The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Dec. 18, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTSPAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Brookside Junior High School -
Oppose, Mr. T. Donahoe
3983
Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Oppose, Mr. R. Chisholm3984
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Highway No. 211 - Upgrade, Mr. R. White3984
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Agric. - Beef NISA Deposit Assistance Program, Hon. G. Brown3985
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1215, Cdn. Red Cross - Nancy Malloy (Vancouver), Death of:
Condolences - Extend, The Premier
3989
Vote - Affirmative3990
Res. 1216, Health - All Saints Springhill Hospital: Leadership -
Congrats., Hon. G. Brown
3990
Vote - Affirmative3991
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 51, Endangered Species Act, Hon. E. Norrie3991
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1217, Coast Guard (Can.) - Vessels (Small Non-Motorized):
Licensing - Plan Unacceptable, The Premier
3991
Vote - Affirmative3992
Res. 1218, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Job Creation Stats. -
Promotion Stop, Dr. J. Hamm
3992
Res. 1219, Fin. Comm. (HoC) - PST & GST Harmonization:
Hearings (N.S.) - Hold, Mr. R. Chisholm
3993
Res. 1220, Mahone Bay Founders Soc.: Tannenbaum Tradition -
Congrats., Mrs. L. O'Connor
3993
Vote - Affirmative3994
Res. 1221, Health - All Saints Springhill Hospital: Planning -
Commun. Involve, Dr. J. Hamm
3994
Res. 1222, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation - Time Extend,
Mr. T. Donahoe
3996
Res. 1223, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: CAC Views - Commend,
Mr. R. Hubbard
3997
Res. 1224, ERA - Seagull Pewter: Operations (N.S.) - Guarantee,
Mr. J. Holm
3997
Res. 1225, ERA - Tourism: Evangeline Trail Tourism Assoc. -
Quality Prog. Award Congrats., Mr. J. Casey
3998
Vote - Affirmative3999
Res. 1226, ERA - Job Creation: Evidence - Produce, Ms. E. O'Connell3999
Res. 1227, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Infrastructure Prog. (Gov't. [Can.]):
Requirement - Support, Mr. B. Taylor
4000
Res. 1228, Educ.: Brookside JHS (Anniv. 25th) - Congrats., Mr. B. Holland4000
Vote - Affirmative4001
Res. 1229, Health - Doctors: Over-Prescribing - Address, Mr. R. Chisholm4001
Res. 1230, Gaming Control Comm'n. - VLT Licences: Expansion -
Halt, Ms. E. O'Connell
4001
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 466, Environ.: Trunk Sewer (Col. Co.) - Approval, Mr. J. Leefe4002
No. 467, Health - Physicians: Billing Extra - Address, Mr. R. Chisholm4004
No. 468, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Revenue Loss -
Projection Change, Dr. J. Hamm
4006
No. 469, Agric. - Horses: Illness (Pictou Co.) - Action, Mr. D. McInnes4007
No. 470, Nat. Res. - Natural Gas Pipeline: Construction -
Employees (N.S.), Dr. J. Hamm
4008
No. 471, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Pub. Tenders Office: Lease Review -
Tender Status, Mr. J. Holm
4010
No. 472, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation - Claims Deadline,
Mr. T. Donahoe
4012
No. 473, Tech. & Sc. Sec't. - IWAN Proj.: Info. - Release, Mr. G. Moody4014
No. 474, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwys.: Infrastructure -
Funding (Gov't. [Can.]), Mr. B. Taylor
4016
No. 475, Nat. Res. - Primary Forest Prod. Marketing Bd.: Meetings -
Quorum, Ms. E. O'Connell
4018
No. 476, Nat. Res. - Offshore Oil: Royalty Agreement - Table,
Mr. G. Archibald
4020
No. 477, N.S. Liquor Comm'n.: Alcoholic Beverages - Smuggling,
Mr. R. Russell
4023
No. 478, Commun. Serv.: Adoption - Private, Mr. T. Donahoe4024
No. 479, Educ. - Margaree Forks School Student Action:
Superintendent (Jack Sullivan) - Situation Update, Mr. R. Chisholm
4027
No. 480, Sen. Citizens Sec't. - Fin. Aid: Act - Amend, Mr. B. Taylor4028
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 1165, Educ. - Strait Reg. School Bd.: Students First -
Commitment Fulfil, Mr. A. MacLeod
4030
Mr. A. MacLeod4030
Hon. R. Harrison4036
Ms. E. O'Connell4041
Mr. T. Donahoe4045
Res. 1145, Health - Children's Dental Prog.: Cuts Made -
Promise Ignored, Mr. G. Moody
4049
Dr. J. Hamm4050
The Premier4051
Mr. R. Chisholm4053
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. J. Abbass4056
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Dec. 19th at 8:00 a.m.4056
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1231, Rita Cummings (Lingan): Volunteer Work - Recognize,
Mr. R. MacNeil
4057
Res. 1232, New Waterford Vol. Fire Dept. (Anniv. 80th) - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacNeil
4057

[Page 3983]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to table a petition which contains 371 signatures. This petition was started as recently as Monday, December 16th and in a couple of days since, 371 signatures. The operative clause of the petition reads, "We, the undersigned students, teachers and staff of Brookside Junior High School and the surrounding community are adamantly opposed to the initiation of the BST, which will become effective April 1, 1997, if passed in the House.". I have signed the petition myself and endorsed it and would appreciate it being tabled.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

3983

[Page 3984]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition and as I do so, I just want to assure members of this House that contrary to the remarks attributed to the Leader of the Official Opposition, the New Democratic Party has not given up their battle against the blended sales tax nor have many hundreds and thousands of Nova Scotians.

I have another 571 names . . .

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. (Interruptions) The Leader of the New Democratic Party is mistaken. This caucus has not given up its opposition to the blended sales tax. What the Leader of the New Democratic Party seems to be misinterpreting is a statement I made that I was disappointed that we were not able to get more Nova Scotians out to the Law Amendments Committee and that I bore some responsibility in that I did not get the information out in time. This Opposition continues to be in opposition to the blended sales tax, make no mistake.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate that clarification from the Leader of the Official Opposition.

I have another 571 names, Mr. Speaker, on a petition which brings it well up over 8,000 in total. The operative clause, "We the undersigned oppose the unfair and regressive BST. It increases taxes on the necessities of life and gives another tax break to big business. We hereby call upon the Liberal government to scrap the BST and live up to their commitment to bring in fair tax reform.". I will affix my signature to the top copy and table therefore.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 897 residents of the District of St. Mary's. I have also signed this petition. I will read the operative clause, "We, the people who live in the communities and surrounding areas and/or travel along Highway #211, strongly request that the Province of Nova Scotia undertake the upgrading and repair of this highway for reasons of safety, commerce, and tourism development.".

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party on an introduction.

[Page 3985]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery is a woman known to all members of this House, and to all Nova Scotians, Alexa McDonough, the former member for Halifax Fairview who led the New Democratic Party in Nova Scotia for 15 years, and who is now the Leader of the federal New Democratic Party, and I understand is somewhat encouraged by the recent announcement by the member for Halifax Citadel about his intentions in the next federal campaign. She is here to keep an eye on him and to see what else is going on here in the Legislature in Nova Scotia. I would like to ask you and all members to accord her the usual warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honorable member for Sackville-Beaverbank on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, at this time, I would like to introduce to the House, in the Speaker's Gallery, Kevin McGrath, President of the Sackville-Cobequid Liberal Association. Please give a warm welcome. Thank you. (Applause)

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, through you to all my colleagues, the beef industry, in Nova Scotia and all of Canada, is experiencing some of the lowest prices in 20 years. In response to this situation, the Department of Agriculture and Marketing announced a program to assist the beef producers on April 19, 1996. The program is a NISA-based program and is a total of $400,000. With this provincial commitment to the Beef NISA Deposit Assistance Program another $600,000 is levered from the federal government for a commitment of $1 million from the provincial and federal governments. (Applause)

The participation of the Beef NISA Deposit Program has been low to date based on a number of factors; in particular, the industry is saying that they lack the funds to contribute the producer share to the program. In addition, there are marketing and production issues that need to be addressed for future development and stability in this important industry.

In response to both of the analyses of the industry situation and the industry concerns presented at annual commodity meetings and the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and follow-up meetings with industry, I am pleased to make this announcement today. The statement reflects the government's commitment to increasing the stability in the agri-food industry through the NISA-based program and encouraging increased participation by beef producers in NISA. As well, the announcement reflects a commitment to address production and marketing challenges. Addressing these challenges is necessary for the future of the beef

[Page 3986]

industry in Nova Scotia. As a result, I am announcing an eight-point strategy consisting of the following:

1. The province will fund the producers' contribution portion of NISA for the 1995 stabilization year. For these producers who have already paid, they will receive a rebate for their contributions.

2. A communication network will be immediately put in place to contact the beef producers about this strategy and, in particular, stressing the importance of having their NISA applications in before December 31, 1996. I will tell you January 2nd is no good; we must have them there by December 31st under the federal-provincial program.

[2:15 p.m.]

3. Financial counselling and other services of the Farm Loan Board to identify possible approaches and solutions will be readily available on a one-to-one basis, dealing directly with the beef producer.

4. With industry support, the Department of Agriculture and Marketing will appoint an industry and stakeholder's task force consisting of producers, processors, retailers, and above all consumers, to develop a coordinated program relating to the future of the beef industry for Nova Scotia.

5. Forming a tri-partnership with industry, the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and government to secure the appropriate resources and possible special pilot projects and necessary analysis as part of the task force initiative for sound decision making.

6. An enhanced partnership with agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, the department and industry at the Nappan Research Station will be developed, aimed at technology to develop and improve, through research, benefits to the industry.

7. Develop and deliver a province-wide extension program focusing on cattle nutrition and feeding management systems.

8. Maintain the Improved Sire Program for continued enhancement of the herds through performance tested stock.

This strategy, Mr. Speaker, through you to all members, is the result of dialogue - which has gone on for some time - and commitment and cooperation and partnership with the industry. At the same time, the strategy is consistent with the government's commitment to NISA-based programs and the need to partner with industry, and that is the key. We are

[Page 3987]

working together and we are partnering, so that together we can find the solutions for the long-term benefit of the beef industry of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Minister of Agriculture for very kindly putting a copy of the announcement on my desk prior to the opening of the House, so I had an opportunity to read it and look over it. I just want to say congratulations to the minister, if that is the right word, because I want to thank the minister, the officials within the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, the Federation of Agriculture and the Nova Scotia Cattlemen's Association.

The beef industry in Nova Scotia is very vital; it is worth approximately $32 million per year to the economy of Nova Scotia at the farmgate. Many people in rural Nova Scotia depend on a strong and vibrant beef industry; however, for the last 12 or 14 months beef prices have been lower than they were in 1970, and I don't know what else you could buy or sell and get less for it than you could in 1970, but beef is that way. That is basically because in western Canada and in the grain belt throughout the United States, the grain prices are higher this year than they have ever been in history and people have been sending cattle to the processing plants rather than feeding them this expensive grain. That has put a glut on the market of cattle; therefore, the price is very low.

In Nova Scotia it is great to see the minister is going to be investigating better methods of feeding our grain and our forage to cattle. In western Canada the beef industry is based on the grain industry; in Atlantic Canada we must base finishing cattle on forage, and that is alfalfa and haylage and grass hay. So the minister is going to be working with farmers to develop better feeding programs than are available now.

They are going to have an extension program, too, that is going to be better than anything that has been available perhaps up until now. They are going to have a new emphasis on beef and finishing cattle. I really think that is a very positive step because there are an awful lot of acres of potential forage production in Nova Scotia that are going unused at the present time and, indeed, it could be used for the production of beef cattle.

Mr. Speaker, it is a very good sign when the Minister of Agriculture can meet with the federation, with the Cattlemen's Association, the Department of Agriculture and Marketing, the federal Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural College in Truro, get all the concerned stakeholders involved and come up with a program. I do hope that this program works.

Before, Mr. Speaker, you, as the former Minister of Agriculture, had announced a program to help the beef industry. I announced a program years ago when I was Minister of Agriculture. I hope that the Minister of Agriculture with this announcement meets with great

[Page 3988]

and tremendous success and that all the beef producers in the province will be able to grow and prosper in years to come. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to thank the Minister of Agriculture for his statement and say that it has been clear over the past number of months the pressure that the beef industry has been under with the combination of feed prices being high and market prices for beef being low. The eight-point strategy the minister has released appears to be very comprehensive with some financial assistance upfront, an analysis and support by the department and by other agencies and, of course, the establishment of a task force to look at the way to maintain a viable future for the industry in Nova Scotia.

I look forward to hearing more on the development of this tripartite strategy that the minister indicates in terms of resources and special projects that may be necessary as that tripartite group works with the task force. As the previous speaker mentioned, this is an important industry for the economy of this province and I hope that we can determine how best to assist and provide support to that industry in order to have a sustainable future here in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. EDWARD LORRAINE: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say a few words in regard to this announcement made by the minister this afternoon because as one who has been involved in the beef industry, I guess, pretty well all my working life, I realize what this announcement will mean to the beef producers in the Province of Nova Scotia. Number one, a lot of people took part in the NISA Program. I think the minister has spelled it out here pretty clearly. The reason was because they couldn't afford to pay the portion that they would be required to pay to join the NISA Program. I think this is an excellent announcement. I think this is going to go a long ways towards supporting the beef industry in the Province of Nova Scotia.

There is another very important thing here. As a former beef producer, I guess, you would call me now (Interruption) George Archibald says that I am still in it. I am really not. I may have a personal bee that goes with beef production but not really.

