The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., June 15, 1999

First Session

TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health: Yar. Reg. Hosp. - Funding Commit, Mr. N. LeBlanc 7209
Transport.: Route 366 (Tyndal Rd.) - Unsafe, Mr. E. Fage 7210
Commun. Serv. - Soc. Assist.: Allowable Earnings -
Appropriateness, Mr. J. Muir 7210
Transport.: Route 215 (Hants Co.) - Resurface, Mr. J. DeWolfe 7210
Educ. - Pugwash Dist. HS: Teaching Positions - Add, Mr. E. Fage 7210
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Econ. Dev. - Select Comm.: Devco Stakeholders - Meet, Mr. D. Dexter 7211
Report - Adoption, Mr. D. Dexter 7211
Vote - Affirmative 7211
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 120, Video Lottery Terminals Moratorium Act,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 7212
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3442, Educ. - Schools: Primary - Funding Adequate Provide,
Ms. E. O'Connell 7212
Res. 3443, Gov't. (N.S.-Lib. [1993 on]): Debt Increase - Stop,
Mr. G. Balser 7213
Res. 3444, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Economy (C.B.): Reality - Study,
Mr. F. Corbett 7213
Res. 3445, Educ. - MSVU (Women in Bus. Ctr.)/Investors Group:
Financial Planner Prog. - Value Recognize, Mr. E. Fage 7214
Vote - Affirmative 7215
Res. 3446, Air Cadets (Middleton Sq. 517) - Annual Inspection (16/05/99):
Second Place - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 7215
Vote - Affirmative 7215
Res. 3447, Nat. Res.: Land Ownership (Non-Resident) - Address,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7216
Res. 3448, Educ. - Berwick Dist. Sch.: Waste Reduction Contest (N.S.) -
Winners Congrats., Mr. G. Moody 7216
Vote - Affirmative 7217
Res. 3449, Nat. Res. - ATV Users: Wetland Damage - Action,
Mr. C. Parker 7217
Res. 3450, Educ. - Students (Springhill HS & Amherst RHS):
Comm. (Human Rts.) - Formation Applaud, Mr. M. Scott 7217
Vote - Affirmative 7218
Res. 3451, NDP (N.S.) Leader: Health Views - Believability,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 7218
Res. 3452, Beaver Bank - Kinsac Vol. Firefighter (1999): Sheldon Antle -
Congrats., Ms. R. Godin 7219
Vote - Affirmative 7219
Res. 3453, Agric. - Lun. Co. Winery: Silver Medal
(Wine Champs. [Can.]) - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 7219
Vote - Affirmative 7220
Res. 3454, Commun. Serv. - Anna. Royal Vol. of Year (1999):
Shirley Kerr - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 7220
Vote - Affirmative 7221
Res. 3455, Sports - NSSAF (AAA Track & Field 1999) Champs:
Cobequid Educ. Ctr. Track Team - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 7221
Vote - Affirmative 7222
Res. 3456, Opposition Ldr.: Health Plan (NDP) - Table,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 7222
Res. 3457, Health - Care: Approach - Foundation Absence,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7222
Res. 3458, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Admiral Digby Horticultural Soc.:
Commun. Efforts - Congrats., Mr. G. Balser 7223
Vote - Affirmative 7224
Res. 3459, NDP (N.S.) Leader: Health Plan Absence - Believability,
Mr. H. Fraser 7224
Res. 3460, Educ. - Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd. (W. Area): Showcase Concert -
Teachers (Art & Band) Recognize, Mr. W. Estabrooks 7224
Vote - Affirmative 7225
Res. 3461, Commun. Serv. - Adolescence Treatment Ctr.
(Dayspring, Lun.. Co.): Opening - Cooperative Efforts Congrats.,
Mr. M. Baker 7225
Vote - Affirmative 7226
Res. 3462, Environ. - Anna. Co. Back-country Watch Prog.:
Ken Robichaud (CAO) & Members - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 7226
Vote - Affirmative 7226
Res. 3463, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - New Glasgow [Country Inn & Suites]:
Prestigious Awards - Dave McArthur & Staff Congrats.,
Dr. J. Hamm 7227
Vote - Affirmative 7227
Res. 3464, Commun. Serv. - Kids Help Phone (Student Ambassador [1999]):
Nicole Tupper (HRM) - Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 7227
Vote - Affirmative 7228
Res. 3465, Commun. Serv. - Model Vol. Commun. (1999) Award:
Bridgewater - Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 7228
Vote - Affirmative 7229
Res. 3466, Cadet Corps (Royal Cdn. Sea 88 Truro & Navy League
CPO James Carroll): Excellence - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 7229
Vote - Affirmative 7230
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health - Investment Fund: Action Team - Appoint., Hon. J. Smith 7230
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1211, Health - Equipment: Campaign (1998) Promises - Funding,
Mr. R. Chisholm 7233
No. 1212, Health: Plan (11/06/99) - Construction Time Line,
Dr. J. Hamm 7234
No. 1213, Health - Budget (1999-2000): Graph - Error, Mr. H. Epstein 7236
No. 1214, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Loan Forgiveness - Optimism,
Mr. G. Balser 7238
No. 1215, Health - Budget (1999-2000): Civil Service - Shield,
Mr. H. Epstein 7239
No. 1216, Health: Investment Fund - Description, Dr. J. Hamm 7239
No. 1217, Health - Promises (1999): Success - Future,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7240
No. 1218, Health - Investment Fund: Supplementary Detail -
Y2K Funding, Mr. P. Delefes 7241
No. 1219, Fin. - Gaming Corp.: Chairman (Elwin MacNeil) -
Salary Appropriateness, Mr. M. Baker 7242
No. 1220, Health: System - Cost Drivers, Mr. H. Epstein 7243
No. 1221, Sysco - Business Plan: Steel Sales - Requirement,
Dr. J. Hamm 7244
No. 1222, Health - Investment Fund: Consultants (PricewaterhouseCoopers):
Report Table, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7245
No. 1223, Justice - Jail (Bedford): Lease Date - Confirm, Mr. M. Scott 7246
No. 1224, Health - Investment Fund: Hospitals/Health Boards:
Funding Amount, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7247
No. 1225, Health - Mammograms: Highland View Hospital (Cumb. Co.) -
Service Maintain, Mr. E. Fage 7248
No. 1226, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Econ. Dev. Plan: Investment Plan -
Absence, Mr. H. Epstein 7249
No. 1227, Health - Care: Hospital Workers - Wage Parity,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7250
No. 1228, Health - Col. Reg. Hosp.: Modernization Plan (Phase 2) -
Time Line, Mr. J. Muir 7251
No. 1229, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Residents - Treatment Fairness,
Mr. D. Chard 7252
No. 1230, Justice - Correctional & Forensic Facility Site: Location -
Radius (Metro), Mr. M. Scott 7253
No. 1231, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Georgia Pacific Mine (Melford):
Road Maintenance - Costs, Mr. W. Estabrooks 7254
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. J. Pye 7255
Mr. J. Muir 7259
Hon. R. MacKinnon 7263
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:26 P.M. 7266
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 7266
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Educ. - Schools: Primary Progs. Cuts - Impact Negative:
Ms. E. O'Connell 7267
Mr. E. Fage 7269
Hon. W. Gaudet 7272
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:30 P.M. 7274
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:55P.M. 7274
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 63, Halifax Water Commission Act 7274
Hon. Manning MacDonald 7274
Mr. H. Epstein 7275
Mr. N. LeBlanc 7275
Vote - Affirmative 7275
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 101, Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission
Property Tax Exemption Act 7275
Mr. J. Holm 7275
Vote - Affirmative 7276
No. 110, Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission
Tax Exemption Act 7276
Mr. N. LeBlanc 7276
Vote - Affirmative 7276
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 115, Flight 111 Special Places Memorial Act 7276
Hon. R. Harrison 7276
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7277
Mr. J. Leefe 7278
Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 7278
Hon. R. Harrison 7279
Vote - Affirmative 7279
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 115, Flight 111 Special Places Memorial Act 7280
Hon. R. Harrison 7280
Vote - Affirmative 7280
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 112, House of Assembly Act 7281
Hon. R. White 7281
Mr. J. Holm 7281
Mr. J. Leefe 7282
Vote - Affirmative 7283
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 7:21 P.M. 7284
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:33 P.M. 7284
CWH REPORTS 7284
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., June 16th at 2:00 p.m. 7285

[Page 7209]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

12:00 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 honourable members that the Adjournment debate today was submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government take responsibility for the cutting of Primary programs and the negative impact it will have on our youngest citizens.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of the area served by the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, the operative clause being: "A continuous long term commitment to funding full time positions is required, . . ." and this should be brought to the immediate attention of the Minister of Health. There are 572 names attached to this petition and I have attached my name as required.

7209

[Page 7210]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a petition. "This PETITION is to bring to the attention of the Government of Nova Scotia, and in particular to those representives who the PEOPLE have ELECTED, the utterly deplorable state and unsafe condition of the Tyndal Road (Route 366).". I have affixed my signature, as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition. The operative clause is: "THEREFORE, as your petitioners, we call upon members of the Nova Scotia Legislature to ensure that appropriate allowable earnings are permitted the recipients of social assistance to allow at least a minimal standard of living in this province.". I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition. The operative clause reads: "We, the Shore Friendship Group on Highway 215 between Brooklyn and Walton, Hants Co., that services the Communities of Brooklyn, Upper Burlington, Centre Burlington, Lower Burlington, Summerville, Kempt, Cheverie, Bramber, Cambridge, Pembroke and Walton deem this highway is in deplorable condition. Route 215 was paved in 1959 and during the past 40 years has been maintained by spot patching only. We hereby pray Route 215 be completely resurfaced immediately.".

Mr. Speaker, it is signed by approximately 75 residents from those communities and I have affixed my signature to the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents of the Pugwash area. The operative clause reads:

"Pugwash District High School has been cut a further 70% of a teaching position. This makes for a total of 5.9 teaching positions cut for a decline of 56 students - an average of 1

[Page 7211]

teacher for 9.5 students. As a result, PDHS has lost a number of programs and services including tech education programs, family studies programs, personal guidance services, and now the extended French program. Our children deserve better. We ask you to take the necessary steps to fund 3.5 additional teaching positions so that these services and programs can be restored.".

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby beg leave to table, by unanimous agreement, the interim report of the Standing Committee on Economic Development which consists of the following recommendation:

The Standing Committee on Economic Development recommends that the Devco Board of Directors meet with the four Devco unions: the United Mine Workers of America, the Canadian Auto Workers, the International Association of Machinists, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees to discuss matters of mutual concern.

This report is presented for the adoption of the House and I so move and would request waiver, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver. This is a little unusual.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

I might point out that, as probably most members are aware, normally when you are presenting reports of committees, there is no request for action by the House immediately.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 7212]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 120 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 3 of the Acts of 1998, the Video Lottery Terminals Moratorium Act to Impose a Moratorium on Additional Terminals at Any Place of Business. (Ms. Helen MacDonald)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 3442

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional School Board wants to cut Primary programs; and

Whereas this flies in the face of studies done two years ago which indicate that students suffer when Primary is cut; and

Whereas this is yet another example of how funding cuts to education are forcing school boards into decisions based solely on meeting the ever-decreasing bottom line;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education understand that Primary is an investment in the future and to provide adequate funding to support school programs such as Primary.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 7213]

RESOLUTION NO. 3443

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

Whereas in an effort to find support for this government's 1999-2000 budget, the Premier and his Cabinet have unleashed a barrage of positive media sound bites; and

Whereas by adding all the accumulated hospital debt directly to the debt of the province, the government has admitted that they have never, ever produced a budget which was truly balanced; and

Whereas under this Liberal Government, the province's debt will grow from $6 billion to $9 billion or about $9,000 for every man, woman and child in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his government listen to the people of this province when they say Stop the Insanity.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3444

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

Whereas the Minister of Labour went on at length in the House yesterday about the wonderful things the Liberal Government has done for Cape Breton; and

Whereas the minister painted such a rosy picture of Cape Breton that you would think every citizen of Cape Breton should be dancing in the streets; and

Whereas given the fact that this same minister's initial reaction to Ottawa's announcement that it was pulling the plug on Devco was, what press conference?;

[Page 7214]

Therefore be it resolved that this minister remove his rose-coloured glasses, take a good look, a hard look at the true economic picture of a region two levels of Liberal Governments have ignored.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3445

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

Whereas Mount Saint Vincent University Centre for Women in Business and the Investors Group will be partnering in developing an innovative program; and

Whereas the program announced last Wednesday will start in September and is designed to provide basic business training that will aid women in starting toward a career as a financial planner; and

Whereas the centre was established to help overcome the obstacles faced by potential and existing women entrepreneurs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the value of this program and extend our best wishes to Mount Saint Vincent University, as well as the Investors Group for their hard work in developing this innovative and potential program.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

Would the honourable member read the Therefore be it resolved clause?

MR. FAGE: Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the value of this program and extend our best wishes to Mount Saint Vincent University, as well as the Investors Group for their hard work in developing this innovative entrepreneurial and important program.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7215]

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3446

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

Whereas the Annual Cadet Inspection took place at Greenwood on May 16, 1999; and

Whereas Squadron 517 from Middleton was very impressive, showing precision in their marching patterns, outstanding music, excellent timing, and a Drum Major who never missed a beat with her mace; and

Whereas these young men and women conducted themselves in an admirable fashion, both on and off the parade square;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Air Cadet Squadron 517 Middleton on their impressive performance, and congratulate them on their accomplishment in finishing second place overall in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 7216]

RESOLUTION NO. 3447

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

Whereas a former Liberal MLA, Chester Melanson, from Clare, introduced a resolution in April 1984, in this House, calling for the establishment of a taxation policy for non-resident speculative landowners; and

Whereas another former Liberal MLA, Jack Hawkins, from Hants East, stated in May 1984, that there are thousands of examples of massive tracts of land sold to non-residents; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas Guy Brown the former MLA for Cumberland in August 1990 called for an all-Party committee to hold hearings across the province to study the issue of non-resident ownership;

Therefore be it resolved that this government follow the example of these past Liberal members and address the non-resident ownership issue immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3448

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

Whereas students at Berwick & District School recently competed against 60 schools across the province in a contest for waste reduction and clean-up and won; and

Whereas as part of the Bash That Trash contest sponsored by Foodland Stores and TRA Maritimes, students took on several environmental projects; and

Whereas as a result of this win, Berwick & District School was presented with three MacIntosh iMac computers and colour printers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students of Berwick & District School for their participation with this important contest and on their successful showing.

