The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Dec. 13, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. B. Taylor 3865
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. B. Taylor 3866
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia,
Hon. J. Abbass 3866
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin.: Low-Income Nova Scotians - Direct Assistance Program,
Hon. W. Gillis 3866
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1161, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Business Concerns -
Scrap, Dr. J. Hamm 3869
Res. 1162, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Delay, Mr. R. Chisholm 3869
Res. 1163, Educ. - Sir Charles Tupper School (Class 6B):
PST & GST Harmonization (Shopping Test) - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Donahoe 3870
Res. 1164, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Auditor Gen. Special Report - Table,
Mr. G. Archibald 3871
Res. 1165, Educ. - Strait Reg. School Bd.: Students First -
Commitment Fulfil, Mr. A. MacLeod 3871
Res. 1166, Educ. - Cole Harbour DHS: Conflicts-Mutual Respect Regain -
Best Wishes Convey, Mr. T. Donahoe 3872
Vote - Affirmative 3872
Res. 1167, Halifax MP - Legislation (Bill C-70): Expedition -
Prevaricator, Mr. J. Holm 3873
Res. 1168, MPs (N.S.): Constituents - Represent, Mr. J. Leefe 3873
Res. 1169, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Advice (Barbers Assoc.) -
Take, Mr. B. Taylor 3874
Res. 1170, Eastern Shore & Preston MLAs - PST & GST Harmonization:
Constituents - Consult, Mr. G. Archibald 3874
Res. 1171, Commun. Serv. & HRDC - Poverty: Increase -
Actions Deplore, Ms. E. O'Connell 3875
Res. 1172, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Scrap, Mr. A. MacLeod 3875
Res. 1173, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Business Effect -
Realize, Mr. D. McInnes 3876
Res. 1174, Coast Guard (Can.) - West Green Harbour Rescue:
Participants - Commend, Mr. C. Huskilson 3876
Vote - Affirmative 3877
Res. 1175, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Hfx. Reg. Mun.:
Equipment (Vol. Fire Depts.) - Purchasers Retain, Mr. D. McInnes 3877
Res. 1176, Educ. - Margaree Forks School: Student Action -
Superintendent (Jack Sullivan) Threats Withdraw, Mr. R. Chisholm 3878
Res. 1177, Eastern Shore MLA - PST & GST Harmonization:
Benefits - Describe, Mr. B. Taylor 3879
Res. 1178, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization:
Promises Broken (Premier) - Scrap, Mr. J. Leefe 3879
Res. 1179, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Advice (NSGEU) -
Take, Mr. G. Moody 3880
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
House of Assembly - Sitting Hours (16-20/12/96), Mr. A. Mitchell 3882
Vote - Affirmative 3882
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 34, Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre Act 3882
Mr. R. Chisholm 3882
Mr. G. Moody 3884
Dr. J. Hamm 3885
Mr. T. Donahoe 3886
Hon. B. Boudreau 3887
Vote - Affirmative 3888
No. 41, Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act 3888
Mr. J. Leefe 3888
Mr. R. Chisholm 3892
Mr. J. Casey 3896
Mr. R. White 3897
Hon. J. Barkhouse 3898
Vote - Affirmative 3900
No. 43, Condominium Act 3900
Hon. S. Jolly 3900
Vote - Affirmative 3901
No. 44, Dalhousie-Technical University Amalgamation Act 3901
Hon. R. Harrison 3901
Mr. R. Chisholm 3901
Mr. T. Donahoe 3902
Hon. R. Harrison 3904
Vote - Affirmative 3904
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 35, Université Sainte-Anne Act/Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne 3905
No. 37, River John Voluntary Fire Department Dissolution Act 3905
No. 38, Lunenburg Street Closing and Location Act, 1996 3905
No. 39, Bridgewater Curling Club Act 3905
No. 40, Yarmouth County Historical Society Financial Assistance Act 3905
No. 42, Victorian Order of Nurses Act 3905
No. 46, Antiochian Maronite Catholic Church Corporation Act 3905
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 50, Registered Nurses Act 3906
Hon. B. Boudreau 3906
Mr. G. Moody 3907
Mr. R. Chisholm 3908
Mr. T. Donahoe 3911
Mrs. F. Cosman 3914
Hon. B. Boudreau 3915
Vote - Affirmative 3916
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Dec. 16th at 7:00 p.m. 3919

[Page 3865]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin with the daily proceedings at this time.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the citizens of Hants County and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. The operative clause reads, "We, the undersigned are opposed to the Blended Sales Tax (BST) which is the proposed blending of the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and the Federal Goods and Services Tax (GST).".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

3865

[Page 3866]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I also have another petition to table. This petition is primarily from the citizens of Hants County also, Hants East. The signatories are from Hants East and Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. There is a two-sentence letter attached to the petition and it reads, "This is to inform you that over 400 people have signed this petition. These people along with myself would prefer to have an election or referendum brought forth for the people to decide on the B.S.T. Would you please send this letter along with these petitions to Mr. John Savage.". "We, the undersigned taxpayers of Nova Scotia are opposed to the implementation of the BST which will be put into effect April 1, 1997. This blended sales tax means higher rents; higher electric & home heating bills; higher gas prices; higher property taxes; higher prices for children's clothing; higher cost for most every-day expenses. We demand the Liberal Government . . .", the Savage Government, ". . . not proceed with this new 15% tax!!".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table the 5th Annual Report by the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia for the fiscal year April 1, 1995 to March 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to give members of this House information on the government's plan to provide a Direct Assistance Program for low-income Nova Scotians. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, in releasing the details of the government's $8 million program for the working poor, we are finalizing a $33 million commitment to help this segment of society - low-income Nova Scotians - a commitment we started in 1994.

As everyone knows, Mr. Speaker, most Nova Scotians will benefit from an across-the-board income tax cut of 3.4 per cent next July 1st. It is worth reminding every member that this particular cut is the first ever reduction in income tax in this province.

[Page 3867]

As well, Mr. Speaker, during the 1996-97 Budget Address last April, my predecessor, the now Minister of Health, announced $13 million in additional income tax cuts as part of the government's low-income package. This boost added to an original commitment of $12 million for low-income Nova Scotians in 1994. The $13 million was an additional to the $12 million that was announced and introduced in 1994.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I wish to tell members about the third part of the government's reform measures, an $8 million program of targeted assistance. This program is called the Direct Assistance Program. Specifically, the aim of the Direct Assistance Program is to meet the needs of low-income individuals who do not benefit from the income tax break. People on minimum wage; people who get low-paying seasonal jobs; single people whom make less than $9,500 per year; and families, including single parents, with a job paying less than $16,500 per year. In determining eligibility for the program, the government will not be counting as income, monies seniors receive from the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Eligible individuals will receive annual payments of $90, whereas eligible families will receive $125. It is expected that as many as 77,000 Nova Scotians will be eligible for this financial help; included in that number are approximately 20,000 seniors.

Mr. Speaker, those who earn more, on an annual basis, than the amounts indicated above will benefit, as honourable members would know, from the income tax assistance. This program is limited, therefore, to those who make less. This is a targeted program. We have directed scarce resources toward those in need. I wish to point out that this program is not directed toward full-time students. In addition, those who receive other forms of provincial government assistance do not qualify. As all honourable members know, those eligible for social assistance already get government help. Applications for the Direct Assistance Program will be available through Access Nova Scotia Offices and other public places next spring.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to state that today's announcement underscores the government's commitment to equity and fairness in our tax system, and our concern for social responsibility. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for providing me with a copy of his remarks. There really is nothing in the minister's remarks that we were not expecting. The minister did make favourable reference to the program of a decrease in personal income tax, he made reference to the $13 million income tax cuts as part of a low-income package. In reality, what the minister really wanted to announce today is an $8 million adjustment fund or compensation fund or whatever, for those Nova Scotians who will be so severely impacted by the increase in consumer pricing after April 1st.

[Page 3868]

The difficulty with the whole thing is that the magnitude of the effect of the increase in consumer price taxing still has yet to be determined. Any evaluation that is being done indicates that the increase on the consumers will be in excess of the $84 million that government initially announced. I think that as time goes on, my statement will ultimately prove to be true.

The other thing that is painfully obvious is that this $8 million in this new compensation package for low-income Nova Scotians will not come within a country mile of addressing the increase in taxing on essential household commodities for those in low and middle income here in Nova Scotia. This is simply a band-aid that is an attempt to cure what is a rampant illness.

The blended sales tax approach in this province that has been designed in Ottawa will hurt Nova Scotians, it will hurt many Nova Scotians. The evidence to back up my statement is growing by the day.

The government recognizes by coming forward with this announcement that there is an inequality of taxation that has now been plainly placed on the shoulders of consumers, particularly low-income consumers here in Nova Scotia. This $8 million compensation package, while it is directed in the right direction, will not come close to curing what this piece of legislation that finished second reading last night will create here in the province. It is simply too little, too late. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say that the Minister of Finance should be embarrassed. The Government of Nova Scotia should be embarrassed, throwing this pittance off to low-income Nova Scotians so that they can shroud themselves in some satisfaction that they are helping people that are unable to help themselves. It is shameful what this government is doing with this announcement. The Province of Nova Scotia is giving $240 million to corporations and then are turning around and giving people who don't earn enough money to pay income tax $10 or $15 a year as a result of this deal. It is absolutely shameful.

Let's not forget that the 3.5 per cent or 3.4 percent income tax reduction is on the provincial portion of income tax that people do pay which represents an actual tax reduction of about 1.25 per cent. Low-income and middle-income Nova Scotians are going to have to pay the money up front on all of those family necessities that they have to pay. That is the burden that these people are facing and this sop to their critics is absolute foolishness. I think this government should be ashamed of itself, pandering to the privileged and the powerful in this province and throwing off this pittance to low-income Nova Scotians. Thank you.

[Page 3869]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1161

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

Whereas the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce says that the current BS Tax scheme will result in higher costs for the consumer and a decrease in employees in our retail sector; and

Whereas the Canadian Federation of Independent Business reported that 47 per cent of its members surveyed indicated that the current BS Tax scheme will have a negative effect on their businesses; and

[9:15 a.m.]

Whereas many small businesses fear the effects of tax-included pricing, cash register complexity, transitional issues, advertising, the underground economy and increased retail and service costs, all as a direct result of the BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government start taking care of business and scrap the tax that breaks the backs of Nova Scotia's job-creating sector.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1162

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

Whereas every day many hundreds more Nova Scotians are signing the New Democratic Party's anti-BS Tax petition; and

[Page 3870]

Whereas this democratic exercise clearly shows that Nova Scotians are deeply opposed to the Liberals' BST deal; and

Whereas the Savage Government's response to this popular outpouring is to ram ahead with its legislation, while accusing Opposition members of obstruction;

Therefore be it resolved that Liberal members of this House pause long enough in their headlong rush to pass the BST to listen to the voices of Nova Scotians because in the end, those Nova Scotians will have the last word on the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1163

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

Whereas on Friday of last week the Minister of Community Services issued a challenge to Kim Burstall's Grade 6 from Sir Charles Tupper School to go shopping and test the BST; and

Whereas students in Ms, Burstall's class took up the minister's challenge and purchased food, school supplies and clothing at the Halifax Shopping Centre; and

Whereas the Grade 6 students found that overall costs would increase considerably under the BST;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate students from Kim Burstall's Grade 6 class at Sir Charles Tupper School for teaching a very valuable lesson to the Minister of Community Services, a former teacher who recognizes the importance of testing.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 3871]

RESOLUTION NO. 1164

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

Whereas it has been alleged that there was political interference in the day-to-day operation of Nova Scotia Resources Limited, which has cost Nova Scotia taxpayers millions of dollars; and

Whereas the alleged political interference in the day-to-day operation of the Crown Corporation led to the resignation of several board members and the firing of the CEO and two other senior staff members; and

Whereas the province paid the three dismissed employees almost $1 million in an out-of-court settlement;

Therefore be it resolved that the House agree with the Premier who asked the Auditor General to investigate the past management practises of NSRL and report his findings as soon as possible and that the House further agree to have the Auditor General file his report with the Clerk of the House, if the Legislature is not in session when he completes his report.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1165

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

Whereas the students and parents within the new Strait Regional School Board have spent precious time protesting the board's report which could close 16 of 31 elementary schools and 7 of 16 high schools; and

Whereas the government stated in its election platform that a focal point of the Liberal vision is "child-centred education defined as an education system which puts students first and treats them as individuals"; and

[Page 3872]

Whereas the parents and the students feel that the Strait Board's study is the cookie-cutter approach and treats them neither as individuals nor does it put their needs first;

Therefore be it resolved that this government acknowledge its election commitment and not direct all responsibility for the present situation by saying it is a school board matter.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1166

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

Whereas in October, Progressive Conservative members visited Cole Harbour District High School and met with students and teachers; and

Whereas during the visit, students and teachers expressed positive sentiments of working together and moving beyond the unfortunate student conflicts earlier that month; and

Whereas the ugliness of violence reared its head last night at Cole Harbour District High School;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House convey our very best wishes to the students, parents, police and staff of Cole Harbour District High School as they strive to regain mutual respect and understanding.