Besides paying the portion of the NISA Program, there is another very important aspect and that is the herd sire bonus program is going to continue. Anybody who has ever been involved in the beef industry would realize that a proper sire is 75 per cent to 80 per cent of producing the right type of beef. You can't produce a good A-1 steer unless you have the confirmation, unless you have the quality and that can only come through a good herd sire.

[Page 3989]

So I wanted to just join with two members that formerly spoke in congratulating the Minister of Agriculture because I believe that on behalf of the beef producers, this is an awful good announcement today that is going to assist the beef industry in the province a great deal, including the forage production and the whole thing. So, again, on behalf of the beef producers, I want to thank the Minister of Agriculture for an excellent announcement. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to echo the comments made by the former speakers relative to this NISA Program. In my constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley we have a large number of beef producers. I know they welcome this announcement by the Minister of Agriculture. I certainly greet it with open arms.

The costs, as has been mentioned, Mr. Speaker, pertaining to fertilizer, limestone and feed grains have increased and the costs have certainly created a terrible strain on our beef producers in the province. I know that many of my constituents will be very pleased with this announcement. I just want to say that I support it on behalf of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. We thank the minister and this government for supporting this initiative. Thanks.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1215

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

Whereas Canadians awakened this morning to the tragic news that one of their own, Red Cross nurse Nancy Malloy of Vancouver, was murdered while she slept, along with five of her colleagues, in a hospital in Chechnya; and

Whereas Nancy Malloy, prior to her mission in Chechnya, had devoted her skills to helping the less fortunate of this world, in such places as Ethiopia, Kuwait, the former Yugoslavia and Zaire; and as we enter a season which for most of us is joyous and peaceful, men and women of the International Red Cross are spending their Christmases away from their loved ones, caring for the sick, the infirm and the destitute at great personal risk;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the selfless efforts of these brave men and women and extend to the mother of Nancy Malloy, Mrs. Margaret Malloy of Toronto, and to the members of the International Red Cross, our sincerest condolences for their tragic loss.

[Page 3990]

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice and, if that happens, with the permission of the House, I think it would be appropriate if we had a moment of silence in memory of Nancy Malloy.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The motion calls for one minute of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1216

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

Whereas the medical staff at All Saint's Hospital in Springhill will be reinstating their 24-hour emergency service program in mid-January 1997; and

Whereas the Northern Regional Health Board has agreed that funds will be in the budget for 1997-98, although a complete review of the emergency service and other programs will be carried out in the northern region; and

Whereas the management of All Saint's Hospital, the management of the regional board and a citizens' committee have worked hard with the Government of Nova Scotia to see the opening of the emergency services;

Therefore be it resolved that all Nova Scotians congratulate all parties involved for their excellent leadership at Springhill All Saint's Hospital.

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

[Page 3991]

[2:30 p.m.]

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 51 - Entitled an Act Respecting Endangered Species. (Hon. Eleanor Norrie)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: For the information of all members of the House, I am tabling this so it may be circulated province-wide for comment or discussion and be dealt with at a future session. (Applause)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 1217

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

Whereas recreational boating is an activity enjoyed by thousands of Nova Scotians and their families; and

Whereas small vessels such as kayaks, canoes and rowboats are not power-driven and are used mainly in inshore waters; and

Whereas consultations by the Canadian Coast Guard, through the Small Vessel Partnership Program Initiative, were limited to three public meetings in Nova Scotia and very few individuals or families attended or were ever asked their opinion of proposed licensing schemes;

[Page 3992]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly advise the federal minister responsible for this plan that proposals to license small non-motorized vessels are unacceptable and will not be supported by the Province of Nova Scotia until the Coast Guard finds a way to consult the majority of recreational boaters and determines that people truly want a licensing system and that it is also necessary, affordable and efficient.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1218

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

Whereas noted economist Ralph Winter offered a succinct analysis of the Liberal Government's blended sales tax job-creation claims, describing the Liberal estimate of 3,000 new jobs as nonsense; and

Whereas Winter's remarks confirmed the opinions of the many business people who told the Law Amendments Committee that they would not be creating jobs as a result of the blended sales tax; and

Whereas Winter also noted that the government's theory of an increase in Gross Domestic Product as a result of the blended sales tax does not take into account regional factors, such as low consumer confidence and exporters composing such a small portion of Atlantic Canada's economy;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Liberal Government stop promoting the blended sales tax through unsupportable job creation figures.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 3993]

RESOLUTION NO. 1219

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

Whereas the House of Commons Finance Committee will begin holding public consultations on the federal half of the blended sales tax on January 20, 1997; and

Whereas even though the deal affects directly the citizens of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland, the Finance Committee has not seen fit to schedule hearings outside Ottawa; and

Whereas the decision of the Commons Finance Committee to restrict its hearings to Ottawa is contemptuous of Nova Scotians and clearly unacceptable;

Therefore be it resolved that this House contact the chair of the Commons Finance Committee and impress upon him the necessity of holding hearings on the BST bill in Nova Scotia.

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.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that I didn't have the opportunity to introduce five people who were in the west gallery, but they left to go where my resolution will tell you they are going.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 1220

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

Whereas annually, for their 18th year, the Mahone Bay Founders Society carry on a Tannenbaum tradition, begun by the late Elizabeth MacDonald, to adorn the Christmas tree at Government House; and

[Page 3994]

Whereas much time and effort is put into the detail and care of each of these Christmas tree decorations by people of all ages; and

Whereas these beautiful ornaments will be presented to the Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John James Kinley, and Mrs. Kinley this afternoon at Government House;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to the members of the Mahone Bay Founders Society who support this fine Tannenbaum tradition, and thank all the many residents who volunteer to create these wonderful Christmas gifts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 1221

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

Whereas Springhill's All Saint's Hospital has had significant downsizing and loss of all active treatment beds; and

Whereas last night the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Regional Health Board, headquartered in Truro, told the people of Cumberland South that "we will develop a plan" and the "plan will be unfolded to you"; and

Whereas it is clear the top-down approach of the Savage Government infects the Northern Regional Health Board, both motivated by the philosophy, we know what is best for you and when we are ready we will tell you;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health realize that politically appointed regional health boards are precluding real community involvement in health care planning and that he immediately put health care planning back in the hands of the communities where the Liberal Government promised it would be in the first place.

[Page 3995]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Mr. Wayne Tucker was there last night, along with Department of Health staff, along with Fran McMullin, the manager of our local hospital. We have had people in that area working on a community health council and that honourable member was told that last night at that meeting. If he had spent less time running around and handing out brochures last night about the Tory campaign and the Tory health, he would have known what was going on there. I congratulate the people and I think what he did was improper and what he has said today against the health board, the health council that we have had people working in there with that community, it is not accurate and it is totally wrong. He should withdraw his resolution. (Applause)

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I rise on the point of order. Last night I attended a meeting in Springhill. (Interruptions) I took notes and I clearly made note when the Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Regional Health Board said, "we will develop a plan" and that "plan will be unfolded to you". He was speaking to the people of Cumberland South. That member was in that meeting and he heard the same words as I heard, and I ask the minister to withdraw his statement. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BROWN: Mr. Tucker was on the panel, along with the staff of All Saint's, along with the board, along with the medical staff who were there, and he was a member of that panel. When he talked about me, he was talking about the panel which included Guy Brown. We will work as a team and I suggest to the honourable Leader of the Opposition that the next time he goes to a community meeting, wherever it is in Nova Scotia, that he does not insult the people by handing out Tory propaganda. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

DR. HAMM: I would like to point out to the honourable Minister of Agriculture, the member for Cumberland South, that that was not a piece of propaganda. That was a health reform system that would work and would satisfy the demands of Nova Scotians. That is what that was. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: Resign. (Interruptions)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable member for Cumberland South and the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing is not intentionally trying to . . .

[Page 3996]

MR. SPEAKER: Is this a resolution?

MR. TAYLOR: . . . mislead the House. On a point of order, I just want to point out to confirm what the Leader of the Opposition has said. (Interruptions) The CEO, Mr. Tucker, very clearly said that we will develop a strategic plan and we will unfold it for the community. The people in Springhill said that our local hospital board was dissolved in October and we don't have any local communication vehicle. There is no room for local input. That is the concern that they expressed to us, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. TAYLOR: That is true.

AN HON. MEMBER: Throw him out. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 1222

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

Whereas the Justice Minister, at what for many seemed the eleventh hour, turned the tables on the victims of abuse at the province's reform schools by changing the rules for government restitution; and

Whereas so many are left today, the last day the government has given to file for compensation, struggling with the decision as to whether or not it is worth facing the possibility of having to testify in open court as to the details of their childhood ordeals; and

Whereas while the turnaround by the Justice Minister, which was a slap in the face to those who must live with the long-term effects of the abuse every day, allowed him to delay the proceedings, he has refused to offer that same courtesy to the victims;

Therefore be it resolved that the Justice Minister offer today an extension, at minimum 60 days, to the victims of abuse so that those individuals who are agonizing over the decision can, at the very least, enjoy the holiday season before worrying about what it may mean personally to file for compensation.

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

[Page 3997]

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 1223

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

Whereas the Consumer Association of Canada on April 23, 1996 said, "Today's announcement of the harmonization of the Provincial Sales Taxes in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick with the Federal GST is a first step toward the simple, single and unified sales tax the Consumer Association of Canada has been requesting for years"; and

Whereas in its news release the CAC said, "The Consumer Association of Canada applauds the decision to continue to list the tax on receipts and invoices while including the HST in the sticker price of goods and services"; and

Whereas Rosalie Daly Todd, Executive Director of the Consumer Association of Canada, said, "Consumers will no longer have to guess at the total cost of their purchase, a situation which has been a source of frustration for many people";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Consumer Association of Canada and its executive director for the responsible stand they have taken in support of the HST and the consumers of Atlantic Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1224

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

[Page 3998]

Whereas the Economic Renewal Agency and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency have each provided millions of dollars in grants and/or loan guarantees to Seagull Pewter to create jobs in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas despite the fact that approximately 70 workers are currently on lay-off at the Pugwash facility, Seagull has established a manufacturing facility at St. Lucia in the West Indies; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas yesterday, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency would not commit to tabling in this House any assurance that taxpayers' money is not being used to assist Seagull to set up offshore;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls upon the minister to furnish evidence that public money and guarantees are not being used to assist in the transfer of jobs from Nova Scotia to St. Lucia.

Mr. Speaker, along with the resolution, I would like to table a copy of an invoice from Seagull Pewter, St. Lucia, to Seagull Pewter and Silversmiths of Nova Scotia, for the delivery to the Nova Scotia operation of $306,000 worth of produce that has been manufactured in St. Lucia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 1225

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

Whereas the Evangeline Trail Tourism Association has received funding in the amount of $5,500 through Tourism Nova Scotia's Visitor Information Centre Award of Quality Program; and

Whereas the Evangeline Trail Tourism Association is made up of tourist bureaus and associations along the Evangeline Trail; and

Whereas this year's Award of Quality Program has continued to ensure that visitor information centres throughout the province meet and exceed a minimum standard and thereby consistently provide quality service to our visitors;

[Page 3999]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the member tourism centres of the Evangeline Trail Tourism Association on the achievement of this outstanding quality award and wish them continued success in the upcoming 1997 tourist season.

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.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1226

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

Whereas the Premier has called upon all members of this House to seize the day and support the blended sales tax because it will create thousands of jobs; and (Interruptions)

Whereas the Premier has justified breaking his commitment to Nova Scotians to appoint a fair tax commission before entering a deal like the BST because of all the jobs he says the new tax will create; and

Whereas distinguished economist Professor Ralph Winter said yesterday that Santa Claus is more believable than the job creation forecasts of the Premier and his Party;

Therefore be it resolved that although this House believes in Santa Claus, it will suspend judgment on the Premier's job creation fantasies until a shred of credible evidence can be produced.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 4000]

RESOLUTION NO. 1227

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works has suggested Ottawa might funnel back more of the money it takes out of the province from fuel taxes; and

Whereas in 1995-96 the federal government collected $125 million in gas and diesel taxes but only returned $25 million to Nova Scotia's highway program; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation has said, "This is not acceptable.";

Therefore be it resolved that this House support the Minister of Transportation and Public Works' efforts to convince his federal Liberal counterparts that they have short-changed Nova Scotia and further that this House tell the federal Minister of Transport that we fully support a transportation focused infrastructure program.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 1228

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

Whereas 1997 marks the 25th Anniversary of the opening of Brookside Junior High School; and

Whereas the official celebration of this event will take place on Thursday, January 23, 1997, in the school commencing at 6:30 p.m.; and

Whereas it was an honour and a pleasure to have attended and graduated from Brookside Junior High School;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations and best wishes to the principal, staff, students, former staff and former students of Brookside Junior High on the occasion of the school's 25th Anniversary.

[Page 4001]

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 1229

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

Whereas the first annual report of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program was released on December 11, 1996; and

Whereas the annual report provides further evidence that the average number of prescriptions prescribed to seniors in Nova Scotia greatly exceeds the national average and has increased by 7.6 per cent in the last year; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has failed to acknowledge that research has consistently shown that drug costs will only be controlled by improving the appropriateness of physicians' prescribing;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call on the Minister of Health to address the issue of over-prescribing by doctors and to stop penalizing the seniors of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 1230

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 a comprehensive report released this week by the National Council on Welfare says that more than one million Canadians are problem gamblers; and

[Page 4002]

Whereas the report is especially critical of the effects of video lottery terminals, which it describes as the "crack cocaine of gambling"; and

Whereas under this revenue-hungry Liberal Government, the scourge of video lottery gambling has increased with licenses more than doubling and net sales increasing from $65 million in 1993 to $100 million in 1996;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to put a halt to the expansion of video lottery terminal licenses in Nova Scotia and begin immediately a process to phase out VLTs and replace their revenues with other sources.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Before we move to the Orders of the Day, I would like to make an introduction to the House. Seated in the Speaker's Gallery, I would like to introduce to all members my next door neighbour and good friend, Hector Doucet. I would ask the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now being 2:52 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run for one and one-half hours, until 4:22 p.m.