[Page 7217]

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3449

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

Whereas fragile wetlands are being damaged in this province by a few irresponsible ATV users; and

Whereas recently the Minister of Natural Resources replied during Question Period in response to this problem, I don't know what more we can do unless we take the wheels off them; and

Whereas the only thing the wheels are coming off of is this government;

Therefore be it resolved that this government start to take seriously this very real concern of damage to sensitive wetlands by ATVs.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3450

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

Whereas a group of Springhill High School students aided by two of their peers from Amherst Regional High School have formed a committee to fight discrimination, racism and sexism; and

[Page 7218]

Whereas this group was inspired into action as a result of having attended a recent human rights conference at Mount Allison University; and

Whereas together the students are forming a Youth Against Racism Committee at their school in an attempt to combat the problem in their school as well as within their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the insight and maturity of Jenny Gagnon, Danielle Miller, Megan Martin, Alisha Choisnett, Garity Chapman, Kristy Walsh and Ashley Martin and applaud their efforts to end hatred.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 3451

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

Whereas the Leader of the NDP has a fetish over balanced budgets; and

Whereas in his newfound fondness for finances, the Leader of the NDP has abandoned quality health care as a priority; and

Whereas in a recent poll, 72 per cent of Nova Scotians said they are in favour of the Liberal Government's Health Investment Fund, which has also been supported by every major health care organization in the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the NDP answer the question, why should we believe you when you are so obviously out of touch with the wishes of Nova Scotians and front-line health care workers?

[Page 7219]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 3452

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

Whereas the community-minded nature of all volunteer fire departments is an outstanding example of community service; and

Whereas every community with a volunteer fire department is appreciative of the hard work and dedication given by men and women; and

Whereas the membership of volunteer fire brigades should be congratulated for their commitment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sheldon Antle for being declared Beaver Bank-Kinsac Volunteer Firefighter of the Year for 1999.

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 Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 3453

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

Whereas Lunenburg County Winery's Mushamush Muscat Wine won a silver medal at the 1999 All Canadian Wine Championships; and

[Page 7220]

Whereas the competition, held in Windsor, Ontario, is the largest of its kind of Canadian wines; and

Whereas last year, Mushamush Muscat won two silver and four bronze medals at this competition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Lunenburg County Winery on its outstanding achievements and wish the management and staff best wishes for continued success in making fine wines.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3454

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

Whereas during the recent Provincial Volunteer Awards, the Town of Annapolis Royal selected Shirley Kerr as Volunteer of the Year for the 27 years of service to the Historic Restoration Society of Annapolis County; and

Whereas Shirley is a tireless worker who has served as a guide and organized the first Victorian Christmas at O'Dell House Museum, has coordinated heritage teas, and chaired the Restoration Society Natal Day Float Committee; and

Whereas Shirley has also chaired the society's New Horizons Committee, fund-raising committee, written the society's newsletter as well as organized raffles, sales tables and the development of the society's notes and letters;

[Page 7221]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Shirley Kerr for her many years of outstanding volunteer service and extend thanks for her major contribution to life in Annapolis Royal.

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.

That notice of motion was a little long.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 3455

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

Whereas the Cobequid Educational Centre rolled to its 10th straight Triple A Nova Scotia Schools Athletic Federation Track and Field Championship; and

Whereas consisting of less than 30 athletes, the Cobequid Educational Centre team was the smallest in the history of the school; and

Whereas the victory was due to outstanding efforts by many members of the team;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cobequid Educational Centre Cougar Track Team for winning the 1999 NSSAF Triple A Track and Field Championship and congratulate the school and the track and field coaches for achieving the maximum possible, 10 championships in one decade.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7222]

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. 3456

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

Whereas this morning the Leader of the Opposition was interviewed on the CBC radio program Information Morning; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition stated that he wasn't able to get answers out of the Minister of Health; and

Whereas when asked by the interviewer to explain the NDP's health plan, the Leader of the Opposition could not answer the question and provide his Party's health plan;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition table in this House, now, his Party's health plan and, if he cannot do so, explain to the people of Nova Scotia why his Party is against better health care for Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3457

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

Whereas this Liberal Government has taken yet another poll at the expense of taxpayers, this time about health care and the $600 million mortgage; and

Whereas this Liberal Government's only justification for its twists and turns is its own suspect public opinion polls; and

Whereas this would have served the people of this province a whole lot better if they had truly managed health care;

[Page 7223]

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government realize that their cut-and-paste approach to health care and self-justifying opinion polls are no foundation for a strong and lasting health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a multitude of Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3458

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

Whereas cash-strapped towns and municipalities have come to rely on community-minded volunteers for their support for various worthwhile projects; and

Whereas the members of the Admiral Digby Horticultural Society have taken on the task of providing and planting flowers to beautify the downtown area; and

Whereas their ongoing efforts to keep Digby beautiful have earned the town the recognition as one of Nova Scotia's most attractive tourist destinations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Admiral Digby Horticultural Society for their hard work and effort on behalf of their community.

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.

[Page 7224]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 3459

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

Whereas last night on CBC television, the Leader of the NDP was asked three times how his Party would pay for their priorities in the health care system; and

Whereas three times, the Leader of the NDP dodged, ducked and danced around the question; and

Whereas in the same interview, the Leader of the NDP was asked twice if the NDP would bring down a balanced budget and twice he wiggled, wormed, squirmed and said nothing;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians want to know why would anyone want to believe the Leader of the NDP when he obviously does not trust Nova Scotians enough to answer their important questions or tell them his plan for health.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3460

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

Whereas recently, approximately 1,000 students from the western area of the Halifax Regional School Board presented their showcase concert at Exhibition Park; and

Whereas the show featured school bands from 11 elementary schools, 4 junior high schools and the band and art students from Sir John A. Macdonald High School; and

Whereas a great evening of entertainment was presented to those parents and friends present;

[Page 7225]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of these talented students; art teachers, Isla MacEachern and Denise Adams; and band teachers, Barb Coates, Craig Reiner, Susan Mantin, Jeff Stern and Mark Cuming.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 3461

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

Whereas Family and Children Services of Lunenburg County opened an Adolescence Treatment Centre in Dayspring, Lunenburg County on June 14, 1999; and

Whereas the land to construct the facility was generously donated by LaHave Manor Corporation and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg; and

Whereas the facility has a cooperative approach with respect to education with the Southwest Regional School Board;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate LaHave Manor Corporation, the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, and Family and Children Services of Lunenburg County for their efforts in opening a long-overdue Adolescence Treatment Centre in Lunenburg County.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7226]

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. 3462

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 Annapolis County's Back-country Watch Program received the Royal Bank Environment Award presented during the recent meeting of the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators; and

Whereas this program promotes responsible use of the county's canoe routes and other natural resources; and

Whereas this program, the first of its kind in Nova Scotia, encourages anglers, hunters, paddlers, birdwatchers and hikers to conserve, protect and respect the outdoors;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mr. Ken Robichaud, Chief Administrative Officer of Annapolis County, and the members of the Annapolis County's Back-country Watch Program for their innovative program and dedication to protecting our outdoor environment.

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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

[Page 7227]

RESOLUTION NO. 3463

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

Whereas Country Inn and Suites of New Glasgow were recently honoured with three prestigious awards; and

Whereas the awards, presented at the chain's recent business conference held in Florida, considered all 185 County Inn and Suites worldwide; and

Whereas among the awards presented was the General Manager of the Year for the northeast region in 1998 which went to New Glasgow Manager, Dave McArthur;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend congratulations to Dave McArthur and to all staff of New Glasgow's Country Inn and Suites and applaud their hard work and commitment.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3464

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

Whereas Nicole Tupper was recently presented with the Student Ambassador of the Year award by the Kids Help Phone; and

[Page 7228]

[12:30 p.m.]

Whereas this year alone, Nicole reached more than 2,000 people in metro and the most reached all year by one person in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas as a member of the Student Ambassador Youth Advisory Council, Nicole teaches others how to make presentations, all the while acting as the representative for her school, a leader at conferences, and the community ambassador coordinator;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Nicole's outstanding contribution to her community as well as her school and extend sincere congratulations on this prestigious award she has received.

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 member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 3465

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

Whereas the Model Volunteer Community of the Year award was recently presented to the Town of Bridgewater, on the beautiful South Shore; and

Whereas Bridgewater was chosen for this prestigious award as a result of the town's outstanding history of support for volunteers in the community; and

Whereas the people and the community of Bridgewater have come together to ensure the success of numerous events and projects, especially in this, their centennial year;

[Page 7229]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the hard work of the people of Bridgewater and congratulate them and their Mayor Ernie Bolivar on the receipt of this award.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 3466

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps 88 Truro and Navy League Cadet Corps CPO James Carroll held their annual review on June 13, 1999; and

Whereas during the review, the Corps members demonstrated dedication, discipline, outstanding deportment and great skill; and

Whereas as part of the ceremony, a number of cadets received individual awards;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate both Corps for their excellence, the award winners for their individual achievements, and thank the leaders for the contribution to the positive development of many young people in the Truro area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7230]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, last week I announced the formation of an action group on nursing. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of announcing an action team on health information system management. Today, I am proud to announce the establishment of a third task force to guide government's proposed investment in the health care system, an action team on continuing care. This team will, as will the others previously announced, play an important role in helping implement the investments outlined as part of the Health Investment Fund.

Mr. Speaker, we know that expanded home care services and more long-term beds are needed to take the strain off of our hospitals. Recently, the Medical Society of Nova Scotia called for an increased investment in this area of health care delivery. The bulk of our health care dollars are now going towards meeting the immediate needs of our acute care facilities. In many cases, this is to fill in the gaps that exist in long-term, home and community-based care.

The Health Investment Fund proposes to take the strain off acute care facilities by shifting this balance, continuing to fund hospitals, while at the same time making a sustainable front-end investment in continuing care so that real long-term progress can be made. Changes to our long-term care delivery system are needed now. Now is the time to take steps to relieve the pressure on hospitals, control costs and make more hospital beds available when they are truly needed.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House today and to announce the members of the continuing care action team. Once again, we are relying on the knowledge and expertise of our health care partners to help us make these changes. The action team is co-chaired by Bob St. Laurent of the Department of Health, and Barb Burley of the Department of

[Page 7231]

Community Services. I would point out that it is significant that those two departments are represented because much of the long-term care falls under either of those two departments. They are accompanied by Brian Macleod of the Macleod Group; Carol Evans of the Metro Community Housing Association; Debra Lee, Associated Homes for Special Care; and Sheila Barnett, Townsview Estates.

I would like to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, if I could, to introduce them to the House of Assembly. I would ask those people that I have named who are present to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

To continue, Mr. Speaker, the terms of reference for the team include:

- The immediate assessment of continuing care programs and services;

- The development of strategies to build and expand capacity in the continuing care sector, including long-term care and home care delivery services; and

- The development of a strategy for easier access to long-term care through the creation of a single entry point for access.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the distinguished members of the health care profession who have agreed to volunteer their time to serve on this action team, as well as the members of the other action teams we have announced in recent weeks. Action teams have been formed to guide the significant investment this government is committed to making in the future of health care through the Health Investment Fund.

It is only by taking action on key areas identified in this fund that we can assure Nova Scotians of the right health care service being provided to the right person at the right time. I thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in less than eight days the minister has announced three so-called action groups. But these are not action groups, they would more properly be called planning committees, to help this minister and this government develop a plan they should have developed a long time ago. They are asking Nova Scotians to believe that this time they are serious. You have to ask, why should Nova Scotians believe you now?

Mr. Speaker, this government has announced in the last three Speeches from the Throne that they planned to deal with issues in the continuing care sector, so I would suggest that perhaps the Minister of Health should be reassigned as the Minister of the Environment because he is so good at recycling old Liberal Government promises.

[Page 7232]

Mr. Speaker, the people who have been named to this working group are people who know a considerable amount about the long-term care, the continuing care sector. They are people Nova Scotians could have faith in; however, Nova Scotians can have no faith in the Minister of Health or this government.

Mr. Speaker, this amounts to another fine announcement that, no doubt, has been crafted by Corporate Research and paid for by Nova Scotian taxpayers. It is another example of this minister and this government being all talk and no plan. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I think when the minister rose today and said, changes to our long-term care delivery system are needed now - they have been needed for six years. There is no question that the sector that has been neglected has been the long-term care sector. All of a sudden now we are realizing that we don't have hospital beds that are being taken up by long-term care and we have no continuing care. That wasn't just realized today, people in this province have been talking about that for some time.

Now, the government has announced a committee to look into this and I happen to agree that the people on the committee have expertise. I have a great deal of respect for every one of those people on this committee. The problem will be what action will be taken after they put their plan together because clearly, this government didn't have a plan. What they made was an announcement and they are asking people - as we hear day by day - to go off and put the plan together to make their announcement work. We should have had this developed before the announcement, not after. Whatever happens, I know this committee will bring in a good report and it will be so important for the people of this province that the government of the day act on the committee's recommendation.

Clearly, everyone talks about the need for more long-term care beds. Everyone talks about the need for continuing care. They talk about the need for greater access to home care. We know that if our system is going to work, all of those have to be part of it and they are an important component of the health care system.

I have to say I am pleased that we are finally putting together a group that will tackle the problem we have all known about; it is unfortunate we are late in doing this. The only good part of it is that regardless of what politicians say about the system, we have excellent people working in the system who actually know what to do and know how to fix it. It is time that we, as politicians, let them do their work and help them build a health care system that Nova Scotia can be proud of.