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 say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 3873]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1167

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

Whereas in November, 1989, the Liberal MP for Halifax issued a pamphlet, called Enough is Enough, that called on constituents to work with her to defeat the Tory GST; and

Whereas the Liberal MP for Halifax noted, quite correctly, that the Tory GST would "dramatically harm the average Canadian family"; and

Whereas this Liberal MP for Halifax joined her fellow Liberal MPs from Nova Scotia in supporting the passage of the BST, which adds insult to the GST injury;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the immediate inclusion of the MP for Halifax on the Liberal prevarication honour roll headed by Jean Chretien and the Nova Scotia Ministers of Finance, past and present.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1168

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 Chretien Liberals, by invoking closure on the BS Tax debate, demonstrate the same distain for democracy as the Nova Scotia Savage Liberals; and

Whereas Nova Scotia MPs, Derek Wells and Mary Clancy, have abrogated their responsibilities to their constituents by voting for closure of debate on the BS Tax, thereby choosing their Party over their people; and

Whereas these two Liberal members are among many others who are beginning to show signs of suffering from the Ottawa syndrome, a disease that causes some MPs to forget they were sent to Parliament to represent their people, not to represent their Party's interests back to their people;

[Page 3874]

Therefore be it resolved that Nova Scotia MPs, all of whom are Liberal, take a strong dose of medicine which will build sufficient intestinal fortitude to begin doing what their constituents sent them to Ottawa to do, namely represent them in Ottawa, not mutely enslave themselves to the dictates of the Chretien Liberals.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1169

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the barbers are even getting shaved.

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Barbers Association has publicly gone on record as telling the Finance Minister that, if this government continues with the BS Tax, many barbers will have no option but to let their staff go and go out of business; and

Whereas the Barbers Association says the BS Tax will have the effect of driving many barbering businesses into the underground economy; and

Whereas when this government states that the BS Tax is good for the economy, what they really mean is the underground economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take the advice from the Nova Scotia taxpayers and the Barbers Association and cut, chop or shave the BS Tax from this government's agenda.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1170

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

Whereas the members for Eastern Shore and Preston have expressed dismay with their government's new $84 million tax being called the BS Tax; and

[Page 3875]

Whereas this government has refused to produce one shred of positive evidence other than the Premier's mutterings about the BS Tax; and

Whereas the members for the Eastern Shore and Preston should be raising alarm bells about the millions in additional taxes being forced upon their constituents and other Nova Scotians, instead of worrying about the name for this new tax;

Therefore be it resolved that since the members for the Eastern Shore and Preston are so keen on entering the debate on the BS Tax that they begin going door to door in places such as North Preston, East Chezzetcook, Head of Jeddore and ask the individuals about their feelings on paying an additional 4.8 cents a litre on gasoline and 5 per cent more on electricity as a result of this BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1171

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 Statistics Canada has reported that another 264,000 Canadians fell below the low-income cutoff rate in 1995 increasing the total number to 5.2 million; and

Whereas the federal agency attributes this increase to a lack of steady full-time jobs and a drop in average weekly earnings for workers; and

Whereas federal and provincial Liberal Governments are forcing on Nova Scotians an unfair blended sales tax which will disproportionately hurt low and middle income persons;

Therefore be it resolved that this House deplore the actions of both the federal and provincial Liberals for increasing the number of people living in poverty and adding to their burdens.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1172

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

[Page 3876]

Whereas 163,000 Nova Scotians fall below the low-income cutoff level, according to the latest Statistics Canada figures; and

Whereas 47,000 of this total are children in low-income families, while 14,000 seniors also fall under the low-income cutoff; and

Whereas the Premier admitted that the BS Tax rebate provisions for low-income earners would not sufficiently cover the extra costs of the BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government scrap the regressive BS Tax which hits low-income earners, children, senior citizens, and disabled Nova Scotians below the belt.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1173

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

Whereas Executive Director of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, Judith Cabrita says the BS Tax strips Nova Scotia tourism operators of any competitive advantage vis-a-vis other provinces and states that do not have tax-including pricing; and

Whereas many tourism operators are well into the planning stages for the 1997 season and have developed brochures and other literature that now will have to be destroyed; and

Whereas many segments of the industry like campgrounds will see their prices jump by 8 per cent with no corresponding amount of input tax credits;

Therefore be it resolved that this government come to its senses and realize that the BS Tax is not good for business and not good for the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1174

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

[Page 3877]

Whereas two lobster fishermen from West Green Harbour, Shelburne County faced the possibility of their boat breaking up as waves pounded over the stern of their vessel because of high seas; and

Whereas other fishing boats were at the scene but their rescue attempts were impossible because of the surf and the shallow waters; and

Whereas the Coast Guard ship, Mary Hitchins; Greenwood Search and Rescue; and Yarmouth Coast Guard helicopters managed to hoist the two men to safety within five minutes of their arrival;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Assembly extend best wishes to these lobster fishermen for their safe arrival and commend the valiant efforts of the staff and volunteers of the Search and Rescue and the Coast Guard, who often risk their own lives to ensure the safety of others.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1175

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

Whereas the President of the Halifax Regional Volunteer Firefighters Association is expressing concerns over the loss of equipment purchased through local departmental fundraising initiatives; and

Whereas reports indicate that in recent months, about six Halifax County departments have temporarily lost fire trucks to other departments, despite the fact, the trucks were bought and paid for as a result of community-based fundraising initiatives by firefighters; and

Whereas the shifting of vehicles has resulted in turmoil in many small rural Halifax County Fire Departments;

[Page 3878]

[9:30 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, in consultation with the Regional Municipality's Fire Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Operations, ensure that, despite regional amalgamation, fire equipment purchased through local fundraising initiatives be left in possession of the department which owns the vehicle.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1176

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

Whereas students of the Margaree Forks School are peacefully protesting the planned closure of their school; and

Whereas School Superintendent Jack Sullivan has threatened these students that he will advise every university in Canada not to admit them; and

Whereas this behaviour and action is extremely Draconian and unbecoming of a school superintendent;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education demand School Superintendent Jack Sullivan immediately withdraw his threats against the students of Margaree Forks School and apologize to them and their families.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member said something very scurrilous about an individual. I would challenge that man to table the documents that indicate that Jack Sullivan said any such thing or implied any such thing. I challenge him.

[Page 3879]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. How about the word of the students involved? (Interruptions) Or does the former Minister of Education, and the rest of this group in government, intend to totally dismiss the word of those students, because those are the people who were directly threatened and it is the obligation of this government to do something about that.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't know that.

MR. CHISHOLM: I do know that. They told me that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The point is noted.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1177

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 member for Eastern Shore is worried about what effects the use of the term BS Tax will have on the children of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the member for Eastern Shore neglects to express concern for the 47,000 children of low-income families in Nova Scotia who will be crushed by the BS Tax; and

Whereas the member for Eastern Shore has yet to sell the merits of the BS Tax in this House to all the children he claims are watching;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Eastern Shore rise in this House and describe the many benefits of the BS Tax for all Nova Scotians, young and old.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 1178

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 title of the editorial in yesterday's Globe and Mail, "The Prime Minister is lying", sums up the federal Liberal Leader's stand on the GST; and

[Page 3880]

Whereas in 1993, the Premier promised no new taxes; and

Whereas the Premier has broken that promise and is doing so again with the BS Tax;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier atone for his own broken promises and lapses in truth on taxes by scrapping the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1179

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 has before him a letter from the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union urging the Premier to take the bill to introduce the BS Tax to public hearings across this province; and

Whereas the letter states there is ample precedent citing the fact that the new Occupational Health and Safety legislation was tabled last year before the fall sitting was finished so that the public could comment and then was reintroduced and passed at this year's spring sitting; and

Whereas the government did not plan to introduce the BS Tax legislation until next spring and because the legislation would not take effect before April 1, 1997, it is difficult to understand why this government would not want the public's input;

Therefore be it resolved that this government take the advice of the NSGEU and give the men and women of this province the opportunity to voice their opinion on the BS Tax.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Earlier in the day two petitions were tabled by the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I tried to note clearly how he introduced the petitions. He indicated in the first instance that the first petition was made up of people from Hants County and from Musquodoboit Valley. I note in the petition, of course, a number of signatures from Halifax and the like. I point that out just for clarification.

[Page 3881]

The second petition he indicated was from Hants East. I just want to indicate to the House, so that they want to be clear on this, this is just the first page. That is reflective all through this petition; Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Dartmouth, Windsor Junction and, lo and behold, buried in the body, not where you endorse it, Brooke Taylor of Middle Musquodoboit.

I want to bring this matter to the attention of this House that while I am sure the members from Dartmouth recognize that it is a great place to live in Hants East and perhaps they would like to move there, this petition is not from the people of Hants East, it is intermingled with people from all over this province, including Brooke Taylor.

Now if that particular person wishes to come and live in Hants East - he is paying a lot of attention to Hants East - I can tell you this, perhaps he should pay a bit more attention to Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, he would do himself well.

MR. SPEAKER: The clarifications are made. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the member for Hants East is being a bit mischievous this morning. He knows full well that a good number of the citizens, as I expressed when I tabled the petition, I said the citizens on both petitions are primarily from Hants East and I stand by that.

The member for Hants East should remember because he gets up time and time again; every time somebody tables something from Hants East or anything that represents Hants East, he is quick to jump to his feet. Again I say to that honourable member; blessed is he who, having nothing to say, refrains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. He has nothing to say. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

[Page 3882]

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Pursuant to Rule 5C, I move that the hours which the House may sit on the following days of next week shall be as follows: On Monday, December 16th, between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 12:00 midnight and further, on Tuesday, December 17th, Wednesday, December 18th, Thursday, December 19th and Friday, December 20th, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 midnight. I so move, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion has been moved.

Is the House ready for the question?

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 34.

Bill No. 34 - Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre Act.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a very few moments on Bill No. 34, An Act to Incorporate the Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre for Children, Women and Families. It has been said in this House already on a few occasions, in dealing with this bill, this is a merger that took place as a result of the initiative of these two institutions. The IWK-Grace Health Centre has, in effect, been one now for some number of months and the people in charge as well as the workers, the people who are delivering health care services out of those institutions have been very busy working to try to make this merger operate and function as smoothly as possible. I think all members of this House should commend them for that.

