The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Apr. 22, 1996

Fourth Session

MONDAY, APRIL 22, 1996

Fin.: Shaping the Future (White Paper) - Consultation Process,
Hon. B. Boudreau 847
Health: Eastern Shore - Ambulance Services, Hon. R. Stewart 847
Res. 262, Health: Parkinson's Awareness Week (21-27/04/96) -
Recognize, Hon. R. Stewart 848
Vote - Affirmative 848
Res. 263, Environ.: Program - Support, Hon. W. Adams 848
Res. 264, Environ. - Clean N.S. Fdn.: Water Res. Conservation Campaign -
Congrats., Hon. W. Adams 849
Vote - Affirmative 849
Res. 265, Health - Physicians: Departure - Cause Admit, Mr. G. Moody 850
Res. 266, Women, Status of - Advisory Council: Appointments (23/04/96) -
Withdraw, Mr. R. Chisholm 850
Res. 267, Richmond Co. - Volunteers: Efforts - Acknowledge,
Hon. R. Mann 851
Vote - Affirmative 851
Res. 268, Educ. - Bedford Junior High School Band:
All American Music Festival (Orlando) - Accomplishments Congrats.,
Mrs. F. Cosman 851
Vote - Affirmative 852
Res. 269, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Air Fares Effect -
Info. Provide, Mr. D. McInnes 852
Res. 270, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: All-Party Comm. -
Establish, Mr. J. Leefe 853
Res. 271, Environ. - Peggy's Cove Comm'n.: Sustainable Tech. -
Congrats., Hon. J. Barkhouse 853
Vote - Affirmative 854
Res. 272, Sports - Hockey: Dartmouth Oland Exports -
Maritime Junior A Champs Congrats., Hon. S. Jolly 854
Vote - Affirmative 854
Res. 273, Fin.: Shaping the Future (White Paper) - Abandon,
Mr. J. Holm 855
Res. 274, Chester Vol. Fire Dep't. (60th Anniv.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Barkhouse 855
Vote - Affirmative 855
Res. 275, ERA - CFS Debert: Col. Reg. Dev. Auth. - Efforts Support,
Mr. B. Taylor 856
Res. 276, Environ. - Harrietsfield Elem. School: Achievements -
Support, Mr. R. Chisholm 856
Vote - Affirmative 857
Res. 277, Agric. - Feed Costs: Meetings (June 1996) - Attend,
Mr. G. Archibald 857
Res. 278, Liberal Party (N.S.): Annual Meeting (C.B.) -
Island Re-Discover, Mr. A. MacLeod 857
Res. 279, Health: Reform - Incompetence, Mr. G. Moody 858
Res. 280, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Info. Share - Refusal,
Mr. B. Taylor 858
No. 9, Meat Inspection Act 859
Mr. E. Lorraine 859
[Debate adjourned] 861
Mr. G. Moody 861
Hon. G. Brown 873
Vote - Amendment - Negative 885
Vote - Main Motion - Affirmative 885
No. 9, Meat Inspection Act 886
Mr. B. Taylor 886
Mr. R. Russell 887
Hon. W. Gaudet 888
Vote - Affirmative 890
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 23rd at 2:00 p.m. 891
Res. 281, Educ. - Week (15-21/04/96): Importance - Recognize,
Mr. A. Surette 892
[Page 847]


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

7:00 P.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence the daily routine at this time.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report on the White Paper Consultation Process. I might indicate that I will have copies available for all members this evening.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table responses to several questions asked of me last week in this place concerning ambulance services costs, investigation of complaints and changes in ambulance services on the Eastern Shore.

MR. SPEAKER: The returns are tabled.




[Page 848]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.


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

Whereas April 21, 1996 to April 27, 1996 is designated as Parkinson's Awareness Week to generate awareness of this disease, which is a chronic brain disorder resulting in tremors, slow movements and stiffness of muscles; and

Whereas it is estimated that approximately 3,000 Nova Scotians suffer from Parkinson's and the Nova Scotia Division of the Parkinson's Foundation of Canada is dedicated to raising funds for research into the cause and treatment of Parkinson's, as well as educating the public and providing a variety of services to support people with the disease and their families; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Division of the Parkinson's Foundation of Canada encourages its members to work especially hard at generating awareness of Parkinson's during the month of April;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize April 21, 1996 to April 27, 1996 as Parkinson's Awareness Week and acknowledge the commitment the Nova Scotia Division of the Parkinson's Foundation of Canada has made to improve the lives of Nova Scotians with this chronic brain disorder.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Minister of the Environment.


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

Whereas this marks the 26th commemoration of Earth Day and this government has embarked on a program to offer daily air quality information to Nova Scotians, starting in metro; and

Whereas the Lung Association of Nova Scotia has endorsed the air quality index that will help protect the health of children and those with chronic lung ailments; and

[Page 849]

Whereas this morning's edition of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald carries a story of one Albertan family leaving that province to move to Nova Scotia because of the better quality of air to be found here;

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the government's environmental program that promotes cleaner air, purer water and healthy soil for all people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of the Environment.


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

Whereas this marks the 26th commemoration of Earth Day; and

Whereas Nova Scotians from all walks of life have benefitted from the important educational programs of the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation; and

Whereas the foundation has, once again, shown its public spiritedness with a program to help show the people of Nova Scotia how to conserve our precious water resources;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Clean Nova Scotia Foundation for its campaign called, Be Water-wise . . . it makes Cents, and wish it every success as it spreads the message of environmental sustainability and conservation.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 850]


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

Whereas physicians have left Nova Scotia in record numbers since the Liberal Government took office in 1993; and

Whereas the residents of Cumberland County have lost a hospital, an obstetrician and all of the services associated with a good health care system; and

Whereas All Saints Hospital in Springhill will now have to eliminate emergency services due to the departure of Dr. Shelley Kent, Dr. Anne Duncan and Dr. Alex Macaulay, and residents will have to travel to Amherst for emergency care;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Government, which touted its health care reform would result in the finest health care system in Canada, admit that the actions of the Minister of Health, with the full endorsement of the Liberal Government, have driven doctors to flee from the province, hospitals to close and services lost.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas in June 1994, the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women agreed to a non-partisan selection process that was developed following a province-wide consultation and is respected as a model of a fair, open and transparent process; and

Whereas the Liberal Government has abandoned this respected selection process and has reverted to making blatant partisan appointments to the advisory council; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women held a press conference today to protest the process by which the names of new council appointments have been selected;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women to withdraw the appointments before the Human Resources Committee on April 23, 1996 and ensure the selection process agreed to in June 1994 is followed.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

[Page 851]


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

Whereas the Municipality of the County of Richmond was honoured as the Model Volunteer Community during Nova Scotia Volunteer Week ceremonies last week; and

Whereas this prestigious award goes to a county which has no fewer than 185 registered volunteer organizations; and

Whereas the volunteer effort in Richmond is actively supported and encouraged by the municipal government who have been recognizing and congratulating the volunteers for over 15 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly acknowledge and congratulate the Municipality of Richmond and the volunteers for their unselfish effort to improve the quality of life in Richmond communities.

I would ask for 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 Bedford-Fall River.

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, before I begin this resolution, I just want to remind members that last week we did pass a similar one giving well wishes to a junior high band proceeding to Florida to compete. This is, in a sense, a follow-up resolution.

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


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

Whereas the 70 member band from Bedford Junior High School, under the direction of Mr. Gary Adams has received five first place awards at the All American Music Festival in Orlando, Florida; and

Whereas the All American Music Festival, with approximately 20,000 participants, awarded the Bedford Junior High School Band the following:

- Best Overall Concert Band

- Best Overall Jazz Band

- Best Overall Trumpet Section in a Jazz Band

[Page 852]

- Superior Rating for a Junior High Jazz Band (equivalent to first place, gold medal awards)

- Superior Rating for Junior High Concert Band (equivalent to first place, gold medal awards); and

Whereas the band returns home this week with their well-deserved awards and with the experience of having performed at Disney World and the MGM Studios;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all the members of the Bedford Junior High School Band and their director, Mr. Gary Adams, for the outstanding accomplishment of winning five first place awards at the international music festival and for having represented Nova Scotia so well as goodwill ambassadors of music.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Pictou West.


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

Whereas the Premier and Minister of Finance refuse to consult with Nova Scotians on the proposed benefits of a PST/GST tax merger; and

Whereas because of their refusal to consult, a great deal of concern is being expressed by organizations such as the Air Transport Association of Canada who are expressing fears about an automatic 8 per cent increase in the cost of flights out of Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas a spokesperson for the Air Transport Association of Canada says a blended tax would mean an additional cost of hundreds of dollars for family vacations and an extensive cost in the reprogramming of computer reservations across the world;

Therefore be it resolved that since the Minister of Finance is informing his officials that savings of $120 million will apply as a result of a merged tax, he either provide concrete information to the Air Transport Association of Canada or use some of the predicted $120 million in savings to assist the tourism industry from being severely impacted by any harmonization.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 853]


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 Savage Government is moving post-haste to bail out their friend Jean Chretien through harmonization of the GST and the PST; and

Whereas the Savage Government is on record promising public consultation on major issues, yet the record respecting harmonization is clear: no consultation and an agreement dealt from the bottom of the deck behind closed doors; and

Whereas Jean Chretien promised he would abolish, eradicate, obliterate, not hide or re-engineer or otherwise transmute the GST;

Therefore be it resolved that in advance of the federal-provincial agreement on harmonization, the Savage Government establish an all-Party committee of the Nova Scotia Legislature, charge it with the responsibility for holding extensive cross province public hearings on harmonization of the GST and the PST and report its findings to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[7:15 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.


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

Whereas Peggy's Cove is one of Nova Scotia's most frequently visited tourist destinations and more than 600,000 people visited in 1995; and

Whereas effective service to visitors requires the provision of clean and comfortable amenities including washroom facilities; and

Whereas the Peggy's Cove Commission rejected the option of building a sewage system which involved discharging waste into the marine environment and chose, instead, an environmentally friendly option known as the Clivus Multrum composting toilet;

Therefore be it resolved that on Earth Day 1996 the members of this House congratulate the Peggy's Cove Commission for their vision and commitment in choosing an environmentally sustainable technology to preserve a very special and fragile place.

I would ask for 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.

[Page 854]

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. RONALD STEWART: As the program for Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia progresses, I want to draw your attention to guests in your gallery, Mr. Speaker, this evening. I want to welcome Dr. Mike Murphy and his assistant, Ms. Marilyn Pyke, both of whom, of course, are involved in Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia and in the air ambulance program, to be announced. With them are guests from Alberta: first of all, Dr. Greg Powell who is Medical Director of the STARS Program of air rescue, Mr. Wayne Loe, and Mr. Grant Brilz who are here with him tonight. They are here in Nova Scotia and I want to welcome you very warmly to our province. We ordered the weather for you today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.


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

Whereas the new Dartmouth Olands Exports brought the Maritime Junior A Hockey League crown to Dartmouth on Friday; and

Whereas Coach, Jim Bottomley, and the Exports downed the defending champs, Moncton Gagnon Beavers in fine style; and

Whereas this is the first year the team has been playing out of the Dartmouth Sportsplex and attracting crowds upwards of 1,700 per game from all over metro;

Therefore be it resolved that the Speaker of the House send congratulations to Coach Bottomley and his team for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I would just advise the House, too, that the Eastern Canadian Junior A Hockey Championships start Tuesday night at the Dartmouth Sportsplex for those hockey fans.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 minded, Nay.

The motion is carried. (Applause)

Now I trust the honourable minister will provide me with the address of the appropriate contact person.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 855]


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 has spent taxpayers' money on a public opinion poll to find out what people think of their Shaping the Future White Paper; and

Whereas that poll indicates that 38 per cent of Nova Scotians believe that social programs are being threatened by government efforts to balance the budget through spending cuts; and

Whereas only 3 per cent of Nova Scotians are confident that the cut and slash approach advocated by the White Paper will ever reduce the provincial debt;

Therefore be it resolved that this government abandon the White Paper and instead embrace a balanced approach to the province's finances that puts the needs of Nova Scotians ahead of the government's need for a tainted balanced budget to use as a political centrepiece.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.


