The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.















HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 16, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



12:00 P.M.



SPEAKER



Hon. Paul MacEwan



DEPUTY SPEAKER



Mrs. Francene Cosman



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to call the House to order at this time. We will get this afternoon's sitting underway.



Are there introductions of guests or visitors here today?



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and to Members of the Legislative Assembly, 22 Grade 6 students from the Stewiacke Elementary School and accompanying the students are their teacher, Mr. Ron MacPhee; leaders and parents, Lorna Swallow, Tom Hirst, David Slaunwhite and Mrs. Woodworth. I would ask the class and their leaders and teacher to rise and receive a warm round of applause from the Members of the Legislative Assembly. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: We will commence the daily routine.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



1833

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 352



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



Whereas the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency was quick to have the Minister of Finance lead the way in damage control after Statistics Canada confirmed their government led Nova Scotia to a last place finish in economic growth in 1994; and



Whereas 22,000 jobs disappeared across Nova Scotia in 1994 despite mythical statements from the minister and the Premier about enhanced job creation; and



Whereas the latest indication of the minister's dismal performance in job creation came last night in the Annapolis Valley as concern was raised by Wolfville Town Council about sky-rocketing welfare costs being incurred by that town;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency do less theatrical grandstanding and concentrate more on job creation.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 353



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



Whereas on April 11th, the Finance Minister tabled in this House a budget document that included the Statistics Canada figures on our province's real domestic product from 1986 to 1993; and



Whereas yesterday that same minister reacted as though he had been scalded by the reality check of Nova Scotia's 1994 real domestic product, prepared by the very same folks at Statistics Canada; and



Whereas Nova Scotians know from their daily struggles that under this Liberal Government our economy is tied with Newfoundland for the worst in Canada;



Therefore be it resolved that the Finance Minister and his colleagues would inspire greater confidence if they had enough of a grip on reality to face and resolve the economic challenges that Nova Scotians face daily.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Hants West.



RESOLUTION NO. 354



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



Whereas Statistics Canada said Nova Scotia's 1.3 per cent growth in Gross Domestic Product was dismal compared to Canada's robust 4.2 per cent growth; and



Whereas the Minister of Finance says Nova Scotia's numbers never match Statistics Canada's and that their, that is Statistics Canada's, numbers are wrong; and



Whereas Statistics Canada always uses the same formula for calculating economic growth and the Minister of Finance hasn't been heard to dispute their numbers in the past;



Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance sit down with representatives from Statistics Canada to go over the discrepancy in numbers and that he immediately report to the House how the Department of Finance's assessment of Gross Domestic Product growth could be so vastly different from those provided by the federal agency responsible for calculating and reporting on economic performance across the country.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 355



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



Whereas Nova Scotians have given up hope respecting the capacity of the Savage Liberal Government to create jobs and stimulate the economy; and



Whereas a prime symptom of this loss of hope in the Savage Liberal Government is the increase in spending on lottery gambling by Nova Scotians, which has increased dramatically, doubling by 24 per cent since 1991; and



Whereas another alarming key indicator of failure by this Savage Liberal Government is the dramatic decline in export growth which was 1.6 per cent in 1994 compared to an average of 9.7 per cent between 1991 and 1993;



Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberal Government face the facts rather than hiding behind its own creative accounting and begin to deliver what it so glibly, callously and cynically promised Nova Scotians in the 1993 election; real, long-term, secure and reasonably remunerative employment opportunities.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Kings North.





RESOLUTION NO. 356



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



Whereas when realizing that the initial Save the Premier Campaign didn't work, the Premier and his handlers tried to derail a review by postponement; and



Whereas the second failed Save the Premier Campaign meant a second way out: initiate a constitutional review committee to ask the Liberal members if they think a review should go ahead; and



Whereas the Liberal Party gave the Premier and his handlers an answer they weren't looking for, they decided to proceed with a review constituency by constituency before the annual meeting with a simple yes or no;



Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his handlers be commended for the realization that releasing the complete tally would not have worked out in the Premier's favour either and for the foresight of making their latest switch, to tally every vote, since it will take the full count just to reach the magic number of 50 plus one.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 357



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



Whereas the Liberal Party, urged on by the Cabinet, have adopted the view that a new rule a day means the doctor can stay; and



Whereas despite all the intimidation, some backbenchers dared say, that to not count the votes - there's just no way; and



Whereas anyone who still thought this government was democratic and accountable must be feeling dismay;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals should recognize that come June or come the next election, these new rules a day, intended to keep democracy at bay, will simply convince voters to send the doctor away. (Interruptions)



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Queens.





RESOLUTION NO. 358



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I think that must have been blank pentameter or something like that. (Laughter)



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



Whereas the Victoria Day weekend coincides with the annual celebration of Charleston Days; and



Whereas this annual Queens County event focuses on the life of the Charleston community and especially its relationship with the land and the beautiful Medway River; and



Whereas many months have been expended planning for this coming weekend;



Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulates all those involved in preparing for Charleston Days and extends best wishes to the community for its initiative and encourages Nova Scotians to attend Charleston Days activities over the Victoria Day weekend.



I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



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. 359



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



Whereas the education of our children is the foundation on which tomorrow's economy is being structured; and



Whereas education must be the building block for today's youth; and



Whereas computer literacy must be a key component of the learning environment being structured for today's youth;



Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature recognize that education today will impact greatly on tomorrow's society.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that notice be waived?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 360



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 MLAs for Colchester North and Sackville-Beaverbank deserve congratulations for forcing the Liberal Party onto the straight and narrow path of actually counting votes cast by Party members; and



Whereas the Liberal Party kingpins are being typically gracious in stating that it is a purely political and otherwise meaningless gesture to bother counting everyone's vote; and



Whereas rarely have Party insiders so openly expressed their view that voters don't matter;



Therefore be it resolved that this House wishes the MLAs for Colchester North, Sackville-Beaverbank and all others who will attempt to force those Liberal insiders to go so far as permitting an open, scrutineered count of Party votes.



[12:15 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.



RESOLUTION NO. 361



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



Whereas Stora Forest Industries Limited was recently awarded the 1994 Annual Export Achievement Award from the Province of Nova Scotia; and



Whereas after some lean years, Stora Forest Industries Limited has enjoyed record growth with an increase of exports in excess of $42 million, which has a major economic impact on the Strait area; and



Whereas during a very difficult time in the forest industry, this government chose to support Stora Forest Industries and invest in the people of the Strait area;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the employees, management and suppliers of Stora Forest Industries Limited for receiving this significant Export Achievement Award which confirms, once again, the commitment of this government to the communities of the Strait Area.



Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice without debate.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 362



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



Whereas the Health Department told Barrington Municipal Council that helicopters would be part of its new regional air ambulance system, although purchase of fixed-wing aircraft is the main objective; and



Whereas present plans do not include any role for helicopters to help transport patients in need of urgent attention at secondary or tertiary hospitals; and



Whereas Nova Scotians in the more remote sections of the province, where hospital closures cause great concern, deserve the courtesy of an honest and well-considered explanation;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Health Minister to review the case presented that helicopters can provide an essential and timely means of moving Nova Scotians in urgent need of emergency hospital treatment, from areas not well served by either roads or airports that can be used by fixed-wing aircraft.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Eastern Shore.



RESOLUTION NO. 363



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



Whereas this year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Lawrencetown District 9A Volunteer Fire Department; and



Whereas the Lawrencetown District 9A Volunteer Fire Department has made a very valuable contribution to the community and county during the past 30 years; and



Whereas the Lawrencetown District 9A Volunteer Fire Department serves a 40 mile radius, with two fire halls and approximately 40 volunteer members;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the members of the Lawrencetown District 9A Volunteer Fire Department for the invaluable service they have provided during the past 30 years.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.



MR. SPEAKER: 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. 364



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



Whereas Phase Remediation Incorporated, a new company in the growing field of environmental clean-up recently opened a pilot plant and fully equipped laboratory in the community of Elmsdale, located in East Hants; and



Whereas Phase Remediation Incorporated uses the Kuryluk Mineral Separator, a Nova Scotia developed technology, to extract heavy metals and pollutants from contaminated areas; and



Whereas with a growing number of highly skilled employees, the world-class technology and expertise of Phase Remediation Incorporated is well on the way to becoming a world-wide leader in environmental clean-up.



Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the development, here in Nova Scotia, of world-class environmental technology such as the Kuryluk Mineral Separator and congratulate Phase Remediation Incorporated in opening a pilot plant and laboratory in East Hants.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



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



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.





RESOLUTION NO. 365



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



Whereas this government has been eager to brush aside local concerns and environmental considerations, so that John Chisholm - no relation - can boost his strip mining as an alternative source of coal for NSP; and



Whereas during federal Minister Anne McLellan's visit to Cape Breton to discuss the coal crisis, the Premier and provincial Liberals were silent as the grave; and



Whereas the Finance Minister need look no further to explain Nova Scotia's last place economy than the government inflicted loss of thousands of jobs due to federal and provincial power and coal policies;



Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government should honour its commitment to ensure that power policy and coal policy maximize employment and economic production in Nova Scotia, instead of forcing both NSP and Devco to keep cutting jobs for the sake of out-of-province profits.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make another introduction. In the west gallery, it gives me great pleasure again to introduce a class from the Stewiacke Elementary School. We have a Grade 5 class, some 26 students, and they are accompanied by their teacher, Debbie McCarthy. they are also accompanied by parents and leaders, Debbie Nelson, Vicki Joyce, Kathy Downey, Sophie Weir and Sara Still. I would ask that all members of the House afford and accord the visitors our usual warm welcome. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Now, are there any further notices of motion? If not, I have a request from the Government House Leader that we revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.



MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Private and Local Bills, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:



Bill No. 15 - Bridgewater Ribes Regulation Act.



Bill No. 16 - Kentville Memorial Park Commission Act.



