The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.















HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 1995



Fifty-sixth General Assembly



Third Session



2:00 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 and commence this afternoon's sitting. Are there introductions of guests?



The honourable member for Shelburne.



MR. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the Legislature, I would like to introduce the Deputy Warden of the Municipality of the District of Barrington, Mrs. Tina Wickens. If the House would give her a welcome, please. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: Now are there further introductions of guests at this time? There may be perhaps some shortly but we will go into the daily routine now, then.



PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS



PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES



TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS



MR. SPEAKER: I have the honour to table a special report to the Legislature from the Office of the Ombudsman relating to a matter involving the Town of Stellarton.



The report is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Fisheries as Acting Minister of the Environment.



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the fiscal year ended December 31, 1994, the Environmental Control Council.



1877

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.



The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.



MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to you and through you to other members of the House, a number of Grade 6 students from Joseph Giles Elementary School who are in the gallery here today. They are accompanied by their teacher, John Dobrowolski, and a parent/helper, Audrey Hill. I would ask them please to rise and to accept the welcome from the House. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure today to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House, two of the Village Commissioners from the Village of Milton. They are Lester McKenna and Larry Truelove. Both of them have served their country well as career officers, Mr. Truelove in the navy and Mr. McKenna in the air force. They now serve our community on the village commission and I am delighted to welcome them to Province House today. I would ask them to stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: We were on Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers. Are there any further reports or regulations to be tabled? If not, we will advance to Statements by Ministers.



STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.



HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform members of the House of Assembly of the results of a review that was conducted into the police investigation and subsequent criminal proceedings in the matter of the death of baby Chayce Craig, a five and one-half week old male child. This death occurred on March 9, 1993. I want to table this report and a copy will be made available to all members of the House.



Mr. Speaker, I might say this is a bit complex and it is going to take me a little time so please bear with me. By way of background, the Bridgewater Police Department, with the assistance of the RCMP, conducted the original investigation into the baby's death. As a result of that investigation, a charge of second degree murder was laid against the baby's mother, Tina Marie Pryde.



Mr. Speaker, this past December my colleague, the Minister of Community Services, tabled the report of an independent review that examined the social work practices of Lunenburg Family and Children's Services. That study was carried out by two experienced social workers, Brian Hillier and Andrew Koster. As part of their report, Hillier and Koster concluded that, "in order to satisfy public concerns surrounding the (death of baby Chayce Craig), the police and prosecutorial authorities should conduct a further review and investigation, in order to resolve whether any further charges can or should be brought.".



The Department of Justice responded to that report by directing that such a review be undertaken. The review was conducted by Sergeant Kenneth Kilby of the Halifax Police Department. Sergeant Kilby has 18 years experience in homicide and child abuse investigations. At this point, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Sergeant Kilby for his diligent work on this case.



This case management review examined all aspects of the investigation undertaken by the original investigators and police resource experts. It also included an examination of the specific issues brought forward in the Hillier-Koster report on the death of the baby, Chayce Craig, and other related issues. Most specifically, Mr. Speaker, Sergeant Kilby was asked to determine whether any further criminal investigation is warranted in this matter.



Today, I have tabled, Mr. Speaker, both the executive summary and the conclusions of Sergeant Kilby's report. I trust my colleagues in the House will understand that I am not at liberty to provide the entire police investigation report - a study that contains detailed, confidential information that was provided to Sergeant Kilby in the course of his investigation. Sergeant Kilby's report contains several significant conclusions that I would like to summarize at this time.



Most significantly, it was found that no further criminal investigation is warranted in this matter and no suspects other than Tina Pryde could be identified. It was found that the Bridgewater Police Department investigation of the death of Chayce Craig was exhaustive and thorough. It was found that the Hillier-Koster report drew a number of erroneous conclusions that were not supported by this case management review, particularly with regard to these subjects: the time the trauma was inflicted on the child; the observations of various witnesses as to the condition of the child on the morning he was admitted to the hospital; and the results of lie detector tests.



Mr. Speaker, Messrs. Hillier and Koster are highly trained and experienced social workers and I have no reason whatsoever to question their conclusions in the area of social work and the responsibilities and accountabilities of social agencies. But they strayed into the area of medical and criminal investigation where their expertise does not support them. Simply put, they were in unfamiliar territory and some of their conclusions in that territory were incorrect.



Sergeant Kilby's case management review also found that there does not appear to be any new evidence that can be contributed to the case by the other children involved, as suggested by Tina Pryde and her father. Mr. Speaker, the case management review found that there were reasonable and probably grounds to support the charge of second degree murder laid by the police. A preliminary inquiry was conducted and the accused, Tina Pryde, was committed to trial on that charge.



Mr. Speaker, the case management review comments on the conduct of the case by the independent Public Prosecution Service. Upon my receipt of the case management review, I requested that the service conduct a study of the handling of this case. The prosecution service has completed its review of the matter. The prosecution service review addressed the Crown Attorney's handling of the case and implementation of plea negotiations with the defence.



Mr. Speaker, comment is made in the conclusions of the case management review about the brevity of the meeting between the Crown Attorney and the doctors prior to the preliminary hearing. It was felt by the Crown Attorney that this was appropriate in that the medical evidence was straightforward and sufficient to have the accused stood over for trial on the original charge. Subsequent events proved this judgment to be correct. Reference is also made to a meeting with medical doctors that was arranged, then cancelled and not rescheduled. That the meeting was arranged is true, but not all the doctors could attend. Prior to the meeting being rescheduled, the trial was advanced from June to February, 1994. In the meantime, a resolution conference was held and the case was resolved, making this meeting unnecessary.



[2:15 p.m.]



With regard to the plea negotiation, it is important to understand, Mr. Speaker, that the standard required to prove a case in court is more rigorous than the test for laying a charge and the test for committal to trial after a preliminary inquiry. In order to prove a criminal charge, the evidence must establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the responsibility of the Crown Attorneys to proceed to trial only where there is a reasonable chance that a conviction will result.



As a result of its review, the Public Prosecution Service has concluded that the decision to accept a plea to criminal negligence causing death, with a sentence of two years less a day in jail plus three years probation, was reasonable and appropriate given the evidence available to the Crown in this case. The Crown Attorney with responsibility for the prosecution decided that there was no reasonable likelihood of obtaining a conviction for second-degree murder. Such difficult decisions are the responsibility of the Public Prosecution Service and they make those difficult judgment decisions on a regular basis. In this case, based on the evidence, the plea arrangement was considered appropriate and the sentence within the appropriate range.



Mr. Speaker, the Public Prosecution Service policy requires that senior prosecution Service management pre-approve any plea arrangement in a murder case. The Crown Attorney handling the case sought senior management approval to accept a plea to criminal negligence with the sentence previously indicated. Approval was granted for the proposed arrangements. This meant that the accused would be under the state's control for five years.



Subsequent to the approval being given by senior management, the Crown Attorney in charge of the case was advised by the defence that the accused, although willing to plead guilty to criminal negligence causing death, was not willing to admit that she inflicted the fatal injury to the child. The Crown Attorney felt that his authorization permitted him to proceed without advising senior prosecution service management of this change. He proceeded and the sentence was imposed.



Senior management of the service have reviewed with the Crown Attorney the need to keep them apprised of developments regarding plea negotiations in cases such as this one. They are satisfied that the implementation of the plea arrangement was handled appropriately, as am I.



In conclusion, Mr. Speaker - and I thank everybody for bearing with me - I wish to reiterate the investigator's primary conclusion: that no suspect other than Tina Pryde could be identified in the death of Chayce Craig and no further criminal investigation is warranted. With these conclusions in mind, and based on the actions that have been taken to date, as far as the Department of Justice and the Public Prosecution Service are concerned, this matter is now closed. Thank you.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I just have a couple of brief comments. I thank the minister for providing me with a copy of his statement before he rose to read it. I note with interest that the report which he received of the case management review was received by him and by the department on March 21st. It is now late May and we are only now hearing the minister's statement today.



That notwithstanding, I think, as I have listened to the minister and have read along with him the statement which he has provided the House here today, he points out, and rightly so, that the Crown Attorney with responsibility for the prosecution decided that there was no reasonable likelihood of obtaining a conviction for second-degree murder. In cases of that kind, I do not think it is the role or the function or, frankly, that any of us have the capacity to second-guess the Public Prosecution Service without being privy to all the facts, as they were, and none of us were.



It appears, too, from the statement that the minister has pointed out clearly that the Public Prosecution Service policy requires that senior prosecution service management pre-approval be secured for any plea arrangement in a murder case. It appears that that was done and approval was granted by the senior prosecution service management. The net result, while some might be of the view that the plea accepted was to a lesser charge and the penalty imposed was, in the circumstances of the unfortunate death of this child, not as stringent as it might be, the fact of the matter is, as the minister has again pointed out, the accused will experience a period of significant incarceration and a period of fairly extensive probation. I think that on balance, we have to take it at face value, as the minister points out, that the investigator's primary conclusion that no suspect other than Tina Pryde could be identified in the death of Chayce Craig and that the evidence in the matter justified the plea bargain arrangement which was made. So, I guess perhaps reluctantly, we have to accept that in these terribly tragic and unfortunate circumstances, all was done to ensure that the maximum charge that could possibly be successfully prosecuted was laid and the most effective result, considering the interests of the community at large, has been reached.



So, while it is a very unfortunate and tragic situation, I do thank the minister for the extensive report and providing me with the case management review report as well. We just hope and pray that the penalty imposed here upon the accused will, in fact, act as reasonable deterrent to others, so that this kind of tragedy is not repeated again. I thank the minister for his extensive statement.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to respond briefly to the minister's statement. There can be no doubt that the murder of a five and a half week old baby is an absolute tragedy, the effect of which can never be undone or even the horrifying impact of which can never really be mitigated in any way.



I think it has been extremely important, both to conduct the kind of thorough review of the practices of the Family and Children's Services Agency that was, in part, responsible for how this situation was handled and how it unfolded. Also, I commend the minister for having accepted the recommendation of the thorough review that was conducted by Brian Hillier and Andrew Koster, to the effect that there ought to be a further investigation and review, in order to resolve whether there were further charges that ought and could be brought.



I have no reason not to accept the conclusions that have been reached by Sergeant Kilby, although I certainly will reserve the right to comment further upon reading the summary report.



I think it has to be said, Mr. Speaker, that it is extremely difficult for anyone to come to any very clear conclusions because at least on the basis of the minister's statement, we are dealing with the minister's summary of a report, a summary of which will be made available but, of course, the full report will not.



I have to say, and perhaps this is revealing my own lack of legal expertise, that I am not fully aware, and I guess I would have to say until I am fully convinced as to the reasons why the full report of the investigation of Sergeant Kilby would not, in fact, be made available. But I remain open to be convinced of that.



I think openness and the absolute utmost, in the way of full disclosure, is what is most needed in these situations because, of course, in the final analysis, nothing can be done to bring back baby Chayce Craig. The real point of investigating these matters to the maximum extent possible, is to try to take preventive measures to avoid any future situation occurring that is of similar severity and horror.



I will, of course, read the executive summary and the conclusions reached by Sergeant Kilby. I guess I still wait to be convinced that it would not be in the public interest generally and, most importantly, for purposes of future prevention warranted for the full investigation report to see the light of day and be brought to full public attention. But I say that with no implication whatsoever that Sergeant Kilby did not act in the most professional and competent manner.



I think the minister is to be commended for having acted upon the recommendations that were brought to him. I hope the indications from the earlier investigation that was done that, in fact, there was clear evidence that case loads were too heavy at that Family and Children's Services Agency, I hope that has been acted on in full. I know the Minister of Community Services indicated that those excessive case loads were unacceptable and that resources were going to be brought to bear to ensure that that problem not continue. So, one can only hope that these findings will, if indirectly, contribute to preventing any such horror in the future about which all of us can be nothing but very, very sad, indeed. Thank you.



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



MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to you and through you to other members of the House, the second half of the Grade 6 class of Joseph Giles Elementary School. They are accompanied by parents/helpers: Mrs. Andrews, Mrs. Murphy and Mrs. Kirby. I would like to welcome them here today. I would ask that they please rise and accept the welcome from the House. (Applause)



GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION



INTRODUCTION OF BILLS



Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 160 of the Revised Statues of 1989. The Family Maintenance Act. (Mr. Terence Donahoe)



Bill No. 23 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1990. The Children and Family Services Act. (Mr. Terence Donahoe)



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



NOTICES OF MOTION



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 366



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



Whereas when questioned on the loss of two experienced Crown Prosecutors and the government's lack of movement on the Ghiz report recommendations, the Justice Minister replied that "it's a free country" and that there will be others to take their place; and



Whereas this flippant response to a serious problem with the people's prosecution service is harmful, not helpful, and fits with the warning of the departing prosecutors: that the system will become merely "a trial lawyer training ground"; and



Whereas the people's defence system deserves more than what this minister is offering, especially since this is the same Party that called for the head of the public prosecution only two years before for the lack of success with several major trials;



Therefore be it resolved that since the Ghiz report has laid to rest the fear that it was the Director of Public Prosecution Service at fault, but instead established that fault laid with the deficiency of resources for equipment and computers and a need for greater independence, that this government move ahead quickly and stop offering the lame excuses given by the Justice Minister yesterday as a way out.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.



RESOLUTION NO. 367



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



Whereas it is relatively rare for public service, as an elected representative, to be honoured, especially when many people feel betrayed by the entire political process; and



Whereas nevertheless, Nova Scotians have demonstrated that they do recognize and admire honest, faithful and dedicated service by their representatives; and



Whereas one such occasion takes place tomorrow, when the University of King's College confers an honorary degree on the MLA for Halifax Fairview, helping to cap her history-making, exemplary service as a provincial Party Leader and MLA;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the soon-to-be-Doc Alexa, MLA for Halifax Fairview, on the eve of her being awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law by the University of King's College.



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



[2:30 p.m.]



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



It is agreed.



[Standing Ovation]



The motion is carried.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



RESOLUTION NO. 368



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 efforts of the council of East Hants to have their area's concerns on the limitations of the new health board boundaries have been frustrated by the lack of attention from the Health Minister; and



Whereas the councillors are worried that because they are under the umbrella of the Northern Regional Health Board, the majority of the residents will be unable to access specialized medical treatment for which they now go to Halifax to receive; and



Whereas the councillors feel that their concerns might be heard and taken seriously by the Premier, and plan to present him with their petition instead of the minister;



Therefore be it resolved that in light of these concerns, the Premier, Hants East MLA and Health Minister meet with the council to address the fears of the people of East Hants regarding health resources for their community before the regional boards are up and running in September.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East is in the hospital right now, in any event the notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.



RESOLUTION NO. 369



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



Whereas the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council in its spring edition of Atlantic Report stated that, "Nova Scotia had one of Canada's strongest rates of job growth in 1994, helping to recover three years of losses"; and



Whereas APEC is a highly respected economic council based in the Atlantic region whose economic forecasts have been proven to be accurate in reflecting economic growth in our province; and



Whereas APEC's economic summary for 1994 coincides with that of our Minister of Finance, the Honourable Bernard Boudreau;



Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Minister of Finance, as well as all members of his department on their ability to provide responsible fiscal management while at the same time fostering positive economic growth and bringing about a balanced budget in the process.



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



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



I hear a No.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Cape Breton South.



RESOLUTION NO. 370



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



Whereas the honourable Minister of Finance is our most competent Finance Minister since Peter Nicholson posted Nova Scotia's last budgetary surplus in 1978; and



Whereas our honourable Finance Minister's economic growth projections have remained realistic, and attainable, as Nova Scotia finally begins to balance its books after 15 years of Progressive Conservative incompetence; and



Whereas economic growth in our province has been steady in 1994 backed up by our own Department of Finance, the Atlantic Province's Economic Council, and major chartered banks.



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House unanimously express their confidence in the honourable Minister of Finance as Nova Scotia enters into a new era of sustainable growth and fiscal responsibility.



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



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



I hear a No.



The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Lunenburg.



RESOLUTION NO. 371



MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: 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 recently presented the Export Achievement Awards at the annual dinner of the Nova Scotia Branch of the Canadian Manufacturers' Association; and



Whereas one of 10 Nova Scotia companies was ABCO Industries Limited of Lunenburg who was recognized in the category of "increased export sales under $2 million;" and



Whereas ABCO Industries has been active in exports for many years as one of Nova Scotia's major manufacturers of fish and vegetable processing equipment;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to ABCO Industries Limited for winning the 1994 annual Export Achievement Award by increasing exports in 1994 five times over their 1993 level.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 372



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



Whereas nine provinces and two territories have apparently accepted without protest the May 15th Statistics Canada release of the 1994 real domestic product; and



Whereas this Finance Minister has, until now, also accepted without protest or question the Statistics Canada Reports of Nova Scotia's real domestic product; and



Whereas with the leadership review pending, the minister may be particularly sensitive because Statistics Canada found no economic surge from the doubling of the amount of gambling in Nova Scotia since 1991;



Therefore be it resolved that it should surprise no one that our economy is suffering from sharply increased job worries, mass layoffs and early retirements, major cuts to health and education, suddenly curtailed investment, corporate tax breaks with no proven benefit and countless broken Liberal promises.





MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable Minister of Fisheries.



RESOLUTION NO. 373



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



Whereas the F.E. Butler Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Chester will be hosting the 1995 Dominion Darts Championships on May 19th and 20th; and



Whereas a national tournament will bring provincial darts champions and guests from across Canada to compete against the Nova Scotia team, represented by the Dartmouth Centennial Royal Canadian Legion; and



Whereas our guests will be staying at the scenic and historic Oak Island Inn and Marina and many businesses and legions are sponsoring this event on a voluntary basis;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly welcome our visitors and extend congratulations to the organizer of the 1995 Dominion Darts Championships.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 Victoria.



RESOLUTION NO. 374



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



Whereas the Canadian Home and School movement began in 1895 by Mabel Hubbard Bell, wife of Alexander Graham Bell; and



Whereas the Canadian Home and School and Parent-Teacher Federation will celebrate the 100th Anniversary with the annual meeting in Baddeck, from May 28 to June 4, 1995; and



Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Home and School Associations will receive delegates from all 10 provinces and 2 territories;



Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly welcome delegates to the Canadian Home and School and Parent-Teacher Federation as they celebrate a distinguished past and a bright future.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.



