The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Thur., May 20, 1999

First Session

THURSDAY, MAY 20, 1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fish. - Seniors: Licences - Fees Exempt, Mr. B. Taylor 5991
Health - Aberdeen Hospital: Beds - Increase, Dr. J. Hamm 5992
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Pictou Co.: Middle River Extension Road -
Close, Mr. C. Parker 5992
Educ. - Pugwash District High School: Teachers - Increase, Mr. E. Fage 5992
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Transport. & Pub. Works: Questions (Written) - Responses,
Hon. C. Huskilson 5993
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. - New Era Farms: Opening - Official, Hon. M. Samson 5993
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2865, Lbr. - Occupational Health & Safety Comms. [Gov't.]:
Work - Recognize, Hon. F. Cosman 5995
Vote - Affirmative 5995
Res. 2866, Agric. - Berwick: Apple Capital (N.S.) - Recognize,
Hon. E. Lorraine 5996
Vote - Affirmative 5996
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 100, Commercial Arbitration Act, Hon. R. Harrison 5996
No. 101, Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission Property Tax
Exemption Act, Mr. John Deveau 5996
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2867, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - TCH System: Tolls - Oppose,
Mr. R. Chisholm 5997
Res. 2868, SCS - Seniors (Group of Nine): Concerns - Respond,
Dr. J. Hamm 5997
Res. 2869, Educ. - Malcolm Munroe Mem. JHS: Debating Success -
Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 5998
Vote - Affirmative 5999
Res. 2870, Environ. - Baddeck: Sewage Treatment Plan - Inadequacies,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 5999
Res. 2871, Agric. - Anna. Valley Apple Blossom Festival 1999:
Organizational Efforts - Recognize, Mr. G. Archibald 5999
Vote - Affirmative 6000
Res. 2872, Agric. - Anna. Valley Apple Blossom Festival 1999:
Comm. - Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 6000
Vote - Affirmative 6001
Res. 2873, Lake Echo Lioness Club: Anniv. 20th - Congrats.,
Ms. Y. Atwell 6001
Vote - Affirmative 6002
Res. 2874, Health - Family Caregivers: Contribution - Recognize,
Dr. J. Hamm 6002
Res. 2875, Educ. - Debating Champs. JHS (Can.): Emilie Pottle
(Malcolm Mem. JHS) - Rep. (N.S.) Congrats., Hon. R. MacKinnon 6002
Vote - Affirmative 6003
Res. 2876, Lbr. - Safety Helmet: Non-Use - Response Condemn,
Mr. F. Corbett 6003
Res. 2877, NDP (N.S.) Caucus - Opp'n. Day (PC-19/05/99):
Cooperation - Absence Condemn, Mr. N. LeBlanc 6005
Res. 2878, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - West Dover: Parking Prohibition -
Remove, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6006
Res. 2879, Agric. - Berwick: Apple Capital [10th Anniv.] Museum Soc. -
Congrats., Mr. G. Moody 6007
Vote - Affirmative 6007
Res. 2880, Sports - NSTFA Awards: Jonathan Doucette (Inv.) &
Brenda MacEachern (Judique) - Congrats., Mr. Charles MacDonald 6008
Vote - Affirmative 6008
Res. 2881, Agric. - Production Cost Guarantee: Legislation (HC) -
Support, Mr. John MacDonell 6008
Res. 2882, Commun. Serv. - Women's Centre (Antigonish):
Funding Crisis - Recognize, Mr. J. Muir 6009
Res. 2883, Educ. - Schools: Antigonish - Mathematics Success Congrats.,
Mr. H. Fraser 6010
Vote - Affirmative 6011
Res. 2884, Justice - Lun. Co. Correctional Ctr.: Alcohol/Drug Abuse -
Awareness Efforts Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 6011
Vote - Affirmative 6011
Res. 2885, Devco - Transition Package: Edna Budden & Beverly Brown -
Enunciations (Ottawa) Congrats., Mr. P. MacEwan 6012
Vote - Affirmative 6012
Res. 2886, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Seniors: Housing Progs. -
Re-examine, Ms. R. Godin 6012
Res. 2887, Justice - Jail (Bedford): Concerns Ignored - Admit,
Mr. M. Scott 6013
Res. 2888, Sysco - Business Plan: Position (NDP [N.S.]) - Inadequate,
Mr. P. MacEwan 6014
Res. 2889, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Tancook Islands: Chester Parking -
Restore, Dr. H. Bitter-Suermann 6014
Res. 2890, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Shelburne Policy (Can.): Info. -
Table, Mr. G. Balser 6015
Res. 2891, NDP (N.S.) - Future Gov't.: Better - Deserved,
Mr. H. Fraser 6016
Res. 2892, Sports - Softball Hall of Fame (Can.): Mike Henderson
(Ex-Brookfield Elks) - Inductee Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 6016
Vote - Affirmative 6017
Res. 2893, Health - Twin Oaks Mem. Hosp.: Staff - Applaud,
Hon. K. Colwell 6017
Vote - Affirmative 6018
Res. 2894, Health - Breast Cancer Serv.: Cumb. Co. - Ensure,
Mr. E. Fage 6018
Res. 2895, Sysco - Business Plan: NDP (N.S.) - Position Reveal,
Mr. Charles MacDonald 6019
Res. 2896, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Secondary Roads: Plan (5 Yr.) -
Produce, Mr. J. DeWolfe 6019
Res. 2897, Culture - Atl. Commun. Newspaper Assoc. Awards:
The Citizen (Cumb. Co.) - Congrats., Mr. M. Scott 6020
Vote - Affirmative 6020
Res. 2898, Health - Reg. Bd. (Northern): Densitometry Unit (Truro) -
Accept, Mr. B. Taylor 6020
Res. 2899, Agric. - Drainage: Aboiteaux - Increase, Mr. G. Balser 6021
Res. 2900, Nat. Res. - Forests Act: Amdts. Proclamation - Time-Frame,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 6022
Res. 2901, CMHC - Social Housing-Outstanding Contribution Award:
Prof. Grant Wanzel (Dal. Univ.) - Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 6022
Vote - Affirmative 6023
Res. 2902, Health - Mental Health Progs.: Strengthening -
Need Recognize, Mr. G. Moody 6023
Res. 2903, Linus Project/Lori Karl (Queensland) Coordinator:
Dedication - Congrats., Mr. M. Baker 6024
Vote - Affirmative 6024
Res. 2904, Sports - Hockey (Can. Sen.): IKON Team (1998-99) -
Truro TSN Bearcats Congrats., Mr. J. Muir 6025
Vote - Affirmative 6025
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 956, Commun. Serv.: Abuse Prevention - Policy, Mr. R. Chisholm 6028
No. 957, Health - Ambulance Service: EMC Contract - Provide,
Dr. J. Hamm 6029
No. 958, Justice: Jail/Forensic Hospital Location - Meeting
(Min. [19/05/99]), Ms. R. Godin 6030
No. 959, Health - Physicians: Additional - Location, Mr. J. Muir 6031
No. 960, Commun. Serv.: Abuse Allegations - Policy, Mr. R. Chisholm 6032
No. 961, Health - Regionalization: Task Force - Manipulation,
Mr. M. Baker 6033
No. 962, Justice - Home Invasions: Prevention - Measures,
Mr. P. Delefes 6034
No. 963, Environ. - Sydney Tar Ponds: Pollutants (Frederick St.) -
Plan, Ms. Helen MacDonald 6035
No. 964, Health - Care: Improvement Ideas - Response, Mr. G. Moody 6036
No. 965, Nat. Res. - Barrachois Cove (C.B.): Wharf/Marina -
Establish, Ms. Helen MacDonald 6037
No. 966, Environ. - Recycling: Tire Tax - Rationale, Mr. N. LeBlanc 6038
No. 967, Health: Physicians - Shortage, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6039
No. 968, Nat. Res. - Nat. Gas: Stewiacke - Access, Mr. B. Taylor 6040
No. 969, Nat. Res. - Coastal Property Access: Comm. - Progress,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6041
No. 970, Environ. - Tires: Recycling - Competitiveness, Mr. J. DeWolfe 6042
No. 971, Fish. - Gulf of St. Lawrence: Exploratory Licences - Stop,
Mr. C. Parker 6043
No. 972, Educ. - Commun. Learning Ctr. (Lawrencetown): Funding -
Assure, Ms. E. O'Connell 6044
No. 973, Environ. - Septic System: Installation Approval - Delays,
Mr. G. Balser 6045
No. 974, Environ.: Inspections - Responsibility, Mr. D. Chard 6046
No. 975, Environ.: Tires - Burning, Mr. B. Taylor 6047
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 92, Applied Science Technology Act 6050
Hon. C. Huskilson 6050
Mr. P. Delefes 6050
Mr. J. Leefe 6051
Hon. C. Huskilson 6052
Vote - Affirmative 6052
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 95, Lunenburg Common Lands Act 6052
Mr. M. Baker 6052
Vote - Affirmative 6053
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 97, Business Efficiency (1999) Act 6053
Hon. R. Harrison 6053
Ms. Y. Atwell 6055
Mr. B. Taylor 6056
Mr. J. Holm 6057
Mr. J. Leefe 6060
Mr. M. Baker 6061
Hon. R. Harrison 6062
Vote - Affirmative 6063
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Educ. - N.S. Commun. Col.: Growth - Dev.:
Mr. P. Delefes 6063
Hon. W. Gaudet 6066
Mr. G. Balser 6068
Mr. E. Fage 6070
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., May 21st at 10:00 a.m. 6072

[Page 5991]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, MAY 20, 1999

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Ronald Russell

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Donald Chard

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we commence the daily routine, I would advise members that the late debate today was submitted by the honourable Leader of the Opposition. It reads:

Therefore be it resolved that the government support the growth and development of the Nova Scotia Community College as an important part of its economic development strategy.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, once again I have been handed a petition that states, "We, the undersigned respectfully request of the Minister of Fisheries to eliminate the charge for fishing licenses levied against the senior citizens of the province of Nova Scotia as agreed by resolution in the Nova Scotia Legislature.". This petition is signed by several Nova Scotians and I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

5991

[Page 5992]

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition regarding Aberdeen Hospital beds, making note that the population of Pictou County is 48,718, maximum hospital beds offered, 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.". The petition is signed by 72 residents and I, too, have signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of the Middle River Extention Road in Pictou County. The operative clause reads, "Every winter and spring the Middle River Extention Rd. becomes dangerous for public use. Therefore, we the undersigned, request the Dept. of Transportation CLOSE the MIDDLE RIVER EXTENTION ROAD and RE-DIRECT TRAFFIC AT THE CORNER OF THE MIDDLE RIVER ROAD AND HWY. 289 to facilitate left turns.". It has been signed by 92 residents and I have also affixed my own signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I also beg leave to table a petition on behalf of residents of Pugwash, the district high school parents. It 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.". I respectfully submit it on behalf of the parents and residents of Pugwash District High School. I have affixed my signature to it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

[Page 5993]

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, at this point in time I am pleased to table responses to written questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The material is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I had the opportunity to share information with members about a new composting facility that will be constructed in Pictou County.

Today, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a new facility that is now operating and was recently opened in the Halifax Regional Municipality. A few weeks ago, our department participated in the official opening of the New Era Farms composting facility. This state-of-the-art facility is taking us into the future of waste management practices. It is an environmentally responsible operation. It is completely enclosed and filtered, so there are no foul odours outside and there is no leachate problem. It meets and exceeds all environmental requirements.

This composting facility is another element in a very impressive equation for the Halifax Regional Municipality. It's also an essential part of our efforts to meet some of the challenges outlined in the province's recent State of the Environment Report. This report, which was released in 1998, was a first-ever for Nova Scotia and it focused on three particular areas: air, water, and waste management.

Solid waste resource management touches on each and every area of this report, and composting is a key element in all of them. For air quality, greenhouse gases have been reduced. Rather than have organic material decompose in landfills, creating dangerous methane gas, they are composted in a facility such as the one operated by New Era Farms, which has no dangerous gases. For water resources, toxic leachate is reduced. Most of the leachate produced in a landfill comes from organic material. It can pollute groundwater and surface waters. However, when composted, it provides a natural resource which is beneficial to soil for the growth of stronger, healthier plants and, in addition to the benefits of improving soil, it naturally reduces the need for pesticides and artificial fertilizers.

Mr. Speaker, by next year, once complete composting plans are in place across this province, Nova Scotia will exceed our national goal of 50 per cent diversion of solid waste. We have come a long way in a very short time. Halifax Regional Municipality's new facility is a very important part of this; in fact, Halifax is nearly there in accomplishing the 50 per cent diversion rate. Overall, the province has now reached the diversion rate of 35 per cent, and HRM alone has already achieved a whopping 43.5 per cent diversion.

[Page 5994]

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the province I wish, as Minister of the Environment and on behalf of my government to issue congratulations and thanks to the owners of this facility, the many councillors in HRM and dedicated staff and the citizens who supported this very worthwhile project. 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 the advance copy of his announcement. That is greatly appreciated. I am very interested in his announcement and in this facility. I was there for the official opening myself along with the member for Timberlea-Prospect, and I must say it is a very impressive facility and given the cost of some $9 million indeed it should be impressive. I understand from some people that they really wonder how this facility could have absorbed as much as $9 million, but if it works well I think we can regard this as a good investment. Certainly we will be composting a large amount of organic material there and that is good news.

It is a significant bit of progress in management of solid wastes in this province, particularly of organic wastes. I do have to take exception, however, to the claim that this is going to be an odour-free facility. The minister's announcement said there was no foul odour, well I am not sure what the odour was out there, maybe it wasn't an odour from fowl but there certainly was an odour there and it has been suggested to me that there was the distinct aroma of ammonia at this facility.

I would submit that this facility should be looked at very carefully by people from his department, because if we are getting ammonia odours at this facility at this time of year, there could be a risk to people who work there when we get into summer heat. I don't mention this frivolously or lightly. This information was raised with me by an authority on composting who was at that opening ceremony. I think that concerns like this, when they are brought to our attention, should be addressed.

We welcome the progress, we welcome the opening of facilities like this, but I think we have to be sure that they are working properly. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to respond to the announcement that New Era Farms is officially opened. When we move forward as a province with environmentally responsible policies and regulations, it is important that we be met by operations such as those announced both yesterday for Pictou County and today.

[Page 5995]

I think it is especially important to congratulate the residents of metro. Without their help and support positive initiatives such as this would not be made possible. As a final comment, I wish to congratulate the owners of New Era Farms facility and I wish them great success for the future of this operation. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2865

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

Whereas the week of May 17th to May 21st has been designated North American Occupational Safety and Health Week; and

Whereas employees and managers across government and across the province participate in Occupational Health and Safety committees and initiatives; and

Whereas members of Occupational Health and Safety committees throughout government are marking this week with activities from health fairs, brown bag lunches with guest speakers, awards and recognition events;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize the work government Occupational Health and Safety committees do all year long and applaud them on their efforts to heighten employee awareness of occupational health and safety.