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

Whereas the Chester Volunteer Fire Department is celebrating its 60th year of exemplary service to the residents of Chester; and

Whereas there are four surviving founding members of the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, namely, Joe Heisler, Linton Boutilier, Theodore Hilchie and Walter Corkum; and

Whereas the Chester Volunteer Fire Department is held in the highest esteem as a capable firefighting unit, a highly skilled emergency response team and a caring and dedicated community service organization;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate all active and charter members of the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, the Ladies Fire Auxiliary and Chief Tom Bremner on the occasion of its 60th Anniversary.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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.

[Page 856]

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas this Savage Government's record in dealing with Ottawa on issues of extreme importance to Nova Scotia is bleak and discouraging to say the least; and

Whereas for some reason unknown to the residents of Colchester County, the provincial and federal government have insisted on picking the county's infrastructure apart bit by bit; and

Whereas the latest initiative to feel the impact of the Draconian cuts by the Nova Scotia and federal governments is CFS Debert, where 242 jobs have disappeared since February;

Therefore be it resolved that since the Colchester Regional Development Authority is making a valiant effort to find an alternate use for CFS Debert, the Savage Government of Nova Scotia be prepared to offer signs of support to the authority instead of turning their backs, as has been the case with so many other areas in rural Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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

Whereas April 22nd has been proclaimed Earth Day, a time to celebrate environmental achievements, assess our progress and launch new environmental initiatives; and

Whereas students at Harrietsfield Elementary School have participated in the SEEDS Foundation Program and have completed 250 projects in the past few years that have contributed to helping the environment; and

Whereas in recognition of their achievements, Harrietsfield Elementary School has achieved the recognized Jade status;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulates the students and staff of the Harrietsfield Elementary School for their achievements and contributions to protecting our environment.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

[Page 857]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.


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

Whereas Nova Scotia's representative on the national task force dealing with the phasing out of the Feed Freight Assistance Program recently said that regulations are not likely to be changed to allow variances for Atlantic farmers; and

Whereas Transport Canada representatives confirmed these comments by recently telling members of the national task force that any hopes of getting regulations changed to meet the requirements of 200,000 tons of grain were absolutely minimal; and

Whereas farmers in Nova Scotia and across the Atlantic region are now at a competitive disadvantage with the elimination of the Feed Freight Assistance Program;

Therefore be it resolved Nova Scotia's Minister of Agriculture attend planned meetings in June involving federal agricultural officials, national leaders and commodity heads, and bring forth the concern about feed costs being expressed by Nova Scotia farmers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas prominent Liberal Glen MacDougall was quoted in the news media as having "second thoughts" about holding the Annual Meeting of Nova Scotia Liberals this weekend in Sydney; and

Whereas the 350 to 400 Liberals expected to attend the annual meeting should not be afraid of Cape Bretoners' legitimate democratic right to express their opinion on this government; and

Whereas over 500 Progressive Conservatives recently gathered in Glace Bay and were very warmly received;

Therefore be it resolved that Cape Breton Liberals, instead of trying to find ways to stifle the voices of their fellow Cape Bretoners, should use this provincial annual meeting as a way to rediscover the Island, its people and its concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 858]

The honourable member for Kings West.


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

Whereas Nova Scotia's seniors have been hit hard by the action of this Savage Government; and

Whereas seniors around the province are being hit not once but twice at the same time with bills for Pharmacare; and

Whereas a program affecting over 100,000 seniors is being set up and administered by a staff of only six;

Therefore be it resolved that when it comes to planning changes to health care and implementing new programs, the incompetence of the Savage Government is matched only by its arrogant and insensitive approach to Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.


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

Whereas the PST/GST harmonized tax deal the Minister of Finance has cooked up with his friends in Ottawa will be announced tomorrow; and

Whereas British Columbians know more about this deal than Nova Scotians and the B.C. Finance Minister says, "The plan is really bad news for B.C. families."; and

Whereas the B.C. Finance Minister says the proposal will cost the average British Columbian family an extra $400 a year because the single sales tax would be applied to items the province doesn't currently tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Government who, for three weeks, has steadfastly refused to share any information on the tax deal with taxpayers, explain to Nova Scotians how it is that the B.C. Finance Minister can be so forthright with British Columbians but the Savage Government engages in back-room deals while imposing an information blackout on Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Are there any further notices of motion? If not, that would appear to conclude the daily routine. We will now advance to Orders of the Day.

[Page 859]



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if, with the unanimous consent of the House, we could possibly allow the member for Colchester North a few words on the Meat Inspection Act, before the member for Kings West concludes his remarks? Oh, excuse me, on the Throne Speech. Oh, I am sorry, that is right, could we go on the Meat Inspection Act first and allow the member for Colchester North a few remarks. He has to leave early and then go to the Throne Speech. We indicated to the Opposition that we would be doing it in the other order but with the unanimous consent of the House do it this way.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

The request is that Public Bills for Second Reading be called.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

Bill No. 9 - Meat Inspection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I do have to leave early tonight and I didn't want to leave without saying a few words about this Bill No. 9, the Meat Inspection Act. I particularly want to praise the Minister of Agriculture for bringing this bill in. You know I belong to a committee that started, I guess it is safe to say 30-odd years ago, trying to bring voluntary, mandatory meat inspection in the Province of Nova Scotia. I say voluntarily, give them the opportunity, and some slaughter plant operators did take the opportunity to implement a provincial meat inspection program, others didn't.

I felt for a long time now that this bill should come in because it would have to be mandatory in order to make meat inspection in the Province of Nova Scotia what I believe it should be. I guess the reason I have had such an interest is because not only is it protection for the consumer, in fact I had a call today asking if it was because of the mad cow disease? Well no, this minister had this bill ready for nearly a year ago and because there was other legislation that was considered maybe higher in priority that came in, this bill didn't get introduced. So it certainly wasn't because of any pressure because of mad cow disease, nor the inspector who was relieved of his duties because this bill was coming anyway. It has been in the preparation stage for a lot longer than this minister has been here. It was in the preparation stage under the other government, but just nobody found the will to introduce it.

[Page 860]

[7:30 p.m.]

So, again, I want to congratulate the Minister of Agriculture for introducing this. My seatmate to my right could recall that probably more than 15 years ago, he and I attended some meetings across the province trying, at that time, to talk to people to bring in mandatory provincial meat inspection. You know, you have two different meat inspections, you get your federal program, which I think, and I could be wrong, maybe two federally inspected plants, but you have got a number of provincially inspected plants. We have one in my own area where we have our own beef slaughtered. Anything we want to sell, even if we want to sell for a deep freeze order, it is still killed under inspection and cut under inspection, I might add.

But this bill does not stop Donnie McInnes, who is a farmer from Pictou County, from raising a few beef and selling one to me for my deep freeze. If that is what we want to do, it is strictly between him and I and I would buy one from him, even though he is on the opposite side of politics, because I trust him, and I know anything I would get from him would be safe.

AN HON. MEMBER: Top quality.

MR. LORRAINE: Top quality, well, I would know whether it was top quality anyway, as soon as I looked at the carcass, and I would want to see it alive before I really ate it.

You know, we talk about meat inspection. It is another form of a guarantee the consumer is getting good quality beef. But along with that, we have the federal health of animal inspection. I think, in fairness to them, I want to say a word or two about the federal health of animals inspection in the Province of Nova Scotia, and that is herds that could possibly contact a disease. I recall, in my time, being involved in the beef business and I think, going back into the 1940's, if I remember, it was an outbreak of mange disease, which we have not had for years, simply because the federal health of animals, at that time, stepped in and cleaned up that problem and we have not had it since.

Following that, in the late 1940's, early 1950's, we had an outbreak of bangs disease. The federal health of animals again came in and, eventually, Nova Scotia became a bangs disease-free province in Canada, until there were some cattle brought down from Ontario, which was not a bangs-free area. I don't need to mention any names, because everybody knows who I am talking about and they brought them into the Annapolis Valley. The problem there had to be cleaned up and all the cattle had to be slaughtered in order to clean.

Then there was another case here not so long ago, and there were other cases in between when I remember the federal health of animals stepped into the picture, but there was a case here when there was talk about the mad cow disease. I thought, what that could do, if it were not for the federal health of animals trying to order those cattle slaughtered and one importer that had six head did not want his animals slaughtered. I thought, well, what can that do, not only to the consumer should they have the disease, which I doubt if they did have it, but what can that do to the industry in the Province of Nova Scotia or the Dominion of Canada, our beef industry I am talking about?

You know, if you have fair sizeable dollars invested in that industry, you want to see every precaution taken. I think that with this bill coming in, brought in by the Honourable Wayne Gaudet, it is one more form we have of protecting the consumers and the producers in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 861]

I do want to leave a little early. I am not going to talk for a long time on this bill because I have made notes with different members that had spoken on the bill and I think all of them made good points and I believe every one of them was supporting the bill. So there is not much point in spending a lot more time, but I do want to, again, thank the Minister of Agriculture, because I will tell you, this is something that I know I have worked on for over 30 years, and I think your present Chairman of the Meat Inspection Board in the Province of Nova Scotia could tell you that he and I worked on a committee going back probably more than 30 years first trying to bring in some form of mandatory meat inspection for any beef that goes in the retail trade. We are not talking about beef that is killed between a farmer and a consumer - that is the dicker between them - but anything to retail trade.

Mr. Speaker, with that I will close and thanks again to the Minister of Agriculture for introducing this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the debate on Bill No. 9 be adjourned for a few minutes, at least.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: It gives me great pleasure to stand here this evening and bring greetings from Kings West. Since 1978 I have been honoured and privileged to be re-elected a number of times to represent the people of Kings West and I represent an area, as you well know, Mr. Speaker, and others know, it is pretty diverse. We have the air base at Greenwood, we have a large farming community, processing plants, Michelin Plant, young offenders rehab and correctional centre. So, we have a real diversity of job opportunities.

I want to pay tribute one more time to the late Buddy Daye. I think we all remember Buddy as a professional boxer, a community activist and a community leader but I think the boxing sticks out with me, I guess, more than anything. Having attended a number of boxing functions, Buddy introduced me to Mohammed Ali and Floyd Patterson and many others. I will never forget the nights that Buddy took me with him into the dressing rooms when the fighters were getting ready to fight. Buddy will be missed, I know, not only by his family but by many people in Nova Scotia and all over the world.

[Page 862]

It is nice to see Doug Giles as our new Sergeant-at-Arms and I would like to wish him well.

It is nice to have the latest member of our caucus, Alfie MacLeod, join us from Cape Breton on a full-time basis. He came in part-way through last session.

I want to just say a couple of words about the former Leader of the NDP who has now gone on to become the federal Leader of the NDP. I want to wish her well. I had mixed feelings about her running because I lost, Mr. Speaker, my racquetball opponent and I have not been able to get much racquetball in since. So I had mixed feelings about that.

I want to congratulate the member for Halifax Atlantic in his new position since the House last sat and I know, being a Valley boy, he will do well. I am sure his family has mixed feelings. I know he comes from a family, a brother who is a very active Tory and I am sure they still wish him well and I understand his brother was there at his side during the campaign.

I want to just say a big thank you to the community groups, the volunteer fire groups in my area. Many fire departments, as we all have them in the rural areas, play a very important role in their community. I will be attending banquets; I have two lined up the next couple of Saturday nights at Aylesford and in Berwick, and I usually attend one in Waterville and one in Kingston. I know the member for Annapolis attends the one in Kingston as well and I know he knows, as I know, that these volunteer firemen do a great service to our community, not only providing that service to protect us, but they spend a great many hours training. We have new fire halls in Waterville and Kingston and those firemen worked very hard to make sure that those fire halls were built. They spent a great many hours raising funds for such an important function.

I want to say, too, in Kings West, agriculture is so important to the economy of Kings County and to Nova Scotia. Agriculture is a $310 million industry, a big industry in this province. Farms employ over 7,000 people directly. In Kings County we have two processing plants - Larsens and O.H. Armstrong - both big employers. We have Scotian Gold, which is a co-op and is very important to the farming industry. So there is about $100 million put into the local economy in agriculture in Kings County. It employs over 3,000 people in the processing industry, so it is very important.

I just want to mention the Apple Blossom Festival that is coming up, June 1st is when we will have the parade. I happen to have had the honour of attending two Princess' teas on the weekend, one in Berwick and one in Aylesford. At both of those teas, as a matter of fact, they had to set up extra tables, there were so many people of the community interested in those Princess' teas.

