The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Mar. 30, 1999

First Session

TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Pictou Co.: School Closures - Oppose, Ms. E. O'Connell 5199
Environ. - Stellarton (Blue Acres Trailer Park): Flooding - Alleviate,
Dr. J. Hamm 5200
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Inverness Co.: Roads - Upgrade,
Mr. B. Taylor 5200
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Yarmouth Co.: South Belleville Rd. - Upgrade,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 5200
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. - Sherbrooke: Water (Drinking) - Clean, Hon. M. Samson 5201
Educ.: CEED Youth Entrepreneurs-Caucus Task Force (PM) -
Meeting, The Premier 5202
EMO - Gov't. (N.S.)/MT&T: Mobile Radio System - New, The Premier 5204
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2438, Commun. Serv. - East Preston Day Care: Contribution -
Acknowledge, Hon. F. Cosman 5207
Vote - Affirmative 5208
Res. 2439, Health - Air Medical Transport Program (1000th Mission):
Appreciation - Extend, Hon. J. Smith 5208
Vote - Affirmative 5209
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2440, Justice (Can.) - Supreme Court (N.S.) Family Division:
Judge Sparks - Inclusion Urge, Mr. R. Chisholm 5209
Res. 2441, Justice (Can.) - Supreme Court (N.S.) Family Division:
Judge Sparks - Absence Condemn, Mr. N. LeBlanc 5210
Res. 2442, Health/Educ. - Services Regional (N.S.-Based):
Opportunities Lost - Regret, Mr. R. Chisholm 5210
Res. 2443, Nunavut Territory (House of Assembly): Warm Wishes -
Extend, Dr. J. Hamm 5211
Vote - Affirmative 5211
Res. 2444, Disabled Persons' Comm'n. - People With Disabilities:
Employers - Role Congrats., Hon. F. Cosman 5212
Vote - Affirmative 5212
Res. 2445, Educ. - Clarence A. Beckett School: Retention -
Parents Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 5212
Vote - Affirmative 5213
Res. 2446, Stellarton Police Force - Chief Whit Whytewood:
Retirement - Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 5213
Vote - Affirmative 5214
Res. 2447, Sysco: Support (Gov't. [N.S.]) - Applaud, Mr. P. MacEwan 5214
Res. 2448, Sports - Hockey (Atom "AA" [N.S.]): Lakers (Sydney Mines) -
Champs. Congrats., Ms. Helen MacDonald 5214
Vote - Affirmative 5215
Res. 2449, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads Secondary: Budget Cuts -
State Deplorable, Mr. B. Taylor 5215
Res. 2450, Sports - Basketball (NSSAF): Bridgetown HS Teams
(Boys & Girls) - Champs Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 5216
Vote - Affirmative 5216
Res. 2451, Racial Discrimination, Internat. Day for Elimination (UN) -
Support, Ms. Y. Atwell 5217
Vote - Affirmative 5217
Res. 2452, Health: Nurses - Increase, Mr. G. Moody 5217
Res. 2453, Culture - Natalie MacMaster: Juno Award - Congrats.,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 5218
Vote - Affirmative 5219
Res. 2454, Educ. - Trisha Estabrooks: Mt. Allison Univ. (Gold "A") -
Congrats., Mr. John Deveau 5219
Vote - Affirmative 5220
Res. 2455, Commun. Serv. Secure Treatment Centre (Truro-Bible Hill):
Contribution - Begin, Mr. J. Muir 5220
Res. 2456, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103 (Otter Lake-Exit 5):
Preparation - Begin, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5221
Res. 2457, Veterans (Can.) - Walter Callow Buses: Service -
Acknowledge, Mr. G. Balser 5221
Vote - Affirmative 5222
Res. 2458, Environ. - Tire Retreading Facility (Abercrombie):
Min. Review - Conduct, Mr. C. Parker 5222
Res. 2459, Educ. - Children: Learning Needs - Fulfil, Mr. E. Fage 5223
Res. 2460, Devco - Actions (NDP): Mining Commun. Efforts -
Undermined, Mr. P. MacEwan 5223
Res. 2461, Health - Care: Bungling - Correct, Mr. M. Baker 5224
Res. 2462, Justice - Criminal Code (Cdn.): Home Invasion - Specify,
Mr. B. Taylor 5225
Res. 2463, Health - Regional Board (Eastern): Operating Grant -
Increase, Mr. G. Moody 5225
Res. 2464, Commun. Serv./Housing & Mun. Affs. - Child Care Centres:
Pty. Taxes & HST - Exempt, Mr. E. Fage 5226
Res. 2465, Tonya Feetham - Skating Performance: Joseph O'Brien
(Tribute) - Courage Recognize, Mr. Charles MacDonald 5226
Vote - Affirmative 5227
Res. 2466, Commun. Serv. - Child Abuse Registry: Statistics Delay -
Investigate, Mr. J. Muir 5227
Res. 2467, Veterans (Can.) - Walter Callow Buses: Replacement -
Premier Contact, Mr. G. Balser 5228
Vote - Affirmative 5228
Res. 2468, Sports - Canada Winter Games (Skating-Gold Medal):
Jarvis Heta & Kayla Gerrity (Lun. Co.) - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 5229
Vote - Affirmative 5229
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Judicature Act Amendments, Hon. R. Harrison 5230
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 737, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Unemployment - Statistics,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5230
No. 738, Health - Long-Term Care Facilities: Employees - Wage Parity,
Dr. J. Hamm 5231
No. 739, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Michelin Loan: Agreement - Terms,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5232
No. 740, Devco: Transition Package - Union Approval, Dr. J. Hamm 5234
No. 741, Fin. - Atlantic Lottery Corp.: Withdrawal - Plans,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 5235
No. 742, Fin. - Harness Racing Industry: Support - Guarantee,
Mr. J. Muir 5236
No. 743, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Mac Timber: Information Refusal -
Reason, Mr. C. Parker 5237
No. 744, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Mac Timber: Public Comments -
Consequences, Mr. D. Dexter 5239
No. 745, Educ. - Schools: YNN - Position, Mr. E. Fage 5240
No. 746, Justice - Supreme Court (N.S.) Family Division : Judge Sparks -
Non-Selection, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 5241
No. 747, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Mac Timber - Staff Recommendations,
Mr. G. Balser 5242
No. 748, Health - Hepatitis C: Compensation Pkg. - Status,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5242
No. 749, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Taxation: Gasoline -
Distribution Fairness, Mr. B. Taylor 5243
No. 750, Environ. - Gypsum Mine (Inv. Co.): Environmental Assessment -
Absence, Mr. D. Chard 5244
No. 751, Nat. Res. - Forestry Act: Amendments - Non-Proclamation,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5246
No. 752, Agric.: Middleton Grain Centre - Business Plans,
Mr. John MacDonell 5247
No. 753, Agric. - Drought: Relief - Implementation Date,
Mr. John MacDonell 5248
No. 754, Fish. - Aquaculture: Shellfish Testing - Status, Mr. N. LeBlanc 5249
No. 755, Nat. Res. - Land Ownership (Foreign): Special Comm. -
Mandate, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5250
No. 756, Health - Rosedale Home for Special Care: Bed Application -
Approval, Mr. M. Baker 5251
No. 757, Fin. - Currency Conversion: Fin. Agencies - Projections,
Mr. H. Epstein 5252
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 4:04 P.M. 5253
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:58 P.M. 5253
CWH REPORTS 5253
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Rural Roads: Paving Plan - Release:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5254
Mr. C. Parker 5255
Hon. C. Huskilson 5256
Mr. P. MacEwan 5259
Mr. G. Balser 5259
Mr. M. Baker 5261
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Mar. 31st at 2:00 p.m. 5262

[Page 5199]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we start the daily routine, I would advise the members that the debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening will be the debate that was originally called for last Thursday but was put aside because of the emergency debate. It was submitted by the Leader of the Official Opposition and it reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the province should release a comprehensive plan for paving rural roads before the end of pothole season.

We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing 232 signatures from residents of Pictou County who are concerned about public-private partnering in the construction of new schools. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned, are opposed to the closure of Pictou County's publicly owned, community High Schools and the construction of two amalgamated privately leased (P3) Mega High Schools. (We do support quality schools built and owned, when and where needed, by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia)". I have put my signature to the document.

5199

[Page 5200]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of those who live in the Blue Acres Trailer Park area of Stellarton. The petition reads, "We the residents of Twin Rivers (Blue Acres Trailer Park) & the affected Businesses in the area of the flooding in Stellarton N.S. call on all levels of Government to act to alleviate the problem of flooding in this area. Each year it is very stressful having to evacuate and not know if we are going to lose everything due to the flooding and There Is No Flood Insurance". The petition is signed by 93 residents of this area and business people and I have affixed my signature for tabling.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 1,600 Cape Breton residents. The operative clause states, "We, the undersigned wish to bring to your attention the DEPLORABLE CONDITION OF ROADS in INVERNESS COUNTY.

NAMELY: Route 19 to Margaree Forks

Route 395 to Transcanada and

The Transcanada to Cheticamp

For every 2 kls of good highway, we have 30 kls that are BARELY PASSABLE.

These roads lead to one of the world's greatest TOURIST ATTRACTION, THE CABOT TRAIL. Our existense, re the Tourist Trade depends greatly on decent HIGHWAYS.

IMMEDIATE ATTENTION IS NECESSARY!".

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 23 people, on behalf of the residents of the South Belleville Road in Yarmouth County, calling on the Province of Nova Scotia to upgrade the condition of the South Belleville Road. I have attached my signature to the petition and respectfully submit it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5201]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to inform the House that this morning, I, along with my colleague the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, was in Sherbrooke to announce efforts to bring clean drinking water to the people of the Village of Sherbrooke.

A new water treatment facility will be built using Nova Scotia technology that will also benefit the Municipality of St. Mary's bottom line. This new water treatment plant brings environmental benefits to the community along with jobs and opportunities for Nova Scotians. This new water treatment plant will not only serve the customers of Sherbrooke, but it will also benefit the 700 students in the municipality who attend the two schools in the area. It will also serve the community's hospital, the senior citizens' complex, nursing home, commercial enterprises and historic Sherbrooke Village, a very popular tourist destination.

Staff from the department's Environmental Industries and Technologies Division worked with the municipality to find this made-in-Nova Scotia solution. I would like to thank them for their efforts, especially Robert Anderson of our staff.

This system is a cost-effective alternative to conventional capital intensive solutions. In this case, Mr. Speaker, the conventional solution would have cost the municipality some $1.2 million. With Nova Scotia's own MG Environmental Equipment Ltd., and with the work of our department, this project will now cost the municipality $448,000.

We can take great pride in the fact that Nova Scotians are proving over and over again that they can provide cost-effective solutions not only here at home but throughout the world. The Environment Department's Environmental Industries and Technologies Division works with Nova Scotia companies to help them develop, manufacture and export environmental products and services. Our goal is to build a strong base of world-class companies that offer environmentally sound practices and products for use in Nova Scotia and throughout the world, and our efforts are working.

Mr. Speaker, over the past 25 years Nova Scotia has seen a gradual improvement in the quality of its drinking water because of new municipal treatment facilities like the one Sherbrooke has announced today. I congratulate all the people involved in making this happen, especially the warden and the municipal staff and councillors of the District of St. Mary's. Thank you.

[Page 5202]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the announcement by the Minister of the Environment. It would have been nice to have had notice of this prior to the announcement here in the House. Perhaps it has simply gone astray somewhere, but we are pleased to hear that another community is having its water problems addressed. I would hope that we will see similar progress for other communities because I know there are communities on the Eastern Shore such as Little Dover, which have been expressing considerable concern about problems with sewer and water in their community and overall, while we may be making progress here and there, I think there are a lot of communities that do not feel they are getting adequate support and that adequate attention is being placed on their immediate needs and the needs, in some cases are quite pressing. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly am pleased to see that this type of initiative has taken place in one of our communities in Nova Scotia. It is very important. It is only what everyone deserves - to have good clean drinking water in this province - but, unfortunately, there are communities that do not have that luxury.

