The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Apr. 9, 1996

Fourth Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - LaHave Ferry Service: Continuation -
Support, Hon. D. Downe 323
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 12, Adoption Information Act, Hon. J. Smith 324
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 128, Fin. - Taxation: PST & GST Harmonization -
Negotiations Wary, Dr. J. Hamm 324
Res. 129, Fin. - Taxation: Fair - Establish, Mr. R. Chisholm 324
Res. 130, Fin. - Budget Surplus: Promises - Remind, Mr. T. Donahoe 325
Res. 131, Sports - Hockey: Eastern Shore-Peewee A Tournament (N.S.) -
Organizers Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 325
Vote - Affirmative 326
Res. 132, Gov't. (Poland) - Auschwitz Museum: Commercial Intrusion -
Reconsider, Dr. J. Hamm 326
Vote - Affirmative 326
Res. 133, Commun. Serv. - Juniper House (Yarmouth): Closure Order -
Withdraw, Mr. J. Holm 326
Res. 134, Environ. - Container Deposit: Non-Refundable Part - Tax,
Mr. R. Russell 327
Res. 135, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Toll: Fairness -
Institute, Mr. B. Taylor 327
Res. 136, Health - Shelley Miller (Shubenacadie Teacher):
Organ Donations - Encourage, Mr. R. Carruthers 328
Vote - Affirmative 328
Res. 137, DFO - Salmon Hatchery Program (Atlantic): Continuation -
Endorse, Mr. J. Leefe 328
Vote - Affirmative 329
Res. 138, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Workers Proposal -
Prep. Time Ensure, Mr. R. Chisholm 330
Res. 139, Premier - People (N.S.): Needs Legitimate - Attend,
Mr. A. MacLeod 330
Res. 140, Sports - Hockey: West Hants Warriors Triple A Peewee Champs. -
Congrats., Mr. R. Russell 331
Vote - Affirmative 331
Res. 141, DFO - Salmon Hatchery Program (Atlantic): Funding -
Continue, Mr. J. Leefe 331
Vote- Affirmative 332
Res. 142, ERA - Jobs: Mandate - Address, Mr. J. Holm 332
Res. 143, Commun. Serv. - Juniper House (Yarmouth): Funding Withdrawn -
Reasons, Mr. A. MacLeod 332
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 46, Health - Reform: Nurses - Meet, Dr. J. Hamm 333
No. 47, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Consultation, Mr. R. Chisholm 335
No. 48, Health: Home Care - Privatization, Mr. G. Moody 337
No. 49, Sysco - Minmetals: Contract - Losses, Dr. J. Hamm 338
No. 50, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Consultation, Mr. R. Russell 339
No. 51, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - J-Class Roads: Mun. Contracts -
Number, Mr. B. Taylor 340
No. 52, ERA: IMP Plant (C.B.) - Plans, Mr. R. Chisholm 341
No. 53, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Recycling - Details,
Mr. J. Leefe 342
No. 54, Justice: Crown Attorneys - Grievances, Mr. T. Donahoe 344
No. 55, Agric.: Livestock Health Services Assistance Prog. - Status,
Mr. G. Archibald 346
No. 56, Devco - Lease 73-1: Negotiations - Status, Mr. A. MacLeod 347
No. 57, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Consultation, Mr. J. Holm 348
No. 58, Nat. Res. - Shelburne River: Heritage (Can.) - Designation,
Mr. J. Leefe 349
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. G. Archibald 349
Mr. E. Rayfuse 361
Mrs. F. Cosman 367
Mr. K. Colwell 372
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Select Comm. - Strike:
Mr. R. Russell 381
Mr. A. Mitchell 383
Mr. R. Chisholm 386
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 10th at 2:00 p.m. 388
[Page 323]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 9, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time and commence the daily business. Are there any introductions of guests before we begin? If not, we will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table a petition containing over 1,400 signatures in support of the continued operation of the LaHave Ferry service, to which I have affixed my signature, as well as Lila O'Connor, as required by the rules.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to introduce two members of the committee in the gallery who are here from Lunenburg County in support of the retention of the ferry in Lunenburg County. (Applause)

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

323

[Page 324]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 12 - Entitled an Act to Provide for Adoption Information. (Hon. James Smith)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 128

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

Whereas Premier John Savage and his government meet secretly behind closed doors with their federal Liberal collaborators to come up with a scheme to harmonize the PST and GST; and

Whereas the Premier's refusal to permit public scrutiny of any such deal before it is sealed is quite accurately described as "nonsense" in today's Chronicle-Herald; and

Whereas the Savage Government has not hesitated to increase taxes on beverages and levy higher fees on everything from birth certificates to motor vehicle registrations;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians have every right to be suspicious of the Liberal Government's secret wheeling and dealing with Ottawa, and every reason to worry their scant financial resources will once again be squeezed by a government which has made the big tax grab a bad habit.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 129

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 16, 1992, the former Opposition Finance Critic, who is now the Minister of Finance, called on the Tory Government to establish a fair taxation commission to allow for public input and comment on our taxation system before they even consider harmonizing the GST and PST; and

Whereas on May 22, 1993, the Leader of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, who is now the Premier of Nova Scotia, promised Nova Scotians that a Liberal Government would establish a fair tax commission; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance and the Premier are now engaged in back room dealings with the federal government regarding a merger of the GST and the provincial sales tax;

[Page 325]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Premier of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Finance to honour the promises they made to Nova Scotians by establishing a fair tax commission and openly discussing tax reform with the citizens of the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 130

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance predicted economic gains of $50-some million a year when introducing casinos; and

Whereas the minister's predictions and calculations have proven to be way off the mark; and

Whereas the no-profit performance of the Sydney casino and the less than rosy returns of the Halifax casino point to a serious flaw in the Finance Minister's methods of calculation;

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotians be reminded that promises of a budget surplus have been made by the same minister who brought Nova Scotians new, higher levels of taxation on the PST, the thirst tax, higher registration, user fees and questionable casino promises and, at the same time, is downloading costs to municipalities and all the while tearing apart the fabric and integrity of health care services in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 131

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

Whereas this year, for the first time in 12 years, the Eastern Shore Minor Hockey Association hosted the 1996 Nova Scotia Provincial PeeWee A Hockey Tournament; and

Whereas the PeeWee A teams from all across the province gathered to compete in these games which are played in a non-competitive manner to develop good hockey skills and encourage new friendships; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore PeeWee Mariners, the host team for the tournament, also took home the top prize as the new 1996 Nova Scotia PeeWee A Champions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the hockey players, their families and coaches, along with all the sponsors and organizers who worked many long hours to host the 1996 Nova Scotia provincial PeeWee A Hockey Tournament on the Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

[Page 326]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

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. 132

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

Whereas plans are under way to build a shopping plaza with super stores, fast food outlets and amusement arcades within 30 to 70 metres of the Auschwitz Museum in Poland; and

Whereas these plans are an affront to the memory of millions of Jews who suffered unspeakable horrors at the hands of Hitler's Nazi Germany; and

Whereas Nova Scotians know that remembering the Holocaust and honouring the memories of its victims will help ensure the horrors of the past are never again repeated;

Therefore be it resolved that on behalf of all Nova Scotians and in particular, the members of Nova Scotia's Jewish community who lost family, friends and relatives in the Holocaust, the Speaker of the House write to the Polish Ambassador to urge the Polish Government to reconsider this insensitive commercial intrusion into an area that should be reserved as a place of thoughtful reflection where people of all faiths can pay homage to the innocent victims of bigotry, blind hatred and genocide.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Now this calls on me to convey that to His Excellency Tadeusz Diem, who is Ambassador of Poland to Canada, whom I know personally, I will do so.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 133

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

[Page 327]

Whereas the Department of Community Services has withdrawn funding from Juniper House as of April 15th; and

Whereas the closing of Juniper House will mean there are no services for women and children in Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby Counties; and

Whereas chronic underfunding of transition houses throughout Nova Scotia has placed a tremendous strain on the volunteer boards and staff of transition houses;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services withdraw his closure order for Juniper House and take immediate steps to address the underfunding of transition houses throughout the province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 134

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

Whereas when Nova Scotians make a deposit at their local bank, they do so with the full knowledge they can retrieve that money any time they wish; and

Whereas when Nova Scotians buy a can of juice, they do so with the full knowledge they have to pay an extra 10 cents but only retrieve 5 cents upon returning the can; and

Whereas this Liberal Government seems to have a great deal of difficulty understanding the difference between a deposit and a tax;

Therefore be it resolved that money taken out of the pockets of Nova Scotian taxpayers by the Savage Government which is not returned in full is nothing less and nothing more than tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 135

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

Whereas one of the four original members of Nova Scotia's Business Hall of Fame has said, ". . . the provincial government should re-examine its decision to toll Highway 104"; and

Whereas the President of Oxford Frozen Foods said the toll highway will cost his company an extra $100,000 a year; and

Whereas John Bragg is on record as saying, ". . . we need an environment in this province that encourages all levels of business";

[Page 328]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation stop showing grandiose signs of megalomania and institute a level of fairness so that Nova Scotia businesses can compete on an equal playing field.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 136

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

Whereas Ms. Shelley Miller, a 23 year old teacher at the Shubenacadie Elementary School, is in the Victoria General Hospital awaiting a heart transplant; and

Whereas the Community of Hants East has rallied around Ms. Miller, offering her support, encouragement and assistance through a number of fund raising activities; and

Whereas Ms. Miller's situation reflects the urgent need for all Nova Scotians to become aware of the importance of signing organ donor cards;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer their encouragement and support to Shelley Miller and all those awaiting organ transplants and encourage all Nova Scotians to sign organ donor cards so that the gift of life may continue to be shared.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

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 Queens.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 137

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

Whereas it is clear the Department of Fisheries and Oceans is backing away at a feverish pace from commitment to Atlantic salmon enhancement through hatchery operations; and

Whereas the Atlantic salmon is in trouble on the high seas such that the only meaningful contribution to strengthening Atlantic salmon stocks is the Atlantic salmon hatchery program; and

[Page 329]

Whereas Nova Scotia salmon anglers currently pay $26.75 per year and non-residents $112.35 per year to support a recreational fishery which may well collapse in the absence of an aggressive DFO Atlantic salmon hatchery program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House endorse continuation of the Atlantic salmon hatchery program financed and operated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

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.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, before I read my resolution I would like to make an introduction, if that is okay.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and to all members of the House, in the east gallery, a group of nurses from the Halifax VON, members of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union: Geri Hamilton, Kelly McNamara, Margaret MacDonald, Nicole Kersey, Yvonne Rushton, Jane O'Connell, Rosemarie Wood, Sandra MacDonald, Judy Kelly and Dorothy Owen. These nurses, as you are aware, and as other members are aware, are involved in a rather difficult dispute and they are down here to talk to their MLAs, I believe. Also, with them are two nurses from the Cape Breton VON Local of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union: Carol Lahey and Bernadette Owen. I wonder if I could ask all members to give these visitors the usual warm welcome and to visit with them when they ask their MLAs to do so. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We seem to be doing a number of introductions. The honourable member for Hants East has an introduction, as well, and then we will return back.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and to all members of this House, a municipal councillor from the district of Hants East. The councillor representing the Mount Uniacke area is in the gallery today. I wonder if you would all give a warm welcome to Mr. John Patterson, the councillor from Mount Uniacke. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Now, are there any further introductions? If not, we will revert back to Notices of Motion.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 330]

RESOLUTION NO. 138

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

Whereas workers at the IMP plant in North Sydney have hired a consultant as part of their continuing effort to draw up a plan for the takeover of the plant from its current owners; and

Whereas the workers are to be congratulated for the calm and reasonable approach they have taken to the serious problem of attempting to preserve jobs in their community; and

Whereas their responsible approach has not been reciprocated by the publicly subsidized IMP, which still insists on closing the plant within 30 days;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to employ whatever leverage it has with IMP to ensure that the company gives the workers the time they need to put together their takeover proposal.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?

I don't know if I hear unanimity or not.

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 139

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

Whereas in his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, Premier Savage took issue with the Leader of the Opposition's extensive travels throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition, unlike the Premier, takes his responsibility seriously to listen to the concerns of Nova Scotians no matter where they live; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition didn't hesitate to travel to industrial Cape Breton when the Devco crisis first hit and didn't hesitate to be on deck for the people of southwest Nova Scotia when the MV Bluenose winter service was cut;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier Savage, who was jetting off to India, Cuba, China and Hong Kong while Nova Scotians were reeling from devastating economic news, pay some serious attention to the legitimate needs of Nova Scotians before criticizing the Leader of the Opposition who stuck with Nova Scotians when the going got tough.

[Page 331]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 140

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

Whereas for the first time in the history of the Nova Scotia Minor Hockey Council the West Hants Warriors became the first Annapolis Valley team to capture the Atlantic Peewee Triple A Hockey Championship; and

Whereas in March the Warriors became only the second Annapolis Valley team to win the Nova Scotia Triple A Peewee Championship; and

Whereas Warrior players Trevor Greenough, Brandon Benedict and Scott Corkum were recognized for their individual achievements at the Atlantic Tournament in Sherwood, Prince Edward Island;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature congratulate the West Hants Warriors Triple A Peewee Champions for their outstanding 1995-96 championship season and wish each and every individual player the very best in their future endeavours.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 141

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 recreational Atlantic salmon fishery generates $10 million annually for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the value of the Atlantic salmon fishery to the Margaree Valley alone is estimated to be $1.5 million annually; and

Whereas it is apparent that this rural economic activity is, more than ever, tied to the continuation of the DFO Atlantic salmon hatchery program;

[Page 332]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries aggressively press the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to continue funding and operation of the Atlantic salmon hatchery program as a vital component of the economies of several rural Nova Scotia communities.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 142

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

Whereas the government bragged in the Speech from the Throne about the creation of 26,000 new jobs since taking office; and

Whereas this government was deathly silent when last week's labour force report showed that 8,000 of those jobs had disappeared; and

Whereas that same labour force report showed that despite the empty boasts in the Throne Speech, employment has actually dropped in this province over the last two years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to abandon its failed policies of cut, slash and downsize and begin to address the jobs mandate it asked for and was given by the people of this province in May, 1993.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 143

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

Whereas the member for Yarmouth was caught off-guard by the news that Juniper House would close on April 15th; and

Whereas the same member said that the Minister of Community Services "didn't know a lot about it"; and

Whereas the minister's own deputy notified the Juniper House board in writing that the Department of Community Service would withdraw funding from the transition house;

[Page 333]

Therefore be it resolved that the minister get a grip on his department and immediately move to explain to Nova Scotians why the money was withdrawn and what alternatives are in place to provide for the care and safety of the women and children currently resident in Juniper House.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it unanimously agreeable to the House?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

Are there any further notices of motion? If not, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 o'clock afternoon and that the winner today is the honourable member for Halifax Citadel. He has submitted a resolution for debate:

Therefore be it resolved that the government strike a select committee of the Legislature to hold province-wide public hearings to assess the full impact of GST/PST harmonization, before the provincial government enters into any agreement with the federal government.

We will hear a discussion of that topic at 6:00 o'clock this afternoon. Now if there is no further business to come up under the heading of the Daily Routine, we will now advance to the Orders of the Day.

The time now being 2:25 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 3:25 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition, to begin.

HEALTH - REFORM: NURSES - MEET

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Health. Today the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union held a press conference because they felt the need to speak out about the devastating effects of government cuts on the quality of health care in this province. These nurses brought stories and cited cases of patients who are put at risk due to premature discharge, patients in need of hospital care who were denied admission because no beds were available and they also talked about an inadequate home care system that simply is not meeting demand.

My question to the minister, will the minister give the House an undertaking and a commitment to immediately start meeting with members of a number of groups representing nurses to hear first-hand their concerns and to help him formulate a plan which will truly address the health needs of Nova Scotians?

[Page 334]

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would give commitment to the honourable member opposite as I would to all Nova Scotians that this minister and this ministry and the government will continue its meetings with groups who participate in our health system. We have done so and continue to do so. We will indeed pursue our plan according to the blueprint, as has been tabled in this House and with the public of Nova Scotia. I have no hesitation whatsoever in committing that particularly to the honourable member opposite.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, when nurses are discussing the problems that they are having in coping with the pressures of providing good health care with our reforming health care system a topic always is the pressure of working in an outpatient department, because this is one of the areas in which the reform process has created a bottleneck in the system. A bottleneck because many patients go to outpatient departments because they don't have a physician in their community. A bottleneck because patients stay overnight in outpatient departments because a bed is not available and pressure of sending someone home because there just isn't accommodation in the hospital.

Is the minister prepared to meet with nurses and listen first-hand to the real pressures that health care workers are subject to working in outpatient departments and to really understand that this is just not a figment of health care providers' imaginations but there are true stresses in outpatient departments in trying to deal with a system that simply isn't working?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, there is no question and I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that work in health care today, whether one be a nurse or a provider of pre-hospital care or whether one be a physician, is demanding at the best of times. But to suggest, as he has, that the reform or the change that we have brought about in the system in which we have provided, in fact, for better care in terms of home care and other responsibilities is simply not an accurate picture of how reform is affecting the province. I would, in fact, suggest that we have tried in every way to better the conditions in terms of those who would be working in outpatient or in-patient services, such as provision of a proper fee structure for the provision of physician services for example. We have attempted in every way to increase the level of care that is given in ambulance services throughout the province. And we could go on and on.

In respect to working with the groups, we continue to work with groups. I would welcome every representation and specific cases so that we may assure that every Nova Scotian is not denied appropriate care.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Minister of Health. In answering my questions, the minister has acknowledged that consultation is required but there was still no firm commitment that any more consultation will occur than has occurred in the past. By way of final supplementary, will the minister commit to a scheduled series of meetings with concerned nursing groups and other health care provider groups to learn first-hand what the health care reform is doing to health care services in this province? Will he commit to that kind of a firm schedule of meetings or is it going to take severe action by health care providers, perhaps even the threat of a strike, before he is going to do the real consultation that is required so he can understand what is happening in communities across this province who are not getting the health care that they once enjoyed and don't see any light at the end of the tunnel that they ever will see that kind of health care again?

[Page 335]

[2:30 p.m.]

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I must express some surprise at the tenor and, in fact, the content of the honourable member's question because there is every sense that that question was posed in an argumentative way that in fact paints a very inaccurate picture of what is going on across this province. If we want to talk about consultation, we will talk about continuing consultation, consultation with respect to groups, consultation in respect to individuals, consultation in respect to, in fact, consumers. Consumers are now represented. Speak to regional health boards. Speak to the community health boards that were long in waiting, as long as these gentlemen opposite just sat and did nothing and fiddled while Rome was burning.

MR. SPEAKER: I cannot hear the Minister of Health because of the repeated interruptions of the member for Kings West. Order, please. The Minister of Health has the floor.

