of wooden boats and traditional seamanship.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 3146

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

Whereas last week, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture introduced a bill designed to stop illegal lobster harvesting; and

Whereas in speaking on this bill, the minister said we have to move rapidly to resolve this problem; and

Whereas the minister's movements with this issue have been anything but rapid;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture admit that he has been dragging his feet with this serious problem and pledge to ensure that every effort is made to support those legally involved in the industry.

[Page 6525]

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3147

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

Whereas Richard Doubleday personified old-timers hockey in the St. Margaret's Bay area; and

Whereas the Doubleday family each year presents an award in their father's memory to a player who best typifies the true spirit of old-timer's hockey; and

Whereas this year's winner, as selected by his fellow players, was Bernie MacNeil;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Bernie MacNeil on his selection as this year's winner of the Richard Doubleday Memorial Award.

Mr. Speaker, I would request wavier of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 6526]

RESOLUTION NO. 3148

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

Whereas over the past decade, Atlantic Canadians have witnessed the decline of the groundfishery, with consequential negative effects on coastal communities; and

Whereas it is critical to the inshore fishery and fishing communities that lobster stocks do not go the way of groundfish; and

Whereas the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has, at the 11th hour, moved to correct the well documented phenomenon of illegal lobster fishing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture support the fishing community by assigning sufficient enforcement staff to policing the lobster fishery, thereby ensuring the job really does get done.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3149

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

Whereas the British Columbia NDP of Premier Glen Clark has gone so out-of-control it makes the NDP group here in this Legislature look responsible by comparison; and

Whereas it is to British Columbia that these members opposite look for organizational know-how in running elections and, presumably, the government of this province; and

Whereas Premier Glen Clark and company represent considerable expertise as to how to turn a prosperous economy into a basket case and responsible government into a total fiasco;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians do not want the catastrophic form of government perfected by the NDP in British Columbia, but instead prefer the safe, sensible, compassionate approach of Premier Russell MacLellan and this Liberal Government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 6527]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3150

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

Whereas each year the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame recognizes the contribution of successful entrepreneurs have made to the Nova Scotia economy; and

Whereas this year's inductees include Mr. John Risley of Clearwater Fine Foods, Mr. Fred Smithers of Secunda Marine and the late entrepreneur and benefactor, Fred C. Manning; and

Whereas these three individuals have balanced their business success with a genuine commitment to their respective communities and to Nova Scotia as a whole;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. Risely, Mr. Smithers and the late Mr. Manning on their appointment to the Business Hall of Fame.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3151

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

Whereas Goldboro is the site of eastern Canada's first national gas plant; and

Whereas the highway leading to Goldboro is winding and outdated; and

[Page 6528]

Whereas the private sector, SOEP and its partners have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in this development;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia become a partner and assist the development of Goldboro and Guysborough County and build a decent road through to Goldboro.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3152

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

Whereas Mactara Limited of Upper Musquodoboit is the largest sawmill in the Province of Nova Scotia necessitating numerous commercial vehicles to travel Routes 224 and 289; and

Whereas Mosher's Limestone of Upper Musquodoboit supplies much of Nova Scotia's aquaculture sector which requires numerous commercial vehicles to travel Routes 224 and 289; and

Whereas Taylor Lumber in Middle Musquodoboit and Musquodoboit Harbour and Tusket Mining in Murchyville via shipping and receiving need numerous trucks to travel Routes 224 and 357;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and this Liberal Government recognize the valuable contribution businesses in the Musquodoboit Valley and area make to Nova Scotia and get on with the job and improve our highways.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled. It was rather long.

[Page 6529]

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3153

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

Whereas Mr. Ned White, a recently deceased New Glasgow resident, has generously bequeathed $1.8 million to the Aberdeen Hospital Foundation; and

Whereas Mr. White's tremendous contribution is the largest single legacy ever received by the foundation; and

Whereas income from this gift will be used to purchase much needed equipment for the hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize this generous contribution and the positive impact it will inevitably have on the Aberdeen Hospital and on the individuals who rely on its services.

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 Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 3154

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 Truro Greco Wildcats captured the Nova Scotia Bantam B Girls Basketball Championship; and

[Page 6530]

Whereas the Wildcats won the tournament with an exciting overtime win over a very able Banook team; and

Whereas the Wildcats' Heather Pothier was named tournament MVP;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate the Truro Greco Wildcats on their dedication and hard work which led to their outstanding season and Heather Pothier on her superior performance in the provincial tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3155

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

Whereas this year's annual beach sweep takes place June 4th to June 10th; and

Whereas more than 13,000 volunteers are expected to spread across the Maritimes to clean up their favourite beaches; and

Whereas the beach sweep is sponsored by Moosehead Breweries and is organized through the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the time and effort taken by the many thousands of volunteers trying to help clean up the environment and applaud the sponsors and organizers of this worthwhile event.

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

[Page 6531]

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. 3156

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 Liberal Government has said that health care is its highest priority; and

Whereas the board of directors at the Rosedale Home for Special Care has been attempting to get approval of an addition to that facility to assist in meeting the extreme shortage of long-term care beds in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance has hinted that the review by the government of the need for long-term care beds is soon to be completed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Health grant approval to the Rosedale Home for Special Care for an extension to the facility requested by the board of directors.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

[Page 6532]

RESOLUTION NO. 3157

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

Whereas Louise Mahoney of Truro, a third year honours music student at St. Francis Xavier University, received an award from the alumni for her involvement in campus life; and

Whereas Louise Mahoney, a member of the student union, has been manager of the X-Women hockey team, a pianist and co-director of the St. Francis Xavier chapel choir, a Varsity Mania coordinator, participated in intramural programming, and also was a student representative on the St. Francis Xavier Occupational Health and Safety Committee; and

Whereas Lousie Mahoney has been acclaimed as 1999-2000 senior class president and also X-ring choir conductor;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Louise Mahoney for her many achievements at St. Francis Xavier and wish her success in her senior year and in all future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3158

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 Royal Canadian Legions continue to contribute regularly to their members and the communities they serve; and

[Page 6533]

Whereas Les Nash, the Nova Scotia Command Provincial Darts Chairman, along with Ronald Trowsdale and Joseph Saxton, recently presented a cheque for $8,300 to Nova Scotia Command President, John Landsburg; and

Whereas the money will assist Command in their pledge to erect a cenotaph at the Camp Hill Hospital Memorial Gardens;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the Legions of the Nova Scotia Command and wish them all the best in their future endeavours to ensure those who served this country are always remembered.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3159

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

Whereas Regiment 652, the Milford and District Lions Air Cadet Squadron held their annual inspection and awards ceremony this past weekend in the beautiful Dutch Settlement Elementary School; and

Whereas the ceremony was the 15th such annual inspection of the Milford and District Lions Air Cadet Squadron; and

Whereas a number of prestigious awards were handed out to squadron members who are under the very capable direction of their Commanding Officer, Captain Yvonne Olson;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the dedication put forward by squadrons such as Regiment 652, the Milford and District Lions Air Cadet Squadron, and wish them the very best in their future endeavours.

[Page 6534]

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.

Before we go any further I would like to advise the members that the late debate this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Pictou Centre, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take immediate action to achieve maximum value for its existing $1.5 billion health care budget before throwing an additional $1 billion on a system already wasting millions.

That subject will be debated tonight at 6:00 p.m. I am going to recess for approximately five minutes and that will give us an opportunity to get the other frontbenchers in if we could. So we will come back at 4:08 p.m.

[4:03 p.m. The House recessed.]

[4:13 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: The time being 4:13 p.m., we will finish Oral Question Period at 5:13 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000): UNBALANCED - UNSTATED

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the honourable Minister of Finance. The minister has said that this is not a balanced budget. That is obvious when $250 million of borrowed debt is included in the spending.