I am wondering how much direct municipal funding went into this initiative and also how much direct provincial money. No one disputes the need, because the need is certainly great. If we can do this for one community, then why can't we do it for other communities? I can think of one that contacted me just recently and it is Little Dover in Guysborough County, where they have a serious problem with sewage and water facilities in that community. At any rate, we must look into the need that we have for other communities in this province and move forward on that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I would like to have the House recognize a number of young entrepreneurs who are visiting in our gallery today. All five of these young people will be meeting tomorrow with the Prime Minister's Caucus Task Force on Youth Entrepreneurship. The task force will be here because of our ground-breaking success in recent years in fostering an entrepreneurial culture in our young people - success that has already been recognized internationally by governments in Sweden and Finland and by the OECD.

Each of these youngsters runs a business and each have benefited from programs sponsored by our Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development - CEED for short - a joint venture whose core funding is provided by the province and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

[Page 5203]

Through partnerships with local entrepreneurs and the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government, CEED is helping to develop home-grown creators of new businesses and it is exposing our young people to entrepreneurship through a school curriculum that each year touches 25,000 Nova Scotia students. It may surprise some members of the House to learn that the most popular elective in Nova Scotia high schools is the study of entrepreneurship.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I met with some of these fine young people a few weeks ago and I was deeply impressed with their attitude and their belief in the future of Nova Scotia. I was also impressed with the staff and accomplishments of the centre and the fact that the work which began here in Nova Scotia with our Departments of Education and Culture, and Economic Development and Tourism is now expanding to other communities in Nova Scotia. Through CEED's Open for Business network, we now have drop-in storefront resource centres for young people who would be entrepreneurs in New Glasgow, Yarmouth, Windsor and Barrington Passage.

Nova Scotia's Golden Age of the last century emerged when our entrepreneurs and visionaries looked at the world around them, saw opportunities and seized them. Our next century holds even greater promise if we can continue to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit that we see displayed in the youngsters in our gallery.

Mr. Speaker, would you please allow me to introduce Melanie Mendez, Michael Burke, Shelley Taylor, Idris Fashan and Ali Marsman. (Applause) As well as their instructor, Colin Craig.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, on behalf of the Official Opposition would like to congratulate the entrepreneurs that have come out today to be here in the gallery and receive the congratulations of this House. There is no question the Centre of Entrepreneurship Education and Development is the kind of organization doing the kind of work that we need in the Province of Nova Scotia to try to reduce the barriers that do exist to entrepreneurship, to young people and others who want to begin to experience opportunities, take advantage of opportunities that exist in their communities, wherever they are in the Province of Nova Scotia.

That is where the future of this province lies, in the ability of our communities, both geographic and communities of interest, to build our capacity, our strength, whether that be economic development or whether that be cultural or social, building the capacity of our communities so that people are able to stay in this province and to be able to contribute to their communities in ways that will make a difference in the future.

[Page 5204]

I want to thank them very much for their hard work and to the staff at the centre for the good work that they are doing. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise and recognize the accomplishments of the young people who have assembled today on behalf of my caucus. This truly speaks well of the future of this province and to business initiatives that the youth of today are seeing opportunities within themselves and are reaching out to help grow what has the potential to turn this economy around, to start in their communities, and to build on what they have in their innate abilities, and to work to create economic opportunities for others.

The message is a strong one and one that we need to take well to heart. It would be interesting to hear their concerns from the youthful perspective that they have about what it is that allows them to grow and develop their idea, and on the other hand, what it is that we need to do as a government to ensure that initiatives such as theirs are able to grow and flourish. Without that new direction, that new level of economic stimulation in this province, we are going to stagnate. It is truly, as I say, important that we recognize their accomplishments and that they do have the opportunity to pass on what they have experienced, because it is their enthusiasm and their efforts and their abilities that will ensure that this economy continues to move forward into the next millennium. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise in the House and inform Nova Scotians of a proud day for emergency services in Nova Scotia.

This government, in partnership with MT&T, is putting in place a new mobile radio system. It will aid all Nova Scotians who care about saving lives. In particular the new state-of-the-art system will become a critical tool for our police forces, our land and air ambulance operators, our firefighters and our ground search and rescue crews.

The new public safety radio system for Nova Scotia that we are announcing today will increase the speed and effectiveness of our province-wide emergency response system and it will replace a 20-year old system that has reached the end of its useful life.

Our new system will allow all of our emergency response people to communicate easily and quickly with one another. Essentially, we are replacing the Tower of Babel, where communication across departments and services was cumbersome and slow, with a new province-wide mobile radio system, where everyone in emergency services will be speaking the same language across departments and distances.

[Page 5205]

This piece of infrastructure builds on many other improvements that we have already made over the past few years to our emergency response system. I am referring to our 911 central dispatch, our province-wide system of modern, well-equipped ambulances, our air ambulance, our trained paramedics as well as our new facility for training these paramedics. We are truly building one of the best emergency systems in North America.

Our new mobile radio system will be managed by MT&T. The province will pay $8.9 million a year through an operating lease and services agreement for the new service. In addition, this investment includes 5,000 new mobile radios for provincial government departments and agencies, the RCMP, volunteer firefighters and ground search and rescue crews across the province.

Just as important is our commitment to financial responsibility. We have found a solution that effectively balances unprecedented emergency response services with financial accountability. From the tendering process to the final negotiations, we have been diligent in guaranteeing the right technology at the right price.

Nova Scotians are aware that we are still operating in a time of difficult budget constraints and where every decision must be weighed carefully. In this context, I am especially proud of today's announcement. This is a province where people care for one another, Mr. Speaker, that's very much a part of our set of core values as Nova Scotians. With today's announcement, we are seeing that if we choose carefully we can and will build a modern society on the bedrock of these traditional Nova Scotia values. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Premier on the announcement of the province's new trunk mobile radio system for Nova Scotia. This is a new system utilizing state-of-the-art mobile radio equipment. The new system will enhance the communications capacity of emergency response personnel such as the RCMP, emergency health services, firefighters and so on, allowing these agencies to communicate seamlessly with one another in the field and to respond effectively as required. At the touch of a button, a search and rescue worker in a helicopter can contact a paramedic in an ambulance who can then call ahead to a hospital and this can be done effortlessly and seamlessly and, as I say, at the touch of a button.

The trunk mobile radio system would also link other user groups in both urban and rural areas across this province. We welcome the initiation of the mobile radio system, which will benefit all Nova Scotians and in particular those requiring emergency services.

[Page 5206]

We are, however, Mr. Speaker, aware of the concerns of several who have expertise in mobile radio technology and their concerns with certain aspects of the new system. We do want to know if the system is proprietary, that is, will Nova Scotia firms be able to provide equipment for the new system as is presently the case with the current system or will Motorola alone be the provider of this equipment?

Experts also noted that the Motorola system uses a digital overlay on a cellular system which can be overwhelmed during emergency situations. So that is a concern and we would like to have that matter addressed.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we have noted that our 300-plus volunteer fire departments in Nova Scotia will receive newer units, but fewer of them, which raises concern about their ability to provide the same level of service they currently provide. We haven't had a chance yet to have a detailed look at the new system, its cost and its roll-out plans. The deal was just announced today and there has been a shroud of secrecy surrounding the details of the new system. I am sure we will have lots of questions for the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat when we do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to acknowledge the Premier's announcement. Congratulations for the announcement. It will be a good thing for Nova Scotians. It is critical that we do have the technology to allow our emergency services to communicate. It will be an added benefit to the RCMP, to the ambulance, to the EMO people and to Search and Rescue. The current equipment is over 20 years old - it is dated and antiquated - there is a need to introduce new technology. The problem is, it is not a cheap transition. The total cost would be over $90 million during the 10 year life expectancy of the plan. While it is easy to say that the transition will be relatively seamless, there is no doubt there will be many problems along the way.

To note, there are currently 4,000 radios and 7,000 pagers being used by volunteer fire departments across this province. They intend to replace those with 1,000 of the new technology radios, allowing for a transition during which old systems will still be operative. This plan may create problems down the road. The five year implementation plan means that at some point there will be fire departments and emergency response teams who are relying on old technology and that may create unforeseen problems.

This was a good news announcement and we don't want to be prophets of doom and gloom, but the reality is that when changes of this magnitude are introduced, there are problems. We have talked about it being good for the province, for emergency service providers, but it also is very good for MT&T. MT&T has announced this change contingent on the province becoming one of the cornerstone stakeholders. Without the province's involvement, the plan would not move forward. The question then arises - beyond the new

[Page 5207]

technology - what is there for the province? What reward is there for the province because they have become partners at the very beginning of this plan?

There have been mentions of the opportunity down the road to partake of profits. My understanding is that is contingent on finding 2,500 private-sector people to access any additional capacity that may be available. At this point in time in fact, the province is committed to use only about one-eighth of the entire capacity of the system, so it looks as though there is going to be a fair amount of private-sector involvement. The fact that these towers and the technology is going to be used to generate profits is a good thing but it needs to be recognized that the province, as one of the main stakeholders, should have the opportunity to be involved in that.

The other thing that needs to be noted is that the plan will not come to fruition until well into the next millennium. So initially it is a good announcement and we look forward to seeing how it unfolds.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2438

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

Whereas the East Preston Day Care is rated as one of the best day care facilities this side of Montreal, and has been serving the community for over 24 years; and

Whereas Mrs. Joyce Ross, Executive Director, along with nine other child care directors, was featured on the cover of Child Care Information Exchange, a magazine circulated throughout Canada, Australia and the U.S., with a supporting article about the day care and her staff; and

Whereas Mrs. Ross and her Assistance Director, Mrs. Joyce Gough, were invited to attend the April 6th World Forum on Early Care and Education, a conference of professionals from 40 countries, organized to share information dedicated to improving the delivery of early care and education services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the outstanding contribution Mrs. Ross and her staff of the East Preston Day Care have made in the field of child care and congratulate Mrs. Ross and her assistant director upon their attendance at this important world conference.

[Page 5208]

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am requesting 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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House, joining us in the gallery this afternoon, the Member of Parliament for Sackville-Musquodoboit-Eastern Shore, Mr. Peter Stoffer. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2439

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

Whereas the helicopter air ambulance surpassed its 1,000th mission mark this afternoon while flying an ill patient from Antigonish to Halifax; and

Whereas the air medical flight crew and pilots have flown critically ill and injured children and adults, as well as expectant mothers at risk, from throughout Nova Scotia to the hospitals in Halifax; and

Whereas our Air Medical Transport Program is helping to save lives and prevent injuries;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend our appreciation to all those individuals who are involved in this vital Air Medical Transport Program and wish all team members every safety and success on all their future missions.

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

[Page 5209]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2440

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

Whereas racism and racial discrimination have afflicted the justice system in our province for centuries; and

Whereas the appointment of Judge Corinne Sparks made history because she is this province's first female Black judge; and

Whereas Judge Sparks serves today as Nova Scotia's most senior Black judge;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal government to recognize that seniority, balance and history argue in favour of including Judge Sparks among the justices appointed to the new family division of the Supreme of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5210]

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 2441

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

Whereas eight judges have been recently named to the newly created Supreme Court of Nova Scotia family division; and

Whereas notably absent from a list of appointees was Judge Corinne Sparks, despite her qualifications and her strong track record; and

Whereas Judge Sparks is the most senior judge and the only Black jurist in the family court division;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately write to the Prime Minister and the federal Minister of Justice condemning them for ignoring Judge Sparks and for their refusal to ensure minority group representation on the new family division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2442

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

Whereas on March 6th, the Premier launched his appeal for a new age of regional cooperation, proposing a health care focus because cooperation means lower cost and better service; and

[Page 5211]

Whereas on March 9th, the Premier's government delivered an ultimatum, threatening to withdraw from regional cooperation on lotteries and quit 20 days later; and

Whereas this Liberal Government is fighting with P.E.I. over Nova Scotia's unilateral withdrawal from regional training cooperation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House reject the higher overhead, reduced support for Nova Scotia-based regional services in health and education, and lost opportunities arising from this Liberal Government's inability to get along with anyone.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2443

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

Whereas on April 1, 1999, 19 MLAs elected to govern in the newly created Territory of Nunavut will officially begin their duties; and

Whereas among those MLAs making history will be Glace Bay native, Kevin O'Brien, who relocated to the High Arctic nine years ago; and

Whereas the creation of this new territory marks the first change to Canada's map since Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949;

Therefore be it resolved that the Speaker of Nova Scotia's Legislative Assembly write to the Speaker of Nunavut's House of Assembly to officially extend our warm wishes to the new Territory of Nunavut and its government.