[Page 7233]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now being 12:43 p.m, we will terminate at 1:43 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - EQUIPMENT: CAMPAIGN (1998) PROMISES - FUNDING

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Premier and Deputy Premier, I will direct my question to the Minister of Health. Last year the Liberal Party ran on a one-plank platform of health care. They released a list of hospital equipment that would be bought and paid for with a balanced budget. They said this was paying as you go. But last Friday . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . this government said that they were borrowing money . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . to pay for that same equipment. I want to ask the minister, would he explain to this House when he and his government realized that they didn't have enough money for the equipment promised during last year's election campaign?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are two areas of capital costs for equipment and the honourable member is right, it is in the Health Investment Fund. There is an allocation there of $10 million over multiple years to meet the needs, there is no question. What we are doing with the Health Investment Fund is to stabilize the acute care system. We hear very clearly and we met pre-budget with the four regional health boards and the four NDOs and capital equipment was identified. We included that in the Health Investment Fund in consultation with them. In addition, there is the regular capital budget that is within the estimates before the House of Assembly.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. Your Premier says, don't worry if what I said before wasn't the case; he says, trust me now. But Nova Scotians want to know why it is that he said the same thing to them last year? My question to the minister is, why are these government promises any more trustworthy now? Why should Nova Scotians believe you?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians are saying is that they value their health care system and they want it sustainable and we have responded to that. We have suffered

[Page 7234]

cutbacks from the federal level and we are replacing that money as an investment, in a 14 to 15 year investment. Nova Scotians are saying they are pleased with that and we are responding to the health care needs of those people. This is a health care driven initiative. This is not driven from the Finance Department, this is from the Department of Health and we are responding to the needs of Nova Scotians.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the question is one of credibility. (Interruption) The minister's . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name him.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Just answer a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, the honourable Minister of the Environment, please.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My final supplementary to the Minister of Health. His Assistant Deputy Minister said that you never had the money; never had it, is what he said. I want to ask the minister, if Nova Scotians couldn't believe you and your government in 1998, why should they believe you in 1999?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is a Liberal Government that brought in Medicare right across this country. That is what Canadians value and that is what Nova Scotians value and that is what we are doing. That was over 30 years ago. It needs some adjustment and it needs some sustainability. That is what Nova Scotians are saying they want and that is what we are doing.

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

HEALTH: PLAN (11/06/99) - CONSTRUCTION TIME LINE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health now has acknowledged that the health care reform that has been generated by this Liberal Government over the last six years has created a mess. My question to the minister is, this plan that he introduced six days ago, when did you start to put this plan together and when was it printed?

[Page 7235]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I find it very difficult to respond to the honourable member, a previous family physician with some credibility, who stands up in this House of Assembly and says that the health care system is a mess, either in Nova Scotia or in any province. That is a shame, shame, shame. Nova Scotians have concerns but I just came away from a cancer care group and people gave testimony after testimony to the good care they are receiving.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, continuing with the minister. The minister says that it is not a mess, then why does the minister suggest we need $600 million to fix it? I want to ask this minister since he won't tell us how long this plan was being concocted, why is it that two weeks before the House convened that his Premier and his Minister of Finance were both speaking about a balanced budget, something that this document simply eroded? Will the minister indicate, did he take the Premier and the Minister of Finance . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: . . . into his confidence when he was figuring this document?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Health.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the document that the honourable member is referring to is the result of business plans that we have spoken of many times in this House and we have been working on for several years. The alternatives in there are not acceptable. This is a health driven initiative. The Health Investment Fund is new money that will be paid back within a short time-frame to stabilize the system of health care, to make changes that are necessary, to develop best practices and ensure that health care remains there for all Nova Scotians.

DR. HAMM: The minister appears to be implying that this was something that has been in the wind for a long time. My question to the minister is, why is it that two weeks ago when you started to defend your estimates, that this document was not part and parcel of your estimates and that we were not able to investigate with you, in committee, what this document contains? Why was it not available?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that document there is not the Health Investment Fund. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: That document that that honourable member has, Mr. Speaker, and if you would like to table it and identify it, is not the Health Investment Fund. Those are alternatives (Interruptions)

[Page 7236]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: If I could speak, Mr. Speaker. Those are alternatives if we continue doing nothing. Neither of the options presented were acceptable to the government. This Minister of Health and our department got a commitment from the government that they would support the new Health Investment Fund and that is the plan and that is where we are going.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

HEALTH - BUDGET (1999-2000): GRAPH - ERROR

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I also have a question for the Minister of Health. The budget's centrepiece graph, purporting to explain the $600 million Health Investment Fund, has a very serious problem. The minister claims to be putting $600 million into health care over the next three years, but the graph shows $1.3 billion of spending and debt over the next three years. My question for the Minister of Health is, who is wrong, the minister or the budget graph?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, now we are back to the honourable member in charge of graphs. That graph is a projection, it is an outline. It is not an accurate, no one can predict today . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: . . . where that lower graph or levelling off will be, in all fairness. Guess what? People do come into the health care system sick sometimes, and we have population demographic changes. What we are saying (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I still have the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: Why is that honourable member standing?

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

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the reason the graph shows $1.3 billion . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the reason the graph shows $1.3 billion is that the money is shown as being built into base every year, it is cumulative: $250 million the first year, $500

[Page 7237]

million, $600 million in year three. My question for the minister is, has the minister deliberately been leading Nova Scotians astray or is it truth that the minister simply can't add?

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask the honourable member to please rephrase that question.

MR. EPSTEIN: My question is, has the minister deliberately made an error here or has he been . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not acceptable either.

MR. EPSTEIN: Has the minister . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. EPSTEIN: Is it the truth that the minister just can't add or does he have any other explanation?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I suppose one should attempt to respond to that, but that is getting real near the lowest level that you see in the House of Assembly and I respect your intervention . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: What is definite, if you look at where the costs were going, it was not sustainable. Fact. Okay. The fact is we are putting $600 million new dollars in over a three-year period. That is a planned approach to stabilizing and refinancing with strategic changes in health care. That is a fact; the graph demonstrates that.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, either the graph is wrong or the text is wrong, but the minister has sent out 300,000 pieces of propaganda to each and every household in Nova Scotia with the wrong information. My question to the minister is, what is he going to do to correct this misinformation, and when is he going to give Nova Scotians the real facts?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I believe that Nova Scotians want to see a further investment in their health care in this province. We have listened to them. We have consulted with the stakeholders, and we have made decisions with the decision-makers within the health care system. We are responding. That is what we are doing, and that is the plan that we have to do it, and we will do it over a three year period.

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

[Page 7238]

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: LOAN FORGIVENESS - OPTIMISM

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. I have discussed the budget allocations for loan forgiveness with the minister. I note that they have been substantially reduced for the 1999-2000 budget projections. What is the reason for the minister's optimistic projections around the need for monies for loan forgiveness?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: I would like to thank the honourable member for the question. Each deal that we do with businesses in Nova Scotia is done with the end in mind to make those businesses successful and, as a result of that, we do have various deals that we make with businesses and some of those involve loan forgiveness if they meet certain targets.

MR. BALSER: Last year, that section of the budget was over-expended by almost $15 million; the year before, by $11 million. What policy changes have occurred in the financial arm of Economic Development and Tourism which would mean that there will be less loan write-offs in the year 1999-2000?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to correct something, we weren't overspent by that money, that money that we are talking about was put aside in loan valuation allowances last year and some of it hasn't been needed. With regard to what new operational methods we are employing, the member knows, we talked about that yesterday. We are employing a payroll rebate system now with a lot of our business interests that they provide the jobs first, they pay the payrolls and if they meet certain levels of employment then we certainly would look at writing off a portion of the loans at that time but only after they create the jobs and maintain them.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, smoke and mirrors. Will the minister respond to this question? Is the optimistic projection contained in this year's estimates real or is it just a sham designed to bury the figures that would lead the budget to be even more of a deficit budget than they are proposing on paper now?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The word sham also has connotations. Would the honourable member please rephrase that question?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I will rephrase it. Are his optimistic projections designed to bury what may be a significant shortfall?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows better than that but then again, maybe he doesn't know better than that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[Page 7239]

HEALTH - BUDGET (1999-2000): CIVIL SERVICE - SHIELD

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this question is for the Minister of Health. It has become very apparent that the government's PR strategy is to send out civil servants to defend the budget that has been described as a farce, a travesty, and an act of lunacy. What I would like to know from the minister is how long has it been government policy to hide behind civil servants in the presentation of major government initiatives like this budget?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member could be more specific on that particular matter then I will try to give as good an answer as I am able to do.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to be specific. It is an elementary part of our system of government that ministers are publicly accountable for their department's actions, it is called ministerial responsibility. The question I have for the minister is will he produce the opinion polls that convinced him of something we already know, that the Liberal ministers have zero credibility on this budget?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am very conscious of ministerial responsibility, I have had several portfolios. I have stood and been accountable not only to the House of Assembly but in the public forum throughout this province. As far as the other poll that he is referring to, I would pay him a modest fee if he would sell it so he could start a business of his own in surveying.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is welcome to contribute to my re-election fund. My final question to the minister is if the Cabinet does not believe in their own budget enough to stand up for it by themselves without hiding behind civil servants, why should Nova Scotians give it one ounce of credibility?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the Health Investment Fund which seems to be the area the honourable member is referring to, is a health initiative. This was a team approach in consultation with the decision-makers and the people who provide care across this province. Senior staff is involved, the deputy minister is involved and I am pleased to say in some small way I would like to think that I was involved. We took this to Cabinet and had approval and we came and defended it . . .

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

HEALTH: INVESTMENT FUND - DESCRIPTION

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. I was somewhat taken back by a response that I got a few minutes ago from the minister when I held up the document that he released six days ago and the minister unequivocally said, this

[Page 7240]

was not the plan. My question to the minister is, since he has declared it is not the plan, what is it?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I could be missing it but I thought he was holding up the background analysis, the Department of Health Business Planning Process and the Health Investment Fund. That is what I thought he was holding up. This is the product of assessment of the business plans we have been developing with the regional health boards and the non-designated organizations. The options that are presented, such as closing 1,100 hospital beds in Nova Scotia are not acceptable to the government. We have come forward with an alternative and it is called the Health Investment Fund. This is a health investment fund with a financial analysis in the back.

[1:00 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I intend to go slowly with the minister. The minister has indicated that despite what has been previously said on other occasions, this is not the plan. My question to the minister is, this government has been managing health care for six years, where is the plan?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the plan is within the ordinary budgeting process, the estimates that I have come before the House and defended, which are now stood. In addition, we have a Health Investment Fund that has a financial analysis attached. That is our plan, where is your plan, Mr. Member? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: The minister has obviously become confused as to what it is he is producing. He has admitted that this is not the plan, that there is no plan. If this minister has a plan, I challenge this minister to table that plan here today.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it seems to be upsetting. I didn't hear any answer about the plan that that honourable member would propose. What we have not tabled fully to date are the details of the plan. We have the infrastructure, we have the plan, we have the main elements of that plan. We are doing it in consultation with the decision-makers and the care providers. Nova Scotians are telling us they want to support a Health Investment Fund and that is our plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - PROMISES (1999): SUCCESS - FUTURE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health rose in this House and announced the

[Page 7241]

establishment of a sophisticated, integrated province-wide health information system. He promised a strategic plan will be developed recommending implementation approaches. These promises were made by Health Minister Ron Stewart on November 2, 1994. My question to the current Minister of Health, Nova Scotians have heard it all before, why should they believe this Liberal minister will succeed where other Liberal ministers have failed?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I could address the last question, but I will leave that, why we think that we will succeed where maybe others haven't, because we have a commitment from this government that there will be a $600 million investment fund to stabilize the health care system. There was a 1995 information management systems recommendation report that was made, that is the basis of the information technology system that he is speaking of and that will be incorporated along with updates.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in this House on June 2nd, this minister claimed that his information system would be different than Dr. Stewart's. I want to table excerpts from the 1994 blueprint and from the follow-up report From Blueprint to Building. It sure sounds the same to me. My question to the minister, what studies have you done about what went wrong the last time?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, provinces across this country, in the last several years particularly, have struggled with the sustainability of health care. The head of the nurses said the two worst provinces for delivering health care were, guess what? Ontario and Saskatchewan. Does that sound familiar? An NDP and a Tory Government. We are building. We are taking the best out of those reports and we are building and we are funding it.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my final question for the minister, when did this government realize that its last promise of a health information system would have to be broken?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, throughout the limited finances and the budgetary process, things fall off the table. I feel very strongly about this, about child health care and mental health programs and long-term care. They seem to lose sometimes regardless of what government. We have put them back on the table and we are funding them under this initiative. That is the difference.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

HEALTH - INVESTMENT FUND:

SUPPLEMENTARY DETAIL - Y2K FUNDING

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. On Friday, the minister attempted to put perfume on a pig by announcing a Supplementary Detail for the health mortgage fund. The detail included $50 million for the Year 2000 issues. Last

[Page 7242]

November, the Minister of Health stood in this House and said, when talking about Y2K and hospitals, "We have made a commitment to fund those programs.". My question to the minister, why are you pretending that this is new money when you promised it back in November?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member is referring to Question Period and a response that was made at that time. That was not incorporated at that time into the budget estimates. They now have been incorporated into the budget estimates. It is new money that is going in to Y2K. We were working out the alternatives. The federal government, we were hoping, would finance specifically Y2K initiatives but we have moved beyond that and we are not only funding Y2K changes but we are building an infrastructure.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, the minister made the commitment in November. Now, let me ask the obvious question on funding for Y2K in hospitals. You can't have been right both times, were you wrong then or are you wrong now?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to keep my commitment. I made a commitment that we would be funding whatever was necessary to save lives and to ensure lives and the safety of Nova Scotians. We have now incorporated that into our budget. We have kept our commitment. I have kept my commitment and we are moving beyond that. We are not only fixing the machines, we are having better machines to deliver better care to Nova Scotians.

MR. DELEFES: My final question to the minister. It is obvious that the Liberal mortgage fund includes recycled promises. We have heard it all before. Why should Nova Scotians believe you now?