DR. STEWART: Indeed, Mr. Speaker, when we talk of consultation, we must be fair and look how much this government has consulted in terms of the improvements of care, as compared to what occurred over 15 years of inactivity.

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

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - CONSULTATION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, that is a good point from which I will start with my question, the old issue of consultation. I would like to ask, through you, the Premier, a question with respect to the harmonization of the PST and the GST. Last week, under questioning in this House about the fact that the Premier and the Minister of Finance were engaged in back-room negotiations with the federal government and other provinces, the Premier said basically to all Nova Scotians, that it will be a good deal for you and therefore we do not need to consult with you.

Mr. Speaker, I take the Minister of Finance, as well as the Premier, back to 1992 and 1993. First of all, in 1992 the then Liberal Finance Critic . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . brought a resolution into this House calling on the then government to deal with that issue through a fair tax commission. The Premier, when he was running for election in the spring of 1993 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a question here?

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . also called for a fair tax commission. I would like to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, if I could, on an issue that is so important to Nova Scotians, what was it that happened on the road from 1992 and 1993 until now that it was more important for the government of the day in 1992-93 to consult with Nova Scotians on issues of fair taxation and it is not important here today, in the spring of 1996, to consult with Nova Scotians about such an important issue as the harmonization of the PST and the GST?

[Page 336]

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, let me refresh the memory that obviously is failing opposite. Within the first 18 months of this government, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Finance, not to mention the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Fisheries, held more consultations with the people of this province in 1 year than you have had in 75 - oh, you have not been 75 years, Tory Government - certainly in the last 15 years of Tory Government.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are all going to the federal government.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, let him hope on. What we are looking at is a consultation process that has never been equalled. Let people remember that. They have been all over this province. There were times when I never saw the ministers, when they missed Cabinet meetings, and the response was that they are out consulting with the people. Let people understand that this government has consulted and this government will continue to consult. We will not consult with insulting people, we will consult with people such as the nurses, as we have done and as we will continue to do.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier and his colleagues have been so effective with their form of consultation that you cannot go into a community in the Province of Nova Scotia and utter the word "consultation" without people being down your throat because of the bad name that they have given that concept.

My first supplementary to the Premier is that you will recall in the fall of 1993, the Minister of Finance and his colleagues brought in an increase in business services taxes. They applied the provincial sales tax to business services. In the spring of 1994, as a result of the outcry and conclusions of APEC and other organizations, the dampening effect that that tax has on professional services, they withdrew it. I would like to ask the Premier if he would explain to Nova Scotians why it is that it was okay in 1994 to take off the PST on business services because of the dampening effect it was having on the economy, and yet now it is okay to consider bringing on a 15 per cent tax on business services?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the question really deserves an answer from the Minister of Finance who has very nobly offered to answer the question. (Interruption) It is within his province and it is obviously an issue of taxation.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I suppose as well there is a certain justice in that since I recommended that increase in business tax some three budgets ago. The reason that the tax was removed after one year - and we quite clearly stood up in the House and indicated - was that first of all, it did not result in the revenue that we projected that it might but more to the point, the objections, which came to us after much consultation I might add, were basically twofold.

First of all, they said it puts us at a disadvantage, regionally. For example, if we are taxed here on certain professional services and they are not taxed in New Brunswick, it puts professionals in Nova Scotia at some disadvantage and that was a legitimate concern. Indeed, the second point that they made was that the business tax that we introduced at that point in time, which by the way, increased only the provincial portion because the federal GST has always been applied to those services.

[Page 337]

Their second objection was this, that they were not given the benefit of input tax credits as they were with the GST so, on that portion that we were introducing, they had no such benefits. Now, for those two reasons they made strong representations and based on those two reasons and on the fact of the revenue, we made the decision to withdraw it.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let's not forget that it was also because of the fact that it was going to have a significant dampening effect on the economy, throwing into threat 2,560 jobs as a result of a study from APEC. My final supplementary is to the Premier. The proposed harmonization of the GST and PST is going to mean a significant increase in electric bills, from 10 per cent to 15 per cent, professional fees, home heating oil, gasoline, books, school supplies, children's clothing. It is going to impact Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other. I want to ask the Premier, in light of the obvious impact this is going to have on the lives of hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians, will he not agree here today to back off from the back room dealing and consult with Nova Scotians before he makes any move on harmonizing the PST and the GST?

THE PREMIER: I have never in my life heard such a collection of hypotheses, insinuations and allegations about the impact of something that he knows nothing about, has never seen and is, obviously, not in a position to make comments. He has not heard of things like inputs, he has not heard of things like protection for people, he has not heard of any of these. I suggest (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, when this (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, could you ask the member if he could button up for a while? What I want to say in response to the question is that this is a major issue that is of great importance to the people of this province. I repeat what I have said, and will continue to repeat what I have said, we will not go into an agreement with any government until we are satisfied that the small people in this province -that is the people on low incomes - will be protected in a way that will guarantee that we will not enter a situation that is not a win-win situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH: HOME CARE - PRIVATIZATION

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. The VON strike continues despite the fact that it was brought on by the actions of this minister. He maintains a comfortable distance and silence and says he doesn't want to get involved. I go back to the minister's press conference last June, when he announced an expanded version of home care. At that time, the minister said he did not favour privatized home care. I would ask the minister if he would tell us, what made him change his mind from last June to now?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, there is no change of mind, there is no change in philosophy. We fully support, and have given evidence to this in this regard, a fully integrated, universal and publicly-funded health care system.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, when the minister was confronted with a stand-off by the doctors of this province and they all threatened to leave, he immediately sat down to discuss it with them. He even appointed one of his close, personal friends as a special liaison with the Medical Society. Those were issues over money. Here we have nurses struggling over

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not money - they are not asking for money; many of them are receiving less - they are talking about care to their patients. I am wondering if the minister will, at the very least, extend the same courtesy to the nurses of this province that he extended to the doctors of this province?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite should know quite well - and I am sure he does - that we are negotiating, in terms of the physicians, a direct contract in which we fund the contract and we supply the money for that contract and we determine the conditions of that contract. We are not in the same position in respect to the home care and the VON. We fund, through a contract, the provincial organization of VON. We will continue to do that and we would hope for a speedy resolution to the dispute with the Halifax VON.

MR. MOODY: The minister knows that the funding comes from his department, comes from the province. He also knows that his funds are going to determine the outcome.

My final supplementary, it has been reported that replacement services for VON have resulted in personal care workers assigned duties normally carried out by the registered nurses with VON. Can the minister assure this House that there is no slippage in terms of care being provided by the replacement workers and, if he can guarantee us that, how is this being done?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, as I said in this place several days ago, we are auditing the situation in terms of the quality of care and the standards, both by interview of clients and also by direct and on-site analysis with the provider which is, at the moment, offering services. We are in constant contact with the VON Halifax management and we will continue to be. This is a very important issue and a very important question, which I appreciate the honourable member opposite raising.

MR. SPEAKER: A new question, the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

SYSCO - MINMETALS: CONTRACT - LOSSES

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, a question for the Minister of Finance. I have in my hand a copy of a press release, dated November 1994, issued by the Minister of Finance. It has to do with the agreement signed by the Province of Nova Scotia with Minmetals to operate the Sydney Steel plant. I will read one paragraph: "The partners also agree . . .", the partners being the province and Minmetals, ". . . to contribute up to $30 million for new capital expenditures aimed at enhancing the mill's capability to produce finished products. Both partners also agree to cover any losses during this period, up to a maximum of $15 million each. If losses exceed the $30 million cap, the joint operation period terminates and the sale of the assets occurs.".

A question to the minister, would the minister confirm that the information in this press release, particularly the part I just read, is that information accurate?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if I followed it exactly, but if it said that when accumulated losses reach $30 million, then the operation terminates?

DR. HAMM: Yes.

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, that is correct.

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[2:45 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Minister of Finance, would the minister then confirm that the shipping of $30 million of rails, without on-site inspection at Sydney and without a stamp of approval before the rails left Sydney, and by signing a contract that allows any dispute to be arbitrated in Beijing, exposes Sysco to a potential loss of $30 million, the total value of the contract, and that this one bad contract has exposed Sysco to the possibility of triggering the sale of Sysco assets?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I simply will not indulge in that speculation. There is some difficulty with respect to one of our customers and the quality of certain rails. That has happened before; it will undoubtedly happen again. The point of this speculation I am simply only guessing at but I am not prepared to indulge in.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister responsible for Sysco, by way of final supplementary, how many other contracts has Sysco signed, which are not yet completed, and allow for the shipping of rails out of Sydney before they are inspected by the purchaser? How many of these orders allow for the arbitration process to occur outside of Canada and in the country of the purchaser? How many other contracts are similar to the contract under discussion?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, other than other contracts with the Chinese, I doubt there are any that specify arbitration in Beijing. I would not purport to indicate that.

I think a similar question was asked at the end of the week and I said I would take the question on notice and would attempt to find out the details and present them.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Hants West.

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - CONSULTATION

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In response to a question from the member for Halifax Atlantic a few moments ago, the Premier said that eventually he would be consulting with "the small people" of Nova Scotia. I assume that the Premier is referring to the 900,000-plus other Nova Scotians who are not members of his Cabinet. I was going to ask the Premier if he is willing to apologize to those Nova Scotians who he has dismissed so summarily by his statement at the end of Question Period?

THE PREMIER: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, I would like to see Hansard because it was my implication that I said we would protect the smaller people of this province. I would like to have Hansard to verify that.

MR. RUSSELL: The Premier says he is going to have some consultation. Now, Mr. Speaker, consultation in the eyes of the Premier has involved, perhaps, meeting with people and closing his ears and going back and doing exactly what he had intended to do in the first place.

Will the Premier give consideration to establishing a select committee of the House that will meet with the average Nova Scotians, the people who are most concerned about what is going to happen when the GST and PST are, indeed, harmonized and this does occur? Would the Premier give consideration to setting up a select committee of the House to go around and meet with those interested parties and Nova Scotians who have opinions which must be addressed before any final agreement can be made with regard to harmonization?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no.

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MR. RUSSELL: Well, I guess that was a short, sharp answer and probably one that I expected. I would suggest to the Premier, then, he is going to do exactly what he has done in the past, he is not going to consult with Nova Scotians, he is not going to listen to what people have to provide inputs (Interruptions)

It is a very good statement, though, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: But it is supposed to be a question.

MR. RUSSELL: Would the Premier give some indication to the House how he intends to carry out this consultation which will take place after the agreement is signed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, all I can do is to repeat what I have said. We will be judged on this, and I venture to put that forward boldly. We will not do a deal that is not to the advantage of all the people of this province.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - J-CLASS ROADS: MUN. CONTRACTS - NUMBER

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. As a result of the provincial-municipal service exchange, many municipalities were forced to assume the responsibility of roads and, specifically, local roads or J-Class roads. I wonder if the minister can tell us how many municipalities have road contracts relative to local roads with the Department of Transportation?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, as far as I know, all the municipal units do, I believe.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister tells us as far as he knows all of the municipal units have contracts with the Department of Transportation. Will the Minister of Transportation tell us, and all Nova Scotians, if his department intends on keeping the price per kilometre which, I believe, at the present time is $3,500 per kilometre, at that present level?

MR. MANN: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The only thing that has changed is that a couple of municipal units have come forward subsequent to the agreements being signed and they have actually extended some of the subdivisions that were covered by the $3,500 per kilometre fee. In those cases we have agreed to take on the subdivision extensions at, I believe, a cost of about $6,000 per kilometre. They had actually gone out to tender to see if they could have that service provided but what they got were costs in the range of $10,000 to $20,000 a kilometre. So we are providing the service that we had agreed to previously for $3,500 and subdivision extensions, in which the subdivision itself is covered, for $6,000 per kilometre.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the response from the minister. I wonder if the minister could tell us if municipalities will have an opportunity for some input into decisions relative to capital expenditures and capital projects? As I understand it, the

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department has in the past decided where capital expenditures will take place and capital projects, of course.

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, capital projects were never included in the provincial-municipal service exchange with respect to roads and I don't think that is likely to be the case. There is a budget item in the Department of Transportation, aid to municipalities, aid to towns, aid to cities, where, in fact, the municipal units do have a say in the capital projects and, in most cases, they actually call the projects.

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

ERA: IMP PLANT (C.B.) - PLANS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. IMP have announced intentions to close the doors of their plant in North Sydney. It has been reported that the minister has said, and I will table this, in the Cape Breton Post on April 4th that, "`We are trying to explore all options that will allow those workers with those skills and workmanship to find the possibility of employment in other aerospace or related industries, . . .'".

I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that the workers at that plant are working with a consultant, are trying to do a number of different things to try to keep that plant open, to consider possibly taking over ownership of that plant, but basically doing what they can to ensure that that plant and all the jobs in that plant stay on the Northside, if he would give some indication to this House that, in fact, he and his department are doing more to facilitate those actions by those workers than simply trying to find jobs for those workers elsewhere in the aerospace industry?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think the quote sums up accurately what was said in this House, that it is our role in this province in regard to the private sector, to try in a situation like this, to explore other possible opportunities for workers that have run into difficulty, in this case, in one plant. Maybe within the industry there are opportunities for those workers and we will do everything we can to facilitate the kind of transition that might be possible. I am not sure if that specifically answers his question, but we are undertaking every effort to try to facilitate a transition to placement in other industry sectors in the province.

MR. CHISHOLM: No, Mr. Speaker, that is not what I was looking for and once again, I think that the minister is missing the point. It is like when the plant was in difficulty several years ago, the Province of Nova Scotia provided $5 million so that IMP could buy the equipment. When Amherst Aerospace was in difficulty three years ago, I believe it was, the government stepped in and provided some considerable amounts of money, in the tens of millions, to facilitate IMP to pick up Amherst Aerospace. Now, here we have a situation where the workers at a facility on the Northside are trying their darnedest along with members of the community to try to keep that facility and all the jobs it contains in the Northside. The question has to be, what is this minister and what is this government doing to assist those workers to keep that plant operating in the Northside, to keep those valuable, high-skilled, well-paying jobs there on the Northside, where unemployment is at such an unreasonable level? What is this minister and this government doing, specifically?

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MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, just to correct the facts, some years ago there was an opportunity to purchase equipment there and there was a loan extended to a company that actually purchased the equipment and set up opportunities for workers. Those opportunities, as a result of a variety of factors, are not present at the moment. The workers made a valiant effort and, obviously, in their minds, succeeded in achieving every goal they set. There is a private sector company that obviously differs in its opinion. We will continue to make the pledge to the workers of Cape Breton in the IMP plant that we will do everything we can to facilitate a transition to other work placement in the province. I know that their own company has indicated that should opportunities arise in either Amherst or Halifax that they would be considered and their skills, obviously, valued as important skills in the industry.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, their own company is bailing out of the Northside, taking their equipment to other parts of the Province of Nova Scotia. What these workers are trying to do is to ensure that that equipment stays on the Northside and that those jobs stay on the Northside.

In my final supplementary, I guess my question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is fairly simple. The workers are trying to come up with a plan in order to facilitate that plant and those jobs to stay on the Northside. What they are asking for are two things: one is time, and the minister can perhaps use the resources and the persuasion of his department and his government in order to provide that; and secondly, we provided $5 million to Ken Rowe and IMP to buy that equipment, what about providing $5 million now to the workers there on the Northside to facilitate them buying the equipment and taking over that plant? Will the minister agree to those two fairly limited interventions on behalf of his government?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, as is the policy of this government, loans have been made to business people throughout this province including Cape Breton. Those loans were fully repaid loans to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to try to establish business internationally with products and services from that plant. Things have not worked out. I repeat the pledge that this government will do everything it can to facilitate within an industry that is growing in this province, placements for workers in Nova Scotia with skills that are valued by an industry in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: RECYCLING - DETAILS

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. In an advertisement which appeared in the Daily News today, a $1,000 advertisement, entitled, "A Fresh Start for the Environment", the question is asked, "What About the Blue Bag System?". The question is a good question, indeed. The answer is rather less satisfactory. The answer in this ad sponsored by the Department of the Environment says, ". . . simply put your beverage containers in the blue bag for normal pick-up.".

My question to the minister is why in heaven's name is he urging citizens who are now funding blue bag recycling programs in their own communities to pay twice for the same service?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the service provided is quite different. I mentioned, and in detail, the blue bag program does exist in some municipalities in the province. We might say that it is a bit better than 2 per cent of the province who are involved in the blue bag program as it now exists, which does not result in a very large amount of

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diversion of waste from our waste stream out of landfill sites and to be used as a reusable resource.

Mr. Speaker, I think the member would be pleased to know that his own community may be a beneficiary of the Blue Bag Program in comparison with the deposit return system. They will be the beneficiary of the monies that can be accrued by the Blue Bag Program in accordance with the deposit return system, as will a lot of municipalities in this province.

[3:00 p.m.]

This morning we talked with two municipal units who were thanking us for the opportunities through the RRF to make a dollar through the compatibility of the Blue Bag Program and the Deposit Return Program. What we are doing is making it accessible to clean up Nova Scotia and, at the same time, to enhance its economy. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly can understand the weak applause for an answer that clearly demonstrates that this minister doesn't understand what the impact of this program he is implementing is going to mean for Nova Scotians, particularly those many communities which, as the result of previous initiatives, are now involved in the Blue Bag Program, including the municipal area encompassed within this new metropolitan area.

My second question is again to the Minister of the Environment. I have inquired of a number of municipal units which operate landfills, whether they will be policing those landfills with respect to ensuring that the provincial regulations imposed by this minister are met. I am told by all of those with whom I have spoken that those municipal units have neither the human nor the financial resources to do that.

In the absence of those resources and, good Heavens, why should the municipalities be required for policing provincial programs, my question to the minister is simple and straightforward. What financial and human resources is he making available to police his regulatory regime with respect to landfills around Nova Scotia?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the staff of the Department of the Environment is well involved with working with staffs of municipal units across the province and have been for a number of months. Reports as recently as this morning reflect a positive development of those operations and those working relationships. They are working to the benefit of all Nova Scotians not just for a few select who would find a reason to shoot holes into the program.

