The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on
April 25, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., May 18, 1999

First Session

TUESDAY, MAY 18, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Pictou Co.: Salem Loop - Repave,
Mr. C. Parker 5795
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Queens Co.: Hwy. Nos. 8, 208, and 325 -
Improve, Mr. J. Leefe 5796
Health - Aberdeen Hospital (Pictou Co.): Beds - Increase, Dr. J. Hamm 5796
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hammonds Plains: Leeward Ave. - Pave,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5796
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: River Hebert-Minudie Highway - Re-Cap,
Mr. M. Scott 5796
Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Fees Exempt, Mr. B. Taylor 5797
Educ. - Pugwash District High School: Teachers - Increase, Mr. E. Fage 5797
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Ridge Road (Digby-Annapolis):
Flashing Lights - Install, Mr. G. Balser 5797
Justice - Bedford: Prison - Oppose, Hon. F. Cosman 5797
Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Fees Exempt, Mr. B. Taylor 5798
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Commun. Serv.: Social Welfare Reform - Interim Report,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5799
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Commun. Serv.: Social Assistance Restructuring - Progress Report,
Hon. F. Cosman 5799
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Business and Consumer Services -
Vital Statistics, Hon. R. Harrison 5799
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, Hon. E. Lorraine 5799
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing,
Hon. E. Lorraine 5799
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Educ. - Schools: Construction - Program, Hon. W. Gaudet 5800
Environ. - Provincial Waters: Management - Progress, Hon. M. Samson 5804
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 97, Business Efficiency (1999) Act, Hon. R. Harrison 5808
No. 98, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. R. Harrison 5808
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2752, Educ. - NSTU: Devco Report - Congrats., Mr. R. Chisholm 5808
Res. 2753, Health - Nurses: Casual Increase - Harm Recognize,
Dr. J. Hamm 5809
Res. 2754, Sysco - Workforce: Liberal Party (N.S.) Support -
Thanks Express, Mr. P. MacEwan 5809
Res. 2755, Scottish Parliament - Restoration: Congrats. - Send,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5810
Vote - Affirmative 5811
Res. 2756, Health - Nurses: Casualization - Damage Recognize,
Dr. J. Hamm 5811
Res. 2757, Culture - Gaelic: Promotion - Colin Watson (River Denys)
Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 5811
Vote - Affirmative 5812
Res. 2758, Educ. - Museums: Staff - Thank, Ms. E. O'Connell 5812
Vote - Affirmative 5813
Res. 2759, Health - Nurses: Training - Resources Increase,
Mr. G. Moody 5813
Res. 2760, Environ. - Let's Root For Canada 1999 Tour:
David Watson (Bridgetown RHS) - Congrats., Mr. L. Montgomery 5814
Vote - Affirmative 5814
Res. 2761, Devco - Transition Package: All-Party Approach -
Reconsider, Ms. Helen MacDonald 5814
Res. 2762, Health - Nurses: Shortage - Address, Mr. G. Moody 5815
Res. 2763, Lbr. - Occupational Health & Safety: Promotion -
MLAs Commit, Hon. R. MacKinnon 5816
Vote - Affirmative 5816
Res. 2764, Lbr. - Occupational Health & Safety: Regs. New -
Commitment Honour, Mr. F. Corbett 5816
Res. 2765, Lbr. - Occupational Health & Safety: Regs. New -
Impact Analyse, Mr. G. Balser 5817
Res. 2766, NDP (N.S.) - Record: Gov't. Future - Entrustment Unsafe,
Mr. P. MacEwan 5818
Res. 2767, Swissair Flight 111 - Solemn Ceremonies [Sept. 1999]:
Judge Lorne Clark - Media Review, Mr. W. Estabrooks 5818
Res. 2768, Health - Col. Co.: Public Meeting - Hold, Mr. B. Taylor 5819
Res. 2769, Culture: Festival Antigonish - Congrats., Mr. H. Fraser 5820
Vote - Affirmative 5820
Res. 2770, Health - Nurses: Human Res. Planning - Prioritize,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5820
Res. 2771, Fin. - Civil Servants (Retired): Dental Coverage -
Provide, Mr. N. LeBlanc 5821
Res. 2772, HRM - Police: Max Harley (First Black Sgt.) -
Dedication Commend, Mr. G. Fogarty 5822
Vote - Affirmative 5823
Res. 2773, Lbr.: Occupational Health & Safety Week - Recognize,
Mr. M. Baker 5823
Vote - Affirmative 5823
Res. 2774, Educ. - Ash-Lee Jefferson Elem. School: Jillian Caldwell &
Classmates - Projects Recognize, Hon. F. Cosman 5823
Vote - Affirmative 5824
Res. 2775, Housing & Mun. Affs.: Public Housing (High Rise) -
Sprinklers Install, Ms. R. Godin 5824
Res. 2776, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants (Frederick St.) -
Actions Acknowledge, Mr. J. DeWolfe 5825
Res. 2777, Lbr. - Collective Bargaining Process (Health):
Stakeholders - Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 5826
Res. 2778, Agric. - Drought: Relief - Misconception Investigate,
Mr. G. Archibald 5826
Res. 2779, Sisters of Charity: Anniv. 150th - Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 5827
Vote - Affirmative 5828
Res. 2780, NDP (N.S.) Caucus: Presentation ("New Kids") - Stop,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 5828
Res. 2781, Health - Long-Term Care Beds: Commitment - Fulfil,
Mr. B. Taylor 5829
Res. 2782, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Advanced Laboratories Ltd.
(Chezzetcook): Accomplishments - Congrats., Hon. K. Colwell 5829
Vote - Affirmative 5830
Res. 2783, Justice - Child Protection: Laws - Update, Mr. M. Scott 5830
Res. 2784, NDP (N.S.): Donations (NDP-B.C. & Man.) - Refund,
Mr. H. Fraser 5831
Res. 2785, Liberal (N.S.) Caucus - NDP Misdeed: Evidence -
Methodology Thank, Mr. D. Dexter 5831
Res. 2786, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Public Housing: Sprinklers - Install,
Mr. J. Leefe 5832
Res. 2787, Agric. - Livestock Health Serv. Prog.: Subsidy - Reinstate,
Mr. G. Archibald 5833
Res. 2788, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Statements: Straightforward - Use,
Mr. G. Balser 5833
Res. 2789, Environ. - Public Health Protection: Standards - Maintain,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 5834
Res. 2790, Fish. - High Liner Foods Inc. (Lun.): Anniv. 100th - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Baker 5834
Vote - Affirmative 5835
Res. 2791, Culture - Gaelic Cultural Awareness Month: Significance -
Recognize, Mr. E. Fage 5835
Vote - Affirmative 5836
Res. 2792, Health - Regionalization Task Force: Hearings Schedule -
Expand, Mr. J. Muir 5836
Res. 2793, Culture - Fossil Cliffs: World Heritage Site Status -
Mr. Don Reid Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 5837
Vote - Affirmative 5837
Res. 2794, Sports - Skate Yarmouth: Multi-Purpose Facility - Action,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 5838
Res. 2795, Educ. - Career Dev. Contest: Caleb Elliott (Amherst RHS) &
Sarah MacAulay (Pugwash DHS) - Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 5838
Vote - Affirmative 5839
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 905, Health: Nurses - Shortage, Mr. R. Chisholm 5839
No. 906, Health - Nurses: Early Retirement - Cost, Dr. J. Hamm 5840
No. 907, Health - Long-Term Care: Nurse/Patient Ratio - Improve,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5842
No. 908, Health - Yarmouth Hosp.: Bed Closure - Prevention,
Mr. N. LeBlanc 5843
No. 909, Health - South Shore: Paediatric/Maternal Care -
Disruption Prevent, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5845
No. 910, Health - Nurses: Casualization - Benefits Table, Mr. G. Moody 5846
No. 911, Agric. - Drought: Relief - Commitment (Gov't. [Can.]),
Mr. John MacDonell 5847
No. 912, Bus. & Cons. Serv.: Gas Prices - Consumer Protection,
Ms. Y. Atwell 5848
No. 913, Health: Breast Cancer - Cumb. Co., Mr. E. Fage 5849
No. 914, SCS - Future, Mr. J. Pye 5850
No. 915, Agric. - Drought: Relief - Negotiations, Mr. G. Archibald 5851
No. 916, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants (Frederick St.) -
Action Delay, Mr. D. Chard 5852
No. 917, Justice - Correction & Forensic Facility: Site (Bedford) -
Reconsider, Mr. M. Scott 5854
No. 918, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Pictou Shipyards: Marine Slip -
Repairs, Mr. C. Parker 5855
No. 919, Sysco - Loan Guarantees: Approval - Info. Reveal,
Dr. J. Hamm 5856
No. 920, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Summer Employment Prog.:
Lingan CC - Approval, Mr. F. Corbett 5857
No. 921, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Summer Employment Prog.:
Spencer House (Hfx.) - Rejection, Mr. P. Delefes 5858
No. 922, Commun. Serv. - Secure Treatment: Extra Provincial - Costs,
Mr. J. Muir 5859
No. 923, Educ. - Fall River High School: Parents - Meet, Ms. R. Godin 5860
No. 924, Health: Long-Term Care Beds - Additional, Mr. M. Baker 5861
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Nurses: Permanent - Increase:
Mr. N. LeBlanc 5864
Hon. J. Smith 5867
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5869
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 19th at 2:00 p.m. 5871

[Page 5795]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 18, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

[The Legislature rose on Tuesday, April 13, 1999 to meet again no later than May 18th.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition I want to present here today. It is on behalf of the residents of Salem Loop in Pictou County. It reads as follows: "This PETITION is to have the SALEM LOOP in Pictou West repaved. Over the past couple of years the Loop has been badly damaged by the heavy truck traffic hauling rock etc. to the new 4 lane highway being built. I understand that the SALEM ROAD will be paved because of this same damage being done to it. We are requesting that the SALEM LOOP be repaved at the same time.".

There are 70 signatures to this petition. I have affixed my own name as well, Mr. Speaker. In addition, I want to put with it a certificate showing that this road had the worst pothole in Pictou County.

5795

[Page 5796]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by over 500 persons, most of whom are residents of Queens County. They seek improvements to Highway No. 8, Highway No. 208, and Highway No. 325. They deplore the deteriorating condition of those roads and they state: "The budget for highway improvement has been cut annually, over the past number of years making our roads virtually impassable.". I have affixed my name to the petition.

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 regarding Aberdeen Hospital beds and the heading makes reference to the population of Pictou County, 48,718 as of the census of 1996 and the maximum hospital beds 119. The petition reads: "Our Residents deserve a guarantee that this number will not decrease but increase to a workable ratio for today and for our future.". It is signed by 105 residents including myself.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition from the residents of Leeward Avenue in Hammonds Plains. It bears 33 signatures, and the operative clause of the petition reads: "We, the residents of Leeward Avenue in the Highland Park Subdivision in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia, respectfully request that 1.3 kilometers be placed on the paving priority list.". I have affixed my signature to this document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 510 people in the River Hebert-Minudie area. It states: "We, the undersigned, petition the government of Nova Scotia to re-cap the highway from River Hebert to Minudie . . .". I have affixed my name to this petition for the purpose of tabling.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 5797]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of several people from across Nova Scotia. You might recall that the previous government exempted seniors from fishing license fees . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: . . . and as a consequence of this Liberal Government I beg leave to table a petition. I have affixed my name. These people are opposed to seniors citizens in this province being charged fishing license fees.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of a number of residents from the Pugwash area, parents as a matter of fact. The petition reads: "Pugwash District High School has been cut a further 70% of a teaching position. This makes for a total 5.9 teaching positions cut for a decline of 56 students - an average of 1 teacher per 9.5 students. As a result, PDHS has lost a number of programs and services including tech education programs, family studies programs, personal guidance services, and now the extended French program. Our children deserve better. We ask you to take the necessary steps to fund 3.5 additional teaching positions so that these services and programs can be restored.".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Hill Grove, Shelburne Road, Acaciaville and North Range. The operative clause reads: "We The people of the community's of Hill Grove, Shelburne Road, Acaciaville, and North Range would like to see a set of Flashing Lights installed on the sharp corner of the Ridge Road next to the Hill Grove United Baptist Church, before someone is KILLED or badly hurt . . . WE the undersigned people feel that something could and should be done before -- INDEED, IT IS TO LATE.". There are 108 names and I have affixed my name.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I am standing as the member for Bedford-Fall River riding and not as a minister tabling a petition. I am here putting into the record the petition from Bedford residents in opposition to the prison being located in

[Page 5798]

Bedford, about 850 signatures and the petition of about 200 signatures calling for an independent environmental assessment and inventory of all non-human habitats.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table another petition. The operative clause reads: "We, the undersigned respectfully request of the Minister of Fisheries to eliminate the charge for fishing licenses levied against the seniors citizens of the province of Nova Scotia as agreed by resolution in the Nova Scotia Legislature.". I have affixed my name to this petition and support it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House, in the east gallery today, a group of nurses and those representing nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia. I would point out Ms. Cecilia Webb, President of the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia; Heather Henderson, President of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union; and Mr. David Peters, President of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union.