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 and I will carry out the intent of that notice of motion.

[Page 5212]

The honourable Minister responsible for the Disabled Persons' Commission Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 2444

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

Whereas the Job Brokerage Centre in Halifax, a provincially and federally funded job placement service for people with disabilities, is hosting the third annual employer recognition celebration tonight; and

Whereas the employers who work with the Job Brokerage Centre are leading the way in helping people with a broad range of skills to contribute to their community; and

Whereas Premier Russell MacLellan recently visited the Job Brokerage Centre and saw first-hand the important connection between employers and the Job Brokerage Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that the House extend congratulations to the employers who play a vital role in helping individuals with a disability become more independent.

Mr. Speaker, I am requesting waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2445

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 on Saturday, March 27th, more than 150 parents, children and community members walked from Herbert Road to Springvale School; and

[Page 5213]

Whereas the walk's purpose was to demonstrate to the Halifax Regional School Board some of the reasons Clarence A. Beckett School must remain open; and

Whereas the reasons include a very long distance from home to school on narrow streets, some with no sidewalks, and a silent train crossing, all to be navigated by very young children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the parents and children of Clarence A. Beckett School whose actions demonstrate the value of supporting and maintaining community schools.

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 Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2446

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

Whereas Police Chief Whit Whytewood will tomorrow spend his last official day on the job before retiring from the Stellarton Police Force on which he has served as a member for almost 30 years, the past 20 years as chief; and

Whereas the job of any police officer today is very stressful, requiring many long and sporadic hours from family and friends;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Chief Whit Whytewood for his many years of meritorious service to the Town of Stellarton and wish him much happiness and every success in his retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 5214]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2447

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

Whereas the Hoogovens' business plan offers the best chance in 32 years for a viable future for the Sydney Steel Corporation; and

Whereas this government has bravely faced up to its responsibilities on the Sysco issue, provided hope for steelworkers and the Sydney area community, while recognizing that closing Sysco would exact an immediate, horrendous toll from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this government's achievements on Sydney Steel Corporation were made in the absence of support from either Opposition Party, the NDP affecting not to know enough about the business plan to endorse it, while the Tories called for outright shutdown;

Therefore be it resolved that this government be commended and applauded for having the courage to stand by the Sydney Steel industry notwithstanding the indifference and hostility of both Opposition Parties.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2448

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

[Page 5215]

Whereas the Atom AA Lakers, Sydney Mines, have worked hard to master their hockey skills; and

Whereas during a March Break tournament these 10 and 11 year olds played superb hockey winning the provincial championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature offer congratulations to these determined, hard-working hockey players, their parents and coaches on achieving the Nova Scotia Championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2449

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

Whereas the majority of public rural secondary roads in this province, such as Kolbec Road, Cumberland South; Marsh Road, Pictou East; Mullock Road, Lunenburg County; and the Cook's Mill Road, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, are in desperate need of repair; and

Whereas the Kemptown/Earltown Road in Colchester North and the New Ross Road in both Kings South/Chester-St. Margaret's, the Windsor Backroad in Hants West, the Hiltz Road in Kings North, and the River Road in Queens County are in a deplorable state; and

Whereas Highway No. 217, Digby Neck and Islands; the Moose River to Mooseland Road in the Eastern Shore; Route 224, Shubenacadie to Sheet Harbour, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and Eastern Shore; and Route 19 to Margaree Forks, Inverness County are in a state of destitution;

[Page 5216]

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Cabinet must realize that their slashing and burning of the Department of Transportation and Public Works budget has resulted in Nova Scotia having the worst roads in North America.

MR. SPEAKER: The resolution was much too long, but it is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2450

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 Town of Bridgetown was recently the centre of much celebration following the outstanding performances of Bridgetown Regional High School boys and girls basketball teams; and

Whereas the Bridgetown boys won the Nova Scotia Athletic Federation Provincial High School Championships in a nail-biter by scoring three points over Kings-Edgehill in the final three seconds; and

Whereas meanwhile, in a remarkable coincidence, the Bridgetown girls also defeated Kings-Edgehill by three points in the final three seconds to win their provincial championship;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the athletes, coaches and supporters of the Bridgetown High basketball teams and recognize that Bridgetown has one of the best records in the province for high school sports.

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 Preston.

[Page 5217]

RESOLUTION NO. 2451

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

Whereas in 1966 the UN declared March 21st as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and

Whereas in 1989 Canada became the first country in the world to have a national March 21st campaign; and

Whereas March 21st to March 28th marked a Week of Solidarity with Peoples Struggling against Racism and Racial Discrimination;

Therefore be it resolved that this House promote diversity, education and sensitivity as it relates to all people struggling with racism and racial discrimination in this province, acknowledging that racism is a problem the world over including Canada.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2452

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is experiencing a critical nursing shortage, particularly in specialty areas such as long-term, intensive and emergency care; and

Whereas more than 50 per cent of Nova Scotia nurses are over 40 and will retire within the next 15 years; and

[Page 5218]

Whereas the trend toward casualisation of the nursing profession has resulted in more and more new graduates going elsewhere for full-time, permanent employment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately commit to a policy that will increase the number of full-time, permanent nursing positions across the province, and further that his department aggressively implement a program to retain qualified individuals and to recruit new nurses to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for an introduction.

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, I would like to make two introductions, if I possibly could. In the east gallery, I would like to point out the former honourable Wayne Adams, Minister of the Environment (Interruption) He used to be the Minister of the Environment, he is still a very honourable gentleman. I would like the House to bring him the warmest regard and welcome him to the Legislature again for a visit. (Applause) He will never let me forget that one.

In the west gallery, I would like to introduce Peter Whelan from Halifax. He is a member of the Halifax Regional Police Youth Program. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2453

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

Whereas world famous fiddler from Troy, Inverness County, Natalie MacMaster, recently won the Juno Award in the Best Instrumental Album category; and

[Page 5219]

Whereas the award recognized her album, My Roots are Showing, which featured traditional Cape Breton fiddle music; and

Whereas in her Juno acceptance speech, Natalie offered her thanks to the entire Island of Cape Breton for the overwhelming support;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank Natalie MacMaster for her promotion of Cape Breton culture and offer congratulations on winning her first of many Juno Awards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 2454

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

Whereas graduating students are recognized at this time of the year at their respective universities; and

Whereas Trisha Estabrooks of Upper Tantallon will graduate this May from Mount Allison University; and

Whereas this honours history student was recognized at the Senior Class banquet with a prestigious Gold "A" for her contribution to Mount Allison during her four years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Trisha Estabrooks for her accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 5220]

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. 2455

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 Premier during a campaign stop in Truro on March 14th last year said, "no more delays are expected in the construction of the proposed youth secure treatment centre for Truro"; and

Whereas since that time, construction activity has been inactive and led to a Halifax Chronicle-Herald editorial earlier this year which said, the Department of Community of Services is using what funds it has for the treatment of severely disturbed children in scandalously unproductive ways; and

Whereas since the closure of the Nova Scotia Residential Centre in 1997, the Department of Community Services has been forced to send more than 25 troubled youths out of province and pay for a variety of costs including hotel rooms because it lacks the facilities to treat them at home;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately move to begin construction on this facility in Truro instead of spending money to keep these children out of sight and out of mind in other locations across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 5221]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2456

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

Whereas now is the time to begin clearing the trees from the land for the building of Highway No. 103 beyond the Otter Lake exit to HRM's landfill site; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in this House has offered reassurances that this work will continue on schedule; and

Whereas increasing truck traffic resulting from the landfill, in combination with the ever-increasing volume of traffic from new homeowners make this project a top priority;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation instruct his staff to begin the necessary clearing in preparation for this spring's important road work.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2457

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

Whereas many thousands of Canadians owe a great debt to Walter Callow, the founder of Callow Veterans and Invalids Welfare League; and

Whereas Walter Callow, a disabled World War I veteran conceived of the idea of a special kind of bus that would take disabled veterans and civilians, especially amputees, to see hockey, baseball and other social events; and

Whereas the Callow Buses have been performing this valuable service from the Camp Hill Hospital for over 40 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly acknowledge the long and valuable service which the Walter Callow Buses have performed for disabled veterans and civilians.

[Page 5222]

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. 2458

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

Whereas the residents of Abercrombie, Pictou County, are concerned about a tire retreading facility proposed for their residential neighbourhood; and

Whereas these concerns revolve around noise, truck traffic, chemical storage, property devaluation, as well as water and air contamination and proximity to present dwellings; and

Whereas the Minister of the Environment has authority under both the Nova Scotia Environment Act and regulations to conduct a ministerial screening of such proposed projects;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment uses discretionary powers under the Act and conduct a ministerial review of the tire retreading facility in Abercrombie.

Mr. Speaker, I will 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 Cumberland North.

[Page 5223]

RESOLUTION NO. 2459

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

Whereas last year the largest sample opinion on public education ever undertaken in Canada identified a reduction in classroom size, students with special needs and more computers in the classroom as priorities; and

Whereas the two other priorities involved teacher training and upgrading, as well as the improvement of safety and security within the school system; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has shown numerous lapses in judgement concerning their priorities toward the most important educational needs facing our children today;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government, in addition to their school construction activities, pay more attention to the learning needs of Nova Scotian children and their every day learning.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2460

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

Whereas this government has shown leadership on the Devco issue, leadership that ought to be provided by the elected Members of Parliament for Cape Breton but instead has to be provided by this government due to the ineffectiveness of current federal representation; and

Whereas the latest offering from the NDP camp as a supposed solution for the Devco crisis is the setting up of the Michelle Dockrill cooperative coal company to be funded, apparently, by severance payments volunteered by the miners who receive them; and

Whereas the United Mine Workers of America have not been consulted in the formulation of this plan, nor do they accept the notion of severance payments on which the plan for a Michelle Dockrill cooperative coal company is founded;

[Page 5224]

Therefore be it resolved that the actions of the New Democratic Party in this matter have undermined the efforts of the mining community to seek better terms from Ottawa and play into the hands of those who advocate privatization of which the Dockrill plan is a form.