Bill No. 17 - Kentville Rink Commission Act.



and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.



MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at six o'clock. The winner today is the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party and he has submitted a resolution for debate, reading as follows:



Therefore be it resolved that this government's approach to mental health reform is a disgrace and destined for disaster.



So we have three d's in there. We will hear on that at six o'clock this afternoon.



Now, if there is no further business to come before the House under the daily routine, we will advance to Orders of the Day. The Oral Question Period today will last for an hour and will run from 12:24 p.m., I will say, until 1:24 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.



COMMUN. SERV.: DEBRA STEVENS - COMPENSATION NEGOTIATIONS



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is for the Minister of Community Services. As you will know, Mr. Speaker, and the minister will certainly recall, he has formally apologized to Debra Stevens and her family and he promised a committee would be organized to negotiate compensation for her.



In the ensuing five months - and I underline five months - nothing that could be remotely termed negotiation has taken place. A gentleman named Wayne Allan was selected by the minister to undertake legitimate negotiations, or negotiations, which everybody expected would be legitimate negotiations, with Debra Stevens for herself and her son.



Mr. Allan, Mr. Speaker, constantly attempted to minimize and even deny liability, even though he was operating on the minister's commitment to find a way to make compensation available. A few weeks ago the minister imposed an ultimatum that submissions be filed by April 30th, on a take it or leave it offer basis, be made by the province.



Mr. Speaker, the minister has all the statements of claim from all of those who . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me, that is a whole page that you have read now. Could you come to the question, please?



MR. DONAHOE: The minister has received all of the statements of claim and he has said that he will take the matter to Cabinet. My question to the minister is to ask him, what is it that he intends to take to Cabinet? Does he intend to take his take it or leave it offer position? Or does he intend to engage in legitimate negotiation with the parties in the face of the statement of claim documents, which he has now received, review those, assess those and then go to Cabinet with some other recommendation other than his take it or leave it proposition?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will try to do as well as I can with that question. It was a very long one. It is filled with some so-called information that I am not sure if he can document and bring before the members of the House, some statements that he has made. However, I will endeavour to reply in a positive way, but in no way can I accept some of the allegations that he is making in his preamble, which was quite extensive.



Negotiations have taken place. I am not sure where the member has his information, that all claims have, I find that a very difficult statement, that I could respond to, to be fair and open here in the House today, other than to say that negotiations have taken place. Some of them have not been as quick as one might have hoped for. There was a lack of claims coming forward that I would have anticipated would have been before us, but those that are before us at this time are being dealt with. They will be processed and recommendations will be made to Cabinet.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, my information, for the edification of the minister, is that all statements of claim have, in fact, been filed, a fact which I think he could verify very quickly. It appears, Mr. Speaker, that the minister's agents have been stonewalling and flailing away at the claimants for the last number of months, particularly providing absolutely no interim compensation or support. I ask the Minister of Community Services whether he will today direct that there be immediate interim support payments made to the claimants until the final and full compensation details are worked out. Will he make such a commitment today?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would inform all members of the House, I cannot as minister be sure that all claims are before us. Again, the member has repeated his so-called information. I am not sure that - I would personally not want him to be Minister of Community Services at this juncture, if he is so sure that all claims are in and complete - if he is that sure, then that gives me grave concern. As far as support, I have always been concerned, as Minister of Community Services, that there would be support services and counselling services available to the young people involved - particularly the young people -and that is in place. In answer, I will make no commitment to the House today that there shall be any interim cash or financial settlements, but certainly to facilitate the support services for counselling that have been in place. They have been offered through the lawyers and this is well known and this is taking place as we speak.



MR. DONAHOE: I thank the minister for his answer. It occurs to me, Mr. Speaker, that one of the principles and a part of the impact of the celebrated Marshall Inquiry has obviously escaped this minister. One of the principles of the Marshall Inquiry was that in circumstances of the kind which face this minister now, the government must respond quickly, with compassion and caring. Here we have this minister and his agent, I suggest, deliberately and callously, over five months' period of time, cutting off assistance . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: Come on, that is no way to talk.



MR. DONAHOE: Well, the Minister of Natural Resources might not like the way I put the question, but with your indulgence, I will put the question, Mr. Speaker. This minister and his agent have deliberately and callously cut off assistance to a very desperate client, while at the same time they have refused to fairly negotiate a reasonable compensation package. The Minister of Community Services made a promise five months ago that negotiations would result in compensation and he made a commitment for compensation. The claims are there.





[12:30 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: What is the question, please?



MR. DONAHOE: The claims are in. I ask the Minister of Community Services, in light of the fact that he made the commitment five months ago, that the claims are in, that these families are in desperate need, they need his compassion and support and not rhetoric, what commitment is he prepared today to put a timeframe on the time in which the settlements will be made with these deserving claimants?



DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, while there are some parallels with the Marshall Inquiry, the issue of compensation, as the honourable member knows and being a lawyer, was not necessarily similar.



Mr. Speaker, I have problems again with the question. He is saying in terms of five months that it has been "stonewalled". The member knows that those claims were not before us. He has already said that. Now, he is saying they are in and respond. Then he is saying five months. You can't have it both ways.



I would ask the honourable member if he has a quote or some commitment, I have made a commitment to look at appeals as they come before us for compensation. I am not sure and I have found no evidence that I said that there would be absolute compensation. This is a matter for a group of people within the Department of Justice, with the Lunenburg Family and Children's Services Agency, which is the agency involved, and senior officials from the Department of Community Services. That is the group that is working. There is a group working on that particular, Mr. Speaker. He is saying that I have made statements and if he can find evidence of that, then I would wish that he would bring it before the House.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Health. In the absence of the labour adjustment structures recommended by the Blueprint Committee as essential to health reform, a confidential plan - and I will send the minister a copy over - having who knows what status, developed by who knows whom, to pay big bucks to get rid of a lot of health care workers who serve the people of this province for 13 years. This piecemeal, retire and good riddance operation aimed at health care workers appears to be barrelling ahead without any meaningful consultation with the health care workers that are affected and without any real regard for how this will affect the quality of health services in this province in the years ahead.



My question to the minister is, before any more proposals like this one are put in place by his government, will the minister once and for all establish the labour adjustment committee recommended by the blueprint as essential to good health reform for Nova Scotians?



MR. SPEAKER: Well, the honourable member has tabled a document, yet she cannot ascribe it to any particular authorship, she says it is from, sort of, Lord knows who. Is this a legitimate document? Do you vouch for its . . .



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what I would like the Minister of Health to answer, that is my question to the Minister of Health.



MR. SPEAKER: I think it an abuse of parliamentary privilege to introduce documents which one is not prepared to verify and to vouch for the legitimacy of. If the honourable member will vouch for the legitimacy of this document, I will certainly entertain the question.



MS. MCDONOUGH: It has already been tabled, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: But tabling it doesn't mean that it is authentic.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, having been burned already once by anonymous documents that are slipped under the door and then thrown across the aisle to me (Interruptions) three minutes beforehand, I am not prepared to comment on a document that I haven't seen yet. But I would be happy to take it under advisement.



MR. SPEAKER: There is a point of order involved here too. Without an extensive reference to the authorities, I know, from my knowledge of the authorities, that a member cannot introduce a document here for discussion unless he or she is prepared to vouch for it and to assure the House that it is a legitimate document.



MS. MCDONOUGH: You must be entertaining a point of order here in the middle of Question Period which is rather uncustomary.



MR. SPEAKER: There are no points of order in Question Period. I am saying there is a point of order involved here.



I am ruling that question out of order because you have failed to satisfy that the document is legitimate.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



HEALTH: LABOUR ADJUSTMENT STRATEGY - ESTABLISH



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, my question is, will the minister once and for all put in place the needed labour adjustment structures so that you don't find people getting their information in brown envelopes under door through anonymous phone calls and other illegitimate needs, my question is not to try to trick him into either saying this is an official document or not, my question is, will he once and for all put the labour adjustment strategy in place, so people will be consulted, so they will get accurate information and not be subject to innuendoes and rumours?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to reply to the honourable member opposite who, in my opinion, trivializes the sensitivity and the importance of the issue that she raises, that of labour adjustment strategies, by doing such unorthodox and rather, I might say, underhanded things as throwing across the aisle documents that I have not yet seen, nor can I comment on.



Suffice it to say that we have put in place a multi-faceted structure and an approach to labour adjustment, which the honourable member opposite knows very well is a sensitive and significant issue in health reform. We are following the blueprint's recommendation in which they say this is a major issue, this is a very sensitive issue, it must be central to the changes and we are doing that. We have structures set up within our own ministries, within the employers' structure, which is the NSAHO, and we are working on a region by region basis with labour groups to get their input.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, it is pure fiction for the minster to say they are following the blueprint recommendations with respect to labour adjustment. In this House a couple of weeks ago the Minister of Labour, in answer to an earlier question about labour adjustment, tabled a document called Joint Labour Management Council on Transition, Terms of Reference, which turns out to be pure fiction; it is bogus, it is a fraud.



I have consulted with the people that this document says are involved in this process and they say that it simply does not exist. There hasn't been a single discussion about a labour adjustment strategy, in the context of that supposed council effort, and the minister persists in saying that this is our strategy.



MR. SPEAKER: There must be a question.



MS. MCDONOUGH: My question to the minister is simply, will he not recognize that this requires a joint structure, with clear terms of reference about how the labour adjustment strategy is to develop, and will he not persist in claiming that that process is underway, when not one single representative of the six hospital unions affected can . . .



MR. SPEAKER: I do believe that the honourable member is out of order.



MS. MCDONOUGH: . . . vouch for the existence of that process?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, this is typical of the honourable member opposite who trivializes and tries to focus in on one single issue when the issue is much broader than that, that we are, indeed, attempting to address here. We are looking not only at the whole system throughout the province, we are looking at regions, we are looking at specific institutions, particularly as has been the honourable member's opposite want is to bring the QE II into the discussion which is the most sensitive and significant area which we must address first because this merger is a challenge to the best minds in labour, in management. We are attempting in every way to be very sensitive to these issues and we will persist along the lines of the spirit and the letter of the blueprint.