They are also accompanied by nurses throughout the province, and particularly representing the Soldiers Memorial Hospital, the IWK-Grace Hospital, QE II, Dartmouth General, Armview Estates, Aberdeen Hospital and the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. They are here to bring their concerns and to highlight the emphasis on nursing that they demand to be addressed in this province. I support them in those initiatives and I would like the House to extend them a warm welcome. I would ask them all to stand. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

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

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I would wish to draw the attention of the members of the House to a guest in the gallery opposite, a Councillor for the Halifax Regional Municipality, who is particularly well-turned out today, Mr. David Hendsbee. (Applause)

[Page 5799]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as Chairwoman of the Standing Committee on Community Services, I would like to table today an interim progress report from the Standing Committee on Community Services with respect to social welfare restructuring and reform in Nova Scotia. This progress report is a very cursory summary of presentations that we have received in front of the committee. It demonstrates, I think, that the work of the committee is in progress.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to table a progress report on the social assistance restructuring initiative. The document is evidence of the department's commitment to continue to consult with Nova Scotians on this important issue. We have made major improvements. We are continuing to make them. I think the report is now being circulated through the House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Business and Consumer Services - Vital Statistics.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board for the year ended March 31, 1998.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing for they year ended March 31, 1998.

[Page 5800]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery I would like to draw attention to Kim Sheppard and Darlene Henry who have worked so diligently in the Committees Office with various committees, including the Standing Committee on Community Services whose interim report was tabled. (Applause)

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to stand in the House and outline details of our government's plan for school construction that was announced earlier today by our Premier at the Elmsdale elementary school. When I visited Elmsdale school a few months ago, children were bowling in the hallways because they no longer have a gym for phys ed. Their library books are being stored in a closet.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, stories like this are not unique to just Elmsdale. Many of our schools are at least 30 and 40 years old. In fact, we have students and staff occupying schools that are more than 100 years old in the Province of Nova Scotia. At Shelburne Regional High School the students have to travel across town to use a decent-size sports field. Children at St. Anthony Daniel School in Sydney take gym in the concrete basement of a neighbouring church. It is not just a lack of gymnasiums, cafeterias, labs and libraries. It is limited programs due to lack of facilities and declining enrolments.

Some school boards cannot offer the range of programs in their high schools they would like - programs such as physics, calculus and fine arts - and some students must take correspondence courses to complete the credits they need to graduate.

We owe our children more than this. We owe our children schools with bright classrooms and good air quality, where teachers have the labs, the space and the technology they need to offer a full range of programs. Already we are planning and building 39 schools across the province and we have plans to renovate over 40 more. The need goes beyond the projects now under way. School boards identified a pressing need for 16 more new schools, and we have accepted their recommendations.

Construction will begin in phases over the next four years. The opening dates are dates you can bank on, because they will be written into the contracts with our private partners. The first of the 16 schools will open no later than September 2001. Those are: a new Primary to Grade 5 school in Elmsdale - this also confirms Grades Primary to 5 for the new Enfield School announced previously; École Petit-de-Grat will be Primary to Grade 12;

[Page 5801]

Chedabucto Place - a Primary to Grade 12 school in Guysborough County; a replacement for École Sainte Anne-du-Ruisseau; a new Primary to Grade 12 school for students served by the Southwest Regional School Board in both Clare and Argyle; and an extensive renovation project for École secondaire de Clare - creating a school with the same facilities, technology and education advantages of the new schools.

I will be speaking further with le Conseil scolaire acadien provincial and the Southwest Regional School Board on these school projects. Together, in consultation with our communities we will work to ensure that these new schools, as well as École Pomquet and École Petit-de-Grat, respect the Charter rights of our Acadian and Francophone students.

Scheduled to open no later than September 2002 are: a new St. Anthony Daniel Elementary in Sydney; South Colchester High in the Brookfield area; a new school in the Pictou County, eastern area, to replace New Glasgow, Trenton and East Pictou High Schools; and a new École Pomquet, built to allow for expansion to Primary to Grade 12, as consultation continues with CSAP and the community.

Two schools are scheduled to open no later than September 2003: a new Sydney Elementary; and a new one in Pictou County, western area, to replace Stellarton, Westville and West Pictou High Schools.

Finally, scheduled to open no later than September 2004 are: Rankin Memorial, a Primary to Grade 12 for students now attending schools in Iona and Christmas Island; Shelburne Regional High; Amherst Elementary; and Cumberland Elementary to serve students in the Warren, Brookdale and Nappan areas.

Mr. Speaker, this brings us to a total of 55 new schools being built for children right across Nova Scotia, and let me stress to all members of the House that there are more needs out there. The province will continue to review requests as they are identified by school boards and the communities they serve. As well, progress continues on renovation projects that were announced in December 1997. The new schools reduce the need for renovations in 16 schools; 14 projects are well advanced, and planning with school boards will continue on the other priority projects as funding becomes available.

We are able to build these schools because we have a plan for school construction that is working, and working well. Twice now, the Auditor General has reported on the improvements we have made to the process. In fact, our plan is the only plan to get the schools we need now without adding to the debt of the province, and we have seen what the NDP and PC have been doing.

Mr. Speaker, let me close with a quote from students, the reasons we're building these new schools. "We are Pictou County high school students who are concerned about the quality of education we are receiving. Each day at school, we witness run-down facilities,

[Page 5802]

staff stretched to the limit, and limited course offerings ... We feel the two new high schools proposed to be built in our county would bring us on par with other areas of the province.".

Mr. Speaker, that's all our young people are asking for, to be on par with others. We owe that to them. Thank you, again. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank the minister for providing me ahead of time with the text of his remarks. I do appreciate it. It gives us the chance to look them over and prepare a comment or two in return.

Mr. Speaker, there is one statement in this document that we agree with. That statement is, we owe our children schools. (Applause) But we don't owe them this way, not at this price (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Over the last couple of years, it has become clearer and clearer that schools built this way cost more and they create inequities. I hear the Minister of Justice groaning over there even though he has the finest high school in this province.

Mr. Speaker, the whole process has been back to front from the beginning. Why in the world wouldn't the government say, let's turn this process around, let's engage in much-needed debate about what kind of education system we want, how we are going to implement it, and how we are going to use the money wisely in an educationally sound way to build needed schools and to provide adequate programming. (Applause)

I hear the government members talking about NDP spendthrift policies. Well, Mr. Speaker, this document that was handed out here today says that this puts an end to debt financing. Well they better change the accounting programs in schools because there is not an accounting course in a school in this province that doesn't know debt when they see it, whether it's on the books or off the books. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I can tell what we don't owe our children. We do not owe our children fly by the seat of the pants policy in management. (Applause) We do not owe our children big, fat bills and credit card financing. So when they grow up and they start to pay taxes, they have to pay the bills for this. The last things we don't owe our children is to exploit them in basic blatant political manoeuvres when there is the smell of an election in the air. Mr. Speaker, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. (Applause)

[Page 5803]

Mr. Speaker, what we owe our children in this province (Interruptions) we owe them a fair process, decent decision making, rock solid community consultation, cost-effective construction, sound management and wise use of the resources that we have. That is what we should be delivering to the children of this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member of Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you, I thank the minister for delivering a copy of his address today before we sat in the House. It is always welcomed to have the material before you and I commend the minister for that.

[2:30 p.m.]

Also, I would commend the minister for the communities where announcements have been made on their schools, and those communities and parents obviously have been waiting for a long time, but I take exception to the minister and the Premier going to Elmsdale school, talking about schools being 30 and 40 years old.

That school had a crisis situation last fall, where that minister and his predecessor agreed in December they would have a decision for those parents. Now, I have been in that community, I have met with those parents, I have listened to their concerns and the deadline has gone by a half a dozen times. Here we have an announcement on the school, which is well received and needed by the community, but this was a crisis situation that had to be dealt with not in the usual manner of schools that need to be built and replaced over an orderly length of time. A totally different situation.

Mr. Speaker, safety and security for our students and young people and a safe environment to teach in for our teachers and instructors is what the physical structure of schools are about. It is commendable, where needed, that those are constructed and hopefully that's happening.

Again, Mr. Speaker, problems arise when you read this document. The minister goes on to say, "Some school boards can't offer the range of programs in their high schools they'd like - programs such as physics, calculus, and fine arts.". Well, the announcement today is about committing huge sums of money, $194 million on top of $500 million to capital construction, not operational budgets to schools.

Now, I have tabled petitions here today where teacher positions are being cut. I toured classrooms where there are no resources, photocopied books, lack of computer technology, there is no equity across the educational system of opportunity for students in this province. It is time that that became a priority, the education of the students, not physical design and structure.

[Page 5804]

There are a number of structures and questions that go along with this. What do we have five or six leases signed now? The Auditor General and the Opposition in this House help get O'Connell Drive vindicated by the Auditor General and he made the recommendations on how to do it right. There was never a plan in place with leasing arrangements until that happened. It took the entire House and the Auditor General's Department to do that, not this government.

What do we have? Do we have a lease for Horton yet, $25 million later, and is there an identifiable lease? That is the problem out there because nobody has been in charge. I would caution the minister and the government. These schools are definitely needed, they have to be built, but prudence in financing and protecting the taxpayers' interests is paramount as we move ahead in this operation.

With no more than two of those schools currently under construction out of that additional 55, we are a long way from seeing actual action where we have a press release. Nova Scotians and many parents expressed to me their concern about a situation where we have the announcement on over $0.75 billion worth of schools and we have two of them starting construction that a lease was actually signed before the issue began.

So I would say to the minister, it is good that these communities and these parents are being listened to, but let's put the priority on education where it belongs and that's in the classroom where the student actually receives their education. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I neglected to advise the members before we started on the daily routine, that there is a late debate this evening, submitted by the member for Cumberland North. It reads:

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.

The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: It gives me great pleasure today to inform the House of progress being made to improve our management of provincial waters.

Mr. Speaker, I will shortly present to Cabinet, for approval, a provincial water resource management strategy. This strategy provides a long-range plan to determine how our water resources should be used, managed and protected. This strategy focuses on watersheds throughout our province and it connects water management to land uses and activities which depend upon water - activities such as irrigation for Valley farmers faced with drought - and

[Page 5805]

those actions that affect water, such as malfunctioning of site sewage systems or treatment plants.

Mr. Speaker, this strategy was developed over the last three years with the support and assistance of other government departments. It reflects comments received from municipalities, community groups and specific industry sector interests. The strategy emphasizes education, awareness, planning and prevention as the keys in protecting and managing provincial water resources. It clearly establishes the importance of stakeholder and community involvement by providing support for watershed stewardship boards.

Mr. Speaker, the strategy contains four main objectives and includes an action plan to achieve them. Those objectives are: improved allocation of water among competing uses; protection of water quality; integrated resource management; and a commitment to community stewardship.

Experience has shown that community volunteers make a significant contribution to water management through activities like volunteer monitoring programs, fish habitat restoration projects, pollution prevention, and community education. Mr. Speaker, these groups include: the Sackville Rivers Association, Friends of the Cornwallis, the Bras d'Or Stewardship Society, and the Pictou Harbour Environmental Protection. These are just a few of the groups that have been working - some for many years - to improve the watercourses in their own communities.

Mr. Speaker, this strategy recognizes their successes and it builds on this experience by formalizing the department's commitment to work collaboratively with such groups, and supports tasks of mutual interest.

Over the last two years, for example, the department has worked with the Eskasoni Fish and Wildlife Commission to help with their water quality monitoring work on shellfish in the Bras d'Or Lakes. This allows sites to be classified for aquaculture and identifies the areas of the lakes at risk from sewage contamination where shellfish cannot be harvested.

The Department of the Environment has also helped communities tackle the source of shellfish contamination. For example, working with the Grand Narrows Waterfront Development Society, the department has helped identify a cost-effective, innovative, peat wastewater treatment system. This system will help support community economic development by providing pump-out facilities for sewage to the over 2,000 boats crossing through the Barra Strait to enter the Bras d'Or Lakes. The system will also contribute to the protection of the resource that boaters have come to enjoy, the Bras d'Or Lakes themselves.

[Page 5806]

Again, in the Bras d'Or, we are working with a non-profit community group committed to protect, conserve and restore the Bras d'Or Lakes. The group is called the Bras d'Or Stewardship Society, and this summer it will work on a project to promote and encourage environmentally responsible recreational boating on the Bras d'Or Lakes.

A consortium of community groups, tourism and fisheries representatives as well as the First Nations, federal, provincial and municipal governments, developed the concept for this project which recognizes the potential impact that recreational boating activities have on this sensitive ecosystem.

The project is known as the Bras d'Or Green Craft Challenge. It focuses on education and awareness of the issues and emphasizes what each boater can do to reduce their impact. As part of the project, a team of Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps students will promote best management practices for sewage, solid waste, fuel handling, and alternative product usage at regattas and events across the watershed.

This project is an example of the synergy created when communities and government combine efforts to achieve common environmental objectives. Community-based projects like this one can be adapted for other areas in Nova Scotia that are facing similar challenges.

The Bras d'Or Lakes is a complex ecosystem with huge environmental and resource potential. It also has communities with an interest in managing these resources in such a way that the environmental quality is protected and economic development is encouraged. We are therefore planning to roll out the stewardship component of our water resource management strategy in this very watershed. The community in this unique watershed has called on government over a number of years to help address the water management issues they face. These issues require a concerted effort on the part of all levels of government and the community.