I do want to say that again, as recently as this morning, municipal units are recognizing they can benefit and will benefit by having a Blue Bag Program compatible with our deposit return system. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, again the same faint applause. My question to the Minister of the Environment is this. What tracking system does the Department of the Environment have in place to ensure the containers which are redeemed at depots are not subject to unscrupulous skimming, thereby resulting in double deposit dunking? For example, the containers are delivered to the front of a depot; somehow, some of those containers get out of the back door of the depot and back around to the front for another 2.5 cents. What system has the minister put in place to ensure such unscrupulous activity will not occur in Nova Scotia?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think we have a lot of faith in Nova Scotians and certainly the Resource Recovery Fund has demonstrated a good deal of faith and trust in the people they have licensed to become enviro-depot operators. I think it is perhaps a bit unwise for members of the Opposition to suggest mischief to members of the public and those who would participate and to plant the seeds that would be negative as opposed those seeds that should be positive. I think that if somebody wants to measure the performance of the program by applause meters or by what somebody may or may not do through the back door, one should compare 10 cents with 40 cents and recognize it is a bargain for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE: CROWN ATTORNEYS - GRIEVANCES

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. You will be aware, as will the Minister of Justice that in its election platform of 1993, the Savage Government said among other things that upon becoming government they would review the effectiveness of the Office of the Independent Prosecutor. I quote from their election promise, any shortcomings will be corrected in the first year of the mandate to ensure the true independence and effectiveness of the office. As the Minister of Justice is, I know, well aware, the Crown Attorneys have written to him repeatedly. They have expressed their willingness to discuss all of the issues outstanding and the grievances which they perceive face them as they undertake their work with him, with the Minister of Justice. They are ready to meet at any time, at any place.

The minister promised about three weeks ago, if my information is correct, that he would take this issue to Cabinet as quickly as possible. But still, as recently as today, the prosecutors indicate publicly that they are awaiting word from the Minister of Justice and have heard nothing.

My question to the Minister of Justice is simply, can the Minister of Justice tell this House whether or not he has taken the list of grievances and concerns expressed to him by the Crown Attorneys to Cabinet for review there, and to seek authority to effect some sort of settlement of those grievances with the Crown Attorneys?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the Crown Attorneys held a meeting on March 31st and I am waiting to hear from the group in writing. In the meantime, before a letter arrived, there was a phone call from the President of the Government Lawyers Association saying that he had some other ideas and maybe it wouldn't be necessary to deal directly with the collective bargaining matter at the instant. He indicated he would write to the Director of Public Prosecutions. I believe that was on the Monday after the vote.

The letter arrived on the 4th, which was last Thursday, the day before we broke, so it came sometime that day. I am meeting later in the day to discuss that particular letter with the Director of Public Prosecutions. In the meantime, because we had this approach from the Government Lawyers Association and making certain suggestions, I did not have the matter discussed with my colleagues but, at the appropriate time, if that is the proper course, that will be done.

MR. DONAHOE: So that I can understand, and the professional staff with whom we are concerned here with this issue will understand as well, I wonder if the Minister of Justice might perhaps make it a little bit clearer as to just what the logistics are going to be from this

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point. Is he saying that he how intends to meet with his staff - not the prosecutors, but the staff - and once he has that meeting he will then have a meeting with Cabinet and get some direction and approvals, presumably, from Cabinet and then, following that, he will schedule a meeting with the Crown Attorneys? Have I understood the sequence of events correctly?

MR. GILLIS: I think you have put in some of your own interpretations there. I am going to meet with the Director of Public Prosecutions. Depending on the outcome of that meeting, there may be a meeting with the government lawyers, we may get back to them in writing. Actually, to the best of my knowledge, looking at the correspondence, they haven't requested the meeting, in spite of news reports that say otherwise. So the appropriate approach, I think, was to have the meeting and I will have discussions with my Deputy for the Prosecution Service. Then we will either bring the matter to Cabinet or get back to the Government Lawyers Association in response to the letter which was received the last working day before today, which was Thursday last.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, by way of final supplementary then, perhaps I would ask the Minister of Justice if he might be able to explain just what happened to that election commitment that these matters would be addressed within the first year of the mandate? As he will be aware, since he and his colleagues have been government, there have been quite a number of changes in circumstances affecting the working conditions and the professional circumstances of the staff to whom we refer.

There have been wage freezes and roll-backs, and classification freezes; merit pay has been rolled back; solicitors in the department have job-sharing opportunities and the prosecutors do not; there is no opportunity for sabbatical leave. The prosecutors now have to deal with extra work as a result of the Task Force on Prostitution; the prosecutors now have to deal with extra work as a result of the Task Force on Gaming; the prosecutors have to deal with the implications of the Task Force on Violence; the prosecutors have to deal with the implications of the Stinchcombe Decision relating to ongoing disclosure; and the prosecutors have a greater workload to respond to some of the new requirements relative to Victims' Services.

So the point I make, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Justice, is that in the last 24 to 36 months, the role and the circumstances and the responsibilities being faced by the prosecutorial staff have exploded and grown exponentially.

I ask the minister, in the face of all of that and in light of the election promise of 1993, if he could explain just why it is that he has not, to this point, with the approval and the endorsation of the Premier, been able, even yet, to meet face-to-face with the prosecutors to attempt to resolve some of the legitimate difficulties that face the Crown Attorneys? Could he explain why it has not happened to this point?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have met with the Government Lawyers Association; I indicated earlier that in the present round of the back and forth, there isn't a request in the latest letter, just so the record is true, and I have met with them in the past. I just might say, these problems are complex, they just weren't something that happened since John Savage became Premier. There were challenges in the prosecution service before and we are working to improve them. Unfortunately I don't have a magic wand to make them happen as quickly as we would like.

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After the government was sworn in, within one year we responded to the commitment to review the prosecution service by appointing Dean Ghiz to do a study and prepare a report. That report was tabled approximately September 1, 1994, and almost immediately we began to work to implement some of the recommendations. A good part of 1995 was used up in the careful and extensive process to recruit a new Director of Public Prosecutions, and that selection was made with a committee recommending Mr. Jerry Pitzul. He came on staff in the fall of 1995. Since that time he has been working on a plan, in consultation with Crowns all across the province, and as part of that plan he is working on some of the various recommendations.

So, in fact, the bottom line, Mr. Speaker, is if one were to look at the Ghiz recommendations, all but two have been worked on - not all but two have been implemented, certainly - and a good deal of progress has been made and we feel we have made major progress in strengthening the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

AGRIC.: LIVESTOCK HEALTH SERVICES ASSISTANCE PROG. - STATUS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Agriculture. There is concern being expressed by the Nova Scotia farming community about plans by the provincial government to cancel some very worthwhile programs that are currently offered. The first program I am concerned about is the Livestock Health Services Assistance Program. This program began in 1969 to provide uniform cost livestock health care throughout Nova Scotia. The farmers are very concerned that this department this year may be considering the elimination of this program to save money. I am wondering if the minister would indicate whether this program is, indeed, on the chopping block of this year's budget deliberations?

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very good question. The staff of our department has conducted a survey with the industry in the last six months, in terms of examining very closely each of the programs that our department is providing to the industry at the given time. There are a number of programs that will be replaced, that will be terminated. This is strictly under review at the given time; in fact, these details will be released once the budget is provided to the House. So, at this time, we are unable to provide much detail, other than all programs have undergone a strict review with the industry and details will be made shortly to all farmers across this province.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, again to the Minister of Agriculture, in 1995, in the Department of Agriculture's evaluation of agricultural assistance programs, it was recommended by that committee that the Cattle Herd Health Program, the Livestock Health Services Assistance Program be continued through this budget year. Now I am wondering if that is the assessment that he was referring to, that has taken place in the last six months or is there another survey that has been done since then?

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the survey that I referred to dealt with all the programs that the Department of Agriculture and Marketing is presently providing to the industry. We provided a full-scale evaluation to the industry to provide us with some feedback. In terms of the value of these programs, these programs should be continued or discontinued. I would

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certainly be pleased to provide the honourable member with a report from the survey that was conducted for the industry.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I would appreciate the opportunity to receive a copy of that report if the minister will send it to me. Again to the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Speaker, my question would be, will all the programs that were recommended as being necessary by this committee, are they in a category that will be continued for another year, or did the Department of Agriculture take some recommendations and disregard the recommendations and do some of their own decisions on what programs will or will not be offered in future years?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I guess in regard to the funds available to the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, we have to make difficult choices in terms of what we are going to continue to provide to the industry. At the same time, with the evaluation that was conducted and the feedback received from the industry, some programs will be terminated. At this stage we are not in, I guess, a situation where we can release this information in terms of what programs will be kept, what new programs will be brought in or what will be terminated at this stage. In the next couple of weeks, once the budget is brought forward, this information will certainly be made public.

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

DEVCO - LEASE 73-1: NEGOTIATIONS - STATUS

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I wonder if the Premier could provide to this House an update on the status of the negotiations between the province and Devco with respect to Lease 73-1 which covers the Glace Bay and Donkin coal reserves?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry, I can't give you that information at this time. I will find it for you and bring it in tomorrow.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is also to the Premier and I would wonder if the reason that the negotiations are taking so long has anything to do with the fact that these negotiations are tied to the royalties that are being paid by Devco to the Province of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think I answered that by saying in a release that there would be no change in the status of Devco and what it pays this province. That would not be appropriate at this time.

MR. MACLEOD: Could the Premier please then explain to us, Mr. Speaker, why a contract that was in place for 20 years and expired almost three years ago, still hasn't been resolved when it is a straightforward matter of sitting down and signing a piece of paper?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think even the member is aware that it is a lot more than that. I am prepared to find that out and submit the answer when I do the other one.

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

[Page 348]

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - CONSULTATION

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to return to a topic from earlier in the day, having to deal with harmonization. My first question is to the Minister of Finance, who, in a former life, when he was Opposition Finance Critic, when the former Tory Government was contemplating harmonization, the then Finance Critic called for public consultations and for the creation of a fair tax commission. I am wondering if the Minister of Finance could tell us what has happened in the intervening time that has caused him and his government to abandon the high ground that they had occupied at that point in time?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, a number of things have happened. We have engaged in limited consultations on various aspects of taxation, including a very interesting report which we requested and received from Voluntary Planning on taxation. I might say that we were also privy to a rather large and very expensive public consultation on taxation done by the former NDP Government in Ontario which, I might add, they did not have an opportunity to act on prior to their demise.

In fact, there have been ongoing consultations on taxation, both formally and informally. I can tell you that the matter is raised at virtually every meeting between provincial and federal Finance Ministers. If you are doing a review of taxation, it seems to me that the whole area of taxation must be reviewed and it must be a joint federal-provincial initiative. We are moving in that direction and I hope it will occur.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, of course, the Minister of Finance may want to take a look at the Voluntary Planning report because it is my understanding from looking at the report that in fact they didn't deal with the harmonization aspects of that. I would like to direct my first supplementary question to the Premier who has broken Nova Scotians down into different classes. We have the small people and I guess that means that we also have the big people. Anyway, the Premier has indicated that he is going to be protecting the small people but he doesn't deem that it is appropriate or within this government's mandate to consult with those small people. I am wondering if the Premier then could define for us, who he and his government classify as small people?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have never in my entire life ever been ashamed to say that I will look after the people who are, in my view, less fortunate by virtue of income or position. That is a Liberal tradition and it is one that we will always continue as long as I am Premier. The artificial phraseology so pompously emitted from the other side, creating division, is purely and simply a way of saying that this government will look after the interests of those people for whom government exists, that is, for those people who sometimes have to be protected. I refer to people who do pay increased amounts as a result of measures that may or may not be coming. It is important to stress that this government will not enter into a deal that gets people worse off in this province. That is our guarantee and you can hold us to it. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I find it rather amusing that the Premier has the nerve to call me pompous. The Premier talks about the small people, those who are disadvantaged. I am sure he is not referring to those who he and his government invited, the major business leaders in this province, down to the Digby Pines.

My final question to the Premier, is it the view of the Premier and his government that those people who he referred to as the small people, now he changes it to the disadvantaged, have nothing to contribute, that they themselves do not have any ideas, any

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knowledge about what is or what is not good for them and therefore, the Premier has decided that it is not worthy of this government to lower themselves to talk to those people to get their input? Is that the message that this Premier and his government are telling . . .

MR. SPEAKER: All right. Thank you.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, no it is not and he knows it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

NAT. RES. - SHELBURNE RIVER: HERITAGE (CAN.) - DESIGNATION

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, over 10 years ago the Canadian Heritage River System was established. Since that time, something in the order of 17 rivers have been designated. The two in Nova Scotia which have been nominated are the Margaree River and the Shelburne River. The Margaree River is to be designated, according to schedule, in September 1996. The Shelburne River was to be designated, effective February 1996. My question to the minister is, has the February designation for Shelburne River taken place?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, to my knowledge that has not taken place. We are waiting for management plans to come forward and once that takes place, we will work with the people who are involved with that. The management plans, it is my understanding, are well underway and when that is completed, we will address that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. We now move forward with Government Business.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for allowing me to take part in this Throne Speech debate today. Since 1984 I have taken part in several replies in response to the Throne Speech. This year's was a little different; there wasn't the offer of hope, there wasn't any specific plan, there wasn't the direction that there normally is in which a government wants to travel. This year's was rather low-keyed; some people have suggested it was kind of a snooze.

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As members of this Legislature, we spend a great deal of time in here and we meet the people who are in charge of the facility. I would like to commend the Chief of Operations for the facility, Mike Laffin, who I think takes a real interest and is doing an excellent job in looking after the facilities. Mike has taken a real interest in making sure that Province House looks its best at special times of the year, whether it be Christmas or Halloween or the harvest season. I think he is to be commended, I think he is doing an excellent job.

As members of the House this year, Madam Speaker, I think we all mourn the loss of our great friend, the late Buddy Daye. Buddy was a friend of each and every member and he was an inspiration to countless numbers of young people throughout Halifax and throughout our province. Almost at any time you would see our Sergeant-at-Arms outside, in the hallway of Province House, with young people, giving advice, helping to solve problems. People always wanted to listed to his advice and his counsel.

Buddy Daye had a very full life, as a professional boxer, a community activist, as a leader. Through the boxing world he became an international figure. He counted Mohammed Ali, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Don King the promoter, as his friends. His closest friend was Murray Sleep. Murray and Buddy Daye were inseparable, whether they were travelling to boxing matches when Buddy was a contender, or when they were travelling throughout the world to international boxing events. Some of the practical jokes and stories and adventures they had would fill a book. (Interruption)

My colleague from Kings West said to tell about the time Buddy was taking a picture and Buddy kept saying to Murray, who was posing, step back a little further. With one last step Murray fell into the swimming pool. They played games, they played tricks on one another, not just in Halifax but around the world. Buddy had a great and full life and we all miss him.

We have a new Sergeant-at-Arms, Doug Giles. It is a pleasure to welcome Doug Giles to the position. We wish him a long and successful position. I hope his duties are strictly ceremonial and he doesn't have to draw the sword to keep us civilized.

I particularly want to welcome our newest MLA to this Legislature, Alfie MacLeod from Cape Breton West. Alfie has been a real asset to our Party, to the Legislature and to the people of Cape Breton. Our Cape Breton West MLA is making a contribution much greater than one would expect from just one single member. He is speaking for all Cape Bretoners on many occasions.

[3:30 p.m.]

Since we last met, Mr. Speaker, our Party has a new Leader. John Hamm of Pictou Centre is leading the Conservative Party. We admire his determination, his integrity, his thoughtfulness and his leadership in these difficult times. The member for Halifax Citadel was our Interim Leader and he did an excellent job, perhaps he is one of the best debaters this House has ever seen. Terence Donahoe has earned the respect of each and every Nova Scotian.

There have been other changes in leadership in this Legislature within the NDP caucus itself this year. All of the MLAs have at one point or another been Leaders of that Party. (Laughter) When it came to the leadership, two said, no thanks and one of them is the new Leader. We will miss Alexa McDonough in Nova Scotia politics and we wish her good health and happiness in her new duties as the national Leader. Our colleague for Sackville-Cobequid, the gentleman touted as being one of the longest winded MLAs in the Legislature, did great

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service for the NDP as Interim Leader. The new Leader from Halifax Atlantic has great hopes riding on the shoulders of this Interim Leader.

The new NDP Leader was born and raised in Kings North and also, speaking of being born and raised in Kings North, the member for Dartmouth North, the Liberal member, was also a native of Kings North. I don't know what happened to those two people when they left Kings North, because they joined other Parties, perhaps if they had both stayed home, they would still be Conservatives.

May I also mention our Premier, John Savage, a doctor, a municipal politician and now Premier of Canada's first province. The people who have become our political Leaders deserve our admiration and our respect for the giving of their time, their efforts and their self to help make this province a better place. Leadership of a political Party has a great price. I glanced at my Leader's calendar the other day and I realized that John Hamm is going to be travelling throughout Nova Scotia 26 out of the next 30 days. All three Leaders keep up a hectic pace and they deserve the respect and admiration that sometimes in the heat of discussion and debate we don't give them. We need Leaders and I thank all three men for doing their best for Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, I wish to thank the people of Kings North for allowing me to represent their concerns in this Legislature. Kings North is the centre of agriculture for Atlantic Canada. We have some great communities, Port Williams, Canning, Hall's Harbour, Black Rock, Steam Mills, Sheffield Mills, Scots Bay, The Lookoff, Centreville, these are all vibrant communities with people working together to build a better future for their families and friends.

In each of those communities, volunteer groups have got together to improve the local infrastructure. In Canning, for instance, volunteers got together and raised enough money to purchase a building and change it into a library with more books than we have shelf space for. The people in Canning also decided they would like to have a bandstand, reminiscent of a time many years ago when the band used to play concerts afternoons in the summer. So the people in Canning are currently constructing a bandstand so that great ceremonial orchestras can come and play and entertain local people.

In Scots Bay, they are currently drawing up the plans and making applications to build a new recreation centre. Scots Bay is a very vibrant community in Kings North and they felt that they needed a better facility for their community events.

In Port Williams, the firefighters decided their fire hall wasn't large enough to hold all the modern new technology and equipment that must be stored by the firefighters. They have doubled the size of their fire hall and they have made more room so that they can better serve the people in Port Williams and, through mutual aid, all of Kings County.

In Centreville, the parents got together and they decided more sports fields were needed and that is what they have done. They have constructed and are in the process of constructing more playing fields so that the youngsters in our community can have enjoyable time in the out of doors.

Last year, George Moody and I attended the Woodville-Waterville celebration at the opening of the magnificent new fire hall that they have constructed in Waterville. It is without question one of the finest community centres, certainly in the Annapolis Valley. It is a testament to these volunteers and the many others throughout Nova Scotia who selflessly give of their time to make their communities a stronger place in which to live. We have community groups throughout Kings County: the volunteer fire departments in Woodville, Canning, Port Williams, Hall's Harbour, Kentville. To the chiefs of those departments, I want to offer my thanks and my congratulations.

Each year, on November 11th, as MLAs, we attend the laying of a wreath at the cenotaphs in respect for those who went overseas and fought on our behalf. The Legion in Kentville and the Legion in Canning always have special days on November 11th. The last few years I have been going to the celebration [Page 352]

in Canning on November 11th and they have organized a very effective service taking place in the Lions Community Hall. Attended by over 100 people, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides, they are all there in respect to the people who fought overseas, to those brave men and women who went overseas, many of whom were not able to return.

I want to commend and compliment the work done by the Kentville Police Force and the New Minas RCMP detachment, doing their best to make our communities safe in this time of some crime. The policemen are often the unsung heroes of our neighbourhoods.