I want to say that the Apple Blossom Festival is important to the tourism industry. I want to say, too, that it generates about $2 million being spent that weekend in and around the Valley. The Apple Blossom Festival has a budget of about $150,000 to $200,000, basically, supported by local people, local businesses. The people on the committee are volunteers and it takes a lot of work by the communities to get their Apple Blossom teas in place, to get their floats together. I know over the years the government has supported them. I think in the past it was $15,000, I think now it is $6,000. I think one thing government can do, if it is going to be $6,000, let these people know in advance that the government does support them and does support them with if it is $6,000 towards a $150,000 or $200,000 budget, it doesn't seem like a lot, but these people don't run on surpluses. They need every cent that they can get.

[Page 863]

In talking to a number of the princesses, not only vying for the position this year, but some of the princesses who attended the teas who were princesses last year, as well as the queen. All spoke about how important this was to them in having this experience of being an Apple Blossom Princess and how they were able to mature and grow. So, I think it is a very important festival. I hope that many people will get out to support it. It is sort of the kick-off for the tourism season. So I am hoping that again we have fine weather and that people will turn out and support it.

I have one more local issue before I get into a number of areas that I would like to touch on tonight. Oaklawn Farm Zoo is one of the largest zoos around. You can't find another zoo that large in Atlantic Canada and I am not even sure you can find a zoo across Canada as large as Oaklawn Farm Zoo. This zoo sort of grew. It is a family operation and it is a home grown successful business as Gail Rogerson said. She and her husband, Ron, started this farm, I can remember, a number of years ago and they had a few animals, a few lions and other animals. I think now there is probably not hardly an animal that you can't find if you go to that zoo. I know I have taken my grandson there, and I think it is a great place to take your children for entertainment and for them to learn about the various animals.

I often talk to them and they have had concerns over the years about signage. Signage is still not adequate for them.

[7:45 p.m.]

One of the things they take issue with - I know it is a federal issue - is the proposed changes in UI and also the proposed change in the harmonization. When the GST came into effect, they didn't change their prices for people going in. It is a very reasonable, nominal fee. Over the years they have hired a number, I think 15, of employees for the summer, young people they give employment to. They didn't raise their prices, they absorbed the GST. They are saying that if harmonization comes into being and the 15 per cent applies to them, it will have a negative effect on their small, growing industry. So they have great concerns about whether or not, and they said that they were never consulted on if there was a harmonized tax, whether, in actual fact, the harmonized tax would affect them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Would they in P.E.I.?

MR. MOODY: Yes, they would have had a chance, had they had their business in P.E.I.

They wonder what their choices for a small business are, Madam Speaker. They don't know whether to now do nothing, not hire summer employees, do more work themselves, which they feel they can't do. They want to know if they can find a way to pay cash wages to these young people or how they are going to be able to keep their business going.

I would hope that whatever this government does that they consider a small family business like the Oaklawn Farm Zoo. The Oaklawn Farm Zoo is something unique, it is something that is there for really young people to enjoy and to learn from. Even though the GST applies to the admission price of going to that zoo, if we have a harmonized tax this government wouldn't be so heartless and put a harmonized tax on young people going to this zoo. I indicated to them that I would raise this issue and would certainly hope that this government, before it makes that decision, will consider people like the Rogersons and the Oaklawn Farm Zoo.

[Page 864]

I just want to touch on education. I think there is no question that when this government came to power they talked about cuts and they assured teachers and parents and students that the cuts they would make wouldn't affect the classroom and wouldn't affect the students. We all know that is not true, Madam Speaker. I haven't been able to talk to a teacher, a parent or a student who hasn't said that the effects have affected them in the classroom.

AN HON. MEMBER: Negatively.

MR. MOODY: Negatively is right.

We had a group of educators in Kings County that have a Multi Education Committee. They worked on a paper they call A Focus on the Journey. A Focus on the Journey has to do with the journey of the young student from when they enter school until they leave school and the options that are there for them. I think where we have gone in education, because of the cuts, we have narrowed the opportunities. When a young student enters Primary, they see their opportunities as being almost unlimited. There is a wide range of opportunities.

If you talk to young people, very young, they have great expectations of what they are going to be and what they can do when they finish school. What we have done is narrowed the opportunity for many of these people. Yes, the opportunity for university education is there but there is a large number of students who will not go to university, for whatever reason. Maybe it is financial, maybe it is because they don't feel that is where they could be comfortable or maybe their abilities would lead them somewhere else.

Their opportunities are very limited today. My concern for these young people is when they leave school, they will not be able to find employment; because that is really what education is all about, to try to find employment. In talking with people in the Valley as late as today and on the weekend, they are concerned about changes in the UI and changes that will affect people who have seasonal work, people with a limited amount of skills. The opportunity for them to have some sort of apprenticeship or some sort of a vocational training is now fast disappearing.

These students that used to go to Kingstec in Kings County, what we used to call a vocational school, now you have to complete Grade 12 to get to community college. For some of these students, because if you talk to parents and to teachers, the support for many of these students has gone. There used to be some resource support for these students. Because of cuts, that it is gone and now they are falling through the cracks. I think that this government has to realize that the cuts they are making have long-term impact on many of these young people in being part of the community, in being able to enjoy life with a job and the many things people like to have.

I commend those educators in Kings County who are concerned about the future of the young people and who are working toward some resolve, hopefully with the help of government and hopefully with the help of the community, because I think it is going to take the community, it is going to take government and all of those people, Madam Speaker, to make that work.

I understand someone would like to make an introduction.

[Page 865]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I thank the honourable member for relinquishing the floor. I am very pleased this evening, on behalf of the Premier, to introduce the 5th Dartmouth Scout Troop of Dartmouth South constituency, composed of 27 boys between the ages of 11 and 14 years. They are here with us this evening as part of the Scouts citizenship badge and they have had an opportunity to go through the House of Assembly and to see the library and the Red Room and have some discussion. We are very pleased to have the Scouts with us this evening, also with their leaders, Mike Chisholm, Eldon Gunn and Marty Suddard. I would ask the Scouts if they would please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: Madam Speaker, I, too, would like to welcome the Scouts here this evening.

I want to touch a little bit on the gambling casinos. I had a call on the weekend from a gentleman who spent a couple of weeks in Florida during the winter holidays. In the January U.S. News magazine, he brought back a copy and thought I would be interested in the latest of what is happening in casinos. I noticed that no state in the U.S. has legalized casino gambling since 1994 and there may not be another one before the turn of the century or long after that, says a recent report by Wall Street analysts, Bear Sterns and Company. A backlash against gaming is, where it is coming everywhere, is a big gamble, so to speak.

I think, if you read the article and you really understand what they are saying, because in some areas welfare rates were cut by one-third because there were some jobs. But crime skyrocketed and there were a lot of social costs involved. So I guess what this whole article says is that there are a lot of people who become addicted to gaming. About 90 per cent, it says, of Americans can turn an evening in a casino into good entertainment without emptying their pockets; then there is that 10 per cent. It talks about tragic stories. It talks about a young 19 year old, Jason Burke, who shot himself in the head, leaving a suicide note that read: I am out of control. He had transferred to an Iowa college that was close to a casino where he could play blackjack and had taken out three college loans, says Carl, a compulsive gambler from Illinois. Casinos are the crack cocaine of gambling.

Then it talks about the small number of addicted gamblers come at a great expense, between the cost of $13,000 to $35,000, ranging on the services and the cost of treatment. It talks about 26 per cent that said they had divorced or separated because of gambling; 34 per cent had lost or quit a job; 44 per cent had stolen from work to pay their gambling debts; 21 per cent had filed for bankruptcy; 18 per cent had gambling related arrests; 66 per cent had contemplated suicide; and 16 per cent had attempted suicide.

If you read what is happening in the casino industry, and it tells me something that in the United States if they are not willing now to start building new casinos in new states, something has triggered a concern. There is a bit of an article that read: Does Gambling Lead to Crime? The analysis done was that, yes, in small towns or cities where casinos have started, crime rates do increase. So, every time we have crime around this city, on the outskirts of this city, because I hear people talking about the increase in crime, one has to wonder, is it indirectly related in any way to us having a casino?

[Page 866]

I think one would be a good member if you would take time to keep abreast of what is happening in the casino industry. We know what has happened in the past, but problems continue to evolve with casino gambling. It is strange that no U.S. state has opened up casino gambling since 1994 but, in Nova Scotia in 1995, we did just that.

I want to talk about a few health issues. Time and time again I have raised in this House the fears and concerns expressed to me and my colleagues about the deteriorating state of our health care system; fears and concerns that quite often the minister will dismiss. He will say that I am fear-mongering or that they are isolated incidents or that really they are just political mischief. I have to say that the number of calls that I am getting, some of them are angry. Nova Scotians are angry the way they feel over the state of health care in this province.

I am asked - and I am sure you are and I am sure others are, and if you lived in the Valley you would be asked it over and over again - what is going to become of our health care system? I visited two seniors today, early afternoon, and it was a social call, but it was not long before they wanted to talk about health care. They really felt that they were not sure that their needs would be met as they grow old because of the changes in the system. I will talk about some of those changes.

[8:00 p.m.]

One of the things I would like to talk about is the Provincial Health Council. One of the principles of this present government during the 1993 election was accountability. I heard that word over and over again. They said, we will be accountable and we will listen. Remember the slogan, Leadership Starts with Listening? That was their slogan. Well, it was a catchy phrase but as I talk to people around the province, it was only a phrase. If you don't believe me ask the volunteers who were on the Provincial Health Council, the thousands of Nova Scotians who relied on the council as a reliable, timely source of information, as a means of communicating their views and concerns of health and health related matters to government.

As a former minister responsible for establishing the Provincial Health Council, I was saddened as I watched this minister destroy that council. I want to tell the minister that I have to say that I was dismayed that this council was shut down. That council openly challenged me and my government to defend our changes to policies when we were in government. Yes, they sometimes criticized us but that was their job, that was their purpose. We didn't say, if you don't say all nice things we are going to shut you down. No, that would have been the cowardly thing to do.

The council was formed at the urging of the Royal Commission on Health Care. The Blueprint Committee for Health System Reform said that the council's role should not be shut down, it should be expanded. Numerous other task forces spoke about the important role that the Health Council played. It was an honest broker in keeping the government accountable for its decisions that impact on our health and well-being.

In the face of so many positive endorsements, what does the Minister of Health independently decide? He decides it is no longer useful. He decides that he has another scheme. He claims he wants to build a council on the council's legacy by creating a more expensive and more academically-driven health research foundation. He has even assured us that the watchdog role of the council will be protected in legislation established in the new foundation. We don't have that legislation. We don't have that new council. Well, the council has disappeared and I haven't heard a thing about the health research foundation in months. It is like the minister was dreaming.

If nothing else we can give the minister points for consistency. Like virtually every other element in his so-called Health System Reform Plan, he continues to tear down what is already in place before anything is ready to replace it. If we were going to have a new expanded role for the council, what would be wrong with keeping the old council in place until the new council could be formed and up and running?

[Page 867]

Doctor shortages. Consider for a moment the thousands of Nova Scotians who are presently without a doctor. Whether you are in Glace Bay, whether you are in Amherst, whether you are in Yarmouth, at least 10 other towns have been waiting for government to come through with a workable plan that will address one of the most basic and fundamental needs of their community, a doctor. Over a year has passed since the government - and I gave them credit at the time - announced an incentive package to attract doctors to rural Nova Scotia. It is not working. It is time the government realizes that if they have a plan in place and it is not working, then please reassess that plan. It is not only not working in that we are not bringing doctors in, doctors are continuing to leave.

The most recent statistics from the College of Physicians and Surgeons show that from the end of February to the end of March, 29 more doctors have left this province. (Interruption) The minister cautions me about using these numbers. He said, now, now, they may not be accurate. But what he fails to mention is that, if anything, they exaggerate the number of doctors practising in Nova Scotia and the problem is probably far worse than this report from the College of Physicians and Surgeons shows. In other words, there may be people with licenses that are not practising.