I am proud to commit to working together to resolve them in partnership with each of these groups. I am especially thankful to the countless people involved in this project, from staff within various government departments to the many community volunteers and organizations working on such a worthwhile endeavour. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I would like to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of this statement prior to his rising and making the announcement here in the House. I would like to congratulate members of his department and other departments that have collaborated on this strategy. We look forward to seeing the actual strategy itself when it is made available to the general public.

[Page 5807]

I would note that the announcement makes reference to agriculture and drought. I would trust that this strategy will fit with the province's plan to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and climate change since these two strategies obviously will have to go hand in hand. I would trust that when we see the strategy there will be some reference in it to the province's intentions to hire limnologists since it is our understanding that the province does not actually have any lake experts in its employment.

I would also like to pay tribute to the various community groups that have worked with the Department of the Environment and the other departments on this strategy. In particular, I would like to note the importance, as the announcement has, of the Bras d'Or Lakes and the need for effective work to deal with the problems of the Bras d'Or Lakes. They are, as the announcement has indicated, a very significant resource for the people of this province, for the people of Cape Breton, and there is a great need obviously . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is much too much noise in the Chamber.

MR. CHARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is obviously a great need for proper monitoring and enforcement. I was a little bit surprised to note that the announcement makes reference only to volunteer monitoring. I would submit that the job is going to require, no matter how well intended and how capable our volunteers are, it is going to need more professional staff in the government departments to do monitoring and, moreover, we have to see proper enforcement and proper standards. We are dealing with not just wastes from recreational boats on the Bras d'Or Lakes, we also have to recognize that we have a significant problem with raw sewage from various municipalities and properties entering the Bras d'Or Lakes.

I would trust that we will see proper action through this strategy and through further work in this area. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the minister and his department's decision to move forward with respect to water management in Nova Scotia. I would certainly like to congratulate all individuals, organizations and departments who worked to this end. I will be very interested to review the province's resource management strategy, for water is indeed one of our planet's most precious resources.

I will, however, remind the minister of the need to clean up our smaller communities of waste water. This is the time of year, as temperatures rise, that we are constantly reminded of the problems associated with sewage and waste water flowing into our brooks, streams and drains along our highway, as we travel through this otherwise beautiful, scenic countryside. I am encouraged by organizations such as Waste Water Nova Scotia, which was recently

[Page 5808]

formed, for their work in this regard. Their initiatives can only complement the strategy that the minister has proposed.

[2:45 p.m.]

Now more than ever government must accept responsibility to follow through with any and all initiatives designed to protect our environment for our children and our future generations to live in and enjoy. Once again, congratulations to all who have worked to develop this initiative.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 97 - Entitled an Act to Promote Efficiency in the Delivery of Government Services. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

Bill No. 98 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2752

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

Whereas the Premier has admitted that his government knew as early as September 1998 that the federal government was determined to shut down most of the Cape Breton coal mining industry; and

Whereas nine months later, Cape Bretoners and Nova Scotians still have not seen a transition, stabilization or recovery plan for the Cape Breton communities, families and businesses that will be hit hard; and

Whereas on Monday the Nova Scotia Teachers Union demonstrated leadership by releasing a report that recommends many of the key steps necessary to address this crisis;

[Page 5809]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Teachers Union for the leadership it has demonstrated in preparing and releasing its report on the Devco crisis, entitled Cape Breton County: A Community in Crisis.

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.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2753

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

Whereas in 1990, 61.8 per cent of all new nursing graduates obtained full-time employment; and

Whereas by 1997, only 12 per cent of new nursing graduates were hired on a full-time basis; and

Whereas in the past two years, 25 per cent of Nova Scotia's newest graduating nurses left the province without even applying for work in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize the significant harm it has done to the nursing profession and to Nova Scotia's health care system, by increasing the rate of casual employment within the nursing profession by as much as 68 per cent from 1990 to 1997.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2754

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

[Page 5810]

Whereas the constant attacks on the Sydney Steel Corporation carried out by the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party do serious damage to government efforts to sell the plant, sell Sysco products and keep steelworkers working; and

Whereas the irresponsibility of the Leader of the Progressive Conservatives is exceeded only by the cynicism of the Leader of the NDP who still declines to endorse the Sysco business plan despite heavy financial dependence by his Party on the United Steel Workers Union; and

Whereas the continued jellyfish like vacillation of the NDP on the Sysco issue is based on their desire to appear pro-Sysco on Cape Breton Island and anti-Sysco on the mainland;

Therefore be it resolved that this House expresses its thanks and gratitude that there is at least one political Party in Nova Scotia that will stand by Sydney Steel and the steelworkers - the Liberal Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2755

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

Whereas six days ago a Scottish Parliament convened in Edinburgh for the first time since 1707; and

Whereas this week Her Majesty has officially appointed Donald Dewar of the Labour Party as the First Minister of Scotland; and

Whereas our province was given the name of New Scotland in the 17th Century before the Act of Union temporarily suspended any form of self-rule for Scotland;

Therefore be it resolved this House send congratulations from New Scotland to the presiding officer, First Minister and members of the Scottish Parliament on the historic occasion of the restoration of a Parliament in Edinburgh to participate in the Government of Scotland and that Mr. Speaker convey this resolution to the presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.

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

[Page 5811]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I will convey that personally.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2756

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

Whereas in a misguided attempt to cut costs, this Liberal Government has casualized the nursing profession; and

Whereas it is widely believed that replacing full-time permanent positions with casual employment has actually increased costs, damaged new recruitment efforts and helped contribute to widespread morale problems across the profession and the health care system in general; and

Whereas the Liberal Government continues to repeatedly miss its own self-imposed deadlines for releasing a comprehensive human resource strategy for dealing with the issues forcing many nurses to leave Nova Scotia or the profession altogether;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize that casualization not only damages nurse retention and recruitment efforts, it is costing government more in real dollar terms and Nova Scotians more in terms of reduced quality care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Inverness.

RESOLUTION NO. 2757

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

[Page 5812]

Whereas 16-year-old Colin Watson of River Denys is one of the few people his age fluent in Gaelic language and song; and

Whereas the Grade 10 student is putting his Gaelic skills to good use in his entrepreneur class at Whycocomagh Consolidated School; and

Whereas as part of Gaelic Awareness Month, Colin organized an old-fashioned milling frolic with singers invited from around Inverness;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Colin Watson for his dedicated promotion of the Gaelic culture and language.

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 Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 2758

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 May 18th is National Museums Day; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is blessed with many museums chronicling our natural, marine, military, political and social history; and

Whereas these museums enrich our cultural life and increase our knowledge of, and pleasure in, our heritage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House use this day to thank the many Nova Scotians who work in our museums and bring our history and culture to life.

Mr. Speaker, I am seeking waiver of notice.

[Page 5813]

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. 2759

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

Whereas a public opinion survey prepared by RNANS and released yesterday states that four times as many Nova Scotians think our health care system is getting worse, compared to those that believe it is getting better; and

Whereas registered nurses are considered to have the most influence over the quality of care received; and

Whereas the Liberal Government's casualization of the profession and its failure to adequately address issues of concern to nurses is aiding an already critical nursing shortage and leading many to conclude the system is deteriorating;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately commit the resources required to train more nurses, create more full-time positions, expand their role and retrain and recruit more nurses to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 5814]

RESOLUTION NO. 2760

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

Whereas David (Gerry) Watson, a Grade 11 student at Bridgetown Regional High School, has been chosen to represent Nova Scotia in the Let's Root For Canada 1999 Tour, sponsored by Clean Nova Scotia and the Tree for Canada Foundation; and

Whereas the tour will take the participants to Ottawa for the Canada Day celebrations, then on to the new Territory of Nunavut and on to the Northwest Territory and Yukon completing their tour in northern New Brunswick in August; and

Whereas to be chosen for this tour, candidates must have demonstrated high academic achievement, leadership and public speaking skills, a love of the outdoors and be bilingual;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend congratulations to Gerry on his selection and wish him all the best as he embarks on this exciting, once in a lifetime experience.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2761

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

Whereas last week was National Mining Week; and

Whereas the week came and went without the provincial Liberal Government coming up with the better transition plan they promised for Devco miners; and

[Page 5815]

Whereas of the 1,200 miners who will lose their jobs under the current downsizing, only 650 will receive severance and 450 will receive pensions;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government reconsider an all-Party approach, one which must also involve the miners, their families and their communities in demanding a fairer transition package from Ottawa.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2762

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

Whereas four years ago this Liberal Government offered millions of dollars in incentives to encourage nurses to leave their profession; and

Whereas this backward, short-sighted and misguided decision not only damaged patient care but contributed to a critical shortage of nurses throughout the province; and

Whereas other provinces have already taken concrete steps to recruit, retrain and retain more nurses to their respective jurisdictions to ensure quality patient care is provided to their residents;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government acknowledge the harm it has caused the Nova Scotia health care system and that it immediately address the nursing shortage in Nova Scotia as its number one priority.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

Some of these resolutions are getting awfully long.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 5816]

RESOLUTION NO. 2763

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

Whereas the cornerstone for workplace health and safety in Nova Scotia is the Occupational Health and Safety Act; and

Whereas the Act makes it clear that health and safety is a shared responsibility and by working together, we can make Nova Scotian workplaces safer and healthier; and

Whereas this is North American Occupational Health and Safety Week with the theme being, "occupational health and safety: it's everybody's business";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Assembly join with the Department of Labour and their total commitment to promoting and maintaining healthy and safe work environments in Nova Scotia.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 2764

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

Whereas May 17th to May 23rd marks the start of Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas last year in Nova Scotia there were 20 workplace fatalities and 32,413 injuries in the workplace; and

[Page 5817]

Whereas the new regulations for workplace safety are both welcome and necessary and too long in coming;

[3:00 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government honour its commitment to these new regulations and ensure that each and every one of them is fully in place by the end of this implementation period.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2765

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

Whereas regulations, after a disaster, are the principal tool politicians use to pander to public fear, no matter what has gown awry; and

Whereas the regulatory regime which has been introduced under the guise of occupational health and safety has generated a real impediment to the economic viability of small business; and

Whereas government announcements to the contrary, small business accounts for the bulk of new job creation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Labour commit to a non-partisan, independent cost-benefit analysis of the real impact which the current regime of occupational health and safety regulations are having on small business.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 5818]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 2766

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 greatest broken promise of the NDP was their claim to try to make minority government work; and

Whereas from day one, the NDP, and only the NDP, set out to ensure that everything possible was done to ensure that minority government could not work; and

Whereas the NDP, since March 1998, has employed obstruction, filibuster, exhaustive opposition to good legislation, and condemnation of a budget they had never even seen, to these ends;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP record demonstrates above all that they cannot be safely entrusted with any responsibilities, least of all the responsibility of forming a government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2767

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

Whereas this September, families and friends of the victims of the Swissair tragedy will be in our province to witness the final resting place of these unfortunate souls; and

Whereas these solemn ceremonies will be an important reflective time for all; and

[Page 5819]

Whereas out of respect, it is vitally important to ensure the greatest degree of privacy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier request Judge Lorne Clark, who so tastefully has coordinated this process, to review the presence of all media at these ceremonies.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2768

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 minister's task force on regionalized health care is afraid and will not hold a single public hearing in Colchester County; and

Whereas when asked why Colchester County was once again being overlooked by the Liberal Government, a spokesperson for the Department of Health couldn't give an answer, but suggested Colchester County residents could send in written submissions; and

Whereas the people of Colchester County are just as concerned about health care and just as entitled to speak to the minister's task force as people from other parts of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government stop treating the people of Colchester County as second-class citizens who should be satisfied with second-class health care and that it immediately commit to holding a public meeting on regionalized health care in Colchester County.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5820]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

RESOLUTION NO. 2769

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

Whereas Festival Antigonish is heading into its 12th successful season as Nova Scotia's longest running professional repertory company; and

Whereas starting July 14th, Festival Antigonish and the playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre will present, A Play on Words: Playwrights Reading Series; and

Whereas the support of Human Resources Development Canada, the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Culture, the Sable Offshore Energy Project and many others have contributed to the continued success of Festival Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend their congratulations to Festival Antigonish and wish them success in their upcoming season.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 2770

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

[Page 5821]

Whereas Nova Scotia has lost almost 7 per cent of its nurses between 1993 and 1998, which is more than double the national average for that same time period; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has been hardest hit of all the provinces in terms of the loss of nurses and is currently experiencing a serious nursing shortage which threatens Nova Scotia's health care system; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union are urging the government to take immediate steps to address this serious situation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government heed their warning and act on the recommendations made by the Royal Commission on Health Care 10 years ago to give the planning of nursing human resources the utmost priority.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 2771

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

Whereas proper dental care is viewed as critical to the overall health of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Retired Government Employees Association has repeatedly called on this Liberal Government to share the costs of funding a dental plan for retired members of the provincial Civil Service; and

Whereas it is estimated that the cost of providing dental care to retirees who voluntarily participate in a dental plan would be extremely modest in relation to the benefits to its members as well as to the potential and lasting benefits to the health system as a whole;

[Page 5822]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance agree to provide dental coverage to retired civil servants who wish to voluntarily contribute to a cost-shared dental plan.