The honourable member for Queens.

ENVIRON.: TRUNK SEWER (COL. CO.) - APPROVAL

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. I have a document here that I will send over to him for his perusal. On April 29th, a meeting was held with respect to the Central Colchester trunk sewer. It included a number of officials from the Department of the Environment and from the Municipality of Colchester. There were a number of concerns raised at that meeting. One concern raised by Mr. Bruce Pettipas, who was then with the department, was that the NSDOE had reviewed the consultant's study and had recommended a design which would carry 5.4 million gallons per day. The second was - this again by Mr. Pettipas - he stated that, "At the moment we . . .", that is the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment, ". . . could not recommend to the Minister of the Environment that a 4 million gallon plant per day would fully treat the effluent and meet the guidelines of the Department of the Environment.".

Further in that same meeting, Mr. Derrill Hynick, also with the Department of the Environment, stated, "I would like to say that in my initial review of the proposal and

[Page 4003]

recommendation that the facility be designed for 6 million gallons per day, as opposed to 15 million gallons per day. I think the larger facility will, in fact, save money. The smaller facility will require expansion almost as soon as it is built. If you get to a point where the plant is overloaded, the Department of the Environment may be required to impose a halt in the expansion of the community . . .", et cetera.

Finally, from Mr. David Darrow, then of the Department of Municipal Affairs, "It would probably be better to mothball the existing plant so they could be brought back on line if required.".

Yet, in spite of those warnings, Mr. Speaker, two ministers, the former minister and the present minister, signed approvals for that plant to be built: the former minister in July, 1993, and again June 24, 1994, and the present minister on June 20, 1995. My question to the minister is, in the face of the whistle blowing that was done by staff, why would the minister and predecessor issue three approvals when clearly they were advised not to?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will endeavour to find the answer to the question put by the honourable member. He asks why we would approve, contrary to recommendations, and I think is almost the normal practice, quite often, throughout government, past, present and I am sure, the future, that we weigh evidence of information that we have received and we act accordingly. But I will research the issue and get back to the member.

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, in yesterday's Chronicle-Herald there was a supplement respecting this project which interestingly is built on Savage Island. It says, "The challenge, discharging of raw waste water in the central Colchester area was a serious environmental problem.". The sentence does not go on to say that apparently it continues to be a serious environmental problem. I bring to the attention of the House, the Truro Weekly Record, which has a well researched story which states that there was $27 million spent on our sewage plant and it doesn't work.

Would the minister confirm that, in fact, there is a problem with the Savage Island plant in Colchester County and that the problem is evidenced by the fact that the guidelines for the release of solids, that is his department's guidelines, have been exceeded by 50 times and that the total suspended solids, typically in the range of 150 to 200 parts per million, are, at this plant, running in the range of as high as 990 parts per million and that there is a heavy discharge of sludge and that, indeed, there is a serious problem with respect to hydraulic overload, particularly with this wet weather? Will the minister confirm that that, in fact, is correct?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will, indeed, review and research the question put forward and I will accordingly inform the House of my findings.

[Page 4004]

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, this minister continues to be poorly briefed. This situation has been ongoing for some time, pretty near a year, as I am informed. It strikes me that that should be sufficient time for the minister to be able to be brought up to speed on this or, indeed, any other issue. This minister must come to be brought to understand that he cannot be both the regulator and a consultant. I think the Minister of Community Services must have eaten something that disagreed with him at noon. He is usually more affable than he appears to be this afternoon in Question Period.

In any event, the Minister of the Environment cannot be both the regulator and a consultant to Colchester. I ask the minister this. Will the minister sign a ministerial order, which has the full force of law and require in that ministerial order that compliance levels set down by him and his department be met, that time lines for compliance be laid down and that they be met and that, also, the ministerial order set out a precise monitoring and inspection schedule so that this unacceptable situation in Colchester County at Savage Island is brought under control as quickly as possibly can be done? Will he agree to do that?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I will take the member's questions under advisement and I can assure this House, himself and everybody else that I will act appropriately and accordingly with the issue brought forward and respond appropriately.

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

HEALTH - PHYSICIANS: BILLING EXTRA - ADDRESS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to direct my question, through you, to the Minister of Health. I have raised with the minister, on several occasions, my concern and the concern of many Nova Scotians over the increasing evidence of extra billing for medical services in the Province of Nova Scotia, as exampled by pap smears and prostate exams, but certainly other services as well. The minister reported, in response to questions back on the November 27th, that he agreed the matter was a concern.

I would like to ask him, in the intervening three weeks, what this minister has done to address the problem of extra billing?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that is a matter of concern to all of us. The question of maintenance, indeed, of a single-tiered health care system in this province is a matter of great concern to all Nova Scotians and, across the country, to all Canadians. I indicated to the honourable member that I would be discussing this very important issue with the federal minister. I have been a little tied up in the House but I can assure the honourable member that I have spoken to the federal minister and I will be meeting with him very shortly on this topic.

[Page 4005]

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table in the House and give a copy to the Minister of Health a letter that was sent out by the Valley Health Management 2000 Inc., dated November 1, 1996, which outlines basically their intent to bill for services not insured, as they say, and to expand that practice in 1997. What they have offered to patients is a service, basically an insurance service, $100 per year per family. That, of course, includes a number of things, a mileage fee for house calls, medical supplies, suture removal, prescription renewal by telephone and the minister is familiar with those services.

I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, in light of the fact that the evidence continues to grow of the increasing use and the institutionalization of extra billing in the Province of Nova Scotia, will he give us some indication today with a timetable of what he is planning to do in terms of concrete measures to end the practice of extra billing in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, without being too critical of the honourable member, this issue, as with many other issues he brings to the House, is not as simple as he might have us believe. There are a number of real issues involved in preserving a single-tiered system. There is a quite serious responsibility to monitor developments as they occur across the province but the primary means of sustaining a single-tiered system is to make it sustainable. If a health care system in this province is not sustainable, then we won't have the single-tiered system. Another element, a fundamental element to it, is defining what is covered under a single-tiered system. You know, it is fine to get up and beat your chest and say, well, we must have a single-tiered system but, for example, such things as Pharmacare, home care, none of these things are covered under the Canada Health Act. So there are some real, substantial, important issues involved in this and I appreciate the honourable member bringing them forward. (Interruption)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, as the member to my right suggested, what kind of an answer was that. The whole question of extra billing and user fees is a serious threat to universal Medicare, to the single-tiered health care system in the Province of Nova Scotia and across the country. I brought the two examples of pap smears and prostate examinations to the attention of the federal minister in the summer, he agreed with me that this was a matter of some concern that he would be preparing to address with the Minister of Health here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Given the fact that the evidence, again, is mounting, that in terms of the Valley medical institute - whatever their name was, I forgot it exactly at this point - have institutionalized basically a strategy for providing for extra billing with their operation, Mr. Speaker, I want to know when this minister is going to do something in concrete terms, when is he going to do something such as bringing legislation into this House which bans extra billing once and for all in the Province of Nova Scotia?

[Page 4006]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I would be glad to receive from the honourable member any specific suggestions he has as to solutions. His definitions of the problem are always very simple. He is a little short when it comes to making suggestions as to the solution. We don't have a major incursion on what is a single-tiered system in this province. We do not. Any attempt to create that impression for whatever purpose is not accurate. It is not accurate any more than is the impression that the health care system is falling apart in Nova Scotia. That is not accurate either.

For whatever reason, some political Parties have chosen to try to create that impression for their own purposes. (Interruptions) Some might say fear mongering, but for whatever reason, Mr. Speaker, we will continue to monitor that. As I have indicated to the member, I am meeting with the federal minister in person very shortly, within days, and this will be one of the items on the agenda.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

REVENUE LOSS - PROJECTION CHANGE

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Finance. I refer back to the document, Nova Scotia Tax Reform Economic and Fiscal Analysis, May 1996. Since the tabling of that document there has been considerable examination of certain numbers that were put forward in that document. One of the numbers that was put forward in that document was an estimated revenue loss, by way of the blended sales tax to the province, of $120 million. Since that time, the minister is now quoting that that number has changed and that the government is now saying, and the minister is now saying, that revenue losses will be $100 million. My question to the minister is simply, would he explain why the revenue loss projections have been reduced from May to October by $20 million? What specifically has changed to result in the change in the estimate of revenue loss?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to undertake with my officials the change in the use of numbers. I know that earlier a number was used and now we are using the figure - or have used recently - $100 million. I would be glad to check on it.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I might suggest to the minister that might be a fruitless effort because our office called an official in the minister's office and that official said that despite his best efforts, he could not offer an explanation as to why the number changed.

To continue with the minister, would the minister confirm that since that initial estimate of $120 million of revenue loss, for example, that the government has engaged in offsets - one on books, one to the Homebuilders Association - which would in fact have an effect of increasing rather than decreasing that number, would the minister be prepared to tell the

[Page 4007]

House, or to table in the House, the total value of rebates that the province has offered since the May document to cushion the blow of the blended sales tax?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, these rebates that have been referred to, I think if the honourable Leader of the Opposition would check various documents, they have been referred to in Question Period and remarked on in second reading. I know the honourable Leader would agree with rebates in the housing sector because he and some of his members have talked about them. Tourism, that is another rebate. With regard to books, it is forgoing revenue rather than a rebate as such. Those are three that come to my mind. There is also the $0.5 million rebate relating to fire departments which is really important, especially in rural Nova Scotia. These are the principal ones and I would be happy to outline them and provide them to the Leader of the Opposition.

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for that. He has agreed to table here in this place, and I would hope by perhaps the start of Question Period tomorrow, the total of the rebates in tourism, fire departments, books and the offset for the cost of constructing a new home.

Would the minister, when he is tabling that information, as well, commit to table the most accurate estimate that he has at this time, including those offsets, the best estimate that he has of the total revenue loss of the province in engaging in the blended sales tax with Ottawa?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in reply to the first question, I undertook to raise with my officials the most accurate figures we can get with regard to revenue loss. Now whether I can give it to you by 8:00 a.m., I am not sure, but I think on the rebates that are announced, that is not a problem and I might, in fact, have them for you before the Question Period is over. I will do my best.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

AGRIC. - HORSES: ILLNESS (PICTOU CO.) - ACTION

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. My question to the minister is, what action has been taken regarding the reported problems of illness in horses in the Pictou County area? Recent media reports regarding the health of these horses are a major concern.

HON. GUY BROWN: I thank the honourable member for Pictou West for the question, because his question is important. We have an important issue. I want to say this and I would wish that when people want to make statements on this issue because it affects a lot of people. It affects people in other types of industries. I will not name them because that will end up as a story.

[Page 4008]

The federal government, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and researchers from the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. have taken feed samples that were supposed to be in issue and have examined the horses in question. As recently as yesterday, in conversation with Dr. Tim Ogilvie by my officials in the department - he is Chair of the Department of Health Management of the Atlantic Veterinary College in P.E.I. - an analysis research and study of one of the young animals in question has been inconclusive. Nobody so far has found any of those statements we hear about or read about regarding these animals. I really appreciate the member's question because we, the department, are very interested and have been following it on an hourly and daily basis. The second tests which were also done by the Atlantic Veterinary College, the results ended up the same. As well, in the Department of Health, Dr. Galvon and Dr. Scott and my officials have been in contact with them. The QE II Health Sciences Centre have been investigating the potential for human health problems as well because some people are saying that.

As a result, today we have no conclusive evidence of that point or to any of those questions. We have the best people in Atlantic Canada working on this. I feel very comfortable with regard to the Atlantic Veterinary College's reports, Agri-Food Canada's report, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and their report. We will continue to monitor it, but I really thank the honourable member for Pictou West for raising this issue in the House.

MR. MCINNES: I thank the minister for that information. I trust the minister will see to it that the people of Pictou County and those who are concerned, the horse people that are concerned will be informed that this is factual and this matter is being investigated and will be looked into and is being treated very fairly?

MR. BROWN: The honourable member for Pictou West, I appreciate it. We are trying to do everything and make people aware, but if the honourable member for Pictou West would like to make up a list of names he thinks we should communicate to, be it 4-H Clubs or whatever with the information we have, or if he wants the information, we will give it to the honourable member and he can send that out to people he thinks we are missing at this time with regard to the communications. I really want to work with the honourable member and all the people of Pictou with regard to this whole issue. Believe me, Mr. Speaker, we are doing everything and we are involved with the experts, the best there are. We cannot come up with any of these analyses that I often hear about from time to time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES. - NATURAL GAS PIPELINE:

CONSTRUCTION - EMPLOYEES (N.S.)

DR. JOHN HAMM: My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister is very aware that the construction of the Nova Scotia portion of the pipeline will provide a

[Page 4009]

great deal of work for tradespeople. My understanding is that the construction of the pipeline from Country Harbour to the New Brunswick-Nova Scotia border will involve welders, fitters and heavy equipment operators among others. My question is, and this is a result of a meeting I had with a number of welders on the weekend who are looking forward to this project as to being a real source of employment for them as Nova Scotians. Will the minister indicate if in the contract that has been signed to construct a pipeline across Nova Scotia, are there assurances that Nova Scotia tradespeople will, in fact, have first dibs on the job of building that pipeline across Nova Scotia?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite speaks of a contract. I am not aware of any contract that has been signed. There is a development plan that was filed in October by the proponents who planned to build the pipeline across Nova Scotia, and in their development plan they have listed all the benefits that will come to the province. That is full public knowledge and, if the member opposite would like to have it, I can make sure that he gets a copy of it.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question was really to ask the minister if there were assurances in the plan that Nova Scotia labourers and tradespeople will, in fact, get the jobs.