MR. SPEAKER: That notice of motion is rather long but we will table it.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2461

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

Whereas the Progressive Conservative Governments of Prince Edward Island and Alberta were recently ranked the top two governments in Canada in one of the most comprehensive polls of provincial voting intentions ever conducted; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Liberal Government of Russell MacLellan underperformed the national average in 8 of 10 performance categories and placed ninth in the poll, ahead of only the Glen Clark NDP Government of British Columbia, which placed dead last in 5 of 10 performance categories; and

Whereas the National Post/Compas Research Poll identified health care as an area with which the electorate will not tolerate bungling;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government take immediate steps to correct this particular incompetence in handling the affairs of the Province of Nova Scotia and in particular their bungling of health care.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 5225]

RESOLUTION NO. 2462

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

Whereas the Canadian Criminal Code, in a list of definitions under Section 6, entitled Invasion of Privacy, lists everything from government fraud to hostage taking to break and enter; and

Whereas despite the charge of break and enter, which can cover a wide array of such offences, the issue of home invasion is referenced absolutely nowhere; and

Whereas the most recent issue of home invasion and assault in Nova Scotia transpired near Bridgewater and resulted in the arrests of three teenagers including two who were charged with beating a 91 year old man;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice have placed high on the agenda at the next provincial Justice Ministers' Conference the option of an additional charge or charges being added to the Criminal Code, singling out the act of home invasion and with it the imposition of a swift and harsh punishment instead of the proverbial slap on the wrists.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2463

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

Whereas despite an ever increasing number of Nova Scotians requiring treatment for addiction, the Eastern Regional Health Board has slashed the annual operating grant of Recovery House by more than $40,000 for each of the past two years; and

Whereas Recovery House, which was forced to borrow money against next year's operating grant in order that it could remain open for the remainder of the 1998-99 fiscal year, will face closure in a matter of months unless realistic funding levels are provided to accommodate the demand for addiction treatment and services; and

Whereas despite the fact that the Gaming Foundation Fund has a surplus of more than $2 million, the government is refusing to provide funds to Recovery House for in-patient treatment for Nova Scotians suffering from gambling addiction;

[Page 5226]

Therefore be it resolved that the government and the Eastern Regional Health Board immediately increase the annual operating grant to Recovery House in order that Nova Scotians with addictions can get the treatment they need to get on with their lives.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2464

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

Whereas there are 48,000 children living in poverty in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas recommendations released last summer from Nova Scotia's Round Table on Child Care included exempting all child care centres from commercial taxes and the HST; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Assessment Act should take this one additional step and exempt all child care centres from the business occupancy tax as well which is presently being imposed upon some centres in an erratic fashion;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Community Services and Housing and Municipal Affairs immediately undertake to begin implementing these necessary changes so that a tremendous tax load can be lifted from the backs of child care centres and the children across Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I respectfully request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2465

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

[Page 5227]

Whereas 16 year old figure skater Tonya Feetham performed a solo routine during the recent Mabou Figure Skating Club Carnival; and

Whereas the performance, which she choreographed herself, was a tribute to her friend Joseph O'Brien who passed away as a result of a swimming accident at the Mabou Bridge on September 7th; and

Whereas while dealing with the painful memory of her friend's death, Tonya persisted in her sport and captured a gold medal at the Skate Cape Breton competition in Sydney several weeks ago;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Tonya Feetham for her courage and dedication to her friend, Joseph O'Brien, as well as her ability to continue to excel at the sport of figure skating.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2466

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 recent allegation of physical assault on a three month old baby in the Municipality of East Hants brought to light the 30 convictions of physical abuse against children which took place across Nova Scotia in 1998; and

Whereas social workers across Nova Scotia will tell you that such abuse numbers could be reduced if the government paid more attention to promoting prevention instead of dealing only with abuse once it has occurred; and

[Page 5228]

Whereas the seriousness of the physical abuse of children across Nova Scotia is an unknown entity because statistics from the Nova Scotia's Child Abuse Registry have not been tabled in this Legislature since March 31, 1996;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services immediately investigate the three year delay in the reporting of such statistics and move to initiate a more accountable system that will help eliminate child abuse.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2467

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

Whereas the Callow Veterans and Invalids Welfare League was established in 1948 to promote the welfare of veterans and persons with disabilities; and

Whereas this is done by one means only, the group recreational transportation of physically challenged people for whom no other transportation is available or suitable; and

Whereas the current fleet of Callow buses is in dire need of replacement;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier contact the Callow Bus Service Board of Directors and that organization's chief patron, Lieutenant Governor Kinley, in order to develop a plan to aid the Walter Callow Aid for Veteran's Fund so that the buses can be replaced.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

[Page 5229]

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce two members of the Bedford community, Don and Anne MacVicar, who are sitting in the gallery. If you would stand and receive the applause of the House. Welcome to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2468

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

Whereas New Germany, Lunenburg County, figure skater, Jarvis Heta, and his partner, Kayla Gerrity, won the gold medal at the Canada Winter Games in Cornerbrook, Newfoundland; and

Whereas Jarvis and Kayla opened their program with what Canada Winter Games' officials describe as "a huge world-class double twist"; and

Whereas to the delight of their Lunenburg County fans, Jarvis and Kayla have earned a position on the Canadian Junior Figure Skating Team;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates Jarvis Heta and Kayla Gerrity on their gold medal performance at the Canada Winter Games and wishes them the best in their future as they represent our country in international competitions.

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.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 5230]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as Attorney General, and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: The amendments are tabled.

The time being 3:03 p.m., we will commence the Question Period and it will run until 4:03 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: UNEMPLOYMENT - STATISTICS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Premier. The minimum wage in Nova Scotia is one of the lowest in Canada. Twelve per cent of our population is unemployed, many of these university graduates. I want to ask the Premier, can he advise this House whether in fact he is proud of these statistics?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are very proud of our ambulance service. In fact a few years ago . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: No, he wasn't asking that.

THE PREMIER: I know he wasn't, but that is what I am going to tell him. A couple of years ago all you needed was a panel truck and a strong back. Now we have done our services and our training and our ambulance service is one of the best in North America. We were looking at the needs of the ambulance drivers and we will be working towards cooperating with them.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, when I finish my question, I am going to table a page from the government's own business website. It boasts, among other things, more than 44,800 people unemployed. Nova Scotia wages across all industries are 15 per cent below the Canadian average. My question to the Premier. Is this this government's deliberate economic development strategy, selling Nova Scotia to the world as the province with the lowest wages and the highest unemployment?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, since this government has come to power the unemployment rate in Nova Scotia has reduced from 14 per cent to 10 per cent.

[Page 5231]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Premier my final question. Is this in fact the goal that the Premier set for himself, when he left Ottawa and decided to come to Nova Scotia, to make this province poorer with the most desperate workers, a Mexico with bagpipes? Was that your goal?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am very glad the Leader of the Opposition has woken up to what we need to do in this province, and that is to grow the economy. We have been telling the Opposition this for over a year. (Interruptions)

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame. Shame.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: The economy is improving. We led the nation last year in the increase in investment, and the year before, and quite likely will lead the nation again in that category.

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES:

EMPLOYEES - WAGE PARITY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am addressing my question to the Premier. The Premier must be as disturbed as many Nova Scotians are when we see headlines, Nursing Home Staff Set to Strike and Strike Looms at Cape Breton Nursing Homes. This Premier has publicly committed to wage parity for the long-term care sector relative to the acute care sector. This Premier has made that commitment. Registered nurses, LPNs and dietitians have achieved that parity.

My question to the Premier is specific. Do you support wage parity for all workers in the long-term care sector of this province relative to the acute care sector?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I have stated is that this government wants to have standardization in this sector. For years people who have worked in long-term care facilities have been underpaid, some institutions much more underpaid than others. No one would take the initiative in bringing all of these workers to the same level. Well, this government has done so with its contract negotiations. We will have standardization in the sector. Next negotiation, next contract, we can move on from there.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, this Premier knows that parity and standardization are not synonymous; they do not mean the same. That is not what the Premier had said previously. Employers and management staff . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 5232]

DR. HAMM: . . . are frantic that we are going to have a strike . . .

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

DR. HAMM: . . . in the long-term care sector. My question to the Premier. Why was parity at the negotiation table when they were dealing with those employees at the upper levels of wage earners and not at the negotiating table for those in the long-term care sector who make smaller wages?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are negotiating with the workers of the long-term care facilities. In fact, we have settled with a great many of these bargaining units. We want to negotiate with the others who have yet not had an opportunity to resolve their contracts and we hope to be able to do that and we are very willing to do that; in fact, we want to do that as soon as possible.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier seems particularly calm but, when you talk to those people who are in the sector, they are frantic.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. HAMM: Let me continue with the Minister of Health. Since the Premier doesn't seem to be concerned that there will be a strike, let the Minister of Health describe his concern by describing to us what plans are in place if in fact a strike occurs? What plans does he have to look after the residents in the long-term care facilities?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I take exception to the member's comments that the Premier of this province is not concerned about the possibility of a strike. We are all concerned. All fair-minded people in Nova Scotia are concerned, because strikes are very disruptive. There are contingency plans, they have been reviewed and updated and continually monitored by the Department of Health. As last time, when strikes were threatening, we don't release those plans. Those are not released by the facilities, because they are of a confidential nature.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MICHELIN LOAN:

AGREEMENT - TERMS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. This government forgave a $25 million loan to Michelin. It became public last month that Michelin, trying to play the good corporate citizen, offered to accept a deferred payment plan, but no, no, no, this government insisted, they said, keep our money, we don't need it. I want to ask the Premier, why did you just give away $25 million?

[Page 5233]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has got to decide whether he likes Michelin or doesn't like Michelin, otherwise he is going to get whiplash but I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Government of Nova Scotia continued to negotiate with Michelin over a number of years on the various aspects of a number of loans that the government advanced. Some of those loans were forgivable loans that were based on performance and numbers of jobs created in Nova Scotia.

Michelin has far exceeded the expectations of the Government of Nova Scotia. It is a major employer in this province and we are sure happy to have them here in this province, let me tell you that, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to go to the Premier again. At the time the minister, in defence of the fact that this repayable loan was forgiven, said that it was going to save money. Nova Scotians clearly are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what that means. So I want to ask the Premier, how much money did we save by not allowing Michelin to give our money back? (Applause)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition is perplexed by the words of the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism, he is right here. So I will refer the question to him so he can answer it himself.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I know, Mr. Speaker, it will be difficult for the Leader of the Opposition to understand this so I will go slowly. What we did is we made a deal with Michelin that if they met operational targets, creating jobs, good paying jobs in Nova Scotia, that those loans would be written off over a period of years. We decided that Michelin had exceeded our expectations and that is the reason we followed that course of action.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. I want to ask the Premier, you know, this is a question that had been asked of me by a farmer the other day in Rawdon, by small business people from one end of the province to the other, they are asking me why there are two standards.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: So I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, can they get their loans forgiven, too? (Applause)

[Page 5234]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are in fact working on a drought relief plan with the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, the Federation of Agriculture, $20 million this province is putting forward in that particular area. There is no double standard in this province.

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

DEVCO: TRANSITION PACKAGE - UNION APPROVAL

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. The Premier's approach is very confusing. On Thursday, I believe it was, he had a ministerial statement describing all of the consultation in terms of him preparing a position to take to Ottawa about a Devco solution and yet we read in the paper today that the Premier is quoted as saying that the province has sent a proposal to Ottawa regarding a better package for Devco miners. My question to the Premier is, the proposal that he said yesterday has gone to Ottawa, does that proposal have the blessing of the union members that work for Devco?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, any proposal we send to Ottawa, we consult with all of the unions of Devco before we do that. They are kept up-to-date. We meet with them on a regular basis.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I believe what the Premier has said is that what he has sent to Ottawa has the approval of the Devco unions. By way of the loss of the Devco activities to the Cape Breton economy, a massive loss of over $200 million, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. HAMM: You know it is interesting, Mr. Speaker, it would seem to me that the interference from the NDP would indicate . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

DR. HAMM: . . . that they have no interest in what is going on in Cape Breton. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member will put his question.

DR. HAMM: My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier is what consultation have you carried out to allow you to go to Ottawa and indicate a solution that is acceptable to all Cape Bretoners to replace the loss of Devco to the Cape Breton economy?

[Page 5235]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are two groups that we have. I just want to take a minute to explain that to the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. One is with the members of the province and the unions relating to improved benefits; the second is economic development with the province, the unions and the community. The suggestions we have sent to Ottawa relate to an improved package for the Devco workers which we feel is warranted. We have discussed these questions with the unions, with the wives of the miners, and we hope for a positive result.

