The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Dec. 4, 1996

Fourth Session

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Dr. J. Hamm 2854
Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Federation of Senior Citizens and
Pensioners of N.S. - Oppose, Dr. J. Hamm 2854
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Spanish Ship Bay: Bridge (Old) - Remove,
Mr. R. White 2854
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
ERA: Jobs - Creation, Hon. R. Mann 2854
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 973, ERA: Mentor Networks Inc. - Welcome, The Premier 2859
Res. 974, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Safety Council (N.S.):
Impaired Driving Consequences - Role Applaud, Hon. D. Downe 2860
Vote - Affirmative 2861
Res. 975, Women - Victims of Violence: Silence - Observe,
Hon. E. Norrie 2861
Vote - Affirmative 2862
Res. 976, Culture - Arts Governance: Standards - Recognize,
Hon. R. Harrison 2862
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 977, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Tax Grab - Public Hear,
Dr. J. Hamm 2863
Res. 978, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Election - Call,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2864
Res. 979, ERA - Job Creation (1993-96): Record -
Official Opposition Praise, Mr. William MacDonald 2864
Res. 980, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Leader of the Official Opposition - Vague, Hon. J. MacEachern 2865
Res. 981, Health - Ambulances: Number - Retain, Dr. J. Hamm 2865
Res. 982, Leader of Official Opposition - Mould: PC Leaders (Ex-N.S.) -
Similar, Hon. J. MacEachern 2866
Res. 983, Agric. - Supply Mgt. System (Poultry, Eggs & Dairy):
NAFTA Ruling - Commend, Hon. D. Downe 2866
Vote - Affirmative 2867
Res. 984, Fin. - Debt Increase (1978-90): Record - Disgraceful,
Mr. A. Mitchell 2867
Res. 985, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Public Communications (Live) - Specify, Mr. B. Taylor 2868
Res. 986, Port Hawkesbury Vol. Fire Dept. -
Late Fire Chief Martin Langley: Contribution - Recognize,
Mr. R. White 2868
Vote - Affirmative 2869
Res. 987, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Law Amdts. Hearings -
"Within Reason" Define, Mr. R. Russell 2869
Res. 988, Fin. - Fair Tax Reform: Promise - Fulfil, Mr. J. Holm 2870
Res. 989, Educ. - Breton Centre: Drug & Alcohol Use Awareness Parade -
Commend, Mr. R. MacNeil 2870
Vote - Affirmative 2871
Res. 990, Halifax Citadel MLA - PC (N.S.) Gov't.: Future - Debts,
Mr. D. Richards 2871
Res. 991, Agric. - Federation (N.S.): Annual Meeting (101st) -
Success Extend, Mr. E. Lorraine 2872
Vote - Affirmative 2872
Res. 992, Health - System: Concerns - Address, Mr. G. Moody 2873
Res. 993, Prospect Area - Senior Citizens Christmas Dinner:
Initiative - Congrats., Mr. B. Holland 2873
Vote - Affirmative 2874
Res. 994, Fin. - Debt (1978-90): Future - Prevent, Mr. R. Carruthers 2874
Res. 995, Commun. Serv. - Disabled: NEEDS Project -
Tech. Aids Action, Ms. E. O'Connell 2875
Res. 996, Fin.: Debt (1978-90) - Remember, Mr. R. Hubbard 2875
Res. 997, ERA - Whitney Pier: Outlook Improved - Recognize,
Mr. P. MacEwan 2876
Res. 998, Culture - Eastern Shore: Matters of Light and Depth Exh. -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 2876
Vote - Affirmative 2877
Res. 999, Queens Community Christmas Fund: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Leefe 2877
Vote - Affirmative 2878
Res. 1000, CBC TV: "Black Harbour" Production
(Hubbards & Mill Cove) - Congrats., Hon. J. Barkhouse 2878
Vote - Affirmative 2878
Res. 1001, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Future Destruction -
Leader of Official Opposition Answer, Hon. B. Boudreau 2879
Res. 1002, Canada Post - Admail: Jobs Termination - Rescission Urge,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2879
Res. 1003, Culture - Baddeck Old Post Office: Restoration -
Commun. Spirit Commend, Mr. K. MacAskill 2880
Vote - Affirmative 2880
Res. 1004, Educ. - Literacy: Golf Tournament (Peter Gzowski) -
Organizers Congrats., Mr. R. White 2881
Vote - Affirmative 2881
Res. 1005, ERA - Tourism: Visitor Info. Centre Quality Awards -
Recognize, Mrs. L. O'Connor 2881
Vote - Affirmative 2882
Res. 1006, Culture - Baddeck Old Post Office: Restoration -
Commun. Volunteers Commend, Mr. A. MacLeod 2882
Vote - Affirmative 2883
Res. 1007, NDP (N.S.) - Coalition (NDP-PC): Betrayal -
Sympathy Extend, Mr. P. MacEwan 2883
Res. 1008, ERA - Tourism: MacPhee House Project (Sheet Harbour) -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 2884
Vote - Affirmative 2884
Res. 1009, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Protest Muzzle - Condemn,
Mr. J. Holm 2884
Res. 1010, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Responsibility - Accept,
Mr. B. Taylor 2885
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 391, Nat. Res. - Offshore: Procurement - Company, Dr. J. Hamm 2886
No. 392, Sysco: Sale - Status, Mr. R. Chisholm 2888
No. 393, Sysco - Sale: Agreement - Weak, Mr. A. MacLeod 2889
No. 394, Sysco: Mgt. Team - Replacement, Mr. A. MacLeod 2891
No. 395, Justice: Correctional Officers - Meeting, Dr. J. Hamm 2893
No. 396, Justice: Maintenance Enforcement Program - Backlog,
Ms. E. O'Connell 2895
No. 397, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Sale - Status, Mr. G. Archibald 2897
No. 398, Justice - Institutions: Abuse - Compensation Status,
Mr. T. Donahoe 2897
No. 399, Justice - Maintenance Enforcement Prog.: Staff List - Table,
Mr. T. Donahoe 2899
No. 400, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Amalgamations (Mun.): Cost -
Incorrect, Mr. J. Holm 2901
No. 401, Fin. - Crown Property: Tendering - Policy, Mr. J. Leefe 2903
No. 402, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Senior Citizens: Apartments -
Security Review, Mr. B. Taylor 2905
No. 403, Health - Environmental Illness: Langley Comm. -
Sufferers Rep., Mr. G. Moody 2907
No. 404, Justice - Freedom of Info.: Advisory Comm. Report -
Response, Mr. J. Holm 2908
No. 405, Educ.: School Board (Chignecto Central) - Savings,
Mr. D. McInnes 2910
No. 406, Health - Home Care: Services - Provision, Mr. G. Archibald 2911
No. 405, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Tire Casings -
Price, Mr. B. Taylor 2913
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 45, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act 2914
Dr. J. Hamm 2914
Hon. J. Abbass 2916
Mr. J. Holm 2919
Mr. T. Donahoe 2922
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 871, Health - Care: Concerns - Listen, Dr. J. Hamm 2925
Dr. J. Hamm 2925
Mr. P. MacEwan 2927
Mr. R. Chisholm 2930
Mr. G. Moody 2932
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Coast Guard (Can.) - Lighthouses (N.S.): Preservation - Support:
Mr. J. Casey 2936
Mr. D. McInnes 2938
Mr. R. White 2940
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Dec. 5th at 12:00 p.m. 2941

[Page 2853]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 4, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin today's daily routine, I would like to again make the announcement that I made yesterday regarding the order paper. I would like to advise all honourable members of this House that starting today the order paper will no longer include all the resolutions that are before the House. Only additional resolutions which are printed for this Thursday and subsequent days will be printed on the order paper. I would request that all honourable members keep their Wednesday, December 4th order paper in order to make reference for future needs. The reason why the full list of resolutions will not be reprinted every day is strictly to save on our forest resources. I want to thank the honourable members for their cooperation.

Before we begin with our daily proceedings, are there any introductions?

We will now begin with the daily proceedings of the House.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

2853

[Page 2854]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table two petitions calling on the government to scrap its plans to introduce the BST. Now one petition which was collected over on the Dartmouth side next to the ferry terminal, contains 449 signatures, mostly from Dartmouth.

The second petition I am pleased to table on behalf of the Federation of Senior Citizens and Pensioners of Nova Scotia. This contains the names of 140 Nova Scotians opposed to the tax. Mr. Speaker, this brings the total number of Nova Scotians who have affixed their names to petitions that I, personally, have introduced into this House, to 13,210. That number does not include the thousands of people who have responded and continue to respond to our campaign to identify those people who are opposed by mail, by fax and by telephone, but I will be tabling those numbers at a future date. I am pleased to table these two petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: The petitions are tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 141 residents of Spanish Ship Bay. They are requesting that when we complete the construction of the new bridge in that area that we do remove the old bridge. I am pleased to report to you, Mr. Speaker, that I spoke to the minister and his department, and upon receiving proper environmental clearances, we will deal with the request in a positive manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, job creation is top priority for this province. In the last three years, this government has created a business climate that is ripe for new jobs and we are already seeing the results. (Applause) New businesses are investing in Nova Scotia and existing businesses are reinvesting.

We have done it by balancing the books in just three years. We have done it by working with the private sector to make doing business here easier and more profitable. We have done it by introducing a tax that gives Nova Scotia exporters an advantage over their competition, and the private sector has responded. It has created 19,000 new jobs in the last three years. (Applause)

[Page 2855]

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of announcing another high-tech company to come to Nova Scotia. Mentor Networks is creating 138 new high paying jobs. (Applause) They are part of an exciting cluster of leading edge companies investing in Nova Scotia. It is a good sign that our economy is working, and it is a good sign that confidence in Nova Scotia is rising. Our credit rating, Mr. Speaker, was upgraded this fall for the first time since the 1970's.

Companies like Keane from Boston; Ottawa's Newbridge Networks; and Cisco Systems out of California are coming here and creating jobs because we have a well-educated workforce, a stable economy and an exciting business climate. Nova Scotia is now seen as a province with an exciting future and as a province where it is easy to do business.

Nova Scotians are creating jobs for themselves too, Mr. Speaker. In the last three years, the Community Business Loans Program has created and maintained more than 1,700 jobs and started nearly 350 successful small businesses. Where there is potential, Nova Scotians are converting it. Where there is opportunity, they are turning it into profit and there is good reason for optimism.

However, Mr. Speaker, we know that some areas of the province are not experiencing that same kind of growth. The metropolitan area has everything going for it, while some of our counties are not so lucky. With the approach of winter, life in these regions can be made even more difficult.

Good government means compassionate government, Mr. Speaker, and that is why I am pleased to announce today the Nova Scotia Works Program. It is designed to help people in the hardest hit areas get back into the world of work. Nova Scotia Works will help create up to 900 jobs for people in this province beginning in early January. (Applause) The program is targeted at the areas of the province where there is higher unemployment, namely the Counties of Digby, Guysborough, Victoria, Richmond, Inverness, Cape Breton, and the Eastern Shore of Halifax County. The provincial government will partner with business, non-profit organizations and other levels of government to provide work. The Economic Renewal Agency will assist qualified employers who create job opportunities between January 20, 1997 and June 28, 1997.

I would like to thank my colleagues - the Honourable James Smith, the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs; and the Honourable John MacEachern, the Minister of Community Services - for their assistance in creating jobs for the Nova Scotians who need them the most.

The Economic Renewal Agency is partnering with the Department of Community Services and the federal Human Resources Department to make income assistance and training available for unemployed workers to start small businesses. The Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs will provide funding to create jobs at the regional housing

[Page 2856]

authorities. In total, the Economic Renewal Agency is funding $2.035 million of the provincial share of the program while the private sector, non-profit organizations and other levels of government will contribute $2.6 million.

Mr. Speaker, we are also looking beyond temporary work. In past programs, some of these winter jobs have turned into full-time jobs. We hope that this year more of the Winter Works Program jobs will become a springboard for lasting employment. The MLAs in the areas affected, in the seven counties, will be receiving information kits, and they will also be sent to the caucus offices.

I am sure all members will join with me in praise of this program, for making the holiday season a little brighter for many Nova Scotia and for injecting economic activity into the seven regions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to respond to the minister's announcement. I thank the minister for providing, at an early time, a copy of his remarks prior to him rising in his place. I welcome the minister's announcement that Mentor Networks will be starting business here in the province and creating 138 jobs. I would have thought that the minister's announcement would have been a little clearer in terms of the activities of Mentor Networks, perhaps where they would locate and what government initiatives, in fact, resulted in Mentor Networks coming to Nova Scotia; however, the good news has to be tempered that (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: The good news has to be tempered by the announcement that, again, after three years in power, the province's answer to unemployment is a Winter Works Program. While it is absolutely necessary that this take place, it is a strange announcement for a government that three years ago was planning to put all unemployed Nova Scotians back to work. It is a good program, however, and certainly the government is proper to indicate that Digby, Guysborough, Victoria, Richmond, Inverness, Cape Breton and the Eastern Shore of Halifax County over the last three years have, in fact, had no benefit from this government being in power. The chronic unemployment in those areas has not been addressed in a meaningful way with real, sustained jobs and real, sustained industries in those locations.

The minister prefaced his remarks and he was talking about what a great job they have done in creating jobs in the province. Then, of course, it goes on to identify so many areas of the province that haven't benefited one iota by anything this government has done in three and one-half years. For example, the minister failed to remind the House that there are 58,000-some unemployed here in Nova Scotia today, still registered, and that is almost exactly the number that were unemployed when the government took power and took power saying, well

[Page 2857]

look, elect us and we are going to put Nova Scotians back to work and we are going to look after all of the problems that the province has.

It is a shame that, on one hand, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency attempts to congratulate himself and the efforts of his ministry on creating the chronic unemployment that continues to exist in this province and then talks about creating all these new jobs and yet the number of unemployed is still the same as when the government came to power. It doesn't talk about the jobs that are lost. This government doesn't talk about the jobs that will be lost, for example, the hundreds and hundreds of jobs that will be lost in the retail sector of this province when the BST is introduced on April 1st. (Interruptions)

[2:15 p.m.]

It is interesting . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has the floor.

DR. HAMM: It is quite obvious, Mr. Speaker, that the government members are, in fact, interested in hearing about the real facts about employment in this province.

AN HON. MEMBER: What would you do with it?

DR. HAMM: It won't be long before you will find out. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. Order, please.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the government members are inquisitive about what we will be doing about unemployment. I can tell you one thing, it won't be another 30-60-90 that we will introduce following the next election in this province, it will be a real program designed to put Nova Scotians back to work and to restore this province to its rightful place as the leader in Atlantic Canada.

In responding then to the ministerial announcement, I do congratulate the minister on the announcement that Mentor Networks will be coming here and I do look forward to some of the details that I am sure the minister has at hand as to what initiatives the minister and his department used to attract that company here to Nova Scotia. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order. Order, please.

[Page 2858]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I decided to delay my remarks until and I appreciate you bringing the House back to order because I knew the minister would want to hear what I had to say.

Mr. Speaker, I do very much appreciate the minister's announcement being made here on the floor this afternoon. I certainly also appreciate the fact that he made the announcement available to us before he actually stood up to read it and I thank him for that. But also when I listened to the announcement and particularly the rhetoric that is contained within it, I have to ask the question, who is ever doubting that there is an election not too far in the future?

Mr. Speaker, a lot of the rhetoric that is contained in the minister's statement is simply that, it is rhetoric. I certainly do welcome the minister's announcement about Nova Scotia Works. I am certainly pleased because we do have major areas of unemployment in the Province of Nova Scotia; in fact, that level of unemployment in almost all areas of this province continues to grow. What we actually have here in the minister's Nova Scotia Works is a new name for the Winter Works Program that governments have traditionally brought in.

We have gone in this province, Mr. Speaker, shamefully from the situation in which we are number eight way up to number four in terms of provinces that have the greatest percentage of our children living in poverty. That is a shame. Three years after 30-60-90, the government is starting to talk about the problems. Rural communities have been devastated by policies of this government and their federal cousins in Ottawa. We know that all areas have been suffering.

The minister talked about Mentor Networks Incorporated in the announcement today. I am delighted that there are going to be jobs created. I had the opportunity to receive the news release earlier today and we went on to the Internet that the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat likes to talk about and I found the home page for Mentor Networks. Although it is still under construction, according to the home page and they are still located in Toronto despite the fact that their release here says they are located in Purdy's Wharf, I am sure they haven't had a chance to finish their home page and get it up and running.

It certainly does appear from some of the other information that is contained on it, although I haven't had an opportunity to go through all of the details, that they have been involved in a number of what appear to be innovative projects.

I also was pleased to see in the announcement that was made that the government appears to have learned a lesson from the OSP in that in the announcement today in which the government is giving money they have included not only that there has to be a certain number of employees reached but that they also have to reach a certain wage level and hopefully we won't see because the announcement here says that the average wage is going to be $55,000 and the OSP job posting that I tabled in this House yesterday showed the

[Page 2859]

maximum for a one year employment at $15,000, starting at $5.50 an hour. (Interruption) That is exactly what I said yesterday to the Minister of Community Services and if he cares to check Hansard he will see exactly those words in Hansard.

The average wage in the Province of Nova Scotia has been declining since this government took office, each and every year it has been declining. My final comments to the minister who was bragging about supposedly how his BS Tax had an influence on them, maybe the minister can explain and compare that to the comments that were made by the representatives at the press conference today that said that had virtually no impact on the reason that they came to Halifax. They are coming to Halifax because it is an undervalued asset, talking about the skilled workforce, the excellent workforce that is in existence in this area.

