The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Apr. 24, 1996

Fourth Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 959
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: Casinos - Oppose, Mr. R. White 960
Justice - Correctional Centres: Privatization - Oppose, Mr. B. Taylor 960
Justice - Correctional Centres: Privatization - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm 960
Justice - Correctional Centres: Privatization - Oppose, Mr. A. MacLeod 960
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. W. Gillis 961
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. W. Gillis 961
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Justice - Civil Procedure Rules Amendments, Hon. W. Gillis 961
Fin. - GST: Administration - Improvements, Hon. B. Boudreau 961
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Agriculture and Marketing,
Hon. W. Gaudet 962
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 304, ERA - Tourism: Stonehaven Motel (Port Mouton) -
South Shore Assoc. Recognition Congrats., Mr. J. Leefe 962
Vote - Affirmative 962
Res. 305, Justice - Correctional Centres: Privatization - Halt,
Mr. J. Holm 963
Res. 306, Commun. Serv. - Volunteer Award: Mr. Eldridge Densmore
(Bedford-Fall River) - Congrats., Mrs. F. Cosman 963
Vote - Affirmative 964
Res. 307, Secretaries: Contribution - Recognize, Mr. J. Casey 964
Vote - Affirmative 964
Res. 308, Commun. Serv. - Volunteer Award: Mr. Terry Isenor
(Hants East) - Congrats., Mr. R. Carruthers 964
Vote - Affirmative 965
Res. 309, ERA - Tourism: Bluenose II Ownership - Willie Moore Remind,
Mr. J. Leefe 965
Res. 310, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Effect - Wallets Watch,
Mr. R. Chisholm 965
Res. 311, Fin. - Budget: Balanced - Congrats., Mr. G. Fogarty 966
Res. 312, Recreation - Lake District Assoc. (Sackville):
Contribution - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 966
Vote - Affirmative 967
Res. 313, Secretaries - Work: Appreciation - Extend, Mr. D. Richards 967
Vote - Affirmative 967
Res. 314, Enterprise C.B. - Crew Productions (New Waterford):
Video Award (American Econ. Dev. Council) - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacNeil 968
Vote - Affirmative 968
Res. 315, Hfx. Reg. Mun.: Good Gov't. - Provide, Mr. B. Holland 968
Res. 316, Fin.: Fiscal Responsibility - Congrats., Mr. R. Carruthers 969
Res. 317, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Action - Condemn,
Mr. R. Chisholm 969
Res. 318, Hammonds Plains Vol. Fire Dep't. (Chief Michael Casey):
Service - Appreciation, Mr. William MacDonald 969
Vote - Affirmative 970
Res. 319, Commun. Serv. - Volunteer Award: Judy Atkinson (Argyle) -
Congrats., Mr. A. Surette 970
Vote - Affirmative 970
Res. 320, Educ. - Auburn Drive H.S.: Music/Drama (N.Y. City Trip) -
Success Extend, Mr. D. Richards 971
Vote - Affirmative 971
Res. 321, Commun. Serv. - Volunteer Awards: Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury
Recipients - Congrats., Mr. R. White 971
Vote - Affirmative 972
Res. 322, Volunteers: Shelburne Co. - Commend, Mr. C. Huskilson 972
Vote - Affirmative 972
Res. 323, Recreation - Lake District Assoc. (Sackville): Contribution -
Appreciation, Mr. William MacDonald 973
Vote - Affirmative 973
Res. 324, Lbr. - Firefighters' School (Waverley): Importance -
Recognize, Mrs. F. Cosman 973
Vote - Affirmative 974
Res. 325, Clare Organization Rep. Disabilities - Transport. System:
Dev. - Congrats., Hon. W. Gaudet 974
Vote - Affirmative 974
Res. 326, Commun. Serv. - Volunteer Award: Mr. Edward Mannette
(Eastern Shore) - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 974
Vote - Affirmative 975
Res. 327, Lions Club (N.S.) - Annual Convention (Port Hawkesbury):
Welcome - Extend, Mr. R. White 975
Vote - Affirmative 976
Res. 328, Educ. - Prince Andrew H.S.: Reach for the Top Finals -
Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 976
Vote - Affirmative 976
Res. 329, YMCA - Volunteer of the Year: Ginny Smith (Argyle) -
Congrats., Mr. A. Surette 976
Vote - Affirmative 977
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, Hon. W. Gaudet 977
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 149, Commun. Serv. - Debra Stevens: Compensation Negotiations -
Status, Dr. J. Hamm 977
No. 150, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Results, Mr. R. Chisholm 979
No. 151, Environ. - Sydney River: Lead Contamination - Details,
Mr. A. MacLeod 981
No. 152, Environ. - Sydney River: Lead Contamination - Solution,
Mr. A. MacLeod 982
No. 153, Justice - Jails: Privatization - Plans, Mr. T. Donahoe 983
No. 154, Nat. Res. - NSRL: PanCanadian - Sale, Mr. G. Archibald 984
No. 155, Justice - Jails: Privatization - Plans, Mr. J. Holm 986
No. 156, Commun. Serv. - Debra Stevens: Compensation - Negotiations,
Dr. J. Hamm 987
No. 157, Health - Reg. Boards: Hants East - Alignment, Mr. B. Taylor 988
No. 158, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Mr. Robert MacKay - Payment,
Mr. G. Archibald 989
No. 159, Health - Air Ambulance: Contract - Re-Tender, Mr. G. Moody 990
No. 160, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Job Loss - Details,
Mr. R. Chisholm 990
No. 161, Environ.: Resource Recovery Fund - Accounting Practices,
Mr. B. Taylor 992
No. 162, Fin. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment: Tolls -
Agric. Exemption, Mr. R. Russell 993
No. 163, ERA - IMP Plant (C.B.): Workers' Request - Respond,
Mr. A. MacLeod 994
No. 164, Environ. - Recycling: Apartment Dwellers - Enhance,
Mr. J. Leefe 995
No. 165, Women, Status of - Advisory Council: Appointments - Process,
Mr. D. McInnes 996
No. 166, Justice - C.B. Reg. Hosp.: Suicides - Public Inquiry,
Mr. R. Chisholm 997
No. 167, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Mechanical Branch (Pictou Co.) -
Closure, Dr. J. Hamm 999
No. 168, Fin. - Derivatives: Use - Confirm, Mr. R. Russell 1000
No. 169, Sysco: Coke Ovens - Clean-Up, Mr. J. Holm 1001
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 125, Fin. - Taxation: PST & GST Harmonization - Impact,
Mr. R. Russell 1003
Mr. R. Russell 1003
Hon. B. Boudreau 1006
Mr. R. Chisholm 1009
Mr. T. Donahoe 1012
Res. 12, Health - Budget Cuts: Effect - Change, Mr. G. Moody 1016
Mr. G. Moody 1016
Hon. G. Brown 1019
Mr. R. Chisholm 1021
Mr. A. MacLeod 1023
H.O. 2, Carried 1026
H.O. 3, Stands 1027
H.O. 4, Carried 1027
H.O. 5, Carried 1028
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Volunteerism - Encourage:
Mr. J. Casey 1028
Mr. J. Leefe 1030
Mr. R. Chisholm 1032
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 25th at 2:00 p.m. 1033
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 330, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sydney-Glace Bay Hwy.
(Reserve Mines): Improvements - Make, Mr. R. MacNeil 1034
Res. 331, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Lingan (MacLellan Heights) -
Pave, Mr. R. MacNeil 1034
Res. 332, Health: New Waterford Physiotherapy - Applaud,
Mr. R. MacNeil 1034
Res. 333, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: River Ryan (Hillview Rd.) -
Pave, Mr. R. MacNeil 1035
[Page 959]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 24, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask all spectators in the gallery to please observe silence while the House is in session. We have rules here. We do not want any interruptions from the galleries whatever.

Now, I ask the members of the House to come to order and if there are any introductions of guests who are in our midst.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the attention of all members of this House, through you, sir, the correctional officers of Nova Scotia who are in the east gallery led by their President, Mr. Foulkes. Of course, they are here to show their concern with regard to privatization of the correctional offices. I would ask all members of this great Assembly to recognize them and appreciate their efforts by being here today. (Applause)

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

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the members of our House of Assembly, in the east gallery we have the Grade 8 class, accompanied by their teacher Don Houle, from the Bedford Junior High School. They also have five adult chaperones with them: Mr. Goddard, Mr. McLellan, Mrs. MacDonald, Mrs. Taylor and Mrs. McCormick. I would ask that the members of the House extend to them their warm welcome and I would ask them if they would please stand. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further introductions of visitors? If not, we will commence the daily routine.

959

[Page 960]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition on behalf of 11 residents of Isaac's Harbour in Guysborough County who are against the continuing operation of casinos in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, before I table this petition, I would like to thank the Minister of Labour for his introduction of the correctional officers. I hope his enthusiasm is as profound against privatization as it is relative to the introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a petition?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the correctional officers in the Province of Nova Scotia who are opposed to the privatization of correctional facilities in Nova Scotia. My petitions are from correctional centres in Colchester County, Halifax, Lunenburg, Yarmouth and there is also a petition attached from the directors of the Local 480 Correctional Officers Union of the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union and I have signed it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, and my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, want to add our welcome to the correctional officers here who are here to represent their concerns with respect to privatizing correctional facilities.

I beg leave to table a petition, Mr. Speaker, the operative clause of which reads, "We, the undersigned are opposed to the privatization of the Correctional Facilities in the Province of Nova Scotia.". We have about 70 signatures on these petitions, one from the Kings Correctional Centre, Antigonish Correctional Centre, Cumberland Correctional Centre and the Guysborough Centre. I have tabled these en bloc and affixed my signature to the front copy.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the Cape Breton Correctional Centre workers who are also opposed to the privatization and I have affixed my name to the end of the petition as required.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 961]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 6 - Animal Cruelty Prevention Act.

Bill No. 8 - Court and Administrative Reform Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 2 - Securities Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Justice and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table Amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on March 29, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the information I undertook to do yesterday regarding the over 100 improvements administratively to the GST made by the federal government and introduced in the House of Commons yesterday.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

[Page 962]

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing Annual Report for 1994-95.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 304

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

Whereas Stonehaven Motel in Port Mouton has been providing excellent service to the travelling public for 27 years; and

Whereas the personalized service offered by owner and operator Anna MacKenzie has ensured a continuing clientele who enjoy the beauty of Mouton Bay and local beaches including Carter's Beach, Southwest Port Mouton and the joys of the Kejimkujik National Park adjunct; and

Whereas the neatly ordered gardens and motel facilities overlooking the picturesque harbour of Port Mouton and the archipelago of Mouton Bay offer guests an experience not to be bested;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulates Anna MacKenzie of Stonehaven Motel, Port Mouton, on the occasion of well-deserved recognition bestowed upon her by the South Shore Tourism Association for her contribution to tourism on Nova Scotia's South Shore.

I beg leave of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 963]

RESOLUTION NO. 305

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 Minister of Justice is in the final stages of evaluating the proposal for the Custody Configuration Project which, when awarded, will see a private-for-profit company manage the construction and/or operation of correctional facilities; and

Whereas research in the United States and elsewhere in the world has shown that when private-for-profit companies take control of the management of correctional facilities, the results have been lower wages, lower quality control, lower standards and a loss of control by the government over a vital part of the justice system; and

Whereas the two companies now vying for the contract are the American company Esmor Correctional Services Inc., and a consortium called Atlantic Corrections group, which also has an American company component;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Minister of Justice to halt the process that will see profit making by American companies at the expense of Nova Scotians, including correctional workers and prisoners, and a loss of accountability when private-for-profit companies take over the management of parts of the justice system. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

I have already said that there is to be no applause from the galleries. The galleries will have to be cleared if there are further outbursts in the galleries.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 306

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

Whereas this week celebrates Provincial Volunteer Week to honour the outstanding contribution made by thousands of volunteers who, by their service, help strengthen the common good of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Eldridge Densmore from the riding of Bedford-Fall River received a Provincial Volunteer Award, on April 18th, as the community of Bedford's Representative Volunteer; and

[2:15 p.m.]

Whereas Mr. Densmore, who has been an active community volunteer with the Royal Canadian Legion for the past 37 years, is representative of the many outstanding volunteers from the riding who give so freely of their time and energy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Eldridge Densmore for his exemplary volunteer spirit and acknowledge the outstanding service which countless volunteers offer so generously to their fellow citizens.

[Page 964]

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 307

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

Whereas secretaries are key members of the management team in all our workplaces and have shown important leadership in preparing for the many challenges that await us in the next century; and

Whereas in all sectors of industry, business and government, secretaries have taken up the challenge of the future by developing skills and capabilities that make our workplaces more competitive; and

Whereas this week of April 22 to April 26, 1996 has been proclaimed National Secretaries Week and also, this day, Wednesday, April 24th, Professional Secretaries Day;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with the sponsors of these observances, Professional Secretaries International, in recognition of the vital contribution made by secretaries, not only to their employers but to their communities as well.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 308

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

Whereas volunteers form the backbone and lifeblood of our communities, providing untold hours of community service; and

[Page 965]

Whereas this week we honour all of our volunteers through Provincial Volunteer Week; and

Whereas Mr. Terry Isenor, a well-known and respected community volunteer has been chosen as the 1996 Representative Volunteer from Hants East;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly pay tribute to the many thousands of volunteers across Nova Scotia who give so freely of their time and talent to foster the common good, while honouring Mr. Terry Isenor of the constituency of Hants East and all of this year's provincial representative volunteers.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 309

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

Whereas hundreds of schooners have called Nova Scotia ports home for two centuries; and

Whereas Willie Moore is sending dunning letters to Nova Scotia businesses and perhaps to the Canadian Mint, who knows, trying to claim ownership of virtually everything having to do with schooners as belonging to Schooner Bluenose Foundation; and

Whereas schooner images, whether associated with Bluenose or any other schooner, are deemed by Nova Scotians, excepting apparently Willie Moore, to be very much in the public domain;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency call Willie Moore and remind him that the Bluenose belongs to all Nova Scotians and that he immediately, to use Mr. Moore's own words, cease and desist from harassing Nova Scotian artists, artisans and businesses respecting sale of items bearing representations of schooners.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 310

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

[Page 966]

Whereas Nova Scotians awoke to the news this morning that the GST had not gone away but, in fact, increased by 114 per cent; and

Whereas the government has risen to the challenge of making this bad news into good news with its, "One Tax: Many Advantages", advertising campaign; and

Whereas this campaign has the same desperate quality about it as the, "Your Dime", campaign that's trying to sell the government's ill-conceived beverage container tax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House warn Nova Scotians to watch their wallets because when the government starts running ads, it is a sure sign that a tax rip-off is on the way.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 311

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

Whereas the honourable member for Hants West stated in this House yesterday, "It is no big deal to balance a budget . . ."; and

Whereas when the honourable member for Hants West was a member of government for 15 years, from 1978 to 1993, that government failed to balance the budget; and

Whereas the last balanced budget tabled in this Legislature was tabled by a Liberal Government;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Minister of Finance for being the first Minister of Finance in 15 years to introduce a balanced budget. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 312

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 Lake District Recreation Association of Sackville, itself a volunteer organization, will be hosting its 17th Annual Volunteer Appreciation Evening tonight; and

Whereas the residents of Sackville have and continue to benefit greatly due to the unselfish efforts of hundreds of community volunteers who generously contribute their time, talents and resources for the betterment of their community; and

[Page 967]

Whereas Foster Burke was selected from among many deserving individuals to be honoured as Volunteer of the Year for Sackville, in recognition of his many years of exemplary service to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends its congratulations and appreciation to the Lake District Recreation Association, the individuals to be honoured at tonight's Volunteer Appreciation Evening and all others who have contributed so much to improve the quality of life for residents of the greater Sackville area.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 313

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

Whereas this week is set aside to acknowledge the professional service of secretaries; and

Whereas the Liberal Government Caucus Office is enhanced with the dedication and hard work of secretarial assistance; and

Whereas with this dedication and commitment, businesses and governments alike are able to ensure the efficient delivery of services;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend best wishes and appreciation to the valued work of all secretaries during this Secretaries Week and throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 968]

RESOLUTION NO. 314

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

Whereas Cape Breton was at centre stage during last week's annual meeting in Colorado of the American Economic Development Council, earning winning honours in two categories of the 1996 sales literature and promotional materials competition; and

Whereas New Waterford-based Crew Productions won top honours in its category for the promotional video entitled Break with Convention; and

Whereas Enterprise Cape Breton's tourism brochure, Guide to Nova Scotia's Masterpiece, won a top prize in its category;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud New Waterford's Crew Productions and Enterprise Cape Breton for their excellence in tourism marketing and production.

I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 315

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

Whereas Metro Halifax amalgamation is a fact of life that will save the Halifax Regional Municipality millions of dollars; and

Whereas the mayor and several municipal councillors are not helping the new municipality operate efficiently but, rather, they blame the provincial government for their every problem, including changes in the weather; and

Whereas the mayor and some members of council are misleading the public into believing that increased taxes will be a result of sales tax harmonization, instead of following the provincial example of taking responsibility for their own budget;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize our provincial government for providing good government while urging the Halifax Regional Municipal Council to roll up their sleeves, stop whining and get to work to provide good government for the people of the new regional municipality.

[Page 969]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for East Hants.