[Page 3883]

This bill was initially tabled in the House last spring as you will recall. There was an opportunity for people to review it and to deal with some of the issues that arose as the result of various provisions of the bill. That was done. Some of the employee groups involved and particularly the NSGEU but also the NSNU, the Nurses' Union, brought a number of matters to the attention of the Chief Executive Officer of the IWK-Grace and the board as well as the Minister of Health. Those issues had to do with how the merger was going to take place as it affected the rights and benefits of the employees affected, Mr. Speaker.

There were four particular amendments that were made with respect to that whole question of employee benefits and entitlements. Also a question of seniority was addressed and the Trade Union Act and the whole issue of successor rights was addressed. I want to say that I am pleased. We have dealt with a number of mergers, amalgamations of institutions and different bodies, municipal groups and others, in this House over the past few years and I think that this one and perhaps the Queens amalgamation bill have been two that have worked fairly smoothly. I think part of the reason for that is that: number one, they were self-initiated; and number two, the parties involved worked in a very respectful, I think, and constructive way to resolve any disputes.

I think, and this is important, understanding that in order for the reorganization to work and for the new entity to be able to function in a positive and constructive fashion, they knew that it would be best in the process to continue to work together and try to resolve any disputes before they were going to come up. That is not to say this is going to smooth everything over or this is going to preclude there being any problems. I think that the parties involved, including the Minister of Health because he has agreed to the changes, should be commended for the effort that has been put in in order to make sure that this merger goes through as effectively and as smoothly as possible.

As has been said before, the IWK and the Grace are two institutions that have long and very important histories in not only the Province of Nova Scotia but also in the Maritimes for the service that they have provided to women and children and families throughout this region. I know that this new institution will continue to meet that high standard that has been established through so many years. I for one and my caucus colleagues want to once again wish them, the Chief Executive Officer, the Board of Directors and all of the employees who are working to make the IWK-Grace the important institution it is in delivering health care in this region, all well and certainly the support of myself and my caucus colleagues in their challenges that will be faced in the future. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 3884]

[9:45 a.m.]

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and just say a few words on third reading of Bill No. 34, An Act to Incorporate the Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre for Children, Women and Families. I want to say that this legislation is very important for that institution. Over a couple of years ago, probably almost three years, they started this whole process of amalgamation between two long-standing institutions. The decision way back around 1990 or about that time, to build a new Grace next to the IWK, had the vision that obviously down the road, if amalgamation occurred, having the two joined together made a lot of sense.

One thing that I am pleased about is that the Salvation Army, who have been involved with the Grace for a number of years, the way that this amalgamation took place, I think can still play a very active role in the institution in this province. As members of this Legislature, not only are we very proud of the staff but we are very proud of the work being done in that institution, the commitment that staff have made to the young people of this province; the board and the administrative staff have worked very hard to make this amalgamation go smoothly. I think they all need to be commended, staff and administration, because they have taken one institution where the nurses belonged to a union and the others were non-unionized, and they were able to work through all those things and put together a piece of legislation that we have had very few people oppose what has been done. As I said yesterday in Committee of the Whole House, I want to commend the minister and the Department of Health for dealing with the amendments that were approved by the IWK-Grace Health Centre that came forward to clarify and protect the employees, their benefits and entitlements they invested in both of those other institutions prior to amalgamation.

This is such a good example of how it can work without a lot of stress, without a lot of people lining up at Law Amendments Committee, like we had with the QE II Health Sciences Centre. I hope the government has learned something from this, not from what they did but from what the staff and the board and the administration did at those two institutions, so that if we have further amalgamations of any kind in this province, it actually will work in as smooth a way as this one worked.

I know the minister understands the importance for this institution to get on with its work, legally, and to make things happen there in a way that it has in the past, that he knows that this is important legislation for that institution. I thank him for bringing it in and I would obviously urge all members to support this legislation on third reading, so that this fine institution can get on with its work, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 3885]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, wish to make reference to the marriage of the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital with the Grace Maternity Hospital. Like some others in this place, I have had the opportunity to have a relationship with those two institutions for over three decades. The Grace Maternity Hospital, through its efforts of staff and administration over a number of years, has resulted in Nova Scotia having a very exemplary record in neonatal care and in obstetrical care. We, in Nova Scotia, because of the efforts of many people over the last two decades, have benefited from a real improvement in neonatal outcome.

What was originally the Children's Hospital, as I first knew it, later to become the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital, is the centre of excellence in Eastern Canada for child care. We in this province are the beneficiaries of having these two institutions in our midst.

This is a marriage that one may say, if it didn't occur here in the House, is actually one made in Heaven, because it is a natural marriage because of the closeness of the service that they provide, not only to the people of Nova Scotia but to the people of Eastern Canada. Now the services, of course, are somewhat different for those who live outside the metro area because the institutions, for example to those in metro may provide a community obstetric and a community paediatric service and for Nova Scotians outside of the metro area, they are the providers of tertiary care, a most important function that must continue.

It is interesting that of the institutions that have adapted best to the health reform process, those two institutions have perhaps provided the most seamless continuum of care in what is, for most institutions, a very difficult situation in dealing with decreased funding and downsizing and reduced levels of service, but the IWK and the Grace Hospital have done that perhaps with the least amount of noticeable reduction in service.

Mr. Speaker, when things make sense, they can be made to effectively happen. This marriage does make sense and it has been accomplished through the cooperation of all those connected with those two facilities: those on the board of directors, those on the professional staffs, and those on the support staff of those hospitals. This is a piece of legislation that has generated very little opposition, so I think it is a tribute to those who have worked so long and hard to make this very sensible occurrence happen.

I look at this amalgamation to be a process whereby the continuing excellence of paediatric and obstetrical care can occur in this province, and I will be pleased to be among the many in this place who will support that legislation. Thank you.

[Page 3886]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to make a few remarks in relation to the legislation which brings together, in Bill No. 34, two of the province's most important health care institutions. I did have a chance on second reading to make remarks, and I did have the opportunity to make a few remarks about both of these institutions which merge as a result of Bill No. 34.

Both reside in my constituency and I am familiar with both and with many of the men and women who have been the lifeblood of both for many years. On an earlier occasion, I had an opportunity to express some kudos and some deep and sincere thanks to the Salvation Army for their decades and decades of service to the people of Halifax and all served by the Grace. The tremendous work done by that organization cannot go unmarked or unremarked as we look at a piece of legislation which brings that organization and that history and heritage together with the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital for Children.

In the latter case I had occasion on second reading to make reference to the phenomenal contribution made by a few. I mentioned a few of the medical staff by name and after I had done that, pleased that I did because I think the persons to whom I made reference to deserved recognition and credit, was concerned by omission and by not having mentioned many others I might have, unfortunately, left the impression with some whose names were not mentioned that their role and their contribution to the life and the growth of the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital was not understood, recognized, respected and that it too should be marked.

I want to take on this occasion, here at third reading, the opportunity to extend on behalf of the thousands whom all of them have served, all of the medical staff who have functioned and functioned in such a tremendously effective, expert, and professional way, at both the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital and at the Grace Maternity Hospital.

My colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, just a moment ago and rightly so, made reference to the fact that in these two institutions, this city, this province, this region and indeed, the country, has in its midst and is blessed by one of the country's leading neo-natal and paediatric care institutions. The merge and the synergism which will now result in the delivery of neo-natal and paediatric and child medical care is going to be even that much more effective. I think this is a tremendously important and positive piece of legislation.

I, too, want to express thanks and kudos as well to the members, not only the current but the members who over the years have been directing the affairs of these two institutions as board members, the staff, the administration, certainly the medical staff and the union leadership which has been displayed in recent times, as the merger was brought together and what in other situations proved to be rather a frisky and fractious melding of labour relations issues here has not been the case at all.

[Page 3887]

I want to also say to the Minister of Health that I sincerely believe that he and his staff deserve considerable credit for having been positive and effective players in making it possible for this merger to move as smoothly as it did. I don't believe and I don't say this by way of criticism, I don't believe that it was not going to happen and happened rather smoothly without the role and the involvement of this Minister of Health but I have spoken to a number of people who are aware of the details of the merger negotiations and discussions. I think it is appropriate, fair and right that the Minister of Health be given a pat on the back and have kudos sent his way for his and his staff's positive role in bringing this merger to fruition.

I think in the long term, and it has already been referenced, as long as the institution, as merged, is allowed to function as a free-standing institution and not be folded in at least certainly for this 18 month period which has been bandied about but I would hope for a very much longer time than that. As long as the institutions are free-standing in a merged fashion, as contemplated by this legislation, I think we can in this city, province, in Atlantic Canada and across the country, look forward to many more decades of world-class neonatal and pediatric care being delivered by men and women whose personal and professional credentials are recognized across this country and beyond the boundaries of this country.

[10:00 a.m.]

So I applaud everybody who had a role in making this merger a reality and share the hope that I know is in the mind and the heart of every member of this place, that as merged, this new health care delivery institution will prove, as it has so many times in the past, that it is truly world-class medical care. I wish everybody there at present, and all who will serve there, tremendous success, and particularly for those young people who will be the beneficiaries of truly magnificent medical care. So I am delighted to support this legislation and applaud all involved and the Minister of Health for his role in it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Health it will be to close debate on Bill No. 34.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, before I do, I would like to beg the indulgence of yourself and other members of the House to make an introduction. In your gallery, we have two very distinguished visitors who are here to observe the House in general and, I might say, have a particular interest in one piece of legislation that will likely be coming to the floor a little later in the process today: Mary Ross, President, and Carolyn Moore, Executive Director of the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia. I would ask them to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 3888]

Mr. Speaker, on this third reading of a very important piece of legislation, may I just keep my remarks very short. I would like to thank the Opposition Parties, both of them, and all of those members who have intervened for the very positive and expeditious way in which they have dealt with this very important piece of legislation. I can certainly endorse their comments, and for the benefit of the House I will not repeat them. I think that it is a very important piece of legislation and all of the comments that were made by both Parties, I think I can fully endorse, perhaps with the slight reservation of one. I think the generous credit that they have given to the minister was somewhat overstated. I think the minister's role in this was a relatively minor one and the parties who were involved really deserve the credit for bringing this together.

On behalf of the board, the administration, the employees, and I suppose, at the end of the day, the patients, I would like to thank the House for the expeditious way in which this piece of legislation was handled. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 34. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 41.

Bill No. 41 - Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, this bill is an important bill. It consolidates a number of Statutes and creates a new statutory law with respect to the fishery and in that sense the legislation is timely and is welcomed by the industry, all sectors and, also, by me, as not only Fisheries Critic, but additionally as a member representing a fishing community of significance.

There are, however, some shortcomings in the bill which clearly are not reparable in this session, but which I hope, at a future date, will be repaired, either by this government or by a future government. We are all very conscious of the importance of government ensuring to the people to whom they are responsible appropriate and sound and demonstrably clear inspection policies and inspection mechanisms with respect to food inspection. While we talking about fish as an industry, we must never forget the fact that the principal purpose of

[Page 3889]

that entire activity is to provide food not only for the tables of Nova Scotians and Canadians but for people around the globe. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that in so doing we provide an inspection service as a matter of course, an inspection service provided by government to ensure to all that the fish products that are forthcoming from Nova Scotia are of the right quality for human consumption.

This is where I think this bill falls down. The bill does not ensure that such inspections will definitely be carried out by public servants. It leaves the door open for the provincial government, the Department of Fisheries under the minister, to contract out inspection services, if it so chooses, to the private sector. While it is true that we live in a time when it is a popular thing to do, to downsize government, I think nonetheless that there is an almost universal view that there are certain responsibilities that not only are best carried out by government but which indeed on behalf of the people must be carried out by government. One of those, I believe, and I think Nova Scotians would agree with me, otherwise I would not be saying this, is that inspection service not only can best but indeed should only be carried out by persons who are free from any kind of bias which might be forthcoming as a consequence of a private sector inspection company, an influence which surely would never be brought to bear on a servant of the Crown, on a public servant, respecting the carrying out of inspection duties.