DR. SMITH: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, somewhere there must be a radio program or TV program, What's Your Line? Well the NDP got What's Your Line? I have explained as well as I can to the honourable member that I have made a commitment in this House. I have supported that with our budget estimates. I have stood before this House of Assembly and defended those estimates. That is commitment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

FIN. - GAMING CORP.:

CHAIRMAN (ELWIN MACNEIL) - SALARY APPROPRIATENESS

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission. I would ask the minister if he would confirm to the House that the Chairman of that commission, Elwin MacNeil, is making the salary of a Nova Scotian Provincial Court Judge and whether or not he feels that is the appropriate salary for that position?

[Page 7243]

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Yes.

MR. BAKER: I would table in the House information that indicates that this individual is committed for what is now going to be $144,000 within two years to work weekly; it is the best one day job in Nova Scotia. Can he justify to the people who have no health care, $144,000 for a government friend?

MR. COLWELL: If the honourable member would have the courtesy to listen, I will answer his question. (Interruptions) First of all, Mr. Elwin MacNeil is no political friend of mine. Secondly, he works full time at the Alcohol and Gaming Authority.

MR. BAKER: My final question to the minister is, will he give a commitment to bring in legislation to reduce or eliminate the salary for that position because it is a travesty that that much money is going to that position in Nova Scotia?

MR. COLWELL: I will take that under advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

HEALTH: SYSTEM - COST DRIVERS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I have a question for the Minister of Health. Mr. Speaker, in estimates last week the Minister of Health tabled a document showing the cost drivers in the health system. Those cost drivers included physician payments, Pharmacare, the Canadian Blood Services, yet there is nothing in the health mortgage fund that deals with those cost drivers. My question to the minister is, why should Nova Scotians believe that projected savings will happen when the minister isn't tackling those items that he says are driving up the costs?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is becoming clear why the honourable member cannot understand what we are doing, due to the very nature of his question. I don't believe that honourable member believes that we can trust people to develop their own programs, the decision-makers and caregivers, the care providers in this province. This is exactly what we are doing, we are leaving flexibility. We are holding them accountable. No more debts in the regional health boards and hospitals, but everything isn't designated specifically where it will go; there are provisions for utilization rates with physicians for instance.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, what has in fact become very clear is that the budget is based on mathematical calculations done on the back of an envelope. For example, the minister's contention that health care costs will increase 11.3 per cent per year . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

[Page 7244]

MR. EPSTEIN: My question to the minister is, Nova Scotia is, of course, the last province to bring down its budget. To the minister's knowledge, is any other province in Canada projecting such huge increases in health care costs over the next five years?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that relative to other provinces our acute-care system is eating up our money. It is rising far higher than 11 per cent; it is probably closer to 16 per cent. That is different from other provinces and we have very significant differences from other provinces, But the overall average, we have to move the money from the acute-care sector, the increased money over the period of time that will flow to the other areas like home care, long-term care and other initiatives.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister is, since it is so very obvious that this budget is based on back-of-the-envelope analysis, can you explain why it is that Nova Scotians should even consider trusting your government with something as important as their health care system?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the people of Nova Scotia understand that the spirit of Liberalism supports Medicare strongly, they value it and we value it. They have said to us that they want to sustain the system and they want it improved, and that is what we are doing.

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

SYSCO - BUSINESS PLAN: STEEL SALES - REQUIREMENT

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development and minister responsible for Sysco. Could the minister confirm here today that the business plan for Sysco, for the current calendar year, requires sales of 350,000 ton of steel?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, yes, I believe that was the figure on tonnage.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a simple calculation would indicate that in order to meet that if, in fact, the year is on schedule, between the first of January and the end of May, 149,000 tons of steel would have been produced at Sysco. Those figures are easily available. My question to the minister is, have or have not 149,000 tons of steel been produced between January and May of this year at Sysco?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the amount of tonnage in the first quarter of this year and well into the second quarter, as of May 31st, was that 80,000 tons of liquid steel had been produced.

[Page 7245]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, the minister has acknowledged that the business plan up until now is way behind projections, does he have any indication that things are going to get any better over the next few months? Clearly, what the minister has just said is that the business plan so far has not been satisfied.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for giving me the opportunity to answer him in this way. The Hoogovens plan, as the member knows, predicted that the first two quarters of this year would be difficult, the last two quarters are expected to be better. I can tell this House today that we are working on a major order at the present time, and we are looking at the order book substantially improving over the next two or three months. If he would come to Sydney and talk to Hoogovens, he would find out that information.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - INVESTMENT FUND:

CONSULTANTS (PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS) - REPORT TABLE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. As well as putting out civil servants to sell its failing budget, this government is also hiding behind consultants' reports. There is only one problem, that is that it won't or it can't produce those consultants' reports. My question to the minister is, both you and your senior officials have cited PricewaterhouseCoopers as having signed off on the health mortgage fund, why won't you produce the report? What are you hiding?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there are times that we have to second people into our department, we have done that. We have a chief financial person who has been seconded. In fact, my deputy minister is seconded from Dalhousie University, the Department of Bioethics. I don't think that is a bad thing. Yes, we do get advice, and we do take it and we value it. We make the decisions and we have to be accountable, and that is what we are when we stand in this House of Assembly.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I take it the minister is not prepared to table that report. Last Friday, this government produced a so-called background analysis document to support its mortgage fund, but that document shows that this government rejected the Department of Health's business planning process, and there is still no plan.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Where is your question?

[Page 7246]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: My question to the minister is, why won't you produce the business plan that will justify why Nova Scotians should write a blank cheque to this government?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the eight CEOs representing the regional health boards and the non-designated organizations will be at the table. They will be sharing each other's budget, a first in Nova Scotia. That has never been done. Each time groups have been played against each other. There is a commitment to come to the table and develop those business plans in a fair and open, transparent manner.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: You are the Minister of Health and it is your responsibility to develop the plan. If this government can't produce any justification . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . for spending $600 million, why should Nova Scotians trust them with 6 cents?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for a bit of a variation on, What's Your Line. This is based on good business planning that responsible caring people will come to the table and make a decision on the allotment of the monies that have been approved by this House of Assembly for health care. Nova Scotians are saying they want an investment. We have heard from the survey, and we are responding to that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - JAIL (BEDFORD): LEASE DATE - CONFIRM

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice, and it is in respect to the lease agreement relative to the proposed Bedford correctional-forensic facility. The minister has indicated to the residents of Bedford that it is his intention and the intention of this Liberal Government to sign the lease on June 18th. Will the minister confirm that is still planned?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have a development agreement with a consortium that won the tender call for the bid to construct the new facility. On April 15th or thereabouts, we signed a development agreement. Some 60 days later, the lease agreement is to be signed.

MR. SCOTT: Again to the minister, obviously there has been a great deal of public opposition to the siting of this facility. Is the minister aware that to show a further indication of community opposition, there has been an application filed with the court concerning the location of that facility?

[Page 7247]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I obviously can't comment one way or the other about applications that may or may not have been filed with the court. What I can comment on is that last summer full public disclosure of the preferred site, at that point, and an invitation to the people of Bedford to attend meetings to discuss that site took place, after which, in November of the year the former Minister of Justice confirmed the site, and we are proceeding with the development of that project.

MR. SCOTT: I will confirm that there is a court action today, Mr. Minister, and there have been meetings, petitions, letters and questions and even protest marches demonstrating public disapproval over the siting of this facility. Will the minister at least respect the residents of Bedford and the judicial process in this province and commit today that the lease will not be signed until that court action is satisfied?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, you know full well that we can't discuss issues that are before the courts but let me review - by your own rulings, Mr. Speaker - once again full consultation took place on the preferred site. We held some six meetings. We have gone to the community. We have met with the Bedford Futures group. This is a badly needed provincial facility, in the right place, for Nova Scotians at this point in time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - INVESTMENT FUND:

HOSPITALS/HEALTH BOARDS - FUNDING AMOUNT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Minister of Health. One of the central planks in the Liberal mortgage fund is that rescuing the health care system requires a so-called investment of $239 million in the operating costs of hospitals and health boards. Now, nowhere in the budget is there one shred of evidence to support that savings will accrue from this spending. My question to the minister is, where is the proof that would make Nova Scotians want to write a blank cheque to this government?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member quoted $239 million. I think she is incorrect. It would be $139 million as the amount that is designated. What that is going to is to fund the regional health boards and the hospitals up to a level of their spending last year plus a small increment to give them the money to sustain the system while we change (Interruptions) The difference between the $500 a day bed and a $120 long-term care bed is significant and it is savings.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there is another thing that is not explained anywhere and that is why the hospital and health boards won't need this operating money after just two years. After two years it will be back to baseline funding and who knows what will happen to nurses, hospital beds and services. My question to the minister is, will you

[Page 7248]

table today evidence to demonstrate that the hospitals and health boards will in less than two years be able to make do without this money?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, part of the business planning and part of the arrangements and negotiations that are working with those two aforementioned groups is that commitment that there will not be debt on their budgets, that there will be a system in place that will be sustainable, as we shift that system away from acute care. We are one of the highest in Canada for acute care costs.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: So the minister says, trust us. My final question to the minister, why should Nova Scotians trust something as important as their health to a government that is so obviously incompetent as this one?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are going beyond asking Nova Scotians to trust us. What we have put in place is a process and a system that all the major care providers, the decision makers and those people involved intricately within the health care system throughout this province that support the Health Investment Fund that have said so publicly, not just the civil servants that that honourable member is putting down . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH - MAMMOGRAMS:

HIGHLAND VIEW HOSPITAL (CUMB. CO.) - SERVICE MAINTAIN

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health. I rise today to ask the minister a question on behalf of women in Cumberland County. That question those women are asking is, will the mammogram services currently at Highland View Hospital be maintained in their present form, Mr. Minister?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the diagnostic part of that mammogram screening program, there are some - and I am not sure if it is finalized, but there are - discussions taking place on the setting up centres of excellence so that all Nova Scotian women will have access to centres of excellence in dealing with breast cancer. The screening program will remain in the Amherst area, in the honourable member's area and will be enhanced. The diagnostic procedure with a team of nurses and doctors and radiologist specialists will be in a centre of excellence and that may well be in the Truro community.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is very disturbing to hear the minister say that. Those services are currently all in place, the core sampling in the Amherst, Highland View Regional Hospital now. Why would the minister disassemble a service that is providing health care to women who are at risk of breast cancer in Cumberland County? Why would he force those women to travel to Truro? Will that service be maintained in Amherst like it should be?

[Page 7249]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, after the special tests are done in the centres of excellence, the referral may well be even further from home to Halifax. But if that is the best care I think women should make that decision, not that honourable member over there.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I have one simple question for the minister, has a woman in Cumberland County been consulted on this? No, the minister hasn't consulted. He will point a finger at a member over here. Why don't you consult the women of Cumberland County?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the programs are coming from information for the community health boards. The regional boards are making those decisions. The history of treating illness such as cancer has had a checkered past throughout the country and in our province. We sometimes have seen people inappropriately treated in local hospitals. This is an attempt to make a centre of excellence where the best care available in the world will be there for these women throughout all of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - ECON. DEV. PLAN:

INVESTMENT PLAN - ABSENCE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Economic Development. Yesterday the minister admitted that his government has let six years go by without being able to produce an economic development plan for Nova Scotia and in the meantime he has been spending money hand over fist, but without an investment plan. Can the minister explain why this government has let six full years go by without coming up with an economic development plan?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the answer I would give to that is that a 97 per cent success rate is not bad in any business.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister suggested to us that he has managed to develop some kind of document that he will release in a few weeks. Will he tell us now if it is a discussion paper? Is it something Cabinet has adopted as official government policy? Or is he just referring to the Liberal election platform?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I will confirm to you is that honourable member knows less about business than he does about finance.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, what the minister was talking about yesterday was obviously meant to be part of the Liberal election platform. All of the background work was done last summer by a committee of senior civil servants. Will the minister explain why he is using civil servants to draft the Liberal election platform?

[Page 7250]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we are using a committee of deputy ministers in consultation with people throughout the province, including municipal officials and our RDAs. They know a darn sight more about this than the member opposite. I would rather defer to their expertise than to what he is talking about.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - CARE: HOSPITAL WORKERS - WAGE PARITY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. This government has admitted it doesn't have a plan for health care human resources. The new budget ignores the fact that thousands of front-line health care workers have been earning poverty level wages for years. Will the minister please explain what steps he has taken in recent months to make wage parity possible for hospital workers?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would think it would be quite evident through some of the initiatives that this government has committed millions and millions of dollars within the long-term care sector to give parity across this province; the issue of the QE II, the coming together of the unfairness that was addressed. This government has made a major commitment to parity across the workforce.

[1:30 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question was about hospital workers not workers in the long-term care sector. In March 1998, this government announced that 3,200 CUPE hospital workers would get wage parity with workers at the QE II. Will the minister please tell us why after 15 months, these workers still have not seen one cent of that wage parity money?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the previous government had a choice to make, it was to protect jobs, albeit maybe not quite as high as the NDP would like, but there were jobs in this health care system that were protected. That was the choice that we made. We did not take the recommendation of this report that the honourable member held up today and close 1,100 beds. We are working within the structure of the unions, and the process is working. There is negotiation out there, and the relationship is strong.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It is another obvious broken promise to health care workers. Why hasn't this minister made sure that regional health boards do their work so that hospital workers finally get wage parity?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is a process with human resources, within the system, within the union system, and the regional boards are being responsible. We did not slash and

[Page 7251]

burn many jobs, like other provinces. Look at the QE II. Some of the recommendations were to lay off upwards of 600 nurses, we have not done that. We have sustained the system.

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

HEALTH - COL. REG. HOSP.:

MODERNIZATION PLAN (PHASE 2) - TIME LINE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health, yesterday in Truro, the Premier announced Phase 2 of the modernization plan for the Colchester Regional Hospital. I had raised that on a number of occasions during this past year and was unable to get a commitment from you. Would you be good enough to tell the House when the decision to go ahead with that modernization was determined or made?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there has been a proposal for quite a period of time before the Department of Health. Those are ongoing. They are evaluated. There are other proposals from other institutions. The components of those initiatives are within both the Health Investment Fund and the capital budget of the province.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health. According to figures tabled in this House, the capital construction fund, as projected for this year, is about $22.4 million.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MUIR: The projected cost on five year old figures . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MUIR: . . . for the Truro project is $20 million. Is there going to be anything left in that construction fund for anything else?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the member is concerned about other areas of the province more specifically, and if he has some concern why this project shouldn't go forward, I would wonder if he would bring that forward to me today. I think it would be very important and the Premier would probably like to know as well. I kind of thought that was a bit of good news. It is really becoming very apparent that people can't stand good news. There seems to be a problem with that.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I do welcome good news. (Applause) I will tell you that I do think that that expansion which is needed and we have lobbied long and hard, it was promised seven years ago . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your final supplementary question, please.