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 member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 2772

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

Whereas Max Harley was the first black sergeant with the Halifax Regional Police Force; and

Whereas Sergeant Harley, the founder of the first Black Police Officers Association in Nova Scotia taught the first racial sensitivity course to fellow officers and is now retiring after 30 years with the Halifax Regional Police Force; and

Whereas Sergeant Harley, who was promoted to sergeant in 1995, lectured at the Canadian Police College from 1992 to 1996, studied casino surveillance, media relations, suicide intervention and community-based policing;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend and congratulate Max Harley for the dedication and insight that he brought to the communities he served and the lives he has influenced.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 5823]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2773

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

Whereas May 17th to May 23 is North American Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas the goal of North American Occupational Health and Safety Week is to focus attention on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace; and

Whereas here in Nova Scotia, occupational health and safety practitioners have identified education and awareness of the issues as significant to preventing problems associated with workplace injury;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the significance of Occupational Health and Safety Week and congratulate organizers of the week-long events for their activities and efforts creating awareness of workplace safety.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2774

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

[Page 5824]

Whereas the students as Ash-Lee Jefferson Elementary School have been actively involved in supporting their new school and have carried out projects with the help of their teachers; and

Whereas Jillian Caldwell, who is a Grade 4 student, designed a pewter ornament which was chosen for a fund-raising project to purchase playground equipment for the new school; and

Whereas nearly $1,000 was raised from the sale of this ornament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends its recognition and thanks to Jillian Caldwell and all of her classmates for their involvement in this worthwhile community project.

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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2775

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

Whereas all Nova Scotians, no matter whether or not they live in their own homes, deserve to be as fully protected from the tragedy of fire as possible; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government is a landlord to tenants in public housing; and

Whereas not all public housing is protected with a life-saving sprinkler system;

Therefore be it resolved that this government treat its own tenants with the respect they deserve and move to install sprinkler systems in all its high-rise public housing buildings.

Mr. Speaker, I request for waiver.

[Page 5825]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2776

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

Whereas despite the fact that the current Minister of the Environment said he would deal with the situation confronting the residents of Frederick Street as his number one priority, it took him months to acknowledge that action was required; and

Whereas despite the fact that area residents have been forced to deal with health-related concerns while a toxic cesspool of arsenic bubbles up from the ground, the residents of Frederick Street waited a full year for the government to announce it would temporarily relocate seven families; and

Whereas despite the fact that arsenic is continuing to seep into the basements of homes of Frederick Street residents, the government continues to deny the seriousness of this issue;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment be acknowledged for taking a small and certainly long overdue step forward addressing the health concerns of Frederick Street residents, and further that he be encouraged to quickly identify a more permanent solution to the problems confronting area residents.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The notice is tabled.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

[Page 5826]

RESOLUTION NO. 2777

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

Whereas representatives of labour, management and the Department of Labour's Conciliation Services worked long and hard to resolve difficult contractual differences in the nursing homes and homes for special care; and

Whereas Pictou County lawyer Milton Veniot successfully mediated a number of difficult labour disputes with reason and fairness; and

Whereas unlike Saskatchewan where the socialist government interfered with the collective bargaining process causing dedicated health care workers with legitimate concerns to become lawbreakers;

Therefore be it resolved that we congratulate all the stakeholders who worked within the confines of the collective bargaining process and gained a resolve acceptable to all involved.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The notices of motion seem to be getting longer and longer.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2778

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture has withdrawn its support of the federal drought relief program funding announced last Monday in Kentville; and

[Page 5827]

Whereas the Federation of Agriculture believed farmers were receiving $7.5 million in relief assistance from Ottawa, when, in fact, there is only $4.5 million in federal funds; and

Whereas the Liberal Administration secured no additional funding for Nova Scotia farmers despite the fact that last February farmers were led to believe a better financial package was attainable;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Agriculture launch an immediate investigation into how such a misconception occurred and what follow-up plans are in place to ensure additional funding is secured for farmers who have faced the severe weather-related losses over the past three summers.

Was that okay, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled and it was too long.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2779

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

Whereas 150 years ago this month the Sisters of Charity began a long and proud tradition of offering kindness, help, support and comfort to Nova Scotians in need; and

Whereas since that time the Sisters of Charity have, among their many selfless and generous acts, reached out to the orphaned, the poor, the sick, the dying and the elderly; and

Whereas through their kindness, their faith and their devotion to God, the Sisters of Charity have made a powerful and moving difference in the lives of thousands of Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Sisters of Charity on their 150th Anniversary and offer them our sincere appreciation for the tremendous contribution they have made in the lives of the thousands of Nova Scotians they have touched over the years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5828]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Inverness.

[3:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2780

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

Whereas yesterday the NDP Leader suffered a 1970's flashback when he was heard crying such outdated phrases as, "Let's go . . . Let's get in on!"; and

Whereas at a news conference in the Red Room (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I cannot hear the resolution, so I will ask the member to read it again.

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

Whereas yesterday the NDP Leader suffered a 1970's flashback when he was heard crying such outdated phrases as, "Let's go . . . Let's get it on!"; and

Whereas at a news conference in the Red Room the NDP Leader was also heard muttering, "go for it man!"; and

Whereas the only thing missing from the news conference was a disco ball;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP caucus stop trying to present themselves as the New Kids on the Block, when Nova Scotians know that they are more like the out-of-touch version of Disco Bobby and the Village People. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 5829]

RESOLUTION NO. 2781

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

Whereas hospitals across Nova Scotia advise that anywhere between 20 per cent and 30 per cent of their in-patients are occupying acute care beds because there are no long-term care beds available; and

Whereas this Liberal Government created this costly, inefficient bottleneck in the system by putting a moratorium on new long-term care beds; and

Whereas this Liberal Government continues to offer flimsy excuses for not allocating the 170 long-term care beds it promised more than 14 months ago;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health allocate the full complement of long-term care beds his government promised during the election campaign without further delay or excuses.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 2782

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

Whereas the manufacturing and formulating of cleaning solutions are becoming important because of the effects they may have on the environment today and in the future; and

Whereas companies like Advance Laboratories Limited., which has a staff of 16 and is located in the Eastern Shore Industrial Park, Chezzetcook, has received accreditation for its capabilities and for taking a positive step for provincial self-sufficiency in the industrial and institutional industries in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Advance Laboratories Limited has been the first industry in Atlantic Canada to receive an ISO 9000 award in recognition for its quality system, which is in compliance with ISO 9001-1994, allowing them to compete in the U.S. and against the multinationals;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Advance Laboratories Limited for this outstanding accomplishment and wish them continued success.

[Page 5830]

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2783

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

Whereas a petition against child pornography was recently sent to the federal Minister of Justice; and

Whereas the petition, signed by 13,395 concerned citizens of the Sydney area, was initiated to send a strong message that child pornography is unacceptable and should not be tolerated; and

Whereas protecting children from predators must be supported by all;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Justice encourage their counterparts in Ottawa to ensure that federal laws are up to date and that they provide protection for all citizens, particularly our children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Antigonish.

[Page 5831]

RESOLUTION NO. 2784

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

Whereas the NDP in such provinces as British Columbia and Manitoba are funded partly by private contributions from taxpayers who receive tax credits for their donations; and

Whereas the B.C. and Manitoba NDP turned over a portion of these donations to candidates in Nova Scotia during the last election; and

Whereas this means the Provinces of B.C. and Manitoba were scammed out of rightful tax revenue in order to promote the NDP cause in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Nova Scotia NDP to do the honourable thing and refund the tax dollars covertly obtained from the taxpayers of B.C. and Manitoba.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2785

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

Whereas the Liberal Research Office achieved national fame when their director phoned the B.C. Government Caucus to try and dig up dirt on the NDP; and

Whereas the Liberal Keystone Kops are at it again, alleging that the B.C. and Manitoba NDP made cash contributions to Nova Scotia campaigns; and

[Page 5832]

Whereas research would have revealed that the so-called solicited money was a contribution in kind, representing the normal wages and expenses of individual volunteers who helped Nova Scotians, and gained valuable experience doing so;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the Liberal Caucus for demonstrating, once again, that when they see evidence of NDP misdeeds, necessity is the mother of invention and truth is never an obstacle.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2786

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

Whereas the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs recently conducted a study into the safety of senior's housing; and

Whereas the study was undertaken as a consequence of a fire on New Year's Eve, - fire which broke out at a senior's housing complex in Halifax; and

Whereas in addition to seniors' residences, there are also public housing units within Nova Scotia that are presently without sprinkler systems;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs recognize that fire does not discriminate by age, and undertake to place up-to-date safety measures in all public housing units.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 5833]

RESOLUTION NO. 2787

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

Whereas the Livestock Health Services Program was developed to provide veterinary care to livestock owners at a uniform cost no matter what part of the province the farm was located; and

Whereas the Liberal Government's decision to cut veterinary assistance fees by almost 70 per cent is another crippling blow to an industry that has been under constant attack; and

Whereas the slashing of veterinary fees will push more livestock veterinarians out of the business, increase the cost for large animal service calls, and threaten the health and productivity of livestock farms;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government recognize that the long-term costs of this short-sighted decision will far outweigh the short-term savings and that it immediately reinstate the $13 subsidy under the Livestock Health Services Program.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2788

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

Whereas on April 7th the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism responded to a question in this House about the Staples deal by saying, "The deal with Staples has been concluded some time ago."; and

Whereas one month later the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism was quoted in the local media saying, "We are negotiating with Staples and we are continuing to negotiate with them."; and

Whereas the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism's response to questions about the Staples deal are as consistent as his statements relative to the "now we have it, now we don't" business plan for Sysco;

[Page 5834]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism turn over a new leaf by showing some measure of respect for honest, straightforward talk, instead of spewing his usual brand of political gibberish.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2789

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

Whereas a reign of confusion is presently surrounding the Department of the Environment concerning health standards and facility operations in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the confusion stems from whether the changes have more to do with the department's budget and the bottom line versus the protection of public health; and

Whereas the Department of the Environment documents obtained by the Chronicle-Herald outlines a plan to shed inspection responsibilities for facilities such as swimming pools;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of the Environment table in this Legislature, today, a copy of this report and, along with it, concise information showing the health of Nova Scotians will not be impacted as a result of the so-called streamlining of licensing process.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2790

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

[Page 5835]

Whereas High Liner Foods Incorporated is celebrating the 100th Anniversary of its founding this year; and

Whereas this Nova Scotia company is an international leader in the food industry with 1999 sales of approximately $300 million; and

Whereas the success of High Liner Foods Incorporated is a result of the hard work, ingenuity and dedication of both present and former employees;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate High Liner Foods Incorporated employees, both past and present, on their accomplishments and wish them success in their future endeavours.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There is a request for wavier.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2791

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is known for its Gaelic history and traditions; and

Whereas the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia has sponsored numerous initiatives, including Gaelic Cultural Awareness Month, to promote a growing worldwide interest in this culture; and

Whereas May has been designated as Gaelic Cultural Awareness Month;

[Page 5836]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the significance of Gaelic Cultural Awareness Month and applaud the efforts of all those who continue to work toward promoting the unique traditions of this culture especially the Gaelic Council of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 2792

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 Task Force on Regionalized Health Care was established with the unanimous consent of this House to allow Nova Scotians an opportunity to voice their concerns about the current and dysfunctional structure for delivering health care across the province; and

Whereas the task force advised it will not be holding public meetings in Colchester, Yarmouth or Lunenburg Counties despite the fact they have regional hospitals in their areas that are witnessing a steady deterioration of health care services; and

Whereas the schedule of public meetings suggests this Liberal Government is deliberately avoiding areas where problems accessing services are more pronounced;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately expand the schedule of public hearings to allow the people of Colchester, Lunenburg and Yarmouth Counties an opportunity to express their views and opinions directly to the minister's task force on regionalization.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5837]

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2793

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

Whereas some of Canada's leading geologists and palaeontologists recently gathered to honour amateur geologist, Don Reid; and

Whereas Mr. Reid, known as "the Keeper of the Joggins Fossil Cliffs", has unearthed thousands of fossils during decades of collecting at the base of the world famous cliffs; and

Whereas Mr. Reid's discoveries prompted efforts, begun last year, to have the United Nations declare the cliffs a World Heritage Site;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend a heartfelt congratulations to Mr. Reid and add the support of this Legislature to the entire community in working toward a UNESCO declaration of the fossil cliffs a World Heritage Site.

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 Argyle.

[Page 5838]

RESOLUTION NO. 2794

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

Whereas Skate Yarmouth's application for funding for a new multi-purpose facility for the Yarmouth County area has been with the provincial government for over two years; and

Whereas Yarmouth County, with a population of approximately 25,000, is still being served by only one ice surface based in a dilapidated building; and

Whereas the building was built in 1959, the roof leaks and recent trade shows held there were only successful due to divine intervention and no rain;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial government act immediately along with the federal government to approve the funding request whereby Yarmouth County residents can finally receive the facility they rightfully deserve.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2795

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

Whereas Caleb Elliott of Amherst Regional High School and Sarah Macaulay of Pugwash District High School were recently amongst a list of five declared winners of a regional letter writing contest on career development; and

Whereas the contest provided students the opportunity to express their educational and employment plans for their future; and

Whereas Caleb and Sarah were awarded prizes, which included a trip to the recent 1999 Young Entrepreneurs Going Places Conference;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend sincere congratulations to Caleb and Sarah on this recent achievement and offer best wishes for continuing success in their future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5839]

MR. SPEAKER: There is 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.