[Page 6535]

I want to ask the Minister of Finance, why did the minister pretend otherwise when he tabled his address here in this House earlier. (Applause)

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is totally wrong in that statement. We have been extremely transparent about this whole process, more transparent than they would be bringing in that budget. What we have done is point out very clearly that we are onward with regard to the fiscal management of the Province of Nova Scotia and we are establishing a separate fund to help rebuild health care, something that they don't agree with. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the gathered media will, in fact, report on what the minister said about this budget not being balanced. I want to ask the minister, because this budget is reminiscent of things in the past, why is it any better to take out a mortgage to pay for medical care now than it was 10 years ago under John Buchanan's Tories?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that we have a plan that puts health care on the right track, a plan that will put health care sustainable, predictable and dependable in the future of this province, a plan that they don't understand because it is too obvious for them. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the honourable Minister of Finance of the Province of Nova Scotia tabled a document in here which indicated a $1.5 million surplus. Outside this House he said that this budget was not balanced. I want the Minister of Finance to do the right thing and withdraw that document and table an accurate budget once and for all.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, that wasn't a question, that was a statement, simply because I listened to the rhetoric that came out of it. They have nothing wrong with this budget because they know it is the right budget for Nova Scotians at the right time.

Mr. Speaker, all our departments are in balance. Every department is in balance. What we are doing is rectifying a health investment fund, and if you add that in, that is right. The bottom line in this budget is about investing in health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

FISH. - SALMON (ATL.): LICENCE FEES - REINVESTMENT

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries. As the minister knows, and I am sure many Nova Scotians know, the percentage of Atlantic salmon breeding stock which is required to sustain the minimum recruitment of this species is now reduced to 40 per cent. It has led in Nova Scotia to a number of river-specific stocks being

[Page 6536]

lost altogether. Federal response has been to get out of the salmon hatchery business. Now this minister over the past three years has collected $200,000 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. LEEFE: . . . in salmon angling licence fees. My question to the minister is, how has he reinvested that in Atlantic salmon enhancement?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: As the honourable member is well aware, being a former Minister of Fisheries, Atlantic salmon are the full responsibility of the federal government. The angling licence revenues we get from the fishermen in Nova Scotia, under the provincial program - and it is a separate program for licences for salmon - the provincial money is invested back in the trout stocks and in restocking lakes and hatcheries in Nova Scotia.

MR. LEEFE: My first supplementary is to the Minister of Natural Resources. The Endangered Species Act, which was proclaimed on May 1st, calls for the establishment of a species-at-risk working group. I wonder if the minister could advise what the status is of the species-at-risk working group?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for that question. I am sure the honourable member has a very keen interest in this issue. Yes, we are about midway through the process of establishing a working group. I would assume that within a short period of time we will have that group established and they will move forward in their endeavours to protect endangered species at risk.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of the Act is to provide for the protection, designation, recovery and other relevant aspects of conservation of species at risk. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources. Is he prepared, as soon as that group is created, to ask them to give first consideration to Atlantic salmon as an endangered species, a species at risk?

MR. MACASKILL: Again, I want to thank the honourable member for those brief remarks. It is very important to Nova Scotia that we make sure that our salmon are protected. It is very important to our sports fishermen, to the economy of all Nova Scotians and, yes, I can assure the honourable member that we will work very closely with the federal department of fish habitat to ensure that we will do whatever we can to support them in this endeavour.

[Page 6537]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000): UNBALANCED - PROMISE BROKEN

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, in the 1998 campaign, the Premier promised 37 times that the budget would be balanced but, today, we learned that there was a deficit last year, and there will be a deficit this year, there will be a deficit the year after. Can the Minister of Finance tell us why it was that that promise to the people of Nova Scotia was broken?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in the early 1990's when we took over we set the bar. The first thing we did is we balanced the ordinary operation of the Government of Nova Scotia. Secondly, we raised the bar again and balanced the ordinary capital. Thirdly, we are raising the bar again.

They are upset because they haven't got a plan to figure out how they would handle any fiscal ground in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have balance.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the Finance Department today accepted and announced $826 million in new debt. Would the minister tell us how long it will take for those debts to be paid? Just how many generations will be carrying the burden of that debt?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite heard all too well our plan with regard to, for example, the Health Investment Fund. We put it in motion. We have legislation to deal with that. That is a commitment of government that says we are prepared to pay it back through a legislative process, so that nobody can abuse that program. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we already indicated to them, once that is paid off, our approach is to deal with the overall debt of the province of Nova Scotia.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, could the minister, perhaps, tell us then the actual cost in debt servicing of this new debt, or the cost in terms of foregone opportunities that it represents?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I wish the member would read this book because it points out, very clearly, right in the very front page, if health care isn't put into check today, if you reinvested it, it would cost $2.7 billion a year and growing. Is that what that member opposite is wanting for the Province of Nova Scotia? I don't want it and we don't want it over here.

[Page 6538]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - PUB. PROSECUTION SERV.:

WORKING GROUP - IMPLEMENTATION DELAY

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Justice. Crown Prosecutors, in good faith, participated in a government-sponsored study to address the issues creating frustration and stress within the Public Prosecution Service. This working group on employer and employee relations submitted its report in early February.

Will the minister explain and please provide an explanation as to why he continues to stall on matters facing the Public Prosecution Service by not implementing the recommendations of this report?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we are actively engaged in working with the Public Prosecution Service on a number of issues, not the least of which is the crucial mechanism for establishing remuneration and benefits.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Minister of Justice. In May 1998, the concept of market adjustments for Crown Attorneys was introduced. Here we are again, one year later, and the government is boasting about salary adjustment to the most senior Crown Prosecutors in this province.

Can the minister explain why the less senior attorneys were left out of this market adjustment and commit to demonstrating that their services are valuable by including them in this adjustment?

MR. HARRISON: We made a commitment to the Crown Attorneys in this province to use a vehicle entitled market adjustment that takes into consideration senior public servants' salaries and, in addition, the private sector market place that could draw them away or cause us to be uncompetitive. We have done that two years in a row. They are the highest paid in Atlantic Canada and they are on par with both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again, to the minister. The minister had the report listing recommendations that will resolve the problems within the service. How many more reports will it require from this government to implement the recommendations of the report?

My question to the minister is, you have seen the report of the working group, will you commit to meeting with the Crown Prosecutors and discuss recommendations provided and will you move to implement them?

[Page 6539]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Justice and Attorney General, I meet weekly with the Director of the Crown Prosecutors and with senior management, on occasion. The answer to the question is that we are all committed to a quality Public Prosecution Service in this province. We await the report of Justice Kaufman, which is scheduled to take place within the next number of weeks. From that will come a blueprint for yet a new beginning with this service.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - CARE: DEFICIENCIES ADDRESS - PLAN REVEAL

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. Nova Scotians have patiently waited to hear the government's plan to stabilize health care and restore faith in the system. What they got today was 33 pages of wishful thinking.

My question for the minister is where is his government's plan to deal with the doctor shortage, neglect of long-term care, strengthening home care and Pharmacare, now and in the future?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we will have opportunity to go through the budget estimates on all of those matters. The wishful thinking, I think, is with the member. I think they like to see us fail. What we have done today is outline a program in short and long-term health care that is sustainable. It is not failure, it is success. We are one of the few provinces in Canada that is doing that.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, nursing organizations have repeatedly said this government needs a plan to deal with the nurse shortage. They said a realistic plan would cost between $30 million and $40 million. My question is, will the minister please explain just how he plans on addressing the serious shortage of nurses with $10 million?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, where I come from $10 million is still a lot of money. I am sorry if that honourable member is not satisfied. We designated $10 million for this year to immediately address the issue of the nurse supply, full-term equivalence from casuality. There will be plans rolled out and we will have opportunity to debate this on another day.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: This government has badly mismanaged health care by debt and deficits and hospital boards and regional boards. I want to ask the minister, why should Nova Scotians have any faith that you will be able to do any better with $600 million of additional debt financing?