[Page 7252]

MR. MUIR: . . . and the community raised all kinds of money to support that. I really just wonder how serious the government is taking it.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, the Premier yesterday announced a $20 million program based on five year old figures, why did the Premier use five year old figures if his department has been studying this and it has been a well-planned-out announcement from this department?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the proposal will have to be upgraded. It will be looked at and modified, as necessary. There is a capital component to this, there is an equipment component to this, and there are also areas for programming, but it should come from the community and it will not be imposed from the Joseph Howe Building.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS: RESIDENTS - TREATMENT FAIRNESS

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, on May 28th the province announced it would buy homes on Sydney's Frederick Street and Currys Lane. Residents of adjacent Tupper and Laurier Streets, with similar levels of arsenic, have been told that they aren't to be part of the buy-out. My question to the Minister of the Environment is, why has his department decided not to treat all residents in the same manner, even though they are exposed to the same toxic substances?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the member should know, this is a question that is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and I would like to refer it to my colleague.

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, he knows that we have a tender out right now in order to find out the separation zones, what is the criteria of the separation zones, how big they will be, what is involved, and when we have that finalized, I will inform the House.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, the member for Cape Breton Nova has stated the government ought to purchase all properties whose owners wish to sell within the toxic zone. My supplementary question is for the Minister of the Environment. Are the parameters for the toxic zone to be geographically determined by eyeballing a map or biophysically determined by the extent of the actual toxins?

[Page 7253]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the member obviously didn't hear me the first time. This is a matter under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and I would like to refer the question to my colleague.

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I thought I made it very clear that it is under review with the area on exactly where these zones will be. I also refer back to 1970 when the City of Sydney was buying houses south of Frederick Street and that this area is under review.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my third question is for the minister, and I realize he is probably going to refer this one too. Ann Ross of Laurier Street has been told she must return to her arsenic-contaminated home after 31 days' relocation. My question is, how has this government determined that its compassion budget only lasts for 31 days?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am going to refer this question to the Minister of the Environment.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this is just an example of the cooperation and the hard effort that is going into this file, between our departments. The fact is that when we made this decision it was based on compassion and it was based on the heightened anxiety that was there with the homeowners with the substance in their homes. The Department of Health has given us their expert opinion that there is no health risk here. It ended up that the home in question was tested at the same time as the Frederick Street residents' homes. We extended the offer to that resident at the same time. What we have done now is we have gone in and done further testing in the home. We suggested remediation to the homeowner and now we are going to continue to work with them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL & FORENSIC FACILITY SITE:

LOCATION - RADIUS (METRO)

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. I wonder if the minister can tell me today what the radius was that was determined when the decision was made with regard to the new correctional facility. What radius of metro was used to determine where that site would be located?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, some considerable time was taken not only within the department but with external consultants to describe a radius that would allow access to facilities like the Nova Scotia Hospital, the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie, the courts and other facilities and institutions necessary for serving both corrections and forensic.

[Page 7254]

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. Will the minister inform the House today whether or not there were some locations determined east of Dartmouth which were possible potential sites for the new facility?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there were some 13 sites and, if I am not mistaken, one of the municipal councillors suggested another site near an ammunition dump, some 14 sites then were considered. Just recently the Bedford Futures Society suggested a site in the aerotech park. We are responding to them and have responded to them, and are still committed to the site in Bedford.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a map. There is in excess of 200 square miles of uninhabited, provincially-owned land east of Dartmouth where that site could have been located and why the minister would force this upon a community that does not want it, why can't it be placed in that 200 square miles of land?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as we have done with the Bedford Futures group, I would extend an offer to that member, who happens to come from an area of the province that would like this facility, unfortunately, because it tends to compromise the debate in the House. However, he is more than welcome to sit down to review the criteria, the selection, and we will be as open with that member as we were with the people of Bedford.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - GEORGIA PACIFIC MINE (MELFORD):

ROAD MAINTENANCE - COSTS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The minister claims there is less money for road improvements, but yet he is intent on placing more heavy truck traffic on a piece of road from the Georgia Pacific mine in Melford. How does the minister intend to pay the increased maintenance costs of this stretch of road resulting from the transportation of gypsum?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, there are 3,200 vehicles on that road on a daily basis and the additional traffic that will be on this road is very minimal. Also Georgia Pacific are doing a traffic study and they have to build their on-ramps and off-ramps in this area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, a quick question.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I am glad to hear about that study, but the way to move that gypsum is through rails. I wonder if it is important enough for our road system that the Minister of Transportation has paid full consideration to the possibility of rails in that area and not road traffic?

[Page 7255]

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I just want to assure this honourable member that my department looks at all transportation systems in the Province of Nova Scotia whether it be rail, air, water or road. We are following this up very closely.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, you have eight seconds: seven, six, five . . .

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I have this question on my mind. Who owns Horton High, Mr. Gaudet? (Laughter)

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to have a 15 minute speech on Supply today. I rise to speak on an issue that touches the hearts of all Nova Scotians, and those who are affected are both humiliated and degraded. The issue is that of child poverty.

In November 1989, the honourable federal member, Mr. Broadbent, placed a resolution before the House of Commons which stated: That this House express its concern for the more than 1 million Canadian children currently living in poverty and seek to achieve the goal of eliminating poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000. This resolution has . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I was wondering if the honourable member would permit an introduction and announcement in the House.

MR. PYE: Certainly.

[Page 7256]

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member for Dartmouth North.

Mr. Speaker, we just had a call a number of minutes ago from the member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Earlier this morning he became a grandfather for the first time. Mother and granddaughter are doing well and he wanted members of the House to be made aware of this. (Applause)

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

MR. REEVES MATHESON: Mr. Speaker, my apologies to the members across the floor.

Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure to direct members' attention to the Speaker's Gallery. I want to introduce to members of the House, my son Andrew. Andrew is 17 years old, he has just completed his high school education and I am proud to say that yesterday he was sworn in as an officer cadet with the Canadian Armed Forces. He is in transit now to St. Jean in Quebec and then to Kingston, Ontario, where he will spend three years of study at the Royal Military College, after which he will assume his responsibilities as a commissioned officer of the Armed Forces of the Country of Canada. Mr. Speaker, my son, Andrew, I am very proud of him. (Applause)

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: So that we have no further interruptions, are there any more introductions before I give the floor to the honourable member for Dartmouth North. I am sorry for the interruptions to allow members to make introductions. Please go ahead, we will give you an additional minute.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, this resolution had the support of all three political Parties of the day. It is now 10 years later and ironically, we now find Canada's child poverty grew by more than 600,000, hitting an all time high of 1.6 million children living in poverty in Canada.

During this period, federal and provincial governments felt the need to bring their economic houses in order, eliminating their annual deficits and reducing their ongoing debt. However, in so doing these governments did not take into account the impact that their austerity measures would have had on the most vulnerable of our society, our children. Allow me to tell you the impact and how far-reaching that effect has been. I want to read from the latest report card of Campaign 2000.

[Page 7257]

What has happened since 1989? The number of poor children grew by 60 per cent. Children and families and homeless, less than $20,000 up by 65 per cent, and that is constant with the 1996 dollars. Children and families experience long-term unemployment up 33 per cent. Children in working poor families up 45 per cent. Children in families needing social assistance up 51 per cent. A change between 1989 and 1997 that was so significant that even the federal government recognized it. Children living in unaffordable rental housing up 91 per cent. Poor children in two parent families up 43 per cent. Poor children in lone parent families up 92 per cent.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is on the national level, I want to come closer to home in Nova Scotia and as we have witnessed the significant increase in child poverty. For example, not so long ago I attended the Nova Scotia Amateur Sports awards dinner and on each of the tables was placed a fund-raising card for the Nova Scotia Kids Sports Fund, a great fund-raiser and I commend them for helping to become actively involved in this sport. However, I feel that it is important to read to my colleagues that message. The message that was on that card that was on the table stated that, more than 44,000 kids cannot afford to participate in sport in Nova Scotia because they live below the poverty line. Give these kids the opportunity to learn and live healthier and they will certainly become productive Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, not certain of the definition of a child nor the number of children in Nova Scotia, I called Statistics Canada for the information. I was informed that a child is defined as a person between the ages of 0 and 14 and that the total number of children living in the province in 1998 was 177,831. Therefore, those more than 44,000 children living below the poverty line represents 24 per cent of Nova Scotia's child population. Absolutely deplorable and totally unacceptable.

Again, Mr. Speaker, on April 16th of this year I met with members of the Metro Food Bank Society. This society has been in existence for more than 15 years, about the same length of time that the major cuts have been made to social services and to the social welfare system. Today this society has more than 45 member agencies, serving over 15,000 clients monthly and many which are families with children living in poverty. Can you imagine that this is far from the thought of food banks which were to have a short life span. Many of the executive directors of food banks across Canada believe that they would not have been here for long.

Again, Mr. Speaker, along with food banks we now have breakfast programs for children who come to school with empty bellies, children who are now too hungry to learn. In the Nova Scotia School Boards Association report on child poverty, they clearly highlighted the horrifying statistics and the negative impact of poverty on the child's capacity to learn. Let me read from their report. It says, "The horrifying statistics clearly show the negative impact of poverty on a child's capacity to learn: food deprivation reduces daily concentration and learning; and inadequate nutrition has long term developmental effects. Furthermore, we note that a disproportionate number of poor children experience: low

[Page 7258]

motivation to learn and delayed cognitive development; illiteracy and low achievement in school; reduced participation in extra-curricular activities; and interrupted school attendance, higher dropout rates and lower participation in post secondary education.".

Mr. Speaker, along with all that, the United Nations Economic and Social Council singled out Nova Scotia for this province's damaging cut to social assistance rates, which "appears to have had a significant adverse impact on the vulnerable groups causing an increase in an already high level of homelessness and hunger". It also came down hard on Nova Scotia for clawing back the National Child Benefits Program.

I just want to make a couple of comments with respect to that. The committee said it is concerned that differences in the way in which National Child Benefits Supplements for low income families is implemented in some provinces may result in the denial of benefits to some children. They may lead to non-compliance, and that was a compliance of that covenant, which I am quite prepared to bring forward.

Also, the committee is concerned that many women have been disproportionately affected by poverty. In particular, very high poverty rates among single mothers leave their children without the protection to which they are entitled under the covenant. The committee is concerned that many of the programs cut in recent years have exacerbated those inequities and inequalities that harmed women and other disadvantaged groups.

The committee recommends a thorough assessment of the impact of the recent changes in the social program on women and that action be undertaken to redress any discriminatory effect of the change.

Mr. Speaker, often have we heard the Minister of Community Service say to this House that poverty is a very complex issue and a great deal of time is required to implement the policies and the programs that combat it. Is it complex to provide an adequate budget for healthy nutrition for children? I say, no. Is it complex to provide decent clothing and footwear for children? I say, no. Is it complex to provide adequate funding for dental coverage and health coverage for children? I say, no.

Then what is complex? The only complexity that prevents the elimination of poverty is the political complexity. There is not the political will to address this all-important issue. It does not have the 8 to 10 second sound bite that perks up the media's ear. There is a need for more dollars to be put into social programs in the short term to rid ourselves of the ugly scourge of child poverty that makes politicians cringe.

Mr. Speaker, as I listened to the budget debate on Health, and hearing the minister stating the reasons for borrowing $600 million, and that it was an investment in the future of health care, I cannot help but wonder why that same government would not have made the same investment in the front-end by being proactive and investing in the future of Nova

[Page 7259]

Scotian children in poverty. Again, I came to the conclusion that it was not politically palatable. Well, this attitude must change. It has to change, and if we are going to attempt to eliminate poverty in Nova Scotia, much like it has taken a community to raise a child, it takes the political will and cooperation by all political Parties to do their part, to tell Nova Scotian taxpayers it is a wise expenditure of their tax dollars to eliminate child poverty and all the scourge that comes with it.

Mr. Speaker, we can begin the first step today, this year, to eliminating child poverty. I would suggest that we recommend appointing a child's commissioner to Nova Scotia. I can envisage his or her role to promote and protect the interests of children and to advise government on public policy on children's issues. Let's begin now. Let's take that road. Let's take that avenue and let's all, as politicians, show Nova Scotia that we can accomplish the goal of eliminating child poverty. Thank you, very much. (Applause)

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

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Chairman, I am pleased to rise again to speak a few more words about my constituency of Truro-Bible Hill. It was about a year ago when I rose in this House and gave a response to the Speech from the Throne. I had the opportunity to review my comments or my reaction to the Speech from the Throne. I just want to touch on a couple of items I mentioned last year and see where they have progressed over the intervening 12 months.

One of the things I spoke about was the flooding in the Truro area which actually affected three constituencies, Truro-Bible Hill, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, and Colchester North. In the Reply to the Speech from the Throne I encouraged the Minister of the Environment to quit doing studies and start to put together a meeting of municipal officials from the affected communities to get together and get a concrete plan to help alleviate what is an annual occurrence. As I have pointed out on a number of occasions, Mother Nature is still the boss and there are limitations to what can be done within reasonable costs.

Unfortunately, despite the promises or commitments by the former Minister of the Environment which I think were continued in the House the other day by the present Minister of the Environment, that meeting of municipal officials who were affected by the flooding in what I will call the Truro area, has not met. Concurrently, there has been no concrete action taken to address this problem. I believe we would see that the road from Truro which leads out into another part of my constituency and then into Colchester North is probably closed without much water this year for maybe about eight or nine days. As I did last year, I suggest this is far too long. I think if this government was committed to doing something it would have been done by now. If we could reduce the down time from 10 days to 5 days we will have made a 50 per cent improvement. If we reduced it to even 7 days, we will have made a 30 per cent improvement.