I would like to go to the Minister of Labour. In discussing the welding trade with those who were present at the meeting on the weekend, they discussed with me a technique called down-hand welding, which is the kind of technique used in creating the pipeline. Many of them who were present have knowledge of other projects similar to this but in other jurisdictions, whereby the company that was building the pipeline, because they insisted on a separate accreditation by way of company accreditation, they were able then to determine who, in fact, would be working on the pipeline.

My question to the minister is simply, does he have a plan whereby Nova Scotia welders can be trained and receive their ticket in down-hand welding, which would allow them to do the kind of welding required to construct the pipeline? Is he prepared to do this in conjunction with whoever it is who gets the contract to build the pipeline, eliminating the possibility of the company being able to exclude welders who have received a ticket from the Department of Health and being legitimately qualified to work on that program?

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member opposite for his question. In regard to the whole question of the offshore and what is going to happen in the province, it is something new to my department and something that is new to the province. We are going to be looking at many aspects of that particular project over the next few months and into the next year or two. I can assure you that the concerns of tradesmen in Nova Scotia will be uppermost in our minds, as will safety be a key factor for

[Page 4010]

our department. We will be working strenuously on that to make sure that Nova Scotia welders have every opportunity they can have in this particular project.

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for his answer. I merely wanted to bring the matter to his attention.

I go back to the Minister of Natural Resources. Would the minister, having heard the discussion, be prepared to commit, when contracts are signed and the development plan to construct the pipeline across Nova Scotia becomes a reality, that there will be assurances in there that it will be a requirement of the company to hire properly trained tradespeople from Nova Scotia, properly qualified to work on that project, to make sure that the benefits of the construction process of our Sable Offshore Energy Program, the benefits of the construction part of the project are, in fact, here in Nova Scotia?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has to remember and realize - and if he had been paying attention over these past few months - the Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with all departments of this government, has created an Offshore Energy Office strictly and utterly to promote the opportunities for Nova Scotians to take part in this project, the biggest project ever developed here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

There are no provincial funds in this project. That is one thing Nova Scotians should always remember, and also that this government, under legislation, under the Accord Act, there is legislation in place that commits that anybody doing any work on the offshore is committed to giving Nova Scotians full and fair opportunity.

I can assure the member opposite that it is this government's goal that this valuable, non-renewable resource that we have in this province will be developed so that Nova Scotians will have a full and proper opportunity to learn and to train and to be here as good human resources for the province in this very viable, important industry for the Province of Nova Scotia. It will be developed for the best benefits, for not only this generation, but future generations of Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians will come first. We will deal with them first. (Applause)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - PUB. TENDERS OFFICE:

LEASE REVIEW - TENDER STATUS

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question, through you, sir, to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in his capacity or responsibility for the Public Tenders Office. Over the years, there has been a lot of concern raised by Auditors General, by our caucus and, in fact, by the Liberal caucus when they were in Opposition, about the amount of taxpayers' money that was being spent on leases. In December 1995, the

[Page 4011]

government issued a request for proposals for a lease operating cost review. The review was to ensure that the leasing costs are kept to the bare minimum, while complying with all lease contract obligations. We have seen, certainly, the government having to cut a lot of funding for a whole bunch of other groups and organizations because of a lack of money, yet the government has not yet given out or awarded that tender that was supposed to review the leasing and operating cost arrangements in over a year. My question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, is, why not, if the government is truly interested in saving money?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I would be prepared to find that out. In fact, I would by happy to report back to the member today on the specifics of that particular lease option.

MR. HOLM: I can assure the minister that it has not yet been awarded, Mr. Speaker, but that the tender call went out on December 6th and was to close on December 19, 1995, so that is over one year ago. My second question, and this tender was to close on November 13th, I believe it was, the government put up for sale two properties approximately one minute walk away from here in the prime downtown business-commercial area of this city, two properties where they had been collecting rent at the rate of $3.50 and $3.60 per square foot, respectively, in those two buildings, yet, at the same time, we are paying in the range of $25 or $27 across the other side of us over in Founders Square.

My question to the minister is quite simply this, why did the government decide to put up those two properties for sale, these prime properties down in this area, instead of converting those for government use so that they would be able to eliminate the amount of very high-priced rent that we are having to pay to the private sector, like Founders Square or over in One Government Place and so on?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite picks some numbers out of a hat and says, why don't we just compare $3.60 versus $25 or $27? Obviously, a number of issues have to go into account here, the relative space that is required by an individual department, the leasehold improvements that are required, the additional costs associated with that, whether or not those facilities that he is referring to are adequate to meet our requirements. We have an overall management team that is reviewing all those applications. We are looking at space allocations per person. We are looking a renegotiating a number of agreements so that we get the best possible deal for the taxpayers of this province and we will continue to do that. We are running this in a proper, managed approach and will continue to do so for the taxpayers and for the departments associated.

MR. HOLM: I just want to assure the minister that I did not pull the figures out of a hat. The $3.50 and $3.60 figures came directly out of the tender call that the government issued for the sale of those buildings, Mr. Speaker, and the $25 and $27 figures came out of a government report studying the amounts of rent that are being paid over at Founders Square.

[Page 4012]

My final question, Mr. Speaker, through you, to the minister, is quite simply this, what cost-benefit analysis was done by this department, and will you table one, that shows that selling those particular buildings was more economically beneficial to this province rather than doing the renovations, conversions, et cetera, necessary so that government offices, et cetera, could move in and use those buildings instead of paying the exorbitant rents that have made some downtown Halifax landlords very happy indeed but instead of paying those exorbitant rents moving and relocating offices into buildings that we currently own?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I find the question interesting. I don't know why questions like that were not posed to the previous government that are sitting in the Opposition benches today. If you want to talk about contracts and royal deals and silver packages for individuals on long-term basis that is the group to talk to. What we have done since we have taken over under our administration is to review all the contracts that have been established in Nova Scotia. We are out to get the best deal for Nova Scotians and that is exactly what we are going to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE COMPENSATION - CLAIMS DEADLINE

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General. I wonder if the Minister of Justice would be prepared to explain why it is that when he discovered what he described as new information and became aware of what he has described as an overwhelming volume of claims made by victims of institutional abuse that he concluded that that justified him taking what he has described as a time out. He delayed the process and following the time out changed the rules dramatically. If it was fair and appropriate for him to stand back from it, take the time out, change the rules, why does he say it is not fair for him to recognize that those circumstances, if he is going to be fair to the victims, equally justify a time out for them, namely an extension of the date upon which they are required to file their claims?

Today is the date upon which they are required to file their claims. It has been the date all the way through. I ask the minister, if it was fair to him to have a time out, make changes, why is he not prepared to extend that same courtesy to people who are very, very troubled, very emotionally fragile and very uncertain as to what to do in light of the new change of rules? Could he explain that to the House, please?

HON. JAY ABBASS: The member opposite is incorrect in saying that today is the deadline for filing claims. Today is the deadline for filing notice of claim, which would preserve any right to file a claim that a victim of abuse might wish to eventually lodge. Today is not the last day by which a claim can be filed; in fact, six months from today would actually be the latest day by which a full blown claim could be filed, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 4013]

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I apologize to the House and to the minister for my inadvertent failure to use the word notice - notice of claim. The bottom line is the same. The net effect on the victims is the same, that they have to, before the day is out today, file - and the minister is right - a notice of claim. I can tell him from discussions with those who are alleged victims, that the delay, the time out as the minister has called it, has taken a tremendous toll on a considerable number of people who are allegedly victims of institutional crime.

I want to ask him again, why then is it - so that I get the language right - appropriate, fair, reasonable and equitable for him to take this time out, change the ground rules, change the proceeding, change the process through which all of those alleged victims are required to go, the people with whom they must consult, the fact that they must now be interviewed by police authorities and so on and it is not, in his opinion, appropriate that they be given even a reasonable, modest 60 days extension for them to be able to file their notice of claim? Why is it fairer for him to have the time out, the rules changed and not fair for them to have some modest amount of additional time to take advice and to make a determination on the filing of a notice of claim?

MR. ABBASS: Again, today is not the make or break day by which a possible claimant need make up his or her mind. Today is merely the day upon which notice of claim must be given which would certainly preserve and reserve unto a potential claimant all legal recourses including simply not proceeding. So if a possible claimant is having difficulty making that decision, he or she has fully six months from today in which to decide.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, well, the responses from the minister are disappointing in the extreme, to say the least. They are evidence again - the Premier can shake his head if he likes, but they are disappointing in the extreme. The minister had no qualms at all putting these people's very shattered lives on hold for some number of months and dramatically changing the ground rules, as earlier announced by his predecessor, the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General. (Interruption) Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . for years.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, the Premier wants to talk about what went on years ago. It is this government that held out the hope for a fair and equitable resolution and I applauded the process announced by this minister's predecessor, by Minister Gillis, when he announced it. This minister, and supported presumably by this Premier, has changed the ground rules dramatically. All I can conclude is that this government has decided that it is, for some reason or another, in its interest to make the changes they have made and have made those changes, having no regard whatsoever for the adverse impact upon the victims of alleged abuse in the institutions.

[Page 4014]

I simply do not know that I really do have a third supplementary because it is clear that this minister just simply has no regard whatsoever for the interests or concerns of the victims or the families of those victims and I will conclude the matter on that basis. Thank you.

MR. ABBASS: Again today is merely the last day by which a possible claimant need give notice of claim and again it is six months from today by which he or she must actually perfect the claim, if you will, and lodge a formal claim. It is interesting to know that claims have continued to come in since the day that this so-called taking stock period was announced. Nothing changed about that. Every consideration, in fact, was given to extending the deadline for receipt of notification of claim but again it is simply because this is not the last day by which claims need be lodged that we left the December 18th date intact. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

TECH. & SC. SEC'T. - IWAN PROJ.: INFO. - RELEASE

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, through you I would like to ask my question to the Minister responsible for the Technology and Science Secretariat. On October 25th, I put in a freedom of information request for any contracts, memoranda of understanding or agreements between the government and MT&T or MT&T and affiliate related to project initiation phase of the IWAN project. Your office, Mr. Minister, requested a 30 day extension. On the day the extension is up, I get a notice from your office that I must pay $122.40 for the benefit of seeing the information. I was told, and I understand, it took your office eight hours - is what I am charged for - to review a document that is 12 pages long. I would ask the minister if he would agree to release a copy to the House or is he going to enforce the requirement fee for eight hours for a document that is 12 pages long?

HON. GERALD O'MALLEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for giving me the opportunity to stand and answer a question in this House. It is a pleasure indeed. We did receive your request for information. The request for information was considered in great detail with the consortium working on the IWAN project and as the honourable member will know, there are four companies along with the government working on that project. With regard to the fee, and I did see the fee only yesterday when I received a copy of the document as well, I signed that but on the basis of the fact that it is, to my knowledge, taken much more than eight hours - more like a number of days - to complete that document. I will have it reviewed for the member. If it did only take eight hours to prepare that document, I will have it reconsidered. To the best of my knowledge at this point in time, it took much more than eight hours to complete that document.

MR. MOODY: A document that contains 12 pages - and maybe the minister can confirm that document does contain 12 pages - that it would take actually eight hours to review that document which was already in place, by the way - it did not have to be

[Page 4015]

reproduced; it was already there - that it would take eight hours to copy that document so that I could get a copy. I wonder if the minister would confirm that the agreement that we are talking about, MT&T and a consortium of MT&T and the government, as he talked about the other companies - along with government money, by the way - I wonder if he would let me know respecting the ownership of intellectual property which is contained, as I understand, in that agreement, and if he is prepared to give me some of the details respecting the ownership rights to the intellectual properties relative to the IWAN project, only to the IWAN project? I am sure he knows what I am talking about when I am talking about intellectual properties.

MR. O'MALLEY: One of the reasons I suggested that it may have taken a lot longer than that the eight hour period suggested by the honourable member is that the intellectual property rights to which he refers are shared equally by the two partners in the consortium, i.e., the partnership of Maritime Tel & Tel and its subcontractors and the government. There is a component of the intellectual property rights which belong to one sector of the consortium, i.e., the Maritime Tel & Tel sector, and there is another sector of the property rights that would belong to the government.

In order to have clearance on the property rights, the component of the property rights which belong to Maritime Tel & Tel, it had to be undertaken as a study by their lawyers, i.e., all of the work that had been done up to date had to be undertaken as a study to ensure that we were not infringing upon their proprietary rights of intellectual property. They in turn had to do the same with us, so eight hours was, I would say at this moment, far less than the time required to undergo the legal study necessary to investigate the proprietary rights of that intellectual property.

The amount of intellectual property that could be released to the honourable member, after study by legal representatives of both parts to the consortium, was released to the member in the document. That which could be released was released. I have read the document. I signed the document and I forwarded it to the member. It was studied and released on that basis. What could be released, what we were permitted to release, we did release. (Applause)

MR. MOODY: I am not sure why the Premier is clapping, whether he is clapping because . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He is slap happy.

MR. MOODY: Because I have a little bit of information. I think the minister knows that I will pursue, obviously, if I have to pay the fee, I will pay the fee. I think it is important and I will not be able to judge whether or not, until I actually see the information, the total document. We know there is government money involved and when there is government money involved the taxpayers have a right to know. Will the minister advise if the agreement,

[Page 4016]

or Memorandum of Understanding with MT&T and the consortium of MT&T, includes any opt-out clauses because the government has money in? If some party opts out, whether it be one of the other parties, government, are there any penalties that might be attached to such clauses if there was any opting out by anyone in this agreement?