[3:30 p.m.]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time being 3:30 p.m., we will terminate at 4:30 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: NURSES - SHORTAGE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. Recently the Yarmouth Regional Hospital closed 10 beds, cancelled surgery and kept patients in the emergency room because of the shortage of nurses. I want to ask the minister if he could advise us what his government is doing to ensure that hospitals like the Yarmouth Regional Hospital do not face the same crisis because of nursing shortages?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for this question. It gives me the opportunity to respond to a very important issue, an issue that we have identified as one of the priority issues within the Department of Health. I have a report coming that has been worked on by stakeholders, the registered nurses, the Nurses' Union and many stakeholders. That is coming and will be available.

I am not sure of the statistics that he mentioned. I wasn't quite aware of the line-ups in the emergency department, although I know there has been some concern about the shortage of nurses. Nursing has undergone a great change, and we are committed to being supportive of that. We will be addressing that in our budget.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, when I finish my question I am going to table a letter from the Yarmouth Regional Hospital about the situation. It is dated May 11th, and in this letter the hospital says that the current situation leads to a potentially sub-standard and unsafe

[Page 5840]

level of care. The letter also says that they will have to do this again, shutting down beds, cancelling surgery and keeping patients in the emergency room if they do not get confirmation of funding for more permanent nurses by the end of this week.

I want to ask the minister if he will advise this hospital and other hospitals in the Province of Nova Scotia what his government is going to do to ensure funding is available for permanent full-time nurses?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the issue of permanent full-time nursing positions is a concern. It is one that we intend to address, and we will make this clear. We are dealing with the regional health boards and the tertiary care hospitals on those particular issues. It is an issue that I am concerned about. I don't believe that it is saving us money in this province. I don't think it is saving taxpayers' money. It is not an efficient way to run a system, and it is contributing to the low morale, perhaps, or morale issues of nursing.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the problem that I identified at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital needs to be fixed and it needs to be fixed now, but so too do the underlying causes of the nursing shortage. I want to ask the minister if he will advise members of this House what his plan is over the long term to deal with the critical shortage of nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there certainly has been a great shift in the nursing patterns and the services provided by nurses in this province. We are still in a reasonable position relative to salaries and relative to the numbers of nurses per population in this province. That is not good enough, we are not satisfied with that. We are addressing the issues, we are doing it with consultation with people who are impacted by the services and who are providing that service. We are doing that. If the honourable member wants to wait for budget day, he will see some statements on that matter.

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

HEALTH - NURSES: EARLY RETIREMENT - COST

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has acknowledged - I believe it is the first time in this House - in response to the Leader of the Opposition, that their plan is not working. It is not working. It is not working in Yarmouth and it is not working in my area and it is not working in many parts of this province. In November 1995, this government encouraged hundreds of nurses to take early retirement creating the problem that we have before us today.

My question to the minister is, how many millions of dollars did this government provide to allow nurses to retire early, creating the crisis in the nursing situation that we have in this province today?

[Page 5841]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I did not say that the health care system in this province is not working, it is working, but we can do better. If we didn't have $742 million in debt servicing from when that Party over there was in government, then we would have more money to put into health care and nurses' salaries and that. Yes, there have been changes and we are going to make it better.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, we have the Minister of Health saying that in view of irrefutable evidence - ORs cancelled, patients not getting into hospitals, unable to take transfers from other hospitals - and this minister gets up in the House and says it is working. That is absolutely ludicrous.

My question to the minister is, there is an estimate that between now and the year 2003, we will need 2,000 new nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia. I challenge the minister to stand here today . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is there a question?

DR. HAMM: . . . and tell the members of the House how it is he plans to provide 2,000 new nurses between now and the year 2003?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, for a moment I thought I was being asked a question by the NDP, the fear-mongerers over there. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: That honourable member has worked in the system and I would ask that honourable member, does he want to return to the way that health care was being delivered back when he was a practising physician in Pictou County? I would suggest that he does not. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. SMITH: It is working, give it a chance, and it is improving.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that those who are concerned and have written about the level of health care in Yarmouth will be very pleased to hear that the minister thinks they are doing nothing but fear-mongering.

By way of final supplementary to the minister, has this minister, in view of the crisis that is occurring in the health care system of Nova Scotia today, found time to go to the regional health boards and to suggest to them that their approach to providing nursing service isn't working and that their solution of casualization has cost more? What has this minister done in carrying out his ministerial duties . . .

[Page 5842]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for giving me the chance to respond. Yes, I have visited the regions; I was in Pictou County the week before last. There is a committee where I meet with the chairs of the regional boards and I have personally expressed my concern on the degree of casualization, the amount of it, that I don't think we are saving money, and I think it is damaging the nursing profession. We intend to do something about that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE:

NURSE/PATIENT RATIO - IMPROVE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to return my question to the Minister of Health. One of the critical issues for nurses in Nova Scotia today is the whole question of the conditions of work; in long-term care, for example, one RN might be responsible for over 50 residents. I want to ask the minister, what is this minister going to do to end this unacceptable nurse/patient ratio in long-term care?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this is an area within the long-term care sector that must be addressed. There is a lot of pressure right now on the acute care system, whether it is emergency departments, ORs and that sort of thing, those particular areas. I think our plan will be to relieve pressure on those particular areas through better home care, better long-term care services and those issues. That is what we are doing and we are making a commitment to do that.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about a sector where the standards were last set in 1976. I want to ask the minister, there is no question that as a result of the lack of standards, new nurses are not going into the long-term sector, which is adding to the problem of the shortage.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Will the minister advise why standards for long-term care have not been improved so that they can attract nurses and end the shortage?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this government has made long-term care a priority. We put $22 million extra into long-term care last year and the whole issue surrounding nurses' salaries, but more importantly, also those who support them, the specialized training and the continuing nursing education, those are programs that we will be addressing, and we are supporting that.

[Page 5843]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, things are bad now, but it is expected that over the next 30 years the demand for long-term service beds is going to double.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. CHISHOLM: I want to ask this minister, Mr. Speaker, when will he act so that Nova Scotia's growing senior population will have the quality care that they so desperately deserve?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we are certainly seeing a larger population going through. I think these will translate into higher rates of cancer. There will be demands for long-term care nursing beds and supportive apartments, those types of initiatives. It is a coordinated approach to health care. It will come from the regions and where the regional areas (Interruptions) It will come from the regional basis and the needs of those particular people in that area. It is a major undertaking. It is one that the whole country is grappling with.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - YARMOUTH HOSP.: BED CLOSURE - PREVENTION

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Health. I want to return to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. Earlier today, members of the House brought forward the correspondence that was sent to Jim Perkin, who is the Chairman of the Western Regional Health Board. It was also copied to the minister, so I assume the minister would have this available to him. I go back to the fact of the matter that the Yarmouth Regional Hospital and our services in our area suffered greatly under this new regionalized hospital plan that this Liberal Government has put in place. I ask the minister today, because we didn't get an answer earlier today, what specifically will he do to ensure that the 10 beds that are being contemplated to be closed, will not close?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am glad I qualified the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition because this member now says contemplating closure. We are dealing with hypothetical issues here. However, this is serious. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: I am just amazed that that member over there, Mr. Speaker, would say that that area has been neglected. This is a person that the Party he belongs to was so much in love with opening new buildings. Well, we are doing that in his particular area. There is a new service there. There are new mental health programs, palliative care programs. It has not been neglected.

[Page 5844]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, this is the Minister of Health who says that we are fear-mongering. This is the Minister of Health who says that everyone should be happy with their plans. Well, people aren't. That is reality. That is fact.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MR. LEBLANC: I am asking you what you are going to do to bring about that these beds won't close because the deadline is May 22nd and we want an answer today and the people of Yarmouth deserve an answer, Mr. Speaker. What is the answer?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the member is quite right. That letter is addressed to the Chairman of the Western Regional Health Board. We are not micro-managing the system but we are dealing with the regional health boards and we will provide services that will ensure nursing care in those particular areas, the way that we have worked on the physician recruitment and the physician retraining. We built a new hospital in that community. That signifies our commitment to that particular area.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, he says he is not micro-managing, he is not managing anything. You are the Minister of Health. You are responsible for health services across this province. The buck stops at your door. I ask again what you, specifically, will do? There is a request here that has to be answered by May 22nd. If it is gone to the health board, talk to your health board, give an answer.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I had a conversation on Monday morning with the chairman of that regional health board and it is none of his business right at this moment. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I repeat (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! (Interruptions) Order, please. I would suggest that remark was unparliamentary.

DR. SMITH: I will withdraw that remark. What I meant to say, Mr. Speaker, is that it was a private conversation between the chairman of the regional health board, who I have great respect for. He has brought the concerns that these members have tried to bring to the floor today and we are responding, we are working in the area and we will be addressing about the nursing and the hospital situation in Yarmouth.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

[Page 5845]

HEALTH - SOUTH SHORE:

PAEDIATRIC/MATERNAL CARE - DISRUPTION PREVENT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Health. The South Shore will lose its only neonatal paediatrician in June. That leaves only one doctor in the area to deliver babies, with no back-up specialist support for difficult deliveries. My question is, what is the minister doing to ensure there will be no disruption in paediatric and maternal care on the South Shore?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, unlike other provinces, Nova Scotia has reversed the drain or the movement of physicians out of province. Last year, we had a net gain of approximately 59 physicians. There are some areas that we have to support, paediatrics is one of those areas. When I met at the Aberdeen Hospital the other week, we discussed that very issue, and it is called alternate funding where we pay salaries (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, she asked a question and I have to answer that we are doing special salaries for those particular specialists in those areas. That is the type of programs that we are bringing in to address in rural communities.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Bridgewater-Lunenburg Obstetrics Clinic is considered an ideal model of rural maternity care but it can't attract and retain specialists under this government's fee-for-service arrangements. With all due respect to the minister, people on the South Shore deserve an answer to this really important question.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question please.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Will the minister commit to negotiating an alternative payment arrangement for that clinic so that this obstetrics care on the South Shore won't be put in jeopardy?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to see the honourable member does support alternative funding because it is an area I think that we have to move in. I have concerns, I grew up on the South Shore of Nova Scotia and I look at how the health care system has improved in that particular area, specifically. We are looking in all those regional hospitals, we are looking at alternate funding and I have discussed this with some of them as well.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government promised to attract specialists to rural Nova Scotia, but it looks like it continues to be just another broken promise. What, if anything, is this minister going to do except tell us romantic stories from his past . . .

[Page 5846]

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: . . . to ensure that all people in rural Nova Scotia have access to specialists?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, do I have to respond to a question that says that I should not discuss the romantic past or growing up on the South Shore? I know what health care was like on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Order.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am clearly saying we have had a net gain of 59 physicians in this province last year. That is not what we are seeing across this country. We have programs in place, we have locums in rural communities . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Thank you.

The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - NURSES: CASUALIZATION - BENEFITS TABLE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. The Liberal Government has made the nursing profession in the last number of years one of casualization. I am sure the minister would agree we have not saved any money by making this profession one of casualization. I would ask the minister, would he table the information that shows the government, or whoever, has benefited from making this profession one of more casual than permanent nurses?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. I am not sure that that is available and I am not sure in fact that it would show that money has been saved. That's my concern. We have shared that on the floor before. I want to be open. I don't think everything is perfect in health care in Nova Scotia any more than it is in any other province, but we are working on that and we have a plan for those particular issues.

MR. MOODY: We are going down a road with no benefits, so how are we going to get off it? I am sure the minister would agree that we have a nursing crisis, there is no question. Other provinces and other jurisdictions are doing something about it. I would ask the minister, what is his government doing to address this nursing crisis?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that's the honourable member's choice of words, a crisis. I think we have a lot of stress in the acute care system particularly and also in the long-term care. As I mentioned earlier, I have a report coming to me this month, and I will be

[Page 5847]

responding to that. We also have a budget next week and I think within that we will be addressing some of these matters.

MR. MOODY: My final supplementary to the minister, he mentions the budget. I would ask the minister if it is true that your government's response to the nursing shortage, or crisis or whatever you want to call it, is to put $1 million to $3 million in the budget; I would ask the minister if he really believes that this $1 million to $3 million will solve the problem?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will say to the honourable member, wait for the budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. - DROUGHT: RELIEF - COMMITMENT (GOV'T. [CAN.])

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: My question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Within days of announcing the signing on to the Federal Income Disaster Program for Farmers, the Department of Agriculture's deputy minister admitted that the province had exaggerated about the deal. My question to the minister, why did the minister pretend that the federal government was committing $7.5 million, when it was really only committing $4.5 million?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I said it was a $7.5 million, 60/40 cost-sharing. He was there, he heard the statement, and he should realize it was a 60/40 cost-sharing agreement.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I was there, and that is what it said, that the province will receive a minimum of $7.5 million.

The province has been negotiating with the federal government for a better deal for Nova Scotia farmers since last February. My question, why did he make such big fanfare about signing on to the same agreement he had rejected three months ago?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, to begin with, I want to say it is not the same agreement we refused to sign three months ago in February. He is talking about the Victoria meeting. What this agreement is, if we had signed on the February agreement that was offered to us, then it would have amounted to $1.3 million funding coming from the federal government. This agreement, and it is a 60/40, $7.5 million simply going to the producers in this province, and now we are getting $4.5 million in the first year of this agreement.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister should know that fertilizer doesn't work in a drought, so he should quit spreading it. (Interruptions) Does he have a plan to compensate Nova Scotia farmers for the inadequacies of the federal plan?