[Page 7260]

I understand that the amount of dollars available for projects like this is limited but we did have a commitment from the former Minister of the Environment to do something and it did not happen. The present Minister of the Environment hasn't shown much more initiative than the former one. I hope that I would be able to tell my constituents within a very few days that the government was prepared to meet with municipal officials and take concrete action to try to alleviate in some way the flooding which damages my constituency and that of others, in particular, initially try to find ways to keep Park Street open.

This time last year I also talked about health care in my constituency. I talked about the shortage of general practitioners. I am sad to say, as I look over the situation 12 months later, that there is still a shortage of physicians in the Truro area. As I pointed out, Truro is sort of a medical centre for people in Colchester North and part of the Colchester South constituency. There are a lot of people running around with files in their hands trying to figure out where they can get a GP to serve them and their families. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that this government has made much of an attack on that problem despite the words of the Minister of Health.

In my constituency, as I make it out, we are down one doctor over this time last year and last year we were short. There was one general practitioner who became the medical director of the Northern Regional Health Board. Another general practitioner has just moved up into Cumberland County, unfortunately, Cumberland County's gain is our loss. So it is very, very difficult for people to get family practitioners.

[2:00 p.m.]

In terms of making the health care system a little bit more efficient, more family doctors would take an awful lot of heat off the emergency room at the Colchester Regional Hospital. I know from experience that it is a rather unpleasant wait out there and it can be prolonged. I can remember actually one Saturday, about a couple of months ago, I went out for some particular reason and I went in and they said I didn't rank very high on their meat chart or whatever you call the thing where they say whether you are sick or you are not sick; I was kind of at the bottom so she suggested it was about four hours, so I went home for three and one-half hours and came back and I think I still had to wait an hour when I got back in. Now, had I had a GP, then there was a chance that I might have been able to solve that problem but, unfortunately, that's the rule rather than the exception. It was that way 12 months ago, Mr. Speaker, and I don't see any improvement since then.

Similarly, one of the interesting things that happened to me the other day - I have been talking about the need to have a dialysis unit in the Colchester Regional Hospital, I have mentioned it on a number of occasions in here this spring - I was out delivering an anniversary certificate last Saturday and as the Speaker would know, usually when you deliver 50th Anniversary certificates people are very happy to see you and you exchange pleasantries about the day and how pleased you are that they have been married for 50 years and you wish

[Page 7261]

them another 50 years of happiness, usually a very pleasant experience for the recipients and also for the MLA who takes the certificate there.

I want to tell you that last Saturday, I got an awful start when I went into the home, Mr. Speaker. The first thing was, I am really glad you are here because I wanted to talk to you. I said, well, I am here and I would be delighted to talk to you. What they wanted to talk about was the gentleman who was in that home who was married, has kidney problems and he is soon going to have to undergo dialysis and he will be one of those people who is going to have to go to Halifax three times a week to undergo dialysis. His health is such that a transplant I am told is out of the question.

What these people told me, Mr. Speaker, and I know, a lot of people make that trek out of Cumberland County and Pictou County and Colchester County to go to Halifax three times a week for dialysis, he said and they were really afraid. His wife told me, the only way they could do that is to sell their home and to move to Halifax. Physically, neither of them is in the condition to make that trek three times a week driving and, of course, in the winter it would make it just that much more difficult.

I mention that, Mr. Speaker, and I mentioned the couple, delightful people but concerned because they feel that they will have to sell their home because there is not dialysis available for them other than in Halifax. The Minister of Health has indicated that he is starting to think about the establishment of a dialysis unit for the Colchester Regional Hospital and I would encourage him to advance those plans and to make that one of the priorities of whatever this health care plan is that he says he has now.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke last year about the community college, and I said that mainly due to the inaction of the Liberal Government when it was announced and the wild promises made, the college's lack of leadership shown by the Department of Education and Culture at that time, that the community college in no way had lived up to the promises that had been made for it. I am pleased to say that once the community college got rid of the shackles of the Department of Education and Culture, it seems to have made some progress this past year. Indeed, I was pleased when the Premier was in our community yesterday, he was able to announce another 15 or 20 seats for one of the more technologically advanced programs. So I would say that the community college is one of the few positive things I can look at that that we could sort of say government intervention over the last 12 months I can say has gone up. Most things have remained the same or have actually gone backwards.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to just touch very briefly on some of the industries in my community that are doing very well. I am pleased to announce that I was speaking to the president of Crossley Carpet Mills and he tells me that that operation is now operating about 24 hours a day, which is really great for our community. It is a large employer and it puts a lot of money into our community.

[Page 7262]

As the Speaker would certainly well remember, things were not always that rosy for the Crossley Carpet factory; in fact, it was in severe financial difficulty about three or four years ago and it was with great effort of management and the union, they worked together and were able to get the mill turned around. It is producing 24 hours a day which is very good, not only for my community, but for the Nova Scotian economy. A good portion of this run now is being exported into the United States. They have a contract with a major carpet manufacturer in the United States - I think perhaps the largest carpet manufacturer in the United States - to provide a high-end line of carpet for them. So, it is a great contributor to the export market in this province.

The plant which stands next to it, Mr. Speaker, is Intertape Polymer. Intertape Polymer underwent a rather major expansion this past year with the result of more jobs being added there. Again, Intertape Polymer is really part of an international company, and that the Truro site was selected for expansion is really a tribute to the management of Intertape Polymer in Truro and to the employees who produce the products there. So, we were pleased to see that expansion of Intertape Polymer. Again, as the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism would know, it probably doesn't bring many tourists, but it is an exporter; it is a major exporter of product from Nova Scotia, which is good.

I should also mention, Mr. Speaker, that the Stanfield's mill, which is very much synonymous with Truro - Stanfield's underwear, as most people associate it - now has quite a diversified line of products. It is, again, a very healthy industry. One of the interesting things that has happened to Stanfield's is that the owner of that company, Tom Stanfield, in the past two or three years has purchased two plants in the United States: one, I believe in South Carolina and one in California. One of the things that is happening with Stanfield's is that it is a progressive business. There would be very few of these old-time Nova Scotia family businesses that have been around for 90 years; that it has managed to survive is a great tribute to the employees and, of course, to the owner and management of Stanfield's that they have been able to do this.

One of the things that I wish to point out is that Stanfield's, whereas it had a number of functions that it had in other parts of the country, has returned it to Nova Scotia and to Truro. They brought back some of their national sales people, their design people, their graphic people and it is now being done in Truro. I am told, Mr. Speaker - and I hope I am not incorrect - that the major computer work for both American plants is soon to be moved to Truro. So here we are, where there are other plants in my constituency whose computer work is perhaps being done in Toledo, Ohio or someplace, we are going to have a plant in California and in North or South Carolina where its control is being done in my community. I would like to congratulate Tom Stanfield and all of the people down there, as well as those people at Crossley and Intertape Polymer for the great year they have had.

It is interesting, Mr. Speaker, as I say, we can talk about what private enterprise has done in my community over the past 12 months but really, if we were looking at the types of

[Page 7263]

things that the government was supposed to be involved in, whereas private enterprise did hold up and do its part, the government was very lax and didn't fulfil many of the promises that it has made.

Mr. Speaker, I had mentioned last time when I got up to speak that in addition to being sort of a manufacturing centre, we are a forestry centre, because . . .

MR. SPEAKER: . . . forty seconds.

MR. MUIR: Thank you. I will stop there.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I welcome this opportunity to make a few points as we enter into Supply for today's budget deliberations. I would like to pick up where I left off yesterday, on many of the good-news initiatives that have been transpiring in Cape Breton over the past number of years and in particular, over the past year.

As we know, P3 schools have become a major important initiative within the Department of Education and indeed with this government, indeed with all the people of Nova Scotia. That is no less an issue than it is with my own constituency. I am very pleased to see that the Minister of Education has included the Mira P3 school as one of the major capital construction projects, with tenders to be called a little later this year. That will essentially encompass the Main-a-Dieu School which is slated for closure, the Margaret MacVicker School in Catalone which is cited for closure, and the Albert Bridge Elementary School, also slated for closure.

Mr. Speaker, that has been the end result of a very extensive consultation with all the stakeholders in the various communities. I am very pleased to indicate that the residents, in particular the parents of the students that will be attending this new Mira P3 school have been involved in this process for nearly two years. They have just done a phenomenal job, and they indeed deserve to be commended.

Another positive initiative that will take place this year is at the Fortress of Louisbourg and, as many know, the Fortress of Louisbourg is within the parameters of my constituency. Reflecting on the very extensive history between the British and the French over the last 275 years, there will be the grand encampment that will be taking place. That will literally draw tens of thousands of people to that general area in much the same fashion as what transpired several years ago when a similar, large activity took place.

Mr. Speaker, as well, I am very pleased that some of the tax initiatives that have been announced by the government are starting to show some real positive initiatives in Cape Breton County, and have been well received by small businesses throughout the municipality.

[Page 7264]

I believe the further extension of the tax credit, particularly for those in the film industry, will see a net benefit. The movie that was just completed in the Fortress of Louisbourg is essentially the third one in eight years, and I am very pleased to advise all members of the House of the positive economic and social benefits to that.

Mr. Speaker, again it is an opportunity for me to extend my appreciation to the Minister of Transportation and Communications for a long-overdue project that has received some active treatment, thanks to the Minister of Transportation and his department officials. With the support of the minister and senior engineers, they have finally recognized that Highway No. 4, better known as Route 4 or the Sydney-St. Peter's Highway, is receiving some major renovation, something that has been on the books for nearly 20 years.

I recall back in the mid-1980's, when I was Chairman of the Transportation Committee for the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade, that was one of our top priorities. It wasn't until the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Clifford Huskilson, made the commitment to follow through that we were able to realize that. It was so bad on the Number 4 highways that if two tractor trailers were to meet side by side, if you were to measure from west coast mirror to west coast mirror, you would find that the total distance was at least six inches wider than the total pavement on the road. It was very dangerous, particularly with the extensive truck traffic that has taken place over the last number of years.

[2:15 p.m.]

Again, some of the other issues that we are dating back to even a predecessor, the honourable member for Kings North, when he was Minister of Transportation, made a commitment that he was going to pave the Intervale Road. It wasn't until the Honourable Clifford Huskilson came along that job was actually done. I recall listening last week to the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre complaining that they have been waiting some 15 years for some asphalt and some paving and upgrading in his riding. We have roads in my constituency that would well be defined in excess of 60 to 75 years that are well deserving of such treatment and recognition.

With that in mind I am very pleased with not only the Minister of Transportation but the senior departmental officials who have come to recognize that yes, there have been some inequities that have been generated in part because of political favouritism over the years by various governments and to put our heads in the sand and say that wasn't the case is not appropriate. I am also pleased to indicate that another major issue, an issue that was raised by a very strong supporter of the Official Opposition, the NDP, on Chaler Drive. They wanted Chaler Drive to be a number one priority and again, the Minister of Transportation responded favourably. Again, the members opposite can't complain that the favouritism is just to one political Party but it is to the needs of the people in their respective communities after careful evaluation. I think that is the type of leadership that we need and that is the type of leadership that the people of Nova Scotia want.

[Page 7265]

Yesterday, I was very pleased and happy to be present for the announcement of the new CAT Scanner for the Cape Breton Health Care Complex. As many may or may not know there is a backlog of nearly 1,100 individuals who are waiting to have CAT scans done. Early detection is very important to be able to give the proper treatment in the early stages before something becomes untreatable with severe negative consequences. I was particularly taken by the comments of Dr. Quinn who explained in such eloquent detail the need for such an important piece of medical equipment for the regional hospital and indeed for all of the residents of Cape Breton Island. I think the fact he was able to make people understand that although there is a CAT Scanner there now, it is not meeting the full needs. In fairness, given the recognition that there is a higher rate of cancer in industrial Cape Breton than in any other part of the province, the need for early detection is all that more important. It is something I certainly appreciate the Minister of Health's recognition and support for because anyone to say that cancer is an issue exclusive to certain individuals in society and not everybody's family is again, not correct.

I am going to switch to some of my departmental issues now. Some of the initiatives that were undertaken as a result of Bill No. 90 are starting to show some very positive results. As we know, a little more than two weeks ago I tabled the annual report and I think the fact that we have recognized there is somewhere in the vicinity of a $35 million surplus that has been accredited to the unfunded liability, is again, positive news for employers and the employees in Nova Scotia. Given the fact that our average provincial assessment rate is locked in at $2.54 to the year 2003, of which the general consideration is that it will come down after that, because whether individuals know or do not know, out of that $2.54, 47 cents of that assessment goes towards to the unfunded liability. If we were to take the unfunded liability out, our rate would be extremely competitive on the national scene. That coupled with the fact that now non-Nova Scotian firms do have to pay their fair share when they come in, we are starting to see that that is very positive.

The backlog at WCAT is starting to clear itself out. That is very positive news. The backlog was essentially down by between 400 and 500 before Bill No. 90 was even concluded, plus the AIEL and some of the chronic pain cases, we are starting to see that the backlog is cleared out. Hopefully, we will be on schedule, paying special attention to the Workers' Advisers Program, that that doesn't get logjammed because of the reconsideration process being moved from the board over to the Workers' Advisers Program.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the issue that a member opposite introduced in a resolution earlier today, saying that we were going around with rose-coloured glasses ignoring the reality of the economic situation in Cape Breton and trying to paint a very rosy picture. The announcement yesterday of some 500 jobs, many of those jobs will be paying $19,000 plus benefits, and some of the higher-end jobs $24,000 plus benefits.

Mr. Speaker, that is not a panacea. For anyone to say that, it would be in error, because the poverty line for a family of four today in Nova Scotia would be somewhere in the vicinity

[Page 7266]

of about $24,000. But for an individual that has nothing, $19,000 is a far better catch than social assistance or not even having anything. I think the honourable Minister of Economic Development should be commended, as should the various stakeholders for bringing that initiative.

I was somewhat perplexed by the criticism that we did receive in subtle form from the Opposition yesterday. They seemed to cast such a negative approach towards the fact that $18,000 or $19,000 was just absolutely unacceptable. The strangest thing, the same people who were so critical are the same people who would call the minister's office, as the federal member for Sydney-Victoria, the honourable Peter Mancini, called and asked the Minister of Economic Development if he could sit at the head table. If he is so negative on it, why would he want to come up and share the glory.