I would also like to know why it is that the government at the time they say they have no money provided that company, the government offered to invest $500,000 in the company that had not even been asked for by the company. It was being proposed, it was suggested, by the Business Development Corporation. Why did the government offer to invest $500,000 when the company hadn't asked for it and it wasn't any kind of a determining factor why they are locating in Nova Scotia? I don't understand why you would invest money if it isn't even being asked for when that money could have been used, if the company was going to locate here anyway, to assist more businesses in rural Nova Scotia, more businesses that will help to provide a decent wage so we will have fewer children living in poverty in our province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West on an introduction.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery we have two former members of this House. Mr. Joel Matheson was in the House from 1978 until 1993; he was a former Attorney General, Minister of Health, Minister of Mines and Energy and all kinds of things. Seated right behind him is Jack Coupar from Colchester North, I believe. I would like the members of the House to join with me in welcoming them back to the House again. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 973

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 2860]

Whereas this morning the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency and company executives announced that Mentor Networks Incorporated of Ontario is moving to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mentor Networks Incorporated will employ 138 people in the design and production of multimedia training products, with these jobs paying an average of $55,000 per year; and

Whereas in addition to the well-educated and skilled workforce, the positive business climate, and the quality of life, the company executives cited the new harmonized sales tax as a positive feature of doing business in Nova Scotia, and noted that the HST will provide them with a major competitive advantage in the national and international market place;

Therefore be it resolved that this House welcome Mentor Networks Incorporated to Nova Scotia, congratulate the good Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency for his efforts, and thank the Minister of Finance and this government for providing Nova Scotia businesses with a competitive advantage through the harmonized sales tax.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: If the Premier would like to call for a full debate on the resolution, we would like to assure him that we will waive notice and have a debate on the floor here and now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Right now. Right now.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

Is it agreed that the notice be waived?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 974

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

[Page 2861]

Whereas December 1 - 7, 1996, has been proclaimed Safe Driving Week by the Nova Scotia Safety Council; and

Whereas impaired driving is an issue of great concern to all Nova Scotians, having contributed to 306 accidents so far this year; and

Whereas we all understand the great consequences of this action by tending to forget the hidden faces of impaired driving, including the emotional effects upon family members, the financial burden of legal charges and the implication of a criminal record, and the prison sentence accompanying these convictions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud and support the actions of the Nova Scotia Safety Council for its effort to educate the public on the severity of the consequences of drinking and driving during this, National Safety Week.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, prior to tabling my resolution, I would like to remind members of the House that on November 25th there was a resolution tabled here on International Day Against Violence Against Women. We began the Purple Ribbon Campaign to mark our dedication to that and, as we are coming down to the end of the 16 days that we are remembering the violence against women and the women who were murdered on December 6th, I would like to table another resolution here today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 975

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

Whereas December 6th is Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women; and

[Page 2862]

Whereas we remember December 6, 1989, and the 14 women who were massacred in Montreal on that date, we remember and reflect on the many women in Nova Scotia, in Canada, and around the world who continue to be victims of violence, three Nova Scotian women have been murdered by family members since we last observed this day of remembrance; and

Whereas we commit ourselves collectively and individually to take action against violence against women;

Therefore be it resolved that this House now observe one minute of silence in recognition of all Canadian women who are victims of violence and that we resolve collectively and individually to act against such violence so that it may be prevented in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 976

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

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas the Single Arts Agency Working Group of the Government of Saskatchewan has recently completed a report calling for a new and revitalized independent Arts Board Agency for that province; and

Whereas the model used by the New Democratic Government of Saskatchewan for revitalizing its Arts Council is the legislation introduced in Nova Scotia by our Liberal Government to establish an independent Arts Council in our province; and

[Page 2863]

Whereas the council model developed here in Nova Scotia is testament to the effectiveness of the consultation this government initiated and the voice it gave to working artists in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize, as has the New Democratic Government of Saskatchewan, the leadership shown by the current Liberal Government of Nova Scotia in setting standards for arts governance and effective community consultation.

I would ask for waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 977

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

Whereas Nova Scotians continue to bombard CJCH Radio Hotline program hosted by Brian Phillips with calls expressing their opposition to the BST; and

Whereas one caller stated that her Liberal MLA told her that the BST, "wasn't his concern", while another caller said that his Liberal MLA, a member of the Cabinet, "didn't seem to know what was going on" about the BST; and

Whereas one caller, noting the higher costs on most everyday essentials such as electricity, fuel, rent, property taxes and children's clothing, described the Liberals as people who, "don't live in the real world";

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government listen to Nova Scotians and wake up to the cold, hard reality that it is proceeding with a hurtful $84 million tax grab from the pockets of working Nova Scotians.

[Page 2864]

Mr. Speaker, along with the resolution I am also tabling with my resolution an audio cassette portion from yesterday's CJCH Hotline program so that members of this House can hear for themselves the anger of Nova Scotians respecting the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

I will take the tabling of the tape under advisement and report back to the House tomorrow.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 978

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 Retail Council of Canada says that this government's plan to conceal the BS Tax in price tags will be a huge blow to retailers; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance uses a public opinion poll in support of tax-in pricing to brush off the protests of the Retail Council of Canada; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance is clearly practising selective listening as he otherwise ignores overwhelming public opposition to the BST deal;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of making selective use of public opinion polls to bolster the BST, the government get a true reading of public opinion by calling an election on the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 979

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 honourable Bernard Valcourt, Leader of the Opposition in New Brunswick, in his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, praised the Government of Nova Scotia on its record of job creation from 1993 to 1996; and

[Page 2865]

Whereas a Statistics Canada labour force survey says there were 25,000 new jobs created in Atlantic Canada during the last three years, 1993 to 1996; and

Whereas Mr. Valcourt's specific comments were, "So it is Nova Scotia, not New Brunswick, that created jobs. Imagine two out of every three new jobs in Atlantic Canada in the last three years were created in our sister province";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Opposition follow the lead of their colleagues in New Brunswick and praise the Liberal Government of Nova Scotia for its excellent record of job creation.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 980

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

Whereas all expert analysis of the impact of the HST indicates that the Province of Nova Scotia will receive between $110 million and $120 million less a year; and

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition has gone to the greatest lengths to tell Nova Scotians that this constitutes the greatest tax grab in the history of Nova Scotia, if not in the western world; and

Whereas the dictionary definition of a tax grab would imply that the government is getting more money;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Leader of the Opposition doesn't know which way is up when it comes to taxation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 981

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

[Page 2866]

Whereas prior to the former Minister of Health reforming ambulance services, there were 163 operational ambulances; and

Whereas the former Minister of Health's new plan involved 150 ambulances; and

Whereas last week ambulance operators were told that even fewer ambulances are required;

Therefore be it resolved that there be no reduction in the number of ambulances without the concurrence of operators that they can do the job properly with a lower number.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 982

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

Whereas the Leader of the Opposition appeared on province-wide television describing the HST as a "monumental tax grab"; and

Whereas even the Leader of the New Democratic Party has recognized that the HST will result in over $100 million less taxes for the provincial government; and

Whereas the Tory Governments of Buchanan and Cameron never understood either the budget system or the tax system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that the Tory handlers are fast moulding the Leader of the Opposition to become like the Tory Leaders who preceded him.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 983

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

Whereas the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing today expressed that he was pleased with the North American Free Trade Agreement's dispute settlement panel that ruled

[Page 2867]

by a margin of 5 to 0 in Canada's favour on the trade issue of supply management system for poultry, eggs and dairy products; and

Whereas this means that 50 per cent of the farmers in the province can face a secure future and plan ahead, without a threatening black cloud over their heads; and

Whereas this victory was achieved though the hard work of the federal team that worked on this case as well as the national farm organizations, provincial organizations, our own provincial staff within the Economic Renewal Agency and the Department of Agriculture and Marketing;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the North American Free Trade Agreement panel for its very strong ruling in favour of the farmers of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 984

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: 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 Halifax Citadel this week shrugged off accusations that the Buchanan Government, of which he was a member, was fiscally irresponsible by suggesting that all governments were spending at the time; and

Whereas when the Buchanan Government took office in 1978 the per capita debt of the Province of Nova Scotia was $669, the fifth highest in the country, and only $215 above the national average; and

Whereas when the former Premier John Buchanan resigned in 1990, Nova Scotia had a per capita debt of $4,932, the second highest in the country after the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and $2,194 above the national average;

[Page 2868]

Therefore be is resolved that this House recognize that the fiscal record of the Buchanan Regime was nothing short of disgraceful and produced a burden of debt that is and will be the biggest legacy of the Buchanan era.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 985

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

Whereas the Premier maintains that he is merely doing what Nova Scotians want by introducing the BS Tax legislation; and

Whereas the Premier advises that he has received only a few calls in opposition to the BS Tax; and

Whereas Stewart Duffie from Head Jeddore tried to let the Premier and the government know his position relative to the BS Tax but was given four e-mail addresses that resulted in his e-mail being returned undeliverable and referred to no less than four telephone numbers only to end up leaving a recorded message on the Premier's answering machine;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier tell Nova Scotians specifically what number they can call to speak to a live person relative to their position on the BS Tax and further, that the Minister for the Science and Technology Secretariat fix the potholes on the government's information highway.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 986

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

Whereas on occasion, this House recognizes the significant contribution to country and community made by outstanding Nova Scotians; and

[Page 2869]

Whereas the late Martin Langley of Port Hawkesbury was an outstanding citizen of this province who contributed notably to country and community. He served his country in war; was a charter member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 43; served as a member of the Port Hawkesbury Volunteer Fire Department for 46 years, including 26 years as Fire Chief of the Port Hawkesbury Volunteer Fire Department; and

Whereas the late Chief Langley was recipient of the Provincial Government Long Service Award and the Federal Government Exemplary Service Medal E11R, having worked for many years as a lockmaster for the Canadian Coast Guard at Canso Canal, Port Hastings;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the outstanding contribution made by the late Fire Chief Martin Langley to Canada, Nova Scotia and the community of Port Hawkesbury and extend our condolences to the members of his family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 987

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

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Justice refused to provide assurances that Nova Scotians who wish to make a presentation to the Law Amendments Committee will have the opportunity to do so; and

Whereas in attempting to duck the issue the Premier used the words "within reason"; and

Whereas his response is hardly encouraging given his mistaken belief that his government's cuts to health and education have been within reason;

[Page 2870]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately define what he means by within reason and that he give Nova Scotians every assurance that his definition will be reasonable to the thousands of Nova Scotians who oppose this tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 988

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 Finance said yesterday that under the BS Tax deal the government may increase the tax on a privately purchased used car from 11 per cent to 17 per cent, instead of the 15 per cent originally announced; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas under the BST deal, the tax on a new yacht is still scheduled to drop by 3.8 per cent; and

Whereas this tax subsidy from the buyers of used cars to the buyers of new yachts describes in a nutshell what is wrong with the BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liberal Government to live up to its election campaign promise and carry out fair tax reform.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 989

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

Whereas a recent study by the Department of Health indicated that drug and alcohol use by teenagers remains a serious problem in our province; and

Whereas one of the best methods for combatting drug and alcohol use among teens is to have their peers deliver the message that such behaviour can cause serious problems; and

[Page 2871]

Whereas 1,200 Breton Education Centre students recently paraded in the streets of New Waterford to raise awareness of this issue surrounding the use of drugs and alcohol;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students of Breton Education Centre for organizing this event and for their effort to raise awareness of drug and alcohol use in their community.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 990

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 honourable member for Halifax Citadel, in his pale attempt to defend the record of the Buchanan Government, stated that they were merely following a national trend of government spending in the 1980's; and

Whereas the honourable member stated that money was not thrown away, but went into building roads, schools and hospitals in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the honourable member does not state whether or not this construction was needed and that the construction took place only in Tory ridings;

Therefore be it resolved that this member has made it absolutely clear, with the defence of the Buchanan Government, that if the Tories regain power in Nova Scotia, the people of this province would have the same government we had before, more debts, more deficits and more scandals.

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

[Page 2872]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 991

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture will be holding its 101st Annual Meeting this Friday and Saturday, December 6th and 7th, at the Best Western Glengarry Convention Centre in Truro; and

Whereas the theme for this year's annual meeting is: "A Leap From Here to There" - a look at the future of the agricultural industry in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, as the voice of the farmer in Nova Scotia, is constantly working to improve the agriculture industry in this province and has as its focus the sustainability of farming in our global community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend to the members of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture their best wishes for a most successful and productive annual meeting.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 2873]

RESOLUTION NO. 992

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

Whereas the Premier of this province has reduced any problems with our health system down to fear-mongering by the Opposition; and

Whereas unfortunately, unlike the Premier, many Nova Scotians know first-hand the real story behind the health care cuts; and

Whereas in fact, Nova Scotia's Medical Society has heard from 1,812 people by phone, 562 people by mail, as of Monday, on those concerns, from waiting time for specialists, surgery and emergency care to home care and hospital stays;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Health Minister finally look seriously at the concerns of Nova Scotians, especially through the findings of the Medical Society report when completed, and take responsibility for a health system in need of surgery.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, on an introduction.

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour and a pleasure today to introduce to all members of the House, three wonderful women accompanying me today here to the Legislature. They are members of my constituency, they are Ruth Osbourne, Marion Zinck and Arvilla Cuvelier. These ladies are very active members of my community. They are active members of St. Timothy's Anglican Church in Hatchet Lake. I would ask you all to give them a warm welcome here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 993

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

Whereas each year a community group in the Prospect area sponsors a senior citizens Christmas Dinner complete with a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus; and

Whereas this year this annual event is being sponsored by the Prospect Road Lions Club along with the help of the White's Lake Legion and the Prospect Road and District Fire Department; and

[Page 2874]

Whereas Jack and Ed Holt outdo themselves in preparing an extraordinary meal with all the trimmings and more for the community's seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend their congratulations to the members of the Prospect Road Lions Club, the White's Lake Legion, Santa and Mrs. Claus and the Prospect Road and District Fire Department for their initiative in preparing this traditional Christmas meal for our seniors.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 994

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

Whereas recently, the Opposition Leader has been obliged to defend the scarcely undefendable former PC Leader, John Buchanan; and

Whereas former Tory Cabinet Minister and MLA for Halifax Citadel also has felt the necessity to speak up for his former Leader; and

Whereas the Buchanan Government was spendthrift, scandal-ridden, irresponsible and unable to change with the times;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize that Premier Frank McKenna's recent comments serve purpose to ensure our province never suffocates from indebtedness, ineptness or scandalous governments and urge all members of this House to learn valuable lessons from our past in preparation for our future.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 2875]

RESOLUTION NO. 995

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

Whereas the report of the NEEDS Project released yesterday identifies the need for a government-funded, comprehensive and universal technical aids program for disabled Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the previous Tory Government promised in 1988 to "expand the range of technical aids available free of charge to disabled Nova Scotians 18 years of age and under"; and

Whereas the current Liberal Government also promised during the 1993 election campaign to address the issue but has so far failed to do so;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the inaction of past and present governments and urge immediate steps to bring provision of technical aids and other services for the disabled in Nova Scotia to acceptable standards.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 996

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

Whereas the editorial comments in today's local press remind Nova Scotians of the dismal, irresponsible fiscal management of the Buchanan/Cameron Conservatives; and

Whereas Nova Scotians will not forget the massive debt and the reckless behaviour of the Buchanan/Cameron Conservative fiasco; and

Whereas in contrast to the Buchanan/Cameron era, this government has put the province back on a sound financial footing and will continue to give Nova Scotia responsible leadership;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House never fail to forget what the Progressive Conservatives have done to this province, while this government continues to work together along the road of financial stability.

[Page 2876]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 997

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

Whereas the most visible symbol of progress at Whitney Pier these days is the new 54-seat Tim Horton's restaurant and bakery, now under construction on Victoria Road, constructed by developers Gary and Karen Wilson; this being the first such outlet ever constructed at Whitney Pier; and

Whereas this development is being built on a parcel of land tied up by the previous Tory Government for 14 years, for no purpose other than to grow unsightly weeds, but freed for private sector development by this government, thanks to the foresight and leadership of the Honourable J. Bernard Boudreau, Q.C.; and

Whereas Victoria Road is now undergoing a renaissance thanks to the successful combination of government action through improved infrastructure and community support and matching confidence and investment by the private sector;

Therefore be it resolved that the people of Whitney Pier will recognize and appreciate the improved outlook for their community, thanks to this climate of opportunity that has been developed.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 998

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

[Page 2877]

Whereas the first ever major exhibition of works by Eastern Shore VANS artists, entitled Matters of Light and Depth, is currently on display at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum; and

Whereas the exhibition features 53 works by 22 Eastern Shore artists representing a vast array of artistic mediums and creative styles; and

Whereas the exhibition, Matters of Light and Depth, runs seven days a week from November 8, 1996, to January 5, 1997, at the Dartmouth Heritage Museum;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the organizers of the Matters of Light and Depth exhibition and the 22 Eastern Shore VANS artists who represent the unique talent and skills of so many people on Nova Scotia's beautiful Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 999

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

Whereas the 18th Queens Community Christmas Fund will be holding its annual telethon on December 8th; and

Whereas the Community Christmas Fund has raised over $0.25 million over 17 years, through the generosity of the people of Queens; and

Whereas the funds raised by the Community Christmas Fund continue to be made available to meet real and immediate needs of many children in Queens;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the organizers of the Queens Community Christmas Fund and encourage Queens residents to respond to the Community Christmas Fund as generously in 1996 as they have over the past 17 years.

[Page 2878]

I seek waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1000

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

Whereas CBC's newest dramatic television series, Black Harbour, premieres this evening, December 4th at 9:00 p.m.; and

Whereas the waterfront and shoreline of Hubbards, Mill Cove and the Aspotogan Peninsula are the backdrop for a fictional story which draws its strength from strong characters and real life experience; and

Whereas the executive producers, Barbara Samuels and Wayne Grisby, and co-producers, Top Sail Entertainment and Fog Bound Productions, have supported the economy through employment and purchasing goods and services locally;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish everyone associated with the production of Black Harbour and the host communities of Hubbards and Mill Cove a very successful debut and many years as a popular, made-in-Nova Scotia television series.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 2879]

RESOLUTION NO. 1001

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

Whereas the public has a right to the answer to a very direct question, "Will the Leader of the Official Opposition tear up the harmonization deal at the very first opportunity?"; and

Whereas, day after day, the Leader of the Opposition has repeatedly answered the question by replying, "see Clause 70"; and

Whereas the general public may not fully understand whether the answer, "see Clause 70", means yes or whether the answer, "see Clause 70", means no;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Opposition should abandon his peekaboo style and simply answer the question, will he tear up the harmonization deal at the very first opportunity, yes or no? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party. (Interruptions)

Order, please. The honourable member has the floor. (Interruptions)

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[3:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1002

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 federal Liberal Government has decided to privatize the admail service of Canada Post; and

Whereas this decision will benefit newspaper barons like Conrad Black but will mean unemployment for 10,000 admail workers employed by Canada Post; and

Whereas this decision is one more example of the anti-worker, low wage strategy being encouraged by the federal government;

[Page 2880]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the federal government to rescind its decision to terminate admail jobs and instead work to promote a healthy future for a public postal service.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 1003

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

Whereas earlier this year a spring storm caused severe damage to the 111 year old Grosvenor Hall, causing fears that the restoration of this cherished building would not be possible; and

Whereas a drive was launched to restore this unique building designed by the eminent architect, Thomas Fuller, designer of our nation's Parliament Buildings in Ottawa; and

Whereas recent renovations to the old Baddeck Post Office have caused elation in the community over the amount of work that has been accomplished to the building's outstanding stonework;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly commend the many residents for their tremendous financial support, true community spirit and determination to the completion of outside renovations to the old Baddeck Post Office.