We are fortunate in Kings North that we have so many service groups to help make life better for those who are less fortunate. The Kentville Rotary Club has a special fund for handicapped children. In addition to helping handicapped children, there is a substantial commitment every year to the hospital and the volunteers and the workers from the Rotary Club are to be commended.

Hard work performed during the year by parents and others who are interested in minor hockey, baseball and soccer; we cannot forget how important those activities are to the development of our young people. The Lions Club supports the air cadets in our area and every spring and every fall they have very large meetings where you can go and watch the activities of the cadets.

The Jaycees are active in supporting and in promoting agricultural awareness in our area. The Kinsmen Club: every year, I think, one of the highlights of the season is the Christmas Miracle that they put on Access Cable TV. They raise thousands of dollars so that they can purchase presents for youngsters at Christmas time. They purchase presents for youngsters who otherwise would not have such a very merry Christmas. To all the members of the service clubs in Kings North, I want to offer my sincere thank yous because without them, without the countless hours that they give to the betterment of the community, our communities would not be nearly as well off.

Agriculture is the backbone of the economy in Kings County and it is important that I stress the value of agriculture to not just Kings County, but all of Nova Scotia. Across the province, farmers produce $310 million worth of farm produce. They employ over 7,000 people. When you put the multiplier effects that all economists are anxious to do, agriculture becomes a billion dollar industry employing over 16,000 people in the related industries of processing, machinery service, feed mills, construction, trucking, transportation, veterinary service, the list is very long.

Nova Scotia is fortunate because we do more further processing with our agricultural products than any other region in Canada. Further processing means turning milk into cheese, turning milk into ice cream. One of the things that we also do is make chicken nuggets. Another thing that is brand new, just started about four years or five years ago by some enterprising farmers from Delhaven and they have a plant operating in Middleton under

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McKenzie's, is that they are preparing ready-made salads. You buy them in the grocery stores in a little cellophane bag and you just cut the bag, drop the cut vegetables in your pot and put in your salad dressings and there, the ready-made salad. That is further processing and that is what we, in Nova Scotia, do better than anywhere else in Canada.

In Kings County itself, agriculture is a $100 million per year industry. Over 3,000 people work in the agricultural sector of Kings County. Our processing section is large and getting larger. We are aware of the importance of the poultry industry in Kings County because 66 of the 77 poultry farms in the Annapolis Valley are in Kings County. There are over 60 dairy farms and 150 beef, hog and sheep operations and over 170 fruit and vegetable operators.

Some of the key employers in the area, and by no means all, are Maple Leaf Poultry in Upper Canard; Sarsfield Pies of Kentville - each of those facilities are employing over 150 people - ACA Poultry of New Minas, a co-operative, just purchased 100 per cent of Eastern Protein Foods located in the Annapolis Valley Industrial Park. Eastern Protein Foods is the manufacturer of chicken nuggets, chicken breasts and all sorts of chicken-related products that are sold, not just in Atlantic Canada, but sold across this great nation.

The official opening of the expanded ACA processing facility in the industrial park took place this winter and they held a family day so that the employees could bring their parents, their wives, their children and their extended families out to the facility so they would get a better understanding of where the employee worked and what they did while they were there. It was a great idea and it was a great pleasure to be there so that we could sample many of the products that are produced.

Larsen Packers of Berwick had a very successful year in 1995. This is a hog and beef processing facility and it is actually the most modern in Eastern Canada. The former government was interested in revitalizing the hog industry for Nova Scotia. We made a tremendous investment of taxpayers' dollars into Larsen Packers. As a result of this, the hog industry of Nova Scotia at least was assured of a good market. The hog farmers and the employees of Larsen's very much appreciate the commitment to Nova Scotia business and Nova Scotia agriculture that the former government put forth. If the circumstances were presented to this government today, I am not sure that this government would have the same interest or the same desire to assist agriculture as the former government.

[3:45 p.m.]

Another industry in Kings North is Allen Fruit Drinks of Port Williams. They had an expanded year this year and it is a vital link to the processing of apples. Great Valley Juice has also been busy in expanding their markets for our apples and apple juice this year. Nova Scotians need these processors and we are very fortunate that they are located in Kings North.

Last August, our caucus visited the only feta cheese plant in Eastern Canada. We were surprised to see the processing plant in operation. They are using about 12,000 litres of milk per week and they are turning the milk into feta cheese and selling the cheese in Nova Scotia, Quebec and in Ontario. We were thrilled and interested.

On the same tour, we visited the largest mushroom plant in Nova Scotia. Dr. Leonard North started his own mushroom farm after working for many years on a mushroom farm in Prince Edward Island and teaching at universities in the United States. This is a state-of-the-art mushroom farm and I know anybody in this Chamber at the present time who has had any mushrooms lately in their salads or on their steak, or however else you decide to eat a mushroom, I am sure you have had some mushrooms that came from Kings County.

Our caucus also visited Bruce Rands Broccoli Farm in Delhaven, Kings Produce in Pereau, Dykeview Farms, Onion and Potato Storage and Blueberry Acres High-Bush Blueberries Farm. We visited [Page 354]

Sarsfield Foods Limited, and visited the strawberry and beef farm of Charles and Doris Keddy. At the present time, Charles is President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture.

Our caucus continues to travel throughout Nova Scotia to visit and learn from the people in the places where they work. We have been to Yarmouth, Clare, Argyle, Sydney, Truro, Colchester County, Guysborough County, Antigonish and Pictou. We are visiting and we are learning as we travel.

When we were in Argyle, one of the highlights was the visit to the Wedgeport Tusket Island's new tuna museum. Many of you perhaps didn't realize that Nova Scotia, for the last 75 years, particularly in the late 1930's and 1940's, was the tuna capital of the world. The President of the United States used to come to Nova Scotia to fish for tuna. They had teams from Italy, Mexico, Chile and it is all historically documented at the Wedgeport Tusket Island Tuna Museum. Any of you who are travelling in the Wedgeport area, I suggest that you stop in a see the museum because it is well worth looking at and it is most interesting.

Last month I visited a mink farm when we were in the Clare district. The former government helped the fur industry during a crisis in price that was unheard of. The price of mink fell from $100 a pelt to $5.00 a pelt for four years in a row. Through the efforts of the Mink Producers Association and the Fox Breeders Association, the Department of Agriculture and Marketing brought in a stabilization program that saved the fur industry in Nova Scotia. Would the current government have offered that assistance? I don't think so.

Hostess Foods in New Minas process about 5,000 acres worth of potatoes. They are undergoing an expansion to better serve the buying public who enjoy potato chips.

In Kings North we do have many agricultural enterprises. Each time I stop and visit a farmer's farm I learn something new and I see something different. Technology is taking over agriculture. Our farmers in Nova Scotia are more technologically advanced than any other farmers, mainly because they have been so aggressive in taking advantage of programs offered by the federal and provincial government to take advantage of technology as it becomes available in each corner of the world. Our farmers have been travelling around the world for many years now, learning new ideas and new technologies and bringing them home. In many cases they are bringing them to Nova Scotia before they arrive in any other place in North America.

You know in Kings County, as important as agriculture is to us, there are other interesting things happening as well. We have great history. We have people in Kings North, the Kings Historical Society and the Field Wood Heritage Society in Canning, they do so much to promote the memory of Kings County people who made a difference.

The old Kings Courthouse Museum operating in Kentville is a great place to spend time. There are exhibits in there that change from time to time but there are also exhibits that are stationery and don't change. One of them that is most interesting is the scale model of the dykes. They have water running through it and some pumps. They can show you exactly how the dykes work to keep the ocean off valuable farm land in Kings County. Many people don't

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realize there is so much land below sea level in Kings County. If it were not for the dykes, when the tide comes in the rivers would overflow their banks and, indeed, much of Kings County would be underwater.

In Woodville, George Lynch has established a museum. Annually his whole extended family get together and hold a supper at the Woodville Community Hall to raise money to help keep George Lynch's Museum in operation. If you have some time and you are in the Woodville area, stop by and see George Lynch's Museum.

Many houses in Kings County have been plaqued by the Province of Nova Scotia because they are of historical significance. The Wickwire home on Main Street in Kentville is probably one of the most beautiful Victorian homes located anywhere in this province. Elizabeth Terrent Young's home is an old Acadian home on Main Street in Kentville as well. The Barrick Inn in Port Williams is a 1777 militia barracks that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. So I urge any of you who are travelling in the Port Williams area to stop and stay at the Barrick Inn and take a little bit of history with you.

Prescott House, built and opened in 1819 by George Rampage Prescott, was plaqued about 10 years ago with a Nova Scotia Historical Society plaque. Mr. Prescott was a member of this Legislature in 1819 when it opened. He was one of the 32 members of this Chamber at the official opening. He also built his house that same year and held an agricultural exhibition on his property.

One of the oldest homes in Canning was plaqued a few years ago by Mr. and Mrs. Ron Goodwin. It is a very old home and is reported to be the second oldest in Kings County. Last fall, Mrs. Murray McVaughan's home on Church Street in Port Williams had a Nova Scotia plaque put on it. These homes are all of significant importance to Nova Scotians. Joseph Howe told us one time, I guess in his writings, that a country that doesn't remember its past has no future. So it is good that we do honour the past in Nova Scotia and celebrate it by plaquing so that all people can realize it is a place we should have a look.

One of the famous folks in Kings County was old Abraham Gesner, born in 1797 at Church Street. In 1846 he discovered kerosene. There is a plaque for Mr. Gesner. There are a lot of famous people from Kings County and there are a lot of areas that we should stop and have a look at.

There are also some very great festivals and church suppers. The first festival of Nova Scotia is the Apple Blossom Festival and it is set to have the official opening this year on May 30th. All of Nova Scotia, at one time or another, arrives at the Apple Blossom Festival. This year, George Moody and I again, I expect, will be in the parade and we will be waving at the 100,000 people watching the parade as it winds through the town. Another person I know will be in the parade is my friend and colleague, Earle Rayfuse from Annapolis County, who never misses the parade and all of the events at the Apple Blossom Festival. I know the MLA for Annapolis will also be in the parade. (Interruption) Yes, he is an excellent member and he is a great addition to any parade you are having. We sure enjoy him when he comes to Kings County. So I hope many of you will come to the Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival, and when you see Earle, George Moody and I in the parade, you can wave and say hello; we would love to see you.

While you are at the Apple Blossom Festival and after the parade is over, you should stop over to Halls Harbour. They have, without question, the best lobster pound anywhere, probably anywhere in the world. The finest lobsters are cooked for you, right while you are standing there looking, in Halls Harbour, and I can assure you that they are delicious. On Sunday there is a big barbecue in Woodville, and I guess I would have to say that it is probably about the best chicken anywhere, certainly on that Sunday. But be there early, because they sell out and if you are late, you will be disappointed.

Community suppers happen throughout the year in Kings North: Centreville, Black Rock, Port Williams. Port Williams, interestingly enough, has the oldest strawberry supper in Nova Scotia; it has been happening now for over 100 years. I think this is either the 103rd year or will be the 104th coming up this July. Anybody who enjoys strawberries and cakes for dessert would certainly have a great time in Port Williams, because I have never seen anybody yet leave Port Williams hungry.

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Aldershot has community suppers. The Canning Fire Department are great; all winter long, once a month, they have a great big pancake breakfast and usually 50 or 100 people come out for breakfast. It is a great time, and in the summer they hold barbecues. The Kentville volunteer firefighters have a huge annual chicken barbecue and, again, be there early or be disappointed.

You know, the common theme of the Apple Blossom Festival, the community suppers, the plaquing of historic buildings, is that all the people have decided they want to do it. The service clubs, the Legions, the Lions, the Rotary, the Kinsmen, the Gyros, all those people joined a service club so they could help somebody else. So to all the volunteers throughout Kings North, I want to give them my heartiest thanks. Because, really and truly, we could not have the Apple Blossom Festival, we could not have the church suppers and all the socials without the dedication of our volunteers.

[4:00 p.m.]

Now, this weekend, for instance, Friday night the Wolfville Rotary Club is having a huge dinner and dance at the Wandlyn in Kentville. On Saturday night, the firefighters of Canning are having a huge supper and dance at their hall. In both of them, after purchasing a ticket, the prize, for some lucky person, is a trip to a warm climate for a couple of weeks in the winter. These events do not happen without the input of some pretty great people, and we certainly have the great people to put these things together in Kings County. We cannot thank our community volunteers often enough.

I get calls, though, on weekends, in the evenings, and I get calls in Halifax, too, from constituents. The common theme of my calls are threefold; they concern health, education and jobs. What my concerned constituents are telling me is that this government is doing a poor job in health, education and job creation. Somebody called this morning and said health care in Nova Scotia since this government and this minister means no care. Health care means no care. Now, can you imagine? We get complaints from one and all. The only time people do not complain is when they are in the hospital and they are getting the care from the nursing staff that is looking after them. I have never yet had a complaint from a single Nova Scotian about the quality of care from the nurses, the CNAs, the nurses' aides. Those people are the unsung heros of our health care system.

But look what this government and this minister have done to VON nurses in Halifax. I just have a little pamphlet and perhaps the Speaker has seen it as well - The VON strike update. Can you imagine the VON on strike? The VON has the respect of more people in Nova Scotia than any other organization. We all look to the VON for inspiration. As a measure of the VON, so often when somebody has passed away, you will read that donations may be

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made to the VON. All of us support the VON. All of us want a speedy solution to the problem.

At the same time, this Minister of Health says, we have no money. He created a job for a friend and paid him $107,000 a year. Is there a nurse in Nova Scotia getting paid $107,000? At the same time that there is no money for VON nurses, this same minister hired a part-time ambulance emergency medicine director for $140,000 and all he has to do is work nine months of the year to collect it. Is this fair? Is this just? Is there a nurse in this province who is even dreaming of making $107,000? Is there a nurse that will ever make $140,000 a year working nine months? I don't think so.

This Department of Health and this minister have closed the books on the people providing health care to Nova Scotia and they opened the bank books on friends, press secretaries, special advisors. He is asking people in the delivery to take less, while people who are advising are getting unheard of payments.

Health care workers are forced now, with the cutbacks in medical care, they have to make choices of who is the sickest and who is going to be treated first when admitting. The minister wants a U.S. style of health care system and the United States would like to have the Canadian style. It just does not add up.

Nurses are run off their feet and, through amalgamation, they are not even sure whether they are going to have a job. We have mass amalgamation from this minister and what did it yield to us? Mass confusion. To top it all off with this mass amalgamation that this minister dreamed up, we have only two representatives from Kings County on the regional health board that goes from Kings County all the way across to Lunenburg County, Queens, Shelburne, the whole loop. Two for the entire Kings County region; totally unfair.

Doctors are leaving Nova Scotia in record numbers. There are areas in Nova Scotia where you cannot even get on a doctor's list. There are 8,000 people in Cape Breton waiting for a doctor. Doctors have come to see me and they have told me they can no longer practise the kind of medicine they were trained for. We are moving into a system under this minister's care, where if you have the money, you can get served; if you don't, stand in line. That is the American way and the minister indicated he now wants home care privatized.

That is one of the real issues. Education is another. Horton School comes to mind. Since December, the issue of Horton School has caused more sleepless nights for constituents of Kings North and Kings South, particularly Kings North, than any other issue. Parents whose children go to Canning School or Kentville School have asked that their children be included in the catchment area of this new super-school. The President of Acadia University has written letters to the newspapers. The Chairman of the Kings District School Board has written letters. Canning and Kentville parents, they have more questions than answers.

What is a super-school? Are children that go to any other school in Nova Scotia going to be deprived of jobs? Future education has been suggested. It has been suggested that children that are not attending this new super-school will be at such a disadvantage that their future education is in question. Is this the kind of education system we are developing, where in Nova Scotia we have one school with technology and the rest of us are waiting?

This is the impression we are left with by the Minister of Education. His colleague, the member for Kings South, indicated that this was not a super-school, this was merely a replacement for Horton School. Well, if it is a replacement for Horton, why aren't they just rebuilding Horton? Add a gymnasium, add some classrooms, buy some paint, renovate this school because if we do not renovate this school, there is a high school building that is going to be standing there that is large enough to house 1,400 children, ideal about 1,000, that is going to become abandoned, turned back to the municipal government and the municipality is going to have to find something to do with it. Now second-hand schools are not a big ticket item anywhere. So, as it unfolds, it gets more interesting.

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We were informed the other day that this school rebuilding project for the L.E. Shaw School in Avonport was on hold for another year. It was supposed to be completed six months ago but they are going to wait for another year. Does that mean that Horton School is moved ahead or is Horton School moved down the board another year? These are questions that we really should have answers to.

You know the other thing, and I could say much more about education but my time will be gone and I won't be through. The third item that is of utmost importance to people in my district is jobs. You know, one of the things that made me so disappointed with this Throne Speech were the lines in it where the Premier was congratulating himself for creating so many jobs when, in fact, employment fell by 4,000 in January, another 2,000 in February, a net loss of 6,000 jobs in Nova Scotia in the last two months. We did not see job creation, we saw job de-creation.

The Premier knows what the real numbers are; the real numbers show fewer people working, fewer jobs. It gets worse. The number of people unemployed in Nova Scotia has jumped from 46,000 in January to 52,000 in February. Now if you can remember in 1993, the Premier was on television saying there are 52,000 people unemployed and I am going to give every one of them a job. Remember the Premier talking about setting up little knitting co-ops so that women could get together in some of the villages and knit socks.

That is what the Premier said he was going to do. They were talking at home, they were going to build a little, if you voted Liberal, you could get a job doing tole painting on mail boxes. They had all these ideas to create jobs then. Some of them didn't make much sense, I don't know, somebody probably told him that doing a little knitting wasn't going to solve the problem of 62,000 people looking for work.

The Premier then at least had some kind of an idea that he wanted to help somebody find a job, even if it didn't make much sense. But now the Premier is so busy congratulating himself on creating jobs that he doesn't even realize how serious the job loss situation is. There are, in effect, more people looking for work today than there were in 1993. The unemployment rate is 11.8 per cent. The adjusted rate, if you take out the seasonal businesses of it, is 12.8 per cent. In Cape Breton, the unemployment rate is 20 per cent; on the North Shore it is 14 per cent.

These figures don't count the Nova Scotians, and you know them, whose unemployment insurance has run out and who have pretty well given up. They are not included. If you include the people who have given up looking for work, the rate is going to be 30 per cent in Cape Breton. That is too many people.

The outlook for 1996 doesn't look great either. That is not what you hear from this government and the Premier. They think things are going great. They may be in the circle of friends they travel with, but spend some time in Nova Scotia with Nova Scotians, the way our Leader and our caucus travels around, and you will talk to the people. You will learn that we

[Page 359]

lost 3,000 full-time jobs in 1995. The number of people in Nova Scotia collecting unemployment insurance has increased.

[4:15 p.m.]