MR. O'MALLEY: For the information of the honourable member, as he is well aware from the information he received under the freedom of information request (Interruption) But as soon as you get it you will see that, in point of fact, this is the initiation phase, Phase I of the project. Yes, there are opting-out clauses, with penalties, depending on the amount of proprietary right information that would have been undertaken and not used if the opting-out clause were implemented.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWYS.:

INFRASTRUCTURE - FUNDING (GOV'T. [CAN.])

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. This may sound strange coming from me but I believe that the minister recognizes that our public highway infrastructure is in dire need of repair across this province. A little earlier today, during notices of motion, I presented and introduced a resolution pointing out that the minister's suggestion that Ottawa might funnel back more money to the province by way of some of the fuel tax dollars that it takes out - in fact last year the federal government extracted, so to speak, $125 million in gasoline and diesel taxes from the province but put only $25 million back into our highway program.

The minister is quoted by Brian Underhill in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, from the Ottawa Bureau, as saying that that is totally unacceptable. I agree with the minister that it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, members on the government front benches apparently don't recognize how important that concern is because when I asked for waiver of notice, some members, and I believe even including the Premier, said no when I asked for support in sending support to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works in his efforts to alleviate this concern.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. That is incorrect.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not allowed a point of order in Question Period.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am informed that the Premier is not supposed to rise on a point of order during a question.

[Page 4017]

My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is simply this, what steps is the minister taking to try and alleviate the serious concern that he recognizes?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the member's concerns with regard to rural roads in Nova Scotia and the importance of maintaining a good infrastructure system. He quoted the numbers accurately that I used in Ottawa in regard to the taxation allocations. In fact, there was some $5 billion that the federal government derived in diesel and gas tax nationally.

What I can say is that in talking to the minister himself, Mr. David Anderson, who appears to be very supportive of some mechanism, whether it is through an infrastructure program or a long-term highway structure program, he is very keen in support of not only this province but all provinces in working toward coming up with a policy or a program where we would work together, so that money would become available for infrastructure activities such as highway work. We will continue to drive that agenda as hard as we can, from a provincial point of view, at the national level and obviously at the national level the minister indicated very strong support.

I might say other ministers that I have talked to across the Atlantic Region, as well, are very supportive of trying to derive and leverage every dollar we can nationally and provincially to put a program in place so that we can have a highway system that can meet the requirements of the 21st Century.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I do apologize to the Premier if he didn't say no to the resolution. Perhaps it was some other members on the front benches. I certainly would not want to charge the Premier with saying something that he did not. I would never do that.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is quoted in this story as saying that, "If we do not have this infrastructure . . . then clearly we're going to be . . . strangling the opportunity for economic survival.". I am sure the minister conveyed those sentiments to the federal Transportation Minister David Anderson, but, unfortunately, the federal Minister of Transport lobbed the ball right back into the province's court by saying that Premier John Savage should champion an infrastructure program for transportation and the federal Minister of Transport said, "If Mr. Downe's premier will work with the other premiers who want a transportation-focused infrastructure program, it may be possible, . . .".

[3:45 p.m.]

I ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works if he has communicated the concern to the Premier and what steps is the Premier taking to alleviate the concern?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, there is no point in me putting words out of what the Premier has been saying. I would like to refer this question to the Premier who supports, very

[Page 4018]

clearly, highway systems, not only in urban, but in rural Nova Scotia that needs it. I will ask the Premier to say a few words.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I was indicating in my misplaced point was that at no time did I speak or indicate on that previous motion what the unfortunate member opposite thought I said. I just want to say that when the second infrastructure program came up, and I would remind the House that on the first infrastructure program that this province was the first province to come on board before, in fact, the Liberal Government was even formed, I met with Lloyd Axworthy, as he was then, and indicated that this province would support an infrastructure program. My basis for doing that is that I was involved with the very first infrastructure program, along with Art Eggleton and Mike Harcourt when I was in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Subcommittee that met with Wilson. So I have got a long history in infrastructure, some of which is valid, even by their standards.

On the second program, as soon as the second program came up, I contacted the Prime Minister's Office. At the June meeting in 1996 in Ottawa, when the First Ministers met, I was the person who specifically recommended that another program be started, that this be much more specifically geared to infrastructure that is related, in particular, to export, but, also, that it should extend to all parts of infrastructure because of the need right throughout the country of infrastructure financing.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that response by the Premier. I wonder if the Premier could tell me, by way of final supplementary, if he has communicated with his Atlantic counterparts, relative to establishing a transportation focused infrastructure program whereby all the roads, not just as the Minister of Transportation mentioned, not just the main throughfares and our 100-Series Highways, where all roads will receive some much needed attention?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that was quite extensively discussed at the last meeting we had of the Premiers, which, if I recollect rightly, was in Prince Edward Island. It has been passed through the bureaucracy to ministers to get together. There has not been a great deal of activity on the inter-provincial scene because of the election in Prince Edward Island and the assumption by Mr. Binns of the Premiership. It has not much been followed up at this point.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

NAT. RES. - PRIMARY FOREST PROD. MARKETING BD.:

MEETINGS - QUORUM

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Natural Resources. We all know that the forest industry is in critical condition in this province and yet the Primary Forest Products Marketing Board could not even hold its mandatory

[Page 4019]

monthly meetings from February to October, 1995. The reason for this was because although a quorum is five members, there were only four members on the board during that time.

My question is a very simple one. I would like to ask the minister, Mr. Speaker, why she allowed this situation to go on?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I should inform the member opposite that the board, in fact, did meet. Some decisions could not be reached because of the lack of a quorum. There were two members at large and we spent a great deal of time searching out people who were not involved in any way within the industry, who were not woodlot owners. It was very difficult to find those people who were willing to sit on that board. In fact, this week, the Human Resources Committee has approved two members to sit on that board and we now have a full complement sitting on that board.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I assume that if there is no quorum in a group that mandates five members and you don't have five members, I don't see how you can make any decisions whatsoever.

I want to go from there to the Voluntary Planning report. I raised in this House several weeks ago, but that report makes it clear that the new forest strategy document is a complete failure. One of the reasons for it being a failure is that the process ignored previous work done on previous legislation. I want to ask the minister why did this government allow the coalition of forest interests to ignore the 1984 Royal Commission, the 1994 Nova Scotia Forest Accord and the Forest Products Marketing Act in this costly and failed exercise?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is confusing two different organizations - I do not know if she realizes that, but the Primary Forest Products Marketing Board is a completely different board. The coalition was a coalition of forest interests that came together in 1994 to address the problem of: number one, to supply wood for the Province of Nova Scotia for the sawmills; and number two, for the withdrawal of the funding from the federal government. It is a very complex, very difficult, very divisive issues that the coalition had to deal with. They met monthly and there was a minister at every meeting that was held with the coalition. They were an entity that came together to address all the issues that face the forestry industry in Nova Scotia.

They are to be commended for the hard work and the diligence they put into coming together because they had very difficult decisions to come up with. They have come up with a discussion paper and went public with that. It is unfortunate that in the public consultation process that the issues that came forward were fought with the process of the coalition rather than the discussion paper itself because it certainly was not helpful. That discussion paper is only one step of the process and I want to publicly thank the coalition for the work they did to bring that forward. Yes, there are some of those people involved with that who were not comfortable with some of the decisions that were raised. It is not a final document, there is

[Page 4020]

still opportunity for public consultation and we are working very diligently to come up with a strategy for wood supply in Nova Scotia and I want to ensure the member opposite that that will come about and it will come about with cooperation and with a lot of hard work by a lot of hard-working people across the province.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows perfectly well and I do, too, that this coalition of forest interests was set up by her predecessor Minister of Natural Resources and this coalition of forest interests was very much a creature of this government. Further, we all know that the process was a miserable failure and that basically the report on it was that it should get out of Dodge.

I want to know now that the minister has said that she knows the situation, she has admitted that she knows that there are enormous problems with it and that something has to be done and so now I want to know when she is going to get on with it?

MRS. NORRIE: I already said that there is action. Maybe the member opposite would like me to act unilaterally without any consultation, without any work with the consultation process, with no stakeholders involved with it. Either they want us to consult and work with the stakeholders and industries or they want us to act unilaterally. I have not quite decided yet, we cannot figure out exactly what they want, but that coalition really came together at the behest of the government because there were issues that had to be resolved and we worked with the industry to resolve them. I will assure the member opposite that we will resolve them and that we will come together with industry and work with them diligently rather than work unilaterally, as she seems to be suggesting. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: I just want to make an introduction, Mr. Speaker. There are a group of people who are connected with people in this House, who are supportive, hard-working and get very little thanks and no recognition. It would be appropriate, I think, if we were to welcome Mrs. Judy White, Mrs. Barbara Hubbard and Mrs. Jill Surette. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

NAT. RES. - OFFSHORE OIL: ROYALTY AGREEMENT - TABLE

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Now, a few weeks ago the minister was asked to share the royalty agreement that she wrote about in the newspaper, that she negotiated long and hard and all that sort of thing for days and weeks to get it going. Then, when we asked her, there wasn't a royalty agreement, it was just kind of a framework. So, we asked Mobil and, of course, there was a royalty agreement and they were not doing anything. Then the other day we read in the paper

[Page 4021]

- I guess it was yesterday - that there will be an unveiling of a royalty agreement at the end of January.

Could the minister indicate, please, if she would indeed table that royalty agreement, if one exists, today in the Legislature so that the members of the Legislature could have a look and ask some questions perhaps, because we are the representatives of the people, and if we are not given the opportunity to look at it, I would like to know how the government feels that we can do our jobs properly, as MLAs, when the government is not giving us the agreement?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is drawing some conclusion by what he reads in the paper. I think the caucus office of the member opposite should do a little more research, rather than read what is in the paper because quite often what we read in the paper is not always necessarily what was said.

What we have, indeed, really is agreement on the framework and principles. On the strength of that, the Sable offshore energy proponents filed a development plan. It is very important that that be filed because the royalties are not the only benefits that will flow from the gas offshore of Nova Scotia.

I agree that the people of Nova Scotia should know what the benefits are that will flow from this very important offshore development happening here, and it was never my intention not to release the royalty agreement. It will be released in January, as has been stated in the paper.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I am sorry, I don't know what I read in the paper that was not right because I think the honourable minister just reiterated what was in the paper. In any case, the Premier the day before yesterday said that at the end of January he would produce a royalty agreement.

Now look, we have been having a little battle of words for a long time now. The minister will, on one occasion, say there is an agreement and the next time she says it is not an agreement, it is more like a framework and it will outline other benefits. Nova Scotians want to know, is there a royalty agreement on royalties or are you going to give the gas to Mobil without any royalties and then try to depend on the fact that there are spin-off benefits? Could the minister indicate whether yes, there is a royalty agreement, it is a framework agreement and, if there is some kind of agreement, would you give one good reason why you will not table that in the House?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I have a document here that, when I am finished speaking from it, I will table it in the House. It is a press release called the Offshore Royalty Agreement Signed. "Two agreements on royalties to be paid to the Province of Nova Scotia

[Page 4022]

for petroleum produced from the Cohasset offshore project near Sable Island were signed today in Halifax.".

Later on it says, "The agreements contained the basic principles agreed to in September of 1990, prior to LASMO and the Nova Scotia Resources Limited deciding to proceed with the Cohasset project. These basic principles were agreed to in September of 1990.". This press release is now, when they are releasing the royalties, and the agreement was a full two years later, March 25, 1992.

Now the previous administration - and these are the words of the then minister at the time, the Honourable John Leefe - two years after they had signed, in principle, they released the agreement. They are asking me to do this now from principles that were signed in May. We are going to do it now very quickly in January when we make sure that we get the full benefit from the royalties of this project. They will be released at that time and if you care to, I will table this document in the House.

[4:00 p.m.]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I want to thank the Minister of Natural Resources for, I do not know if it is games she prefers to play - one-upmanship - or wasting the time of the Legislature, doing a great disservice to herself and her ministry because - well, the example you have to follow ain't great, I know that. Would the minister please stop living in the past and look to the future. (Interruptions)

We all know that up in the gallery there are usually two or three holdovers from Gerald Regan's government advisory committee. Over in the Premier's office is Premier Regan's chief advisor on oil matters. I know that the Savage Government looks for advice from the years of Gerald Regan, but please, would the Minister of Natural Resources, rather than try to play games and one-upmanship, (Interruptions) would the Minister of Natural Resources simply do what her job requires at the request of a member? I am not trying to make mischief but we have been told that royalties are anywhere from $2 million to $2 billion, and I think it would be fair game for this minister to release the royalty agreement so we can understand what kind of a payout we are going to get from Mobil Oil. So will the minister please undertake to do that today while the House is in session?

MRS. NORRIE: The member opposite is asking me to do something today that I have already stated. It has been stated that it will be released in January. I want to make sure that the member opposite realizes that we intend to make sure that this province gets the best possible benefit to maximize all the benefits that will come to this province from this large project offshore, whether it be royalties, whether it be employment for Nova Scotians, whether it be business activities or tax revenues. Nova Scotians will get the best possible deal

[Page 4023]

and we will make sure that Nova Scotia will come first in any agreement, any framework or any decision that we make with regard to the offshore of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

N.S. LIQUOR COMM'N.: ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES - SMUGGLING

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: My question is for the Minister of Business and Consumer Services in her capacity as the Minister in charge of the Liquor Commission. (Interruptions) Last week the RCMP seized 300 bottles of American booze up in Truro. My question to the minister is, is she aware of how much traffic there is in smuggled alcoholic beverages into the Province of Nova Scotia at the present time?

HON. SANDRA JOLLY: I am pleased to respond to the question. I have had some discussion with the Commission in the four months I have been minister on this particular issue so I know there is some difficulty with smuggling of booze. As to the actual amount, I could not give him that number right here today.