I hope that in the breach the government will continue to ensure that inspection services are carried out by those who are public office holders and who are responsible to the elected representatives and not to a private sector company under contract to the government. We shall see as this legislation is put into effect which way the government will choose to go. I can say that I believe firmly that if we do not continue to provide inspection services through government there is a risk, a significant risk, that our seafood products will be seen to have a less stringent inspection process to go through and that could and indeed may well result in greater rather than lesser difficulties marketing our seafood in the United States and around the world as a product which has been thoroughly and well inspected and which is demonstrably of the highest quality.

Related to that inspection is the matter of laboratory services, which it is absolutely essential the Department of Fisheries is able to access from time to time in order to test seafood products to ensure they meet standards, particularly with respect to standards for human consumption. Standards for pet food are, of course, different than those for human consumption.

There is a provision in the bill for the minister to employ the services of laboratories in order to effect this. There is, however - in my view and I think this view is shared by others - a serious flaw in the bill in that it is not required by the minister that those laboratories demonstrate that they are certifiable with respect to their capacity to carry out that testing.

[Page 3890]

It strikes me as more than passing strange that in this time, when we are more conscious than even before of the food we eat, that the very laboratory service which will be an underpinning of the inspection service, which is laid out in this bill, is not based on requiring that any laboratory which undertakes work for the Department of Fisheries, or any agency to which it may delegate this authority, have appropriate certification to demonstrate that this laboratory does have all of the necessary attributes to carry out the demands made of them. Certification, it seems to me, very clearly, is in the public interest and I do not for the life of me understand why the minister has not recognized this.

Additionally, with respect to court action - and unfortunately it seems that Canadians have caught the American disease of wanting to go to court more and more frequently in civil suits - in the event that a civil suit is brought against the government with respect to an activity that involved a lab, that if the minister or any member of his department is called as a witness to court and the Crown's case is based on laboratory reports and if those laboratories are not appropriately certified, it will certainly weaken the case of the Crown; and if the seizure was in the public interest, then that public interest will be lost on the basis of the weakness of the laboratory services not having been provided by a certified laboratory. I think the minister puts himself and his successors at some significant risk and as a consequence, the public and indeed the industry are put at risk as well.

A very simple, little change in this legislation could have resolved that. It is a change, were I to be sitting on the government side of the House again one day, I would urge the Minister of Fisheries of the day to make, not only for the protection of the public but, indeed, for the protection of the minister and the protection of his very fine staff.

Again, with respect to the application of the law, inspection, inspection services, seizures and so on, another section which abbreviates appeal opportunities for those who deem themselves to have been aggrieved by a decision taken by the minister. It is true, there is an appeal process laid out in the legislation for those who feel they have been aggrieved by an official of the department and that appeal can be made to the minister, but in the event of a person who deems himself to have been aggrieved by the minister and a decision taken by him, the aggrieved party is only allowed, by this legislation, to have that grievance heard out in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and there is no appeal from any decision made by the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. It is very clear, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals is not accessible by a person who has been found not to have a case in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court. This has the potential of having a very negative impact on any person who feels aggrieved to the extent that they choose to go to court.

[10:15 a.m.]

Today, I will use aquaculture as an example. Aquaculture is a high-risk business. It is a business which demands a lot of upfront capital and a lot of upfront operating capital and it requires a capacity for the aquaculture operator to be able to borrow, either from the banks,

[Page 3891]

and/or from the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board in order to put themselves in business. I dare say that the cost of getting into a salmon operation of a size that is economically viable, is probably somewhere in the vicinity of $0.5 million to $1 million today, if you really want to get into the business big time.

Surely, if a Nova Scotia business person, or business persons, because many of these aquaculture operations are partnerships, feels that their business has been put as risk, they should have as many opportunities as the law allows to appeal any decision of the Crown which they feel has adversely impacted upon them. There is no reason here, there is nothing here to protect the minister by abbreviating the opportunity to go beyond the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. What it is, is a blot put on the face of Nova Scotia businesses who put themselves, their personal resources and borrowed resources at risk when they invest it in industry and the aquaculture industry is no exception.

The minister has said that this mirrors a provision in the Environment Act and that is a correct observation. However, it strikes me that that is not a sound argument for not breaking new ground and having the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries, through this legislation, provide greater access than is provided through the Environment Act. The corollary, of course, is that not only should this Act be expanded to allow an appeal to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, but, indeed, the Environment Act should also be amended to allow that same access. It is unfortunate that the minister did not choose to cut new ground here, but rather chose the more timid route of simply mirroring legislation which was passed here some two years ago. Many things have changed in those two years and I think that the growth of the aquaculture sector, in particular, by way of example, should have caused government and this minister to break that new ground and to allow that additional rate of appeal.

We also live in a time when timeliness of reporting is deemed to be a base requirement for any government or any government department. To give credit where credit is due, this government has made some significant strides in that respect and the Public Accounts Committee has recognized that in its annual report. Timeliness of reporting requires that reporting be carried out in such fashion that the information made available to the public, whether directly or through the Legislature, be sufficiently fresh that people be able to understand where we are now, rather than where we were some many months ago. This is a concern which, with respect to the Public Accounts of Nova Scotia, has been made clear by the Auditor General.

Moving that same principle to reporting by ministries and this, again, is something which the Public Accounts Committee has dealt with and has recommended changes, is the timeliness of reporting with respect to reports by departments and ministers responsible for agencies, et cetera, to the House. I think that the minister, while he has made one step in the right direction with respect to reporting, has not gone the full journey and ensured that future ministers will follow the same course that we must assume this minister is going to follow,

[Page 3892]

and that is to table reports in a timely fashion. This minister may well do that and I have no doubt that is his intention as he stated last night when we were dealing with this bill in Committee of the Whole House. However, this minister cannot confirm to us that any successor minister may be as prepared to be as timely in reporting as he intends to be. So I think the bill has a shortcoming in this respect as well.

Madam Speaker, we will all be interested to see the regulatory regime that flows out of this legislation. We shall all be vigilant with respect to the way in which inspection services are applied to ensure that this Act is given full effect throughout the province. We shall all watch very carefully to see what laboratory services the minister and those who may have power delegated to them access and to be vigilant with respect to the public interest being met by only labs which have appropriate skills being employed by the government to undertake these inspection activities. I shall watch with great interest the impact of this legislation which I believe sets the minister up for a more difficult time or any minister a more difficult time with respect to defending decisions taken in the courts.

With respect to that, one last observation. Again with respect to the courts and in that context, the minister is not required by the legislation to provide in writing his reasons for choosing one applicant for an aquaculture licence over other applicants, whether competing applications. The minister is required only to make a choice, not to state the reasons for his choice. It is my contention and I think the future will bear me out in this, that the minister would cause himself and his successors much less pain and would provide much greater security to the industry if he were required by Statute upon making that decision between competing applications to lay out specifically the reasons for the choice being taken. I think that that would prevent future court actions which I think this legislation, as currently framed, will in fact promote.

Madam Speaker, in closing I generally welcome the bill. There are good aspects to it. There are, however, some serious shortcomings and if this government is not prepared to rectify them, I will certainly urge a future government on a future day to undertake amendments which will recognize the serious shortcomings in this legislation.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I do want to rise and speak for a few moments on this legislation. I want to do so first of all because of the work, the time and energy that has gone into consolidating various Acts and other pieces of legislation to try to streamline and update those laws affecting the Department of Fisheries in the Province of Nova Scotia and recognizing the important role that the aquaculture industry is now playing. I know the staff of the department have spent, as I said, quite a bit of time and energy. There has been a fairly broad consultation process involved in coming up with this final piece of legislation. Therefore, I think it is important to recognize that.

[Page 3893]

As the earlier speaker mentioned there may well be some weaknesses. There are changes, and I have said this before. There are things happening within the fishing industry that are changing so fast that it is extremely difficult for anybody to keep up to, let alone the Minister of Fisheries, and certainly the people who earn their livelihood through fishing or through the industry and whose communities are sustained as a result of the economic activity of the fishing industry. That having been said, though, I think it is important that the minister and his department maintain rules and regulations to ensure that they are able to not only participate in the decisions being made but are able to facilitate and, yes, defend the rights of Nova Scotians who are involved in the industry, an industry that has such a long and important history in the Province of Nova Scotia, an industry that contributes so significantly to the economic foundation of this province.

Madam Speaker, as I was about to get up, a colleague to my right said to me, what do you know about fishing? He knows, of course, that I was born and raised in the Valley and the closest I got to the fishing industry in those days was when my dad and my mum and I would drive over to Halls Harbour and cool off during the hot days of summer. I now have the pleasure to represent communities that have a 500 year history in the fishing industry. Sambro still is very much a very strong and vibrant fishing community. The people, families, who fish there have been doing so stretching back 500 years. The quality and the standard of the fishers are known throughout this province certainly and throughout the industry, I think not only nationally but internationally. Also, of course, Ketch Harbour, Purcells Cove and Herring Cove have been important fishing communities - maybe less so now than in the past - the Pennant communities also.

It has been incumbent upon me as their MLA to bring myself up to speed, to educate myself. They have contributed significantly in that education process, let me tell you, because they are very quick to not let me off the hook if I don't understand what is going on and if I am not front and centre on many of the issues affecting them and their industry. I have certainly done my best to put myself into a position where I and my caucus can appropriately represent the interests of the people in my constituency and people throughout the fishing industry in Nova Scotia. Certainly what I know is only the tip of the iceberg compared to what many people know in my community and throughout the industry in this province. Nonetheless, I have worked hard to bring myself relatively up to speed.

Madam Speaker, I want to say that the times they are a-changing in the industry in Nova Scotia and there are phenomenal pressures on the industry, on people who make a living from the fishing industry and certainly from the provincial Department of Fisheries. The federal government are looking for a management scheme that is national in scope, that will make it more efficient for them to manage the fishery. In doing so, they are looking for national solutions, I think sometimes to the detriment of jurisdictions like the Province of Nova Scotia. I have said many times in the past that I would like to see us become much more assertive in the role that we play on management decisions and how the industry is going to be reorganized. I would like to see us be much more aggressive even in the role that we play

[Page 3894]

and not simply allow the federal government, through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, to make decisions which affect not only people who fish but also the communities in which they live.

I think you, Madam Speaker, and other members of this Legislature will recognize the kind of impact that many of our communities have felt over the past four or five years with the significant downturn in the groundfish fishery. It has been devastating to many communities. Some of them are hanging on - especially in the east and to the north - by their fingernails, trying to survive the changes that are taking place within the industry.

[10:30 a.m.]

There is an old African proverb, Madam Speaker, that goes something like this: When the water-hole gets smaller, the animals get meaner. What is happening is that the resource is becoming smaller and there are still tens of thousands of people who depend on that resource, and the competition is fierce amongst those people for a piece of that resource in order to survive. It is a question of veritable survival for many of those people and for many of those communities. So the pressures are extreme and we now see, for example, in different parts of this province, fishers getting together and trying to come up with agreements on how to distribute quota.

There are significant concerns about the intrusion of the ITQ system, the transferable quotas, in the fixed-gear sector. We now have it, of course, in mobile gear, but there are some significant concerns that it is intruding more and more into the fixed-gear sector, and the concern for many of us is that once you put a price on the quota itself, then, as the minister himself has said, the resource is no longer a common resource, it is a piece of paper to be changed.