I ask for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 2881]

RESOLUTION NO. 1004

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Provincial Literacy Coalition is pleased to report that $55,000 was raised from this year's very successful Peter Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournament for Literacy; and

Whereas as a result of the PGI Tournament for Literacy, 22 community based literacy groups throughout the province are receiving funding for special literacy projects within their organizations; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia, which funds literacy networks throughout the province reaching thousands of Nova Scotians, welcomes and encourages supplementary funding from events such as the Peter Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournament for Literacy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the vital importance of promoting literacy throughout Nova Scotia and congratulate the Nova Scotia Provincial Literacy Coalition and the organizers of the 1995 Peter Gzowski Invitational Golf Tournament for Literacy for their invaluable contribution to the growth of literacy throughout all of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, for your information I have enclosed a list of the 22 groups that received funding and I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1005

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

[Page 2882]

Whereas the Tourism Nova Scotia's Visitor Information Award of Quality Program was developed three years ago by Tourism Nova Scotia and the regional tourism associations to inspect, evaluate and provide suggestions for enhancements; and

Whereas this partnership between government and industry has successfully established a network of visitor information centres throughout Nova Scotia offering a high standard of service; and

Whereas the South Shore visitor information centres have always done very well, with Mahone Bay's Visitor Information Centre scoring 96 per cent and Lunenburg's Visitor Information Centre scoring 98 per cent on their 1996 evaluations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly recognize the outstanding cooperative efforts of Tourism Nova Scotia and the regional tourism associations for creating this Visitor Information Centres' Award of Quality, assuring visitors of a high level of quality service.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1006

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

Whereas seven months ago a strong spring storm brought the east wall of the old Baddeck Post Office down; and

Whereas citizens in Baddeck and surrounding areas quickly moved to raise enough funds to keep the structure from being torn down; and

Whereas a reception was held at the Baddeck Public Library to celebrate the restoration of this beautiful 111 years old hall;

[Page 2883]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature extend their sincere and best wishes to Nancy Langley, President of the Baddeck Public Library Board, and all community volunteers for their tenacity and dedication in the preservation of Baddeck's heritage.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 1007

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

Whereas we wait with bated breath for the details of implementing the announced PC-NDP coalition, stated to be grounded on a mutual desire to repeal the harmonized sales tax; and

Whereas the NDP has not been forthcoming with such important aspects as when it proposes to issue its members blue suits or what the former New Democrats will be calling themselves after coalescing is completed - Red Tories, New Torycrats or perhaps just the New Right; and

Whereas the Leader of the New Democratic Party made this very serious decision to coalesce with the Tories, without any rank and file consultation or, indeed, any mandate whatever for coalition but simply decreed it from his throne in a fit of majestic omnipotence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its sympathies to the rank and file members of the Nova Scotia New Democratic Party who have been betrayed once again by prominent personalities in their ranks who have an irrepressible urge to merge with the Tories.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

[Page 2884]

RESOLUTION NO. 1008

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

Whereas the Sheet Harbour and area Board of Trade, to promote tourism along the Eastern Shore, sponsored a summer project at the century-old MacPhee House in Sheet Harbour, coordinated by Mrs. Sharon Rutledge; and

Whereas with the financial support of the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency, the project added a building on the property to house four kiosks as part of an interpretive centre and a place to sell local arts and crafts; and

Whereas extensive landscaping and a new walking trail have been completed, a large gazebo erected and a new boardwalk constructed along the beautiful ocean look-off and the picnic area upgraded;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the volunteers and workers at MacPhee House and recognize that it is community-based projects like this, sponsored by the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency, which have a positive impact on promoting tourism along the Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1009

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 Premier has refused to make a commitment that all Nova Scotians who want to speak on the BS Tax will be heard by the Law Amendments Committee; and

[Page 2885]

Whereas the Premier sloughs off responsibility for upholding some semblance of democracy to the Justice Minister, who chairs the Law Amendments Committee; and

Whereas the Justice Minister also refuses to ensure that all Nova Scotians who want to speak out on the BS Tax will be heard by the Law Amendments Committee;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Liberal Government for its efforts to muzzle protests against the BS Tax not only from members of this House but also from the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1010

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

Whereas a caller to CJCH Radio's Hotline program yesterday said that her Liberal MLA, in response to her questions on the BS Tax, said that it did not concern him and that she should contact her Member of Parliament with her questions; and

Whereas she named that MLA as the member for Hants East; and

Whereas this is consistent with the Minister of Finance's inept response to questions on the BST to call the federal government's 1-800 number;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberal Government, including all Liberal members, accept responsibility for the BS Tax and stop their cowardly buck-passing to the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. There has just been a resolution read into this House by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley indicating a caller reported something on the radio station, that she had spoken with the member for Hants East before she had gone on the radio station. I must advise the House now and of course, I had already advised the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and he knew full well, as a matter of fact, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley when reporting to me about this incident recognized that the lady had not talked to me before the incident.

[Page 2886]

Mr. Speaker, on my point of order I want to make it clear that after hearing this report I personally contacted this lady after this radio program and had a discussion with her. I must point out to the House that I never spoke with this lady before she went and spoke on this radio show and I believe the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley full knew it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The point of order is noted.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have never heard so much nonsense in all my life that just emanated from the mouth of the member for Hants East. I just want to say that the tape has been tabled with this House and the caller makes it very clear she phoned her MLA, she named him, in fact, she said Robert A. Carruthers, that is what she said, it is on the tape. I would ask the honourable member to listen to the tape and see what his constituent had to say.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Moving to Orders of the Day, the time now being 3:13 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run for one and one-half hours until 4:43 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - OFFSHORE: PROCUREMENT - COMPANY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The Minister of Natural Resources knows that all Nova Scotians are very interested in the development of our offshore energy project and the benefits that will accrue to the province over the next number of decades. The minister also fully understands that in the course of the construction and the production phase that there will be a great deal of purchasing. Nova Scotians are anxious to know what the assurances are that Nova Scotians will participate fully in the development and the construction of that project? As well, a great number of products will be purchased. It has been identified that some 600 product categories will be required in the development of our offshore gas project, things like boots, stationery and large items like offshore platforms.

My question for the minister is, will she confirm that the procurements, the hundreds of millions of dollars of procurement that will be required to develop our Nova Scotia offshore energy project will, in fact, be handled by a company called BIDS, which is based in Fredericton, New Brunswick; in other words, that all the procurements - the buying - will be handled through a New Brunswick firm?

[Page 2887]

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite is making some misleading statements; he obviously is getting his information from a newspaper article that, in itself, was misleading. The office he speaks of is a registry office. It is much like a telephone book and it is available to anyone. There will be no procurements done out of that office and I think if the member opposite would look into the article that he has read and he would get his facts straight, then he would have no reason to ask that question, because all procurements will be done out of an office that is right across the street here on Hollis Street. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister, well, the minister seems to think that that company has nothing to do with New Brunswick. The minister should understand that one of the things a procurement company does, of course, is meet with potential suppliers. Is the minister prepared to confirm that the first meeting that was called for the procurement company to meet with potential suppliers, in fact, was held November 27th at the Sheraton Hotel in Fredericton, New Brunswick?

MRS. NORRIE: Once again, I have to tell the member opposite that he has to get his facts straight before he starts asking questions. The member opposite is getting his information out of a newspaper article that, I repeat, was a misleading article. Indeed, the first meeting that was held was here at the World Trade and Convention Centre on November 23rd, and the second meeting was held in Port Hawkesbury on November 24th. All the procurements for this project will be done here, right out of Nova Scotia. The member should get his facts straight. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, is the minister saying to me that the company that is handling the procurement of hundreds of millions of dollars of purchases for our Nova Scotia offshore energy project is not a New Brunswick-based company; is that what this minister is saying?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is asking questions that are misleading; the article he is referring to is misleading. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MRS. NORRIE: The company he is referring to, Mr. Speaker, is nothing more than a glorified phone book. (Laughter) That is what it is. Can anybody who is listed in the phone book, in the yellow pages, offer procurement to anyone? The procurement office is, indeed, here in Nova Scotia and what this member opposite ought to know - and I would say what New Brunswick ought to know and the thing that New Brunswick is having a very hard time accepting - is that this is a Nova Scotia project; Nova Scotians will be considered first and procurement will be done here out of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

[Page 2888]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

SYSCO: SALE - STATUS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. The latest revelations and developments reveal that the deal negotiated by the Premier and the former Minister of Finance with Minmetals did nothing to, as they alleged back in November 1994, provide new hope for the future in steelmaking, to provide any hope for those 700 workers or for the people of Cape Breton or of Nova Scotia. In fact, we have now seen that the negotiations between the current minister and Global Steel Inc. appear to be in total chaos.

My question to the Premier is, what assurances can you give the workers, all Cape Bretoners, all Nova Scotians, members of this House, that anyone in the Government of Nova Scotia has a handle on exactly what is happening with Sysco?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is obviously of major importance to this province what happens at Sydney Steel. We have made that clear from the beginning. I would remind the honourable member that were it not for the negotiations carried out with Minmetals, some 600 or 700 people would not have had paycheques for three years. There are problems, as there are always problems in deals, and they relate to a number of items that cannot be discussed at this particular time.

What we are saying is what we have stated all along, that we want the best for the people of Sydney. We want the best for the workers of Sydney. I would remind the member that the workers are now working very closely with the Minister of Labour in an effort to settle this issue. We want the best for this steel plant and this province, its representative on the previous deal, and the person who is dealing with it now will do what is best for a troubled steel plant and the future of 650 people in Sydney.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say that all along, since this government first got involved with Minmetals, many Nova Scotians, including members of this House, have been suggesting that it is time that they began to get involved with other people, get involved with Cape Bretoners, the community of Sydney, get involved with the steelworkers, people who have some understanding about the steel industry and about the impact of Sysco on their community. Instead, what we have had is deals being cut behind closed doors. We have had assurances like the one back on November 8, 1994, that said that this deal with Minmetals offers Sysco and its workers a new beginning. That is what the Premier and the former Minister of Finance said.

[Page 2889]

I want to ask the Premier, will he not now admit that these secret backroom deals have not worked?

THE PREMIER: No.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier, his officials and the current minister looking after the future of Sysco have said they want to get out of the business. Yet what they have been doing is they have been participating, since they came into power, in the running down of this facility, in the running down of its reputation, trying to sell it off at bargain basement prices to anybody who will pick up a lead. In other words, the privatization approach clearly is not working.

I want to ask the Premier, is it not time for this government to recognize that there is a need for a new approach, an approach that involves the community, an approach that involves the steelworkers, Mr. Speaker, to try to find strategies that will fit in with the need in Cape Breton for jobs and for economic development?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I guess the question I would ask him is, how dare he malign the people who have worked so hard in the last three years to make this plant work. This is unbelievable. At this particular point in time, the workers have been closely involved, the union has been closely involved working with the minister. They have been kept appraised for the last year and any of the discussions that have taken place have taken into consideration the expressed views of the steelworkers union in Sydney. Ask them what they feel about this and you know very well what they will say.

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

SYSCO - SALE: AGREEMENT - WEAK

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, yesterday's news about Sysco and the Global deal was very disappointing for everybody on Cape Breton Island and the Cape Breton steelworkers. The original deal between the government and Minmetals seems to have been filled with loopholes and escape clauses.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you goes to the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the minister will confirm that the reason the Sysco deal with Global failed so terribly is because of a very badly crafted agreement put together by the former Minister responsible for Sysco?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for Cape Breton West for his questions and to tell him that I am not going to comment on an original deal about anything. I am commenting on what is and what we are dealing with today. (Interruption)

[Page 2890]

Mr. Speaker, in regard to the Leader of the Third Party, the reason why I haven't got a question from him is that he doesn't know which side to take in this issue yet, whether to be for the plant, against the plant, for opening it, for closing it, a typical NDP position.

In dealing with the more sensible question from the member for Cape Breton West who I think has a genuine interest in what is happening down in Sydney, as do I, Mr. Speaker. (Applause) The problem with Sydney Steel is not because of anything that was done in an original deal. The problem is because Minmetals have decided they no longer want to be a partner with the Government of Nova Scotia and unknown to the government, went out and tried to sell its half interest to a firm called Global who, when pushed, couldn't come up with the money that we required to let them in the door. That is as simply as I can put it. We are trying to make the best of a bad deal here in terms of what Global has brought to the table.

There are a number of suggestions that the officials from Global knew nothing about a deadline that we had set. If you wish, I can read correspondence into the record or if the member wishes, I can table a letter suggesting that we did inform Global officials. We are dealing with the situation as we see it today. A very difficult situation and a very hard time, I might add, Mr. Speaker, for the people of Cape Breton who have suffered long and hard in the uncertainty about the Sydney steel plant and what it has done over the years. It has not been operated very successfully under government hands and I am trying everything I possibly can, and I am sure the member knows that, to try and achieve the best deal I possibly can to keep that plant open in private hands in the future. In that regard, we are pursuing all avenues.

I might add, Mr. Speaker, that in terms of the government's involvement, the government has a responsibility to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and, simply put, are not letting anybody in the door unless they come with some financial ability to operate the Sydney steel plant.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his answer to that question and I look forward to the document that he spoke about. The minister did allude, however, that it was a bad deal. It certainly was a bad deal for the people of the steel plant.

Days ago, Mr. Speaker, we were being told that there was a deal close to being signed. Today in the news report we hear that there has been no audited statements for this plant. My question is simple and it is again to the Minister of Labour. Is the minister actually saying that those detailed negotiations were taking place and being carried out without this government actually having a true, accurate picture of the financial resources of that corporation?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have auditors that we employ to audit the books of the Sydney Steel Corporation and from time to time the auditors give us a report as to the financial condition of the Sydney steel plant, which, by the way, is not very good at the present time, which should come as a surprise to nobody.

[Page 2891]

In addition to that, the member made reference to the fact that I said that the deal was a bad deal. What I said, Mr. Speaker, was that the Global deal is a bad deal as far as I am concerned and as far as this government is concerned. We are not letting people onto that Sydney steel plant to again give false hope to the workers of that plant unless they come with what I would consider deep pockets and money they are willing to invest, not money they want to get from us to invest in the Sydney steel plant.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again, I will be going back to the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the Minister of Labour will agree that, indeed, the loss of the CN contract has been a major stumbling block in what is going on at Sysco today?

[3:30 p.m.]

I want to ask the minister if he can believe, as I believe, that one of the major reasons that this CN contract was lost to Sysco is that there was a poor management team put in place? It was a team put in place by the former minister who was responsible for that, and it was a team that time after time the steelworkers asked to have replaced. I want to know if this minister agrees that, indeed, there was a poor management team in place at Sysco?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what we had there was a quality problem at Sydney Steel that we are presently addressing. Simply put, the answer to the question is that from time to time you have quality problems in rail production and, unfortunately, that was one that we had recently.

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

SYSCO: MGT. TEAM - REPLACEMENT

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again my question is to the Minister of Labour. If the minister really believes that answer, could he please explain to the members of this House why, shortly after he became the minister, the management team was removed and he replaced it?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Shortly after I assumed responsibility for Sydney Steel, I had meetings with Local 1064, the senior managers of Sydney Steel, government officials and officials from Minmetals. All of those meetings ended up with a common theme, they felt it was time for a change of management at Sydney Steel because there was a great unhappiness with the current management, both from the workforce and from senior management at Sydney Steel and, as well, the officials of Minmetals. So it was felt that in the best interests of the corporation and perhaps to give it some additional clout - I guess in terms of trying to give the corporation some of this additional clout and trying to effect a new deal - that perhaps if we cleared the decks with the very senior management that we would have a better chance of having a better relationship with Minmetals.

[Page 2892]

However, that was only one of their problems and the relationship continued to deteriorate from there. That is the reason why the current senior management is no longer there. There is new management in place. We have an acting president and he is doing very well, under very difficult circumstances.

MR. MACLEOD: I want to thank the minister for that answer, because I know that the steelworkers have lobbied long and hard for that to happen under the former minister and it took this minister to make it happen.

The minister has publicly stated many times in the last two days that Minmetals owes the provincial government as much as $14 million, and my question to the minister is quite simple. What steps is the minister now taking to ensure that Minmetals lives up to the commitments of the shareholders of Sysco, the people of industrial Cape Breton and certainly the people of the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the minister for that question and I am happy he asked that question because, yesterday, I instructed solicitors from Sydney Steel Corporation to inform the Chairman of Minmetals, by letter, that I would be requesting a meeting of the full board of directors of Sydney Steel to discuss the very problem that he is talking about, in regard to payment, and to try and find out definitively what Minmetals intends to do in this very difficult situation.

That letter has gone out to the Chairman of Minmetals and I have asked for that meeting, which is allowed for under the constitution of the agreement that was signed between Minmetals and the province. I will be waiting for an answer and I hope we can have that meeting soon and resolve that situation.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question again is for the Minister of Labour. I wonder if the minister would share with this House, and certainly with all Nova Scotians, where he and this government intend to go now with Sysco? What positive steps - and I emphasize the words "positive steps" - are being taken to make sure that Minmetals, the current contract is being lived up to and that the jobs of the steelworkers are being protected as much as possible?

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I might inform the honourable member that no one is more concerned about the future of Sydney Steel than I am. I can assure you of that and the other members from Cape Breton share that concern with me. I am sure that all Nova Scotians are concerned about the livelihood of the workers who have toiled day in and day out in that very difficult industry that has come upon hard times.

We have to resolve a situation, Mr. Speaker, with Minmetals because they are a part owner of the Sydney Steel Corporation and at the end of 1997, if they live up to their corporate responsibilities, which they have not to date, could in effect become the new owner

[Page 2893]

of Sydney Steel if they decide to exercise their options. I have to find out from Minmetals exactly what they intend to do. In the meantime I am open for any suggestions. If the honourable member or anybody else knows of a steel company that would like to take over Sydney Steel, I will certainly go and talk to them.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, I am initiating actions in going to people I know in the steel industry and trying to encourage them to put the word out that we have a modern mill in Sydney. We have an expert workforce. If a bona fide steel company would like to come and talk to me about acquiring the assets of Sydney Steel and operating a plant in Sydney, I would be willing to listen to them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

JUSTICE: CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS - MEETING

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice is quite aware that yesterday there was a protest group outside, made up of correctional officers who are becoming increasingly frustrated to learn from the minister what, in fact, will be their ultimate fate and whether or not they will continue to be active members of Correctional Services in this province.