Mr. Speaker, doctors aren't leaving for bigger salaries. Doctors are leaving because they are burnt-out or because they have lost faith in the health care reform. I have talked to doctors who say to me, when I can't practise good medicine, it is time for me to leave. So many of these doctors have a real feeling for their patients. I was at a function Sunday afternoon and I was talking to a family physician who was filling in at outpatients - I believe down in Annapolis - and he had a very difficult situation with a very young child. The child needed to be taken immediately to the IWK. The mother was going to drive that child there because they couldn't afford the ambulance cost. I said to that physician, you should have just ordered the ambulance.

We have to have a system in this province where if a young child is very sick, regardless of whether one can pay or can't pay, that shouldn't matter. He is feeling, as a family physician, that he is not able to give the kind of care that he gave in the past, and also he finds that he is working many hours because other physicians have gone from the area and feels that the quality of care is suffering. I don't understand why the Minister of Health doesn't take the time to talk to many of these physicians who could relay to him exactly what the problems are. Then, those issues could be addressed by this government and something could be done.

We hired a physician recruiter, and he talks about an incentive package. But I am not sure how many, and I haven't heard of many, that we have actually hired or who have actually taken this fine incentive package that the government says is so good. If it is so good, why aren't people coming here and taking that incentive package? Recently one rural physician said, unless something happens, he predicts that Nova Scotia will lose 50 per cent of its rural physicians in the next three years to four years if this government doesn't change its policy.

[Page 868]

I sincerely hope that this government will listen to what rural physicians are saying and what Nova Scotians are saying.

Madam Speaker, we are having line-ups at outpatients and if you talk to nurses who work in outpatients, they will tell you that the line-up is longer and longer, because, in some cases, you have no family doctor, your doctor has moved, or you can't get an appointment, where else are you going to go? You have to go to outpatients. It costs government more when people go to outpatients than it actually does if they go to a doctor's office.

This government has some real soul-searching to do. I am not sure when this government finishes its reform that we will have enough good rural physicians left in this province to carry out the kind of practices that we have traditionally known in this province, where rural physicians knew their patients by name and had time to look after them. Now I have people calling up and saying, doctors won't take any more patients on. I can't get a family physician, I have to go to outpatients. I don't think there is any one of us who would like to be in the position that we don't have a family physician. I think that is pretty traumatic for many of the seniors in this province who know that when they get sick there is no family physician to go to, like they used to have, because their family physician left and nobody came to take that family physician's place and the doctors are not taking on any more patients, so you have to go to outpatients.

I just want to spend a few moments on home care. Last June the minister, with the Premier in tow, made some wonderful optimistic predictions about expanded home care; it will be the finest in the country, they declared, the minister and the Premier. It was referred to as a crucial component in the government's health reform plan; it would provide assistance to the chronically ill and enable others, who would otherwise be hospitalized for short stays, to get the care they needed at home.

It sounds great. Who could possibly argue with that? Nobody, and nobody can be against home care. We all know that patients generally heal better at home and it will save taxpayers a bundle. Everybody wins; the patient, the government and the taxpayer.

But, Mr. Speaker, it is like everything else the Minister of Health touches; something went terribly astray. Patients are being prematurely discharged from hospitals. I hear that from patients, I hear it from nurses, I hear it from doctors. They have to leave hospital prematurely because the beds are needed for somebody else.

The replacement services are not widely or sufficiently available to meet the needs of many of these patients who are sent home. The problem is that the beds and services were cut before adequate or appropriate home or community-based services were actually put in place to fill the gaps. This isn't fiction, this is a fact of life, a fact of life that too many Nova Scotians and their families are being forced to cope with.

I know that maybe it is because I am in Opposition but I can't believe that I get the only stories, I can't believe that I am the only MLA who gets dozens of calls from people about horror stories and out of a sense of frustration. I am sure all MLAs get them. Most don't expect that I can solve the problem but they want to talk to somebody. They can't get through to the Minister of Health, they have all said they have tried but they can't get to talk to the Minister of Health. They want to make sure somebody raises their concerns.

[Page 869]

I have come to this House time and time again with examples of the kind of horror stories I hear. The minister claims that 98 per cent of all home care clients are pleased, and probably those who get it are. But like the 82 year old woman who called who was ill herself, who had to look after her dying husband for all but two hours of relief provided by home care every other day, imagine. Home care came in every other day for two hours. That 82 year old woman who had been happily married for 62 years began to resent the tremendous demands she was forced to bear and began to openly exhibit her frustrations to her husband as he lay on his deathbed.

Madam Speaker, he has since died. She must now cope with the thought of how they spent their last days. I am sure that in talking with her she feels bad about how upset she used to get with her husband. She got upset because she was tired, she wasn't well herself and the only relief she could get, because as she called there was never a bed in the hospital for her husband, even though they tried time and time again, I know the doctor tried, there was not a bed available for her husband. The home care she got was two hours of relief every other day. That lady was not one of the 98 per cent who said they were pleased with the service.

I know that the Premier stood in this House for the better part of an hour and read some glowing comments about the Home Care Program. Yes, I can tell you some good stories about home care. Many of them are delighted with the service they receive but the trouble is there are so many cracks in the system and so many expectations in the system because of this government saying that home care is the answer to all of those needs when, in actual fact, people went to access the system, it wasn't the answer to all of those needs.

[8:15 p.m.]

I spoke to one of the chairpersons of one of the regional boards. That chairperson said to me, one of the problems is, we have closed our beds too quickly and not provided an adequate service to replace those beds. Even that chairperson of a regional board recognizes that this government, even though it may have had a good idea, did not go about it in a humane way, in a way where Nova Scotians' needs would be met.

I don't know how many more people have to suffer. Any of you who recently heard the CBC call-in show about home care know that those people who called were frustrated and had concerns about what was happening in Home Care Nova Scotia, many of whom are ill-prepared to cope. Many others were seniors who had to support family members, who had people discharged and came home without adequate care. I know of a lady who had a very serious cancer operation, she couldn't even go to the bathroom on her own. She was sent home and then a worker came to assess her and said she needed home care for a few hours a day. The neighbours found her on the bathroom floor. She should have been in hospital, Mr. Speaker, until adequate home care service could have been provided.

Mr. Speaker, I would challenge the Minister of Health to go through the Blueprint Committee Report and identify how many of the recommendations specific to home care have been acted on. I know, the NDP to the left have and we have but the government, as the report said, here is a list that the government must follow of recommendations. The government cherry-picked a few of the recommendations and every time you talk to the government members, they stand up and say, but we are following the Blueprint Committee. But that is absolutely not true. Bunk.

[Page 870]

What we need, Mr. Speaker, is a critical analysis of the Home Care Program, not a recital of survey results but a critical evaluation that sets out objectives and measures outcomes, that will tell us where the program is being successful - and I am sure there are some successes - and where it is failing. If we have that critical analysis of the Home Care Program, then we would be able to know what needs to be fixed and how to fix it.

I want to just spend a few moments on emergency health services. Another critical element in the minister's so-called health reform plan has been his vision of a new more sophisticated emergency response system. What we have seen so far in the budget, we have seen a new Emergency Health Services Agency, we have seen little else. We have seen a part-time commissioner hired at $140,000, he was here this evening, to guide the implementation of this new complicated and expensive EHS system.

If you talk to the operators - and this government said at the time when it introduced the legislation that the operators would be very much part of the emergency response system in this province - so I thought, like everyone else thought, that the government would say to these operators, you must improve your equipment to a certain standard, you must have your people trained to meet a certain standard and once these standards were in place, you would either have to meet these standards or, obviously, we have to have someone else provide the service.

What this government has said, you can't be operators individually in this province. You have to form one company. They went so far as to bring in someone from the States to offer the operators, to put them together in a company for a large share of the company. What this minister is saying is, that we are going to model it after American-style health services. As a matter of fact, there is a county in Florida that some of the operators have been down to see. It is the one that we are modelling, I understand, for Nova Scotia.

So we are not going to have individual operators operating ambulances in this province. We are going to have one company. If they do not get together and form one company after six months, then we are going to put it out to tender, and I am sure we will have an American company come in and operate our emergency health service in this province.

You know, as I talk to many of the operators, who were really misled, because they felt that when the legislation came forward, they had concerns that they talked about to many MLAs in this Legislature and they were told, you will be part of this new system. Well, they are finding out that, in actual fact, they probably won't be part of this new system.

Mr. Speaker, another area of health care that I want to touch on briefly is Pharmacare. I know that members, as well as myself, have had a number of calls recently when Pharmacare bills went out. People are being billed, not only for this year, but for last year. Many seniors did not realize that the program took effect last April 1st because this government sent out the first bill late in the fall. So many people thought that is when the program started. Now they are finding out that, in actual fact, they are being billed again.

Some of the calls that I am getting, seniors are telling me that they are taking drugs that are not covered by Pharmacare. They say, why should I join Pharmacare when the drug I am taking has either been de-listed or not on the list. My indication to them was that, in most cases, you should be able to get your doctor to write and you could get on the list if it was a certain drug, but, in this case, there is a drug called Proscar that they cannot get approval by the Pharmacare Program. So what these men are faced with is an operation or to

[Page 871]

buy the drug on their own. Many of them are seniors who are on a fixed income and feel that if they pay $215 and 20 per cent up to $200 that they should not and could not and cannot afford to pay more.

I know that the Minister of Finance has said that $18 million of the $22 million that was collected in the way of premiums was turned over to the Pharmacare Program. We had $4 million go back to seniors. I have asked the Minister of Health, time and time again, in this House to give us the details. Because we know that in 1995-96, the seniors are not paying 50 per cent of the program. The minister indicated in this House that this year the government would pick up the extra 50 per cent, the extra, the shortfall of the seniors 50 per cent this year.

Already the government has announced that next year, the premiums are going to be, again, $215. When I asked the minister, are the seniors responsible for 50 per cent of the cost of the Pharmacare Program, he said they are. Well, obviously, the government this year, again, because we are getting close to an election, is going to pick up the additional money, the shortfall of the 50 per cent, because they had a shortfall this year. Then I am sure, after a general election when the shortfall arrives, the seniors' premium will go up. They have to meet 50 per cent, although the minister said they were not going to this past year and they are not going to next year but, after that, he assures me the seniors are.

Does the premium go up to $315? I will tell you now that as I talk to seniors they are very angry over this program. I know you can explain to them about all the programs across the country, but what they are concerned about is the program here in Nova Scotia and the commitment that this government gave seniors, and they really feel that this government has not been fair to them. I remember the minister saying when he introduced this program, we talked to seniors and seniors groups before working out this program. Well, I have talked to many seniors and many seniors groups across the province, and not one of them was consulted about how this program should work. A few of them met and were told that this was the new Pharmacare Program.

So when the minister says that seniors were involved in having a say about how this new program was put together that, too, is a lot of bunk; it is not true. I cannot believe that all these seniors who are calling, they are on the board, but the mandate is they have to raise 50 per cent of the funding and, if they have to raise 50 per cent of the funding, being on the board does not matter because then all they can do on the board is raise the premium; they have no choice.

I want to talk about a couple of other issues before my time goes. Last weekend, I had a fax from a young mother and she has an 18 month old daughter, and the daughter has been on antibiotics pretty well ever since she has been born. She has had ear infection after ear infection. I guess being a young mother and knowing that if you have a child at home that has ear infections almost on a constant basis, you know that child is fussy and, also, who wants their child on antibiotics on a continued basis? She has been waiting and waiting and she has a date in June, but she has been waiting for months for that child to have the procedure for the tubes in the ears. She said to me, I do not understand why my family doctor says it is an emergency, it is needed right away, but they cannot get OR time to get that young 18 month old child in to have its ears done. She asks, doesn't anyone care? Doesn't anyone really care? We know that there were cuts, but doesn't anyone care? Before, there were not waits and if you talk to people, the waiting lists are getting longer and longer.

[Page 872]

I had an individual call me who was in the Abbie Lane Hospital and that individual was schizophrenic and that individual was caught smoking in the Abbie Lane and she was manic-depressive. You know what this government did? They took her to court five times. She is having a very difficult time and I am wondering why we would tie up our courts with a manic-depressive who is very ill, who happened to be caught smoking. I am sure there is some way to deal with this other than taking this person to court five times, who, at the end of five times, was found not guilty. You wonder just where our government's priorities lie.