RESOLUTION NO. 316

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

Whereas from 1978 to 1993 the Tory Government of Nova Scotia failed to balance the budget; and

Whereas during this same period the Tory Government not only failed to produce a balanced budget, but also ran up a debt of $8 billion; and

Whereas this debt accumulated by the Tory Government brought this province to the brink of bankruptcy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the present government for reversing this fast track to bankruptcy and bringing fiscal responsibility back to government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 317

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

Whereas the Savage Liberal Government campaigned in 1993 on an election promise of no new taxes; and

Whereas yesterday, the Savage Government announced a major tax increase on electricity and home heating oil; and

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians are already struggling, after years of wage roll-back and high unemployment, to pay the costs of heating their homes and apartments;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the actions of the government for its decision to once again attack workaday Nova Scotians in the pursuit of its back-room harmonization deal.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 318

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

[Page 970]

Whereas Michael Casey, after serving 15 years as fire chief, has recently retired from the Hammonds Plains Volunteer Fire Department; and

Whereas Mr. Casey has been a volunteer firefighter for 27 years; and

Whereas during his years as both a firefighter and chief, Mr. Casey contributed significantly to the growth and development of the Hammonds Plains Volunteer Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to Michael Casey its appreciation for his many years of service to his community and wish him many enjoyable years of retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

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

Whereas the Provincial Volunteer Awards ceremony was held last week at the World Trade and Convention Centre; and

Whereas being a volunteer takes much time and effort; and

Whereas Judy Atkinson dedicates her time and skills year after year in support of various community projects and events;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to Judy Atkinson, Provincial Volunteer of the Year for the Municipality of Argyle.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 971]

RESOLUTION NO. 320

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

Whereas the Auburn Drive High School music students and the drama students will be travelling to New York City, April 23rd to April 29th to participate in competition and in workshops; and

Whereas in addition to competing in the Festival of Music competition, the 68 music students will be participating in clinics on instrumental playing presented by professional musicians from Offstage New York; and

Whereas the 30 drama students will attend two clinics under the direction of the New York Actors Equity Guild;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly recognize teachers, staff, students and parents for their many fundraising efforts, extend best wishes to the students for a safe and successful trip and applaud the outstanding efforts of the two teachers, Band Director James Williams and Drama Director Mildred Hunt.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 321

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

Whereas Nova Scotia and Canada celebrate National Volunteer Week from April 21st to April 27th; and

Whereas in the riding of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, thousands of individuals volunteer their services to supporting fellow citizens in a myriad of common-good activities; and

Whereas the following six volunteers in the riding of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury received Provincial Volunteer Awards as 1996 Representative Volunteers: Robert Allan MacKinnon, Municipality of the County of Inverness; John B. Cloake, Town of Port Hawkesbury; Curtis DeCoste, Municipality of the District of Guysborough; Kevin (Kelly) MacDonald, Town of Mulgrave; Gertie Grant, Town of Canso; and Doris Jordan, Municipality of the District of St. Mary's;

[Page 972]

[2:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly join me in saluting the invaluable contribution made by these six volunteers to the community and acknowledge the thousands of other volunteers throughout the constituency of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury who contribute so significantly to enhancing the quality of life in our region of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 322

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

Whereas it is obvious that the enthusiastic spirit of volunteers enhance almost every aspect of Shelburne County life; and

Whereas national Volunteer Week is one way to remind us of the influence volunteers have on life in Nova Scotia and to honour their contributions; and

Whereas many volunteers from the Town of Shelburne, the Municipality of Shelburne and the Town of Lockeport were recognized last evening, April 12, 1996 at the Lockeport Recreation Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly commend the many hard-working Shelburne County volunteers for their commitment, enthusiasm and caring attitude.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

[Page 973]

RESOLUTION NO. 323

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

Whereas the Lake District Recreation Association serves the recreational needs of the greater Sackville-Beaverbank community; and

Whereas this evening, the Lake District Recreation Association will be holding its annual volunteer appreciation dinner; and

Whereas the volunteers who will be recognized this evening have given many hours of their valuable time to serve the members of their community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends to these volunteers its sincere appreciation for their many hours of service to their fellow citizens.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

RESOLUTION NO. 324

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 Nova Scotia Fire School in Waverley provides essential training to firefighters from across Nova Scotia, having trained over 4,000 students last year, an all-time high in the school's 25-year history; and

Whereas Labour Minister Guy Brown has recently provided government's annual funding to the fire school;

Whereas the vital training given at the Nova Scotia Fire School and across the province, through its mobile training unit, helps save lives, reduce fire losses and increase safety for all firefighters;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the importance of the fire school and the volunteers who work there, and provide continued support to this facility.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to request waiver.

[Page 974]

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 Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. WAYNE FRASER: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to the House, it is my honour to introduce the Westville High School, Grade 12 Occupational Preparation Program Law Class, who are here today with their teacher, Bruce Moore. I would ask them to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 325

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

Whereas on Saturday, March 30, 1996 a transportation service was commenced in Clare for seniors and persons with disabilities; and

Whereas Clare is fortunate to have a group of volunteers who are sparing no effort to offer this new transport service for special groups of Clare residents; and

Whereas this project is a true example of community effort;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its best wishes and congratulations to the Clare Organization Representing Disabilities and its Chairman, Claredon Robicheau, for all their work to develop this transportation system.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 326

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

[Page 975]

Whereas, this week, Nova Scotia unites with the entire country to celebrate National Volunteer Week; and

Whereas volunteers along the Eastern Shore and throughout Nova Scotia form the very core and fibre of our communities by uniting them and promoting the common good; and

Whereas Eastern Shore resident, Mr. Edward Mannette, has been chosen the 1996 Representative Volunteer from the community of Halifax County, as a part of Provincial Volunteer Week;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Mannette for receiving this Provincial Volunteer Award, and acknowledge the dedicated efforts of countless volunteers who uphold and promote the life of our local communities along the Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver 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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 327

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

Whereas this weekend, April 26th to April 28th, the Lions Club of the District of Nova Scotia is holding its annual convention in Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas there are 70 Lions Clubs, with 2,100 active members in the District of Nova Scotia, who each year raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable purposes; and

Whereas this year's honoured guests include an International Director of the Lions Club, Mr. Charles Weir of Madison, Wisconsin; and District of Nova Scotia Governor, Mr. Charles Uhlman of Mahone Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly extend a cordial welcome to everyone attending the Annual Convention of the Lions Club of the District of Nova Scotia, and to the convention Chair, Mr. Gordon Johnson, of the Port Hawkesbury Lions Club, and express on behalf of all Nova Scotians our sincere appreciation for the exemplary volunteer service undertaken by the 70 Lions Clubs throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

[Page 976]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 328

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

Whereas on April 20, 1996, Prince Andrew High School, in Dartmouth East, defeated three other regional winners to become the Nova Scotia Provincial School Reach For The Top Champions; and

Whereas from May 11 to May 15, 1996, they will represent Nova Scotia at the National Reach For The Top Finals to be held at the University of Toronto; and

Whereas this honour represents many hours of practice and studying, in addition to their regular school work and extracurricular activities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Ian Harrison, Mathew MacKinnon, Shaun MacMillan and Ernest Tan on becoming provincial champions, and wish them and their teacher-coach, Peigi Duncan, all the best as they go on to represent Nova Scotia at the National Reach For The Top Finals.

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.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 329

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

Whereas on Monday, April 22nd, during the 1996 YMCA Volunteer Award ceremony, tributes were paid to a dedicated resident from the Municipality of Argyle; and

Whereas Ginny Smith, the YMCA Whitecaps Swim Team's head coach, was recognized for 25 years of volunteerism; and

Whereas many children and young adults have gained valuable skills as a result of her efforts;

[Page 977]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to the 1996 YMCA Volunteer of the Year, Ginny Smith.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Are there any further notices of motion? If not, I have a request from the honourable Government House Leader to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board Annual Report for 1994-95.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

Are there any further items under the heading of the daily routine to come before the House? If not, we will advance to Orders of the Day.

The Oral Question Period today lasts for 90 minutes. The time now being 2:40 p.m., the Oral Question Period, therefore, will last until 4:10 p.m. So we will commence now with Oral Questions Put By Members.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV. - DEBRA STEVENS: COMPENSATION NEGOTIATIONS - STATUS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Premier will recall very clearly that the Koster-Hillier report indicated that the province has a responsibility to the victims of abuse as described in that report and that, in fact, they were the victims of a systems failure. The Premier will also remember that when it was suggested that the province name Debra Stevens as a co-defendant in legal action, when there was a public outcry against this particular approach, that the Premier became involved and he ordered that the matter be settled once and for all. That was almost two months ago.

My question to the Premier, will the Premier confirm today that, in fact, negotiations have again fallen apart and that the matter is still not settled?

[Page 978]

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I can neither confirm nor deny that. The Minister of Community Services may have information that I am not privy to at this point but I cannot comment on that.

DR. HAMM: The minister has no comment?

MR. SPEAKER: Well, you asked your question to the Premier.

DR. HAMM: And he referred it to the Minister of Community Services.

MR. SPEAKER: It is your turn, sir.

DR. HAMM: Well, I guess I will ask the Minister of Community Services. I presume he heard my preamble to the Premier on my first question but in case the minister did not hear, the minister needs no reminder of the fact that the Koster-Hillier report indicated very clearly that the province had a responsibility to, among others, the Stevens family. As well, the minister will remember when it was suggested that the province would name Debra Stevens as a co-defendant in the case in legal action, that the Premier became involved and suggested that this would not occur and in fact ordered that the matter be settled once and for all.

My question, then, to the Minister of Community Services, will the minister confirm here today that negotiations have again fallen apart and that the fact of the matter is that there is no settlement nearer today than there was months ago?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, on this issue that the honourable member brings before the House, there was no notification in my office, as Minister of Community Services, prior to coming to the House at 2:00 p.m. today that there was any change in the process that we have set in place that is dealing with this particular issue.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue, the Minister of Community Services is telling the House that he has no information indicating that there is a problem with negotiations between the province and Debra Stevens and her representation. Is that what the minister is telling the House?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have a process in place. We are dealing with the Department of Justice and senior members of my own department. We are not dealing with this issue in the media. That placed us at a great disadvantage on many occasions. If that member has some information that he wants to bring before the House today, I think he should do so. He has asked me the question. I have answered as honestly as I can, as I have on other occasions. This is a very sensitive, confidential matter. There has been no change. We have a process in place and as far as I am concerned, I have not been notified by any one, any parties or any lawyer representing those parties, of any change in that process.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I call on the next questioner, I had neglected to advise the House that the Clerk had conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. The subject is:

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage volunteerism in all its forms during Volunteer Week.

[Page 979]

The winner is the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis. So we will hear discussion on that at 6:00 p.m.

With the next question, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - RESULTS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Minister of Finance. It has to do with the harmonization plan. The minister is telling Nova Scotians that this expanded GST, this GST that has been increased by 114 per cent, is going to be good for consumers because businesses will pass on their savings to consumers. He has acknowledged that there will be some winners, there will be some losers but overall he suggested that it will be good for consumers.

Mr. Speaker, in the Halifax-Chronicle Herald this morning the Atlantic head of the Canadian Federation of Business seems less certain. In fact it was indicated there that with respect to the business being in a position to pass on those savings, I believe it was suggested that his response was, perhaps.

[2:45 p.m.]

I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, what steps will he take to ensure that the savings realized by business will, in fact, be passed on to consumers?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think that question very much comes out of the context of the socialist Party's background, a controlled economy. In fact, the free market will ensure that is about happen.

Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, when he says I have told people that it would be a good deal and he half-cited some reference there. Let me quote from one of the leading economists in Nova Scotia, Dr. Fazley Siddiq Ph.D., School of Dalhousie Public Administration, one of the leading economists in this area in the province. He was responding to the question, is this a good deal? Here is his answer, Mr. Speaker, and I am quoting directly, "I think it is, there are certain benefits that will accrue to businesses, consumers, and governments. Once you set aside the political rhetoric, it is clear that businesses, consumers and governments will all benefit.". I think I know what he was talking about in reference to the political rhetoric. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if that is one of the studies that the minister has suggested that he has in his possession, to show Nova Scotians just how this is specifically going to benefit them. But if it is, perhaps the minister would agree to table it. If it isn't, as usual, it is not worth very much.

Let me say in my first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, some services that are being taxed are affecting people who can't wait for the invisible hand to come in and do its work, to ensure that the savings get passed on to consumers. I think of low income Nova Scotians in particular, who have to pay up-front for the increase in heating costs, for the increase in the family essentials. They have to pay those items day to day.

I would like to ask the minister, will he confirm here today whether or not the 114 per cent increase in the GST will, in fact, be accompanied by a 114 per cent increase in the GST refundable tax credit?

[Page 980]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, again the political rhetoric. Some of the strategists obviously in the NDP back room have suggested that we refer to it as the 114 per cent increase in the GST. What we have done in this province is reduce provincial sales tax. Let's say that again, we have reduced provincial sales tax by $120 million. Let me say with reference to the offhand comment about the opinion that I just cited in answer to my first question; I have never met this gentleman, I don't think I have ever talked to him. He obviously has no axe to grind, he is an independent opinion, one of the leading economists in public administration in this province and you heard his opinion and his comments about political rhetoric. I would be happy to share the entire context with the honourable member.

MR. HOLM: Speaking of rhetoric, Mr. Speaker, that is all we get out of this Minister of Finance. I asked him a clear question about the refundable tax credit to low income Nova Scotians and you notice that he didn't come within a country mile of answering that question.

But let's move on, if the minister doesn't want to talk about the concerns affecting low income Nova Scotians. How about the working poor, Mr. Speaker? How about those Nova Scotians who are not yet earning low enough amounts that they qualify for any credit that might be around? Let's look at the whole issue of electricity and the increase in costs.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a question, the final supplementary question?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, there is no competition in the power industry so, in other words, the imposition of the input credits are . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . Nova Scotia Power is going to realize some significant savings in the millions of dollars.

I would like to ask the minister, what is it that he is going to do to ensure, for example, that Nova Scotia Power does not fatten its profits as a result of the harmonization scheme and passes on its savings to the ratepayers in Nova Scotia?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think we are getting through to the honourable member, because now he is prepared to admit that there are benefits. (Applause) He has moved to stage 2 and that is, he wants to be sure they will go in the direction that he feels are appropriate. But at least now (Interruption) I wasn't shouting at the honourable member across the floor when he asked the question. I think courtesy would require him to do likewise.

Mr. Speaker, I think he now agrees with the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce which has issued a press release today indicating that they support the harmonization as a very positive measure for our economy. So he is on side, at least that much.

Now, I would say to the honourable member, he does have a legitimate concern and his concern is that the benefits of this $120 million tax saving are equitably distributed. I think that is a legitimate concern. We are going to address that concern tomorrow in the budget.

[Page 981]

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

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY RIVER: LEAD CONTAMINATION - DETAILS

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment will remember back in November we talked about a potential contamination problem in the Sydney River area. The minister will also remember that on January 12th, himself, myself, several of the residents from the Parkdale area in Sydney River and several staff members met in his offices. At that time we discussed the lead contamination problem that was being identified in the Sydney River area and we talked about the concerns of the other residents in that area.

Now, there has been some activity on the MacKenzie case. This is a very important thing and I don't think we should be (Interruption) However, Mr. Speaker, the other residents in that area are not satisfied with what has been happening on their behalf through the Department of the Environment in Sydney.

I would like to inform the minister firstly that the other residents have lost confidence in the Department of the Environment office in Sydney, and I would like to ask the minister if he will direct his office's powers into looking at their concerns immediately on this very important problem?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can report to the honourable member for Cape Breton West and members of the House that indeed our department staff is working with the provincial health inspector and representatives of PetroCanada in looking at resolving the outstanding issues with the residents who have concerns based on the results of one residence that has been analyzed.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table in this House a copy of a memo that was done by the Department of the Environment, dated December 18th. It has a historical background to this problem in the Sydney River area. It is a copy that the minister may have already seen, I think I supplied him with a copy of this memo before. This memo is very important to what is happening in this area. People's health is at risk. People are very concerned about their children.

Also, I will table a copy of a memo, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a question in all of this?

MR. MACLEOD: There will be, Mr. Speaker, but I have to give the minister all the background material.

MR. SPEAKER: It is supposed to be a single sentence, according to the rules.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I will table this. I would ask if the minister could explain to me why the same people that weren't competent enough to work on the first case that I brought into this House are now working on the second case and if the minister intends to take those people off that case?

[Page 982]

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, at this point I think it is safe for me to say that those people who have been assigned to the project are directly accountable to myself. We have given directions specific to the case. I would expect that the results that they find will come to me directly so I can respond to the public and to the member who is asking the question.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I think my final supplementary to the Minister of the Environment is this, there has been a serious lapse in the Department of the Environment's activities in the Sydney office. It has been since 1992 that this problem was there and it has not been addressed. I would like a commitment from the minister for the people who live on Parkdale Drive in Sydney River and for the people who put their trust in the Department of the Environment that there will be a full public inquiry into why it took four years for the Department of the Environment in Sydney to realize that this was such a problem and that there are children's lives in danger now because of it?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I have asked my department to give me a complete, in-depth, detailed review as to what has happened since 1992 to the present time. I can say that I cannot be responsible for what the former government did in 1992 or didn't do. I know that when we became aware that there was an outstanding issue, we went to work and gave some pretty strict directions which resulted in a ministerial order by myself issued to PetroCanada. I can report today that PetroCanada has delivered on that order and has indeed bought the property and are in the process of compensating the family in that household.

The details of why we went so long, I think, are mainly because we didn't have the regulations in place back then to control the kind of sandblasting that went on. We do now, under the new Environment Act, have those regulations in place which control the sandblasting and how those measures will be carried out to protect the environment of our citizens. As I said, when we have the detailed report, we will present it to both the residents and the member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a new question.

ENVIRON. - SYDNEY RIVER: LEAD CONTAMINATION - SOLUTION

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment is aware that there are a number of small children in that area and they had some recent blood testing and we have shared that information. I would like to get from the Minister of the Environment in this House, a commitment that he will talk directly with the other residents in that area so that they can get the reassurance and the comfort of his office that this solution will come to pass sooner than later?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the residents that we will pursue, with haste, this situation as we did with the first one. I think we know the route we went with and the route that worked and we are applying the same application to this series of new discoveries.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I will try once more. I would like to get from the minister a yes or a no, whether or not he will contact the people from the Parkdale Drive area, the people whose children's lives are in danger and talk to them so that they can feel comfort from his words?

[Page 983]

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, we will make sure that these people are communicated with in terms of what we are doing and what we intend to do to achieve the results that we require. I think, in fact, we have the provincial health examiner who was in direct contact with these people. He has already taken some blood tests and there have been some positive results but that will be concluded and we will certainly communicate with those people to the best of our ability as we have done in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - JAILS: PRIVATIZATION - PLANS

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. Since everybody around here seems to be interested in one sentence questions, I will put one to the Minister of Justice. I wonder if the Minister of Justice will tell this House today whether or not he is in favour of privatization of correctional centres in the Province of Nova Scotia or not, yes or no?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the Government of Nova Scotia has not made a final decision on privatization but we must do a better job in operating our nine adult facilities across the province. One goes back to 1872 and it is not in good shape, it is not a good place to work, it is not a good place to rehabilitate prisoners. We have to improve these nine facilities and we have to do a better job. We will look at all options but we have made no decision on privatization. If we can operate in the public sector, that is where we will be.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, in response to Written Question, No. 234, filed by my colleague, the member for West Hants, the Minister of Justice said among other things and I will table this, of course, when asked about whether the government was considering privatization of correctional services and the like, the minister responded February 6, 1995 and used these words, "The government is considering privatization of adult correctional facilities as one of a number of options to reduce operating costs as our new facility configuration is established. Privatization is not an objective of the government. It is being considered only as a means to achieve budget reduction. The department is reviewing options with respect to a new custody configuration at present. If a request for expressions of interest is made to the private sector, a meeting will be held with the union before such notice is made.". I will table that document, Mr. Speaker.

[3:00 p.m.]

I want to put the proposition to the Minister of Justice, through you, Mr. Speaker, and ask him to tell this House and tell the Province of Nova Scotia whether or not he agrees. Our caucus is of a view that there may well be elements of the construction of jails, lock-ups, and correctional centres and perhaps even the maintenance facilities in them that might appropriately be handled by the private sector.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is there a question here somewhere?

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, there is a question here somewhere.

The day-to-day operation and security and control of the men and women who are the incarcerates in the institutions to which we refer is a public responsibility, a public trust, and one which should not be run by organizations who are in business for the sake of making a profit. I ask the Minister of Justice whether or not he agrees with that proposition?

[Page 984]

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is true, we have to be upfront, we have to live within our means. The government of which the honourable member was a senior minister didn't seem to have much regard for that, running the net debt from $0.5 billion to $4 billion or $5 billion or $6 billion. He didn't seem to be too concerned although I cannot blame him for being Minister of Finance.