Mr. Speaker, I am asking for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

[Page 5996]

RESOLUTION NO. 2866

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

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas 10 years ago this Legislature designated Berwick as the Apple Capital of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas that designation is now being honoured and celebrated by the Apple Capital Museum Society, which has just opened the Berwick Apple Museum and Interpretive Centre; and

Whereas the museum opened for weekends on May 15th and plans to open daily staring June 7th for the enjoyment of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and reaffirm Berwick as the Apple Capital of Nova Scotia and commend the Apple Capital Museum Society for opening this unique and much anticipated museum.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the member for Kings West was the minister responsible when this was designated and 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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 100 - Entitled an Act to Reform the Law Respecting Domestic Commercial Arbitration and to Promote and Encourage the Use of Arbitration as a Means of Alternative Dispute Resolution. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

Bill No. 101 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 91 of the Acts of 1975. An Act to Exempt from Property Tax the Yarmouth Area Industrial Commission. (Mr. John Deveau)

[Page 5997]

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. 2867

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 Minister of Transportation was quick to publicly declare his opposition to higher federal taxes on gasoline after word leaked out that Ottawa had proposed significant increases over the next 10 years; and

Whereas the minister was silent about the parallel federal proposal to build more toll highways like the Cobequid Pass, where Nova Scotia road dollars are paid to the American owners of a stretch of the Trans Canada Highway; and

Whereas in the last election Liberals were promising that there would be no more toll roads in our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House oppose the use of toll roads to pay for the national highway system and that the Minister of Transportation should convey this message to his counterparts across Canada.

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. 2868

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

[Page 5998]

Whereas on April 1, 1980, the Progressive Conservative Government established a Senior Citizens Secretariat, in recognition of the valuable contribution seniors make to our province and to give them a voice in shaping government policies and decisions; and

Whereas in a recent letter to the Premier, nine seniors' organizations expressed considerable concern over the government's lack of commitment to the secretariat; and

Whereas the letter also states the steady erosion of secretarial staff and funding under this Liberal Government has resulted in a less than effective secretariat which can only have negative implications for seniors, as well as government;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government accept the Group of Nine's appeal to discuss an immediate response to the concerns of seniors and that it acknowledge the need for a secretariat with a strengthened mandate with additional staff and resources.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2869

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 Malcolm Munroe Memorial Junior High School's debating team recently competed in the Nova Scotia Junior High School Debating Championships, which were held in Windsor, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the team continued its tradition of success by winning the championship for the fourth time in the past five years and, in addition, won the Provincial Impromptu Debating Championship last fall; and

Whereas debating has become a part of Malcolm Munroe Memorial Junior High School's focus on excellence over the past number of years;

[Page 5999]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Assembly congratulate the students and teachers of Malcolm Munroe Memorial Junior High School on this outstanding achievement.

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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 2870

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

Whereas Baddeck's current sewage treatment facility was built in 1970 and is in serious need of repair and rehabilitation; and

Whereas the present plant is unable to deal with the demand during the off season, say nothing of the tourist season; and

Whereas as a result of these problems, future growth within the Village of Baddeck is severely restricted and equally as important, the water in the vicinity of Baddeck Harbour is being jeopardized;

Therefore be it resolved that this government, in cooperation with the Baddeck Village Commission, immediately address the inadequacies of this sewage treatment system.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 2871

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

[Page 6000]

Whereas the 67th Annual Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival will be held this year from May 26th to May 31st; and

Whereas the theme this year, A Mosaic of Cultures, offers a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the traditions, the people and the agricultural heritage of our Valley; and

Whereas the theme is even more fitting this year as the people of the Valley welcome refugees from Kosovo;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Apple Blossom Festival Committee and their President, Mr. Eric Mitchell, for planning many fine events and for inviting all Nova Scotians to join us and share in the beauty and warmth of the Apple Blossom Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and welcome all members to come and enjoy the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2872

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

Whereas the 67th Annual Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival is scheduled for Wednesday, May 26th through to Monday, May 31st; and

Whereas the festival theme this year is, A Mosaic of Cultures in Concert, and opening ceremonies will take place at Annapolis Nations, Cambridge Reserve; and

Whereas events at this year's Apple Blossom Festival include Rockfest '99, On the Field with the Rankins, coronation of Queen Annapolisa, a three day craft fair, two parades and a royal tour of the Valley, and a fireworks display;

[Page 6001]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the tireless efforts of the festival's President, Eric Mitchell, and all the volunteers and encourage their constituents and our constituents to come and be part of the festival celebrating agriculture in the Annapolis Valley.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 2873

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

Whereas the Lake Echo Lioness Club has been serving the community for 20 years; and

Whereas the Lake Echo Lioness Club celebrated their 20th Charter as a service club on May 1, 1999; and

Whereas the Lake Echo Lioness Club regularly assists the community by helping needy families and the food bank, holding children's and seniors' events, providing bursaries for high school students and others;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Lake Echo Lioness Club for their positive presence within the community for the past 20 years.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 6002]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 2874

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

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians selflessly provide care for families or friends who are physically or mental challenged, chronically ill, frail or elderly; and

Whereas by providing care at home, these caregivers collectively provide an urgently needed service, saving taxpayers untold millions of dollars; and

Whereas a recent survey of 21 nursing homes in the western region by the Family Caregivers Association of Nova Scotia concluded only three respite beds are regularly available family caregivers;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize the tremendous contribution of family caregivers and further that it immediately commit to expanding the number of respite beds available to caregivers.

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Minister of Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 2875

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

[Page 6003]

Whereas Emilie Pottle was named the top debater in the province at the recent Nova Scotia Junior High School Debating Championship; and

Whereas this Grade 9 student at Malcolm Munroe Memorial Junior High School has been invited to represent Nova Scotia at the national championships; and

Whereas Emilie epitomizes the students at Malcolm Munroe Memorial Junior High School that is celebrating 25 years of excellence in education;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Emilie Pottle on her remarkable achievement and commend the students and staff on their dedication to excellence.

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. 2876

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

Whereas this week is Occupational Health and Safety Week; and

Whereas yesterday in this House attention was drawn to the Minister of Labour's failure to observe basic safety principles when he neglected to wear a hard hat at a construction site; and

Whereas the minister's response was that he wanted to show off his new hairdo;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn this minister for once again demonstrating, flippantly, his lack of concern for job-site safety and his own department's regulations.

[Page 6004]

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

HON. RUSSELL MACKINNON: On a point of personal privilege, Mr. Speaker. I am not remiss on accepting any responsibility, if I am remiss in any of my ministerial responsibilities or if in any way I infringe on any of the Acts or the regulations they are under. Certainly the photograph that the honourable member refers to was not taken at a work site, it was taken at the official opening ceremony with regard to the living headquarters for those living on the platform related to the offshore exploration program. It is certainly not designated as a work site and it was attended by more than 100 dignitaries not one of who wore a hard hat, including the member for Sackville-Cobequid, including the member for Dartmouth South. I think it is irresponsible to impute motive or neglect when in fact (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: The rights and the privileges of all members should be respected and we have an obligation and a legal duty to ensure that the facts are dealt with in an honourable and fair fashion.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that that honourable member at least do the courteous thing of standing and apologize not only to myself but to his colleagues that he sits with.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, on the point of privilege.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I stand because my name was referenced in that. I was indeed at the ceremony that the minister refers to. I want to assure you and I want to assure the minister that when I was entering and going through the areas where any hats and so on were required, anything that was given to me to put on, I wore and I wore it at the time. Mr. Speaker, it was the minister who, on the floor of this House yesterday on a point of order in response to a resolution that had been raised earlier, brought this on himself by standing up and making the flippant comment that he wouldn't wear the hat because he wanted to show off his hairdo.

[Page 6005]

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, whether it was a construction site or not, it was in the publication advertising health and safety and demonstrating as a workplace site, and his actions, therefore, and his comments, I believe degrade that.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further interveners? There is no point of privilege. There is a difference of opinion between two members and I suggest that they resolve that other than in the Chamber. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 2877

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

Whereas the NDP yesterday prevented Nova Scotians the opportunity to have vital public policy issues debated in Legislature by introducing 38 resolutions; and

Whereas one of the two issues the Progressive Conservatives had scheduled for debate was the critical nursing shortage facing Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the result of the NDP filibuster was denial of an important opportunity to pursue what is a critical issue affecting both nurses and the people that they serve through the health care system;

Therefore be it resolved that Leader of the NDP and his caucus be condemned for refusing to cooperate on facilitating public debate on an issue of such critical importance.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice and the question be put without debate.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order on the content of the member's resolution. I have no hesitation saying that when the member for Kings West was a House Leader, we had an agreement between the two caucuses as to the number of resolutions that

[Page 6006]

would be introduced on Opposition Days. That agreement was violated in the last session and the day before, Tuesday, the current House Leader came to me and asked for a new agreement. The content of what he is trying to put forward, he knows clearly, is untrue, it does not represent the facts. (Interruptions)

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

MR. HOLM: I will rephrase that, Mr. Speaker. He had the conversation from the day before, he knows clearly that what he is implying in his resolution does not reflect the reality of the discussion that we had the day before. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I have heard sufficient. Very briefly, the honourable member for Argyle. Very briefly.

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring to the attention of the House that the House Leader of the NDP, what he is saying there is totally erroneous. There was one day that we had a few more resolutions than theirs. (Interruptions) They brought in 38 resolutions . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I have heard sufficient, thank you.

MR. LEBLANC: . . . and the nurses in this province deserve to have a debate and the NDP . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member will take his seat. (Applause) I am not here to arbitrate disagreements among Parties or to arbitrate on agreements and pacts that they have agreed to. There was no point of order.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2878

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

Whereas residents of West Dover have worked for many years to have a community ball field; and

Whereas this community field is in desperate need of a parking lot on land under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation has recently installed 30 "No Parking" signs on Route 233 adjacent to this field;

[Page 6007]

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Transportation instruct staff to remove these "No Parking" signs immediately, and further that the Minister of Natural Resources instruct staff to facilitate the transfer of the necessary land to allow this community to begin construction of this important parking lot.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2879

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 decade ago Berwick was designated the Apple Capital of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas a Berwick Apple Museum and Interpretive Centre was made possible due to the generosity of the Margeson family along with volunteers from Berwick and area; and

Whereas the museum has recently opened for the tourism season and this year will include an extra map so people can enjoy orchard tours;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the 10th Anniversary of Berwick being the Apple Capital of Nova Scotia and congratulate the Apple Capital Museum Society for opening and operating the museum.

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 Inverness.

[Page 6008]

RESOLUTION NO. 2880

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Track and Field Association honoured two members of the Ceilidh Racers Track Club based in Judique; and

Whereas Jonathan Doucette of Inverness has been named Midget Male Athlete of the Year; and

Whereas Brenda MacEachern of Judique won the award for Bantam Female Athlete of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the House extend congratulations to these two exceptional athletes on receiving their awards and recognize the Ceilidh Racers Track Club for its record of producing champions.

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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2881

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

Whereas New Democrat MP Lorne Nystrom has tabled a bill in the House of Commons aimed at protecting the family farm; and

Whereas this piece of legislation is a response to last year's devastating prices and the worrisome outlook for the years ahead; and

[Page 6009]

Whereas the bill features a cost of production guarantee designed to give farmers a level playing field and to help protect their income;

Therefore be it resolved that this government encourage their federal counterparts to support this bill.

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 Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to the gallery opposite, to two young women it would be my pleasure to introduce, the first being Sarah Reeves. Sarah is a Sackville High co-op student who has worked in our caucus office since September, and Sarah will be graduating from Grade 12 in a couple of weeks. Sarah Reeves if you would stand. (Applause)

The second young lady in the gallery opposite is Beth Stanfield. Beth is the proprietor of the Stanfield's Factory Outlet from Truro. Beth if you would rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2882

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

Whereas women's centres across this province provide a valuable service to their clients and are often used as a referral point by government agencies; and

Whereas an increase in the core funding provided to women's centres is absolutely necessary to the women and families across Nova Scotia who receive the valuable services offered by women's centres; and

[Page 6010]

Whereas yesterday, the Minister of Community Services refused to commit to addressing the immediate needs of the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre currently in danger of closing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services recognize the funding crisis facing the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre and immediately take the necessary action to prevent this centre from having to close its doors.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 2883

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

Whereas a recent provincial math contest has proven that students at St. Andrew Junior High School in Antigonish are number one in Nova Scotia when it comes to mathematics; and

Whereas 4 of the top 10 schools in the province were from the Antigonish area, including St. Andrew Junior High School, H.M. MacDonald Elementary School, Dr. Hugh MacPherson Elementary School and Reverend H.J. MacDonald Elementary School; and

Whereas a team of Grade 6 students at St. Andrew Junior High School not only finished first in Nova Scotia but placed a remarkable 23rd out of 631 schools across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students and teachers of these schools on setting an excellent example for other schools to follow and for their commitment to quality education.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

[Page 6011]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2884

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

Whereas the Lunenburg County Correctional Centre is participating in a program to make teens aware of the horrors of drug and alcohol abuse; and

Whereas the program introduces students in schools throughout Lunenburg County to an inmate who can tell his story, based on personal experience, in a way which shows the real difficulties of alcohol and drug abuse; and

Whereas the program is the idea of Correctional Officer Derwin Swinemar, who has ensured the students are made aware of the fact that the choices made today will affect the rest of their lives;

Therefore be it resolved that the staff and inmates of the Lunenburg County Correctional Centre be congratulated for telling our students of the true personal cost of alcohol and drug abuse.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver 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 Nova.

[Page 6012]

RESOLUTION NO. 2885

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

Whereas Edna Budden and Beverly Brown of the United Families Organization have done an exemplary job on behalf of the Cape Breton coal community, putting a human face on the current Devco crisis; and

Whereas in one week in Ottawa, Edna Budden and Beverly Brown spoke to virtually every decision maker on Parliament Hill, from the Prime Minister down, enunciating the concerns of Cape Bretoners; and

Whereas these two women have shown what can be done in a single week in Ottawa where the will to do the job is there;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates Edna Budden and Beverly Brown on their achievements.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek 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 Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 2886

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

Whereas 1999 is the International Year of Older Persons; and

Whereas the population of Nova Scotians over the age of 75 is forecast to increase 37 per cent over the next seven years; and

[Page 6013]

Whereas an aging population also generally lives in older housing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government re-examine its housing programs to ensure that seniors are being adequately supported to make necessary repairs and adaptations to remain in their own homes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2887

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

Whereas residents of Bedford have come together and have strongly opposed the location of a new provincial jail in this community; and

Whereas the community of Springhill, which is home to a federal institution, is very proud of its history and credible record; and

Whereas Springhill has submitted a plan and requested to be considered for the site of this new provincial jail;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government admit it has totally ignored the concerns of the residents of Bedford and that it immediately halt the construction process and that it undertake a more comprehensive evaluation of alternative sites.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 6014]

RESOLUTION NO. 2888

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 Sydney Steel Corporation business plan comes solidly endorsed by both the international and local unions of the United Steel Workers of America; and

Whereas such well-known figures as Hugh MacKenzie and Peter Warrington of the Steel Workers Union were involved in the preparation of the Sysco Business Plan, while as a consultant former Ontario Premier Bob Rae also had input; and

Whereas anyone who was onside with the steelworkers would support the Sysco business plan without reservation and would condemn any individual or group who refused to endorse this blueprint for a viable future for the industry;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP position of "We simply don't know" is not good enough, and that it is time the NDP got off its hands and came out solidly on the side of the steelworkers.