Will the minister report if he has had a meeting with correctional officers since their protest yesterday and will the minister indicate to the House whether or not he gave assurance to the correctional officers that they will continue, in the long term, to be employed in this province as public servants?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have met, actually I met in the House or just outside the Chamber with members of the group that visited yesterday. As well, I met today with some of the same individuals, especially with Ed Foulkes, their leader of Local 480. I am happy to say there was a constructive meeting. It was helpful, I hope and I think, for the members of that group to learn what Atlantic Corrections Group has been up to in the last couple of months and to hear exactly what the plans are for having ACG and the government consult with the union. I think they left both meetings somewhat reassured.

DR. HAMM: I am not sure that the minister really answered the question. I think really the question is whether or not the minister has an intention to put out to the private sector the professional aspect of the Correctional Services which in my mind is tantamount to perhaps privatizing a police force or privatizing the RCMP.

[Page 2894]

My question to the minister is, simply, since the minister took over his portfolio, does he have any study he can table for the information of the House which would indicate research, which would illustrate the benefits of putting the control of our prisons into private hands?

MR. ABBASS: Actually, Mr. Speaker, I am in receipt of more information that would show that privatization is not the route to go. I have told members of the group that visited yesterday and with which I met today that I am very happy to receive information of that sort. In fact I did receive a study or a package of information just today from one Tony Dickie, I believe his name was, for which I was grateful. We will continue to receive such information.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the minister. The minister seems to be saying that he has literally piles of information that indicate that it is not the right thing to do, that privatization is not the right thing, and I believe I understood him correctly. The minister earlier said, and I believe it was on April 25th, that he would keep the employees informed and do what is right for the people of Nova Scotia. In view of the fact that the minister has indicated that he has piles of information indicating that privatization of Correctional Services is not the right thing to do, when is he going to inform correctional officers and others that that will be the direction he will follow and that, in fact, he will not be privatizing professional services within the correctional institutions in our province?

MR. ABBASS: The members of the union know full well and obviously quite a bit better than the member opposite that there are three stages to this process, the first of which is planning, the second of which is design/build and the third of which is operating whatever facility or facilities result from this reconfiguration operation.

The members of the union are realists, they understand that government is weighing all options, including that of privatization. They have heard government reiterate that its main preference would be a continued public sector operation of the facilities. What they are really most concerned with apparently, and they can confirm this or not, is that they be heard, that they have their chance to make their case for a publicly operated or a public sector approach to corrections.

We have tried to reassure the union leadership, Ed Foulkes and others, that we are open as a government to hearing that case made, as they should very well make it and can be counted upon to make it in the coming weeks. We will remain open to hearing that case and will continue to be open to meeting with the union side.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 2895]

JUSTICE: MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM - BACKLOG

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to say how proud I was to be a member of this House earlier on this afternoon when the Minister responsible for the Status of Women asked us all to observe a moment of silence in order to remember violence against women that has been perpetrated in this country. I want to ask the Minister of Justice a question because beating and murder are not the only forms of violence.

I want to ask the Minister of Justice about the maintenance enforcement system. Problems continue to mount with this system. A new program may well have glitches in its early days but it has been almost a year. I would like to ask the Minister of Justice, can he tell the House what he intends to do about the significant backlog of cases that are piling up in the Maintenance Enforcement Office?

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, in recent days we have heard a lot about the Maintenance Enforcement Act and the way in which the Act is being executed or enforced by our staff. I can only send a message to the staff and it is that they should continue with their very best of efforts which they have been exerting since January 1996. I want to pay them the compliment of having tried to make a system work that is new for this province, that is relatively new in this whole country. We joined provinces like Saskatchewan and British Columbia in attempting to replace the old court-based model for maintenance enforcement with one which depends upon government in this case to assist in obtaining maintenance payments.

Frustrations have arisen in areas such as reaching the so-called info-line and not being able to reach a human who will hear out the concerns of the recipient. This is a major concern and it is one that we have heard loud and clear. In fact, Judith McPhee, the Director of this program, is well aware of the concerns about the shortcomings of the info-line and she and staff are already working on ways in which the info-line, which is already the best model of a telephone approach to maintenance enforcement, can be that much further improved.

I can only reassure the House that the department is not ignoring the concerns that recipients are voicing nor ignoring the concerns that members opposite are voicing, and improvements are in the offing.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am glad to hear that improvements are in the offing but I am a little bit nervous about the minister not saying anything about at least redeploying from somewhere else workers who can take on this work that needs to be done. I would like to ask the minister, can everybody in this House go back and tell our constituents who are waiting for maintenance enforcement and who haven't heard perhaps for weeks or months from the office, can we go back and tell them that this minister will be putting more workers into this enormous task and that they will be hearing from this office within a reasonable period of time?

[Page 2896]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. ABBASS: I am not sure, Mr. Speaker, whether the member opposite even knows how many people are working in this program. It is a goodly number. We have 47 people assigned to this particular project, which is almost as large as some departments of the government. In any case, that does not mean that the program is perfect and it does not mean that recipients are not frustrated when they cannot reach a person, a human, and actually talk to that person about their concerns.

One interesting thing to know is that the old manner of enforcing maintenance orders, which depended upon the courts and depended upon the recipient going to those courts, might not have been any more successful in the way it delivered maintenance payments to the recipient, but, under the old model, at least the recipient felt more in control. They could have been just equally as disappointed with the result, but felt more in control of his or her fate, usually her fate. This telephone approach to dispensing information definitely is not universally accepted and a lot of recipients are frustrated with it and we are looking very hard at how we can improve it, Mr. Speaker.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I guess I am concerned that the minister has twice mentioned the highly efficient telephone system. I know that people are extremely unhappy with the use of technology when what they need is a real human voice. So I want to ask the minister whether or not he is prepared to redeploy, from somewhere, more people. It doesn't matter how many people there are, there are not enough of them. Will he redeploy some people so that the people who call in and who need this service will be able to speak to a real human being, or is a government information officer more important to this government than a maintenance enforcement officer?

MR. ABBASS: This might be the typical NDP approach to allocating resources and funds, find money and people somewhere and throw it at the problem, but government is charged with using its resources, be that money or human resources, in the best way possible. I can only, again, reassure the House that staff of the Maintenance Enforcement Program are well aware of the concerns that have been raised. I am, as minister, and the government is very sensitive to these concerns. In fact, I have been reminded of those concerns, at least, on several occasions by members of my own caucus who are receiving calls from recipients who are finding it difficult to get through to the program. Again, I want to reassure individuals of this House and outside this House that every effort is being made to improve the system, not to ignore concerns of recipients.

[Page 2897]

One thing I want to point out is that, as has been the case since January 1996, recipients are free to pursue the old model of maintenance enforcement. But it is interesting to note that the number of individuals who have opted to pursue that old model has dropped off dramatically since the Maintenance Enforcement Program was brought into effect, Mr. Speaker. So that says something, but there is always something more that we can do to improve the system, which will be done. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - NSRL: SALE - STATUS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. My question for the Minister of Natural Resources is, how much has PanCanadian and Mobil Oil paid for Nova Scotia Resources?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite ought to know that NSRL has not been sold.

MR. ARCHIBALD: So I am perfectly clear. You are telling me that NSRL has not been sold, yes or no?

MRS. NORRIE: Perfectly clear, NSRL has not been sold. (Interruption)

MR. ARCHIBALD: Could you give us an idea of how much you are paying Rothschilds, in that case, not to sell NSRL?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for acknowledging the fact that we do have a company that is expert in this field, named Rothschilds, who are handling the sale of NSRL. That company, as the member opposite knows, has been a millstone around this government, the Province of Nova Scotia, since its inception in 1981 by the members of the government that were in power at the time. We are handling this as well as we can to get as much as we can for the assets that are there - it is a company called Rothschilds that are doing it - and when the company is sold, he will be the first to know.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE - COMPENSATION STATUS

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is for the Minister of Justice. I wonder if the minister would be prepared to tell the House today whether or not what he characterizes as his time-out, in regard to the settlement process with the victims of institutional abuse, is over or not and, if it is over, if he has communicated that to any of the solicitors or claimants?

[Page 2898]

HON. JAY ABBASS: No, this taking stock period or time-out, if you will, is not yet over. My hope is that it will be over as soon as possible.

MR. DONAHOE: To the Minister of Justice, again, on the same issue. Will the minister then, since he tells us that the time-out is still running, tell this House whether or not he has extended the December 16th deadline which had earlier been in place for claimants to file claims? He knows, and I am well aware from contact with many others, that the cause of the absolute trauma, which has been perpetrated upon hundreds of claimants and perspective claimants, is a result of the cessation of the process by this minister. (Interruptions)

My question, ignoring the peanut gallery, Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Justice, is if he will tell us whether or not he has extended the December 16th deadline for claimants to file their claims alleging institutional abuse?

MR. ABBASS: Well, the member opposite might consider the comments of the Minister of Business and Consumer Services as comments from the peanut gallery, but I think members of the public would like to know where the member opposite was for 15 years that this tragic abuse was being perpetrated upon residents of Shelburne and the other two institutions involved. I think that is a question that the member opposite might want to answer either inside or outside this Chamber sometime, especially as a former Attorney General himself.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, the Minister of Justice can ignore my questions and suggest that there are questions that I might answer and I think the constituents in my constituency have answered the questions five times in a row. I have 18 years here and I have the right to be here today, which gives me the right to ask this minister questions, and the people want to know what this minister is doing. I am asking on behalf of hundreds of people who are traumatized by the actions of this government, not any other government, by this government. This government, with great fanfare, announced the compensation package and then they ripped it out from under the victims and now it is a time-out.

I ask again, yes or no, to the Minister of Justice, the December 16th deadline for the filing of claims by the alleged victims, or those who allege they were victimized by institutional abuse, has it or has it not been extended?

MR. ABBASS: I think the member opposite referred to five successful re-election campaigns, which of course he enjoyed, but people should know that Al Capone was immensely popular in his own constituency as well. (Laughter)

The member opposite obviously does not have a deep understanding of what the December 18th filing deadline is all about. Since the taking stock period, this time-out was announced, victims of abuse, those who would like to lodge a claim have been free to come forward with their notices of claim. It is December 18th, I believe, by which notice of claim

[Page 2899]

must be lodged. The claim need not be perfected. Obviously, the member opposite does not understand that.

Again, I would reiterate that it is this government that has finally, on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia, done the right thing, which is something that eluded the member opposite for 15 full years, sometimes in my very position. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel, on a new question.

JUSTICE - MAINTENANCE ENFORCEMENT PROG.:

STAFF LIST - TABLE

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to coming back to some of that exchange on a future day with the Minister of Justice but a new question on a different matter, if I may.

The Minister of Justice, in response to questions just a moment ago from the member for Fairview, indicated - and he may correct me if I am wrong, and he loves to do that, but I would be wrong by, I hope, only a few - he said he had something in the order of 47 officials working in the Maintenance Enforcement Program. I wonder if the minister would commit to me and to this House today that he will table the names, the job descriptions and the salaries of the 47 people who are working in that program, and table them no later than the end of business tomorrow?

HON. JAY ABBASS: If that information is not readily available through the Public Accounts or the Estimates Book or the Supplements, I would be happy to do that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, through you, again to the Minister of Justice relative to the Maintenance Enforcement Program. The fact of the matter is that this program - again one ballyhooed and hailed by this government as the answer for the men and women and, in some cases, the children - so desperately in need of resolution of disputes relative to maintenance orders, has been in place now for some time, and something like 211,000 contacts have been made with the automated phone line. It is the next best thing to impossible, on the basis of almost 100-some communications with me from people who have attempted to get into the system, to make contact with a live human being who can help and respond.

I understand there are now, Mr. Speaker, 14,000 unresolved cases, and the minister said a moment ago in response to the member for Fairview, well, they have the other alternative, they can proceed and follow the old maintenance enforcement procedure. Well, the absolute arrogance that that displayed to me was that this minister is running a program which he and his colleagues designed and advertised as a way to make it possible to avoid the

[Page 2900]

trauma of those who are in need of having resolution of maintenance order difficulties resolved, resolved quickly and resolved equitably.

My question for the minister is simply, can he tell me how long it takes the Maintenance Enforcement Program to resolve and settle the average of those 14,000 cases still outstanding?

MR. ABBASS: The terminology being used by the member opposite is just a little bit perplexing. He is saying there are 14,000 cases outstanding, yet he wants to know the average time involved in solving these unresolved cases. What exactly is he asking?

MR. DONAHOE: Well, if the minister wants to play word games and be childish, then that is his prerogative. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DONAHOE: The minister knows perfectly well that I am indicating to him that there are 14,000 outstanding cases and, in most of those files, that represents at least two people, the combatants in the maintenance matter. So that gets us to 28,000 and, in most of those cases, there are infants and children who are dependent upon the maintenance; so the number is in the many, many thousands. I am telling him - and he probably doesn't know it anyway - that there are 14,000 unresolved cases and he is trying to suggest that this has worked quite well.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. DONAHOE: I will try it in English that maybe he can understand. There are 14,000 cases outstanding. He says that all kinds have been handled and handled expeditiously. I would like to ask him this. How long do those 14,000 outstanding think they are going to have to wait to have theirs resolved on the basis of what has proven to be the average settlement time for those which have already been resolved? Can he understand that and answer that question?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. ABBASS: I think I can understand what the member is trying to ask but he doesn't quite understand that automatically cases find their way to the Maintenance Enforcement Program, simply by becoming orders of the Family Court. He must know that.

The number 14,000 might more appropriately describe the number of cases enrolled in the program. (Interruptions) Maybe that is what he is referring to, or is he talking about the 13,000 payments which are processed through the program every month? Or is he talking about the 9,000 enforcement actions which have been taken by the program? I think the

[Page 2901]

member opposite is a little bit at sea as to how the process really works. The 14,000 figure he is using (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. ABBASS: Well, we would be happy to arrange a briefing for the member opposite, if he wants to understand what the number 14,000 describes. But, in the meantime, I would ask the member opposite, where was that member's own Maintenance Enforcement Program when the women, especially of this province, so desperately needed it in the 15 years that he was in government and the time that he stood in this position, as Attorney General? (Interruptions)

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - AMALGAMATIONS (MUN.):

COST - INCORRECT

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr Speaker, as much as it is very tempting to follow along in the same line of questioning, I am going to go to a different (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to direct on a different line to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. When the government introduced its shotgun marriages, its legislation to amalgamate the metropolitan area and to amalgamate industrial Cape Breton, they said there were going to be tens of millions of dollars in savings, that metro taxpayers were going to be saving millions of dollars. Instead, we see that the costs are not going down and that there are going to be increased costs for amalgamation, now predicted to be as high as $28 million.

We have also learned now, as a result of a financial study that has been done, that the Cape Breton Municipality is behind the gun, in fact in 1997-98 it is predicted that they will be $7 million short and by the turn of the century they will be $16 million short in meeting their budget requirements.

My question to the minister is a very simple one, has the minister now reviewed the facts and is the minister now prepared to admit that the government blew it and that their projections were all wrong?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for this question. I think this is a very important issue. He mentions the two regions, the Cape Breton region and the Halifax region amalgamations. I will say that they were done for two different reasons, obviously. I will try to deal with this as quickly as I can because it is a broad-ranging

[Page 2902]

question. In Cape Breton six out of the eight units were, at that time, receiving emergency funding - in other words, bankrupt.

That has been resolved, that has been folded into a regional program where there is flexibility and there is ability to address some of the issues at hand. There has been support from the provincial government on that particular matter in several areas that I will not get into at this time.

The Halifax region, many things were not working. There were four municipal units, there was competition, there was no movement on the waste management strategy. The traffic situations were worsening, there was competition in economic development. Those are just three major issues that had to be addressed, issues that we are now seeing progress on. The effects and the results will be not only of a short-term nature, which I have outlined, but they will certainly be of a long-term nature, both from the economic savings and from the viability of this region as a functioning economic unit and as a place to live and grow and develop your families and have your families enjoy units that are viable.

MR. HOLM: I guess to sum it up in a short way, the minister is saying that the fact that the metro merger is only going to be costing about $18 million more than was originally projected means it is successful. The fact that there are six out of the eight municipal units in Cape Breton that were on the verge on bankruptcy and receiving emergency funding, now, since they have all been merged together into one, and that that one now is on the verge of financial difficulties because of the actions, I guess that is what the government calls success, eight down to one and that one now is in trouble.

My question to the minister, and this one deals very specifically with the Regional Municipality of Cape Breton. They, as the minister knows, according to the financial study, are going to be now $7 million short, it is projected, because of dropping revenues, increased costs and so on, in their next fiscal year and that that number is projected to increase. What is the minister and his government that created the problem going to do to assist that municipality and the taxpayers in that municipality?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is no question that there are many challenges facing many municipal units throughout this province. What this government will do is we will meet with the region, which I did on Friday last. We had a good meeting, I would like to report. We all recognize that there are challenges, but I would point out that there has been no increase in the overall tax rate, there have been some changing, but the revenues realized from taxation within that unit has remained stable. There is a one-tiered social services system in place and functioning. They have much more flexibility. There has been an infrastructure program that has put over $15 million into that particular region. There are many things that we, as a provincial government, have done. They have their house in order. They are working toward it. They are committed. They are working together and they are functioning as a

[Page 2903]

council that is addressing the concerns of the region. They will succeed. There are no large short-term gains. There are major long-term gains.

MR. HOLM: I love the way we talk about serious problems now, we just call them challenges. Mr. Speaker, I want to get down to a couple of very specific items. The minister is, in final supplementary, yes, Mr. Minister, it is going to be a short one, part of the problem, part of the projected $7 million cost increase is as a result of the BS Tax that municipalities are expected to pay and because of projections that they may have to end up paying $3.8 million in social services costs if the province hands those fiscal responsibilities back to that municipality or part of it.

My question to the minister and, very specifically, will the minister guarantee that that municipality will not have to pick up those increased costs and give them a fighting chance to be able to address the other problems that have been off-loaded to them by this government in an attempt by this government to save dollars for itself, Mr. Speaker?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is very early in the budgetary process. That particular region, they are identifying their issues. They are being open about it and they are highlighting them. This is an area that this provincial government has worked very closely with.

As I mentioned earlier, in my other answer, $15 million of provincial money has gone into an infrastructure program. We have set up a single-tiered system under social assistance and supported that. We have taken that over. That will be in turn. They will be dealt with fairly, as all municipal units will be, as this government moves to a single-tiered social assistance system throughout all of the province. They will be dealt with. We are looking at areas that are an immediate impact of HST that may bear, initially, on first blush, negatively on the municipal units. We are actively negotiating with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities on that and that will impact on all units. The harmonized tax will be a good news story for all of Nova Scotia and the region of Cape Breton will benefit, as all parts of Nova Scotia will benefit from the new harmonized tax, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

FIN. - CROWN PROPERTY: TENDERING - POLICY

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I wonder if the minister would advise the House, what is the Nova Scotia Government's procurement policy respecting Crown property tendering for construction valued in excess of $5,000?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the tendering policy, in fact, is under the offices of the Minister of Finance.