That was the same idea as what happened. That is what happened with the member for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton, Michelle Dockrill when we did the announcement on the Pit Pony and the sound stage. Her office called and asked if she could sit at the head table with the honourable Minister of Economic Development. On one hand, they can't wait to be photogenic in case there is some good news, but on the other hand, they can't wait to rush to the camera and criticize and rip and tear and destroy some of the aspirations and the hopes and the desires of some Cape Bretoners who are in hard need of some positive news.

Mr. Speaker, we have always recognized that these things are not a panacea, but collectively, very methodically, if we work together and diversify our economy, not depend on the Cape Breton coal industry as we once could and did; we don't have 4,500 coal miners like we once did. That is a reality. We don't have the number of steelworkers like we once did. That is a reality. What are we going to do? Are we just going to sit and whine and complain? No, we have decided to move on into the reality of the 21st Century.

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is coming short. I appreciate the opportunity to raise some of these issues and look forward to a future day. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:26 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is time for the late debate, submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. I understand the honourable member for Fairview will be taking the debate.

[Page 7267]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Fairview.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: PRIMARY PROG. CUTS - IMPACT NEGATIVE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise with some pleasure and also some concern to speak to this resolution which says:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government take responsibility for the cutting of Primary programs and the negative impact it will have on our youngest citizens.".

Mr. Speaker, this resolution has come out of a fairly urgent matter that has arisen in the last week in the Halifax Regional Municipality, in the Halifax Regional School Board. It started a number of days ago when our constituency offices began to receive a number of phone calls from constituents expressing concern about possible plans of the school board to change the Primary day and, in fact, to reduce it in some areas of the municipality. That was followed by letters, faxes, e-mails that we have received, and in fact, I received a whole stack of them just this afternoon, all at once.

Mr. Speaker, we have also received, as I am sure everyone else did, the news release from the presidents of the three local teachers' unions, who express grave concern, not just with the reduction of the Primary program but with the ensuing chaos that will occur in the Halifax Regional School Board with not just the Primary changes but the other ones. This problem has come about, as you may know, because the Halifax Regional School Board is short $16 million to fund its programs in the coming school year. That is a lot of money. That is a big shortfall.

What is a school board going to do? The provincial budget has come down. They know that they received a little bit of small change to help them along. It is not nearly enough given all the outfall, if you like, from amalgamation and the recoveries from that. So the school board finds itself in a really tricky position. Here is a school board that finds itself acting against its own interests, because it doesn't have the money to do what it knows is necessary for the education of students in the municipality.

The Minister of Education has seen this document, which I have given him, but I just want to remind the House, on the record, that according to the CCPA Monitor, Nova Scotia provides the second lowest number of dollars for education of all the provinces and territories in Canada and the states in the United States. The numbers are in American dollars, I have converted them to Canadian. The per-pupil funding for students in Nova Scotia, according to this March 1999, study is Cdn. $5,335 per student. This is clearly not enough.

[Page 7268]

The Halifax Regional School Board, less than two years ago, did its own study on the negative effects of reducing the Primary day for students in the regional municipality. I would be happy to table this, but I think it is really crucial for us to know here on the record what the Halifax Regional School Board said when it examined the Primary day, when it studied the Primary day. It didn't go to theorists, it went to the teachers from Primary to Grade 3, to find out what they saw, what they felt the harm would be. Over time, they tracked the opinions of teachers as the students moved through the system.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to read a little bit from it. As I said, I would be happy to table it. "'While the earliest reports done immediately after the Program was changed in the former County Board indicated very little concern, the degree of concern about the effects of reducing the Primary Day has increased steadily as time has passed.' Another way of saying that is that concern has increased as children have moved through the grades beyond Primary. 'The degree of unanimity expressed on this issue has been unusual.'".

Mr. Speaker, the report went on to point out a couple of other collateral problems or some collateral damage from the cutting of Primary in certain areas of the board.

One of them was, Mr. Speaker, that the more experienced teachers, when part-time jobs were needed at the Primary level, and the teachers with permanent contracts were moved to other grade levels and this left a pool of inexperienced teachers teaching at the Grade Primary. So this earlier report of the Halifax Regional Board states unequivocally that what is needed for teaching our very youngest and most vulnerable children in the schools is a mix of youthful energy and wisdom that comes from an array of teachers, some young and less experienced, but a substantial number of more experienced teachers in order to get the maximum benefit for those children from Grade Primary.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that affects the students in Nova Scotia, which has been commented on by a number of people who have written to me over the last few days and people who have telephoned me and other caucus members, is that in Nova Scotia children go to school older than they do in some provinces. In some provinces the cut-off date is December. So we have a population at Grade Primary that is, if you like, developmentally more ready than perhaps in some other provinces. This requires for them an adequate Grade Primary day, skilled, experienced teachers and the experience in the Halifax Regional School Board two years ago was that all these points were arguments in favour of maintaining the Grade Primary day.

Mr. Speaker, we have to ask ourselves what happened at the Halifax Regional School Board? Well, the answer is obvious. They do not have enough money and they have said that the problem is that they do not have enough support services and if they can save $2 million, or $2.6 million, by doing this hocus pocus with the Primary day, that they can take $0.6 million and they can reinvest it in support programs. All that says to us is that they did not have the money in the first place. They should have had the support programs. They know

[Page 7269]

what they need for Primary and now they are being forced by the government squeeze to take money from the Primary day to put into support programs that were underfunded before and should have been adequately funded in the first place.

One of the most interesting and bizarre twists of this proposal, Mr. Speaker, is that the children will go to school three days a week. One group will go Monday, Wednesday, Friday; the other group will go Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. That means that a Primary teacher will have up to 70 children to know, understand and teach in the course of a week, but it also means that one of those groups every week will have a substitute teacher one-third of the time because they will have to get a second teacher on Friday.

Mr. Speaker, it is so bizarre and it is so clear that this should not have to happen in the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is so clear to the people who write to us that it falls at the feet of this government that I would like to draw the Minister of Education's attention to his own response last week in this House where, when asked, after he gave $2 million more to the Southwest Regional School Board, whether he would entertain a submission from the Halifax Regional Board. He said, ". . . we have always been there to work with them along the way and at the end, if there is a request for further funding, that request will certainly be examined.". I think we need to hold him to that because there is not enough money in this system. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the resolution. It is an extremely timely and important one. As we speak today, I have returned over a dozen phone calls from concerned parents here in the HRM who are very distraught over what is currently being proposed as a Primary schedule, and other cost-cutting measures here in the HRM regional area of school servicing.

Also, throughout the week, as the file folder here is gaining momentum, there is fax after fax, letter after letter, and phone call after phone call from concerned parents and residents here in the HRM regarding the budget in the upcoming year. A $16 million shortfall is what is estimated for this year's budget and, with 58 per cent of all schoolchildren and young people in the Province of Nova Scotia in this one school board, it is a significant problem for the delivery of education equitably across not only HRM, but Nova Scotia.

When we start to examine some of the things that this will influence and cause to happen with parents here, it is phenomenal. We look at the situation, specifically with Primary, which is receiving the most phone calls and attention at this point. The board, because of the shortfall, feel that they can address the problem by creating a situation where students at the Primary level would attend three days a week, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 7270]

Well, it doesn't matter whether it is Nova Scotia Department of Education, Foundation Doctorate for Primary Program or a Pathway to Horizons for Nova Scotians, every one of those documents clearly show that the Primary year is the most formative for the child and the most important. If good study habits, if good personal interrelation skills are not established, if the contact and the transfer of those skills and lessons from the teacher do not occur in that year, then the ability for those children to participate on an equal footing and basis with other children is lessened, and lessened significantly.

When we look at those studies and those studies say - and I would just like to read a quote from the second one there, in the study of all teachers of Primary to Grade 2 and Resource Teachers polled, of those over 70 per cent responded. Most of those teachers indicated strongly and clearly that they were seeing a substantial deterioration in the quality and quantity of learning of their students in almost every aspect of the child's development. It is a very damning and significant statement when you arrive at a situation where students in their most formative year, will not receive the full attention of the teacher.

We are looking at, in this budget - also, parents are very concerned and I share their concerns strongly - where average class size is going to increase, we are looking at 25 and 35 as a class size. Those numbers do not allow for a teacher to successfully intervene with those children, to assess their needs, assess their abilities and teach them rudimentary skills and personal inter-function skills with other children, and plus their peers and teachers.

When we look at this situation, Mr. Speaker, that is proposed, it is to the point of where one has to ask the question: who designed this system? The off-days of Monday, Wednesday and Friday and of Tuesday, Thursday and Friday develop a situation where on one day, which is the Friday, class size rises to 60 to 70 pupils. A substitute teacher obviously has to be there for that day, but there is no way children with special needs - who will be in those classes, children of various experiences and degrees of learning and functioning skills, as they are being assessed and prepared to move on in their education - can adequately, in any way, bond to that teacher. It is a recipe to hold those children back and create a disaster.

Also, when you look at this situation, the group that is Monday, Wednesday and Friday would receive less class time obviously than the group that is Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Mr. Speaker, four out of five statutory holidays fall on Monday. That group will lose those four teaching days. The five developmental plan days for the board, teacher's in-service, all fall on that Monday, so five out of five, they would also lose that opportunity to have that learning experience. So when you start adding up those significant types of numbers in that context, one group of students would receive approximately 60 per cent of what the other group would receive in teacher and classroom time.

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[6:15 p.m.]

Also, when you look at the decision for French immersion and you start taking that amount of time away from the classroom, there is no way that those parents, there is no way that those children are going to benefit from that experience if there is a 40 per cent difference in the class time and if French immersion is on an alternate day basis. Those situations are not conducive to learning; those situations are not conducive for the child to be able to retain; the days are long and the instruction will be to spread out or scattered, with that intervening day in between. Also, with those large numbers there is no possible way that the instructor can cope in that situation to provide the time needed for each one of those children to effectively be involved in that learning experience.

One has to start looking at why we send our children to school? The basic question. It is a learning experience so they can develop the skills that allow them to function later in life. If we are going to set a practice in place, where those children have the disadvantaged against children in other school boards across the province - and they will be because of class size, because of lack of time with instructors - this government has to seriously look at their responsibility. Their responsibility, Mr. Speaker, and to the minister, is that regulations need to be developed, that uniform primary class time would be instituted across this province so that children in one board jurisdiction - whether in this case the HRM or whether it is another board across this province - are treated equitably and fairly in the resources and in the time that they have with their instructors. That decision has to be made on behalf of those children and it is the responsibility of the minister, this House and this province to ensure that uniformity of classroom time across this province.

I can't emphasize enough how important that developmental time is for young, formative minds. Whether it be the discipline aspect, whether it be the interaction and personal skills to interact with their fellow classmates and students, whether it is the reaction to their peers, to their instructors, how they develop good learning skills and habits, how their creativity is taken and blossomed so that they are proud of what they have done and they are ready to function and move forward in their learning experience.

Yes, it cost dollars, but those dollars need to be committed. We look at this province, we look at the tremendous rush to be in the brick and mortar business but this government has forgotten what school is fundamentally about and that is the classroom. Where an instructor with reasonable student numbers is there to teach a learning experience and enrichment that will give those young people the opportunity to be useful and full citizens in our province and in our society here. Those resources need to be committed to the classroom, Mr. Speaker. Those resources are there, it is a question of priority. Our children come first, not the brick and mortar. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

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HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and debate this resolution this evening, "Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government take responsibility for the cutting of primary programs and the negative impact it will have on our youngest citizens.". This is an important issue that is now being discussed by the Halifax Regional School Board. The perspective of members of this House should certainly be fed into this debate.

There is certainly one area of common agreement by all Parties represented in this House and that is, the education of our young children is critically important from the first day they enter school. That is why in our department we have been working very hard to provide a solid Primary program province-wide. For example, the department has developed a new framework that lays out the goals and expected outcome for the Primary program. This framework was developed in consultation with teachers, school advisory councils and other educators from across the province. The framework defines learning outcomes for each subject area and we have been meeting with all schools boards, including the Halifax board, as recently as this month to ensure that all boards have a clear understanding of the outcomes students are expected to achieve.

This program can be delivered within the minimum standards outlined in the regulations. We also held professional development sessions in different regions that reached almost 300 Primary teachers in one summer alone. That has been reinforced by school board professional development sessions throughout this current school year. We also added new learning resources, from children's literature to CD-ROMs, in support of the Primary program and these have been very popular with teachers and schools.

Beyond what is happening provincially in support of Grade Primary, let me now focus on the issue being discussed by the Halifax Regional School Board. First it is important to note that the Halifax Regional School Board has not made a decision on their Primary proposal. The proposal is being discussed at a board meeting tonight, there is a public meeting tomorrow night and the proposal will continue under active discussion by the school board. In fact, the board proposal has already changed once and it is important that parents, teachers and others continue to make their views known to their school board members as part of this ongoing consultation. Why? Because we have to remember we have elected school boards in this province.

Our school boards have a responsibility to make decisions about the education of children within their care. As minister, I may agree or disagree with some of their decisions and yet, school boards in turn may agree or disagree with mine. But it is not my role and it is not my right to interfere with decisions that school boards have a responsibility to make. If I did that every time there was a controversy, we might as well go the New Brunswick route and eliminate school boards. The New Brunswick option is not an option in Nova Scotia. As minister I believe in local decision making and I believe in school boards. I believe in the right of elected school board members to make decisions.

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The members opposite may say I am passing the buck on this issue but that is not the case. As a province, we also have a responsibility to provide school boards with the funding they need to set priorities in educating children. In that regard I feel the province has been reasonable and fair. Provincially, we added $82 million last year to Education and almost $60 million more is being added this year. As a result of our increasing support, both the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board and the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board in setting their priorities adopted full day Primary for children in their care.

In fact, all school boards are currently offering full day Primary within their budgets. Here in Halifax, the board has seen an increase of more than $35 million since 1996-1997. This includes an additional $12 million this year. That is a 5 per cent increase, the largest percentage increase of any of our school boards in this province, which brings me to another point. I am sure all members of this House, again, should support, and that is the principle of equity.