[3:15 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again with the Premier. The Premier indicated yesterday that he is going to make a trip to Ottawa to make his point with Ottawa. My question is to the Premier, at what point will the people of Cape Breton know what the point is that the Premier is going to make in Ottawa, and who will he meet with in Ottawa to make that point?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can't give the honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party all of the information, but one point I do want to make is that there has been a significant change, and that is the roof-fall at Lingan-Phalen. Where we thought we had two years of operations before the actual benefit package locked in, that may not be the case with Lingan-Phalen. We don't know, but we think it is very significant to find out.

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

FIN. - ATLANTIC LOTTERY CORP.: WITHDRAWAL - PLANS

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The Finance Minister has announced that Nova Scotia will be withdrawing from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and starting its own operation. The minister has indicated that there has been a feasibility study and a plan for this. I am asking, will the minister table today in this House, the feasibility study and the plan?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I realize that all Nova Scotians are interested in the plan with regard to how the impact will be on Nova Scotia. In fact, it will be a positive impact on Nova Scotia bringing the benefits to Nova Scotians. I have asked the vice-chair of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation today to release the information pertaining to the business plan and I understand she will be releasing that tomorrow to inform Nova Scotians exactly what we are doing with regard to going forward.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, from the minister's comments, I can expect to have that plan tomorrow. In this whole proposal the minister talks about Nova Scotia getting a fair share and he talks about the amount of money that we are losing because the minister has done a feasibility study and a plan. Will the minister now be guaranteeing

[Page 5236]

Nova Scotians that running our own lottery corporation will mean a net increase of $4 million to $5 million in government revenues?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, what it will mean is that instead of us subsidizing the rest of Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia will bring the benefits home, creating jobs and economic opportunity right here for Nova Scotians.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister continues to boast about the profitable running of the lottery corporation. What I would like to ask the minister is how much is it going to cost Nova Scotians to set up this operation?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, information will be presented tomorrow in regard to some of the specifics of the overall plan, but clearly a number of negotiations will be ongoing with our colleagues in the rest of Atlantic Canada over the next 12 months. We indicated clarity yesterday and I have again this morning, that we are working in cooperation with these other colleagues to do the divestiture of our participation in the Atlantic Lottery Corporation.

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

FIN. - HARNESS RACING INDUSTRY: SUPPORT - GUARANTEE

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, continuing with the Minister of Finance on the same subject, the withdrawal from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. Less than a year ago, minister, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation signed an agreement to run the horse racing industry in the three Maritime Provinces. They have done, as I understand, a pretty successful job in doing that. The tracks that have not been profitable, the bottom line is pretty good or is about to break even.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MUIR: Can the minister guarantee that the support now that will be given to the harness racing industry, particularly in Nova Scotia, will not be adversely affected by this new agreement?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the member opposite gets all the information he is referring to. I would like him to table that information to the Legislature here by the end of the day, if he doesn't mind. (Interruption) But what I would like to say to inform the members of the House, this decision has no effect on the harness racing program.

[Page 5237]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Minister of Finance, it seems to me, and perhaps you would explain this to me, that if the Atlantic Lottery Corporation is continuing the Race Track Agreement, we are withdrawing from that, are you indicating that the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland are going to subsidize horse racing in Nova Scotia?

MR. DOWNE: No, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, the member opposite is not aware of the detail of how this is put together. What we have done is talked about fairness and equity for Nova Scotia. This is a business decision. The member opposite, if he would listen, we will indicate to him that, in fact, the harness racing process is a sidebar to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and for that is run independently and will continue. We don't see any change; it will be dealt with as an independent business solution.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Minister of Finance, it has been suggested that there could be better arrangements made for the benefit of the harness racing industry in Nova Scotia with regard to lottery revenues.

Is your department, or whoever is going to take over the Atlantic Lottery Corporation here in Nova Scotia - hopefully not the Alcohol and Gaming Authority - prepared to examine the arrangements put in place with the harness . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

MR. DOWNE: Just to inform the member opposite, again, this is a sidebar to the Atlantic Lottery Corporation. The three Ministers of Agriculture are actively involved, in the three Maritime Provinces. It is a sidebar to the ALC and their decision to withdraw from ALC has no effect on the harness racing program.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MAC TIMBER:

INFORMATION REFUSAL - REASON

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Economic Development. My office, this past weekend, received several calls from people outraged at this government's refusal last week to give any answers on Mac Timber. The creditors of Mac Timber are good rural business people who have never asked this government for anything, other than answers.

My question to the minister is, why are you refusing to tell these people what went wrong with Mac Timber?

[Page 5238]

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in regard to Mac Timber, we are presently talking to the receiver and looking for other options. We feel, as the member opposite feels, that we should try to do everything we possibly can to get Mac Timber up and running again in the future. We are talking to some interested people in that area regarding that.

In regard to the details surrounding Mac Timber, as you know, Mr. Speaker, we were not the lead agent, the federal government was in this particular project. It was a project that met with wide, positive response in that community at the time and we are certainly going to do everything we possibly can to have it up and running again.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, again, to the Minister of Economic Development. Last week, the Acting Minister of Economic Development did indicate that that department was analysing what went wrong with Mac Timber. My question to the minister is, will the minister skip the analysis and commit to a full public investigation that will explain why this government gave money to a businessman it knew was under a cloud of suspicion in three different countries?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if what the member opposite states is true, then I guess everybody is at fault here, including the Member of Parliament down there who was in favour of it, the local council that was in favour of it, the local business community that was in favour of it and everybody else that we talked to.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Certainly it was our intention regarding Mac Timber, we allowed that funding to Mac Timber in good faith to try to create jobs in that particular area. Obviously, as is reported these days, something went wrong and we are trying to get to the bottom of it.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Minister, what is it that you are afraid of? What is it that you and the Minister of Agriculture did to make you so afraid of the public examination of this fiasco? (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the way the New Democratic Party does a financial analysis on everything they talk about in this House, the honourable member opposite is the same member that, when a firm from Ontario came to Nova Scotia last year, told the local press down there that he wanted this government to give them $100 million without even a business plan. He did not even know them and he wanted to give them $100 million, he told the press down there. So that particular kind of economic development is not what we want. We feel that we are doing what is in the best interest of the people of that area of the province. (Applause)

[Page 5239]

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - MAC TIMBER:

PUBLIC COMMENTS - CONSEQUENCES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I have learned today that a local businessman received a phone call from an official of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism who said, every time Mac Timber is mentioned in the paper your name is there. I wish you would not do that. My question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism is, why is your department trying to keep people from speaking out on Mac Timber?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member opposite will get the name of that person, I will call him up and tell him not to mention his name any more.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I also learned today that Duncan McCabe of Prime Lumber, who has publicly criticized the Mac Timber fiasco, was just subject to a surprise health and safety inspection. Will the Minister of Labour explain why Mr. McCabe was targeted because he spoke out against a Liberal deal gone sour? (Applause)

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, as all members know, and indeed all Nova Scotians know, the inspections that are done by the Department of Labour Occupational Health and Safety Division are done under the direction of a very capable director, Mr. James LeBlanc, and independent of the minister's office, independent of any politician sitting here in the House of Assembly, irrespective of what political Party, and the new Occupational Health and Safety Act, the regulations they are under, plus the IR system which is in place, which requires a complete accountability process from the front line to the inspection level be in place.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Labour table documentation with this House showing why Prime Lumber was chosen for a health and safety inspection?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I will certainly give an undertaking to the honourable member that I will speak with the director of the Occupational Health and Safety Division, relay his concerns to the director to ensure that the independence and the quality within the process is forthcoming, as it always has been any time any member of that caucus has requested but, Mr. Speaker, this is important as well. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: We have to bear in mind this is the same caucus that made three Freedom of Information requests on the same issue, to three different employees.

[Page 5240]

MR. SPEAKER: Next question.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

EDUC. - SCHOOLS: YNN - POSITION

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Education and Culture, Mr. Minister, what is your position on YNN in the schools?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for raising this point in the House. As a former educator, advertising is not new to any schools. We see scoreboards in gymnasiums. We see advertising going in yearbooks. I have said all along that we will continue to work with all our partners, including the school boards, including the NSTU - which just recently I spoke with the president, Mr. MacIntyre - and with the home and school before I come forward with a decision from our department, Mr. Speaker.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. FAGE: The minister went the long way around doing a public paid ad himself, but he hasn't had a position yet. The core curriculum and the Education Act require the minister to have a course of study as prescribed by the minister on this policy. Will the minister please tell us his position on advertising in the school through YNN?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated, I will continue to work with the school boards, consult with the school boards. At some given time, very soon, I will be coming forward with a position.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Education, again. Does the Minister of Education agree today that his prior approval is not required if a private partner signs a deal with YNN and includes it in a package in their school?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I think, ultimately, we want to do what is best for the students across Nova Scotia in our public schools. I certainly will make a commitment to my honourable friend that our position, that will, I suspect, very shortly, be brought to the floor of this House, will clearly show that. But until I have all the data gathered and all the partners have been consulted with, I am not in any position to bring that forward today.

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

[Page 5241]

JUSTICE - SUPREME COURT (N.S.) FAMILY DIVISION:

JUDGE SPARKS - NON-SELECTION

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Justice (Interruption) to the Premier. The new appointees to the Unified Family Court are being sworn in today. The government negotiated the Unified Family Court and could have pushed for a representative court. My question to the Premier is, why didn't you push for the selection of Judge Corinne Sparks, the only Black female judge in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if there is anyone in this whole Legislature that stayed out of that process, it was me. That was a federal decision. There is no way that we had any role as a province in who the selection was going to be.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is to the Minister of Justice. Many groups have written to Hon. Anne McLellan, the federal Minister of Justice, with regard to protesting the selection process that was used for selecting justices for the Unified Family Court. My question, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Justice is, what actions did he take to fix an inequitable process?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, there is nothing - I don't need to explain this to the member opposite - more fundamental to the integrity of the Canadian judicial system than the independence of the judiciary. In fact, the Premier and I are just about to leave this Chamber to go and swear in the judges here in metro, and tomorrow in Cape Breton, for the Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

The answer to the question is that we conferred with the federal minister's office. We explained to her office staff that we expected certain characteristics to be followed, our expectation in the selection and the process that they used for selecting those federal judges.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, one of those criteria should have been ensuring that the court was representative of the people of Nova Scotia. Not appointing Judge Sparks to the Unified Family Court is another insult to the Black community in Nova Scotia.

My question to the Minister of Justice is, does this government condone the appointment of the Unified Family Court that does not represent the entire community of Nova Scotia?

MR. HARRISON: First and foremost, Mr. Speaker, the Government of Nova Scotia supports the independence of the judiciary of Canada. Secondly, the submissions made to the federal minister were as follows: that it respect geography; that it respect gender; and that it respect diversity. We took our responsibility to explain to the Government of Canada the criteria by which we felt those appointments should be made.

[Page 5242]

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM: MAC TIMBER -

STAFF RECOMMENDATIONS

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. It is a very straightforward question. Did your staff bring forward any recommendation for your consideration with regard to Mac Timber?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: He asked a straightforward question and I will give him a straightforward answer. No.

MR. BALSER: You mean to tell me that a department gives money away with no consideration as to a business plan, no recommendation, no review of whether or not that business is viable? One-half a million dollars in taxpayers money was lost and no recommendation was made by the Department of Economic Development?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: First of all, Mr. Speaker, it was $200,000, not $0.5 million. These things have a way of creeping up as they move along. The provincial government gave $200,000. There was a business plan presented, supported by the community down there, supported by the local council in that area, supported by the Member of Parliament, supported by the federal government. The business plan stood the test, in our department, of due diligence, was subsequently recommended to Cabinet and approved.