[Page 2904]

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, could I have the other minister respond to the question? I thought it was the responsibility of this minister.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't have that information at my fingertips. I would be glad to check on the information and get it back to that honourable member.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I would advise the minister that he will find it in this Procurement Policy document which was issued by the Government of Nova Scotia on January 1, 1996. That document states, "Construction requirements with an estimated value from $5,000 to $100,000 will be posted on an electronic public bid notice system. In addition, bids or proposals may be invited from a minimum of three suppliers where required to ensure an adequate degree of competition.".

Now understanding what the policy is, Mr. Speaker, my supplementary is this. The Bluenose II in 1996 had at least $50,000 of construction work done on her and a further contract worth certainly more than $5,000 for new decking and for a new coach house is soon to be let. My question to the minister is this, is Senator Wilfred Moore's Bluenose II Foundation obliged to follow the Nova Scotia Government's procurement policy for fair tendering for construction of work done on the Bluenose II, which is, after all, Crown property?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not familiar with the specific example and although the general matter of procurement is under the Department of Finance there are a number of departments involved. My distinguished colleague, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, I believe is able to deal with matters relating to the Bluenose and I am sure he would be happy to answer the question.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Moore and the Bluenose II Preservation Trust do report to the Economic Renewal Agency and I believe Mr. Moore has followed the procurement policy in having the work tendered, the repair work to be done on the Bluenose II this year.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, this time we might find somebody on the other side of the door that it gets passed on to, we are working our way down the row. I am sure that the most recent minister will be able to respond to this question and I thank him for his answer.

Will the minister ensure that the public interest and the spirit as well as the letter of the government's own procurement policy is seen to be met by at first opportunity acquiring and tabling all tendering documents respecting each construction tender for Bluenose II which has been undertaken since Senator Wilfred Moore assumed responsibility for the vessel, I think in 1994?

[Page 2905]

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, I would assume that that information will be contained in the annual report when it comes.

I would like to say something about the operation of the Bluenose II, which I think is a very credible operation under Senator Wilfred Moore. I received a letter from an individual who indicated in the letter that they had always had the work that was carried out on the Bluenose II without tender - I think the honourable member for Queens may have received a copy of that if I am not mistaken - indicating that they were supporters of the Conservative Party and the way business had been done in the past, they had always been given the contract for the repair work on the Bluenose II. They wrote to me indicating that they felt they deserved a crack at having the work and it shouldn't be taken away from them when they had always done it just because they were Conservatives.

To Wilfred Moore's credit, he did tender the work on the Bluenose this year and that company won the right to do the work. I guess the point is that this was the first time it had ever been tendered, by their own admission. I am not saying this to take a shot. I see the members getting a tad sensitive but I am not taking a shot - I think this demonstrates clearly that Senator Wilfred Moore is running a good ship. The only time he did not go to tender was when the Bluenose II hit the wharf at Pugwash and emergency repairs were needed and he took it to where work had been done previously and had it done quickly. The fact that he did tender it and it went to a self-admitted Conservative firm and was the first time it was ever tendered, I think is credit to Wilfred Moore. (Applause)

[4:15 p.m.]

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - SENIOR CITIZENS:

APARTMENTS - SECURITY REVIEW

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. The minister will know that, as I understand it, the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority is reviewing security needs of seniors' apartments. There have been concerns raised, especially in the metro area and in fact I had a couple of calls myself. People were asking about the decision to cut security guards from 10 apartment buildings. There is fear from the seniors that such a loss would leave them vulnerable to thefts and attacks and things of that nature. Has the minister had a chance to review the situation and the possible consequences?

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is a review now that has been started by the Metro Housing Authority to review all matters relative to security of persons within the public and seniors' housing. This is being carried out by a person - a single person, I believe - that has RCMP experience. That is my understanding.

[Page 2906]

This is a review that is long overdue to address the particular issues of monitoring particular areas, whether there are enough surveillance cameras, the locks, the entrance procedures and all matters relating to security and safety of those persons within the housing complexes. This is a review that is long overdue. It will be brought forward in due course and will be presented to me as Minister of Housing to receive their recommendations.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister tells us that the review is certainly long overdue. I wonder, could the minister tell us whether or not the tenants have been consulted relative to the review?

DR. SMITH: This is a matter which, as I said, is just getting underway. This is a responsibility of the Metro Housing Authority. I have been informed that they will not only be meeting with those people within the units, but they will be encouraging and working with those people to form residents' committees, that they will be able to be involved in education programs, matters of personal responsibility relative to personal safety. It will be a more formalization of a system that is not working perhaps as well as it should be in certain areas of which the Metropolitan Housing Authority is responsible for.

MR. TAYLOR: I realize there are several proposals on the table, such as a live-in superintendent, for example, and I do not believe that that could provide seniors with the same sense of security that they now are receiving. If the department is not under a time-frame that precludes it from doing so, will the minister commit to holding a forum for the tenants so that their concerns and their comments are made part of any final decision? Would the minister give this House that undertaking, that he will recommend to the RCMP officer conducting the review, who I believe has some 30 years experience or at least has worked with the RCMP for 30 years, will the minister give this House this undertaking that the tenants will be part of this process?

DR. SMITH: In his final supplementary the member mentioned something about proposals that are forward. I am not aware that that in fact is so. It would be unusual that a review that is just starting would already start with proposals. So maybe there have been some proposals made by certain groups at this time but I am not aware of that.

I certainly will review the process. It is my understanding that there will be a wide, and I would suspect a very responsible consultation process made. That will be part of what I will review when this comes forward.

My information at this time is that, in fact, this is part of the initiative and not only will there be a review that will address a consultative process but we will be setting up a more formalized system of residential input into matters that are ongoing. So it is proactive as well as being preventive in matters relative to housing and, more particularly, to personal safety for those people who occupy social housing.

[Page 2907]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - ENVIRONMENTAL ILLNESS:

LANGLEY COMM. - SUFFERERS REP.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. I am sure the Minister of Health is familiar with the re-establishment of the Langley Committee. I would ask the minister, and I am sure he would agree, if a committee was being established to do research on native issues or women's issues or some other issue, that some of those people would be represented on that committee. In this case, not even Dr. Roy Fox, who is the Director of Environmental Health, or Dr. Michael Joffre, who is Director of the Environmental Health Centre, neither one of those or anybody with environmental illness, has been put on the committee.

I would ask the minister why none of these people were represented on that Langley Committee?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I can simply tell the honourable member that the committee, of course, was established prior to my assuming responsibility but the Dr. Langley who is in charge, I am informed, is eminently qualified in this area. It is primarily a technical study that is being done. I am assured that consultation has been taken and, indeed, will be taken with people suffering from environmental illness. I have full confidence that he will bring forth a productive report.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I believe the minister is sincere in what he just said. I am not sure that the process is working the way that he would like to see it work or I would like to see it work.

I know he wasn't there when the committee was appointed - I would ask the minister, and I am sure he has asked, why was the committee established? What is the rationale of having the committee established at this particular point in time, with our new clinic about to open out in Fall River and things moving along with Dr. Fox and so forth, why has the former minister re-established this Langley Committee?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, I appreciate the fact that the honourable member does recognize the advances that we have made in the treatment of environmental illness. In fact, we are on the leading edge anywhere across the country. That clinic will provide a very real service.

Dr. Langley, as you know, made a study some time earlier. The study that he conducts now presumably will be an update, based on the greater information that is now available to us and to him and, hopefully, bring that earlier report up to date.

[Page 2908]

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary, and I want to indicate to the minister that yes, I acknowledge all the work that was done prior to this government and during this government on this particular issue, but there is some concern with the Langley Report that we may not be on the leading edge.

I would ask the minister, since he wants an open process, and I believe he does, I would ask him why, first of all, that the meetings are not open to the public and say they can't be open to the public, why the minutes of the meeting are not available through his department or to the public? If the minister would indicate why we are having sort of a closed process because if the minister is sincere in having the Langley Committee review this whole process, I am sure he would want, as I would and I am sure he would, the whole process not to appear to be open, but to be open to the public and to his department so that everyone will know that the process was done in a fair and open manner.

I would ask the minister if he is aware that they are not open to the public, the minutes are not available and he would undertake to make them available?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware in detail of the procedures used by the committee, but I must reiterate that Dr. Ross Langley, who is a professor of medicine at Dalhousie and senior physician at QE II Health Sciences Centre, enjoys a distinguished reputation in this field and has done work earlier. I have full confidence in the process that he has undertaken.

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

JUSTICE - FREEDOM OF INFO:

ADVISORY COMM. REPORT - RESPONSE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address a question through you, sir, to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. When introducing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the minister's predecessor correctly stated, and I believe it was a correct statement, in any event, he said, at the time, "In order to operate responsibly, a democracy must put as much information as possible in the hands of its citizens so that they can have the knowledge needed to exercise political power.". The Act, of course, also required that there be an advisory committee appointed to review the Act and to make recommendations. That report was tabled with the government back on March 25th.

My question to the minister is, quite simply, this. Why hasn't the government responded to that excellent report?

HON. JAY ABBASS: I think, at the outset, it is important to perhaps remind the House and member opposite of the origins of the Act itself. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was brought in by this government, a government which does

[Page 2909]

believe in openness and accountability and a government that finally created the legislative framework to ensure that accountability remains in place in this area of concern.

I won't go on and give a speech because there is a debate later on, but I think it was very important that we move to hire a full-time person to oversee the Act and we have just recently done that. It may not be known to the member opposite, but it is Robert Doherty who will be coming over to the Department of Justice from ERA, I believe, and I will say more about that later, but it will be under his supervision, if you will, and upon his advice that we will respond appropriately to the recommendations.

MR. HOLM: In response to the minister, yes, indeed, I am aware that it was this government that brought the Act in and I was very complimentary of the Act at the time and of the minister who brought it in, Mr. Speaker, the former Speaker, your predecessor, of course, had written to the Attorney General's predecessor, the day after, actually, that this report was tabled in the House. In that letter to the former Attorney General, the former Speaker said that he was urging that "no action be taken because it might make the operation of government much more difficult and that the outcries from those affected would far outweigh the mild murmurs of satisfaction such new powers would yield from the press gallery.".

My question, through you then, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, because I believe that this is a very important Act, does his government favour the views expressed by the member for Cape Breton Nova when he was the Speaker of this House, or does this government instead favour the more democratic opinion that was expressed by the former Attorney General who said, at the time of introducing the bill that, "Availability of information determines whether we are governing by the will of the people or the whim of the people.". Which view are you taking and why haven't you then acted on the report?

MR. ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, it is challenging enough to answer for the actions of my department and for my actions, let alone the actions of the MLA for Cape Breton Nova. I don't think I will even try to oblige the member opposite with that one.

MR. HOLM: Well, I would not try to answer for those either, Mr. Speaker, by the member for Cape Breton Nova. Back in July, in response to a letter I had written to his predecessor, the minister wrote me back and he said, "I agree that the report is a comprehensive and professional body of work.", referring to the advisory committee report. He also said, "I will be taking recommendations to my Cabinet colleagues in the near future.". We are now six months since that letter was written. No legislation is required according to the Act, it can be done by regulation. My question to the minister, what is taking so long; when are we going to see some improvements as were recommended in the advisory committee report, and the kind of things that his predecessor had indicated, obviously, they were open to?

[Page 2910]

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. ABBASS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, there is some very compelling logic in the recommendations. There are some good recommendations and other of which we might not be quite so supportive. However, it is debatable whether six months is too long in which to hire someone like Bob Doherty. I think the member opposite, if he were being fair, would not just congratulate the government on having brought forward the legislation, but would congratulate us on moving so quickly to hire a full-time person of Mr. Doherty's capabilities.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

EDUC.: SCHOOL BOARD (CHIGNECTO CENTRAL) - SAVINGS

MR. DONALD MCINNES: My question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. Could the minister provide me, and the members of the House, some details on the savings achieved due to the school board amalgamation for the area now known as Chignecto Central?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Clearly, when the government launched the initiative to change from 22 to 7 school boards, part of the commitment was to realize savings that are needed by the classroom teachers in this province, needed in the schools of this province and the classrooms of this province. Each board is undertaking an analysis of the savings and we will be pleased to present, in this House or sometime when those analysis are done, the savings profile year-by-year until such time as those savings are annualized.

MR. MCINNES: When the savings are available, will they be directed to schools in the area, to ensure that each school has equal access to computers, so that every student is given the same chance to acquire the computer skills which are needed in today's world?

MR. HARRISON: I welcome this question because the province, in fact, led the nation on recycled computers, computers donated from federal government offices, corporate sector partners, put together with a team of volunteers - some 17,000 to 2,000 of those computers now - along with federal dollars and provincial dollars leverage to purchase new equipment. The benchmark in Government By Design is to have one computer for every 10 students by the year 2000, and one to five by the year 2003, I believe. We are doing everything we can to accelerate that and truly the principle here is equitable access to those computers and the software that goes with them.

MR. MCINNES: I appreciate the minister's answer and I hope that he will be able to provide the computers to the schools on an equal basis throughout the province, because it is important in today's technology.

[Page 2911]

Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the minister. I had a constituent in my yard at home the other day, actually he was a bus driver, and he said to me, Donnie, the salaries - many people have talked to me about salaries of the new school boards - the salary increase given to the CEO is more than I make as school bus driver in a year; it is reported that his salary increase was $28,000. That CEO is making more money than the deputy ministers of this province; he is making more money than the Premier of this province. Is that saving money?

MR. HARRISON: I would hope that the honourable member, when he is confronted by someone in his yard - and obviously he is upset this afternoon - he would remind that gentleman, that individual, that citizen, that we are the only province in Canada that spends more on debt service than we do educating all of our children, more per capita, by hundreds of millions of dollars more, and that the gentleman opposite was part of the 15 year regime that left the children of this province with about $500 million to $600 million in expenditure and close to a billion dollars in debt service. I hope that gentleman in his yard is given the full context of the explanation of why it is that there are dollars desperately needed in this province for education and we are trying to recover them.

When the members opposite talk about savings and say that there aren't savings, I would remind them that where there were once 22 chief executive officers in this province, where there were once 22 chief financial officers in this province, all drawing salaries, there are now seven CFOs. All of those savings are designed to get to the very classrooms that his constituent is concerned about. But each time he gets a question about depriving the children of precious dollars, let him remind those constituents where he was for 15 years while we amassed a debt that caused us once again to be the only province in the country that can make the claim that we spend hundreds of millions more in debt service than we do educating all of our children.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

HEALTH - HOME CARE: SERVICES - PROVISION

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, after listening to that nonsense from that minister I almost would like to ask him a question but today my question is to the Minister of Health and it is with regard to home care. I received a telephone call this morning and perhaps the minister has heard because the person that called me has called several people. Her father is 82 years old, he is recovering from a stroke, he was receiving two hours of home care service every day and suddenly it has been reduced to one hour per week. There is nobody at home to look after this person. Could the Minister of Health indicate to me what the family is supposed to do and, in fact, what this gentleman in recovery is supposed to do?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I was struck in his preamble how sensitive the honourable member was to the comments of the Minister of Education, the

[Page 2912]

former Management Board Chairman. I suggest we might make a deal. If he would stop telling lies about us, we will stop telling the truth about him.

I would be happy to take that question on notice and bring back specific information on that individual.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I didn't know you were allowed to tell people they were lying in the House but if we are allowed to under the new Rules of the House, I will certainly stand in my place each and every time that Minister of Finance and the Premier when they stand and give us the hogwash and the drivel, if we are allowed to call people liars in this House, I will be pleased to take part as equally as they.

My question to the minister again goes unanswered. This minister was supposed to have solved all the problems of the debt, all the problems of Sysco and we see what is happening at Sysco today. This minister indicated that he could solve the problems of Nova Scotia given the chance and now he is solving health care. He cannot give us an answer of what a gentleman is supposed to do. He is collecting his Old Age Pension, his Canada Pension, a supplement. What is this gentleman supposed to do now that this Minister of Health has taken home care from him? A simple answer please.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the very moment that those bankers in Zurich and London allow us to forget about the debt, we will never mention it again. That is a deal.

With respect to this honourable member, if wants to represent the interests of that individual let him meet with me and give me the information and I will respond directly on that individual. If he wants to rant and rave and try to grab some political points, well this is the place for him to do that. I am prepared to respond specifically and individually on that particular individual if he wants to give me the information.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, what am I to tell Nova Scotians? What a message from a minister. The only way you can get home care now is call your MLA, he will meet privately with the Minister of Health and we will work it out. If that is the Liberal way, little wonder 75 per cent of Nova Scotians are fed up and disgusted with the stuff that is coming from this government. If the only way that we can tell people is to call their MLA, then this is a disgrace. Has the minister got no answer for Nova Scotians?

MR. BOUDREAU: I guess he has made his choice. He had the chance to help a constituent or to rant and rave and try to gain some political points. As usual, unerringly, he has made his choice. Mr. Speaker, this is the former government that as recently as 1993, that year that they broke all records blowing $617 million out the door more than they had raised, a deficit, the largest in the country, that very year they were telling Nova Scotians they could not afford home oxygen. The same year they blew $617 million out the door, they could not afford $1.3 million for home oxygen. That is that crew over there.

[Page 2913]

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

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND: TIRE CASINGS - PRICE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question for the honourable Minister of the Environment. I am in receipt of a letter dated November 27, 1996, which is addressed to the Minister of the Environment from Mr. Gerald Holmes, owner of Eastern Tire Services in New Glasgow. Mr. Holmes employs 45 people and has been in the tire retreading business for the past 39 years. Eastern Tire Services is the largest retreader in all of Canada, so it is certainly no small fry operation. Mr. Holmes believes the contract which was signed between the Resource Recovery Fund Board Incorporated will have a negative consequence on his business.

Mr. Holmes' present arrangement is to purchase casings for approximately $3.00. When he spoke to TRACC's general manager, Mr. Doug Vicars, who happens to be the chief cook and bottle washer for TRACC, he was told that they were prepared to sell casings to him at a cost of $15.00, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Holmes calls the price a very bad joke. What steps are the Minister of the Environment and his department taking to ensure Mr. Holmes will be able to purchase tire casings from Mr. Vicars at a reasonable and competitive price?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. Let me point out that my department has been in touch with Mr. Holmes. There is a meeting being planned that we will work out the mutual concerns between him, our department, and the proponent who has been successful in the tire recycling bid. I want to say, that throughout this entire process and at the end of the day we will recognize those positive developments that produce jobs for Nova Scotians. We will not destroy any. We will protect and grow them.