As members of this House know, we have an Education Funding Review Work Group with representatives from all school boards, including Halifax. They recommend how the available funding should be shared, based on established formulas. By spending the better part of the year, each year, consulting with our school boards, we believe we have arrived at formulas that fairly share available dollars among all school boards.

As I have already pointed out, all of the boards are able to offer full day Primary within their budget allocations. It would be unfair and unequitable to give extra dollars to Halifax based on the approved formulas. This year, the Halifax Regional School Board will receive more than $0.25 billion to meet the needs of their students. They are responsible for setting priorities within this budget based on the input of their parents, teachers and students.

To the board's credit, they have stated a public policy of putting students first. Their main emphasis is on the early grades. To this end, I think it is only fair we consider the broader context of their commitment as presented by the school board. A lot of needy attention has focused on one part of their proposal, reducing the Primary hours. But in fairness to the board, this is within a broader plan that goes beyond simply looking at the number of hours a child sits in the classroom.

In fact, the board has a multi-year plan called setting students up for success. Their stated policy is to ensure children get the education they need in the early elementary grades. First, the board points out that only 41 per cent of its schools across the region currently offers a full-time Primary. The board also states that the savings from Primary would not all be spent on the bottom line. Specifically, $600,000 would be invested at Grade 1, the year judged by educators as the most critical for children's rating success.

You may agree or disagree with this proposal, but in fairness to the board, their full plan should be considered. Yes, parents, teachers, members of this House should ask questions,

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in fact, tough questions of the Halifax board, about how they will ensure the needs of Primary children are met. At the end of the day, the board has the responsibility to make these decisions, and for our part, we will continue to work with the Halifax Regional School Board to ensure the outcomes, as outlined in the provincial curriculum, are met. Once again, I encourage parents, teachers and others to consider the board's plan and to make their views known. That is why we have elected school boards in this province.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, as minister I must continue to support their right and responsibility to make decisions affecting the children they serve. Thank you. (Applause)

[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[6:55 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 63.

Bill No. 63 - Halifax Water Commission Act.

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Health I so move.

[Page 7275]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I cannot tell you how happy I am to see this bill finally called for third reading. I want to assure all members of the House that we have had the occasion to discuss this bill for many long months, given that it was introduced last fall in our caucus and have reached a consensus that it is a Private Member's Bill that we would very much like to support. I hope that other members of the House, having had a chance to look at this bill will also decide to support this bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, with regard to Bill No. 63 our caucus is going to support this bill. I understand some modifications have been made since its introduction and some of the concerns that we had are no longer there. Our caucus will be supporting Bill No. 63 for third reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 63. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 101.

Bill No. 101 - Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission Property Tax Exemption Act.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Yarmouth, I so move.

[Page 7276]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 101. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 110.

Bill No. 110 - Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission Tax Exemption Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 110.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 110. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Private and Local Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 115.

Bill No. 115 - Flight 111 Special Places Memorial Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, if I might take just a few moments to frame this bill before second reading. I am pleased to speak to second reading of Flight 111 Special Places Memorial Act. This legislation allows us to put in place a framework that will designate three areas in Nova Scotia as special places. The sites include the approximate crash

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site over the Atlantic Ocean, Bayswater, and Lunenburg County where the remains will be buried and Whales Back which is located close to Peggy's Cove.

This bill will ensure that these areas stand as lasting monuments to those who lost their lives so suddenly and so tragically. These areas will also honour the many Nova Scotians who assisted in countless ways in the days following the tragedy.

At this time I sincerely wish to thank the Honourable Lorne Clarke, his staff and the members of his committee for the tremendous work they have done. They have chosen these three sites and they have chosen well. The design of the monuments that have been selected are mindful of the tranquil beauty of the area, and they respect the wishes of the families in that they offer a peaceful and reflective area to remember their loved ones. Mr. Speaker, they have ensured that the many diverse interests and opinions on this matter were considered and respected. We are deeply in their debt.

[7:00 p.m.]

In closing, I wish to assure members of this House that we have always worked with the interests of the families paramount in our minds and we sincerely hope that these areas offer a measure of comfort, of solace, and of grace. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I stand in my place this evening fully in support of this particular piece of legislation. It is important, as we have discussed in our caucus, that the monument will reflect, in a tasteful manner, not just for the next couple of years but for the many years ahead because that date in September, I am sure, will be remembered far after our days on this particular piece of earth have gone on.

It is of some consequence, however, that we continue to make sure that there is provision for ongoing and all-important communication with local residents. Judge Lorne Clarke certainly must be congratulated for the excellent job that he has done. However, I am sure that with time there must be provision - and, hopefully, this legislation will include this - that there will be that ongoing consultation that is so important as this monument is designed to reflect the important tone that has been requested by the families of these victims and, Mr. Speaker, the many hours that have been given by so many volunteers.

I look forward to discussing this bill further. It is of some importance, of course, that we understand the fact that this, under no circumstances, must ever throughout the passage of time - and let the record show - become a tourist attraction. I think it has to be continued to be done tastefully and it has to be done with full provision for the local input from those many people who have the best interests of their community, not just in 1999, but in 2099 so

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that we will forever remember the contribution of the community and the terrible tragedy that we faced on that evening. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our caucus, I am pleased to rise in support of this bill. This is an event which has touched all Nova Scotians, but I think, most particularly, those of us who live along the South Shore and who were most immediately involved in the aftermath of this terrible event.

Men and women from all walks of life, from communities near and far along the South Shore, came forward in the hope that they may be able to help those who came down on that fateful flight, and who shared in many ways the trauma of the families of those who did lose their lives in that flight and the terrible agony of knowing that no matter what they did, no matter what risks they were prepared to take, there was nothing left to be done.

There is something left to be done and that something is to remember those who lost their lives on this flight and to remember the vigour and the tremendous dedication of the communities and the people of Nova Scotia who, without thought to themselves, gave so freely of themselves for those whose lives were lost, and to try to bring some succour to the families of those whose lives were lost so that even in the agony of their loss they would know that, however far away we may be from their homes, that they have a special place here in our hearts, and that when they come here to be close to their loved ones, whom they have lost, they will always find a community ready to embrace them, to hold them close, and to share the agony of that loss with them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

DR. HINRICH BITTER-SUERMANN: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to fully support the bill that was introduced today for second reading. Everything with regard to the attempted rescue effort, the organization of volunteers, the deployment of ambulances, firefighters, the involvement of our Premier, the service at Peggy's Cove, the evaluation by the Honourable Lorne Clarke as to the suitability and the design of the sites, has gone as it should have. It has been done as it should have been done.

The sites are the way they should be in a province of our size and with the people that live in this province. This province was overwhelmed with the tragedy. The people in this province, not just in the St. Margaret's Bay area, rallied around the problem and unified. I think the decision to bring a very good piece of legislation to the floor of this House reflects that this House can act in concordance when it comes to important decisions. There is a need for closure, and there is a need for showing the people who were involved in the rescue effort and to the family members that we have acted in a way we should have acted. I will leave it at that. Thank you.

[Page 7279]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice, it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be pre-empted by my colleague here, but I move second reading of Bill No. 115 and refer this bill to the Law Amendments Committee, but I believe my colleague, the Government House Leader has a request to make of this House.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I am sorry, I didn't hear what the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: And I didn't quite understand, I must confess. (Interruptions)

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 115.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 115. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to ask the permission of the House to proceed directly to third reading on this bill. I would ask that if the House would agree that we could proceed to third reading and ultimately, passage of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, certainly on the occasion of this particular bill, do not have any difficulty with that. My only reason for rising at all, in sense of a caution, is that I don't remember if this process has ever been done on any other bill in terms of precedence. Certainly, I, on behalf of our caucus, for this particular bill, am certainly more than willing to agree with the minister's request with the understanding that for future pieces of legislation

[Page 7280]

that it would not be used as a precedent to avoid the Law Amendments process for other important pieces of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: If I just may, before I recognize the honourable member for Argyle, there have been other bills that have come before the House, amendments to bills as well as new bills, that have gone through first, second and third reading, quite often in one day.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may then, with that clarification, my reservations are removed and am pleased to give approval.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, you have answered my question. Our caucus will be supporting moving this through, but I would like to echo the comments of the member for Sackville-Cobequid. We hold Law Amendments very dear, and I think the people also want an occasion to have their say but I think in this case it would be in the best interests of the province and also the area to move this forward. We will be supporting this moving on to third reading at this time.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

Bill No. 115 - Flight 111 Special Places Memorial Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable minister move third reading of Bill No. 115.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move third reading of Bill No. 115.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 115. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 7281]

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 112, the House of Assembly Act.

Bill No. 112 - House of Assembly Act.

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

HON. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 112.

MR. SPEAKER: Do people want to take a quick look at the bill before we move on?

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. RAYMOND WHITE: For the benefit of the members, Mr. Speaker, this is a housekeeping matter. There was a boundary mistake in the drawings of the boundaries between Antigonish and Guysborough Counties, which put some of the voters from Antigonish County in Guysborough and this is correcting that geographical error.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I rise to speak briefly on this. I understand what the purpose of the bill is, and I do not have any difficulty with the intent and what is trying to be done. My caution, and I have to put this on the record - I intend that I will be voting in support of the bill going on - my concern is this, and, Mr. Speaker, you were in the House when there the last redistributions were done, at that point in time, back in . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It was 1992.

MR. HOLM: Excuse me, yes, 1992, when the boundaries were finally redrawn, there was also set up in the legislation that there was to be an automatic review, and another commission was to be set up after the next census in the year 2000 so that the boundaries were going to be redrawn by this commission after that next census was carried out.

We had at that time very carefully, and I would have to say in total cooperation of all three political Parties, we made the conscious decision that whatever recommendations came forward by the Boundaries Commission, whether we liked or disliked them, that we were not going to alter those boundaries. I think that other members who were in the House at that time will agree with my understanding, in fact, of that which happened.

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One of the things that we were trying very carefully to ensure would not happen was that we would not get into situations where there would be political gerrymandering. Now, that is not what is happening here and I am not saying that that is what is happening here. I understand that there are some conflicts with maps, Mr. Speaker, and that that has led to some confusion in terms as to where people do vote or maybe should vote. I have to point out, however, that I think this is something that in the committee stage - and that is a consideration that we have to turn our heads to, whether this could (Interruption) Yes . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: . . . and this bill will go to committee, yes - it is one of those things that we have to look at very carefully. I am not opposed to what is intended here. I wish that the mistake had been picked up in the last round when the boundaries were being drawn. Mr. Speaker, I would be less than candid if I did not indicate that I do have some concerns about altering political boundaries of ridings without it going through the process that some of us fought very hard to get, to ensure that we would not have the kind of political gerrymandering that had gone on in the past. We have had that as a record in this province. Certainly I believe we made major steps forward when we did away with that process. We will be having a review down the road, in not too many years and all of our seats may end up changing.

[7:15 p.m.]

So, Mr. Speaker, with those few brief comments, I will indicate that I will be supporting this going forward but I would like to hear a little bit about the possible implications this could have if it is starting a precedent that would be going down a road towards where we have been once upon a time, which I do not think would be in the best interests of Nova Scotia. That is not the intent of this. I am concerned about what kind of doors can be opened. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, the process to which my honourable friend refers, which made its report in 1992 and upon which the boundaries of the constituencies for the 1993 election were determined, provided an opportunity for Nova Scotians to see for the very first time an entirely independent commission at work, such that from that point forward any prospect of gerrymandering, any prospect of favouritism would clearly belong to the past and be a relic of the past, which, indeed, it should be, that moving forward into the future and the legislation provides for a process for the future, that that independence so critical to the effecting of democratic expression would be forever enshrined in legislation and in law.

Now I must say that as a member of the government which created that commission, that I am very proud of the work we did. I also was very proud of the association we had with

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the members of the other two Parties in the House with respect to the unified approach we took to respecting the decisions taken by that commission. That is not to say that every member was happy with the boundaries that that commission recommended to the favourable consideration of the House and which were accepted holus-bolus by the House. In fact I think there is still an argument that one could put forward that some of the boundaries for those constituencies almost verge on the ridiculous but, nonetheless, they were made by an independent commission and all of us, each and every one of us, dedicated ourselves to accepting the recommendations of that commission.

Now here we have an alteration which commonsensically I am sure the member who has proposed the bill would argue should be accepted and should pass through this House and should be enacted. Yet, personally - and I don't speak for other members of my caucus in this respect, each of us must make up our own minds with respect to this bill - I find it deeply troubling that I am now being asked, however noble the request may be and however honest it may be and I have no doubt, knowing well the member who proposed the bill, that it is an honourable request to the House, that I am being asked to go back, not forward, to the time when alterations to constituency boundaries, whether great or small, were made in this place by virtue of simple majority which, with the exception of this House, always met the will of the government of the day.

I am greatly troubled that we are being asked to do this. I am sure that those who live in the community which has been adversely affected by what undoubtedly was an error on the part of the commission of the day, will want this bill to pass. I think we must give them an opportunity to come forward. For that reason, however reluctant I may be, I am prepared to support this bill for second reading, to go to the Law Amendments Committee.

I do, however, personally reserve my right to give it very serious consideration with respect to this vital principle that this House adopted with respect to independence of determination respecting constituency boundaries when the bill is returned for third reading. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further interveners? The question is being called for.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 112. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

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The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

The motion is carried.

[7:21 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[7:33 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Ronald Russell, resumed the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 107 - Tobacco Access Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that completes the government's business for today. The House will sit tomorrow between the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and I would now ask the House Leader for the Third Party to give us the agenda.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable House Leader for the NDP suggests that I give him four hours for the estimates, however, I believe I will stick to our agenda. I have given notification to both House Leaders that we will be debating two bills tomorrow, Bill No. 111 and Bill No. 118 and that will be our business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the Honourable Government House Leader to adjourn, I would like to introduce to the House my son in the gallery, Major Randy Russell.

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He is the base surgeon at CFB Gagetown and next to him is his wife, Jennifer, who just graduated from medical school, Memorial, two weeks ago. (Applause)

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that this House do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 7:35 p.m.]