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 2889

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

Whereas European settlers claimed the Tancook Islands off Chester some 206 years ago; and

Whereas they have been trading with and enriching the villagers of Chester ever since; and

Whereas Tancook Islanders have lost permanent parking space at the ferry dock in Chester despite reassurances to the contrary by the Minister of Transportation 14 days ago;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister get on with the job rather than siding with the Tory founding mother and Councillor Gail Smith of Chester, who called the Tancook Islanders, "car squatters", in the Sunday Daily News on April 25, 1999.

[Page 6015]

Mr. Speaker, I 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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2890

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

Whereas Nova Scotia shipyards employ a highly trained, experienced and skilled workforce; and

Whereas Nova Scotia shipyards have a well-deserved reputation for producing quality products with labour rates being generally lower or equal to that of European competitors and the United States; and

Whereas the President of the Halifax Shipyards has said there is a place for shipbuilding in Canada with many jobs it creates, most of which are high-tech and sophisticated;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Minister of Economic Development and Tourism table in this Legislature a progress report or correspondence, if any should exist, with the federal government concerning a federal shipbuilding policy.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Antigonish.

[Page 6016]

RESOLUTION NO. 2891

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

Whereas on Monday, the Leader of the New Democratic Party told the media that Nova Scotia had the most unproductive government in Canadian history; and

Whereas in true NDP fashion, the Leader of the Opposition had absolutely no facts to back up his claim; and

Whereas the fact is this Liberal Government has produced fiscal responsibility, a positive economic climate, and consumer and business confidence;

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Nova Scotia deserve better than the NDP definition of productive which is probably based on NDP Governments in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia which have produced debt, health care turmoil and economic crisis.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2892

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

Whereas Nova Scotia softball legend, Mike Henderson, will be recognized this fall with his induction into the Canadian Softball Hall of Fame, during Softball Canada's Annual General Meeting in Halifax in November; and

Whereas the ex-Brookfield Elk star, in his legendary career, was part of Canada's Pan-American Games team, a national championship team, a member of the Elks when they won nine provincial senior softball titles while also playing on the bronze medal Elks team at the World Championship of Softball in California in 1981; and

Whereas despite the significant individual accomplishments in his softball career, Henderson believes that his induction should have been a team one instead of a personal milestone;

[Page 6017]

Therefore be it resolved that since Mike Henderson will become one of only two Nova Scotia players to ever be inducted into the Hall of Fame, MLAs recognize the outstanding talent put forward for many years by Henderson and wish him continued good luck with his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 2893

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 Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital is celebrating its 50th Anniversary of acute care services to the communities of Musquodoboit Harbour, Porters Lake to East Ship Harbour, in May 1999; and

Whereas this hospital provides long-term care for an eight bed extended care unit, two short-stay beds, one palliative care bed and one respite bed; and

Whereas the Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital developed and operated the first Leased Outreach Nursing Care Program as a forerunner to Home Care Nova Scotia, as well as providing tenant accommodation for services such as Community Services, EMC Ambulance Site, Drug Dependency and many other services which greatly benefit the Eastern Shore;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the staff of the Twin Oaks Memorial Hospital for their outstanding achievements which are leading the way for other hospitals in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

[Page 6018]

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. 2894

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

Whereas the people of Cumberland County have witnessed a steady erosion of health services since this Liberal Government embarked on its so-called health reform agenda, including the loss of desperately needed physicians; and

Whereas the latest attack on health services in Cumberland County is a plan to transfer cancer specialty services from Amherst Regional Hospital to Colchester; and

Whereas removing cancer specialty services from Cumberland County not only compromises the health and well-being of the women of Cumberland County who are either suffering from, or at risk to develop, breast cancer, it sends the wrong message to the specialists we need to retain and recruit to rural Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take immediate action to ensure that a full range of breast cancer services, including screening, diagnosis and treatment, remain on location for the women of Cumberland County through the Amherst Regional Hospital.

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 Inverness.

[Page 6019]

RESOLUTION NO. 2895

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

Whereas the Leader of the NDP was asked yesterday if his Party would return $70,000 in campaign contributions from the United Steel Workers union if his Party rejects the Sysco business plan tabled by this Liberal Government; and

Whereas the NDP Leader must have misunderstood the question, because he gave a song and dance instead of an answer; and

Whereas the NDP Leader must have confused Sysco with disco, because . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I am unable to hear the notice of motion, I will request the member to read it again. Order, please!

MR. CHARLES MACDONALD: Whereas the NDP Leader must have confused Sysco with disco, because he went into his Disco Bob routine, which is all fluff and no substance;

Therefore be it resolved that the hard-working employees of Sysco deserve an immediate answer from the NDP and not a song and dance.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2896

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

Whereas this government's slash-and-burn policy regarding maintenance to Nova Scotia's secondary roads have rendered many unsafe; and

Whereas this government's policy has been liberally applied to the roads in Pictou East; and

Whereas this Liberal minister's reign of road rage has wrecked havoc across our land;

Therefore be it resolved that this government put a stop to their bumpy pavement policies and produce a five year plan.

[Page 6020]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 2897

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

Whereas awards from the Atlantic Community Newspaper Association's 1998 Better Newspaper Competition were presented at a recent convention held in Liverpool; and

Whereas staff of The Citizen, a publication of Cumberland Publishing Limited, left an indelible impression as they were presented with numerous awards, ranging from graphic design categories and advertising to coverage of community events and best columns; and

Whereas topping the prize list was a premier award placing the publication first out of 51 member newspapers for initiative and innovation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend heartfelt congratulations to the staff of The Citizen and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 2898

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

[Page 6021]

Whereas osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are crippling diseases that affect 30 per cent of women and 1 in 8 men over 50, with the waiting list growing longer every day for access to the one existing densitometry unit in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas two years ago, Nova Scotia's rheumatologists and endocrinologists urged the government to provide at least one densitometer for every region of the province; and

Whereas the Colchester Regional Hospital auxiliary has offered a gift of $120,000 to cover payment for a new bone densitometry unit for the Truro hospital, which unbelievably the Northern Regional Health Board has rejected;

Therefore be it resolved that the Northern Regional Health Board immediately reconsider this decision and accept the offer of a new bone scanning unit so that waits will be shorter for all Nova Scotians and residents of northern Nova Scotia will not have to travel to Halifax for this service.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

I am going to have to start calling notices of motion out of order if they are getting inordinately long and they are getting much too long.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 2899

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture has repeatedly indicated empathy and appreciation for the difficulties faced by farmers in this province; and

Whereas the St. Mary's Bay aboiteau and dyke system provide and protect over 700 acres of essential community pastureland while at the same time providing watershed drainage for almost 20,000 acres; and

Whereas the farmers involved in the St. Mary's Bay Marsh Association have repeatedly expressed concern that the present aboiteau system is not adequate to avoid annual flooding and property loss, including the death of a number of cattle in 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing agree to allocate the funds needed to expand the current number of drainage aboiteaux so that the much-needed pastureland can be protected.

[Page 6022]

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 2900

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

Whereas amendments to the Forests Act were approved and passed by this Legislature last fall by the Lieutenant Governor; and

Whereas the amendments have yet to be proclaimed by members of the Liberal Cabinet; and

Whereas the amendments were designed to stop the massive overcutting of wood in Nova Scotia's forests;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Natural Resources table before this House a summary of events since the passage of these amendments, with details as to when they will be proclaimed by members of Cabinet.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2901

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

Whereas Grant Wanzel, Dalhousie University architecture professor, was recently recognized by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; and

[Page 6023]

Whereas the award, presented annually, was in recognition of Mr. Wanzel's outstanding contribution to social housing; and

Whereas Mr. Wanzel is a member and founding Chair of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia and has been active in numerous associations, committees and initiatives that work toward addressing affordable housing;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House extend congratulations to Mr. Wanzel on receipt of this auspicious national award.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2902

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

Whereas depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the world today, affecting 340 million people; and

Whereas the World Health Organization is predicting that by the year 2020, depression will be the greatest burden of ill health to people in the developing world; and

Whereas the World Health Organization is also forecasting that by 2020, severe depression will be the second largest cause of death and disability in the developing world;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health recognize that mental health programs need strengthening across Nova Scotia so effective services can be offered and delivered to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 6024]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 2903

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

Whereas the Linus Project, coordinated in Nova Scotia by Lori Karl of Queensland, is a quilter's charity for children whose lives are in crisis; and

Whereas the volunteer quilters provide hand-made blankets to youngsters who have difficult situations to endure to inspire hope and give them comfort; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Chapter is now increasing the number of blankets being made available to places like Ronald McDonald House, Adsum House and the IWK-Grace Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that Lori Karl and the Linus Project be congratulated for their dedicated hard but loving work and for providing these gifts of hope and comfort for our children in need.

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 member for Truro-Bible Hill.

[Page 6025]

[3:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2904

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

Whereas the Truro TSN Bearcats, 1998 winner of the Allan Cup, which is emblematic of the Canadian Senior Hockey Championship, is the 1998-99 IKON Team of the Year; and

Whereas this award is given annually to Nova Scotia's top amateur athletic team; and

Whereas the Truro TSN Bearcats were selected as the IKON Team of the Year by a panel consisting of representatives from Sport Nova Scotia, other sport and government bodies and members of the media;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the players, coaches, trainers, management, owner and all other members of the organization whose energy and dedication led to the achievement for which the Truro TSN Bearcats were named the 1998-99 IKON Team of the Year.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is now 3:01 p.m. We will terminate at 4:01 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 6026]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to direct my question through you to the Minister of Community Services. Cesar Lalo, former employee of Community Services is in prison for abusing children in the care of government. When asked to explain what the Department of Community Services knew, the minister's answer was that she was not at the department then. Well, it is time for the government and for this minister to take some responsibility. I want to ask the minister, when will she accept her responsibility for getting to the bottom of this tragic episode?

MR. SPEAKER: I understand that this matter is still before the courts. (Interruptions) Order, please. I ran into this same problem in the spring and once again, I am getting conflicting information. The honourable member is suggesting . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: It is not a matter before the courts. This is a matter about an event that took place and the fact that this department has responsibility to explain what happened, what they knew when this event allegedly took place.

MR. SPEAKER: No, I am going to rule that question out of order. (Applause) Order, please. I am ruling it out of order because I believe that this matter is still before the courts and that information forthcoming from the . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: I am going to explain it to you. The man is in prison.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: The man is in prison. It is already over.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, it is not.

MR. CHISHOLM: What I am talking about has already gone through the courts.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I will make this commitment to the honourable member but my understanding is that the matter is still before the courts.

MR. CHISHOLM: No, it is not. Mr. Speaker, this is a criminal matter that was dealt with some years ago. That is why he is in prison.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is still before the courts.

MR. SPEAKER: All right. I will review the matter and perhaps the honourable member could go onto another question and I will endeavour to find some information so that I can make a ruling but at the present time, I am ruling that question out of order.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker . . .

[Page 6027]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to determine here is what the government knew about the activities of an employee (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: What I am trying to determine is what the government knew about the activities of an employee who did go to trial, was convicted and is now in prison. So I am trying to get some answers from the minister about what she is doing to investigate what the government knew.

It is not about the new charges. It is about what happened and why he got into prison in the first place.

MR. SPEAKER: No, I am going to rule that question out of order. As I said, I am ruling it out of order based on information that I have which may be incorrect.

MR. CHISHOLM: So it doesn't matter what I tell you?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am going to declare a recess for four or five minutes while I go and determine exactly what the status is on Mr. Lalo and his case. Is that fair enough? Okay, we are recessed until 3:10 p.m.

[3:05 p.m. The House recessed.]

[3:10 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will resume Question Period with the Leader of the Opposition. Actually, we will take the present time as 3:10 p.m. and we will carry Question Period through until 4:10 p.m. The question asked by the Leader of the Opposition in my opinion is out of order and I am ruling so.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if you could ring the bells briefly to get some members of the House back in.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. So we will start at 3:12 p.m.

[The bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 6028]

COMMUN. SERV.: ABUSE PREVENTION - POLICY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to direct my question to the Minister of Community Services. The Department of Community Services has come under some fire in the last number of months about a matter of children under their care and control being exposed to activities of abuse. I want to ask the minister if she would explain to this House what procedures and practices her department has introduced to ensure that children under the care, custody and control of her department are, in fact, protected?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, this is a very strategic question and I would ask the honourable Leader opposite if he would go back to the record of the last three weeks of our session, just a month ago that answer was fully laid, the protocols were fully tabled with all the members of the House, the information is a matter of record. He needs only to refresh his memory.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, there has been some concern expressed that the Department of Community Services has not sufficiently and adequately responded to the concerns that have been raised about whether children in their care, custody and control have been protected. I would like the Minister of Community Services to table in this House changes that have been made to procedures in her department that would give Nova Scotians some confidence that actions have been taken to ensure that incidents that have been alleged to have happened back in the 1980's will not happen again.

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I think this really comes to a new level of low for the honourable Leader opposite. I have already tabled the protocols. We have made tremendous improvements in the protocols in the department. We want to assure Nova Scotians that those protocols are in place and they are working. He need only refresh his memory and look at the record.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians want to get to the bottom of why children under the care, custody and control of this government were allegedly abused. That is the issue. Now if that is low, to try to get that answer, I think the fact that they were exposed is what is low. My question to the minister is, will she explain what procedures were in place when these incidents were alleged to have occurred?

[3:15 p.m.]

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I just find this line of questioning unbelievable from this member opposite. The Act has been strengthened, there are protocols in place, there is an absolute duty to report knowledge of abuse. So many things have changed, so many things have strengthened this system and this member opposite knows that and he is just trying to make political hay out of this issue.

[Page 6029]

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

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERVICE: EMC CONTRACT - PROVIDE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health. In the last six years we have seen the cost of ambulance service increase in this province by some 300 per cent. It is over two years since the minister's department had agreed to a monopoly contract with EMC. Despite a ruling from Darce Fardy, we have yet to receive any documentation as to the nature of that agreement.

