The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., June 2, 1999

First Session

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pugwash District High School: Teachers - Increase, Mr. E. Fage 6569
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Five Island Lake: PCBs - Cleanup,
Hon. C. Huskilson 6570
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Fin. - Supplement to the Public Accounts, Hon. D. Downe 6572
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3160, Justice: Crime Prevention Conf. (Truro 03-06/06/99) -
Commend, Hon. R. Harrison 6573
Vote - Affirmative 6573
Res. 3161, Educ. - Eskasoni Learning Ctr.: Students Graduation -
Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 6573
Vote - Affirmative 6574
Res. 3162, Fish. - Fish Packers Assoc.: Plant Sanitation Video -
Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 6574
Vote - Affirmative 6575
Res. 3163, Nat. Res. - Maritime Lumber Bureau: Anniv. 60th - Congrats.,
Hon. K. MacAskill 6575
Vote - Affirmative 6576
Res. 3164, Housing & Mun. Affs. - St. George's Church (Hfx.):
Restoration - Congrats., Hon. R. White 6576
Vote - Affirmative 6576
Res. 3165, Health - Dal. Medical School: Research Chairs (6) -
Donors Thank, Hon. J. Smith 6577
Vote - Affirmative 6577
Res. 3166, Agric. - Agricultural Awareness Comm. (N.S.): Efforts -
Recognize, Hon. E. Lorraine (by Hon. K. MacAskill) 6577
Vote - Affirmative 6578
Res. 3167, Agric. - John Bragg (Oxford Frozen Foods): Business
Acumen - Recognize, Hon. E. Lorraine (by Hon. K. MacAskill) 6578
Vote - Affirmative 6579
Res. 3168, Health - HIV/AIDS Strategy: Involvees - Thank,
Hon. J. Smith 6579
Vote - Affirmative 6580
Res. 3169, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Staff: Excellent Work - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Huskilson 6580
Res. 3170, Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col.: Workforce (N.S.) Needs Met -
Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 6582
Vote - Affirmative 6582
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3171, Official Opposition - Behaviour: Sincerity Lacking -
Demonstrated, Mr. P. MacEwan 6582
Res. 3172, Health - Orthopaedic Research: Hip Hip Hooray (Sydney)
Fund-Raising - Applaud, Hon. Manning MacDonald 6583
Vote - Affirmative 6584
Res. 3173, RCMP - Derek C. Burkholder Mem. Trust Fund:
Bank of Montreal (Mahone Bay) Employees Contribution -
Recognize, Mr. M. Baker 6584
Vote - Affirmative 6585
Res. 3174, Educ. - Inverness Elem. School: Students (G7) -
IT Skills Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 6585
Vote - Affirmative 6585
Res. 3175, Tim Hortons Camp (Tatamagouche) - Anniv. 25th:
Volunteers - Thank, Mr. E. Fage 6585
Vote - Affirmative 6586
Res. 3176, St. Thomas Anglican Church (Musquodoboit Hbr.) -
Rev. Pam Bishop: Contributions - Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 6586
Vote - Affirmative 6587
Res. 3177, Culture - NYO: Ben Kinsman (Wolfville) -
Selection Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 6587
Vote - Affirmative 6588
Res. 3178, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Housing Purchase -
Offer Clarify, Mr. J. DeWolfe 6588
Res. 3179, Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col. (Middleton): Humanitarian
Charity (Kosovo Refugees) - Thank, Mr. L. Montgomery 6588
Vote - Affirmative 6589
Res. 3180, Educ. - Curriculum (High Sch.): OH&S Courses -
Inclusion Ensure, Mr. G. Balser 6589
Vote - Affirmative 6590
Res. 3181, Wolfville & John Stuart: Trees Provision
(Ste. Anne de Bellevue) - Congrats., Hon. R Harrison 6590
Vote - Affirmative 6591
Res. 3182, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Federation of Cdn. Muns. Conf.
[Hfx. (1999)] - Congrats., Hon. R. White 6591
Vote - Affirmative 6591
Res. 3183, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 101 (Mt. Uniacke-
Windsor): Twinning - Undertake, Mr. B. Taylor 6592
Res. 3184, Health - Care: Info. Access Seniors (Anna. Valley) Project:
Participants - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 6592
Vote - Affirmative 6593
Res. 3185, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Antigonish RDA: Agric. Dev. -
Innovation Recognize, Mr. H. Fraser 6593
Vote - Affirmative 6593
Res. 3186, Culture - AGNS (Yar. Branch): Estab. -
Volunteers Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 6594
Vote - Affirmative 6594
Res. 3187, Sports - Fastball (Girls Cap. Reg. AAA Champs [N.S.]):
Prince Andrew HS - Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 6594
Vote - Affirmative 6595
Res. 3188, Army Cadet Corp. (2160 RC [Sheet Hbr.]): Anniv. 18th -
Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 6595
Vote - Affirmative 6596
Res. 3189, NDP - Finance (N.S.): Complexity - Irresponsible,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 6596
Res. 3190, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Correctness - Congrats.,
Hon. R. MacKinnon 6597
Res. 3191, Educ. - Guys. Academy: Student Exchange (France) -
Congrats., Hon. R. White 6597
Vote - Affirmative 6598
Res. 3192, Sports - Equestrian Angela Covert (Dart. East):
Accomplishments - Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 6598
Vote - Affirmative 6598
Res. 3193, Official Opposition - Gov't. (N.S.-Lib.): Good News -
Familiarize, Mr. P. MacEwan 6599
Res. 3194, Culture - Novelists (Chapters/Robertson Davies Prize):
Anne Simpson - Nominee Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 6599
Vote - Affirmative 6600
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1075, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Balanced - Veracity,
Mr. R. Chisholm 6600
No. 1076, Health - Care: Long-Term Care Beds - Freeze Blunder,
Dr. J. Hamm 6601
No. 1077, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Balanced - Credibility,
Mr. R. Chisholm 6602
No. 1078, Health - Springhill: Physicians - Support Provide, Mr. M. Scott 6603
No. 1079, Health - Investment Fund: Expenditure (1999-2000) - Specify,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6605
No. 1080, Health - Physicians: Commun. Requirements - Identify,
Dr. J. Hamm 6606
No. 1081, Health - Blueprint Report: Budget (1999-2000) - Vague,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6607
No. 1082, Health - Physicians: Commun. Recruitment -
Shortage Calculation, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6608
No. 1083, Health - Regional Boards: Task Force Meetings -
Venues Increase, Mr. N. LeBlanc 6609
No. 1084, Health - Long-Term Care Beds: Promise (1999-2000) -
Fulfilment, Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 6610
No. 1085, EMO - Emergency Serv. 911: Dispatch - Protocol Absence,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6611
No. 1086, Fin. - Health/Hosp. Bds.: Deficits - Specify, Mr. H. Epstein 6612
No. 1087, Health - Gaming Addiction: Treatment Centres -
Funds Disbursal, Mr. G. Balser 6613
No. 1088, Fin. - Budget (1999-2000): Accounting - Policy Justify,
Mr. H. Epstein 6614
No. 1089, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Tobacco Tax: Budget (1999-2000) -
Increase Basis, Mr. J. Muir 6615
No. 1090, Educ. - Schools Smaller: Funding Formula - Changes Impact,
Ms. E. O'Connell 6616
No. 1091, Educ. - Schools: Renovations - Funding Detail,
Ms. E. O'Connell 6617
No. 1092, Health - Long-Term Care Beds: Budget (1998-99) -
Number, Mr. E. Fage 6617
No. 1093, Educ. - Schools (Jr. High): Computers - Provision Delay,
Mr. P. Delefes 6618
No. 1094, Health - Hospital Transfers: Cost Savings - Criteria Justify,
Mr. B. Taylor 6619
No. 1095, Health - Investment Fund: Advertising Costs - Justify,
Mr. D. Dexter 6620
No. 1096, Fish. - Northern Shrimp: Quota - ACS Trading (Mulgrave)
Application Status, Mr. N. LeBlanc 6621
No. 1097, Transport. & Pub. Wks - Road Construction: Min. -
Credibility, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6622
No. 1098, DND - Hfx. Rifles: Re-Establishment - Support,
Mr. M. Baker 6623
No. 1099, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Debt - Reduction, Mr. J. Holm 6624
No. 1100, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Royalty Revenues - Projection,
Mr. J. Holm 6625
No. 1101, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Halifax Port: Rail Link
(New England) - Create, Mr. G. Archibald 6626
No. 1102, Health: Info. System (1994) - Status, Mr. P. Delefes 6627
No. 1103, Health - Regional Boards: Task Force Meetings -
Yarmouth Include, Mr. N. LeBlanc 6628
No. 1104, Environ. - Tire Recycling: Unfair Competition -
Continuance, Mr. D. Chard 6629
No. 1105, Health - Food: Pesticide Residues - Risks Concern Express,
Mr. J. Leefe 6630
No. 1106, Nat. Res. - Forestry: Eastern Shore - Harvesting Monitor,
Mr. C. Parker 6631
No. 1107, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 102: Upgrade -
Funding, Mr. J. Muir 6632
No. 1108, Nat. Res. - Second Lake: Lands - Designation, Mr. J. Holm 6633
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3133, Health - Doctors (New): Nos. - Documents Table,
Mr. G. Moody 6633
Mr. M. Baker 6634
Hon. J. Smith 6638
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 6642
Mr. M. Scott 6645
Mr. B. Taylor 6646
Res. 2344, Devco: Transition Package - Address (Premier),
Dr. J. Hamm 6647
Mr. G. Balser 6647
Mr. P. MacEwan 6650
Mr. F. Corbett 6654
Mr. N. LeBlanc 6657
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Tourism Industry - Benefits:
Mr. H. Fraser 6660
Mr. P. Delefes 6663
Mr. G. Balser 6665
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., June 3rd at 12:00 p.m. 6669

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HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JUNE 2, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence with the daily routine, I would advise members that the Adjournment debate today was submitted by the honourable member for Antigonish. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that as the 1999 tourism season gets underway, this House recognize that rural and urban Nova Scotia businesses are seeing tremendous benefits from a booming industry that is gearing up for another record-breaking year.

We will debate that resolution at 6:00 p.m. this evening.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a number of petitions signed by the residents of the Pugwash area. I have affixed my signature as well. Those residents petition this Legislature that the, "Pugwash District High School has been cut a further 70% of a teaching position. This makes for a total 5.9 teaching positions cut for a decline of 56 students - an average of 1 teacher per 9.5 students. As a result, PDHS has lost a number of programs . . .We ask you to take the necessary steps to find 3.5 additional teaching positions so that these services and programs can be restored.".

6569

[Page 6570]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share with the members of the House a very important step forward for the clean-up of Five Island Lake and to give credit to the people of this community for guiding us to this day.

First, PCB contaminated soil will be removed from the North Bay of Five Island Lake this summer. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I want to recognize the dedication of the Five Island Lake Citizens Liaison Committee. They have worked tirelessly and cooperatively with government officials and specialists we have hired to develop an orderly, affordable and environmentally correct solution for this decades old problem.

Poor disposal practices at a scrap yard near Five Island Lake during the 1960's and 1970's caused PCB contamination throughout the area. In 1994, when the Department of Transportation and Public Works took over management of the site, a citizens group was created to participate in this clean-up. This committee was, and still is, made up of community volunteers and government representatives.

The committee has developed a 13 point strategy for the clean-up, including this year's efforts to dredge the North Bay, where the bulk of the contamination exists. The removal of PCB contaminated sediment from the North Bay is by far one of the most significant achievements. It involves the removal of the greatest contamination of PCBs in the lake. The removal of this material will have a positive, long-lasting effect on the entire lake system, preventing migration of these sediments. Dredged sediments will be stored in an engineered, clay-lined cell. Future priorities will focus on destruction of the material stored on-site.

These people who serve this community have shown a commitment to their community and to their environment time and time again. This summer's project is their top priority. This is why we have allocated $2 million to carry out this season's work. All told, the Province of Nova Scotia has invested some $6 million in this project to date. (Applause)

I want to thank the citizens liaison committee for their dedication to this project, to their neighbours and to our province. This has been a successful model of how public consultation and cooperation leads to solutions for Nova Scotia. I want the community to

[Page 6571]

know we will continue to work with you in this remediation effort. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I want you to know that last evening, Mr. Speaker, I placed a call to a number of residents in the community of Five Island Lake informing them that there had been an allocation, in the announcement yesterday by the Minister of Finance, to continue in the ongoing problem to address the issue of the clean-up of Five Island Lake.

I also had the opportunity last night to receive a call from the secretary of the organization that has fought for so long and hard. They want to acknowledge the fact that they go back to the early 1990's and they mentioned a certain MLA from Sackville at the time - I believe he was the only MLA at the time - who raised the issue with the then Minister of the Environment, the member for Queens, about the importance of addressing the issue in Five Island Lake.

Mr. Speaker, yes, this liaison committee has been extremely active. I wanted to make sure last evening during those telephone calls that I clarified with that committee that there is a two-pronged problem in that community. The North Bay of Five Island Lake remains a problem, an embarrassment to our community and to our province and that must be addressed. In addition, however, the other prong in that problem is the containers that are up on that hill above that residential area, in close proximity to that high school. Those two matters must be addressed, both of them must be addressed.

To the secretary of that organization who spoke to me at length last evening about this, I am sure that they will receive this announcement, because of the fact that we continue to make it an issue in our community. I had the honour and the privilege of chairing some of those community meetings prior to my election as their MLA. That community cares about that problem. They have cared about the problem from the early 1990's, when the MLA for Sackville brought it forward. It was an issue in the 1993-94 time-frame. It remains an issue today.

Mr. Speaker, that is too long. We accept the $2 million, but we want to know when the job will be finalized and when it will be cleaned up. Because I can assure all members present that as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, Five Island Lake is on my way home and I will check daily the progress of this project and whether those containers remain there.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you; I thank the member. (Applause)

[Page 6572]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and speak to this announcement. I sincerely welcome the news of the clean-up of Five Island Lake that is set to move forward. That is a good thing. It was our government that moved quickly on this issue at the onset. It is, however, most unfortunate that it has taken so long for the government to act in addressing this significant issue in our province. A safe and healthy environment has to be and must always be at the top of the priority list of any government.

I would like to conclude my remarks by noting the hard work and dedication of the Five Island Lake citizens group and their liaison committee. It is due to their efforts and the efforts of the community at large that this long-awaited announcement has finally been made. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I would like to call the attention of the members of the House to some visitors in the gallery today. We have with us Mrs. Nhat Dirkson and her daughters Anna and Faye, originally from far away Cole Harbour. Anna Dirkson is well known to many of us from her appearances on the television program, Street Cents. Faye Dirkson is now living in Oklahoma and has brought with her friends to visit. I would like to introduce to the members of the House, Mr. and Mrs. Galen and Sunun Gibson, along with their son, Vincent, who are here from Oklahoma. I would ask them all to rise and receive the welcome of the members of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I present today the Supplement to the Public Accounts of the Province of Nova Scotia for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

[Page 6573]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3160

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

Whereas the 13th annual Crime Prevention Conference is being held in Truro from June 3rd to June 6th; and

Whereas this conference will focus on youth and examine strategies to bring communities to action; and

Whereas the benefits of strategic crime prevention programs mean safer, healthier communities for all;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the organizing committee and extend best wishes for a very successful conference to all participants.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[2:15 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 Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3161

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

[Page 6574]

Whereas Eskasoni Learning Centre, an Aboriginal high school in partnership with the province, will honour its first graduating class from its premises on the Eskasoni Reserve today; and

Whereas 100 per cent of its enrolment will graduate, with marks in excess of 80 per cent per student; and

Whereas prior to the opening of this school, the average graduating class comprised only 5 per cent of the initial class enrolment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Esaksoni School Board, the Learning Centre, and the graduating students for their outstanding achievement.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3162

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

Whereas the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture has teamed up with the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association to produce a new educational video on fish plant sanitation; and

Whereas the rules on export of Nova Scotia seafood products have been tightened in the United States and Canada and the need for seafood producers to continue to meet these health standards is great; and

Whereas this 15 minute video entitled, Fish Plant Sanitation - Step by Step, is being praised by the association's Executive Director, Denny Morrow, as a useful training tool for his membership in meeting that goal;

[Page 6575]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association for their foresight in identifying this area for cooperation and wish the fish processors every success in developing new markets.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3163

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

Whereas representatives from the forestry industry from the Atlantic Provinces have gathered in Halifax this week for the annual convention of the Maritime Lumber Bureau; and

Whereas forestry is an industry valued at hundreds of millions of dollars in the Maritimes and one that employs thousands of people; and

Whereas the Maritime Lumber Bureau and its members have been looking after the interests of the forestry industry for over 60 years;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Maritime Lumber Bureau on this, its Diamond Anniversary, and welcome all participants to their annual convention.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6576]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 3164

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

Whereas five years ago fire destroyed St. George's Church in Halifax; and

Whereas along with the federal government, through the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Works Agreement, the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs was honoured to contribute $600,000 towards the restoration of the church; and

Whereas many volunteers, donors, workers and friends came together to rebuild this national historic site; and

Whereas today the parish of St. George's Church is celebrating the successful near completion of this massive restoration;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those who contributed to reviving one of the most significant landmarks in Halifax, St. George's Church.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 6577]

RESOLUTION NO. 3165

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

Whereas Dalhousie Medical School recently announced that they will receive $12 million to fund six research chairs; and

Whereas these chairs will add immeasurably to research activity, specifically in the six critical areas of Alzheimer's disease, internal medicine, ophthalmology, psychotic disorders, surgery, and autism; and

Whereas Dalhousie Medical School and its partners are continually gaining national recognition for their leading role in health and health-related research;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the numerous individuals and organizations who made this achievement possible and congratulate Dean Ruedy, President Tom Traves, all of the faculty, staff and students of the Dalhousie Medical School on their newest venture.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3166

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture I would like to present this resolution to the House.

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

[Page 6578]

Whereas 1999 marks the 10th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Agricultural Awareness Committee; and

Whereas the Agricultural Awareness committee provides leadership in the promotion of Nova Scotia's agricultural industry; and

Whereas agricultural awareness plays a key role in the development of a viable and sustainable agricultural industry in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the Nova Scotia Agricultural Awareness Committee and wish them continued success in their support of Nova Scotia's farming industry.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The Honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 3167

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, again this resolution is on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture.

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

Whereas Oxford, Nova Scotia, has been named the Blueberry Capital of Canada; and

Whereas Oxford Frozen Foods of Oxford, Nova Scotia, is the largest exporter of wild blueberries in the world; and

Whereas John Bragg, CEO of Oxford Frozen Foods, has been named one of the Top 50 CEOs in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Business Magazine;

[Page 6579]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Mr. Bragg for his business acumen and his great contribution to Oxford, Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3168

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

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia is moving forward in renewing the current HIV/AIDS strategy by holding a series of public consultations across the province starting this week; and

Whereas these public meetings will help open the lines of discussion between government, various AIDS organizations and Nova Scotians concerned about the serious effects of AIDS; and

Whereas the community's participation in these consultations will help ensure the new strategy is coordinated, community based and meaningful to all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the opportunity to thank the individuals and organizations involved in this important initiative and encourage Nova Scotians to attend the consultations in their area.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6580]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 3169

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

Whereas during Question Period yesterday, the member for Cumberland South demanded to know the value of pothole damage claims paid out by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas 5 of the 97 claims from across the province last year were from Cumberland County; and

Whereas the net pay-out for all 97 claims was $1,350.37;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the excellent work being done by the staff of Transportation and Public Works not only in maintaining roads but also in protecting the interests of Nova Scotia taxpayers.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon on a point of personal privilege. The government has been spending tens of thousands of dollars and they plan to continue to circulate advertisements in the newspaper. My point of privilege on this is that the government in the ads is claiming, in the way that the ads are written, as if this is actually de facto. It is stating the principle - although in the ad they do acknowledge that legislation has to be introduced - the way that the ad is written it is downplaying the importance of this Legislature and it is assuming that that is going to be done.