[Page 6540]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the health care system is a very complex system. It is very political, it is very challenging. Since 1993 this government has made changes in the system. What we have done today is to further stabilize that system. We have one of the best health care systems in Canada, in this province. This is well known and it is documented daily.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWYS.:

FUNDING (GOV'T. [CAN.]) CUT - PLAN

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Today we learned that the Department of Transportation, as a consequence of Ottawa cutting back its funding, we are going to see nearly $33 million less spent on this province's highways. What plan does the Minister of Transportation have to address this very serious shortfall?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, if he looks closely at the budget he will realize that the provincial share is the same as it was last year. My budget has changed from $236 million to $241 million.

MR. SPEAKER: I would warn the honourable member not to open that book because as soon as he does, we go into Estimates and this is Oral Question Period.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation completely avoided that question. My question was not about the provincial commitment, it was about the federal commitment. What are you going to do and what is your government going to do to address the fact that Ottawa is not contributing $32 million to the highways of the province this year?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that I have been to Ottawa on several occasions. I have requested advance funding, additional funding from the federal minister and the member knows this. The federal budget came out some months ago and he is aware of that, why does he bring that up today?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I bring it up today because the people in Nova Scotia want to know when this government is going to do something about our highways. That is why I bring it up - $32 million and you have no answer. Ottawa turned its back and you are coming back empty-handed. When are you going to stand up to Ottawa and do something?

MR. HUSKILSON: To the honourable member, I would like to inform him that there have already been over 20 contracts called and there are a lot more to be called for the province.

[Page 6541]

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE:

NURSING CRISIS - ADDRESS PLAN

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my questions, all three of them, through you to the Minister of Health. In six successive Throne Speeches three Liberal Ministers of Health have boasted about progress in health care. In the face of an escalating crisis, this year in the absence of another delusional health document, a health plan, Health Investment Fund was unveiled, costing about $600 million from the bank. My question to the minister is what is his plan to address the nursing crisis in long-term care that foremost affects our seniors?

[4:30 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, within this budget and also within the Health Investment Fund that is noted, nursing is a priority. They are the backbone of the health care system. What this fund will do and the Budget Address are the issues of support services that stand next to the acute care system within this province. That involves on the one hand, long-term care, home care, mental health programs, adolescent services, those types of things. It will develop a continuum of care and we have a plan for that.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, in light of the dwindling acute care beds by 35 per cent since 1993, extending home care attains pivotal importance. My question to the minister is, how many of the 400 casual or full-time nursing positions will go to home care?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the big thing that this type of plan that we brought forward today allows is flexibility within the program. The honourable member is correct, in my opinion, there is a need and we will be addressing that and that will be following as time goes on. We are addressing the acute care needs initially but long-term care will certainly not be neglected by this government.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, the minister does not have a grip on the escalating crisis in long-term care and home care and he has no plan. This is not a plan, this is just propaganda. When will you ask Senator Buchanan to advise you on health care mismanagement with flair?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, maybe some day we should invite the honourable member to give us a lecture on propaganda and I will not be consulting Senator Buchanan.

[Page 6542]

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

HEALTH - CARE: EXPENDITURE - POLL DATA TABLE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier and the Finance Minister have frequently cited public opinion polls to justify their decisions, for example, saying 94 per cent of Nova Scotians want spending on health care. My question is, will the Premier table those polls today?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I don't believe I have ever used that poll. I did say most Nova Scotians consider health care as their number one priority. I made the pledge that when I became Leader of the Liberal Party I would listen to the concerns of the people of Nova Scotia and that is exactly what I am doing.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in fact, it would appear the polling data is a linchpin of the planning assessment that is done by this government. It seems to be a supplementary document to the budget. Why won't he table them today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would think that the NDP would be very seriously mistaken if they think they can operate as a political Party in this province without listening to the wishes of the people of this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that wasn't the question. The real question is why would they cite polls to justify $600 million in new debt and then hide them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, why would the NDP keep asking for changes in health care and then criticize this budget?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SECONDARY RDS.: TENDERS - CALL

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Mr. Minister, you have gone through great lengths in this Legislature to talk about your department's so-called priorities regarding road work in this province. I have the priority list for the roads in Pictou East right here and I want to know, where are the tenders for our rural secondary roads and why haven't they been called?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I have stood in my place several times before and I have always said to this member and to all members of the House that what we were doing, we were waiting for the budget to come down so that we would know how much money we had to work with before we proceeded

[Page 6543]

by calling more tenders. As I said, we have called over 19 tenders at this present time and we will be calling more.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, the minister knows very well the state of the roads in Pictou East, having toured those roads last summer. I ask the minister again, how many of these prioritized roads in Pictou East are going to be fixed this season?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, we will be making this evident in the very short few weeks coming.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, the same roads appear on the priority list year after year, and I can tell you that the residents of Pictou East are fed up to here. They call me every day about it. My question is to the minister. Last week you announced approximately $0.5 million to sand sealing tenders. When can we expect, at the very least, some sand sealer to help improve the roads in Pictou East?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, and to the honourable member, as I have said, there are more tenders to be called and they will be called within the next two weeks, three weeks to a month, but I also want to remind the honourable member that there is a big project going on in his constituency in Pictou from Salt Springs to Alma, that is over a $10 million project that is going on.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

LBR. - PAY EQUITY COMM'N.: LEGISLATION - INADEQUATE

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour. The Pay Equity Commission has reported since 1991 that pay equity legislation is inadequate. It wants changes so that it can adequately address this issue of immense importance to women. My question to the minister is, can the minister advise why he is twiddling his thumbs on this issue?

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I didn't get part of the question that the honourable member asked. If she would be kind enough to repeat, I just got the last part of it.

MS. ATWELL: My question to the minister was, can the minister advise why he is twiddling his thumbs on this issue, the issue of pay equity?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that is simply not the case. I believe that the Pay Equity Commission membership will certainly attest to the fact that over the past year they have been very active and looking at a number of considerations, which I

[Page 6544]

believe the honourable member certainly knows have been identified by the Pay Equity Commission as well as outlined in the report.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Labour. The Pay Equity Commission is treading water. It has a part-time acting executive director and no pay equity officer because it has nothing to do. Will the minister tell this House if he intends to have the commission do more than simply produce an annual report?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, again, the honourable member is mistaken. All the honourable member has to do is go back and review the activities that took place back as far as 1992 with regard to efforts that were made legislatively by a previous administration in dealing with some of the inequities of pay within the various sectors, particularly as it relates to women in the Province of Nova Scotia, and she will certainly find that those issues are being dealt with.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, well, the reports simply do not indicate that. My final question is to the Premier. The Premier, who professes to be a champion of minorities, can he advise women of the Public Service if his Cabinet has any quality control measures that will help to weed out do-nothing ministers such as the Minister of Labour?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think we have excellent quality control in our Cabinet. Everybody is doing extremely well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

EDUC.: NEW GERMANY ELEM. SCH. - IMPROVEMENTS

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. Last Friday there was a meeting in New Germany of concerned parents who are concerned with the situation at the New Germany Elementary School. These parents are concerned because their school which was built in 1955 has seen no capital improvements, no upgrading, there are curtains in tatters, playground equipment that is unsafe and a building which is unclean.

My question for the minister is, when is he going to take steps to make sure that the quality of education is ensured in this province to all the students, not just those students who receive P3 schools?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for raising this question this afternoon. I can assure the honourable member that I will continue to work with the Southwest Regional School Board, along with all school boards across this province in order to respond to these renovations and urgent needs that exist across this province.