My question to the minister is, when will we see the agreement that the province has signed with EMC to provide monopoly ambulance service?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. We are very pleased with our emergency system here in Nova Scotia and he is correct, that there have been a lot of resources and a lot of training and a lot of other issues. We have reviewed the contract and in the Department of Health we have no problem with releasing the contract relative to our department. The third party involved, EMC, is continuing to review it and they are trying to determine legally what they are able to release.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased the minister is prepared to release the document but I think the minister is aware that those who wish to do business with the province should, in fact, be aware of the fact that doing business with the province will require a certain amount of disclosure as to the nature of the contracts that they sign.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

DR. HAMM: My question to the minister is - and he has made reference in the past to what he calls a performance-based contract - will the minister tell us today on any given day how many ambulances are available for service? We believe there are 122 ambulances but how many are available each day for service?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the positive aspect of the service at this juncture is the deployment, the dispatch centre, the monitoring of where all the ambulances are, the numbers of ambulances that are in service and the maintenance program that they are enjoying. You don't see ambulances getting towed like in the old days. (Interruptions)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the minister, having practised medicine for three decades in this province, I have yet to see an ambulance being towed. My question to the minister is, the minister is aware of a number of incidents that have been reported in relation to a failure of the service to respond adequately or, in fact, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

[Page 6030]

DR. HAMM: . . . a service that is deficient. Will the minister explain to members of the House what protocol he follows when he receives a complaint about ambulance services?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, personally, if I have any concerns expressed to me, I refer to Dr. Michael Murphy; my deputy is also made aware of it, as well as the assistant deputy within that department. So that is investigated and it goes to the dispatch centre where the records are involved. All this is documented, the calls and the responses.

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

JUSTICE: JAIL/FORENSIC HOSPITAL LOCATION -

MEETING (MIN. [19/05/99])

MS. ROSEMARY GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. It appears that last night the minister finally got a first-hand account of the public anger and dismay over the new jail and forensic facility at Marsh Lake. The minister is talking consultation but the site is already being cleared. My question to the minister is, since the land is already being cleared, was last night's meeting just a charade?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we had an intense discussion last night between those accountable for decisions and a community. We explained to them that we had begun a process some years ago, announced last summer a site and, in fact, as a result of, a commitment made at that meeting last night with a group called the Societies Future Group to discuss the history of site selection and to receive from them input on site selection.

MS. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, we know that the cost of the facility has ballooned to $57 million, far above the original cost. Other potentially viable sites were rejected because of the original cost, not this revised cost. My question is, will the minister now commit to a real examination of alternative sites now that we know the true cost of the Jack Lake or Marsh Lake site?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as we indicated at last night's meeting, we have a process in place that determined a long list of metro sites, reduced those down to 13 and made a final site selection based on criteria which we offered at the meeting last night.

MR. GODIN: Mr. Speaker, my final question is, how can the minister claim to have meaningful consultation with residents when construction has already begun?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we designed a process by which we held numerous meetings, in fact, last night's meeting was the sixth meeting. Last summer, early fall, an announcement was made inviting residents of Bedford to two workshops to discuss the culmination of a site selection process.

[Page 6031]

The member opposite, in correspondence to me and in conversations with me, knows full well the need for a replacement facility for a correctional centre and for a forensic unit.

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

HEALTH - PHYSICIANS: ADDITIONAL - LOCATION

MR. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. On Tuesday the minister told this House that Nova Scotia has reversed the drain and the movement of physicians out of the province and in 1998, there was a net gain of approximately 59 physicians. I would ask the minister to table in this House where these physicians are practising, whether they are full-time or part-time, whether they can practice independently and what their specialties are? Will the minister commit to do that?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member. I would be pleased to do that, I don't have it with my notes today but I would be pleased to do that. I can tell him that 33 per cent of those people are family physicians.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one year ago the Minister of Health told this House there had been a net gain of 95 physicians in the Province of Nova Scotia in 1997 over 1996. Going back and checking the records it appears that there were 37 not 95 as the minister indicated. What assurance can the minister give this House that the information he is now going to provide is accurate?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member can be the judge of that when I table it in the House. There will be figures confirmed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons and that will be taken from their records.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Health. Mr. Minister, recently I received quite a number of phone calls from residents in my constituency and those in neighbouring constituencies for whom my constituency happens to be their normal site of physician service. They tell me they can't find a family doctor. What do you propose to do, Mr. Minister, so that the people in central Nova Scotia will have access to family doctors and that surgery at the Colchester Regional Hospital will not be delayed or postponed for the lack of doctors who act as surgical assistants?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I think there are two questions there. Obviously, we are looking at primary care and the delivery of primary care access. That means family physicians and nurse practitioners and nurses to assist them. Those are major issues across this country, there are administrative issues. We have four pilot projects and we are looking at that. I find it really sad when I think the honourable member is on a periphery, there were two parts to his question. And the one where you can't have an assistant when there is an operating room

[Page 6032]

booked in a so-called regional hospital for 5:00 p.m. in the afternoon and there is nobody to assist and that patient has to be shipped out, that is not acceptable.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV.: ABUSE ALLEGATIONS - POLICY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Minister of Community Services. I would like to ask the minister if it is the policy of her department to deny that abuse of children has taken place in the care, custody and control of her officials, even in cases where there has been a criminal conviction for that abuse?

HON. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, all I can say is that I am really happy the honourable Leader opposite has a group of researchers out there who are ferociously trying to find a question that can sneak through the lines here on this topic. This is a very strategic issue for the Province of Nova Scotia. Certainly what is happening here today is the honourable Leader opposite is trying to dredge up 1989 information and turn it into 1999 fear-mongering. We have protocols in place, we have a strengthened Act, we have a mandate to report any allegations of abuse. Our concern is with the children . . .

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Community Services. It is about accountability. Is it the policy of the minister's department to deny all knowledge of abuse by departmental employees even when there are internal departmental documents, records revealing otherwise?

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, somebody opposite just said "here comes the lecture", but here comes the facts. We have just heard the fiction, now we will hear the facts. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MRS. COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure the people of this province once again, we had a Judge Stratton report in 1994 that reviewed all the allegations. He made his findings, he made them public, they were very reassuring around the kinds of claims this member is making. The result of that was changes in protocols and procedures in the department that safeguard the rights of children.

MR. CHISHOLM: Oh boy, I will tell you, the victims didn't think that report was very reassuring. I want to ask the minister my final question, is it in fact the policy, and will she confirm it here in this House, of her department to blame victims of abuse for contributing to their own abuse, is that in fact the policy of her department?

[Page 6033]

MRS. COSMAN: I have never in my life heard the likes of what this person is trying to lead us down a path to. I can tell you what the policy of the Department of Community Services is, it is to protect children. And you should know that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. In this Chamber we are going to have some order. When the person puts the question, he puts the question and it is listened to, and when the answer is given, it is listened to. If people don't want to abide by those rules I am going to remove them from the House.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

HEALTH - REGIONALIZATION: TASK FORCE - MANIPULATION

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: My question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health created the minister's task force on regionalized health care as a result of the concerns expressed by thousands of Nova Scotians about the devastating effect of regionalized health care and as a result of a resolution in this House. My question to the minister is why are the officials of his department manipulating the hearings of the regionalized task force to ensure that they do not meet in areas of the province where some of the gravest concerns have been expressed such as in the Counties of Lunenburg, Yarmouth and Colchester?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that there is a task force on regionalization. I think it is a little early to evaluate the process, but I think it is appropriate. The member has used the term manipulating and I think if he has some evidence of that he should bring this before the House. I am not prepared to answer that question. This is a task force that has been appointed, it has a Chair, Dr. Richard Goldbloom, and if he is suggesting that that honourable doctor is being subjected to manipulation by the Department of Health, I think he has an obligation to bring that before the House. That is a very serious allegation about one of Nova Scotia's finest people.

MR. SPEAKER: I heard the word manipulate and that is why I paused after the question was put. There is a number of different meanings to the word manipulate and I am being very fair about this in accepting that the honourable member was using the term in an honourable fashion. This is your first supplementary.

MR. BAKER: My question to the minister is, the minister, when the resolution was put in the House, waited almost six months to create the regionalization task force. The task force was informed that they would have to the end of June to bring in their report. Members of the task force have now reported that they have been told to bring in the report early.

[Page 6034]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. BAKER: My question to the minister is, is the minister trying to hurry up the report of the task force?

DR. SMITH: It is really, Mr. Speaker, a landmark day. This is the first time as minister that I have ever been accused of hurrying up a report. I am so pleased to be able to say that I met with the task force once to thank them for volunteering their time and energies and since, I have not spoken to the chair or to my knowledge other members of the task force. So there has been no effort in my department that there will be any hurrying up, and I am pleased to answer that rather than have to say . . .

MR. BAKER: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is very simple. Will the minister assure the House that the task force will have all the time that they require to bring in a full report and to hear every Nova Scotian who wants to be heard?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, from what I reviewed of their objectives and their goals and how they are performing, we have okayed the fact that they could use consultants that the taxpayers have paid for. I think the job is very comprehensive. I have met quite a number of people who have been surveyed and they have in their own way determined how they can best get the information. I have respect for Dr. Goldbloom and I will abide by his decisions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - HOME INVASIONS: PREVENTION - MEASURES

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Three months ago, the first of a recent spate of home invasions occurred in this province and it happened in my constituency. Three months, yet the minister has not introduced one single initiative to prevent a reoccurrence of these brutal attacks. My question for the minister. Why has the minister dragged his feet on introducing measures to stop home invasions?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the answer to his question lies in the response that was given when we were sitting in this House dealing with workers' compensation. There are efforts by municipal police forces, his own municipal police force and community policing, in combination with the Crown Prosecutors, of this province that are attempting to deal with a very serious and tragic element of the criminal activity of this province.

[Page 6035]

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's seniors need to know how to protect themselves against home invasion. My question for the minister. When will information on how to avoid home invasions be developed and distributed to those most at risk, especially our seniors?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite will know that police forces in this province, both municipal and RCMP, are, in fact, engaged continually in efforts to address issues like home invasion, in efforts to protect our seniors. We have some of the finest police forces in the country operating in this province and they are leading the way based on community policing, the very efforts the member is criticizing.

MR. DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, seniors' groups are calling for a task force to ensure a coordinated response to the threat of home invasions. My question for the minister. In response to this call, Mr. Minister, what are you going to do?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the members opposite are good at bringing issues to the floor of this House that, in fact, create more anxiety. They are not designed to be helpful, they are designed to be hurtful. In fact, community policing in this province is exemplary in this country. There are efforts being made throughout our province to assist seniors with this issue. Those efforts, I would commend the member opposite to learn about his own police force right here in metro, right there at Spencer House.

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

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY TAR PONDS:

POLLUTANTS ( FREDERICK ST.) - PLAN

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Yesterday, the Minister of the Environment described that, after one year of dallying over what to do about yellow ooze on Frederick Street, his government took immediate action, apparently not based on any plan, but completely out of compassion. My question for the minister. What is the specific plan the minister has for dealing with the crisis this community finds itself in?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated last Thursday, we made an important decision to offer temporary location to the residents. Do we have all the answers to the questions? No, we do not. We took immediate action rather than wait and make the residents wait any longer until we had all of those answers.

That member and her Party would rather we had left them there, have more consultation, keep them waiting and keep them in the dark. We took immediate action and for that we do not apologize.

[Page 6036]

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I guess his definition of immediate and mine are completely different. The minister has emphasized that his department is doing a door to door survey and has promised that there will be statements on how the department will proceed. My question is what criteria are being used to determine whether other residents will be relocated?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated this is a work in progress and there are numerous departments involved here. There will be more consultation taking place with the different departments and decisions will be made. As the member indicated, we are going door to door, we are talking with the residents and we are going to keep them informed. There is further work to be done on this file and as I said, we took immediate action rather than make the residents wait any longer.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, a year has gone by and we still aren't able to get any specific answers. When will the minister allay the fears of the people who live in this community by announcing some details about what they plan to do?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated before it is a very emotional and difficult issue. To see a member of this House try to play on those fears and on the situation for cheap political points is a disgrace to this House and a disgrace to those people. We are going door to door, we will keep those members involved and what has that member done in the last year to help those people?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - CARE: IMPROVEMENT IDEAS - RESPONSE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. As the minister would know in many cases throughout this province in health care, always they are asking for more funding. When I visited the South Shore, nurses there told me of fleets of cars being leased so that nursing supervisors could go to meetings and didn't spend much time in the institutions. We know that public relations people have been hired. We know that there are more administrators across the province who never see a patient. I would ask the minister if some good common sense solutions and money saving suggestions came forward from people who are actually in the field, would he be open to such suggestions?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member because I think this is a very important issue. We have a system that is evolving into a decentralized system. The western region that he mentions, the South Shore, they have effected over a $4 million saving in administration but there may be some areas where there are some gaps. I think that is the issue of the regional task force to receive a report on that. But as far as the honourable member's request goes, I certainly would be open to any suggestions.

[Page 6037]

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I have such a request. An individual wrote me about his wife who returned home from an operation and was receiving dressing changes each day. The wife was a registered nurse and the daughter said to the VON who was representing the Home Care Program, we can do the changes. They were told in order to receive the dressings free the nurse had to come from Home Care. In other words, the only way they could get the dressings was to get the nurse to come do it and they were suggesting that they give them the dressings, they do it, and the nurse come in once a week to check. I would ask the minister would he review such a policy that common sense says, we could save money and that nurse could be serving somebody else who actually needed it?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, absolutely. If that is in fact true and I have no reason to doubt that, I think those are the administrative issues that are bogging health care down that we intend to review, respond to and take action on.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, thank you. These may be small things but they are large to these people when they are told we don't have enough money in health care. I understand that such initiatives do occur in other provinces in home care where common sense does prevail. I would ask the minister, if I give him this information, today, would he ask his staff to review such a policy so the change could be made almost immediately?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that it is a policy but at least it is an interpretation of a policy, but I certainly would receive the information and refer it to senior staff for action.

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

NAT. RES. - BARRACHOIS COVE (C.B.):

WHARF/MARINA - ESTABLISH

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The community around Barrachois Cove in Cape Breton is up in arms over the failure of the Department of Natural Resources to ensure the proper and fair establishment of a wharf and marina. A senior official in the department gave an undertaking to follow the recommendations of the provincial Ombudsman's report which investigated these serious problems. My question for the minister is, why is his department breaking its commitment to the community and failing to implement the recommendation in the Ombudsman's report?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. We look at all things that come before our department and we deal with them . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I do not think anybody can hear you. Is your light on? (Interruptions)

[Page 6038]

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, our department looks at all these issues that come before them very carefully and we will deal with them as resources become available for us to do so.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Ombudsman's interim report recommends that the department implement several new procedures and actions to ensure that the inactions do not cause grief to communities in similar conditions. So why is the department not agreeing to these recommendations so that other communities can be spared the troubles we have had there.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, it is a recommendation to our department and we will consider that in due course. I will get back to the honourable member with the information when I have it.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: About a month ago, Mr. Speaker, community members requested a meeting with the minister to help clear up these problems. Why has the minister not met with these people to discuss the Ombudsman's interim report and their very serious concerns?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, we have several invitations from various groups across the province for meetings. We will deal with them in due course.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

ENVIRON. - RECYCLING: TIRE TAX - RATIONALE

MR. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, ma question est pour le ministre de l'Environnement, but I will ask the question in English. Mr. Speaker, the province is undertaking a recycling program to reduce waste in our landfills and has implemented a $3.00 tax per tire. Can the minister inform the House as to what the rationale is behind the $3.00 tax?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the members are well aware, the $3.00 tax put on the tires is similar to the 10 cent deposit that we put on beverage containers. It is a means of encouraging people not to throw these tires away but to return them so that they can be properly disposed of and in the case here in Nova Scotia to be recycled and used for other purposes rather than be filling our landfills or being thrown in our beautiful land here in Nova Scotia.