MS. MCDONOUGH: The QE II is an important case in point but my questions concerns what kind of labour adjustment strategy process is there? The Manitoba Government had a Provincial Health Care Labour Adjustment Committee. The Saskatchewan Government had a joint committee between the employees and the province, to come up with a labour adjustment strategy. The B.C. Government had a joint strategy.



MR. SPEAKER: I cannot permit this. Come to the question, please, now.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, the question is, given the fact that every other province that has gone through this kind of transition, has put in place a formal joint agreement emerging from a formal process, when will this government recognize the necessity of doing the same?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable member opposite that the three provinces that she quotes, in terms of their strategy, had already in place structures that we do not have in place in Nova Scotia, including regional health boards, including regionalization. They, in fact, had made changes far in advance of putting into practice what she describes and we will in addition, approach the labour issues that are complex, that have multiple facets of concern within this province in a very careful and orchestrated way which we are doing, which we have put in place as late as last fall. We will continue to take this tack in dealing with it sensitively, in individual cases, as well as an overall provincial approach within our ministries and in cooperation with labour.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



COMMUN. SERV. - LUNENBURG FAMILY AND CHILDREN'S SERV.:

COMPENSATION - PROCESS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. I would ask the minister to think back to December 1994 and his press announcement following receipt of the report on the Lunenburg Family and Children's Services Agency. I attended that press conference and at that time, the minister appeared to agree that there was agency failure and there was a culpability on behalf of the agency. At that time, the minister described a process for the resolution and for the awarding of compensation.



What has followed has been five months of non-negotiation, changing ground rules dictated by the agency lawyer and culminating on April 11th, a letter with a one time offer on a take it or leave it basis. Would the minister confirm today that in December 1994, he described a process for the resolution of this problem and an awarding of compensation, a process that could be described as rapid, fair and negotiated?



HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the report that the honourable member mentions that I was responding to at that date, was a report that found that there was a system failure relative to the abuse of children and this had been already involved within the legal system. A process was set out at that time involving the Department of Justice, Department of Community Services and the agency involved, the Lunenburg Family and Children's Services Agency. That process was in place. The statement made was that I had anticipated due to the nature of that report, that there would be claims for compensation made and, if that were so, they would be dealt with in a proper manner.



I feel, Mr. Speaker, that the process has been in place, negotiations have been in place. The claims from certain parties that I would have thought would have been before us, were not before us in April. We had a meeting with those people that I have mentioned earlier, representatives of those groups, and it was felt that there would be a letter sent that would indicate there would be a time when there would be a cutoff period, that we would expect that applications for compensation would be before us.



The term used, take it or leave it, was not one that I personally had suggested but it was a term that was used and I think it did indicate some level of frustration with those people who were using the media basically to bring their case forward with misinformation and other matters. That was a matter of trying to resolve and bring it forward, that they could be dealt with in an orderly manner.



DR. HAMM: For my first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, (Interruption) The minister is aware that one of the victims of the agency failure is a special needs child. The delay in the resolution of the settlement is delaying the most effective approach to his special requirements which include special programs and, most importantly, a stabilized home environment. The latter cannot certainly be achieved until a settlement is reached. Would the minister agree today to intervene in the negotiating process, not in terms of the amounts, because obviously that is the nature of the negotiation process, and it would be up to that process to determine the amounts.



[12:45 p.m.]



The process that the minister described in December has not occurred. It has not been rapid, it has not been fair and it has not been negotiated. Would the minister commit today to intervene to the point that a rapid and fair and negotiated settlement can occur to allow the victims to get on with their lives and to assure us and to assure everyone that, in fact, the settlement is fair and is one that has been agreed to by all of the victims?



DR. SMITH: The honourable member has expressed an opinion. I imagine it is based on fact rather than what he is reading in the media, that the process has not been proceeding. In answer to the honourable member I will simply say, no, I will not interfere with the process. We have a process in place. I have described to the House as well as I can that it is a fair and an open process. As far as guaranteeing compensation or any other matter, that is a matter which will be coming from those involved in the negotiation process. It will be one that I will take through toward the Cabinet and will, in due course, that will appear before Cabinet. I can make no further commitments and I am satisfied that, under the circumstances, the negotiation process is in place.



DR. HAMM: I hope the minister wasn't suggesting that this will be a Cabinet decision in terms of the amount but merely that Cabinet would be approving a negotiated settlement. By way of final supplementary, my specific question to the minister, how much longer is the minister prepared to wait for a negotiated settlement bearing in mind that every day of delay is working to the detriment of the victims? How much longer is the minister prepared to wait for a negotiated settlement?



DR. SMITH: The negotiated settlement will depend on the parties involved and how they will be able to arrive at that. I am hoping that within the next two to three weeks that I will have matters, that in some way or another, be able to take to Cabinet and that is the only commitment that I can make. As far as a complete and totally negotiated package, I can't say.



We can look at other provinces such as New Brunswick, Newfoundland that is in the courts at this time, it has been a long process in those provinces, a very long process and it has been particularly long for the children, the victims and that is my concern. A small percentage, a year or two is a long time in the life of a child and those are our real concerns and those are matters that we will move on. But I need the information from those involved and this has not been, contrary to what the honourable members have mentioned in this House here today, has not, if there has been delay, this has not been the total responsibility of the agency's lawyer and other matters such as outlined here today.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.



FIN.: ECONOMIC GROWTH - CONFIDENCE (BUSINESS/CONSUMER)



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Finance. I wonder if the Minister of Finance would tell us, in view of this province's dismal last place standing on the Statistics Canada scorecard for growth in 1994, whether or not he agrees that the promotion of business confidence and consumer confidence are the triggers for real economic growth in any province?



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I thank the honourable member for that question. It gives me the opportunity to tell him and other members of the House that, quite frankly, on the statistics that Statistics Canada have released, our department doesn't share that view and doesn't indeed subscribe to the figure which Statistics Canada projected on growth in the Nova Scotia economy for 1994.



Having said that, yes it was a projection, it is a backward projection, they don't count up the numbers; what they do, as all agencies who assess our growth do, they look at certain factors, they use a certain methodology, they make projections, it is an art and they take their best shot.



Having said that, and I am quite confident and I stand by the projections that were made by our own Department of Finance as to our growth rate. Having said that, let me say that quite clearly consumer confidence is important for business and is important for strengthening the recovery in Nova Scotia. It is always a delicate balance between the attempts by some governments - in other parts of the country, perhaps; perhaps even governments of Nova Scotia in the past - in drawing an entirely blue sky scenario which is not reflected in the facts, on the one hand, and balancing that with the need to create confidence, on the other.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Finance agrees that creation of business and consumer confidence is important, would he also agree that it is important for the government to create the environment that would foster that kind of confidence? In other words, while government cannot create jobs, they certainly can create the environment for the private sector to create jobs; would he agree with that thesis?



MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, I think I would, Mr. Speaker, with one reservation. That was the reservation I tried to make in the first answer. Nova Scotians, either businesses or individuals, cannot be given blue sky scenarios. They cannot be given pie in the sky approaches to our problems. I think we have been pretty realistic all the way along, and we are going to try and continue to be realistic in terms of creating the atmosphere in our economy for new jobs. I think we have done not a bad job on that. In fact, Nova Scotia ranked second in the country in 1994, according to Statistics Canada figures, by the way; it ranked second in the country in job creation, only exceeded by British Columbia. (Applause) So, I think we have made some progress.



MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the minister has certain figures that he is very willing to accept from Statistics Canada and others that he disagrees with. So, it seems to be that whichever way the wind blows, the minister will respond to Statistics Canada. There is only one thing positive, I think - and I wonder if the minister would agree with this - that will come from the Statistics Canada figures. That is, that our welfare payment from the federal government in 1995-96 will be again inflated and the minister once again will have a windfall and will come in with, perhaps, a figure way over on the revenue side. Would the minister agree with that?



MR. BOUDREAU: Well, let me say that transfer payments, including equalization, are based on Statistics Canada projections, and we all know how accurate they have been in the past. I would like to make that point. I would also like to make the point, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member and to all members, that the Department of Finance is not the only agency that disagrees with Statistics Canada's growth estimates for 1994 for Nova Scotia.



Let me give you a list: Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, in March, estimated at 2.5 per cent; the Bank of Nova Scotia, 3.3 per cent; Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, 3.8 per cent; Royal Bank of Canada, 3.4 per cent; Toronto Dominion Bank, 3.1 per cent. Have I missed any of the major banks? I do not think so. I do not think I missed a major bank. These are all 1994. This is all statements in 1995, for 1994's growth. All of them, same as Statistics Canada. Those are all the figures I have just recited. I will add two: the Department of Finance, 3.1 per cent; Statistics Canada, 1.3 per cent. Now I am willing to accept the figure skating model for scoring, and we will eliminate the high, we will eliminate the low, and we will take the average.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



CONS. AFFS. - GAS PUMPS: INACCURATE - NUMBER



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. No matter what television station or radio newscast one turned on yesterday or this morning, or the newspaper that you picked up, you could not help but hear about the inaccuracies of the gas pumps across Canada. In fact, Atlantic Canada led the way, with 20 per cent of gasoline pumps being inaccurate. My question to the minister is, in information supplied to you from the federal Department of Corporate and Consumer Affairs, precisely how many gas pumps across Nova Scotia are making invisible errors when someone drives in to get filled up?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: I think the member opposite has raised a very good issue here. I think you would also agree that it is a very serious situation here in Atlantic Canada if, indeed, these numbers are accurate. I have asked the department to contact the federal government and I am aware that the federal Minister of Industry is looking into the situation. We will see what we can do to remedy the situation. I do not have the numbers that the member opposite asked for, but I am definitely taking this very seriously and looking into it in the interests of the consumers of Nova Scotia.