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

Before I recognize the honourable Opposition House Leader, the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate and the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis will debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening the following:

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the protection and the preservation of lighthouses in Nova Scotia.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

[Page 2914]

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 45.

Bill No. 45 - Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to discuss before members of the House Bill No. 45, An Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The government very correctly brought into force on July 1, 1994 a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. It was something that I think is a reflection of an increasing will of the people to know what is going on and a gradual non-acceptance of the kind of secrecy that has pervaded governments, not only this government but governments right across the country. The people in a very real way feel that they have a right to know.

The intent of the Act was in fact most appropriate. As part of that initial Act, of course, in Section 50, it provided a provision which established a committee to review the Act after there was an opportunity to see how the Act was working and if, in fact, it was designed and covered all of the kinds of situations that one would expect it would. That committee was to report on January 1st of this year. In fact, the committee was a little late in reporting. It reported to the minister on March 1st. Following that, unfortunately, the minister has been silent on what it is that he would wish to do in order to strengthen the bill.

[4:45 p.m.]

With that in mind, and particularly because of the difficulty that we, as Opposition members, have had and others in the public have had in accessing information through the legislation, it has proven to be, in some cases, a costly but in most cases a very frustrating endeavour when an applicant is frustrated by the refusal of the respondent to provide the information requested.

So with that in mind, we brought forward this bill to amend that simply strengthens the original Act. It is with that in mind that we came forward with a number of points that, in fact, would make it a better bill. The points are nine in number. I will go over them briefly, for the information of members of the House.

The first is by way of Clause 1, Clause 3(j) there is an expansion of the application of the Act which simply includes all bodies which have 50 per cent or more of the membership appointed by an Order in Council or by the Governor in Council or bodies that are receiving financial assistance for government. Needless to say, where the public purse is involved, there is a strong feeling around the province, and I do share that feeling, that, in fact, the public has a right to know in a very real way how those public funds are being expended.

[Page 2915]

Now the second point in strengthening the Act is simply in response to a frustration at the amount of time that it sometimes takes to get what is, in reality, a very simple piece of information. What happens now, of course, is that if the applicant doesn't get the information in 30 days, he is simply informed that the respondent isn't going to provide the information and a further time is given for the respondent, without any consultation with the applicant.

What this particular change to the Act in Clause 3(1) Subsection 9(1) would result in is a consultation between the review officer and the applicant, respecting the extension and an agreement would be made between them on the length of the extension. This would allow the review officer to have an understanding as to what the time-frame is, relative to the application, and he could make his decision based on whether or not the provision of the information in the time-frame agreed to would, in fact, address the needs of the applicant. In other words, much of this information is time-sensitive and, if the respondent doesn't act in a particular time-frame, then what happens is that the information ends up being useless information to the applicant.

Now a third criticism of the Act, of course, is the cost of retrieving the information. In an attempt to come up with a reasonable kind of fee schedule, what the bill to amend recommends is that an initial non-refundable fee of $25, which would cover the cost of retrieving information which under the old schedule would cost no more than $150. I think members realize that for many applicants the payment of a fee of $150 would, in fact, be prohibitive and that, in fact, a reasonable cost should be imposed for the retrieving of the information and that the cost itself should not be a deterrent. So Subsections 11(1), 11(2) and 11(4) are to address that particular criticism of the original Act.

Clause 4(4) simply says that the fee shall be waived if a member of the House of Assembly has made the request. Now, it only seems reasonable that when the request is made on behalf of the interest of the public and by a member of the House of Assembly in what would be considered the ordinary pursuit of their responsibility to the people of the province that, in fact, that information and access to the clauses of the Freedom of Information Act would be done without fee.

Clause 5 simply strengthens the requirement of the head of a public body to release information when there is a significant risk of harm to either the environment or to the health or safety of the public or a group of people. That means that if there is a real issue here in terms of damage to the environment, a risk to the environment, or risk to the health or safety of a public group or an individual that, in fact, it simply makes the requirement of the respondent to come forward with the information. I think that is not an unreasonable change to make in this legislation.

How much time do I have left?

MADAM SPEAKER: You have three minutes.

[Page 2916]

DR. HAMM: Clause 6 is simply the appointment of a tribunal or a ". . . member of a tribunal or other person . . . as a review officer . . ." shall be done through a committee consisting of one member of the government caucus, one member of the Opposition and one member from a recognized political Party. The appointment, at the present, is currently made by Governor in Council. Part of the direction that this legislation is to take is that it isolates itself, particularly, from any one political interest and from, particularly, the interests of the governing Party. Because much of this information is, in fact, sought after from members on the government side and by giving them a stranglehold on the appointment of the tribunal, in effect, it blunts the direction that this bill should be taking.

Clause 7 puts more teeth into the findings of the review officer in that it simply states that the review officer shall make a decision rather than a recommendation.

The eighth clause provides what is really a very practical kind of approach to the bill in that another level of appeal is made available by designating a judge of the Supreme Court as an adjudicator to review decisions and orders made by the review officer. This should cut down costs, that you simply don't go from the tribunal right into a court situation and all of the costs that would be incurred by that.

Finally, the Speaker has indicated that my time is running out, Clause 12 recommends simply that an all-Party committee make recommendations regarding the expansion of the application of the Act to other bodies and other recommendations deemed appropriate. The continuing improvement of this Act, this Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, should come under the auspices and the control of an all-Party committee that would result, eventually, in us having a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that addresses the concerns of the public and guarantees them their right to know.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be a part of this debate here today. I would like to begin by reminding members of the House of the origins of the Act that the honourable member proposes to amend. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was brought in by this government, a government that believes in openness and accountability, a government which provided the legislative framework with which to ensure that accountability does remain in place.

In keeping with the spirit of the Act, I am very pleased to announce that a full-time coordinator for the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the Province of Nova Scotia has now been appointed. Mr. Robert Doherty will be joining the Department of Justice as full-time coordinator, Madam Speaker. Many members of this House will already know Mr. Doherty. Bob has served for 16 years as a public servant, most recently with the Economic Renewal Agency. During his career, he has served as free trade advisor and has

[Page 2917]

assisted with a number of special projects. I am personally familiar with and appreciative of his assistance in the revisions made to the Workers' Compensation Program.

What many numbers of this House may not know is that Bob also spent many years as a journalist. Bob is a graduate of both St. Francis Xavier University and Dalhousie Law School and he also has a Masters of Science and Communications from the School of Communications in Boston. He spent 12 years working in the communications industry and I know this experience will prove to be invaluable as he tackles the many challenges of the full-time coordinator's position.

I am delighted that Bob will joining the department and wanted to take this opportunity to welcome him personally and here in public. I believe this appointment certainly underscores our commitment, as a government, to the Act and I am delighted that someone of Bob's qualifications has accepted the position.

Now, in the spirit of the Act, I would like to address the amendments put forward by the honourable member, amendments that seem to be designed more for the pleasure of MLAs and for their convenience than for the members of the general public. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act is based on the spirit of openness. It is based on the principle that individuals should have access to their own personal information and that these individuals should expect to have that personal information protected. It is based also on the principle that taxpayers of this province should have access to government records, so that they may better understand how government operates.

Regarding Clause 1, I do not see how the amendments put forward can improve that process. In fact, I would suggest that these amendments could actually deter people from using the Act. The member is suggesting in Clause 1 that the Act's scope should be expanded and that might not be a bad suggestion. We are also looking at that very issue. The member may be aware of an advisory committee report which examined the issue of expanding the jurisdiction of the Act. The recommendations put forward suggested expanding the jurisdiction of the Act to a wide range of bodies, including municipalities, hospitals and school boards, to name but a few.

In response to this suggestion, we have sought out and we have received a great deal of feedback. Over the past months, each department canvassed the agencies, boards and commissions within their jurisdiction to ascertain the impact of extension in terms of resources required by those departments. We have also heard from self-governing bodies regarding their views on extending jurisdiction of the Act. This feedback has also been extremely helpful.

Now in Clause 2, the member suggests that the applicant can no longer consider an application refused if they have not received any information within the 30 day time-frame. I believe this Clause would tie the applicant's hands. Currently, if no response has been

[Page 2918]

received within the 30 day time limit, the applicant can then move forward and seek the assistance of the review officer to address the request for information; otherwise, the applicant simply waits in limbo.

Regarding Clause 3, that clause currently recognizes that extensions require the consent of the review officer. Should a department find the applicant's request cannot be processed within 30 days, the review officer can agree to a 30 day extension. This amendment suggests that the applicant must agree, as well. Quite frankly, I have faith that the review officer is quite capable of assessing whether the department or agency should be granted the 30 day extension, without the need for the applicant's permission as well. It is both onerous and restrictive and serves only to impede the process.

Regarding Clause 4(1), I find the suggestion that fees should be raised to $25 quite remarkable. We believe, as government, as did the advisory committee, that our fees are reasonable. They do not act as a deterrent which, in my view, could be the case with a $25 fee. I am further amazed at the suggestion that the ability to charge fees be limited to cases in which costs exceed $150. There are cases where a great deal of resources are required to respond to requests for information. It is both reasonable and responsible to make applicants aware of the range and scope of their request and the amount of resources that may be required to answer that request. There are provisions to waive fees currently in the Act.

I believe it is important that this Act be accessible, but that does not mean that reasonable fees should not be charged. I believe the fees that are currently in place are reasonable and that the opportunities to waive those fees in warranted cases already exists.

[5:00 p.m.]

Regarding Clause 4(3), the member suggests that fees be waived should a transfer not take place within the 10 day allotted time-frame. Typically this would happen between public bodies or among departments. Sometimes it can take that long to ascertain that a transfer is appropriate. Again, there are mechanisms available to waive fees in warranted cases.

Regarding Clause 4(4), perhaps the most disturbing of suggested amendments is the clause which provides special treatment for members of this House of Assembly. I must wonder why this amendment would be included.

Members already have a number of mechanisms through which they can obtain information. House Orders is just one example, direct contact with departments is another. Members of the Legislature have research staff at their disposal yet this amendment suggests that members of this House should be treated differently and better than members of the general public when seeking information.

[Page 2919]

When members of the general public apply for information, they are expected to pay. When members of the media apply for information, they are expected to pay. I simply cannot agree with a clause that would exempt MLAs from the same requirement. I have stated already there are mechanisms in place to waive fees when necessary and as warranted.

Regarding Clause 5, it suggests that public bodies should be required to disclose information to the public or to an affected group when it is in the public interest. We now already have the mechanisms to weigh what is in the public interest and can disclose accordingly.

Other amendments in the bill suggest that we should move toward a more formal review process. Currently, we have an informal review process in place. It is designed to ensure that the process is accessible and user-friendly. The amendments suggested are much more formal and bureaucratic. Our review process is currently working, it is an effective process already, yet these amendments would add layer upon layer of bureaucracy. For instance, the amendments suggest that an adjudicator should be put in place to review the decisions of the review officer. I simply have to ask why this would be necessary. The review officer makes his or her recommendations when reviewing a decision. Certainly in the past these recommendations for the most part have been respected and the remedy of the courts is available should these recommendations not be acceptable. The extra layer provided by an adjudicator does not seem to improve the process at all.

The honourable member suggests that further review of the Act should take place. I think every member would agree that all legislation should be revisited from time to time to ensure that it is both relevant and practical. Certainly input from all sides of the House was provided when the advisory committee was reviewing the Act. That is exactly as it should be. I do not feel this review should be tied to the timing of a general election; rather, the Act should be reviewed within a time-frame that will ensure it continues to be relevant, that it continues to provide for openness and continues to provide for accountability. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to speak on the bill that is before us this afternoon. I find myself as I rise to speak in the unusual and uncomfortable position of somewhat agreeing with the minister on many of the remarks that he just made. If this were to come to a vote, the reason why I would be inclined to vote in support of the bill to go on to the Law Amendments Committee process would be so that we could receive more input and make what I would believe are some needed amendments to the legislation because I am not satisfied with the bill in its current form. In fact, I would have to say to the minister that we don't need legislation at all, we don't need legislation the way the Act is set up to bring about the kinds of improvements and changes to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that we currently have.

[Page 2920]

The government did honour one of the commitments that it made when it introduced the bill to set up the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act that we currently have. One of the commitments that was made was to require that an advisory committee would have to be struck. The advisory committee would have public meetings, it would hear presentations on how the Act could be changed or improved. That report was tabled on March 25th of this year. It was done under the direction of Mr. Dean Jobb, as the Chairman. That is an excellent report. I really, truly believe, and I appreciated the minister's comments in his letter to me earlier when he had said that he thought there was much in that report that was, in fact, very supportable.

What I would like to see happen and what I didn't hear from the minister in his remarks today, I did not hear the minister - yes, the minister announced that there was going to be a new staff position created - but, Madam Speaker, we have no response from the minister or from the government on the numerous recommendations that came about as a result of public consultation. Those who wanted to make a presentation, respond to the ads, whether they be the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, the universities, individual municipalities, individual citizens, anybody who could be affected, anybody who wanted could make a presentation, and we have those recommendations.

There are a number of items in the legislation that we are discussing that was proposed by the Leader of the Official Opposition. I would have to agree, I don't understand why we would be suggesting that there would be a set fee, an application fee, of $25. That could be a trigger, then, to go up to $150. Certainly the whole issue of fees was unclear in the beginning but there doesn't appear to be, from what we have seen, major difficulties with regard to the fees being charged. That was after we got through the initial hurdle, where the government tried to charge us horrendous dollars for briefing books a number of years ago.

Certainly, it is my understanding that those who are seeking personal information have not been charged for that information, to the best of my knowledge. I certainly do agree with one of the provisions being proposed in the legislation introduced by the Leader of the Official Opposition, that being that the review officer should be appointed by an all-Party committee of this House. Madam Speaker, I don't say that in any way intended to be a slight against the current review officer because I think the current review officer has been doing an incredibly good job and certainly has been fulfilling his responsibilities extremely well.

However, when Mr. Fardy may move on to other pastures, if we were to ensure that a process was going to be put in place that would ensure that that person who is holding his job is appointed by an all-Party committee, then the very high standards that have been set, hopefully we could ensure that those would be continued and that that position would not be filled in a political manner.

[Page 2921]

I question, as the bill is proposing on Page 4, to establish a second adjudication process. That, to me, would appear as if we would be setting up a whole new appeal process that really isn't necessary.

Another provision and I don't understand where this is coming from, under the bill before us where there is a suggestion regarding the expansion of the Act to other sectors, the bill is proposing that an all-Party committee study this further. I don't think that is necessary, quite honestly. We have the report, we have the recommendations. We don't need to have another all-Party committee go around and study, that is reinventing the wheel.

Those who wanted to make representations were given a chance to do that and those who feel uncomfortable with the recommendations contained in this, they certainly have the ability to bring those views forward. But to suggest that we go out again, to revisit and to redo what has already been done by a very capable committee, is, in a sense, a bit of a slight, I might say, I feel anyway, to those who have spent so much time preparing this excellent report.

What I want to see, Madam Speaker, rather than necessarily a piece of legislation, I want to see this government put some substance behind what it said when the bill was introduced, and that being that, as the minister, Mr. Gillis, when he tabled the bill and when he moved second reading, he made a number of points that were, I think, very salient. He said, "In order to operate responsibly, a democracy must put as much information as possible in the hands of its citizens, so they can have the knowledge needed to exercise political power. The availability of information determines whether we are governed by the will of the people or the whim of the people. . . . Information is too valuable for its handling to be left to the discretion of those who hold it. The goal of this House ought to be to give Nova Scotians the clearest possible access to public information and the clearest possible protection of their personal information.".

That view, of course, differs quite considerably with the view that was expressed by the former Speaker of this House when he wrote to the former Minister of Justice back a day after that report was introduced. I tend to favour Mr. Gillis' version over that of the member for Cape Breton Nova. His response, encouraging the minister to ignore the report or not to act on it, suggests that it might be "considerably worse than the current 'disease'.". I guess a current disease refers to the fact that information is not available.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I would like to tell the House that the correspondence that the honourable member refers to was personal but, in any event, it was not relating to the report at all. I never read the report. I have not read the report to this day. It concerned, rather, a newspaper article that appeared in the Chronicle-Herald and did not relate to the report at all.

[Page 2922]

MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, I will be happy to table the member for Cape Breton Nova's letter, so anybody can read it afterwards. In it he also said, "It might tend to make the operation of government much more difficult than at present.". That, of course, is referring to the recommendations that are contained in that report. It also said, "I feel that were we to proceed with undue haste to implement these very radical and far-reaching recommendations, the outcry from those affected would far outweigh the mild murmurs of satisfaction such new powers would yield from the Press Gallery . . . I believe we have an unofficial agreement . . .", he said later on, ". . . that there be a moratorium on contentious legislation at this time.". Well, no legislation is required. This is not contentious, except in the eyes of those who want to keep information secret.

HON. JAY ABBASS: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I am not sure if the member opposite is relinquishing the floor or what he is doing, but everything that he said for the last three minutes relates not at all to the bill that we are debating, Bill No. 45.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has 30 seconds remaining.

MR. HOLM: Madam Speaker, indeed it does, because what I am talking about is the advisory committee report, which the government has had in its possession for over six months, actually for about eight months. The needed changes to improve the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act are contained within this report. No legislation is even required; all that is required is an Order in Council by regulation to change the Act to put these very important provisions into place.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to offer a few remarks in regard to Bill No. 45, which is An Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. I listened with great interest to observations made by other members and was quite taken by the remarks made by a couple. The Minister of Justice having earlier today likened me to Al Capone, probably does not imagine Al Capone, in his heyday, would have been much interested in freedom of information. But that having been said, whether that is the Minister of Justice's view - and he is welcome to it - will say, notwithstanding, that he, the Minister of Justice, has attempted to leave the impression here in this House today that all is well now with the freedom of information legislation in the Province of Nova Scotia because Bob Doherty has been retained, and he almost breaks his arm telling us about the appointment of Bob Doherty.

Well, I know Bob Doherty and I, perhaps, have known Bob Doherty longer than the Minister of Justice and I know Bob Doherty's wife, Penny, very well. Bob Doherty is without question one of the finest public servants in the employ of the Government of Nova Scotia. Having acknowledged that, and I do indeed look forward, for his sake and the sake of his

[Page 2923]

professional development, to the move that I now understand or have learned Bob Doherty will undertake, shifting over from ERA to the Department of Justice and that matters relative to freedom of information will be a part of his new role. He will serve that minister and this government extremely well, as he has previous governments.