[Page 6581]

Mr. Speaker, a parliamentarian and minister in Ontario resigned his portfolio as a consequence of a matter similar to this. I would like to provide you with, to help you in your deliberations on whether or not this is a breach of privilege and contempt of this House, a copy of the ruling of the Hansard transcript from January 22, 1997, in Ontario in which the Speaker of the House said, "In my opinion, they convey the impression that the passage of the requested legislation was not necessary or was a foregone conclusion, or that the assembly and the Legislature had a pro forma, tangential, even inferior role in the legislative and lawmaking process, and in doing so, they appear to diminish the respect that is due to this House. I would not have come to this view had these claims or proposals -- and that is all they are -- been qualified by a statement that they would only become law if and when the Legislature gave its stamp of approval to them.".

Mr. Speaker, the way that this advertisement is written, it is written in a way that is, in fact, downplaying the importance of this. I would like to provide you with a copy of the ruling, which also makes references to House of Commons rulings, a copy of the advertisement and ask you to take it under advisement to see if, in fact, the placement of these ads and the expenditure of the public money is not, in effect, a contempt of this House and a breach of privilege for all members in this Chamber. (Applause)

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. That ad is telling Nova Scotians what this government is doing. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that, but the only thing going on here today is that that member is trespassing on the time of the House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will take this matter under advisement and I will report back to the House probably tomorrow on whether or not it is a point of privilege. Although I must confess that as the members are all probably aware, a point of privilege should be brought to the House at the first available opportunity. I understand that the member for Sackville-Cobequid just obtained this information from his sources in Ontario today. So, I will accept that but, however, I would like to review the information.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. We just managed to do, before I came to speak to you, was to track down the actual transcript and have an opportunity to review it, and that is why I came to speak to you during the introduction of resolutions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. LAWRENCE MONTGOMERY: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to the members of the Legislature, I would like to draw your attention to the east gallery where we have a group of young men and women from Middleton Regional High School. They are accompanied by their teachers, Mr. Calvin Eddy and Mr. Bill Hines, as well as their bus driver, Mr. Randy Young. I would like them to please stand so that we can give them a round of appreciation. (Applause)

[Page 6582]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3170

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

Whereas the employment rate for Nova Scotia Community College graduates is up 4 per cent from 74.6 per cent in 1997 to 78.6 per cent in 1998; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College is responding to the needs of the labour market and is providing graduates with the skills they need to succeed in today's workforce; and

Whereas increased funding of $5.5 million and the proposed 50 per cent increase of seats at the college by the year 2003 will allow more Nova Scotians to further their studies and achieve excellence at this institution;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Community College for satisfying the needs of this province's workforce.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3171

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

[Page 6583]

Whereas the Official Opposition condemn this government for spending too much on health, yet simultaneously demand daily that more money be spent on this or on that; and

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is the plan, Paul?

MR. MACEWAN: Where is your budget? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. MACEWAN: Whereas the Official Opposition will line up dutifully to vote against the budget, no matter what its content; and

Whereas the Official Opposition simultaneously will claim to have made an honest effort to try and make minority government work;

Therefore be it resolved that the behaviour of the Opposition demonstrates the tremendous lack of sincerity with which they approach public life in this province and that there is no escaping this fact no matter how hard they try and wiggle out of it.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

RESOLUTION NO. 3172

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

Whereas more than 600 people gathered in Sydney for the 8th annual Hip Hip Hooray fund-raiser celebrating the precious gift of mobility; and

Whereas Hip Hip Hooray raised more than $80,000 for the Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation in support for orthopaedic research; and

Whereas Event Coordinator, Dr. Kevin Orrell, has performed many of the successful orthopaedic operations, enabling those in attendance to enjoy increased mobility and a better quality of life;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly applaud all those who participated in this year's Hip Hip Hooray fund-raiser and all those dedicated to the cause of orthopaedic research.

[Page 6584]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 3173

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

Whereas on June 14, 1996, Sergeant Derek C. Burkholder of the Lunenburg RCMP was tragically murdered in the line of duty; and

Whereas a fund established in his memory has raised more than $50,000 and will provide six Lunenburg County students with scholarships this year; and

Whereas Mahone Bay bank employees, held hostage by a gunman last year, donated $2,000 to this fund in appreciation of Lunenburg-Mahone Bay police and RCMP for their courage in responding to this traumatic event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the generous contribution made to the Derek C. Burkholder Memorial Trust Fund by Bank of Montreal employees and applaud the courage and professionalism exhibited by police and RCMP officers.

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.

[Page 6585]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 3174

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

Whereas Grade 7 students at Inverness Elementary School have designed and developed an Internet website for Inverness; and

Whereas as part of this project, the students learned a computer programming language as well as conducted research and interviews; and

Whereas Inverness Elementary School is one of 1,200 schools across the country participating in the Junior Grassroots Project sponsored by Industry Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate students Robert Gillis, Robbie Fraser, Joel MacDonald, Hugh Wallace, Cyndle MacDonald, Candace MacDonnell, Erica Ward and Cindy MacEachern for their skill in information technology and for putting Inverness on the Internet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3175

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

[Page 6586]

Whereas this year the Tim Hortons Children's Foundation is celebrating 25 years of sending kids to camp; and

Whereas on Camp Day, all Tim Hortons stores donate their coffee sales for the 24 hour period as well as funds raised through other events and activities to the Children's Foundation; and

Whereas the Children's Foundation covers all the costs of sending the children to either a 10 day summer camp or a 5 day winter camp;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer heartfelt thanks to Tim Hortons' staff and management, to all those who have donated their time and resources to ensure 25 successful years of sending kids to camp.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3176

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

Whereas churches along the Eastern Shore are known for their unique characteristics placed upon them by their community members who built and maintained them; and

Whereas churches are often referred to as pillars of the community where most parishioners come together for worship and good fellowship, lending support to one another as well as to the community; and

Whereas the Saint Thomas Anglican Church, located in Musquodoboit Harbour, has a history dating back over 100 years; this church was established in 1898 and has since been a monument of support to all those who have walked through its doors;

[Page 6587]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Pam Bishop, the parish priest, for her outstanding contribution to the Saint Thomas Anglican Church and its community over the past six years and for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3177

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

Whereas the National Youth Orchestra is a non-profit organization recognized internationally for the exceptional achievements of its members, including the fact that more than one-third of symphony musicians performing in Canada are alumni of the orchestra; and

Whereas Ben Kinsman, of Wolfville, competed against 677 talented musicians from 35 centres across Canada to be chosen a member of the 1999 National Youth Orchestra; and

Whereas the Toronto-Dominion Bank, the sponsor of the national audition program for the National Youth Orchestra, is honouring Ben as we speak at a celebratory event today;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ben Kinsman for having attained this high level of musical accomplishment and wish him well during his summer with the National Youth Orchestra.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6588]

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. 3178

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

Whereas the Environment Minister has said that his government has not drawn a line in the sand on how many houses it will buy near the Sydney coke ovens; and

Whereas the Premier has said that the province's offer is only good for Frederick Street and Currys Lane; and

Whereas such contradictory statements are indicative of the powerful communication skills of the Premier and his Cabinet;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Environment Minister immediately resolve these contradictory statements and inform the residents of the area who are still awaiting action from the government.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3179

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

[Page 6589]

Whereas Nova Scotians have opened their hearts and rolled out the welcome mat to numerous Kosovar refugees in our province; and

Whereas cosmetology students at the Middleton Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College donated their skills to give haircuts to some refugees at Canada Force Base Greenwood; and

Whereas barbershops, beauty salons and businesses from Bridgetown to Greenwood donated much of the needed hair care products;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thanks the students of the Nova Scotia Community College in Middleton for proving that when it comes to humanitarian charity Nova Scotians are a cut above the rest.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3180

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

Whereas seasonal and part-time employment creates much-needed job opportunities throughout Nova Scotia, particularly for students; and

Whereas small business, farmers and fishermen, all of whom make extensive use of this ever-changing workforce, have begun to express increasing concern over the requirements under Occupational Health and Safety that their employees be trained, at employer expense, in WHIMS, First Aid and other safety related issues; and

Whereas the financial burden this constant training and retraining of employees placed on small business seriously undermines their ability to create employment opportunities;

[Page 6590]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour agree to work with the Minister of Education to ensure that mandatory courses under Occupational Health and Safety become part of the high school curriculum so that the youth of this province are prepared for employment opportunities.

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 Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3181

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

Whereas the Town of Wolfville is partnered with the Quebec Town of Ste. Anne de Bellevue since 1992 and has fostered a productive and caring relationship among residents and among cultures; and

Whereas as a result of the terrible ice storm that the southern region of Quebec suffered last winter, causing extensive damage to its trees and landscape, the Town of Wolfville, through the generous donations of resident John Stuart, has pledged to give 150 trees a year for the next five years to the Town of Ste. Anne de Bellevue to help restore the beauty of their community; and

Whereas resident Tony Stewart and Town of Wolfville Councillor Robert Wrye recently visited Ste. Anne de Bellevue and assisted in the planting of the first of these trees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Town of Wolfville and John Stuart for their compassionate response to the Town of Ste. Anne de Bellevue and to encourage the continued partnership between these two communities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 6591]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 3182

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

Whereas the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is holding its national conference in Halifax starting Friday; and

Whereas this conference is an important venue for discussing municipal issues from all across the country; and

Whereas the host committee has planned an extensive program including workshops and study tours;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the host committee and wish them a successful conference.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 6592]

RESOLUTION NO. 3183

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

Whereas the co-chair of the Twin to Win Highway No. 101 campaign in the Annapolis Valley does not want the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to break his arm in patting himself on the back concerning Monday's announcement; and

Whereas it has been the Progressive Conservative caucus pushing the minister and his predecessors for a number of years to ensure this preliminary work is completed; and

Whereas this Liberal Government, of which the present minister is a member, had cancelled the Highway No. 101 twinning project back in July 1993;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation understand that it is going to take considerably more work, including the dumping of asphalt, gravel and paving on this dangerous stretch of highway, before he attempts to garner any political brownie points.

MR. SPEAKER: It is a little long.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3184

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

Whereas 17 senior citizens recently gathered at the Kingston Legion to learn basic computer skills and to become acquainted with the Internet; and

Whereas the workshop was part of a pilot project called Improving Access to Health Care Information, which teaches seniors how to search the Internet for information on health issues; and

Whereas the program is sponsored by Veterans Affairs Canada and proves that it is never too late to learn new skills;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Valley area seniors for participating in this unique program, and wish them luck as they educate themselves about their own health.

[Page 6593]

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 Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 3185

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

Whereas the Antigonish Regional Development Authority is sponsoring agricultural development through an innovative incubator farm project; and

Whereas an incubator farm is a low-risk way for people to get involved in the agricultural sector; and

Whereas the Antigonish RDA is working to help people, who have no access to land or resources, develop small-scale operations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Antigonish Regional Development Authority for its unique way of promoting growth by going back to the land.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 6594]

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 3186

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

Whereas the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is instrumental in preserving and promoting our artistic and cultural heritage; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas on Friday the Art Gallery announced funding has been approved for the very first satellite branch of the gallery in Yarmouth; and

Whereas a provincial and federal commitment of $800,000, along with generous support from the community, will provide opportunities for artists, students and the cultural industry in southwestern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the rich cultural heritage that exists in all parts of our province, and congratulate the many volunteers who worked to establish a branch of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Yarmouth.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3187

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

[Page 6595]

Whereas Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth East has a long history of sport and academic excellence; and

Whereas the Prince Andrew High School Girls Fastball Team improved on this excellence by capturing the Capital Region AAA Championship by virtue of their wins over Cole Harbour and Auburn High; and

Whereas capturing this championship earns the Prince Andrew Girls Fastball Team the right to represent the capital region at the provincials this coming weekend in Truro;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend congratulations to the players and coaches of the Prince Andrew Girls Fastball Team and wish them all the best in Truro this weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3188

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

Whereas the Cadet Corps throughout Nova Scotia have proven to be of great interest and a valued training tool for our children, both male and female, ranging in age from 12 to 19 years; and

Whereas the Army Cadet Corps across the province are strong in numbers with approximately 1,342 within 27 corps province-wide registered as active members; and

Whereas on May 26, 1999, the 2610 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corp of Sheet Harbour hosted their 18th Annual Review Parade with 27 proud cadets and officers on parade;

[Page 6596]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 2610 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corp on their 18th year in Sheet Harbour and wish them many more successful years, and also thank them for their continued support throughout our communities.

I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 3189

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

Whereas last year the NDP Finance Critic vowed to vote against the budget before even reading it; and

Whereas after a news conference last week, the same NDP critic said that voting for a budget was merely a symbolic gesture; and

Whereas this statement made it obvious the NDP planned to vote against this year's budget before reading it;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP have once again refused to look before leaping and proved they are financially irresponsible and incapable of facing the complex issues of Nova Scotia's finances.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 6597]

RESOLUTION NO. 3190

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

Whereas former American Vice-President Hubert Humphrey once observed, "the true moral test of government is how we treat those in the dawn of life - the children; those who are in the twilight of life - the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life - the sick, the needy and the handicapped"; and

Whereas yesterday the Minister of Finance passed this moral test by rekindling the spirit of invention and daring of our forefathers; and

Whereas his budget will ensure quality education for our children, the elderly will be able to enjoy their retirement free from the fears of inadequate care and support facilities, and the needs of the sick and disadvantaged will be met;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Assembly congratulate the Minister of Finance for doing the right thing for Nova Scotians, not only for today, but for the future.

MR. SPEAKER: I will table that resolution, but it was much too long.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 3191

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

Whereas in October 1998, 35 students from the region of Beaune, France, spent two weeks in Guysborough County; and

Whereas this April, 35 students from Guysborough Academy spent two weeks visiting the same students as part of an exchange program; and

Whereas the parents, community, teachers and the students played a major role in this endeavour by supporting and sponsoring fund-raising projects;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all of the people of Guysborough County who supported this student exchange.

[Page 6598]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3192

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

Whereas Angela Covert of Dartmouth East has established herself nationally as a formidable equestrian rider; and

Whereas recently at the St. Lazare Classic In Quebec, Angela recorded a first place finish in modified open jumper; two firsts in the working hunter division; and a second place finish in the open classic; and

Whereas at the Pepiniere Spring Classic in Quebec, Angela was the preliminary jumper champion with one first and two second place finishes;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Angela Covert on her recent accomplishments and extend best wishes in all of her future endeavours.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 6599]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3193

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 facial contortions of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, as the good-news Budget Speech was presented yesterday, were a spectacle to behold; and

Whereas when it was outlined how our government will eliminate license plates for volunteer firefighters effective July 1st, the face of the Opposition Leader was as long as a week of wet weather; and

Whereas when the investments to be made in education were outlined, some of the honourable members opposite appeared on the verge of heart attack;

Therefore be it resolved that the Official Opposition should relax and get used to the fact that there is going to be a lot more good news for Nova Scotians in the years ahead as this Liberal Government continues to chart the right course for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 3194

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

Whereas the Chapters/Robertson Davies Prize is a new award for unpublished Canadian novelists; and

Whereas the winner of this award will have their book published and promoted across Canada; and

Whereas Anne Simpson, former Coordinator of the St. F.X. Writing Centre, has been nominated for her work, Cantebury Beach;

Therefore be it resolved this House congratulate Anne Simpson on her nomination for this prestigious award and for bringing recognition to the wealth of writing talent here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 6600]

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time being 2:53 p.m., we will terminate at 4:24 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000): BALANCED - VERACITY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. On March 5, 1998, the Premier said there will be a balanced budget again this year, there will be a balanced budget next year, there is a buoyancy right now because the people of this province believe that we have gotten our financial act together and we, as the Liberal Government, are saying to the people of Nova Scotia that we are going to continue with the same fiscal responsibility, a balanced budget. My question is Nova Scotians want to know why the Premier did not tell the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: I don't like that question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Out of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member to perhaps rephrase the last part of his question.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians want to know from the Premier, was he telling the truth yesterday or was he telling the truth a year ago?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I guess the true identity of the NDP is out as a Party that really isn't interested in improvements to health care. It is obvious to everyone that their disappointment is showing through their rhetoric.

[Page 6601]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again, a year ago the Premier said, we can have better medical care, improved education, a stronger economy with a balanced budget. My question to the Premier is, when did he conclude that his government had damaged medical care so much that a $248 million deficit was in order?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate the NDP doesn't listen to the people of Nova Scotia because if they did they would realize that the people of Nova Scotia want improved health care and the fact (Interruption) They can expand all they want but the fact of the matter is, when it comes right down to doing it, obviously they don't want to do it.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, last year the Premier said, paying as you go means a glorious opportunity for the future.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, is pretty simple. People couldn't believe the Premier then, why should Nova Scotians believe him now?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Nova Scotians believe that health care is their number one concern for the future.

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

HEALTH - CARE: LONG-TERM CARE BEDS - FREEZE BLUNDER

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The minister is aware that the government of which he is a member, as part of its health care reform, made a decision to freeze long-term care beds and severely cut acute care beds in this province. Is the minister now prepared to admit that because of an aging population, this was a very costly blunder that is going to now cost this province millions and millions to rectify?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this government, since it formed government in 1993, has been working hard within a framework of fiscal restraint to stabilize the health care system. There have been various initiatives taken. Many of these are innovative and alone in Nova Scotia, demonstrating relative issues to supply a physician's long-term care. In answer to long-term care, we are stabilizing that industry. We have moved to parity within the nursing sector and the LPNs.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I will continue with the minister. This minister was a member of a government that made a decision four years ago to spend tens of millions of dollars to provide early retirement for many nurses and health care professionals, despite the fact that this government and this minister knew that we have an aging population.

[Page 6602]

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

DR. HAMM: My question to the minister is, would he now agree that that policy was a short-sighted blunder that will now cost millions and millions of dollars to return these health care professionals to the system here in Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the profession of nursing and the backbone of the health care system has undergone dramatic changes. Some of that has been the changing of population within that sector. There have been many changes and requirements for training programs. We have designated money specifically to address the issue of casuality, moving to full-term nursing, to reinstatement of slots within the nursing schools and also for training programs and retention of nurses in this province.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, today the minister met with a number of health care professionals and made a commitment that he would meet with them in the future. Would the minister admit that this new-found willingness to meet with health care professionals is simply six years too late?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a plan developed on these particular themes in five major areas that we are working. No one, in that group that the honourable member alluded to this morning, said that the health investment plan was bad. They said it was a good plan and they complimented the government on the new era of consultation that has been happening over the past couple of years. That is what they said this morning.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000): BALANCED - CREDIBILITY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Finance, a year ago on budget day, the minister said balancing the budget is no longer a goal, it is the minimum requirement and the beginning. In a breathtaking U-turn yesterday, the minister said that what Nova Scotians really need is a Buchanan-like deficit and debt. I want to ask the minister (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Since we obviously shouldn't have believed the minister a year ago, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

[Page 6603]

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . why should Nova Scotians believe the minister now?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it becomes very apparent to everyone in this House, to our children and to all Nova Scotians (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is out of order.

MR. DOWNE: This member opposite and their Party do not support an investment in health care in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again last year, the minister said Nova Scotians do not expect us to mortgage their children's future. In another breathtaking U-turn yesterday . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . the minister explained how best to pay for out-of-control spending.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: My question to the minister is, since we obviously should not have believed the minister last year, why should Nova Scotians believe anything the minister says this year?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the one thing that Nova Scotians will truly believe is that NDP Government doesn't care about the health of the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. CHISHOLM: My final question to the minister is pretty simple. If nothing the minister said last year about the deficit and the debt was trustworthy, why should Nova Scotians believe anything he says this year about health care?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians will believe is that this government, our Liberal Government under our Leader, listened to Nova Scotians say clearly that we need to invest in health care today. The time is right to invest in the health care system, and we have done it. We listen to Nova Scotians, not them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HEALTH - SPRINGHILL: PHYSICIANS - SUPPORT PROVIDE

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. By the minister's own admission, he has stated 30 physicians have left Springhill over the last 10 years and he stated it is an issue to him. The people of Springhill are concerned and they are

[Page 6604]

frustrated that these doctors arrive, and leave shortly afterwards. Would the minister agree that his government has failed the people of Springhill and area and the doctors by not providing them with the support they need once they come to the area?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of Health will say is that the recruitment and retention of physicians is a partnership and a joint effort. We, in the Department of Health, have designated people that work on this. We work with the communities. Generally, as we will speak to the resolution that is before the Legislature this afternoon, I will outline our plan for Nova Scotia and show . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your first supplementary.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health. The minister seems satisfied with his government's recruitment record, but it hasn't stemmed the outflow of doctors from the Springhill area. Will you commit today to providing the required follow-up support to keep these doctors in the area in the future?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and the Minister of Health cannot do everything in the recruitment and retention of physicians. That honourable member over there is on a committee, and I suggest that maybe they should look at other ways of attracting and retaining physicians in that community. There is something not working in that community. That member could add his voice to that.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, that is exactly the problem today in this province. The government is turning the responsibility back to the community where it doesn't belong. It belongs with you and your government, and the people are fed up with it.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. SCOTT: Will you at least agree today that three doctors can't do the work of seven (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I can't hear the question.