MR. LEBLANC: That was my understanding, Mr. Speaker, as to why we had this tax. So can the minister please explain as to why TRACC brought 29 trailer loads of discarded tire products to the landfill in Clare? Can you inform the House as to how that could happen?

[Page 6039]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, first, I question the accuracy of that statement. I would certainly prefer to get some more specific information from that member before being able to respond to that, but certainly we have a contract with TRACC Tire that is very specific and that as much as possible they reuse the tires that they have and they recycle and that they are not being put into our landfill. So I would ask the member to provide . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle, your final supplementary.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I spoke to the municipality this afternoon and they gave me the number. I want to ask the minister, if he is the Minister of the Environment, why are we paying a $3.00 tax to a company that is supposed to recycle tires and what they are doing with much of the product is to put it in their landfills. Is that appropriate for Nova Scotians to be paying a tax to a company that doesn't do the job it is supposed to do?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, while I certainly appreciate the member raising some issues, to say that this program is not working or that this company is failing the people of Nova Scotia, I think it is completely inaccurate and it is unfortunate for a member to make such a charge. This has been a very successful company and they are doing a good job for us here in Nova Scotia. If there are issues, we will deal with them. There are regulations put in place to address this. If there is a violation that he is aware of I would ask him to make our department aware of it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: PHYSICIANS - SHORTAGE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The minister has been bragging that his government has attracted over 50 family doctors to the province. What he hasn't mentioned is that many of those doctors haven't stayed. In fact we have been in communities where a doctor stayed less than a week before deciding that work conditions are too bad. Will the minister tell the whole truth about doctor shortages and what he plans to do to keep new doctors, especially in under-serviced areas?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, as a province we have more programs for attracting physicians particularly in smaller communities than any other province in Canada. It is working, we have a net gain. There is no question that there are some people - if the facts are right, I suspect probably so - who may not be happy with their arrangements, and there have been some changes in that. Physicians are a mobile group, they will make their choices. We are offering at this time some of the best choices in all of Canada to settle in rural communities.

[Page 6040]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have spoken to rural family doctors who were shocked to hear the minister on the radio recently, saying that the doctor shortage is under control, much like he said here today. My question to the minister is, when areas like Cumberland County are still short by at least eight doctors what makes the minister think the problem is under control?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I certainly do feel that the situation of physician supply is under control. There are areas that are difficult. For instance she mentions Cumberland, 30 physicians have left that community in the last 10 years. There is obviously a problem of retention in that area. I think it is very difficult to go in and in one or two years correct that situation. We have been working on it. We have definitive programs and they are working.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have here a list of 20 doctors for our entire province of almost one million people who may, and I stress may, be accepting new patients. I would like to know if this is the minister's idea of having things under control?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the impact of lifestyle changes on physicians, the hours that they are available has changed. Many of them are working very hard but others are choosing to work part-time. It is creating a problem and the problem is that we have a physician/hospital-bed oriented system and we are going to change that and we are working on that. The access to primary care is an issue, physicians are doing work and offering services that can be offered just as well by somebody else and we have to get that balance, and we are working on that.

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

NAT. RES. - NAT. GAS: STEWIACKE - ACCESS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister responsible for the Petroleum Directorate. The natural gas lateral between Stellarton and Halifax will go within a stone's throw of the Town of Stewiacke, and yet one of the distribution proponents, Sempra Atlantic Gas has said that natural gas will not be available to the fastest growing town in Nova Scotia, Stewiacke. Is this Liberal Government prepared to use its intervener status in support of the Town of Stewiacke in the request for access for our natural gas?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member opposite for the question. The entire matter is before the URB as to who is going to be distributing gas in the particular area he talks about and I think we should wait and see who the winning bid is and then we will deal with it.

[Page 6041]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of my first supplementary, again I go to the minister and ask him, is this Liberal Government prepared to stick up and stand up for the Town of Stewiacke? The town council has passed a resolution asking for access to our natural gas if Sempra Atlantic receives the distribution rights. Will this government and that minister stand up for the Town of Stewiacke?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what this government will do is await the decision of the URB.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, that answer is absolutely not acceptable. This government is prepared to let communities such as Pugwash, Chester, North Sydney, Annapolis Royal and Stewiacke go without natural gas if Sempra Atlantic gets the contract.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: My question. Is the minister going to stand up for those communities and ensure that if Sempra gets the contract, gets the distribution rights, that those communities will have an opportunity, especially towns like Stewiacke and Pugwash . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite, his constituency is growing and I can only tell you once again that we will wait for the outcome of the URB decision and we will go accordingly after that.

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

NAT. RES. - COASTAL PROPERTY ACCESS: COMM. - PROGRESS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Minister of Natural Resources. Mr. Minister, Nova Scotians remain concerned about access to coastal properties. This government announced a special committee of senior bureaucrats from Natural Resources, Finance, and Housing and Municipal Affairs. That was three months ago. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources. What progress do you have to report from this committee?

HON. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. The only thing I can report today is that these departments mentioned by the honourable member - Justice, Finance and Municipal Affairs - is their due diligence on this issue. I know it is an issue that concerns many of us, offshore ownership, and it is a concern to all of us, but it is very complex and we are trying to deal with it and we will in due course.

[Page 6042]

MR. ESTABROOKS: I understand the complexities, Mr. Minister. I would like to table a map of Kellys Point. Kellys Point is a unique piece of coastline in the Prospect area which has a heritage cemetery located nearby. The Point is threatened by a developer intent upon selling this coastal land. Mr. Minister, will this special committee investigate the situation at Kellys Point and others like it throughout our province?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I would be very surprised that anyone in their right mind would sell a cemetery to any developer. Certainly there is protection for cemeteries under the Heritage Property Act, and I would be very surprised if that was happening. (Laughter)

MR. ESTABROOKS: My final supplementary. Mr. Minister, Nova Scotians want input. Communities throughout our province near cemeteries, or on cemeteries, want input. Will this committee hold public hearings so Nova Scotians can participate in deciding the fate of our coastlines?

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, we are working towards that end with the departments involved and I would assume, sooner rather than later, they will have a policy in place where we can hopefully deal with foreign ownership.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

ENVIRON. - TIRES: RECYCLING - COMPETITIVENESS

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of the Environment. TRACC's original business plan ensured that it would be developing new markets, not interfering with existing small business operations; in fact, last year the Deputy Premier told the public that this competition would stop. One year later, it is still going on. Will the Minister of the Environment speak with the new operators of TRACC and ensure that this competition is put to a stop?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for raising this issue. The fact is that TRACC has been doing an excellent job for us here in the province in recycling the many tires we use. In fact, TRACC is now currently shredding up to 3,000 tires a day and they are meeting all of their contractual obligations. But certainly, any concerns raised by the member, I will be more than happy to have my staff look at it. I wonder if this is not more sour grapes coming from the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit?

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. TRACC gets $2.50 a tire subsidy from your government and in the process they are making the same product non-subsidized companies are making. Will the minister ensure that Nova Scotia's companies such as Skid's Mats in Pictou County are not put out of business by this unfair competition?

[Page 6043]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the member is well aware and especially his colleague for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley that this is an issue that has been raised before. We have worked very closely with TRACC and with the many other recyclers throughout this province who are dealing with this product and we will continue to do that. It is important that we make sure that we have all of our facts straight here and we don't mislead Nova Scotians.

MR. DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister. Many changes have taken place since the contract was signed between TRACC and the RRFB. A president has been fired and in fact, TRACC is no more, it has a new name. In light of these changes will the government open up the contract to ensure that proper safeguards are in place to provide a level playing field for these businesses?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I said, this company has been very successful in Nova Scotia, so successful that they are expanding right now. They have proven themselves to be a success in this province and the Tories have already shown us how much they are on a witch hunt against this company. They have hauled them in front of the Public Accounts Committee, they have had the RRFB in front of Public Accounts, they have answered all of their questions, there has been no inappropriate behaviour and this is just a continuation of that witch hunt.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

FISH. - GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE:

EXPLORATORY LICENCES - STOP

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Fisheries. The Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board has issued exploratory gas and oil licences on the inshore waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. Fishermen along the Northumberland Strait are very concerned about the potential threat to the valuable fishery in that area. My question to the minister is did your department make any representation during the hearing process asking to protect this fishery and stop the petroleum board's licensing?

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. This is a very important question to the fishing industry of Nova Scotia. I have held consultations with the industry and we have ongoing consultations going forward. We have actually formed a group of fishermen and fishery organizations in the provinces to address these particular concerns.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I hear the minister's answer to be no to the question I asked. The Northumberland Strait is known by the DFO, Fisheries Resource Conservation Council and fishermen to be a valuable spawning ground for lobster, herring, mackerel, scallops, snow crab, and groundfish. My question to the minister is with fishery conservation

[Page 6044]

being so important, how could your department allow this licence to be approved in such a critical area?

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, again we have done something that has never been done before in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have taken representatives from the whole fishing industry in the Province of Nova Scotia, got them together, every stakeholder there is in the fishing industry and we are working very closely with them to make sure their concerns are known to the oil industry. The concerns of the fishing industry are well represented by the industry themselves, which is critical.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, since I am not getting any answers here I will turn to the Premier. I ask the Premier, how could your government allow these exploration licences without even giving a thought to how important the fish stocks and the thousands of jobs are in coastal Nova Scotia?

HON. RUSSELL MACLELLAN, Q.C. (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, we gave a lot of thought to the fish stocks and the fishing industry in coastal Nova Scotia. We gave a lot of thought too, to the high unemployment rate in Inverness County and other parts of rural Nova Scotia that could use jobs in the oil and gas industry in the future.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - COMMUN. LEARNING CTR. (LAWRENCETOWN):

FUNDING - ASSURE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Yesterday in the House the government member for Annapolis introduced a resolution congratulating the Lawrencetown Community Learning Centre for winning a prestigious national award. Now the adult students in this program have been waiting five anxious months for word of federal government project funding and have begged this minister to help them. My question to the minister is, will the minister assure the students and teachers this government will provide stable funding and end the school's annual federal water torture?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that staff within our department is currently working with these adult students that the honourable member is referring to. I can assure the honourable member that our department is currently talking with the federal government to certainly try to access some further funding in order to pursue and help these individuals that the honourable member referenced.

[Page 6045]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the department involved doesn't even have a director at the moment and the whole problem arises because the federal government is the one they go begging to. My question is, since we wouldn't be in this mess except that the government has encouraged school boards to charge user fees to adult learners, I want to ask will the minister admit that access to adult learning in Nova Scotia is most available to those who need it least, the ones who can afford it?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that the level of learning or to whatever level learning is provided to Nova Scotians, our government will certainly make a commitment that we will continue to work with all Nova Scotians to provide them with as fair an education as possible.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I just have to ask the minister in that case, what is the government going to do to bridge the gap between the kind of rhetoric we hear about every day and the actual reality for adult learners in this province?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member across the floor and all members of this House that education is one of the top priorities of our government. It has been and it will continue to be and the honourable member will see when the budget is tabled, again, that education will be one of the priorities of our government.

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

ENVIRON. - SEPTIC SYSTEM:

INSTALLATION APPROVAL - DELAYS

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of the Environment. Mr. Minister, you are no doubt aware that the Department of Environment requires that any septic system installed in this province has to be approved before work can begin. You may also be aware that in some areas of this province the wait time for this inspection can be six to eight weeks. Are you aware of those facts?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I am very delighted that the member raises this issue. The fact is that private industry and individuals have indicated to us that the waiting time is unacceptable and as a result of that our department has moved towards training individuals in the private industry so that they could do the design and implementation work which was bogging down our officials which was the result of this long waiting time for the final inspection. We are working on this issue and as a result of this, through working with private industry to working with the association which has fully endorsed this plan, we are going to have more efficiency under the system.

[Page 6046]

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, what the minister is saying is that a service that was formerly provided free of charge is now going to cost individuals anywhere from $200 to $500. In my area it has created a real problem in that there are no people trained to provide that service and because there is no one . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. BALSER: The question then is how does the minister plan to put in place a bridging mechanism until the people are able to provide that service?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, again, I am happy the member raises that because the fact is we have put in a bridging mechanism. We have been training these private industry people for the last year and while we are doing that training we are still offering that service free of charge. So until the industry has caught up to where it needs to be to provide the service efficiently, we will continue to have our staff available to take care of these inspections, but it is our overall goal that the private industry can be trained to do this and provide a much more efficient system for the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. BALSER: There are people in my area who have been waiting six to eight weeks to have their septic system approved so that they can get work permits to build houses and get on with their lives and so the contractors can employ people. Will you guarantee that those people will have those inspections carried out in less than one week's time?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we take the situation seriously in every area. We have a very dedicated staff and field staff out there throughout this entire province. Certainly, we are working our best with the limited staff that we have to address this issue. We are training the private industry to take care of this and I want to tell you, we are doing our best here.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

ENVIRON.: INSPECTIONS - RESPONSIBILITY

MR. DONALD CHARD: Mr. Speaker, the Department of the Environment is planning to shed a number of very important services to communities across this province. Among other changes, the department intends to have school maintenance staff taking water samples. My question for the Minister of the Environment is, why is he shirking his responsibility for these inspections?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Once again, Mr. Speaker, it is important that we, as members of this House, give the proper information to the public. The fact is that most of the school boards throughout this province are doing their own testing already. We are providing audits where there are any problems that arise. We are helping train them to do this testing and we are moving forward on this. If that member somehow sees that as a problem that they

[Page 6047]

are doing their own testing, I would ask him to advise us here in the House what the problem is.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, I use the school water testing as just one example. I would like to table a list of the responsibilities that are being passed off to other jurisdictions by the Department of the Environment. I would like to ask the minister to table any studies or reports that he has that prove the actions of his department will not jeopardize the health of Nova Scotians?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, for a member of this House to make the statement that members of my staff or any member of the Civil Service in Nova Scotia is doing anything intentional to endanger the lives of Nova Scotians is a disgrace and is shameful and I would ask him to apologize to the many hard-working people we have in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: I would ask him, Mr. Speaker, to apologize, to redeem himself and try to redeem a bit of his pride by apologizing to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South, your final supplementary.

MR. CHARD: Mr. Speaker, it is clear that this is a deliberate plan just designed to save his department a few dollars. What assurances can this minister give that his department is not putting public health at risk, given the fact that one of his own officials has publicly stated that it will?

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, what our staff is doing is working with the many stakeholders and we are providing education to them to train them as to the importance of providing proper water quality to the people that they serve. It is a matter of educating the people, not just enforcement, not just regulation, but making sure that they are educated, that they themselves are aware of the importance of providing proper water quality. We will continue do that. We will continue to provide audits and anyone in violation that the member is aware of, let our department know and we will take the necessary action.

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

ENVIRON.: TIRES - BURNING

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of the Environment. The minister will know that TRACC recently went through a name change. They fired the president of the former company and that company is permitted to ship 30 per cent of the tires that they collect, as per the terms of the contract

[Page 6048]

that the Resource Recovery Fund Board has, representing this province with that private corporation.