MR. MCINNES: I thank the minister for that answer. In some of the articles that were released yesterday, they said that Atlantic Region pumps were off as much as 500 millilitres. Gas stations off just marginally are given a warning, while others with the big problems are shut down. Is the minister aware of any pumps that have been shut down across Nova Scotia?



MRS. NORRIE: No, I have not been given that information.



MR. MCINNES: Perhaps the minister, within a reasonable period of time, can get that information for me, I would appreciate that.



During Question Period in the House of Commons yesterday the federal Minister responsible for Corporate and Consumer Affairs, the Honourable John Manley, stated that inspections are carried out every six years and that they must be very vigilant. With the release of that information yesterday, does the minister support inspections being carried out more often than every six years?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I believe, in the best interests of the consumers of not only Atlantic Canada but across the country, that if further inspections are necessary that they would very likely be carried out.



I think one point that was made as well is that due to the age of some of the pumps and some of the new technologies that are now available, that issue can be addressed much more readily than it would have been in the past, with new technology actually measuring the pumps. So I think that the minister, the Honourable John Manley, has stated that he would look into the matter to see what caused the rate of error and would address the situation.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



JUSTICE - GHIZ REPORT: RECOMMENDATIONS - RESPOND



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you, sir, to the Minister of Justice. Today we, of course, learned that two more highly regarded and very skilled Crown Prosecutors have resigned and that others are also considering doing the same, because of the low morale, poor working conditions and lack of resources within the prosecution services. Of course the minister will know that the problems are not new, that in fact the government had commissioned a review of the prosecution services a year ago and received that report, which is commonly referred to as the Ghiz Report, last August.



My question to the minister is quite simply this, why hasn't the government, almost nine months later, yet made a formal response to the many very good recommendations that were contained in that Ghiz Report?



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know about responses, formal or otherwise, but I have met with the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions on a number of occasions and I think we have made considerable progress in dealing with some of the various matters. As a matter of fact, as soon as tomorrow morning at 8:15 a.m., I will be sitting down again with Mr. Herschorn and several of his senior officials.



MR. HOLM: We hear that the minister is having some meetings with the acting independent prosecutor. Well almost two years ago the Liberal Party said, and this has to do with the Office of the Attorney General and independent prosecutors, any shortcomings will be corrected in the first year of a mandate to ensure the true independence and effectiveness of the office.



Well we see that the Liberal Party certainly can change a rule a day to keep the Premier's adversaries at bay, but they can't come up with the decisions to ensure that adequate resources are in place that will ensure that those who are guilty of an offence are properly prosecuted.



My question to the minister is quite simply this, when will the minister give a final response to those recommendations and ensure that the resources that are needed are, in fact, there?



[1:00 p.m.]



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, in the black and white world of the Leader of the NDP, you can do it all magically. Within a couple of weeks of the Ghiz report, I went to a meeting of the prosecutors and I responded in a general way to many of the matters that were brought up in the Ghiz report and I answered questions at that time. Since that time, there has been an ongoing series of meetings which have had some concrete results. In fact, there were six primary matters that were brought up by Mr. Herschorn, Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Fiske and meetings that go back over the last few months plus several others, and of that six, at least four matters if not five matters, are well on their way to being addressed. These are the primary ones.



There are others that have been dealt with as well, but just to show, it is not all negative because a couple of Crown Attorneys - we are sorry to see them go, but this is a free country - and if they want to make career choices, I think they should be free to do that. In our system of government and in our province that is the way it works, but there has been real progress and we will continue to make progress and we will deal with this as we go along and as promptly as we can.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, obviously in the black and white world of the Liberal Party during an election campaign, they can make promises and commitments that they have absolutely no intention to keep because they said the problems would be addressed within a year. Yet we find out over two years later, all we are having now are some discussions. Victims of . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Now, please, don't get into a second assertive sentence. Come to the question.



MR. HOLM: . . . there is an interrogative at the beginning of my next phrase. It will be a long, run on sentence. That is, if victims of a crime deserve to know that those who have the responsibility of bringing those who are the perpetrators of that crime to justice, have the resources necessary. Will the Minister of Justice guarantee that nobody will walk because the prosecution services do not have the necessary resources to do their job properly?



MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we will make every effort to see that the case on behalf of the people of the province is presented by the prosecution service. I know, like all of us, we are stretched with less resources but I know on balance, most of those prosecutors (Interruption) are doing their job.



There are a couple of things to keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, that within two months or two and one-half months, there will no longer be an Acting Director of Public Prosecution, we will have someone there with full clout to look at their priorities, deal with the various matters that should be dealt with, give direction to the service, and that, I think, will certainly help the morale and help the service in general. But we should also keep in mind that at a time when the Justice Department is being cut back over four years 12.5 per cent and most departments are, with the exception of Community Services, the Crown Attorneys, the DPP Services are up, not down 12.5 per cent and the member should realize that. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



NAT. RES.: FORESTRY AGREEMENT (CAN.-N.S.) - STATUS



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. On May 5th during consideration of the Estimates of the Minister of Natural Resources, that minister was unequivocal in stating that the Premier had met at the national level with the Prime Minister to urge renewal of a cooperation agreement on forestry development. Particularly considering that the current agreement expired on the 31st of March, 1995, my question to the Premier is this. Has the Premier, in fact, met with the Prime Minister and specifically discussed the need for a new Federal-Provincial Forestry Agreement between Canada and Nova Scotia?



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, this was an issue that I discussed with the Prime Minister in February of this year.



MR. LEEFE: I thank the Premier for his answer and my first supplementary is, in his discussions with the Prime Minister, understanding that there undoubtedly would be many things discussed, between these two First Ministers, what priority does the Premier place on funding a new forestry agreement?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have continually stressed the importance of the forestry industry. The companies that are good citizens, the many people who are stakeholders in the various small operations around this province and that agreement and the importance of that industry is to us very significant.



MR. LEEFE: Remembering that the current agreement did expire on March 31st and understanding the importance of a new cooperation agreement of forestry development and that we now have, properly so, confirmed by the Premier, that a new agreement is a high priority of his government, can the Premier advise the House what target date this government has set with respect to finalizing discussions with the Government of Canada respecting reaching a new agreement?



THE PREMIER: I gave my response in terms of the first question which was a question with the prime minister, the second one was a question in terms of the importance. On the issue of whether or not there is an agreement and whether or not there is signing, that is obviously a departmental issue and therefore it is one that is better answered by the minister. Obviously, too, I guess I should allow the minister to answer rather than answer both.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: There are discussions going on with the federal government in terms of the renegotiation of federal-provincial agreements as they regard aquaculture, natural resources and agriculture. Those agreements are being discussed now and negotiations are underway. In budget estimates we have talked about the need to stress and provide incentives for value added activities in those sectors. We continue to meet with the federal government to discuss those things and I don't have a time line per se other than to say that those discussions are ongoing.



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



NAT. RES.: FORESTRY AGREEMENT (PAN-ATLANTIC) - PROPOSAL



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: My question is for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources. The New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy, in concert with the Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners agreed to a five year proposal respecting a forestry plan for that province. They have submitted the plan to the federal Minister of Natural Resources, Honourable Anne McLellan and pending her approval the Public Works Minister, David Dingwall has stated that he is prepared to enter into what is being called a Pan-Atlantic Forestry Agreement but one of the stipulations and one of the requirements is that all four atlantic provinces present their plan to the minister, the federal Minister of Natural Resources. I wonder if the Minister of Natural Resources will indicate if he has submitted a proposal on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: As the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency pointed out, we have been working together in developing strategies throughout all the resource-based industries in our negotiations with ACOA. I am very much aware of the activities in New Brunswick, although New Brunswick's circumstances are altogether different than that of Nova Scotia in regard to the amount of Crown versus Crown here and large landowners and holders. They have sent me a copy of the proposal that they brought forward and it is a transitional program, at best, as I see it, and we are also working with our industry as they have worked with theirs and it is really a coalition developing the strategy in regard to how the dollars can be best spent in regard to treating all people fairly. We are negotiating with the federal government as the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency pointed out very clearly on all resource programs throughout Nova Scotia. In regard to the federal minister's response to a Pan-Atlantic approach for a transitional program, I believe I mentioned that to the House many months ago.



MR. TAYLOR: I think it was Nero who played the violin while Rome burned, wasn't it, Mr. Speaker?



MR. SPEAKER: Now, please, we cannot get into Nero. That is too far afield.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by everyone's admission the Pan-Atlantic Forestry Agreement can be put in place very quickly and it is, I believe, a viable and feasible alternative to the more comprehensive umbrella agreement that the federal minister had spoken about some time ago during the budget. I just wonder if the minister does agree that the umbrella agreement, while it is more comprehensive, will be more difficult to approve and effect and Nova Scotia could very well be served by the Pan-Atlantic Forestry Agreement. I would urge the minister to present a proposal to the federal Minister, the Honourable Anne McLellan, relating to the Pan-Atlantic agreement as New Brunswick has?



MR. DOWNE: I would ask the member opposite why he assumes that a Pan-Atlantic program is better than a Nova Scotia-Canada agreement, under what conditions does he determine that, what criteria would you establish for an access to a program in one jurisdiction versus another when you have two totally different approaches to forestry practices or two different needs in regard to requirements of forestry initiatives and programs? The same is true with agriculture, whether you develop the grain industry in Prince Edward Island or vis-a-vis a grain industry in Nova Scotia, with two different types of requirements.



So I don't know if he is referring to a Pan-Atlantic agreement as being a panacea of a subagreement program, I am saying that what we are going to do is we are going to be developing and working together, in concert with the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and other ministers, a program that will be beneficial to the forestry sector of this province in Nova Scotia. We are doing and we have been doing it for the last number of months and we will continue to do and we will have a program available.