[Page 6545]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, those are grand words, but what the people in that school are looking for, what the parents are concerned about is to see that the work that needs to be done is done. Is the minister going to commit actual capital funds to the repairs required to schools such as the New Germany Elementary School?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can commit this afternoon, once our budget will be voted on and passed, that we will be providing an additional $20.5 million to school boards across this province for renovation projects.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is, finally, to the minister, again. Will this money include not only major capital improvements, but money to assist the school boards in maintaining buildings, things like curtains and playground equipment, because all across this province, there are two standards for the playground equipment for our children, one is in P3 schools and one is elsewhere?

MR. GAUDET: I will assure the honourable member and all members of this House, Mr. Speaker, this government will continue, as we have seen today, education will continue to be a priority of our government, as it has been in the past, and we will continue to increase and provide additional funding to provide a better service to the public education system.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS:

RESIDENTS RELOCATION - INFO. PROVIDE

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, today, the Minister of the Environment publicly contradicted the Premier on whether this government plans to offer relocation to all families located near the coke ovens site in Sydney. The minister said, we are more than happy to start looking at some of the other areas, while the Premier said no one else would be moved. I want to ask the Premier, who will provide accurate information to the people living near the coke ovens site?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no information, toxicological or otherwise, that would indicate that anybody's health is in danger, wherever they are living in the City of Sydney. The fact is that we offered to relocate people on Frederick Street and Currys Lane because it was in a buffer area and because of the testing that had to be done. We are going to be, over a period of time, continuing testing. If something should come up later on that would warrant something being done to relocate people, we will consider it at that time.

MR. CHARD: If the Premier and the Minister of the Environment are confused about this arbitrary and haphazard relocation scheme, imagine the confusion of the people living in that area. My question to the Minister of the Environment is, why has he failed to produce

[Page 6546]

a plan outlining the details of this relocation, a plan that would help clear up his confusion and the confusion of the residents?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that last Friday, when we were down in Sydney for the announcement, the Department of Transportation and Public Works made it quite clear what the plan was and what the offer would be to the residents. We have indicated that we are going to continue to work on this. Frederick Street is the beginning. As well, we will continue to do our testing where most of the testing is done. People in Nova Scotia and people of Canada have come to know Frederick Street. That is where we are beginning. Once we have results, we will move from there, but we are being proactive at this time and will continue to do so.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about the relocation, not the clean-up. My question for the minister is, how long before you make public a concrete plan that shows who will qualify for relocation away from the coke ovens site?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I just want to make it very clear that the reason why these people on Frederick Street and Currys Lane were made this voluntary offer to move is because of their exact location to the coke ovens site. This is very complicated. This site is a very complicated site and there has to be a lot of environmental testing done on their properties, in their basements. These testings would be very intrusive to these people and it was only proper to offer them to relocate.

[4:45 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - CLARE: ENGLISH SCHOOL - ATTENDEES LOCATION

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education, the recent announcements on new school construction included an Anglophone school for Clare. Since the size and the design of the school will be directly linked to the size of the student population, does your department's preliminary plans include the students who are currently attending Weymouth and Havelock School as part of the proposed student population?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member. As the honourable member probably knows, the tri-party committee submitted their report which recommended a new Anglophone school to be built in the Municipality of Clare, a new P to 12 English school for the Municipality of Clare. In that same report, there is a provision that

[Page 6547]

once the site is known to the people from the Weymouth area, then they will have the option either to buy in or remain from that option.

MR. BALSER: The communities of Weymouth and Havelock have said that their decision to be part of the new school is very much contingent on the site selection process, as you said. When will that site selection process for the school be undertaken?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member, the site selection for these new projects that have been approved, we certainly encourage community input to work along with the school boards in that area. Once the recommendations are brought to the school board, the top three recommendations are then submitted to the department for evaluation and final approval.

MR. BALSER: The parents in these communities, Havelock and Weymouth, are very much concerned that they are going to be forced to participate in this school regardless of the site. What guarantee will you give the people of Weymouth and Havelock that they do not have to be part of this process if they do not choose to be?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated earlier, the report that was submitted to the department back in December of last year, it clearly lays out that once the location has been identified, once the new school was approved by government, the community from Weymouth will have the option either to buy in or stay out of it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

FISH. - HARBOURS: WHARF MAINTENANCE - ADDRESS

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, federal downsizing has resulted in responsibilities for wharves and dredging being given to the local harbour authorities. Maintenance and safety are issues because of lack of money. My question to the Minister of Fisheries is, what is your department doing on behalf of the harbour authorities to address their needs?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asks a very good question, because the harbour authorities and the harbours in our province and our wharves are very important to the infrastructure, especially in the rural community. As he well knows, it is the full responsibility of the federal government and under the program they have, setting up harbour authorities, the program seems to be working at the present time. However, we have some serious concerns about it, long term, and we are addressing those and we are working in conjunction with the fishing industry in that regard.

[Page 6548]

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Fisheries. The Yarmouth-Bar Harbor authority hasn't had dredging for over 12 years. Currently, there are more than 35 vessels that berth there. My question to the minister is, what are you doing to support the fishing industry which generates millions of dollars each year in landings?

MR. COLWELL: Maybe the honourable member didn't hear my answer, but the answer was very clear. It is fully the responsibility of the federal government to maintain these facilities through a new structure they put in place with harbour authorities. We are lobbying with and for the fishermen of Nova Scotia. Actually, we have a group set up with the fisheries organizations in the province to address this very serious concern.

MR. JOHN DEVEAU: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier, if Nova Scotian coastal communities are to remain viable, what is the Premier prepared to do to ensure that local harbour authorities have enough resources necessary to ensure the maintenance of the wharves and dredging on which these communities are dependant?

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

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess the honourable member didn't hear my answer the first two times. This is a federal issue and it is being addressed by the federal government. Although we do not totally agree with what they are doing, we are working with the fishing industry to make sure that the problem is resolved in the best interests of the rural communities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - BUSINESS OCCUPANCY TAX:

UNIFORMITY - ADDRESS

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise this afternoon and, through you, to address a question to the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. My question concerns day care and business occupancy tax. It is uneven throughout Nova Scotia - some locales charge business occupancy, some communities do not. Is the minister prepared to address that and make it uniform across the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly prepared to take that question under advisement to review this situation and get back to the member?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister again. I appreciate the minister's indulgence and taking it under advisement. The minister's own department is part of a committee that was formed over a year ago to address this situation. That was my understanding before this budgetary year happened. I was wondering if he could also report on how the committee,

[Page 6549]

through his department and the Department of Community Services is making out with this issue?

MR. WHITE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, the committee is meeting and we are reviewing those issues. We are also having open discussions with the members of the UNSM on roles and responsibilities and this is one of the areas that will be part of those discussions.

MR. FAGE: Certainly from those discussions can I take it that the minister will be providing assurance to owners and operators of day cares in their homes that they will not have to pay business occupancy and be forced out of business this year? Will that issue be cleaned up and will those few businesses that are in the business of daycare . . .

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

MR. WHITE: Mr. Speaker, through you, I did not indicate that undertaking. I indicated that we would be reviewing all those aspects and, once that is done, we will indicate to the member our position.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - YOUTH: EATING DISORDERS - BED SHORTAGE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the honourable Minister of Health. About 10 per cent of Nova Scotians have eating disorders and many are young girls. Health regionalization has left only three beds for these patients at the QE II and rural hospitals, with no support to handle these services. My question is, will the Minister of Health explain why his government is ignoring the life-threatening needs of these young people?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are programs within the acute care sector, as an outpatient and when necessary, beds are available for those with anorexia. Anorexia, as the member would know, and I am sure most members of the House know, is a very complex and complicated issue and very difficult and usually long-term. There is usually much demand placed upon different types of care, alternative therapy. I have discussed this with the head of psychiatry in the area and I am convinced they are making a strong effort in this area to address this condition.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to a family as has the Minister of Health, whose daughter is severely ill and unable to get treatment. She and her family are caught in a revolving door of confusion. My question is, what is the minister prepared to do to ensure treatment is available immediately for this young woman and others with this very serious disorder?