We have two purposes: to try to live within our means and to try to improve our facilities. As I said earlier, we owe it to the citizens of Nova Scotia to look at all the options. We want to operate the facilities safely; that is a total requirement. We want to have a better place for correctional officers to work and for inmates to serve, to try to rehabilitate them. So that is our position and I'll repeat that that is why we are going through the proper business solution process to see how we can do this, including possibly building with the help of the private sector or possibly looking at private operations in part, but not necessarily. If we can compete in operations, that is the way we will go.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Justice then, I ask him, so that there can be no question. Perhaps I should make a statement and ask if he agrees again. I understand the Minister of Justice has just now said to the people of Nova Scotia that he believes that it is appropriate that there be a situation in the Province of Nova Scotia where the day-to-day administration, care, control and discipline of inmates in our province's jails, lock-ups and correctional centres can, as far as he is concerned, be the role and responsibility of a for-profit corporation, that a corporation whose interest is the bottom line and making a profit is a completely appropriate way, as far as he is concerned, to handle the day-to-day administration of the care, control and discipline of the inmates of the Province of Nova Scotia. Is that his position?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, if nursing homes, with the most fragile of our people, can be operated by private corporations, I think it would be totally irresponsible to not at least look at the possibility that correctional facilities for persons who are convicted could be operated by private corporations. I repeat again, we must make improvements to places for people to serve and rehabilitate and for staff, and as a result, if we can find a way to live within our means, as we must do, we will do it in the public sector. But we owe it to the public to look at all the options.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NSRL: PANCANADIAN - SALE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. The Nova Scotia offshore is presently pumping oil at record rates for the Cohasset/Panuke and the Balmoral fields, all tied in together. The former Nova Scotia Resources partner LASMO offered, free of charge, its share in the offshore to the Province of Nova Scotia. Subsequent to its offer to the province, it was sold to PanCanadian for about $60 million and now Nova Scotia has a new partner. The former minister indicated that the NSRL sale was going to take place prior to the end of January. I am wondering if the minister could tell us what the status of the NSRL sale to Pan Canadian is at the present time?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned yesterday, this issue is one that is ongoing under the sale of the NSRL. As the member opposite would know, this is a Crown Corporation. It is in the hands of someone else to sell and the negotiations are ongoing and I am very hopeful that they will continue.

[Page 985]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Now, Mr. Speaker, it is a Crown Corporation in the hands of a private agent to sell. Could the minister indicate to us the amount of legal fees that Rothschilds have been paid in the last several months by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia through NSRL?

MRS. NORRIE: I am really quite astounded, Mr. Speaker, that the member opposite stands and asks questions regarding a Crown Corporation that we, to the best of our ability, are trying to work with, given what was left with us, the mismanagement that was handled there.

Now this government came into power and found a deficit in this province of $471 million. The first thing we had to do was try to resolve the issue of the Teachers' Pension Fund that was sadly and sorely underfunded. The next thing we had to do was look at the Workers' Compensation Fund and see that that was sorely underfunded. Now we are trying to resolve that.

The next thing we had to do was look at health and the Pharmacare Program. We have now resolved that.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good job there.

MRS. NORRIE: Yes, a very good job, the best job in Canada. (Applause) I would say that the members opposite should realize that they are not dealing with a do-nothing government. Our government is trying to get this government back into a fiscal regime that is viable and for the future of this province, for our children and our grandchildren. We are dealing with Nova Scotia Resources Limited to the best of our ability and we are sure we will get the best deal we can for the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. ARCHIBALD: Boy, she sure told me, didn't she? I would like to know (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, what a great organization you are running here. Thank you, Mr. Premier, they listen to you.

Mr. Speaker, after the dissertation we heard from the honourable minister, I fail to understand why the minister cannot answer the simplest question. She indicated that she personally revamped the entire province with great success. I simply asked the minister how much they paid to Rothschild; she cannot say.

Well, then, I will ask her an even simpler question. How much money has NSRL paid in February 1996 to the deputy minister who is also on the board of NSRL? What was his fee paid to him by NSRL? Now that is a simple question and I am sure the minister could answer it.

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I would say that the one thing I do know is that, contrary to some of his colleagues, it is a big deal to balance the budget in this province. We have done that and that is the answer to all the fiscal questions you could possibly ask.

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question.

MRS. NORRIE: I am answering the question.

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

JUSTICE - JAILS: PRIVATIZATION - PLANS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Justice who, a few minutes ago, said he thinks it is quite appropriate for the government to turn over the operation and management of our correctional facilities to a private-for-profit corporation despite the evidence. The minister should take a look [Page 986]

at examples elsewhere, where we have seen misappropriation of funds, where we have seen situations where the security in those facilities has dropped, where officers and guards are poorly trained, poorly paid, we have numerous examples. My question to the Minister of Justice, through you, is quite simply, why is this minister and this government prepared to compromise on public safety, on the quality of services offered in the correctional services, and to make the employees pay, through reduced wages, et cetera, and poor working conditions, in order to save a couple of dollars for the provincial government? How much are you prepared to sacrifice?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, if the member had been listening, I said that public safety is crucial and we want to not just even maintain the conditions for working and places to serve, we want to improve them. I didn't say we are in favour of privatization, but I said we have an obligation to look at that and every other option.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, this minister knows that they are down to the short list. There are two companies they are looking at; one is Atlantic Corrections group and the other is Esmor Correctional Services. I will table a news report about Esmor from July 1995, in which they talk about how this particular company, which has gained the government's confidence enough that they are on the short list, had a contract removed from them because the investigation that was done into a riot points out that the investigators found that the officers who were there were poorly trained, poorly paid, they did not have proper supervision, that the company repeatedly made policy changes without notifying the government body for whom they were running this facility, and on and on it goes. This is one of the groups.

The minister had promised, when he entered this process, that he would involve the representatives of the correctional officers and keep them apprised in the whole process. Yet they are doing the interview of these two select groups and have denied the union even to be present at the time. I want to ask the minister, given the kind of companies you are interviewing, will you reverse your decision and will you allow representatives of the correctional officers to sit in on the evaluation process to make sure that somebody out there is looking after their interests and the best interests of Nova Scotians?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Justice and as the head of the government, we have met, and the Premier met last month with the president of the correction officers' union to keep him apprised and to hear their comments and try to answer their questions. I have been meeting regularly, and I have another meeting scheduled in the near future, and I will continue to do that.

Let's lay the facts on the table about the short list. We have senior public servants doing these interviews and we don't want anybody in there with preconceived notions. Right or wrong, the correction officers feel that privatization, no way, and that is an unacceptable approach. You have to at least look at it, and we have told them that. I wrote to both Mr.

[Page 987]

Foulkes and Mr. Peters, the head of the union, to indicate my position. It wasn't appropriate. We have senior officials of integrity who are listening to the two presentations today, and they will make a recommendation to government and we will proceed in that direction.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister left out two other important qualities that the correctional officers have, and that is they have information and experience that would be very helpful to the process. I am sure they were very impressed with the meeting that they had with the Premier.

The Minister of Justice says that it is not appropriate that they sit in on this evaluation because the representatives of the workers have preconceived notions, and that is in opposition to privatization. That is a view, by the way, that is shared by the vast majority of Nova Scotians; the vast majority of Nova Scotians don't believe that correctional facilities should be run on a for-profit basis. People should not be making money from crime, Mr. Speaker. I say finally to the minister, the government has a preconceived notion too, and that is that they are all in favour of privatization, and that is why they don't want to hear any alternatives.

My final question to the minister is quite simply this, we know a great deal more about the Esmor company with whom the government is negotiating, with whom they are interviewing - not much of it good, mind you, but we know quite a bit about them - but, unfortunately, the Atlantic Corrections group has not registered in Nova Scotia and the government will not share any information on who was involved in this consortium. So my question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, is quite simply this, will the minister table a list of those who are involved with the Atlantic Corrections, with whom he is dealing, so that we will have an opportunity to evaluate their record, or lack thereof, so that people will be better able to judge whether or not they are any better than a Wackenhut or an Esmor to be running and making a profit . . .

MR. SPEAKER: All right. Thank you.

MR. HOLM: . . . at the expense of the judicial system in this province?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has judged Esmor; they have no chance to rebut. He has also taken a shot at Wackenhut who are not even in this competition.

[3:15 p.m.]

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will table the list of the companies, some American and a number of Canadian and Nova Scotia companies, who are involved in the Atlantic Corrections bid. There is no secret, we will make that available.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COMMUN. SERV. - DEBRA STEVENS: COMPENSATION - NEGOTIATIONS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, in response to an earlier question the Minister of Community Services indicated that he has had no briefing that would indicate to him that there has been anything wrong with the negotiations between the Stevens family and the province. I accept the minister's statement that he has no relevant information that the process is, in fact, off the rails.

[Page 988]

My question is directed to the Premier. The Premier on March 8th directed that this matter be settled. Now, I have information that the matter is, in fact, again off the rails. I ask the Premier to commit again that the matter be settled and is the Premier ready to meet with representatives from the Stevens family and, even better, Ms. Stevens herself, who is in the gallery today, to assure himself that his directive of March 8th is being followed and that the matter is on the way to be resolved?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition knows full well that if we are negotiating in law with people, I cannot talk under the normal traditions. What I am prepared to tell you is that I am prepared to table a report on the way in which negotiations have or have not gone, probably tomorrow, in the House.

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

HEALTH - REG. BOARDS: HANTS EAST - ALIGNMENT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier and, of course, the President of the Executive Council. The Premier will know that the citizens of Hants East have requested that they be aligned with the Central Regional Health Board as opposed to the Northern Regional Health Board. They have done this through a petition in this House; they have spoken to their member, who supports their request; they have spoken to the Opposition, who supports their request. Will you as the Premier of this province give the residents of Hants East an undertaking that you will personally speak to the Minister of Health and ask him to revisit his decision to not allow the residents of Hants East in the Central Regional Health Board district?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I regret that the question is asked in the absence of the Minister of Health who was called to a sudden meeting by the federal Minister of Health to discuss issues that I guess were of some importance. I could give it to the Acting Minister of Health but I am not at all sure that he is more capable.

What I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, is that the decisions about the allocation of funds for health care are based upon some degree of parity in the regions concerned. What I will do is I will ask the Minister of Health on his return to answer your question in greater depth than I obviously can.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the Premier of this province responded to a letter that the member for Halifax Citadel had asked him on this matter. I tabled that letter that the Premier wrote, yesterday in the House. In the letter the Premier states, just briefly, "It is important to note that the creation of regional health boundaries is in no way intended to restrict access to services across regions.".

Mr. Speaker, I have information that suggests that residents from Hants East are, in fact, being denied - yes they are, Mr. Premier - access to the central region and they are being redirected to northern regional health care facilities. My question is merely this, to the Premier, will the Premier back his words by issuing a directive to the chairs of the regional health board, the CEOs of the hospitals and to members of the Medical Society that states that no one will be denied access to medical services no matter what region they are referred from? Will the Premier give that undertaking to the Hants East residents?

[Page 989]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question, as usual, indicates the total ignorance of the questioner. Health will not be denied to anybody. If I, God forbid - let's take an older person - were to have a heart attack in East Hants and I live here, am I going to be denied health care? Of course I am not. The same direction will occur for members of the Opposition. If they happen to live in one region and get ill in another, of course they will be taken care of. Every effort is made to accommodate the needs of patients. That will be the goal, that is the goal of our health system revamping and he knows that too. The attempt being made is to fundamentally try to correct an imbalance in funding that might exist between two regions. The suspicion that he harbours, that, in effect, people are being denied health care in a region, is totally without foundation.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this government's health time bomb isn't tick, tick, ticking, it has already exploded.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this the question? It has to be a single question.

MR. TAYLOR: The fallout from that health time bomb is that residents of Hants East are being denied access to the Central Regional Health Board.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a question.

MR. TAYLOR: They are being denied. My question is simply this, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) Numerous times the answers are longer than the questions. The question is merely this, will the Premier give the residents of Hants East an undertaking that he will personally request that the Minister of Health or his Deputy Minister, Mr. Cramm, will sit down with the East Hants councils and representatives of the regional health board and discuss this very important and what is now a controversial issue?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, were there truth in these allegations they would indeed be serious. What indeed is happening is that every attempt is being made to fold the expenses of one region and keep them within comparable (Interruption) No, I know it, a lot more than they do. What I am telling you is that people are not being denied health care by virtue of their location. He should know that and should cease this scaremongering which characterizes so many of the accusations that he tosses across this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NSRL: MR. ROBERT MACKAY - PAYMENT

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question if for the Minister of Natural Resources. Would the Minister of Natural Resources confirm that Mr. MacKay, the Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning Secretariat was paid $10,000 by NSRL in February, 1996?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, not to my knowledge.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, would the minister check please and get back to us and let us know?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, if it is not of a personal, confidential nature, yes.

[Page 990]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, this is certainly not a secret matter and it is not a confidential matter. Normally, a person within the Civil Service would be in Public Accounts, in the Supplement and you could see for your records. Will the minister make a commitment that tomorrow, she will return with an answer to the query of how much Mr. MacKay was paid by NSRL?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I believe I have already answered that question. If it is not of a confidential nature, personal nature, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - AIR AMBULANCE: CONTRACT - RE-TENDER

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, given the fact that the Premier indicated how knowledgeable he is about health care and everything that is happening, and I acknowledge he has a great knowledge of that field, my question then would go to the Premier. I am sure the Premier is aware of the tendering policy of his government, I am sure he has perused that, one which I think they paraded around with great fanfare and if followed, is a very fair policy put in by the former Minister of Supply and Services. Given the fact that there was a tender call for air ambulance in this province last fall and given the fact that of all of the people who put in proposals, none met the requirements of that particular tender, according to the Department of Health, I would ask the Premier, then would it be normal practice for the government to re-tender, if no bidders met the specs or qualifications that were asked for, would it be a normal practice for the government to re-tender such a contract?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the question of the air ambulance is one that I do not know the details of. I am quite happy to find out for you and I will certainly put it before the minister when he returns. As you know, it is customary to ask questions of the minister when he is in the House.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge that. Unfortunately, the Premier knows why I have to ask him today. So I would ask the Premier, since he has given that undertaking, would he indicate to me that he would also check to find out why a contract of over $0.5 million was sole-sourced to a Newfoundland company, CHC Newfoundland, Craig Dobbin, why the province would sole-source a contract worth over $0.5 million? Would he undertake to supply that information for me as well?

THE PREMIER: Of course, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MOODY: So that we get all the information, would the Premier also check to find out why Cougar Helicopters, who have been doing this and working with the IWK Hospital for a number of years and a Nova Scotia company, why they were not given the same opportunity as the Newfoundland company? Would he check that as well, please?

THE PREMIER: Of course, Mr. Speaker.

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

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION: JOB LOSS - DETAILS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. Again it is on the minister's harmonization plan.

In announcing the plan yesterday the minister told Nova Scotians that the effect of this measure was to increase economic output by at least 0.5 per cent in each of the provinces and that it will translate into 3,000 or more new, lasting jobs. Mr. Speaker, when the GST was first introduced and since, similar claims were made. In fact the reality was that the GST killed literally thousands of jobs in the service sector in this country.

[Page 991]

I would like to ask the minister, when he made his calculations with respect to the 3,000 jobs, did he take into account the thousands of jobs that will be lost in sectors like travel services, landscaping services, recreational services, consulting services, grooming services, as a result of the increase in taxes?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is understandably very interested in the federal issues these days. There is a very simple explanation; the GST, now this harmonized position, the GST increased taxes, this measures lowers taxes by $120 million a year. (Applause)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, regardless of the pronouncements, regardless of the trumpets, regardless of the ads in the papers, thousands of taxpayers' dollars, Nova Scotians know the real truth here. The fact is that taxes are going up on those services. That is exactly why there is going to be an impact in those sectors.

Mr. Speaker, the minister also made it clear yesterday that in the MUSH sector they will be facing millions of additional costs as the burden of paying these taxes is shifted onto them. For municipalities, for example, this means higher property taxes and higher service costs.

I would like to ask the minister, if, in looking at the 3,000 jobs pronouncement, did he consider, factor in, the deadening effects of these tax increases for municipalities, school boards and hospitals, Mr. Speaker, in his projections?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I did have occasion to review our estimates of job creation by the reduction of $120 million in taxes in one year. I have had some occasion to wonder whether or not we were 100 per cent accurate.

I have already indicated that the chamber of commerce in this province has come out firmly in support of harmonization. Similarly, that position was taken in New Brunswick. In fact they have predicted there, and I will read the headline from the Saint John Telegraph-Journal, "Tax merge prediction: 10,000 jobs", in New Brunswick.

Now I am beginning to think that we may have been too cautious in our predictions. What we wanted to do was make sure that if we erred, we would err on the side of caution.

AN HON. MEMBER: Conservative.

MR. BOUDREAU: We would be, and I hesitate to use the word, conservative, Mr. Speaker, in our estimations.

I will table this projection. In New Brunswick, for 10,000 jobs, the comment from the chamber of commerce there, a direct quote, "`For us, it's like a logjam opening up,' said Mr. Daigle, `All we have seen for years is higher and higher taxes, and now we are going to see provincial taxes reduced to a level we haven't seen in this province since 1969.'". Mr. Speaker,

[Page 992]

this is not a politician talking, this is an independent observer. That is the kind of reduction we are going to see; that is the kind of job creation we are going to see. (Applause)

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't think you would hear too many Nova Scotians criticize the minister or any of the other colleagues in the Liberal Government about the cautiousness of their predictions. People are still trying to get over the prediction of 63,000 jobs that were going to be created as a result of this government being elected. (Interruptions) I am quite happy to be getting into a debate about predictions with the Minister of Finance, because he doesn't have a single bit of credibility.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, focusing on other sectors, we know that school boards and hospitals, whose costs are going to increase, cannot increase taxes. They don't have taxing power. The only response they have is to cut and slash programs and staff. So I would like to ask the minister, whether, in fact, the potential impact of such staff cuts in the school boards, education and the hospital sector were factored into the minister's job estimates that the new expanded GST was going to create?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, before bringing this measure to the House and, indeed, simultaneously with bringing this measure to the House, we have had an opportunity to discuss the measure with representatives from all the MUSH sectors. As a matter of fact, with municipalities we had this discussion well over a month before we brought this to the House. We said very simply, let's sit down and see what kind of an impact there will be on municipalities. Let's go municipality by municipality, every single one in the province, and do you know the response we got? The president, on behalf of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities said that's a good idea, let's do it.

Mr. Speaker, we have agreed and we have confirmed today that the municipalities, through their president, have reaffirmed again today. She is committed to that process and we will, in fact, deal with the impact in every municipality and we will determine what that impact was and then we will sit down and meet the challenge. But let's keep it in perspective. Those municipalities have a gross budget of $1 billion a year. The estimates from the NDP of the impact of this measure is $6 million; that is 0.6 of 1 per cent. If we can't - as two levels of government - meet that challenge, I think there is something wrong. If we are prepared to consider that the only alternative is shoving the costs on to the municipal taxpayer, that is not an alternative that I think is reasonable.

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

ENVIRON.: RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND - ACCOUNTING PRACTICES

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment will know that the Resource Recovery Fund derives its revenue or makes its money based upon financial assistance agreements between the Minister of the Environment and external parties. Is the Minister of the Environment satisfied with the accounting practices of the Resource Recovery Fund in terms of their transparency and as to whether or not they are as concise as they might be?

I don't know if the minister has heard me over there.

[Page 993]

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I did hear the question, but I am not too sure in what context I heard it. Is he asking me whether or not I am satisfied with the RRF and the way it operates?

MR. TAYLOR: The accounting practices.

MR. ADAMS: Well, it is not my immediate (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, the RRF will report to me directly on an annual basis or a biannual basis of their fiscal accountability. Since it has only been a few weeks that they have been going, it is hard to say that it is biannually yet. When that time comes, I am sure that they will be accountable to me as minister.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in the Auditor General's Report for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1995 the Auditor General states that no verification is made by fund management of production volumes or sales amounts and I was unable to verify these by other means. Accordingly, my verification of these revenues was limited to the amounts recorded in the records of the organization and I was not able to determine whether any adjustments might be necessary to revenues, excess of revenues over expenses, and assets and fund equity.