MR. SCOTT: . . . and patient care is suffering? Will you agree to that?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have many successes in Nova Scotia, and we are one of the few provinces that has stemmed the outflow that has been characteristic of many provinces. I am concerned about the quality of care for all Nova Scotians. Physicians are part of that, they are not the total picture, but they are part of that. We have a system, and it is working.

[Page 6605]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - INVESTMENT FUND:

EXPENDITURE (1999-2000) - SPECIFY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Health Investment Fund makes a lot of wonderful promises but it is pretty sketchy on details. There are no time lines, no measurable objectives, no spending estimates, just more wishy-washy promises like we have come to expect from this government.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question is, why doesn't this health care mortgage include specific estimates of how this year's portion of the investment fund will be spent?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a plan here and it outlines themes. That honourable member sat in this morning in this very Cabinet Room in this very building and she heard the people say that this was a good plan, the health investment plan is very positive. She probably doesn't like what she heard this morning because it is not in keeping with the kind of garbage that she is spinning out there to scare Nova Scotians about their health . . .

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, I was in that room and I heard the minister say there was no plan, he has themes. Will the minister table today the specific details of what health care improvements we will have at the end of year one, year two and year three?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a health care plan. We are spending out how much money we are putting in, in specific areas, over the next three years. We are stabilizing the acute care system while we transition extra monies in to move to a new health care strategy in this province. We are doing it with partnerships like the dozens of people who were there representing all Nova Scotians this morning.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have been listening to empty promises of health reform for a decade. My question is, why should Nova Scotians believe you now?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have made changes in the health care system like other provinces but what we have done, we have made a courageous and a daring move to put a Health Investment Fund in place that will address the needs of the people of Nova Scotia into

[Page 6606]

the next millennium. That is the truth and the people of Nova Scotia will hold us accountable and that is built into this program.

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

HEALTH - PHYSICIANS: COMMUN. REQUIREMENTS - IDENTIFY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health was directly quoted three days ago in saying that there are only three communities in Nova Scotia that need a family physician. The minister indicated that one of those communities was Springhill. Will he identify the other two?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will be addressing this more comprehensively later this afternoon. What we said . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: What we said, Mr. Speaker, there were 22 identified communities that needed physicians, 19 now; a total of 28 physicians have been placed in those 19 communities and there are still three. One of them is Springhill. I just forget at the moment what the other ones are.

DR. HAMM: Yarmouth, Bridgewater, Truro, Glace Bay, Richmond County, Parrsboro, Advocate, Amherst, Stellarton, New Glasgow, all of those communities should be on the minister's list, not a list of three. My question to the minister is, he has been repeatedly asked to table in this House documentation supporting his claims relative to physician recruitment. Once again, will he table, before the House closes, that list showing where the doctors are practising and under what licence?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I have a speech this afternoon that I will participate in Resolution No. 3133 and I will also be tabling the College of Physicians and Surgeons document with some additions that we have made, an explanation within that.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the minister's debate this afternoon will substantiate the claims that he has made over the last number of months about physician recruitment. Is this minister prepared . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Question, please.

[Page 6607]

DR. HAMM: . . . to concede that Nova Scotia still has a serious shortage . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. HAMM: . . . not only of family physicians but specialists that is compromising . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please!

DR. HAMM: . . . the quality of care available to Nova Scotians today?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what this province has, like other provinces in Canada, is a problem with primary care delivery that is blocking the emergency rooms in this country. We have a plan and we will be moving toward enhanced community care, primary care using a team.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - BLUEPRINT REPORT: BUDGET (1999-2000) - VAGUE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. This government seems to have made a startling discovery, a 1994 document called the Blueprint for Health Care Reform and five years later it is promising to "move ahead with this bold new initiative". My question is, if the government is really going to act on the blueprint's recommendations, why doesn't the budget contain more than vague promises for investment in community-based care?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, a Budget Address is a Budget Address and that is the commitment of the government. We ask for support for that budget the way that people in the room this morning, where the honourable member was, asked for support for that budget. Let's not forget that. They asked for support. We have a plan and it really reflects the blueprint. It does reflect the blueprint exactly and that's exactly what we are doing.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Yesterday, quoting from the blueprint, it was said that, "health care must improve the quality of life, not only ward off illness". My question is, where are this government's specific plans to improve community-based preventive health services?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member this morning heard representations from all parts of this province relative to community enhanced services. No question. That is part of this plan. This is a commitment really of the money. She also heard the commitment that we made that while we have been at the table with most of those organizations, we are

[Page 6608]

going to broaden that and they will be at the table and the communities will tell us what their needs are and we will respond.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government is trying to pass off Ron Stewart's five year old promises as something new. After five years of mismanaging health care, why should Nova Scotians believe you now?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't want to burden the honourable member with a whole batch of difficult reading but just read Maclean's Magazine and it will show that we have, under difficult circumstances, really shaped up pretty darn well across this country for health care. What we are doing now, we are going to build on that and we are going to move to another level of care.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham, on a new question.

HEALTH - PHYSICIANS:

COMMUN. RECRUITMENT - SHORTAGE CALCULATION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the health fund document claims that "Doctors have been found for 26 of the 29 underserviced identified areas in 1997.". But last week the minister said he wasn't sure how many doctors were working in the province and he really didn't know how many we need. My question is, how did his department calculate that it now needs to recruit fewer than 30 family doctors?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it really is interesting how easy it is to focus on physicians. They are a very important part of the health care system. What I am saying is, if you take the list from MSI, the College of Physicians and Surgeons and how many people are being paid out of our department, there tends to be more people paid out of our department that is on another list some days but we feel that it is legitimate. Yes, exactly how many are practising at one day, I don't think anyone can tell you.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this minister claims we have one doctor per every 489 patients, however, experts say the ratio is more like 1 doctor to almost 1,200 patients. My question is, if the minister has any analysis showing that we need fewer than 30 doctors, will he table that information today?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we need support (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: . . . the acute care system, with nurses that we have identified and we are moving toward full-time positions for them. We will build around the numbers of physicians but we are also building a support, particularly in the community at the primary care level.

[Page 6609]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there is, obviously, no plan, no analysis, no planning. My question is, how does the minister plan to attract and keep doctors in under serviced communities this year?

[3:15 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have discussed these various programs that are unique to Nova Scotia, and I will outline, in debate, the resolution later this afternoon, how we have serviced these areas and what plans we have for the future. Physicians are important, but they are not the only people that are delivering health care to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - REGIONAL BOARDS:

TASK FORCE MEETINGS - VENUES INCREASE

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Health. This House unanimously agreed to a resolution whereby a review of regional health boards was going to be put in place, and the minister himself announced it on October 15th. On May 20th, our caucus asked the minister what was going to occur to the several areas of the province which have suffered under regional health care, which have not had meetings held there, and that we brought it to the minister's attention . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. LEBLANC: I want to ask the minister today if he could inform the House as to whether or not anything has changed since that time?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the regional task force, chaired by Dr. Richard Goldbloom, has determined the sites. While there has been discussion with the Department of Health, we have not interfered with that, and they were strategically placed around the province. I have faith in Dr. Goldbloom, I think he is one of Nova Scotia's most distinguished citizens and physicians, and I trust his judgement.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to whether he has faith in the chairman, we brought up a valid point in this House, that the areas of Yarmouth, which I represent, the areas of Truro, the areas of Bridgewater, which have loudly complained about regional health care, have not had meetings held in those communities.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MR. LEBLANC: Will the minister intervene and instruct the task force to re-evaluate its hearings and hold them in those communities?

[Page 6610]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I know there has been extensive consultation through various personal interventions. People from those communities have spoken to me, that they have been surveyed. It has been professionally done. There are other people coming in and meeting with a facilitator, and then we will be receiving the report. I have faith that not only Dr. Goldbloom but also the task force will do the right thing.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to Yarmouth, the closest meeting was in Middleton and the other one was in Queens, which don't have regional hospitals. Again, will the minister go to the chairman of the task force and direct him to hold meetings in those communities? That is a reasonable request and the people of my area deserve to be heard.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I have faith in the chairman and the members of that task force that they will do the right thing, and I will not be interfering with the workings of that task force.

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE BEDS:

PROMISE (1999-2000) - FULFILMENT

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. The budget acknowledges that our population is aging, which will increase the demand on health services. Among the many vague promises in the health investment mortgage document is a weak commitment to increase the number of long-term care beds in this province. I want to ask the Minister of Health, since this government still hasn't fulfilled last year's promise to fund 170 long-term care beds . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: . . . why should Nova Scotians believe this year's promise now?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct, that commitment has been made, it is being fulfilled. There are 41 already. We have many proposals that we are looking at, trying to regionalize and how best to address this particular issue. There are other supports for the long-term care system like home care, and that is why we have moved into this Health Investment Fund that spells out the continuum of care, and that is important, not only in one area.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Minister, Nova Scotians who have to send loved ones across the province for long-term care need action now. How soon will Nova Scotians get the improved long-term care that has eluded them so far?

[Page 6611]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are some parts of the province - industrial Cape Breton - that will have to be prioritized on this particular issue, but I think, generally, areas are reasonably well served and we are trying to do, within the budget, what is right. By announcing this Health Investment Fund, that doesn't mean that all of a sudden the flood gates are open; we are going to spend this money wisely to change a system and to build an infrastructure. Much of that will be in the long-term care sector.

DR. BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, this government has no clear plan of what improvements we should see at the end of three years. My question to you is, since this government has a six year track record of mismanagement in health care, how are Nova Scotians supposed to believe that this mortgage on our future will improve our long-term care? Why would we believe you now?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, personally, in my opinion, maybe not shared, I think that Nova Scotia has done really well as an Atlantic Province under difficult financial circumstances. We have stabilized health care, particularly in communities. We have done well and are going to build on that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Next question. The honourable member for Pictou East.

EMO - EMERGENCY SERV. 911:

DISPATCH - PROTOCOL ABSENCE

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister responsible for 911 and the Emergency Measures Organization. Will the minister tell me today exactly what information is followed by 911 dispatchers after an emergency call? Is there a standard procedure in place where the dispatcher relays necessary emergencies only or is each call handled in such a manner that no proper protocol exists when a page is sent out?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the 911 call goes from the Emergency Measures to a dispatch centre. From there it is directed to the proper agency, be it police, fire department, whatever.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. What if medical information is provided to a dispatcher to assist paramedics once they arrive at the scene but the dispatcher is told the information is strictly confidential? Are the dispatchers given clear guidelines on how to handle this information and not have it relayed to the public?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, once the 911 call is made to Emergency Measures, from that point it goes to a dispatch centre, then 911 has completed its task.

[Page 6612]

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. An individual was suffering from breast cancer for three and one-half years in my constituency. Only the woman and her daughter knew of this illness. Will the minister please explain to Nova Scotians how this confidential information was picked up by scanners and relayed right across this province on April 18th and why this information wasn't kept confidential?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member wants to talk to me after, to examine what happened - but once the 911 call is made to a dispatch, be it ambulance or police, then it is out of the hands of 911. If there is some way I can help the honourable member tracking something down, I will be pleased to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - HEALTH/HOSP. BDS.: DEFICITS - SPECIFY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance announced that the hospital and health boards had accumulated deficits of $226 million. That is a higher figure than had previously been made public. My question to the Minister of Finance is, can the minister provide us with a breakdown of which institutions and for which years that $226 million relates?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't have the information available. I will go back and access that information. The information we presented was the information and numbers we got from the Department of Health.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, accounting for hospital and health board over-expenditures in the way it was done in the budget yesterday is a stunning pirouette for this government. The Public Sector Accounting Board which sets the rules for government accounting is absolutely clear that when changes to the accounts of the province are made they have to be done retroactively or if it is not true, will the minister tell us if he is prepared to go back and readjust the past several years of the books of this province in order to tell the truth?

MR. SPEAKER: Again, I don't like that word used in that context.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to rephrase the question. The question to the minister is, is the minister prepared to go back and make the appropriate changes over the last several years and face up to the fact that this government has always been bathing in red ink?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it was interesting that in a meeting, the Auditor General this morning confirmed that nothing is wrong with the accounting system and the operation or the funds of the Province of Nova Scotia. The Auditor General said that. (Applause)

[Page 6613]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, we have heard this time and time again, and now we are hearing it again. The government says they will tell the truth, soon, just not yet. My question for the minister is, why should Nova Scotians believe you now?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the interesting part here is that we are transparent. We are showing everybody exactly what is going on, something that that body over there does not understand and that is why they are making false statements about calling truth and not truth. I condemn the member opposite for being such low life as to talk like that in the House of Assembly.

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

HEALTH - GAMING ADDICTION:

TREATMENT CENTRES - FUNDS DISBURSAL

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health. Under the Gaming Act, the owners of licensed drinking establishments and the Gaming Corporation have established a fund that presently has $2.5 million. The money is to be used for the treatment of gambling addictions. In the past year, how much of that fund has been disbursed to treatment centres?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have had meetings with various departments looking at the administration of this program. I do not have the exact numbers before me today, obviously, but I could have them available for the honourable member and I would be pleased to do that.

MR. BALSER: It is not hard to count to zero.

By this government's own admission, there is a growing concern that addiction treatment facilities are gravely needed. Will the minister confirm that the bulk of the money expended from that fund has gone to universities for research in gambling addiction as opposed to treatment centres?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think research in this area has been very important. We have had reports that have given us direction and modification of VLTs and the types of programs. Resources have gone into it and there will be resources going into both short- and long-term treatment. Unfortunately, we have a line of counsellors, those types of things. We have put resources in . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, your final supplementary.

[Page 6614]

MR. BALSER: The New Vision Society is attempting to provide some direction. That is a non-profit addiction treatment centre which is currently operating in southwestern Nova Scotia, the only one in that area. It has a proven a track record and has the support of the community and local government.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. BALSER: Will you commit to providing funds to organizations like New Vision so that they can get on with addiction counselling?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I know that we have put over $200,000 into programs this year under that particular fund. Some of these programs that are seeking monies, our resident centres, they may or may not be the proper types of programs. We have a hotline which is staffed by expert counsellors, those types of programs. We are working and we are doing a job and we need some information and some . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - BUDGET (1999-2000): ACCOUNTING - POLICY JUSTIFY

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the most amazing sleight of hand occurred in the budget: Merlin the minister waved his magic wand and suddenly $600 million is off-book; that includes $250 million of spending for this fiscal year. My question for the Minister of Finance. What possible justification can he have as to why that spending should be off the province's books?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the Alliance of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada is pleased that the government has assumed the responsibility of the debt of the hospitals and the health boards, and believes it is important to provide more disclosure (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Table that document. I would request that the honourable minister please table that document. (Applause)

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, in fact, this sleight of hand is contrary to generally accepted accounting principles, contrary to the Auditor General's recommendations, contrary to the government's own commitment from last year's blueprint.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: Would the minister explain his government's policy on when spending will or will not be part of the province's official balance statement?

[Page 6615]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, this budget is more transparent than any budget we have ever seen. It is the most inclusive when it comes to the overall cost of government in Nova Scotia. The problem with the member opposite, if he listened to the Auditor General, and I quote the Auditor General again, the Auditor General confirms that there is nothing wrong with the accounting system and operations and/or the fund.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister is, will the minister table today the opinions, if any, that he has had from professional accountants certifying that this method of off-book accounting is acceptable?

MR. DOWNE: It is nice to know the member opposite is now an accountant.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is now the new Auditor General of the province.

MR. DOWNE: He is now the new Auditor General of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DOWNE: First he was condemning the previous Auditor General. Now he is happy with this one, now he is not happy with the Auditor General, he wants someone else. Mr. Speaker, I think the problem is that they realize we listened to Nova Scotians, we have done right for Nova Scotia and the accounting is right in Nova Scotia.

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

BUS. & CONS. SERV. - TOBACCO TAX:

BUDGET (1999-2000) - INCREASE BASIS

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. The government's plan for Nova Scotia, as put forth yesterday, showed an increase in tax revenue. One of the tax revenues which showed a rather significant increase was that in the tobacco tax. What is the basis for the projected increase in tobacco tax, Mr. Minister?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I am not sure who he is looking at, Mr. Speaker. In my capacity as Minister of Business and Consumer Services, increased tobacco revenue is based on stricter enforcement of the existing laws within Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. MUIR: My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, goes to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has talked about taking great strides to diminish the use of tobacco here in Nova Scotia. Does he agree or disagree that an increase in tobacco tax revenue, as

[Page 6616]

projected by his government, would be an indication that his plan for diminishing the amount of tobacco consumed in this province is not working?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Health, I am concerned about gambling as an issue, as an addiction, and we having programs, we are strengthening our enforcement legislation within that area. As far as the taxes and what goes on between the provincial and federal governments and in the Finance Department is a matter of another jurisdiction. We deal with people as we find them and we try to prevent, whether it is lung cancer, heart disease or any other initiatives like that.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am not really sure what he said but I think what he said was that there is an extreme lack of consistency between the Finance Department and the Business and Consumer Services Department and the Health Department when it comes to the issue of tobacco use in this province. Is that government intending to promote the greater use of tobacco to increase that tax revenue as presented in that plan yesterday?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I gave up smoking cigarettes when I was 13 and I have done everything that I could since then to cut down on the use of tobacco of all kinds. That is my commitment and that is what I will continue to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS SMALLER:

FUNDING FORMULA - CHANGES IMPACT

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The government has announced changes to the funding formula for education so that students in smaller boards will have better educational opportunities. I have a very simple question for the minister, how many smaller community schools will this save?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for asking this question. This year, for the first year, our funding formula review group has made recommendation that we certainly need to start looking at providing adequate funding to the small rural schools across Nova Scotia in order to provide the programs as needed.

MS. O'CONNELL: My first supplementary to the minister is this. This additional money that is available to school boards as a result of the funding formula changes, is it designated so that smaller schools are protected or is it going to go into the general pot?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member and all members of this House know, yesterday, Nova Scotians saw that education is again one of the government's top priorities. Yesterday, we saw an increase in our education budget by close to 6 per cent, an additional $60 million in our educational budget.

[Page 6617]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is this to the minister. What is the effect of keeping these smaller rural schools open on the current school construction plan?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, again, as I have indicated to this House before, this department will continue to work with the school boards that have full responsibilities within their jurisdiction and I can assure the honourable member that tradition will continue with our government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview, on a new question.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: RENOVATIONS - FUNDING DETAIL

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, on a new question. My question is for the Minister of Education. Last year the government announced $90 million for renovations to 57 schools over three years. So far, about $2 million has been spent on planning only; $20.5 million is in the new budget. My question, where is the remaining $67.5 million?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Again to the honourable member, and to all members of the House, just recently this government announced 16 new school capital projects, Mr. Speaker. These 16 new schools are some schools that were initially in the 57 school projects that were approved back in December 1997. So from the 57 we are now down to 44 schools.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister why would the department's year to year planning be so ill-conceived that it ends up stealing money from planned renovations to give it to school construction even before facility and site evaluation reports such as Pictou's are available?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, again, the honourable member will see, as we will have a chance to debate our estimates very shortly, that in our budget we have a set amount that has been set aside for the leases on the new schools that have been opened and again, there is a separate amount that has been reported for the renovation projects.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE BEDS:

BUDGET (1998-99) - NUMBER

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health. The concern that I would like to raise with the minister today is the long-term care bed issue. Last year in the budget, and it is a year I believe, how many beds were announced, Mr. Minister?