Why is it that in Nova Scotia you cannot burn a tire, but, yet, TRACC is permitted, or whatever the name of this new company is, to ship tires to other jurisdictions and have them burned?

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, again, as I indicated, this member himself was there when the Public Accounts Committee had the Resource Recovery Fund Board in front of us. The allegations that he is making, he has been making for a long time. There is no foundation. What we are seeing here, again, is sour grapes by that member who has a vendetta against this company because they didn't choose to locate in his riding.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

I think the honourable member is imputing motives. I would ask him to withdraw that.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, that was not my intention and I will certainly withdraw that comment if that is how it was interpreted.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, thank you for that intervention. My question to the Minister of the Environment is simply this, is he denying that the terms of the contract between the Resource Recovery Fund Board, representing this province, and TRACC does not include a provision whereby they can ship out 30 per cent of the inventory they collect to other jurisdictions to be burnt? An example, for tire derived fuel in industrial companies that are competing with Nova Scotia companies.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, what I am telling the member and what I am telling this House, is that this company collects 550,000 tires a year which would have gone into landfills throughout this province in the past, and are not going there any more. They are recycling up to 3,000 tires a year, once again, which is not going into our landfills. This government made an important decision to impose this fee on tires to protect our environment. It was a good decision and we stand by it.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it seems ridiculous that you cannot burn a tire in Nova Scotia, and this big corporation that changed its name can do so.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Will the Minister of the Environment tell all Nova Scotia what is the new name of this company that used to be TRACC? What is the new name?

[Page 6049]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the idea that that member would want us to return to burning tires in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is beyond belief that he is saying that New Brunswick burns it, we should return to burning it. It is a disgrace and I cannot believe that member would suggest that.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for the Oral Question Period has finally come to an end.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, earlier in Question Period the honourable member for Halifax Needham, who is not - I cannot say that. She quoted from some figures regarding the number of physicians taking new patients in Nova Scotia. The last three releases under her name included gross inaccuracies. I really would like to have that list tabled so our department could check the validity of this latest release.

MR. SPEAKER: Unless the honourable member quoted from that list, there is no requirement to actually table the list. I will check the record in Hansard and if, indeed, a quote was made directly from that piece of paper, then I will order it to be tabled.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The Minister of Health just stood on his feet and he accused the member for Halifax Needham as putting out documents that had gross inaccuracies in them. I think the Minister of Health has an obligation, if he makes that kind of a claim, to back it up. Not to just throw that information out, but to put some information on the table which, in fact, confirms those kinds of scurrilous accusations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period is over.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 6050]

Bill No. 92 - Applied Science Technology Act.

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 92, legislation for right to title for the Society of Engineering Technicians and Technologists of Nova Scotia.

First, Mr. Speaker, with your permission, I would like at this time to you and through you to all members of the Legislature to introduce Martin Pelrine, President of the Society of Engineering Technicians and Technologists of Nova Scotia; Gabe Gallant, Vice-President; Keith Wren, past President; and Glenn Goode, Finance Director for the society. They are seated in the east gallery and I would ask them to stand. Everyone please welcome them. (Applause)

Last November I introduced Bill No. 92 and today I would like to briefly summarize what the right to title legislation will mean to engineering technicians and technologists in the Province of Nova Scotia. This legislation will regulate and govern the use of the titles Certified Engineering Technicians, Certified Engineering Technologists, Certified Applied Science Technicians and Certified Applied Science Technologists.

In Nova Scotia about 1,200 certified technicians and technologists are employed in various facets of business, industry and government and many are graduates of accredited programs of the Nova Scotia Community Colleges. There are 13 major disciplines, including electrical, industrial, petroleum, forestry and chemical. The right to title will benefit Nova Scotia industry and the general public because it identifies a recognized standard of competence and quality.

[4:15 p.m.]

As well, this designation will bring Nova Scotia's educated engineering technicians and technologists a certification shared by others across Canada, thereby empowering them in the world-wide employment market. The Society of Engineering Technicians and Technologists of Nova Scotia will host the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists in Halifax next year and they are anxious to have this legislation in place. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, our Party supports Bill No. 92, the Applied Science Technology Act, receiving second reading. The Society of Engineering Technicians and Technologists of Nova Scotia, the acronym being SCETTNS, has for some time been actively pursuing right to title legislation for its members. Such legislation prohibits persons not certified by the governing body from using protected designations. SCETTNS has 1,200

[Page 6051]

members in Nova Scotia and represents technicians and technologists who are diploma graduates from accredited programs at the Nova Scotia Community College.

Certified members of the society must meet strict national and academic standards in 13 major disciplines. The titles which would be protected under this legislation are: Certified Engineering Technician, Certified Engineering Technologist, Certified Applied Science Technician, Certified Applied Science Technologist and various initials, such as CET and CTech.

Mr. Speaker, there is a need for the regulation and protection of these titles. These people have their titles as a result of hard work and the titles should be reserved for those who are members of SCTTNS. SCETTNS has canvassed many groups and organizations that might be affected by this legislation. They received letters of support for this legislation from such sister organizations as the Association of Professional Engineers of Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Association of Architects, and the Construction Association of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I have copies of these letters and I am satisfied that these organizations endorse Bill No. 92 which is before us today. I want to congratulate the members of SCETTNS and, in particular, Mr. Gabe Gallant, the former President of the organization, for the thorough work they have done raising awareness of the need for this piece of legislation and for preparing the background work for the legislation.

We will support this bill through second reading and, hopefully, for passage if there are no egregious problems at the Law Amendments Committee stage. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, our caucus and I personally over the past year or so have had representations from persons who are anxious to see this legislation move forward. The reasons they have given for proposing this legislation to the member who has introduced it to the House for first reading and now has brought it forward for second reading are substantial and solid and are in the public interest. I think it is important that those who are professionals across this province have the opportunity to resolve themselves into self-governing bodies, always remembering of course that quite apart from serving themselves well, through the creation of self-governing bodies, they also then have the opportunity and, indeed, the responsibility to meet the public interests, even more effectively than they may have been able to do in the past.

I have reviewed the bill, particularly with respect to that aspect of it. There are other provinces which have looked at such legislation. I believe Manitoba has adopted legislation of this nature for technicians and technologists and the applied sciences in that province, as well. I do believe, as do my caucus colleagues, that Nova Scotia will be well served, in

[Page 6052]

general, and that those who practice the professions that are enunciated within the proposed legislation will be well served by it, as well.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I want to say congratulations to those who have worked so assiduously on behalf of those who are desirous to see this legislation pass and to thank the member for introducing it to the House and to say that our caucus certainly supports their endeavours and that we will be supporting this bill through second reading and are looking forward to any submissions that may be made at the Law Amendments Committee hearings. Thank you.

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

HON. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, I so move second reading of Bill No. 92.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 95.

Bill No. 95 - Lunenburg Common Lands Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to move this bill for second reading. This bill is designed to protect Lunenburg common lands from encroachment by trespassers. These lands are public lands available for the use of residents of Lunenburg County and this bill is designed to protect them and it is my pleasure to move that.

[Page 6053]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 95. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 97.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, I tabled the Business Efficiency (1999) Act. I would like to take just a few moments to tell you and the members of this House about that legislation and where it fits in my department and this government's strategy to eliminate red tape in the course of business affairs in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The Business Efficiency (1999) Act is a result of a far-reaching initiative to take some of the pressures off businesses in their dealings with our government. I would like to acknowledge the immense contribution of Mr. Peter O'Brien. He is the Vice-President Atlantic for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Peter was part of a task force that began some three and one-half years ago, reviewing close to 300 licences, permits, registrations and certifications. Even more important is his ongoing involvement in implementing the recommendations that the task force brought forward - 36 general policies and 96 specific recommendations to reduce red tape.

This bill represents yet another milestone to eliminate hassle for consumers and for business. As a former educator, you can imagine my interest in being able to provide a government report card on our progress on the LPA, licence, permits and application task force initiative. This bill, and I will review the changes in a few moments, represents but a small portion of the overall task force report.

[Page 6054]

Of the task force's 96 specific recommendations, we are nearing the 80 per cent completion mark. In fact, Mr. O'Brien at the bill briefing the other day indicated that he felt it was closer to 90 per cent, and we will have implemented 100 per cent by the end of this calendar year. We are working toward implementing all 36 general policies and over the past year and one-half, and into the coming months, we will have undertaken a complete overhaul of our licensing regime.

We will continue to move toward adopting these policies across government and the results will make Nova Scotia not only one of the leaders in the attack on red tape but one of the most user-friendly governments in our country. No business or consumer should have to wade through needless paperwork or antiquated processes just to deal with government.

With the advice and council of Peter and his organization we have made it a priority to reduce these burdens on business and remove outdated legislation and regulations. It will surprise no one in this Chamber that government has a wide-ranging and far-reaching regime of licences, of permits and of approvals, yet it is a fair criticism that that regime reaches further than necessary.

As Minister of Business and Consumer Services it is one of our government's top priorities to make it easier to do business in this province. Throughout this process we have solicited and welcomed the input and the perspective of the business community and that is and will continue to be the key to our success. What we have heard is, rather than being one huge weight, one huge burden on business, it is the cumulative effect of many smaller burdens that government imposes on business and more importantly that business wishes to see removed.

If you are operating a small business, imagine having to make 15 trips to a government office to renew 15 separate licences each and every year. To take pressure off, we are extending the renewal period for licences, permits and applications to three years. We are also changing the expiration date of LPAs to the anniversary date. These changes will allow businesses to complete all of their government transactions at once.

While we are lifting some of these burdens from businesses, we are at the same time committed to protecting consumers and investors from increased risk. These recommendations have made the process for obtaining LPAs more user-friendly and less complicated. Instead of being the last holdout against the modern payment system, BCS is leading the way in reducing the hassle factor for Nova Scotians, illustrated by the fact that one year ago cash or certified cheque were the only options for consumers at businesses and at most offices. Today all five of our access centres in Nova Scotia and every regional Registry of Motor Vehicles accept debit card payments. Registry of Joint Stock Companies and the Government Book Store accept the same debit and credit card payments.

[Page 6055]

This bill is important not only for its content but for the message that it sends. We promised that the LPA report of three and one-half years ago would not gather dust, that we would get rid of unnecessary redundancy and red tape wherever and whenever we could and quite simply, we are delivering. Some of the changes in this particular bill: establishing a shelf life of three years and an anniversary renewal for the lender and seller extending credit registration; this is consistent with one of the recommendations in the task force report.

We are removing an unnecessary provision for tax discounters that is already covered by federal legislation, again eliminating redundancy. We will no longer require that an affidavit be provided to government upon registry under the partnership registration legislation. Those are examples that indicate that instead of being at odds with the way most companies and individuals prefer to conduct their affairs and their business, we are moving forward alongside of them.

This legislation goes a long way in lifting some of the weight off business to help Nova Scotians make their way to success. We can confidently say that our licensing regime is more responsive to the needs of the people and the businesses they serve. Let me thank once again those businesses that took time through the Canadian Federation of Independent Business to give us their view of government from their perspective. It has been enormously helpful not only in the consolidation of some 96 specific recommendations and 36, policies but an ongoing attempt to bring technology to the business locations in an effort to assist them with the transactions and the affairs that they conduct with the Government of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to move second reading of this bill.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MS. YVONNE ATWELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak on Bill No. 97, the Business Efficiency (1999) Act. Efficiency is the key word here, to make business more efficient by eliminating unnecessary red tape. On December 3rd I stood in this House and informed the minister that I looked forward to the next step in the government's process of introducing the recommendations made by the licensing, permit and approval task force in their 1997 report.

Any time the government introduces a bill that makes it easier for Nova Scotians to deal with government, it is good news indeed. The former Minister of Business and Consumer Services promised that this would be forthcoming and that is also good news. It is good to see that the new minister is also honouring that commitment.

This legislation represents good housekeeping on the part of government. Introducing measures that bring the Consumer Reporting Act, the Mortgage Brokers' and Lenders' Registration Act, in step with the Licences, Permits, Registrations, and Certifications Act that

[Page 6056]

was introduced in 1997, removing all outstanding references to tax discounts from the Consumer Protection Act which is now dealt with federally. This bill is good housekeeping; however, I want to caution my colleagues on two points.

First of all in Clause 30 which deals with the minister's ability to designate his authority to close a highway to a person under the Public Highways Act. This is a very important and powerful power to be delegating. Maybe, the use of the word "person" is too broad a term. I would like the minister to think about that as his bill goes forward to the Law Amendments Committee. The person or persons to whom the minister delegates this authority needs to be responsible and fully aware of the impact an error can have on highway safety. This is a heavy responsibility and one that needs to be carefully considered. I would just caution the minister of this point.

Point two, the Department of Business and Consumer Services predicts a $25,000 savings will result from the removal of the requirement that a registrar at the Registry of Joint Stocks send registered letters to companies being struck off the record. Officials in the department have told my caucus that the removal of the registered letter requirement will allow the registrar to notify companies to be struck off the register by fax or e-mail. While I see the good in this amendment, I can also see the potential problems with this provision.

Registered letters are a means of proving that a letter has been sent and received. While the Registry of Joint Stocks will have proof that their letters are being sent, the department will no longer have proof that the letter was received. I just want to say to the minister our caucus is trusting, in this instance, that you will make sure small business owners do not suffer as a result of this change in policy and that you don't make us regret this decision.

There are many small businesses throughout my constituency from many local businesses from Myra Road north to Montague Road in Westphal and it is these businesses that need as little red tape as possible. These are small businesses who spend a lot of time and energy in their businesses and it is nice to see that they only have to go one time to get their permits and their licensing and that sort of thing. That is really good to see that.

That said, Mr. Speaker, I believe Bill No. 97 will provide less red tape and less headaches for businesses, government and the consumer. This is a second positive step in introducing the recommendations of the LPA task force. I, on behalf of my caucus, support this legislation through second reading. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon and speak on Bill No. 97, the Business Efficiency (1999) Act. The Progressive Conservative caucus does support this piece of legislation. We understand that small business is, in fact, smothered in red tape, there is no question about that. The task force that looked at licences, permits and

[Page 6057]

approvals, et cetera, came in with a number of key recommendations and we are pleased that the government is apparently listening to what the task force recommendations are. In fact, we see some of the recommendations incorporated into the efficiency Act.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is, I guess, mostly about housekeeping matters, changing names from registration to permits, permits from that name perhaps over to licences and so on and so forth. The bill will help some small business.

However, there is one section in the legislation that deals with marriage licences. Mr. Speaker, it should be clearly pointed out that before this government came to power it used to cost $35 to get a marriage licence. Since this government has come to power it now costs $100 to apply for a marriage licence.

As I say, small business is smothered in red tape but when we look at that particular change, we see that this Liberal Government is establishing a criterion relative to marriage licences. Now, Mr. Speaker, as far as we are concerned, it is going to be more difficult and costly for individuals who want to engage in holy matrimony.