RESOLUTION NO. 375



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



Whereas this weekend marks the 4th Annual Moosehead Grand Prix Race for the metro area; and



Whereas the community of Eastern Passage is proud to host the Grand Prix at CFB Shearwater for the second year in a row; and



Whereas this is the first year the International Motor Sports Association will be part of the Grand Prix Race;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Moosehead Grand Prix President, John Graham, for bringing such a world-class event to Nova Scotia and wish all participants an exciting and safe racing event.



Mr. Speaker, I 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 Shelburne.



RESOLUTION NO. 376



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



Whereas Ven-Rez Products is Nova Scotia's largest manufacturer of school and library furniture; and



Whereas Ven-Rez Products was established nearly 50 years ago in Sandy Point, Shelburne County; and



Whereas Ven-Rez Products continues its long tradition as an exporter, by developing new markets in 1994 in Cuba, Montserrat and the Cayman Islands;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Ven-Rez Products for recently receiving the Long-Time Exporter award at the annual Export Achievement Awards.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.



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 Kings North.



RESOLUTION NO. 377



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



Whereas from British Columbia to Newfoundland, Canadians have been allowed to travel free of charge across the national highways since the inception of the Trans Canada Highway; and



Whereas Nova Scotia's Liberal Government, with its direction from the Premier, seems determined to add to the province's list of historical firsts, being the first province to charge Canadians for travelling on the Trans Canada Highway; and



Whereas since the Auditor General's comments on the diversion of $26 million from the SHIP agreement has first surfaced, both Ministers Young and Dingwall put a distance equal to the length of the Trans Canada Highway between them and the Nova Scotia Liberals, hanging the Transportation Minister and the Colchester area and Cumberland area MLAs out to dry on the issue;



Therefore be it resolved that this government recognize why the federal government has washed its hands of any involvement and realize before it is too late just how greatly the $3.00 toll will hurt every Nova Scotia resident, every business person and every tourist travelling the new stretch of highway because of the Liberal decision to remove funds and pay for the twinning through highway tolls.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, that resolution appears to duplicate much of the content of Bill No. 10.



However, the notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.





RESOLUTION NO. 378



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



Whereas on April 27, 1992 in this House, the now Government House Leader argued that private shareholders in Nova Scotia Power would look elsewhere for coal, ". . . because they don't have to worry about the implications of their actions.", and he stated, "That is not good enough."; and



Whereas he then moved on behalf of his Liberal Party, "That the operations of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation continue to be based on the utilization of Nova Scotia coal and that any plans for the future of the corporation be based on this concept."; and



Whereas the Liberal Government has not taken one step to fulfil those commitments or the many subsequent promises;



Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals should spend less time twiddling their thumbs over menus of possible action to address NSP's attack on the Cape Breton coal industry and do what they promised so forcefully when they were seeking Cape Breton votes.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Queens.



RESOLUTION NO. 379



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



Whereas the Queens Regional Municipality bill will soon become law; and



Whereas creation of the new regional government will result in dissolution of village commissions; and



Whereas for many years men and women in the Villages of Milton and Brooklyn have well served their respective villages as commissioners;



Therefore be it resolved that the House renders thanks to all those who have so selflessly served the communities of Milton and Brooklyn as commissioners of their respective village commissions.



Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.



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 Opposition.



RESOLUTION NO. 380



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



Whereas community organizers in Yarmouth should be congratulated for addressing the many concerns of our youth through a series of workshops during their Teen Wellness Day; and



Whereas while this was a positive initiative, it is sad that one of the youths involved, when questioned as to how they would rate the future of their generation on a scale of 1 to 10, responded, 3; and



Whereas the future of our youth is key to the future of our province and their prospects are directly related to the hope that we can offer them today;



Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government show leadership in this area and take initiative with its promise to "excite young minds and awaken them to the joys of life-long learning" and "prepare every student in Nova Scotia for the challenges of the future by providing them with a quality education".



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



Is it agreed that notice be waived on that proposition?



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. 381



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



Whereas today's Hotline question in the Daily News is, "Party officials say that within two weeks of the vote they will announce whether Premier John Savage has the support of a majority of Party members . . . should we trust it on this one?"; and



[2:45 p.m.]



Whereas a mere two years ago, knowing exactly how bad provincial finances were, Liberal Party officials promised a jobs strategy, more school funding, more hospitals and health care, no municipal amalgamation, no increase in taxation and a fair, open government;



Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House, Nova Scotians do not have one good reason to trust the Liberal Party to respect or even to honestly report the democratic results of any vote.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Victoria.



RESOLUTION NO. 382



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



Whereas the highlight of the Nova Scotia running season will take place in the last weekend in May, when Baddeck hosts the Coca-Cola Cabot Trail Relay Race; and



Whereas the first full event began in 1988, with 12 teams, and now is limited to 45 teams, from as far away as California, because of the growing popularity of this world-class event; and

Whereas the greatest beneficiaries of the relay have been local charities, including hospitals, community organizations and sports teams;



Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the organizers and participants of the Coca-Cola Cabot Trail Relay Race as they prepare for their most successful race to date.



Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver 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 Fairview.



RESOLUTION NO. 383



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



Whereas the Health Department's draft plan for core mental health services under regionalization does not once refer to or take direction from the health reform blueprint or any other reform proposals made since the 1993 provincial election; and



Whereas the draft core services specifically and deliberately omits both measures to address the causes of mental illness and strategies to promote good mental health; and



Whereas this narrow, out-of-date medical model document is the product of a Liberal Government which claims to be in political distress because it is going too fast;



Therefore be it resolved that the Health Minister should take his own advice, fully involve the general public, health providers and consumers in planning core mental health services and ensure that those plans fulfill the goals set forth in the blueprint that this government commissioned, to set the direction for promoting and improving health and well-being among all Nova Scotians.



MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.



The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



RESOLUTION NO. 384



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



Whereas wide consultations and cooperation among all Parties in this House contributed to the new Environment Act, which emphasizes reuse and reduction of waste resources; and



Whereas provincial agencies should take the lead in emphasizing reuse, especially when this maximizes local employment; and



Whereas the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission has instead been promoting non-reusable beer cans, even offering them at discount prices, while the government drags its heels on a strategy to achieve 100 per cent refillable, reusable containers;



Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liquor Commission to take the lead in discouraging the use of non-refillable, non-reusable containers and encouraging refillables within the brewery industry.



I would like to ask for waiver of notice on that resolution, Mr. Speaker.



MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?



No, I hear several Noes.



The notice is tabled.



MR. SPEAKER: I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the debate at 6:00 o'clock on the Adjournment motion. The winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. He has submitted a resolution reading:



Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government approach Transport Canada and request that tenders be called for the dredging of Digby Harbour to facilitate the docking of vessels of 30,000 tons or more, so that pit props and pulpwood may be shipped from the Port of Digby, while also allowing cruise ships to make Digby a port of call when visiting Nova Scotia.



We will hear debate on all that at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview gave notice to me of her desire to raise a point of order. I now recognize her.



The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a brief point of order arising out of yesterday's Question Period. You, sir, during Question Period, in accordance with Beauchesne's rulings, disallowed my tabling a confidential document entitled, Compensation Assistance Program, Controlled Severance - Voluntary Resignation Program, dated April 4, 1995, because I was unable to vouch for the authenticity or sponsorship of that confidential document. I fully accepted your ruling in that regard, Mr. Speaker. However, to clear up any confusion, having made reference to the document, I want now to table it in full accordance with your ruling because I have satisfied myself and hereby want to make members aware that it is a document that was drafted by the NSAHO in their capacity as members of the Human Resources Policy Advisory Committee, a body which explicitly and deliberated excludes any representation or participation by representatives of the hospital workers in the province.



Mr. Speaker, I think that this clears up the authorship of the document but it also underscores the totally unsatisfactory nature of this whole labour adjustment process that is in going on in this province. I hope the minister will see fit to address it. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: Well, I accept the honourable member's intervention. Beauchesne simply requires a member introducing a document to vouch for its authenticity or to take full responsibility for its contents. If the honourable member is willing to undertake that qualification, then I have no difficulty.



We will now advance to Orders of the Day. The time - I should get into this before we go ahead - now being 2:52 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 4:22 p.m.



ORDERS OF THE DAY



ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



TRANSPORT. - HIGHWAY NO. 104:

FUNDS DIVERSION - APPROVAL (TRANSPORT CANADA)



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is for the Minister of Transportation. On April 6th, the minister indicated, ". . . the Auditor General was provided with a letter from the Honourable Doug Young indicating support for this project . . ." referring, of course, to Highway No. 104, ". . . and agreeing to amend the formula.". The minister went on to say, ". . . each highway improvement program has to be submitted to Ottawa for approval before the funds are released.".



So far the minister has refused to table the letter from the Honourable Doug Young. Mr. Young claimed on Monday, in the House of Commons, that he had nothing to do with it and that the Highway No. 104 matter is strictly under provincial jurisdiction. Can the Minister of Transportation indicate whether or not he had approval and full agreement from the federal Minister of Transportation to divert the $26 million from the SHIP agreement to the secondary road in his riding and in the riding of Mr. Dingwall?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Perhaps I can get the nod of a head here, as the Leader of the Opposition is often heard to ask for in the House. He said, did I have the permission from the Minister of Transportation? I assume he means the Minister of Transport, so that we know exactly which minister you are referring to. Yes, I had permission, Mr. Speaker.



MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, well, we are now talking about permission and earlier we were talking that a letter existed. By way of supplementary, may I say that the minister has steadfastly refused to table the letter that he claims he has from the Honourable Doug Young. Given the confusion as to who exactly diverted this $26 million, I ask the minister will he table that letter here today?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I take great exception to the insinuation that I have categorically refused to table the letter. I haven't been asked to table the letter. I circulated the letter to the media when they asked for it. I have given the letter to anyone who has asked for it. Yes, I will table it. I don't believe I have it with me today, but I will ask for a copy to be sent over and have no hesitation whatsoever in tabling the letter.



MR. DONAHOE: By way of final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, I would say this, that the minister, as has become clear, has diverted $26 million from the Highway No. 104 project to the Fleur-de-lis Trail. According to documents from the Economic Renewal Agency, the cost of the work on the Fleur-de-lis Trail in 1993 was approximately $11.5 million. I ask if the Minister of Transportation can explain what he has done with the remaining $14.5 million from Highway No. 104?



MR. MANN: I don't know exactly what was included in what the previous administration, perhaps the honourable Leader of the Opposition could tell us, what they had negotiated prior to our forming the administration. I know what we came in and the decision was made to construct, upgrade, complete the Fleur-de-lis Trail the engineering department came back with a cost on that which included the replacement of three single-lane bridges, for example, which may or may not have been included prior to 1993; the upgrading of some of the roads, which may or may not have been included in 1993; the construction of a new road to eliminate the dead end in the Town of Louisbourg, whether that was completed as the member indicated himself the agreement prior to 1993 was not with the Department of Transportation but I can get him the indication of what the Fleur-de-lis Trail involves and where the $26 million, what it is earmarked for, if he would like to have that information.



I would also like to say that under the, I believe and I am doing this from memory, but under the conditions of the SHIP agreement I believe the agreement is administered by the federal government not by the provincial government.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



EXCO: CONFLICT OF INTEREST - ERA (EX-MIN. [MR. R. BRAGG])



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The Premier will know that the former Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency was, during his time in Cabinet, also an officer of the Fundy Mortgage Company Limited, a company engaged in development activities. We are concerned about the fact that Fundy Mortgage Company Limited was actively engaged in development activities at the same time that the minister was responsible for economic development in the Province of Nova Scotia. I would like to direct a question through you to the Premier, what steps did the Premier take to ensure that the minister's public and private interests did not coincide?



HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): The issue of what the various members of Cabinet, what private holdings they had, et cetera, is contained in the conflict of interest document that was submitted to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. I would assume, having spoken to all the ministers, that this also passed the scrutiny therefore of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.



MR. CHISHOLM: Again, to the Premier, Fundy Mortgage Company Limited was engaged in a search for financing which is usually provided by the chartered banks at the same time that the minister on behalf of the government was meeting with those same chartered banks and at the same time that his department was actively engaged with them in a variety of business arrangements. My first supplementary to the Premier, how did he, the Premier, ensure that the minister's private interests in obtaining financing could not influence the exercise of his ministerial responsibilities?



THE PREMIER: I have quite a simple answer to that. The simple answer is this, it is easy and cheap to throw insinuations across the floor. If you have any evidence at all then give it to me and I will take it up with the person concerned. If you haven't, then I advise you to be very careful.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. This is a very delicate area and I would caution the honourable member because he is dealing with the integrity of a member of this House.



MR. CHISHOLM: Well, I think we are talking here about the integrity of the principles of this government to ensure that there isn't conflict of interest. I am prepared to table in this House a debenture normally known as a loan with the Federal Business Development Bank issued to Fundy Mortgage Company Limited to the tune of $520,000 that is signed by two officers of Fundy Mortgage Company Limited, one of them being the former Minster for the Economic Renewal Agency and it was signed on April 27, 1994. I would like to ask the Premier, in my final question (Interruption)



MR. SPEAKER: If you are prepared to table it then would you please table it.



MR. CHISHOLM: I would like to ask the Premier in my final supplementary, is it, in fact, the case, is this a case where the Premier, in fact, has applied his campaign promise to remove from office any Cabinet Minister who failed to, ". . . serve the public interest . . . without prospect of personal gain."?



THE PREMIER: I will repeat what I have said. If this member opposite, who is obviously dragging the very bottom of a well-known capacity for slurs and innuendo, is prepared to back anything up, put it here, let me know about it. If not (Interruption) That is nothing - there is nothing illegal in that and you know that.



Mr. Speaker, are we going to allow insinuations of a member who is not here, by this kind of cheap stuff? Surely there are some standards in this House. If the member did anything wrong, then the member will know about it from me. There is no evidence that Ross Bragg did anything wrong at all and you should be ashamed of yourself. (Applause)





[3:00 p.m.]



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



TRANSPORT. - FREIGHT SUBSIDY: BUSINESSES - FUNDING



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications. The minister will know that in February the federal government completely snuffed out and axed the Atlantic Freight Subsidy. In its place, the federal Liberals put in place a $326 million Adjustment Program, of which Nova Scotia will receive some $84 million. I understand we are to receive that in the form of an annuity, over some five years, or roughly $17 million per year.



At the time this announcement was made it was very clear that $84 million was to be used to modernize the highway system in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. However, in today's Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the Minister of Transportation has said that the money, in fact, will not go to roads but to businesses.



I wonder, can the minister indicate specifically what businesses will receive this money and how these businesses will be identified as the beneficiaries of the minister's generosity?



HON. RICHARD MANN: First of all, let's get it straight. What I said to someone who worked for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald was that I could categorically state that not all $85 million that may come to Nova Scotia will be spent on infrastructure, that part of that money has been identified by the federal government to be used for hardship cases, for people who had, up to this point, received a subsidy and who, with the sudden withdrawal of the subsidy, may go out of business.



It is not my decision, Mr. Speaker. If we get an agreement from the federal government and if we have access to those funds, which we don't yet, it will not be my decision as to what percentage of money is spent on hardship cases, on transitional subsidy monies and how much is spent on infrastructure, that will be a government decision. At that point in time, when that decision is made, then professional staff will sit down in my department, probably in conjunction with the staff from the Economic Renewal Agency, and will attempt to assist the business community, if you will, in identifying what we can do to ease the transition off of freight subsidies in Atlantic Canada.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to direct my supplementary to the Minister of Transportation. Trucking companies and local business in Colchester County and Cumberland County will, in fact, be hit twice. They have been hit once with the subsidy cut and again, with the minister's toll tax on Highway No. 104. I wonder if the minister will give consideration to the trucking companies and the local businesses of Colchester County and Cumberland County when he dispenses with the $84 million?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, probably better than I do, he was in that industry so he probably knows better than I do where the money has gone, $29 million a year in freight subsidies to Atlantic Canada or to Nova Scotia over the past number of years, each year. The federal Auditor General has said there should be caution, that there has been a tremendous abuse and misuse of those funds.



All I can commit to at this time is that this will not be done on an individual basis, from trucker to trucker. This will be done in a business way and we will look at the industries that have previously received subsidies and look at the cases, for example, that truly require some transitional funding in order to stay in business, so they can be weaned off the subsidy, if you will.



So I would make the commitment that this will be done by professionals, it will be done in a professional manner and done with the best interests of Nova Scotia and economic development in mind.



MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation indicated a short time ago that he tabled a letter that he received from the federal Minister of Transport. He tabled that letter or at least passed it out, circulated it to the media. For several days now I have asked the minister to table a copy of his needs-based rural assessment matrix in respect to secondary highways in this province. So far we have not seen that. I wonder if the minister has tabled that document with the media, too?



MR. MANN: I have to be careful, Mr. Speaker. The other day in responding to a question on secondary roads and the matrix, I got accused of blaming John Buchanan for Highway No. 104. So I have to be careful about that today that I don't do that.



Mr. Speaker, we had a conversation yesterday in estimates about the matrix and what factors are built into that, and I indicated that I would attempt to have that document and table it. It is used by our field staff and I will attempt to do that as soon as possible.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



TRANSPORT. - HIGHWAY NO. 104: FUNDS DIVERTED - RETURN



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. The Premier, as the First Minister for the Government of Nova Scotia and for the people of the province, has heard from the trucking industry, some of whom are going to be paying an additional $500,000 a year in the form of road tolls. Yesterday I heard from a working man who will have to pay $6.00 per day to go to work, that is $30.00 a week, $120 a month and that is $1,400 a year in tolls. This represents the size of his furnace oil bill or his property tax bill for the entire year. For this family man's sake, Mr. Premier, would you return the $26 million to the Highway No. 104 construction project?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as is my custom with a lot of very competent ministers, I am going to hand this over to the Minister of Transportation.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have heard the suggestion by individuals in the trucking industry that this might cost them $400,000 a year. I think though, in fairness to everyone in this House, and in fairness to everyone in the industry, that not factored into that amount or the $6.00 a day amount for a motorist who travels each way once a day is the fact that there will be a reduced operating cost to the vehicle and the reduction of perhaps 25 kilometres on a return trip. Using even the numbers that the provincial government uses of mileage for people using an automobile of 29.1 cents a kilometre for ease of calculating, consider that to be 30 cents a kilometre, you'll see that the cost to operate a vehicle is deemed to be by the provincial government $7.50 for 25 kilometres so if we use the figure that the previous administration had established for private vehicle use, we would see that it could be deemed to be a cost-saving in using that highway.



The professional consulting companies who studied such things, Mr. Speaker, suggested that a typical 18-wheeler, saving the time and saving fuel and wear and tear on the vehicle, that the net cost is not $10, as some would suggest but in fact is in the $1.00 area.