[Page 6618]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as I understand the question, how many beds were announced in the long-term care sector last year. I think, as probably the member would know, 170 was announced prior to the March 24th election and that was the mandate of government.

MR. FAGE: My first supplementary to the minister is, how many of those beds are occupied?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, to be fair in my answer, there would be none occupied but 41 are under construction. I have turned the sod on one and the others. So it is not something that you would call up the department store and order and have wheeled in. You have to have a building around the beds.

MR. FAGE: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister. Hopefully the minister's commitment from last year is not the same as the commitment that was given by him this year for health care spending. Because Nova Scotians want to see those . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. FAGE: . . . beds occupied, not promised and talked about. My question to the minister is, here it is a year later, there is not a single bed occupied, only 41 have been allocated, does that mean that in this coming year's budget we can count on only 15 per cent of it doing any good, the remainder of it talk?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I can understand the concern of the honourable member. He does come from a community that does have a large senior population and there are concerns. This is why we are stabilizing the acute care system while we move into more home care and a continuum of care, and long-term care is part of that. We have done a lot this year, one would have to admit, in stabilizing the long-term care with parity and the other issues. We are working on that, but what we are committing in this year's budget will be in this year's budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS (JR. HIGH): COMPUTERS - PROVISION DELAY

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Education. Over a year ago, the joint federal-provincial information economy initiatives announced $35.3 million to be spent over three years on computer technology, bringing 4,000 computers to have-not schools in the province. My question for the Minister of Education is, why haven't the junior high schools gotten the computers and software that were supposed to be delivered last November?

[Page 6619]

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to correct what the honourable member just made reference to. As I had indicated to the House last week, next week our government will be making a formal announcement, announcing 6,000 new computers to 181 junior high and senior high schools across this province.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, last week we were told it would be this week. Yesterday's fanfare budget boasted that the government would spend $4.5 million to deliver 6,000 new computers to 181 schools. My question to the minister is, are these last year's promised 4,000 new computers and this year's 2,000? Is this the government's idea of reuse, reduce and recycle?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, for the honourable member from that group (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GAUDET: All schools across Nova Scotia have now been connected with the Internet. Nova Scotia is the second province to have accomplished this and, again, next week we will be announcing 6,000 new computers for junior and senior high schools.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Education. This new boast about computers is an old boast. We heard it all last year. Why should we believe the government will deliver now when it didn't deliver then?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the NDP in Nova Scotia, sometimes you have to ask yourself a question. They have a hard time accepting good news for Nova Scotians. I can tell the honourable member that next week, we will be providing these new computers to Nova Scotia students.

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

HEALTH - HOSPITAL TRANSFERS:

COST SAVINGS - CRITERIA JUSTIFY

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Health. Mrs. June Atkinson of Onslow Mountain is a patient at the Victoria General Hospital. She is a disabled, widowed senior whose kidney system has shut down. She has acute kidney failure. Your department, Mr. Minister wants to move her to the Colchester Regional Hospital, allegedly because it is cheaper in the rural hospital setting.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

[Page 6620]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Minister, my question is simply this, why is it that you consider economic consequences ahead of human reality?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings a specific person's personal health history here, and he should know that I can't discuss that. What I would say is that the whole system is predicated on exchange of best care, the person receiving the right care, at the right place, at the right time. If that involves transferring that person closer to their home and their family, I will trust the professional judgement. It is a health care driven issue, not a financial care driven issue.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Atkinson has been told that in order to receive her dialysis treatment, once she gets to the Colchester Regional Hospital she will be required, at her cost, to pay for the ambulance fees, relative to being transferred three times a week, this disabled senior from Colchester to Halifax. Does the minister support this sort of thing?

[3:45 p.m.]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, again I have to preface my comments, I cannot discuss on the floor of the House of Assembly a specific issue. I say again, the best practice is care, being delivered by the right person, at the right time, in the right place. I trust the professional judgement and that is as much as I can comment on that specific case.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, those health costs for Mrs. Atkinson are going to be most profound. She is a widowed, disabled senior. It is very unfair of this government to be shifting patients around from one hospital to the other because the per diem is cheaper. My question is simply this, for almost a year, the PC caucus has been asking you and your department to put in a dialysis machine at the Colchester Regional Hospital. When is this minister going to face reality and recognize the people of Colchester County have serious concerns?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a committee who are working on renal dialysis distribution around this province. This is an important issue and we take this very serious. With the aging population this is going to be more of an issue to have in place.

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

HEALTH - INVESTMENT FUND: ADVERTISING COSTS - JUSTIFY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have taken out $20,500 ads to claim that their decision to increase our province's debt by $600 million is a good thing. I would ask the Premier how can he justify heaping $600 million more in debt on the backs of Nova Scotians and then spending another $20,500 of their money trying to fool Nova Scotians into believing it is a good thing?

[Page 6621]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia aren't as fortunate as the honourable member, they don't get copies of the budget. But they have the right to be informed as to what is going to take place in health care. This is merely giving them the information that they deserve. Would the NDP require anything less?

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, those full-page ads which the government plans to run again this weekend, refer to the polls that the Liberals conducted, again, at taxpayers' expense. I want to ask the Premier why did he refuse, yesterday, to release those polls that the taxpayers paid for?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Government told the people of Nova Scotia that they are listening to their concerns. The mentioning of the polls merely indicates that we are listening and that is a form of listening to the concerns of the people of Nova Scotia and we have responded.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier won't release them voluntarily so we will try to force him to. I am going to ask the Page to table this and perhaps show it to the Premier, this Freedom of Information requesting those polls. Will the Premier order an end to the taxpayer-funded, Liberal advertising and polling campaign by stopping the misleading budget advertisement from running again this weekend?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the NDP have got to decide. Do they want the people of Nova Scotia to be informed as to what is taking place in this province or do they want matters to be done in complete isolation from the people of Nova Scotia knowing what is going on?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. - NORTHERN SHRIMP:

QUOTA - ACS TRADING (MULGRAVE) APPLICATION STATUS

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Fisheries. Mr. Minister, the allocation of northern shrimp in recent years has gone almost exclusively to the Province of Newfoundland, to the detriment of many Nova Scotian firms. I think this is in direct violation of the strong history that we have in this fishery and I think we deserve our fair share. One such company that has put in an application for allocations is ACS Trading, which is located in Mulgrave. Can the minister inform the House as to what the status of their request is, at this moment?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: As far as I know, at the moment, Mr. Speaker, that is still under consideration and, unfortunately, the federal government has taken a view of adjacency with the northern shrimp, even though we have lobbied very hard to try to break that. There

[Page 6622]

is a fishery, however, from the traditional fishery in Nova Scotia that catches a large amount of shrimp off Newfoundland.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this company is only working at 40 per cent capacity and has approximately 100 full-time and part-time workers. They are the only shrimp processor in the Province of Nova Scotia. Can the minister, again, inform the House as to what he, personally, has done to intervene on their behalf?

MR. COLWELL: I would like to thank the honourable member for that question. It is a very good question because it is an important industry to the Town of Mulgrave. We have worked very closely with the town and the company to try to put more shrimp quota in their control so they can make sure that their plant can work and we are looking at new avenues as we speak, today.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Premier. Obviously, what we have here is a lack of political influence with Ottawa. Time is running out for this company because my understanding is that, within a few months, they either will get quota or they will move to the Province of Newfoundland, where they can access shrimp for the company. Will the Premier intervene personally on their behalf so that this Nova Scotian company, with their 100 jobs, which is located in the Town of Mulgrave, which needs them, will be saved?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries has talked to this company many times. The company knows the work that the Minister of Fisheries has done on their behalf. The fact that Ottawa has decided not to do more than they have is Ottawa's decision. I would suggest that the Progressive Conservative Party has five members in Ottawa. They should get those five members motivated to ask some questions in this regard.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ROAD CONSTRUCTION:

MIN. - CREDIBILITY

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has been to Ottawa looking for money for our highway systems and he has struck out. Yesterday, the minister's own Cabinet slashed his road construction budget to pieces. In fact, yesterday, I don't believe I heard the word roads mentioned in that particular address by the Minister of Finance. Mr. Minister, how can you have any credibility in Ottawa when you have none in your own province?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the honourable member that my budget was increased by $5 million. (Applause)

[Page 6623]

MR. SPEAKER: That answer was actually out of order because I don't want to get into estimates.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, this government can hand out tax credits until they are blue or red in the face. Enterprise zones or not; businesses will not go to an area with no infrastructure and absolutely embarrassing roads.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: My question, Mr. Speaker, is, what plan does this minister have to improve infrastructure for our roads?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, infrastructure is very important to the Province of Nova Scotia for tourism. Last year, our tourism dollars were over $1.1 billion. I have been to Ottawa. I have talked with Minister Collenette. We are working on a federal infrastructure program for next year and we will bring this forward.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, there is no point in sending a singles hitter to bat clean-up in Ottawa. Mr. Minister, you have assured this House many times you care about rural roads. You have told us that for over one year.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, why should we believe you now?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, yes, I do care about rural roads and I do care about Route 333, as a matter of fact, because that honourable member over there told me he didn't want it paved. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will have order please, or I will recess.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

DND - HFX. RIFLES: RE-ESTABLISHMENT - SUPPORT

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. This year marks the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the City of Halifax, a city with a fine, proud tradition as a military garrison town. This House has supported the reactivation of the Halifax Rifles, the regiment that represented this city, had five Premiers of Nova Scotia, five Lieutenant Governors, two Prime Ministers and a Father of Confederation. Does the Premier still support the reactivation of the Halifax Rifles?

THE PREMIER: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I do.

[Page 6624]

MR. BAKER: Then my question to the Premier is, what has the Premier done to ensure that his federal Liberal cousins reactivate the Halifax Rifles?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have mentioned that in a meeting with the Minister of Defence. He knows of my interest in this subject and hopefully he will reinstitute the regiment.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, will the Premier undertake to again contact the Minister of Defence to ensure that the Halifax Rifles are reactivated for Halifax's 250th birthday?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to write to the honourable minister and send a copy to the honourable member.

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

NAT. RES. - NSRL: DEBT - REDUCTION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, sir, is to the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Resources Limited. The minister would have heard his colleague, the Minister of Finance, say yesterday that he hopes to increase the debt of the province to close to $9 billion. The Minister of Natural Resources knows that is only part of the problem because Nova Scotia Resources Limited will have approximately a $700 million debt at the end of this year.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is, how does he intend to pay down the approximately $700 million debt of Nova Scotia Resources Limited?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member may or may not know, any Crown Corporation is required to give a financial audited statement at the end of their fiscal year. The fiscal year for Nova Scotia Resources Limited is December 31st. The financial audited statement should be revealed in a few weeks' time and the honourable member will see it at that point in time.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows that the Panuke-Cohasset field is now losing money and he will also know that we will not be receiving any revenues, profits from Sable until after the approximately $2 billion development costs have been paid in full. My question to the minister is, what plan do you have to address the approximately $700 million debt of Nova Scotia Resources Limited?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the Province of Nova Scotia owns 8.4 per cent of Nova Scotia Resources Limited. Pan Canadian is working on two phases. They are producing oil and they are doing exploration. If the honourable member would wait until a few weeks'

[Page 6625]

time and see the audited financial report, he will have some idea what is happening on the Panuke-Cohasset field.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I do have some idea what is happening out there. What we have is basically no revenue, but we have interest charges piling on.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. HOLM: My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, simply, is it your intention to ask your good friend, the Minister of Finance, to do some more creative bookkeeping to assume that debt, to get it off the books, because you have no plan. What are you going to do? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I do not have to ask the honourable Minister of Finance to do anything, he is very capable of doing it on his own. He, too, when he sees the financial audited report for Nova Scotia Resources Limited, will make a decision as to what to do at that point in time.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, on a new question.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: ROYALTY REVENUES - PROJECTION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, this question is through you to the Premier. The government says that its royalties from Sable will pay off half of the $600 million that is heaping on the already large debt of this province. I would like to ask the Premier. Will he agree to table his government's 13 year royalty revenue projections which show that you can actually meet that pay-down projection?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is going to be the Minister of Finance who will have to table that information, so I will refer the question to him.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to be able to provide the information on the revenue from the royalty regime at any time.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am not totally sure that the minister heard exactly my full question, so I am going to phrase it again to make sure I have the correct answer. I am asking the question. Will you agree to table on the floor of this House - it can even be done today - the 13 year projections for the royalty schedule for the Sable offshore? What your projections are that you are going to receive in royalties each and every one of those 13 years.

[Page 6626]

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in keeping with honesty and transparency, I would like to table the information right now. I would like that photocopied, bring me the original back, and table it.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to be helpful to the government so that they can finally start to provide some information. My final question, and I will address this to the Premier and he may deflect it wherever he wishes. The Premier will know that under the royalty scheme, and as royalties are supposed to be increasing, that the oil companies can reduce what the projected revenues royalties would be by increasing spending on capital projects. So my question. What contingency plan does his government have to pay down the new debts if, in fact, the Sable revenues don't come in on schedule?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have every reason to believe that the Sable product will come in as scheduled.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HALIFAX PORT:

RAIL LINK (NEW ENGLAND) - CREATE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Trade with the northeastern United States is $659 million, one-third of Nova Scotia's trade altogether. Over 50 million Americans live within 600 miles of Nova Scotia. To keep and to expand the Port of Halifax, we need a good rail service running between Halifax and New England. I would like to know, what is your department doing to create a rail link between Halifax and Boston and the New England States?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member has brought this subject to the House before. We are involved, we want to make sure there is a good transportation link, a rail link between Halifax and Boston. I certainly will work on that with the honourable member for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Thank you very much to the minister. Now, Mr. Speaker, CN Rail knew in 1997 the importance of a rail link between Halifax and New England. The rail link between Halifax and New England to haul cargo from the port to Boston, the plan that CN had was put on the shelf, they never launched it. What is the minister going to do to make CN get on with it?

[Page 6627]

MR. HUSKILSON: To the honourable member, I would certainly encourage CN to bring this proposal forward because, as I said, we want to make a better transportation system, a better infrastructure system for the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, CN brought it forward and then they put their plan away. I want to know what this minister is going to do. You can't sit back and wait for the world to come to you. You have to go to them. Will you as minister call CN tomorrow morning and say, listen, get on with the rail service to New England, we won't have it any other way? Will you call them tomorrow and tell them to get on with it?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, as I have stated, I certainly want to see a strong infrastructure, a strong railway system between here and New England, and I will do whatever it takes to work on that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

HEALTH: INFO. SYSTEM (1994) - STATUS

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Health. The budget says Nova Scotians may be surprised to learn that we don't have a system to share health information through modern computer and telecommunications technology. They may be more surprised to know that in 1994, tenders had been granted to develop such a system, the exact same essential investment that this minister proclaims is new. My question for the minister is, whatever happened to the health information system that was put out to tender five years ago?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, since that period of time there has been a great deal of change with decentralization, the regionalization of the health care system. What we will be doing is building together and coordinating with physicians' offices. This is much more comprehensive. This has to do with laboratory services, physicians' offices, hospital facilities and community clinics so that they will be able to correspond to each other, and our Telehealth is part of that as well.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, like the rest of the vague Health Investment Fund proposals, this is just a recycled idea. Exactly how much money had been spent on the health information system five years ago, before this government pulled the plug? That is my question for the minister.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I was in another department at that time. I am not sure how far that process actually did proceed. I can check that out and if there is information available, which I am sure there would be, I can make it available to the honourable member, but I think what we are looking at now is a much more comprehensive long-term strategy for the IT system within health care.

[Page 6628]

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, these documents - and I would like to table the strategy of 1995 - show that considerable work was done in that year on the same system this minister is now resurrecting and passing off as new. My question for the minister is, why should Nova Scotians believe this government will actually make good on the promise of a health information system this time?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what is in place and what is working will be kept, it will be brought into an integrated comprehensive system. There are things that are available that weren't proposed in 1994 that will be used. It is a very important part, it has to do with quality of care and best practices for patients and the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - REGIONAL BOARDS:

TASK FORCE MEETINGS - YARMOUTH INCLUDE

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Earlier on today I asked a question with regard to the task force on regional health care. The minister said that he would not intervene in the committee's hearings while certain areas of the province have not had the opportunity to have hearings. In his own report, his own press conference, when this came out it said Nova Scotia's current regionalized system has had many successes. They haven't been in Yarmouth. They haven't been in other parts of this province. I again ask the minister whether he will intervene and offer the people of Yarmouth an opportunity to voice their opinions?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am disappointed the honourable member wants to carry on in the old traditional way of delivering health care as we see an escalation of costs at 11 per cent per year. The people in Yarmouth have had an opportunity to address this particular issue. I stand today, as before, to say that I am not interfering with the task force. As soon as I start directing that, the Opposition will be making representation not to do that.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, if he says the old ways aren't good, you come to Yarmouth and people in that area will say they liked the regional health board before you guys broke it. I again ask the minister, will you ask the chairman to go to Yarmouth and have hearings? How can you argue against public hearings? Are you afraid of the answers?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the honourable member, and I don't know if he visits Yarmouth, but to go in and look at that new facility there and go into the emergency department and see a program there for funding physicians on a per hour basis to add to that continuum of care. I will make the commitment to speak to the chairman to see if, in their opinion of that task force, that they have a comprehensive consultation process. I will abide by their decision.

[Page 6629]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the minister said we have a new hospital and maybe that should quiet the fears of people. People are not happy with the system. It isn't the bricks and the mortar that they are concerned about. It is the delivery of care. Again, the closest hearings were in Middleton and in Queens. The people of that area should have the opportunity to have their voices heard.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is entitled to his opinion, which I respect. But there are people that do appreciate a new health facility because that is where the programs will expand; outreach programs for adolescents, home care, those type of services in the community. The regional health board has been very sensitive to the needs of Yarmouth and I must say, personally, I received representation from the chairman of the regional board on behalf of the community of Yarmouth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - TIRE RECYCLING:

UNFAIR COMPETITION - CONTINUANCE

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, last year the Minister of the Environment assured this House that TRACC, now Nova Tire Recyclers, had stopped competing with small, unsubsidized businesses by making items such as scallop rings.

Can this Minister of the Environment explain why the owner of a small business in Doucetteville, which makes scallop rings, is being forced to close his doors because of Nova Tires continued unfair competition?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before, we have worked with this company and concerns have been addressed, as I indicated. TRACC was brought before the Public Accounts Committee to answer some questions on competition. Those have been resolved. The fact is that Nova Tire is not producing scallop rings, as that member indicates. We have looked into that and the fact is, they are not producing the product which he claims they are.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, Nova Tire Recyclers, which recently dumped 349 tons of tire waste, has indicated that in future, it hopes to burn residual materials to recover value in them, instead of land filling them. My question to the Minister of the Environment is, has his department authorized this incineration?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated before, our contract with Nova Tire is now to recycle as much of the tire as possible. Nova Tire has now achieved a rate of 99 per cent recycling of the tire as a whole. They now have a proposal before us which will see 100 per cent recycling of the tires that Nova Scotia is using. There will be no burning. We have

[Page 6630]

not approved any burning. The proposal is for 100 per cent recycling, which is the goal Nova Scotians want.

MR. CHARD: Obviously, Mr. Speaker, the minister doesn't really want to answer the questions. I will ask him another question. One Resource Recovery Fund Board chairman has already quit over TRACC and now TRACC is being restructured.

My question for the minister is, after all these problems with this tire recycling venture, why hasn't he cancelled the contract and called for new proposals?

MR. SAMSON: It is interesting, Mr. Speaker. First, the member wants us to allow burning tires here in this province and now he wants us to cancel the contract and allow Nova Scotians to dump tires in our landfills and go back 10 years to where we were. Our department will not do that. Our government will not do that. We are continuing to work with this company, a company which is growing and we will achieve 100 per cent recycling of these tires, not burning or dumping.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

HEALTH - FOOD: PESTICIDE RESIDUES -

RISKS CONCERN EXPRESS

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The federal Environment Commissioner, Brian Emmett has said that as a consequence of budget cutbacks and infighting in Ottawa that, ". . . there is no systematic monitoring of pesticide residues in Canadian food . . .". Mr. Emmett says, "We are all paying the price in terms of risks to our health and our legacy to our children and grandchildren,". Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Health is this, as the minister responsible for public health in Nova Scotia, what expression of concern respecting this matter has he made to his federal colleague, the federal Minister of Health?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I personally have not raised this with the honourable federal Minister of Health at this juncture. In a general nature, we have discussed matters relative to that because before a Law Amendments Committee there were concerns raised before this House and so it was a topical question. But to a specific study or a specific person's comments, I have not made that representation. Maybe the Minister of the Environment may want to comment on that because we have had some discussion on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I am not sure. You answered the question pretty fully. Perhaps the member for Queens might want to direct a question that way.