I want the member opposite to realize that I have already indicated that we have over $15 million allocated to the forestry sector of Nova Scotia this year, provincially, under the existing program and a provincial funded agreement that we have already in place.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it is kind of a difficult thing to understand how the minister has so much money but yet he has to lay off so many people in the Department of Natural Resources.



I have a letter, just very quickly, Mr. Speaker, which I will table, from the Canadian Federation of Woodlot Owners and it is written by the President, Mr. Peter deMarsh, and it is carbon copied to the Honourable David Dingwall; the Honourable Anne McLellan; the Honourable Alan Graham; the Honourable Rayburn Doucett; Mr. George Rideout, Member of Parliament; Mr. Wayne Easter, Member of Parliament. The New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources and Energy is very committed to a Pan-Atlantic Forestry Agreement; they feel it will address their concerns in the short term. I think we have some very serious concerns here in the Province of Nova Scotia respecting our forestry.



I am just wondering, can the Nova Scotia forest industry expect something by way of an agreement by month's end, Mr. Speaker? As I understand it, the ball is very clearly in the Minister of Natural Resources' court at this stage.



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, do you know the number of people that we have laid off? We have laid off 13 people at the Department of Natural Resources; 13. Out of those 13 people we have laid off, we have found jobs for 6 of them in other departmental activities. That is the kind of treatment that this government has had. The rest of the people have taken early retirement. I want to challenge the member opposite, if they hadn't wasted so much money over the last 15 years, we wouldn't be in this situation that we are presently in in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thirteen people, so bad, so hard off, you know, I mean, wake up to the reality of life and smell some coffee once in a while to realize what is going on.



The member opposite is talking about New Brunswick. Maybe he should move to New Brunswick if he thinks everything is so well in New Brunswick. I would like to compare what is going on in New Brunswick and they have a good minister over there, like they have a good minister right here; a good Liberal Minister who is concerned about the future of the forestry there, like we have right here.



Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should realize - if he can't hear me he should listen - I am working with the industry like the minister has done in New Brunswick. We are going to develop a program that is made in Nova Scotia, not made in New Brunswick, and we are going to work with the federal minister responsible, the Honourable David Dingwall, in conjunction with Nova Scotia's concerns to make sure that whatever program we have, will be a program made in Nova Scotia for Nova Scotia and we will all benefit from that. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MUN. AFFS. - SERVICE EXCHANGE: HIGHWAY CONSULTANTS - FEES



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: I was surprised at the suggestion that this member here move to New Brunswick. It sounded like the folks from Amherst.



Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Your government is now in the process of turning over operation of local roads to municipal units across Nova Scotia, with the exception of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. You are saddling the municipal units also with the social assistance costs. The municipal units are expressing concern, in fact East Hants has indicated they don't even think they can afford to look after their roads.



[1:15 p.m.]



Now we have heard that there is a $20,000 contribution towards the hiring of a consultant to assess the private sector involvement in maintenance of the 140 kilometres of roads throughout Kings County. My question to the minister is - the consultant will be deciding what it will take to maintain standards, maintenance, equipment and so on - will your government share with all municipal units across this province, the cost of consultant reports as they prepare to take over the highways in this province?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, in our department what we do is discuss with the various municipalities concerns that they have on issues that are coming before them. If they have a request for us to assist in some funding of some project, whether it is a study on roads or on computers or on addressing or on assisting with fire vehicles, we take all those things into consideration and deal with them as they are requested of us. We don't deal carte blanche, we deal with each municipality based on the concerns that that municipality has.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I thank the minister. Now I take it the answer to my question is that if a municipal unit requests, your department will look at it and perhaps will grant it.



When you get into a situation like the Municipality of East Hants where they are indicating that they do not feel they will be able to afford it, could you tell me what you, as Minister of Municipal Affairs, will be doing with the Municipality of East Hants when they come to your office and tell you they do not feel they can afford to take over the roads that are going to become their responsibility?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I think I answered that in the response to the first question. We, in Municipal Affairs, are more than pleased to deal with each and every municipality on the issues and the concerns that we have and we are more than happy to meet with them. If there is some way we can address or solve a problem for them, we are more than happy to do that.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Again, to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The Department of Transportation has made an offer to Kings County and other counties throughout the province, at a fixed rate, to maintain and look after the roads up to the standard that they are being maintained at the present time. I am wondering, from the minister, is this a fixed price for two years or five years or is this for one year and after that the price can escalate to any level? So, my question really is, how long a term is there on this offer from the Department of Transportation to the municipal units to maintain the highways?



MS. JOLLY: If the honourable member had read the literature that we put out some number of months ago, he would know that within the service exchange we had put out the cost of roads at $3,500 per kilometre and we noted that it would be adjusted by inflationary, and inflation figures, by whatever inflation was at the beginning of April 1, 1996. So those are the only two considerations that we put forward at this particular point in time.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



NSP - COAL (DEVCO): PURCHASES - LEGISLATION



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Yesterday the federal minister responsible for Devco was in Sydney, ostensibly to meet with Devco officials and the unions representing coal miners and others employed by Devco. The meetings with the unions were, I understand, extremely brief, but they got a clear message nonetheless that the minister was inclined to consider the option of privatization as a future for Devco.



I would like to ask the Premier if, in light of the obvious lack of commitment of the federal government, will he now move on the commitments that his Party made during the privatization debate, during the election campaign back in the spring of 1993, and during the Throne Speech in the spring of 1994, to bring forward legislation to ensure that Nova Scotia Power buys coal from Devco?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a much more complex question than the speaker would have you believe. What we believe and what is very important, is that this issue is one at the moment of disagreement between two major companies, one of them a federal Crown Corporation, the other a private company. We are concerned and I have expressed today in no uncertain way, my increasing frustration with the lack of progress that two major companies, one a federal and one a private sector company, are making in their efforts to settle what is a major issue for this province. It is a major issue for this province, because it is having its impact already in Cape Breton. I met at the weekend with many people who expressed this concern to me when I was up there. The issue is a lot more complex than bringing in legislation. One simple issue remains and that is, that this government is frustrated at the lack of progress that they are making and we are urging the two parties to get together and to settle this in a sensible and progressive way.



MR. CHISHOLM: I am not suggesting and never have suggested that it is something other than a complex issue, but it is clear what can be done by this province. It was clear when they were in Opposition, it was clear when they were running for election and it has been clear since. It is a question of bringing in regulatory controls over Nova Scotia Power, a utility corporation in this province that needs to be regulated and that this province is able to regulate. I want to ask the Premier again, in light of the considerable consternation, anxiety and concern in Cape Breton and the rest of Nova Scotia, with what is happening in the negotiations between Nova Scotia Power and Devco, will he and his government step forward with legislation to ensure that regulations are applied on Nova Scotia Power, in order to ensure the viability of the coal mining industry in this province?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is always some philosophical variation, particularly, I suspect, between us, on the issue of regulatory control. Suffice it to say, that this government will work with both Devco and with Nova Scotia Power and will continue to underline the need for sensible cooperation between two of the biggest companies in this province.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, surely, in light of the thousands of jobs that are in jeopardy, a policy of do nothing is absolutely inappropriate at this particular time. I would ask the Premier if he would, at the very minimum, agree to intervene given the priority of the matter and involve himself in this question of the negotiations between Nova Scotia Power and Devco, as he did back in the summer of 1993 when Nova Scotia Power was then considering purchasing offshore coal? Will he involve himself in this matter, to make sure that the message is clear, that this government wants Nova Scotia Power to buy their coal at a reasonable price from Devco?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to work very hard in the sense that we will create the conditions for these two companies to get together. I am pretty sure, if I had to make a bet, that Nova Scotia Power will buy Nova Scotia coal. The goal of this government is to ensure that Nova Scotia coal is used by Nova Scotia Power.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. I had opportunity during the Oral Question Period to intervene with reference to a document that was tabled, although it was not actually laid on the Table. The Clerks have no record of it. Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules & Forms, Rules of Debate, Paragraph 498(1), states as follows, "An unsigned letter should not be read in the House.". Further, Paragraph 498(3), "When quoting a letter in the House, a Member must be willing either to give the name of the author or to take full responsibility for the contents.". I simply counsel the House to please heed those guidelines.



GOVERNMENT BUSINESS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: 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. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 19.



Bill No. 19 - Queens Regional Municipality Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to bring Bill No. 19 forward for second reading today. For many years the Municipality of the County of Queens Council and the Liverpool Town Council have been working to cooperate with each other to the benefit of their respective ratepayers. Over the past number of years there have been, off and on, discussions between the two municipal units with respect to forming a single municipal government for Queens. These discussions heated up last fall, consequent to a meeting which I was asked to attend and invited to participate in between representatives from both councils. At that time I recommended to the two councils that rather than they themselves taking on the responsibility for directly seeking advice from the community that they might well better position themselves and the issue if they were prepared to appoint two commissioners who could undertake independent public hearings, with respect to the question of the future of municipal government in Queens.



Consequently, the two councils did establish terms of reference and asked Mr. Harold Dobson, the former president and general manager of Bowater Mersey paper company limited and former councillor of the Town of Liverpool and Mr. James Sapp, a highly regarded local businessman and also former town councillor to undertake this duty. Through the fall and early winter, Mr. Dobson and Mr. Sapp conducted public hearings throughout the community and consequently rendered a report to the two councils recommending to them not only that there be a single form of government to provide municipal government in Queens County but additionally laying out how that government should be organized.



It was very clear in the minds of these two gentleman, having heard recommendations from the people in the constituency, that a single government was desired, that through the provision of a single municipal government, substantial cost-savings could be realized by the ratepayers through a single municipal unit. In fact, the figure of $1,500 a day was used as a kind of a base, with the possibility, if indeed not the probability being that it could be a saving even considerably greater than $1,500 a day and in a relatively small community such as ours, that it is not at all to be sneezed at.