Retail sales, that is the kind of the measure of confidence that people have, has dropped 1.6 per cent in Nova Scotia. We aren't even at the national rate for retail sales. That is pretty serious because that tells us that Nova Scotians don't have the confidence to spend money because they don't know whether they have a job next year, many don't even know whether they have one this year. Nurses, public servants, they are all at the edge wondering what this government is going to do next. The sad thing is that the government is wondering what it is going to do next too because they have no plan, they have no solution, they have no ideas.

Public sector wages and salaries are down. Statistics Canada polled 40 centres across Canada. Halifax has the second worst employment prospects for 1996 out of 40 major centres polled in Canada. These are pretty serious reminders that we have got a problem and the government must show leadership in job creation and confidence building.

Employment in small and medium-sized business increased in Nova Scotia by 1,850 over the past 12 months. In New Brunswick, using the same statistical information, 11,000 jobs were created in small business. Employment growth in small and medium business, New Brunswick is six times ahead of Nova Scotia. That is a disgrace. With the natural resources, the education facilities, the natural resources with the harbour, our location, there shouldn't be a province anywhere that is outdoing us, but our neighbour to the north is.

The Bank of Montreal predicts our Nova Scotia economy will grow by 1 per cent and this is down from 1.5 per cent. We were doing bad enough in 1995, the Bank of Montreal says it is going to be even worse. That is hard to believe.

Some of the problems are Municipal Affairs amalgamation. This government said they didn't want it, didn't support it but what did they do? They brought it in anyway. The other day I was at a meeting of the Municipal Council in Kings County. They went around the table so that each councillor could have a say. They asked, what is one of your biggest concerns? Every single councillor there was concerned about forced amalgamation. What puzzled me is the minister said there will not be any forced amalgamation any more. The municipal council had trouble swallowing that and believing and putting trust in it.

Kings County people say look, we want some cooperation. For example, Kentville and New Minas are sharing recreation services. That is the kind of thing that helps, it saves money and gets the job done. Kings County police forces are doing a task force study on regional policing, they wanted to do it. The government didn't come down and say, you do this, they said, let's have a look. You see, there are ways to get the job done and there are ways to wreak havoc.

If municipal amalgamation was such a great thing, Kings County would be the first on board to say, bring it on. But they are scared to death after seeing the overruns in Cape Breton of $15 million and we have no idea how many millions extra it is going to cost in Halifax, how many extra millions of dollars the taxpayers will have to pay.

[Page 360]

The seniors in Nova Scotia are concerned as well. The drug plan is costing them more money, the listings with the decreased drugs available by the plan. Several seniors have called me and said, with this harmonization that the government is talking about, is my GST rebate safe? I don't know. Madam Speaker, do you know? Nobody knows what is on the chopping block. Without a GST, will there be a rebate? It is still the GST, they are just going to call it a different name.

Seniors housing. Seniors living in government subsidized housing used to pay 25 per cent of their income. Then it was raised to 27 per cent, now they have notice this government raised it to 30 per cent. Now, the seniors are hearing that the provincial housing program is going to be privatized and they will be dealing with a landlord rather than a government department. Seniors are concerned because they don't know what this government will do next. I guess the problem is they are not sure if the government, in fact, itself knows.

Taxes. In 1993, the government said, no new taxes. Remember that? No new taxes, but in 1994 we got lots of them. Three per cent on your electric bill, $22 million on gasoline, 1 per cent added to the sales tax took $70 million more out of the economy, now 10 cents more on drinks. Confusion and misunderstanding prevail. With roads we got tolls. In the Valley, we have Highway No. 101 with 13,000 cars a day and the minister said, no more, you have all the twinning you are going to get.

Last summer, the Kings County Truckers Association received hardly any work from the Department of Transportation but government trucks were busy. The Department of Transportation has replaced local truckers with trucks owned by the government and paid the salaries of government employees to drive them. It doesn't make much sense. The government says that privatization is the way to go. The Department of Transportation on this end says privatization for some things but when it comes to backhoes and trucks, we are going to buy our own and do our own.

The central point that I would like to make and stress to the members of the government is to mean what you say and follow through with it. I can remember in 1993, the former government appointed two non-elected people to the Cabinet. The Liberal Leader, John Savage, called this reprehensible. It was reprehensible to do that. The Opposition Party Leaders criticized the Premier for ignoring democratic tradition and his own principles by putting unelected nominees in charge of senior departments. That is what the Premier said then. Here is what Premier Savage said when two people who were not elected were appointed to Cabinet: I think the Premier has lost it. You see, why I bring this up is to show the hypocrisy of this government and this Premier because less than a month ago, the federal Prime Minister announced several appointments to Cabinet who were not elected. Did our Premier say he had lost it? Did he say he was hypocritical? Nothing. This Liberal Government will change its tune to vary the song. People in Nova Scotia do not respect, want or admire that kind of a Leader.

I see that my time is almost up, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, you have about 10 seconds left.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Madam Speaker, I want to tell you that I was disappointed in the Throne Speech, I am disappointed in this government and when the opportunity presents itself, I will vote no to this Throne Speech and I urge others to do so. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 361]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. EARLE RAYFUSE: Madam Speaker, as always, it is an honour for me to have the opportunity to reply to the Speech from the Throne, and especially to follow my friend and colleague for Kings North. When the member for Kings North was Agriculture Minister, I was Agriculture Critic. At that time, we had quite a lot of fun back and forth across the floor. I remember one Speech from the Throne in particular that he was cutting me down quite often. But, anyway, friends are the main thing and we always come out smiling.

Our Lieutenant Governor has eloquently presented this government's role in the future of Nova Scotia, offering both challenge and opportunity. Madam Speaker, I extend my best wishes to you and to our regular Speaker, knowing you will both discharge your duties with good judgment.

Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by saying how much I treasure the enduring love of my wife Babe, our daughter Nancy, and her family. I cannot say that the last few years have been easy for us, but I can say that with their endorsement of my determination to advocate on behalf of Annapolis County and its constituents, it has made my job all that more gratifying. (Applause)

Madam Speaker, I would also like to mention my very capable constituency assistant, Terrie Little. I would like to introduce her to the members. Today, she is in the gallery. (Applause) Terrie works very hard to assist me in resolving the many concerns of people in our riding of Annapolis. I have always been proud to represent the people of Annapolis in this House and in this government. The people of Annapolis County are devoted men and women to this province, who make notable contributions to our collective, social and economic well-being.

Madam Speaker, sadly I am mindful of the passing of a number of well-known residents of Annapolis County this year. I would like to take this time to gratefully acknowledge their lives of dedicated service to the betterment of all: Mrs. Estella Healy, possibly the oldest resident of Annapolis County, at 109.5 years, six months short of her 110th birthday; Dr. Mahaney, family physician to the residents of Bridgetown for 50 years; Harry Smoskey, former Mayor of Bridgetown; Balser Thompson, the last surviving brother of the founder of Thompson's Transfer; fellow Rotarian Norm Phinney of Middelton, former owner of Phinney's Music Store right here on Barrington Street in Halifax; as well, Mr. Warren Roop, funeral director in the Middelton area.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to acknowledge some of the other people of Annapolis: Ms. Jacquie Lawrence, the first person of African-Canadian and native heritage in Canada to hold the distinction of Municipal Clerk of the County of Annapolis, and former Mayor, Daurene Lewis, Annapolis Royal's first African-Canadian Mayor in Canada.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, 1996 started off with tremendous news for all the people of Nova Scotia. This year, for the first time in 25 years, the provincial government does not have to borrow to pay for its day-to-day operations. Nova Scotians will post a $37.3 million operating surplus this year. The $150.7 million capital debt will be eliminated in 1997. Tough choices made by this government were the right choices made for the province's economy and for the future of public programs and services for all Nova Scotians. Our economic future depends on our competitive advantages and only a financially secure Nova Scotia can offer those advantages.

[Page 362]

Imagine what the Government of Nova Scotia could do with the money now used to service our debt charges, especially for health care, eduction and other areas of social responsibility. We all must work hard to improve and expand programs and services responsibly as we can afford them. I am particularly proud to support this provincial government's commitment to building a better health care system for all Nova Scotians.

With our government's emphasis on decentralizing health care, local community health boards are of great importance to the delivery of services in the Annapolis area. I am pleased to report that the response from most residents in my riding has been overwhelming. More and more people are enthusiastically realizing that they are the ones directing health reform in their own communities. As members on community health boards, they can focus on health promotion, identifying the specific health needs of their community and suggest ways to meet those needs. The community health board, in turn, expresses the health concerns of our residents to the Western Regional Health Board.

Mr. Speaker, no one wants to create undue expense, lose their independence or leave their home of many years to become hospitalized for many days or weeks. Thanks to this government's caring, understanding and initiative we now have Home Care Nova Scotia. In addition, this government has provided for the establishment of a new Home Care Nova Scotia program. Home Care can effectively provide medical attention to people in the comfort of their own homes, regardless of their age or income. Included in this program is the Home Support Service designed to keep people as independent as possible for as long as possible.

In Annapolis County, I would like to pay tribute to the people in the Annapolis Royal area for coming together for the common good of the community. Recently, the Annapolis Community Health Centre opened a Palliative Care Unit. Thanks to the Mid-Valley Palliative Care Volunteer Service and the dedicated members of the planning committee, we now have a beautiful, restful tribute to the lives of people in the Annapolis community. I am pleased to see that other changes in health care services include emergency medical care, as well as Annapolis Community Health Centre.

Last year, Annapolis Royal Community Health Centre was the first to welcome the state-of-the-art vehicle in the new fleet of ambulances for the Province of Nova Scotia. Last fall, I was pleased to represent the provincial government as I handed over the keys of another new vehicle to Mr. Chris Roop of Warren T. Roop Ambulance Service in the Town of Middleton. These welcomed, new, larger and better equipped ambulances for Annapolis County are part of a fleet of 150 being issued to revise emergency health service throughout our province. I am confident that such improvements in our health care services will save lives.

Today, Mr. Speaker, the people of Annapolis, like those across our province, realize that nutritious food, safe communities and employment are just a few of the many things that contribute to good health.

We are turning the corner, economically, throughout Nova Scotia and Valley businesses are proving they can flourish in the new economy. In the new economy it is not up to government to create jobs but it is up to government to create the climate for economic growth. Despite the difficult economic times, job growth in Nova Scotia last year was third in Canada. That is because investment in the province has dramatically improved.

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I am pleased to point out that last fall unemployment in the Annapolis Valley was down to 8.8 per cent, compared to one year before that of 11.5 per cent. This means that there were 3,000 more people employed in the region than a year ago, a major step forward. That is why I am encouraged by the significant gains in employment in Nova Scotia that are beginning to show this province's strong potential for 1996 and beyond.

Mr. Speaker, although these are encouraging indicators, I would like to take this opportunity to commend our Premier for establishing the formation of Team South West. This special Cabinet Committee includes Wayne Gaudet as Chair, Ministers Robbie Harrison, Jim Barkhouse and Don Downe and MLAs Lila O'Connor, Clifford Huskilson, Richie Hubbard, Allister Surette, Joe Casey and myself.

Mr. Speaker, this committee is working in conjunction with the local regional development authorities. Team South West is committed to deal with the unique economic concerns facing residents and communities in southwestern Nova Scotia.

One sure sign of the new economy in Annapolis County took place on January 2nd of this year, as I took in the signing of a seven year lease agreement marking the establishment of the new Bridgetown Development Centre. This new, multi-use facility has two new tenants, including the Annapolis Valley Regional Library Headquarters, and Interplay Design and Manufacturing Incorporated. The building will undergo renovations to accommodate more, as the inquiries are made.

Mr. Speaker, it is also encouraging for the business community and residents to see the lights of the old ADIL Building turned on again and the potential for this building brought back to life. I am certain that other businesses will see the value of leasing opportunities at the Business Development Centre and will want to locate there.

I am further encouraged by our Lieutenant Governor's Speech from the Throne as he states the climate for more community development that will also improve this session of the Legislature, with the regional development authorities. Future financial incentives through RDAs will encourage more Nova Scotians to invest in community development initiatives.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the significant role of roadways linking our community's efforts in economic prosperity. Last year, Mr. Speaker, I would like to report that the County of Annapolis received over $400,000 in maintenance and upgrading of secondary highways.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, we anticipate and plan for the economic future of our county. For example, I would like to see passing lanes put in place on Highway No. 101. At present time, there are no passing lanes from Coldbrook to Bridgetown, approximately 40 miles. However, we are optimistic there will be further funding to modernize, strengthen and maintain our transportation routes.

Another industry, Mr. Speaker, is tourism. It is big business in this province, especially in the Valley. It is a $900 million annual industry, and that is gross revenue, new dollars coming in. Tourism directly involves more than 5,000 businesses and over 42,000 people in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the Valley area business community for their outstanding efforts in creating employment. Businesses can achieve success at home because we know Nova Scotia is one of the best places in the world to live, work and play. In

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response, tourism operators are becoming creative in offering packages that capture the tourists' attention. One project I would like to make note of is Canoe Annapolis County. This project has tremendous potential to boost eco-tourism in the county.

By mapping and recording Annapolis County's vast and interconnected lakes and rivers, we could be one of the first municipalities in Nova Scotia to know and enjoy our surroundings better, while opening our doors for visitors and tourists. This tourism approach is more sustainable and different from those of the past. Canoe Annapolis County could provide the basis for private tour guide operations, while enticing visitors to stay overnight at our local bed and breakfasts, hotels or motels. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that an increase in the bed and breakfast industry commenced in 1994 and our local operators see this trend continuing.

Whether it is for business or a family vacation, most people will experience a stay at a hotel, motel or bed and breakfast. It is unfortunate that some people, apparently in the past, have had the misfortune of staying in one of those places that was less than suitable to their expectations. Mr. Speaker, that is why the formulation of the new tourist accommodation regulations hopes to ensure visitors to Nova Scotia will be assured of high-quality accommodations. By attracting more tourists, this could create more jobs, benefiting the province, employees and tourism operators.

Mr. Speaker, preparations are well under way for one of the province's best-known events, the 64th Apple Blossom Festival on June 1st. My colleague and friend from Kings North mentioned the parade on May 31st but, if he goes to it on May 31st, he will not have to wave to too many, because the parade, I think, is on Saturday, June 1. This has been confirmed by the member for Kings West.

Actually, work on this year's popular annual festival began months ago, with an army of hard-working volunteers who are the secret of the real success of the festival each year.

[4:45 p.m.]

Early reports reveal that Maritime musical entertainers will include Natalie MacMaster at this year's Apple Blossom Festival on June 1st and this year will be remembered as probably being one of the best.

Tourism in Annapolis County is one of the natural income earners in the area, especially with the county's many natural beaches, the open unspoiled spaces, the history, heritage and the ocean, all marketable attractions capable of bringing many dollars into our area.

For hundreds of years, the good things of this fertile land have been closely linked with those of agriculture. Agriculture's history in Annapolis County goes back to 1605 when the Acadians established the oldest settlement, now known as Annapolis Royal. Nestled between North and South Mountains can be found some of the most beautiful and prosperous land in the province - the Annapolis Valley.

Agriculture over these many years has diversified and expanded with improved techniques that have increased dairy, beef, grain, fruit production and I better add poultry here for the Honourable Donald Downe. Today, Annapolis County with its fertile soil and pleasant climate produces a variety of agricultural products destined for markets across Canada and around the world.

[Page 365]

I am pleased to congratulate this government for taking our agriculture industry beyond our borders to provincial, national and international markets. Farmers, governments and consumers all benefit from the work and improvements in the agriculture industry. The consumer has an abundance of high quality food available year round and the industry makes a valuable contribution to the economy of our province with employment, services and spin-off industries, value added products.

In addition, last year marked a great milestone in the agriculture history of Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture celebrated its 100th Anniversary. This organization is to be proud of its achievements during the last 100 years. As the voice of farmers of this province, the federation has led the way in tackling issues that have led to the development of policies and programs to improve the agricultural industry. I am pleased to support our government for providing a permanent recognition of this milestone in the federation's history.

Through the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, the Government of Nova Scotia provided a scholarship fund of $25,000 to the Agricultural College Foundation on behalf of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture's 100th Anniversary. The interest will provide an annual 100th Anniversary scholarship to some student each year.

I would like to take just a few moments to comment on the impact of this successful department of the agriculture industry in Annapolis County. After a great deal of discussion and work with the industry especially by the Leaders of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, the Farm Registration Act was proclaimed. As a result, 2,100 farmers registered in 1995 and in 1996, registration packaged have been mailed out to registered farmers.

The municipal reform package as part of the service exchange was passed. This has transferred the total responsibility of weed control from the municipalities to the Department of Agriculture. Introduced last summer, it has worked well and provides more consistent application of the Act across the province, with a very professional approach to this very necessary activity. The Natural Products Act was amended to accommodate changes at both the national and provincial level. The amendment will enable non-marketing organizations to collect fees for research, marketing initiatives and from imports to benefit Canadian agriculture.

Mr. Speaker, in response to the Environment Act, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Environment signed a memorandum of understanding and an advisory committee is now in place. This advisory committee will identify and advise the departments on environmental issues, practices and standards related to agriculture. Agriculture awareness efforts have continued to develop throughout this past year. This is an excellent partnership between producers, agri-businesses, farm organizations and the government. I would like to make mention that there have already been a number of unique efforts made to teach children about Nova Scotia agriculture and Nova Scotia grown products.

In the fall of 1994, the Taste of Nova Scotia Quality Food Program was launched. Last year the program moved to the private sector and while the department supports the program with funds and staff, the business plan is carried out by the industry. I understand, Mr. Speaker, they have enjoyed a successful first year.

There have also been a number of changes to regulations under the Farm Loan Board. Now the board is able to provide faster loan processing and cost recovery consistent with other lending agencies and institutions.

[Page 366]

The establishment of Grain and Forage Nova Scotia, a successful joint venture between the government and industry, is providing for more efficient operation of the grain and forage facilities. Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention two residents of Annapolis County: Rodney Banks of Spa Springs and Danny Bruce of Centrelea, who have successfully stored superior forage and, as a result, were winners of the hay competition at the Annapolis Valley Exhibition. These farmers found newer methods of storage were the best for feed, lower in labour input and the most dependable way for farmers to keep meat and milk production costs down and competitive.

I must recognize the sincere commitment of the many farmers in Annapolis County. It is very rewarding to see so many who volunteer their precious time at our local exhibitions and fairs in an effort to provide generous displays of crafts, livestock, farm machinery, flowers, vegetables and fruit. The three leading fruit crops are apples, strawberries and blueberries. The fertile Annapolis Valley where commercial production is centered offers unparalleled growing conditions.