My question to the Minister of Environment is simply this, with the thirst tax now on stream and a pending tire tax, will the Minister of Environment ensure that transparent accounting practices are put in place relative to the Resource Recovery Fund?

MR. ADAMS: Those practices are in place, as far as I am concerned between our department and the Resource Recovery Fund. I am a bit perplexed to hear the member referring to a thirst tax and I go through my material I find a letter from the PC caucus dated December 15, 1995 when they advised me that, "There should be a new section which provides that all monies collected through the provision of deposit and, or deposit-return systems is paid directly into the RRF and not into the General Revenues of the Province.".

They go on to tell me that it would be wise if this was seen as ". . . a stand alone fund dedicated to waste reduction and not just another tax dressed up in environmental clothing.". It came from the PC caucus and I think it is safe to say that we are complying with that very well.

MR. TAYLOR: Whereas the Minister of the Environment tap danced around the question, I have to ask the minister to answer the question, will the Minister of the Environment, perhaps even in concert, in cooperation with the Minister of Finance ensure that the Resource Recovery Fund accounting practices are brought up to speed and the concerns that the Auditor General outlines in the Auditor General's Report, we all have copies so I need not table it. Will the Minister of the Environment ensure that the concerns that the Auditor General raises in his report are addressed by the RRF?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, to repeat, I think we are a step ahead. We had made those assurances with the RRF and they will be giving me their accounting on a biannual basis and that is exactly what he is asking for. That is in place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT: TOLLS - AGRIC. EXEMPTION

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Finance. Back in February, the Minister of Finance met with the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce and

[Page 994]

during his discussions with that body he made a commitment that he would bring a proposal exempting the travelling of produce along the toll highway from tolls.

Would the minister confirm today that he brought that matter back to Cabinet and he discussed it with them and what was the result of that conversation?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, as I think I indicated on that occasion the minister responsible was the Minister of Transportation. I gave an undertaking that I would bring the concern back to him and I did so.

MR. RUSSELL: Oh well (Laughter). My question is for the Minister of Transportation, the minister responsible for toll roads in the Province of Nova Scotia and I was wondering if the Minister of Transportation, following his conversation with the Minister of Finance, decided that, indeed, he would exempt agricultural products from tolls on the new highway?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we decided not to.

MR. RUSSELL: You decided not to. So I take it that agricultural products will not be taxed and will be exempt on Highway No. 104. I am certainly pleased about that because that is about the first promise, I think, that the Liberals have kept since they have come into power.

I wonder if the minister will also give some consideration to exempting vehicles that are driven by disabled people, so that they do not have to drive up through the old highway when the new highway is completed, because of their disabilities?

MR. MANN: Just so we get the record straight, Mr. Speaker, what I said is that we decided not to exempt agricultural products. (Interruptions) With respect to emergency vehicles, I believe it was always the intention that emergency vehicles would come through. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the comments made by the people with disabilities was that they were going to be forced to use the new highway; that was not true. They will have an alternative route. Emergency vehicles will be exempt.

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

ERA - IMP PLANT (C.B.): WORKERS' REQUEST - RESPOND

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency. I would like to table a letter that I received earlier today - and I am not sure if the minister has received this or not - and it is from the IMP workers in the North Sydney plant. They are ". . . requesting your assistance to have the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency Assign forthwith a senior staff person to assist . . . to identify an appropriate joint venture partner and secure the future of precision machining in North Sydney.".

I am wondering if the minister will take this and respond to those individuals quickly, because their very lifeblood depends on this decision.

[Page 995]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, we have been in touch with the workers at IMP since day one, and we will be pleased to receive this letter and respond quickly.

MR. SPEAKER: No supplementary?

The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON. - RECYCLING: APARTMENT DWELLERS - ENHANCE

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. As the minister, and indeed I am sure all members, will know, one of the greatest challenges facing curb-side recycling is the provision of opportunities for people who live in apartment buildings to participate. It is one thing to put your blue bag at the end of your own driveway, but it is another thing to be given the opportunity to participate if you are one of 100 apartment dwellers in an apartment complex.

I wonder if the minister could advise the House what initiatives his department is undertaking in order to enhance opportunities for apartment dwellers, with respect to participating in curb-side recycling in Nova Scotia?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Good question. I want to respond by saying that I am pleased to hear it, because last week my staff informed me that there had been some very positive talks going on with apartment owners/landlords in Halifax, members of the RRF and our department, in terms of how they are going to work out somewhat of a standard solution, if you will, to apartment dwellers, in separating or collecting the various resources.

MR. LEEFE: That is good news, Mr. Speaker, and I would advise the minister, if he does not in fact already know, that there are some useful examples in Europe with respect to how they have been able to meet with some considerable success respecting this.

My second question, again to the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Speaker, is this, and I think I already know the answer from what the minister has said, I gather, then, that it is the responsibility of the landlords to provide the infrastructure in their respective apartment buildings, in order for such opportunities to be facilitated?

MR. ADAMS: The answer, Mr. Speaker, is yes, indeed; in fact, a lot of the leadership has come from them so far.

MR. LEEFE: My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This minister, in a sense, would be deemed to be the landlord for senior citizens' housing in Nova Scotia, also for multi-apartment complexes that we term low rentals. Now understanding from the Minister of the Environment that it is the landlord's responsibility to provide infrastructure, would the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing advise the House what infrastructure she has ordered, through the various housing authorities, to be put in place so that senior citizens and persons living in low rental apartments will have the opportunity to participate in the kind of recycling opportunities that are being advanced by the Minister of the Environment?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take that question under advisement, and will have an opportunity to report back.

[Page 996]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, a question. Now it is your turn.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I am waiting for another minister, but I will go again.

MR. SPEAKER: No, we will come back to you. I will call on the honourable member for Pictou West; he wanted to get up.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

WOMEN, STATUS OF - ADVISORY COUNCIL: APPOINTMENTS - PROCESS

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Women's Directorate. The minister will recall that in June of 1994 she agreed to a new process for the selection of members to the Advisory Council. On Tuesday, the minister disregarded that process and named nine women to the council, of whom only one had gone through that process. Will the minister explain why, two years ago, that process was okay, but today it is not?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question and I am glad to be able to stand and respond to it. Yes, in 1994 there were seven, very strong, capable women appointed to the advisory council and I have been working with them since that time. In 1996, I have now increased that to 15 by adding 9, very capable, very strong women to the advisory council. They represent all areas of the province, from a geographic point of view, representing equity groups across the province, professionals, women from very diverse backgrounds and education and experience. We now have 15 very strong, capable women representing the women of this province. I am very pleased to stand here and very proud to say that I have now strengthened the advisory council so that all the concerns of women can be addressed. (Applause)

MR. MCINNES: I was not being critical of the individuals who are on the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. My question, which you didn't answer, was, why did you change the process?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the member opposite knows that following very extensive and wide advertising, both through the Executive Council Office and through the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, there were over 200 applicants who showed an expression of interest to assist and sit on the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.

Following those 200 applications being received, I looked at those 200 applicants and, following the process that has been approved by the House of Assembly, for appointments to all agencies, boards and commissions, I chose nine women, using the criteria in place to represent diversity and equity groups across the province, as well as geography and education and economic backgrounds and found nine very capable, very strong women and recommended them to Cabinet. Cabinet then recommended them forward to the Human Resources Committee, which is an all-Party committee of the House. They were recommended and I am very proud to say that they were approved and I will move forward from that to address the concerns of women of this province. (Applause)

MR. MCINNES: I want to make it perfectly clear that I have no problem with the appointments that were made. My problem is with the process. The minister has said that at one time she was going to do it one way and then it went back to the same old way.

The Women's Directorate has an interdepartmental committee, made up of women from the various departments, which is to advise the government on government policy. Can the minister explain why she appointed a civil servant, an employee of the Department of Municipal Affairs, to sit on the council?

[Page 997]

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I appointed those women who were qualified to do the job. What do we hope to accomplish here? What are we attempting to do? What we are attempting to do is to strengthen the Advisory Council on the Status of Women in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Do we have a strengthened council now? Yes, we do. Do we have equity groups represented? Yes, we do. Do we have good, qualified women in place? Yes, we do. Do we have geographic representation from both rural and urban areas of this province? Yes, we do. Do we have women representing women from all backgrounds in this province, a good, wide cross-section of professionals and economic backgrounds? Yes, we do.

Is this good news for women of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker? Yes, it is. (Applause)

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

JUSTICE - C.B. REG. HOSP.: SUICIDES - PUBLIC INQUIRY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice and I have had a few exchanges on the whole issue of . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I hope I didn't hear you call him the minister of justice denied.

MR. CHISHOLM: I'm sorry?

MR. SPEAKER: You heard me. The Minister of Justice.

MR. CHISHOLM: What did I say?

MR. SPEAKER: I said I hope I didn't hear you call him the minister of justice denied.

MR. CHISHOLM: No, no. I called him the Minister of Justice. I said the Minister of Justice and I. There was a lot of noise, I understand that.

MR. SPEAKER: Very good.

MR. CHISHOLM: And I, from time to time, have been known to slur my words.

The Minister of Justice and I have in this House had a few exchanges since December 1995, on the whole issue of the reported suicides at Cape Breton Regional Hospital and whether or not there should be a public inquiry into that issue. Back on April 10th when I again asked the minister and urged the minister to make a decision in favour of a public inquiry, he responded that he would look into the matter, discuss it with his officials, update

[Page 998]

himself and report back to the House. I wonder if the minister could give us an indication here, a few days later, what decision he has arrived at in consultation with his officials?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I have discussed it with my officials and there has been discussion with the Department of Health. The Cape Breton Healthcare Complex a few days ago announced that they are engaging an independent expert, Dr. Perez from Ontario, to do a review of mental health services. Based on my discussions with my officials and the Minister of Health, I thought that that would be the way to go so I have not taken any action on the matter.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think it is important to remind all members of this House that we are talking about a problem that has existed now for several years in Cape Breton. There were suicides back, I believe, in 1993 and there was a fatalities inquiry held into that matter. Part of the concerns dealt with the admissions procedures at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. There have been suggestions that the way that hospital continues to deal with the admissions of mental health patients is a contributing factor in this whole matter.

We have two reviews, one that was initiated by the Department of Health, a report which has been withheld; now we have a review that is being conducted by the hospital itself. The question here is that we have to get at the issue of the public interest and the whole matter involving the hospital, involving the Department of Health, as well as involving the community.

I ask the minister, given the fact that there is significant and serious concern about the way the Cape Breton Regional Hospital is dealing with admissions and assessment of mental health patients in that region, will he not agree that the time has arrived when his department, when he himself must exercise his authority under the Public Inquiries Act and, in fact, call for a public inquiry into this matter?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the honourable member, maybe with good intention, is mixing some things up. He talked about hospital admission problems and investigations carried out in the past. It is a different hospital now; we have a new Cape Breton Regional Hospital. If the member would check, I think in 1993 he might have been talking about the Cape Breton Hospital. It is a different facility.

I think we have had the board of the responsible facility, the Cape Breton Health Care Complex, state publicly that they are getting an outside person to come in and do a total review and have made a commitment to make everything public. That seems to me to be the way to go. The matter that is under my jurisdiction, for which there can be a fatality inquiry, is quite a narrow investigation on a death or deaths only. It doesn't look beyond, in any way, the delivery of health matters. We are talking about health delivery, mental health in this case. We have an independent person coming in and doing that and making the report public. It seems to me that is the way to go and we should see what that expert has to say and it will be made public.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I don't quite know what to say because clearly the issue here is a matter of public interest. It is a matter of how mental health patients are handled in Cape Breton by that hospital. It involves the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, itself, the Department of Health, the communities, the physicians, it involves a whole host of issues. It is not appropriate for it to be left in the hands of one or the other of those bodies, in both cases, either the Department of Health who has withheld the first report or the hospital, which is in need of review.

So I ask the minister again, yes, the fatality inquiry is too narrow. We need to have a process whereby the families and other interested people who deliver mental health services in Cape Breton can have input into a forum on an equal footing and that that forum be completely and utterly public and independent. I ask the minister again, Mr. Speaker, given the seriousness of this matter, will he not, in fact, exercise the authority provided him under the Public Inquires Act, to initiate an inquiry and ensure that we begin to get to the bottom of this issue and not leave it to any one of the interests involved in the matter?

[Page 999]

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the deaths are unfortunate. Any time a person loses their life, and especially when they take their own life, it is difficult. But we have here an outside person coming in to do a study for the responsible health care complex and that expert will study mental health delivery in that area and is going to make the study public. It is going to be done in a quick time; it is going to be a reasonable time, not left for months and months or years and years. It is going to be delivered and I think the honourable member would be well advised to wait until that is delivered and make his comments at that time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: MECHANICAL BRANCH (PICTOU CO.) - CLOSURE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Minister of Transportation is well aware that in McLellans Brook in Pictou County there is a mechanical branch which does repairs on all the equipment that is used in roads and maintenance. My question to the minister, is the minister entertaining any idea that the mechanical branch at McLellans Brook would be closed on July 1st or at any date thereafter?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I can't specifically say that I am. Our district directors of the four districts throughout the province have been challenged with bringing budget numbers in line because of the requirements in our budget. I would think that they are looking at all of the services they provide and are attempting as best they can to ensure that as much money in their budget remains to be applied to roadwork and to provide the level of service that people have come to expect and that they desire to provide.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. He indicates that he is not considering that at present. I would remind the minister, of course, that in Pictou County, the responsibility of his department is a very big one. We have a tremendous number of roads relative to our population and my understanding is, is that we have one of the larger complexes of roads being looked after by any particular branch of his department.

My question to the minister is, in terms of the mobile service technicians, the minister is aware that we have a mobile service technician on call doing so-called house calls when equipment breaks down on the road. Is the minister aware of any plan or any change that would result in Pictou County losing either the mobile service technician during the winter months or during the summer months?

MR. MANN: No, Mr. Speaker, I am not, but again I would advise the member opposite that there is a director for that district. That district director is charged with the responsibility to deal with his budget as he sees fit, taking and making at some times difficult choices. We have seen in recent weeks some of the directors and some decisions that have been made in the Department of Transportation. We are looking at all aspects of our operation. We have in some areas, ferries are a very significant issue. In other areas, it is mechanical shops,

[Page 1000]

in others it is personnel. No one would suggest for a minute that any of the decisions that are made, that have been made or will be made are going to be easy decisions but at the end of the day they are all being made in an effort to apply as much of the budget to the road system in the province, ensuring a safe road network for the travelling public.

[4:00 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Minister of Transportation, the Department of Transportation in Pictou County is responsible for some 2,200 kilometres of roads. That is a lot of roads and I would perceive a tremendous difficulty in trying to service the equipment in a centre out of the county. I would like to remind the minister of that, that we are some considerable distance from Truro and an even further distance from the Amherst mechanical shop.

By way of final supplementary to the minister, is the minister aware of any plan or does he have any intention to close the stockroom facility at McLellans Brook?

MR. MANN: Again, Mr. Speaker, until I receive a report from the director, I cannot specifically address that. I do know, for example, that recently we have gone through this in Shelburne where we have looked at a stockroom that had about $140,000 worth of stock, $40,000 of which was redundant, and we had a full-time stockkeeper on. What they have done, they are providing stock, inventory, from Bridgewater now to the Shelburne operation at a significant cost-saving. What it has enabled us to do is to continue to have the mobile service mechanic providing a valuable service out of both Shelburne and Bridgewater. It has enabled us to relocate the shop supervisor from Shelburne to Bridgewater so that the individual who has been acting shop supervisor but is really a mobile mechanic, can get out and do the job we hired him to do. What it has resulted in is it improved efficiencies and better service to the people in the area.

So, if in fact we can provide the stock and provide the inventory and the parts more cost-effectively, more efficiently, without affecting service and can take the savings and provide better service to the people in the area, I will not hesitate to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - DERIVATIVES: USE - CONFIRM

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The Auditor General, in his April report spoke about the Department of Finance using certain financial instruments called derivatives. I was wondering if the Minister of Finance would confirm that indeed the Department of Finance is using derivatives as an instrument to protect themselves on certain ventures on the bond market?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, we are using and have been using certain instruments to protect the downside loss on such things as interest rates.

MR. RUSSELL: I know that the minister will have recognized that derivatives have caused a great many problems across Canada and across the United States with regard to treasurers and others who have fallen into the trap of getting overextended into derivatives. In fact, Orange County, I was reading their report on their treasurer's investments which ran into something in the order of a loss of $1.10 billion. Would the minister confirm that his department has, within his staff, the expertise to manage these kinds of procedures and would

[Page 1001]

he also give us the number of persons who are experienced in the handling of derivatives within the department?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that section of the Department of Finance has been renewed and reinvigorated quite substantially over the past two years. I think their performance record indicates the exceptional job that they have been doing. For example, in the fiscal year just past, on debt charges, we were able to beat our targeted estimate by almost $45 million. That was the result of solid, sensible management. (Applause) I am the first one to admit that any province of this country could not afford to have all of the expertise that it would need in-house. So, we draw on expertise on a regular basis all over the world from private sector sources who serve us from time to time in this area.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the Minister of Finance has some expertise. I was speaking to a brokerage firm, one of Canada's largest in Toronto just recently and I know that within that firm they are having great difficulty in obtaining expertise in handling derivatives because of the nature of the beast.

I am sure that Nova Scotians do not expect the Minister of Finance to be out there gambling with the taxpayers' dollars. However, could the minister give us some advice, perhaps as to what amount we could be into the derivatives market? Is there a limit on the amount of funding which goes into that market at any one given time?

MR. BOUDREAU: I think the honourable member is perhaps creating an impression that would not correspond with the facts, however innocently that may be. In fact, the approach to certain instruments that are being used in the Department of Finance really is to protect downside risks to eliminate risks and they have been very effective. The record speaks for itself, but I think the honourable member obviously has some concerns about exactly what transactions have taken place and what the result of those transactions have been and I am more than happy to discuss it in detail.

Fortunately, we are going to be going through an 80 hour estimates debate and I will undertake to the honourable member to have my staff here with me to discuss this matter at as great a length and in as much detail as he wishes.

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

SYSCO: COKE OVENS - CLEAN-UP

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, with your assistance, I am not sure if this question falls under the jurisdiction of the Minister of the Environment or the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I know the Minister of Public Works is responsible for the tar ponds, but I do not know if he has the coke oven sites. So, it is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Thank you.

My question to the minister through you, and certainly it would appear anyway that the Sydney tar ponds clean-up itself or maybe I should say cover-up has been put on hold for a while and certainly the federal government does not approve of the proposal that was being suggested. I would like to ask the minister what plans the government has at this stage to clean up the coke oven sites which, I am sure he is also very aware, are filled with contaminants and all kinds of carcinogens and so on, cadmium and a whole bunch of other items.

[Page 1002]

Maybe the minister could elaborate on what plans the government has, if any, at the current time, to clean up the coke oven sites?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Are you sure this is mine? Mr. Speaker, I cannot elaborate at this time. I think the most recent information that I saw or read was that the federal government would be coming forth with a proposal in the very near future and at that time we would be sitting down and talking to them about this. That is the latest information I have.

MR. HOLM: The minister will know or certainly should know that that is, again, an extremely polluted, contaminated site.