[Page 6631]

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to continue with the Minister of Health. Is the Minister of Health fully satisfied that with respect to pesticide residues there is no health risk to Nova Scotians?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are many things in our environment that have to be of concern such as smoking and pollution from automobiles, those types of issues and these are real things. So to ask if the Minister of Health is concerned, yes, I have concerns even about unknown factors that might be out there in our environment. I think it is an important issue and one that I know Dr. Jeff Scott is very up to date in. We have discussion at least once weekly on this particular matter and we take this very seriously in the Department of Health.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, having expressed concern, that suggests to me the minister must have criteria which are required to be met in order for him to be able to determine the level of safety with respect to human health and food consumption and pesticides. I would simply ask the minister if he would be kind enough at his earliest convenience, perhaps tomorrow, to table in the House the criteria that his Department of Health uses with respect to this matter for Nova Scotians?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much information directly we will have available. I will make available what we have within a reasonable response time. If there are other issues of a broader nature, certainly, areas within the Cape Breton community where we have been very involved in, studying. We have been in really close contact with the Department of Health in Ottawa.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

NAT. RES. - FORESTRY:

EASTERN SHORE - HARVESTING MONITOR

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Northern Fibre Terminal Incorporated in Sheet Harbour is shipping massive amounts of hardwood chips from Nova Scotia's forests to overseas markets. Many residents there are concerned about clear-cutting immature trees and over-harvesting. My question to the minister is what steps is his department taking to ensure that immature hardwood is not being harvested on the Eastern Shore?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, our department monitors all activity in the forest, particularly on Crown lands. If this is on private land and the member wants to give me a location where the massive over-cutting is taking place, I am prepared to have staff look at it. The Forests Act allows a maximum of 50 hectares in terms of clear-cutting.

[Page 6632]

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if I got an answer but I will ask a second question. The export of hardwood chips is leading to a shortage of firewood for local residents. My question this time to the minister is, is he aware that local hardwood suppliers are having to travel farther to find firewood for their customers?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, yes, our department knows full well where hardwood stands are, where hardwood is available and where hardwood is ready to be cut but this is an issue that is always difficult, particularly on Crown lands where people feel they should go in and cut at any point in time for use as firewood.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, producing hardwood chips is very far from value-added production so I am going to ask the minister, what vision does his department have for encouraging the production of fine furniture or good quality flooring, when all the immature hardwood trees are being cut?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, if there are immature stands being cut on private lands, there is not a lot we can do about it unless the honourable member identifies it and brings it to our department, then we will certainly look at it. We believe that all first grade hardwood is being used in the province for value-added and we feel comfortable that this is taking place.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. NO. 102: UPGRADE - FUNDING

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The busiest highway in this province is Highway No. 102 which, as the minister well knows, runs between this fair city and to Highway No. 104. Has his department or has he committed any funding for upgrade on that highway this summer?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, as we speak there is construction going on right now on that highway.

MR. MUIR: Again to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Mr. Speaker. The Exit 13 North, as you come off that exit and go towards the Town of Truro, there are five major craters that are the responsibility of your department. When will those things be fixed?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member is talking about potholes, is that correct? Well, what I can do is certainly look into this and have the appropriate staff take care of the situation.

[Page 6633]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Minister, on the west side of Truro, as Highway No. 102 passes by, there are two bridges which, for x number of years have been in a terrible state of repair. Every year they break up. When will the surfaces of those bridges be fixed?

MR. HUSKILSON: To the honourable member, he says for x number of years those bridges have been in disrepair. Well maybe that x number would include 10 years or 8 years when his government was in - they should have repaired it 8 or 10 years ago.

MR. SPEAKER: A quick question, the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

NAT. RES. - SECOND LAKE: LANDS - DESIGNATION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will be quick. To the Minister of Natural Resources, it deals with the Second Lake lands in Sackville which his department has assumed. I wonder if the minister could tell me what designation has been placed on that land by his department? Hopefully he is going to say park reserve.

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, Second Lake is a piece of real estate that we feel is very important to the province. We are monitoring and we will work with the community involved to integrate a resource management team to find the best use for that piece of real estate.

MR. HOLM: The community wants park reserve. Will your department place park reserve designation on that land?

MR. MACASKILL: The IRM team will work on that, Mr. Speaker.

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3133 for debate.

Res. No. 3133, re Health - Doctors (New): Nos. - Documents Table - notice given May 31/99 - (Mr. G. Moody)

[Page 6634]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise with respect to this issue. The Minister of Health in this House has given no straight answers to the concerns expressed on behalf of dozens of Nova Scotian communities about the shortage of doctors. We have problems here in this province which this government refuses to acknowledge. They even refuse to give a straight answer to the three communities that the minister says do not have the doctors, there is a doctor shortage. Now if the minister won't give a straight answer to a very simple question like that, how can Nova Scotians have faith in his position on the health care system? This is the most basic thing that the government can address.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a moment about my own area. In Lunenburg County, there has been a very much publicized difficulty with respect to the paediatrician. We have a paediatrician who, in effect, is there one-half of the time. The government has dilly-dallied in bringing about the conclusion of the negotiations with respect to that particular doctor. On top of that, the South Shore Regional Hospital has been allocated for a second position for a paediatrician. What are the government's plans for addressing this problem? There seems to be none; there seems to be no indication of what the plan is to address the problem. It is not simply enough for the government to throw money at the problem, the government has to have a plan on how the money is to be allocated to solve the problem, and that is the difficult part as there doesn't seem to be a plan.

In the community of Lunenburg, for example, Mr. Speaker, they have been searching for a female physician to fill a gap in that community, without success. The Community Medical Action Committee has been lobbying to try to get a female physician because that community is under-served by patients who wish to be served by a female physician. Again, there is no indication as to what the government is going to do to deal with that problem.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, in the Town of Bridgewater and surrounding environs - a part of which is included in my own riding - again, there is a shortage of family doctors. People cannot get a family doctor and that, obviously, compromises patient care. Furthermore, and perhaps even most immediately concerning to many people, is the difficult problem that they have in the Bridgewater area with respect to obstetricians and gynaecologists. We have one obstetrician and gynaecologist serving all of Lunenburg-Queens at the moment. That is down from one that has departed. There is no indication of when the other obstetrician and gynaecologist will be replaced. The government must have a plan to address this shortage.

It is not enough for the minister to say to have faith. If you are a woman in this province who is having a baby, really, it is not going to do you a lot of good when you go the hospital to have your baby to have faith. You need to have an obstetrician and gynaecologist who is going to be able to take care of you. You need that and that is, frankly, a very time-sensitive

[Page 6635]

problem, Mr. Speaker. It is not one that allows for the fullness of time. People's medical concerns are a very serious problem in this province.

The community of New Germany is another area in Lunenburg County which has had terrible difficulty over the years in keeping and attracting doctors. At the moment, they have physicians, but the concern is, in that community, if something should happen that one of their physicians choose to leave, they would be literally left without adequate medical coverage. This government has no plan on what to do about the doctor shortage. Even more fundamental than that, there are other specialties in this province that are begging for a filling. The classic example, of course, is the problem with oncology. We lack the number of cancer specialists in this province to be able to adequately take care of Nova Scotians.

Again, this is a life-threatening, acute illness which requires immediate medical attention. It does not require that "we will do it someday, we will get around to it someday" attitude of the minister and this government. It is absolutely critical that the government address medical concerns and the health concerns of Nova Scotia in a planned way that goes about providing the public with answers.

Frankly, that leads to my scepticism with respect to the nursing problem. Mr. Speaker, the government has no plan with respect to doctors and it has no plan with respect to nurses. The government's plan is to somehow magically pull 200 nurses out of thin air. How they are going to do that, they have never indicated but, trust us, we will find them, they are there. This is after the government made it its policy to retire nurses, to discourage people from entering the nursing profession. It was the absolute policy of this government to discourage nurses from entering the nursing profession. Young people were positively told that there was no future for them in nursing, that there was an overcapacity of nurse in this province.

Well, the government has gotten its wish. There certainly isn't an overcapacity of nurses in this province today because, in Lunenburg County, there are jobs that no one even answers the application call; they don't get a single application for nursing positions. Why is that, Mr. Speaker? It is because the government has created a nursing shortage. It is of their own doing.

[4:30 p.m.]

In addition, we have the government promise to go ahead and reduce the number of part-time or casual positions and to make those positions full time. I only hope that the government delivers on that plan. Again, frankly, I am not confident that they will be able to do that, because they have had an absolute ability to botch the system. At every turn, the health care system has been made worse by this government.

[Page 6636]

Since they were elected and made health care their number one priority, it has been an absolute disaster. The health care system in this province, when they were elected, was in good shape. We had hospitals where there weren't huge line-ups. We had beds for people. We had adequate numbers of doctors. As a result of their reforms - remember when the Liberal Government told us about reforming health care, they reformed it all right, they made it worse. All it meant was unplanned cuts.

Then this government creates a plan which is designed, again, to take $600 million and put it back into the health care system. These are the same kinds of cuts that they made. Are they simply undoing what they shouldn't have done in the first place? That is the question that many of us are asking. You look at the past years, and particularly at the problem that we have had in this province with the deficits in the undesignated facilities, the QE II and other facilities like it, and on the regional health boards. Those facilities, at the government's urging, have run huge deficits, and the chickens have come home to roost.

Now what has happened in this province is we now have to take those debts and add them into the debt of the province. Our posterity pays for that. The government plan, with respect to that - in prior years when we would raise this issue, we were fear-mongerers, we were people who were trying to create a negative atmosphere for Nova Scotians. Guess what? We were right, there was no plan to make those over-expenditures disappear except to simply add them into the provincial debt.

That is not a plan. Anyone can do that. In fact, they might as well have done it over the past number of years, because one wonders, in fact, if they had done that, there would have been a deficit in previous years. That makes people wonder at the sincerity of this government with respect to health care.

I am going to be sharing this time (Interruptions) I was going to address one other particular problem in the health care system which is connected to this government's significant health care cuts. The problem was raised by my learned friend, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, which has to do with the ambulance system in this province.

We now have a problem in this province where people are being charged for transfers between institutions. These transfers are only being created as a result of the fact that the government has shut the number of beds in facilities. The government has created the necessity for the transfer, and then charges people for its own mistakes. This is obviously a problem that is creating a great deal of hardship. While there are many Nova Scotians who may be able to afford to pay this, there are many other Nova Scotians who cannot afford to pay these extremely expensive transfer costs. In the case of issues like dialysis, where those transfers are weekly and for an indefinite period of time, it can be a huge expense to people. These are life-threatening illnesses.

[Page 6637]

There are many people in this province that are being transferred and shuttled around from place to place. Frankly, when you talk to the people and their families, they object to the fact that their mother, their father, their sister, their brother are being treated like cattle, and that is exactly what they describe it as. They are being shuttled around in cattle cars from one place to another, and Nova Scotians deserve better. The people of Nova Scotia deserve to be treated better.

We should be able to ensure that there is adequate health care in every community in this province, not just for a selected few. Obviously health care requires planning, but planning is not only a matter of cutting, planning is also a matter of addressing the acute needs of the system in a timely fashion. There are no two issues that scream more for planning than the issue of bone densitometry and dialysis. We have the worst record for bone densitometry in North America, that is an absolutely appalling situation. Lunenburg County has a bone densitometry unit at the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital, which was obtained by the local community health board, frankly by holding a gun to the head of the government during the last election campaign. Those people in the community told the government that if they didn't do that, they were going to go public in the election campaign. Fortunately, that community group was able to get the bone densitometry unit that they deserve.

We also have other needs in this province. The government is talking about mobile bone densitometry. There would be a great opportunity in this province to put that out of the Fishermen's Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg. In any event, it doesn't matter where it goes, get the bone densitometry units here in the province so that people who need that care can get it.

Also, we have people all over this province - as in the case of the lady in Colchester County, as in the case with a large number of my own constituents - who are being shuttled around for dialysis. I can't even imagine the plight of those people. Those people spend three days out of every week of their lives hooked to a machine and driving from one place to another so they can be hooked up to the dialysis machine and then have to travel back home again. I have talked to people about the quality of their lives and it is awful. The quality of their lives could be dramatically enhanced by simply putting a dialysis unit in communities like Lunenburg County and other communities throughout Nova Scotia. This is not just a Lunenburg County issue or an isolated issue. This is throughout the Province of Nova Scotia.

We have to make sure that health services are provided in every community of this province, not just for a lucky few. That is where a plan is required. We need to make sure that all of the services that are provided are provided throughout the province. We have to make sure that no matter where you live in this province you are going to have adequate access to acute care, adequate access to long-term care. That you are going to have adequate access to family doctors and to specialists, to make sure that services like bone densitometry and lab services and oncology services are all taken care of. This government has an obligation to the people of Nova Scotia to have a plan and to tell people what the plan is.

[Page 6638]

This government is very covert, it always likes to hide the plan. It never wants to tell anybody because somebody might criticize in a way of making it better. Frankly, the only way that any plan can be made better is to allow the people of this province to see the plan because public scrutiny will give you the best possible health care system. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise and enter the debate on Resolution No. 3133. This resolution states that the Minister of Health has announced that there has been a reversal of the outflow of physicians from Nova Scotia. That is correct. It talks about people not having access to a family doctor and I think access to the whole health care system is an issue and that is why this government made such a commitment to the health care system, not only as we know it and have grown used to it, but also how to make it sustainable, affordable and accountable so that it will be there for the times ahead.

Technology is racing ahead very rapidly. The honourable member speaks of bone densitometry. I think that is a very worthwhile test, it is controversial in its interpretation and I am not sure that if I had to make a list this afternoon of the priorities in the health care system that that would be ranking up there, at least with renal dialysis. Renal dialysis has gone through dramatic changes in the treatment and in the age group of the people who are having access. I think that we have had modest success in this province and we intend to do better because we have a committee and they will be making recommendations. We want to hear from the communities and from the people what their needs are.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned also the resolution speaks in terms of three communities not having access to physicians as we had identified 22 communities that were deficient in physicians. Nineteen of those are realized. Springhill remains deficient, Freeport remains deficient and also Isaac's Harbour. Those are the three communities, so I bring that information into debate this afternoon.

The resolution goes on to speak in terms of the numbers we are claiming of physicians that have established practice in Nova Scotia and at the end of the debate this afternoon I will table the annual listing, 1998-99, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. We have added more information to that and it will list the number of physicians and also the communities they serve. So I welcome the opportunity to address this so we can speak quite proudly and quite frankly about some of the successes we have had, particularly in physician recruitment and retention in this province. It is a success story, it is one that I believe - without comparing ourselves with other provinces - we have had great success with relative to the rest of the country.

Several years ago Nova Scotia was faced with a situation that affected the health care of all Nova Scotians. Our health care system was losing physicians. After losing physicians between 1993 and 1996, I am very happy to report that we have reversed a worrisome trend.

[Page 6639]

In 1997 we had a net gain of 95 doctors in the province. Last year an additional 56 doctors opened practices. More than half of these physicians were family physicians. It is very encouraging that our recruitment efforts are paying off. When we started our physician recruitment program a little more than three years ago, we had a very simple goal. Our goal was to retain physicians, attract new physicians and encourage new graduates from Dalhousie and other areas to set up practices in Nova Scotia. We wanted to reverse a very worrisome trend where doctors were choosing to leave the province. I am very pleased to tell you that almost all areas of the province that had a chronic problem a few years ago now have physicians. Our priority was to attract more physicians to rural areas.

We had to address that issue. Although there may have been a general shortage throughout the province, the whole issue of rural physicians needed some innovative thinking and we acted on that, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, three years ago, we did identify, as I mentioned earlier, 22 communities in Nova Scotia that were under-serviced. At the same time we developed one of the best incentive packages in Canada for recruiting physicians to rural areas. I have made the statement several times in the House and I have yet to see any proof that that could be disputed. Today 19 of those communities have 28 more physicians - 28 more physicians in those 19 areas. The three other communities will have more doctors by the end of August, they are Springhill, Isaac's Harbour and Freeport.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the members of the Assembly and others to look at the results. Three years ago there were three doctors on what we know as the French Shore. Now there are seven, an increase of four. Three years ago there were no doctors in Canso, Tusket, Lockeport and Kennetcook. Now each of those communities has a doctor and Canso has two. That is success. Those communities are isolated communities and they deserve physicians, the same as they deserve other health care providers.

We have also had great success attracting more doctors to other rural areas that, although not classified as under-serviced, would still benefit greatly by having more physicians. As a result of these initiatives, we have attracted doctors to Oxford, to Cheticamp, to Inverness, Parrsboro, Guysborough, Arichat, L'Ardoise, River Hebert, New Germany, Stewiacke and Caledonia. Those are the names of the places that were requested in this House and I lay them before the House today.

[4:45 p.m.]

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we have also been able to bring more physicians to Windsor, Sackville, Kentville, New Glasgow, Westville, Truro, Bridgewater, New Waterford, Barrington and Yarmouth. Two physicians who were originally from Nova Scotia will be returning to Yarmouth in September. In addition, more recently, as the honourable member will know, one of my colleagues - the Minister of the Environment will know - to Strait Richmond. He was there the morning we met with the physicians in that hospital in that area and they complimented us for having a full complement of physicians. They did not need more

[Page 6640]

physicians in that community, that was their opinion, not the opinion of the Minister of Health, but I share that with them.

Rural Nova Scotia is, for the most part now, Mr. Speaker, being well served by family physicians, many of them who are on what we call alternative funding. In addition to this alternative funding - which is basically a salary type arrangement - they receive emergency room on-call funding. We can offer them that package and guarantee people from away to come back to our province and this is what works and this is innovative and this is unique within this country. These are two of the innovative means that Nova Scotia has taken to better distribute our physicians across the province.

We are very close to having a full complement of physicians right across the province at this time. That is a fact, Mr. Speaker. Look at the national averages. We have rural locum service in place, which serves to cover off rural practices across the province, including the rural incentive area practices that were mutually identified by the Department of Health and by the Medical Society of Nova Scotia. We have worked jointly with that group that represents the practising physicians in this province.

We have also demonstrated our desire to support rural physicians and their unique situation by introducing a province-wide Telehealth Network. This technological achievement will assist in emergency and elective specialty consults for rural physicians. This is a great back-up, and there is no second guessing that crack in that X-ray at midnight with a rural physician in Cheticamp who is trying to make a decision. They can have expert consultative results immediately or very promptly, Mr. Speaker.

Our Telehealth Network is also bringing, Mr. Speaker - and probably as important - continuing medical education, both for physicians and nurses and other health care providers, right to those local communities, so they don't have to take time away from their practice to come to Halifax or to go to Montreal or Toronto for an education system. We are taking that right to their communities where they can best serve their people. This initiative will provide excellent clinical back-up to our rural physicians. We are the first jurisdiction in Canada that will be completely putting in a Telehealth Network. I think that is progress.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could we have less chatter in the House.

DR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that. Our Emergency Health Services branch has also developed and implemented one of the finest pre-hospital emergency medical care programs anywhere and this is much to the benefit of our rural physicians. Another set of eyes, another pair of hands, some knowledge about the health care needs. The pre-hospital is extremely important, particularly in rural Nova Scotia.

[Page 6641]

Rural Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, however, has not been our only focus. While Halifax, our largest urban area, has 191 physicians, a ratio of 1 doctor to 785 citizens, neighbouring Dartmouth has 87 physicians in practice, a ratio of 1 doctor to 1,379 citizens. Clearly, Dartmouth requires more physicians and our physician recruitment program is attracting more doctors to this area, a community I know quite well and I know it to be a good medical community.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that there are two Dalhousie graduates in family practice, in their family medicine two-year program, that will be starting this summer in Dartmouth. That is another demonstration that our process in working. These graduates have choices. They are recruited by Georgia, Idaho, South Dakota; everywhere in North America is after those graduates, and these two people, I am pleased to say, are choosing Dartmouth. I want to thank them with appreciation for that.