Mr. Speaker, the marriage partners are going to be required to submit certified copies of a valid photo driver's license, a birth certificate, a baptismal certificate, a passport, a Canadian citizenship card, two pieces of signed identification. Now, come on. (Interruptions) It is more red tape. This government has the audacity to say that they consulted with all the stakeholders involved and this is what Nova Scotians want. Well, we have to question the changes to the marriage Act that are contained in the Business Efficiency (1999) Act.

Again, as I pointed out earlier, the Progressive Conservative caucus does support lessening the burden on small businesses in Nova Scotia and, for that, we support most of the changes in this legislation. We have to ask the minister to perhaps reconsider the changes that this Liberal Government is making to the marriage Act. I mean come on, how many people, how big a problem is it, relative to fake IDs and marriage licences. Is it a big concern that this government has to go out and put in place more bureaucracy? Is this something that you are hearing from your constituents daily about? I think not, Mr. Speaker. So, with those few words I again emphasize that for the most part we find favour with this legislation but we do have some concerns about establishing a new level, if you will, with bureaucracy. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I stand up I hear a few of my colleagues asking me to speak a few words. Some seem to think that if I say that I am going to speak or say a few words on this particular bill, that that automatically means that I am going to be talking for an extended period of time. I do not know where I ever could have come up with that reputation because, certainly, I always thought that I was a person who tried as briefly as

[Page 6058]

possible to make my point. No, I just want to - and truthfully this time - say that I would like to say a few words and to try to get those few words in in just a few minutes.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on this legislation really for a couple of reasons but, most importantly, because I think that it is extremely important that we acknowledge the vital role that small business plays in the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia. We can talk about the millions of dollars and we can talk about huge industries from time to time, but the reality is that the backbone of the economy of Nova Scotia in the private sector is the small businesses that are located from one end of the province to the other, these small businesses that employ men and women in our communities, these small businesses that tend to be home-grown, many of them community businesses.

They also tend to be, Mr. Speaker, committed to their communities. They do not have the huge batteries of lawyers, accountants and the deep pockets of some of the larger corporations, so all of these tasks fall to them. It is extremely important. I want to echo the words of the minister when he congratulated Mr. O'Brien and the members of the business community who made, as part of the task force, the comprehensive recommendations for ways to change how we license, how we grant permits and how we deal with applications in the Province of Nova Scotia.

You can talk, Mr. Speaker, about trying to create a favourable climate for business as a way to grow the economy of this province. We all know that within this province we have tremendous needs, that there are tremendous strains, pulls and tugs on the public purse for more goods and services that people desperately need. We can talk about health care; we can talk about education; we can talk about all kinds of areas, but unless we have a strong private sector that is going to be producing the wealth and producing the income revenues, both in terms of business taxes and income tax paid by their employees, then we do not have the economic base with which to deliver those needed programs.

We do need to have proper systems of permits. We do need to have the proper regulations so that we can ensure that the public safety and the public good are being protected. So it is important that we have a process in place, but it must be a reasonable one. I think that certainly Mr. O'Brien and the people who served on the License, Permit and Applications Task Force came forward with a lot of good recommendations. I know I had the opportunity to stand in my place and to indicate on other occasions, when other legislation was brought forward to amend the processes in the past, I had the opportunity to vote in favour of them and I am pleased to have the opportunity again to say that the hard work of these groups, of these individuals, is paying off here once again and that we are going to have the government finally moving more on some of those recommendations.

[Page 6059]

[4:45 p.m.]

The one comment that I wish to differ with in terms of the previous speaker, and I think I am correct in my reading of the legislation and I hope that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley will have some of his concerns allayed, but it has to do with the granting of the marriage licences. What the previous speaker said, he listed a whole bunch of things that people would have to produce in order to get a marriage licence, Mr. Speaker. Well, I read the clause and I am not a Philadelphia lawyer - I am not a lawyer at all - but I still read the clause differently than he did. He listed a whole bunch of items that a person would have to produce, but what he left out was the important word 'or', which means that you don't have to have them all, but you have to produce one, and that, I think, is valid.

The way, Mr. Speaker, it reads now is that they shall produce to the issuer or provide a valid driver's license, a birth certificate, a baptismal certificate, a passport or a Canadian citizenship card. So it means, by my interpretation of that clause - maybe the minister who is paying intent interest to my comments, can, when he wraps up the debate, clarify if his interpretation is, in fact, or if the Minister of Finance's interpretation is the same as mine on that particular clause - I think I am reading that correctly and that it wouldn't require them all. I don't know, maybe there was some discussion between the two on ways in which they could get a little bit more revenue out of some of these permits to try to help to balance the budget as it is coming up, but I hope not.

Mr. Speaker, as I did say, I wanted to, simply because I have had the opportunity to do it before and I know my caucus very much recognizes the great importance of a small business to the economy of this province. The government has the opportunity to even foster and encourage the growth of more small businesses within the Province of Nova Scotia, and to expand the opportunities of the small businesses that we have to grow, and I am thinking here with the offshore and our tremendous resources.

Mr. Speaker, it is a point that I raised earlier - but I will just interject it briefly into this debate - that as companies are bidding to explore for our offshore and onshore resources, both in terms of oil and gas, one of the ways that we can assist both our small- and medium-sized businesses in this province would be to require that those companies that are bidding for those permits to explore for our gas have to bid, in part, based upon their commitments to maximize Nova Scotia content, and that would mean to maximize the goods and services that they are procuring within the Province of Nova Scotia and the number of persons who would be employed on those projects.

What a great boost for small- and medium-sized businesses. By reducing some of the permits and the red tape, it will make it even easier for those businesses to do that and, of course, if we did that, it would make those who wish to explore and to exploit our resources, it would provide more motivation for them to look to Nova Scotia because, in this province, we have the men and the women, we have the businesses that can pick up those challenges,

[Page 6060]

can provide those services, and we can go head-to-head with anybody in terms of the quality of the goods and services we can provide. We can do that.

What we have to do is break the mindset that exists in some of those big players who don't have to worry about the costs, because that would be peanuts for the permits and applications, but who have these tentacles and these relationships with other companies all around the world and where they have to start to refocus and to rethink about what is actually available within the Province of Nova Scotia. While I have nothing against companies or people who are working elsewhere around the world, I believe and I know that my caucus supports me on this that Nova Scotians come first rather than people who are living somewhere spread around the world, whether that be in - and I have nothing against the people in - Houston or any other country like Norway and others where they have expertise.

We can use their skills. Let's bring them in for advisers but I am saying that those who wish to explore for our resources should look and we should be trying to find ways to motivate them to be using the businesses that exist in the Province of Nova Scotia or that can be grown in the Province of Nova Scotia to assist.

So with those few words, I will be concluding my comments on Bill No. 97. I again close by saying I congratulate all of those who have provided the advice and the guidance to this government, they often need a lot. I want to thank those who did provide that guidance and advice and to commend Mr. O'Brien and his organization for the perseverance that they have demonstrated and say that I will certainly be voting for this to go on through second reading to the Law Amendments Committee process. At that time there may be some refinements in certain areas that may be required, that is always something that is possible, but certainly on the overall thrust of what is trying to be done and that is to make Nova Scotia an easier place with the proper safeguards to conduct business. That certainly I do support. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the minister's attention to that part of the Act that deals with the solemnization of marriage. The minister is a literate man and I draw his attention to the fact that in the bill as presented to the House for second reading, there are no options made available with respect to the list of documentation which is required in order to apply for a marriage licence.

It does not say certified copies of one or two or three of the following, it says certified copies of all of the following. Therefore it is required, it certainly appears to me - and I have seen a lot of legislation through this House over the last 20 years - that, in fact, the minister is requiring each of those five pieces of information to be produced in order for the applicants to qualify for the issuance of a marriage licence. It is not one of the applicants who must apply, it is both of the applicants who must apply. In this case both the man and the woman

[Page 6061]

who are seeking to acquire a marriage licence, each of them will be required to provide those five pieces of evidence in support of their application.

Additionally and again there is no option here, they are required to provide two pieces of signed identification. Now if they have already provided a driver's licence and a passport they have in fact already provided signed documentation. So if there are no options in the A part, then the B part becomes redundant because they can't complete the A part without having provided two documents which are already signed. Additionally, it is not at all out of the way to suggest that some of those who may apply for marriage licences may not hold a valid drivers license or indeed may never have had issued to them a passport in which case because there are no options, they cannot quality for a marriage licence.

So what I would ask the minister to do is to review this very carefully as the Act moves forward to the Law Amendments Committee and to ensure that the government presents an appropriate amendment at the Law Amendments Committee, which will clear up the difficulties that will be caused if the Act is allowed to pass as it currently is presented to the House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MR. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I will try to be brief. I may not be a Philadelphia lawyer but I am a Lunenburg lawyer and I wanted to rise particularly with respect to the amendment to Clause 31. The issue that was raised by my colleague, the member for Queens, and I won't elaborate on that, but I also noticed at the beginning of Clause 31(2)(a), a reference to certified copies. The obvious question is, certified by whom? If we are getting back to trying to make lives for Nova Scotians simpler, why in the world are we trying to make it more complicated?

In my years of practising law my experience was, quite frankly, those people who wanted to lie when obtaining a marriage license did so. The vast majority of Nova Scotians who tell the truth don't anyway. Frankly, I don't think it is a huge problem in this province with people not knowing the people they are marrying. I don't think that having identification is going to solve the problem, with all due respect to the minister. I think the issue is broader than can be solved by this piece of legislation.

So I have grave doubt about whether this particular provision serves any useful purpose. Quite bluntly, I find the suggestion that you have to provide a copy of your spouse's provincial death certificate, which 99 per cent of spouses of people who have died do not bother to obtain, or other documentation; I am not sure if that is referring to the funeral director's statement of death, perhaps it is, but I again don't see the useful purpose of this. All the person has to say if they wanted to have a bigamist marriage was to simply say they were single in the first place, in which case you don't have to provide that. So I think this is just a useless effort, it doesn't serve any useful purpose.

[Page 6062]

I have to question one issue the government is bringing forward in this bill and that is the whole issue of business efficiency. To be perfectly blunt, changing the word registration to permit or permit to registration, I am not sure if that is going to accomplish anything. But the bigger issue and what is really a burden on small business in this province is the cost of all the permits and fees and the silly bureaucratic steps that oftentimes affects things. I will give you a good example, when one is being billed for the annual fee for corporations in this province, they send out one notice. If you don't get the notice and send your cheque back within 30 days, they charge you double your fees. In many cases, frankly, the mail goes astray or people get it less than 30 days from the date that they have to pay it and since many small businesses work on a 30 day bill payment scheme, the cheque doesn't get back to the Registry of Joint Stock Companies in time and they are dinged for double fees. It is clearly a gouging attempt by the department. If the department would send out the notices to companies in a more timely fashion, then they would have a more prompt response and everybody would be better off.

I think the government should be looking at not only eliminating permits but to eliminate the fees or reduce those fees because those are the real burdens on small businesses in this province. They are the real burden on entrepreneurs who want to get on with their business. So while I certainly support the idea of business efficiency, I am not sure that this bill is going to accomplish what is certainly a laudable objective, which is to make business more efficient in this province. I think what we have to do, Mr. Speaker, is not only to stop changing one word to another but to eliminate the fees or reduce them drastically.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, first of all I appreciate the comments of both learned and observant colleagues across the House. I have it on good authority, as the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, that there will be an amendment coming. (Interruptions) It is such good authority that I can almost guarantee it.

There is no question, the intent of Clause 31(2) is to have one of, not all of, and I take the comments of the honourable gentleman from Lunenburg at face value. I would remind him that in this bill we don't attempt to make any pretense about how many elements of this report card that will be 100 per cent complete by this year are contained in this bill. This bill is not about business efficiency. What is at play are the 96 recommendations and 36 policies, all of which will be enacted by the end of this calendar year, 80 per cent of which can be done by changing administrative policies or regulatory changes. So it is not so much in the Statutes where we see the majority of change.

[Page 6063]

To suggest the honourable House Leader for the New Democratic Party prefaced his remarks by saying today he would be truthful in his brevity and once again succumbed to a habit of his, that is the assumption that he has to follow his last thought with yet another, that leads to an ability to follow his own rabbit tracks that is almost unparalleled in this House, Mr. Speaker. I know that the honourable gentleman attempts to be truthful every time he rises to his feet, it is just this habit he has. I am sure that one of these days someone will help him and cure him of that habit. With that, I would move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 97. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this completes the government's business for today. I have informed the House that in the spirit of the holiday weekend coming up that the House will meet tomorrow from the hours of 10:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. I do now move that we adjourn.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

EDUC. - N.S. COMMUN. COL.: GROWTH - DEV.

MR. PETER DELEFES: Mr. Speaker, the resolution we are debating this evening during our late debate is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government support the growth and development of the Nova Scotia Community College as an important part of its economic development strategy.".

[Page 6064]

Mr. Speaker, as our Party's spokesman on the Nova Scotia Community College, I have had the opportunity during these past months to visit many of the 13 campuses of the college and in recent weeks I have spoken to many Nova Scotians who believe that the Nova Scotia Community College is a key element in the economic development strategy of this province. That is why I introduced this resolution for debate today. In fact, many informed Nova Scotians are saying that a well-developed community college is one of the means by which Nova Scotia can be transformed from a have-not to a have province.

Mr. Speaker, as members of this House know, the Nova Scotia Community College was created in 1988 by amalgamating 13 technical schools and colleges. It currently offers 134 trades and technical programs at the 13 campuses across the province. It caters to 7,000 full-time students and 13,000 part-time students. The campuses offer occupational training in business, health, human services, trades and technologies, electronics, applied arts and communications as well as geographic services. They also provide customized specialized training for various industries such as Stora, Michelin and the Trenton car works.

The college takes a major training role in response to the economic development strategies of the province within a Canadian and a global economy. The public mandate of the Nova Scotia Community College is to improve the social and economic well-being of the province. As the publicly-funded occupational and training arm of the provincial market policy, the role of the community college is to produce graduates who meet the needs of the provincial labour market. To ensure economic growth, the college must not only be concerned with meeting the present demands of the labour market, but must also anticipate future province needs of the labour market.

Nova Scotia must start producing more technically skilled, competent people or we will end up importing them. We have seen evidence of this lack of skilled people in the development of offshore gas.

In recent consultations conducted by the Labour Market Development Secretariat it was indicated that the college is one of the most important labour market development investments that can be made by this province. Investment in the community college is seen as an investment in occupational training and, therefore, is a stimulus to the economy of this province.

Regrettably, Mr. Speaker, at a time when applications are high at the Nova Scotia Community College, and when the economy of the province demands a higher level of education from its labour force, and there is a high level of unemployment in Nova Scotia, the college is in a declining state of public support. When the Nova Scotia Community College moved to self-governance in 1993, as recommended by the Auditor General of Nova Scotia, it was also recommended that the appropriate human and financial resources be provided to the college. Sadly, this has not been the case. Thus the Nova Scotia Community College has been hampered in its growth and development by being seriously underfunded.