[Page 6550]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, while some people may disagree with the type of treatment their family member is receiving, I would really bring into question the comments of the honourable member, that that person is receiving no treatment and there is no treatment available. I don't believe that to be true in Nova Scotia.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, children as young as six are developing eating disorders. My question for the minister is, why aren't these youngsters worthy of genuine attention from this government?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to feel that we have one of the best children's hospitals in the IWK-Grace. There are multiple outpatient clinics, there are some specialized clinics, at the IWK-Grace, particularly, where they have teams that address the particular needs of children and their families. I would hold that up against any. I know there is lots of media attention on this particular condition, but I think we have to be sensible about this.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SYDPORT:

CBRM - POSITION SUPPORT

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality knows the economic importance of Sydport and has written Ottawa asking that ECBC delay its divestiture plans until the results of a study into the effects of privatization are known. I want to ask the Premier why his government has done nothing to support this position taken by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is an issue that is purely between the municipality and the federal government and it is none of the business of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, Sydport is a critical piece of public infrastructure in Cape Breton and it is one that can be central to this province's attempt to get gas and oil fields off Cape Breton.

I am asking why hasn't the Premier recognized the importance of Sydport? Has the Premier given up on Cape Breton completely?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the potential for oil and gas exploration, with bases in Sydney Harbour and at Sydport are tremendous. The whole question is, there is a disagreement between Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality as to who should be the owner of Sydport and who should have the chance to develop it. That has to be able to be worked out between the two parties and not by the provincial government.

[Page 6551]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the municipality has written asking for a delay and I will table that letter and a letter from Ottawa denying the delay. Now this Premier has supported other endeavours in this province that are not near as important as the one in Cape Breton. I want to ask the Premier why he is, once again, supporting Ottawa rather than Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am supporting the right of two parties to work out a solution themselves. There are a lot of concerns in Cape Breton, not the least of which is the future of Devco and the people who work for Devco. This is one that is purely between the federal government and the municipality. There is no role for the province whatsoever.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 101:

MT. UNIACKE SURVEYING - MISSION

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Transportation. Yesterday, I was driving in from the Valley and as I was approaching Mount Uniacke, I saw the survey crew out working on the side of the road. (Applause) My question to the minister is, were they looking for the survey stakes that were placed there in 1992?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I wasn't the minister back in 1992. Maybe the honourable member was. But what they are doing is a thorough environmental assessment that is required by the federal government and we are going through that procedure at present.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, it is well known that dealing with highway construction where you are simply twinning a road, you don't need the environmental assessments done by the Department of the Environment. That work was done in 1992. Can the minister indicate to us why he is redoing work that was already done?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I have already tried to explain to the honourable member that right now, there are tougher federal environment regulations that are in place and my Department of Transportation and Public Works is following those to the letter of the law.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, to the minister, if he is following the environmental rules to the letter of the law, when is he going to follow the rules of common sense and safety and begin doing some actual physical work so that highway is twinned and when are we going to see some asphalt and some graders working?

[Page 6552]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I just want to assure him that when the funding does become available from the federal government, we want to be ready and, I guarantee you, we will be ready. We are working to have everything in place so that when that federal funding does come available, we can push ahead and have those bulldozers on site and those backhoes.

[5:00 p.m.]

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

ENVIRON.: PCB STORAGE ( HUBLEY) - CRITERIA

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of the Environment. Mr. Minister, PCBs are stored at various sites throughout our province. Five Island Lake became a PCB storage site because of a clean-up in that community. Mr. Minister, what are the criteria for establishing PCB storage sites in this province?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we have very strict guidelines in this province when it regards PCB storage sites. In this site itself, we have strict regulations. It is an approved site; it is not near any particular forest. There is a certain distance between the forest and where they are contained, the ground level around there. It is an approved facility. It is important again that we be clear to the people of Nova Scotia what is there; 30 per cent of . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your first supplementary.

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question is to the Minister of Education. I don't want to hear about forests, I want to hear about the fact that Sir John A. Macdonald High School is across the road from this PCB storage site. Mr. Minister, will you ask your staff to investigate the health and safety implications of this PCB storage site so close to Sir John A.?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where this current site is, but I can certainly provide a commitment . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It's in Nova Scotia.

MR. GAUDET: I am always amazed to hear these people from across the . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: They know when the press will run with PCBs.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement. I will check that site, and I will be in contact with the member at a future time.

[Page 6553]

MR. ESTABROOKS: PCBs and schoolchildren just don't mix. Five Island Lake is not the storage capital for PCBs in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works please inform the community of the timetable for the removal of all of the PCB storage containers in Five Island Lake?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I would like to just mention to the honourable member that several of these containers on this site, we have already shipped those out to Quebec and we are continuing to ship more out. Also, I just want to bring to the attention of the honourable member - and we are talking the budget here again - that there is $2 million slated for the clean-up of North Bay.

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

HEALTH - COLCHESTER REG. HOSP.:

DIALYSIS UNIT - CRITERIA

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this question is for the Minister of Health. With all the new money that has been announced in the health care budget this afternoon, Mr. Minister, does that mean that we are going to get a full-fledged dialysis unit at the Colchester Regional Hospital?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting, there will be parts of the money allocated to stabilize the acute care system. This very thing is just what we will not be doing, cherry-picking requests of a political nature brought to the House of Assembly floor. We are developing a strategy and a plan and we will have input from all stakeholders throughout the province and it will be a plan, but it will not be a knee-jerk reaction passing out all new incentives here and initiatives there. It will be part of a larger plan.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health. As the minister may perhaps remember, there was talk of putting a satellite unit in Truro, and I wrote and suggested that there were enough people in our area to justify a full-fledged satellite unit. He wrote back and said there was an insufficient number. I wrote back and said, define what an insufficient number was. He wrote back and said he wasn't talking about quantity, he was talking about quality.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your question.

MR. MUIR: What are the criteria for this minister to put that dialysis unit in our hospital? Is it quantity or quality?

[Page 6554]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I suppose in a perfect world and with billions and billions of dollars, yes, we could have all of these services in every institution. People in that area are not as disadvantaged as other Nova Scotians in more rural communities who have to travel. But there is a team, that goes with this. This is not a machine that somebody funds and drops into an institution, this takes a specialist. That hospital there is having trouble getting assistance for surgery at 5:30 p.m.

MR. MUIR: Again to the Minister of Health. Would the minister then be kind enough to tell the residents who were served by the Colchester Regional Hospital when that renal unit is going to be placed, whether it is a permanent or a portable one? When will it be arriving in our area?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue because the people who use dialysis are ill, they are often elderly, in fact some of them are very senior. We would like to do as much as we can in having this facility near home. There is a committee, we are working with them and they will be addressing this issue like other parts of Nova Scotia.

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

JUSTICE - PUB. PROSECUTION SERV.:

DPP - SELECTION PROCESS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the honourable Minister of Justice. The minister has created a minefield of animosity between the government and the province's prosecutors. This is added to by his cutting them out of the selection process for the Director of Public Prosecutions. My question to the Minister of Justice is, why has the minister refused to give the prosecutors a voice in the selection process?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the critic is waxing poetic - a minefield of obstructions. The issue is whether or not the panel, made up of five leading citizens of this province, had prosecutorial experience, both direct and indirect. I can assure the member opposite that, in fact, that panel was exemplary on that criteria.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my second question is also to the Minister of Justice. Nova Scotia's Public Prosecution Service is unique in Canada, and I may add that out-of-province advice is of limited value in the selection of the DPP. Why would this minister make an out-of-province appointment to the DPP hiring committee, yet exclude the viewpoint of Nova Scotia prosecutors?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, you have to love the NDP rhetoric and the concept that they try to present of pitting one group against another. It is classic NDP rhetoric. The answer to the question is quite simply, part of the panel required a national person of stature with exemplary prosecutorial experience and that is exactly who we found.