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I guess it has been said that we need to learn from our mistakes. What lesson has your department learned from the Mac Timber fiasco? What steps are going to be taken to ensure that next week taxpayers don't face a similar problem?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, presently we have 900 active files in our department. Since 1993, we have $400 million out in loans and conditions of employment operations in Nova Scotia with various operations, 80 per cent of them in rural Nova Scotia, a lot of them in his own constituency. I can tell you, 96 per cent success rate in the Economic Development Department in doing business with business firms in Nova Scotia. I will stand up with that percentage any day.

HEALTH - HEPATITIS C: COMPENSATION PKG. - STATUS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. It has been a year since the federal government announced compensation for victims of hepatitis C. The government said it would offer compensation not cash. One year later, people with hepatitis C in Nova Scotia have yet to feel compassion from this government. My question is, will the minister tell us what this government is doing for people infected with hepatitis C through the Canadian blood supply?

[Page 5243]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have been actively participating with the federal government. That matter, as the honourable member would know, is before the courts to be judged as a fair compensation package. We have one of the best and most innovative look-back, trace-back programs to identify victims of hepatitis C across this country. We have been actively working with the federal government and we will follow not only the compensation package but also the one that involves not only financial rewards but also increased health care services to those with hepatitis C.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, a freedom of information request filed by our caucus has revealed that this government has no new programs in the works for persons with hepatitis C. My question for the minister is, will he please explain why his government continues to ignore the pressing needs of people who are suffering with hepatitis C through no fault of their own?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are team players on this issue. We are working with the federal government and other provinces across this country. This is a very severe illness. There are many people with hepatitis C who are availing themselves of the health care system, the quality health care system that all people are receiving in Nova Scotia, plus those with special needs, for those who have hepatitis C.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: People with hepatitis C don't have the luxury of this government working with the feds, the feds are doing not one thing on this. They haven't done a thing in a year. My question is, how much longer will this government make people in this province wait before the minister will deliver a fair compensation package?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the people of this province will wait no longer than the people with hepatitis C from other provinces. This is a matter that is before the courts, the honourable member knows that. Lawyers are working out agreements; there will be action on this particular issue.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - TAXATION:

GASOLINE - DISTRIBUTION FAIRNESS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Although the federal government takes in roughly $130 million a year in gasoline taxes from the Nova Scotian motorists, the federal government puts back only peanuts. The minister tells us that he and his government have met with the federal Minister of Transport, the Honourable David Collenette, and explains that Ottawa recognizes Nova Scotia's concern.

[Page 5244]

My question is simply this, if that is the case, that Ottawa recognizes our concern in this province, why aren't we receiving our fair share?

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that last year we had approximately $40 million transferred from the federal government to help out with the 100-Series Highways. Now we have not given up on this, we are working very hard, very diligently with the federal government to acquire more funding. As I previously said about the Honourable David Collenette, he has to talk to his Cabinet colleagues and with the Honourable Paul Martin, and determine how much they will put into this highway program. I will give the commitment that I will certainly keep pushing them on this.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, thank you. The federal government tells us they have a large surplus, Mr. Speaker. Part of that surplus has been generated by taking $4.2 billion from Canadian motorists, yet this province has no highway agreement with their federal counterparts. Why doesn't this province have an agreement with Ottawa to fix the highways in this province?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I would like to remind him that there are still agreements in place. There is the SHIP agreement - there is $10 million that is going to do Highway No. 104, between Salt Springs and Alma. That is in place and that will be done this summer.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, back to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. His government has continually slashed and burned the budget of the Department of Transportation and Public Works in this province. I have to ask the minister, are anticipated savings resulting from a favourable winter going to translate into additional highway improvements this year, or, has the Minister of Finance got his greedy hands out?

MR. HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, yes, we have had a very good winter but we don't know the exact savings we have yet. I will say just one thing to the honourable member; if we had the $800 million that we spend on the debt that was accumulated, we would do a lot of road work in the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - GYPSUM MINE (INV. CO.):

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT - ABSENCE

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the honourable Minister of the Environment. The Department of the Environment has recently given conditional approval to the establishment and operation of a new gypsum mine in Melford, Inverness County, which the NDP recognizes will be important to maintaining jobs in the

[Page 5245]

area. My question for the minister is, why would a gypsum mine that will extract 1.8 million tons of ore per year not be subject to a full-scale environmental assessment process?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I would thank the honourable member for this question. As you know, the Department of the Environment has a very comprehensive review procedure which works with the community and with the proponent in order to address the concerns. That has been done here. The company first put forward an application and, due to concerns from the community, withdrew it and then brought this application forward, in consultation with the community. We work directly with the community. We have addressed the concerns they have raised, it is part of the conditional approval that has been given to them. We have worked with the community and to say that that has not taken place, is just not true.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, the facts are that people in this area are so concerned about the impact of this mine that they have gone and sought independent advice from consultants here in the Halifax area.

With regard to the assessment of this mine, I would ask why would the measurement of the impact of dust and noise for that mine be measured only at a distance of 800 metres from the centre of the mine, when the blasting, the digging, the transportation and the destruction of old-growth forest will take place right up to the edge of the two-kilometre site?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as part of the conditional approval for this mine, there are very strict procedures put in for monitoring dust. This is a standard thing we have done with previous mine approvals. This is an accepted standard here in this province and has been accepted for years. This is in place for this mine also. In no way have we cut any corners with the mine approval. There are over 31 conditions which have been attached to this conditional approval, including a number of concerns and we have addressed those concerns and the company will be taking those concerns seriously.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, will the minister assure the House that the cost to the community, to travellers and to the taxpayers, of the subsidy to maintain the 40 kilometres of road which is going to be beaten to death by 500 to 600 trucks a day carrying gypsum, will be fully reimbursed by Georgia Pacific?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in granting this conditional approval, our department maintains an active participation with this mine. We will continue to monitor the activities of this mine and we will continue to monitor concerns.

[Page 5246]

What we can guarantee, Mr. Speaker, is 120 jobs. Let me say it again, this is for the Cape Breton economy, 120 jobs; 20 new positions, 330 spin-off jobs and $10 million injected into . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Next question, next question.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES. - FORESTRY ACT:

AMENDMENTS - NON-PROCLAMATION

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the honourable Minister of Natural Resources. Considerable concern still exists in rural Nova Scotia about sustainability of Nova Scotia's forest industry; in fact, a spokesperson for the Forest Council of Western Nova Scotia was quoted the other day as saying the industry could collapse within five years if a sustainable forest plan is not put in place.

Why has your government not had amendments to the Forestry Act, that were agreed upon in this Legislature last fall, proclaimed?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, we expect to have that Forestry Act proclaimed in the spring, later on.

AN HON. MEMBER: What year?

MR. MACASKILL: This year, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. According to Clause 9 of the Forestry Act, the minister was to conduct a public review in each county. Have these reviews commenced?

MR. MACASKILL: No, these consultations have not started. I may recall, and you may also recall, Mr. Speaker, that the honourable member was in no hurry getting this Forestry Act passed when we were trying to get it through the House last fall, so I don't know what the hurry is now.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, to the minister. Your department has been slashing and burning the silviculture budget for the past number of years. When was the most recent wood supply analysis undertaken by your department? When will it be made public?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: As soon as we do it.

[Page 5247]

MR. MACASKILL: As soon as we do it, the honourable member across the way is saying. This is an ongoing thing with our department. We are always monitoring, collecting data on what is happening in the forests and we will continue to do that, Mr. Speaker. There are many things we must look at as summer approaches, relative to insects and to fire. We will continue to monitor the situation of our forests and the harvesting.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC.: MIDDLETON GRAIN CENTRE - BUSINESS PLANS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Representatives of the Western Nova Scotia Agriculture Society presented a business plan to operate the Middleton Grain Centre to the honourable Minister of Agriculture on March 16th. My question. Will the minister tell us the outcome of his promised talks with the honourable Minister of Economic Development?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, they did present us with a new, revised plan for the Middleton Grain Centre and the facilities there. In fact, I will say it was an excellent meeting. They brought in an excellent report. (Interruption) If you would be quiet for a minute, I will tell you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LORRAINE: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker. Just today our deputy minister has arranged a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and they are meeting, I think, as we talk right now.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my second question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. What exactly is your department willing to offer the society? (Applause)

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, whatever we offer them, it is under negotiation right now, but I do not negotiate these deals on the floor of the Legislature. I have told this House that many times.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: The farmers in the Middleton area need to know if they can go ahead and plant grain this season. So to the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, when the society representatives meet with your department this afternoon, will they be given a date for when they can take over the centre from East Coast Commodities and start operating it? (Applause)

[Page 5248]

MR. LORRAINE: Surely that member does not expect me to speak for the Department of Economic Development. The Department of Agriculture is not a loaning agency. I have just said that our deputy minister had arranged a meeting for them today. They are meeting with the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and I suppose other department staff. I have not heard the results of that meeting because they are meeting right at the present time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East, a new question.

AGRIC. - DROUGHT: RELIEF - IMPLEMENTATION DATE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, again for the Minister of Agriculture, on November 18th the minister announced a three component relief program. The first two components included the reinstatement of the loss provision program as well as a new grant program effective April 1st. Is the minister and his department still on track in having these programs implemented by the promised date of this Thursday?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: The member is talking about the $20 million drought relief program that we announced last November. It is over a five year period. As far as I am concerned, the program is on track and will be implemented.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister's department has been negotiating with the federal government on its national relief program since last fall. So far we have not signed on. My question is, what are we doing to push the federal government on reaching a better agreement for Nova Scotia farmers?

MR. LORRAINE: I suppose, Mr. Speaker, there is nobody more disappointed than I am in the negotiations we have had, and there have been many with the federal department. You have to understand that program was not a great benefit because it was more of a one commodity program and, in fact, assisting the western farmers better than the Maritime farmers. We have not agreed to sign the agreement, nor will we until we get a better deal.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that was the object of my question, what are you doing. My third question to the minister, the minister stated last fall that he would have a go-it-alone program if there was no federal program. So my question to the minister, what is your plan for Nova Scotia with no federal program? (Applause)

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, that program and a portion of that $20 million last fall was ear-marked in the event that we did not reach an agreement with the federal program, that we would assist our producers and we will assist our producers as time goes on. I must say it will be in conjunction with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture because we do not implement anything without their approval. (Applause)

[Page 5249]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

FISH. - AQUACULTURE: SHELLFISH TESTING - STATUS

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Mr. Minister, it has been brought to my attention recently that the funding for the shellfish testing programs for species such as oysters, mussels and scallops, here in Nova Scotia is set to terminate at the end of September of this year. Can the minister please inform the House of the status of that program?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, we are presently trying to negotiate a new deal on the shellfish testing program. It is a very important program and one essential for the aquaculture industry and we are going to continue that process.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am happy to hear that the minister is negotiating, meanwhile people are still waiting for answers. I am sure the minister is aware that the costs of these programs that basically ensure the safety of these products, would cost the taxpayers of this province less than what they are currently paying the former Deputy Minister of Health to stay home and do nothing. Can the minister, again, tell the people of Nova Scotia why this program is not in place for this important industry?

MR. COLWELL: The program in the past, it is my understanding and going from my memory on this, that the program was funded under a federal program and the program is coming to an end, where basically the industry didn't have to pay hardly anything for the testing and it is time now, we believe, that the industry has to pay a fair share of the cost of doing it rather than the taxpayers paying for it totally.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, if you talk to people in aquaculture across this province, this government hasn't given them anything in comparison to what the other provinces across the Maritime Provinces have. I question this minister, do you have the commitment to support the fishermen of this province who are working in competition with other provinces so that they can make a livelihood in this province and be successful? That is the question.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I am a little bit perplexed by the question. First it is aquaculturalists and then it is fishermen. They are two different groups of people altogether. The only thing I can say is, the aquaculture industry in this province had phenomenal growth this year. We are expecting phenomenal growth next year, and we are working very closely with the industry to ensure that the industry grows and prospers on a healthy basis financially and environmentally.