MR. RUSSELL: Reports that I have received indicate that something like 25 per cent of the liquor that is available in the Province of Nova Scotia and about 23 per cent of the liquor that is being sold in the Province of Nova Scotia is smuggled booze. The Province of New Brunswick has recognized this problem and to combat that has reduced their prices on alcohol by $5.00, I understand, on a bottle of spirits. I am also aware that the federal government is taking a look at the federal excise tax on spirits.

Is there something that the Nova Scotia Government is looking at that will make smuggling alcoholic beverages less attractive to those who engage in that activity?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, one of my colleagues says incarceration. He said there is $5.00 less per bottle in New Brunswick? Is the reduction $5.00 per bottle? Certainly, I was not aware of that. Five dollars per bottle is a considerable reduction. We are always reviewing any way that we can deal with the smuggling in the Province of Nova Scotia, because it is a very serious issue, as the member has said. I don't believe it is up to 23 per cent, but as I said earlier, I will certainly check it out.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister says she doesn't know if she can afford to do that. I don't know if she has ever looked at the price of alcohol in this province, but about 83 per cent of what you pay for a bottle of spirits goes either to the federal Treasury or to the Province of Nova Scotia. Surely to goodness, if indeed the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is going to remain in business, it is up to this minister to make sure that we are not getting all this booze flooding into the province.

[Page 4024]

My question to the minister is, is she going to do something, is she going to do anything that is going to make it less attractive for those who smuggle alcohol into Nova Scotia to operate?

MS. JOLLY: Mr. Speaker, I would say the honourable member is suggesting that the RCMP and individuals, the police authorities, are not doing anything to deal with smuggling, that the border crossings are not doing anything to deal with smuggling. (Interruption) I would suggest he is slurring those individuals by suggesting they are not doing their job and they are not dealing with border crossing and they are not dealing with alcohol that is illegally brought into not only Nova Scotia but the country. I would suggest those people are working at it very hard. As he has just reported, there was a capture of individuals who were illegally smuggling booze into the Province of Nova Scotia and I would suggest, therefore, they are doing a very good job. I did not say anything about not affording to offer $5.00 down on a bottle. He has put comments on the record. If we look at Hansard, I did not say anything of that kind in the answer to his first supplementary.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

COMMUN. SERV.: ADOPTION - PRIVATE

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The Minister of Community Services will be aware that this House passed Bill No. 11, An Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1990, the Children and Family Services Act and that that bill was given Royal Assent on May 17, 1996. It is my understanding from an analysis of this bill, which, quite candidly, I think I missed as the bill was before us on an earlier day, that there are provisions in Bill No. 11, in particular the enactment of Clause 68A, which bear on the question of private adoptions in the Province of Nova Scotia.

It is my further understanding, though he has not said so specifically to me, that your predecessor in office, the previous Minister of Community Services, has indicated to some that had he been aware of the implications of the relevant sections, he likely would not have supported them because of the impact they have. Essentially, Mr. Speaker, the impact of the clauses are that they virtually make private adoption impossible. They certainly inject the involvement of child care organizations into private adoptions. The minister has met recently with a group which has made representations asking him to give an undertaking that he would - they are subject to proclamation - ensure that Clause 68A of the bill in question would not be proclaimed. Would the minister be prepared to give such an undertaking?

HON. JOHN MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I thank the honourable member for the question. Clause 68 that he refers to in this bill was brought to my attention. I have talked to staff and I have reviewed the honourable member's comments during the

[Page 4025]

debate, as I did to all members while the debate took place. I was not the minister of the day, the Honourable Jim Smith was.

I would be hesitant, if I were the honourable member, to report second-hand something that somebody told him that the previous minister might have said because I have no information that the previous minister would have said such a thing. As a matter of record, I have no record, as Minister of Community Services, that the previous minister has ever made the comments that the honourable member says that someone told him he said. I would ask the honourable member to reflect on that.

We are doing some consideration of the implications of that section of the Act. It, in fact, does and the honourable member for Halifax west stated during the debate that it does do away with private adoptions. He makes a comment during his debate (Interruption) it was the member for Halifax Atlantic that made the comment that it does do away with private adoptions. During the Law Amendments Committee meeting, Rollie Thompson from Dal made the comment that, in fact, it does do away with private adoptions. So I think it was known at the time that that was the case.

If there is an unintended consequence that, in fact, may cause some difficulties, we are exploring that as a possibility. But I don't think I, as minister, could give any assurances to the honourable member in response to his actual question. I will discuss with legal counsel; I will discuss with Cabinet the particular concern and take direction from Cabinet. It would be a bit presumptuous on my part to take the direction of this House. The direction the House has given me in terms of this bill is that it was approved unanimously. Nobody expressed any reservations on the bill and it was passed unanimously. I have to take that into consideration in my deliberations on this bill.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I don't take any issue with the minister suggesting that he has to take advice from counsel and, in fact, that is what I am asking him to do. I will ask him specifically if, as he engages in that review of the impact of Section 68, (Interruption) I was wanting to ask by way of supplementary of the Minister of Community Services if he would give an undertaking that in the course of the review upon which he has said he will embark, will the minister give an undertaking that he will meet with the group with whom he met recently to pursue, along with his departmental officials, what they believe to be the adverse and unintended consequences of this section?

They are most anxious to have an opportunity to continue the dialogue with the Minister of Community Services and I ask on their behalf if he would give a commitment today that he would be prepared to meet, to undertake a meeting or series of meetings with them, as necessary, to ensure that they can share their view as to what they believe the unintended consequences of the legislation which we all passed here actually would be.

[Page 4026]

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, when I met with the group that he has asked me to meet with, I did say to them that I would get back to them and I will. It was a commitment that I gave.

The unintended consequences, it is very important to note, was not that there would not be private adoptions. It was understood by the House and stated both here and in the Law Amendments Committee that private adoptions were being abolished. That was not unintended. It was intended and it was stated here.

In terms of how it might negatively impact on a particular applicant to Family and Children's Services or for a birth mother who wants to put her child up for adoption and wants to designate a particular person, we have to explore that. What we are exploring is, is there any unintended consequences there. When we determine that, we will start exploring what the remedies would be and then we will be talking to many people, Mr. Speaker.

I can also tell you that we have had some other interventions on this issue coming from many areas. Some people are suggesting that private adoptions should continue without the intervention of the agencies. I believe it was the intention of this House that the agency be involved, that there be a check, that there be a balance. I don't think - and I would not want to mislead the honourable member or the House - it is my understanding from what went on in this House, that private adoptions be done away with that do not involve agencies. As a result, we are exploring it in that vein.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I will simply ask, by way of final supplementary one more time, if the minister is prepared to give an undertaking today, that as he pursues this issue and undertakes the review which he has described, whether or not he is prepared to commit today that he would continue the dialogue by way of face-to-face meeting with the group which met with him recently to talk about the impact of Section 68(a)(1)(b) of the Children and Family Services Act. That is simply all I do; I was asked by them to ask if, because they are, all of them, adoptive parents, they are vitally interested in the issue of private adoptions. They are families in our community who have taken the very important and dramatic and, in virtually every case, successful step of engaging in an adoptive situation.

[4:15 p.m.]

I simply ask on their behalf, is the minister willing to meet with them again to continue that dialogue, so that their views and their experience can be shared with him, as he makes whatever decisions he will ultimately come to in connection with this matter?

MR. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I may not have made myself clear. I assured the four people who came to visit me that after we explored this, we would get back to them. I gave that commitment, I repeated it in the House and I will do that.

[Page 4027]

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

EDUC. - MARGAREE FORKS SCHOOL STUDENT ACTION:

SUPERINTENDENT (JACK SULLIVAN) - SITUATION UPDATE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question, through you, to the Minister of Education. Last week I brought to the attention of that minister concerns that I and others had with the behaviour of a superintendent of schools in the Strait-Richmond School Board. The question at hand was information I had about the accounts of that behaviour from some students. Clearly it seemed that the minister was dismissing out of hand almost as lies or hearsay, the accounts of those students. I took some offence to that.

I would like to ask the minister if, in the intervening days and time, he has had the opportunity to speak to those students at Margaree Forks?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I didn't dismiss out of hand anyone's comments, only the comments of the member opposite. The issue had to do with the ethics of making a phone call when an allegation is made, to substantiate the allegation. The issue on the point of order was that in a public place like this, with all the attention that is brought to bear on MLAs, that one could at least have made a phone call to determine whether or not the facts with which he was presented were accurate.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I guess, then, the answer is, no, he hasn't spoken to the students. I wonder, if, in the explanation provided to the minister from Mr. Sullivan, whether he explained to him that, as a result of his decision to have the phone lines disconnected at both the schools in Judique and at Margaree Forks, that after the decision to do that, what happened was that for the school at Margaree Forks it disabled the fire alarm system. In fact, after the students had returned to school the following day, it was not until 11:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. before the fire alarm was re-established.

Is the minister aware that that, in fact, was one of the consequences of the actions of that superintendent?

MR. HARRISON: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister again, as I did in my letter to him last week, two things: would he investigate the circumstances surrounding the occupation, the activities of these students to exercise their democratic rights to express their opinions about a decision that they were opposed to; and if, in the meantime, he would reassure those students, many of whom are still extremely troubled by the way they were handled and the threats made to them, that they still don't know whether, in fact, they are going to be carried out or not. Will the minister, in fact, carry out the investigation and reassure those students that no action will be taken against them?

[Page 4028]

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, well, at least the member opposite has learned one lesson from last Friday's discussion and that is that before you state things as facts, you do a little bit of investigation and clearly he is responsibly asking whether I would take under advisement certain information presented here today.

I would hope that that member opposite would serve as an example to those students, that in future when information is presented to him, either directly or second-hand, that he would undertaken his own personal investigation to ensure that they are accurate so that he does not once again characterize or create injury, in fact, to the character of an individual in this province, any individual in this province, by making statements in this House that are irresponsible.

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

SEN. CITIZENS SEC'T. - FIN. AID: ACT - AMEND

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: A short snapper, Mr. Speaker. I would like to direct my question to the minister responsible for the Senior Citizens Financial Aid Act. I am not certain who the member is, but the Savage Government in the 1995-96 budget took away the property tax rebate from certain seniors. The Senior Citizens Financial Aid Act was amended and Section 18(b) said that on and after April 1, 1996, only those persons who received a property tax rebate pursuant to this Act in 1995 are eligible to receive a property tax rebate in 1996 and subsequent years.

My question is merely this. Can the minister tell me when he is going to amend this legislation and replace this dreadful inequity that has been created and when will he make it fair for seniors who are receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement or the spouses' allowance?

HON. JOHN. MACEACHERN: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable member should know that I do not amend legislation, this House does. In fact, I state that (Interruption) but that is what you asked me to do, the honourable member asked me to amend the legislation. It is not my place to do, but I can tell him that the particular action that was taken was in terms of dealing, before I arrived at the Department of Community Services, with needs within the department and choices had to be made.

For example, we needed more money for child protection and that money was put in and this was one of the decisions that was made. While the decision was being made, it was decided that if people are receiving a benefit at the particular time, removing it might cause undue difficulties, but those who have not yet received it, then it was not provided. That was the decision that was made and it is a decision that I inherited when I became the minister.

[Page 4029]

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

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege. Indeed, it does precede a point of order.

During Question Period, the Minister of Natural Resources rose and made a response to my colleague, the member for Kings North. In so doing, she tabled a press release which is dated Wednesday, March 25, 1992. This press release lays out the offshore oil agreement which was signed on that day, March 25, 1992.

I am sure that that minister did not intend to mislead the House. However, if Hansard's record is checked, it will demonstrate (Interruption) - and you be quiet too, Mr. House Leader - you may be able to intimidate a lot of people, buster, but I will tell you, you do not intimidate me. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. LEEFE: I do not need any tag team to look after you, buster. Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister certainly stated during the course of her response to the question that the royalty agreement had been signed in 1990, and it was only now, two years later, that I, as Minister of Natural Resources, was making the agreement public. The fact is, that on March 25, 1992, I had been Minister of Natural Resources for only a little more than one month. The fact is, that there was no royalty agreement before March 25, 1992 and even if I had chosen to, which I would not have done, I would not have kept that agreement secret.

I seek an apology from that minister.

MR. SPEAKER: It is a disagreement between two honourable members. The point is noted.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In Question Period, I was asked some questions about loss of tax revenue relating to harmonization and I promised to get back in writing, which I will, explaining the different numbers on approximately $120 million versus $100 million and I will get that to the Leader of the Opposition as soon as possible.

I also indicated that I would try by the end of Question Period to give information on rebates. I have that information and I want to table it. I have a copy to table and I also have a copy for Dr. Hamm, Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Third Party. That is it.

MR. SPEAKER: The information is tabled.

[Page 4030]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, since we have used up a little time and we have little time, I would ask that Resolution No. 1165 be now called and that each speaker be given 15 minutes because I have allowed some time at the end of the day.

Res. No. 1165, re Educ. - Strait Reg. School Bd.: Students First - Commitment Fulfil- notice given Dec. 13/96 - (Mr. A. MacLeod)

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege today to rise to speak on Resolution No. 1165. "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, education is an issue that is near and dear to my heart and I am sure that it is easy to say that it is the case for all the honourable members of this House. (Interruption)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. No, I am sorry, honourable member. I didn't see what was done, but I would expect, in my capacity as Speaker, to try to maintain order and decorum in this Chamber. If I have missed something, I am sorry. I would be ruling on it if I had seen it, but I do expect good behaviour on the part of our members at all times.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. If there is an opportunity for redress here or if there is an opportunity for some better activities and, perhaps, an apology, I would welcome members to resolve their differences, but I did not observe what happened out of my peripheral vision. Was there a point of order or was there not?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is unfortunate you did not witness what just happened at my desk. I would ask the member opposite that perhaps an apology would be in order. If he wishes to speak to me, I would be more than happy to step outside the Chamber and speak to him.