We have seen that happen in lobsters; we have seen that happen in the mobile gear with the ITQs for the dragger fleet. What has happened is the number of people fishing has decreased, the concentration of quotas has increased, and I think the downside of that is considerable in terms of the concentration and the benefits from that resource and it can and will, I think, have a devastating impact on many of our communities.

The federal government is, I think, very much part of these changes, whether it be what is happening with respect to inspection services, user fees our licensing fees, Madam Speaker. What we are seeing is the federal government, under the guise of this co-management strategy, shifting many responsibilities and the cost of those responsibilities on to fishers and their communities. It is extremely onerous. There is no question that people in the industry are willing to participate, are anxious to participate in decisions that affect them and affect their families and their communities, but they ask and have been demanding some sense of fairness, some sense of equity and some sense that the federal government will listen and will respond to their concerns in a manner that is much more respectful than it has been. Basically,

[Page 3895]

what has happened is that fishers have been told that this is what your new fee is going to be; this is what your quotas are; this is how you are going to fish and, really, the ability of people in the industry to effect those decisions has been sufficiently constrained.

Again, I would say that there are many positive things that have been addressed in this legislation. The question that was raised, I think, by the member for Queens about inspection services and the lack of an answer, really, or a lack of any clarification from the Minister of Fisheries and the Minister of Agriculture as to who is going to be involved in the inspection of product that will go to market is a concern, I think, that we should all have. Increasingly, responsibility, again in this area, is being shifted from the federal government to the province and some of us are concerned about whether the province has the capacity to be able to handle it in a responsible manner, Madam Speaker.

I just want to say, as I wrap up, that the staff of the Department of Fisheries here in the Province of Nova Scotia certainly in my few short years that I have been involved, I think, are fairly well respected within the industry in the Province of Nova Scotia as having a good sense of what is happening and are willing to participate, to try to deal with those challenges. I think it is important that they need the backing, they need the resources from this government in order to be able to carry out their responsibilities.

I will say to the minister, as I have said on a number of occasions, I think it is extremely important that this minister and his department and the government, as a whole, take a much more assertive and strong role with respect to relations with the federal government. I think the minister agreed that the concerns that I and others have raised are extremely relevant and have significant validity.

Let me say, as I conclude, that the fishing industry is one that is crucial to the economy and to the lifeblood of this province. It is incumbent upon all of us here in this Legislature to work diligently to ensure the survival of that industry and the survival of it in a manner that benefits many Nova Scotians. In other words, that we fight against the further concentration of capacity and of ownership of the resource that will again concentrate the benefits that will accrue from that resource. We have hundreds of communities and thousands of people and families who make a living and survive off of the fishery. It is a condition, a situation that has served us well in this province and I think, in many ways, formed some of the fibre and the character of our province and differentiates it from many other parts of the country and many other provinces.

I think all of us should be cognizant of the changes that are happening, the pressures that are there, and work as hard as we possibly can to protect that way of life and to protect that industry to ensure that our communities are sustainable, that our communities can survive and that the traditional fishing practices in this province are maintained for the benefit of all fishers and of all communities in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

[Page 3896]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Madam Speaker, I am very happy to say a few words regarding this bill. It is a very important bill, it is gathering a lot of loose ends together, bringing them under one head and making it simpler to administer and so on. I have been in the fish business, as you know, for a long time and our family goes back many generations and I am telling you, it is not a simple procedure to organize a fish company or to police it as the department has to do.

Every village is almost a law unto itself; the conditions are totally different. One regulation will fit exactly into a particular area and the other one is totally different and it can be handled in a different way. It has to be very flexible. This is what I find with the federal Department of Fisheries, it is so rigid. Like I keep saying all the time, you cannot make one pair of shoes fit all Canadians; everybody is different. Every fish plant is different; every condition is different. The water supply for one thing is different than the neighbouring communities'. The supply of fish are different; the people are different; they think differently in these communities.

I think the Departments of Fisheries, provincial and federal, are trying and wanting to do something to help the fishing community out but there are so many options it is hard to decide what will fit every situation. I see this every day and it is very frustrating if you happen to be in a fish plant or in a business of that kind, or a fisherman. We all have our problems and if it becomes so expensive to inspect and operate a fish plant, then you are just working for the fun of it. That isn't any good, it doesn't help the community, and the business will eventually go out of business and that should never happen.

I haven't planned this speech so I am just talking off the top of my head. The aquaculture business in the Annapolis Basin is one I am closely associated with, I see every day what is going on there. There have been a lot of heartaches, there have been a lot of discussions, there have been a lot of people thinking totally differently from the other people, neighbours and so on, but they now have what they call RADAC, the Regional Aquaculture Development Advisory Committee. I think this is probably democracy at its best. There are a lot of defects in it, I know - it is something new - but everybody has pretty well had their say. Some of the meetings have been pretty rough but, all in all, they have all had their say. Decisions have been made and decisions will be made before any of this business is expanded in Annapolis Basin for one thing. It will be all over the province, I know. They will have the same problems.

My Heavens, if they haven't had a chance to air their grievances in these particular committees, I don't know how else you can do it. The business is coming. There are problems, it is a new business in that area. We have a high rise and fall of tide there and temperatures are different. We can have an ice problem in the winter. In the winter in New Brunswick they have a problem; the temperature goes down and it is just so cold that you get

[Page 3897]

a chill factor that will kill the fish. They were hovering within one degree, in New Brunswick last year, of the point where all the fish would die; we were down to about four degrees above that critical area. So these are the things you have to take into consideration.

Getting back to inspections, we have had a provincial and a federal inspection and some of it has been so costly and so high. I know we have to have fish plants inspected because we are shipping food to our customers in Nova Scotia, but especially when they go out of Canada, they are more rigid and people's lives depend on it. People don't realize it but clams, for instance, or any shellfish can become toxic at certain times of the year. There has to be rigid inspection to protect people's health and so on. They have to feel when they buy a Canadian product or a Nova Scotia product that they are safe. We don't want to buy something from Taiwan if we know it has not been properly inspected. Why should we put the same thing on the market without the same kind of inspection ourselves?

Now I was just looking at a report that came out today - I think it was in the paper - about the biomass of fish increasing. I have said publicly and privately for the last 10 or 15 years that the fish will come back, and they are coming back. They go through cycles. All you have to do is read sections of the Bible. Probably I am not up on it as well as I should be. You have your lean years and you have your good years, regardless of what people do. It is an act of God, I guess, and we don't have an awful lot of control over some of those things. They are coming back and they have started to increase, the cod, pollack and haddock, in the areas in which the people in western Nova Scotia fish, on Browns and Georges Banks and so on. That is going to be of some help.

I am told right now that when you bring haddock in and try to sell them, ship them out to the United States, people have already forgotten. I predicted this several years ago; people will forget what a haddock is and they are starting to forget already, there have been so few on the market. So it is going to take some advertising. We have to get the price back up. Increasing the quota is not going to help if the price goes down because it costs money to catch these fish. These are all things that the provincial government can help with.

I certainly commend the minister on this. I would like to speak longer but I guess I didn't prepare for it. There are a lot of good points in that and I know the minister and his department will do a good job. I thank you, Madam Speaker, for the chance to speak.

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

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, I wish to comment briefly on the bill and, first of all, to congratulate the minister and his staff and the members of this House who contributed to this bill and their expertise and interest in this sector of our resource industry. Eastern Nova Scotia, an area I represent, certainly is resource dependent; either the forestry or the fishery.

[Page 3898]

[10:45 a.m.]

My area extends from the community of Ecum Secum through to the Strait of Canso. As you travel through that vast area, there is great diversity and effort in the fishery. Because of the large area, there are many challenges. We do have fish plants in communities such as Marie Joseph, Port Bickerton, Larrys River, Canso - to name a few - and of course the new shrimp operation in Mulgrave which shows that even within the fishery people involved are looking for other ideas. Diversification is the challenge, either for the inshore fishery or the larger companies.

There has been a great deal of change over the last number of years in the fishery and I believe that this bill reflects the need to address some of those changes, to work with the industry and hopefully to provide that type of guidance and input. To those who have contributed to the fishery and to this bill, I extend my congratulations and also a recognition that there are still many challenges facing the fishery of Nova Scotia. It is important that those who have fishery knowledge understand that the challenges facing one sector of Nova Scotia - eastern Nova Scotia compared, for example, to southwestern Nova Scotia - are sometimes totally different but the overall riding concern is that we want to have a sustainable industry - work with those involved - and I believe this bill is a step in the right direction. I will be supporting the bill. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister, it is to close the debate on third reading.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: In closing the debate, I would first like to make a few remarks. I would like to thank the members opposite for their interventions and wise counsel. To the critic from Queens County from the Official Opposition who had spent many years as a minister of this department, I appreciate his very deep concern for some of the points he raised last night and again today and I have tried to address those points. I just want to thank, for Bill No. 41, the people in the Province of Nova Scotia, in the fishing industry, the aquaculture industry and sport-fishing industry who have taken considerable time in the last several years through the process of consultation for their input which was very constructive and allowed us to update legislation, in some cases, 30 years old that was out of date with the changes that are taking place in the fishing industry.

The fishing industry in which in Nova Scotia last year we exported $800 million worth of fish. I want to just note the importance of how 61 per cent of our fish has gone to the United States with a value of $488 million; to Japan, second largest importing country from Canada, $155 million worth of fish, which is 19 per cent of our fish export; to Hong Kong $17 million worth of fish; to France $17 million worth of fish. Our exports are very critical to our survival in the fishing industry.

[Page 3899]

The point brought out by the members opposite is that it is important to have a very high standard for inspection services. I can assure members opposite that the inspection service will not be diminished, that we are in a state of transition, again adapting to the requirements, particularly in the United States which next year will require HACCP. That is a very stringent standard in any country that want to export fish into the United States and any plant or exporter must meet that requirement and also, the ISO-9000 standards and quality management programs. Our fishing industry processors must adapt and must qualify and meet these very stringent programs. We must have good records of management and this provides the opportunity for any product to be traced all the way back to the processor. The standards are as high and will be higher in future years if you want to export your products from Nova Scotia.

I can assure that the laboratories which one speaks of being certified, we must meet and our standards are those of DFO standards. For instance, InNOVAcorp in Dartmouth provides services in the biological testing for some of our programs. It may not come under DFO certification, but still meet the very high standards that have been set by Canadians, which are recognized throughout the world.

The importance is in no way diminished, the standards in which we have set in this legislation will meet and exceed any of the standards throughout the world. We recognize that and the fishing industry recognizes that and the aquaculture industry recognizes that. Without the export markets, we could not survive. So the importance is not understated by the members opposite and I appreciate their very deep concern for that.

I would also want to note the importance of the shellfish industry and how, in the last few years, our industries have changed about. The codfish industry has, over the years, been a number one fishery in Atlantic Canada, but in 1995, our landings, that is the price paid to the fishermen, lobsters came in at $206 million last year, scallops were second place at $74 million and snow crab was almost $39 million, shrimp was $35 million and codfish was almost $15 million. There has been a tremendous transition in which the groundfish stocks had decreased and the value for them had decreased, but our shellfish landings had increased significantly, as well as the value. So Nova Scotia's market, our ability to export, has remained very high and we landed almost 50 per cent of the fish landed in Atlantic Canada, so this is a very important industry to us.

If I could give an indication by the counties how important the fishery is to some counties. In 1995, Shelburne had $98 million worth of fish landings and Yarmouth had $95 million worth of landings. Lunenburg County had $54 million in 1995 and Inverness had $37 million worth of landings. So this is very important to many communities in this province, particularly in Shelburne. I could mention Queens County because I know my colleague, the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, it is very important to him, and it is an $11 million fishery in Queens County.