[5:15 p.m.]

Can anybody really understand how the Minister of Justice, the Attorney General of the Province of Nova Scotia, can offer those remarks relative to that appointment of that gentleman as anything close to a response to action on the freedom of information legislation?

The advisory committee report to which reference has been made here in this debate today, Madam Speaker, was submitted to the Minister of Justice on March 1, 1996. The Justice Minister released it to the public on March 25, 1996. If you run through the calendar, Madam Speaker, and run March 1st through until today December 4th, that is nine months. So between them the two Ministers of Justice, the current and his predecessor, have allowed for nine months a very significant and important document, namely this report, to gather dust. I just do not believe for a minute that the Minister of Justice can stand up nine months after the report was available to him to say, we have appointed somebody to come and have a look at freedom of information is anything but evidence of absolute abdication of interest and action in relation to freedom of information.

The Minister of Justice went on to say as well that in relation to the final principle espoused by the bill before us, which you will be aware, Madam Speaker, calls for a principle that, "Not later than six months after the first general election . . .", following the passage of this legislation and after each general election the all-Party committee be constituted to review this legislation. The minister seems to think that that is not the right time-frame. He thinks that we should sort of address this. I got the impression that his sentiment was that we should sort of address freedom of information issues as conditions change and as circumstances require. I just ask you and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and those interested in access to information to take a look at the dismal incompetence of this minister and his predecessor. They have had a very important, precise report, which I might say is the source of some of the proposals represented in Bill No. 45 which the Leader of the Opposition has introduced here today, and this minister says, no, there might be a better time. He has had nine months to ignore his responsibility to the very important document which was prepared and filed on March 1st.

The member of the Third Party who spoke just a moment ago suggests that our suggestion in the legislation that there be such a committee convened at the end of each general election is somehow a slight to those who have already done the report. Our view is just the contrary. If we do not have a piece of legislation that gives us a precise time-frame for the work of the kind of committee that has looked at this issue to be acted upon, then this government which is getting to the point where it is making most Nova Scotians puke every

[Page 2924]

time they hear this Attorney General and this Premier and most of these ministers talk about openness and accountability, people in this province are getting sick and tired of hearing that absolute drivel.

This is a perfect example; nine months this minister and this government have had a very important report about freedom of information and access to information. (Interruption) Pardon me? We brought it in the other day, to try to get something done. If you would like to help us - if that honourable member, Madam Speaker, would like to speak on this, I will relinquish my time, he can speak to this. I am sure that this honourable member is going to go back to his constituents and say, he supports Bill No. 45 because he agrees that there should be an expansion of the access to information available to Nova Scotians. You and I know that he isn't going to say any such thing, he is going to be about as mute with the constituents as he is here in this place. The only thing that he contributes in this place is the catcalls.

Madam Speaker, you know from this particular piece of legislation that it does, in fact, open up and expand the opportunity for those who wish to have access to information available and we say it improves the opportunity for Nova Scotians to have that access. It will expand the application of the Act, as it now reads, to include each body that has 50 per cent or more of its members appointed by the Governor in Council or that is receiving financial assistance from the government.

We say very seriously, if the government representative of the taxpayers is appointing men and women to agencies, boards and commissions and so on, why is it that in appropriate circumstances, within the context of freedom of information legislation, why should the taxpayers of Nova Scotia not have a right and an entitlement to the information relative to the doings of those boards and commissions and agencies and bodies to which Cabinet has appointed the members?

If a Cabinet or a government of any given day, is contributing taxpayers' money to boards and agencies and commissions, why is it not within the right and the realm of right of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to have access to information as to the doings of those boards and agencies and organizations?

It is clear that all I can say, Madam Speaker, the Act speaks for itself. It was an attempt, I might say, because when the report came out in March 1996, the Justice Minister said he would take it under advisement, thoroughly review it. On August 14th our caucus wrote to the Justice Minister, asking about the status of the review and we requested a copy of any proposed legislation. On September 30, 1996, the Justice Minister advised that the review was still ongoing and he was not able to say whether amendments would be introduced in the fall sitting.

[Page 2925]

On October 10th of this year our caucus acknowledged the Justice Minister's letter and indicated that we were disappointed, that our caucus believes that the legislation does require immediate and rather extensive amendment and, hence, Bill No. 45. On November 18th this government convened this Legislature and we didn't see any freedom of information legislation from them. What is the Minister of Justice's response? We have asked Mr. Bob Doherty and we think that is pretty good and give him some more months and we may have something coming forward. I am really dismayed by the absolute incompetence of the Ministers of Justice over the last nine months and the clear attitude that this Minister of Justice has no interest in the issue at all. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 871.

Res. No. 871, re Health - Care: Concerns - Listen - notice given Nov. 28/96 - (Dr. J. Hamm)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to engage in debate on Resolution No. 871;

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health stop, look and listen to the concerns being expressed by Nova Scotians about health care, instead of continually plowing ahead with, to date, what has been a very confused and disorganized health reform agenda.".

I think the resolution is very clear and it gives us an opportunity, I think, to express the legitimate concerns being expressed by Nova Scotians about the direction that health care reform has taken over the last three and one-half years since the current administration formed a government here in Nova Scotia.

One of the most important services that a provincial government provides to the residents of its province is the health care system. The health care system has benefited since 1968 when we had the medical care insurance program started in this province under a Conservative Government and since January 1, 1959, since we had a hospital insurance program started in the province, again under a provincial Conservative Government. Conservative Governments which were a part of our past played a very important role in creating the very excellent medical care system that we have enjoyed in this province over the last few decades, but now there are legitimate concerns being expressed by Nova Scotians, consumers, nurses, doctors, front-line health care workers and now, of course, by the Opposition.

[Page 2926]

I cannot help but be impressed, when I look at the resolution before us, at the frustration of the nursing profession that has been trying to get the ear of this minister, as they tried to get the ear of the minister before, with very legitimate concerns that they as health care professionals were developing and were frustrated in their ability to have any real consultation provided by the minister.

I look at those concerns which were very well documented in their recent Nurses' Union report, Nurse Advocacy Project, A Call to Action. I will just read for the benefit of the members of the House a few of their concerns. More than 78 per cent of nurses complain of inadequate or unsafe staffing ratios; 63 per cent of nurses felt that homes for special care or our nursing homes have increased workload because residents are returning to them from acute care facilities still requiring active treatment; 94 per cent of nurses know co-workers who are having difficulty coping with having to deal with the fallout from health care cuts; 90 per cent of nurses feel more at risk from possible errors in judgment.

The nurses go on to say that 72 per cent of nurses do not feel that patients' needs are being addressed through the current home care program, except where the VON or hospital-based outreach programs provide the care; 49 per cent of nurses do not feel that home care facilities other than HFSC are properly regulated by governments; 62 per cent of nurses feel that patients being discharged to home care are not being cared for adequately by trained personnel; 50 per cent of nurses feel that these people do not have adequate supplies and equipment to recover at home; 47 per cent of nurses have had to ask patients to bring in their own supplies or drugs to hospital.

That really is in a nutshell what the Nurses' Union has brought to the attention of the minister, unfortunately by having to go to the press rather than through direct consultation by the minister. I hope that the minister, when he responds to the resolution, will in fact indicate how he will be addressing the concerns that nurses have brought to his attention through their call to action.

The physicians in the province have set up a hotline and they now have 1,800 calls, 500 pieces of correspondence. The concerns being expressed to physicians include the waiting times for specialist appointments, concerns about surgery and emergency care, concerns about early discharge from hospitals, concerns about health care workers being overworked, concerns about home care, and concerns about doctors leaving the province.

These are the same concerns that everyone in this place hears on a daily basis, but unfortunately do not seem to reach the ear of the minister. I find it particularly offensive when anyone on the government would suggest that these are simply a figment of the Opposition's imagination. These are not figments of anyone's imagination, these are the real facts of the case and these are the problems that a poorly planned, unfettered health care reform system has created in this province over the last three and one-half years.

[Page 2927]

[5:30 p.m.]

The minister likes to go back and suggest that he is doing what the Blueprint Committee has suggested. I have talked to a number of people who were involved in the Blueprint Committee and who are extremely upset because they feel when the government makes reference that their health care reform has been something designed by the Blueprint Committee, they tell me it is an affront to those that served on the Blueprint Committee tirelessly to provide an action plan that, if implemented in its entirety, might have a chance of doing what the government would have us believe that it is trying to do and that is a better health care system at a lower cost.

This isn't make-believe hysteria as the minister or the Premier might have you believe. These are the concerns of real Nova Scotians who are frustrated because they have not been able to access the ear and the attention of the Minister of Health or the ear and the attention of the Premier of this province.

For example, just a week ago the Minister of Health indicated initially that he was going to attend a meeting down in Annapolis put on by a group called the Persistently Annoyed. These are a group of local people who have legitimate health care concerns and who came out in a snowstorm to hear what I had to say about health and what the Leader of the New Democratic Party had to say about health. But do you know what they really wanted to hear? They wanted to hear what the Minister of Health had to say about health because he is in the driver's seat. Unfortunately, the Persistently Annoyed didn't have their audience with the Minister of Health, even though they had invited him to their community.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, health care reform is off the tracks. Our health care system is not near what it was three and one-half years ago. Unless this minister does what this resolution suggests, sits down and has an opportunity to plan health care reform listening to Nova Scotians, listening to groups like the Persistently Annoyed and listening to health care providers, then our health care system will do what it is currently doing, continue to be way off the mark and way off the tracks. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, in rising to respond to Resolution No. 871 I think it might perhaps be instructive if the entire resolution were read into the record. It states,

"Whereas the organization known as the Persistently Annoyed, met in Annapolis County last evening to discuss concerns over health care; and

Whereas the Leaders of the Official Opposition and the Third Party, with the member for Kings West, accepted the invitation and took the opportunity to hear the frustration and

[Page 2928]

anger being expressed by the residents of Annapolis County on numerous issues relating to the delivery of health care; and

Whereas for months, attempts were made to have the Minister of Health attend last night's meeting so he would be able to hear first-hand the concerns expressed by the residents of Annapolis County;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health stop, look and listen to the concerns being expressed by Nova Scotians about health care . . .", and so forth.

We see from the reading of the entire resolution and not just the therefore be it resolved part that this resolution really relates to the situation in Annapolis County. I want to say and I believe all honourable members will be aware that the honourable member for Annapolis is not here with us today because he is ill and is in hospital. But I know and all honourable members know how diligently that honourable member has worked with his constituents to hear, to listen to and to be available to them at all times that he was able to do so. (Applause)

I want further to state that the Minister of Health had indicated to that group his willingness to meet with them providing that they schedule the time that was after the session of the House had concluded. He said he had to attend here in the House while the House was in session but when the House session was over (Interruptions) I will pause if necessary, Mr. Speaker, until the catcalls subside.

The Minister of Health was more than willing to meet with that group if they scheduled a time that was mutually convenient. When they went ahead without receiving an indication from the minister that he could attend, they did, it is true, meet with the Leader of the Opposition and certain other politicians. I am told that less than 50 people all together were at that meeting, but it was a significant meeting nonetheless because it was at that meeting that the honourable Leader of the Opposition indicated a new position on the subject of regional health boards. Until that time I believe he had been a supporter of regional health boards. (Interruption) Never? I wish we could get a similar indication from him on the subject of the HST. In any event, it was at that meeting that I am told that for the first time he enunciated a policy that he would do away with regional health boards, if he became Premier of Nova Scotia. I think that is something that is significant that came out of that meeting. It was indeed a very worthwhile assembly.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, with reference to the broader issue of health care that this government has made health care its number one priority in terms of spending, in terms of emphasis. There is no department, there is no area of government expenditure (Interruptions) George, please be quiet so I can speak. There is no area of government expenditure where the government has spent more and placed greater emphasis than in the field of health. Indeed, this government has been so concerned about health care that it has actually taken

[Page 2929]

$70 million from other government departments so it could fully implement the health programs and health measures that it wishes to undertake.

I might say, too, while I have the floor, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party of Canada has shown great leadership also in the health care field. I want to pay tribute to the Honourable David C. Dingwall, who was the first of my constituents to vote for me in the last provincial election - voter No. 1 at the special advance poll, David Dingwall. Mr. Dingwall, as Minister of Health for Canada likewise demonstrates the Liberal commitment to health over any other priority of government in opposition to and in contradistinction to the right wing approach of the Tory Party and of Preston Manning's Reform Party who would seek to undermine the Canada Health Act and to take away the universal access to Medicare which it guarantees to all Canadians as is demonstrated by such examples as the Government of Mike Harris in Ontario, the Government of Ralph Klein in Alberta and the efforts of the Reform Party of Canada to which some of my friends to my right find a certain attraction.

We have many examples of what this government has done in the field of health care. I do not believe time allows me to outline them all. I might state that in the field of home care - because the Conservatives have expressed a peculiar interest in home care - it might be well to examine the record in the few moments we have available and see the difference in what is being done since this government came to power as compared to what was being done when the previous crowd were in office. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us how many beds they closed in New Waterford.

MR. MACEWAN: The New Waterford hospital is doing better today than it has been doing for years. It is a beehive of activity with all floors occupied and (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has the floor.

MR. MACEWAN: I think tribute should be given to the leadership demonstrated by the honourable Minister of Health in helping that particular institution, Mr. Speaker. I know the outlook in New Waterford, and I am sure my honourable colleague from Cape Breton Centre would agree with me, is better today than it has been in a long time.

When the Tories were in office, Mr. Speaker, in home care in 1988-89, a representative and fairly recent year, their total expenditure for the year was $807,000, for home care for all of Nova Scotia for 1988-89. In 1989-90, they were up to $4 million; 1990-91, they were up to $7.5 million; 1991-92, $8 million; 1992-93, $8.4 million per year for all home care programs in Nova Scotia.

Under this Liberal Government, Mr. Speaker, in 1994-95, $24 million expended for health care; in 1995-1996, $44 million; in 1996-1997, $60 million. I think that demonstrates a certain pattern, if I might, a certain pattern that no doubt they are somewhat sensitive about,

[Page 2930]

but this government is committed to health care as to nothing else. The record demonstrates that and I believe that the people of Nova Scotia, even the Persistently Annoyed, on occasion, will recognize that reality, I think. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and I am pleased to rise and speak on this motion. Let me just say that I am not surprised to see the previous speaker get on his feet and continue to follow blindly the dictates of the executive bench, in particular, the Minister of Health. He is continuing to spout the line that he is given by members of the executive bench and basically mislead Nova Scotians with the kind of information like that in home care in 1989 and 1990, there was only $800,000. In fact, the reality is and the Minister of Health knows this really well and he should have informed the member for Cape Breton Nova because we do not expect him to know that home care was mainly being provided through Community Services at that time and there were also upwards of $10 million being delivered through municipalities for home care services in the Province of Nova Scotia.

There is no question that there is a lot more money now being spent on home care than there was in 1989. (Applause) Let's not continue to lie to Nova Scotians and suggest that there was only $800,000 being spent in home care services in that year because that is an absolute falsehood. I am going to talk about the discrepancy with those figures in more depth on another day. I want to focus a little bit on that meeting convened by a group of concerned citizens in the western part of the province, in particular around the area of Annapolis Royal and that is a group that calls themselves the Persistently Annoyed and they do that for a reason. They feel it is their responsibility as citizens of this country, citizens of this province to continue to seek answers to questions, continue to seek answers from a government that is continually refusing to be held accountable.

They convened a public meeting. It was a meeting that some of us did get to, the Minister of Health, unfortunately did not. I wish he had because there were some issues dealt with there. The crowd was small because there was a blizzard down in that end of the province, but nonetheless, the concerns brought by those people were very important. I want to talk about a couple of them because they had to do with home care. They had to do with the concern felt by many in this province - throughout the province, not just in Annapolis Royal, but throughout the province - about the shift of the burden onto family members and onto volunteers for taking care of the ill and the infirm and the problem that causes for so many Nova Scotians, not only those people that are ill and infirm but those people that are being asked to provide the care. In most cases, women are being asked to pick up that burden to take care of their families, to be taking care of their friends and their loved ones.

The problem with it, is not only do these people have a difficult time providing care where there are very few supports in rural parts of this province, but if they are working, what

[Page 2931]

women are increasingly finding with the changes this government is making in home care is that not only do they have to work to support their families, to bring an income in, but they also find that they are forced to look after members of their family who are ill and infirm. In fact, what is happening across this province is more and more Nova Scotians are being told that the only way their family members are going to receive any care is if they quit their jobs, Mr. Speaker. What a decision that is for Nova Scotians. The only recourse they have is to go and speak to the Minister of Health about that problem.

[5:45 p.m.]

I want to talk for a moment, specifically, about the people who do provide care to family members and to friends in the community, caregivers, Mr. Speaker. We have heard a lot about them. I remember after I was first elected in 1991, one of the issues that I first got involved in was the whole question of the closing down of the Children's Training Centres and talking with the families of the severely mentally and physically handicapped and the troubles that they were dealing with in terms of trying to cope in their communities without respite care, without any relief, without any supports. The problem, of course, that they were confronted with, the families that had people in the Children's Training Centres, is that the communities did not have adequate supports. That is what people are finding in the rural parts of this province, that this government is failing to recognize the burden that these changes are imposing on caregivers.

I want to share with you, Mr. Speaker, the story of one caregiver in the Province of Nova Scotia. This was shared to us at this meeting in Annapolis Royal. I will read it and then I will table it.

"My name is Carlene Porter and I have been a caregiver for my husband for the past 10 years. In 1994 my father died in a car accident and my 85 year old mother moved in and stayed for 2 years. She is now living in a Seniors Boarding home but I am still her part-time caregiver. My son was diagnosed HIV Positive in 1992. After he moved to Halifax I was his part-time caregiver for 6 months. My son died in 1995. In 1975 my 17 year old son died in a drowning accident. As you can see I have no family members left to assist me.".

What this woman did was she listed the ABC's for caregivers. I want to go through a few of them:

A - Answering service, accountant;

B - Bookkeeper, banker, barber;

C - Cook, cleaner, chaplain;

D - Dietician, decision maker, doctor's appointment;

E - Encyclopedia, enema;

F - Faith, funeral planner, fear of becoming ill myself;

G - Grocery shopper, garbage carrier, gardener;

[Page 2932]

H - Hostess, homemaker, hairdresser;

I - Isolation;

J - Jack of all Trades;

K - Keeper of pets;

L - Legal authority;

N - Nurse, nightshift;

O - Organizer, on call 24 hours a day;

P - Prayer, pleasant at all times, patient, pill dispenser;

Q - Quest for knowledge of illness;

R - Ready for emergencies, reader to patient;

S - Sense of humour, shopper, seamstress, snow removal;

T - Taxi driver, telephone operator and tired, tired, tired;

U - Understanding;

V - Very strong;

W - Wash lady, weary;

X - X-ray and X number of things;

Y - Yearly vacations questionable; and

Z - Zero days for sickness

She says, in the final part of this story, "Can you please help us caregivers?".