MR. ARCHIBALD: I am glad he cleared that up. That is about the same as the time the Minister of Transportation said it would save 30 minutes on the trip. Again, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, the real hardship to the individual is what we are discussing in my question to the Premier of $1,400 to $1,800 a year for this individual to get back and forth to work. The hardship of the individual should not escape the Premier because he is the First Minister of this province.



Last week the representatives of Colchester and Cumberland Counties were in the Legislature, at the Law Amendments Committee. If you will recall, when you formed the government, you had an assessment done of the route chosen for that road. The people who were here said let's have a look at the old road. Let's see, Mr. Premier, if we can twin the existing road, that is not a great idea, it is not the best solution. In the circumstances of facing a toll road or making the difference between something that is affordable and something that is not they are suggesting that the Wentworth Valley road that is there now be twinned in some places and in other places a Jersey barrier be put up where there are three lanes at the present time and give us a four lane highway that way at a much cheaper cost.



Will you, as Premier, undertake to look into the possibility of twinning the road that is there at the present time?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, once again this is a matter for a minister who has shown his intelligence and his drive and I am going to ask the minister if he will answer the questions since they do relate to the department.



MR. MANN: Once again, Mr. Speaker I can only refer to in this instance what happened before we got here. This route was not selected by this government. This route was selected prior to May 1993.



In fact, just yesterday I was looking at the newsletter that had been put out by the Department of Transportation in the fall of 1992 with the headline, The Right Choice. The rationale behind the selection of the western alignment and the newsletter went on to explain in detail that the use of scientific data and other data and public consultation that the open houses held in that area that the people of the Wentworth Valley had categorically rejected the idea of twinning the Wentworth Valley. I think if we consider the present road and try to envision another lane in that area you start to envision the types of problems and perhaps the destruction of the Wentworth Valley, as we know it.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the Premier of the province, I appreciate what the Minister of Transportation indicated. Sure, twinning the existing road is not the ideal solution, but certainly when the public meetings were held there was no discussion of a toll of $3.00 or as much as $18 per large tractor trailers to use the road. With that in mind, the people have suggested to have another look at that.



Now, Mr. Premier, you have not responded to the Auditor General. The municipal councils have been asking for your opinion, individual members of the House have been asking for your opinion, the truckers, the residents, people want to know what the Premier is saying. They have heard from the Minister of Transportation. The people are demanding that the $26 million be put back in the Highway No. 104 construction program so that we do not need the tolls on those roads.



Now, why as Premier do you refuse to answer the question and if you think back to the original . . .



MR. SPEAKER: That is not a proper question. The Premier has answered that question twice now by referring it to his minister.



MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I refer it right back to the individual that has to use this new toll road to go to work. That individual is the one that I want to talk to the Premier about. The guy that is going to pay $1,400 a year and he is asking, will the Premier instruct the Minister of Transportation to return the $26 million so that the tolls can be reduced?



THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if anybody speaks as a government, as we do, then I suppose I am the head of the government and therefore it is obviously my responsibility. I am not ducking that and I accept the fact that people will have differing views on this.



I think the Minister of Transportation has put it fairly and squarely that, for most, there is a saving and I am convinced that twining that particular road is not the right way to go. We stick by our decision, but we are always prepared to listen to people and I will continue to receive and talk to people about the issue of Highway No. 104 as I do with every other issue.



MR. SPEAKER: Before I call the next question, I have a very brief announcement to give the House. The Private and Local Bills committee which was scheduled to meet at 4:00 p.m. will instead meet at 4:30 p.m.



The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - MENTAL: CORE SERVICES - PROGRAM



MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday, during the late debate at 6:00 p.m. we referred to a draft document on Mental Health Core Services and I understand it is being circulated to the providers around the province, the minister stated that this draft document was not departmental policy, I believe that is what he said.



Can the minister tell the House if his department is working on a provincial Mental Health Core Program and, if so, how the department has gone about involving consumers and the community as recommended by the Blueprint Committee on health system reform?



[3:15 p.m.]



HON. RONALD STEWART: I confirm that this draft document was circulated, it was made up of a distillation of the public consultation and the reports that had been in the department for some time, I might add, and had been circulated. It is not departmental policy, it was circulated in order to receive feedback from those providers who had been on the commissions and the committees, who had been helpful in the consultation process that had gone for the several years that we were, of course, and the previous administration were asking for their opinion. That document represents a distillation of some of those ideas directed simply towards core services provided by the division within the department and we are receiving feedback from that. We are internally working on documents that are going to be submitted to the regional health boards as part of their educational process that will become part of the eventual policy that develops.



MR. MOODY: I wonder if the minister could indicate if, in fact, the mental health services will become part of the regional health boards in September of this year, if that responsibility will be transferred to them in September and if not, when will you approximately see that happening, if at all?



DR. STEWART: I would think that September would be very optimistic in terms of completion of more consultation particularly with provider groups and also advocacy groups, I would think it would be later than September.



MR. MOODY: I would hope that the minister wouldn't be in too much of a hurry to transfer this to the regional health boards at this time. I would ask the minister, given the fact that this policy is being worked on - and as I understand a framework has been put together -I would ask the minister then before a core mental health services program is established that he will commit today that the Canadian Mental Health Association and the community will be involved in establishing that core program? The core program that we have doesn't quite reflect what some people in the mental health field feel truly reflects what they would like to see. I would ask a commitment by the minister that process will be developed and could be changed before it is established.



DR. STEWART: Again, I would commit as I mentioned, to further consultation, particularly with provider groups and those groups such as CMHA, Schizophrenia Society, bipolar disorders and others and I believe that is reasonable and in fact, an essential element of that policy.



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



HEALTH - AIR AMBULANCE SERVICE: HELICOPTERS - FUTURE



MR. JOHN HOLM: As I begin my question I would like to make an introduction in the west gallery we have Ms. Tina Wickens, who is a councillor from the Municipality of Barrington.



MR. SPEAKER: She has been introduced already.



MR. HOLM: I am sorry, I didn't hear her being introduced earlier, well, she has been doubly introduced.



I would like to direct my question through you sir, if I may, to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health, of course, will know that there are growing concerns that the government's fixation - if I might put it that way - on using the fixed wing aircraft as the primary means of air ambulance service, will result in the loss of the helicopter service that has proven to be both very timely and life saving. In fact, while the government is trying to determine who will win the contract for the air ambulance service, the IWK Hospital has lost the use of the helicopter service which creates additional concerns and perils for children, who are in need of emergency transport to the hospital.



My question to the minister quite simply is this, will the minister end the uncertainty and agree finally that helicopter service will continue to be a very significant part of any air ambulance service within the Province of Nova Scotia?



HON. RONALD STEWART: The ministry is pledged to provide a broad range of services in terms of emergency health services. These include air transport in various forms. What we are trying to do is to marry the needs of relatively short-term and very weather-sensitive helicopter transport with the needs of transplantation programs, which require very long distance transports, which are fixed wing. We are trying to involve the other provinces in the region, which have significant needs, needs that are, I might say, a little different from Nova Scotia's. So, that is why we are trying to balance, with the developing Emergency Health Services Agency, those needs that will best be realized.



I might say, Mr. Speaker, that the outcome of all of this discussion, and particularly in terms of our need for a variety of services, is that we have covered a broad range of service provisions. This includes ground and air transportation. One is not fixated on any particular area. In fact, we need attention to every one of those areas.



MR. HOLM: I heard the minister's long answer, but I really did not hear a concise answer to the question that I asked. From what I am hearing and the concerns that are being raised, I do not hear that the people believe that the air ambulance service is actually getting any better. In fact, most areas of the province are not going to necessarily be all that well-served by fixed wing aircraft, simply because there are very few landing strips, whereas a helicopter can get into almost any community around the province. A situation was brought to my attention where, for example . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Is there a question?



MR. HOLM: . . . yes, indeed, there is, Mr. Speaker. The situation down in Shelburne County. It would have taken over three hours for the land transport, then to go to a fixed wing aircraft, transport to a metro base, then the land transport to the hospital, whereas by helicopter it took 42 minutes. So, I ask the minister quite specifically. Residents are concerned. Will the minister guarantee that the helicopter service will be a primary service in the air ambulance service that is to be provided to the residents around the province?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to welcome this question and the questions that have been raised, certainly, by people in the province regarding the provision of air ambulance. I am delighted at the interest in this area, because it is a very significant and important area of the provision of emergency care. I will say again that I would welcome scrutiny of not only the vehicles we use to transport but also the type of training and the type of people who attend the patients therein. That is the key issue, who is taking care of one when one needs to be cared for. I will say that there will be a variety of services, including ground and air, and the best possible provision of vehicles and teams and dispatch will be part and parcel of the ambulance system in the Province of Nova Scotia. I will guarantee that. How we best provide it is going to be decided in the proper way.



MR. HOLM: The minister says that he welcomes scrutiny of the type of ambulance, the on-the-ground vehicles, the type of training that is going to be provided. Mr. Speaker, one of the most crucial things - I am sure the minister would know far better than I - is the amount of time (Interruption) to the treatment. Between treatments, from hospital to hospital - the amount of time taken to get to the treatment. (Interruption) Well, the minister says I am missing a point. I am not trying to be mischievous here; I am trying to get at what is a very serious concern, one expressed by the Union of Nova Scotia . . .



MR. SPEAKER: Please put your question with some focus, promptly.



MR. HOLM: Well, I am trying to do that, Mr. Speaker, but sometimes members across the way are making a bit of noise, too, so it is very difficult to have a serious discussion with ministers opposite. I thought the minister was listening quite intently, so if I may, I will try to make my question as clear as I can. Yes, indeed, the items that the minister talked about are very important, but surely there are many parts of the province, of the community where time is of the essence, where a helicopter will be able to get in . . .



MR. SPEAKER: That is right. Time is of the essence and I do not hear a question.



MR. HOLM: My question to the minister is, will he provide assurances, through you, Mr. Speaker, of course, that the helicopter service will be provided to the residents in those communities who need that.



DR. STEWART: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I am not either trying to be mischievous by reminding the honourable gentleman opposite who is asking the question that he is missing the point of what I am saying. I am saying that crucial in the management of emergency cases is the time to treatment by competent teams. Now if those teams get there in 20 minutes by road, versus 42 minutes by helicopter, therein lies the problem.



We have to be very selective in how we deal with this. We have to have principles laid down which are well-recognized. I might say, too, that we cannot rely on any given element of that system. We can't rely on ground entirely; we can't rely on air entirely.



You will know that the weather in Nova Scotia is not conducive to air ambulance exclusively by rotor wing. It isn't, that is a fact of life. Therefore, we have to have a variety available to us and that is what I am committing to, in all seriousness, in all helpfulness, I am committing to that variety that we may provide the best and most expeditious and high quality care for people who need it, in and out of the air.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, before I put my question, I would like to take a moment to introduce three gentlemen with us this afternoon from the Town of Liverpool; His Worship, Mayor Lane, Deputy Mayor Charles Welch and seated in the back of the gallery, appropriately behind the two elected officials, the Chief Administrative Officer, Jim Moase. I would ask the House to welcome them. (Applause) In actual fact, Mr. Mouse takes a back seat to no one.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



ERA - BLUENOSE II: FUND RAISING - JOHN MABLEY & ASSOC.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. On Monday, the minister tabled the 1994 Annual Report of the Schooner Bluenose Foundation, not to be confused with the Bluenose II Preservation Trust or Bluenose Pride. On Page 2 of the report, it stated that a proposal for fund raising from the fund raising agency of John Mabley & Associates was accepted by the foundation.



I wonder if the minister could advise the House, what is the cost of this contract and how much has been raised to date by John Mabley & Associates, on behalf of Bluenose II Preservation Trust?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this question because in speaking with the person who directed the Bluenose III Foundation, at a time when the province needed volunteers to come forward and champions of a replacement vessel, Mr. Lindsay did just that. I think all Nova Scotians, in my opinion, owe a great deal to Mr. Lindsay and those who formed that board at a time when it seemed important and it seemed necessary, in fact, to do something in response to what was perceived to be a great loss to this province.



Mr. Lindsay has offered to respond to any and all detailed questions, questions not unlike the one extended by the honourable member, as to the exact and precise cost of the Mabley contract. I don't have that information. He and Mary Moulton are prepared to respond to any questions at any time from the members opposite. I would be pleased, either directly or indirectly, to provide that detailed information to any question, but then so would he. Once again, I convey my respects to John Lindsay and those who formed that board at that time.



MR. LEEFE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I like this minister but I must remind him that John Lindsay is not the minister who is responsible for this agency, nor is Mary Moulton. He is the minister who is responsible for this agency, he is the minister who is responsible for answering questions in the House and that is why the questions are being put to him today.



My second question again flows from the same document. On the same page it is noted that the foundation office infrastructure was established, which I assume includes staff and he has already mentioned Mary Moulton who was hired as the managing director. My question to the minister is this. Is staff still in place? Has any staff been released? If staff has been released, has there been any kind of departure financial package provided to those released staff members?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, once again the admonishment from the member opposite about my responsibility; what we have here is a private society, incorporated under the Societies Act of Nova Scotia that has a board of directors and a full annual and audited report that the member opposite is quoting from. As I have indicated further, the specific answers to the specific questions about release of salaried personnel or details of contract, Mr. Lindsay has offered to provide, and I will take these questions and either direct them to Mr. Lindsay and bring back the information or perhaps the honourable member can talk to him directly.



[3:30 p.m.]



MR. LEEFE: Well, isn't it a good thing, Mr. Speaker, that the minister who used to be responsible for Sysco, for example, didn't suggest that the President of Sysco answer questions when they were put to that minister and predecessor ministers in the House.



My third question, again, relates to the report. On Page 3 of the report, it is stated that operations were put on hold effective December 31, 1994, and further that the board will re-evaluate the situation in the spring of 1995, my question to the minister is this, is the re-evaluation complete and, when it is complete, will the minister table it in the House or, if the House is not sitting, will he please table it with the Clerk?



MR. HARRISON: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.





MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



NAT. RES. - PIONEER COAL: JOBS - LOCAL WORKERS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. On Friday, the Minister of the Environment released the Environmental Assessment Report for the proposed Stellarton pit mine. The report was prepared by Pioneer Coal. The Minister of Natural Resources had earlier accepted a proposal from Pioneer Coal as the result of a tendering process to mine the Wimpey Pit. The minister is, as I am, aware of the economic benefits of the 50 jobs that will be provided by this operation and, as well, the jobs created in blending out-of-county coal with local coal.



My question to the minister is, in the Pioneer proposal, is there any guarantee or arrangement, either written or verbal, that local workers and displaced Westray miners, will have a priority getting jobs with Pioneer to remove the local coal?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, that was quite some time ago that the proposal came forward. It appears to me, that in recalling the actual call for proposals, it indicated that they would work with the community, try to hire people within the community and I would be able to go back to the department and check specifically in regard to that issue, if you wish. I don't remember exactly now what the terms and conditions in regard to specifically what the hiring process is but, to my knowledge, the intent was to work with the people in the community, to work with the people that were requiring jobs.



DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that commitment and I will look forward to that commitment being honoured in the future. The Curragh company, when it was preparing to mine the Wimpey Pit site, offered a compensation package to the Town of Stellarton and, as well, to residents in the immediate vicinity of the project, bearing in mind that this will be a pit mine within the borders of an established town. Curragh was offering to the residents on the immediate perimeter, such things as air conditioners so they could keep their windows closed in the summer if it was dusty. They were offering to wash houses and, as well, they were offering dryers as it might be difficult to hang clothes out to dry.



My question to the minister, is there any requirement or observation by Pioneer Coal to provide compensation to the Town of Stellarton and to the residents on the immediate perimeter of the operation?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, not to my knowledge.



DR. HAMM: By way of final supplementary, the minister is aware that the proposal will call for mining 200,000 tons a year for 20 years, a total of 4 million tons with a gross value of $200 million at an average price of $50. My question to the minister, would the minister outline what in addition to the 25 cent royalty and the $1.25 payment per ton, up to $2 million, will the province get directly for its $200 million worth of coal, bearing in mind the $2 million is only 1 per cent of the $200 million of coal that will be mined?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the issue of royalties is part of the compensation to the Province of Nova Scotia. The issue of the fact that the Wimpey Pit proposal put forward by Mr. Chisholm's company offered to pay over and above the normal royalty regime, an additional revenue to the Province of Nova Scotia.



The other benefit to the Province of Nova Scotia is the fact that we are creating some jobs, that are so required in the Pictou area. I am very happy about the fact that the jobs that will be created through that particular proposal will be beneficial in an area that really requires jobs at this time.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.



HEALTH - AMBULANCE: RESPONSE TIME - STANDARDS



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I would ask the minister if he would tell me, through you, what is the established response time for ambulance operators responding to both emergency and non-emergency calls? Is there an established time?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I don't understand the question perfectly; established means a standard or the data which we collect?



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if there is a standard in this province for emergency or non-emergency calls?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the very simple answer is, no, there is not. Rather than not get technical with the question, that is a question that is a little more complex than perhaps on the surface, and I am sure the honourable gentleman opposite knows that.



I just want to reiterate that response time, I would have to know what that entails. There is an official international definition of response time that I can table and so on, but suffice to say, no, there is no standard in this province.



MR. MOODY: I thank the minister. Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, I wonder if the minister could explain the procedure for dispatching ambulances to scenes in this province? For example, is it the policy to dispatch the nearest available ambulance to all emergencies? Is that a policy? In other words, would the nearest ambulance to an emergency location be called to respond?



DR. STEWART: I fear that the honourable gentleman opposite will have the answer to his question. It has not changed since the previous administration so I would assume it is the same, that would be that it would be common practice to provide the nearest ambulance, yes.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for confirming what I thought was still the policy and I am glad it hasn't changed. I had a conversation with Mr. Don Brown of B & D Ambulance Service. I know he has made some attempts to speak to the minister. He has some concerns with respect to delays in response times.



Now I know the minister has a keen interest in emergency services and I know he has a keen interest in patient care. Would the minister commit today to, at some point, meet with Mr. Brown of B & D Ambulance Service, to hear firsthand some of the concerns he has with regard to response times in the province?



DR. STEWART: Yes, I would be happy to arrange for his concerns to be heard, Mr. Speaker, I would commit to that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



HEALTH - CNAs: SELF-REGULATION - LEGISLATION INTRODUCE



MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to direct my question to the Minister of Health. It concerns the continuing saga of the Nova Scotia Certified Nursing Assistants Association to gain proper self-regulation legislation in this province, comparable to professionals in other provinces that have had such self-governance legislation for a very long time.