Additionally, it was determined that we should in Queens have a municipal government which in essence reflected the concept of town manager or city manager government whereby the new council would establish policy, would overview the delivery of municipal government in Queens, but the day-to-day operations would be under the suzerainty of the manager of the municipal unit and would not be the kind of hands-on relationship that sometimes traditionally prevailed with respect to more rural municipal governments in the past. Again, this is something that was recommended in the report and is looked forward to by the people in the community and is reflected in the legislation.



[1:30 p.m.]



I won't go on at length, except to say that this is a bill which is brought forward by me, at the request of the Municipality of the County of Queens and the Town of Liverpool, as a result of resolutions by each of their councils. It is a bill in which the minister and I have cooperated extensively, and I want to thank her for her cooperation in moving this bill forward. I also want, through her, to thank her staff for their assistance. It is a bill which very much focuses on a made-in-Queens-County solution with respect to how we believe amalgamation should best suit us and it is one that I hope other municipalities will look to as a model for them as they seek to review whether or not they should adjust their municipal boundaries.



The bill, for the most part, in its generalities, reflects the sum and substance of the Halifax bill. We have already made some minor adjustments to the Queens County bill, so that it reflects adjustments made in the Halifax bill and I commend the bill to all members of the House, on behalf of my two municipal units, and I would ask all members to support it.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



MR. JOHN HOLM: I rise to speak briefly on this bill and to indicate that our caucus certainly will be supporting this bill to go ahead. Mr. Speaker, I can't help but just make a very brief comparison. Here we have a piece of legislation that was introduced by a private member, as a Private Member's Bill, to bring together the Municipality of the County of Queens and the Town of Liverpool. It comes about as a result of a democratic process within those municipal units, where the municipal councils themselves selected the coordinators, developed the terms of reference for the coordinators, held public meetings - and I am not sure how many public meetings they held, but they held public meetings - within the community to seek the residents' input about what the people who lived in those two municipalities wanted and then they, and I am sure in consultation with the legal people within the Department of Municipal Affairs and the Legislative Counsel, had the legislation drafted.



But you know, Mr. Speaker, that is a process that people in metro have also been asking for. That is the kind of process that . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Now this bill strictly relates to the Municipality of Queens.



MR. HOLM: Yes, it does, Mr. Speaker, and I am just pointing out what an excellent example they are setting, what an excellent example the Municipality of Queens are showing towards democracy and that they have been able to be respectful to the citizens in the area.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: It's their MLA . . .



MR. HOLM: Yes, in fact my good friend, the Socialist from the Valley, the member for Kings North, is saying that is because of the excellent MLA from Queens. Well, I am not going to dispute that at all, Mr. Speaker, and the member for Queens, I understand, was involved in meeting with those councils and also providing them with some advice in bringing the bill to the floor.



Mr. Speaker, this is also going to be important because you know even this piece of legislation, I am sure, will have to, over a period of time, have some fine-tuning and some amendments made to it. But they will be able to do that through a Private Member's Bill, through the Private and Local Bills Committee and they won't have to go through the Cabinet to get the Cabinet's endorsement and support and caucusing with the government of the day, to make amendments to their own rules, to their own charters, that affect very minor matters and that have no consequence to areas outside of their own jurisdiction.



So, Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that I tip my hat to those municipalities for the process that they have followed. I can only hope that even a little bit of the kind of example that they have shown, the good practice, the democracy, the respect that they are showing to the citizens, will rub off on this government. Maybe this government will learn a little bit from that process and will be prepared to provide residents in other areas of the province, an opportunity to have control over their own destiny instead of having the decision decided on high by the Liberal caucus. So, I want to indicate that we certainly will be supporting this bill and very much the democratic process that was followed to go on to the Private and Local Bills Committee for consideration. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't intended to speak on this bill but the honourable member who has just spoken, has caused me to rise to my feet just to point out a few points in clarification. Both the honourable MLA for the area, myself and my department, have worked very closely with the Municipality of Queens and the Town of Liverpool on this. The Leader of the New Democratic Party would suggest that we have not been involved, we have had nothing to do with it, that we are not following a process. As a matter of fact, we have been involved from the very beginning in the Department of Municipal Affairs with the MLA for the area.



Mr. Speaker, the two individuals who were appointed were not coordinators. The coordinator is yet to be appointed in consultation with the two municipalities. They were not coordinators as the Leader of the New Democratic Party would suggest. In actual fact, they were two very fine citizens who came forward, volunteered their services and did an excellent job in consulting with the public. Those two individuals, I think, deserve a large part of the credit as well because they were able to bring forward the public opinion and public comfort. They did it at the direction of the two municipalities.



I could only wish that we in the rest of the province, would have the opportunity for municipalities to request that kind of participation by their citizens in order to allow that type of coordination, cooperation and information flow to be completed prior to amalgamations occurring. So, I just wanted to clarify a few of those points, Mr. Speaker. The department has assisted from the beginning. It has offered as much assistance as we can. As we have said previously, any of the municipalities that want to come forward, we are more than happy to help out. I do give congratulations to the two municipalities because it is those two municipalities and their councils that have made this decision and they have definitely made the right decision for their citizens and they have made the right decision for the children of the future in that area. So, I congratulate them and I certainly support this bill.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens, to conclude.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, again I want to thank the minister for her assistance in bringing this bill to the House because she played an important role with respect to that.



We have had a very collegial relationship with respect to this bill, as indeed we do in most matters. She and her staff, as I have said in my opening remarks, have been entirely helpful and I should say entirely understanding as well with respect to the goals that our two municipal units have laid out for themselves and for their respective citizens. I again want to commend Mr. Sapp and Mr. Dobson, for their tireless efforts with respect to holding public meetings and making their report to the two councils. As, is the case with the minister, I think we should all commend these two councils for taking what certainly is an absolutely significant step forward with respect to the delivery of municipal government in Queens, certainly the most important step that has been taken since the creation of those two municipal units 100 years and more ago. It is not an easy thing for any council to vote itself out of existence, for councillors to set aside their own personal interests in that very narrow respect, in order to ensure that the public good is met. I think it behooves us, as men and women who would understand full well the importance of setting aside personal considerations in favour of public considerations, to say that we commend the men and the women on the Councils of the Municipality of the County of Queens and the Town of Liverpool, for really the courageous and far-reaching decision that they have taken with respect to this public policy issue in Queens County.



Mr. Speaker, with those words - and again thanking the minister and her staff - I move second reading of Bill No. 19.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the House ready for the question? The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 19. 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. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



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



The motion is carried.



[1:42 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]



[6:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The winner of the draw this afternoon was the honourable Leader of the Opposition, who wished to address the House on the topic of mental health. Is there a substitute for him? He submitted a resolution for debate, reading as follows:



Therefore be it resolved that this government's approach to mental health reform is a disgrace and destined for disaster.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



HEALTH - MENTAL: REFORM - DISASTROUS



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the NDP Leader, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, had already indicated to the Deputy Speaker that he is otherwise occupied in the Supply and Services estimates debate. I am very pleased to have the opportunity, in the few moments that are available to us in late debate, to address this very important topic of mental health reform in the province.



Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I recognize the wording of my resolution in introducing this topic for reform this evening was very strong, and perhaps from the Minister of Health's point of view, somewhat startling. I am sure the Minister of Health will have his opportunity to comment on that.



Let me say clearly, Mr. Speaker, that I think there are very serious concerns about where we are headed with respect to mental health reform or, perhaps more importantly, where we are not headed with respect to mental health reform at this point in time, unless the Minister of Health is able this evening to provide some information that has previously been absolutely unavailable and not forthcoming to the many different partners in the mental health services system in this province who are extremely concerned about what is happening with respect to mental health reform.



You know, in a sense it is as if the blueprint document has kind of become the reference document for reform measures of every kind. It is a bit like saying that all roads lead to Rome. But I think it is fair to say that the three or four pages in the blueprint document concerned with mental health reform were met with extremely enthusiastic response by people right across this province in the health field, in the community services field, in the educational field, in housing, income support - the whole range of human services - because it captured absolutely the fundamentals that were required in a reformed mental health system and outlined, I think, in a very succinct way what the essential elements would be in a new policy framework that is very much needed, on which to base the further evolution of our mental health system.



Mr. Speaker, I don't have time to go through that whole proposal but I commend it to anyone who is interested, and I hope that includes all members of this House, in the issue of mental health reform. But let me say that given the high degree of consensus, that that was the way to go, given the repeated assurances by the Minister of Health that the blueprint document and its recommendations are, indeed, the foundation on which health reform in general is taking place and, in particular, mental health reform, it came as a shock, and I don't mind saying I was genuinely aghast when I obtained access to the so-called mental health core services proposal that is now in the process of being developed by the Department of Health.



Nowhere in that entire draft document is there any recognition whatsoever of the important principles set out in the blueprint for mental health reform. It is as if the blueprint doesn't exist, it is as if there is no official policy by this government to stress a fundamental reorientation, of our health care system in general and our mental health reforms in particular, towards a community-based model, towards a much higher priority to prevention and to recognition that the very concept of mental health necessarily encompasses the whole range of physical, mental and social health, that one has to recognize that any definition of primary health care must embrace the broadest possible appreciation and understanding of the factors in the environment that impinge on one's life and significantly affects one's mental health.



That is why it is extremely disappointing when one sees the definition of mental health in that Mental Health Core Services document which reads as follows, "Mental health is only one part of the health spectrum, of course, which also encompasses physical health, mental health, social health and spiritual health. Although factors from those other health areas - social factors, for example, such as poverty, sexual abuse and family violence - obviously affect a person's mental health, we do not include them in our definition of mental health.". I am not surprised, therefore that those involved in the broad mental health field are very disappointed and, I think it is not an exaggeration to say, alarmed with the narrow focus of what is supposed to be a core document as we proceed with mental health reform in this province.