I have heard that there are some proposals that private companies will be coming in to set up operations on that site to test equipment and test different methods to clean the coke oven sites. I do not know if that is accurate or not, but I would like to ask the minister if he could confirm that there are some discussions going on with some companies that may be interested and maybe not at any kind of great cost to come in and clean up that site or parts of that site?

MR. MANN: Again, I would have to take that under advisement. If there are individuals who are discussing proposals, scenarios, pilots, whatever, they may have been doing so with my staff prior to my assuming the responsibility for that department. But I will take that under advisement; I will check and I will certainly get back to the member with all the information I can provide him.

MR. SPEAKER: Is there a final supplementary? Please make it quick.

MR. HOLM: I want to say that I appreciate the minister's cooperation and willingness to come back with that information.

I guess my final question to the minister, Mr. Speaker, is simply this. If the government, in fact, should decide to put the tar pond cover-up encapsulation on hold and not proceed with that option, will the government actively consider, as it is developing its proposed clean-up of that site, looking at combining the two sites - both the coke ovens site and the tar ponds site - so that the whole area which is in desperate need of remediation can, in fact, be done as one clean project, so the pollution from one will not, then, contaminate a site that has been cleaned up previously?

MR. MANN: Sounds like the cover-up of the cover-up or something, I don't know. The member opposite knows full well that we are not going to get into this game of what we are going to do until we get a report to tell us what the problem is. We have been sampling in there; it has gone now over 30,000 tons of PCB-contaminated sludge. The testing is still going on. We have expanded the test now to look for VOCs - the volatile organic compounds, the toxins, metals, pesticides - so that we can attempt to try to find, once and for all, exactly what we are dealing with at the tar ponds site.

We all know and it is not something, I don't think, we are proud of, that $60-some million has been expended on this project to date and all the plans that were put out previously were done based on information that has proven to be false. What we have done, in this case, the latest proposal has gone out. It is a three phase proposal. The first phase is increased engineering and increased testing and sampling. That is what we are doing. That will determine what is there. That will help guide us on where we go from Phase I.

[Page 1003]

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

We will now move to Opposition Members' Business.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, we had a couple extra minutes in Question Period today.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, perhaps it was because of the seriousness of the question that was asked.

MR. MOODY: Oh, I acknowledge that. I just hope that some other day we may have to do it again.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 125.

Res. No. 125, re Fin. - Taxation: PST & GST Harmonization - Impact - notice given Apr. 4/96 - (Mr. R. Russell)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, for those who have not read Resolution No. 125, I will just the therefore be it resolved portion:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance detail to the people of Nova Scotia the complete ramifications of the harmonization of taxes to the Nova Scotia business community as well as the impact any such merger would have on the cost of living to Nova Scotians.".

Madam Speaker, I am certainly glad that the Minister of Finance is sitting there because if, indeed, the telephones in our caucus office are any indication, then his department this morning must have been just absolutely completely inundated with calls from people who do not understand and want more information. For goodness sakes, what we have been doing in this House, what we have been trying to do, insofar as the minister is concerned, is say, tell the people what it is all about; come clean. Tell them where it starts, where it ends, what is covered, what is not covered, what is partially covered, et cetera.

If the minister had done that, he would have made my day much easier, and I am sure he would have made it much easier for those across in his department who are responsible for answering the telephone.

Just as a for instance, Madam Speaker, and the reason I am waving this note around in the air is because I had a call just before I came into the Chamber from a Mr. Shea - I am sure he won't mind me mentioning his name, he lives in the metro area somewhere - he called me and he wasn't upset, but he had been trying to get information. It is a fairly simple question - at least I thought it was simple - but I couldn't answer it. I couldn't answer it because just as Mr. Shea hasn't been able to get the answer from the Department of Finance or from any of the minister's statements, neither have I been able to get the answer.

He has children who are unable to walk, so I presume they are in wheelchairs, Madam Speaker. He wants to know that when they buy a new vehicle, will they be charged the new blended tax or will they still be exempt as they have been in the past under the old separate GST and PST? To me that is the kind of simple question that people have.

[4:15 p.m.]

[Page 1004]

If, indeed, the minister had come along with what the Opposition was suggesting, that was to form a select committee of the House to go around and talk to the people of Nova Scotia, to the businesses of Nova Scotia, the people of Nova Scotia who are out working in the real world, the people who are spending their money on consumer goods, speaking to people like Mr. Shea who have a particular problem, then these questions would not have materialized.

The question that is asked and the operative clause, I think, of Resolution No. 125 is still there. Now the minister says he is going to go around the province and talk to people and get input. Well, good for him, but he is too late, he has signed the deal. I have a copy of the deal right here, it was included in his package yesterday. He has signed the deal with the federal government, they have already decided how much the tax is going to be, they have decided what range of goods are going to be covered under the combined tax, what range of goods are going to be exempt from both GST and PST. All those things have been decided. So he is not going out to consult. No, Madam Speaker, he is going to do what the ministers on this other side do so well; they are going to go out and tell the people what we have decided for you, in your best interests. We know it all, we have all the answers. You can't contribute anything; however, we are prepared to tell you what is best for you.

Well, that is not good enough and I am sure there are going to be a lot of people out there, in fact I know there are a lot of people out there who are incredibly upset with this arrogant approach to reform now in the tax system. Madam Speaker, this is a reform, it is a change. Whether it is a change for better or for worse we don't know, because we are not privy, as yet, to a number of factors, such as the one I just illustrated, as to what happens to certain sectors of the population.

For instance, we know, Madam Speaker, that the GST and, for that matter, the PST to a certain extent are both regressive taxes. They both impact more heavily on those people who spend the majority of their income buying the necessities of life. That hasn't changed. In fact, the GST is more regressive than the health services tax is. That hasn't changed, we know that. But we know that heretofore the government and the previous government as well have provided some kind of a system whereby those on lower incomes are, to a certain extent, protected.

We don't know now whether or not those people are still protected. We do know that if, indeed, this minister is not going to take some particular action on Thursday, tomorrow, to protect them, they are going to be worse off. How much worse off? A long way worse off because not only will they be paying a higher tax on those items that they already pay tax on but now there is a whole raft of things that they simply have to have to live that they are going to have to pay tax on. They are going to have to pay tax on their electricity; they are going to have to pay tax on the oil to heat their homes, their houses, apartments or whatever it is; they are going to have to pay tax on their clothing. These people on low incomes don't

[Page 1005]

go out and buy a $500 Armani suit; they probably go down to Frenchy's and pick up something for perhaps $80 to $100.

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you know?

MR. RUSSELL: I know because I go there myself. (Interruption) This is the truth. These people have children, the same as high income people. They have to go out and buy kids' clothes, they have to buy books. All these things now are going to be taxed and heretofore they were not, Madam Speaker. The tax before was regressive, now it is even more regressive.

Yesterday I asked the minister a question about people buying used cars because I had received that question before I came in the House yesterday. I had looked through what the minister had provided me in his package up at the World Trade Centre and I didn't see any change on used cars and I fell right into the trap and asked the minister a puffball kind of a question and I got it right back as a brick because under a plan between the federal and provincial government, there is a whole host of federal changes. One of the changes that I wasn't aware of until I got the answer from the minister yesterday and I got this document today, that there are about 100 changes here that the feds have made in their goods and service tax, they call it the simplification and fairness measures. This is a federal document, it is also incidentally marked, secret, so it is a valuable document or at least it was at one time until I got my hands on it.

This document has got 100 changes in the goods and services tax and one of those refers to the business of buying and selling of automobiles. I thought, now I have this document and I can get all of the answers that I want. I couldn't find anything in this document about an exemption for those who have physical problems. However, I had another call this morning - among the calls that I got - from a farmer who was calling about whether or not the present exemptions that apply to the agricultural industry still apply. I suppose I could say, hands up all of those who think they still apply and hands up all those who don't think it is applied and we could take a bet on it. I read this and there is nothing in the minister's statement that indicates whether or not those exemptions apply to the farm community, nothing at all.

However, there is a little bit in here on agriculture and I am told the taxable status of compost will be clarified, grains or seed irradiated for storage purposes will be zero rated, food for ratites, ostriches, emus and bees will be zero rated, when packaged in large quantities. I don't know how you package emus and ostriches in large quantities but that is what the document says when they are packaged in large quantities. You would have to have a pretty large zip-lock bag, I would suggest, to get a dozen ostriches in a bag and it goes on and on. But it still doesn't answer my question. Is there still a tax exemption for farm equipment? Is there still going to be a gasoline exemption for farmers and for fishermen? We are not told that. Farmers and fishermen want to know. Maybe the minister has got another document in his hip pocket that looks after that particular community. I would suggest to you that he probably doesn't.

We have talked about this tax on this side of the House as though it is a bad thing. I don't want to leave the impression that it is necessarily a bad thing. What I am saying is that with the details that we have at the present time, what we know about this tax is bad. In other words, we are not told what is going to be the positive impact of the blending of the two taxes. We have been told by the Minister of Finance that it is going to create 3,000 jobs. That is fine, the minister can say it is going to create 3,000 jobs or perhaps, as he said a little while ago, it is going to create 10,000 jobs. I would just like to see that document that says it creates 3,000 jobs and maybe that would make me happier.

The minister says that it is going to save the taxpayers of Nova Scotia $120 million per annum, in 1997-98. I would just love for that minister to show me a study, a document with any validity that says, yes, you blend the two taxes, you do yea and thus and you will save the taxpayers of Nova Scotia $120 million. I would also like to know who is going to pick up this $120 million? Is it Joe Brown down the road who earns maybe $25,000 a year? Is he going to get his share? Is it going to be Percy Smith who makes $50,000 a year? Or is it Jim Russell, somewhere, who makes $100,000 a year or is it some person who is making $250,000 a year? Is, indeed, this saving going to be spread across the whole spectrum of taxpayers of this country?

[Page 1006]

You know, Madam Speaker, if, indeed, this tax works, I think it is going to be right across this country because I cannot see the Atlantic Provinces in isolation having a blended tax and the rest of the country staying outside the system. The reason for that is because the provinces from Ontario - including Ontario - and west are in the process of reducing taxes; they are in the process of reducing income tax, corporate tax and sales tax. They are coming down. They are already lower than we are. Now if they continue to reduce their tax base, they are not going to come into a system that is going to raise taxes on goods and services. They are not going to do that because it would be to their disadvantage to do so.

So, as long as their tax rates are lower, I would suggest that we are still going to have those kinds of things in Nova Scotia which are going to persuade Nova Scotians to buy outside the province and get stuff shipped into this province, or else sent in by mail. We can apply that specifically, I think, to books because books transport very easily through the mail. There are large chains in Ontario at the present time which blanket this province with catalogues that list books. If you send your money out to Ontario, you can buy the book, it comes back, you pay GST at 7 per cent and no sales tax. If you buy your book in Nova Scotia, you are going to spend 15 per cent. So, I think that this government has done a great injustice to a number of industries similar to the book retail industry in this province, and I think that the minister owes Nova Scotians an explanation of exactly where we are with regard to the blended tax and also the implications, sector by sector, right across the province.

Thank you, Madam Speaker, I have run out of time.

MADAM CHAIRMAN: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to share some of my thoughts with the House of Assembly on this very important topic. I thank the honourable member, who has spoken immediately previous to me, for bringing it to the floor of the House.

Madam Speaker, this is a very major measure. It is the most significant tax reform undertaken in this province in my memory, and I think I have followed the matter for some considerable number of years now. What is the impact of this tax reform measure? I believe the honourable member, in addressing his remarks, did describe it as exactly that, a tax reform measure, and it is.

Why are we doing it? Well, there are two substantial advantages. The first substantial advantage is that we are going to reduce consumption taxes, if you will, that is sales taxes, in Nova Scotia by $120 million in the fiscal year 1997-98. That is not a small item. Now I have

[Page 1007]

to tell you that some of the people I speak to have responded, how can we believe any government in the history of Nova Scotia, any government reducing it $120 million? It has never happened in the past. If you go back the last 15 years, you will see the tax rate went up dramatically over that period of time. As a matter of fact, if you chart the taxes over that period, you will find out that, while real income doubled, the tax rate, under the former regime, went up over 150 per cent. So while it was large, it kept growing larger and larger. That is why people actually now have a little bit of trouble believing that there is a government that is actually going to reduce taxes. But that is a fact, a $120 million tax reduction. So that is one reason we are in this reform business.

[4:30 p.m.]

The second reason is that it will provide a major economic boost to our economy. The Opposition continues to talk about job creation but there are never any details. The only detail we got, I recall recently, the other day, came in a shouted message across the floor from the Leader of the New Democratic Party and his job strategy was to add more people to the Public Service. Well, that is not going to work. If that had worked, we would be wonderfully prosperous by now.

So this major economic boost will create 3,000 jobs by our estimate. I say that estimate is a cautious estimate based on economic models and studies which we have already undertaken to produce in report form for this House. I see from a comparative clipping from New Brunswick, in fact, they estimate on a much more aggressive way that it may create as many as 10,000 jobs in New Brunswick. Now they are a little more aggressive in their projections than we are; I hope they are right, because if it creates 10,000 in New Brunswick, it is going to create even more than that here in Nova Scotia.

But how does it create these jobs? That is a legitimate question. People out there wonder, how is it going to create these jobs. Well, first of all, it will make our business much more competitive and it will make them able to expand, grow, profit and become more productive. When they do that, people go to work. That is where the job creation comes in.

How will it do that? Well, first of all, it will remove duplication. How many times have you heard from the people of this province, eliminate this overlap in duplication. Why do we have two complete systems? It is expensive, it is troublesome. Well, now we are going to have one tax, one base, one collection, one set of rules and for businesses, they are going to be able to spend the extra time they save and the money they save, doing business, growing their business and making their products more competitive and, I might say, less costly for the consumer. That is how part of it will happen. We will eliminate all of this regulatory junk, the two systems and two different systems with two different sets of rules imposed on business.

The second thing we are going to do, Madam Speaker, and this is incredibly important, we are going to remove all kinds of imbedded taxes that are now being paid for by the consumers of this province and they don't realize it because every time a transaction takes place, moving a good from one individual to another, or from one business to another, ultimately ending up in the hands of the consumer, it may not attract tax now at this last stage, but it has attracted tax all the way through the piece. You never see it, you can never tell how much it is, but it is there. It is there and it is in the price when the consumer walks into the store and pays. That is where it is and we are removing it. From now on, no hidden taxes, no imbedded taxes, all the way through that process; they are gone. That will result, Madam Speaker, in lower prices for consumers.

Well, we remove imbedded taxes; we give business what we call input tax credits; we remove the overlap in duplication; we make the system simple; save money and make more time for managing business. What happens? Well it will make our businesses in Nova Scotia more competitive within Canada and incredibly more competitive, I might add, on the export market. How do we propose as a group here to ensure that Nova Scotia has a chance at growth and success? How do we ensure an economy that will support and challenge our children? We do it in the export market. We go into the new global economy, we compete [Page 1008]

with people from all over the world, and do you know what, we beat them because we are more successful, more competitive. But we have to help our companies do that and this is one of the ways.

Let me give you a little example. A company competing here in Nova Scotia for a contract in Bermuda, competing against a company in Toronto. They will both do their best, they will both sharpen their pencils and who is going to get the job because whoever gets the job will employ workers. So those workers are either going to be employed in Toronto or they are going to be employed here in Nova Scotia. Who gets the job? Well, our company has just been given a tremendous advantage because of the input tax credits. Because they don't pay any of that hidden imbedded tax along the way, they can produce that service cheaper than that company in Ontario and we get the contract and we get the jobs. That is how it works. That is why there are 3,000 jobs at stake here in the economy.

That is not all this deal brings, Madam Speaker. This deal brings $1 billion of new money into the Atlantic economy. Now what is wrong with that? Does anyone want to estimate what $1 billion of money will do in terms of stimulating economic activity in Atlantic Canada? One of the problems we have in Atlantic Canada, and we admit this, is that the federal government is withdrawing its participation in our economy. They have to, they are withdrawing. This will be a major source of funds in our economy to stimulate growth. So that is $1 billion.

You know, Madam Speaker, massive tax reductions, making our companies more productive, more competitive, creating jobs, stimulating our economy and putting $1 billion of new money into the system. Those are some of the reasons why, for example, the metro chamber of commerce have come out in favour, leading economists in the province have endorsed this harmonization. That is why it is being endorsed there.

The New Democratic Party sometimes would have us believe that a dollar tax to business somehow doesn't get passed on to the consumer. Well, I don't believe that is the case, I think any tax on companies gets passed on to the ultimate consumer, the customer who walks in for the product. In fact, that is one of the benefits for every customer in this province, every consumer.

You know one of the things - this is an important issue, this is a significant issue and there are real concerns that we have to address. We have heard some of them, they have been brought up here in Question Period, some of them you heard in the news. We will address those issues. One of the issues we have to address is to ensure that the benefits, this $120 million benefit, is spread over different income groups so that everybody gets some support and some benefit from it. We accept that challenge; we accept the challenge of that, Madam Speaker, but this is an important issue.

What I would like to know, and you know, Madam Speaker, I have read the list of speakers here on this resolution and there is a speaker left for the NDP after I take my seat and there is a speaker left for the Conservatives after I take my seat, so both of the Parties will have an opportunity to rise to their feet, as far as I know, and make clear to the people

[Page 1009]

of Nova Scotia where they stand with respect to harmonization. The Conservatives, for example, under the former leadership of Premier Donald Cameron, supported harmonization. For example, the member for Halifax Citadel was a senior member in that government and I don't recall at the time that he parted company with his Premier. So I can only assume that he supported it.

We have an agreement in principle now; we have a memorandum of understanding. Both of the Opposition Parties have it. I have a very simple question for both of those Parties; would they have signed the deal or would they have turned it down? Now I don't think it is going to be hard for the NDP to answer that question because, in fact, they have already made their views very well known on this. I want to ask specifically to the Official Opposition, who are going to speak to this motion, what would you have done? Have you changed your mind since Premier Cameron was there? Have you judged the memorandum and said you are not interested, you wouldn't sign this deal? Let's have the Conservative Party either say we would sign this deal or we wouldn't, the memorandum of understanding. Let's not have them hedge, Madam Speaker, let's not have them fiddle with detail and say well, we don't know this little item here or we don't know this little item there so we are not going to offer an opinion.

I challenge them, Madam Speaker, and I ask the people of Nova Scotia to watch the response to the challenge. Would they have signed this deal or would they have sent it back? That is the issue, do they have the courage to answer the question. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, as usual, I enjoy listening to the Minister of Finance when he participates in these debates because he certainly is a good speaker. He throws himself into these debates. He is an intelligent individual and it is a pleasure to listen to him.

I was waiting, when he was calling on the Official Opposition and the NDP to tell us where we stood and, in particular, the Official Opposition, have they changed their mind on the GST and so on and so forth. I had visions of Paul Martin, who was on the CBC last night bleeding all over the television, talking about how we made a mistake. We did not really mean the things that we said in the election of 1993, where we told Canadians from coast to coast that we would get rid of the GST. You elect us and we will get rid of that ugly old GST; that is what they said over and over again. Mr. Martin, when asked specially about that, he said, well, we did not really say that but, of course, all Canadians know exactly what the Liberal Party said.

He did say that we made a mistake. I did not hear the Minister of Finance of this government relieving his conscience in a similar manner; he just tried to suggest and ask the Official Opposition what they have done. We know what the Official Opposition did. They originally said that they were thinking about it. The voters in 1991 in the by-election in Halifax Atlantic said no; so they said no, then they again considered it. In 1993, the voters in the general election in this province spoke very clearly about how they felt with respect to harmonizing and they told all of us that they did not want any part of harmonization and that is simply and clearly a position that this government, the Liberal Party, took in that election; now, of course, we can see them back-pedalling so fast that they are just merely a blur.