Nova Scotia apple growers have witnessed many changes since the Acadians first planted trees in the lush soil of the Annapolis Valley. The industry has undergone fundamental shifts, enjoying times of prosperity in the early decades of this century to the leaner times through the war years. Yet one thing has remained clear, since 1863, the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association has known - the apple industry must constantly adapt to changing times. To stay viable, growers are trying to improve product quality, produce more efficiently, increase cold storage capacity and introduce new varieties.

A third of Nova Scotia's apples are shipped to markets across Canada and overseas. The rest of the crop is processed into juice, apple sauce and frozen pies.

The Sarsfield plant, Mr. Speaker, makes approximately 100,000 pies a day - not all apple pies but I think about 100,000 in different varieties - using the Spy variety of apple. It is unfortunate that at this time farmers in the Valley have not grown as many Spys, because they are a late season apple and a bit more difficult to grow and harvest than some of the earlier and newer varieties. But the Sarsfield plant is a huge market offering a special opportunity for local growers. In response, some farmers are planting dwarf trees to increase the production of Spy apples. The grower's association is offering an incentive program to encourage the planting of an extra 500 acres over the next five years. With this obvious dedication of Nova Scotia's apple growers, I am optimistic the industry will not only survive, but will thrive well into the 21st Century.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to point out that in addition to fruit growers, Nova Scotia's dairy, poultry, egg, beef and pork sectors lead the way in terms of gross value of agricultural production, generating more than 50 per cent of farmgate sales.

The dairy industry in Nova Scotia is the largest component in the province's agricultural industry, representing 28 per cent of farm cash income. The past 50 years have seen a great deal of progress in the dairy industry. Nova Scotia farmers with advancements in technology and expertise are well on their way at increasing their rate of production.

The dairy industry remains strong and healthy thanks to the many milk producers who work cooperatively to maintain control on their supply. Although the number of dairy farms has declined, the volume of fluid milk produced remains constant. In 1995, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia produced 160 million litres of milk.

The quality of Nova Scotia's pork rates among the best in Canada. With improved management skills and new technology, production was up 8 per cent in the pork industry in 1995 over 1994.

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The poultry and egg industry is second only to dairy in terms of farm cash income. And with the new developments in poultry and egg products combined with ambitious advertising campaigns, chicken producers last year, too, Mr. Speaker, experienced sales up 9 per cent over the previous year.

One unique way of raising chickens is happening on a farm in Moshers Corner, just outside of Middleton, Annapolis County. I would like to congratulate Paul and Ruth Colville on their success in producing free range chickens and organic vegetables. In appreciation of Maritime foods, these chickens were served to our G-7 Leaders when they came to Halifax last summer.

Mr. Speaker, it is more and more obvious that issues facing this government in the agricultural industry are worldwide in scope. We all have to work to resolve these issues effectively so that the agricultural industry can become stronger and more viable.

I have every confidence that, with the cooperative approach established between the farmers of Nova Scotia and the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, the agriculture industry will continue to contribute substantially to the economic and social progress in the Province of Nova Scotia and in the Annapolis Valley.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, in the year ahead I remain committed to working with the people of Annapolis County with one goal in mind, that is the continued improvements of our economy. Together, during the last three years, we have made good strides. Our job now is to keep working to create the conditions in our county, within this province that will stimulate further private sector economic growth, again in the Annapolis Valley.

I anticipate we will have another year of economic recovery and job growth ahead for all the province. Exciting things are happening and I am proud, Mr. Speaker, to be part of the government that is making a difference. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all members of this Assembly for their attention to the concerns, that I have brought before the House, of the great constituency of Annapolis. I will continue to bring the concerns of all residents of Annapolis to this government.

Mr. Speaker, I will be voting in favour of the Throne Speech. Thank you and good afternoon. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, It is a genuine pleasure to rise before you today, and the members of our House of Assembly, to speak in response to the Speech from the Throne presented by our government. Several speakers in the past few days have noted the absence of Buddy Daye. I, too, want to note the loss of Buddy from this Chamber and from the life of our City of Halifax. Buddy and I shared many special moments, particularly prior to his death we had the opportunity on several occasions to talk about his concerns and about issues surrounding his Christian faith and my Christian faith. I think that

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Buddy is sadly missed in this area; he is certainly missed from this House. I just wanted to note that I feel the same way as many other people here have already expressed; he is missed in this place. I know we all wish Doug Giles a wonderful future in his role as our new Sergeant-at-Arms.

This address affords me the opportunity to bring to the Assembly, the many achievements and accomplishments of the people who live in the riding of Bedford-Fall River. In many ways the name Bedford-Fall River is a misnomer because it is a diverse urban and rural mix of communities, taking in a significant part of the Town of Bedford, the areas of Waverley, Fall River, Windsor Junction, Lakeview, Fletchers Lake, Wellington, Grand Lake and Oakfield. It goes all the way out to the airport.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to serve the people of Bedford-Fall River as their elected member of the Legislature. I would like to take this opportunity now to thank all the good people of my riding for their support and for the confidence they have placed in me during the past three years. I have had many opportunities to travel throughout the riding to meet and listen to the suggestions and advice of many individuals, many groups and many committees.

In turn, Mr. Speaker, I have sought every opportunity to bring forth the needs and the concerns of these people to my colleagues in caucus, to the government and to this House. I will continue to expend energy and commitment in serving the needs of the people of Bedford-Fall River.

I want to thank Anne Birdsall a member of my staff in my constituency office. We handle over 3,000 phone calls a year through the constituency office. Anne is the person who answers the telephone and does a lot of the slogging out there, so I just want to make special mention of Anne Birdsall because she is very dedicated to the job she has.

It is a privilege, Mr. Speaker, to recognize the special contributions made by countless volunteers to the development of healthy and vibrant communities. Over 17 homeowners' associations are in existence in my riding and there are many special groups of volunteers who give their time and their effort to their communities. They support activities that are diverse in areas of sports, recreation, church life, volunteer firefighting, activities with youth and seniors, environment issues, civic and cultural affairs.

While the names of all those volunteers are obviously too numerous to mention, I do want to select two people for special mention and recognition in this House of Assembly. The first person is Philip Riteman. I want to mention the special contribution that Mr. Riteman has made to the people of Nova Scotia. He is a resident of Bedford and a survivor of the Holocaust; he is a frequent speaker in local schools and he was a special guest of the Government of Canada this past year where he attended upon the unveiling of a new commemorative stamp for Canada commemorating the victims of the Holocaust. With great dignity, Mr. Riteman demonstrates to our young people the importance of knowing our history, the value of freedom and why we must continue to recognize the threat posed by racism and hatred, threats to the very foundations of our democratic society.

The second person I want to mention is Bedford Constable Richard Derek Lane. Constable Lane was awarded the Saint John Ambulance International Lifesaving Silver Medal Award. This is the highest award ever given to a Nova Scotian by the Saint John Ambulance Order. This international award was given to Constable Lane in recognition for his heroic actions in saving the life of a man trapped underwater in his car. He is a brave hero and he is an example to us all.

To both of these individuals, I say thank you for demonstrating the qualities of outstanding character for the rest of us to look up to.

Mr. Speaker, there are two Legions in my riding that are celebrating their 50th Anniversary in 1996. They are the Royal Canadian Legion, Bedford Branch Number 95 and the Royal Canadian Legion, Waverley-Dieppe Branch Number 90. Our congratulations go to all their members and their associates.

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Many of our communities depend upon volunteer firefighters to meet their emergency assistance needs. I want to congratulate the members of the Waverley Volunteer Fire Department because they are celebrating, or celebrated recently, their 40th Anniversary. This group has provided exemplary volunteer service throughout the years. All Nova Scotians are reminded of the important role that volunteer firefighters play in our province.

Just a few days ago, the various parts of my riding became part of the new regional municipality and I am confident that strong and dynamic communities which I represent will continue to thrive and will continue to maintain their special identity, particularly because of the continued contributions of their citizens. The communities of Bedford-Fall River are recognized throughout Canada as growing quality communities. I congratulate the two municipal councillors, Gordon Snow and Peter Kelly, and I know they will do their very best to be members of the new team at City Hall.

I want to mention the Emergency 911 telephone service that is mentioned in our Speech from the Throne. I am proud that while I was Mayor of Bedford, Bedford was the first community in the province to plan for and eventually implement the 911 emergency system. I know that by the end of this year, the entire province will be served by 911 and that is going to be a wonderful happening when it takes place.

In addition, Bedford-Fall River is the home to some of the most dynamic growth-oriented businesses anywhere in the province. One business comes to mind in particular, and it is EnivroSeal Engineering Products Ltd. of Waverley. They received the prestigious 1995 Chemical Processing Magazine's Vaaler Award, and this is a highly recognized honour in the chemical processing industry. I am citing them for special praise but I know that there are many businesses with people who are committing themselves to standards of excellence and hard work to succeed.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the fiscal policies of our government are creating new business optimism and a renewed consumer confidence. While we have gone a long way in economic development, there still remains much that must yet be done. Our government has had to do the tough things required to get our fiscal house in order. Fifteen years of overspending and mismanagement brought Nova Scotia to the brink of ruin and $1 billion a year is spent to service that inherited debt. Think of all we could do if we were not hamstrung by that legacy.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that we will be introducing the first balanced capital and operating budget since 1972. Homeowners and families in my area want the government to put its fiscal house in order so that vital education, health and social services will continue to be available to all Nova Scotians, despite their income or their age. The impact of federal cuts, $323 million over the next three years, in these areas alone, forces us

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to continue to review how our programs are delivered and how to do more with less, while still meeting our commitments.

Mr. Speaker, the Home Care Program in our province is experiencing rapid growth. People are genuinely pleased with the variety of services they can now receive at home. We must continue to address any concerns and questions that people have and, as a former nurse, I watch closely the evolution of this program.

In another health related area, I am very pleased that the long awaited environment clinic in Fall River is going ahead, with the proposed completion date for August 1996. I know that many people with environmental illness are awaiting the state-of-the-art clinic.

Mr. Speaker, in recent years, my riding has experienced unparalleled growth and expansion. It has a mixture of population, but there is a large number of families with young people. Receiving a high quality education is a very important issue for constituency members and their children. Several schools in Bedford-Fall River are drastically overcrowded. I know that many parents who call me express the concern that this overcrowding affects the education of their children. I bring this concern to this House because it is a concern that is felt by many in my constituency.

Mr. Speaker, just prior to the 1993 election, the previous government announced $60 million in school construction projects, while not putting any money aside to meet that pledge in the budget. Now we are left with that legacy and we must try to meet all the hopes raised by that and find the money to make up for years of neglect of that system.

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment on much-needed school construction. While funds have been approved by Cabinet for expansion to the Ash Lee Jefferson School in Fall River, I understand now that the capital projects have been spread out over several years, making the slated time for start-up to be in 1998. I know I speak for my constituents, who have been calling me in great numbers recently about this, that this timeframe is a source of deep disappointment. We must commit ourselves to finding the innovative ways to fund these projects, so that realistic timeframes can be honoured. We must look to involving the developers, who bring new residential growth to our communities, to build the schools to accommodate the growth they create.

The Basinview Elementary School was opened one year ago and already it has a portable on site. Planning is needed now to meet the needs of the expected increased enrolments. A new high school is required for the Waverley-Fall River area. The C.P. Allen High School was built for 700 students. It is now vastly overcrowded, with a student population in the 1,100 to 1,200 range. There is an urgent need for a high school to be located here.

Mr. Speaker, our government struggles to find the answers to our inherited debt problems, but I urge us to find the innovation and the funding to get these school buildings going without further delay. Despite problems with overcrowding, our students are excelling in a variety of endeavours, which round out their education.

In the area of music, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the members of this House that the 70 member band from Bedford Junior High School, under the direction of Gary Adams, is one of only three bands in all of Canada to be asked to participate in the All American Music Festival to be held this month in Orlando, Florida. This music festival actually invites and features 25,000 participants and the band from our community of Bedford-Fall River has been invited for a premier performance at Disney World and the MGM Studios. At the end of the festival, you can be assured that 25,000 young Americans will know about Nova Scotia's music program and they certainly will know about Nova Scotia.

The C.P. Allen High School Band is also well known for its excellence. In the recent Kiwanis Music Festival, the band garnered four firsts. Under the direction of Ms. Denise Grant, the 40 member band is off [Page 371]

to Boston in April to compete in the International Festival of Music New England. In Fall River, the music program at Georges P. Vanier Junior High School is also thriving. Individuals and bands alike all had an excellent showing at the Nova Scotia Kiwanis Music Festival, with winners taking first, second and third place. On behalf of all the members of this House, I wish to extend our very best congratulations and best wishes to the members and to the conductors of these bands. For those going on tour, we all hope you enjoy yourselves and we know that you will represent Bedford-Fall River riding and Nova Scotia with excellence.

[5:15 p.m.]

Our communities are also committed to the physical and recreational development of our young people. This past summer, the Bedford Beavers Swim Team captured the 1995 Summer Swimming Provincial Championships for the first time in the team's history. In a field of over 550 swimmers from 17 provincial teams, the Bedford Beavers won. At the provincial championships, they won over 90 medals and set six provincial records. Congratulations to all the team members, the coaches, the supportive family members and all those people who are so devoted as to get up at 5:00 a.m. to find time in the water to keep up their practice.

Also this past summer, the CHEEMA Aquatic Club in Waverley sent 70 athletes to Welland, Ontario to compete in the National Sprint Racing Championships. For the second year in a row, CHEEMA athletes won the Canadian National Sprint Racing Championship, besides distinguishing themselves at various provincial, national and international events. I want to particularly mention Kelly O'Leary, who won a silver medal at the Pan American Games. We are very proud of all of you.

One of the most significant things we can do as government, is to enhance the infrastructure of our communities, so that they can grow and flourish.

On behalf of the residents of Bedford-Fall River, I want to thank the provincial and federal governments for the work that is being carried out on the much-needed expansion of the Mill Cove Pollution Control Plant, as well as the Sanitary Sewer Infiltration Reduction Program. The expenditure of $20.5 million will make this one of the most modern and efficient plants in the country.

We all know how important well maintained roads are to the safe movement of people and goods. I am very pleased that a new ramp has been completed into Bedford on Highway No. 102, at Exit No. 3. This ramp has eased traffic considerably and has made it a safer exit into Bedford. The people in my riding are indeed grateful to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for this much-needed ramp. I will continue to work with citizens groups and this government to keep our roads in good repair.

The homeowners at Silverside Beach have been very active in working with me to have much-needed work carried out. I am pleased that a contract has been signed and awarded to Dexter Construction for $286,000 to realign the Portobello Road and Silverside Road

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intersection, as well as the retaining wall at Silverside Beach. Start-up date is mid-April with completion for the end of May 1996.

My riding is home to the Atlantic Aviation Museum, located opposite the airport. This winter the aviation museum received a 14,000 square foot addition with the help of federal and provincial dollars. The newly-expanded facility is getting ready to open for the season. I hope over the next few months that all the members of this House will have an opportunity to visit there. To the dedicated staff and board of volunteers, I say congratulations and thank you for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased that the building and lands around Lock 5 of the Shubenacadie Canal at Wellington have been registered as a Provincial Heritage Property. This is a very historic and important cultural site, recalling the significant business and entrepreneurial activity that was part of the Shubenacadie Canal system.

As well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention the petroglyph site in Bedford. There continues to be a desire to protect the petroglyphs and the Mi'Kmaq people consider this site to be very significant and very sacred. While our government has acquired land there to protect it, under the interests of the Minister of Natural Resources, we are currently working to involve the federal level of government in assisting with further land acquisition, to expand the area protected. Discussion is ongoing regarding the establishment of a commission for the petroglyph site.

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud and very privileged to represent this dynamic and beautiful region of Nova Scotia. Bedford-Fall River is alive and vibrant and ready to meet the challenges and the opportunities that will come its way. I look forward to serving my constituents in the months and years ahead, working with them to help make Bedford-Fall River an even better place to live.

In closing, I will be supporting the Throne Speech. I feel very proud and privileged to be a member of this government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise before the members of the House of Assembly to speak in response to the Speech from the Throne recently presented by the Lieutenant Governor. It is, indeed, a pleasure to serve the fine people of the Eastern Shore as their elected representative. It is with a sense of humility that I serve my constituents.

Throughout this past year I have had many opportunities to meet with my constituents at my two constituency offices, in Porters Lake and Sheet Harbour. Given the immense size of my riding, I have travelled extensively, attending church socials and suppers, volunteer fire department functions, as well as numerous community and municipal events.

Since first being elected to public office, I have always made it a very strong priority to communicate and meet with my constituents and have encouraged them to contact me with their concerns and suggestions. This past year I have received approximately 13,000 phone calls from constituents, along with hundreds of letters. I have attempted to examine the suggestions, concerns and issues raised by each constituent, in order to be of more assistance to them and properly represent their concerns. I also write articles and MLA updates in my local newspapers and newsletters.

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Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the residents of the Eastern Shore for the confidence and trust they have placed in me as their elected MLA. Theirs is a trust that I do not take lightly, rather I view my role as an MLA to be an advocate and a representative of the needs of the Eastern Shore. I also strongly believe that as MLAs, we are catalysts in our ridings, working to promote the economic and social well-being of our particular region of the province.

The Eastern Shore is a very diverse and special community, consisting of vast areas that represent the feelings and concerns of most Nova Scotians. The Eastern Shore has more than 1,000 kilometres of listed roads and a couple of hundred kilometres of unlisted roads. We have 1,000 miles of beautiful ocean coastline and numerous freshwater and salt water inlets, along with a series of rivers and other natural resources we are very proud of. The potential for developing a prime, ecotourism industry is staggering. Let's make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker, the people of the Eastern Shore are working hard to build and develop a tourism industry that will be second to none anywhere in Nova Scotia.

If we start with the part of my riding closest to metro, we pass through the Lawrencetown area, which is primarily an urban commuter population. Most people work in metro Halifax-Dartmouth and commute back and forth on a regular basis. As we move further east into Chezzetcook and Musquodoboit Harbour, the population mix of urban and rural, here many people commute back and forth to Halifax-Dartmouth, while many others stay in their communities working in the traditional industries such as fishing, clam harvesting, forestry and so on. Such a diverse mixture of people within these communities provides for a definite exchange of ideas and concerns that truly represent the vast majority of Nova Scotians who live in similar situations within the rural and urban areas.

As one moves further east, past Musquodoboit Harbour, into Jeddore, Ship Harbour, Tangier, Sheet Harbour and Ecum Secum, you encounter a population that is totally rural. People in these communities derive their employment from industries such as tourism, fishing, forestry and other resource-based employment opportunities. Over the past several years, development along the rural part of the Eastern Shore has been very slow and, in some cases, very repressed. It is rewarding to finally see the people of the Eastern Shore starting to take control of their own destiny.