Outside of in-the-trenches efforts of our physician-recruiters, we have also funded a re-entry program in the family medicine program at Dalhousie University. That is a cost of between $5 million and $6 million. This program will grow from 35 members to 41 members during the next two years. For each of the last three years, 60 per cent of Dalhousie graduates have remained in the Maritimes, and of these, 60 per cent have remained in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I feel in this day's market where doctors are being recruited globally, that is a good track record for an Atlantic Province; 60 per cent of Dalhousie graduates have remained in the Maritimes and of these, 60 per cent have remained in Nova Scotia. This has been the historical pattern of Dalhousie over the past decades. The outflow of physicians is not new, but it did reach proportions we had to do something about, and we have acted. Some of the programs I have mentioned this afternoon have been a reflection of that.

The pattern of Dalhousie over the past decades, with the exception of the small blip from 1993 to 1995 when the majority of the graduates did in fact leave the province, we are now back on track and looking forward to an increasing number of family medicine graduates staying in Nova Scotia. In 1998, there were 32 graduates from Dalhousie, and as of last December, 26 were practising in the Maritimes and 16 in Nova Scotia alone.

Attracting family doctors to Nova Scotia is not the sole focus of our physician recruitment, we are looking at all the psychiatrists, paediatricians, radiologists. While other provinces are dealing with a shortage of these doctors, we have been able to turn the trend around. It is a strategic process, we not only care about attracting physicians but we want to retain physicians. We are dealing with more doctors from across this country than ever before.

We know there are still areas where we need more doctors, but we will continue to look for innovative ways to build on what we have already done and where we are unique in Canada. We do have financial incentives; we can't force doctors to rural communities, but we

[Page 6642]

have offered incentives. We have an aggressive program. A stable health care system in Nova Scotia depends on best practices.

Mr. Speaker, today I want to table the report of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. I have highlighted the appropriate pages. Thank you. (Applause)

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

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, in front of us we have the Health Investment Fund that I think should be called the health mortgage fund that the honourable Minister of Health tabled yesterday through his friend the Minister of Finance. This morning I crashed a party to which, obviously, I was not invited, and attended in the Cabinet Room, a meeting by health care professionals that had been hastily called together to get the inside spin on something that the Minister of Health needs to meet the public. The inside spin basically was look here, this will be our only kick at the can.

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the Minister of Health for that candid analysis, because sure enough, why we are in this dismal situation is because for six years the Liberal Government has mismanaged our health care. It started with Ron Stewart who took over, as we know, an expensive health care system, but it worked. Then, within a few dramatic months, he started to dismantle what had worked for 100 years. Ever since, three consecutive Ministers of Health have been running behind the eight-ball. There has never been more than lurking between budgets, trying to catch up, trying to win another opinion poll, trying to make sure that the right spin was on something that had so dramatically deteriorated.

Mr. Speaker, it doesn't come as any surprise that this Minister of Health, as usual, doesn't even know what he is talking about because he says in The Daily News of May 30th that when it comes to doctor numbers, it is apples and oranges sometimes. We will know we have an adequate number of health care professionals when the excess issue is less an issue than it is today. Here he has the nerve to tell rural Nova Scotians that there is absolutely no problem with doctors in rural Nova Scotia. As a matter of fact, I understood him at this moment by saying then we may be in a crisis situation soon, there may be a surplus. Anything as ridiculous as that, I have not heard since his predecessor, Ron Stewart, forcefully retired GPs in rural Nova Scotia, their MSI billing numbers were retired because they were 65 years of age and over.

Mr. Speaker, you know and I know that there are an awful lot of doctors between 65 and 75 years of age in Nova Scotia who still could do something much better than nothing. Here we have a crisis not only in Springhill; in my riding we have the Village of New Ross, about 4,000 people live there permanently, about 5,000 cottagers come every summer. There are 9,000 people for half a year and 5,000 for a whole year who are without any doctor. Not surprisingly, this Minister of Health does not know it because he relies on the information fed to him by health care bureaucrats he trusts. Why should he mistrust them? He pays them well,

[Page 6643]

they have put a convenient layer of inadequacy between the Department of Health and the general public.

I am talking about the regional health boards. In this hurried huddle this morning, Mr. Speaker, there was only one representative from those four regional health boards present. The others maybe didn't even know about it. Here he tells us that this is the only kick at the can we will ever have. He doesn't know how to kick and he doesn't know where the can is. That is absolutely ridiculous to swear in civil servants and health care professionals from various walks of professional life, to swear them in in a dramatic way (Interruption) Yes, it is - if it ain't working, we are surely bankrupt.

Well, we are bankrupt now. Six years of mismanagement, how can you get doctors to come back to Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker? Doctors or nurses or other health care professionals, they act on faith. They have put a lot of time into their education. They are proud people, they are good people. They do not return or they do not stay if the track record of the government is that every year there is a bit of a different spin. The wool is pulled over Nova Scotians' eyes just like that - different dye but the same wool. Those people who watched the health care scene on the outside of Nova Scotia, they surely will not fall for that type of propaganda.

I know that the honourable Minister of Health is sensitive to hearing the word propaganda but, what is it? It is not the truth, it is - his bureaucrats are at variance with reality. The reality of health care in Nova Scotia is that it is sputtering. It is more expensive than it was when Ron Stewart took it over; $300 million have been hidden in debts that now the Minister of Finance acknowledges have been there.

[5:00 p.m.]

The budgets from 1993 to 1999 were cooked because those health care costs should have been shown on the bottom line but they were not. Suddenly, after health care costs have run away, without health care quality going in tandem the Minister of Health says, this is and will be our only kick at the can. I can only tell you how sad a day like this is when the Minister of Health is once again speed reading that script that some bureaucrat downtown has prepared for him. Fortunately, he read it without heart, he was not convinced about it. This morning he told the key players, the key stakeholders in this province in health care how desperate he is. He is a desperate man and rightly so.

Why should Nova Scotians believe a government that for six consecutive years has said, we have turned around health care, it is getting better and better. Suddenly, five minutes before twelve, the Minister of Health comes to his mandarins that he has appointed or to people that he has asked to come to court and says, the only hope I have is that you help us.

[Page 6644]

The chefs of this document, the cooks that have cooked it together have no plan. There is no plan to retain doctors, it isn't even mentioned. There is no plan for what to do in rural Nova Scotia and it gets worse. The plan is neatly printed. In four months, cooked, because I was told by the deputy minister this morning that it took them only four months to - after six years of cooking the books and cooking the truth - come with a document that says, we have a crisis and have to improve on it. If we don't improve on it then health care is gone. Mr. Speaker, four months is not enough when you knew it was six years. It took them six years to run her down and four months is not enough to bring her back. Health care will need another six years of thoughtful, faithful, open, transparent planning and good management to come back.

I, together with my caucus colleagues, will hope that one day we can go to Nova Scotians and say, we inherited the Buchanan debt, we inherited the Liberal debt that is piling up, there is no more money in a few years time to pay more than the interest on the debt and then a bit for health care. That is the reality and I hope in the future we can go to the people of Nova Scotia and say, this is what we inherited but we will try in a transparent and honest way to make health care work again.

I know that the honourable members opposite would like a day like this here to fly by as soon as possible. Mr. Speaker, the misery that is out there is rural Nova Scotia, whether it is long-term care, acute care, or emergency care, it is just not known to those people. They are most likely travelling on roads that are impassible so they can't go where the tragedies are.

If a village like New Ross is without a doctor, I challenge the Minister of Health to tell me why he doesn't know about it. There are 9,000 people for half a year without a doctor and 5,000 people for a whole year, year-round without a doctor. The Minister of Health doesn't know about it, well sure enough because why would he travel where the going is rough, not just road-wise.

The only way we can improve on this situation is not throwing more money into something that is mismanaged. We have to live within our means and if we have to borrow money, I would like to know how it is spent, how it is accounted for, who will hold the purse strings, that it is not a little cat-scanner here, a little this, a little telemedicine here, a little handout for Liberal ridings in which the going is rough for the incumbents.

Mr. Speaker, health care is too important to make it a political issue for a minority government. It has lost total control, has lost totally credibility, has no hope in any way to hang on there, unless with the help of their trusted friends on the left side of this House. That is what amazes me. That the honourable member for Kings West has the neck to come forward with a resolution and cry about it. He knew, when he kept this government in power, that he "dined with the devil". Now, he is crying. Well, that is the price you pay.

[Page 6645]

If the honourable member for Lunenburg is surprised that health care in Lunenburg is not as good as it should be, well he should remember what he did one year ago at this time. He gave them a credit card and now this government is printing another credit card, mortgaging our future. In 10 years' time, our children and our seniors will not have the funds to afford any type of health care that we are used to. I am ashamed for a situation like that to ever have happened. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on Resolution No. 3133, regarding the shortage of doctors in this province. Before I begin, there is something that I would like to make very clear here today. No matter what the Minister of Health has said in this House today, there is a significant decline in the number of net full-time doctors in Nova Scotia today since this Liberal Government took over in 1993. One of the primary reasons for this is the regional health boards and they have frustrated doctors to the point where they are not able to serve their patients the way they want to.

Mr. Speaker, the minister was quoted in a paper last week saying to his knowledge there are only three communities in this province today looking for physicians; I would suggest to the minister that he take time to have his staff determine in this province - and he will find there are many communities, from one end of Nova Scotia to the other - that today, are searching for doctors to come to those rural areas.

One of those areas in my constituency is the Town of Parrsboro. As well, the Town of Springhill, at this time, has three doctors. At one time, there were seven. Today, three doctors are doing the work of seven. This puts a lot of extra strain on these three new doctors and they are new to the area. I have spoken to some of these doctors who have told me that, basically, they have been lured to the area, but once they have been brought there, they have been dropped at the door and they have never heard from the Department of Health since. There has been no follow-up, no contact. No one called to see how these were going, to determine if there is any help that can be sent their way. They are just basically left on their own.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke to one doctor who tells me that when he wanted to move here from Ontario, he didn't even receive any phone calls back from this Department of Health to follow-up. After he did locate to Cumberland County, no support was offered to him. This doctor signed a contract that did not even include in the contract that he would do "on-call" in a local hospital - a local hospital that had received "on-call" from the previous doctors from that area for a number of years.

It is hard to believe, Mr. Speaker, that the Department of Health can allow contracts to be signed with these doctors and omit the "on-call" service for that doctor in the area. As a result, the doctor left that community and what he got in return for that was to be chastised

[Page 6646]

in the local papers by the Department of Health staff. It is very unfair to that doctor to be treated that way. He came back here from Ontario to serve these people and he deserves better.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot in the last day or two about extra dollars that will be spent in health care. The problem is not money, it is management. We have seen All Saints Hospital in Springhill that, at one time, had in excess of 60 beds. Basically, we have had those beds stripped away and reduced to 5, 48 hour acute care beds and 15 restoration beds.

Mr. Speaker, the regional health boards have the authority of directing the future of the communities and these hospitals, yet people in these communities, for a number of years, served freely on local boards and they directed the service that was provided to residents of the area. There are many questions as to why 30 doctors have left the Town of Springhill and there is not any one reason that can be given. I can tell you, I have spoken to some of these doctors and they are very dissatisfied with the way that they have been treated; they are very dissatisfied with the way that they are able to practise medicine in this province; and more importantly, they are concerned in regard to the services that are provided by All Saints Hospital and what they have been reduced to to this day.

The minister mentioned earlier today about a community committee being put in place. I am afraid that this government is going to try to put the responsibility back to the community to recruit doctors to the area, where in the last number of years they have taken that responsibility away from the community and placed it in the hands of the regional health board. The responsibility lies solely at the hands of the Minister of Health, the Department of Health, and the regional health boards. By simply injecting more dollars and ignoring the main problem here - and that is management of health care - will not solve the problem.

Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with my colleague from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley at this time.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity this morning to speak to a doctor from the Truro area. The doctors are very concerned about the doctor shortage in the Truro area. The Minister of Health should know (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I believe I am in competition with the Minister of Fisheries here. If he would like (Interruption) Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, Dr. Robbins, Dr. MacCormack and Dr. Rondeau have left the Truro area. The minister passed me a note and I can table the note if need be, when I brought concerns that constituents brought to me regarding the profound doctor shortage in the Truro area and, in fact, constituents, Nova Scotians, are literally going around with their medical files under their arms looking for doctors.

[Page 6647]

Do you know what the Minister of Health has the audacity to say? It would be the constituents' responsibility to make their own arrangements to access a family doctor. Prior to new doctors arriving in Truro, if they need urgent care, then the emergency room at the Colchester Regional Hospital is staffed by physicians 24 hours a day. Now I ask the Minister of Health, does he really believe that the ER is an appropriate setting for constituents who must receive routine preventive medicine, those who require care for chronic illnesses, those who require prenatal care?

That is what is happening. Real life, human stories in the Colchester County area. Imagine something as personal and private as going to the hospital with prenatal concerns, and the Minister of Health is suggesting that they go to the out-patients, to the ER at the Colchester Regional Hospital. The minister also, in his note, said well - regarding Dr. Rondeau leaving Truro - the fact is that we have a doctor coming in who is relocating and certainly is going to set up a practice to take Dr. Rondeau's patients. The fact of the matter is that doctors in Truro tell us that the new doctor, Dr. Stephen Ellis, is not going to be taking Dr. Rondeau's patients, he is going to take Dr. MacCormack's patients. Dr. MacCormack has been appointed the Medical Director of the Northern Regional Health Board and he had an incredible patient load.

I think it is very irresponsible and misleading and deceiving and certainly very disturbing for the Minister of Health to dare to say that we have relocated doctors and we have recruited doctors to the Truro area. That is absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible, and very disturbing. I challenge the minister to come clean with Colchester residents and tell them the true picture, tell them where and when and who and what and where and how they are going to get a doctor instead of ducking from the issue. That is happening. Real life, true stories. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

[5:15 p.m.]

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 2344.

Res. No. 2344, re Devco: Transition Package - Address (Premier) - notice given Mar. 25/99 (Dr. J. Hamm)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it is truly a pleasure to rise this afternoon and open debate on Resolution No. 2344, the operative clause of which speaks to this government's failure to take any type of leadership role in dealing with the federal government. While the resolution was written to bring attention to the plight of the Devco miners and their families and Cape Breton as a whole, it really highlights a much larger issue,

[Page 6648]

and that is the issue of this government's attempts to raise provincial concerns with the federal government in Ottawa.

One only need to look back to late January when the federal government announced they were preparing to withdraw from Devco. The province showed a true leadership role at that time - they failed to even attend the announcement meetings. They failed to be there when the people in Cape Breton needed them. While the residents of Cape Breton rallied to support themselves, while they rose in their own defence to raise the issue, to call out to Ottawa to stop what was happening, to give them a chance to put in place the plan, the provincial government was mute. They stayed in Halifax when the place where they should have been was in Cape Breton.

Even now, five months after the first announcement, the miners, their families and the people of Cape Breton have no real knowledge of what is going to happen - five months of non-information, of the failure of this government to go to Ottawa to ensure that the miners have their concerns aired, to be sure that there is an adequate pension plan made available to those miners, to ensure there is funding from the government in Ottawa to re-tool the economy of Cape Breton.

In actual fact it is the wives of the miners who have had to be the spokespersons - Edna Budden; Bev Brown. When they went to Ottawa they were able to make their concerns known. The Prime Minister of Canada took time from his schedule to hear their concerns, to allow them to speak and to let it be known that they were there on behalf of Cape Breton, of Cape Bretoners and their families. Those people carried the message, not this government, not the ministers responsible and not the Premier. The miners themselves had to go to Ottawa to speak directly, so that their concerns would be heard.

The Premier has failed, as have his Cabinet colleagues, to make these concerns known. In fact, when the Premier was made the Leader of the Liberal Party, I think in part it was because of his many years in Ottawa, the fact that there was recognition that someone who had been part of the government in Ottawa may, in fact, have had a voice that would carry some weight with the Prime Minister. In fact, that has not been the case. The Prime Minister has ignored the voice of this government. In fact, when the Premier or Cabinet Ministers go to Ottawa, it appears that their concerns are treated with contempt. They are sent back to Halifax with no information and no money. That is a failure. Eighteen years as a member of the Liberal Government back benches did not open those doors to power, did not create a conduit so that when the concerns of the Premier were raised, they would be addressed and listened to. That is unfortunate.

In actual fact, it was interesting to note, I was curious, as I said earlier, that this is a much bigger problem. Devco is certainly a tragic issue that must be addressed. It speaks to a much larger issue, that is how are our concerns heard in Ottawa? The truth is that they are not. In fact, when I was gathering information for the debate today I made a call to

[Page 6649]

Interprovincial Affairs so that I might better understand what sorts of agreements were in place, what actually was happening between Ottawa and Halifax. In actual fact my call provided me with no information because the person there was unable to provide any.

Another interesting bit of information that I did glean though was that there is a Fiscal Policy Division and they do, in fact, have a computer program that clearly details the arrangements that currently exist between Ottawa and Nova Scotia. The interesting thing about that, though, is that the only way to access that information is through the Minister of Finance. In actual fact, the only people who can get that information from the Minister of Finance are his immediate colleagues. What that means is that a taxpayer from Nova Scotia can't find out how we are making out when we talk about dealing with Ottawa. That is unfortunate.

But let's look at the other things. Let's look at highway infrastructure. On a number of occasions, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has said, most vehemently, I have been to Ottawa, I have spoken to the Minister of Transport and he has heard me.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If members wish to participate in protracted private conversations, perhaps they could take them outside.

MR. BALSER: In actual fact, the last highway improvement agreement was signed in 1993. In actual fact, when it was signed, Ottawa gave only $50 million to Nova Scotia. We do have a new agreement. The Strategic Highway Improvement Plan was started in 1995. But the interesting thing to note there is that New Brunswick got $121 million from this agreement and Nova Scotia got $85 million. It would appear then that the Government of New Brunswick is able to access the minister's ear much more readily than his counterpart here. It is interesting to note too that New Brunswick also received $49 million in extra highway funding in 1995, while Nova Scotia was able to get $5 million. That speaks volumes about this government's ability to raise concerns in Ottawa.

Let's not stop there. Let's talk about the forestry agreement. The forestry agreement expired in 1995. You know what? The federal government has given absolutely nothing for forestry programs in Nova Scotia since that time - not one cent. Again, we are hearing volumes in the lack of attention that is being paid. One only need look at the shrimp quota allocations. It appears that the Premier of Newfoundland was able to get a fair amount of quota for his province. Newfoundland got everything. Nova Scotia has a shrimp processing plant in Mulgrave. What did they get? They got 700,000 tons and we got nothing at all.

We have an economic diversification program. It is a five year plan that is two years old. It doesn't really allow for a changing economy, two years into a five year plan. What happens if things change? Will we be able to renegotiate? Not if we look at the example from fisheries. Not if we look at the example from forestry and not if we look at the example from transportation. It is, indeed, unfortunate that we don't have better examples. In actual fact,

[Page 6650]

we only need to look at the drought relief program. The fact that the government sent an emissary to Ottawa to plead the case and do you know what? We can back empty handed, almost, again. We asked for $19 million and we got $4 million. Again, failure to truly deal with the problem.

We can also look at the policing costs in this province. There are a number of communities in this province who use the RCMP to provide policing services. Now, this is a problem unfortunately, again, the cost of the policing issue - because RCMP are a federally funded police force - we are speaking about a much larger issue. Devco is merely one part of a much larger problem and that problem is this government's continued failure to even be able to get an audience with the Prime Minister, let alone have him allocate funds. In actual fact, a bit of irony, when they do get funds, sometimes the federal government will provide a bit of funding to sort of offset the fact that the Nova Scotia Government fails to live within their fiscal means and the only way to survive is to provide some extra funding. Lo and behold, what happens when they do get some money? Does it go for new programs? Does it go to enhance highway infrastructure? No. It goes to ensure that the budget may possibly be balanced.