[Page 1010]

Let us take a little bit of a look at this harmonization plan. As I indicated earlier, in Question Period, the minister talked about it when he introduced it and there were ads in the paper today. "We are announcing here today the biggest tax reduction in Nova Scotian history". Once again, all we get is air; all we get is words; all we get is promises and assertions that a such and such is going to happen. Even many commentators from the business community had to withhold comment and judgment on this until they received the details; not all, but some, because there is nothing but air here; there is nothing but assertions and assumptions that are not based on any evidence. We have not seen any evidence.

I asked the minister today in Question Period some fairly basic questions about whether or not he considered the effect of an 8 per cent tax on the service sector. If he considered, when he was talking about economic growth and job creation, did he consider the deadening effect of that additional tax on that particular sector? A similar deadening effect that the GST had when it was originally implemented, because it is the same kind of tax. It is a consumption tax; it is something that consumers have to pay each and every time they buy that particular service. Tens of thousands of jobs across this country were eliminated as a result of the GST and one has to wonder whether or not this government hasn't considered the effect of that in its calculations. The minister never came close to providing me with an answer to that question.

Likewise, the whole issue of the millions of dollars that are being lumped on the municipalities in this province, school boards and hospitals. Has the minister considered the impact on the economy of those municipalities? Let us take the municipality as an example. They will be facing millions of dollars in extra costs and the only option they have is to increase taxes, increase the cost of services in their municipality. Did the minister, did his government consider the impact of that increase in taxes in the calculation of economic growth in the 3,000 jobs? Again, a pretty simple question, I think pretty basic, but a very important question that needs to be asked relative to the impact that this harmonization plan is going to have.

Finally, I asked the minister on the sectors, the school boards and the hospitals; it is going to mean, again, millions of dollars in extra costs. Those sectors do not have the authority to tax, so their only option to respond to the increased costs is to reduce programs and reduce staff. I asked the minister and I continue to ask the minister, did he include in his calculation of economic growth and job creation, the potential impact of the kinds of program and staff cuts that are going to be made in the health care sector and in the education sector as a result of this increase? He had no answers for us.

That is what is so frustrating and troubling for Nova Scotians, that the minister does this deal behind closed doors, he then comes out with an announcement, with great fanfare, but does not provide us with any details. When I asked him what he was going to do about the municipal sector, he said, well, we haven't talked to the municipal sector yet, but we are going to. Well if he didn't talk to the municipal sector, how can he make these predictions about the impacts on the economy if he hasn't talked to the municipal sector which is going to incur millions of dollars, Madam Speaker?

[4:45 p.m.]

In response to my questions about the impact of this tax, the minister stands up and waves around some newspaper clippings about the Chamber of Commerce in Halifax and the Chamber of Commerce in New Brunswick and how they support this plan wholeheartedly. Madam Speaker, I can also turn around and wave some messages that I have gotten from Nova Scotians in some conversations that I have had from Nova Scotians who are extremely concerned about the impact of this tax, who are not happy with this tax.

I think, for example, and I will table it for all members here, of Schooner Books Ltd. who say that we are now the only area in Canada that will tax books. They say, even Quebec, when they blended their taxes, did not tax books. Our competitors in Quebec, Ontario and out west will now be able to take over our mail order businesses. On and on it goes. There is that one.

In the municipal sector, the region of industrial Cape Breton, Madam Speaker, is looking at a $1.5 million increase as a result of this. People are calling me and talking about the increase in their costs for [Page 1011]

electricity of $150 a year; of gasoline costs of similar amounts; on top of those people, senior citizens on fixed incomes who are already being knocked around by the $215 charge on Pharmacare. What about those people? The minister stands up here and raves about the Chamber of Commerce but what about those small Nova Scotians, as the Premier refers to them? What about those Nova Scotians who are going to have to pay a lot of money over the course of a year to pay for those family essentials? What about those people? What is the minister going to do about that?

What about the minister's promise when he was in Opposition, and the Premier's promise when he was running for election, about a fair tax commission? What about the idea of the recognition that this province needs to deal with its tax system, needs to make it more fair because it is clearly unfair, Madam Speaker? What about the idea of coming up with a fair tax commission to consult with Nova Scotians, to discuss the important issues about taxes and the impact that different taxes have on the economy? Nothing. The minister says, we are going to leave it to the invisible hand of the economy in order to ensure that there will be a flow-through of the savings from business to consumers.

Well, do you know what we have seen? The GST was designed to benefit that same sector that the minister is now talking about, benefitting the export sector. The manufacturers sales tax or the manufacturing tax, Madam Speaker, was taken off and replaced by the GST, a savings of five points, the shift from business again to individuals and that was going to mean a huge boost to the export sector and a huge increase in jobs. What have we seen? Well, the export sector is not doing too bad, but I would suggest it has more to do with the exchange rate than it does with the GST. (Interruption) And NAFTA, that's right.

What have we seen in terms of jobs? We have seen chronic unemployment in this country, an absolutely unforgivable and outrageous rate of unemployment in this country. We have seen corporations in the last year, 1995, corporate profits are the highest that they have been in the history of this country, higher than they were in 1994, which was also a record year. One has to ask, are the savings being passed on to consumers? I think not, the savings are going into the pockets of the shareholders and more often than not, in the pockets of senior executives who now in this country are earning absolutely obscene incomes of well over $1 million in far too many cases. So the invisible hand is as ridiculous a concept as it was back in Adam Smith's day when he supposedly talked about it, although some people suggest he was misquoted.

We have absolutely no evidence that this tax change is going to do anything but further affect in a negative way the economy of this province. The minister stands here and talks about the billions of dollars in bribe money that the federal government is going to send down here to the Atlantic Provinces and what a great deal that is. You know, that doesn't come close to compensating the Atlantic Region for the money we have lost as a result of the

[Page 1012]

Canada Health and Social Transfers, for example. Nova Scotia is going to lose $300 million, more than the money we are going to be getting as a result of this bribe. That also doesn't account for the tens of millions of dollars that are being lost in the economy as a result of changes in the UI system.

You hear the minister stand in his place and talk about the positive impact of that $1 billion but you never heard him talk about the devastation that the retrenching the federal government is doing and the withdrawing that they are doing, in terms of monies and transfers, equalization payments to this region has done and will do, in terms of the economy, in terms of job creation. There are a lot of Nova Scotians that are going to be hurt by this tax.

Consumption tax, as studies show clearly, the bulk of them are paid by the middle class, paid by middle income Nova Scotians, by middle income Canadians. What we are being asked to suck back right now by this government is a further burden of paying for taxes by middle income Nova Scotians. I would suggest that not only can middle income Nova Scotians not afford it but they don't deserve to be burdened further by this additional cost.

Let me say one last thing as I wrap up, that what this government fails to recognize is the big problem in this province, the big problem in this country, in terms of the debt and the deficit, in terms of our sluggish economy is the fact that we have too many people that are unemployed, we have too many people that are under-employed.

What we need to focus our attention on is not shifting the burden of taxes from companies to individuals, from rich Nova Scotians and rich Canadians to middle class and lower income Nova Scotians. What we need to do is come up with a fair tax system and the biggest solution that we need to come up with is that we need to create jobs in this province and in this country. We need to maintain jobs, we need to stop the policy of job cremation that this government is following here in Nova Scotia and in Ottawa. We need to maintain the jobs that we have, whether that be North Sydney at the IMP plant, whether that be at Devco, the 800 jobs in the coal industry, or whether that be in the hospitals and in public services across this province. We need to maintain jobs, we need to maintain that purchasing power in our communities and then we need to focus our attention on creating jobs. That is what Nova Scotians need, not another tax grab by this government on middle income and lower income Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to offer a few comments on this resolution and on the subject generally of the harmonization of the GST and the PST.

May I begin with a reference to some of the last words which were uttered by our friend and colleague, the Minister of Finance, as he closed his participation in this particular debate. He looks over and he points his finger and he issues the challenge, let those on the Opposition benches and particularly, let those in the Progressive Conservative Party say where they stand in relation to harmonization. Well, everybody in the Province of Nova Scotia knows where we stand on the question of harmonization because we went to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia indicating that we were in favour of harmonization. Therefore, I take no issue with the principle of harmonization.

[Page 1013]

Let me issue a challenge to the Minister of Finance, Madam Speaker: let the Minister of Finance explain to Nova Scotians where he now stands relative to the promise and the commitment and the undertaking which he made side by side with Prime Minister Chretien a couple of years ago when they went to the people of Nova Scotia and the people of Canada and said, vote for us and we will "abolish" the GST. It is this Minister of Finance provincially and the Minister of Finance nationally who are playing the shell game here and who are attempting now, a few years later, to have the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and the taxpayers of Canada believe that something of real value is being delivered to those poor, beleaguered taxpayers.

News flash, as reported in the Ottawa press today; Liberals admit Conservatives right about goods and services tax, admit error, ask for forgiveness. Nowhere, Madam Speaker, in today's newspapers will you see that headline. But, of course, that is what occurred yesterday, except that the Liberals having campaigned against the GST, could not bring themselves to utter the words. Instead, Finance Minister Paul Martin said, during the election campaign we were right to criticize the GST. Among its problems recalled Mr. Martin were overlap and duplication. That is what the Liberals were campaigning against in 1993, overlap and duplication.

Is that what you heard from your friendly Liberal candidate in the election? Is that what you told your constituents, Madam Speaker? The problem with the GST is overlap and duplication? I doubt very much that you said that on any doorstep. Did scrap the tax mean end the overlap and the duplication? Did abolish mean kaput for overlap and duplication? As Jeffrey Simpson said today in The Globe, I guess we all misunderstood.

It is interesting to note that in the editorial comment of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald of just a couple of days ago we have the words, "So let's be serious. The GST went through four years of scrutiny - a White Paper, budget proposals, study by a Commons committee, and coast-to-coast public hearings - before implementation. The public still hates it. What are the chances of doing a better job in six months of backroom dealmaking? That, Madam Speaker, is the fundamental flaw here.

The caucus which I represent does not stand in this place and say that harmonization is wrong. What we do stand in our place and say is that the process employed by this Minister of Finance and his pal, the federal Minister of Finance, Paul Martin, is wrong, wrong in the extreme because it has all been done behind closed doors, it is one of these, we are going to revolutionize the tax system in this country and in this province, details to follow. That is wrong.

As my friend from the NDP said a few moments ago, where is the fair tax commission talk now? Where is Premier Savage with the commitment on a fair tax commission? Where is this minister on the fair tax commission?

This Minister of Finance is a very gregarious and able and jovial kind of a guy (Interruption) and, as one of his colleagues over there says, competent. Well, one has to question the Minister of Finance's competence, more to the point I guess, Madam Speaker, one has to question the minister's perception of the gullibility and stupidity of the Nova Scotia taxpayer.

[Page 1014]

[5:00 p.m.]

Do you know what this Minister of Finance does? He stands here and says - and I wrote the words down - what are these members of the Opposition complaining about, because there is going to be $1 billion new money into Atlantic Canada. What planet does our Minister of Finance come from? That isn't new money; that is money out of your back pocket and your family's back pocket and mine and every member here and every Nova Scotia taxpayer. What does this Minister of Finance mean, $1 billion in new money? Paul Martin is digging into his very fat wallet in Ottawa, and saying I, Paul Martin, am throwing $1 million of mine on the table? He isn't throwing $1 million of his, he is throwing $1 million of the Nova Scotia taxpayers' dollars back to Nova Scotia for, I might point out, a very limited time.

In a process whereby, in a system or under a formulation yet to be explained by our Minister of Finance, under a formulation where we don't yet understand why it is that the Province of Nova Scotia is receiving the amount that it is, the $249 million, I think it is, over four years, or thereabouts, it works out to about $62 million a year of this, what Bernie Boudreau, Minister of Finance likes to call, new money. What foolishness, new money. It is the Nova Scotia taxpayers' money, and it is $62 million of it that Paul Martin, Minister of Finance in Ottawa, is going to send to Nova Scotia.

What result does that leave? Over the four years ahead of us, it leaves Finance Minister Boudreau $60 million short, by his own admission, of the amount that he is not going to be collecting from the Nova Scotia taxpayer. So where does he make up the $60 million? Oh, he has to have an answer to that, and these folks will probably believe most everything that I will try to lay on them, these gullible Nova Scotia taxpayers, so I will make up this fanciful, oh, we are going to make it up because we are going to create 3,000 new jobs. Where is the paper, where is the economic study that indicates there will be 3 jobs, let alone 3,000 jobs? There is no such study; there is no such study that this minister has been prepared to table at all.

Where is the evidence that there will be this growth of economic activity? (Interruptions) No, I am not going to vote for this. I will ignore the foolishness and the rabbit tracks, Madam Speaker. (Interruption) I am not going to vote for this process for that very reason. The process stinks. There has been no chance for the people of Nova Scotia to offer their considered opinion relative to whether or not this is good for the people of Nova Scotia.

There is a great document, Accountability and Accessibility in Government - Liberal Policy, the platform of the Liberal Party in the provincial election in May 1993. The word harmonization of the PST and GST does not appear anywhere at all. This is a pay-off by this Liberal Government, for some reason as yet unclear, to their buddy Jean Chretien in Ottawa. What set of priorities (Interruptions) We now have a new harmonized GST/PST program. Isn't this wonderful. We are going to reduce the tax on served alcoholic beverages, yet we are going to raise them on clothing and footwear under $100. What does that say about the thought processes going on around this Cabinet table and across this government caucus when it comes to concern about the families in Nova Scotia, many of them, too many, tens of thousands of them on limited resources, who need some relief when it comes to clothing and footwear, and who, until this minister, had that relief. This minister has taken it away from them.

Let us not forget, Madam Speaker, that this is the same minister who said, we are now going to reduce the amount that we are going to take out of the Nova Scotia taxpayer's pocket. This is the same minister who, within months of becoming Minister of Finance, after railing about the problems that we faced in Nova Scotia because of the high tax regime, walked into

[Page 1015]

this place, stood up and made a Budget Speech and jacked the provincial sales tax by 10 per cent. (Interruption)

Now, a couple of years later, he puts his thumb into that GST pie, pulls out the plum with Jean Chretien and Sheila Copps and everybody else munching on the plum, and he pulls that out and says, I am now going to take a few dollars less, $120 million less, from the Nova Scotia taxpayers. A great deal of that, one point on the PST, Bernie Boudreau's one point on the PST is worth about $60 million. So what he is doing is recognizing 24 months late that he made a mistake when he went from 10 per cent PST to 11 per cent PST and he is giving back $60 million to the Nova Scotia taxpayer.

I say to you, Madam Speaker, (Interruptions) look at this, look at this, yeah, well indeed, the decibel level is a little high. My apologies.

MADAM SPEAKER: It is terribly high.

MR. DONAHOE: All of these distinguished colleagues - you can even hear it outside.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bad for the throat.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, it is bad for the throat. I get extra time for all these interruptions, I am sure. All these distinguished friends and colleagues of mine, who walk around this province, well, with their heads sort of held mostly down, saying they are the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia, they are all railing at me over here now saying, he is not in favour of a reduction of taxes for Nova Scotia.

Well, I want them to go door to door in Nova Scotia and tell the people of Nova Scotia why they are for - why is the Minister of Business and whatever he is now, we haven't seen any production out of him yet (Interruption) so we are having trouble really remembering who he is. (Interruption)

I want the Liberal Cabinet Ministers to go door to door and tell their residents and their constituents and come down to my constituency and tell them, why is it that they are in favour of the Liberal Government and Bernie Boudreau, Minister of Finance, that electricity cost is going to increase, that clothing and footwear under $100 is going to increase, that textbooks and books - I want the Minister of Education to come into my constituency and tell my constituents why textbooks, books and newspapers are going to have (Interruption) $120 million, yes, that is why textbooks are going up - I want him to come to my constituency where I have, unfortunately, hundreds of families struggling to get by day-to-day and tell them why their fuel oil and other fuel is going up.

I want him and I want all these ministers, the Minister of Finance, the Premier of Nova Scotia, some day, Madam Speaker, when you are not occupied as you are at this moment, I would love you to tell your (Interruptions) constituents why is it that you approve, along with all of your colleagues, that about $43 million to $60 million, new dollars, are going to be collected by your provincial government on new gasoline tax.

AN HON. MEMBER: And not spent on highways.

[Page 1016]

MR. DONAHOE: More to the point, this government tries to have the people of Nova Scotia believe that they talk about support for business. What a support to business to throw $43 million to $60 million of new dollars of cost upon their shoulders as they try to do business with $43 million to $60 million of gasoline tax.

Madam Speaker, I know I have to close. I close with a sincere and fervent request of the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance has said, this is one of the most revolutionary, fundamental reforms in the tax laws in the history of this province and he is right, and because he is right it deserves a process whereby affected Nova Scotia taxpayers can come to learn the impact and offer their opinion. I plead with him to agree that a select committee of this House be instituted and that that select committee tours the Province of Nova Scotia in the coming months and Nova Scotians are given a chance to offer their view in regard to what is going to be, potentially, a very regressive matter for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

MADAM SPEAKER: Your time has expired.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 12.

Res. No. 12, re Health - Budget Cuts: Effect - Change - notice given Mar. 29/96 - (Mr. G. Moody)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: I have the opportunity to lead off on Resolution No. 12. It has to do with the cuts that have occurred in health care. I want to start my remarks by referring to an editorial that was in the Bridgewater Bulletin on April 17th. I just will read a couple of quotes and I think it sort of sets the tone for where I will be going in the 10 minutes I have.

"Nova Scotia is undergoing major change as the Liberals, led by Premier John Savage, attempt to deal with a serious financial challenge. Unfortunately the government is fixing our financial woes on the backs of Nova Scotians, particularly in education and health care . . . Since taking power three years ago, Ron Stewart has closed hospitals, cut services, eliminated beds and generally wreaked havoc in the health care system. While the government pushes ahead with its agenda of reform, I am still not convinced that reducing local, community-based hospitals in favour of large regionalized facilities is more cost efficient or provides better patient care. In fact, I am more convinced than ever that the government has overlooked the impact these reductions and realignments have had on the people.". He talks about the example of an uncle who without a community hospital would not be alive today.

His closing remarks were, "Reforms are necessary, but not at the cost of Nova Scotian lives.". Please listen to this Madam Speaker. "Reforms are necessary, but not at the cost of Nova Scotian lives. If the government continues its present course of regionalization, the people will pay for it, in some cases with their lives. Perhaps we cannot afford the system we once had, but neither can we afford reforms that cost some people their lives.". I would table that.

[Page 1017]

I get calls on a daily basis from people who are concerned about the system. I had a call today from an individual, a disabled senior, a war veteran who happened to have a slight accident in Halifax. It proved that it was not his fault, but a person ran directly into the side of his vehicle. He was about six blocks from the Infirmary. He was taken to hospital and checked out and he was okay. He was taken by ambulance. Do you know what happened to this man? He was sent a bill for $229 for ambulance fees, $229. He tried to talk to the Department of Health. Anyway, the ambulance group from metro sent it to a collection agency and this poor senior, this poor individual, a war veteran, was harassed by a collection agency for $229. The man said, why would I pay, Mr. Moody, $229 to go six blocks to a hospital? I said, I think they have made a mistake, I thought you only had to pay $60 for short calls and $80 for the longer journeys.