[Page 6555]

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I guess the Minister of Justice is saying we don't have any prosecutors of national prestige. During the last DPP hiring process, prosecutors were allowed to be on the selection committee. Why doesn't this Minister of Justice have confidence in our prosecutors and ensure they have a voice in the selection process?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am just as confident and have confidence in this Public Prosecution Service. That is precisely why, when we read his report, one of the conclusions will be that when we work together and when we begin to implement the blueprint, we will find even more quality. Accountability and independence are the hallmark of this service, and we pledge to make sure that continues to grow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - CUMB. CO.: RDS. - REPAIR

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, through you my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Last year you had the opportunity to travel some of the roads in Cumberland South and, indeed, all of Cumberland County. Would you agree with me today that there are several roads in that county which require immediate attention?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: I will agree with the honourable member that there are several roads all across the province that do need attention.

MR. SCOTT: Again to the minister, time and time again the minister stands in this Legislature and talks about priority lists, about the concern of this government with regard to secondary roads. Will the minister provide information to this Legislature with regard to money paid out by taxpayers of this province as a result of personal vehicles being damaged as a result of the poor conditions of this road . . .

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

MR. HUSKILSON: To the honourable member, I certainly don't have any problem with tabling that information. That information is public and I have no problem tabling that.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again, to the minister. There are many roads in my constituency, Mr. Minister, as you are well aware of, the Leicester Road, Kaulbach Road, Valley Road, Greenborough Road and the Trunk 2 Road from Springhill to Southhampton. They are in deplorable need and dire need of attention. Will you commit to the people of Cumberland South today that some of those roads in Cumberland South will be addressed this summer?

[Page 6556]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, what I would like to say to the honourable member is, those roads will have to show up on a priority list and if there is enough money there, then those roads will be attended to.

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

JUSTICE - CROWN PROSECUTORS:

ARBITRATION - DISPUTE RESOLVE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Back in January, Justice Kaufman directed the minister to end the lingering dispute between Crown Prosecutors and the government over binding arbitration. My question, Mr. Speaker, is, six months have passed since Justice Kaufman's preliminary report. Why has this minister done nothing to resolve this dispute with prosecutors?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would hardly call a market adjustment formula that yields a result of salary leading Atlantic Canada, on par with Manitoba and Saskatchewan doing nothing.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I wish the Minister of Justice would realize that this isn't about salaries. It is about respect. In February, the minister's own working group recommended binding arbitration with prosecutors. Why is this minister dragging his feet?

MR. HARRISON: In fact, Mr. Speaker, that working group report recommended a tribunal. In addition to that, we are examining collective bargaining. In addition to that, we have market adjustment. Those are at least three options available to the linchpin mechanism for establishing fair practices for remuneration and benefits.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, we have had the Marshall Report. We have had the Ghiz-Archibald Report. We have had Justice Kaufman and the working group all make recommendations about binding arbitration. How many recommendations does this minister have to ignore before he is going to act?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is an inference in the question that we don't have respect for our Public Prosecution Service. That is quite the opposite. We have set out on a course in 1990, predicated on some activities and the Marshall Report itself that has made us quite unique in North America. I am confident, Justice Kaufman is confident and I hope the NDP is confident that by working together, we can assure quality and independence.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North, you have 20 seconds.

[Page 6557]

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health. Do I have three minutes?

MR. SPEAKER: You have about five seconds.

MR. FAGE: It is a pleasure to stand in my spot, Mr. Speaker.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 92.

Bill No. 92 - Applied Science Technology Act.

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move this for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, our Party supports this bill at third reading. Essentially, what the bill is proposing is that certain right to title be provided for SCETTNS and that certain titles be guaranteed for the organization. In addition, part of this bill, various groups and interested parties have been contacted and such organizations, as the Association of Professional Engineers, the Nova Scotia Association of Architects, and the Construction Association of Nova Scotia have provided support for this bill and, therefore, our Party does support this legislation at third reading.

[Page 6558]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, our caucus is pleased to provide support for this bill, which the minister brings forward in his capacity as a private member. It began as an example of professional people seeking to have opportunity under the aegis of law to organize and govern themselves and we strongly support that. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to take a second because at the Law Amendments Committee, we had presentations from the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association. I think it is important to put on the record and in the transcript at third reading. They had concerns about some of their initials not being used by the SCETTNS group. I think it is important to put on the record that legal opinion was gathered and it was made clear that the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association is in no way impacted by this legislation, they have free and clear use of whatever initials they want, and hopefully some day the Forest Technicians Association will be in a position to be able to be recognized like SCETTNS, and then they will have legal recognition of their initials as well. Thank you.

[5:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, wanted to put on the record the fact that the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians, as a result of a question that I had asked them, were concerned about the use of their particular association's certification process, particularly since they certify people who have forest industry training in the same way as the Certified Applied Science Technicians and Technologists do.

The legal opinion received by the Law Amendments Committee was to the effect that nothing in this bill would compromise the right of the Nova Scotia Forest Technicians Association to certify their members, that this in no way impinged or limited or reduced that association in the carrying on of its valuable work, and it was on that basis that I and members of my caucus were prepared to support the bill without amendment. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 92. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

[Page 6559]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

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

The motion is carried.

[5:20 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[5:27 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 97 - Business Efficiency (1999) Act.

Bill No. 98 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 99 - Direct Sellers' Regulation Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

And the committee recommends the following bill, with certain amendments.

Bill No. 100 - Commercial Arbitration Act.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that completes the government's business for today. I will now defer to the House Leader for the Third Party.

[Page 6560]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: The first Party here speaking, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow we will be debating two resolutions; Resolution No. 3133 and Resolution No. 2344. I gave copies of the resolutions to both House Leaders. That will be our business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

This is the moment of interruption. The debate this evening is by the honourable Leader of the Conservative Party.

Are we cancelling the late debate? Is the late debate cancelled? No?

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE (5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH - CARE: BUDGET CURRENT - VALUE MAX. ACHIEVE

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for not rising immediately. My attention was diverted by my colleagues.

The resolution tonight for the late debate:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take immediate action to achieve maximum value for its existing $1.5 billion health care budget before throwing an additional $1 billion on a system already wasting millions.".

Mr. Speaker, this resolution speaks to priorities and planning. Priorities and planning on the largest budget and largest cost of expenditure for the Province of Nova Scotia is how the business of this province and the Department of Health should be carried out. My colleagues and I represent constituencies in Nova Scotia and, as we visit other constituencies and speak to the citizens of Nova Scotia, the citizens have great concern and outright fear for

[Page 6561]

the health care system. They tell me that it has deteriorated remarkably over the reign of the current provincial government since 1993.

They are right. We have a Minister of Health who, on the weekend, assured Nova Scotians there are only three communities that are deficient in doctors. Well, the minister either has problems with his memory, or he has problems with the number of communities that he assessed that have doctor shortages because, certainly, if one had the opportunity to ask the minister to name those three communities, I am sure there are a number of other communities in Nova Scotia - and that is every community in Nova Scotia - I think would assure the good minister that he has his facts mixed up, that there are, indeed, doctor shortages throughout Nova Scotia.

[5:30 p.m.]

I know in the very area where I live, there are 5,000 people without a family doctor, 5,000 people forced to take their files under their arm, go to other doctors, be turned down, see doctors overworked, and end up with themselves and their children at outpatient facilities and emergency rooms, treating it as a doctor's clinic.

These conditions, Mr. Speaker, are completely unacceptable. I know, I have attended community meetings in Springhill, Oxford and other areas of Cumberland South, other areas of Colchester and Pictou County, Cape Breton, Yarmouth, and it is the same story. Nova Scotians are, indeed, very fearful of the level of health care they are achieving. The government will claim, when one asks a question, that we are fear-mongering. Well, the citizens of Nova Scotia, I can assure the minister, are very concerned and are living in fear.