We already know about the sleight of hand that is created by this government when it comes to talking about budget issues. As I said, this particular resolution was brought forward to raise the concern of the Devco miners and their families in Cape Breton, a serious problem. But it is only part of a much larger problem. If this government was able to raise the concerns in Ottawa, perhaps then we would have an agreement that would clearly provide for the Devco miners and their families, would clearly provide funding to ensure that the economy of Cape Breton could be retooled, but that has failed to happen because this government does not have the ability to go to Ottawa and make the concerns of Nova Scotia known.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on at length about this issue, but I think the point is well taken, that this government has a problem in having its concerns heard in Ottawa by its federal counterpart. One can only hope that when there is another election and when there is a new government, that government will be able to take the concerns of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to Ottawa and be heard. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, certainly of the many orations that I have heard in this House, I must commend the honourable member, who just spoke, on having delivered the most incoherent speech I have ever heard on the topic of the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

[Page 6651]

The resolution before the House reads, "Whereas Minister Ralph Goodale's package, designed in Ottawa, does not pass muster; and Whereas the failure to address a reasonable and fair pension package continues to cause stress and anxiety among many long serving Devco workers and their families; and Whereas there has been no leadership shown by this Liberal Government in dealing with the federal government; Therefore be it resolved that the Premier take the matter in hand and aggressively address the issue on behalf of the miners and their families.". Now that is what we are supposed to be debating and that is what I propose to speak to.

I feel it is incomprehensible that the leadership of Premier Russell MacLellan on the issue of the Devco miners would be called into question here in this House of Assembly. To begin with, it is important to remind members of the House that the Premier has represented Cape Breton miners for nearly two decades; in fact, I believe for two decades because he was first elected in 1979 and this is now 1999. So for two decades, 20 years, he served as a Member of Parliament and then as a member of this Legislature representing Cape Breton coal miners. He knows these men and their families because they live in his constituency. Cape Breton North has the third highest concentration of coal miners of any constituency in this province. The Premier has worked on the problems of coal miners face to face with those men and with their families for years. He understands the issues in detail; he cares.

On March 25th, the day this resolution was introduced in the Legislature, that same day the Premier added his signature to a petition of 22,000 signatures urging that the federal government re-examine the issue of miners' pensions. That was the largest petition, the largest number of signatures ever affixed to any petition ever tabled in the history of this Legislature, and is symbolic as an indicator of the commitment that this Premier represents to the Cape Breton coal mining industry. On that same day, representatives of the miners publicly thanked the Premier for the leadership that he has shown on this issue.

The honourable member who last spoke mentioned the names of Edna Budden and Beverly Brown. They are the leaders of an organization called the United Families. I have here in my hand a clipping from yesterday's issue of the Cape Breton Post, the Glace Bay/New Waterford page and the heading is "United Families pressing forward" and I would like to read a little bit of this to the House - and I will table it when I am finished reading it - because I would like the members of this House to know the truth as compared to the balderdash that we have just heard. The honourable member claimed that these women did not recognize the commitment of this Premier to the Cape Breton coal industry and to the people who work for it.

Let me read from the Cape Breton Post. "The members of the United Families remain determined to secure a better future for their loved ones, says the group's co-chair. Edna Budden and co-chair Bev Brown met Monday" - that is two days ago - "with Premier Russell MacLellan at his Sydney Mines constituency office. It was the third meeting between the Liberal premier and the group. 'It was definitely encouraging,' Budden said. 'The premier

[Page 6652]

from day one he's remained on the same focus: he wants the federal government to come forward with a 20-year service pension. 'MacLellan appears 'very concerned' about the potential impact the closure and privatization of Devco will have on displaced miners and the community, she added. 'He keeps in very close contact with us.'". The article goes on to explain more in a historical context. Let me table this so that the honourable members opposite can avail themselves of the facts on these matters.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, in the months since the announced federal withdrawal from the Cape Breton coal industry, the MacLellan Government has worked closely with the coal miners to build their case with Ottawa. By providing expertise to assess and evaluate the situation in light of other settlements, there is a great deal of material available. I have here a memorandum from the Planning & Priorities Secretariat, signed by the Deputy Minister, Dr. Patricia Ripley, and it runs about 35 pages of briefing notes, just outlining some of the initiatives that this government has undertaken in this matter. I will refer to those as this topic unfolds.

This government has assembled a team to focus discussions with the federal government on constructive solutions to the full range of issues arising from Ottawa's decisions, planning for the future economic development of the area, the issue of environmental remediation and the issue of mine privatization, all of which are issues on which I could easily speak for half an hour but I know that time is limited so I am not going to dwell on any of those at this time.

On the early retirement issue, the Premier has logged countless hours in meetings and telephone calls here and in Ottawa with all the key players. The Premier is not boastful about it, because he is not interested in playing politics with the lives of Devco miners. He is interested in getting results and getting the job done right. This is a very important consideration in comparing the approach taken by the Premier with that of the Leader of the Opposition.

It is the contrast between commitment and chicanery, between sincerity and skulduggery. The Opposition has never grasped this fact; as grandstanders on every issue going, whose basic approach is to exploit every situation to the maximum, receive short-term political advantage, the Opposition has never grasped that here is a political Leader who is primarily concerned with the welfare of his constituents. He is on a different wavelength from the NDP and rejects that kind of shallow, exploitive, theatrical politics. You simply have to grasp that point to comprehend and appreciate the kind of leadership that Premier MacLellan and this government offer.

[Page 6653]

The Premier has said unequivocally that the first step to resolving the Devco problem lies in a meeting between the miners and the federal government and its agents. This is essential. It would only be in keeping with the past federal practice in the closure of the CN Rail Yards in Moncton, in the downsizing of VIA Rail operations across Canada, or for that matter consistent with past practice at Devco itself.

In the past, the Leaders of both Opposition Parties have demanded some kind of a formal role in the process. Perhaps this is because they want to share in some of the limelight or bask in the reflected glory of a strong Leader. But the question that I ask would be twofold. First, what is to prevent the Opposition Leaders from taking a proactive role on their own initiative, on their own time. Secondly, what would be gained by adding certain members of the Opposition to the Premier's team? Is it seriously suggested that Robert Chisholm could really be helpful in showing the Premier around in downtown Ottawa, perhaps like some sort of a seeing-eye dog.

We had some members of the Opposition present on a January day at Sydney Mines where they distinguished themselves by, shall I say, delicate behaviour, in company with their fur-coated friend, Michelle Dockrill, in front of national television audiences. I don't believe that such company and such goings-on would add any strength or credibility at all to the Premier's presentation in Ottawa, in fact it would trivialize if not destroy the credibility of a vitally serious mission.

My point is that the Premier knows this file, he knows Ottawa like the back of his hand, he is doing all that is humanly possible to move the federal minister away from his current position. The Premier will continue to do so because that is the kind of man he is; a man who believes in fairness, a man who has always fought for his constituents. He should be congratulated, Mr. Speaker, by this House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I ask myself, why is the Premier looked to by all sides to provide leadership in these matters? I suggest that the answer is because of the absolute impotence of the elected NDP Members of Parliament for industrial Cape Breton. The NDP claimed in a recent pamphlet to the householder, to be leading the fight for Devco in Ottawa. They have done this by undertaking a very vigorous program of foreign travels to far away and exotic locations. I have here the details of trips to Peru, Jamaica, Texas, by the Member of Parliament for Sydney-Victoria - the constituency where the two coal mines are located - Mr. Peter Mancini. Previously, I have also outlined before this House how Mr. Mancini, by his own admission, on Page 1 of the Cape Breton Post on April 13 spent the majority of his parliamentary break, a two week period, reading on the history of the Balkans at the James McConnell Memorial Library in Sydney. Mr. Mancini said, "I spent four days in the McConnell Library (in Sydney) reading everything I could on the subject.".

[Page 6654]

This leisurely sojourn of Peter Mancini in the reading room for days at a time is reminiscent of how Karl Marx spent much of his lifetime in the reading room at the British Museum. Perhaps by his reading room dalliances, Mr. Mancini is demonstrating how he considers himself to be a true socialist. However, he is anything but a leader and the vacuum he has created by his ineptitude and systematic sloth compels others, particularly this Premier, to try and fill the void. But let's not overlook that the basic problem is created by the lack of effective representation provided at the federal level by the NDP.

Mr. Speaker, if, when Winston Churchill came to power in Britain in 1940, he had exercised leadership first by vacationing in the South Seas, then spending days on end in the comfort of the reading room, surely he would have gone down in history as one of the greatest scoundrels of all time. There is no place in the struggle for the Cape Breton coal industry for those who don't want to work. There is no place for those who want to play the role of drones in the beehive. If we can regain effective representation in Ottawa, that, combined with the diligent efforts of Premier Russell MacLellan, would give Cape Breton the clout it needs once again in Ottawa. That is the way ahead for Cape Breton, not the NDP way.

In the meantime, let me conclude by saying, God bless Premier Russell MacLellan and all who support his diligent efforts for the Cape Breton coal miner because without them at the political level, Mr. Speaker, we would have absolutely nothing. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we are here today debating Resolution No. 2344. The essence of this resolution talks about leadership and the lack of same. The member who got up before me went on at great length trying to endear himself to his Leader so that he may, at some date down the road, get in Cabinet. We all know that is not going to happen.

We have to talk about leadership. Part of that leadership is the leadership provided by this minister, this Premier, in supporting the Devco workers. The first thing we have to look at is the question of when did the Premier know of the federal government's plan to shut down the Cape Breton Development Corporation? Now insiders in his Party say he knew as far back as October 1998, yet he would steadfastly tell people, no, that is not the fact. Where was his leadership then? Where was his leadership to expose this folly to the people of Cape Breton so they could rally? No, he did not; no leadership there, Mr. Speaker.

Talk about the meetings within Cape Breton after that fateful day of January 28th and where was the Premier on that day? He keeps telling people that it was a federal announcement. I certainly believe if he was a leader he would have been there and denounced that plan to his federal cousins, but he chose to stay away. He chose to cover his tracks by such an innocuous statement as that is a federal matter. That was a federal announcement; we are going to have one. It certainly was a federal announcement that they were going to do

[Page 6655]

something so severe to the Island of Cape Breton that would have as much economic devastation as the Great Depression, yet the ever-vigilant Leader of this province decided to stay away from it because it was a federal matter and he had his own announcement.

The member for Cape Breton Nova likes to go on about the Premier representing coal miners for almost 20 years now. His utter silence on representing coal miners is deafening, he does not stand shoulder to shoulder with the workers in Cape Breton, as that member would have you to believe. He hunkers out of the way and tries to show no leadership. This federal Crown Corporation has two appointments on their board from that very government, and we have asked that Premier, time and time again in this House, to remove those people from that board and get somebody on that board who will support the workers at the Cape Breton Development Corporation. Mr. Speaker, we would support somebody on that board who would support those miners. That is what we are looking for, nothing more and nothing less.

When did he know? When was his leadership apparent? I have heard about these sojourns to Ottawa, and I am getting this done, but what is getting done? Absolutely nothing. He has a one-issue focus, which is the 20 year service pension and he hasn't been successful with that. The place is in ruins, yet he is boldly standing up there saying that I am going to get the 20 year service pension, and he is getting nowhere. So I guess you say, what is Plan B? What can you offer these miners if you fail at this, and it is looking more and more everyday that he is going to fail. I don't want him to fail; the miners in Cape Breton don't want him to fail but, yet, this holus-bolus attitude of his is I am going it alone probably will leave Cape Breton alone. We'll have no support.

What does the Minister Goodale say to him when he gets there? Wait out there, when I get time, Mr. Premier, I will go see you. So you know those things are pretty disturbing. There are many questions to be asked and answered around the Devco issue and, as the resolution says, it is about leadership. Where is his leadership when it comes to site remediation at the former Devco locations? What is he doing there? He is the same guy, when the lay-offs happened he had said to people in Cape Breton, well, I am going to shove Sysco on the shelf because that is looked after and I am going to concentrate on Devco. We have had problems with Sysco in the meantime so now it is kind of a funny dance. Again, no leadership, that is the problem, lack of leadership.

[5:45 p.m.]

The Premier and I have had words about this and we differ greatly. My problem with it is I don't believe that he is providing the leadership that is needed in these tough times. We have got a certain amount of time to do a project, it is not an open-ended scale here. Yet, he refuses to comply with that.

[Page 6656]

Why are we even having arguments with the federal government when it comes to such things as leases? The leases are ours but the feds say they are theirs. Then the Premier says, don't worry, trust me, it is ours. Well, I have a hard time taking that honest to God approach, don't worry about it, we will look after you. There is no leadership there.

I have to talk to this resolution too because it comes from the Third Party, the Party that says, we are going to go and get down there, get our hands dirty and do it. Well what was interesting about the members of the Third Party and a matter of fact the member that spoke, the member for Digby-Annapolis, when the Economic Development Committee was looking at Devco, we put a motion forward that we would go to Cape Breton to have these hearings and he voted against it, supporting his Liberal friends. When had the chance to come and see what was going on in Cape Breton, to hear from the people of Cape Breton, it was all talk. I guess it comes to that point of leadership. What leadership?

We have some real concerns here. There are layoffs as we speak at the Cape Breton Development Corporation. Where is the leadership trying to help those people? The conditions at Phalen Mine that continues to worry everybody in that area from an economic standpoint and a safety standpoint. If you listen to the miners, they would have told you that if they hadn't stopped producing on that wall over a frivolous piece of maintenance which did not have to be done, coal miners will tell you that mine would still be producing coal today. Who do you trust in this situation? Where is the leadership? They didn't listen to the miners, the miners told them.

The Premier has said, we can't give everybody a pension but yet he talks about his 20 year service pension. Here is the plan, it is much like what they tabled here yesterday, we have got a plan but we can't show it to anybody. That is not leadership. Leadership would be to say, here we go, we have got a plan that would show a reason to get people 20 year service pensions and would help those who do not fit that criteria, whether it is working in site remediation or whatever. The leadership that was shown was where?

There is a future for coal mining in Cape Breton. What does that future look like? Aid is there yet we are down to one issue and one issue only, that is the severance package for 20 years service.

The mining communities certainly know hard times, as do most Nova Scotians, especially Nova Scotia areas that are involved with resource-based industries. The great thing about resource-based industries is when their time has come, their time has come, it is over. You are not going to make another widget, it is in the ground, it is in the water, it is growing but when that resource is gone, it is gone. Yet, there is no vision and, again, with vision comes leadership. There is no leadership to help when these resources are depleted.

[Page 6657]

In the New Waterford and Sydney Bight area, we possibly have the chance to look at the Laurentian Shelf. Yet, what does this government do by way of leadership but capitulate and say, well, we got into a brouhaha with Newfoundland, as opposed to showing leadership, that we owned it. There has been a lack of leadership and, with no leadership, it is hard to trust. The people need the leadership and they need it today. They don't need a petty trip to Ottawa. We need a Premier who will take industrial Cape Breton and help lead it forward, not backward, Mr. Speaker. We need some leadership. We need it not next year, not next week, we need it today. I ask the Premier, get real, be a leader. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, our caucus decided to bring forward this resolution for debate today because we felt, first of all, that the Devco closure will obviously impact very heavily on this province and especially in the area of Cape Breton. I say the province also because it will have an effect on this province. We can't be small enough to think that it is just Cape Breton's problem, that it is not Yarmouth's problem. It is a Nova Scotia problem. At the same time, it begs the question as to whether or not this government is addressing the concerns of Nova Scotia with Ottawa.

I go back to the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis who began the debate. It is a broader picture in the sense as to whether or not this government is successful in the way it is negotiating with Ottawa and their Liberal cousins in Ottawa. I say that in all sincerity, Mr. Speaker, because that was one of the strongest points when they campaigned. They said, elect us and we will have a strong voice in Ottawa and we will deliver.

I think if you look through the campaign literature you will see that time and time again they will be effective, they will be the ones who will bring results to Nova Scotia. (Interruption) I hear the member for Chester-St. Margaret's rambling on as usual, Mr. Speaker, but I am going to address the concerns because I think it is important.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I look at this one here specifically. Devco and the miners and the thousands of families that are being affected is obviously a tragedy in the sense that the people there are looking for answers. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova made mention of the United Families and Edna Budden and Bev Brown. I think all members of this House have to give them their full admiration for the courage and determination they have shown in trying to bring these negotiations to a new height. When I say to a new height, it was January 28th I think when the announcement was made. I think the previous speaker was probably right, probably the Premier had some advance notice that this was coming. I would think if the federal government did not do that even for a few days, I would be very surprised if they didn't take him into their confidence. I don't know if that is the case but I am telling my own personal opinion.

[Page 6658]

The situation is that it has been months, whether it is four months or three months makes no difference, the people are agonizing over what is going to happen to them. If you look at the situation, we have had rockfalls in this mine and that is also bringing up a lot of questions which have yet to be answered as to whether or not these mines will reopen, whether or not they will go until December 2000. A lot of people and their families are agonizing and whole communities are suffering. So we look at ourselves and say, where are we today? Do we have the leadership in order to bring about some resolution to the problem?

I look at the discussions that have taken place in this Assembly. I noted that my Leader has offered to work with the government and I think even the Opposition has done so, as to whether or not there is the same sincere, open manner of my Leader, I don't know, but I do know one thing, all members of this House know that when John Hamm stood up and offered his assistance, it was not grandstanding. We are into a situation of trying to see whether or not we can bring about a resolution to this problem.

I will say today, Mr. Speaker, that probably no matter what happens, we will not achieve all the results we want in Cape Breton, whereby a long-term, viable coal industry is going to be the case in Cape Breton. Things will change in Cape Breton. As much as we don't want that to happen, the coal industry will never be the same as it was 20 or 30 years ago or even today. Things will change in Cape Breton and I think that is a fact. At the same time we ask ourselves, what are we doing, as a government, and more specifically, the Premier, because the Premier has taken control this fall. He acknowledges that himself and he is saying, I am the best person to lead this. At the same time, there are consequences when things do not move ahead and whether or not we could have achieved something as a united front.

Now I tried to be open-minded. Today I asked the Premier a question about a company that was in Mulgrave and the Premier said something, I think I remember exactly what he said. I asked him whether he would intervene personally and work on behalf of a company called ACS Trading, which is a company that is looking for quota. I bring this up, Mr. Speaker, because it is asking a question as to whether or not Nova Scotia is succeeding in negotiating with Ottawa. I will be very specific when I say that Newfoundland has been successful in achieving very good results and getting most of the quota of northern shrimp, which has been allocated in recent years by the province. The Premier said, I encourage the member to get the five Tory members in Ottawa to lobby on their behalf.

Mr. Speaker, when I was a member of the Crown and people came from Liberal ridings, I didn't try to ignore their wishes. I know the Premier says that he would like to have some members of Parliament from the Liberal Party here in Nova Scotia. It is the same thing as we have today. We have a minority government in this province. I am sure all three Parties would like to be in power with a majority government. That is not the case.

[Page 6659]

In Ottawa, the people of Nova Scotia showed their disdain for the federal Liberal Government and what they did in Nova Scotia. They decided, in their wisdom, to not send one Liberal Member of Parliament back to Ottawa. Now the Premier has to accept that because that is the people's wishes. It wasn't the wishes of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, it was the people who decided that and the people have the last say as to who represents them.

I have been elected a member on three different occasions and I have also lost because people said they wanted a change; and after five years of this government, they decided that they wanted a change again and I am back here today. So when I say that we have not been successful in negotiating with the federal government, I have to say that that is the case. When I look in here, and I will just quote one quick thing from this, Mr. Speaker, and that is the Transportation and Public Works budget, when I looked at the recoveries that we had last year, the forecasts are almost $40 million and this year it is $7 million. So that is a decrease of almost $33 million. The reason for that is that this government has not been able to negotiate federal-provincial agreements with the federal government. That goes through every different department of this government, whether it be Economic Development and Tourism, Fisheries, forestry, mining and, of course, Transportation, and Health.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, the inability of the provincial government to get those agreements will affect the daily lives of all people, whether they be Devco miners and their families, or whether they be someone living on a little road in Yarmouth County or in Lunenburg County or whatever. This is what this government campaigned on. They campaigned on the fact that they would be able to succeed where other Parties would not.