We may get this issued resolved because, I believe, his bill indicated he had travelled 58 kilometres. Now I do not know if that is how far the ambulance travelled, but he certainly did not travel 58 kilometres. The sad part was he called the minister's office, he called time and time again and nobody called back to care about that individual's problem.

All I am saying is day after day, and I can go on and on, I had a call yesterday from two people about the Pharmacare Program. A man who is a senior sent his forms in last fall and they tell him now he owes $430 to get on the program and if he does not pay right away he will be cut off. Matter of fact, he went to the pharmacy for medication and he was cut off. They would not take post-dated cheques, they would not take quarterly payments. I said that this can't be true; the Minister of Health has told me that you can do all of this. He gave me the name of the person in the department, Erwin O'Brien, who told him that they will not accept anything but full payment. The man says he can't even afford to buy the insurance on his car because he got sick and had to buy medication; he can't send in the $430.

[5:15 p.m.]

I had a call from another lady from whom they are trying to collect $860, and she is on four different kinds of medication for a heart problem and it is costing her about $400 and she is really upset. They are telling her that she is going to be cut off or she comes up with $860. She can't come up with $860; it is impossible to come up with $860.

I also had another call . . .

MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. MOODY: Sure.

MR. RICHARDS: Madam Speaker, I wonder, when he was talking to that senior who had an accident where he indicated, the honourable member indicated, that it was a third party fault accident, did he suggest that that bill be sent on to the insurance company for reimbursement or did he try to find a way that the Department of Health should pay for it?

MR. MOODY: I guess I didn't explain it. A person walked into the side of his car. Nobody was actually hurt, but the police or somebody called an ambulance. Here is a man who is a senior and somebody called an ambulance, the police or somebody sent him off in an ambulance. Nobody was hurt, no damage was done, who was he going to sue? (Interruption) Is doesn't matter. Anyway, the person was involved in a small accident . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't manipulate the story.

[Page 1018]

MR. MOODY: I am not manipulating the story, I said that this person was taken to hospital. It wasn't his fault; still isn't his fault; and who knows whether it was the third party's fault.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. The dispute between two honourable members is obviously not going to be resolved.

MR. MOODY: All I am asking is, why is this government sending him that bill? I want to make one other point about the Pharmacare Program and it is a very important point. I had a call from a lady who had a combined salary, income between her and her husband of under $21,000, last year, they got a rebate back from the government; they didn't have to pay. This year, they got a bill. They have to pay in 1996 because if you are not below $18,000, which the government never explained, but if you are between $18,000 and $24,000 you get a bill?

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I wonder if you would permit an introduction?

MR. MOODY: Certainly, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, first of all I would like to thank the member for permitting an introduction.

As most members know in the House, Cape Breton is known for its talent. We have in the gallery, four members of the band called Soup. They are from Port Hawkesbury and they are the award winners of the Spirit East Award that recognizes young bands. They are in Halifax to participate in the Young Entrepreneurial Conference and in the Battle of the Bands.

I would like to introduce the four band members from Port Hawkesbury: Chris Skinner, Bob Denver, Claude Sampson and Stephen Muise. I would ask if they would stand and be recognized as upcoming young talent and, by the way, this band also operates and runs their own business as young entrepreneurs. I would ask the members to welcome them to the House. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I will add a minute to your time.

MR. MOODY: Madam Speaker, the point that I am trying to make to this government is that seniors are very upset, because they feel they have been misled. One year the program applied to them and now it doesn't apply to them. I asked the Minister of Health whether seniors were going to have to pay 50 per cent of the program. He said, in 1995-96, no, because apparently they didn't collect from these people who were in that range. If you were under $21,000, you got a rebate. Now the government is gouging the seniors and saying to these people, because they thought when the government upped it to $24,000, they thought they were within that range, that they wouldn't get a bill from the government and they would get a rebate. Instead of that the government didn't tell them that no, no, that is not quite right; you have to be under $18,000 to get a rebate and you are going to pay something if you are between $18,000 and $24,000 as a couple. That is what is really upsetting seniors.

[Page 1019]

Now I can't imagine, Madam Speaker, that other members in this Legislature are not getting the kind of calls that I am getting. My list over there of pink slips, each day is like that. They are from senior citizens concerned about this government's program that the Minister of Health stands and says is the best program in the world. Well, you ask the seniors of this province and they will tell you that is not true.

I had dinner with a physician last night who said to me, George, I had a patient who was a low income senior. Yes, she is going to get a rebate, but you know what? There was a medication she was on for arthritis that now has been de-listed. She is in a great deal of pain, she has no means to buy that medication. The program that used to provide that kind of medication is now being de-listed. Yet I am being told day after day by this minister that it is the best program around.

Well, if you are a senior and you have to go without these kinds of medications and you know and I know that if you are the kind of person who lives on less than $13,000 a year, you can't go out and buy that medication when it is de-listed by this government.

I know I have run over, Madam Speaker, and I apologize but I hope the government is listening to what the people are saying about what is really happening to them in this great reform that they say is so wonderful.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: Madam Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Health, I will be taking part in this debate today, as the honourable Minister of Health is attending a ministers' meeting in Ottawa of Health Ministers from all across Canada. I know he wanted to be here. He talked to us about it but he felt he had to go up there for these important meetings. (Interruption)

Well, you know, the honourable member says, another free lunch. I want to tell you, if all the Ministers of Health were meeting in Canada and the minister from Nova Scotia wasn't there, they would be up the next day in this House with resolutions criticizing him and going on and on about his lack of compassion and caring with regard to the future of health programs in this province.

Now I want to tell you, Madam Speaker, since when did we start criticizing people here when they had to attend a ministers' conference to deal with their portfolio? They might as well start on me because tomorrow I will be in Newfoundland with the Ministers of Labour from the other Atlantic Provinces. So if you have anything to say, you might as well say it.

Madam Speaker, I want to tell you, when we came into office in 1993 this province was spending 28 per cent to 29 per cent of its budget on health care. Yes, there had to be reforms. What is the difference? We are seeing reforms taking place in Newfoundland; we are seeing them taking place in New Brunswick, P.E.I., Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. because if we are to preserve the greatest health care system in the world, we have to make those changes to guarantee that that health care system will be there for our children and for their children. You can do that only by having reforms, which I have seen ever since Bob Stanfield brought MSI into this province in the 1960's. There have been reforms. If there were no reforms, the health care system would not even be here.

[Page 1020]

I want to tell you, under Pharmacare there has always been drugs, since we introduced it in the 1970's, that were delisted from time to time. Under my honourable colleagues when they were in power and under us in the 1970's, and there will always be, as long as we have a Pharmacare Program, drugs that are de-listed.

I find the department and MSI very good. If you get a letter from the doctor that says this person must have those drugs, and you send it in, in every case I have had so far those have been approved. But if you are just going to leave the senior there and say, the government program is awful, it isn't any good, they de-listed, then you aren't going to solve any problems. But our programs are flexible and that is what I deal with, and I realize not every issue is covered in this country.

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place, on behalf of the Minister of Health, to state very clearly that this government fully supports a fully integrated, universal, publicly-funded health care system, and we have not wavered from that. We are proud that the Honourable David Dingwall is now the national Minister of Health, and he has made changes under the free trade agreement to give that guarantee to the people in this great nation, and especially to the people in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to tell you that I support his efforts. We have always shown our support and commitment to those principles. In fact, all governments in Nova Scotia have always shown their support to those principles and commitment, and we say that we will continue to do that as long as we are here.

This resolution is another example of members opposite attempting to mislead, misinform and create fear among Nova Scotians, Madam Speaker. You know, it is always neglected to tell the people, from the Opposition Parties, the facts about how the health care system is working to improve the health of every person in this province that we all love so much, that every member in this Assembly works for. Since we have formed the government, there have been remarkable improvements - in my opinion - in how care is delivered throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, and there are more coming. (Applause)

We have integrated programs, we have knocked down barriers for the first time. I gave you an example the other day in my reply to the Throne Speech, from right in my own constituency, where the people from the community of Oxford had to go to Springhill to have their blood work done. The poor seniors, a lot of them don't drive or have cars, and they had to hire a taxi to take them to Springhill once or twice a week. What did we do under reforms? Now we go to the Medical Centre in Oxford, in cooperation with the Town of Oxford, and we have the work all done there. I have received several letters; what a major improvement for those people who have no car, have no family and find it very difficult to get transportation for 16 to 20 kilometres away, one way; 30 to 40 kilometres. So that is a major improvement and that is about knocking down barriers, believe me, and this has happened.

We have integrated programs to communicate with communities, for the first time truly beginning a renewal of the cherished health care system that we all worship so much. That is something that the previous government did not do. What did they do in the 1980's and what did they do in the early 1990's? We haven't been here forever; we have been here in power for less than three years. What was done? They chose not to; the previous government chose instead to continue to throw money at the problem and not deal with the real issue.

They did so in a haphazard and unplanned way. They allowed a health care system to develop without measuring the outcomes to show the care is appropriate and effective to people who are receiving it. They made decisions based on politics and they created a health

[Page 1021]

care system that was unbalanced, insensitive to the grass-roots needs of the smaller communities and the larger communities in this province.

Financial management of the system was sorely lacking in this province, we all know that, and even some of the members now on the Opposition who sat on this side of the House have said, Guy, I agree that changes have to be made. There was no plan for delivering proper care from community to community. There was no overall coordination. Just think of the old home care system in this province, Madam Speaker, a limited access in this province, non-existent standards for emergency health care delivered under the former Government in Nova Scotia.

[5:30 p.m.]

In other words, one would be justified in saying that the system that we inherited from a former government, the one they created by deliberate, irresponsible inaction was so close to the American system. Now I understand my time is up but I want to tell you, Madam Speaker, before I sit down, that the Minister of Health that we have in this province has more compassion about those in need, more caring and more feeling about developing the health care system in this province than any minister ever has. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, let me just say - in picking up from what the Minister of Labour just talked about, the high level of compassion on behalf of the Minister of Health - that doesn't matter a hoot to Nova Scotians. What they want to see is their health care system protected. They want to see programs re-established in the Province of Nova Scotia. They want to see home care beefed up and not decimated like this government is doing.

So he may have compassion. The Minister of Labour may feel that he is the greatest kind of fellow, but let me tell you, there are a lot of Nova Scotians in this province (Interruption) who feel that their health care system is seriously under threat as a result of the sad case of mismanagement that that system has been subjected to since this government came in.

Madam Speaker, I think it is important for us to take a look at a few of the things that are happening. One of them is home care. Home care is a program that is supposed to be put into place in communities in this province to compensate for the thousands of hospital beds that have been closed around this province. Health care reform in this province has been initiated for the prime reason that it has been determined, after 20 years of study, that we must move the focus of our health care system from one based on institutions to one based on care in the community and that that is, in fact, the best way to provide health services to members of our community.

What we need to do, and this is a clear recommendation from the Blueprint Committee, we need to ensure that there are services in the community. Home care is an important part of that, in fact, it is one of the core cornerstones of a reformed health care system. We must ensure that there are good services in the community before we start to cut and slash at the institution level.

[Page 1022]

But that is not what this government has done. They introduced the Home Care Program June 1, 1995 under the usual fanfare like the harmonized tax system. The trumpets were blaring and the minister talked about how his government is committed to a new home care system in this province. It is the same old thing with this government. They talked about all the money they were putting into a Home Care Program. The facts are this; $44 million was shifted from the municipally administered home care system into the provincially administered home care system. Seven million dollars of additional money was put into home care, Madam Speaker, at a time when our hospital beds were being cut at the rate of 25 per cent in this province.

In other words, the kind of commitment in terms of resources put into the system were absolutely and inextricably inadequate and we are now seeing, Madam Speaker, just what the effect has been. We have a serious dispute here in Halifax as a result of the Victorian Order of Nurses, the branch here in Halifax County, which is facing its nursing services being put out to tender by Home Care Nova Scotia and being put in a position where they are competing with private-for-profit providers, some of them from the U.S. It is being done and the threat is real because of the fact that this government has failed, over the past 11 months when the Home Care Program was established, to put in any standards, to put in any provisions to ensure that standards of care and the level of qualifications of the providers was to be at a level that now exists and to ensure that for-profit private providers were not going to be able to come in here and provide less qualified staff, for minimum wages, with no benefits and to take away basically the service that was provided and has been provided for so many years by the VON.

But you know that is an example of the privatization of health care that is going on in this province and that is being allowed to go on as a result of the absolute lack of control that this government has shown with health care reform. Whether that is in terms of home care services, where we are seeing more privatization, or whether that is in the provision of home care of whether it is ambulance care of ambulance services, we are seeing a further erosion of the publicly administered system that we have always had in this country.

We are seeing, for example, with respect to the changes in emergency health services in this province, we have seen even though the new EHS system has supposedly been in place for some considerable number of months now, in Spryfield, for example, we still have to wait to get an ambulance from either the Abbie J. Lane Hospital or Windmill Road in Dartmouth, Madam Speaker. We still have to wait up to half an hour to get an ambulance out to Spryfield. It is no different in parts of Fairview; in Halifax-Fairview ambulance services are not available.

What good is it to bring in this newly remodelled emergency health system if the ultimate goal, provision of speedy response, is not in the picture? That is a concern we have. Now we know that the EHS, emergency health system coordinators, are proposing to bring in another American, Madam Speaker, to consult on a proposal, with fees ranging to $300,000 a year in order to put this service into place, or perhaps even to bid on the contract for providing emergency health services in this province, a serious problem.

We have here home health services franchises being promoted by We Care Home Health Services. It says, Madam Speaker, and this is an ad that has been in the paper and it says in one of the things here; a We Care franchise is the ideal way to enter the rapidly expanding private health care market. The whole provision of health services in this province is under serious threat from privatization.

Because of the serious concern that has been expressed by many Nova Scotians as well as ourselves, Madam Speaker, I introduced and our caucus introduced a bill in the House last week, Bill No. 16. It was a bill to ensure that we re-establish our commitment to the Canada Health Act. It is called An Act Respecting the Nova Scotia Health Care System.

The principles of the health care system are the following; it is universal, in other words, all Canadians have access to our health care system, whatever the cost. It is accessible and the quality of care is the same whether it is in Nova Scotia, Vancouver, Ontario, Yarmouth, Halifax, or Sydney. It is [Page 1023]

comprehensive, in other words, we don't allow the continual chopping off services to the private sector, to be considered under user services. That includes ambulances, lab tests and home care. That it be portable, in other words that Nova Scotians are able to access health care whether they are in Ontario or any other part of the province and the final principle is that it is publicly administered.

The health care system in this country is publicly funding. We need to ensure it is run on a not-for-profit basis, through the government. Canadians reject, fundamentally, a privatized health care system where companies benefit through profits as a result of the illness of others. In the American system, it has been deemed clearly the most inefficient system in the world, the most expensive system in the world where nearly 80 million people have completely inadequate health care services. We have introduced a bill in this House and we urge all members to support that and to stop the intrusion of privatized health care into the system and ensure that our commitment is more than just language, that we put the dollars to ensure that we have a solid Home Care Program, that we have accessible health care from one end of this province to the other.

Madam Speaker, you have indicated that my time is up but let me say that I am looking for the support, when we bring this bill forward, from all members of this House and in particular, the Minister of Labour, who spoke so eloquently about the need to maintain the principles of the Canada Health Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, it gives me great privilege to rise tonight to speak on Resolution No. 12 and to talk about what is going on in health care in our province. It was only about a month ago that I had an opportunity to deliver my first response to the Speech from the Throne and at that time we identified some of the problems that we have seen with the health care system in Cape Breton Island and around the Province of Nova Scotia.

I thought we had tried to bring to the attention of the Liberal Government the concerns regarding health care, unemployment and the very, very serious concerns people have about what is not happening with their health care system. When this government was elected, it was elected on a promise that there would be reforms. It wasn't elected on a promise that there would be destruction of our basic institutions and that seems to be what is happening.

We have seen our health care system, especially, in industrial Cape Breton, deteriorate. It is to the point where people have long waits when they go to the hospital, there is no guarantee of a bed. Two weeks ago I visited an individual who was in the Glace Bay Hospital and he had spent three days on a stretcher in outpatients because there wasn't enough beds and he was too sick to be sent home. These are the kinds of things that our health reform has

[Page 1024]

brought to our citizens of Nova Scotia. These are the kinds of things that have people worried and upset.

This government promised that there would be home care, that when people would leave, they would have the adequate care when they got home. The principle of home care is not a bad principle. The problem is that there is no real Home Care Program in place. Time after time, person after person will tell you that they were home for two or three days before they saw a worker or sometimes even a month or a month and one-half, before someone came to assess them. If home care is to truly work, the person has to be looked at before they are discharged from the hospital. That person has to get an assessment so they know what kind of services they are going to need when they get home and then health care would be a success.

When the Minister of Health goes around and says health care and home care has improved by over 100 per cent here and 25 per cent there and 40 per cent there, I don't doubt him for a second. But when you are only getting 10 people and you increase it by 10 more, that is still a 100 per cent increase but it is not sufficient for the needs and wants of the people of this province.

If you were planning on buying a car, you wouldn't sell the car you had now until you had the new car ready and in place. Well this is what has happened to our health care system, we have closed beds and we haven't had an alternative put into place and the people of this province are suffering and the seniors of our province are suffering. Home care is just not meeting the needs of our people.

There are many of our people when they go home, they have no family to help them out, they have no family supports. Their only means of help would be a complete home care system. A lot of times these people go home and a few short days later they are sent back to the hospital and they are back in the hospital for a longer period of time. This isn't improving health care, this is putting even more of a strain on a system that is being badly eroded. It is being eroded because everything is being driven by the bottom line. We forgot about how important people are. We forgot about how people's lives are more important than the bottom line.

[5:45 p.m.]

Now our Minister of Finance will surely say to me, you know, are you not worried about the debt. Is it not important? I would say to him, yes, the debt is important. There is no question about it, but let us not fool ourselves. In this government's haste to achieve a balanced budget, this government is making decisions that are impeding and hurting the very people that they are sworn in to help. We are having much short-term gain for a lot of long-term pain. We have a program that is put in place with home care and there are not even any standards, no real standards that people can go by and people are suffering.

Let us talk about some of the other things that are happening, like the Glace Bay and Port Morien and Donkin area where we have over 8,000 people that cannot find a family doctor. Yet, in this House, not so very long ago, the Minister of Health told us that Glace Bay was a priority for finding some extra service for that area. The people of Glace Bay, Donkin, and Port Morien still do not have family doctors and are still looking for the Minister of Health to fulfil his promise to get somebody to come into their areas to help them.

[Page 1025]

I will ask again, will the Minister of Health fulfil his promise to these people in that area so that there will be a full and competent number of doctors there to look after the people? There is a large number of seniors in that area, the people who made that area so strong and prosperous in the past and who dearly deserve to be cared for. They cannot get that care because of the policies of this government, because it is driven by the bottom line and doesn't give a hoot about what happens to the person that is there.

Then we have the problems that are arising at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital with all kinds of problems there. Every weekend when I go home to my constituency office and during the week, I get calls from people that are working in this system and they are talking about the strains that are on them, the strains that are on the people that they are trying to serve. What have we done about it? Absolutely nothing, that is what we have done.

We have the problem with our mental health care unit in that hospital and there was a report done and the Minister of Health told the people, those families, that he was there to help them and they would see what was going on. Then when the report was completed, the people did not see it. The families wanted to see the reasons behind what happened to their family members. They did not want the whole world to see it, but they, indeed, should have had the right to see those reports.