Last year the Minister of Health indicated that this would be forthcoming in the very near future. The certified nursing assistants collaborated fully, as requested by the department, with the Registered Nurses Association, to deal with some areas of mutual concern. That collaboration has been completed and, understandably, after waiting literally more than a decade, the Certified Nursing Association members are wanting to know from the minister when this long overdue legislation will be introduced in the House?



HON. RONALD STEWART: I appreciate that question from the honourable member opposite, particularly that I could reassure the association that the result of their collaboration has been received, some months ago, in fact, by the department. We will proceed along the lines of introducing that legislation as soon as possible.



It was not possible in the spring session because of budgetary commitments here but we would hope for the fall session.



MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, it seems quite apparent that it is not going to be introduced in this session, unless the minister has some trick up his sleeve which I guess he does not. I am standing here with a letter from the Minister of Health, in 1987, the Minister of Health of the previous government, saying that all collaboration is completed and it really should just be a matter of time and that he should be able to bring forward the legislation that will accommodate the membership in the very near future.



It is now eight years later and I guess what members are looking for is the same thing I am looking for is some explanation of why the delay. What is the problem? The draft legislation has been ready for years. The minor revisions that were appropriate coming out of that collaborative effort with the registered nurses have been in hand for some time. What is it that accounts for the interminable delays with respect to this long overdue legislation?



DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member opposite does not wish me to answer for the past sins and commissions since 1989 or whatever (Interruption) 1987, even worse. Suffice to say that our legislative agenda is planned in advance. We came in as a new government and attempted to, as the honourable member opposite realizes, put in place the structure for health care reform and change. Although this indeed is a priority, we had to be as specific as possible to put into place what was very sadly needed and very much needed in terms of our reform agenda.



I would say only that I would commit to the association, as I have in the meetings, to attempt to do this again as soon as possible, meaning that the legislative agenda sometimes is well beyond my control and often beyond the control of many of us here.





MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like we are finally getting somewhere, but it still sounds a little vague. The minister has had the final draft from the certified nursing assistants reflecting the changes that collaboration produced since mid-February. Could the minister indicate whether this legislation has gone to legal counsel and is the next step of the process for it to come back to be dealt with by caucus or has it not yet been approved by Legislative Counsel for the final stages of that process?



DR. STEWART: Yes, as I understand it, I would have to double-check. There has been an initial draft made and I will double-check to ensure that I am accurate on this, but their initial draft of the legislation, prior to the consultation, what I need to make sure of is that that has gone for the final revision after the consultation. I am not sure of that, but I can check that.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



ERA - TOURISM: ADVERTISING - TELEVISION



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. Lately, the Provinces of New Brunswick and Newfoundland have tourism advertisements airing late on television, in fact, during the NHL hockey games. I must say there has been a heavy volume of advertising. My question to the minister - they are quite captivating ads, actually - has the ERA or the tourism part of the department given any consideration to airing some ads on television to boost our great tourism industry in Nova Scotia and maybe, perhaps, are they looking at the eastern seaboard?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the department has focused advertising in various sectors, coincident with the new access to air travel and new centres in the United States. As to whether they contemplated or have contemplated or in fact engaged in contracts to supply television advertising during hockey games, I do not have the answer to that, but I will find out.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, again to that minister. During the last couple of weeks, this flyer, Lifescapes, advertising incredible packages for the Province of New Brunswick have come out in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. The local paper in our county, the Evening News, it fell out of the paper. I also understand it was in the Globe and Mail this week as well. There is no doubt New Brunswick is spending a lot of money in Nova Scotia promoting tourism. I just ask the minister, has he given any consideration to that type of advertising? I see that a lot of ads are in here, so I suppose that cuts down the cost to the New Brunswick Government as well.



[3:45 p.m.]



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, one of the comments that I most readily receive from the tourism industry in Nova Scotia is the high calibre of marketing and advertising that is done. I would be prepared to put before the member opposite all of this year's advertising program, in such a way that he can see not only where they have gone but the quality of work that is being done in Nova Scotia. I agree. When you see things from other provinces, you tend to want to be comparative. My understanding is that we compare extremely well and would be happy to provide that information in terms of the concrete examples to the member opposite.



MR. MCINNES: I just say again to the minister that we have a great province. I know we are all very proud of it and we want to get as many tourism people into Nova Scotia as we can. I know you are working with the Atlantic Provinces, doing advertising together. I think because of the value of the dollar and the American dollar, too, it is important that we look at that market. I know that the Atlantic Provinces tourism people are advertising down there and I think that is very important. The point I am trying to make is, I think, that we have to continue to promote our province as much as possible.



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I would rather not engage in comparisons of how our Department of Tourism and their marketing efforts compare with others. I think Nova Scotia would compare extremely favourably; in fact, so much so that there are emulations going on in other places. I think it is more important to realize that no matter what falls out of a newspaper or is seen at a hockey game, our people are learning from the best efforts and the achievements of other areas, attempting to lead by example but also make sure that we do not miss an opportunity to improve the work that is being done in this province. Thank you.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou Centre.



MUN. AFFS.: INFRASTRUCTURE WORKS PROG. - FUNDS



DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. The minister informed me by letter on March 27th that 90 per cent, or $61 million, of Nova Scotia's funds for the Canadian Infrastructure Works Program have been committed. My question to the minister is, how much of the remainder for Nova Scotia has been allocated since March 27th; in other words, how much remains to be allocated?



HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I certainly would be prepared to get the actual numbers. I think, as the honourable member has stated, it is the amount of money that has been committed. There are still projects that are in the process of going through the management committee, in the process of being signed off by Mr. Dingwall and then signed off by Minister Eggleton. I would suggest it is very similar. We have put forward a few additional projects but nothing of any significance since the end of March.



DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for her commitment. The minister is aware, as is the Minister of Health, that the Sydney Mines Town Council is still awaiting word on a serious sewage difficulty. They have taken it upon themselves to downsize the size of the project. The original funding proposal was $465,000; I understand it is now down to $180,000. This funding would allow the town to construct a sewer line through Ocean Street. There are approximately 30 homes now on a septic system there and until a sewage system is installed, future development cannot occur in that area. Would the minister tell us how close she is to reaching a decision on the matter of this sewage proposal from Sydney Mines?



MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, certainly the honourable Minister of Health, the member for Cape Breton North, has brought this matter to my attention on a number of occasions. Currently, the Minister of Health and myself are having discussions with the Department of the Environment. Quite correctly, we have looked at the project and have been able to downsize it, to be a project that is more capable of being financed. Certainly, the infrastructure money in the Cape Breton area has been considerably, if not all, committed at this particular point in time, and I think in many instances most of that money is not even in an approval stage, but the money has been awarded to municipalities.



Certainly, recognizing the seriousness of this particular situation with the waste, it certainly is a high priority for both myself and the Minister of Health, as well as the Department of the Environment. I think we will be moving with some decisions on it in the very near future.



DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for her commitment and interest on behalf of the people in Sydney Mines and I know that the local member has been active in this. My final supplementary to the minister, if, after she has ascertained how much money is not committed by the province on the infrastructure program, and if any money becomes available from projects in that area that will not go forward due to a lack of municipal funding, would she look at all the possibilities and try to find a solution for the people on Ocean Street in Sydney Mines?



MS. JOLLY: Certainly. I have made that commitment to the honourable Minister of Health recognizing it is a serious situation for that area, as well as for the member and certainly with the Department of Health and Department of the Environment. I can give the honourable member great assurance that, should money become available because either projects are not proceeded with or maybe some of them come in under the tender, less than the amount that was awarded, certainly, the Ocean Street project is a high priority for us.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Just before I begin, I would like to make another introduction. Three people from the Municipality of the County of Queens: the Warden of the municipality, Stan Smith; and the Deputy Warden, Mr. Russell Hirtle in the west gallery; and standing beside Mr. Hirtle, the Chief Administrative Officer, David Clattenburg. I would ask the House to accord them a warm welcome. (Applause)



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



ERA - TOURISM: BLUENOSE II - LIABILITY INSURANCE



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. On Monday, the minister tabled an agreement between the province and the Bluenose II Preservation Trust. Less than two pages in length and consisting of 10 brief clauses, one could hardly characterize this as a comprehensive and tight foundation agreement between the province that owns a multimillion dollar asset on behalf of the people of the province and those who are now charged with her responsibility. The province is required to provide insurance, according to this agreement, of up to $6 million; now surely this is for loss or damage to the vessel. My question to the minister, how much liability insurance will be carried and will be the premium be paid by Bluenose II Preservation Trust from privately subscribed funds or will that liability insurance premium be paid by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia?



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: The question has to do with what we might call operating costs. There is an amount of approximately $400,000 which is the core funding for Bluenose II's operation. Those funds are extended to the Bluenose Trust on receipt of invoices and purchase orders, et cetera. There is additional funding that will be supplied by the private sector in the operation of the vessel. I would have to assume that the insurance premium will either be covered by the province's part of that $400,000 or will be part of the overall operating portion of the budget. The exact details of the premium and the coverage for liability I do not have here, but would be prepared to table those here in the House.



MR. LEEFE: I thank the minister for that commitment, Mr. Speaker. There is no reference in the agreement respecting authority to make alterations to the vessel. For example, should her deck layout be changed by the Bluenose II Preservation Trust, if the Trust sublet the vessel for a film, does the Trust have full authority to make alterations at its own discretion, as would seem to be implied in the April 19th agreement?



MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has me at a slight disadvantage in that I do not have the document, although I tabled it and gave it to him. I would appreciate having it back. The implication is that the vessel, as she is now, is obviously preserved as part of the Preservation Trust so that any modification to deck superstructures and other elements of Bluenose II would be clearly something that would require the permission of the owner of the vessel.



MR. LEEFE: I would look forward to clarification by the minister in that respect and certainly hope that his interpretation is the correct interpretation. I also should say that I have not seen the document since Monday, either. Mr. Speaker, Clause 3 of the agreement states that the trust will be responsible for hiring the proper crew. It strikes me as a curious turn of phrase and I wonder if the minister would advise the House just what is meant by hiring a proper crew?



MR. HARRISON: The answer, Mr. Speaker, is quite simply in the same vein to which the honourable member has made many compliments during budget estimates and I think even to the press, indicating that the hiring to date has been of exemplary quality. The people hired to look after this vessel by the Preservation Trust has received the praise of the honourable member. So, by his own definition, the term proper includes the people hired to date, and I am sure, now that they are there, the hiring process of the remaining crew members will be followed with equivalent wisdom and quality.



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



TRANSPORT. - SHIP AGREEMENT MGT. COMM.:

FLEUR-DE-LIS TRAIL - APPROVAL



MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to go back to the Minister of Transportation and Communications, if I may for one more Highway No. 104 question. The SHIP agreement that was signed, and I listened carefully to the minister's answer this afternoon, but that provides for the establishment, of course, of a management committee that would contain an appointee by the provincial government, the Minister of Transportation, and another one by the federal Minister of Transport. They have the job of reviewing and approving all projects necessary under the implementation of this particular agreement.



My question to the minister is quite simply this, did that management committee agree to or approve the diversion of the funds, or inclusion, if you want to put it another way, of the Fleur-de-lis Trail under the SHIP agreement? Did that management committee provide that approval?



HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I believe that committee consists of a representative of Transport Canada and the provincial Department of Transportation. I believe a member of the Opposition last week tabled one of the supplements to the SHIP agreement which contained the signatures of those two individuals. That would have been the Director of Engineering Services, the Department of Transportation, Bob Macdonald, who has since retired, and a Mr. Jones from Transport Canada who I am not familiar with. You will recall the discussion and the disagreement, if you will, last week over the fact that the previous administration signed the SHIP agreement on April 1, 1993, but the committee members, Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Jones, actually signed off on that identified project that have been included in that agreement in October. So once a year those officials did meet and sign off on that and yes, as far as I know, that certainly was done.



MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, so I understand that they have signed off. Presumably that was done after the approval had been given by the ministers involved. The minister indicated that he had approval earlier today, permission from the Honourable Douglas Young, federal Minister of Transport, and he has agreed to table that letter. My question to the minister, however, is not dealing specifically with that letter. Will the minister agree to table, as is required to be in writing under Section 12.2 of the agreement, the amendments that had been made by mutual agreement by the ministers in writing? Will the minister agree to table in the House today - and he could call up staff and have them faxed over or sent over - copies of the actual agreements that the minister has made relative to that funding?



MR. MANN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I thought again that that had been included with the pile of documents I had tabled on agreements. Perhaps it wasn't, but yes, I will. The federal government and the provincial government meet once a year to sign off on the federal-provincial agreement. It is done by invoice so the projects are approved, usually completed and then signed off by the individuals who, I believe, use the opportunity of the TAC, Transportation Association of Canada meetings, to consummate the deal, if you will. But I believe the letter that he referred to, would clarify this. I indicated that I would table it and I will. I have provided a copy already to the Leader of the Opposition. This letter from the Honourable Douglas Young said, "The project will be funded through the Federal-provincial Highways Agreement, (Strategic Highways Improvement Program), administered by the Federal Department of Transport.".



[4:00 p.m.]



"The funding will be delivered from project 1.1, Thomson Road to Masstown, as it is anticipated that this project will not proceed at this time, due to the lack of funding for the overall limits.". So, this does set out the authority we had, Mr. Speaker, the conversations that took place and even the date that here, I guess the line I left out, "I understand that officials from both the Provincial and Federal Government discussed this matter on May 10,1994, and the Agreement, Schedule "B", was amended on May 11, 1994 to include this project.". That project being the Fleur-de-lis Trail.



I will provide a copy to the honourable member and I will also table a copy.



MR. HOLM: The minister has said that he is going to table a copy but that was not only of the letter, that was also of the agreement. (Interruption) I appreciate that and that may help to provide some of the framework for the information.



My final question then to the minister is quite simply this, could the minister also agree to provide any other amendments to this particular agreement that have been made, other than that particular one? There still are a number of dollars, originally there was $55 million that was taken out, only supposedly about $13.5 million or $14 million will be going to the Fleur-de-lis Trail, so there is additional funding. Will the minister provide either the current amount of money that is left in that agreement or provide copies of any amendments which saw that money go to other purposes?



MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is incorrect, there will be $26 million going to the Fleur-de-lis Trail; $13 million federal, $13 million provincial. There is $29 million remaining in the SHIP agreement, for a total of $55 million. There are no other amendments that have been made to that agreement.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.



NAT. RES. - RAIL LINES ABANDONED: ACQUISITION - POLICY



MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. During consideration of the minister's estimates, the minister spoke of the province acquiring abandoned rail lines across Nova Scotia for recreational development. I wonder if the minister would confirm that this is the government's policy, that is acquisition of abandoned rail lines?



HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, last year we worked with the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission in moving forward the potential of acquiring the abandoned rail lines in the Province of Nova Scotia. We are in a process now of receiving proposals from CN in regard to what their appraised values are. We have reviewed that and, upon completion of that, obviously we would go to Cabinet and prepare to work with communities and organizations to find partnerships in the overall acquisition of that, if that is the wish of the government.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, one must assume that the policy has been fully costed prior to adoption by government. I wonder if the minister could advise, to a reasonable round figure, what he estimates acquisition costs to be? In the event that he does not have that information with him, would he be kind enough to provide it to me?



MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the price, as I indicated in my previous answer, CN is doing their own, we are doing an appraisal, appraised value on it. Upon completion of that appraisal, we will have a better idea in regard to the exact amount of money we are talking about.



As I indicated earlier as well, we would then want to enter into partnership arrangements with organizations that have expressed interest to us, in partnership with the Department of Natural Resources and Human Resources, Sport and Recreation, to be able to help fund a program similar to what was done in the Province of Prince Edward Island.



MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, understanding that there may not be a universal enthusiasm for recreational trail development on abandoned rail lines, although I myself support that initiative, I am thinking, for example, of the area of Gunning Cove in Shelburne County, where people were very anxious to acquire sections of the abandoned rail line to add to their own property. I wonder if the minister could advise how the government intends to deal with requests that government-acquired sections of abandoned rail line be turned over to ownership of persons owning lands adjacent to rail lines?



MR. DOWNE: I know the member opposite does support the concept of Rails to Trails, rails to soft trails, partnershipping, Across Canada Hook-up on an international or national corridor of recreational uses that would be used for everything from snowmobiling to eco-tourism and the list goes on. It also has other economic benefits such as whether or not a gas pipeline would come into play, the access of that or other forms of communication equipment and so on and so forth.



In regard to the issue in Shelburne. I have been dealing with members of the Community of Shelburne for one and one-half to two years. Some of those rail lines were literally next door to the house. Queenie Acker is a case in point. Ms. Acker's involvement with that and our involvement with her for quite some time.



What we have done in regard to that particular property is we have entered into an arrangement and understanding with the people in that community that when we run into situations where the line is directly in relationship to their home or they want to acquire it, we would find a diverted route. That is obviously the option that the national bodies are recommending to us, a committee that has been established through Sport and Recreation. The committees that are established within the Province of Nova Scotia within our own departments are saying, we will find alternative options to those particular initiatives as they would apply to agriculture, as they apply to concerns of Shelburne County.



The idea here, and I think it is important to spend the time to explain this, Mr. Speaker, if I may. The importance of this issue is not to find confrontation, but to find options in regard to settlements and discussions. This will be a public consultative process once we are ready to move forward.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



HOUSING - SENIORS: ELEVATORS - PLANS



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. Sydney Mines Town Council has written you recently in regard to an elevator or lift for multi-level senior citizens' complexes in their area. Considerable expression for the health and safety of seniors who live on the second floors of provincially-owned apartments. People have expressed concerns about them.



It is a province-wide concern as I have also received calls from another area. For example, a Ms. R. C. Pye of Halifax called about the matter as well. Could the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs provide Nova Scotian seniors with an update on her government's plans concerning elevators or lifts for seniors' apartments?



HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite may know, there is a refit program in place and as funding does become available we will attempt to address all those seniors who are in need of elevators in their senior citizens' complexes.



MR. MCINNES: I thank the minister for that answer, but perhaps when she responds to this question, you are saying you are reviewing the many seniors' apartments across Nova Scotia. Perhaps you could tell me how much money is involved in the budget for that particular project and how many you expect to do this year?



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I do not believe I can provide the member opposite with that number today, but I can find out. I do know that it is cost-shared with the federal government. We are waiting to hear from the federal government for the funding through a cost-sharing agreement we have with them. As that becomes available, we will be addressing the situation.



MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs. It is an important program. It is important to the seniors of those provincially-owned apartments across this province, especially those people who are on the second floor. An elevator is very convenient for them. I thank the minister for saying that she will report the information maybe perhaps within a day or so and share the information with all members of the Legislature.



MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question being brought to the floor. It is an issue that we will make every attempt to address so that we can accommodate those seniors who do require elevators and retrofit in their different housing complexes across the province.



As I said earlier, as money does become available, we will definitely be bringing this program forward to accommodate those people who have that need.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West, on a new question.



HEALTH: AMBULANCE SERVICE (PICTOU) - 199291 NOVA SCOTIA LTD.



MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week, the member for Pictou West asked the minister a question regarding the recent tender award for ambulance service in Pictou County. The minister could not answer the question at the time, but has since provided a written answer.



The specific question that was asked was, why was the tender awarded to a company that did not meet the specifications outlined in the bidder's package. In his response, the minister took issue with the company's name, even though his own department referenced the same company in the press release.



I would ask the minister if he would tell the House why the winning company, 199291 Nova Scotia Limited, which is the name of the company, was accepted, even though it did not provide the information required in the bidder's package?



HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I recognize there was a change in name and also connections between the current provider of service, I think it is Dartmouth or the metro area. In terms of the requirements for the bid package and the requirements that were met or were not met, I had reviewed this with the Director of Emergency Health Services within the department. We went over, as well, the criteria in order to ensure that the bids, because it was not the lowest bid, as I mentioned in my last answer the other day, that everything was done duly and properly and that the requirements were met. In fact, it is the belief of the group, the committee that chose, this was the best package that was given for the best price that could accommodate or reach the standards that were required. I had confidence in that. I can only fall back and say that I would reiterate that I trust the judgment of that group.



MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, well, the minister knows full well that the company is now advertising for people to work for the company and that was all supposed to be included, the qualifications of the people working, in the bidder's package.



In response to the question, the minister stated to the member for Pictou West if the ambulance service maintains 45 calls a month, the average cost would be $400 or less. I checked and so far this month, and we are over half way through the month, there have been four calls that were done. That 199291 Nova Scotia Limited has responded, as I said, to four calls so far. Given that fact, it means the cost is over $1,700 a call. Will the minister advise if this $1,700 is more than 100 times what other ambulance operators receive per call in this province?



DR. STEWART: No, I am not, Mr. Speaker, ready to concede that in any way. Here we are, we are looking at the number of calls and judging and trying to predict the cost per call. If we look at the 80,000-plus calls that are taken in the Province of Nova Scotia, and we assume, which is a reasonable assumption, that about 15 per cent or so are emergency calls, then we see that the price that even the honourable gentleman is quoting is not that far off base, $1,700 versus something like $1,300. But you cannot operate an emergency system on that.



The answer to that is to base only vehicles at central regional facilities and not have any resources in the periphery. There is a cost when one provides 24 hour a day, 7 day a week service, the same as fire departments. If we funded fire calls for fire suppression on the basis of the number of calls only, then the cost would be prohibitive and one would judge it to be uneconomical to provide fire suppression in the province. We cannot judge the provision of emergency care in Pictou, solely by the predicted number of emergency calls only. We have to provide the service to be in place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is the same as the previous arrangements and we will continue to do so. The question here is whether we are willing to commit resources to provide, in Pictou, the same quality of service that would be, say, in the other parts of the county, in New Glasgow and other areas. We said we would and we will.



[4:15 p.m.]



MR. MOODY: The minister is not correct when he said, as previous, because Dort provided not only emergency calls but non-emergency calls. Now we have Dort's Ambulance out of New Glasgow providing the non-emergency calls in New Glasgow and this group providing about eight a month at $1,700 of cost. The minister said last week he did not know if there was a commitment to Metro & District Ambulance or to 199291 Nova Scotia Limited for one of the province's new ambulances. Can the minister tell us today if he has checked to determine if such a commitment has been made to 199291 Nova Scotia Limited, to get one of the new ambulances that have been tendered by the province?



DR. STEWART: Again, I have asked my staff to review this. I have a note here that I thought I had circulated to the honourable member for Pictou West - perhaps it was not included - that there was no commitment to deliver ambulances to specific companies.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.



ERA - ONE-STOP CENTRES: KENTVILLE - MANAGER



MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question, through you, to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. The minister and I have exchanged some information over the past couple of weeks on the staffing of the one-stop information service centre in Kentville. I had a particular question with respect to the position of manager. My concern was and still is that an employee from the Liberal caucus office was hired, I think, for the position of manager of that centre, under basically a hiring regime which called for a secondment. I am trying to get this matter cleared up. I asked the minister yesterday in estimates about it. He said it was not a secondment. I will table the May 4, 1994, advertisement for the job. It clearly indicates that it was a secondment. I wonder if I could ask the minister if he would, perhaps, clarify for me how an employee of the Liberal caucus office was hired for the position of manager of the one-stop information service centre in Kentville?



MR. SPEAKER: With deference, I believe we have had that question before, but the honourable minister perhaps could update the House since the last time it was asked.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the question has to do with, once again, the procedures. We discussed it somewhat in budget estimates. Why has someone from the Liberal caucus office been moved to a provincial government position? The positions were advertised and the people were selected in accordance with the human resource procedures and guidelines. Mr. Balcom applied for the position of manager in Kentville, met the qualifications, was interviewed and was selected for the position. It is not a secondment. Secondments are offered to provincial civil servants. Personal services contracts are offered to employees of federal departments, municipal governments, quasi-government departments and independent individuals. The Liberal caucus office is a quasi-provincial department. A leave of absence was arranged for Mr. Balcom, but basically, as we have stated before, he competed in open competition and won the right to earn that position in the access office in Kentville.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have just tabled the document. Clearly, it says in there, an employee of the provincial, municipal and federal governments. I am just trying to get clear in my mind, why it is that an employee other than that would not have been screened out?



MR. SPEAKER: All right. If that is the question, fine.



MR. CHISHOLM: I am somewhat concerned about that. I think it is important and I would like the minister to help me with that answer.



MR. HARRISON: I think that as I just answered, Mr. Speaker, the disqualification of a candidate who is engaged in public service was not appropriate in this position. This position was open. The gentleman in this case, this candidate, was in the Public Service of Nova Scotia in a quasi-government position and was eligible for applying to meet the qualifications under the procedures that were followed in this particular advertisement.



MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would provide the information as to how many people applied for the job, how many people were hired and the rating of those individuals with respect to their qualifications for that position.



MR. HARRISON: Given, Mr. Speaker, that this was done with Human Resources hiring procedures and to the extent possible that information can be provided, I will endeavour to find out what is available and what is permissible and provide a response to the honourable member.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



EMO: EMERGENCY SERVICE (911) - IMPLEMENTATION



MR. DONALD MCINNES: My question is to the minister responsible for 911 and I do not believe he is here, but I will ask the minister officially, who, I understand, is acting in that capacity. He may be able to help me and he may not.



We have had many comments as to the plans of this government about the 911 emergency telephone system for the province and we understand that Kings County and the Town of Bedford are in place. Would the minister tell me, or if he cannot tell me, then at his earliest convenience get the information for me as to when we are going to have the 911 system in this province ready to go.



HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: Well, in my capacity as the Acting Minister of the Environment I am delighted the member opposite has brought this question forth. I remember when I sat near that location that Mel Pickings, the minister in charge, I think it was 1987 or 1988 said we would have it very shortly. I think it is 1995, I cannot give you the time, but I will ask my staff or the staff of 911 to give me the most recent information and we will bring that information forth to you at the earliest convenience.



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



OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS



MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS



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



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, as indicated yesterday it is our intention to call Resolution No. 264 followed by Resolution No. 310.



Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you call Resolution No. 264 which we would expect to have debate run from 4:22 p.m. to approximately 5:07 p.m.



Res. No. 264, re Transport. - Trucking Industry: Programs Assist - Implement - notice given May 4/95- (Mr. B. Taylor)



MR. SPEAKER: I am surrendering the Chair now to the Deputy Speaker who will take the Chair for the remainder of the day.



The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I will read the therefore be it resolved in the record, "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation start implementing programs that will assist instead of hinder the Nova Scotia trucking industry.".



I fully expect that once I finish my notes the minister will rise and attempt to tell us what great things his government is doing to assist the trucking industry and transport industry in this province, however, the facts speak for themselves. The minister has announced the construction of a toll highway between Masstown and Thomson Station because he alleges and states, and I think it is somewhat fictional, that there is not enough money to construct the four lane highway.



Nova Scotians are fully aware that $55 million existed for the construction plus money that is to be made available through the Atlantic Freight Rate Assistance Adjustment program over the next five years plus ordinary highway capital expenditure funds which would also be available. It is really a myth for the minister to try to cover up his blatant pork-barrelling.



If I can say one more thing, the Premier took the initiative a few weeks ago when we were debating this topic to get up and the Premier did get up and defend the Minister of Transportation for a short time and, in fact the Premier commended the Minister of Transportation for taking the money, redirecting, reappropriating the funds from the Highway No. 104 project. I find that quite startling. I guess I should not be overly surprised when one considers the help the Premier now requires leading up to the June 24th vote, especially considering how the Liberal Party executive has managed to get Liberals across this province so angry.



This is not the first time the Minister of the Crown has encountered difficulties within the Canadian legislative framework. Recent examples in British Columbia and Ontario and even Alberta have shown that Premiers do indeed dump Cabinet Ministers who are up to no good. Now with the exception of the Liberal leadership review, I cannot understand for the life of me why the Premier did not send the Minister of Transportation packing. Not too long ago, Madam Speaker, we heard about the diversion of funds and when it came to light, I would think the President of the Executive Council and the Premier of this province would be very greatly concerned about a minister who would jump in and fiddle with a Strategic Highway Improvement Program that is dedicated solely to our national highway system. That includes, of course, the national highway system of this province.



We all heard what the federal Minister of Transport said about the diversion of funds and it was in this morning's paper. Yet the provincial minister, who I am sure is a very busy man, and is unable to be in the House at this time, stood up in the Legislature on April 6th and said the Auditor General had a letter of approval from the federal minister for diverting funds. Now, Madam Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Communications is a very busy man. If you remember, he was up to Sarnia not too long ago. He had to take a trip up to Sarnia when we were going to debate Bill No. 10, when the bill was called for second reading. Nobody disputes that he is a very busy man, but I have to say that I feel the Minister of Transportation has been somewhat of an embarrassment to this government, and, in fact, he has embarrassed the federal government, too. Now we are finding out that the federal government and the provincial government have egg on their faces.



What happened, Madam Speaker, was that the provincial Minister of Transportation committed a dastardly deed any way you look at it. He committed a dastardly deed and, when I suggested that to the Speaker during Question Period on, I believe, April 6th or April 7th, he suggested it was intemperate language to use the word dastardly. Now if one looks up dastard and dastardly in the dictionary, we find out that it is a cowardly, malicious act. That is what I feel it was, ripping away some $26 million from a highway project that was intended to alleviate the present dangerous section of highway that runs up through the beautiful Wentworth Valley.



Madam Speaker, let's get the record straight here. Many times, the beautiful Wentworth Valley has been referred to as death valley and I think that that is inappropriate because it is a very scenic part of this province. It is a beautiful part of this province, but unfortunately, and it is not the fault of the government of the day and it is not the past government's fault, the highway has become extremely dangerous. There are heavy volumes of freight moved up and down that highway. Nearly all the freight going to the Province of Newfoundland and all the freight coming into Nova Scotia travels over that very dangerous two-lane highway. So we do need an alternative, we do need another option, but I am not convinced that the option that the Minister of Transportation is putting forward is the best option for this province.



Recently the Atlantic Region freight assistance has been cut. It has been axed. The federal Liberals decided to slash that away and what we are seeing in Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec is a $326 million federal adjustment package. We are told that money is to go into the maintenance of our highways. Surely to goodness the Minister of Transportation could have used a little creative ability and come up with a formula where he didn't have to establish a toll highway. You have $84 million coming in, in the form of an annuity over some five years. So I guess that equates to roughly $17 million a year. Surely to goodness that could be used as a collateral or a loan guarantee, use the money that is in the Strategic Highway Improvement Program. You would have enough to build the highway, you would have enough to build the Fleur-de-lis Trail in Cape Breton. But to establish tolls on this highway, is wrong.

Yesterday, the Minister of Transportation and I had a somewhat collegial debate on his department's estimates and things of that nature. The minister indicated that the truckers are not feeling his wrath. He is not coming down any harder on truckers than he is any other segment in this society. Now I beg to differ, Madam Speaker. The trucking industry on average, a commercial trucker in this province, pays over $11,000 in fuel tax on an annual basis. That, pardon the pun, and it is no pun, is a conservative estimate. Eleven thousand dollars a year goes in, in the form of a fuel tax and there are some 10,300 commercial vehicles that are registered over 13,500 kilograms in this province. The monies, the revenue, through ordinary revenue source that the minister's department accrues certainly exceeds the money that is being spent on the highway. I understand the logic behind the minister not putting that money into highways. He is telling us, well, look, if we do that we will have shortcomings relative to the budgets for Health, Education. I understand that. Education and health are very important, but we cannot continue to rip away and come down hard on the trucking industry of this province.



[4:30 p.m.]



The trucking industry, Madam Speaker, particularly the dump trucking industry of this province, felt again, just this past winter, the wrath of the Minister of Transportation and Communications and, depending where you live in this province, they were stuck and struck with a reduction in the salt haulage rate of some 20 per cent to 25 per cent. Now, when the public sector's wages were rolled back, including ours, there was a great hue and cry and justifiably so and there should be a hue and cry, because I did not agree with that and did not support that either. But, why did we go after the trucking industry with a 20 per cent to 25 per cent gutting?



There is no excuse. There is no logic to it. Now we do have neighbours, we all do, in all our constituencies, who are truckers. I ask members of this honourable House to look to your trucker friends and just see what you are doing to them because you are putting them in a very real financial hardship. There is no question about it.



Madam Speaker, I did not intend to stray too far off the topic, so I would like to provide you with some information that I received via the FAX this morning and it was from a trucking firm in Brookfield. The point was made that the average, typical haul from Amherst to Truro is 220 kilometres. That is a round trip. It is 110 kilometres one way. Now, on average you would burn 100 litres of diesel fuel at a cost of $32. That cost is before you, to make a round trip. I think the individual was using a Super-B configuration for his model, which is eight axles.



Now, the minister has indicated that there will be a threshold, or a ceiling at least, a maximum charge. I don't know whether it is going to be $12 or $14. We don't know what that is going to be, but the trucking industry understands that they are going to have to pay $2.00 per axle. So, we have to tack on a toll of $10 to $12. Now, this will have a severe economic impact on the trucking industry.



Many companies and individuals who are trucking right now are on the brink of disaster in terms of economics and in terms of their financial statement, Madam Speaker. They cannot stand another additional cost and that is what they consider this, a toll tax. Different trucking companies and different truckers have indicated to me that at the bottom of their invoice, they are going to have typed into it, the Savage toll tax, in addition to what it cost to transport their freight. Many trucking companies are giving that serious consideration.



I am not trying to mislead the minister. I am not trying to lead the Minister of Transportation at all. Madam Speaker, this past winter we have seen the truckers hit so very hard. They were told to take it or leave it. The Minister of Transportation, who said the truckers would take it, he did not offer them an ultimatum. He offered them an ultimatum without any negotiation and, for the first time ever, the Department of Transportation geared up five tractor units, put wetline kits on at a cost of several thousand dollars, leased dump trailers, and I understand that they did not go to any type of a public lease or any type of a public tender, but they had to do that because the trucker who had hauled, the independent owner/operator, the citizens and taxpayers of our constituencies, could not afford to haul.



On different days, I saw the Department of Transportation and Communications' tractor trailer units going to Pugwash and coming back with loads of salt because the trucker in our constituency could not haul and that is wrong. Now what we are going to do is establish a toll and there is going to be no alternative. Anywhere in North America - I made this point before but it certainly bears repetition - that there is a toll highway, there is an alternate route, an option, because not every one of us can afford to pay the toll; it depends on your situation.



So I am hoping the minister will give that some consideration. The way it is right now, the minister tells us it is going to be mandatory. When this new highway is completed, when it comes to fruition, the minister is going to erect signs that say there is, no commercial traffic except for local delivery. Now, down on the Fleur-de-lis Trail in beautiful Cape Breton, I don't expect there is going to be any such sign erected, but the SHIP agreement is supposed to promote our trucking industry, it is supposed to promote our local businesses. That is what it is in place there for.



The Minister of Transportation and the federal Minister of Transport keep passing the buck, so to speak. I don't know who is responsible, I don't care who is responsible. I am asking the Minister of Transportation to revisit his decision to establish tolls on our highways. I am asking him to look at what he is doing to the local businesses of Colchester and Cumberland Counties and I am asking him to look at what he is doing to the trucking industry of this province because it is going to hinder them greatly. It is going to drive many of them into bankruptcy. I want to point out again that many of them right now are not on very sound financial footing, and I thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Communications.



HON. RICHARD MANN: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley stands up and says to ask the minister this and ask the minister that. I am going to ask the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, a rhetorical question, I guess, does he suggest that we should take the Department of Transportation vehicles that have been purchased by the people of Nova Scotia, that at certain times of the year are sitting vacant in a depot someplace, and leave them sitting vacant? Or should we utilize them and save taxpayers dollars? There is a rhetorical question, but that begs the answer, I guess, to the question he asked. He doesn't support anything we have done. He does not support reducing the costs for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.



He stands up and says the revenues accrue to the Minister of Transportation. Wrong. Revenues on fuel taxes accrue to the Minister of Finance's Department. Let us get that straight, taxation is a finance matter. The revenues do not come to the Department of Transportation. The only time they did was when the Progressive Conservative Government, in their wisdom in 1989, developed a dedicated fuel tax. Two years later, they got rid of it; they put it in general revenues. (Interruption) Oh, we are going to get to that. The member says why not put it back in place? Hold that thought.



They put it in general revenue. Each and every member of the Liberal Opposition at that time predicted what would happen, that the money would stop being used on highways. We were right, it stopped being used on highways. It does not take a rocket scientist to take a look at the capital expenditures of the Department of Transportation and see where that money is not in highways. That started to happen long before we got here, Madam Speaker.



Why not go get it back? Is the member familiar with the budgeting process at all? Does he know where the money that is in general revenues goes? Does he realize it is the money being spent on health care, on education, on our social programs, on the other important services that this province provides?



SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.



MR. MANN: Well, what he is saying is, let's replace the money they removed from the dedicated trust fund and put it back. Let's rip $37 million or $38 million out of health care and put it in the capital budget of the Department of Transportation. He should go around the province on a speaking tour and tell people that.



Mr. Speaker, this ridiculous resolution he brought forward, which has a preamble that says we are intent on crippling the trucking industry . . .



AN HON. MEMBER: That is what you are doing.



MR. MANN: Can anybody in their right mind suggest a reason why anyone would want to cripple the trucking industry? The honourable member opposite belonged to the trucking industry.



He talks about a reduction of 20 per cent in salt-haul rates and that public servants took only a 3 per cent cut. What about the public servants who had to go home? They took a 100 per cent cut. Some people have paid an ultimate price because of years of excess in this province and lack of funding; they have gone home. The credit card bill came in and we had to pay the bill, Mr. Speaker.



They say the tolls are implemented for the truckers. The tolls will be there for everyone. Anyone who decides to use the highway. A good example of some of these issues, Madam Speaker, are best represented by the situation that happened with Route 336 which I believe is in the member's riding and which he has, on two occasions, I believe, written to me about.



One letter asked that we fix the road because it is in a state of disrepair. The second letter asked that we remove the weight restrictions for the trucking industry. Despite the fact that the engineering staff would tell you that it was the weight from the trucking industry, the heavy loads that did the damage to the highway in the first place.



I responded to the member - and I am sure he will recall this - by saying, I am in a no-win situation here. If I try to protect the roads, I am accused of trying to cripple the trucking industry. If I try to assist the trucking industry by eliminating the weight restrictions, I am accused of not caring or not fixing up the roads. I invited the member at that time to come back to me and tell me what I should do, but I have not heard from him on that.



That's a road, by the way, that I believe was repaved in 1991 and crack filled in 1993 and according to the member opposite is in an advanced state of disrepair today. I erred on the side of the road and said no to eliminating the weight restriction, not to cripple the trucking industry, but to try and protect the infrastructure we have.



Madam Speaker, he mentioned that we all have friends in the trucking industry. I am pleased he was listening because I said that yesterday. I am getting through to him you see. We do all have friends. We have relatives. We have no reason to cripple the trucking industry. We hope it survives and survives for a long time.



As I said yesterday, if he was Minister of Transportation and sat around a table and had a budget available to him and had choices to make, let me assure you, Madam Speaker, some of those choices are not easy. When it comes to a choice between, for example, reducing the salt-haul rates or taking additional snowplows off the road, this minister chose to reduce the salt-haul rates. He, some day, may be the Minister of Transportation and he, if he wants to, can increase the salt-haul rates and take the snowplows off the road, but this minister is not going to do that.



Madam Speaker, the information, the scientific data that is presented to me, as minister, does not come from my own staff. It does not come from my constituents. It comes from scientific and professional organizations around this world. I would point out one of the statistics that has been brought to my attention and that is the fact that, and I am sure many members, he may because he was in this industry, but people in this House know, for example, and this comes from, I think it is called RTAC, the Roads and Transportation Association of Canada under the vehicles, weights and dimensions study. I think members should listen to this because this will perhaps put some of these issues to rest.



A fully loaded tri-axle is equivalent to 351,000 cars. A fully loaded tri-axle, one tri-axle on the road does the equivalent wear and tear on the highway system of 351,000 cars. A fully loaded tandem is equivalent to 165,000 cars. Put that in perspective, Madam Speaker, with a traffic volume, let's round it off to say 7,000 vehicles a day on Highway No. 104, Wentworth Valley area, western alignment, eliminating 25 per cent of that as being commercial truck traffic and allowing that approximately 5,000 cars per day would travel that route. One fully loaded tri-axle would be the equivalent, one truck would be the equivalent of 70 days of cars on that road. Consider that you have got 2,000 trucks per day there, multiply that 2,000 by 70 days and you start to get the idea of the equivalent of the trucks.





Let's move on to the weight. Did the member know, and I do not know if he ever paid a fine for being overweight, but if he did, he would probably know that for every 1,000 kilograms past the maximum allowable weight on a tri-axle, you increase the damage to the road 6 per cent to 10 per cent. On a tandem, for every 1,000 kilogram increase, you increase the damage by 10 per cent to 15 per cent.



[4:45 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, those are not my numbers. That is the Roads and Transportation Association of Canada giving us those numbers. One truck is equivalent to 351,000 cars. We are not singling out the truck industry. It is very apparent and has been accepted for a long time that much of the damage that occurs on our highways is a result of that industry.



Now, the other figures that the member and some of his colleagues would like to throw around with respect to the cost of the trucking industry, again, let's not use my numbers. Let's use numbers from the World Bank number on roads and trucking costs. Madam Speaker, not counting any overhead costs, not factoring in anything whatsoever for time savings, the cost to a 18-wheeler, a five-axle vehicle, the cost is slightly in excess of $3.00 for the distance that we are talking about on the western alignment. When you factor in the saving on overhead on top of that, the saving on the wear and tear and the saving on the time, that number is significantly reduced. So, when we hear them multiplying by the tolling numbers, that is completely misleading.



We talk about gas tax across Canada and the hardship to the industry. Well, again, perhaps the Speaker could indicate how much time I have left?



MADAM SPEAKER: You have until just a shade short of 4:52 p.m.



MR. MANN: We are right about the middle in this country in fuel tax. There are four or five (Interruption) If I have time at the end, I will entertain a question, but I want to have an opportunity to conclude my remarks. We are right in the middle of the pack in our fuel tax. We are not the highest and we are not the lowest, but we are right about at the average, but behind four or five others.



I want to table Page 31.17 from the Capital Expenditure Estimates of 1991-92 and Page 32.18 from the Capital Expenditure Estimates of 1992-93, which will show anyone who cares that the dedicated fuel tax was removed from Transportation and put into the general revenues of the province.



The member says what are we going to do? Although, when he got up, he forgot himself, I think, and decided to launch another attack on the Highway No. 104 project and the toll road project and did not get back to the Therefore be it resolved, the operative clause in his resolution that said, what are we going to do for the trucking industry?



You know, Madam Speaker, in the past 20 months, there have been more routes opened up for B-Trains to assist the trucking industry in this province then there has been at any time before. We have changed the requirement that every little route has to go to Cabinet and now we have gone to Cabinet and got a blanket policy for the department. So that by applying certain criteria, we can directly assist immediately the trucking industry and some of the companies in this province that have these requests. We have done that. We have waived the registration fee increase and eliminated another registration fee increase, resulting in revenue that we have foregone in the Registry of Motor Vehicles, to the tune of about $3 million for the trucking industry. We have done that.



We have gone out and even when we cut the rates and I want to touch on this because the member harped on this for a little while, as well. When we cut the rates for the salt hauling by 20 per cent, I have to tell you, despite cutting them that much, we still had unsolicited offers in this province to deliver salt to our depots, to our sheds, at less rates than even they had been cut to. We resisted those, Madam Speaker. Why would we do that? Because we did want to salvage and protect the trucking industry. They are not getting a free ride. They are not going to get a free ride.



The member opposite wants to be all things to all people. Well, good for him. He can be that if he wants to. When we in this province cut salt rates we were criticized. When we cut any budget in this province, in this department, we have been criticized. When we laid off mechanics, we were criticized. When we used our own equipment to do our own work, we were criticized. Where, in Heaven's name, would this member start attacking a budget in order to achieve the goals that we have to achieve to get some financial stability? Very interesting because nothing we have done he agrees with. Yet I don't think we have left any area in our budget alone. He is trying to be all things to all people and he is on everybody's side. He is on everybody's side out there and that is typical, old-fashioned, Opposition politics.



Madam Speaker, we are working with other provinces. We changed, we saw the light. We offered alternatives. The alternative though is simply let's not do it. We saw what procrastination on difficult decisions will do for a province. Every province in this country has seen what procrastination on difficult decisions will do. If the fact that we are spending 26 cents out of every dollar to receive nothing in return is not a shining example of what procrastination on difficult decisions will do, go home and show some leadership. People are ready for it, people are ready to hear there are certain things we can no longer afford and that we all must pay a price, that we all must sacrifice. They are ready to do that. We are working with the trucking industry, with other provinces, to come up with uniform weights and measures that makes their inter-provincial travel more accommodating. We will continue to work with the trucking industry. There is no mandate, there is no attempt by anyone to cripple this industry that we all know is so important to the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to make some comments this afternoon on what I think is a very important topic, not necessarily as confined just by the resolution but the broader topics of transportation. I have to say in all honesty that the issues, problems and concerns that are facing the trucking industry aren't only as a result, quite frankly, and I don't claim to be as knowledgable of the trucking industry as is the mover of the resolution this afternoon, not having been involved in it. However, certainly the problems are not as simple and straightforward and only been caused by one or two items as maybe the member would suggest. I know that the member wasn't a member of the Conservative caucus or Party at the time when a number of Tory policies were implemented, that created quite a few problems for, particularly, the smaller truckers, but you can't just run and hide away and say that after the fact, since you decided that was a Party that you support and you joined and you want to run for, that you disassociate yourself necessarily from everything that they did.



What I am thinking about, Madam Speaker, are the problems that the trucking industry is facing. What we need to be looking at, quite honestly, is not just one segment of the transportation industry, but we have to look at what is best and how it is that we develop a transportation system that is going to be able to meet all of the needs in Nova Scotia. In fact, it is broader than that. We have to be looking at the transportation industry as it affects all parts of this country and looking at the subsidization, where it exists, where we are at an advantage, where we are disadvantaged and so on.



I remember, for example, the deregulation of the trucking industry and when that was brought in. I am not surprised, for example, that the minister said that there was a proposal put forward to the Department of Transportation by one company that was offering to be delivering all of the salt for Nova Scotia at a price substantially lower than that which is being paid to the independent truckers. But that ignores, I suggest, another broader issue. If we totally deregulate, and as we have been deregulating the industry, that means that the smaller trucking operations, the independent truckers, are placed at a tremendous disadvantage compared to the larger trucking operations, many of which are from outside of the Province of Nova Scotia, that can afford even to take losses for a period of time, to put their smaller competition out of business. Madam Speaker, that was a policy of the deregulation that we had imposed at that time. I think that it has and continues to have some negative impacts, just as the deregulation of the rail industry had an impact. As we see rail lines closing down, of course, we are depending more and more upon the trucking industry to be providing the means to transport goods and services around our province and around the country.



The trucking industry in the Atlantic Region, in terms of trying to get our products to the major markets, is at a disadvantage in one sense. They are competing, for example, with other areas, like Central Canada and the St. Lawrence Seaway, that receives millions and millions of dollars in the way of subsidies to keep that seaway open. Then the businesses and the truckers and those who are trying to arrange to have the products delivered to those markets have to compete with the rate structure which is subsidized at the other end. So, a lot of our local businesses are disadvantaged because of other subsidies.



We also heard, Madam Speaker, at the Law Amendments Committee, other problems, of course, that the trucking industry is facing. It is not only the tolls - that is an important element to their costs and how it can affect them - but also, too, the removal of the Atlantic Region freight assistance subsidy, which was in part aimed at trying to help, as the subsidies are being removed from the rail lines, but tries to assist the producers to get their products to market. As those go down, then too do the costs of getting goods and services, products, that are produced in Nova Scotia go up, in terms of the transportation costs.



What we have to be looking at, I would suggest - and maybe the Minister of Transportation and Communications wants to take some leadership. I am not trying to get into the point here where we are just firing bricks back and forth from one side to the other, accusing each other of having done this, that or the other thing - what I am saying is, that we have to sit down and look at our transportation needs as a whole and try to come up with reasonable transportation strategies that are going to be benefitting all Nova Scotians, those who are involved, certainly, in the trucking industry, the producers, the users of that system, the rail system and so on.



I will, however, if I may, just dealing on a couple of points, and with respect to the toll, because that is like the added straw that may end up breaking the camel's back, for a number of those who are involved in that particular industry, and, quite honestly, (Interruption) I am told that the government has been progressive; they gotten rid of the camels. Well, Madam Speaker, they may have got rid of the camels, but some of their policies are still a little bit fuzzy.



This is a government that talked about regional economic development. We had an untendered contract, which started off the whole process in the 30-60-90 consultation. There was to be regional economic development. I would suggest, Madam Speaker, that the toll that is planned for Highway No. 104 is discriminatory, in that it hurts most the businesses and the industries that are in that area or those that would locate in that area, if it were economically viable.



For example, a trucker who is going to be delivering goods and services, products, whether it be from Burnside Industrial Park - the trucking firm is located here and it is to be transporting products to Truro - then, indeed, they have no toll costs. They only have to deal with the actual costs of fuel, et cetera. But if a business or an industry is located in Amherst or in Debert, or if they are going to try and attract an industry to that area to create and expand economic development across the province, then that industry, that business, is going to be disadvantaged. Even if they use the same trucking firm that is from the metropolitan area, that could haul the goods from the Burnside Industrial Park to Truro at no toll rate, if that same trucking firm were to be hauling the goods from the Debert or Amherst area to Truro, there is no choice, or there will be no choice but to use the Highway No. 104 section of the highway.



[5:00 p.m.]



This new Highway No. 104 section is going to have elevations that are, and this isn't my information, I am not familiar with the area, but those who are familiar with the area will tell you, and they have told us at the Law Amendments Committee, is a very up and down, a very rolling terrain that has elevations of about 250 feet higher than the Folly Mountain area. The grades are very steep, the costs for fuel are going to be very high, and as well as having to pay those increased costs that are going to result from that, they are also going to have to now pay a toll.



Madam Speaker, there is no alternative route. We hear, for example, that the government in Ontario is going to be building Highway No. 407 as a toll area. But that particular section of road is being built specifically to service the commercial and industrial area and those businesses have a choice; they have the choice to use what is going to be this new Highway No. 407 and pay the toll or to use the existing, free of charge, Highway No. 401. So it is not a matter that they have no choice, they have the either/or.



In this area there is no choice, none whatsoever. If you go down through the States where they have toll highways, area after area where they exist, of course, beside them is another absolutely free road that those who wish to use it, may. Certainly most of the trucks and so on do use those highways but the tolls are not as high as $3.00 for the section. So, Madam Speaker, here we have discrimination. Here we are saying that it is going to be tolled, you have to use it, there is no choice. If, in fact, there was an alternate route, then maybe most, if not all, of the trucks would decide to use it anyway. But surely those particular trucking firms that are located and, more importantly just than the trucking firms, for the businesses that are located in that area, they have no choice.



I don't claim to know the area well in Springhill and Pugwash and Amherst and all the different communities throughout Cumberland County, I don't claim to know them well at all. But, of course, we want them to be strong economically. That means that the people who live in those areas, hopefully, are going to have jobs and we can be darned sure that most of them are not going to be government jobs because that is concentrated in metro. So they are going to have to be producing goods and services, materials, products that have to be moved. They automatically are disadvantaged over another business that is trying to provide to Central Canada or the States or other areas because they will have to use that toll, just the same way as they are disadvantaged to other Nova Scotia businesses that are located in an area where they will be able to transport their products to market without using a toll.



I think, quite frankly, that if the toll is to be imposed, that the toll should only be placed on the new section of highway that is built, not being located between Exit 6 and Exit 7, where it is aimed, and that is on the existing part of the highway that has already been built and paid for by tax dollars, Madam Speaker. We should not be charging tolls on something we have already paid for. If we didn't put the toll where they are planning to put it, then those who are using the routes would have a choice; they could take the new highway or they could take the existing, publicly paid for highway that is already in existence.



So, I say that the government has made what I consider, and I don't know if it would stand up in a Charter of Rights challenge, but they have certainly imposed what is a double standard and discrimination against that particular area and against the businesses and the individuals in that area who will have to use it. It certainly is a tax increase.



However, Madam Speaker, we have to go a little bit beyond that. I have a couple of minutes, haven't I?



MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, you have about a minute and one-half.



MR. HOLM: A minute and one-half. Well, that will be enough time to finish up, I guess, really what I want to say. The main part that I want to come back to however, Madam Speaker, is what I said at the very start. The tolls are certainly an issue that are causing a great deal of consternation for those involved in the industry right now and with good reason. However, what we have to do, because that is one, and a very serious cost and concern to the trucking industry, but so, too, are all of the other things that have happened to the industry, not all by this government and, certainly, not all by this minister.



What we have to do is show some leadership, hopefully from the Minister of Transportation, but, certainly, from all segments within this House and all sectors of the economy, of trying to work with groups like, for example, Transport 2000, to be developing transportation policies and strategies that are going to ensure that Nova Scotia businesses and industries will be able to compete and get their products to market at a reasonable cost, a competitive cost. If we are not able to do that, then we are doing a tremendous disservice to all parts, all regions and all citizens in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 310.



Res. No. 310, re ERA - Tourism: Accommodations (B&B/Country Inns) - Reps. Meet - notice given May 10/95 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.



MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: This is a resolution, Madam Chairman, which I had the opportunity to introduce on Wednesday, May 10th, and it relates to the bed and breakfast issue which has been the subject of discussion between myself and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and others in recent days in the House. I do not propose to read all of the resolution, but the operative clause is:



"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency meet immediately with representatives of the bed and breakfast, farm and country inns and unique country inns industry to learn firsthand of their importance to the tourism industry of Nova Scotia, the difficulties they face with the Canada Select Rating and Licensing Program and the vital contribution they make to life and economy of rural Nova Scotia.".



Well, I want to start my remarks this afternoon, and I only have a few moments as you know, Madam Speaker, by extending a very sincere and heartfelt compliment to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I believe as a consequence of the questions put to him the other day relative to the bed and breakfast issue and the problems that they were experiencing with the Canada Select Rating and Licensing system and so on, the fact of the matter is that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, true to his word, did meet with representatives of the bed and breakfast industry and the farm and country inns industry.



I am aware, having spoken to two people who did have an opportunity to meet with the minister, that they advised that they had a very positive meeting and I thank the minister for that. They report to me that he, the minister, listened carefully to their concerns and they advised him of the outcome of a Canada Select committee meeting which had been held the day before, just yesterday.



So I want to begin my remarks, I say, by saying a sincere thank you to the minister for doing exactly what I hoped and what the leaders of that vitally important sector of our tourism industry hoped might happen as a consequence of us raising these issues from the Opposition benches here in the House in recent days. I do not mean this as a shot at the minister. The minister has a tremendous schedule to follow and the minister, among many other things has, at present, responsibilities relative to the G-7 Summit which are, along with his colleague the Minister of Human Resources, and I am sure those responsibilities are becoming more and more onerous by the hour let alone by the day.