[8:30 p.m.]

You know, Mr. Speaker, as I go around my constituency and talk to many people who have concerns about the future, they have concerns about the many things this government is doing. They feel they are not consulted. Yes, they understand that the deficit is something that has to be controlled, but they have concerns that this government has no feeling for people and that this government doesn't really care about their plight, about what is happening to them as this government squeezes everybody, from one end of this province to the other.

They wonder, is that what governments are elected to do? Yes, they are elected to govern, but aren't they to care in some manner for the people they represent? Isn't there to be an opportunity for these people to reach their elected officials and seek help from those people? As one travels around the constituency, as I am sure you do, Mr. Speaker, and you talk to many of the people in their homes, as I do, on the streets or at meetings or community functions, people are scared to death, they fear for the future. I say to them that it is almost like the harmonization that the government talks about. As I said to one individual today; don't panic, the government is telling you not to worry. I said that whether harmonization is good or bad depends on how it comes down, there are so many variables.

He said, well, George, my problem is that I don't trust this government. The reason is that they have broken promise after promise. When they ran in 1993 they promised no raise in taxes, they promised not to close hospitals, they promised all kinds of things. As we listen to this Premier day after day, he doesn't keep those commitments that he made. He said to me, George, why would I believe him today when everything he said yesterday wasn't correct? So why do I have to have more faith today than I had yesterday?

It is so true. No wonder people are very cynical about what is happening. Business people are scared to death about what is going to happen to them. We are at a stage where people have not been able to get a raise in pay, but they will tell you that everything is going up, including the way this government taxes them.

I had another call from a farmer this morning about the permit that the Environment Department has placed on them to spray. He said, just another tax by this government, I had to pay $100 to take the course and now I have to pay $50 to spray my orchard. Where is this going to end? Doesn't the government fully understand that every time I turn around there is a new tax being put on by this government? Whether it is the thirst tax, and I will tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, there is going to be a big backlash by the voters of this province. I can tell you right now that the things this government has done, the people have lost faith in this government. The reason they have lost faith is because this government has led them down a path and always taken a wrong turn or left the path somewhere.

[Page 873]

The people in this province who want to believe there is a future in this province say to me, George, it has to end. We want a government that is going to show compassion. We don't want a government that is arrogant and has all the answers; we want a government that will listen and we want a government that can relate to our needs, not our wants but our needs in our communities.

So this government is going to find, when they go to the polls, that they will have a rude awakening. What people are telling me is, this government had better change or their days are numbered. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour. (Applause)

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, it is truly an honour for me to have the opportunity to stand in this House that I admire so much - although I have some concerns with what I have seen happen over the past year or two - on behalf of all the people of Cumberland South, and to take part in this debate, which is a great opportunity to bring the issues before all of my colleagues in this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, as we look ahead to the future, it is important that each of us remembers the past. It is important that each Nova Scotian remembers the past 15 years in this province and what went on and what happened. It is important because they have paid an awful price for their children and grandchildren with regard to the previous 15 years. It is also important that we remember the friendships and the loyalties and the commitment of people in this House. I would like to remember Buddy Daye at this time and the commitment that he made to the Province of Nova Scotia. I believe his life had a major impact on this province. In fact, the most important impact it had on Nova Scotia took place outside of this House of Assembly. So, to Buddy's family, whom most of us know, I am proud to say that I knew this great man, in my opinion, for the past 20 years and I say to Buddy, you are truly missed by the members of this House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, it is impossible to touch on all of our friends that are not with us this year. We cannot touch on all of them, but I must mention and I must touch on Benoit Comeau. A former colleague of some members of this Assembly, he was a man who gave such stable leadership and counselling, especially to new members who came into this Assembly. When I came into this Assembly, the Liberal caucus office was downstairs where the media hangs out now; that was a caucus office with one person.

I was chairman of the caucus when I first came here in 1974 and I had one secretary for the whole Liberal caucus. Benoit would come down and talk and I felt that he, the late Peter Nicholson, the late Allan Sullivan and some of the others, helped me a great deal. Even Dr. Thomas McKeough, a former member of the Tory Party in this province, and people like that; the attitude in the House in those days was far different than it is today in this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, you know that because you have been here longer than I have. But Benoit, a former colleague of mine in this Assembly, a man who gave, as I have already mentioned, leadership, a man who had a social conscience and don't let anybody ever take that away from Benoit Comeau. He was a man who always thought about his colleagues. It didn't matter if they were NDP, Tory or Liberal, he thought about them all, his constituents and fellow man. I enjoyed working and serving with him and again he will be missed, and I say to his wife and family, thank you for your support for Benoit, as he worked so hard to support so many people across this province, from one end to the other over the years. (Applause)

You know, we have in this Assembly, this session, two new Leaders. The honourable member for Pictou Centre, the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia and I may have a few things to say about the Party after but not about him as I go on with my speech, and also, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, the new Leader of the New Democratic Party.

I also want to mention Alexa McDonough. I was here when she came to the House and I sat on the side of her for the first two or three years until some of my colleagues said, Guy, I think you are talking to her too much and helping her too much, so they moved me then over to the other side of the House, we were [Page 874]

on the Opposition then. Some of the members will remember that. I want to wish her the very best during these difficult times.

I want to say how pleased I was to see Their Honours, the Kinleys, here who looked so great in fulfilling the role for this province. Every Lieutenant Governor, and I don't know how many we have seen, Mr. Speaker, since you and I have been here, but every one of them leaves something different to the Province of Nova Scotia. Every one of them has a little different attitude or gets involved a little more than the last one.

I want to mention Doug Giles, the Sergeant-at-Arms, who I respect and has been around here a long time. I am pleased to see Doug here every day with his hat on which I think is an asset to the province. (Applause)

I want to say also, if I may and I don't think anybody has mentioned them throughout the whole Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne debate, and that is the Clerk and Deputy Clerk of the House of Assembly. The leadership that those two individuals give us is unbelievable. (Applause) And all of the Pages and all of our staff that work with us.

We are very fortunate to have the Hansard staff that we have and we are fortunate to have the Library staff that we have and how they work for all members of this House. It is important from time to time that people stand up and say, thank you to Margaret Murphy and all of her staff over there in the Library. (Applause)

Well, Mr. Speaker, we are here to talk about the Throne Speech. I was reading with a great deal of interest and I am sorry they are not here and there is a lesson here and I am doing this for you newer members and I hope you never forget it because it is important. But in Hansard on Friday, March 29, 1996, this House lacks the confidence in the Government of Nova Scotia. You go over to the next page and they are voting against the Throne Speech.

You know, there is a tradition here. They should have said they were voting against the Throne Speech from one section but they are voting against the whole Throne Speech in this province. Do you mean to tell me they are voting against the Nova Scotians that the Throne Speech talks about? Are they voting against the great distinguished Nova Scotians in this province who are mentioned in here? I know they are not and I don't think they meant that. I would never accuse them of that, I am asking the question.

You know, everybody is opposed, they say, to the Throne Speech. Are they opposed to signs for economic renewal in this province? Are the members of the Opposition opposed to that? Where is their plan on the table? Are they opposed to Nova Scotia realizing its vision

[Page 875]

in the future, how so many young people in the universities that have plans towards Nova Scotia? Are they opposed to that?

[8:45 p.m.]

Where is their plan on the table? Or are they opposed to our hard-won gains in this province, the gains that people have made in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, over the last 20 years? Are the members of the Opposition opposed to that? Are they truly opposed to the gains of our parents and what they did for Nova Scotia? Are they opposed to improving the business and the job climate in Nova Scotia? Are they opposed to the attitude that the business people are finding so exciting in this province? Are they opposed to Greenbrier at Pictou which is now employing over 1,000 jobs? Are they opposed in Bridgewater to the plastic glove plant? Are they opposed to the new industries in the Valley? Are they opposed to the new industries in northern Nova Scotia? What are they opposed to when they talk about opposing everything that is in here, that there is nothing for Nova Scotia?

Are they opposed to more services that are accessible for the people in small communities where I come from in rural Nova Scotia? Are they truly opposed to that in the Opposition in this province? Are they opposed to small community and rural Nova Scotia? Because that is what is in here. Are they opposed to the reductions, in bringing the different government agencies together, where a service station has to have seven permits and we are trying to cut that to one or two permits, through the honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Affairs? Are they opposed to that, too? Why are they opposed to that?

Now here is a great one. They talk about Nova Scotia, regional development authorities to be entrenched in the Acts of this province. Now, Mr. Speaker, how can any Opposition member get up here day after day in their response to the Speech from the Throne and oppose entrenching in the rural communities and all the business agencies across this province into legislation in Nova Scotia? It is impossible. But that is part of the Speech from the Throne. Are you opposed to that?

AN HON. MEMBER: How about the tolls and the thirst tax. (Interruption)

MR. BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you the reformer is on the go tonight. One day he is a member of the Reform Party, the next day he wants to be a Tory and, you know, he even had a Liberal membership at one time. (Applause) That is the guy that is sitting in this House that wants to represent that fine constituency today and he cannot even make up his own mind what Party he wants to belong to. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Jean Charest doesn't want him.

MR. BROWN: Jean Charest does not want him. He was the only one they left out of the list on the paper. I want to tell you, I say to the Leader of the Conservative Party, he can take a few lessons from Jean. He is not so wrong on some of those requests he made here in this province. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I will deal with that in my speech. Again, I am sorry that you cannot sit there and wait. I sit here and listen to you.

[Page 876]

Anyway, a new procurement policy, are they opposed to that? A new economic development agreement, they are opposed to that? You know, they are against all those things. I could go on with regard to the Speech from the Throne, which I will not do because I only have so much time to go through some other important things.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley stay in his seat. He thinks it is a great thing to get kicked out of this House every once in a while. I want to tell you, I wonder what the children and the teenagers in his riding think of the way he acts here in this House. We do have rules in this House, and I want to tell you that it is time that some of us started looking at them.

Mr. Speaker, when we came to power, the Premier and this government were disheartened and concerned about the massive debt load that the previous government had put on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. What is the role of government? The role of government is to secure the province, that the government is in, for future generations.

We were headed towards being the first generation in the history of this province leave our children less than we received from our parents. That is something we should not be very proud of, and we are working, in this government, to change that. I am honoured and pleased to be here on behalf of the people of Cumberland South, to serve the people of this great province. I am happy to be here with the Premier of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, there is a conduct here in this House of Assembly that I want to mention, and I know that other members feel the same way because I have talked to them, there are rules and there are things that we should be doing here in this Assembly. I feel very sad at times when people think it is great to get kicked out of the House of Assembly of Nova Scotia. This Assembly has a tradition and it is recognized all across North America. It is about freedom of speech, it is about debate; it is about good legislation that comes forward - and I don't care if it is the Tory Party that is sitting on the government side or I don't care if it is the Liberal Party that is sitting on the government side - it is about bringing good legislation forward. It is not about disagreeing with the Speaker of this House of Assembly; it doesn't matter who that Speaker is.

I have sat here for over 20 years and I believe it has just been in the last two or three years that we have seen members ordered out of the sessions quite often. That is wrong. As members of this Assembly, Mr. Speaker, we have some rules that we have to lay down for our children and grandchildren and all the people who follow this Assembly and all the debates. It is wrong for members of this House to have that sort of attitude and carry it on inside this Chamber. It is not what Nova Scotia politics is all about; it is not what Joseph Howe was about; it is not what freedom of speech is about; it is not what good debate is about; and it is not what legislation is about. What we are doing is starting to tear down our own structure in this province with those things that are going on.

Some people want to see that happen. Why? I don't know, because I love this place very much and I love everything it stands for. When the Tory Party sat over here for the last 15 years, I never got kicked out of this House, or even came close to it. They had a job to do and it was our job over there to debate and to try and improve legislation, not to get kicked out of the Assembly. So I think we are headed down a very dangerous road. Mr. Speaker, I would hope that all members would take heart with regard to that.

First, I want to talk about the Premier of this Province. Premier John Savage, a man who, I think, has more compassion in his little finger than some political Parties . . .

[Page 877]

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, you were doing well, but now . . .