This is a story about one woman, about one individual in the Province of Nova Scotia who has had experience providing care to her family. What she expresses in this note is a story that we are hearing increasingly across this province, that as this government cuts back services, as they expect people to receive care in their communities by their families, by volunteers, the pressure being put on families where they exist and volunteer services where they exist, is considerable, Mr. Speaker.

What these people are asking is for this Minister of Health and his subordinate, the member for Cape Breton Nova, and all the other members of this government, to listen to these concerns, listen to the reality of these people's lives and address the problems. That is what people at the meeting in Annapolis Royal last week had to say to this minister. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I think some people misunderstood what that meeting was really all about. It wasn't to take aim at anybody but to really inform everybody of what they felt were problems in the health care system. I know they asked for the minister or any MLA to come. I know the member for Digby-Annapolis was invited. They just asked for a Liberal representative to come and to listen to what they felt was a concern of the community.

[Page 2933]

Yes, the night wasn't a great night. As a matter of fact, the roads were very slippery and a number of people from parts of Annapolis and Digby didn't come, because of the highway conditions and I understand that.

I think the government is missing the point. The point is that these people have a concern. Is it too much to ask that they have - because everybody can't get a meeting with the Minister of Health and run into Halifax and meet with the Minister of Health or meet with every MLA. They wanted somebody there to share, to listen to many of the concerns they had. Maybe if the minister had gone he would understand about regional health boards. When the Blueprint Committee was set up, the former minister said to that committee, you must have regional health boards and you must have four. That was told to them from the very beginning. In other words, the Blueprint Committee didn't have a free hand to say how we should organize this, they were told that this is how they were to begin the process.

What our Leader has said is that that is taking away the community involvement. What we believe in is community health boards where people have access and have input into what happens to their community. Those regional health boards today do not have public meetings; those regional health board meetings are closed shops. There are no minutes, nobody has access to those regional health boards. For that minister to say that that allows a community to have a say about what happens, they were concerned about what was going to happen in Annapolis. They had already spoken to the regional health board but got no assurances from that regional health board.

If that had been a community health board with the power to make decisions regarding their local area, that is what they want. This government has taken it away from the community and that is what they had a concern about, Mr. Speaker.

When we talk about health concerns and the government says it is all in the minds of the Opposition Parties, never mind, we know what is really happening out there. Well, I am sure the minister is aware of the health concern line that the Medical Society has set up. He might have been surprised about the large number who have called with concerns or he might have been surprised at the large number who have written.

Mr. Speaker, I suspect all members read the paper and they scan the newspapers and advertisements in newspapers and I am sure they do the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, probably most days. Well, I scanned the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on November 30, 1996, not that many days ago, and I came across an advertisement that I thought maybe sort of told it all. I will read the advertisement and I will table it. The advertisement said; "Have You Lost Someone You Loved While Waiting for Crucial By-Pass Surgery?" This was after the announcement by the Minister of Health.

[Page 2934]

"On September 17th, 1996, our father was told he required triple by-pass surgery to replace arteries blocked 90, 90 and 75%. He was placed on a waiting list but passed away on October 16th without ever receiving the opportunity for his chance of recovery as he hadn't received his call.

In September, 1996 there were reports published that improved time periods were expected for by-pass surgery.

The Health Care System and its Reforms failed our father and if you feel it has failed you or is failing your loved one, we would like to hear from you.

Please respond, giving your name and address as soon as possible and if you could, give some details on the seriousness of your own or your loved ones condition i.e. the percentage of blockage, age and other conditions which may have a bearing on their condition, diabetes, high blood pressure etc.

I hope we will be able to meet with some of you who respond to discuss your serious concerns and with your input we may be instrumental in making changes to hopefully saves lives.".

It is signed, Mrs. D. McAvoy, and I will give her address.

I don't ever remember, in the history of this province somebody having to put an advertisement in the newspaper like that, with a concern like that, an advertisement in the Halifax-Chronicle Herald. That tells me, as I table this advertisement, that there is serious concern. The government can say, yes, all of these concerns that you raise and advertisements like that you raise are not reflecting what is really happening and I know it is tough. I know when the minister says there is more money in home care, that is true, but what he fails to say is that, when one-third of the beds were closed, a lot of people fell through the cracks.

I think that the government, had it been honest with people and said, look, we are making some cuts and we are not going to be able to provide a certain level of service across this province to everyone and it is going to take some time. I remember the former Minister of Health saying, look, we have a Home Care Program that is second to none; we are going to be able to take care of all of those needs because of the bed closures. I remember everyone saying to me, and assuming that when they called, that that service was available.

The government is correct in saying we have to have home care, but let's not mislead people that the service is there when it actually isn't there. If there is only going to be a certain level of service, then tell people there is only going to be a certain level of service, that we can't provide for the needs that are out there. I think what this government has to do is fully understand, and if they would go to meetings, like in Annapolis, they would understand that there are deep concerns about the cuts in health care. The minister then could come back

[Page 2935]

to Halifax, because he seems like a very interested minister, and he is trying to deal with the real issues and some of the mess that the former minister left, and trying to understand the direction the former minister was going in really had a great effect on health care in this province.

If he is really now saying, I want to make that right, then how is he going to do that sitting in his office? Is he going to allow his staff to tell him what is wrong or what he wants to hear? Or is he going to go out and listen to the concerns of those in the community who say, Mr. Minister, this is the experience I had with the system that you have in place, that you tell me is supposed to take care of me, but what has happened is that actually the system didn't take care of me. How can we correct it?

I think we have an obligation, as all MLAs, to try to work to correct it. Yes, we have to identify the problems if we are going to correct it, but we can't go merrily on and say, forget about it, we have the best program, it is a wonderful program, it is working and looking after everybody. If we continue to say that, we are not doing our duty, we are not being truthful with Nova Scotians. Let's recognize where we are and listen to what the people are having to say and let's move on with the kind of changes that will make health care better for the people of this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will sit from the hours of 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m. and, following Question Period, we will continue debate on Resolution No. 921.

I would move that we adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate has been chosen as announced earlier and won by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis who will debate and carry the following:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House support the protection and preservation of lighthouses in Nova Scotia.".

[6:00 p.m.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 2936]

COAST GUARD (CAN.) - LIGHTHOUSES (N.S.):

PRESERVATION - SUPPORT

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, just this afternoon I had the privilege and the pleasure of attending a meeting at the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth. This meeting was called by the Canadian Coast Guard people and, like I say, I sat in on it and I had a chance to speak a very few words and so on. The subject that I am going to speak on is regarding the lighthouses around our coast. It is such a large subject that I can talk much beyond the 10 minutes, I can tell you that and it has been one that has been dear to my heart over the years.

The lighthouses are going to be turned over from the Coast Guard to different parties onshore, community projects. I do not think it is going to be individuals that are going to take them over, but what the Coast Guard people were doing was trying to get some expression from the people who were there representing the people in Nova Scotia, I presume, to the best of their ability on what should be done with these particular lighthouses around the coast.

There are a number of lighthouses around our coast of Nova Scotia, a total of about 63 major lighthouses of one kind or another. There are 83, if you take in all the Bay of Fundy and there are a few minor ones up rivers and so on. The lighthouses stretch from Cape North, up around the Bay of Fundy down to the Maine Coast. I think this expresses it the way my sentiments are, anyway, when the Irish poet, Thomas Moore sailed from Halifax in 1804 and passing by the Sambro Light facing the uncertainty of a North Atlantic passage, he penned the following poem:

"The murmur rose soft as I silently gazed

on the shadowy waves playful motion

From the dim distant land, till the lighthouse fire blazed

Like a star in the midst of the ocean"

To the ordinary landlubber, they do not understand it. To many landlubbers I would say, a lighthouse is a tall building, usually white and has some red stripes on it. To a sailor, when you come out of a blinding snowstorm in the middle of the night on a lee shore with the wind blowing a gale and if that is the first light you see and you identify, you immediately know roughly where you are, which you did not know previous to that, it is a soothing feeling, I can tell you that.

Canada's first lighthouse was built by the French at Louisbourg in 1733. Sambro Island lighthouse, the one I just spoke about, was built in 1758 and in 1820 there were a total of 10 lighthouses on the Nova Scotia coast. We had very few previous to these years and in Britain around the coast there, they had lighthouses long before us. The light was generated by using whale oil or blubber and they finally got to using kerosene. By the way, kerosene was invented by a man who was born and brought up, probably 15 miles from my home, Mr. Gesner, he was the first man to invent it. That was a big step forward when they started

[Page 2937]

putting oil lamps in, before that, you could not see them very far away. They added electrical power later on which increased their brilliance over a greater distance. They had prisms around a cage that went around the light and that increased the intensity of it to some extent.

They burned coal in these lighthouses for heat, but each one had its own characteristic - this is very important. The size of the lighthouse, the number of stripes on it and the colour - the colours changed very little. Each one would have occulting lights, then you had flashing lights, you had fixed lights, you had red, you had green and you had white. Each one, the difference between the flashes would be so many seconds. The periods of darkness would be so many seconds and so on. To a sailor, he could recognize what light it was and where he was. It was a very crude form of navigating by what they called doubling the angle on the bow when you are sailing by one, maybe it was 15 miles inshore, but you would take your distance from a certain point to here and measure. Anyway, when you got all through, you could figure out how many miles off you were when you passed that lighthouse. Now that is a big help when you are going on a dark night.

I am just trying to read some history here and some of it I don't need. The thing is, this history is very important to the people who live in the area but also to visitors who come from afar. Nova Scotia is known by its different lighthouses and if we don't have those - and right now the Department of Fisheries or Transportation or the Coast Guard or whatever are doing away with the wharves as we know them. They will not be supported, in many cases, by Ottawa. They are turning them over, well, to like the Town of Digby. They have offered the fishermen's wharf there to the Town of Digby. I would say that wharf probably has a replacement value of $20 million. That is a very low estimate, $20 million, and they will give them a few dollars. I was telling the mayor some time ago that it would be like a friend of yours giving you an elephant and a bale of hay to keep it for the rest of its life. You can have it for a pet. That is about like what one of those wharves would be; you would have to work your heart out to even keep them in half decent repair.

This is happening all around our coast. There are dozens and dozens of wharves in my constituency alone. Can you imagine the ghost towns we are going to have? Almost every community in my area is built around a wharf or a harbour and so on. If these go to pieces, what is going to happen? If we lose the lighthouses, we don't even then have an attraction for the tourists.

There is history with each one of these. The light keepers themselves were dedicated people, I knew many of them personally. They kept a watch like you wouldn't believe. They saved numerous lives, Heaven only knows how many. I know they saved mine several times.

I was in a boat in the Bay of Fundy, I can tell a dozen stories, maybe 20, about this very thing. I had a bunch of tourists out fishing at night in the Bay of Fundy, off about three miles. Lightning hit our boat, believe it or not, it put our engine out. We had no lights, we had nothing. I wasn't worried about it, I had been around the bay off and on all my life but I had

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people aboard who were pretty darn upset, I can tell you. The only light I had, I took my underwear off, dipped it in gasoline and put it on an oar and lit it. The lighthouse keeper saw it and sent the lifeboat out and got us. Now that was on a fine night. If it had been blowing, I would have been even (Interruption) Oh, two more minutes. Oh my Heavens, I tell you this could go on and on.

We cannot lose this bit of history. I hope all the members here who have lighthouses - well, all the members, it doesn't matter where they come from - do everything they can to make sure there is a peaceful transition from Coast Guard to the people who can make very good use of these institutions.

Mr. Speaker, I guess I am out of time, am I? Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Digby-Annapolis for taking the initiative to raise this topic tonight. I will say at the outset that he forgot more about lighthouses than I will ever know. It is an interesting topic and he raised some interesting points - and I want to speak to that in a minute - about the wharves and the fact that the federal government is making them available to local communities.

I have been on the wharf at Digby and that is a big wharf. The cost to keep that up would really be tremendous and I appreciate the member's comments. However, if I can for a moment, according to my information, I understand there are about 87 major lighthouse stations that are considered in the Maritimes and about 35 of these are in Nova Scotia. Now that is my information, (Interruption) 63, thank you.

I believe there is only one manned now in Nova Scotia and that is at Machias - Seal Island in the Bay of Fundy. I guess it was in 1972 that the federal government decided that they were going to take the lighthouse keepers away, with the introduction of a nationwide automation program.

I might say that we had in my constituency - and I have not had the opportunity to check this out, I made a couple of calls, but could not get through to the people I wanted to - quite a major lighthouse at Caribou Island which is where the Northumberland Ferry travels into Caribou Wharf. That was manned. I thought it was manned past 1972, but apparently it was not. I guess the lighthouse keeper did live there. The member from Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury probably can remember that too. There was a major lighthouse there. In actual fact, it, of course, is automatic now. The building itself was taken away - as I say, I did try to check this out - I believe it was about six years ago. Actually, it was moved up to an area in my own community, not too far from where we live. It is being used there.

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A central monitoring station which provides links among automatic lighthouses operates out of Halifax and Saint John, as I understand it, that maintains those lights. In Newfoundland, according again to the figures that our researchers checked out, about half of the 56 lighthouses are not staffed. In British Columbia only 6 of 41 are automated. Now, that is kind of rather interesting that out in British Columbia - of course that is on the Pacific Ocean.

I also understand that the member had said that he was at a meeting yesterday or even today and talking about the fact that there are groups that are interested in taking over the lighthouses. My understanding is that there are about 90 groups that are interested for historical and for tourism to use these abandoned lighthouse properties.

I also understand, Mr. Speaker, that Maine has just passed a law this October which enables the U.S. Coast Guard to transfer ownership of their 36 lighthouses to keepers who prove they are able to maintain them and to show the way. Apparently the decision is left up to a committee of five members. It will be interesting to see how that develops.

The honourable member also mentioned Sambro and his notes are the same as mine on that one. It was built in 1758 and it has recently been approved as a heritage property. It was scored - they have to score them to give consideration - and again according to my information the lighthouse received 99 points. It is one of the oldest in North America. It is almost 100 feet high, flicks every five seconds and can be seen for 29 miles. It would have been seen by many of our Canadian soldiers as they sailed off to war. I think it is good that that is going to be preserved.

If I could just talk a little, and the honourable member also spoke about how important it was to the sailors that were sailing around Nova Scotia that these lighthouses were on. I can just imagine. You are out there in a wind storm and blowing and you cannot see, that it would be pretty nice to have a light come on.

The other point I wanted to make was that the Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, for example, I understand, was turned into a post office. So in fact some of these buildings are being used for good purposes.

Nova Scotia even has a route called the Lighthouse Route. With lighthouses closing, some commentators have even suggested calling it the non-lighthouse route. That route includes 32 major and minor lighthouses, the largest concentration in the province. My notes, again, say that they are 14 lighthouses in Cape Breton. I notice, too, that the honourable member mentioned the lighthouse in Louisbourg, and I did ask my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West, Louisbourg is part of his constituency, of course, about that lighthouse and he didn't remember but he thought it has not been manned for many years.

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[6:15 p.m.]

Again to go back to the honourable member's topic on the wharves. I might say, in my own area, we have six major wharves which are used mainly by lobster fishermen and for herring and there is some scalloping. Those are in Cape John, which does not have a lot of boats, I think it is about 12 boats that fish from that wharf; and Skinners Cove, which is not that far away and there was some talk a few years ago of amalgamating those two wharves, but, at the present time, that is being maintained. Then we have quite a major wharf at Toney River. Again, it is lobster, herring and scallops, basically, that are there. Of course, the major wharf now is at Caribou where the Wood Islands terminal for the P.E.I. ferry from Wood Islands to Caribou is. There are a tremendous amount of boats there. There was talk a number of years ago, we were trying to get that wharf rebuilt because when scallop season is on and the herring is on, it is almost impossible for them to get their boats in and to be protected from any little storm that may come on. Then, of course, we have the wharf at Pictou Island which is pretty important. It is important to those people there because that is their main way to get over to the mainland.

Anyway, I see the Speaker is saying that I have one minute left. I really didn't intend to take the whole time, but, again, I thank the honourable member for raising the topic and, as I say, lighthouses certainly had their day, still have their day and will continue to have their day as long as there are boats sailing around the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I come from a constituency that spans a large coastal area along the Atlantic Coast from Ecum Secum through the Strait of Canso to Port Hawkesbury. As Nova Scotians travel throughout this province, in most coastal communities there are two features that stand out, one is the church and the second is the lighthouse. If you think, in most cases, the church is built in the highest area of town, overlooking the water, and that always has been a landmark for sailors who were out at sea, fishers, looking back at their communities.

But I want to take a slightly different approach to the debate tonight and talk about one of the communities that has looked at their lighthouse and how it can be used as an economic tool to help that community. I think that will be a symbol of many of the other communities throughout Nova Scotia that are trying to decide what do we do if the federal government does divest itself of a lighthouse. The community I am talking about, Mr. Speaker, is Port Bickerton, which is located in Sherbrooke in the District of St. Mary's. They have met with the local regional development authority and the tourism committee to determine what they can do to stimulate tourism in that area and, also, spin-offs for economic growth. Being located along the Marine Drive and not very far from the Country Harbour Ferry which, in itself, is an attraction, they put together a planning committee, met with the RDA and met with the community. The community has bought into the idea that the present lighthouse,

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which is being abandoned by the department, can become a potential tourism site. They have looked at campground development on that site. They have looked at an interpretive museum of the history of lighthouses in Nova Scotia and even the idea of doing a bed and breakfast facility in the former lighthouse-keepers' home.

This is an example, Mr. Speaker, where a community has looked at what some may have considered not a positive event of losing the federal present lighthouse and asking how can we benefit our community. I believe that many communities throughout Nova Scotia can take a look at the lighthouse, can look at the heritage and the links they have with the community and ask themselves how can we use that to promote our community.

I want to congratulate the people of Port Bickerton, the planning committee, who have had the foresight to start planning and I believe they are one of the groups that was at today's meeting, lobbying for a presence and some say into how that lighthouse in their community will be developed to benefit them.

So lighthouses have had a long history and there are people from all over North America who will come to Nova Scotia to see these lighthouses, much like people go to see old fashioned railroads and trains and so on. I believe that we should work with our communities where we can to preserve this very, very important part of our Nova Scotia heritage. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there further speakers? I would like to thank the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's debate.

The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will rise to sit again tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.

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