[Page 6065]

To illustrate this lack of support for the community college, in its campuses across the province, they cater to 7,000 full-time students and 13,000 part-time students. The campuses offer occupational training in business and health as indicated. In this past fiscal year incrementally, that is beyond regular funding, the public schools have received $88 million. The universities have received a pledge for $25 million over three years. The Nova Scotia Community College has received nothing, zero dollars, from the province. No one regrets the expenditure of additional incomes for public schools and for the universities. However, there should be a level playing field for all educational institutions, including the community college, which should also have received additional funding.

One of the immediate needs, Mr. Speaker, for the community college is to ensure that the present $7 million of federal government monies is maintained in the community college. The federal government plans to withdraw government money from direct support of the community college and instead target eligible employment insurance claimants by providing them with subsidies, loans and grants in the form of vouchers and coupons which they can redeem at either the college or at private trade schools. A $2 million shortfall in federal funding would require the raising of tuition fees from an average of $1,200 per annum to $1,500 per annum per student. Retaining the $7 million granted by the federal government would merely maintain the status quo.

I would like to review some of the fact and figures regarding the low level of provincial support for the college. One way of analyzing the unrealized potential of the college is to compare the colleges' enrolment figure with those on the national scene. If you look at participation figures in the post-secondary sector, in Nova Scotia 83 per cent of all post-secondary students attend university. Only 17 per cent of our post-secondary students are enrolled in a community college, whereas in Canada, on the national level, 43 per cent are enrolled in a community college and 57 per cent in a university, almost equal numbers attending university and the community college. There is a huge discrepancy in this province. Too few of our students in Nova Scotia are attending the community college, yet, Mr. Speaker, there is a huge demand for attendance at the college.

Last year the Nova Scotia Community College received over 15,000 applications and was able to enrol 6,600 students. So far this year, Mr. Speaker, over 18,300 applications have been received for attendance at the college. If our enrolment figures were at the national average, enrolment at the Nova Scotia Community College would be 15,395 instead of 7,000. They would double the enrolment at the community college if they were at the national level.

If we could look at funding, university funding on a per capita basis in Canada is $244 per student; in Nova Scotia it is $284. We are actually $40 higher per student than the national average, whereas community college funding at the Canadian national level is $151 per student, but in Nova Scotia, the lowest in Canada, Mr. Speaker, is $75 per student, significantly below the national average. Even if our province was funded at the same level

[Page 6066]

as our neighbouring province of New Brunswick, we would have a 25 per cent increase in funding to the community college.

I cite these statistics to provide evidence that our college is grossly underfunded and, therefore, unable to realize its potential. As it was so aptly put by one observer to the community college, either the college wimps along, not realizing its potential, or we make adjustments so that it becomes a key element in the economic development of this province.

The Premier recently visited some of the campuses of the college and spoke to the students. He acknowledged that the college needs financial support. He was quoted in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on February 6, 1999, as saying "We have got to work on doing better for the colleges, we have underfunded them but that is going to change.".

We will be examining the forthcoming budget carefully, Mr. Speaker, to determine if the government will follow through on the Premier's commitment to provide additional funding to the college and, in so doing, recognize the important role played by the college in labour training in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I close by indicating that we must provide continuing support for the community college, which has deep roots in the community. Many communities recognize that the community college is their community's lifeblood to the future. When will our government realize this and support the growth and development of the college to help build the Nova Scotia economy? As Nova Scotia enters a period of economic expansion and technological advance, it is essential that our government transform the Nova Scotia Community College into an activist college and a real vehicle for the improvement of students, employers and communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise this evening on this important resolution. No question, the Nova Scotia Community College is a cornerstone of this province's continuing economic development and growth.

Recently, as the honourable member indicated, our Premier did visit a number of campuses and saw first-hand all that the college is doing for students and for business and for industry. Just last evening, our deputy minister and our executive director responsible for training attended the community college board of governors meeting. I can say from what I heard that it was an exciting meeting. The college board reviewed and approved a new, strategic plan, setting a bold course as the college moves into the next millennium.

Mr. Speaker, before we look to the future, a quick review of some of the history. The college has come a very long way in the past several years. Why? Because as a government we gave the community college the independence it needed to make decisions that are now

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propelling the college forward. In 1995, our government passed legislation making the Nova Scotia Community College a self-governed institution, with its own board of governors. That meant less red tape and the flexibility to forge closer relationships with business, industry and students, to match training with existing job needs and economic opportunities.

[5:15 p.m.]

Since then, the college has never looked back. The number of full-time community college students has grown to 20,000 full-time and part-time students and more and more graduates are finding jobs. In fact, about four out of five graduates find jobs within one year. That is because the college offers programs that meet the needs of workers and employers, whether it is high-tech like geographic information systems or a long-standing trade, like heating, ventilation, refrigeration and air conditioning. A full 100 per cent of graduates in both of these programs found jobs last year.

Among the 134 courses offered by the community college, a full 50 per cent have been introduced within the past five years, everything from public relations to plastic process manufacturing, from aviation to aquaculture, from international business to eco-tourism and the college is reaching out beyond its campus walls.

Mr. Speaker, The Globe and Mail recently featured the college's new virtual campus, which brings apprenticeship training to limitless numbers of apprentices, right from their home communities. The college is opening extension sites like the one in Amherst to respond directly to the needs of local businesses.

Now, after more than 80 meetings and input from about 1,000 Nova Scotians, the Nova Scotia Community College has a new strategic plan and the college will take another leap forward. The plan is built on a set of values and those are: student success, accessibility, service, respect, collaboration, diversity, innovation, and public accountability. Mr. Speaker, I am sure members of this House applaud the college with me for embracing these values.

I would like to publicly acknowledge the work of Steven Kelly and his board of governors for the tremendous work they are accomplishing. Also, to the college President, Mr. Ray Ivany, whose leadership is inspiring a great team of college staff working throughout the system. As a partner with the college, the provincial government also has a role and responsibility. The college has been challenged by changes in federal funding and, provincially, we have been working with them to help them respond.

On the provincial side, Mr. Speaker, we also have a responsibility to support the college, both in terms of dollars and in developing partnerships that meet our common social and economic development goals. To speak to one exciting partnership, the college has created a new Petroleum Institute, based at the Marconi Institute, in partnership with the Strait Area Campus in Cape Breton. The petroleum industry is, obviously, a key sector within

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the province's economic development. By supporting this institute with almost $700,000 in provincial and federal funds, we are giving Nova Scotians another leg-up to compete and win jobs in the offshore.

In terms of funding, Mr. Speaker, all members of this House must acknowledge that the economy is performing better than ever before and we are in a position to increase funding to the college in this budget. Of course, I am not prepared to reveal budget details at this time, but dollars will be targetted to support college priorities, relating to the economic development needs of this province.

With all of the excitement of the community college, it is no surprise that demand for training far exceeds the number of training seats. This is the case right across Canada, Mr. Speaker. Here in Nova Scotia, it is clear. We want to open the doors to more students. Again, we are working with the college to make this happen. Accessibility is an embedded value in the college strategic plan. There will be good news on this front in the near future.

Mr. Speaker, to summarize, our government recognizes the value and role of not just the Nova Scotia Community College but also the Collège de l'Acadie which provides training that leads to jobs for Acadians and francophones in Nova Scotia. We recognize the value and stand ready to support both colleges as partners in promoting Nova Scotia's economic development.

Let me end with a quote from the community college plan on how they feel they must move forward. The plan states, "The final piece of the puzzle can only come from us. The community college is Nova Scotia's public college. We are responsible for working with our partners to determine how we can best serve this province.".

The job is not over, there is more work to be done, and we will get that job done by working with our community colleges, not by dictating to them. The results will just keep getting better and better.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for having provided me with this opportunity. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Cumberland North. It gives me great pleasure to rise this afternoon to speak to this resolution. What a pleasure indeed to be able to discuss the issue of growth and development of Nova Scotia Community Colleges and the role that they should play in economic development and the economic future of Nova Scotia. What is especially pleasurable is the fact that we are going to do that without the usual undercurrent of political sniping that occurs when we debate resolutions, usually, at this time.

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It has been said that our progress as a nation can be no greater than our progress in education. I would say that that adage is truer today than at any other point in our history. We live in a time now of accelerating change, a time when skill sets and career opportunities change at a moment's notice, almost daily, a time when training and retraining and upgrading and developing new skills is a necessity for every worker if they plan to continue to be employable in the changing economy.

The so-called knowledge-based economy and the growth of IT-related industries are fuelling needs that were undreamed of before, needs that change constantly. This means that we need to have an educational system that can provide training and skills for that type of an environment. There were 35,000 jobs created in Nova Scotia and every one of them required post-secondary education. At the same time that was occurring, 32,500 jobs disappeared and every one of those jobs required skills that were less than post-secondary education requirements.

This very issue, the fundamental change of learning and the needs of society is creating a real dilemma for young Nova Scotians. Societies changing expectations in the employment environment is creating a situation where some will be employable and some will not be employable. This is a real serious issue. What do we do to address the fact that in this economy there are going to be in fact two levels of a workforce. One for whom there are a wealth of opportunities and another subsection for which the opportunities are severely limited.

We have talked often of the McJob syndrome, the fact that there are going to be an increasing number of entry-level jobs with no real future and no real security. This is a dilemma that must be addressed and extends beyond the issue of Nova Scotia Community College. Of Nova Scotia's current workforce, 40 per cent has less than Grade 12. That is a serious issue. Nova Scotia has the lowest community college participation rate in all of Canada, while at the same time it has the highest university participation rates. This is a serious message for employers and for strategists who want to address the economic realities in Nova Scotia.

On one hand we have a wealth of young people who are getting skills that will make them competitive anywhere in the world and this is good for our economy, but on the other hand we have a group of people who are trying to enter the job market with less than skill levels that will mean they can become employable. This is changing, but over time what we need to do is raise people's awareness of Nova Scotia community colleges and what it is they can provide. The fact that fewer Nova Scotians are considering Nova Scotia Community College as a training option is a serious message. In fact, at the present time in our community colleges the average age of the students enrolled there is 28 and, in fact, most of them have some post-secondary training already, some university training.

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What this means is the competition to enter community colleges is serious in that it creates, again, the environment where some can enter and some will not be able to. That also means that our public school system needs to educate young people about what Nova Scotia Community College can provide and at the same time it needs to look at what it is doing for students who are not in the traditional sense geared towards post-secondary learning.

There was a time when Nova Scotia vocational schools were seen to be a place where you sent those who were not university bound and that is no longer true. In fact, the skills required to enter Nova Scotia Community College and take the training that is being required for the new millennium means that they need to have skill sets and learning backgrounds that will allow them to participate actively. The whole concept of a labour market strategy for economic development will require that all the players need to sit down and talk to one another about where we are going to go, what it is we are going to do in terms of creating job opportunities.

At the present time there are 7,000 full-time seats in community colleges. In fact, last year there were 17,000 applications. That means 10,000 people were denied access to those opportunities. That is a serious problem. It must be addressed.

The other thing that needs to be addressed is that we need to look at where the employment opportunities are going to exist. We do have an aging workforce and the fact that many of the so-called baby boomers will be exiting the job market at the same time will create a great many opportunities. What the community college needs to do is it needs to strategize about where best it can place its resources so that, in fact, there are career and employment opportunities.

Another serious concern is the fact that the community colleges sometimes failed to recognize real needs. In Cape Breton the course in welding was dropped from the curriculum and, in fact, there was a real crying need for trained, experienced welders in the offshore. What happened was that private sector training colleges jumped into the niche that was created and, in fact, provided an opportunity for people to take training. That, too, is a message for Nova Scotia Community College, that is that they need to be aware. I will pass my time on to my colleague.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North.

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, how much time remaining in the segment?

MR. SPEAKER: Six minutes all told.

MR. FAGE: Six minutes in my segment, Mr. Speaker?

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MR. SPEAKER: If no one else wishes to speak, you can have the remaining time. We started at 5:04 p.m. so we have until 5:34 p.m.

MR. FAGE: In the segment for myself to speak in, not the whole House?

MR. SPEAKER: We finish at 5:34 p.m. Technically you have 10 minutes. The Minister of Education spoke for less than his 10 minutes. There are a few minutes remaining and I have no indication that other members wish to speak.

MR. FAGE: Thank you for that very forceful determined time clock-keeping, Mr. Speaker. I fully understand where you are coming from.

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to take a few moments to rise today and say a few words about the community college system and the economic potential in this province. It is absolutely imperative that we look at post-secondary education training, professionalism, in this province. There are many components to that in this province, each playing a vital role. There is the university system. There is the community college system. There are the private trade schools. There are apprenticeship programs. All of these play a major role in providing economic opportunity for people in this province, not only young people, but people of middle age and actually of senior years.

What is most significant in the role played here is what community colleges can offer to our students. We have a community college system that is run by a vibrant young man named Ray Ivany who has ideas, who has programs in place, that offers real opportunity to the people of this province. The program mix is a critical part, Mr. Speaker, in what we offer to the people of this province. We see across this province partnerships between major industries from the Trenton Car Works to the plastic industries, with Springhill community colleges, with mold injection, to Atlantic Radiator, all these industries are making use of the community college system to provide real economic opportunity to the young people of our province and to middle-aged people who desire and require that extra training for the changing industry phase that we have out there. Those citizens are forced into a situation where if they don't have a Grade 12, what options do they have?

[5:30 p.m.]

The province must address the situation also of the student or the individual that has less than a Grade 8 education. Whether that is offered as an upgrading at the community college itself to a Grade 12 equivalent, or whether that upgrading occurs through private schools when that student is past the age of 21, the funding has to be put in place so that can happen. If that happens it provides those people with a real opportunity to grow their economic expectations in this province to become fruitful members of society and offers relief where they are forced to use at times the social infrastructure of the Province of Nova Scotia and the resources that are involved there.

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Currently, we are looking at a situation though that takes leadership from the minister and from this province. The federal agreement regarding community college funding is in a state of decline. We are looking at a situation where if funding is not reinstated, we may have a situation where there will not be the current 13 campuses but they will be forced to go to eight campuses. That is a real threat, a real concern if that federal funding is not found. That decision has to be made, that funding has to be found, that leadership shown, before the fall of this very year, 1999. If we don't, instead of 7,000 and 13,000 students respectively full and part-time being included in community college programs in this province, we may be looking at 5,000 to 7,000 students. That is completely unacceptable when we are looking at a situation in this province where government can use the community college to offer real economic hope through expanded programs, expanded campuses, not shrinking programs.

This is the information-based technology and in that regard when we look at government programs, we see community health workers being trained at community colleges, extremely commendable, the proper thing to do. But we could do so much more.

When I meet with parents and associations of autistic children, groups representing ADD, ADHD, what an opportunity to provide the expertise to provide those young people with a real alternative so that at an early age we have the trained people here in Nova Scotia so those people can actively be intervened with and we can offer them the chance, the hope, and the opportunity to be productive members of society, not relegated to a home and a situation where they remain with their parents. These people have real potential for the Province of Nova Scotia. Let them have their opportunity for potential.

Mr. Minister, please ensure that that is given active consideration as one of the new programs that the community college can offer for this province, not only for these students, these young people and their families, but for the opportunity of this entire province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for the late debate having expired, we will now rise until 10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

[The House rose at 5:34 p.m.]