[Page 5848]

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, maybe I am getting a little hard of hearing. I didn't hear his first comment, but I don't think it is worth repeating. We announced last fall a $20 million, five year program that is still in existence, will be there to assist the agricultural industry. This will supplement that program on disaster to a great degree. I am telling you it is a $7.5 million program, cost shared 60/40 for those people who meet the criteria and are eligible to receive that benefit.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

BUS. & CONS. SERV.: GAS PRICES - CONSUMER PROTECTION

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services. In the last two weeks gas prices in some places in Nova Scotia, especially in metro Halifax, have skyrocketed from 54 cents to almost 70 cents per litre. My question to the minister, what are you doing to make sure that the four big oil companies are not gouging consumers?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in fact the gas prices on this week's tally, done by Natural Resources, are actually coming down, but the question is more important. In a volatile fuel market, how are consumers protected? The answer is that there are competition checks and balances in this country that protect consumers in a deregulated market.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, my next question is a very simple one to the minister. Will the minister explain to Nova Scotians why we are paying 20 cents per litre more than we would if we filled up in Prince Edward Island?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, in a deregulated North American and Canadian environment, the best protection against escalating prices is consumer behaviour. They will find their way to the least price, and that is the way in which you keep gas prices down in North America, in Canada, and in Nova Scotia.

MS. ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, if that is true, then will the minister ask the Utility and Review Board to review gasoline prices to ensure that Nova Scotians are not being ripped off?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians deserve straight answers to questions as to why gasoline prices are rising, when they have been at the lowest state in 20 years for the last while. The answer to the question is if there is evidence of competition, unfair practices, there is a competition bureau in this country. We, as a department, individual citizens, should bring that information forward.

[Page 5849]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

HEALTH: BREAST CANCER - CUMB. CO.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, a very serious question and a very serious concern to women in Cumberland County. My question to the minister is, is the minister concerned about endangering the health of women who are at a high risk for breast cancer in Cumberland County?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have high cancer rates of several types in Nova Scotia. This is a grave concern to myself and to the Department of Health. Breast cancer is a particularly devastating disease and it is of great concern whether it is in Cumberland County, Queens County, or anywhere.

MR. FAGE: To the minister, if he has such concern then, and he says he has a coordinated approach in this province, is that approach a coordinated approach to the erosion of health services in Cumberland County? Currently there are x-ray technicians, currently there are doctors, currently there is a diagnostic mammogram system that works very well and full accreditation in Cumberland County that he proposes, and his officials, to move out within six months. Now those same women are . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, question.

MR. FAGE: . . . going to have to travel all over Nova Scotia. Is that what he calls protecting them?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have put in mobile units for screening to supplement the diagnostic services. As far as moving out the service, I have no idea what the honourable member is speaking of. If he has some definite facts, then I would like him to share them with the House or with myself.

MR. FAGE: As the minister alluded to, his major success is physician recruitment in this province. Cumberland County is down 10 physicians. In Cumberland North and Cumberland South there are 5,000 residents in each area without a physician. Moving this service, where there is no mobile at all in Cumberland County and the minister well knows that from his response last year to a question from this very member, why will he not ensure that the present services at the Amherst Regional Hospital for mammograms stay in place, do not move them?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that is just a rephrasing of the other issue. I ask the member, if he has information that it is being moved, any services there, that he would share it with me.

[Page 5850]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

SCS - FUTURE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. This government seems to be marking the International Year of Older Persons by weakening the Senior Citizens Secretariat. Funding has been reduced. Six staff have been cut. The position of the director has been vacant for over a year. My question is, is it the intent of the minister to celebrate the International Year of Older Persons by eliminating the Senior Citizens Secretariat?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I had the wonderful pleasure this week of meeting with a number of seniors' organizations with the secretariat and the same question was raised. I was happy to respond then that some idiot out there perhaps is spreading a rumour about folding down the secretariat and there is no truth to that. Nothing could be further from the truth. We give very strong support to the secretariat. We intend to continue our support and to expand it. I want to reassure seniors in this province that that is the case. Perhaps this member is the one who is spreading the rumour, I do not know.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the term idiot means and, secondly, I do not know what political side of the fence the idiot may appear to be on. The question is, many seniors phoned the secretariat because they were concerned about the Pharmacare changes, but because of the lack of staff, those calls went unanswered. When so many policy decisions impact seniors' lives . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. PYE: The question is, when so many policy decisions impact seniors' lives, why is the minister depriving seniors of a strong advocate?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the seniors of this province that it is our intention to strengthen the Senior Citizens Secretariat. We intend to seek external advice around the shape and the format of the secretariat for the future. We recognize that as our population of seniors grows, so will their issues grow and so will their demands and their needs grow, and they will be met through the service of the secretariat.

[Page 5851]

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that follows right into my final supplementary. The need for a strong Senior Citizens Secretariat is growing and so is the seniors' population. What are the minister's plans to ensure the strengthening of the secretariat so as to ensure government policy meets the seniors' needs of today and the future?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my second answer, it is our intention to strengthen the secretariat, to seek advice on what the future shape and role of the secretariat should be. I am sure we will be consulting with our seniors' organizations as we go down this road, as I mentioned at the last meeting of the secretariat with the seniors last week.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC. - DROUGHT: RELIEF - NEGOTIATIONS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. Last Monday in Kentville, the Minister of Agriculture, accompanied by the Premier and the Minister of Justice and the Federation of Agriculture - and I was there, as well - made an announcement that certainly indicated, loudly and clearly, that $7.5 million of federal money would be available to the agricultural industry of Nova Scotia who have suffered losses for the last few months and for the last four years.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, everybody thought this was $7.5 million of new money. The Premier wouldn't have been there for the little announcement.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Could the Minister of Agriculture tell us what he was negotiating from February until now if the final settlement was exactly the same as the federal government offered in February?

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, true, that member was there and I was very pleased that he was there. What difference there is between now and February, under the agreement that we would have gotten in February, had we accepted, would have amounted to about $1.3 million. Now this was on a 60/40 cost-sharing. That is very clear and I will table the statement I made in Kentville, if he wishes. I think he has it anyway. What we are receiving right now is $4.5 million.

I want to go on, Mr. Speaker, to say a bit more.

[Page 5852]

MR. SPEAKER: Don't go on too long, no.

MR. LORRAINE: Okay, I will get it in the second question. (Laughter)

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Agriculture, your answer did not make any more sense than the book you tabled today in the House. I am in receipt today of the Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing. The cover is on backwards and to read the book, you have to read it from back to front, because it is not only backwards, it is upside down. His answer makes as much sense as his book does.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to know what the Minister of Agriculture is going to do to alleviate the cash crisis that farmers in Nova Scotia are suffering today?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I think he realizes that we did a lot in 1997 and again in 1998 in our programs that we announced. He also knows that that quote that he is making, and I did clarify that - and he is not even listening - when I said the $7.5 million was a 60/40 cost-sharing arrangement, with 60 per cent by the federal government. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LORRAINE: I will gladly pay for lunch because my cost of lunches is not nearly as much as his cost of living. (Laughter)

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, we have a book that is in backwards, an answer that doesn't wash and hog farmers and vegetable growers who are suffering. How soon will a program be announced that the Federation of Agriculture will support?

MR. LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, that is a very interesting comment. I don't like to make comments on something until it actually happens, but the federation did withdraw their support. The federation is supposed to be putting out a press release today that they are supporting this agreement. I hope you read it in tomorrow's paper.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS:

POLLUTANTS (FREDERICK ST.) - ACTION DELAY

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, the residents of Frederick Street in Sydney have been living on a toxic site for years. They had the proof they needed when yellow ooze appeared in May 1998. My question for the Minister of the Environment is, why did his

[Page 5853]

government continue to put the health of Frederick Street residents at risk for over 12 months before offering them a safe environment?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as all members know, this has been a very serious issue and a very difficult issue. There was certainly a heightened level of anxiety amongst the residents when a substance was found in their basements. The fact is that the results we have received and the health assessment that we have had, indicate that there is no immediate risk to the health or safety of the residents. Our government made a decision (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, our government made a decision last Thursday based on pure compassion for these residents to allow them the opportunity to have temporary . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. No speeches. (Interruptions)

MR. SAMSON: We offered them a temporary location, Mr. Speaker, based on purely compassionate grounds to ease the fears of the residents, to allow us to do some further testing in and around the site and we will continue to work with the residents.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, a year after the yellow ooze appeared, residents on Frederick Street ended up with orange, arsenic-laced ooze in their basements. It was only last Thursday that Frederick Street residents were finally told that they would be moved temporarily into the Sydney Delta. Now the department says that it is likely that the families will be placed in government-owned houses. My question to the Minister of the Environment is, why is it that after all this time, all you have come up with are temporary plans?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is important that members have the facts straight in this House when it comes to the testing that was done. The fact is that there were traces of arsenic that were found. It is something we would expect to find in soil samples throughout our province, especially in areas which have a high coal content in the ground. It is important that we be specific here about what we are talking about. This decision, as I said, shows that there was no immediate health or safety risk to the residents but instead, based on pure compassion, this government made a tough decision last Thursday and it was the right decision. We will continue to work with those residents. This is a work in progress and we are going to continue to address this concern.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, when will the minister admit he doesn't have a plan to safeguard this community and that his government is just making it up as it stumbles along?

[Page 5854]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is almost disgraceful to see that a member would use an issue like this to try to score some cheap political points. We all know this is a very emotional issue. This is an issue that is of concern, not just to residents of that street or the residents of Cape Breton, but residents throughout Nova Scotia. We made a decision last Thursday based on compassion. We are going to continue to work with the residents. If that member wishes a briefing from our department or from the other departments, we will be more than happy to indicate the work that has been done. It is a work in progress and we will continue to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL & FORENSIC FACILITY:

SITE (BEDFORD) - RECONSIDER

MR. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. As the minister is well aware, strong opposition to the new provincial correctional facility being built in Bedford continues to grow. Residents have stated over and over again that they are outraged with government's plans to move forward with construction, despite public disapproval for this facility. Will the minister commit today to placing the concerns of the area residents first and reconsider the location of this jail?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does, and petitions tabled today by the member for Bedford Fall River, indicate some concern. We are addressing that concern. There are public meetings planned and we fully intend to make sure that the public is fully informed on the plans for that correctional centre.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table a submission that the Town of Springhill submitted to this government. The Town of Springhill has a long history of being home to a correctional facility. It has the infrastructure already in place as well as community support for the facility that has been proposed for Bedford. Has the minister seen the proposal put forth by the Town of Springhill to build this new provincial jail in that community?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I know from the professional background of the member opposite that he is fully aware that the correctional centre and forensic facility here in Halifax has to access certain specialized skills that are available in metro. That is the reason for the site selection process on 13 or so sites that were studied on the way to selecting a site that we believe met the conditions necessary, but the primary reason for a metro location has to do with access to services.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I find it ironic that the government is concerned about travel and people getting to facilities when they don't worry about people reaching health care services in this province but they are worried about inmates being able to reach these services. (Interruptions)

[Page 5855]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SCOTT: Those services are available today in Springhill. They are all available today. They are available to 500 federal inmates. Will the minister agree to the demands of the residents of Bedford and to the wishes of the community of Springhill and have staff reconsider the location of the proposed facility to be moved from Bedford to Springhill where millions of taxpayers' dollars would be saved?

MR. HARRISON: Again, Mr. Speaker, I can only say that the former professional background of the gentleman opposite should prepare him for the answer to this question, that certain facilities are required close to the services that are required. Access to the courts, access to medical health professionals within metro, all of that is part of the consideration for the replacement of an existing correctional facility here in Sackville and an existing forensics centre that is here in Halifax.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - PICTOU SHIPYARDS:

MARINE SLIP - REPAIRS

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. In December 1997, the Minister of Economic Development came to Pictou County and said he was creating 200 jobs with the sale of the Pictou Shipyards. That was about a year and a half ago and the Pictou Shipyards is still awaiting repairs to their marine railway. My question to the Premier is, when are you going to make the repairs to the slip so the shipyard can create those jobs your government promised almost two years ago?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the future of the Pictou Shipyards is of tremendous importance to this government, as I know it is to the people of Pictou. The question is how best to make sure that the facility has a good future and I would like to refer the question to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, to answer the question directly, our department officials are now meeting with officials of MM Industra and other interested people that want to see something happen at the Pictou Shipyards. We will continue those negotiations and when we have something concrete to report, that member will be the first to know.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question this time is to the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. As you know, one month ago we met, yourself, the Premier, company and union officials, and others. Since that time the company has certainly offered to put their share into repairing the marine slip. My question to the minister is, what is stopping your department from funding its share of the project?

[Page 5856]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, we are negotiating with that particular company and when we have additional information we will pass it along. I am not going to negotiate deals on the floor of this Legislature.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I will go back then to the Premier. As the Premier knows, this is a very critical issue for the Town of Pictou and Pictou County. More than 200 people are waiting and have been on hold since 1993, awaiting a decision here. I will ask the Premier, why won't this government act so these people can finally get back to work?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is not a question of acting alone, it is a question of acting properly. This facility has had a very uncertain future, it was totally unnecessary, it is an outstanding workforce, the work can be there. The fact of the matter is what we do we have to do properly. I am going to give the honourable member and all of the people in Pictou my undertaking that it will be done properly this time.