MADAM SPEAKER: I would invite the members to resolve this in as gentle and polite a way as they can in this circumstance.

[Page 4031]

MR. JOHN LEEFE: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I rose on a point of privilege a few moments ago. I am deeply offended by a statement that the minister made. I did say when I rose on that point of privilege that I believed she may have made that statement inadvertently. It was very clear that she was telling the House, through the Chair, that, in fact, by implication, I had signed a Royalty Agreement in 1990 and that it was only March 25, 1992 that I had made that agreement public. In fact, on March 25, 1992, I had only been Minister of Natural Resources for something like a month and it was on that day, March 25, 1992, that, in fact, the agreement was signed. I am deeply disturbed by the suggestion by this minister that I withheld that information from this House and from the people of Nova Scotia for two years. The information is absolutely incorrect and I asked at that time for an apology from her.

[4:30 p.m.]

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members, I am not prepared to rule on the previous Speaker's ruling. Clearly the previous Speaker, when this point was raised, ruled it as a dispute between two members. I am not prepared to overrule the previous Speaker's ruling. I would ask that if there is a dispute going on that has escalated to some degree that is perhaps not proper behaviour in this Chamber under the heat of the moment, that the members resolve it in as gentle a fashion as they find fit. I would urge them to do that.

Now I would recognize the speaker who took the floor - I am sorry, the honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

MRS. NORRIE: I think that just for the record, Madam Speaker, I am just a little bit rattled because the member opposite came to my desk and threw the paper on my desk and pointed his finger at me and pounded on my desk and said that I had lied. I did not lie and I take exception to being accosted that way in the House of Assembly.

Now, Madam Speaker, I have said that I would be more than happy to discuss this with the member opposite, outside the Chamber, and I would be willing to do so.

MADAM SPEAKER: I thank you, honourable minister.

MR. LEEFE: Following up on that offer (Interruptions) Madam Speaker, do I have the floor?

MADAM SPEAKER: Yes, honourable member. (Interruptions)

Order, please. The honourable member for Queens has the floor.

[Page 4032]

MR. LEEFE: Madam Speaker, I do, indeed, appreciate the offer the minister has made and I do intend to follow this up with her. I am sure that the minister did find my approach to her to be aggressive. I was deeply upset and I do (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable members, please, the member has the floor.

MR. LEEFE: I do believe I offended her. I have a liking for that member and for that minister and if, indeed, I have offended her I do apologize to her and seek her forgiveness for that. (Applause)

MRS. NORRIE: Madam Speaker, I do accept that apology.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you very much. Now I appreciate very much the balance that is occurring here on behalf of the members.

MR. MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, we will try this again. It is, indeed, my privilege today to rise to speak on Resolution No. 1165. Education is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I would hope that this is a case for all the honourable members because public education is the very best way to ensure that all children, regardless of where they live or what their parents make or don't make in the line of a salary, it gives them an opportunity to learn.

Education, as I am sure all members recognize, is the best possible investment we, as a society, can make in our children. Madam Speaker, if one believes what Statistics Canada has to say, it says that the higher the level of education that a person receives, the better chance for that person to get a job. According to a recent study of university graduates by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, it says that the higher the level of education, the higher the salary an individual is able to obtain. It is in everyone's best interests, government, business, labour, individuals, to support public education because we all benefit.

In 1993 the current members for Inverness, for Richmond, for Antigonish and for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury were education's biggest boosters. They ran as a part of the Liberal team. They ran on a platform which stated, "Education is the means by which Nova Scotia will keep pace in a competitive world." Or how about this little piece of Liberal literary prose? It is another quote, Madam Speaker. "Child-centred education, defined as an education system which puts students first and treats them as individuals, is the focal point of the Liberal vision of education for Nova Scotia.".

Somewhere along the way the Liberal vision for education has become very blurry. Nova Scotians, whether they are students in Margaree or parents in Chester, are sick and tired of broken promise after broken promise from this current government. In 1993 these Liberals, the very ones who sit so smugly across the way, said school boards across this province were

[Page 4033]

underfunded by the big, bad Tory Government. The Liberals said that they would address the problem. They addressed it all right; they addressed it by slashing $79 million from our school boards. That was a flip-flop, a number one flip-flop on education.

Here is another gem, Madam Speaker, from the 1993 Liberal election platform. In 1993, the previous Conservative Government provided approximately 85 per cent of the funding for school boards, the elected bodies which we trust to manage our schools. The municipal governments picked up the other 15 per cent and the Liberals of the day accused the Conservatives and again I quote from their own election platform - what I like to call the red book for amateurs - they ". . . 'downloaded' this responsibility onto municipal ratepayers.". The Liberals promised, Madam Speaker, to solve the so-called funding crunch by adopting the recommendation of the 1981 Walker Commission on Public Education Finance and increasing the provincial share of education funding to 90 per cent. They also went further and they said the municipalities would pick up the remaining 10 per cent.

The Liberals even gave themselves some transition time to achieve the 90 per cent, stating in their amateur red book, "Until that balance is reached, we will increase the province's share of secondary education funding.". Does any member care to guess at what level the provincial government's share of education funding is today? Perhaps the current Minister of Education would like to tell us or his predecessor, the Minister of Community Services. Today the provincial share of funding, thanks to the $79 million that has been cut stands at approximately 82 per cent of the costs, and that, Madam Speaker, is the Liberal flip-flop number two; the flip-flop on classroom education.

You know, Madam Speaker, I believe flip-flop is too soft a word because the facts speak for themselves. When I went to school, one plus one was two, and there is no way 82 per cent equals 90 per cent. On one of the most fundamental elements of their 1993 election platform, the Liberals lied and it is hurting our most critical tool for economic development in this province and that is our education system. I fully expect the Liberal members of this House to huff and to puff and say we did not know the finances were so bad. We did not know the deficit was so big. The Tories drove us into debt after 15 years of government. Well, this caucus, this government is always talking about a history lesson and it is time for them to get a history lesson. So listen and hear the history lesson that is available to you people who sit on the government benches.

In the month prior to the May 25, 1993 election, the Liberals said that the Nova Scotia deficit was $640 million. In fact, on April 29, 1993, then Liberal Leader John Savage said the following to a joint meeting of the Sydney Kiwanis Club and the Sydney Board of Trade, that this year's deficit is $640 million and growing and according to Moody's, our debt is more than $7.5 billion. Yet, did the Liberals alter any of their promises in their amateur red book? Not one, Madam Speaker, not one.

[Page 4034]

Their proof is a long list of broken promises that they made in 1993. Madam Speaker, even Santa Claus' list is not as long as the list of stories and mistruths that this government told the people of this province.

There is not one line in the education section of the red book for amateurs which mentions school board amalgamations. Yet, Madam Speaker, when this government came to power, school board amalgamation became the solution to all the problems in education. (Interruption)

Too much bureaucracy? Well, the former Minister of Education asked that question. The answer, amalgamation. Not enough funds for education, he asked? Amalgamation would magically redirect millions, $11 million, Madam Speaker, was the figure that was promised, back into our classrooms. This is what the former Minister of Education answered the people of Nova Scotia with.

Madam Speaker, armed with nothing more than one consultant's report and his own intellect, the former Minister of Education forced amalgamation against the wishes of students, against the wishes of parents and against the wishes of teachers. Now, with the new regional boards up and running, we have new questions that have to be addressed.

Two weeks ago, my colleague, the member for Pictou West, asked the current Minister of Education to identify the administrative savings for the regional school boards and there was no answer from the minister. Let's give a few examples of what is going on.

In the Southwest Regional School Board alone, there have been no administrative savings. In fact, the costs have increased by $350,000, Madam Speaker, a $350,000 increase. Meanwhile, a Liberal Party hack like George Unsworth has raked in over $153,000 for serving as amalgamation coordinator for not one but two regional school boards.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, I would just caution you in this debate that it is not our practice normally to use people's names in this Chamber when they are not here or able to defend themselves. That is a rule in Beauschene. I can find the reference for it if you want me to. I just want to give you that caution.

MR. MACLEOD: I thank you for your guidance, Madam Speaker.

Now, it is quite obvious that this certain Liberal hack who, because he promised the government that in exchange for his hard work as their amalgamation enforcer at two regional boards, he would only charge $96,000. It actually turned out to be $153,000, Madam Speaker. What is the difference? $57,000.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: . . . Madam Speaker, on a point of order, on the ruling you just made a few moments ago.

[Page 4035]

MADAM SPEAKER: It was advice, honourable member, and I said if he wanted me to find the section in Beauchesne, I would be happy to.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I would certainly like to see where it says that you cannot refer to another minister or a person in the Opposition . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: The name of a person.

MR. RUSSELL: Of a person, okay, the name of a person in the House, if they are not present.

MADAM SPEAKER: I will find the reference for you.

MR. MACLEOD: Well, regardless of what the individual's name was, Madam Speaker, he was hired to do a job for $96,000 and it ended up costing this government and the people of this province $153,000 - $57,000 in the difference - $57,000 more that the people of this province had to pick up in bills because he was a friend of this government and not a friend of education for our children.

[4:45 p.m.]

On a matter which applies to the students in Margaree who are losing their high schools, the Liberals promised in 1993, to quote and I am going to quote now from this famous Liberal red book for amateurs, ". . . involve all partners in the process of necessary school closures.". Well, I am no expert in strategic planning, but if your students are barricading themselves inside of the schools, it is a pretty safe bet that they do not feel like they are part of the process.

What is the Minister of Education's response to this, other than a few soothing words? His answer is, it is a school board matter. I find that hard to understand. The Liberal Government slashed provincial funding to school boards, they downloaded school board funding to the municipalities, they even created the regional school boards. But when the heat is on, the Liberals have the gall to turn around, throw up their hands and say, it is a school board responsibility. It is like having a terrorist throw a bomb into a crowd and tell the people, well it is not our responsibility, it is the police's responsibility.

The students in Margaree deserve better from this government, a government which campaigned on all these wonderful broken promises. In actual fact, the Margaree School buck stops with this Minister of Education, as much as he would like to pass it on to the Strait Regional School Board.

I would like to conclude with one last quote from the 1993 amateur red book, "A Liberal Government will stand by our commitment to education.". Well, if the Liberals have

[Page 4036]

been standing by their commitment to education, then that commitment has been very lonely figure over the last three and one-half years. Thank you very much.

MADAM SPEAKER: Before I recognize the next speaker, I would like to come back to the point raised by the honourable member for Hants West. He will find the appropriate paragraph in Beauchesne on Page 151 in the 6th Edition, Paragraph 493(4), where it says, "The Speaker has cautioned Members to exercise great care in making statements about persons who are outside the House and unable to reply.". That is the reference, honourable member, for your own cognition.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, what you are saying in reality is that if, for instance, I come in with a resolution and I name some appointee by the government to a board or something that I think is inappropriate, you mean that I cannot table that resolution; or if I am engaged in debate in the House and we are talking about aspects of city council, I cannot raise the name of Mayor Fitzgerald. Madam, that is absolutely nonsense.

MADAM SPEAKER: Honourable member, before I entertain any more points on the point, I cautioned the speaker when he was on his feet and I attempt to be very fair in this Chair and certainly, I have not said that anyone cannot mention someone. But we are always governed by the tone it is used in, the manner it is used in, the degree of provocation. These are all in Beauchesne and you are very familiar because you were a respected Speaker of this House and I cautioned the member. It took into account all those variable factors and I thank you.

Is there a point of order?

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Madam Speaker, actually, you said everything I was going to say. All you did was caution the member, that is all.

MADAM SPEAKER: Thank you very much. I recognize the honourable Minister of Education.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Madam Speaker, the member opposite in his first 15 minutes on this particular motion, somehow likened the school board to a terrorist throwing a bomb into a crowd. I find that analogy quite despicable actually and I think what he is talking about is an issue of governance that perhaps he needs to understand a little better. I know that he talks about huffing and puffing and uses sort of an analogy that perhaps is likened to The Three Little Pigs and he doesn't like to hear the fact that we are in a context where we are the only province in the country that spends more on our debt service than we do educating all of our children. That fact won't go away, whether that member doesn't like to hear it or not.

[Page 4037]

I have yet to hear an apology from those who were in power at that time for having left the province in such economic shambles that we stand up and, unfortunately, have to say over and over again that the fiscal reality is that we are the only province that spends more on debt service, by hundreds of millions of dollars, than we do educating all of our children.

I have yet to hear an apology from anyone who was on the Treasury benches at that time, yet the children of this province and the people of this province deserve that apology, it is long overdue.

To help the member opposite understand the whole issue of governance very quickly, we will talk about the Education Act. He suggests that the amateur red book didn't live up to its promises. I can assure him that on every facet it did; on every facet we talked about the reform of governance because there is always a balance, Madam Speaker. One of the distinguished members opposite had the privilege of assuming the office of Minister of Education in another era, where there had to be a rebalancing of the amount of governance that the province could afford at a time when the world was literally transforming its economy, losing hundreds of thousands of jobs in this province for those who did not have a high school education while, at the same time as we learn from APEC's report today, gaining in addition four and five times as many jobs that did require.

That member opposite had to take a system and reform it from countless boards and trustees, into a manageable system that found a balance between governance at the local level and responsible use of dollars. We have done exactly the same thing.

My colleague opposite had a difficult job in this province convincing people that there was need again for a reform of the balance; the balance of expenditure on governance and bureaucracy and the dollars needed for children.

The Education Act makes it fundamentally clear who is responsible for what. Three partners exist, advisory councils at the school level which, in fact, are recapturing some of the local governance found in trusteeships, but adding student voices and parent voices and faculty voices, to a table that previously was really the trustees of the community. At the same time boards have become larger and it is expected that reduced costs, and the member opposite talks about numbers that he makes up from facts that he doesn't have at the moment, about increased costs to boards.