[Page 3900]

For the survival of our communities, the fishery is still and will be, for many years to come, a very important industry in many of our rural communities. I think it is incumbent upon this government and succeeding governments to stress the importance of these jobs in rural communities, because much of the infrastructure throughout Nova Scotia is very dependent upon the fishing industry. I believe 70 per cent of the jobs in Shelburne County are truly dependent upon the fishery.

There was welcome news last night from the federal Minister of Fisheries in his announcement that he would accept most of the recommendations provided by the Fisheries Resources Conservation Council, which provided an increase of codfish, pollock and haddock in the southwestern region of Nova Scotia, which is welcome news and, also, in through the Gulf region of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, I appreciate all the input from both the members opposite and from the fishing industry for this very important legislation which will take us into the next century and it is critical that we have very high standards in our fishing industry and we will, with the support of my colleagues from the right, from the front benches and from members opposite, and with the industry. My time, I believe, is just about up and I would just say one final thank you for all the support.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 41. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 43.

Bill No. 43 - Condominium Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for Business and Consumer Services.

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and move Bill No. 43 for third reading. This bill is a very specific bill to deal with an issue that came forward to us from a number of business people around the province to deal with one aspect of the Condominium Act, which is phase development. It will make a specific change to allow a new way of developing condominiums in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 3901]

We do have the complete Condominium Act out for discussion and we will be reviewing the complete Act on a much broader basis, but this deals with a very specific piece and I am pleased to move third reading.

MADAM SPEAKER: The question is called for third reading of Bill No. 43.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government Deputy House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 44.

Bill No. 44 - Dalhousie-Technical University Amalgamation Act.

MADAM SPEAKER: I don't see the Minister of Education. Is somebody moving it in the absence of the minister?

MR. MITCHELL: Madam Speaker, the Minister of Education is outside. I could move it on his behalf or, if you wish, we could wait a second.

MADAM SPEAKER: We will just pause for a few moments. I see him coming through the doorway.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, I would move third reading of Bill No. 44.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I just want to speak very briefly on Bill No. 44. I rose earlier this morning to commend the parties involved in the merging of the Izaak Walton Killam Hospital and the Grace Maternity Hospital health care facilities, and I think it would be wrong not to do the same in this case.

The principals involved with Dalhousie and TUNS, the Technical University of Nova Scotia, have worked, I think, in the best interests of the staff and students of both institutions to ensure that this merger go forward for the benefit of all involved, and I think they should

[Page 3902]

be commended for that. The minister's staff, I think it has been noted, worked quite closely with the parties involved to ensure that any support that was necessary was, in fact, provided.

I just wanted to take the opportunity to again say that we supported this merger, supported this decision by the parties to go forward with this move as was in their interests. I believe it has been done in the way that would be and it has been in the best interests of the parties involved, and I would indicate our intention to vote in support of the legislation. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I won't detain the House long at all, but I do want to simply indicate my unreserved support for Bill No. 44, An Act to Amalgamate the Governors of Dalhousie College and University and the Technical University of Nova Scotia as Dalhousie University.

I think, as was said in an earlier stage of debate in relation to this legislation, the recitals at the front of the bill pretty much sum it up. "The mission of the Technical University of Nova Scotia is to contribute to the development of Nova Scotia by providing high quality education, research and community and industry collaboration in architecture, computer science and engineering . . . the strengthening of computer science, information technology, engineering, advanced technical education and research and a strong college or institute of applied science and technology are fundamental to cornerstones of the economy and the future of Nova Scotia.". I believe that very much.

[11:00 a.m.]

Finally, the recitals make reference to, ". . . public benefits of advanced technical education and research, as well as provincial economic renewal, can be advanced by . . .", the amalgamation of these two institutions. I think that is really my hope, relative to this merger. My hope is that that is but one more step in moving the world of academia and pure science and what some might refer to as applied science, to move the realms and areas of pure science and research, on the one hand, and applied science on the other, into a merged ethic and mindset. I really and truly believe that when we look at the magnificent post-secondary education infrastructure which is available to Nova Scotia, a good deal of it based here in the metropolitan region, these two institutions are prime examples but we have evidence, of course, of that tremendous asset for our province right across the province, in Wolfville, in Antigonish and at Université Sainte-Anne and UCCB and the network and system now of community colleges.

If this bill leads, as I honestly expect it will, in the direction of inexorably moving us to the point where much of what happens in our post-secondary education system, in time, particularly in the scientific, technical, information technologies, technological fields, becomes

[Page 3903]

commercialized and moves out of the laboratories into the commercial world and carries with it the creation of new wealth, the growing of the Nova Scotian economy, the employment of greater numbers of people, then this bill will have proven to be of very great service to the people and the Province of Nova Scotia. I have hopes that it will have exactly that result.

Both these institutions, Madam Speaker, as you are aware, I believe, reside in my constituency and I am familiar with them both and with the program offerings, in the main, provided by both. I really have great hopes that this merger, bringing together the technical and technological, scientific elements of those institutions, will go a long way to growing the economy of Nova Scotia.

I would hope and I am sure that the minister has in his mind that as the roots of this merger do deepen and the merger strengthens and all of the administrivia is gotten out of the way, to enable it to be put together, I do hope and expect that the minister will, in his dealings with the merged or amalgamated institution, ensure as best he can, by moral suasion, more so I suppose than by edict, that the new amalgamated arrangement will spread its wings to develop even deeper relationships with such organizations as the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, InNOVAcorp, the absolutely burgeoning information technologies and software development industry of which the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat is so well aware and, equally important, I think, that the linkages and relationships will be made by this new merged or amalgamated college, with the defence establishment here in Halifax-Dartmouth-Metro.

I think if we consider this bill as a jump-off point to move us in a direction, the kinds of directions I am suggesting, I honestly believe that we have every possibility and every realistic hope that Nova Scotia can and will and, may I say, if done properly and effectively, should become a world-class centre of excellence of science and technology; it can be. All of the infrastructure is there and I think this amalgamation is one piece of the puzzle in making that possible.

I am very much supportive of the effect of Bill No. 44 and this amalgamation and I compliment those at both universities for being able to work out the detail and the minister for being able to put the finishing touches to it in a way that enables us to have before us today a piece of legislation that gives life to that amalgamation and, as has been said by others, I think, gives life to the amalgamation in a way where there was, frankly, little or no friction along the way.

I think this is a very significant piece of legislation. My compliments, Mr. Speaker, through you to all who had a hand in making it happen. I express the hope that it is one more fundamental cornerstone to the growth and development of Halifax and metro being recognized, before too many years pass, as one of the country's leading, if not the world's, centres of excellence in science and technology and research and development. I am certainly very much in support of the bill and will be voting for it. Thank you.

[Page 3904]

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, just to echo a few comments here. It is appropriate, at this time, to reflect on some of the remarks made, but I think it is important to realize that what we do have as a strategic advantage in our region is the ability to network. The member opposite was, I think, wise to praise Presidents Traves and Rhodes and their boards, because, as he mentioned in his debate on second reading, this has been tried before. The difference this time is that the private sector and other organizations came forward and said, we really must do this now. This is of strategic importance to our province because the very networks with the private sector companies and the Bedford Institute and InNOVAcorp that the member opposite has talked about is fundamental to our economic future. That is our strategic advantage here in the region. That is our strategic advantage here in Nova Scotia.

So I commend the two boards and I commend their presidents, the former Minister of Education, and the Premier because this has been a team approach to building something that had quality and now has even more quality. Ultimately, in this increasingly competitive world, using every aspect of our character as a province to strategic advantage is critical. Here we have private sector, non-governmental agencies, governmental agencies and the universities themselves coming together in an unprecedented team effort to really build that cornerstone and to shape it and to make sure that we are the best in the world. Once again, those same compliments to those individuals who have taken us to this point, a great foundation from which to not only grow the economy, but maybe the most important thing of all, and that is provide the highest quality of learning for the students who will attend this institution. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the honourable minister moving third reading on this bill?

MR. HARRISON: I am moving third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 44. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 3905]

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, that concludes Public Bills for Third Reading before the House today. Would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bills No. 35, No. 37, No. 38, No. 39, No. 40, No. 42 and No. 46, en bloc.

Bill No. 35 - Université Sainte-Anne Act/Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne.

Bill No. 37 - River John Voluntary Fire Department Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 38 - Lunenburg Street Closing and Location Act, 1996.

Bill No. 39 - Bridgewater Curling Club Act.

Bill No. 40 - Yarmouth County Historical Society Financial Assistance Act.

Bill No. 42 - Victorian Order of Nurses Act.

Bill No. 46 - Antiochian Maronite Catholic Church Corporation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motions are carried.

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that these bills be engrossed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 50.

[Page 3906]

Bill No. 50 - Registered Nurses Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 50 is entitled An Act Respecting the Registered Nurses' Association of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, current legislation governing the nursing profession in Nova Scotia was approved by the Legislature in 1985. Since that time significant changes have occurred in nursing, in the health care system and in society as a whole. The proposed revisions of the Registered Nurses Act are responsive to these broad changes and significantly benefit the citizens of Nova Scotia. The improvements contained in this legislation can really be categorized in three areas; in the objects of the association first. The new Act will maximize the association's effectiveness by clarifying the mandate of the RNANS, to regulate the nursing profession in the public interest by stipulating that the association's primary focus must be its role as the regulatory body for registered nurses and by allowing RNANS to become involved only in those professional activities which do not conflict with the regulatory mandate.

The second category; public accountability. The new Act will strengthen the association's capacity to meet its obligation to be open and accountable to the public by, first, ensuring a minimum of 33 per cent public representation on the RNANS Board of Directors, all of whom are appointed by the Governor in Council, by mandating public representation on RNANS statutory committees and by opening discipline hearings to the public.

The third category of improvements; professional conduct processes. This new Act will provide for more effective and efficient professional conduct processes, by making it more participatory and less adversarial, though allowing for mediation of complaints and by allowing for a wider range of options to address complaints, re the professional conduct and competence of members; that is, for example, the issuing of a counsel or a caution in those circumstances, or by requiring members to submit to a review of their practice and directing members to obtain counselling, medical treatment or pass a course of study.

So, Mr. Speaker, we would suggest to the House at this stage of second reading that there are substantial improvements available in this legislation. It comes very much recommended by the association itself, who really are responsible for originating this piece of legislation. I believe they have had discussion with all interested stakeholders and, as far as I am aware at this point in time in the House, no one has taken objection to the legislation itself. With those brief comments, Mr. Speaker, I will move second reading of the bill.

[Page 3907]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, as I rise to speak on Bill No. 50, when the minister said no one has raised any objections and my colleague to my left said except him, but he must understand, as he said, he objects to everything.

Seriously, I want to say that I am pleased to see that the minister brought this bill forward in this session. I know that the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia worked very hard in updating their legislation, as the minister has indicated, to meet the needs and the trends that we have in the 1990's. I think that with all the work they have done, and, as the minister indicated, they have done a lot of legwork in getting this legislation drafted, getting it around to not only their members but to other groups so that they could understand what this legislation means to the nurses association of this province. I am more than pleased that we are able to have second reading today. I am hoping that with the minister's guidance and everyone's cooperation in this House, we are going to see this legislation go through all stages before we leave before Christmas, that we will actually see third reading of Bill No. 50.

As the minister indicates, there are a few areas that I think as well are an improvement, and it is where actually other health professions and other groups are going. One of the areas is allowing more participation of laypeople involved in their association. I think that brings a lot more credibility. When we talk about associations being self-governing, there is always a fear by the general public that they are self-regulating and self-serving but that is not the case. By allowing participation at the board level and at the complaints level with a minimum of 33 per cent and also - a number he didn't throw around - up to a maximum of 49 per cent, it will be no lower than 33 per cent but in actual fact can be higher.