What was the solution? We will have another report, we will hire another consultant. It seems that anybody that has CFA behind their name and they come from away, that is the resolve. As long as we can find someone else to put the blame on, but never deal directly with the question at hand. That is not the way to run any system and it is certainly not the way to run our health care system.

I get a little upset and I get very worried when I see what is happening. I have to ask the question, maybe what is happening is only a symptom. Maybe it is a symptom of a system that is so severely overloaded that it cannot handle the pressures that are being put on it. If that is the case, we should be treating the symptom. We should be treating the illness and that is where we are cutting back on our beds, we are cutting back on the facilities and we are cutting back on the health care workers who truly want to make a difference.

The people that are involved in the health care system on the Island of Cape Breton and, I am sure, right across this Province of Nova Scotia are very competent. They are people who want to work at this, they are people who are determined to do the best that they can. The sad part is that this government ties their hands and tries to get them to do a job with no equipment, with no support. It is hurting every individual that lives in this province.

There are all kinds of things that are happening out there in health care or, more specifically, things that aren't happening. The honourable Minister of Labour mentioned that there were always drugs de-listed, but there are more drugs being de-listed and it is getting harder for seniors to get the kind of prescriptions they need. These people aren't going there because they think it is a great thing to go out and get a prescription, they are going there and asking for them because their doctors are telling them that is what they need, and they find out after paying this fancy premium that is put in place, that they can't get the medication that will keep them healthy.

Is that a good system? I don't think so, Madam Speaker. It is a system that people should be disgusted with. It is a system that this government has put in place and it is beating on the seniors of this province and it's beating on the people of this province and it is not right.

[Page 1026]

We should be looking forward to doing what is right for our people and we are not doing that. This government has not done that. They failed dramatically. Every time you turn around, when you talk about health care, education, transportation - it doesn't make any difference - justice, and the list goes on and on, the Department of the Environment, you can just keep on going, Madam Speaker, and these are only just a couple of the concerns and a couple of the difficulties that are facing the people of Cape Breton and the Province of Nova Scotia. These problems are not just exclusive to any one part of Nova Scotia. They are problems that you can find anywhere you go, any time you go.

The health care system, Madam Speaker, is in a shambles, right across this province. Once again I would ask that the Health Minister act on his promises and ensure that good health care is available to all Nova Scotians.

MADAM SPEAKER: That concludes the debate.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 2, and I so move.

H.O. No. 2, re ERA - Business Loans (14/06/93-31/03/96) - notice given Apr. 16/96 - (Dr. J. Hamm)

MADAM SPEAKER: In the absence of the Minister of Health, the Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, we have no difficulty in agreeing to return House Order No. 2.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 3.

H.O. No. 3, re Nat. Res.: Forest Land - Ownership - notice given Apr. 16/96 - (Mr. B. Taylor)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I so move, Madam Speaker.

[The House Order was read by the Clerk.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I do believe that most of that information is available in annual reports and reports from the department. I would like to have that stood until I have checked with the department to see if it could be responded to in a timely way.

[Page 1027]

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Some of that information, for the minister's information, is not available. We have looked extensively, and her colleague to the right knows that full well, so I hope this minister will perhaps be a little more cooperative and try to provide that information for us.

MR. SPEAKER: House Order No. 3 stands.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 4, and I so move.

H.O. No. 4, re Justice: Correctional Facilities - Individuals Permitted - notice given Apr. 16/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call House Order No. 5, and I so move.

H.O. No. 5, re Justice - Peace Bonds (01/10/95-31/03/96) - notice given Apr. 16/96 - (Mr. T. Donahoe)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to provide as much information as we can on this. If I could just explain quickly and then, if that is agreed, we will provide it. For example, on the first clause, "we cannot determine the marital status of the two parties to the peace bonds", so if we could delete the words "against spouse" from that, we will pass it. Is that agreed?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: It is agreed.

MR. GILLIS: On the second one, we can determine the number of charges under Section 811 of the Criminal Code but at this time we cannot relate those charges to the peace bonds referred to in Clause 1. We know the number of charges between October 1, 1995, and March 31, 1996, for all peace bonds but we do not know the number of arrests because the charges do not always result in arrests. Therefore, I have a suggestion that we replace Clause 2, so we can provide the information, with the number of charges laid for breach of a peace bond between October 1, 1995 and March 31, 1996. That will give us some information.

The final one, the phrase, "present legal status of those individuals", according to my legal people it is ambiguous. We can state the current status of the charges referred to in Clause 2 so I suggest that we replace Clause 3 with the current status of the charges referred to in Clause 2, which will provide some information. So if that is agreed, then we will agree and will return everything we can and we should be able to get the information fairly soon because we expect some statistics.

[Page 1028]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreed then?

It is agreed.

Subject to those amendments, would all those in favour of carrying the House Order please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

House Order No. 5 is carried as amended.

The honourable Acting Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, that concludes Opposition Members' Business for today.

MR. SPEAKER: If that concludes Opposition Members' Business, then I would recognize the honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Right off the top, the Minister of Finance will be presenting the budget. Following that I guess we will be getting a brief response from the Opposition Finance Critic. We will then move into the daily routine and Question Period.

I move that we adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 2:00 p.m.

The motion is carried.

Tonight in our Adjournment debate we have:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage volunteerism in all forms during this Volunteer Week", as brought forward by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

VOLUNTEERISM - ENCOURAGE

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I am, indeed, pleased at this time to give this address in recognition of the many volunteers who serve in this province. Mr. Speaker, I don't know where we would be if it were not for the volunteers in our communities. I would like at this time to pay special tribute to the volunteers who serve the citizens of Digby-Annapolis. If I were to name all the volunteers in Digby-Annapolis I would be here for many more hours. I know they have already spent four hours in this House, the members I am speaking of, and I am sure they would not want to spend another four hours listening to me.

Mr. Speaker, the citizens of Digby-Annapolis are very generous people. Despite the difficulties they have experienced with the increased fees for licensing fish plants, the increase in fees for fishing licenses and the high rate of unemployment, they give freely of their time to help others.

[Page 1029]

Mr. Speaker, the Upper Clements Wildlife Park would not be in operation today if it were not for efforts of the community volunteers. When, because of financial constraints, the government was forced to look at closing the park, a group of local volunteers got together and approached the government with a plan to continue operations of the wildlife park. Following negotiations, an agreement was reached with the Department of Natural Resources. The volunteers took over and began operating the park. Through their dedication and hard work this group of volunteers turned what could have been a big loss to the community and turned it around to become a successful operation.

In Bear River, Mr. Speaker, a group of volunteers saw the need for a health clinic. With plenty of hard work and help from whatever source could be found, these dedicated volunteers made the Bear River Health Clinic a reality. Now the residents of Bear River have special health services right in their own backyard, thanks to the resourcefulness of a local group of volunteers.

The Digby General Hospital would not be able to carry on its service to the community if it were not for the volunteers who, on a daily basis, give help and assistance wherever it is needed, and they provide all this help willingly and without any thought of compensation or reward. Many a patient's hospital stay has been made more bearable because of the efforts of these volunteers.

Let us not forget sports and recreation. How many young people in our community are able to participate in sport and recreation activities as a result of many hours spent by volunteers acting as coaches, managers, coordinators, officials, organizers and many other roles that volunteers fill in sport and recreational activities. Volunteer firefighters are the life blood of the community. Not only do they fight fires, but they are usually the first responders when accidents occur. On top of all that they spend many hours of their spare time training and taking courses in order to be better able to serve their fellow citizens in time of need. Volunteer firefighters, time and time again, put their lives on the line to safeguard their neighbours and fellow citizens. I do not know what we would do without them.

We also have these community members who serve their community through membership in service clubs and similar organizations. In Digby and Annapolis we are fortunate to have the Lions Club and the Royal Canadian Legion. Both of these organizations through voluntary efforts of their members contribute to the betterment of life in the community. These organizations are constantly carrying out projects that help those among us who are in need of assistance.

Members of PTAs and home and school associations as well as parent volunteers help with the education of our children. These groups help to raise funds to provide needed materials for our schools. They also help to provide transportation for field trips and athletic events. With the advent of school councils they will become more and more involved in helping to define the needs and requirements of our schools.

In Digby and Annapolis we have hospices that provide nursing services for our elderly citizens as well as those who need nursing care. Many people volunteer their time in these institutions to make life more comfortable for the residents. Many of these people are lonely

[Page 1030]

and look forward to a visit of one of the volunteers who come to cheer them up and bring a ray of sunshine to their lives.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Red Barn and the Digby Fish and Game Association. Both of these exist because of volunteers. Also, there are so many, I cannot remember them all, I do not have time to mention them all. We have Christmas Daddies in Digby and this has been going on for 25 years and it takes in all of the Annapolis Valley. The strange part of this is that the people make pledges during the night that this is on, it is over television and on radio, people make pledges of so many dollars each and usually when it is all added up there is more money sent in to the bank than the pledges that have been made. That is very unusual. There are very few places that happens. There usually is a short-fall of a considerable amount of money in many of these efforts.

I also would want to mention the food bank volunteers. This has been a very essential service in our area, as well as most of Canada. The people, I am sure, would be hungry many nights if it were not for these volunteers who work overtime at no pay.

I could go on and on about the volunteers in Digby and Annapolis, but I see my time is fast coming to an end. I know I have left out many people who deserve more credit and I am sure that I will not be granted too much more time and I would like to thank you for listening and the people who have remained in the House to listen.

I was making a speech in a public platform one night and I mentioned the fact that probably 30 per cent of all the work being done in Digby County and all of Nova Scotia was done by volunteers. I said in 10 years time I was predicting that they would need a government, they would have enough volunteers to carry on - they have a standing invitation. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, it is entirely appropriate that we take this opportunity through the resolution put forward by my friend and colleague, the member for Digby to discuss the tremendous, inestimable value of volunteers in our communities and their value to Nova Scotia, the value of their good works.

I dare say that if one made a canvass of this place and its membership one would find that prior to becoming involved in government, and some of us after we became involved as members of the Legislature, we were involved in volunteerism in our own communities. We have a real understanding of the tremendous work that is done by volunteers throughout Nova Scotia. My honourable friend has mentioned several of the areas where volunteers are critical.

Last Sunday, we had a reception in Queens County to honour those who had been nominated as volunteers from our Queens community and, of course, also to honour the two representative volunteers who were honoured here in Halifax last Thursday. There is, for example, in the most rural part of my constituency, in the Caledonia area, a group of volunteers who are very, very active and who have accomplished things that one would think would be far beyond the scope of a small community of that nature. I think, for example, of the work that they have done to create a tourist bureau and to enhance tourism in that area and to provide tourist related services through that tourist bureau. All of that is done under the aegis of the North Queens Board of Trade.

[Page 1031]

I think too of the long and highly focused struggle to create, first of all, a community health centre and, secondly, to secure doctors and other health related professionals to serve that community. That all happened, yes, of course, with the help of government and I am pleased to say to an extent with my assistance as their member, but it happened essentially because the people in that community volunteered their services, they had far-sightedness and they knew how they could strengthen their community through their volunteer efforts. That is why today the North Queens Medical Clinic is up and well and functioning and providing services to the people not only of the northern part of my constituency but also to the southern part of the constituency represented by my colleague, the member for Digby.

We find volunteerism active in every community. Caledonia I have already mentioned. In Kempt, in Pleasant River, in the Brookfields. Greenfield is perhaps one of the best examples of an area where voluntarism is put to work within that community with tremendous results. My colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic is a summertime resident in my constituency and I know that he spent some time in Greenfield. He would have seen the good works of the people of that community through the very, very fine recreation centre that they have built there, among many other things that they have put in place. In the Port Mouton area, small communities like Port Joli and Port l'Hebert in the Liverpool area, of course. Not only in the areas of special focus like helping at the hospitals, working on the VON board but in areas like scouting and guiding, areas that are designed to assist youth and to help them to grow and to mature into good citizens, volunteers are so essential to make that happen.

In the Mill Village area right now, for example, we have a volunteer organization there which is striving to try to keep their little community school from closing down. If nobody cared, then our communities would languish. It is because people do care and are prepared to step forward and take on the joyous burden of volunteerism that our communities are made much better places, not only for us, but building for the future as well, building for the future of our children and our grandchildren who share our communities with us and also to make our communities attractive and friendly to people who come to visit us and, additionally, to people who come from afar to make their homes in our communities.

The debt that the people of Nova Scotia owe to volunteers is so staggering that one could never measure it properly. I think that the best way that we can repay those volunteers is by ensuring that when they call upon us, we share our time with them; that when they call upon us to open our wallets, to assist in financial campaigns that they are providing their time to work for, that we do spend a few dollars at the door; that when special occasions arise, that we take the time to say thank you. Also on a day-to-day basis, that we occasionally stop and look at somebody who has volunteered and just go up to them and say, by gosh, I really want to thank you for the fine work that you have done. If it weren't for you, the good cause which you are working for, which is good for this community, really never would have been completed. I don't know if anybody mentions it to you very often, but I saw you today and it just kind of crossed my mind and I wanted to stop and mention it to you.

So I thank the member for Digby-Annapolis for bringing this very important matter forward. I know that my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic, also wants to speak to this resolution. I know that he, too, will want to add his words of praise to the men and the women, young and old, who provide volunteer leadership for Nova Scotia from one end to the other. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1032]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise to thank the member for Digby-Annapolis in introducing this important issue for debate tonight and agree likewise to the comments made by the member for Queens in his explanation of just how important volunteers and volunteerism are to all of our communities in this province and in this country.

I just this past weekend spoke to the 39th Anniversary Charter Night of the Lions Club in Spryfield. You may have heard some of my words in my reply to the Speech from the Throne where I talked about not only the Spryfield Lions Club, but other volunteer organizations in the community. The Spryfield Lions contribute in so many different ways, not only through the funds that they raise, but in terms of the contribution that their members make to recreational activities and to helping people in a vulnerable state throughout the community. I was pleased and proud to be there, as the MLA for Halifax Atlantic, but also as a member of the greater community of Nova Scotia, to thank them and to thank the Lioness Club on their 16th Anniversary as a club, for the important contribution that they have made, and their predecessors have made, to that community.

That goes right across the board for so many of the different service clubs that we have, for so many of the organizations that exist in this province, Mr. Speaker, that operate simply because of volunteers. People volunteer because they feel it is their duty, because they feel that it benefits all of society and they really wish to express gratitude to others by doing so. It helps them integrate into their community and because it is a way of meeting people and developing relationships in the community. Some people do volunteer because they feel that it will assist them in finding jobs.

Certainly the key factor is that volunteering is freely chosen, unremunerated activity. It is something that people do for themselves and others, not as a result of any financial bureaucratic pressure or compulsion, Mr. Speaker. Volunteer activity is clearly about helping, about giving and about being with others rather than about getting. The whole issue of volunteerism is an important one in this time because increasingly volunteering is looked on more and more as being a remedy to unemployment. I think it is a problem because, for example, if you look at what Mike Harris' plan is, in Ontario, where he is talking about people on welfare and compulsory volunteerism, it is clearly a definition of an oxymoron because if it is compulsory, if it is not freely determined, therefore it is not volunteerism.

We all know that much of the quality of volunteer work, Mr. Speaker, results or derives from what they call the helpers' high that is experienced by a person doing what he or she has chosen. I think that is important to recognize.

[6:15 p.m.]

The second problem with the use of volunteers sometimes in organizations, and this is a problem in Ontario with the proposal by Mr. Mike Harris, is that non-profit organizations must not become the mere means to an end of employability. In order to have volunteers you need to have supervisors, you need to have space, you need to have facilities in order to operate. That is an additional expense. If a program imposes that kind of demand on a non-profit organization things begin to get out of hand, Mr. Speaker. Clearly that is not desirable.

I think that what more young people in our society these days are facing is that paradox when they go looking for a job; employers say to them time and time again that we need to have somebody who has experience, who has skills that have developed as a result of

[Page 1033]

being in the workforce. But if you are young and you have just come from school or whatever, you have not had an opportunity to build up that menu of skills and experience.

Volunteering is a way to dispel that contradiction. It helps people to use and develop their skills, to build confidence and self-esteem, as well as to broaden the circle of acquaintances and, therefore, potential contacts they may have. It certainly enables them to discover new career paths, as they learn and experience different occupations, Mr. Speaker.

If volunteer work is freely chosen it offers people enormous latitude to determine and control what they will work at, as well as when and where they will do it. At the same time, working with others it provides the routine and the structure that are often lacking in the life of an unemployed person. Thanks to volunteer work, Mr. Speaker, people develop work experience in its fullest sense. They acquire skills, they become self-confident, self-disciplined and adaptable and learn to work harmoniously and productively with others.

You what is interesting? Given that, in a study into the whole question of volunteerism, called A Survey of Volunteer Activity by Statistics Canada in 1987, it found that what was considered most important by volunteers were things like helping others; 63 per cent of the respondents saw that as the most important; helping a cause one believes in, 60 per cent; doing something one likes to do, 55 per cent, and feeling that one has accomplished something, 54 per cent. It is interesting that one of the lowest things on the list of reasons why people were volunteering was being able to acquire a job. In other words, regardless of the circumstances and the difficulty that people have to find a job and the problems of joblessness, people continue to be out there for altruistic reasons and continue to be out there to make a contribution, as I indicated earlier, that is freely chosen because they believe in the principles of helping, giving, and being with others, rather than getting.

So I stand to lend my voice with those of my colleagues in saluting volunteers and volunteerism in our communities, in our province. At the same time I just lend a bit of caution to the propensity of governments in this country, and around the world for that matter, looking at volunteers perhaps as two things; as a way of getting the job done cheaper and, in fact, replacing employment, and the other is depending on volunteer work as a way of providing people with a stepping-stone to jobs.

Volunteerism is freely chosen, Mr. Speaker, and the people who do it form the backbone of many of our organizations and many of our communities. I thank them and I thank all of the people that worked to facilitate the volunteers and volunteerism. I know that my community is a better place because of them. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The House will adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:21 p.m.]

[Page 1034]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 330

By: Mr. Russell MacNeil (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas the section of the Sydney-Glace Bay highway running through Reserve Mines is a narrow heavy traffic thoroughfare; and

Whereas this section of highway requires widening so as to improve the flow of traffic in order to ease the traffic burden of local residents;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature encourage the Department of Transportation and Public Works to make the necessary improvements to the Reserve Mines section of the Sydney-Glace Bay highway.

RESOLUTION NO. 331

By: Mr. Russell MacNeil (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas good quality roads are the hallmark of a vibrant community; and

Whereas the people who live on MacLellan Heights in Lingan have waited a long time for improvement to their road;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature encourage the Department of Transportation and Public Works to pave MacLellan Heights in Lingan.

RESOLUTION NO. 332

By: Mr. Russell MacNeil (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas medical services of all kinds are greatly appreciated in the community of New Waterford; and

Whereas New Waterford Physiotherapy provides medical services of the highest quality; and

Whereas in an expression of confidence, New Waterford Physiotherapy has undergone a significant expansion;

[Page 1035]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature applaud New Waterford Physiotherapy for providing high quality physiotherapy and for their recent expansion of service.

RESOLUTION NO. 333

By: Mr. Russell MacNeil (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas the provincial government is committed to assessing road improvement on the basis of need; and

Whereas Hillview Road in River Ryan has long been in need of paving;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature encourage the Department of Transportation and Public Works to pave Hillview Road in River Ryan.