Let me read, Mr. Speaker, into the record briefly what the Canadian Mental Health Association has said about this. They have been very concerned, and I want to quote directly so I do justice to it, that the development of core mental health services, ". . . cannot be solely defined by a traditional, clinical perspective if true reform is to be achieved by the service system. Unfortunately, at present government is proceeding with a `business as usual' approach without recognizing the importance of consumer-community involvement in the process of defining/designing Core Services. The primary danger of an ill-defined set of core services is that initiatives which fall outside of this envelope will remain narrowly defined, unrecognized, or even de-insured.".



That is a concern and has been a concern all along. That becomes an even greater concern with the threat of the massive cut in federal transfer dollars that is about to hit our broad human services network, Health, Community Services and Education. It becomes an even more serious concern when one reads that core services document to discover that there is virtually no recognition of the absolute importance of an integrated approach that will encompass health and community services and housing and education to our mental health reform initiatives. Also, it is alarming in the extreme that there is no indication that this mental health reform process is going to begin with what was recommended and that is a clear indication that the determinants of sound mental health and healthy outcomes from our mental health services will be the focus of mental health reform.



If one reads that core services document, it is very clear that it really amounts to simply a restructuring or a redefining of existing health services and that is not going to do it for us. It is clear that we are not getting healthy outcomes from our existing mental health services. It is clear that there needs to be a broadening of our whole definition of mental health and a wider encompassing of the various determinants that impinge on people's lives and on their mental health condition.



It came as a surprise, I think it is fair to say a shock, that this core services document is utterly disconnected from the health reform process if, in fact, that is what the blueprint document is. The very careful setting out of the principles in that blueprint document for mental health reform are totally ignored and, in several important respects, in fact, out and out violated by the narrowness, by the almost exclusive clinical focus of this core services document, and the obvious indication that there is no real coming together, no real marriage, no real integration of even health and community services, let alone recognizing the impact that other environmental factors have.



So, Mr. Speaker, I know my time has expired, but I have to say that I am looking forward, as are others, to some real clarification from the Minister of Health on, what in the name of Heaven, the status of this document is and how, in the name of Heaven, it relates to the Blueprint Committee, which he says is government policy.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity, with this intemperately worded resolution; and I usually welcome the exchange with the honourable member for Halifax Fairview - to whom I attribute the wording of this resolution which, to me, is inflammatory and irresponsible and rather sad because it does not add at all to the seriousness of the issue here with us today, and that is the health care changes in terms of mental health care changes that we are seeing in the province and the attention that must be drawn to those. One can draw attention to these issues without the hyperbole which really diminishes the notice that one would take of them, because one has a propensity in some quarters, at least, to dismiss these important issues in view of the intemperate nature of the wording of the resolution.



That having been said, much of what the honourable member opposite says has some basis, in fact, in terms of her concern as regards the direction in which we are going in mental health reform and renewal, but she is working from a document that is not government policy in terms of where we are going. The Blueprint Report is the document that we are following and that has recommended the direction in which we are going to go and the direction in which we are going.



I can cite a long litany of changes that have occurred, that are occurring as we go along. But the changes that she refers to and, indeed, the renewal that we are undergoing at the moment have, at their core, the change in the very structure of the way services are delivered. If one has asked, in fact, what is the main determinate of health in general, in the broadest sense that we have discussed here in this place frequently in the past, one will not cite the usual definitions and the usual components of the health care system, doctors, hospitals, nurses and so on.



They have a part to play, but it is those other elements of living, be it employment, be it social status, be it education, those are the issues that bear very heavily not only on mental health and emotional well-being, but also on health in general, physical health, social health and so on. That must be recognized. It has been recognized in what the honourable member opposite has said. It certainly has been recognized by myself and, indeed, by the documents that have guided this government to date. If there is any discrepancy in what she reads in draft documents or advice to the minister, we will come back and talk about where the direction in which we really are going, which, indeed, shows that we are committed to the establishment of a different structure, structures which are built around communities and those communities having the decision-making ability that has never been possible in communities before, that we will have resources that are flowing to the communities through regions as we have defined them.



We see already the changes that are taking place. In the 1960's the deinstitutionalization, if you would, from hospitals are well-known, due mainly to the development of technology and to drugs. Today, we are looking at community services in terms of our ability to reach out and care for people who might need helping hands in their communities.



So the structure will change. We are pledged to that. We are carrying out that structural change. The role of this department is to guide that change to make sure it happens and to pledge ourselves to an inherently different structure that will allow communities including those communities that come together with specific interests such as, for example, the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Mental Health Association in its chapter here in the province to bring to bear their experience and their interest in respect to the renewal of the system.



[6:15 p.m.]



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Just a brief question. In view of the minister's obvious admiration for the Canadian Mental Health Association, in view of the fact that the Blueprint proposes that mental health services should be transferred to the regional health boards by September, I wonder if the minister could indicate when there will be consultation with Community Mental Health Association and others around the Mental Health Core Services document that is the apparent thrust of this government's thinking about mental health reform?



DR. STEWART: Consultation is a process that will take some time in terms of the structure that we have already put in place. We have undergone major restructuring within our department. It has just occurred and it has just completed in terms of filling positions. We have had a complete, if I could use the term, revolution in terms of the structure within our own department. The consultation in terms of where we arrive and when we arrive at the transfer to community health boards will occur over the next months, in the summer and fall months, in order to put in place the structure to which the honourable member responds and questions and that is the direction in which we are going. I have said that frequently here. The important point is that we are pledged to the changes that she herself, the honourable member, has espoused and in fact, has drawn to our attention.



I can go through the changes that occur at the community health level. The honourable member opposite and the honourable member in the Official Opposition are already aware of those. The community-based mental health projects throughout the regions, in northern, western, eastern and central regions; the tri-facilities project which is now complete and beginning to, I believe, improve the resources and improve the services here in the central region; the attention to youth and youth services; the projects in Yarmouth.



The major change that we must have however, in the provision of youth services is the breaking down of interdepartmental barriers and that is a major challenge to us. We have, in terms of youths and adolescent health services and youth in crisis, at least four different departments which are involved in the provision of service: Justice, Education, Community Services and Health. These four departments have yet to come together into a cohesive group to bring together those services that need to be offered and they must do that.



So, we are looking very much and very closely at projects which do exactly that. I thought it was easier than it has been to break down those inter-departmental barriers. It has been very difficult to do that but we are going to do it, we have to do it because we have major problems in terms of duplication, in terms of administrative problems that, in fact, eat up precious resources that could be going to the provision of services. The honourable member opposite who has introduced this resolution knows full well and has spoken at length on this issue in terms of whether or not resources are available, in this case in the eastern region, in Cape Breton particularly, for in-patient treatment and they are not available; there is not a designated unit. We have to ask why and how we can provide that. One of the ways is to break down those inter-departmental barriers that can add to our ability to serve the youth of that region and indeed around the province and the other regions.



We have pledged to do this and we will do this but we have to carry out a structure and build a structure that will maintain itself and that will provide those changes to which the honourable appears to be pledged and I will again wish that she had pledged it in a way with less offensive reference to disasters and so on. The changes that she sees and the changes that we will bring about will provide services, particularly mental health services, in our health system in a way that is community-based, in a way that is focused on the client, on the person, with a holistic approach and we are pledged to do that, Mr. Speaker. Thank you very much.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, the topic that was introduced tonight, even though the minister took some offence to the way that it was written, is a very important topic.



I am a little concerned that the minister's approach to every topic is the same; that is, Mr. Speaker, that in time we have a plan and that all the players are involved. The problem that I am having in meeting all the players that are involved in health reform, they are not as familiar with the minister's plan as obviously the minister is and the communication lines are not there that should be there so that all the players that are involved in health reform fully understand where the minister is and where his department is going.



The minister takes great offence when anyone says there might be some sort of a disaster. Well, I would hope that maybe that will get the minister's attention and I am sure the member for Halifax Fairview does not want to create undue fear out there, but the member for Halifax Fairview wants the minister's attention that there are some difficulties. Obviously, here is an area where the minister has great plans, but yet I am not convinced that the Canadian Mental Health Association and others are fully versed on just exactly what kind of core program will be in place, just exactly where the department is going and who will be involved.



The minister has indicated that the regional health boards will be up and running in September. Well, it is not very clear in the community where I live what is happening with the regional health boards. I am sure that many of the groups, including the Canadian Mental Health Association are fully aware of what is being done in the regional health boards. Will there be a core program that they will be involved in? The minister says, yes. If the minister says, yes, when will that process start? Will it start in September? Will it start immediately? How will that work?



Each time the minister stands in this House and he says, look the blueprint is what we are working from. Mr. Speaker, I met with some people today that were actually on that Blueprint Committee who say, no I want to distance myself, not from the Blueprint Report, but the minister is not following the Blueprint Committee in whole. In other words, he is cherry-picking from the report.



We also know that he did not follow some very basic principles of the Blueprint Committee. It is not clear on mental health services, it is not clear on labour adjustment and I can go on and on about areas where it is not clear. Let's consider what the blueprint said, with respect to the mental health services, and let's look at what is happening.



The foundation for health reform was supposed to be consumer and community involvement. The minister reconfirmed that tonight. He says, that is a very basic principle that should happen. If you ask the communities and you ask the consumers, if that is the case, and I am sure what I am hearing, they will tell you it is business as usual; that they are not part of that process that the minister says is so important.



The Canadian Mental Health Association will tell you that the consumer groups and the communities have been excluded from the reform process, not part of it. Yet, the minister will lead us to believe in this Legislature that they are very much part of it, that there is no way that the Department of Health would push on without public consultation. Well, if he is going to have that kind of public consultation and have the consumer groups and the community involved in this process then it has to start. It has to start very soon. We are not even sure just how the regional health boards, as he indicated, will respond. Are they to implement this core program in mental health services in September or will it be next January? When will it be implemented and who will develop it? I am sure and the minister acknowledged tonight that yes, there may be a draft document, but that draft document will not go anywhere unless all of those groups are involved. Wouldn't it make more sense, Mr. Speaker, if those groups were involved in producing that document on core mental health services, not consult with them after the fact, but consult with them as that is being put together?