Mr. Speaker, if the Eastern Shore is to grow and to prosper, the people must contribute and control their own destiny rather than being supported and propped up by government. The Eastern Shore is home to many people who are promoting the advancement of culture and artistic expression. There are numerous excellent artists, writers, entertainers and others along the Eastern Shore. To mention just a few, I think of the artist Joan Flewwelling, and the Old Anderson House Craft Shop and Gallery and Women's Cooperative, Laughleton Gallery and Crafts, the artist Joe Purcell and the well-known entertainer, Jimmy Flynn. The list is long and very impressive and I would be here a very long time today if I were to list everybody on that list. It is indeed a very impressive list.

Mr. Speaker, public and personal safety are concerns of everyone along the Eastern Shore and we are developing a strong Neighbourhood Watch Program and are increasing the use and the development of Crime Stoppers in our area. I want to particularly commend the RCMP for their very proactive crime prevention initiative programs and education through the communities to help reduce crime in our local areas.

Mr. Speaker, the establishment of the Sheet Harbour Board of Trade approximately 60 years ago by 31 concerned individuals was an historic venture for the economic growth of the Eastern Shore. In 1935, they came together to do something about economic development. The same economic and entrepreneurial spirit continues to inspire concerned citizens all along the Eastern Shore to promote the growth of small business and tourism.

Tourism - one of my favourite topics on the Eastern Shore - is indeed growing. We all recognize that the unemployment rate is very high along the Eastern Shore and one of the ways in which we are trying to address this problem of high unemployment is growth in the tourism industry. Tourism continues to [Page 374]

experience growth in leaps and bounds. Tourism on the Eastern Shore has experienced new life and new vitality. We have seen many new establishments, bed and breakfasts, craft shops and other establishments that have really helped develop the Eastern Shore.

I would also like to note that we have also seen an opening of previously closed establishments on the Eastern Shore. I can honestly stand here today and say every business that was ever on the Eastern Shore in tourism is still there and thriving.

[5:30 p.m.]

The number of room nights sold is up 14 per cent from 1993. Job growth in tourism on the Eastern Shore is up 12 per cent from 1993. That means 400 people working in tourism, in one way or another, on the Eastern Shore. Indeed, a very significant growth. We have new tea rooms, new restaurants, craft shops and galleries, all with tremendous optimism and tremendous quality, adding to the quality of tourism on the Eastern Shore. Our campground occupancy rate is up 12 per cent over 1993. While there is much work to be done in this area, the 12 per cent increase is indeed very healthy.

Overall, tourism revenues for the Eastern Shore in 1995 have increased 13 per cent over 1993, one of the fastest and strongest growths in the province, and it is just a beginning. We have just held our third annual Tourism Day on the Marine Drive tour route. It is an initiative I started myself shortly after being elected, in cooperation with the local tourism operators. I can tell you that it was not an easy job at the beginning. There was a lot of mistrust with the Department of Tourism. There was a lack of communication with the tourism people at all levels. People in the communities had not spoken with each other.

Our first Tourism Day, which was held in Sheet Harbour in 1994, brought together approximately 100 to 150 people in tourism and allowed them an opportunity to discuss ideas back and forth and develop new strategies. The meeting, at times, was a bit rocky, but it was very positive. It put forward a feeling of understanding of each other's concerns and also a new hope for the future.

On our second Tourism Day, which was held in 1995, the attitude was totally changed. I walked into a room and could not believe I was in the same location. Again, approximately 100 people were at the meeting and the attitude of the day was, what do we do next? How do we do it and when do we start? That was really, I guess, the beginning of the rebirth of tourism on the Eastern Shore.

This year, 1996, when we had our Tourism Day, just a few weeks ago, it was, again, very upbeat. We had displays and the tourism industry is definitely on the way to leading the province, instead of being the last in statistics in the province.

Some of the initiatives have been taking place on the Eastern Shore, one of the best examples I can show you of actual numbers growing is the Old-Fashioned Christmas. It used to be the Old-Fashioned Seaside Christmas, but this year it will be changed to the Old-

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Fashioned Christmas. The first year, we had 75 people go to 10 establishments and have a card punched to indicate they had been there; the next year we had 150; the following year we had 375; and last year we had 525. That probably represents about 5,000 to 10,000 people. (Applause) This is the sort of thing we hope to build on on the Eastern Shore.

Another thing that has been a long-standing tradition is the Sand Castle Festival that is held every year in Clam Harbour. It continues to be a tremendous success, attracting thousands of people. We are going try and build on that festival this year, to have a better economic input for our tourism operators and hopefully extend the stay of tourists.

A new element we have this year is the recently completed 3-D archery range in Sheet Harbour, made possible by some infrastructure funding and the dedication of local volunteers. This will be, from what I understand, the only wheelchair-accessible 3-D archery range in North America. This range is totally housed outdoors in a wooded area and will provide an opportunity for people with any type of disability to compete at a national and provincial level; indeed, a very positive movement.

Another item that has come forward, which I am very proud to say, today is the day we will begin the Seaside Committee on the Eastern Shore. One of our key tourism promoters is actually going to build a wooden boat at MicMac Mall starting today and will continue to April 28th. The idea of building the boat is twofold. Number one is to promote our tourism on the Eastern Shore and to participate in the Year of the Wooden Boat that the province has designated. Also, to use it as a fundraiser by selling tickets on the boat that will be completed to help promote tourism in our area.

Mr. Speaker, I believe we are learning to view the pristine beauty of the Eastern Shore as the greatest asset we have for marketing ecotourism, with the most beautiful non-commercialized part of the province. More and more people are beginning to pay attention to tourism potential in our area. Although Nova Scotia has a tremendous number of beautiful attractions the Eastern Shore has gone unnoticed, which can be our biggest asset.

We have to really look at marketing ecotourism in all forms; bird watching, recreational fishing, hiking, ocean kayaking, sailing, just to name a few. These are the things that do not bring the neon signs, the garbage that goes with the neon signs and all the other things that deteriorate from the important environment that our local residents have come to love and enjoy. I feel that it is absolutely essential that that be maintained.

I feel another great opportunity we have is that we have to review our Marine Drive as a complete tour route which has never happened in the past. We cover so many bays and inlets, natural lakes, beautiful buildings that have significant historic value and I believe we really have to market that.

There are still many issues that have to be added to promote tourism along the Eastern Shore and I will point out just a few of them. A new highway signage policy for the area to assist development is absolutely essential and is one of the main concerns of our tourism operators all along the Marine Drive. Better coordination of marketing of the Eastern Shore with Tourism Nova Scotia and I am very pleased to say that Tourism Nova Scotia has been one of the key factors in the growth of tourism along the Eastern Shore in conjunction with the operators. We have to have ongoing development of ecotourism in our trails and other activities. We also have to develop, and this is a challenge to all our operators, the Eastern Shore as a preferred destination, not only in Nova Scotia, but in Eastern Canada.

I want to thank all that have helped organize and plan our tourism days and other events on the Eastern Shore and the ongoing dedication they show to this. In particular, I would like to draw attention to the Seaside Committee and their volunteer group that have worked so hard to promote tourism and also to the Sheet Harbour and Area Board of Trade whom have really become proactive in the development of tourism.

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Another project that really has gone unnoticed in most of our communities is a liming project in the Sheet Harbour area. Sport and recreational fishing have long been an important tourism attraction on the Eastern Shore and blend in beautifully with our ecotourism requirements for tourism. For the second year now, community volunteers and members of the Eastern Shore Wildlife Association have applied lime to Governor's Lake and surrounding waterways. This helps restore the water's PH, resulting in a much healthier water system, making it a more suitable environment for fish to live and spawn. These rivers that contribute into this area were at one time some of the best salmon fishing rivers in the world and because of the PH imbalance and other problems, they have declined somewhat.

I believe it is absolutely essential we do these type of projects, not only for the local fishery, but also for the tourism industry. One pound of salmon, I believe, caught on a hook and line is probably somewhere between $200 and $500 landed value per pound. A far cry from the 10 or 12 pounds you get at commercial fishing, although commercial fishing is very important.

I believe these are the sort of things that the community is taking charge of and with some support from the province and the federal government have been moving forward.

Another growth area in the Eastern Shore is birding and birdwatching. As part of our ecotourism, I feel it is absolutely essential. Last year we had a group of volunteers, working in conjunction with industry, to build a group of wood duck boxes in the Lawrencetown marshes. I understand from the birdwatching experts that the Eastern Shore offers some of the best birdwatching of some particular species in all the province.

Mr. Speaker, something I want to mention here which I think is very important, the Eastern Shore, as I said earlier, has approximately 1,000 kilometres of listed roads. By listed roads I mean roads that are maintained by the Department of Transportation. Last year in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, I spoke of the importance of Highway No. 7 to the people of the Eastern Shore. Highway No. 7 is an essential ribbon of pavement, a vital link to the entire Eastern Shore. It is the main artery and, therefore, highly used. The state of repair of the highway affects every local resident and the movement of all goods and services. Its state of repair also has a direct impact upon the tourism industry in the province and, in particular, the Eastern Shore.

The continuing increase in tourism along the Eastern Shore will only be aided by the development and improvement of this highway. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that construction will begin this month on a 10 kilometre stretch of the Highway No. 7 between Highway No. 347 and the Salmon River Bridge. (Applause) This section has been in wretched condition for many years. The $1.43 million expenditure will include asphalt resurfacing, new shoulders, gravelling, re-ditching and, in some cases, a complete road bed replacement.

Mr. Speaker, I will continue to work with the residents to vigorously encourage our government to continue improvements on Highway No. 7 and all other roads in my area. On behalf of the residents of the Eastern Shore, I would like to thank the Honourable Richie

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Mann, the Minister of Transportation, for working with me and the residents of the Eastern Shore to repair this roadway.

Another area of concern on the Eastern Shore is industrial growth. The Eastern Shore has been plagued with many abandoned buildings, a legacy of misdirected government funding. But I can assure you that we have made some very positive movement forward. One area I would like to address is the East Chezzetcook Industrial Park, which almost goes unnoticed. The East Chezzetcook Industrial Park was a disaster left over from the previous government, literally. At that time, there had been two buildings in 1993, with three companies in the area. That has changed since 1993. Now it is a healthy and vibrant industrial park.

One original building has been sold to three small businesses, a unique idea indeed. I would like to thank our former Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, Ross Bragg, for that and his dogged determination to help me bring that through. Today in that area we have 11 thriving businesses in the park. I would like to name those businesses: Atlantex; Maritime Greetings; Peter Conrod Construction; Hammer and Tongs Fabrication; Chem Tech Industries; Advance Laboratories; Bill Williams Sheet Metal Works; Silk Screen Services; Able Sign; automotive repair work, and a recycling depot. These are just a few of the industries there.

We have seen the growth of three new buildings in the park and a really strong effort to make it go. I would like to thank our Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency of the day, Robbie Harrison, and his staff for making that happen.

I believe that the future of economic growth, along with tourism, is small business on the Eastern Shore. In that vein, a strong entrepreneurial spirit is present, as a result of the Junior Achievers, with 35 students participating from Sheet Harbour. The program was a wonderful business success with students developing products and marketing and selling them. This initiative is indicative of the kind of entrepreneurial spirit which is alive and well on the Eastern Shore. I might add that these young entrepreneurs had very large shoes to fill after the group that came forward from Sheet Harbour last year. I can say that they have done the job very well. Last year the Eastern Shore, in particular the Sheet Harbour area, walked away from the Provincial Entrepreneur Junior Achievers Awards with some of the best awards in the province. We anticipate that they will do the same this year.

[5:45 p.m.]

I would also like to state that the Musquodoboit Harbour area, through its high school, is also looking at starting a Junior Achievers program and I want to give them every encouragement in that effort.

Some very positive things have happened in my area in the infrastructure program with a whole series of dry hydrant projects running for the whole area of the Eastern Shore. For anyone in the city who doesn't realize what a dry hydrant is, a dry hydrant basically is the same as a fire hydrant without pressure, that is connected to a water supply, providing a volunteer fire department with a rare source of water. Again, in a rural area where you have a 1,000 gallon tank and you have to truck water to a fire, it is a very difficult situation. Dry hydrants are extremely important to my riding and to ridings such as mine.

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We have seen the growth of our fire departments in the Mushaboom area that saw the tragic death of two Boutilier children some time ago. I was very pleased to help them with dry hydrants and parking lot improvements that allows the response time to be much faster for the departments. We have seen dry hydrants going to Three Fathom Harbour, West Porters Lake, Seaforth, Grand Desert and the list goes on and on. The infrastructure money in my riding was spent very well. We have also had many other projects, totalling 14 in all, all with very significant impact to our community.

Through the Department of Tourism, we have also developed some projects in the Moser River SeaSide Park, a small interpretation centre. We have also seen the Wilderness Centre in Porters Lake develop into a facility that will not only provide the local residents with a tremendous amount of history but also provide tourism with an excellent stopping place so they will enjoy the Eastern Shore that much more.

We have seen assistance to some of our local clubs with grants from Sport and Recreation which I think are very important to help our community volunteers.

This may seem very trivial to many people in the metro area but to the Eastern Shore it is very important. I have obtained a written agreement and guarantee from the Bank of Nova Scotia in Sheet Harbour to install a banking machine. Now a banking machine may seem a pretty trivial thing to people in the city where there is a banking machine on every corner but I can guarantee you that to a tourist who is 50 to 100 miles away from any access of cash on the weekends or evenings and a craft supplier who wants to sell a product and doesn't have Visa capability, a banking machine is indeed a very important thing and will definitely expand and promote our tourism industry and the dollar value that we can attain.

I would like to note on banking machines, when I was elected in 1993, we only had one banking machine in Porters Lake and since then we have now one in Porters Lake, Musquodoboit Harbour and soon to be installed in Sheet Harbour. So, things are happening on the Eastern Shore and I am pleased to see that these things are happening.

One major project on the Eastern Shore that has been very beneficial to the community, especially in the Sheet Harbour area, is the Tele-medicine Project from the Department of Health. Again, for anyone who lives in metro Halifax-Dartmouth where it is a two minute drive to a specialist or to a hospital, tele-medicine doesn't mean very much in today's philosophy. It will in the future I am sure if one has to connect with a specialist in Boston, New York or some place else, instead of taking a trip there.

Tele-medicine is very important to the Eastern Shore and to my community, as it allows the doctors in our local hospital access to specialists; in an accident situation, interpretation of X-rays that otherwise may mean an ambulance trip and, indeed, a cost for the constituent that they simply cannot afford. Tele-medicine, I believe, is on the leading edge of technology and development and I am very pleased to have part of that on the Eastern Shore and look forward to its future development throughout Nova Scotia.

An even more exciting project for the Eastern Shore is the Emergency First Responders. This puts the Eastern Shore on the cutting edge of emergency response in Nova Scotia and, indeed, in the country. I am very pleased to be part of that state-of-the-art Emergency First Responders Program which is being developed in conjunction with the local fire departments. I must say that the Department of Health has gone more than the extra mile in this case. They arrange their meetings at the convenience of the fire departments, they listen to the fire departments, they respond to the fire departments and, to put it in very simple words, as one of the firemen has said at the meetings, we can't believe what we are seeing. But I can assure you, you can believe what you are seeing. Just to let people know what a first responder is, a first responder is actually what the word indicates. It is the person who comes to your home first in an emergency. I can assure you, you want that person to be as well-trained and well-equipped as possible. In the Eastern Shore, that assurance is there.

We are working to develop the equipment needed, the training needed, the communications systems needed and everything else that goes to make a medical emergency a non-emergency when the people arrive. [Page 379]

Presently on the Eastern Shore when a call comes in, in a designated area, the fire department is immediately called out and so is the ambulance. But in conjunction with that, when the fire department is called out, firemen live all through our community. The first responder may only be a minute or two minutes away from your home. He will immediately proceed to your home and start to get the situation under control. He will shortly thereafter be followed in by the fire department and a back-up ambulance system. This gives our communities in rural Nova Scotia an opportunity to receive the same type of emergency response as you can expect in the City of Halifax or Dartmouth and in some cases, even faster, because it may be your next door neighbour who is a first responder who comes to your home first.

The Eastern Shore project involves the Department of Health, six area volunteer fire departments - Lake Echo, Lawrencetown, Chezzetcook, Musquodoboit Harbour, Ostrea Lake and Oyster Pond - Metro & District Ambulance, Crowell's Ambulance, health care personnel and medical expertise from the Twin Oaks/Birches Medical Centre and myself as MLA for the Eastern Shore. The project has two separate and complete components.

First of all, a very important comprehensive review of ambulance service in the area. This has been done and the Eastern Shore now has what is known as the only grey area in the province. When I say grey area, the artificial lines have been taken away for ambulance response. In other words, the closest ambulance will respond regardless of the company. This has been met with great enthusiasm by residents and ambulance operators alike and particularly by the fire departments and hospital staff. It gives them the best possible people on the site in the shortest possible time.

The second part of the first responders program was to develop a new set of standards and training for first responders and review those in the format and context of a real emergency medical situation. With input from the Department of Health and the six volunteer fire departments and the two ambulance services, medical professionals and myself, the program is working on four major concerns. An integrated communications system will eventually be tied in with 911.

Just to bring a point up on the communications system, one of the things that we identified very early on with first response was the problem with communication. Most people thought that the fire department and ambulance services and police departments could talk to each other by two-way radio. That was far from the truth. They were dispatched from different locations. They had different radio frequencies and the problem went on and on. It was highlighted in some of the incidents that were reviewed once the first responders program was started.

Indeed, communications turns out to be one of the key elements in first response and emergency response. If you cannot communicate the problem initially from the source to the responding parties, if the responding parties cannot talk with each other, the response time and the outcomes are often disastrous. Therefore communications are very important. I feel

[Page 380]

that the communications strides we have made on the Eastern Shore will go a long way in helping and improving the implementation of 911 and already have seen an improvement in that area. We have seen the ambulance companies come forward and offer free hook-up with their communication systems and the fire department, something that has never been done before and I think that is a very positive step forward. It is all a part of working together.

Another part of the development is the training and development approach, under the medical directed training programs for emergency first responders. That is critical because, in some areas, you may have an older population where heart attack response is important. You may have another area where vehicle accidents are very difficult and each area has to address their particular concerns. Training has to be put in place to ensure that that department is equipped to the best possible condition it can be to handle conditions in their area.

In conjunction with that, you have to have the proper equipment in place. With the proper equipment in place, you can respond to the emergency in a professional manner and in a timely manner and ensure that the best medical outcome is available. It all comes down to efficiency. The thing we have seen with the first responders is it is a coordinated team response and effort. It is tremendously stimulating to see the spirit of cooperation between the Department of Health, the six volunteer fire departments, the ambulance service and the medical professionals. It is indeed a change from what was there previously on the Eastern Shore.

The ultimate goal of the provincial Emergency First Responders Program will be the training of thousands of skilled first responders throughout the province. The first responder project is ensuring that rural Nova Scotians have timely access to highly skilled and well-trained responders, perhaps your next door neighbour. I am pleased to see that the Eastern Shore is a pilot project for this important project. I believe that the Emergency First Responders Program is an important project which will significantly improve the emergency services along the Eastern Shore and, indeed, throughout Nova Scotia.