I just do not know whether, without us having raised the issue, it would have been possible for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency to have the face to face meeting which he had for some time. I think he might well have, down the line, had the opportunity to have that meeting, but it would have perhaps been rather delayed.



Having extended, Madam Speaker, my compliment to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, may I say to him that while those who report back to me on their meeting with him today, express a very positive reaction, they do raise one concern and I want to raise that concern with the minister and he may want to respond or take it under advisement and that of course is entirely up to him.



What those who met with the minister indicated to me today, Madam Speaker, was that while the meeting was very positive and the minister was very receptive and listened to them carefully and closely, what the minister did not do was he did not give them a commitment beyond 1995 on the blending of the rating system. What do I mean by that?



You know, from having listened to the debate that has taken place here in this House, Madam Speaker, that the bed and breakfast industry and the farm and country inn sector of the tourism industry just simply do not believe that it makes any sense whatsoever that they be caught up in a rating and grading and licensing system which applies to them the same criteria which would be applied to the Sheraton Hotel, Digby Pines, Keltic Lodge, Cambridge Suites in Sydney or to the Prince George Hotel because they are not that kind of facility. They are small, they are unique, they are, as was said here recently in debate, selling something that frankly - meaning no disrespect to those organizations and establishments which I have just mentioned - those who run bed and breakfast and country inns and so on, sell something a little different and in some ways a little bit more important perhaps than is sold at the larger and the more major hotels and motels.



For those of us who have had the opportunity to use the bed and breakfast as I am sure, Madam Speaker, you have, there is that little bit of special personal contact with usually the husband and wife, the couple running them, not always, but usually. The proprietors, whether they be husband and wife or not, they are there with you as they prepare your breakfast. If the eggs are not quite right, the eggs will get redone. (Interruption)



The Minister of Health has not had that experience? The Minister of Health is reminding me that I should not be advertising the eggs too strongly by reason of the cholesterol problem. Well, let me suggest then perhaps that when you were having your All-Bran, the proprietor of the bed and breakfast was there serving the All-Bran, making sure that the portion was neither too large nor too small, and you get the point.



[5:15 p.m.]



We knew that the minister was meeting with representatives of the industry today and yet we wanted to call this resolution because we wanted to make sure that we didn't allow the matter to fall between the cracks at all because, as I say, while the minister was very generous and had the meeting, received his guests most hospitably and receptively and listened to them closely and carefully, there are a couple of elements about this industry which I wanted to make sure just simply don't get lost, and when I learned that the meeting didn't result in a commitment for longer than 1995, that the bed and breakfasts and the country inns would be assessed and graded and looked at as I think they should be, on a set of criteria that relate to them and don't relate to the larger establishments, there are a few comments that I want to make in that regard, to keep this alive.



A couple of weeks ago, on the letterhead of Tree Tops Bed and Breakfast at Lookoff Mountain, north of Canning, Nova Scotia, the proprietor of that establishment wrote to the minister. Mr. Bernard Mason was the author of the letter. Mr. Mason said a couple of things, and if you will permit me to quote, ever so briefly, from the communication, I would like to read as follows. Mr. Mason said to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency these things: "What is meant by the much bandied-about expression `industry-led, consumer-driven'? It is difficult to understand how the Atlantic Canada Tourism Grading Authority can be industry-led when a group of accommodation providers in Nova Scotia, who own and operate the largest group of properties in the business, are not represented at the decision-making level. Lest there be any misunderstanding, I would point out that TIANS does not represent bed and breakfast property owners. Few, if any, belong as individuals and the association did take a membership for a trial year but found it to be of little value. Prior to that, I was a member of the executive of TIANS and became oppressed by the manner in which its business was conducted. Our representative during the trial year felt that things had not changed.".



So I want to attempt to make the point with the minister, which I am sure he got from those with whom he met today, that when he hears from organizations such as TIANS - at least in the opinion of the leaders of the bed and breakfast and the country inn community sector of the tourism industry in Nova Scotia - he isn't hearing from them because TIANS, in their opinion, does not speak for them.



Further on Mr. Mason says, in his communication to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, and I will quote briefly one more paragraph: "I refer you to Page 12 of the Doer's and Dreamer's, the tourism publication, where, to add insult to injury, it is stated `to select the best places to stay while enjoying the beautiful, enchanting Province of Nova Scotia, use the Canada Select Accommodation Rating Program. Whether you are looking for a quality resort or a bed and breakfast, you will find the answer in the stars. Canada Select assesses and rates properties to assure that they will meet your expectations. In general, the more stars, the higher the quality and greater the array of facilities, services and amenities. What a load of unmitigated twaddle" - says Mr. Mason, Madam Speaker, not I. - "Do your minions have to insult people? Do they actually believe what they have written or are they simply incapable of taking an honest approach in the writing of copy?".



The point being made again, and the point that I don't want to let go on behalf of that vitally important sector of the industry is that this three star, five star rating isn't designed, at present, in such a way as to properly represent and reflect the quality and the nature and the amenities and the facilities and the services provided by the bed and breakfast industry in Nova Scotia.



If I may make one other reference to a communication sent to me, in this case, from the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns. In a note to Minister Harrison, the Minister of Economic Renewal Agency and Tourism, the Nova Scotia Association of Unique Country Inns said in a letter addressed to the minister of April 24, 1995, the following, in your letter - referring to a letter back from the minister - you state that the Canada Select Program currently represents 63 per cent of rooms in the industry. I would like to expand upon this. According to the 1995 Doer's and Dreamer's Tour Guide of the 663 licensed properties listed, 258 are members of Canada Select. This clearly shows that Canada Select represents 39 per cent of all licensed properties in Nova Scotia. Only 39 per cent of all licensed properties. If the country inn bed and breakfast sector of the industry is deleted, the Canada Select grading program would represent 21 per cent of all licensed properties. Then the letter goes on with a number of other statistics.



I hope that I have been able to make the point. The point is a very sincere thank you to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency for his meeting with representatives of the bed and breakfast and country inn industry sector of the tourism industry today. I really am pleased that he met with them. They report to me that they were well received and that he took their representations very seriously and I think that the line of communication, now open, must be continued. I sincerely ask and close with this request of the minister that having learned firsthand of the concerns of that tremendously important sector of the tourism industry that he will find a way to ensure that a commitment beyond 1995, relative to the licensing and grading system, will be found which is unique to the bed and breakfast and the unique country inn sector of the tourism industry of Nova Scotia. Thank you, Madam Chairman.





MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.



HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Thank you, Madam Speaker, for the recognition and to the honourable member for raising this issue. It would appear in debate form that the resolution has already been won in the affirmative in the sense that the meeting, as the honourable Leader of the Opposition has already indicated, has taken place, so the debatable point is moot at this point.



However, the issue and the opportunity to talk about this sector, and the honourable member knows that we are capable of listening to most of the debate in the other room even though we are on the telephone, the concern that has been raised is the concern for commitment to this particular industry sector. The problem is one of an extremely vibrant industry in the province that employs some 35,000 to 40,000 Nova Scotians that has a world-class reputation in terms of the products that are offered to citizens from all over the world.



One of the important discussion points in the meeting this morning is that we have in the sector known as unique country inns, heritage inns and bed and breakfasts, individual Nova Scotians, some of whom have come here by choice, others who have started businesses as part of family lineage that goes back many generations in Nova Scotian. Notwithstanding their family ancestry and heritage, all of them are committed to an industry sector that is different, unique and an important part of Nova Scotia's tourism industry.



So much so because they have, in these businesses, tied up nearly all of the family savings. These are independent business people of the first order who have either committed family funds or their own personal funds to businesses, are drawing livelihoods from these businesses. They are part and parcel of the very tourism accommodation which they offer to their customers. In fact, during many times in this morning's meeting and in other discussions with this industry, they have talked about their customers almost as family members. The people who come and stay in homes or their inns do so because they want to meet the people who are the owners; they want to have direct contact on a first name basis with those people. They want to know the history of the particular establishment, if it is a historical property. They want to know the area. They want to know the things in the area that are of importance to the people who owned the establishment in the first place.



So we are dealing with a different sort of accommodation here. We are dealing with a very personal, almost family business and, without question, there are segments of the industry that feel that the rating system has not treated them sensitively, that it has not taken into account the uniqueness or the importance to the customer of the experience provided in these accommodations. That one statement, not sensitive enough, is really the crux of the issue.



There are, in the wide industry of tourism initiatives in Nova Scotia, a variety of accommodation elements, from major hotels to campgrounds, to country inns, to motels. All of these, either fixed roof or, in some cases, not fixed roof accommodation, are part of what people come to Nova Scotia to experience as tourists. We are competing globally for those same tourists. The calls that are coming in from North America and Europe are increasing in number and we are very fortunate to have a computerized method of knowing how effective our advertising campaigns are and, as the years go on, that effectiveness will only multiply.



But the operators of this particular industry have customers who return every year and literally become friends with the owners of these establishments. It is a very different relationship than one would have, obviously, with the management team that runs some of the major hotels in this city. That is not to say, by the way, that many do not come here for those very accommodations as well. But the experience they have in small homes and bed and breakfasts or in country inns or farms is an experience that people will come year after year for. It is a very genuine experience. It is one that is marked by personal contact and very much one that speaks to the relationship between the customer and these business owners.



Here they are paying for a service, by the way, a service that the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned many times, they want. That is, a uniform rating system that permits them from afar, when choosing tourism accommodation destinations like Nova Scotia, i.e., in Illinois, reading a Doer's and Dreamer's Guide where there is a star rating next to it, something that they will have confidence in, that that kind of a rating helps people choose from afar to come here. It helps people, while here, make decisions about quality when they do not know the operation or are coming for the first time. It helps the industry by maintaining standards and not just maintaining them, but actually improving them so that they become internationally competitive by learning from each other.



The problem is that those same people who have, literally, their heart and soul in their businesses do not feel well served by a system that is seen as insensitive, that is seen as pushing them in directions away from which their customers are demanding. Now, here they are paying for the service. It is a service of a rating system they want, but the feeling is one of this important family business is being asked to move in a direction that is different from where their customers are saying is absolutely essential to their experience as tourists and, ultimately, of course, to their return visits. So that has to be fixed.



This is not a difficult problem to identify. It is not a difficult problem to analyze. The commitment is to fixing it. The honourable Leader of the Opposition suggests there was not a commitment made this morning. I can assure him, in terms of time and transition, the commitment was made to making sure that the rating system that we develop is inclusive, that all of the elements within the tourism industry feel well served by it. If they are going to invest their hard-earned dollars in it, that it serves to strengthen their own individual business, as well as that sector within the industry and, ultimately, if it does those two things, then it serves the entire tourism enterprise, a $1 billion-plus industry here in Nova Scotia.



So we have made the commitment this morning and in letters to others who have written and who were not meeting this morning. By the way, I would like the Opposition to think that they can take credit for having arranged the meeting. The fact is, as we told the group this morning, the meeting would have taken place simply if it had been requested in the first place. Notwithstanding, that is the role of the Opposition, to bring voices to ministers or government that, for one reason or another, do not believe they are being heard. Whether they are or not is not as important as the fact that they, in that sector, did not believe that they had an ear. In that sense, the Opposition has done their job admirably, because they made sure that there were two sets of ears prepared to listen to an important sector of this industry and to provide them with the reassurance that this government would not only listen but take action to ensure that their interests, their dreams, their commitment as individual owners of businesses would be part of a rating system that they all want, a rating system that they know their customers need, a rating system that, by definition, is difficult to achieve.



[5:30 p.m.]



We are talking about the equivalent of gourmet restaurants. We know that there are five star restaurants in this world and in this city and in this country. Somebody has to sit down and examine, presumably by eating and dining at these places, the determination that someone deserves a five star rating. One can write a rule book for those connoisseurs. One can train them, one can hire them based on merit, but ultimately, there is more art than science in the ability to put a five star rating, if you are the Michelin Guide or another restaurant rating agency, on a meal or a set of meals that you have had in a given restaurant. I know that those ratings are coveted by the very people who are in the restaurant and food service industry, because they are the most prized possessions of professional and personal quality by chefs and by those who strive to excel in that particular industry.



Now if it can be done in a gourmet restaurant, where you are serving a variety of foods from a variety of cultures, to a world market of appetites and tastes that change constantly and really is loaded more on the side of connoisseurship than it is on rule books and criteria, then it should not be too difficult to take a segment of the tourism industry in Nova Scotia and develop a rating that is sensitive to them. They are paying for the service. It must provide an individual return on investment. Overall, the industry must be improved by a rating system that serves customers, serves the industry and contributes to the tourism enterprise in Nova Scotia directly.



I did not hear an ounce of objection to those concepts this morning, Madam Speaker, nor have I heard objections raised in any of the discussions we have had to date nor in the letters, to a rating system that is able to achieve pride in ownership as far as the major hotels that are operating and also pride in ownership and a push to new standards for bed and breakfasts.



One of the things that we talked about today was the concept of peer analysis. It is done in the medical and legal communities. It is a form of using peer evaluation to assist those professionals, in this case, but in the case of peer evaluation of tourist accommodations, to assist those accommodations to become better and stronger and, obviously, more adaptable to their customer needs. In some cases, being adaptable to customer needs means that you do not change very much, because the customers are coming here to look for the very experience that we are providing in older homes, in intimate settings, with face-to-face and first-name contact with the very owners themselves, who are, as it turned out this morning, taking them on field trips, taking them off to special nature walks, taking them out on fishing boats, making their stay special, personal and almost of a family nature.



Once again, if we can do it in certain sectors such as restaurants and meals, we can certainly do it in tourist accommodations. There is no lack of will. In fact, there was quite a considerable interest shown in the possibility of helping accommodation owners by peer review in advance of third-party inspection, to get ready for the inspection, to learn from their peers what they could be doing better to meet a higher standard when the inspection takes place and to be part of the governing body that ensures that the inspection is always relevant and that there is always return on investment.



Madam Speaker, could you give me some sense of what sort of time I have?



MADAM SPEAKER: It is 5:37 p.m.



MR. HARRISON: Three minutes. (Interruption) Actually, I would not mind having some of the Leader of the Third Party's time, but I will not take it. Suffice it to say that in two and one-half minutes . . .





The tourism industry in Nova Scotia, I think, is a prototype for much of the function of the Economic Renewal Agency. Long before the term public/private partnership became fashionable, Tourism Nova Scotia has been characterized by that very partnership; the private sector working with exemplary public service in the interests of an industry in Nova Scotia, on all counts and on all fronts, partnerships with non-governmental organizations, with municipalities, with volunteer groups, partnerships with the private sector and, ultimately, all married with exemplary public service by the people serving tourism in this province. I think it is probably healthy to have a little dissent when you have that kind of partnership.



I think one of the other features of the tourism industry is that there is tremendous gender equity in this particular industry. There are almost as many women employers, if not more, than there are men. That gender equity and the business experiences of women are at every table that we sit, when we talk to tourism people. Injected into the conversation is the wisdom of women entrepreneurs. So, it doesn't surprise me that what we have is a prototype based, I think, primarily on the fact that there is tremendous equity in this industry. The contributions of women business people in tourism are as profound as in any industry sector in the province and it has led to partnerships - again before the term became fashionable - that marry exemplary public service with exemplary private service to both industry and the province.



In that regard, Madam Speaker, one of the proudest jobs I have is to represent that industry, either on world stages or in meetings this morning, in meeting face to face with tourism operators when they are proud to display their wares in Rendez-vous Canada. To hear compliments from around the world that are passed on to me and, hopefully, through me to the people who are operating this province, that people come here for quality. There is a variety of opportunities in Nova Scotia in tourism. Each one of the sectors is contributing to the whole, which is a vital and well-established and well-respected tourism industry in the Province of Nova Scotia; one that for the time that I am privileged to have this office, I am very proud to represent, very proud to showcase, very proud to market. I learn every time I meet with them and obviously we take that wisdom to other sectors of industry development in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you, Madam Speaker.



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



MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, untraditional to myself, I am not sure that I am necessarily going to use all the time that is available to me this afternoon. I want to begin by saying to the minister that indeed, the minister should not hide away from showcasing all of the excellent opportunities, in terms of business, nor try to hide or to play down the excellent tourist opportunities and services that are offered in Nova Scotia. In fact, Madam Speaker, he should be, just as he is doing, speaking very proudly about all the different, unique things that we have to offer to the tourists in this province who come from wherever, whether they be local Nova Scotians who are having their vacations in other parts of the province or from around the world.



Now, I was very encouraged by a number of the things that the minister said. I certainly was very pleased to hear that the minister indicated that the tourist industry, those who are involved in the bed and breakfasts, those who are involved in the country inns or rural inns, in farms and so on, will be involved in helping to develop the rating system.





I don't suggest for one moment that the developing of a rating system is an easy task. The minister has described, of course, how other very difficult tasks, in terms of ratings, whether that be dealing with restaurants or whatever, can be done with the goodwill of those who are involved.



I would suggest as well, Madam Speaker, that those who are involved in this unique and very personal type of business, have a very strong commitment to their clients, to their customers, to ensure that they are providing a very high quality and level of service because that is what so much of their business depends on. When you are talking to those who are involved in this industry, what they will tell you is that very often, many of those who are staying with them are return customers who have been there in previous years. Which, of course, does speak very highly of the service that they provide and it also is the most important kind of rating system, that is the one that is done by the customer, the most important kind that counts.



I must admit, I did have grave concerns when there was a discussion or the suggestion that the Canada Select rating system would be used to evaluate or to rate the country inns and the bed and breakfasts across the province. The criteria, the things they use, really, in my opinion, for many of the items and certainly for some of those with whom I have spoken within the industry, are not the kinds of things that those who are going to stay at a bed and breakfast are looking for.



I have stayed in a bed and breakfast on a number of occasions and I cannot remember going to a bed and breakfast and asking questions like, do you have air conditioning in each and every room or as I walked into the foyer of the bed and breakfast listening to see if I could hear Muzak playing. Those are items upon which accommodations are rated by Canada Select. Do they have fine art hanging in the washrooms? Are there televisions? Is there printed material? Are the roads paved?



When you are driving up to a country inn you are not expecting to have that country lane paved. I am getting a helpful hint from the member for Queens as to which transportation areas you might find that, but I am not getting into that.