MR. BROWN: Well, they said I was doing well and now I am not. I am telling you that I have to call it the way it is. Without his leadership for compassion and for understanding in the Cabinet and in the caucus, the gains that we have made in this province would not have been made. He is not in favour of putting the debt under the rug and not telling people about it. He is not in favour of the workers' compensation where we had a $400 million unfunded liability, of putting it under the rug. He was not in favour of just firing public servants like they have in some provinces. He said to his ministers that we are going to program an early retirement, sit down with the union, because he had compassion in his heart with regard to the future of this province. (Applause) I want to tell you, he has a social conscience. The Premier has a concern about the people in Nova Scotia and all anyone has to do is look at our record on our legislation.

Mr. Speaker, of course, this is the Estimates Book. When he came in here in June 1993, there was no budget, there was no Estimates Book. Imagine, in June 1993, when we came here, there was absolutely nothing. You know what the government gave us? Blank pages, an empty book with nothing in it. It is one of the biggest debts and one of the worse situations any government ever walked into. The payments on the debt are more than we are spending on the education of our young people.

Mr. Speaker, through you to my friends in the Tory Party, I say to them and I say to all their membership across this province that they should sit on the outside for at least 10 years to pay for the disaster, at least 10 years to pay the price for what you did to our children and grandchildren in this province. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, what has our government accomplished? What have we accomplished? We know there have been reforms with regard to health care which will be continually debated, but when you look at the expenditures when we came in, of $1.2 billion, what were we supposed to do with regard to that and the payments we are making on the debt? Many people have different ideas and different suggestions, but I want to tell you that all through this Throne Speech debate for the past three weeks, I have not seen too many solid proposals put on the table for the Minister of Health and for this government to take and review and to act on. Just criticize, you know. Where are your suggestions and policies? The NDP seems to have a policy of hiring more and more people. Spend more, have us send more of the taxpayers' money to Germany, to France, to Japan, to the U.S. under this province's service to debt. Well, that is what some people think the answer is. You and I know that is not the answer for our children in the years ahead, so let us stop criticizing.

I want to just touch on a couple of charts. You look at the charts here, what each province is spending with regard to their revenues. This is 1992-1993. This is not the Liberal year, this is the former government's year, 1992-1993. We were spending more on debt, shipping more money out of this province than any other province in Canada. We were spending more on debt than we were spending on educating our young people in this province. Shame. The Tory Party must pay the price and we, as members of this House, must not allow the people of Nova Scotia to forget those years of mismanagement and what they did to this province. (Applause)

We cannot blame the media for not doing our job. That is our job as elected members of this Assembly, to bring these points forward on a regular basis.

[Page 878]

[9:00 p.m.]

Now, I want to tell you and again, I will use their government years, not our years, but their government years. This is under their Estimates Book, not under mine. Ordinary expenditures, I think I will do the revenue first, the ordinary revenue and the sources dealing with individual income tax, property tax, equalization, transfer payments to established programs, health tax, tobacco tax, diesel fuel, all of our revenues and I am dealing with the Tory years. Total revenue in 1992-93 was $3.3 billion, now remember that. What was their expenditure for the same year, for the Tory years, 1992-93? Expenditures were $4.4 billion, we had to borrow another billion that year and that was when they were in power, not when we were in power. Now you think that is not serious?

Let me tell you, if you took all of the money that we spent in Agriculture, the Attorney General, Economic Renewal, Environment, Finance, Fisheries, Housing and Consumer Affairs, Labour, Lands and Forests - it was then - now Natural Resources, Mines and Energy which is now under Natural Resources, Municipal Affairs, Natural Resources which was just starting, they have it here, Supply and Services, Tourism and Culture and the Department of Transportation; if I took those 15 government departments and all of the employees, it doesn't come up to what we were spending the same year on debt in this province.

So, we could do away with those 15 departments and lay those thousands of employees off because that was the real philosophy in the former government. You know, let's pull an Ontario. Let's lay 10,000 people off. If they had been re-elected, people think they have it tough and they don't like some of our stuff now, oh, would they have had it tough under the Tory Regime. They would have laid off 5,000 or 8,000 Nova Scotians, that is what they would have done. And debt charges, education, I have already touched on that.

We have also implemented initiatives to attract doctors to rural Nova Scotia with a salary of $138,000 a year, plus some other initiatives. I know we are still having a problem and we will have for a few years because it takes about seven years for a doctor to graduate. What we are introducing now in the best interests of this province, should have been introduced in 1985, 1986 and 1987 and we should have been working with the medical schools at that time to develop programs to keep doctors here. I am pleased with the Minister of Health that we have and I know he takes a lot of criticism. A lot of it is unjust, because he is trying to resolve these situations and working very hard and I have confidence in him that he will. You just can't talk about it and put it under the table and forget about it, you have got to have leadership and you have got to have the ability to deal with those issues.

Salaries to medical school, what have we heard from the Opposition Parties? Have we heard the Opposition Parties put a program on the table with regard to signing a contract with the medical school to have 50 per cent of the people who graduate stay in the Province of Nova Scotia? Have we worked with them to say to the people who go to the medical school in this province, we will take you but you must sign a contract for five or eight years to serve Nova Scotia? Have I heard any of those ideas? Well, I stand here today and I think we have to look at all of those things and I am in support of those things. I know and the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid is also in agreement with that.

So, where are the programs? We hear a lot of talk about the Pharmacare Program and I want to stay on that for a minute. Under the Pharmacare Program, we have by far the best program in all of Canada, in the Province of Nova Scotia. I was in River Hebert today and an old gentleman came up to me and said, Mr. Brown, why are they all complaining about this

[Page 879]

Pharmacare Program; he said, it is the best thing that ever happened to us. And more people are understanding that as we go down the road.

Take the Province of New Brunswick. If you are not on GIS and to all of those people who are involved in this debate tonight, let me tell you, if you are a senior and you live in New Brunswick and if you are not on GIS, you would get no help for your Pharmacare Programs.

How about Newfoundland? If you are a resident in Newfoundland that was retired and 65 years of age, and you did not have the GIS, well, my friends, I have got news for you. You would have no drug program living in Newfoundland. I can go through many other provinces, which I have done already this year in the House of Assembly. So we have, by far, the best plan in all of Canada. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, in Cumberland County there is no doubt there are some government employees and municipal employees that are upset and disagree with some of the actions that we have taken, and I understand that. But, let me tell you, rolling the employees back 3 per cent was against my grain. It really was. I am not ashamed of that.

I want to tell you, we had a choice. We had a choice like you are seeing today in Ontario and you are seeing the federal government use. That choice was to roll people back about 3 per cent in salary or lay thousands off. Now, do you know who we would have had to lay off because of seniority? We would have had to lay off a lot of our bright, young public servants in this province that have graduated and are doing a good job for Nova Scotia.

So there was Guy Brown and I had a choice. I could lay thousands off or I could support a 3 per cent roll-back. Well, I took and supported the 3 per cent roll-back so that municipalities did not have to lay a lot of employees off, like they are now doing in Ontario, and so the provincial government did not have to lay thousands of people off.

I want to tell you about the teachers. We developed programs, Mr. Speaker, for many different people. The Minister of Education deserves a lot of credit in this province. Did we just lay the teachers off like was done in the past? What did he do? He went out and worked, even with some criticism, and developed an early retirement program for the teachers in Nova Scotia. I supported that. I am pleased that he did that. That is what you call a government with compassion. We thought about those teachers, 800-some took early retirement under that program. I will tell you, when I walk down the street today and see some of those retired teachers, I am pleased that we did not do like other provinces and just kick them out or lay the junior teachers off. We had compassion with regard to that issue, which I was very proud of.

Today, for the first time, people under health care, for the first time, in Oxford are now receiving blood tests and everything is done in their own community. I have thanked the Minister of Health. I have thanked the hospital boards, the Town of Oxford because they are supplying the space at no charge. But senior citizens today who used to have to hire a cab or hire somebody to take them from Oxford to Springhill are getting their blood tests done now two or three days a week right in the community of Oxford. God, what an improvement. What a blessing for those people that live in that small community. Some of them had to pay $20 or $30 a week for transportation to have these sort of tests done. That was worked out with a lot of people involved.

[Page 880]

I would like to see the same sort of thing worked out with regard to River Hebert, Joggins and Minudie, from the Amherst area. They can do that. We have a lovely new medical centre there and, Mr. Speaker, we can do those blood tests and that sort of thing, right there in the community. It saves those seniors hundreds and thousands of dollars a year when you look at the total community.

Now, let's talk a little bit about home care, just for a moment. I want to tell you, yes, there are some bugs that have to be worked out in the Home Care Program and I would be the first, after the minister, to admit that. We are working on it. We just can't talk about it and hope that the problem goes away, but we are working on that situation. Today, in Nova Scotia, we have 13,000 Nova Scotians who are benefitting from this program this year. What an accomplishment, something to be so proud of. This government should stand up and sing its praises with regard to this program all across Nova Scotia.

In Cumberland County, we now have 85 people who are employed in the Home Care Program. I talk to people every week. Yes, some don't like it but I want to tell you, the majority of them like it. They say to me, God, Guy, I never thought I could get this type of service before. As Dr. Stewart has often said - and let all of us remember this - there is more to health care than bricks and mortar, which I have said on the other side of the House. This government has developed the health care system with compassion and understanding, a system that will serve Nova Scotians well for the years to come. Or, do we want to go through the same thing as Ontario?

Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that there are thousands more Nova Scotians working today than there were when this government came in. We are not proud of the unemployment figures but we are trying to deal with it, this government, be it the caucus members, it is on the agenda regularly. I have a lot of colleagues in caucus and in Cabinet, as well, who deserve a great deal of credit with regard to their concerns over unemployment. We are working with it, we are trying to do something, but we can't, of course, do it alone and that is why the changes within our system, the major changes this government made under the credit union legislation two years ago and another one this past year, by the then honourable minister.

Major improvements for economic development in Nova Scotia. The Premier and this government deserve a lot of credit for their leadership, as well as the leadership from the private sector. We must continue, though, to put our finances in order and reduce the red tape to encourage private sector development and job creation in Nova Scotia. That is our role, and not only myself, not only the Premier and the government, but every one of my colleagues in this Assembly and I would hope, every member of the Opposition Parties, they would have that exact same role to develop long-term planning for Nova Scotia, jobs for our young.

When I first started to speak, I mentioned we should talk about our future but we also should not forget our past. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to all members of this Assembly, I say that we should check the past 15 years in Nova Scotia and then let people stand up and say, who is finally delivering and the type of job they are doing for Nova Scotia, my friends.

What else have we done? We have increased day care spaces in this province every year. Now I know there are some right-wingers who might be opposed to that, but let me tell you, for the poor and those in need, those day care spaces that we have added every year since we were elected, are important. Mr. Speaker, I stand here with a great deal of honour and pride in supporting day care spaces for Nova Scotia for each year that we have been elected in this province.

[Page 881]

During the time of restraint, we have managed to increase provincial social assistance to those in need. Yes, there have been some changes. We are also looking at helping more people move from welfare to lasting jobs. The Compass Program, and I want to tell you, I sat with them on the Opposition and I am so proud of the Minister of Community Services for this province because he has made a commitment to get around this province to meet with people. Not only that, he has shown compassion at every turn, he has dealt with issues that other governments had not dealt with when they knew the problem was there. I am not talking about just Tory Governments but I am talking about all governments over the years. This minister had the heart because he realizes what families are all about and he is trying to make some of those changes.

[9:15 p.m.]

Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services, I want to thank him for his commitment and what he is doing for family life and for families in Nova Scotia. I want him to know that I appreciate his efforts. (Applause)

As well, Mr. Speaker, the government has lowered income taxes for every Nova Scotian earning less than $29,000 a year. We have done that in this province, show me any other province. As Liberals and as a member of this government, that is what liberalism is all about. It is about day care spaces, it is about lowering income tax for the low income earners in this province, and every other program that we have introduced. It is about a 3 per cent roll-back instead of laying off thousands of Nova Scotians. That is liberalism. That is what I am proud of and I am proud to be part of it in this province.

Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that since we have come to office there are more people employed today. Fact number two, which I have already mentioned, 155,000 Nova Scotians with incomes under $29,000 a year have received income tax relief. Fact three, contrary to all the rumours and what people try to put out in society, we have over 100,000 senior citizens today registered under the best Pharmacare Program in Canada. Fact four, we expanded the home care to where 13,000 people will take advantage of it this year. Fact number five, we are trying to encourage, by working with the Medical Society and others, a program for new doctors in Nova Scotia. Fact six, the highway program.