When we look at the decline in opportunities to receive timely treatment over the last six or eight years since this government took power, their fears are justified. Waiting lists continue to get longer, and services continue to deteriorate in rural Nova Scotia. A prime example is in the constituency where I live, where a fully functioning diagnostic mammogram service exists, where there is a surgeon and a facility to perform biopsies, where the nursing professionals have Level 1 and Level 2 care certification, where this government would propose the best way to ensure the women of Cumberland County receive the most economical, the nearest, the most timely, the safest treatment and concern for the health care is if they develop a problem with their mammogram or breast cancer abnormalities, would be to go to Truro. Their plan downgraded to a single diagnostic, preliminary investigation. There is no follow-up. Move them to Truro. There is no biopsy. Move them to Truro.

Those are the services that we are trying to protect in our communities in rural Nova Scotia. That is what the X-ray technicians in those facilities tell us; that is what the physicians and the surgeons in those facilities tell us, not political hacks that work and delve out political policy for regional health boards, but actual health care professionals who work in those facilities day in and day out. Those are their words, Mr. Speaker, they are not mine. I am

[Page 6562]

relaying their concerns. They are absolutely concerned about this situation and I would, indeed, urge the Health Minister to consider, retain and hold those services in that community, in the new regional health care hospital facility being built. Those services are essential to retain the surgery that is required for that hospital, to protect the women of Cumberland County, the same as the women in Colchester County or indeed any other county in Nova Scotia.

In some areas there is a mobile screening service. Well, in Cumberland County, it has visited once. This service is essential for the women of Cumberland County. This service is essential to retain physician services so that other procedures, other operations, other diagnostic services can be maintained. It is absolutely critical. If you erode the central mass from these regional hospitals, yes, you would achieve, but patient care is endangered, costly long visitations and trips are needed by people who are not feeling well. People who are ill, Mr. Speaker, are forced to rely upon - and may not have the financial needs - neighbours, families, friends to be transported to a facility miles and miles away. Is that serving their health care needs? In cases where they can or will not or are unable to then their health deteriorates because they can't even receive treatment.

We all know that we have a top-notch paramedical ambulatory service now, but the cost is frightening if you are on social services. If you are on Old Age Security, you can't afford it. It may be top-notch, but for over 40 per cent of Nova Scotians, they can't afford the bill any more for the service if they are forced to rely on that service for transfer or to come to their home and take them to an emergency facility. Those situations aren't acceptable.

You build a system that nobody can afford, you get your priorities adjusted out of whack, you forget what you are there for, to allow people to live in their communities, to live with dignity, to be taken care of in their communities, and to allow the community to take control of their health care system.

People across this province are crying out, let us take a real role in our health care. A politically appointed regional health board satisfies no community. The task force on regional health care has been well identified as it makes its travels across this province. Citizen after citizen from each area bring forth a tale of woes, where the community is not in charge, where community health boards are empowered to do no more than be puppets of the regional health board which are politically appointed and do the political wagging of the day.

Those people are frustrated, because they volunteered their time, they are community organizers, they are volunteers, they are the most important assets in each one of those communities. They want to do something for their community, want to do something for health care. They tell me that they are frustrated. They serve no role other than being a puppet or disseminating information that the regional health board feels would be of good benefit for them, not what is happening in their community, not being the grassroots support of

[Page 6563]

preventive care, of home care, or advocates for the citizens of health care of their communities. They are not having a chance to do that.

All this bureaucracy has a frightening cost. At the same time, this is a government that spent untold hundreds of millions of dollars sending people out of this province, sending trained professionals in the medical field, nurses, doctors, technicians, custodial staff, eliminating them from the health care service of this province at a huge cost, at a frightening financial cost.

Now that they have decimated the service and realize that they have done it, at least they have realized that they have decimated the service and are acknowledging that, now they are trumpeting that they have seen the light. It is time to put more financial resources back into health care, it is time to train doctors, time to make financial expenditures to lure doctors here, time to make financial expenditures to bring nurses and other health care professionals back into the profession.

Well, this has been a unbelievably expensive fiasco for a government and a minister to create a problem to pretend they solved it. The citizens of Nova Scotia realize and know what they have received for health care over the last eight years and they are going to pass judgement on that. They know that health care professionals, the ministers of government have to have priority and they have to have planning, not just eliminate a service, find out that you should have left it there and then pay double to try to reinstate it. You have to know what you are doing and clearly, we have a situation where that hasn't happened over the last eight years. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I rise with mixed emotions to participate in this late debate this evening, mixed emotions because on one hand I welcome the opportunity to discuss the government's plans for health care while, on the other hand, I am disappointed that the mover of this motion would choose to insult Nova Scotia's hard-working and dedicated health care providers.

The member who did (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, he has had the floor for 10 minutes now, he could maybe listen then. I would like to correct a couple of the facts that he said. I am simply saying that the resolution (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, with the limited number of people, I would hope that we would be able to have some order, if you don't mind. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The honourable member mentioned the doctor shortage. Our doctor/population ratio in Nova Scotia is really quite good, relative to the rest of Canada. We are moving toward an enhanced community care. The problem with the system is that it has been a physician-driven

[Page 6564]

system and I think it is time we have to look at other ways of delivering care. We do that within the primary care model or some would call it the enhanced community care model.

Emergency rooms, yes, granted it is a problem, not only where there is a scarcity of doctors perhaps, but where there are adequate doctors emergency rooms are still being used as outpatient clinics and that is important.

The most important one I would like to mention would be the centres of excellence in the breast care because I think Nova Scotian women deserve better care than they are getting now. We have to do better in that area and I think there are some centres of excellence that will evolve in this province, and yes, it will mean going a few extra miles sometimes, but there will be coordination and referral back and information shared, but it is not acceptable. We have changed the cancer of the cervix treatment in this province and I think now it is time to look at setting up centres of excellence for breast cancer. I think that is what the honourable member is referring to.

To suggest, Mr. Speaker - getting back to the resolution - that those working in the health care system are wasting millions of dollars, is inappropriate and not fair and not right. Health care workers are providing excellent and efficient care to Nova Scotians. To suggest that they are wasting millions demonstrates the complete lack of understanding. The real problem is that health care is underfunded and is in need of additional dollars, not fewer. I have a great problem understanding the wording of the motion under debate this evening. It suggests that the government intends to throw an additional $1 billion on the health care system. At no time did I suggest that I was prepared to support a $1 billion increase in the annual health care budget. What I did say was that the rate of growth in health care spending is such that it will be unsustainable in five years. I stated quite clearly, in my opinion, that we needed to invest now, in order to slow the rate of that growth. The major problem in health care cost in Nova Scotia is that the costs are rising over 11 per cent a year. The cost of providing acute care is that costs in this sector are rising even faster.

Nova Scotia simply doesn't have the resources to keep pace with this growth. Even if every dollar generated by the province was spent on health care, it still would not be enough. We need to make strategic investments now, in order to slow the rate of growth in health care spending. I am not suggesting that in five years we will be spending less, quite the contrary; public demands on our health care system will continue to increase as our population ages, as new technology comes onstream and as better and more expensive drugs are developed. The key will be to put processes in place that preserve or enhance the quality of care and, at the same time, deliver that care in novel, efficient and less costly ways. Only then will we have a health care system that is dependable, sustainable and affordable.

To put these processes in place will require a substantial investment by government. This need to invest in health care is the basis of this government's decision to embark on a $600 million, three year Health Investment Fund announced earlier today in our provincial

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budget. The success of the strategy will very much depend on the willingness of health care providers to work with each other and with government, for the common good. Ever since the federal government began cutting health care here in Nova Scotia, we have been patching over the cracks left behind. We are not willing to do that anymore. This year's increased federal contribution to health care, while welcome, is not enough. Nova Scotia will need to make a sizeable new investment or our health care system will not be dependable in the future.