Madam Speaker, those are not the kind of things that people are looking for when they are going to stay at a bed and breakfast, nor are they looking for valet parking. I would suggest that they are looking for uniqueness. What is unique, what is historic, what is unique about this particular country inn?



The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley says, well, they look to see if there is a hog out in the backyard. Do you know what? That is quite often actually what kind of things the people will be looking for, depending on what type of vacation, what type of holiday they are looking for. (Interruptions)



I do not know what it is, Madam Speaker, whenever I stand up to speak, I get these not-always-helpful comments and suggestions as to what I should be saying. The point that I am getting at is people are looking for the uniqueness. They are trying to find out and maybe looking at the architecture, looking at the sculpture, looking at whatever it is in terms of the culture of the area, the scenery, what kind of skills are being provided.



Bed and breakfasts are noted, certainly for the cuisine that is provided in the way of home preserves and baking for breakfast and so on, the kind of food service. When Canada Select is rating a place to stay they do not rate if there are fine restaurants out and around it. They rate if that bed and breakfast or that accommodation has a five star restaurant attached. That is not what people, I would suggest, who are staying at these places are looking for.



Quite honestly, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Transportation, I am pleased that he did meet today. I am not going to worry if that meeting came as a result of questions that were raised by Opposition members in this House to the minister in the first Party, that is irrelevant, Madam Speaker. The key is that a meeting did take place and that hopefully there was an open and frank discussion.



It is also crucial that those who are involved in the industry and in whose best interests it is to ensure that there is a proper rating system are actively involved in that system, the developing of that rating system, I would suggest also in the monitoring of that rating system. If the industry in this province or a particular segment of it, if a few of them are not living up to the standards that the industry as a whole supports, then they all can suffer.



If somebody has a bad experience staying at one particular bed and breakfast that may mean that they will not stay in another one, in another area. So it is in everybody's best interests to make sure that is the case. Just the same as if you go to a particular kind of restaurant that happens to be a franchise and if you do not enjoy your meal in one of those particular franchisees, if that is a first time that you have eaten there, you may decide to avoid those in future. So it is in everybody's best interests to do it.



I would like to certainly have the assurance from the minister, however, that we will not be trying to develop a rating system, yes, where you are going to get some involvement from the entrepreneurs who are involved in this business. Just obtain some input into it and try to develop a large rating system that is going to cover everything. I would suggest that we do not try to impose on the hotels and motels the rating system that we use for campgrounds, nor should we. We have to have a separate rating system that is unique to the kinds of accommodations, and if we do that with the involvement of the members who are in that industry, I am sure it will be a very good rating system, one that will serve them and the province well and, more importantly, serve those who come to visit our province and stay in these unique country inns and bed and breakfasts. It will serve them well, too.



[5:45 p.m.]



Madam Speaker, I look forward to hearing good things about what the government is going to be doing in this regard. Not so much, quite honestly, from the government members or the government minister because they can, and often do, they have been known to stand up and brag about things that really do not begin to live up to the expectations or up to the sales pitch - just like we have heard about the Statistics Canada on some other matters today and yesterday and so on - however, I look forward to hearing good things from members or persons who are involved in the industry talking about the kind of cooperation that they are receiving from the government; also, to hear from them that they are pleased with the kind of respectful and appropriate rating system being developed in partnership with the industry for the good of all. Thank you.



MADAM SPEAKER: Are there further speakers in this debate, because we do have some time left on the clock?



The honourable member for Queens.



MR. JOHN LEEFE: I did not realize I was going to have an opportunity today to speak on this very important topic, but I do welcome it. We have, perhaps six minutes or seven minutes left?



MADAM SPEAKER: Five minutes left.



MR. LEEFE: We have, of course, heard from the bed and breakfasts, unique country inns, the people who provide farm vacation opportunities both to Nova Scotians and to visitors to Nova Scotia, respecting their concerns relative to a rating system, a system of standards which they would be required to meet. I think one thing that we should all very clearly understand and, I believe from the course of the debate this afternoon, this is understood in this place, that those people very much believe in the provision of a good, sound set of standards.



I think what we must always bear in the forefront of our minds here in Nova Scotia is that standards which are applicable in other jurisdictions may not be applicable here, or at least should not be made applicable here in Nova Scotia. In so many ways, as suggested in the very name "unique country inns", we are in fact unique. One of the factors which causes us to be unique is the very fact that we are the longest-settled part of the entire Country of Canada. We have more houses that were built here prior to 1800 than any other place in Canada. That means that we have more heritage properties here per capita, in fact, probably more heritage properties, period, in Nova Scotia than are available anywhere else in this country.



To take standards that apply to provinces like Alberta for example, or Saskatchewan, both of which were created in this century not three centuries ago as the case with Nova Scotia, it is not appropriate simply by virtue of the fact that the homes that people here have that they want to share with others, in which they have such deep pride, in which their communities have such deep pride, are very often historic homes. To demand that in order to be in business, to stay in business, to get into business that these homes should be altered and that their character should be lost in order to meet a set of standards, a criteria that has been created in another jurisdiction would seem to be not only wrong but, in fact, verging on the criminal with respect to maintaining our own architectural heritage and our own cultural heritage here in this community.



It is always such a joy speaking in the House, Madam Speaker, such rapt attention is provided to each and every debater as he makes his speech. One could hear a pin drop in here, the silence is absolutely deafening.



MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, I would like to call for order. There are a number of conversations going on at the same time and it is increasingly difficult to hear this very important debate on tourism and on bed and breakfasts. So, I think if the members would kindly tone down the level of interjection that is going on, I would appreciate it very much.



MR. LEEFE: Madam Speaker, and so it is important and the minister has alluded to this, and I certainly take him at his word, that he is going to ensure that in the provision of licensing criteria that he will ensure two major factors are at play. One is that those criteria will be entirely applicable to Nova Scotia and its situation. The minister is so excited he is going outside right now to write that down before he forgets. Secondly, that those criteria be set, not for that sector of the tourism industry, but in very close consultation and cooperation and discussion with that sector of the tourism industry.



I firmly believe, and I think this is borne out by the experience of every member in this Chamber who represents a rural area or a small town, that more and more Nova Scotians are prepared to enter this market niche with respect to providing accommodations through bed and breakfast and unique country inns. We must encourage that. We must not throw obstacles in their way. We must ensure that, in every instance, we throw them lifelines which will cause them to be able to take advantage of the economic opportunity associated with tourism and associated with that market niche, and to ensure that government is an asset to them with respect to accomplishing that and is not a bureaucratic burden to be overcome by them in order to accomplish that.



So, Madam Speaker, this a very important sector. It is an expanding sector in the economy. It will only be able to expand if its uniqueness is recognized in the licensing criteria which were established for it. We very much hope that the government and, most particularly, the minister responsible for this area, will ensure that those people who are involved in that sector of the industry will have every opportunity to be full participants in defining what those criteria will be. Thank you.



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



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 29.



H.O. No. 29, re Health - Pictou Detox Centre: Improvements - Expenditure (1992-95) - notice given May 2/95 - (Mr. D. McInnes)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Madam Speaker, I so move.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Perhaps, Madam Speaker, we could have that read while I see if I can find the minister.



[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.



HON. RONALD STEWART: Yes, Madam Speaker, we would be happy to supply the information that is required in that order.



MADAM SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? 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.



MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, that concludes Opposition Members' Business for today.



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.



HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, tomorrow we will be sitting from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and following Question Period, we will do Committee of the Whole House on Bills and we will be starting with Bill No. 10, Highway 104 Western Alignment Act. We will decide, I guess, depending on the progress we make, where we go from there, but I would move that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.



MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is in order. We have now reached the hour of interruption and the successful resolution for the Adjournment debate this evening is presented by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.



Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government approach Transport Canada and request that tenders be called for the dredging of Digby harbour to facilitate the docking of vessels of 30,000 tons or more, so that pit props and pulpwood may be shipped from the Port of Digby, while also allowing cruise ships to make Digby a port of call when visiting Nova Scotia.



ADJOURNMENT



MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)



MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.



TRANSPORT CAN.: DIGBY HARBOUR DREDGING - REQUEST



MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Madam Speaker, I am very happy to speak on this subject. It is quite a lengthy and complicated speech that I could make on this, but I will try to make it brief. Are you hearing me okay?



MADAM SPEAKER: You could, perhaps, use a little more volume, honourable member.



MR. CASEY: Okay. What I am asking for is some support from our provincial government, our minister and so on, with regard to extra dredging that we need in the harbour at the wharf in Digby. We have had a little bit of dredging done, $10,000 or $15,000 worth, but it needs much more.



Just last month we had a ship in there loading pit props, and maybe I had better explain what pit props are. There is a generation now who don't even know what they are. Pit-props are pieces of wood that are cut in the woods like pulpwood and are of varying lengths. They are shipped overseas where they are doing a lot of coal mining. They are used to prop up the ceilings of the mines. They used to leave in columns of coal to do the same job but that was very expensive or wasteful.



So, during the war, many cords of this type of wood were sent overseas, a lot of it from Digby and Yarmouth and Bridgewater and so on. That trade continued all through the war and quite a few years afterwards. Eventually, it just faded out. But there is a new market and it has just come into being within the last few months. Last month, as I started to say, we shipped one cargo out of Digby. The ship was 450 feet long and she carried 2,500 or 2,800 cords of pit props.



Now, these props had to be barked and bundled into bundles of around one cord each. It is very labour intensive. The ship was loaded without incident and she went off to Morocco.



Now I find out, and this market will continue and I am sure that it will increase, this market will continue but we have a problem because ships of that size, which sounds like a big ship - she took 11,600 tons, that was the size of the ship - in fact it was the largest one that had ever been into Digby wharf, but that type of ship, that size are very scarce, you can't just charter them when you want to. But the other thing is, it is a long haul, all the way from Digby to Morocco, and it is uneconomical to use a ship of this size.



So, now they are saying that in order to come back and carry on and carry more cargoes out of there and make use of the labour in our area, which we need very badly, we need jobs, they may not be coming back. They need ships twice that size and we need another 8 or 10 feet depth of water alongside what we call the "v" in the jetty there.



I have already written letters to the Minister of Transport, to all the different officials in Ottawa, the Members of Parliament and to different companies and I am getting support from them all. So far, I haven't had any money or the promise of it.



Now, we don't know exactly what this is going to cost. It could cost up to $10,000 for just this little dredging - oh, I guess it cost a lot more than that, it could cost about $200,000. Money is not that easy to get out of Ottawa, as you know.



Now, that is one type of shipping that can take place right away. The other thing is there is another market, a vast market that has opened up, using hardwood pulpwood. There has never been a sale for the hardwood pulpwood in any quantities over the years. So, hardwood has been growing, in fact we have been trying to spray the woodland and kill the hardwood, but we do have a vast amount of it standing.



Now, this market could last for years. The supply is great and the demand is great, it is something new. Softwood is becoming scarce, hardwood will take its place. But they need ships in there of even greater capacity.



I think in this resolution, I mentioned ships of 30 tons. That may be exaggerating a little bit but in the future that may be required, but if we could get ships in there of 20 tons, this would work very well.



Now, if we don't get these ships in there, the nearest port will be Shelburne or Sheet Harbour. Now, I am not trying to take business away from Sheet Harbour because the distance of trucking will make it uneconomical to haul it that far so, therefore, there will not be as much shipped out of any port. So if we can get it so we can ship from Digby, this will work very well. Trucking great distances will give more labour to truckers, but if you do not sell as much, they will get less, so it all averages out. This would change the economic position in Digby. We just do not have jobs and this is one way of making them. It is a sustaining thing and it would go on.



[6:00 p.m.]



Also, cruise ships are the next thing that we want to look at. With the dredging, we will be able to bring cruise ships of greater size in there. We have had several smaller ones in, 200 passenger ships and so on, but we are hoping to get more into our port. We have a deal and I have a letter here from Marine Atlantic. They are quite happy to charter out their wharf or lease out their wharf for ships coming in there. When they come in there it has to be timed when their ship will be in Saint John or on the way there or back, so, you have about five or six hours. A ship could come in there, offload their passengers, probably even get them back on board and go. But if they did not do that, they could offload them, go out to anchor, when the Princess Acadia leaves again, they can come back and pick up their passengers.



Some people say that they don't leave a heck of a lot of money ashore, but I know they do and the advertising is fantastic. I have been aboard seven cruise ships myself, including the Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Love Boat and so on - my wife and I made a trip on the Love Boat. I don't know whether it helped or not but, anyway, we made the trip. (Laughter) My wife and I also, many years ago, went on the Queen Elizabeth 2. That was my first trip. I hadn't been around a heck of a lot at that time. The person who invited us, who chartered that ship, was John Shaheen. We went from New York to Come by Chance, Newfoundland, and back again. He came to the table where I was having dinner - we were having dinner, my wife and I - and he said, I understand you are a raconteur. Well, I had never heard the word before, and I said, no, Mr. Shaheen, I am a Baptist. He said, you'll do. He took me up to the head table. We made the seven day trip and each night I would tell a few stories. So, there is a great future in that type of thing. How is my time? Or am I a little past?



MADAM SPEAKER: We are doing fine. You have two more minutes.



MR. CASEY: Well, that is fine. Last January or March, early winter, I was in Miami. I went to the sea trade convention down there and made a lot of contacts with shipping people. One company I talked to is building six ships this year. Three of them will carry 200 passengers each and three of them will carry 2,000 passengers each. Right now, there is another ship under construction that will carry either 3,600 or 3,800 passengers. It is almost impossible to believe. If we do not get in on this, some of the other ports will. In fact, they are looking for places to go. But we have to have the facilities, we have to do the advertising. Tomorrow morning, I will be at Harbour Port Days in Sydney and will meet some of the people that I saw down in Miami and hope to carry on and get some of these people coming to Digby with their ships. Thank you very much.



MADAM SPEAKER: The House will now stand adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.



[The House rose at 6:04 p.m.]





NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on May 16, 1995

(Pursuant to Rule 30)



QUESTION NO. 42



By: Mr. George Archibald (Kings North)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)



(1) I want to know, as does Mrs. A. Comeau of Meteghan, what the minister's vision is for the economic prosperity of rural Nova Scotia. As government cutbacks continue to cause higher levels of unemployment, particularly in the rural areas of the province, how is government working with the communities affected too ensure that opportunities will be available for rural Nova Scotians in the future?



QUESTION NO. 43



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)



(1) Given the desire of many Nova Scotians to see that their elected representatives do not always vote on Party lines, but rather in the best interests of their constituents, I want to know, as does Mr. P. Saulnier of Yarmouth, will the Premier be formulating guidelines which would allow for more free vote for government members on controversial issues?



QUESTION NO. 44



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)



(1) I want to know, as does Ms. T. Skinner of Lunenburg, how the Premier would respond to the criticism that Nova Scotians are not benefitting from the Premier's promise of job creation? In fact, the citizens of this province have had to deal with the loss of jobs, and particularly, the loss of job security. Continual government cuts to expenditures may be necessary at this time, but will the Premier indicate what steps his government is taking that will lead to secure, stable employment and prosperity for all Nova Scotians?



QUESTION NO. 45



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)



(1) I want to know, as does Mrs. Arbuckle of Dartmouth, will the minister advise concerned parents as to what will be the result of the metro amalgamation upon the education system in metro? How will the needs of particular groups, like special needs students, be met with the new structures resulting from amalgamation?





QUESTION NO. 46



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)



(1) I want to know, as do Mr. and Mrs. Mason of Annapolis County, if the Premier is considering legislation to cut the salaries and pensions of the Premier and members of the House of Assembly?



QUESTION NO. 47



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)



(1) I want to know, as does Ms. H. Reese of Kentville, Nova Scotia, what the Premier feels is to be gained by reversing his commitment to job creation in the province by cutting jobs through reductions in health care spending thus putting many out of work, while the only alternative strategy for job creation the Liberal Government can produce is the establishing of casinos?



QUESTION NO. 48



By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs)



(1) I want to know, as does Mrs. M.F. Sadler-Eisenhauer of Lunenburg, if the minister agrees that this present Liberal Government is taking away many benefits traditionally enjoyed by seniors? For single seniors who want to stay in their own homes it is becoming more and more difficult. One example of this is the government's removal of the property tax rebate. In the meantime, seniors' fixed incomes have hardly changed. What response does the minister have for many of the seniors in the province who, like Mrs. Sadler-Eisenhauer, feel they are being unjustly targeted by this government?



QUESTION NO. 49



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)



(1) I want to know, as does Mr. John A. Kennedy, formerly of Inverness, how the Premier can justify the trend his government has followed to effectively dismantle rural communities in Nova Scotia? In Mr. Kennedy's opinion, the relocation of jobs out of Inverness (Canada Employment Centre and emergency services at St. Mary's Hospital), and recent discussion regarding removal of court-house services from Port Hood to Port Hawkesbury will not save the province any more money in the long run. What studies has the Premier conducted in order to determine the benefit of such relocations for Inverness County?





QUESTION NO. 50



By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)



(1) I want to know, as does Mr. R. Gosbie of Truro, will the Premier disclose for me, and for Mr. Gosbie, the full details regarding the expense to the taxpayer to maintain his office?



QUESTION NO. 51



By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Guy Brown (Minister of Labour)



(1) I want to know, as does Mr. J. Pope of Tatamagouche, why the minister and his government chose to enact legislation which effectively ignored the Steen decision of the Supreme Court of Canada? In Mr. Pope's opinion, the legislation regarding unionized workers was overturned in favour of lower paying non-unionized contractors.



QUESTION NO. 52



By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Guy Brown (Minister of Labour)



(1) I want to know, as do Mr. L. Boutilier of Bedford and Mr. B. Savary of Digby County, will the minister indicate when the new Workers' Compensation Act, in its entirety, will be proclaimed?



QUESTION NO. 53



By: Mr. Ronald Russell (Hants West)

To: Hon. Guy Brown (Minister of Labour)



(1) I want to know, as do Mr. A. Brown of Louisdale, Mr. M.F. Enslow of Lockeport, Mr. C. Benoit of Bridgetown, Mr. B. Green of Annapolis Royal and Mr. G. Beaton of Springhill, if the minister is willing to look at particular appeal cases that have been rejected by the Workers' Compensation Board to see if provisions can be made for those whose cases are considered borderline?



QUESTION NO. 54



By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. James Barkhouse (Minister of Fisheries)



(1) I want to know, as does Mr. R. Gorman of Chester, if the minister would be willing to investigate the sale of Mr. Gorman's fishing vessel? He claims that his vessel was appraised at over $40,000 and was subsequently sold by the CIBC Barrington branch for $4,550.00.