You know, some people have said, what about the toll highway? Let me tell you this, Mr. Speaker. I sat here in this House and that crowd over there, the Tory Party of Nova Scotia, how come they could do Antigonish? How come they could do Colchester? How come they could do Amherst, around that area, and they left what they call the death valley area completely out, never spent any money on it and wouldn't deal with it in this province? An absolute disgrace when it comes to leadership with regard to our highway system. They are the ones who stand up and say it is death valley, they are the ones who make those statements, not me. They would not spend 5 cents on that section of the highway in all those years. They don't have a response because they know I am telling the truth.

Fact number seven, I sat in this Assembly for years and heard about the 911 number. Oh my God, it went on and on forever. What did we do? Now 911 has been placed in a lot of Nova Scotia. (Applause) I will tell you something else, Mr. Speaker, it will be completely in place all across Nova Scotia by the end of this year. That is compassion and that is rural Nova Scotia and that is what this government is all about.

[Page 882]

We talked about workers' compensation. When this government came into office we had an unfunded liability. The first month we were here somebody said, hey, you guys have a problem. A $400 million unfunded liability, that is what we ran into. You never saw that in any report before we arrived. I will tell you, we dealt with it. Now I know some people are opposed but we are dealing with it. Why are we dealing with it? Because we want to protect WCB for future generations in this province, that is why. (Applause) I want to tell you, Occupational Health and Safety, although the previous government started it, I am honoured to be involved in the bill we have before the House this year because we are going to make some changes and we are going to put more people in the field to work with the business community and not to work against them. All these facts make me very happy about the future of Nova Scotia.

When you look at this total program, what this government has done even in these difficult times, I am very proud and all Nova Scotians should be very proud of the activity and the leadership of this government. There are other areas that we are trying to protect and work with, and trying to work with those in need. Some of those have already been covered. The government is about family, and do not let any member of this House of Assembly ever forget that we are here to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Let me remind each member, it does not matter if they are in the NDP, the Tory or the Liberal caucus, that that should be your goal through every debate in this Assembly.

Recently, we have heard about - and I want to mention this just to show that everything the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley tries to talk about, the only thing is, he blew it the other day when he was trying to talk about the seniors because he thought it was more important to get kicked out of the House than to stay in here to debate the issue in a responsible manner - I want to tell you that we have heard about instances and threats lately about the abuse of our seniors, about people breaking into their homes, their cars and whatever. You know that attitude . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Gamblers.

MR. BROWN: Well, I tell you they do not gamble much in Springhill and it happens there. Do not try to cloud the issue. We have a problem. The attitude and the actions of these people that break into seniors' homes and into their cars and steal their purses, it is an absolute disgrace. It is deplorable to me how anybody in their right mind could break into a home and hit a senior citizen, or hit some senior citizen going down the street and take their purse. I believe the justice system, not this House, but the justice system which the honourable Attorney General, by working with the justice system and by working with the enforcement branch that I hope some day, because we can say whatever we want, the courts will decide what happens to the individuals, not this House of Assembly and, thank God, for that. (Interruption) That is right.

A lot of these values, with regard to schools, I have touched on education, and I know some people are opposed to school board amalgamation and some of them were opposed when the Tories cut the school boards down to 22. Some of them are still opposed today and some are opposed to us, but that makes our job more challenging because we have to ensure that the decisions we made were right and proper and we have to ensure that there is more money going into the classroom. If that does not happen, we cannot blame anybody but ourselves. That is our responsibility as a government and I feel good with regard to having that challenge.

[Page 883]

I believe the reforms under the community college, and especially the one in Springhill, are very positive. Let me tell you, I thank the Minister of Education; I thank his staff for finally moving on the Cumberland Community College of Springhill, in trying to bring some management values back into that operation. Where has the Opposition's plan been with regard to community colleges? They stand up and say not to close any, just keep things going, the status quo. I want to tell you, the status quo is not going to help my children or grandchildren, we have gone through that. Anybody who wants to check the history, there were major reforms in the 1950's, there were major reforms in the 1960's, there were more in the 1970's, under a great government that we had here. There were reforms in the 1980's and there will be reforms in the 1990's. Because if we do not reform, we will fall behind. So I believe the changes the minister made are very appropriate.

Mr. Speaker, I consider myself very fortunate to be the first elected member ever for the constituency of Cumberland South. I disagree, as I always have, with the size of the constituency, because for a provincial member it is wrong. But all Parties agreed to it. I am giving you my personal opinion and it was done by the previous government. (Interruption) Yes, Mr. Speaker, it was done by all Parties of this House.

Has the time now come, when we look at cutbacks and we look at reforms, has the time come that a government on the next review should look at 42, 39, 45 seats in the Province of Nova Scotia? Is the time here that we look at that? Now, some members may not buy it because they will say, oh, where do I go. Well, I have gone through the same thing. If you are the person for the job, you will be elected. If you are not the person for the job, you will go down the tubes, as they say in the back rooms. So, you know, is it time that we also look at that as elected members in this House from all political Parties? Is it time for that sort of reform?

The MLA for the area, my area, I cover everything from the Cumberland-Colchester County line at Folly Mountain to the Cumberland-Colchester County line at Five Islands and then down through to Advocate, Joggins and, don't ever forget it, Minudie, River Hebert, South Hampton, Oxford, Springhill and Parrsboro. It is a very large and massive constituency for someone like me who believes you should give personal service. My wife feels like divorcing me and saying, why do you keep doing this.

However, the constituency of Cumberland South, Mr. Speaker, is unique in so many ways. The Town of Oxford with its manufacturing, Oxford Frozen Foods, greenhouses and so on, where their help is needed is with regard to infrastructure. The Town of Springhill, which I always refer to as the heart of Cumberland County, because it is the centre of the county, in this area, we do need government services and we need government infrastructure.

But our economy has changed a great deal within Springhill as we have developed into a service economy, although we have Surrette Battery, W.R. Benjamin Products Ltd. and Ropak Canada Inc. and so on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Those batteries are no good anyway.

MR. BROWN: Well, you might say they are no good, but I think they are very good. Mr. Speaker, the Town of Parrsboro has not recovered from its loss of the Scott mill. We must become much more aggressive to resolve the serious unemployment situation in that area. Fishing has been an asset and I hope it continues to be and hopefully will continue to be an asset. The success story in Parrsboro is Metal Fabricators Ltd., which now employs over 100.

[Page 884]

I have to say this and some of my colleagues might get upset with me, but in the 1970's, under the Regan Government, that great reform government of the day, we used to give rural communities little incentive grants up to $10,000. I think we should look at considering a program like that again because that Parrsboro Metal Fabricators started under a grant like that. The honourable George Henley was the member. George and I went down there and we gave them $9,000 and some. They had about five employees. Today they have over 100 employees. They started from less than $10,000 in rural Nova Scotia.

The communities of River Hebert and Joggins could use the same type of program in that area for small industries and community manufacturing. The constituency of Cumberland South has great potential through tourism. The government and community must recognize that and we must take a step forward and we have, as a government, with the announcement of the Advocate-Chignecto parklands which was announced by the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency played a major role, with his staff in the Chignecto park and many more of my colleagues in government. But we must give the leadership as the government to develop these, along with working with the community.

[9:30 p.m.]

For years the previous government spent most of its borrowed money on the Trans Canada Highway. Our secondary roads are deplorable and fell into that state. Our present Minister of Transportation has introduced new measures in trying to rectify the very serious neglect over the past 15 years. Certainly, roads and infrastructure are an important support to the rural communities. Without decent roads, we don't have rural communities. I want to publicly (Interruption) God, you had 15 years to worry about the Valley, all of you, do you mean to tell me you didn't get it resolved? I want to publicly thank the Minister of Transportation and this government for refocussing on rural and secondary roads in the Province of Nova Scotia. Cumberland needs about 40 to 50 kilometres of upgrading each year, we know we can't get that much. I know this is difficult to obtain but I appreciate the minister's efforts and we will continue to work with him and move forward.

I am saving the best for the last and that is volunteer workers in the Province of Nova Scotia, volunteers do so much for this province. I spoke in Bible Hill with the honourable Minister of Natural Resources this past Saturday night to about 200 people. I want to tell you that there are two things I would want all members of this House to consider and I know it can't happen this year, the volunteer fire departments and volunteer firemen and firewomen damage their clothes a lot, hurt their cars. They go out and it costs them a lot of money a year to be a volunteer fireman. What we have to look at now in this day and age is maybe developing a provincial tax credit, up to $1,000, for all volunteer firemen in the Province of Nova Scotia to help them with their costs. We have to work on that and I know it won't be done this year but I am telling you that I think government and all elected people have got to work toward that.

The second thing is, in my life and in public life, if there is any group that really puts their hearts forward it is the ladies auxiliaries with the legions and churches and other groups. But I want to talk about the ladies auxiliary with the fire departments. (Interruption) No, I am not saying that. What I am saying is that all of these years, a lady can work with a volunteer fire department auxiliary for 40 years and the government has no certificate designed to give that lady. I think that is wrong when we can do it for everybody else within our society. Why have we ignored the women within our society? In working with the fire marshal, I have directed him that I want a certificate designed that we can give or MLAs can give to members of the ladies auxiliaries in this province.

[Page 885]

I want to thank all members of the House for this unique opportunity. Many other issues will be covered during the session. In my department, the Department of Labour, we will introduce changes to the workplace health and safety. In closing, I will vote for the Throne Speech. Why? Because that is the easiest question I ever had to answer in a long, long time. Well, we had 15 years of mismanagement, 15 years of lack of leadership, no new programs, no new philosophies. Remember when Brian Mulroney said, jobs, jobs, jobs? The Tories in Nova Scotia say, debt, debt, debt, that's all they talk about. We are turning things around in this province. The Throne Speech, I listed a whole bunch of issues. How anyone on that side of the House can get up and vote against this speech is beyond me.

Anyway, my support for the Premier and the plan of this government and the direction are sincere, Mr. Speaker. We have a Premier who has courage, a Premier who has leadership and compassion, a Premier who is trying to return the future of this province to its people. There is a whole new world of opportunities out there. This government, under its Throne Speech, is going to start developing those opportunities. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That concludes the Throne Speech debate.

It has been moved by the honourable member for Hants East and seconded by the honourable member for Victoria that the motion do pass.

An amendment to that motion was presented by the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, I believe. I cannot read the amendment, perhaps the Clerk can if it is necessary to read it, but we will be voting on the amendment first, the essence of which is that it expresses a want of confidence in the government and rejects the Speech from the Throne.

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

I declare the amendment carried in the negative.

We are now moving to the main motion, as moved by the honourable member for Hants East, that the motion do pass.

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

I declare the motion carried. (Applause)

Therefore, it is ordered that the Address as a whole do pass. It is ordered that the Address be engrossed and it is ordered that the Address be presented unto His Honour the Lieutenant Governor by such members of the House as are members of the Executive Council.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 886]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

Bill No. 9 - Meat Inspection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, who adjourned the debate.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak on Bill No. 9, An Act Respecting the Inspection and Sale of Meat and Meat Products. It is also a pleasure to follow the member for Cumberland South who gave a very cultivating and enthusiastic response to the Throne Speech.

Mr. Speaker, I did have a couple of concerns and I expressed them earlier to the Minister of Agriculture. Again I commend the minister for coming forward with this legislation. I know the minister and his staff worked extremely hard in drafting up this new legislation. The minister probably did have it ready, as the member for Colchester North mentioned in his response to Bill No. 9, that he probably would have liked to have introduced this during the last legislative session but because of different matters, he didn't do so. Nonetheless, we have it here before us.

One area of concern that I do have which I did not mention to the Minister of Agriculture is that this bill does not apply to the slaughter of, Clause 4(1)(a), "an animal owned by an individual where the meat or meat product of the animal will not be sold or exchanged for gain; (b) an animal by a producer for sale at the farmgate to a consumer where the consumer does not sell or intend to sell the meat or meat product or use the meat or meat product for other commercial purposes;". Madam Speaker, I note under regulations where the Minister of Agriculture, of course with the Governor in Council's blessing, Clause 32(1), "The Governor in Council may make regulations . . . (c) providing for the exemption from this Act or the regulations, or any part thereof, of any person or any class of persons or of any animal, meat or meat product or class of animals, meat or meat product and prescribing the terms and conditions of the exemption;".