[11:15 a.m.]

As the minister indicated, the role of nursing is changing, there is no question. Registered nurses are a very important factor in our total health care system. Their roles, as that system changes, are obviously changing, I know, in some provinces and territories and I expect some day we will see it here with nursing practitioners. When you think about the capabilities of our nurses, with our nurses going with the degree program, with the education background that many of these people possess and the skills they possess, I think they can play an even greater role. When they play a greater role, I think it can contribute to cost savings to the consumer yet not lowering the quality of service. As a matter of fact, in the primary health care in this province, I believe registered nurses could even play a greater role than they are playing today.

There is a greater opportunity in this legislation, as the minister indicated, for complaint hearings, with the advertising and opening them to the public. I commend the Registered Nurses Association for taking this step of being more open as an organization, allowing hearings to be public and allowing greater participation. This whole bill for registered nurses

[Page 3908]

in this province is, I think, obviously a step in the right direction not only in self-governing but from the consumer point of view and from the health care system point of view.

Mr. Speaker, I very much support this legislation and look forward to it going on to the Law Amendments Committee and hope to see this legislation back this session so that the Registered Nurses Association can, in 1997, work under a new, progressive Act. I thank the minister for making sure that in this session we got this legislation in and we have enough time to see that it has third reading. I would urge all members of this House to support this legislation.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me just say that the previous speaker and I were being a little bit mischievous in ribbing the Minister of Health. I am not going to stand here with any serious objections at all to this legislation. In fact, I commend the (Interruptions) No, no, you have to wait for the but, the other shoe to fall, right?

I seriously commend the association for the work in not only pulling this legislation together but working probably tirelessly to try to get the minister and his colleagues to, in fact, bring it forward in order to have it put together. I do support the association in their attempts to modernize their legislation, bring more accountability into the process of licensing and discipline. There are a couple of minor questions I have with respect to a couple of provisions within the bill but before I do that I want to say this.

Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Blueprint for Health Reform Committee, that was established by the former Minister of Health to help this government in implementing proper health reform in the Province of Nova Scotia, was a committee that was representative of health care providers, consumers, organizations within the health care field in the Province of Nova Scotia who worked tirelessly at putting together clear, far-sighted recommendations on how in fact this government should proceed, involving the community, involving providers, involving consumers all the way along the line.

One of the very clear recommendations in that report, under the section called Health Care Providers, talked about the need for health human resource planning and for that planning to not only ensure that the education system does not continue to prepare health care workers when there are no jobs, but also that the system - the education and the health care system - must work together to determine the educational requirements for health human resources in the province so that future health care workers can make career choices based on accurate information.

The recommendation was that a human resources advisory committee be established with input from communities, regions, affected health care provider groups and the Department of Health. It said that that human resources advisory committee should be set up

[Page 3909]

and should consist of two subcommittees: a Health Professions Legislation Subcommittee and a Labour Adjustment Subcommittee. "The Health Professions Legislation Subcommittee should be mandated to: advise on appropriate regulations governing all health care providers in order to protect the public; ensure public accountability through appropriate and meaningful lay participation in the investigation of complaints and during disciplinary procedures; expand and define scopes of practice so health care providers can work as teams.". It says this includes traditional as well as complementary health care practitioners.

The point that I raise is that the Blueprint Committee recommended that this be done across the board for all of the professions in health care, that it be done in a coherent, coordinated way, responding to the health care needs not only of the communities, but the province as a whole. The idea was that this would be part of the health care reform process - an integral part of it - and that it be something coordinated by the government through the community health boards and the regional health boards. It was just simply a recommendation that instead of having each profession and each organization coming forward in this way to, again, do their thing, that we try to do it in a coordinated and comprehensive fashion, and that is a point that I have made in this House before.

As it affects the Medical Society, as it affects the whole question of allied health professions, I think that the government has missed the boat in not moving forward on those recommendations to ensure that we are not dealing one profession by another in these important changes to update that legislation. Again, I want to make sure that I say, I put it in context, that in no way at all suggests that the Registered Nurses Association is not fully within their rights to do what they are doing today and that it is not extremely appropriate, because in the absence of efforts by the Department of Health to do that, to follow that recommendation of the Blueprint Committee, I commend that association for coming forward on their own to make sure that those important issues with respect to accountability and discipline and professional contact are covered. I commend them for that but I felt it important to reiterate something that I have said before, a recommendation that was clearly made by the Blueprint Committee, a committee that was representative of health care providers from all professions and consumer groups.

A couple of small points with respect to the legislation that have been brought to my attention. One thing is that the former speaker, the member for Kings West, mentioned something about the association working more closely or all of the organizations in the health care profession working more closely together. I know that the roles and the mandates of the association, for example, and the unions representing the nurses are different but yet there is no reason why they can't be complementary and we can't have a better level of coordination between those groups.

I refer to Clause 8, the areas where it deals with powers of the board. It would seem to me to be quite appropriate that in the legislation governing the association that there be something in there about the board being involved, being concerned about and having the

[Page 3910]

authority to look at the whole issue of nurses' working environment. I think that would be quite appropriate to have in that section and I raise that point not to suggest necessarily that there needs to be a change or whatever at this point but that it follows in line with comments made by the previous speaker, that we want to ensure and facilitate greater cooperation among organizations representing the interests of nurses in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Part III under Professional Conduct, a couple of issues there that have been raised, a number of items, particularly under Clauses 28, 29, 35 and 36. It refers to the regulations and after each section is says, " . . . in accordance with the regulations.". In Clause 28(1), for example, it says, "Upon receipt of a complaint, the investigator shall conduct an investigation in accordance with the regulations.", Clause 29(1), "Upon receipt of the results of an investigation from an investigator, a complaints committee shall dispose of the matter in accordance with the regulations." and again in Clause 35, "A hearing held by a professional conduct committee shall be conducted in accordance with the regulations.". It is a concern that I think should be familiar to the Minister of Health because it has been raised by us and when he was in Opposition, he raised that concern that too often in legislation like this so much is left to regulations which we don't see here in this Chamber when we are passing legislation. It may, in fact, have some considerable impact and import on the conduct of these particular issues.

The two other issues are in Clause 40 where it relates to the awarding of costs. I guess the question that is raised here, and it is a question, is the potential of hardship that that may impose on an individual and the potential of costs being awarded against an individual in whatever case and whether or not that can be better clarified. In two clauses in the bill, one is membership of the board and the other is membership of the disciplinary committee, Clause 27 and Clause 5, where it talks about where in the previous case, membership of the board and, in Clause 27, it is membership of a complaints committee.

[11:30 p.m.]

The references to non-member representation, non-member of the board, I wonder whether it would not be, perhaps, more appropriate to use the word layperson. We have had this discussion in this House before of whether that be the complaints committee, disciplinary committee, under the auspices of the College of Physicians and Surgeons, that it be non-medical people, that it be laypersons involved in the context of those disciplinary hearings. Also, with respect to the lay participation on the Bar Society's disciplinary committee, Mr. Speaker, it has been suggested that maybe it include, perhaps, or specify that a layperson would be involved. In other words, a non-medical person be on there. I think the point about a non-member is fine, but I think it is also important that we add in there the requirement that there be a layperson. In other words, a non-medical person be involved on that board.

[Page 3911]

Those, I think, really are the extent of the issues that I wanted to raise at this point in time. I leave them for the consideration of the minister and, perhaps, the representatives of the Registered Nurses Association that are here in the gallery today and, perhaps, we will hear some response to those issues at the Law Amendments Committee or perhaps when the minister is wrapping up his comments here in second reading.

I say, in my closing comments, Mr. Speaker, that I commend, again, the association for their hard work in having these matters dealt with and having their legislation come forward in this sitting of the House. Again, when I raise the issue of the Blueprint Committee recommendations and it having been recommended to the government that they come forward with comprehensive legislation of this type, affecting all medical professions. That, certainly, does not take away at all from their efforts to look after the profession that they are responsible for. I commend them for that and will be supporting this legislation to move forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to offer a few remarks relative to Bill No. 50. My opening comment is one of sincere congratulations to the minister and to RNANS. I think the association has done a tremendously good job and, no doubt, with the support and the assistance of the minister and his officials along the way, as appropriate, to produce, what I think, is a very substantial, very important, piece of legislation that relates not only to the internal administration of one of our provinces most important organizations, but, as I will say in a moment, addresses matters of discipline and education which I think are tremendously important as well.

I was taken by a few of the comments made by the Leader of the New Democratic Party and while he didn't really come at it as an outright criticism, he leaves the impression that he has this lingering concern about the fact that the Blueprint Committee called for a rather more comprehensive merger, amalgamation, assimilation, call it what you will, of all of the elements of the health providers out there. He almost leaves the impression that his support of this legislation is well, if not lukewarm, it is diluted a little bit because he suggests that the minister and the government and, indeed, RNANS doesn't go far enough by pushing themselves into that comprehensive arrangement relative to health providers which is set out in the Blueprint Committee. I suppose there is some merit to that comment but for my purposes today and from my vantage point, I want to say that I sincerely believe that as it relates to the nurses and the nursing profession, this piece of legislation is true to the Blueprint document urged upon the nurses and upon all of us who have an impact on the way in which health care is provided in the province, to advance the standing and the stature, the importance and the administrative structure by which and through which and in which the nursing association would function. I think a tremendously good job has been done in this regard.

[Page 3912]

This organization is absolutely vital, absolutely fundamental. I don't think it is a trite comment at all to suggest that we simply would not have a world-class health care delivery system as we do if we did not have RNANS and, more to the point, the tremendously effective membership of the RNANS that we do in the province. It is, as the minister pointed out, some years now since the legislation was addressed. This legislation brings us and the association and their doings into the 21st Century. They are now clearly a self-governing organization. The legislation provides for greater participation.

When I wrote my own notes, my note to myself was more participation of laypeople. I am taken a little bit by the comment made by the Leader of the New Democratic Party that the bill doesn't use the words laypeople, it does use the word non-member. I am getting an indication from the minister that he might respond to those observations. I think I find myself in some sympathy with that element of the earlier comments. I think that expression lay-person is used, as has been pointed out, in Bar Society legislation and other professional self-regulating legislation and it may be appropriate here. It is a matter that we could have a look at in Law Amendments Committee and elsewhere but I think it really should be looked at.

I noted, and this is not the stage of debate for me to be argumentative with the Leader of the New Democratic Party, but I was interested in his reference to one of the principles enunciated in Clause 8 because that was in my mind as well when I looked at this legislation. I have been very much aware that one of the fundamental concerns expressed by the nurses of our province for some time now has been their work environment. Quite frankly, when I read Clause 8, notwithstanding the remarks from the Leader of the New Democratic Party, I think that a great deal of what he is attempting to address and what I believe and what I know that the nurses believe should be addressed, namely their work and practice environments, is, indeed, addressed in Clause 8(1)(g) because it reads, "Subject to the approval of the Governor in Council, the Board may make regulations to provide for the audit of members and practice environments.".

I may be wrong but that leads me to the conclusion that the board - and the board to which we refer here is, of course, the governing board of the association - will establish a committee or committees or some structure to enable it to audit its members and the practice environments of its members. I think the kinds of issues which were suggested by the Leader of the New Democratic Party can and will be addressed in those audits because practice environment, as I read those words, unless I missed a definition - practice of nursing is defined but I don't know that practice environment. No, it is not. Practice environment, as used in Clause 8 here, Mr. Speaker, I believe is broad enough and I am sure the nurses will ensure that it is broad enough that the audit of their members and their membership's practice environments will lead them not only to an assessment of the physical environment in which the nurses are called upon to practice but will undoubtedly enable them to address the environment in which their membership finds itself vis-a-vis relationships with other health care providers, with doctors and with administrators and with the clerical people at the health care institutions and everybody else connected with and impacting on the way in which the

[Page 3913]

individual nurse is able to provide his or her professional nursing service. I think that issue is in fact addressed in the legislation.