I am proud to see the enthusiasm, spirit and cooperation this program is creating among the various emergency services and providers on the Eastern Shore. I will continue to promote this pilot project which holds so much potential for Nova Scotia, particularly rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it has been an honour to speak to you and my fellow members of the House of Assembly about my constituency, Eastern Shore. Once again, I would like to thank those who elected me to this office and together we are building the Eastern Shore and developing its potential as one of the most beautiful and pristine places in Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: As we are approaching the moment of interruption, I will recognize the Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that that would conclude Government Business for today and we would adjourn the debate until another day.

[Page 381]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, just to advise all members of the House, business tomorrow during NDP Opposition Day will be Resolution No. 13 and Resolution No. 63. We will determine the order as time evolves tomorrow. If there are any House Orders, we will deal with those after we conclude debate on those two resolutions.

[6:00 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I would move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. We

have now reached the hour of interruption. We have a debate submitted:

[Therefore be it resolved that the government strike a select committee of the Legislature to hold province-wide public hearings to assess the full impact of GST/PST harmonization, before the provincial government enters into any agreement with the federal government.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION: SELECT COMM. - STRIKE

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, unfortunately the member for Halifax Citadel had to leave on a fairly important matter, so I am subbing for him.

Madam Speaker, I think everybody is aware of what the resolution is, but it is short, so if I may just take a moment to read the resolution.

"Therefore be it resolved that the government strike a select committee of the Legislature to hold province-wide public hearings to assess the full impact of GST/PST harmonization, before the provincial government enters into any agreement with the federal government.".

I think the first thing we have to talk about with regard to harmonization is why. Why are we going to harmonize the provincial health services tax with the federal GST? I think that any person who examines that question is going to come very rapidly to the conclusion that we are doing it because the federal government wants us to do it. I do not think that the Premier or the Minister of Finance, surely to goodness, in their own minds would want to broaden the base of our present health services tax and then come forth and tell the people of Nova Scotia that this is in their best interests. It is not in the best interests of this province, it is certainly in the best interests of the government, I would suggest, particularly for the Deputy Prime Minister who has said that, in the event that the GST does not disappear before the next election, then she is going to disappear.

[Page 382]

I think that the Prime Minister of Canada has a pretty strong push behind him to get rid of the GST. We are not getting rid of the GST. The tax is still there as the tax was before it was named the GST. The tax has always been there. If people will cast their minds back to pre-GST days, we had a manufacturers' tax and the manufacturers' tax was levied at the same rate as the GST, but it was a hidden tax. The government of the day in their wisdom and unfortunately, I guess the wisdom was not all that great, said that we should have transparency in our tax system. People should be aware of what they are paying in taxes. Why not take that hidden tax, that manufacturers' tax, and move it out and incorporate it as a goods and services tax, a tax to be paid on all goods and services. As we know, this is the kind of tax that is levied in quite a number of European countries. It is also, I believe, levied in New Zealand and it was almost levied in Australia.

It is a value added tax, by any other name, as I say, you can call a tax anything, for goodness sakes, the Minister of the Environment is calling a tax a deposit these days. It does not matter what the name is, it is an imposition on the people of this province when every time they go and spend their money (Interruption) The Minister of the Environment is waving a piece of red paper at me. (Interruption) Maybe that is another Liberal red book, is it?

At the present time we have the Premier of this province saying, within the next two weeks - it is a statement he made last week, so probably at the end of this week or the end of next week - there will be an agreement announced between the provincial government and the federal government for the melding of these two taxes. We believe from what we have been told, although not officially, but certainly the word has been out, that that combined tax will be somewhere in the order of 15 per cent.

I know, Madam Speaker, as you well know, that the Minister of Finance and the Premier of the province are not going to accept a lower take from this melded tax than they are receiving at the present time from the stand-alone health services tax. The only way that can be accomplished is by spreading the base across the GST services and goods that are presently taxed under that regime. In fact, it would appear to me that it would be almost impossible if, indeed, we are going to meld the taxes and if, indeed, the federal government is going to be responsible for the administration and collection of that tax, that all goods and services that are presently taxed under the GST will be taxed, will carry the health services tax. That means a tremendous range of items at the present time that are completely free of tax in this province are going to be taxed.

I don't know, Madam Speaker, I noticed the Minister of Finance didn't mention it today but we have a piece of legislation that deals with the health services tax and that piece of legislation was just amended in the last session of the House. I invite all members of the House to take a careful look at items that are presently taxed with the GST that are not taxed with the health services tax. The question, I am sure, that I am asking is one that all Nova Scotians are asking, are these goods and services at the present time that are untaxed provincially going to be taxed in the future?

For instance, at the present time, gasoline, coal, coke, fuel oil, natural and propane gas and firewood are presently taxed with the GST but they are not taxed with health services tax. Now you imagine, Madam Speaker, living in Canada, everybody has to heat their homes. So it doesn't matter what form of heat you are using, obviously you are going to have to pay the provincial health services tax on that heating fuel in the future.

[Page 383]

We know, Madam Speaker, that for instance, a large number of pharmaceutical and medical supplies at the present time carry the GST, but they don't carry the provincial sales tax. I would just like to mention a couple of them. One is toothpaste; everybody uses toothpaste. At the present time, you pay GST but you don't pay PST on toothpaste. I could go on. There is a schedule to the Health Services Tax Act which covers all these particular items that are presently not taxed under the Health Services Tax Act. When you read them, it is quite obvious that the imposition of the Health Services Tax Act is going to affect every Nova Scotian adversely. That is why I think - and I am sure that a number of people think the same way - that the Minister of Finance should, indeed, put in place a select committee of this House to go out and talk to the people of this province.

Now the Premier today said that he is going to institute this melding of the taxes and then he is going to go out and speak to, as he said, the small people of Nova Scotia about the imposition of this melded tax. It is too late then. The discussions, the consultation, the listening process should all be completed before either the Minister of Finance or the Premier of this province goes out to work out some agreement with the federal government because, once we have that melding, it will be as impossible to undo that melded tax, as the federal government has found it is impossible to undo the GST. It is here today, tomorrow and forever.

So, Madam Speaker, I don't think it is something that should be rushed into by this government. I don't think it is something that should be done by this government until the people of this province have had an adequate opportunity to speak to the powers that be and put in their inputs so that, indeed, the new tax is not going to adversely affect their standard of living. Thank you.

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

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise today and say a few words regarding the resolution that is being brought forward by the honourable member. The resolution talks about the question of harmonization of the provincial sales tax and the GST and I believe that this is a very serious matter and one we should give careful consideration to.

I think, perhaps, it is good to think back a little bit about how this problem developed. I remind the honourable member that it was the federal wing of his Party, the Government of the Honourable Brian Mulroney, the then Prime Minister of Canada that brought in this particular sales tax. There have been problems with this tax ever since it was brought in. It was to some extent an incursion into the realm of the provincial government who now had a duplication of two sales taxes, conflicts between the two of them and as I said, there have been problems with this from the start. Also from the start there have been talks of harmonization and I think these talks have been put forward by both Parties, at least the former federal Progressive Conservative Party suggested them. I am not too sure of the position of the honourable members in this particular House of the Progressive Conservative Party, what their policy is and whether they favour any sort of discussion, or considering this policy or not.

Under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, the Honourable Jean Chrétien, such talks have been initiated and we, as a province, are very pleased to take part in them. We believe that there is a better way and a way to benefit the people of Nova Scotia and to improve the tax situation.

As I have said, there were significant disadvantages and problems with the GST when it was first introduced. I think the first thing was duplication, you essentially had two taxes that were the same, they were sales taxes, they were levied in much the same way. You had duplicated infrastructures, both collecting the tax. I think that all of us agree that where you have duplication you have an area where you can improve things, you can make things more efficient and you can save the people of Nova Scotia and the people of Canada money. I think that is a worthwhile objective to consider and it is an objective that our government is prepared to look at to see if there is a better way to deal with this problem.

[Page 384]

There is also a substantial conflict between the two taxes and this has been a problem, not only for Nova Scotians, but for business. If I can just give you an example from my past experience, when I was involved with a company that sold doors and windows. If you were installing a window, let's say that for $1,000 I will supply this window, one would think that you would multiply by 7 per cent and add the PST on but it is not quite that simple. There was GST on the window and GST on the installation service but there was no PST on the installation service. So, it became very confusing to determine which part was taxed and to explain to the consumer how you arrived at that tax.

If you sold a particular window and charged a delivery service, well, you charge GST and PST on the window but on the delivery service there is no PST, only GST. So, the bottom line for the provincial sales tax, this particular business had to get their calculator out and do a considerable amount of keypunching in order to arrive at the proper figure. So, simplification, avoiding the conflicts and duplications, I think, is a worthwhile objective to have a look at.

From the very start, this tax has been a deterrent to consumer spending, it has been a deterrent to business, a deterrent to economic activity and to job creation. I believe that a better tax, better formed, can go a long way to spur on the economy and to being of great benefit to the people of Nova Scotia.

It is worthwhile just to say a few words about the discussions that are taking place between the federal and provincial governments, just exactly what are we doing? We are not there in the process of drafting a new Income Tax Act or Provincial Sales Tax Act with all of the clauses ironed out, all the exemptions, what items are taxed and what are not taxed. What we are doing is we are having discussions on harmonization. What we want to deal with basically is the policy question or decision whether we should go forward with this or not.

If we do decide that we should go forward with this, then that is the time that we will look at all the different items which maybe should be taxed, should not be taxed and that is the time that we should go forward to the people of Nova Scotia and say that in our opinion, we should seriously look at the question of harmonization for these reasons and we have to address these questions as to what items should be taxed, should not be taxed, so that we can come to a final agreement with the federal government that is in the interest of the people of Nova Scotia.

[6:15 p.m.]

I also want to point out why we are doing this. Now the honourable member said that there is only one reason why we are doing it; we are doing it to please the federal government. Well, we were elected by the people of Nova Scotia. We represent the people of Nova Scotia and the only reason we are doing it is because we want to improve the lot of the people of

[Page 385]

Nova Scotia and make this a better province for them. That, Madam Speaker, is why we are talking about harmonization with the federal government.

Now he mentioned that the only reason would be that we don't want to see the honourable Deputy Prime Minister disappear. Well, I am sure she won't disappear, but I know one thing, my learned friend's federal wing that introduced this Party has disappeared. This legislation has disappeared, so we trust they will have better luck in upcoming elections.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. MITCHELL: Well, we wouldn't want to see them totally disappear off the face of the earth.

Now, one other thing, Madam Speaker, is that I would like very much to know what the position of the Opposition is on this. Do they believe that there are some possible advantages of harmonization? Do they believe that looking at the possibility of avoiding duplication is a good thing?

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . until we know what is on the table.

MR. MITCHELL: Well, one has to first look at the broad policy questions to decide which way you are going to go, then you have to consult to decide what things should go into that particular policy initiative.

But, Madam Speaker, we believe, I think, several things can come out of this. Number one, Nova Scotians today are paying too much tax; if there is any way that we can find to lower the tax burden on Nova Scotians, then I think that is a worthy objective. If you can do away with duplication, do away with the cost of this, then it is possible to perhaps lower the tax burden. I think this is something we should look very carefully at and if we can achieve that objective, it is a very worthy objective. It is something that is going to benefit all Nova Scotians. The other thing is if we can avoid the confusion and the conflict between the two taxes, then we are going to have a simplified system and a system that is going to work better. It is going to be easier for business and it is going to be easier for consumers and we will have a system that will be more effective and less costly to all.

So, Madam Speaker, the call really is to form a special committee to go around and assess the full impact of harmonization. I suggest that is premature because, at this point, we have not decided whether we should or should not, and if we did decide that this is a worthy objective to look at, then we have to also at that point look at the particular items which should be affected and look at a number of fairly major policy questions as to whether some items should be exempted and so on and that is the time when there should be consultation.

Now, the honourable member has suggested that the Premier has said there will be agreement in two weeks and he has suggested that, when this comes forward, it is all done and over with and can't be considered any further. Now that is not what I understand that the Premier said. The Premier said that they were undertaking negotiations and discussions with the federal government and they were looking to see whether there was a possibility to go forward with harmonization. He also said that if the decision is to go forward, there will be consultation with all Nova Scotians and businesses in the Province of Nova Scotia before any deal is agreed to and signed.

[Page 386]

Madam Speaker, that is exactly what is going to happen. But I think that what we can say at this point is that this is a worthy objective, that it is going to make government more efficient, it is going to reduce the costs of government and tax collection which we can send on to the people of Nova Scotia, and that this government will not consider this unless it is a policy which is definitely in the interest of all Nova Scotians and that all Nova Scotians benefit from it, because those are the people that have elected us and we are committed to make sure that their needs are met. I thank you very much.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Madam Speaker. It is a pleasure to rise and speak on the resolution this afternoon that deals with the question of the government strategy in harmonizing the PST and the GST, and calls on the government to establish a select committee to travel the province and consult with Nova Scotians.

I rise to speak on this resolution primarily because of my concern that the government is moving forward at such a pace and in such a manner to harmonize the GST and the PST which will have an effect on many hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians and that they are doing this without consulting with Nova Scotians. They are engaged in discussions in the back rooms with the federal government and other provinces and they will come out from those back rooms with a deal. Now the previous speaker said that they are just engaged in discussions around general policy with respect to the GST and the PST and that they will not get into details of that plan until, in fact, they have the opportunity to talk to Nova Scotians.

Well, that is a different tune than the Premier was singing this afternoon in Question Period and last week. He told us and he told all Nova Scotians that he, in fact, was negotiating on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia and if, in fact, he came up with what he felt was a deal that was in the best interests of Nova Scotians, he was going to sign it - end of discussion; then he would talk to Nova Scotians about what that deal is. He would, in effect, then go on a sales-pitch tour to convince Nova Scotians that once again, what he is doing and what his government has done after the fact is, in fact, a good deal.

That is not good enough and I take the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour back to 1992 when we were having discussions in this province about the ill-fated GST and plans to harmonize the PST and the GST.

Many of us, here in Opposition and around the province, were urging the government of the day, led by Donald Cameron, not to move in that direction because of the hardship that would create by extending the GST over a lot more items then the PST and effectively meaning that Nova Scotians were going to end up paying a greater tax through the consumption of daily items, including food and heating oil, children's clothing, school supplies and so on.

The minister, the then Finance Critic, Bernie Boudreau, now the Finance Minister, tabled a resolution in this House on Thursday, April 16, 1992, Resolution No. 2214. He talked about the fact that the Public Accounts Committee had looked at this issue and had basically come down with the decision that it was going to be more negative than positive. He suggested that the then Minister of Finance and the government seemed to be playing both sides of the fence, which they were. He then said that it was time that the government put this matter before a fair tax commission, that they set up a fair tax commission to consult with Nova Scotians about all the potential ramifications of this proposed harmonization.

The Liberal Party went even further and, in their policy during the election campaign of 1993, under the signature of John Savage, the Nova Scotia Liberal Party Leader, the Liberals said we ". . . will establish a Fair Tax Commission. This blue ribbon commission will be formed with the representation from a wide spectrum of Nova Scotians including business and labor.". They said, "Its mandate will be to report to government on: The fairness of the present tax system; Direct and indirect taxation measures which could be used to stimulate economic development; Incremental taxation to discourage environmentally damaging activities.".

[Page 387]

The point, Madam Speaker, being that the Liberals, when they were in Opposition, recognized the detrimental effect a consumer-based tax, such as the GST and the PST, by extending that on more items, the damaging effect that would have on the economy of Nova Scotia and that they called for a fair tax commission, in order to examine the complexities of any tax changes before they were brought in.

What we are calling for today is for those same people now forming the government, the Premier and the Minister of Finance, to stand back, to step away from those closed-door, back-room deals with the federal government on the harmonization issue, and talk to Nova Scotians about what they feel is going to happen when they have to pay 15 per cent tax on children's clothing, on clothing purchases under $100, when they have to pay an additional 3 per cent tax on heating oil and when they have to pay an increase in tax on gasoline and a host of other items, Madam Speaker.

It is time that we talked to the restaurant association. It is time that we talked to a number of different businesses that have begun to raise concerns about these issues; the Nova Scotia Home Builders Association; the most recent being the Campground Owners Association of Nova Scotia and a host of other interests in the Province of Nova Scotia that have serious concerns about the impact of this harmonization on their lives, their businesses, and their communities. I think that Nova Scotians deserve that kind of respect from this Premier and from this Minister of Finance.

The problems with the GST are not going to go away by rolling it into the PST. The problem with the GST is that it is a consumption-based tax and it should be eliminated; if we are going to start to deal with fair taxation in this country and in this province, then we have to begin to look at the fact that we need a tax system where people pay based on their ability to pay. We need to have a progressive tax, Madam Speaker, based on income, based on wealth, based on ability to pay instead of continuing to monkey around, to play around with these consumption-based taxes.

Let's not forget that the first thing this government did when they came into power, for Heaven's sake, was to raise the PST by 1 per cent. They then went on to extend the then 11 per cent PST to business services during the fall of 1993, Madam Speaker, a move that the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council suggested was going to result in the elimination of nearly 2,500 jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia. Then, of course, there was such an outcry from the business community and others, that the Minister of Finance finally woke up to the effects of his decision and withdrew the tax on business services in the spring of 1994.

But what has changed between then and now? Yes, if all the Atlantic Provinces agreed, then professional services wouldn't be able to pick up from Nova Scotia and go to New Brunswick and do their billing which was part of the problem with applying that tax here. But the fact still remains that there would be an exorbitant amount of tax now on

[Page 388]

professional services, not just here but in New Brunswick, in P.E.I. and in Newfoundland and that would still have the damaging effect on the economy in terms of people's ability to pay.

That hasn't changed. That is a reality that still exists and I would like to know, as I am sure many people in the Province of Nova Scotia would like to know, what does the Minister of Finance know now that has changed his position from back in the spring of 1994? That is perhaps one of the advantages of consultation, Madam Speaker - the minister would be able to indicate what in fact has changed.

The GST was a problem when it first came in; it was a problem brought in by the Tories. The Chretien Government ran for election in 1993 on the basis of the promise that if elected, they would get rid of the GST. Well, Madam Speaker, I say to you and I say to everybody in this House and Nova Scotia, this is not getting rid of the GST, this is trying to hide the GST and it is trying to hide it on the backs of Canadians, on the backs of Nova Scotians, and I, for one, am not going to put up with it.

I think that Bernie Boudreau and John Savage, who were in Opposition three short years ago, should stick to the promises that they made then and they should consult with Nova Scotians about real tax changes and establish a fair taxation commission and talk to Nova Scotians before they cut any more deals in the back rooms between them and the federal government.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the hour of adjournment.

We stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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