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

SYSCO - LOAN GUARANTEES: APPROVAL - INFO. REVEAL

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Sysco. Would the minister tell members of the House what information Cabinet reviewed before it approved an additional $44 million in loan guarantees to Sysco and is he prepared to share that information?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Leader of the Third Party for the question. Cabinet reviewed a number of options regarding Sysco, including a detailed summary of initiatives put forward by Hoogovens, which convinced Cabinet that the best way to proceed with the Sysco plan was to go forward with it, rather than shut the plan down. It was on that basis that Cabinet made the decision. Cabinet made what it considered to be a business decision regarding Sydney Steel and I suggest to you, that was a good decision to make.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, in the course of answering the question, the minister mentioned plan and he talked about a business decision. Approximately one week after Cabinet made its decision, I have a letter here which I will table, from Mr. Robert MacKay, the deputy minister, indicating that the business plan prepared for investors will be forwarded to you as soon as it is available - indicating that it wasn't available - and in addition the Freedom of Information Officer was told that the plan was not complete, and that information came forward the middle of April.

[Page 5857]

[4:15 p.m.]

My question to the minister. In describing what has gone on and what goes on, could he indicate to all of us, in terms of the information that was available to Cabinet, was Mr. MacKay mistaken on March 16th or, in fact, is the minister himself mistaken?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear from the honourable member opposite whether that is the business plan that he said didn't exist or is it the business plan he said he and his unidentified experts on Sydney Steel saw and rejected? Which one is it?

DR. HAMM: It is the business plan that Mr. MacKay said doesn't exist. It is the business plan that the Freedom of Information Officer was told is not complete. That is the business plan I am asking to look at. Will the minister provide it, tell us where it is and where we can look at it?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that great lover of Sydney Steel workers, opposite, I think is doing a disservice to this House. There are 650 steelworkers working at Sydney Steel as we speak. The order book is filling up, there is a valid business plan and I will table it before this House today.

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

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SUMMER EMPLOYMENT PROG.:

LINGAN CC - APPROVAL

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Economic Development. I note that one of this summer's successful applicants in Cape Breton County, for the Nova Scotia employment program for students, is for four positions at the Lingan Golf and Country Club - I understand the minister golfs there - could the minister explain the criteria used in approving this application?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the number of jobs available this summer were not enough. There were a number of businesses who put in applications to my department to subsidize students for the summer. Lingan Golf Club - he is quite right - put in an application for a cost-sharing arrangement for students. They met the criteria and they were awarded the students.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, thanks for the non-answer. I would appreciate the minister explaining how and why Lingan Golf and Country Club gets four to look after its grass while the Mount Carmel Cemetery Committee gets nobody to look after their grass. Another committee like the New Waterford Festival Society, an organizer for prime events

[Page 5858]

in that town, doesn't have anybody to approve the application for its organizer. Please explain those.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the only answer I can give to that is perhaps it is because of the quality of the representation over there.

MR. CORBETT: Consider the source - I would be hurt. I thank the minister for that sanctimonious response. My final question is again to the Minister of Economic Development. If the process is so fair and impartial, why have the greatest percentage of these grants for Cape Breton County been approved for his own riding and for his patronage partners? (Interruptions) impartial to all the students in the communities in this province.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the grants for summer students are given out as a result of applications that come in from businesses throughout ridings, throughout Nova Scotia; in this case, ridings from Industrial Cape Breton who submitted applications to us, business concerns, on a cost-sharing basis, and they were given out on that basis. Certainly if we receive applications from businesses in his constituency, we will consider them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SUMMER EMPLOYMENT PROG.:

SPENCER HOUSE (HFX.) - REJECTION

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. I have a letter here, which I will table, from the Spencer House Senior Centre on Morris Street in Halifax expressing their dismay at not having their application approved under the Nova Scotia Summer Employment Program. It has been approved in previous years. Can the minister explain what these seniors did wrong to have their application dismissed?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have limited job opportunities available to us because of budget restrictions. We have a number of pressures on that budget; one of them is summer employment opportunities. All I can tell you is that each one of these is evaluated on the basis of the application received and we try to complete these applications to everybody's satisfaction and allow summer grants.

If the member wants to talk to me about that particular one, individually, I will try to give him the answer as to why it was turned down.

[Page 5859]

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Of all the approved applications for summer jobs for Halifax County posted by his department, only applies to seniors' organizations. Can the minister explain why these organizations were virtually excluded from this process?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Probably because they didn't apply, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DELEFES: Again, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable Minister for Economic Development. In this, the International Year of the Older Person, what does the minister suggest that these seniors' organizations do, now that he has stripped away all their support at the community level?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we will try to address every application that comes into my department. If he would like to talk to me about the particular concern he has, I would be only too glad to talk to him about it.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SECURE TREATMENT:

EXTRA PROVINCIAL - COSTS

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Community Services. On March 31st, in this very House, the minister said she would be happy to provide me with detailed information about the locations and costs to her department of the 25 young Nova Scotians who are being treated in secure treatment facilities outside the province. This information has not yet been forthcoming and I am beginning to wonder if she is afraid to make it public.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. MUIR: Will the minister commit to tabling that information in the House before rising time tomorrow?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to provide the honourable member opposite with any information I can. I have no problem with that request.

MR. MUIR: I am getting a little worried about that response, Mr. Speaker, because she referred to information that she can. On March 31st she told me she would provide all of it. These are young Nova Scotians being served who would be better treated in this province. The provision of a secure treatment centre in Nova Scotia is an integral part of the report Too Good to Lose which was accepted by her department in the spring of 1997; it was to have been opened in 1998?

[Page 5860]

When can we bring our children home, honourable Minister? When will that treatment centre be open?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think in the last sitting of the House I made it quite clear that we are firmly committed to the construction of a secure treatment facility. I also made it quite clear with other questions asked that you can't automatically assume that every child who is out of province in a treatment facility is going to get back to Nova Scotia immediately because that could cause the problem for that child of breaking up the relationships they are now establishing with their caregivers and with the other people in that setting. For some of these children that is the first time they have been in a position of trust and a relationship with those people. So it is not an automatic assumption that these children are all going to come right back.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable Minister of Community Services. The recommendation in that report Too Good to Lose, which was commissioned by the Department of Community Services and endorsed in whole by the Department of Community Services, said that new secure treatment centre would be located on the site of the former Nova Scotia Residential Centre in Truro.

MR. SPEAKER: Question. Question.

MR. MUIR: Will the minister confirm today that that new centre will be constructed on that site and that planning will start immediately?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, there has never been any other intention to do so. We are not looking at any other site, we are not looking at any other location.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

EDUC. - FALL RIVER HIGH SCHOOL: PARENTS - MEET

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Education. Last week's Open House in Beaver Bank for the new Fall River High School was supposed to be an information session for parents and students but many parents had questions relating to safety and busing and there wasn't one person there who could answer those questions. My question to the Minister of Education, on behalf of those parents is, will he agree to meet with Beaver Bank parents to discuss their very valid concerns?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for raising that concern to the House and the answer is, yes, I certainly will agree to meet with those parents.

[Page 5861]

MS. GODIN: I would like to thank the minister for that, but it appears the Department of Education has chosen to abdicate its responsibilities for the children of our province to a private company that only knows about bricks, mortar and profit. Before the minister meets with those parents, will he, or key members of his staff, travel that bus route from one end to the other so that you can really and fully understand those safety concerns?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the answer is, yes. I certainly will request staff to travel that bus route and request that that information be provided to me.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, these concerns were put out a public meeting last February and yet, I would like to ask the minister why, when this open house was held last week, nobody was there from your department to answer those concerns?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I don't know why there was no staff from our department at that public meeting. I will certainly take that question under advisement and provide that honourable member with an answer to her question at a later date.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

HEALTH: LONG-TERM CARE BEDS - ADDITIONAL

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. During the election campaign last year, the Minister of Health's government announced that they were going to open 170 long-term care beds in this province. That was a cynical ploy during the election campaign and it has proven itself to be the case because we still haven't seen those beds.

My question to the minister is, when can the people of Nova Scotia expect to see 170 long-term care beds open with patients in them?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the commitment to 170 long-term care beds was made that would be realized during the mandate of the next government. We have accepted that responsibility. We are receiving and evaluating proposals. We have designated two areas, one in Colchester and one in the New Waterford area. We are also receiving proposals from across the province. We will make those commitments.

MR. BAKER: It is surprising, the minister's government was not so anxious to indicate that they would be in the fullness of time during the election campaign; now there seems to be no hurry. What are we going to tell the people of Nova Scotia, Mr. Minister, who want to know when their family members can get out of acute care beds and into the long-term care beds they need?

[Page 5862]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the member is correct. There are people in acute care facilities that should be in alternate care, whether it is long-term or whatever. That has always been an issue. I think it is being better dealt with now than it had been. We are working on a plan for continuum of care throughout home care, long-term care and acute care. We are working on these proposals and we are receiving them.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, there are dozens of people in Lunenburg County and in counties all over this province who are waiting to get into long-term care facilities. When can they expect that their loved ones are going to be able to get into the long-term care beds they need and that the minister's government announced?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, wherever those people are, I am sure that they are receiving good care. The question is, and the member is right, are they receiving appropriate care for their particular needs and is it cost-effective? But as far as neglect, no, they are being looked after, I am sure. But it is an issue. Last year we committed $22 million extra and we will . . .

[4:30 p.m.]

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that completes the government's business for today. The House will sit tomorrow from the hour of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. It is Opposition Day and I would ask now that the Progressive Conservative House Leader tell us their business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Progressive Conservative House Leader.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we are adjourning earlier than I anticipated. With the indulgence of the two Parties, our intention tomorrow is to debate Sysco and the nursing shortage. We are a little earlier than I thought in adjourning. I will get the two numbers of the resolutions to the two House Leaders so they will be aware of it before tomorrow - later on this afternoon - if that is agreeable.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: I believe, Mr. Speaker, that those resolutions should have been tabled in the House today if we are going to debate them tomorrow.

[Page 5863]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I have two members standing, three members standing.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I talked to the House Leader for the Official Opposition yesterday regarding today's agenda. I suggested that if we tabled two bills today, we might want to debate them and with due justification the House Leader for the Opposition said he wanted time to look at those bills and could we wait until Thursday. I said yes, we could. I think the same thing should apply here. We have the Third Party wanting to debate resolutions tomorrow that are not even before the House yet.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. While there are similarities, there are some differences. I appreciate what the Government House Leader is saying. Certainly on the bill aspect, that is a totally different matter. However, what it has been is a courtesy, it is a courtesy of Opposition Parties when it is their day the following day, to bring forward the numbers of the resolutions or the numbers of the bills that are being called. I am sorry that the House Leader of the Third Party did not know that we are going to be sitting shorter hours today because I had found that out by speaking to the Government House Leader but they should have known that. However, our caucus will agree, knowing just what the topics are, so long as they are on the order paper, if they fax them to our office this afternoon, we will certainly be in agreement to that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I do not know what we are debating here. These resolutions that we will be debating tomorrow, obviously, have to be on the order paper. I presume that that is what the honourable Third Party . . .

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, both resolutions are on the order paper. They have been tabled in the past and in a couple of minutes I will have them here. Both House Leaders will be made aware of it.

MR. SPEAKER: All right. The motion is to adjourn.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption, which we will consider to be 4:33 p.m., and we are going to be debating in the late debate a resolution put forward by the member for Cumberland North and I presume the member for Argyle will be debating that particular resolution.

[Page 5864]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH - NURSES: PERMANENT - INCREASE

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to debate this resolution and for the members of the House I will read it:

"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 think this is a very timely resolution because I believe that here in Nova Scotia we are having some severe difficulties in health care. I really believe that a lot of the problems that we are experiencing are due to a shortage of nurses and also I would think a problem with morale from nurses in the way that they have been treated, especially by the regional health boards. There has been a movement by this government through the regional health boards to bring about a part-time or casual hiring policy, especially in regard to nurses. I think that that has had a very negative effect on our health boards. It has had a very negative effect on the health care that is being received by our residents in this province.

I look at the debates that took place here today and today we had in our presence the Nurses' Union and many other groups who are involved in that sector, trying to bring to the floor of the Legislature, or to the attention of the government, that the problems are real, the problems are serious, and unless they are dealt with, the quality of health care will continue to suffer. I think they believe in their heart that there is a resolution to this problem. The problem is not only immediate, the problem is long-term.

When we look at the situation that has happened in Nova Scotia since 1993, we have lost approximately 7 per cent of the nurses here in Nova Scotia, going from 9,129 to 8,525. That is a decrease of over 600 nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, when we have a situation that many of our senior nurses, nurses who have the experience, nurses who have the ability to give leadership and to carry much of the load on their health care, are going to be retiring in a few years and we are losing many other nurses in the meantime because of their displeasure with the current system, then I think we have some serious problems.

[Page 5865]

I look at the situation that is coming forward in a sense that you have to ask yourself, where did the problem arise? I think every province across Canada is experiencing, to some degree, a nursing shortage. But I look at this government, Mr. Speaker, this Liberal Government across from us, and I look at the current Minister of Health. He wasn't there when the major initiative took place, which is about three or four years ago, I think it was four years ago, when they brought about an early retirement program. I believe it cost something like $20 million to have an early retirement program so that nurses would retire earlier and they could cut down on nurses.