I just simply want to say a couple of other things. I read very carefully Part III relative to professional conduct, and I want to say, and say sincerely, compliments to those, undoubtedly those in the leadership of RNANS, who developed the definition of professional misconduct because I really believe that when one reads in its entirety Part III relative to professional misconduct it sets out a set of criteria and ground rules whereby this association is saying publicly in its own legislation that there is a standard of conduct which must be met. There are rules and levels of performance which simply must be met. I think the enunciation or setting out of them as they have done in Part III under professional conduct and of course using the important expression "without limiting the generality of the foregoing" but setting out a rather precise and important set of guideposts and guidelines for the membership, but equally important, setting out guideposts for the public who will consume the professional service offered by the nurses is vitally important and extremely well done. Again kudos to the leadership at RNANS for having done that as effectively as they have.

I guess I find myself repeatedly in here after many years away from the Department of Education, I think the current minister will probably as he gets old and gray and wrinkled as I am - that will be a very long time for him, I know - but as he thinks back to his days in the Department of Education - and he is a teacher by profession and I am not - I was in that department long enough to have ingrained in me some very strong feelings about the importance of education and training.

I want to say in relation to the bill before us, Bill No. 50, that Part IV of the legislation, the Education Advisory Committee and the role and function and authorities of the Education Advisory Committee are very noteworthy and laudatory. They set out terms of reference, in Clause 53(1), "The Education Advisory Committee shall advise and make such recommendations to the Board as will enable the Board to (a) establish standards for nursing-education programs; (b) approve nursing education programs that meet the standards as approved by the Board; (c) deny or withdraw approval of nursing-education programs . . .", and so on.

I think important is a principle established in this section which should not pass without note. That is that under the Education Advisory Committee section of this legislation, the Education Advisory Committee is enabled, and I am sure they will take advantage of the opportunity, to conduct at least every five years a survey of the schools of nursing in the province to determine which schools meet the standards as approved by the board. That strikes me as being the same kind of environment as those of us who are members of this place experience. Periodically, every four or five years, our performance, good, bad or indifferent is assessed by those who have the ability - in our case, the electorate at large - to judge our performance, our ability and our competence. Here, by extension, the same kind of approach and opportunity is available to the Education Advisory Committee, and the

[Page 3914]

conduct every five years of the survey of the schools of nursing, I think, is tremendously important and will prove in the long term to be a very helpful authority available to the Education Advisory Committee.

[11:45 a.m.]

The bill has much to recommend it. We may, when we see the bill at the Law Amendments Committee, find that there will be those who will come before the Law Amendments Committee and offer some suggestions for change, refinement, or alteration. My speculation is that the bill is drafted in such a way that the likelihood of it needing to be amended in any serious, substantive, fundamental way is probably pretty slim. I think it has been very well done.

As my final comment, I think this bill, as I say, brings the RNANS and its structure, and its role, function, mandate and authority into the 21st Century and it is a prelude to us seeing in the health care delivery system in the Province of Nova Scotia, an every increasing expansion of the role and function of our province's nurses. I applaud those who have worked so hard to bring us to this point and I will have no hesitation in genuinely and vigorously supporting Bill No. 50 and supporting the nurses of the province. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, originally I thought I would be in the Chair when this bill came up so I hadn't really planned on saying anything on the bill. I will be very, very brief because otherwise I would be duplicating what previous speakers have already mentioned.

I think I am probably the only former nurse in the House of Assembly, from the Class of 1962 at Saint John General Hospital, so I am really very pleased to see this bill coming forward and I congratulate the members of the nursing profession who worked very hard and diligently on this subject. I congratulate the minister for bringing it in. I am sure if Florence Nightingale were hovering in the wings today she would be smiling on this process.

This is another step in the professionalism that the nursing profession represents in bringing themselves forward with this piece of legislation. They have always kept current, they have always kept on top of every current trend in health care today and they are a very valuable part of the health team. I just want to say that I support the bill in totality. I am pleased to be able to just add these few words on the record and I will be voting in support of it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 3915]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all let me thank all honourable members for their interventions on this particular piece of legislation. I want to thank particularly the people involved from the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia, including those here today for their great contribution.

Once again, I am forced to admit that the role of the Minister of Health in this particular piece of legislation was not major. In fact, the work was done for the most part by the RNANS themselves and they brought forward, I think, an excellent piece of legislation.

There were two items which were raised by members which I just want to touch on very quickly. One of them had to do with Clause 27 and the use of the non-member rather than layperson. If I can come at it from the other angle, there may be an opportunity to illustrate why I think that is useful. By specifying that non-member representation shall be no more than 50 per cent, you are also specifying by the process of elimination, that member registration must be at least 50 per cent, one would agree to that. In point of fact, members are defined very specifically in the definition section. For that reason, the reference is made to non-member representation rather than layperson.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Will the minister take a question, Mr. Speaker? I don't disagree at all with anything that the minister has just said, but I think the point my colleague, the Leader of the New Democratic Party, and I were attempting to make is that the non-member representation - and, as the minister has pointed out, member is defined, and member means a person whose name is entered in the register, registered as a member of RNANS - the reason that we are inviting the minister and perhaps, through the minister, those who are senior officials with RNANS to consider the word, layperson, is that I think that comes closer to guaranteeing that the non-nursing members of the board would be, of necessity, men and women who are not in other health delivery disciplines.

They would not be doctors; a doctor is not a member. They might want a doctor, I don't know, but some of us might be of a view that it should be the majority percentage nurses, but the balance of the board not be doctors or other health providers, to bring that consumer element and mentality to the role and function and deliberations of the board. I may be askew, but that is really that thought that I had in mind when I got into a discussion about layperson, so that is really what I was hoping that the minister might react to.

MR. BOUDREAU: I understand the point that the honourable member is making and, in fact, I can have those discussions as the bill proceeds. It would, of course, require a definition of layperson because layperson can mean a wide variety of things. So, we will have those discussions, as long as it does not involve substantive change to the bill, which would, in fact, require further consultation. I think we will at least have those discussions; I will undertake that.

[Page 3916]

The other thing is, in Clause 40, the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party mentioned the awarding of costs. That is a fairly standard process in a disciplinary hearing. If someone is found guilty in a disciplinary hearing, the costs of that hearing are also added to whatever other measures are imposed, so that the person, presumably, who necessitated the hearing by reason of guilty conduct would also have the responsibility to meet the costs of that hearing and not have those costs passed on to the membership. It is fairly routine. At least in some experiences that I have had in other professions, that is a fairly routine item.

I would then, Mr. Speaker, just conclude this debate by, once again, thanking all members for their contributions. I thank the Registered Nurses Association of Nova Scotia for all their hard work to date. I am sure they and we will watch with interest as the bill works its way through our system and, hopefully, is given final approval prior to our ending the session. With that, I move second reading. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 50. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Law Amendments Committee.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. We come to this House as representatives of the people and it is expected that we perform our duties and our responsibilities under a certain ethical code. The standards of professional conduct have been discussed during the last few months and years in this House and it is important that each member use this House, because of the public attention that is brought to bear on the members, at a level that reaches, I personally believe, the highest standards of ethical behaviour.

My point of order refers to an introduction of a resolution this morning by the Leader of the Third Party and it refers directly to ethical conduct. This Party prides itself on moral codes, on its sense of justice. Yet this morning, Mr. Speaker, there was introduced into this House a resolution which doesn't allege but actually states that certain actions took place, certain statements were made by an individual in the public service of this province - not in the government public service but in the public service responsible for a school board and many thousands of children within that board. This resolution was introduced and indicates in a statement that a certain individual, Mr. Jack Sullivan, not is alleged to threaten but actually states has threatened students and demands that he apologize.

Further, in a letter sent to me, as minister, by the same Leader of the Third Party, at least in the letter it indicates, it is our understanding that Mr. Sullivan has done certain things and calls them an allegation. In response he was challenged by the former Minister of

[Page 3917]

Education to provide some proof. I am not sure if it was on the record of Hansard but his comments were that I spoke to students.

What I have here and am prepared to table is a response from Mr. Sullivan and I will read the final paragraph; "Please be advised that at no time were students in Margaree Forks or any other students under the jurisdiction of the Strait Regional School Board threatened by me that 'every university in Canada would be advised not to admit them'.". All I did to get this information, Mr. Speaker, was to place a call to the individual that the Leader of the Third Party alleges did something, a simple call asking whether or not those allegations were true, an action that the Leader of the Third Party did not take.

Instead, he chose to come to this Assembly, in full public view, and make a statement not alleging anything, a statement of fact. In it he indicates that certain things have happened and certain things were said.

Back to ethical standards and natural justice. It seems to me on this point of order that the member opposite has some lessons to learn about simply checking his facts, checking his sources before he alleges certain things, before he states certain things and before he casts doubt upon the character of another individual in this province, in particular when he has a seat in this Assembly representing the people of Nova Scotia.

The final paragraph of this resolution says, ". . . that the Minister of Education demand . . .", immediately that Mr. Sullivan, ". . . withdraw his threats . . . and apologize to them and their families.".

Mr. Speaker, my final point on this point of order is that the Leader of the Third Party should apologize to Jack Sullivan and the people of Nova Scotia for not doing his job as a member of this Assembly. (Applause)

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on that point of order introduced by the Minister of Education. I agree with him that what was said was very serious. I wish the minister, when he was making his phone calls, would have also spoken to some of the students who were threatened and who are still shaken by the authority and the threats that were imposed on them because they were simply exercising what they felt was their right, as citizens of their community and of this province and of this country, in response to what they believed were decisions that were wrong.

Let me say further, Mr. Speaker, that there will be additional information coming forth, as it has already, about concerns raised by those students and their parents and other members of the community, that there were other things done with respect to that particular dispute, wherein, in fact, the very safety of many of the people involved was in jeopardy.

[Page 3918]

I will take the opportunity in future days to try to bring some action on the part of the minister, in order to try to rectify what I believe is an absolutely irresponsible action on the part of staff acting within the Department of Education's purview.

MR. SPEAKER: The point of order raised by the honourable Minister of Education and Culture is not a point of order; it is, rather, a point of information for the House. The point is noted.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, that concludes government business for today. I wish to advise you that the House will sit next on Monday, December 16th, from the hour of 7:00 p.m. until 12:00 midnight. During the daily routine it is anticipated that the Committee on Law Amendments will report back its proceedings on Bill No. 48. We will ask for unanimous agreement to consider that bill in Committee of the Whole House on Bills. If that is agreed, then we will proceed to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills; if not, then we will adjourn and we will then reconvene on the next day, Tuesday, at 8:00 a.m. with Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Did the Deputy Government House Leader mention this, or I may have missed it; is the Law Amendments Committee meeting tomorrow or not?

[12:00 p.m.]

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I do not know the answer to that. I understand that it is scheduled for tomorrow. I would suggest to the honourable member that, perhaps, if he could check with the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, he should be able to get a definitive answer as to whether enough people have indicated an interest to have the Law Amendments Committee meet tomorrow, being Saturday.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The only difficulty is that I do not happen to live in Halifax and I have agreed, if it is sitting Saturday, to be here. If we are sitting Saturday, I would like to know as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The Deputy Government House Leader has indicated to the honourable member that he could certainly check with the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 3919]

MR. ALAN MITCHELL: I undertake to the honourable member that I will also speak to the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee and see whether I can ascertain whether we are meeting on Saturday. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would move that we adjourn until 7:00 p.m. on Monday, December 16th.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will rise to sit again on Monday, December 16th at 7:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 12:02 p.m.]