Mr. Speaker, in regard specifically to the Devco situation, because that is what the main thrust of this resolution is, I look at it and say, we have made an offer and I know that my Leader, Dr. Hamm, has made an offer to assist. The Premier is saying, we are better off to go on our own. I go back to the point that if this is not going to succeed, and the Premier is putting a lot of marbles in one bag, because if he doesn't succeed with some sort of package for these families and, in a sense, for many of the workers there who have worked almost 20 years or more and who stand to get nothing whatsoever, you are into a situation that the communities that they represent will be, in a sense, devastated.

Mr. Speaker, I look at other areas of this province that have suffered job losses and a lot of them have never really recovered. I look at the situation, really, in Cape Breton and I look at the fact of the matter that we are putting a lot on the line. I still say that, for ourselves, the Premier has had 18 years in Ottawa. He says he has close contacts and, as such, will be a very good negotiator for Nova Scotians, all in all. I have yet to see tangible results that prove that. I look to the Premier and I say that Nova Scotians are depending on this government, or any governments that follow it, to be a strong voice for it. This last time, that didn't prove to be the point and the Liberal Government paid the price. Thank you for the time to offer my comments.

[Page 6660]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the House will sit tomorrow, Thursday, from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period and the completion of the Reply to the Budget Address, we will then be going into Committee of the Whole House on Supply and the estimates of the Department of Health will be called in the Chamber and the estimates of the Department of Agriculture in the Red Room. I move that we do now adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[6:00 p.m.]

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 member for Antigonish.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Antigonish.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: TOURISM INDUSTRY - BENEFITS

MR. HYLAND FRASER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in the House this evening to speak on the exciting topic of tourism. The resolution before the House tonight reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that as the 1999 tourism season gets under way, this House recognize that rural and urban Nova Scotia businesses are seeing tremendous benefits from a booming industry that is gearing up for another record-breaking year.".

Mr. Speaker, it is exciting because it speaks to our history, our geography, our culture and our quality of life. But more importantly, this topic is about sharing our quality of life with others. As you may know, June is Tourism Awareness Month. This is a perfect time to recognize our tourist industry as well as our tourism operators and promoters. The tourism industry employs approximately 33,000 people in our province and accounts for a payroll of about $430 million.

[Page 6661]

In the past few years, we have seen this industry grow tremendously. Last year, Nova Scotia's tourism industry generated record profits of more than $1 billion in revenue. This is all the more remarkable since tourism revenues broke the $1 billion barrier the year before. This season, we expect to break another record. This was not expected to happen until the year 2000, but it is happening this year.

How do we know this? Requests for information about Nova Scotia are up 107 per cent in April from the same period last year. The tourist industry says information requests often translate into actual visits to our province. Late last year, a leading travel magazine voted Cape Breton as the most scenic island in the world, with Hawaii trailing a distant second. This will almost certainly translate into more visitors to our province this year. The total value of all the publicity Nova Scotia received from magazines around the world in 1998 was worth $42 million. This number is an increase of $14 million over 1997.

People are flocking to our province by plane, by car and by boat. The number of cruise ship passengers docking at Halifax this season is expected to top the 100,000 mark for the first time, and ports on Cape Breton Island are planning for another influx of cruise ships in 1999. In fact, the waterfront will be the place to be this summer in many Nova Scotian towns.

The federal-provincial Waterfront Development Program is drawing rave reviews in communities from Louisbourg to Yarmouth. In Yarmouth, the waterfront development project has created an area for tourists and locals to enjoy music, plays and other forms of entertainment. With a record number of visitors travelling to Yarmouth on board the Cat ferry, this funding for tourism infrastructure is an investment in our economy; but the ferry between Yarmouth and Maine does more than just bring visitors to our door, it also took our tourism message to New England last month.

The Cat hosted a travelling tourism show in Boston featuring Natalie McMaster, Acadian dancers and authentic Mounties. An amazing 18,000 people toured the Cat to learn more about what Nova Scotia has to offer. We certainly have plenty to offer.

With the indulgence of the House for a moment, I will use my own area of Antigonish as an example. Antigonish occupies a unique place in Nova Scotia. We sit very near the junction where the Sunrise Trail, the Ceilidh Trail, Marine Drive and the Fleur-de-Lis Trail all meet. We are home to a university with an international reputation. Antigonish also has an international reputation for hosting the oldest highland games in North America. I daresay, if you want to find a highland games with a longer history, you may have to go to Scotland.

The Antigonish Highland Games were first held in 1863. Since that time they have attracted thousands of visitors from around the world to watch our sporting celebration of Celtic and Gaelic culture.

[Page 6662]

Our Gaelic culture is also attracting anglers from across Canada and other countries. Recently, the Nova Scotia Salmon Association produced a unique map of fishing pools with names in historic Gaelic. Now sports fishermen can fish for salmon in pools with names like Ceilidh Glumag and Ciad Mille Failte Glumag. That last name is special for visitors, because it is Gaelic for, One Hundred Thousand Welcomes, which has become the unofficial slogan of the Nova Scotia tourism industry.

While I am on the subject of recreational activities, I must mention some of the lovely trails in the Antigonish area. Hikers from all over come to our area to experience the Cape George Mini-Trail. The Fairmont Ridge hiking trail system offers a great view of Antigonish Harbour, St. George's Bay and Cape Breton from numerous locations along the route.

Antigonish also offers visitors an interesting look at our history and culture through a series of large sculptures throughout our town. The cultures are made from old elm trees and were the idea of a local businessman, Claude Gallant. I encourage members of this House to come and see our statues of a highland dancer, a bagpiper, a curler, a fisherman, and others and there are more planned.

Something else we are quite proud of is our famous Festival Antigonish. Festival Antigonish started 12 years ago as a way to bring professional theatre to our area. Since that time, Festival Antigonish has grown to a nationally recognized theatre festival, and even includes theatre workshops for children. In cooperation with St. F.X. and the provincial government, Festival Antigonish has enhanced Antigonish's position as a tourist destination.

I could go on and on about what the Antigonish area has to offer visitors. Other tourism success stories can be heard all across our province. The truth is, there is no single reason why Nova Scotia is growing in popularity with tourists. Each community has many attractions, festivals and events that appeal to folks from away. Surveys and awards say our museums are the best in Canada. Events like Encampment 99 in Louisbourg and the 250th celebrations at Halifax have been included in the Top 100 events in North America for 1999.

Another event that will bring world-wide attention to our province this year is Tall Ships 2000. Halifax will be one of only five ports of call for this trans-Atlantic race featuring 100 of the most graceful ships on the ocean.

Nova Scotians are a humble people. We don't like to brag too much. In fact, there are many times when we hide our light under a bushel. But when it comes to what we have to offer visitors to our province, we must all shout it from the rooftops. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 6663]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this resolution this afternoon and the resolution is worded, " Therefore be it resolved that as the 1999 tourist season gets underway, this House recognize that rural and urban Nova Scotia businesses are seeing tremendous benefits from a booming industry that is gearing up for another record-breaking year.".

In my estimation, this is a self-serving resolution suggesting that all is well in the tourism industry in Nova Scotia. It is just booming along and all Nova Scotia businesses associated with the industry are doing phenomenally well, just tremendous benefits, as is indicated in the resolution. I am afraid that the resolution is somewhat bumptious, excessive, and very misleading. It suggests a level of self-satisfaction with our tourism industry that is unwarranted and is somewhat worrying.

Having said that, it is appropriate to recognize that Nova Scotia is coming off of one of its best years in terms of tourist revenues which have now exceeded $1 billion and it has enjoyed strong performance since 1993. It is also important to note that 33,000 full-time jobs are provided by the tourism industry, with a payroll of over $400 million. So, in fact, Mr. Speaker, tourism is a very big engine in our economy, and it is anticipated that tourism revenues will increase as the years go on.

Mr. Speaker, we have to take proactive measures to ensure that the industry continues to grow. We can't just hope it will grow and see it grow; in fact, we must take some very tangible, very specific measures to ensure that it grows. We have to market our product strengths; we have to improve transportation access to this province; we have to support a year-round tourism industry; and we have to focus on quality, both of products and of services.

The resolution does not address how we grow the tourism industry. This province has a lot of selling points, it has a lot of attractions. As we are all aware, we are a province with great natural beauty. We have a unique culture with some beautiful historic sites, with remarkable performing artists. Our musicians and our film producers are becoming recognized internationally. We have a thriving visual arts community. In addition, we have Celtic, Gaelic, Acadian and Aboriginal traditions, and many other multicultural groups, which add to the rich fabric of this Nova Scotia society. In addition, the hospitality and warmth of our people are another one of the key attractions. These attributes continue to attract tourists to Nova Scotia, and we have to build on these attributes, we have to play to our strengths, Mr. Speaker.

It is evident we have not done enough to broaden our tourist market. It is obvious that 50 per cent of all our tourists come from the Atlantic Provinces. You add Ontario, and we have accounted for 75 per cent, in fact, of all our tourism. Most of our tourists come from

[Page 6664]

within a one hour fly zone from Halifax. There is a large, untapped tourist market out there, Mr. Speaker. The large Province of Quebec provides only 5 per cent of our tourist traffic. Many Quebecers travel regularly to Maine and the New England States. The Mid-Atlantic States provide only 3.2 per cent of our tourism and Europe 2 per cent, so those are vast, untapped resources for our tourism industry.

Instead of the generalization offered by the initiator of today's resolution, he should inform this House what the government is planning to do to increase our overall market effectiveness in tourism. I would like him to tell us how the government is going to develop and market our product strengths which are rightly defined as our culture, our nature and our marine attributes.

Critics of our government's tourist strategy have been unequivocal in saying that more money must be spent on direct-to-consumer marketing vehicles where we get a big return on investment. It is estimated that for every $1 million we spend, we get $11 million back in direct revenues. This money has to be spent on ads: television ads, radio ads, print media, and direct mail. We know that this spending is effective. The spending here is tracked through our computerized Check In system, Mr. Speaker, and we know these ads are very effective in attracting tourists.

Magazines, including upscale magazines like National Geographic and Gourmet are very important vehicles for advertising this province as a tourist destination. These are, as I said, very expensive marketing tools, but they are essential in promoting tourism in the untapped markets that I have referred to: Quebec, the Mid-Atlantic States, the Western Provinces, and Europe.

The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia emphasizes the need for infrastructure enhancement. Capital upgrades are needed to ensure that hotels, motels, picnic areas, campgrounds and transportation equipment are in first-rate condition. Tourists are spending money in Nova Scotia, and they expect quality accommodations and quality facilities. There is a desperate need for small-business loans for renovations to facilities, and tax incentives are also needed to stimulate investment in upgrading facilities and in building new ones. The government is not doing enough to address the problem of infrastructure development.

[6:15 p.m.]

There is also a serious problem, Mr. Speaker, with seasonality in the tourism industry. We know that the height of our tourist season is only four months - from June to September. The remaining eight months, from October to May, are a low period when many tourist facilities are forced to close. One bad month in the tourism industry can be disastrous for those relying on the three to four months for their earnings. The problem of seasonality has got to be addressed. A lot has to be done to attract tourists to Nova Scotia during the low

[Page 6665]

season and, certainly, other areas, including such tourist Meccas as Bermuda, are doing their utmost to seek ways to attract people during the winter months and we must do the same. Many of our tourists arrive by private automobile and enjoy travelling the back roads to get glimpses of our beautiful remote areas in this province.

Mr. Speaker, if you will forgive me a tongue-in-cheek comment, one of the Nova Scotia business sectors that, in fact, is benefiting from the tourist industry is the local garage. Because of the appalling state of our rural roads, local garages are, in fact, doing a booming business doing front-end alignments, fixing tires and automobile suspensions. I cite this to highlight the importance of improving road infrastructure. We know that our own citizens are finding the condition of roads in this province abominable. You can imagine the impression tourists have of our roads, particularly the Americans who are used to high-quality roads in their country.

We are also still waiting for a new policy on off-premises signage in this province. These are the commercial signs on our secondary roads. Tourists have complained about the poor quality of these signs. I cite one area, Route 333, the stretch of highway leading to and from the Peggy's Cove Road. It is one of Nova Scotia's most-travelled tourist roads. We know there are about 300 off-premises signs along this route. Many are poorly constructed. They are stuck on trees. They are stuck on lampposts. They are stuck on barns and they have become very unsightly. I do realize that some effort is now under way to conduct pilot projects regarding off-premises signage, but we have been waiting since 1996 for some sort of a policy. It was in 1996 when the province actually received a study it had commissioned on highway and off-premises signage in the United States and in 10 provinces in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I have suggested several areas where this government needs to take effective and immediate measures to ensure that our tourism industry does continue to grow and that all Nova Scotia businesses really do benefit from a thriving tourist economy. All Nova Scotians, as the resolution suggests, are not benefiting and certainly not our workers in the hotels and restaurants and tourist sites. Many are getting the minimum wage and working in a seasonal industry only three or four months a year.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, instead of bringing forward such a frivolous resolution as the one we are currently debating, let's make sure that we are developing policies and strategies that will promote, develop and sustain our tourism industry in this province. Then we will all share the benefits from the key sector of our economy - the tourism industry. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise this evening and respond to the resolution that talks at length about tourism. I would like to preface my remarks by saying that it is an opportunity to highlight tourism in my particular area, and in

[Page 6666]

the province generally, but also an opportunity to bring to light some concerns that exist around how to continue to grow the industry.

Tourism represents a major engine in this economy, a vehicle that generates over $1 billion in revenues for the province and that is critical. It is also important to recognize that it takes a lot of effort on the part of Nova Scotia, generally, and on the part of the Department of Tourism to ensure that we do have the infrastructure and the things that will draw tourists and keep them here.

I am, indeed, fortunate to represent Digby-Annapolis, which has been recognized as the most romantic town in Canada. That has been a boon to tourism when people come because they have read about Digby and the Annapolis Valley and Annapolis Royal in magazines and articles. We do have the things that will not only draw them, but keep them and that is critical. Oftentimes areas in Nova Scotia are simply passed through on the way to a destination and that means that the people in the community are not getting the full benefit.

What we do have in Digby is the beautiful Pines Resort, an attraction in itself, with the golf and with the scenic beauty of my area. It is important. We also have, in Annapolis Royal, the botanical gardens there, which is an attraction. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Upper Clements Theme Park that has become such a positive in the economy since it has been taken over by the Hanse Society. So we do have a lot of things that draw people; the introduction of the Cat last year has certainly increased tourist traffic through Yarmouth and then through Digby and through the South Shore as well. That is a good thing. We have developing air routes that are bringing people from Iceland and a number of other countries, and that is positive. So we do have a lot to be grateful for.

One of the things that is truly helping promote and develop tourism in this province is the Doers and Dreamers Guide; that is a true testament to what is possible when all of the stakeholders involved in a particular industry come on side and truly put their heads together to solve a problem. Almost universally, tourists who come to Nova Scotia cite the Doers and Dreamers Guide as the most practical and handy thing they have to find out what is available in various areas. It truly is a wonderful thing.

As was mentioned earlier, one can't simply say that all of the economic growth in rural Nova Scotia is attributable to tourism. What has happened is that because of the downturn in the fishery and the lack of alternatives, more and more people are forced to turn to tourism as a means of earning a living. The reality is that there are only a finite number of tourists, and what actually happens is that each little community vies against one another to ensure that the tourist will spend his dollar there.

As was mentioned earlier, many of the tourists are not bringing new money, it is simply circulating money within the province; someone from Halifax stays at the Pines Hotel, we hope, and plays golf. That doesn't really represent an injection of new money. When you take

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out the tourists from Atlantic Canada and those from Ontario, we really need to develop a strategy. On that point, I would like to look at some of the concerns that have been raised by people in the industry.

One of the more effective things that has been developed to address tourism in this province is a tourism partnership. That partnership involves people in the industry, people in government, people who have a knowledge of what to do and where to go, and they have in fact tried to enter into discussions and dialogues with people across the province to find out what is needed. What is really interesting is that when they were surveyed, 15 per cent of the people surveyed indicated that poor signage in this province is a problem to creating more tourism opportunities.

The other thing they were concerned about is the geographical disparity, the fact that someone who enters through the Port of Yarmouth has to make a conscious decision to travel all the way to Cape Breton to visit Louisbourg. Sometimes that doesn't happen. So there are areas within this province that don't have the same access to tourists as other areas. We are very fortunate in southwestern Nova Scotia that we do have the Port of Yarmouth and the Port of Digby, which tend to be entry and exit points for tourists.

They also indicated that there is a greater need to develop the Quebec market. Attempts to access greater tourism revenue from that area have been successful, but we need to develop a true strategy. Another area to be addressed is the culture. It was touched on earlier, that Nova Scotia offers a truly unique ethnic cultural experience. There is the Acadian community, the Aboriginal community, people with roots to various parts of Canada. What we need to do is find a strategy that will attract them.

The issue of the short tourist season is another one that curtails economic development. Small communities that are very dependent on tourism find that even adding a week on either end of the tourist season helps greatly in terms of the profitability of their enterprise. Someone once said to me that a week for an industry that is involved in tourism is like a month for any other industry, and a rainy day during camping season hurts them for the year long.

There were a number of things that were cited, too, in terms of the need for a long-term strategy. One of the things that hasn't happened in this province is that we haven't really taken the long view and developed a true multi-year strategy, one that has recurring themes and that anticipates people having an experience in Nova Scotia that will cause them to return and will invite them to return. We need to put our heads together and develop that, develop a strategy that will ensure that people pick Nova Scotia as a destination. I know for many years the Province of New Brunswick grappled with that very problem, that many of the tourists simply saw New Brunswick as a pass-through province on their way to P.E.I. or to Nova Scotia. They have, in fact, over a number of years been able to put in place a strategy that made people see New Brunswick not as a drive-through, but as a destination. That is what we need to do in this province. We need to look at a way of ensuring that people who

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are coming to the Atlantic Provinces see Nova Scotia as the destination, not Prince Edward Island, although Prince Edward Island is a beautiful destination in itself.

What we need to do is look at the problem of signage and of highways. That is a definite issue in this province. The highway infrastructure is abysmal. We need to put together a plan that will ensure that the highways in this province are upgraded so that the tourists do have a pleasurable experience.

What we need, too, is a separate Department of Tourism. Economic development and tourism were lumped together at a time when tourism was not yet seen as a real engine for this economy, it was sort of an add-on. Now there is a wisdom in saying that economic development goes hand-in-hand with tourism, I would not argue that point. What I would say is when you have a $1 billion industry that is generating more money and, in fact, within the Department of Economic Development has a budget larger than the provincial budget for the Department of Fisheries or Agriculture, there is an argument to be made that they need to have their own department. More than once I have heard people in the industry say it is very difficult to find someone in Economic Development who has the time to truly listen to the concerns of the people directly involved in tourism.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the fact that there is a multitude of organizations that are said to represent particular parts of the tourism industry. We have TIANS, which is a very good organization, but many of its initiatives overlap with the Tourism Advisory Council. We have ATAs and a number of other small, regional tourism promotion agencies and that is a bit of a problem. What we need to do is try to consolidate efforts, focus efforts, so that the money spent to promote tourism in this province is spent wisely and efficiently.

The whole issue of the seasonal economy and what that means to the people in rural Nova Scotia must be addressed. Tourism, as we have said on a number of occasions, is a short industry, four or five months at best. The people who become employed in that industry, generally speaking, are low paid. Generally speaking, they don't receive benefits that would be found in long-term, year-round, better-paying occupations. That is not to dismiss the effort because each and every one of the people involved in the tourist industry is an ambassador for this province. In fact, the Super Host Program, I am pleased to say that Digby is the first Super Host town in Nova Scotia. What that means is that each and every person in the Town of Digby who is involved in tourism will have been trained in how to be a host and, in that way, make the experience of the visitors the best possible experience.

There are some identified threats to tourism and, in closing, I will raise those very quickly, certainly more so that the people who are involved in promoting tourism be aware. The loonie, the price of the dollar compared to American money is a big problem. Again, taxes in this province are a big problem, as well as air access. Those are all issues that need

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to be addressed. I do want to thank the member opposite for raising this issue and providing the opportunity to discuss it at length. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The time being 6:28 p.m and the time allotted for the late debate having expired, the House stands adjourned.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]