So while the Governor in Council may exempt some people, and, of course, stating and prescribing the terms and conditions, I just wonder if perhaps the Minister of Agriculture when he closes and moves this on to the Law Amendments Committee, would give us some examples. I am wondering, some of the service clubs, Madam Speaker, sometimes, for example, the Lions Club, may have a friend who could donate a side of beef or a whole carcass, I am wondering if the Lions Club, for example, or some of our fire departments, may be exempt from this Act? If that is the case, perhaps instances and examples like that may be what the Minister of Agriculture has in mind.

I think I have essentially covered some of the concerns that I have. I do note though, should a person contravene this Act, I believe the fine is somewhere around $2,000 and/or six months in prison, but, yet, a corporation may violate this bill and the fine is around $10,000. It doesn't state that somebody from the corporation has to be held accountable. We would hate to see a corporation be treated any differently than a person although the fine, of course, seems to represent the fact that a person will operate most likely on a smaller scale. I don't believe that there is any imprisonment, so to speak, for a corporation. I am not sure whether or not that should be applicable, Madam Speaker, but I am sure the Minister of Agriculture has some views relative to that.

[Page 887]

I did mention that I had difficulty, Madam Speaker, with the fact that there is no definition relative to a retail shop. The minister and his staff, no doubt, have something in mind in terms of square footage perhaps or things along that line that would necessitate a retail shop being licensed. So I hope that the minister can perhaps enlighten us a little bit respecting that concern. But, other than that, those are my comments in second reading relative to Bill No. 9. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on Bill No. 9. The reason I am glad to be able to speak is because I don't have real concerns with the principle of the bill, itself. I think it is a good bill and I think it is one that we need. However, there have been a number of questions raised about the bill and I think actually I have answered some of my own questions. In the old Act - I think I have one here somewhere - under the definition of animal, we read in Section 2(a) that it ". . . means a domestic animal, the meat of which is red meat and is to be or intended to be used for human consumption and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, does not include poultry or rabbits;". Well, of course, I don't know if poultry and rabbit are red meat or white meat, but I suppose there is also brown meat in there somewhere, too. As I understand it, in the new bill, when they speak of the definition of animal, it is simply now described as a domestic animal, the meat of which is intended to be used for human consumption.

I have one fairly large meat works in my constituency, Madam Speaker, and I have a number of small farmers who do their own slaughtering in their barns and what have you. The question that was put to me was whether or not the new bill, in fact, covered poultry? To be quite honest, I had to look - I see the minister is nodding his head - in the dictionary and actually the definition of animal does cover poultry and actually also covers fish. But I assume that this legislation does not take into account the slaughtering, the packing, et cetera, of fish for human consumption.

One of the reservations that a person brought to my attention was the fact that custom butchering can still be done and meat packed for freezers, et cetera. There are a number of people, and I do not say just in my constituency, I think all across Nova Scotia, that drive around in refrigerated trucks and they sell meat packaged for freezers. The question was put to me, how can you determine whether or not that meat is actually coming from an inspected plant.

[9:45 p.m.]

I know that the minister is going to have meat that comes from an inspected plant stamped, but however once the meat is cut up, I am sure that you are not going to take every steak and stamp it. The question was put to me, what would stop a person, for instance, from having cattle butchered and cut up for freezer pieces and then going around and selling them to people with freezers.

I also had another question which was a little unusual and I do not know if somebody else spoke on this earlier or not. I know in my own riding, for instance, I have a farmer who contributes a side of beef to my constituency and we raffle that; I am going to have to speak louder, I guess, Madam Speaker . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. It is getting more difficult to hear the speaker who has the floor. Order, please.

[Page 888]

MR. RUSSELL: I was saying that a person who donates a side of beef for a lottery, does that have to come from an inspected abattoir or can it come from, for instance, what we use is just a farmer who goes out to his barn and slaughters a head of cattle, keeps half himself and gives half to us. He also gives it incidentally to other organizations, as well. He is a hobby farmer and he raises beef, not necessarily for profit, but as a hobby and he just wants to breaks even. He gives quite a lot of it away and I assume that from now on, he will have to move his beef to an inspected slaughterhouse before he can make that donation.

The other question that I had was that there are a number of meat parts and I understand it is liver, heart and those kind of things which are brought into the province for sale, particularly baby beef. I understood the minister to say that is all federally inspected, anything coming in from out of country.

I think that is all that I have to speak on. As I say, these were just some questions raised by people within my constituency, but everybody and when I say everybody, everybody that I spoke to who was involved in either slaughtering their own beef or having other people slaughter it for them or were, in fact, in the custom beef business, they all agreed that this was a worthwhile piece of legislation and one that is going to, indeed, be of usefulness to the beef industry in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Unfortunately, Madam Speaker, as you are well aware I am sure, we bring the majority of our beef into this province from out west or from other sources. It is a shame because we have, I think, the ability in this province to build ourselves a much larger beef industry than we presently have. There is certainly, I believe, a market for the product and it is a Nova Scotian product, it is supporting Nova Scotian farmers. I would encourage people, whenever possible, to buy Nova Scotian packed and slaughtered beef.

Madam Speaker, with those few words I will be voting in favour of Bill No. 9.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture to close the debate.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Thank you, Madam Speaker. First of all, I want to thank the members for their interest in the Meat Inspection Bill by taking the time to participate in the debate. I appreciate the emphasis made on the importance of the meat industry in this province and the high quality meat we produce. I am pleased to make a few closing remarks to answer questions or touch on some of the points raised by the members during this debate.

Clause 4 outlines the specific exemptions to enable a farmer to continue to sell meat directly to consumers. In addition, farmers will also be able to have another facility to do custom cutting and wrapping for them.

To answer the question about the retail shop at the farmgate, in Clause 4(2), this shop is one that would need or already have a licence to operate, such as a food shop's licence. Generally, Madam Speaker, these are places where a person could go in and buy a package of ground beef or a few steaks, pop, milk, as examples. These shops would have to sell inspected meat. The retail outlet will be clearly defined in the regulations.

A question was raised by the member for Kings West regarding meat used in fund raisers. We encourage these types of fund raising activities to continue and will be advising groups doing these that they will have to use inspected meat.

[Page 889]

Regarding the training for the inspectors under this bill, inspectors will be required to have both academic and practical training, with a two year agricultural diploma, with general knowledge of the agricultural industry, particularly in the area of animal agriculture. Inspectors will also have on-line training at a registered plant under veterinary supervision.

The administrator will be required to have a combination of education and experience. A minimum will be a Bachelor's degree with food hygiene experience, demonstrated abilities to manage staff, develop the team and coordinate a program will be essential. Accountability for an inspection system and resourcefulness will be key. Skills to provide for the ongoing training and the development of staff are also important, Madam Speaker. The administrator is bound by the Act and regulations and accountable for the decisions made. These positions will be filled according to Civil Service hiring practices.

The member for Hants West raised the question of whether or not poultry and rabbits were covered under this bill. This bill, Madam Speaker, covers all domestically produced meat, which includes rabbit and poultry.

In Clause 14(2), the Meat Inspection Advisory Board could dismiss appeals that are not consistent with the manner prescribed in the regulations. Clause 23 is separated because of the distinct differences between a private dwelling and place of business and this is consistent with other Acts.

Clause 28 generated questions about the nature of agreements we could enter into with the federal government and making sure we avoid two sets of inspection standards - federal and provincial. This clause gives us flexibility to take advantage of any opportunities that would benefit Nova Scotia's meat inspection system. Although we do not have any particular agreements in mind right now, the Act will provide for this as the opportunity arises.

With respect to the comments about two standards, the provincial and federal, there is ongoing work being done on a Canadian Food Inspection System. The intent of this new Canadian system is that the end product is the same, whether it is inspected in a provincial or federal plant.

The example about the sausage maker using inspected meat, currently that meat processor has to have two licences - a retail one and one from the Department of Agriculture and Marketing. Eventually, only one licence will be required, once we get things sorted out. Through the Memorandum of Understanding we already have with the Department of the Environment, we expect to have agreements worked out so only one licence would be required for these operators.

The member for Pictou West raised a question in regard to the construction standards. Clause 29, Madam Speaker, refers to the construction standards and there was concern expressed about what would be required. The standards in this bill are to be based on health and safety, whereas the federal ones are based on health and safety along with standards demanded by external trading partners. Our system will be outcome based and will allow the industry to reach standards in more than one way so standards will be reasonably achievable.

Examples of operational and construction standards that will be included are: an adequate supply of potable water; sufficient lighting to do a thorough inspection; plant design to prevent cross-contamination between raw and finished product; and adequate refrigeration.

[Page 890]

During the phase-in period, any practice or equipment that an inspector would note during the inspection that could affect the health and safety of the end product are ones that are to be dealt with right away. The additional $200,000 funding for this program will be provided through streamlining, restructuring of some program changes within our department.

The producers will not pay licensing fees because our focus right now is to encourage producers to be part of this Meat Inspection Program and improve their standards and their facilities. Industry development assistance will also be available for people to apply for under the Agri-Focus 2000 Program to assist them in the construction standards and/or marketing initiatives. For the many producers selling direct, it will be business as usual; so they will not be affected by this bill.

I just want to go back to Clauses 4 and 21 again, so that it is clear to everyone. If I am a farmer, I can sell my meat direct to a consumer at the farmgate if that meat is not for resale. I can slaughter, cut up and wrap that meat in my own meat plant. If this is the only kind of sales I do, then my plant does not need to be licensed. I can also get someone else to slaughter, cut up and wrap my meant for me at their unlicensed meat plant.

I can also take a carcass of uninspected meat to a licensed meat plant to have it custom-cut and wrapped there. That plant has to ensure it keeps my meat separate from inspected meat. I can also go to a licensed meat plant and have my meat go through the inspection process.

In Nova Scotia, we currently have 15 meat plants and 20 meat processing plants enrolled in the voluntary program in this province, along with four federally inspected facilities. We expect to see an additional 10 to 12 plants enrol under this program.

How will Nova Scotia meat be marketed? Clause 2 of this bill provides for the department to promote the agricultural industry. Department staff will be working with the industry, retailers, et cetera, to promote Nova Scotia meat. The Taste of Nova Scotia Program is an example of an initiative that markets quality Nova Scotia products, including meat. Also, I encourage all of us to ask our local retailers to carry Nova Scotia meat. We can also do our part.

Let me summarize by referring to the comment that this bill not be so regulatory that it prevents plants from coming on the program.

Our first goal is to work with our clients and that is what the Department of Agriculture and Marketing is known and recognized for. Let me refer back to one of the principles in this bill, " . . . that government provide a responsible, effective, fair, timely and efficient administrative and regulatory system, recognizing that whenever practical, it is essential to promote the purpose of this Act primarily through non-regulatory means such as co-operation, communication, education and partnerships.".

In closing, I believe I have touched on the main points raised in the debate. I move second reading and thank all the members for their input and for listening. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 9.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 891]

Ordered that this bill proceed to the Law Amendments Committee.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. and the order of business, following the Oral Question Period, will be Public Bills for Second Reading, beginning with Bill No. 10.

I would move that we adjourn until 2:00 o'clock tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 2:00 o'clock tomorrow.

[The House rose at 9:59 p.m.]

[Page 892]



By: Mr. Allister Surette (Argyle)

J'avise par les présentes que je proposerai à une date ultérieure l'adoption de la proposition suivante:

Attendu que le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse considère que l'éducation est extrêmement importante pour le développement de nos générations futures; et

Attendu qu'une éducation de qualité a une influence directe sur le développement économique de notre province et sur le développement durable des régions; et

Attendu que la création d'un conseil scolaire acadien provincial permettra aux régions acadiennes et francophones de notre province de garantir le développement en français de citoyens responsables et compétents;

Par conséquent qu'il soit décidé que nous proposons, puisque la semaine dernière était reconnu comme la semaine de l'éducation, que le gouvernement reconnaisse l'importance de l'éducation ainsi que des intervenants et intervenante en éducation.