[Page 5250]

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

NAT. RES. - LAND OWNERSHIP (FOREIGN):

SPECIAL COMM. - MANDATE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Mr. Minister, it has been announced that there has been a special committee of senior bureaucrats (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Mr. Minister, it has been announced that there is a special committee of senior bureaucrats from the Departments of Natural Resources, Finance, and Housing and Municipal Affairs to study if there is a problem with foreign ownership and the Land Disclosure Act of 1973, which has been described as weak, compliant, sporadic and penalties, non-compliant. Mr. Minister, what is the mandate of this special committee?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, the question the honourable member has asked, I think he answered himself. The mandate of this committee is looking into the issue of offshore ownership in our province.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Minister, you have said in this House, I don't know what I can do, but I will do whatever I can to stop this slippage. What are you prepared to do to ensure that Nova Scotians will hear from this committee, and will its report be made public?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, we are working to that end, and as any report that the minister or any minister will have ready for the public will certainly be tabled in this House, it won't be private. As a matter of fact, I will make a special effort to get it to the honourable member as soon as the ink is dry on it.

MR. ESTABROOKS: There is a promise you will keep. I would like to invite the minister some sunny afternoon over the next couple of weeks to take a tour of some beaches where it says No Trespassing, Access Denied, Private Property. I would invite the minister, will you come to Nice View Drive in Terrance Bay with me and greet those people with the problem of non-residency at your earliest possible convenience?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, any private landholder has the right to put whatever sign he wants on his property. It is not up to the government to dictate to any landholder what they should or should not post on their lands.

[Page 5251]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

HEALTH - ROSEDALE HOME FOR SPECIAL CARE:

BED APPLICATION - APPROVAL

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Mr. Minister, you will recall that on many occasions I have written to you about the application of the Rosedale Home for Special Care, for beds. To this point, after almost a year of writing letters, the board of directors of the Rosedale Home for Special Care has still been unable to get an answer about whether or not their application is going to be approved. Can the minister indicate whether or not that application for beds is going to be approved?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have designated approximately 170 beds; about 41 have been allocated at this juncture. There is a process going on, and all of the nursing homes that bring forward the proposals will be treated fairly and equally.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister could tell us and the 40 or so people in Lunenburg County who are waiting to get into a nursing home, when, in the fullness of time he expects to give an answer on this important question? (Interruptions) (Laughter)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have one minute and then the fullness of time will come to an end. This is a serious matter and we treat this very seriously. There are waiting lists that we are addressing. There are high areas and there are needs throughout the province. We are trying to do as well as we can. We put $22 million extra in the budget last year for long-term care and we are addressing these issues. There is a process in place and we have already made decisions. We will be making and announcing further decisions.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the wonderful thing about that is the government can announce beds but if they never build them, they do not cost anything. My question to the minister is, when is he going to make a decision and give the beds out, construct the facilities, so that people can actually use the spaces that exist on paper?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, you have to work in a responsible manner. These are issues that you do not just go around the province, like the previous government did, and put signs up all over the place and plaques and openings and cutting ribbons. We are doing this in a very thoughtful and fair manner that is responsible. They will be announced. Whether they will be those beds in that particular area, the whole area has to be assessed and that particular group does not have a greater claim than, perhaps, another nursing home in that area, and that is the issue.

[Page 5252]

MR. SPEAKER: We have time for one quick question.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

FIN. - CURRENCY CONVERSION: FIN. AGENCIES - PROJECTIONS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the honourable Minister of Finance. I think members in this Legislature will recall very vividly the problems the minister had last year in reading the currency conversion tables in the daily newspaper. I wonder if he can tell us, what is the most recent projection he has had from financial agencies with respect to currency for this coming year?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. Maybe the honourable Minister of Finance would like to give a written response. (Interruptions)

Order, please! Before I recognize the honourable Government House Leader, I would like to get back to this question, again, about the length of questions. We are doing 20 questions in one hour, that is three minutes, and I am keeping time of every question, as I have from the beginning. There were two questions today that were over three minutes, they were four minutes, and there were two under three minutes at two minutes, and I think that is fair. If you do not like the time you are getting, tell me, and we will make it longer; however, I do not need people telling me what to do. If you do not like what I am doing, tell me.

The honourable member for Richmond wishes to make an introduction.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I direct your attention and that of the members' to the east gallery where today we are joined by long-time councillor of Richmond County, Mr. Gerry Bourque, who has served the community of West Arichat for many years as their representative, and certainly has been a leader throughout Richmond County and has been recognized for his talent as an avid sports player over the years. I would certainly ask the House to grant him a warm welcome as he is joining us in the gallery today. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

[Page 5253]

The motion is carried.

[4:04 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

[5:58 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Donald Chard in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Tomorrow is Opposition Day, so I would defer to the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow, of course, we will be sitting between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. We intend to call two bills for debate: Bill No. 66 and Bill No. 70. If we finish those early, of course we would be prepared to, if we have the support of the House, to give whatever time may be left over to continuing Bill No. 90.

The honourable Government House Leader asked me to remind you again that on Thursday the hours are going to be from 12:00 noon until 2:00 p.m., or until after the Question Period has concluded for the day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I move that we now adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: We will now adjourn. It being the hour of interruption, we can proceed to the late debate.

[Page 5254]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margarets had to take care of a constituency matter. I know the late debate is on roads, but I don't have the exact working of the resolution. I believe it is the NDP's resolution and perhaps the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect could inform us on the resolution.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - RURAL ROADS:

PAVING PLAN - RELEASE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the resolution is as submitted:

"Therefore be it resolved that the province should release a comprehensive plan for paving rural roads before the end of pothole season.".

Mr. Speaker, I wish to point out to you that I will be sharing the time allocated to me this evening with my colleague from Pictou West, who will follow in a few moments. I suppose we could say here we go again.

[6:00 p.m.]

I want to point out a couple of key things concerning this resolution, and they revolve around an important word that I think describes the issue of roads, secondary roads in particular but also rural roads in various areas of our community, and that word is confusion.

There is confusion in the minds of Nova Scotians about a number of issues dealing with roads. Confusion over the process in determining how our roads are put on that infamous priority list that we have heard from so many times. There is confusion over the process. There is confusion over the role that petitions by local citizens play in this process. And finally, there is confusion over the establishment of the these priorities and the fact that it is time to make these priorities expanded and it is time to make them fully public.

I wish to take the time that is allocated to me tonight to tell of a constituent of mine, and I am not going to mention some of the infamous roads in my area. I have a commitment to mention Eskasoni in Cape Breton The Lakes, the Canaan Road in Yarmouth. I can go from constituency to constituency, however, I want to point out to you that I have a young couple that moved into our community, my community if I may call it. The Jessome family moved to Leeward Avenue in Highland Park. Graduates of Sackville High School who wanted to live in a more rural area as opposed to the urban sprawl. They wanted to have the benefits of

[Page 5255]

being able to live close to the city for reasons of employment, but they also wanted to have the opportunity of being able to live in a community where they could benefit from some of the more rural natures of our province.

The Jessomes moved to Leeward Avenue as a young couple, bought a very nice home, contributed to our community, their children participated in minor hockey, they as young people look forward to a future in our community. However, Leeward Avenue is located in an area of Timberlea-Prospect that has an embarrassing road condition. A road condition that is neglected year after year after year.

Now, Joel, the student, star hockey player at Sackville High School, Joel Jessome was informed when he moved there that at one time Leeward Avenue was on the priority list. As his new MLA, he asked me, can you confirm that for me? Can you find out where is Leeward Avenue on the list? As a new MLA, I can tell you that was a tremendously frustrating experience for me. After placing call after call, after asking and writing letters, the problem is you don't get a straight answer. Meanwhile, Leeward Avenue is in hard shape, very hard shape.

What is needed is a strategic plan. A plan that will make war on the poor conditions of roads in this province. A strategic plan that is open, that is fair, that makes Nova Scotians have faith in the process, have faith in the priorities and have faith in us as elected politicians. Mr. Speaker, I accede the floor to my friend, the honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to say a few words about the roads in rural Nova Scotia. As my colleague just mentioned, we certainly need a priority system to determine which roads are going to be paved next, you know, is it going to be the year 2000, the year 2001, when is their road going to be done? It is important that people are able to plan and look ahead and say that I know that in 2003 my road is going to be looked after and that is really what the honourable member just spoke about.

I want to take a minute to talk about some of the conditions of the roads that are out there. It is March. It is a poor road season of the year and I probably do not get any more calls in my office than over roads, maybe social assistance might be number one but roads is a very close second. I want to tell you some of the things that people are telling me about their roads and some of the conditions that are out there right now, I am hearing words like atrocious, neglected, forgotten, terrible, potholed, and you could go anywhere from Shelburne to Yarmouth or Cape Breton, and hear these same words, I am sure, on rural roads in this province, potmarked, broken, patched and repatched, fallen shoulders, even grass growing in the middle of the road. The member for Chester-St. Margarets demonstrated that last summer, that you could feed livestock pretty near off the roadway, it was that bad, deplorable.

[Page 5256]

I could go on, Mr. Speaker, but I will not, with some of the adjectives that are available to tell us about the roads in Nova Scotia. Basically, we have no maintenance. We have very poor roads and they cost us more in the long run to look after than if they were maintained to begin with. It is like the ad you used to see on TV, pay me now or pay me later and then usually in the long run you pay more to look after it at a later date. So you pay a little bit now, or you pay nothing now, in the long run you are going to pay an awful lot more to look after our rural roads. I guess an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Basically, I think we need much more proper infrastructure in rural Nova Scotia. If we have got a good road system, we are going to have economic development and improvements to the economy. Without good roads we are going to have just the opposite of that.

I should tell you recently I had a couple of members from the Department of Transportation come in and want to talk to me. They called me and set up an appointment. It was the senior project engineer in my county and the regional engineer for the four county area in northern Nova Scotia. We had a good chat about rural roads in our area but primarily they were asking me or were looking for more dollars for the budget so they could carry out their job and get it done. That is my job, to pass on to the minister that we need more maintenance and more dollars but they are telling me that they do not have enough. They would like to have more dollars. So I am passing that onto the minister so he is aware of it. (Interruption)

What roads are out there that need repair? Somebody mentioned Toney River. Well, I have got a list here of a few of the roads in my constituency I should mention before my time is up, Mr. Speaker. The old road at Mount Thom, old Highway No. 4 is in terrible shape; the West Branch Road from River John to West Branch, the River John Road, the Millbrook Road, Highway No. 289 through Union Centre and Rocklin, the Sunrise Trail from Toney River through River John and out to the Colchester County line, the Westville Road between New Glasgow and Westville, it needs repair; Green Hill Road, White Hill Road, I could go on. There are lots of them in my riding. There are lots of them in Nova Scotia that need fixing up at this time.

I just have one message for the minister, to press for more dollars for your department. Put the priority back on rural Nova Scotia, back on fixing the roads in this province. There are lots of other priorities but certainly roads has to be one of them. Press the federal government for more cost-sharing and finally, Mr. Minister, I would invite you again to come to Pictou West to drive over the roads of our constituency. Now is the time to see them when they are at their very worst. You are invited at any time. Thank you. (Applause)

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: I rise to speak on the resolution by the member for Chester-St. Margarets regarding the condition of Nova Scotia's rural roads. I can tell you,

[Page 5257]

Mr. Speaker, the member for Timberlea-Prospect need not lecture me about the condition of the province's roads. If he had been paying attention, he would know that I have toured rural roads in the province from one end to the other. I have attended public meetings on local roads in many areas of Nova Scotia, including the Timberlea-Prospect riding represented by the honourable member.