I understand that this document takes a narrow, clinical approach to mental health, not the approach recommended by the Blueprint Committee. So, I am hoping that the minister would not even start at that point, but yet would take a different approach. The bottom line is lack of policy preparation, both on the government and the regional health board levels. If that doesn't soon happen, there are going to be added problems, not only in mental health, but in other areas as well.



The minister says, well, don't cause any confusion. Well, I am not causing any confusion, but I am listening and I think that is more than the minister is doing of late because I cannot find where groups are able to get the minister to listen to what is being said. I am sure all of these community-based groups and all of these people that meet with me week after week and tell me what is not happening that the minister says is happening, that they know what is going on because they are part of the system.



I believed for awhile, that maybe what the minister was telling us was true. But when I hear from all these groups, I find out it is not. So, if he thinks this is happening, it's not happening. If he wants to correct it like he says he wants to correct it, then get on with involving these groups and meeting with these groups and allow these people some time. They, along with you and your department, will, I know, make the kind of changes that will be a benefit to all Nova Scotians, from one end of the province to the other, and we will have the kind of health reform that the minister is talking about.



There is not anyone that argues about the kind of health reform that the minister talks about. But we do have a lot of argument about how we are getting there and how the minister is not involving many of the consumer groups, many of the professionals and others that have to be involved as the process evolves. They are shut out. Now the minister may have the greatest plan in the world, but if he does not share it and allow these groups to become fully involved in the process, then I think his whole plan will fail and it will fail for the wrong reason, not because the idea of health reform was not good, it will fail because of his approach of shutting the door on all of these groups and not allowing them to be part of the process for reform. I talked to people who said, I was all for reform, but I am not going to promote it any more when we are being shut out as part of the process goes along.



So we have, I hope, a commitment by the minister tonight - because the honourable member for Halifax Fairview brought the issue forward - that the Canadian Mental Health Association and community groups will be involved in any document and will be looking at a core mental health services program for the province. The minister gave that commitment tonight that all of those groups will be involved in putting together such a core mental health services program and that that will happen, not from the top down, but all of those groups will be involved in getting it going and putting together the core program from the bottom up. That has to happen, Mr. Speaker, or I am convinced that it just will not work as part of this whole new system that is being created in September and there are so many issues, labour issues, labour adjustments, out there that have to be resolved.



Here is one where the minister could get some help from the Canadian Mental Health Association and we in this province, not only the minister, but all of the people in this province would benefit from their input and from that kind of program.



MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired. The House will now revert into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



[6:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy

Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]



[6:33 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



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



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



Bill No. 2 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited Act.



Bill No. 6 - Centre Falmouth Cemetery Company Act.



Bill No. 8 - Bridgewater Museum Commission Act.



Bill No. 9 - Train Station Inn Cabooses Act.



Bill No. 11 - Halifax County Charter.



Bill No. 12 - Hopewell Cemetery Act.



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



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



The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



[PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING]



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Perhaps we can ask to have Bills No. 2, No. 6, No. 8, No. 9, No. 11 and No. 12 read at this time for third reading.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House that these bills be now read for a third time en bloc? That is the motion.



It is agreed.



Bill No. 2 - Maritime Telegraph and Telephone Company, Limited Act.



Bill No. 6 - Centre Falmouth Cemetery Company Act.



Bill No. 8 - Bridgewater Museum Commission Act.



Bill No. 9 - Train Station Inn Cabooses Act.



Bill No. 11 - Halifax County Charter.



Bill No. 12 - Hopewell Cemetery Act.



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



The motions are carried.



Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bills be engrossed.



The honourable Government House Leader.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



[6:34 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]



[6:35 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



MR. SPEAKER: The Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty reports:



THE CLERK: That the committee has met and received the report of the subcommittee. The committee has been advised that the subcommittee has met for the 40 hours as set out under the rules. All resolutions have been carried in the committee pursuant to the rules, being 71 resolutions in number, including votes on capital. The chairman has been instructed to recommend these to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.



MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, the provisions of our rules governing the consideration of estimates having been complied with, the motion now before the House is, that the House concurs with the Report of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Introduction of Bills.



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 21 - Entitled an Act to Provide for Defraying Certain Charges and Expenses of the Public Service of the Province. (Hon. Bernard Boudreau)



PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 21, the Appropriations Act, 1995.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance moves second reading of Bill No. 21, the Appropriations Act, 1995. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.



HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 21, the Appropriations Act, 1995.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion having been duly made by the honourable Minister of Finance, would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



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



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.



[6:37 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]



[7:52 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]



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



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



Bill No. 3 - Halifax Regional Municipality Act.



and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.



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



The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:



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



Bill No. 14 - Provincial Dog Act.



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



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



The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:



THE CLERK: That the committee has met and asks leave to sit again.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.



PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 4.



Bill No. 4 - Utility and Review Board Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I move that Bill No. 4 be now read for a third time.



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



The motion is carried.



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



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7 and in the absence of the Minister of Finance, I move that it be now read for a third time.



Bill No. 7 - Financial Measures (1995) Act.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Just very briefly, Mr. Speaker, and I think for the record on behalf of my caucus. We have made our opposition to a number of measures in this bill well-known. I think it is a fair test of any piece of legislation that implements budget measures to ask who is adversely impacted and who benefits from this particular bill. I think it is quite clear that a particular group of Nova Scotians have been singled out, are targeted in the measures contained within this bill for adverse treatment, and that is the senior citizens in this province.



We have a bill here that unbelievably has taken the view, I guess for political advantage, although even that seems rather misguided and short-sighted, that has said, well, we won't take on all of the seniors by removing the benefits that now exist for those seniors who will have been receiving benefits under the rental subsidy provisions and the tax rebate provisions, but from this day forward, I guess, not as of today but from the date of Royal Assent of this bill, that all seniors reaching the age of 65 will be singled out and categorized and treated differently.



Those seniors will, I guess, be aware that they are post-Liberal seniors. If one happened to have become eligible for these provisions, and they are small, very small subsidies that are available to seniors of limited income circumstances, and those who will have been eligible for these benefits prior to this government taking office, in fact, within the first two years of this government being in office, will continue to receive those benefits.



Those who have the misfortune, probably a good many of them having voted Liberal, actually, to have reached the age of 65, that is the only attribute that distinguishes them from those receiving the benefits now, they will have had the misfortune of turning 65 after this bill has been brought into effect.



So, in that sense I think you would have to say that it is discrimination based on age. We have a Human Rights Act that says one ought not to discriminate on the basis of age, whether one thinks of it in terms of discrimination that relates to one's actual birth date, or whether it is discrimination that is related to a category of persons within a particular age group.



Either way, it seems to me that it is highly questionable whether this legislation would withstand a challenge under our Human Rights Act. Even in the technical sense, Mr. Speaker, if there is some way in which this legislation could withstand a challenge under the Human Rights Act, it is very difficult to persuade members of my caucus that it is fair. Perhaps there is sometimes a distinction between whether something is so unfair and so flagrantly in violation of the clearly specified grounds under which discrimination is prohibited and whether it is simply a matter of it being a very unjust measure, it seems to me that it is a distinction without a difference.



The seniors of this province who have already reached the age of 65 and who will go on receiving those benefits are not of a mind that I think this government expected they would be, and that is to say, well, I'm okay Jack, I'm okay Jill, so it is just too bad for those folks who turn 65 behind me. I think there is more sense of fairness among seniors, there is a genuine sense of community among seniors which tells them it is unfair. They don't - as this government apparently does - take the view that because they may individually happen to have been on the other side of the line already receiving the benefit that that is the only thing that matters and that this government will not be penalized or judged harshly by them because they have only discriminated against seniors who have turned 65 following that magic cut-off date.



So I think it is a budgetary measure that was announced in the Budget Address that we now see being implemented in this Financial Measures Act (1995) that is just simply not fair and not supportable. I say that, Mr. Speaker, believing that it is not supportable just in and of itself. When you compare it to the favoured treatment that is contained within this Act, for significant categories of people whose financial need is far less, when you compare it to the fact that . . .



MR. SPEAKER: We have 30 seconds remaining before the time for the House to rise for the day.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think at this point then I will adjourn debate because I think that it is an apt comparison that very much . . .



MR. SPEAKER: There is no time left to move the adjournment if you go another 20 seconds.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, I will adjourn the debate at this point and have an opportunity to wrap up later.



MR. SPEAKER: The debate is adjourned.



The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:



Bill No. 10 - Highway 104 Western Alignment Act.



and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.



Mr. Speaker, before I pass it in, just briefly, as far as I know this is the final bill to be dealt with by the Committee on Law Amendments for the spring session and I want to take the opportunity to thank all of those who have helped the committee, particularly the staff of the Legislative Counsel Office and all the members of the committee for their faithful attendance and their diligence in doing their duties. I want to thank all of those people for their work. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.



The honourable member for Hants West.



MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we will be calling Resolution No. 310, which is a tourism resolution; and Resolution No. 264, which deals with the trucking industry; and in the time remaining, we will be dealing with House Orders.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Tomorrow we will be sitting from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.



MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow afternoon at the hour of 2:00 p.m.



The motion is carried.



[The House rose at 8:01 p.m.]







NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Given on May 15, 1995

(Pursuant to Rule 30)



QUESTION NO. 41



By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)



(1) I want to know, as does Mrs. J. Kaiser of Guysborough County, what other sources of information is the minister providing the seniors of the province besides the 1-800 number? Mrs. Kaiser called in to the number and found that the person serving her was not fully informed as to details of the newly instituted seniors Pharmacare Program, and how this program affects seniors already paying into another medical insurance plan?