Mr. Speaker, you have to look at them and say, how could they be that wrong? How can this administration be that far off the mark that four years down the road, we are looking at a situation of almost a crisis proportion, that we have a lack of nurses in Nova Scotia and we are trying to find some? You have to ask yourself as to what type of vision this Minister of Health had. Did he have any vision at all? I looked at my area. The people that retired are the people who had all the skills. They were the senior nurses. They were the ones who possessed that experience that when new nurses came in, it was transferred on to them.

So I look at this government and I ask myself the question, how are we going to survive? I looked at the minister's answers to my question today, because I was asking a question in regard to Yarmouth and they are talking about closing 10 beds in Yarmouth. Mr. Speaker, if the member for Inverness wants to get up, I invite him to get up after. I am going to give him the opportunity to speak, in some respect. If he has no respect for others, that is his problem, but I am here to speak with regard to the people of Yarmouth, and I will.

I look at the situation today. The Minister of Health said here today that he did not give a damn what I cared. I didn't deserve an answer as to what is going on in Yarmouth Regional Hospital. I find that answer appalling, Mr. Speaker, because I have, as an elected member, every right to know what is going on in the Yarmouth Regional Hospital and how it is affecting the people that I represent. I look at the situation that we are going to have, perhaps, 10 beds close unless this government immediately changes its policies and starts bringing about some permanent positions in nursing. I can't expect nurses to stand around in the Yarmouth Regional Hospital and take part-time work and casual work, play havoc with their family lives and hope that someday they might get a permanent position. What is going to happen is they are either going to go to other professions, or they are going to leave Nova Scotia and go abroad. We are going to lose that experience and health care is going to suffer because of it.

The minister keeps saying, well, that is the regional health board's problem. That is Mr. Perkins' problem in the Western Regional Health Board. The buck stops at the government. You can say that you created these quasi judicial or independent health boards, but who is giving the leadership? Who is giving the guidance? Who gave up the buy-out program? A few years ago, they were sitting up there saying, we are giving this early retirement program because we are going to reduce the number of health professionals. They took credit for that.

[Page 5866]

Today, when we have a nursing shortage, it is not my problem. It is the regional health board's problem. Well, you know what? It is all our problem because everybody is affected by it and long-term planning is necessary in order to ensure that when the year 2003 comes up and we are supposed to have a shortage of 2,000 nurses, that that doesn't happen.

Those are the numbers that are being projected, and those are alarming numbers. I look at myself, located in a rural riding and perhaps they are the ones who are going to suffer the most. I think if you look over the course of history, a lot of times the metro centres or the urban centres usually have a better chance of recruiting than a lot of the rural areas. I am concerned, but I am sure I am not the only person in this House who is concerned as to whether or not they are going to have the type of health care that they feel their people deserve.

I look at the situation that is here today and I really don't find that there is a long-term vision. When I say that, I say it in all honesty. I have heard the minister get up many times and talk at great length about what I am not altogether sure sometimes, because I think he repeats himself sometimes, but when we ask for specifics like I asked for today - a specific request as to what is going to happen in Yarmouth - I didn't get an answer. That scares me.

I think the nursing profession is asking this government for specific initiatives which are going to bring about some sort of program, some sort of initiatives or enhancements so that people will say nursing is a profession that I should enter; whether they be a young man from Yarmouth or a young woman from Cumberland or Sydney or Sackville, it makes no difference. We have to encourage Nova Scotians to get involved. I think up until now both the educational system in itself and how many people we were promoting to go into nursing and also the incentives that we should be giving to our health boards in the sense of making these positions permanent so that they can plan around them, I think if we give that type of leadership then we will bring about, in my estimation, a betterment of the system.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much time I have left (Interruption) one minute? This is an issue that for myself touches the very core of health care, because I believe that as much as we talk about doctors and specialists, much of the health care in our system is delivered by nurses and they do an excellent job. They have had more and more responsibilities piled upon them. I think that if you look at a nurse today and you ask them what their role was 10 years or 15 years ago versus what it is today, you can't compare that. I think it is a lot like the teaching profession, we are trying to make them experts in everything.

They have risen to the challenge. They have raised the amount of education and experience that they are expected to have. They are industrious people and I believe they can meet the challenge, but they can only do so if government works with them. If government doesn't listen to what they are saying, then I think that what happened here today is only the start of a revolution. You are going to hear from the nurses in this province, and I believe that

[Page 5867]

the people will be with them. If this government doesn't listen, they will pay a price. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the specific issue on debating this bill and the honourable member just brought it up, on the Yarmouth issue with nursing and beds in that community. Prior to the letter that was written by a volunteer that was mentioned here in the House today, it was written by a volunteer, to Dr. Perkin, Chairman of the Western Regional Health Board, that in fact there had been a plan in place and those beds will not be closed. I would just like to add that for information.

I do want to thank the honourable member for the chance to speak on the resolution this evening and the concerns about the current nursing situation in this province. First and foremost, this government does share his concern and we are working together with the nurses of this province to address the very issues raised in the resolution that we are debating here this evening.

The Department of Health is implementing a variety of initiatives to address nursing concerns across this province. I would like to take a few minutes to remind all honourable members of what has been taking place over the last few months. Before I continue, it is important to note the many associations and groups that have assisted us with this task. We certainly appreciate the importance of hearing from the women and men involved in the nursing profession. We need their input. We need their guidance.

Government can't effectively address the issue alone. It is a multi-faceted issue and it needs a joint approach. We are pleased with the input that we have received to date from the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, the Licensed Practical Nurses' Association, senior nurse administrators, university Schools of Nursing and front-line nurses, some of whom I believe were here today.

The issues concerning nurses here in Nova Scotia are similar to those affecting nurses in other provinces. It is not unique to this province. It is how we resolve the situation here in Nova Scotia that will be unique. Let us now say that is how we are working to respond to nurses' concerns here in Nova Scotia.

[4:45 p.m.]

Some of the work that has been done so far includes the Nursing Human Resources Planning Initiative. This is a goal to achieve an optimum and stable nursing work force. The initiative has involved a series of focus groups with nurses from all sectors and regions of the province. In addition, nurses who have left the profession and/or Nova Scotia, were also

[Page 5868]

surveyed. We also worked with Dalhousie University researchers to assist us in forecasting human resources requirements. We surveyed nursing employers to gain a better understanding of how nurses are currently being employed, including full time and casual employment.

As you can see, the extent of the work that we are doing speaks well for how committed we are to finding collaborative solutions to this very complex issue. It has taken some time for us to find the answers we are looking for, no question about that, and as you can appreciate, it takes time to address such a complex but so very important issue for all Nova Scotians. A great deal of time and energy has and continues to be invested to ensure the job is done right. Other initiatives we are working on includes defining and funding appropriate enrollment numbers for nursing schools. This will help to address some of the honourable member's concern about recruitment.

Work life issues is another area that we are focusing on and how it will impact on retention of nurses. We, too, are very concerned with the issue of casualization, it is one of our primary areas of concentration. The hiring of nurses on a casual, rather than a full-time basis, must and will be addressed accordingly. I would also like to remind all honourable members that the department has seconded a nurse from the field to assist in our efforts. It is our intention to establish a full-time senior nursing advisor.

This government does indeed recognize the vital role played by nurses in Nova Scotia. We are committed to addressing nurses' concerns. I want to assure the nurses that we are listening to them and we want to continue to work together with them.

I expect to receive the report on nursing in Nova Scotia, addressing this wide variety of issues I just mentioned and I expect to receive it very soon. The report is a result of Nursing Human Resources Planning Initiatives I mentioned earlier. Yes, there have been studies done in the past. We are building on that information and we are updating that information. We need the most up-to-date information so that the right action plan can be developed and implemented.

As Minister of Health for this province, I want to assure you that addressing nursing issues is a priority for this government. The future of nursing is important to us and to all Nova Scotians. Government's commitment in dealing with issues important to nursing in Nova Scotia will be reflected in the upcoming budget. I realize that earlier today I mentioned next week - I might have been quite taken away today, exercised some people might say - but I can't make a commitment it will be next week but it will be very shortly during this session. While this government recognizes that we still have a lot of work to do in this area, which we are committed to accomplish, I must inform all honourable members that Nova Scotia still has more nurses per capita than Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. While the numbers still need to be improved in Nova Scotia, we are in a better situation than many other jurisdictions.

[Page 5869]

I am not trying to minimize our situation but I am trying to put it in some context of what is taking place across this country within the Medicare and Canada Health Act context. I assure you that we are committed to developing, together with nurses across this province and other key players, an action plan based on nurses' input and feedback. Their active involvement with the nursing human resources planning project shows that they are a group of concerned nurses and health leaders who are dedicated to the improvement of the nursing profession.

Nurses are indeed the backbone of the health care system. Working together will be crucial if we are to address the complex issues related to the vital role of nurses in our health care system. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the many nurses who have worked together with staff from our department.

In conclusion, this government is very much committed to addressing nurses' concerns in an effective and timely manner. I thank the honourable member opposite for giving me this opportunity to remind all members of how important this issue is to government and how much we value nurses in our province. I thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for his comments. I don't doubt for one moment the sincerity of the minister's desire to address what we all know is a very serious matter, although I must say that I do question the ability of the minister to manage this problem and to act quickly to address what has been a problem that has been known to us for many months now. I feel quite concerned to know that we are still resting on our laurels and talking about more assessments, more studies, more consultation. These efforts have been going on for many months now. We have a fairly substantial body of information that indicates what, in fact, the problem is.

I would say to the minister that words are not enough, expressions of concern are not enough. What I think nurses in Nova Scotia expect is actions now. So I would say to the minister that he and his government need to work harder and faster. They need to intensify their efforts, just like they have been asking nurses in the health care field to do - work harder, work faster and to have their work intensified. This essentially is why we are in the situation now that we are having to discuss what is a fairly substantial crisis, facing not only nurses but, of course, all of those people in our communities who rely on the services of nurses. Two-thirds of all employed health care professionals in this province are nurses. They are, in fact, the backbone of the nursing profession.

I can't help but think, Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that we adjourned here early tonight to have this debate, when we still had time left to have government business dealt with, and there is none on the order paper. We could have been using this time here and now to actually take some concrete action to address some of the problems nurses are

[Page 5870]

experiencing and some of the problems in our health care system. We could have entertained government legislation that would have introduced nurse practitioners into Nova Scotia; we could have used this opportunity to deal with modernizing standards in long-term care that would see real, substantial change in the working environment of nurses in that sector, a working environment that today is resulting in nurses in the field feeling so overworked and demoralized that they are leaving that aspect of health care.

Right now we could be dealing with concrete action plans around recruitment and retention, around nursing education and, of course, the big issue of the casualization of nurses. The casualization of the nursing profession has been going on for some considerable period of time. Certainly members of this caucus will be looking for a commitment of financial resources in the upcoming budget that will allow for the reversal of this trend. We need to ensure that there are full-time jobs for nurses in our health care facilities. Many nurses are actually working full-time hours and maybe more than full-time hours, but they have no benefits if they work on a casual basis, they have no ability to build seniority over the life of their nursing careers and they lack opportunities to specialize in particular areas of nursing. This has had a very demoralizing impact on many of these, primarily women, but not necessarily women. So we need really to commit ourselves to reversing these trends and we need to do it now.

Another difficulty that we face as a part of this problem is that half of the nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia, today, are more than 40 years of age. They will, in the next 15 years, be looking at retiring and we are not graduating enough nurses from the nursing programs. We really need to ask ourselves, where did the money that was saved from closing the teaching hospitals and the nursing programs in the hospitals, where did that money go? Was it all moved into nursing education in our university programs or not? So we need to recommit resources for nurse education; we need to expand continuing education for nurses; we need mentoring programs; and we need to invest in the training of nurses for particular specializations in ICU, obstetrics, in cardiac and in transplant care.

Mr. Speaker, it is not so long ago that women - and this is predominantly a female occupation - had two choices in terms of where they would go in the labour force. They could teach or they could go into nursing. The circumstances today are much different for women. Women have many more choices available to them. They can be architects or doctors, they can drive taxicabs, they can work just about anyplace that they care to explore. So this profession is also facing just a cultural shift, if you will, in our society, and it is something that we really then have to think about.

We have an aging population, and the health care concerns and pressures on our health care system will change in response to this aging population. So we really need to be very proactive and creative in the way that we create a perception and a reality that being a nurse in our workforce, in our labour force, is a very positive and professional career choice for those who make that choice. We have not been sending that message out in our communities

[Page 5871]

at all. We have burdened young people in the nursing programs with very huge student debt. We have thrown them into a labour market that is unstable and uncertain, and it has not rewarded them for investing in their career choice and in their profession.

We have not allowed them the kind of workplace satisfaction and career opportunities that are available elsewhere. We need to address that, and we need to address it now or this crisis that is starting to be felt in perhaps some isolated ways around our province will become much more widespread and much more concentrated, I think, in acute care facilities and in the long-term care sector.

I would like to end by saying that it is very good to hear from the minister that a nurse has been appointed within the Department of Health as a senior policy adviser, and will advise and work with the nursing groups and officials in the Department of Health and the minister to take concrete action to address this problem. So I look forward in the next few days, or weeks, or whenever the Minister of Finance brings forward his budget, to make sure that what is required to deal with this crisis will be forthcoming. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: There are actually three minutes left, but I see no other speakers so we will conclude for the day and rise until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:00 p.m.]