[5:45 p.m.]

Contrary to popular belief, these expenditure shortfalls are not in acute care, because we don't have other systems, such as fully developed home care and long-term care up to speed. Most of the pressure falls on the hospitals, doctors and nurses, in the acute care setting. By putting the other pieces in place and continuing in primary care, more home care, long-term care and, above all, preventing illnesses and injuries in the first place, hopefully we can relieve the pressure on hospitals and let them do what they do best and that is treat patients who require acute care. This will require a major new investment in those new systems.

The government is making a significant investment in health care. We say investment because there will be a return. By putting the right systems in place now, we can, over time, reduce the rate at which health care costs are rising while providing health care in a more appropriate manner. Acute care is the most expensive form of health care and we are using our acute care system for many of the shortfalls in long-term care, home care and community primary care. We need to focus new resources on those areas and, by so doing, reduce the pressure on our acute care system. That will result in patient care in hospitals and outside.

Essentially, we have people being treated, or kept in the wrong health care setting for the wrong reasons. This is not only bad care, but it is not efficient care otherwise. We need to ensure Nova Scotians have the right health care, delivered in the right place and by the right provider. We are acting now, Mr. Speaker, to complete the transition to a more community-based and fully integrated health care system. Because health care costs are rising at a rate which is not sustainable, we must make investments that reduce our dependence on institutional care. To ensure that our primary and continuing care systems are equipped to adequately respond to a greater share of Nova Scotia's health care needs, we will invest in those areas as well.

In the first year of the investment fund, we will make important investments in several areas. First, we will help ensure better management and better care by investing in new information systems, grossly lacking throughout the health care system across this country. As we approach the new millennium, health care systems across the country are lagging behind the computer revolution. This leads to inefficiency and the lack of integration throughout the system and, I think, worse patient care. We are also going to provide more attention to the training, recruitment and retention of health care workers. We are starting by

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providing an additional $10 million for nursing in this current year. Over 12 months, that dollar amount will be substantially higher, of course. This amount of funding will immediately start building 400 full-time nursing positions.

Mr. Speaker, we are going to improve and expand the province's continuing care capacity and, thereby, take some pressure off our hospitals. We are going to increase the efficiency of our hospitals and improve the level of care by investing in badly needed hospital equipment. We are also going to put a new hospital funding formula in place. This new formula will be fair and will provide hospitals with the ability to plan well into the future. This is based on the population that they serve.

Mr. Speaker, we are not throwing money at the health care system, as suggested by the motion. Quite the contrary. We are responding to very clear, identified needs by making very strategic health care investments. It is important to note that in a very direct way, we will be accountable to Nova Scotians for these investments. That is because a report card outlining the outcome of each investment will be tabled here in this House every year.

Mr. Speaker, it is time to stop talking about the waste in the health care system. Instead, all members should begin to really show support, real support, for those hard- working and dedicated care providers who form the backbone of our health care system. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, last week during debate the Health Minister said that the Health budget in this province would require $1 billion more of spending in the next two years. When I was asked about that outside the House, I said that I understood the shifting and the growing pressures on health care budgets, we all do. We have read the material, we have listened to the minister from time to time, carefully. We know that the demography is changing in Nova Scotia, demographics are changing. We have an older population and it is in the more senior population that there is a heavier use or reliance on the health care system. We know that new technologies are always being developed, and these are not inexpensive, and we know that drug therapy increasingly is a feature of modalities of treatment.

All of these things do place some increased pressures and a shift in the way we need to look at health care budgets, but we have to ask where the money will come from. In meeting these shifting demands and, in some cases, increasing demands, and clearly one of the things we need to do is to grow our economy so that we can afford to pay for things. I think, more importantly, we need a plan. We were all looking forward today, I think, to hearing what that plan might be, and we still have no plan.

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We have a Health Investment Fund, and the only plan I can see there is to spend a great deal of money next year, more than $300 million. All of the federal supplement that this province got for the next three years, we are going to draw down in one year and we are going to thereafter borrow heavily against Sable royalties. It would appear that this government is doing exactly what the Buchanan Tories did as they went on a spending orgy in health care with borrowed money for hospital construction and what have you, and a debt that we carry today, all without an adequate plan for managing the health care system.

In many ways, we have talked in this House over and over about the need to retool the health care system, to move away from the old ways, the old business of doing health care, where the system was set up to reward illness care rather than wellness care, and the big problem in that way has been not money, but the lack of a plan to do this, and we have to ask ourselves why we don't have a plan. I think we have to be clear that we don't have a plan, not because people in the Department of Health and all of the hard-working health care professions haven't been doing their level best to develop a plan, a plan for nursing crisis, a plan for reduction in waiting times, plans for nurse practitioners, plans for Pharmacare, plans for long-term care, home care, whatever, but where we have fallen down is there has been a lack of political leadership with the Premier and with the Minister of Health.

They have not been prepared to act to do the things that need to be done and they have not been prepared to do that because they have been too afraid to offend their friends. There are many good examples of this. They have backed away from any kind of serious tobacco control, which could have saved millions of dollars in the health care system. They were unprepared, and are unprepared, to fully utilize non-profit organizations that provide health care services; instead they have been prone to rely on their profit-making friends whose interests they consider first.

We are still waiting for pilot projects on nurse practitioners, much less the full-blown thing which would fully utilize the skills and the potential of nurses. I don't really understand why, because I speak to many doctors throughout this province and they fully support a move to nurse practitioners. It seems that the Premier and the minister have been captivated on this issue by a very small, but vocal lobby against moving this forward. They haven't legitimized or empowered in any way community health boards, which after all were the absolute foundation on a transformation from an illness model to a wellness model would occur in our health care system. They have shamefully neglected workers in long-term care who will wait many more years for wage parity with their counterparts in the acute care system. These are people doing the same work and often at wages that are only marginally above poverty lines.

The nursing crisis continues to be addressed and it looks like that is not going to be addressed in the near future and there are so many other problems that we are lacking a plan for. So, Mr. Speaker, while it is true that this government haven't achieved value for dollar in the existing health care budget, they have stumbled from crisis to crisis doing damage control at every turn and this has substituted for planning and good management and political

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courage. The result has been an achievement, basically, of mediocrity in quite a few areas, debt and deficit financing of regional health boards and regional hospitals.

Unbelievably, this government is about to take us back to the future, to the good old days of funding health care in a style that has left Nova Scotians bearing a very large debt. They have, essentially, stolen Nova Scotians' futures to buy their votes in the present. This is a cynical and a destructive approach, not only to health care, but to governing in Nova Scotia. It is not in the interest of Nova Scotians, in the short term or in the long term, it is merely in the interest of the Liberal Party and Nova Scotians will not be fooled by that.

I would like to close by saying that it is interesting that this resolution comes to the floor tonight from the Third Party, who really don't seem to know what it is that they really want. I have listened to the honourable member of the Third Party discuss this resolution. It would appear they want health care spending on the one hand, but they don't really want it on the other. They want waste in the system controlled, but they certainly haven't identified what that means or where it is. I would respectfully say that they have a responsibility to be clear to Nova Scotians where that waste is. It is not unlike their position with respect, possibly, to the budget. They want a balanced budget and then they aren't really sure whether or not that is what they want. So I guess we will have to wait and see what the Third Party really wants. It will become known to us in the fullness of time.

We in the NDP caucus will remain consistent to our approach to the health care situation in this province. We want a plan. We want good management. We want to live within our means. To do anything but that would be to sell out the interests of Nova Scotians, to sell out the interests of our children and really to let down people who, when we campaigned last year, sent us here to do that job. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for the late debate has expired. The House will now rise until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:59 p.m.]