These experiences have provided me with a first-hand look at the condition of the roads here in the Province of Nova Scotia. Do our secondary roads need work, Mr. Speaker? Yes, they certainly do. They need a lot of work. (Applause) Will my department act to ensure that the provincial road network is a safe, efficient network for transportation of people and goods? Yes, my department certainly will do that. Do we need more funding for our transportation infrastructure? Yes, we certainly do need more funding. Our highways and secondary roads help to support Nova Scotia's growing economy. As our economy continues to grow, the demands on our highways and roads increase. We need to balance the demands of development with a fiscally-responsible program that preserves the infrastructure and improves safety for all Nova Scotians.

Safety is a transportation issue, too, Mr. Speaker, something that the member and his Party need to recognize. I encourage all members of this House and all Nova Scotians to scrutinize the NDP transportation plans. Their website discussion about transportation barely pays attention to the issue of road safety.

Mr. Speaker, every debate on roads and highways must begin with safety. It is the essence of all that we do at Transportation and Public Works, and my commitment to the public safety is unwavering. Providing safe roads, bridges and buildings . . .

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

MR. HUSKILSON: . . . is job one at Transportation and Public Works. Have we been doing the job? Let me answer the question. In 1973, 277 people died in motor vehicle crashes on Nova Scotia highways. Last year, that number was down to 84. Even one life lost is too many, Mr. Speaker, but I believe it is fair to recognize that the improvements in highway infrastructure must take some of the credit of saving lives here in the province.

Here is an example: since Cobequid Pass opened some 16 months ago, there has not been one fatality on the new road or on Trunk 4. Visitors and residents of the Wentworth Valley have seen their quality of life rise. We have two major stretches of highway that will be opening this year, as well. Safety is the key component of the new four lane stretch, Highway No. 104 from Salt Springs to Alma that will welcome traffic this summer. Safe travel and the protection of sensitive water supply for the regional municipality of Cape Breton are, again, key components of the twinning project on Highway No. 125 that is scheduled to open this fall.

[Page 5258]

We all want better roads and I believe solid infrastructure is the foundation for a strong future in Nova Scotia. It is a foundation for a safe future and is not all about paving roads. In cooperation with my colleagues, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, we have formed the Road Safety Advisory Committee. This committee is charged with studying and making recommendations on a range of road safety issues, from delivering anti-drinking-and-driving messages to pedestrian safety and beyond. I look forward in the near future to receiving the committee's strategic plan and I will continue to report these efforts to the Legislature as they become available.

We work with communities to address their needs today and into the future, whether it is a new collective road in New Minas or a new Trans Canada route through the Town of Antigonish, I will always work to make our highways as safe as possible.

[6:15 p.m.]

I want the member opposite to know that the issue of road safety and economic development are linked. One does not have to sacrifice one for the other. In December, the Council of Ministers of Transportation and Highway Safety issued a major report on the investment needed to transform the national highway system into an engine that stimulates productivity, enhances trade opportunities, and supports economic growth.

Here are a few of the findings from that report. Transport Canada has estimated that a decrease in transportation costs through better roads would generate millions in GDP savings. Improving the national highway system will generate thousands of jobs and have long-term economic impacts. The Ontario Transportation Ministry investigated the cost of motor vehicle crashes involving 133,000 injuries and some 1,100 fatalities. They found that these crashes had a social cost of $7.3 billion. They also found that investing to avoid just 1 per cent of these crashes would generate $73 million in avoided health care and other social costs.

We need to take a cue from the national report, its messages are very clear, but roads are safer. Better roads support the economy, better roads even contribute to reducing our health and social costs. These examples speak directly to our government's priorities today, economic growth and improving health care.

Highway investment means economic activity involving construction and maintenance. Highway investment means improved efficiency in shipping, trade and commerce, and billions of dollars in associated spin-off activities. Highway investment even means the conservation of millions of health care dollars annually through improved safety. Highway investment means solid infrastructure and a strong future for Nova Scotia.

[Page 5259]

Mr. Speaker, this member has demanded a plan for roads before the end of the pothole season. My plan for Nova Scotia roads is simple, provide the safest, most efficient transportation network possible in a fiscally responsible manner. Before I conclude, I want to remind the member of a very famous saying, be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, to very briefly complete the government's allocated 10 minutes in this debate, I would like to admonish my friend from Timberlea-Prospect on the work of an MLA, because an MLA by his vocation is a lobbyist, an advocate for his or her constituency and lobbying for better roads is part of the process.

There is no magic about it. I have been at this game for quite a few years, and I have never seen any system that measures up to the Utopian ideals enunciated by the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. I think that he could better serve his constituents if he came back down to the real world and realized that pavement or any benefits for one constituency is a difficult thing to obtain and you have to work very hard at it and you never give up. You never give up. He need not think that just because one sits on this side of the House that there is any automatic guarantee that the projects one recommends or seeks are going to be approved.

I go through the very same frustrations that he complains about, but I don't get up here in my place and cry-baby about it. I accept that because I have learned through experience that that is the way it is, and if you don't succeed at first you try and try again. If honourable members opposite were doing their jobs and tending to the needs of their constituents they would recognize these realities, I suggest, and continue to exercise patience and perseverance. That is the way to get ahead, rather than getting up in this House in a display of theatrics and blunderbuss rhetoric complaining about the way the world is. We can't help it, she isn't perfect, but if you work hard at it, you can help to make it a little bit better. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: It gives me pleasure to rise tonight and speak to the issue of road repair in this province and the need to address that concern before the onset of the pothole season. I would like to begin by extending my thanks to the minister, because in fact last week I received a call from a constituent who lives on the old Yarmouth road, and lo and behold, he called to say that he looked out the window and saw that the Department of Transportation was, in fact, out there carrying out some much-needed repairs. So thank you very much, it leaves only about 800 kilometres of dirt roads in my riding that equally need repair.

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Having said all that, though, I think we do a disservice to those people who work for the Department of Transportation and Public Works when we don't acknowledge the fact that they are forced to try to complete their work without the necessary funding to do an adequate job. It is not their fault that the government has seen the Department of Transportation and Public Works as a place to plunder in order to shore up the Department of Health and the Department of Education. That is not to belittle the concerns in those two departments, but simply to say that we can no longer have a strategy of robbing Peter to pay Paul and address the problem of road repair in this province.

It does little good to stand and read a litany of roads that are in dire need . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: As Brooke did.

MR. BALSER: As many people have done on many occasions. It seems to be the strategy, simply to make sure that the people in your riding hear the name of the road in their area that needs to be repaired and that is perceived as having done something. As the member opposite said, it is an ongoing process to ensure that roads in your area are addressed. If one could develop a strategy that would remove the politics from road repair in this province, it would be a wonderful thing and one that I am sure would be embraced by every person in every riding, provided they knew that when their number came up, it would, in fact, see the road repair being addressed.

One time earlier in the House, I rose to say that I was very appreciative of the fact that part of the riding I represent joins with the riding of Clare, and that road was addressed. As I pointed out at that time, sometimes when you have a riding that abuts a riding that is represented by a government member, perhaps the pavement gets put down a little more readily. That is a wonderful thing and I don't doubt that there are many more kilometres on that same section of road that need to be repaired.

Having said all that, though, there is truly a need to put in place a long-term strategy that talks to the people who are out there every day. As I said when I began this statement, the fact that those people do receive phone calls, they receive the same phone calls that I receive as an MLA, or that the local representative for the municipal government and so on receive, and I am sure they feel the frustration in knowing that they don't have the resources to truly do what is needed. I have spoken to those people and heard them say that.

I know, too, that at this point in time they are beginning to look at what they will do for their budget for the coming year. I do know that the directors at the regional level, certainly the people in Middleton, have been speaking to me about the fact that they are genuinely concerned that they may not have enough money to ensure that the road situation is adequately addressed. That is unfair because ultimately they receive the most direct comments from constituents when their road is not graded, when their road is not plowed,

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when it is not salted. Those people bear the brunt of the wrath of the people who are concerned.

To just stand up and talk about this in very general terms is not doing it justice. What we need is to sit down and put aside all those political things that tend to cloud issues and ensure that the priority list is generated in a non-partisan manner and that a number-one priority, regardless of the constituency, is addressed as being a number-one priority. On that note, I relinquish the floor to my colleague.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: I would like to thank my colleague for his very helpful comments on the issue of roadwork in rural Nova Scotia. First of all, for the benefit of some members of the public who don't live in rural Nova Scotia, a rural road is just not a parochial issue, a small-town issue that is just based on a very small-sighted view of the world. You talk to any person who can't get out of their driveway, who can't get to work, whose kids can't get picked up by the school bus, who can't get the oil truck to their house to put oil in the tank - and it wouldn't matter where they lived in this province - they would not think it was a parochial issue, they would think it was a darn important issue.

Unfortunately, in rural Nova Scotia, we have a group of people who are fast becoming second-class citizens because the state of our rural roads is fast approaching collapse. The rural road network in this province is approaching collapse and when you talk to the people who work for the Department of Transportation, the area managers and those kinds of people, they are absolutely concerned for the public good about the road system in this province, because they don't have the money to do the minimum road maintenance, let alone the new paving projects, fixing the potholes, mowing the bushes, putting the culverts in, ditching - the very minimum things to prevent the system from deteriorating, not to improve it, but to prevent it from deterioriating.

We are fast approaching a state in this province where we are going to have 1950's conditions returning. In the province in the early 1950's, the roads were barely passable, if at all, in the winter and spring. We are rapidly coming to that stage. The base problem, and the minister has acknowledged that, is the budget. If the minister's budget were bigger, he would have more money to spend on the rural road network. Our Party has advocated dedicating the road taxes to make sure that the rural road network in this province, and the road network everywhere, whether it is the twinned highways or highways that should be twinned, or the rural roads, that we have a decent highway network. It affects the competiveness of our business. It affects the ability of people to ship to market and it also affects the ability of people to live a decent life in rural Nova Scotia.

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There is another cost beyond all the other costs involved on living on one of these roads. It is the cost of vehicle maintenance. People literally pound their vehicles to pieces. I went to a community meeting in Walden. There is a road called the Woodstock Road. The Woodstock Road is the shortest point from Walden to Mahone Bay. Most people in that community don't use the Woodstock Road. They go quite a distance over other roads to get to the main community in the area, Mahone Bay, and then on to Lunenburg, because the Woodstock Road is impassable. There are potholes. There are tremendous problems with rutting.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I had occasion to take my children, the winter before last, to Walden. It was in January and we were driving around and looking at the state of the roads. All of a sudden we saw, as we travelled along the road in Walden, Christmas trees sticking out of the middle of the road. There were literally dozens of these. My children thought this was a quaint Walden Christmas habit. No, it wasn't a quaint habit. It was because these people had to put spruce trees in the rural road so they could mark the potholes so they didn't break the suspension on their vehicles.

Mr. Speaker, you talk about people like that. You talk about people who can't get any kind of decent road maintenance. You talk to those people and, of course, they are hostile to the department staff, but it is not the staff's fault. It is a question of the amount of money they have to expend. I implore the minister, because we are approaching budget time again, to impress upon his colleagues in Cabinet the importance of maintaining our road network, both from the quality of life of people throughout Nova Scotia and also from our competitiveness. Because if you have a sawmill and you can't ship any wood because the state of the roads doesn't permit you to ship the wood, or if you have a problem because the roads are poorly plowed and poorly maintained, then we have a problem in this province.

In closing, I would sincerely suggest that the minister really consider whether or not there has to be a reallocation of priorities so that people in rural Nova Scotia don't feel like second-class citizens. I think that without naming road by road throughout my riding, and there are literally dozens of roads, the Mullock Road and the Charlie Hill Road. That was easy, you see. I bet every member in this House can name roads, the Bolivar Road, the Leary Fraser Road. I can go on with a litany of roads. The problem is that there are so many of those roads that have deteriorated. Those roads are not being properly maintained. The problem with the planning, as I am about to close, Mr. Speaker, is that when they pave roads - and last year in my riding they paved a road - they can only pave half of the road.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will close on this very important issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for the late debate having expired, the House will now rise until tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]