I simply ask him to do a few fundamental things; there were, at one time, 22 CEOs serving boards. They were serving boards, they were not working in schoolhouses with children, they were serving boards. There has been an attempt, and we have admitted here that there will be a full accounting of how the new governance structure, in fact, has reduced the cost of administration serving boards and taken those dollars and moved them in the service of children. We are prepared to do that and will do that and have committed to do that.

[Page 4038]

We have a partnership: we have boards with larger jurisdictions that are focused on a great many issues; we have school advisory councils that are at the heart of every community and we have the Department of Education attempting, in a fiscal climate, to deal with the underfundedness of public education. Let me make it perfectly clear that this government makes that declaration, that education in Nova Scotia is underfunded.

That does not mean that you do not go about reforming the system such that when you find precious dollars from debt service that they go back to a system that allows those dollars to flow through where they are needed most, to the classrooms. Nobody disagrees with that.

The problems that face the Strait area are significant and they have been there for a long time. In fact, they were there when the colleague who had this privileged office some time ago was there, many of those same problems exist to this day. The Strait Area Board that the colleague opposite suggests is not doing its job, I think that is a disservice to the men and women, elected, by the way, by the people of their area to serve their areas in a larger configuration, are doing their job.

Here is what they are facing; the largest square footage. In other words, there is more square footage per student than any other board in the province. A large geographic area. Many schools are in need of renovations. In fact, some of them date back to the member opposite, whom I am sure will be speaking to this issue. A pupil-teacher ratio that is higher, one would say better, than any other area of the province. In other words, there are more students per teacher in this area than in any other area. But the most dramatic impact is the significant decline in school age populations that has taken place over the last 25 years and over the last 5 to 10 years, in particular, and on out.

We know that this board received some $4 million in equity funding and, as the member opposite may not be aware, one of the principles of the 1981-82 Walker Commission was that funds from municipal contributions be based on ability to pay. So there is, roughly speaking, an additional $7.3 million that goes to the Strait Area Board that does not go to other boards in the province, in the sense that ability to pay and equity funding provide additional funds for an area that has some unique circumstances.

What is the board doing in response to this? It is sitting down and began last March and continues to do so, to work with the communities in, first of all, helping them to understand the problem that exists in this Strait area and then has consulted with, and some of those discussions have been difficult, there is no question that even confronting the problem can be difficult for some communities because there is a tremendous sense of threat when schools and communities are looked at from the point of view of change. But that does not mean that the board has abrogated its fundamental responsibility to achieve equity in this district and to not run away from the problems that exist in this district.

[Page 4039]

So they have met with the communities. It is their intention to continue meeting with the communities because they know full well that the only way they are going to get the solutions right is by listening in community after community to the problems that exist, facing them squarely, and trying to find solutions. Just some of the solutions that they have dealt with, there are certain communities that have come together to look at the problems and, more importantly, to come together to offer solutions. There are transportation difficulties in a large geographic area and, clearly, everyone, the board, the parents, the students, would like to spend as little time as possible on school buses and, at the same time, do so in an efficient and cost-effective manner and this board is doing just that.

There are four fundamental principles: adequacy, making sure that enhanced curriculum offerings are not just available from Yarmouth to Bay St. Lawrence, but part of the Canadian Constitution, Article 36, ensures that Nova Scotia has adequate funding to make sure that what happens in Port Hawkesbury is the same as West Vancouver, that there is a base level of funding in this nation in a sense of redistribution of the wealth of the nation to ensure that universal, quality, public school programs are available from one end of this country to the other. When you superimpose on that, both equity funding and ability to pay principles, we do the same thing in the province. Areas with wealthier assessments actually transfer dollars to those that do not have the same assessment base to make sure that the equality of opportunity is available to every child in the province.

Getting back to the Strait area, they have some unique problems with buildings and declining enrollments and geographies that make their problems, in a sense, some of the most significant in the province. Are they running away from them? Are they not going to communities or are they putting their head in the sand? Quite the opposite, Madam Speaker. I think the member opposite, when he used the analogy of a board that is not doing its job, surely he did not mean this board.

AN HON. MEMBER: I didn't say board. I said government.

MR. HARRISON: Oh, no. You said a board. In fact what he was talking about, Madam Speaker, was that this board is acting irresponsibly by going out and talking to communities about problems that are difficult to solve. Further, they are acting irresponsibly because they put on the table solutions for discussion and that is what he considers is upsetting certain communities or his constituents. This board is not acting irresponsibly. This board is doing fundamentally what the education asks it to do.

We are committed. There are lots of rumours going around that we might go the way of New Brunswick or there are rumours in Ontario that they will eliminate school boards. There is no agenda in this government to do anything but support the seven boards that are out there, making sure that people from all walks of life, who are willing to serve their communities, provide educational service and excellence to the pupils of this province. We

[Page 4040]

support those boards. We support their support of advisory councils and all three levels of governance.

The province, with its clear responsibilities, the boards with their clear responsibilities and advisory councils representing the interests of communities and schools are all part of the governing mix that is meant to ensure that just the right amount of dollars are spent on that governance and the rest are available for children. That is the basis, if you like, for the reform that took place during a difficult economic time when we would have loved to have more dollars for education, but we would also have managed to put the reform in place, because one would not want to waste any one of those dollars on systems that did not lead to higher quality learning. So the first fundamental principle is adequacy, making sure that there are quality programs.

[5:00 p.m.]

The second is equity. Here we have a member opposite trying to capitalize on some of the discord that comes from talking about problems and solutions, when in fact what the board is attempting to do is to make sure that every child benefits from the highest quality education. There are certain definitions of what that means. That board has undertaken to precisely define those in consultation with those communities. Has there been acrimony? Have there been some communities upset by that? By all means, Madam Speaker. Is it the way to go? Is that the way to make sure that boards get it right, that they listen and understand the needs of the community and that they try to build a system based on equity and quality? Absolutely.

Responsiveness talks about the need for keeping a focus internationally as well as making sure that they have their ears to each community. They are doing precisely that and honour that commitment and maintain that commitment throughout.

Finally, accountability. What they have to be able to do is account to their own taxpayers, to those that are spending additional dollars in their area, that there are solutions that they are working on that will actually lead to a very high accounting, if you like, of every dollar expended in relation to the commitment to quality.

The member opposite talks about broken commitments by a government that does not care about education, about the fact that this board may not be acting responsibly, that there are decisions that are not being made, that are in concert with where the Opposition would like to go. I would be really interested, and I hope as this debate proceeds that both the Third Party and the final member of the Opposition Party will actually put on the table some of the solutions, if they have better ones, to this problem than this board is exercising. They are out there consulting with the community. They are facing the problems head-on. They are attempting to live within their means and are appreciative of the additional dollars they have. They are attempting to do it with creative construction schedules, where communities of

[Page 4041]

interest are coming together to try to build an education system in the Strait Area Board that achieves the commitment to quality for each and every child.

The member opposite would like me to intervene. He suggests that somehow we usurp the authority of the school boards in this province and actually intervene somehow because at the moment there are some difficulties as we work through those problems. I think the member opposite needs a lesson in governance. That is why I have spent a certain amount of time on this.

The minister has fundamental responsibilities under the Act. The school boards are made up of elected individuals from their communities representing all walks of life. I have travelled and met with three now. I have worked with school boards all of my life. These are virtually volunteer efforts, people who care about children, who dedicate and volunteer hours and hours of time beyond the regular duties of being a school board member and have done so for decades in this province and have made tremendous contributions to the quality of learning and the quality of education in Nova Scotia. I would hope that the member opposite understands that the relationship between the minister, those boards, the advisory councils and communities is one that needs to be protected and nurtured, not one that needs to be thrown aside simply because there is an expression of concern about certain solutions or certain proposals.

It seems to me that what we should be committing to here is giving the board and its communities what they need. That is top quality education, built as much as possible from the ground up. Certainly there are unique differences in this province. There are educational needs that vary from one jurisdiction to another; just as examples, Gaelic as a second language being offered in certain schools of the province - what a wonderful opportunity for children - the Acadian School Board and the governance of the CSAP. These are wonderful expressions of individual and unique needs of communities. I personally believe that those will not be nurtured unless we have school boards in concert with advisory councils, in concert with the province, with the proper amount of funding that is needed. As soon as we can recover those dollars from debt services, they will be put back into a reformed system so that the dollars flow through to the children.

Any government would continue to reassess and re-evaluate that balance between the cost of governance and the supply of service to children, always with an eye to ensuring that quality is literally job one, that every effort be made to ensure the children of Nova Scotia simply have the finest education system in Canada and by virtue of Canada's pre-eminence, in the world.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: I appreciate the opportunity to rise and speak on education, in which I have spent the last 18 years of my life. I appreciate the Conservative

[Page 4042]

resolution asking the government to keep its commitment to education. I don't think there is a teacher in this province, not to mention parents and community members, who would not support this kind of resolution.

Madam Speaker, the problem is that the trouble started before now. You know, in a way the game is lost and we have to get it back. It all happened, I think, with the new Education Act. The minister is right, it is about governance. The governance that this government gave to this province was an Education Act, which we read in our school and discussed. My recollection is that this education bill, when it was first drawn up, contained several hundred things that had to be fixed. It appeared to have been written in a blinding hurry; it required massive changes just to get it to what I would call the minimally functional point.

The problem is that once it was tinkered with and once it was passed, we were left with a whole new concept of education in this province. It is a concept of education that many of us - I can't speak for teachers and parents that I don't know but I can speak for the ones that I know - a concept of education that we didn't understand and we still don't understand it. I hold this government responsible for this Act and I want to talk about some of the things that this Act has meant to schools and school boards in Nova Scotia. It is about governance and this is the governance that we got and have been forced to live with, both in the system and with all the ramifications of the system throughout this society.

One of the most obvious effects of this, of course, was the amalgamation. The Conservative member for Cape Breton West cited some of the increased costs of amalgamation, Madam Speaker. He is right, it is true, just like every other amalgamation that seems to be going on, the savings seem to be mythical and the costs seem to climb. I think what is more important - and maybe it has been said here before and I just wasn't here to hear it - I think that somebody has to say that what is going on in education in this province right now is a fundamental change in philosophy that none of us recognizes. I think that change is this, the business of education has become education as business.

Teachers don't understand that. We understand what it is to be teachers; at least we try to and we work hard at it. We have spent a lot of our time, our own time, our summer time, those famous summer vacations, learning how to be better teachers and learning how to do well, what it is that we understand teachers are supposed to do. My understanding was that it was a contract between children, whether tall or small, to try to give them the best of what we knew within certain parameters of curriculum and so on, and to give them the best of whatever our minds have to offer.

Lots of us are not great teachers, Madam Speaker, we are competent teachers - I never considered myself one of the great ones - but we understood the job and we did our best to do it. Along comes this new Education Act, with the amalgamation and the kind of throwing together of diverse and disparate communities. The southwest board is a good example. I

[Page 4043]

don't know if it is one-third of the length of the province but it requires satellite offices, or at least one satellite office in order to function.

So what happens with this amalgamation and this, we are open for business philosophy of education? We see things like increased salaries for administrators, we have CEOs with personal service contracts. We always understood that the principal was the head teacher, he was not some kind of a business guru or somebody who had to have political skills.

We find ourselves under the new Act selling places and the minister wanted to say the other day, I should not attribute motive, I am not sure what he wanted to say, but what I heard was that when I asked a question about selling places to students from the other side of the world that somehow we were against foreign students. Most of the teachers that I know have spent years struggling to teach and with great affection, I might add, students from all over the world who have come to this country with their families, or without them, to learn. It is not about who comes here, it is about selling places, it is about tuition arrangements that are in this new Act, it is about cutbacks, it is about closing libraries and it is about cutting back services.

I want to say - just to give it one quick example, in the school where I taught and I am going to talk about equity in a few minutes - in the school where I taught, we were very proud of our ongoing struggle to provide an equitable education for all the students. I was four years in that school. In my first year in this school, we had someone called a mainstream coordinator. Now a mainstream coordinator was someone whose job it was to assist classroom teachers in constructing programs and problem solving for high needs mentally challenged students; in fact, challenged students of all kinds.

My first year there, the mainstream coordinator had 2 schools she was responsible for, my second year she had 12 and my third and fourth years she was responsible for no less than 22 schools. That is the situation for her today. Let's not pretend that we are not cutting back services. Let's not pretend that this has not happened.

What else seems to be happening under this government with education - the public-private partnership. Here we have education trying to pretend that it is a business. We have a school board down in the Strait area and I am going to talk a little bit more about them in a minute. We have a school board down there that is going to simply say, abracadabra, poof and move a bunch of schools all over creation. They are going to build them, they say, on a wish and a prayer of public-private partnerships and that is another whole discussion in itself. We all know that the prices of those schools have gone up. When the market gets into it, there is a profit and as I said, I do not think that the business of education is about education as a business.

Education as we know it, is gone. There is the poor Strait Regional Board. All right, it is a new board, it puts its heads together, does the best it can in these situations and what

[Page 4044]

does it come up with - a kind of breathless (Interruption). The Strait Regional School Board writes a draft document, agreed, that it took out to the communities and that draft document, if you read it carefully, has no rationale, to speak of, for what it is doing except that it somehow sees itself as being able to restructure the economy of northeastern Nova Scotia. It is somehow going to do this through the schools. Well, that sounds more like business than education, to me.

I want to talk, as well, about adequacy and equity. I was so happy that the minister talked about adequacy and equity because I travelled around this province meeting with the chief education officers of three or four school boards, new regional boards. The one that struck me the most, the meeting that struck me the most was the discussion with one chief education officer who put it all together for me. He said, do you know what is going on in this province, he said, education has been bleeding slowly for 20 years in this province.

[5:15 p.m.]

What we have done in this province with education is, we have concentrated on equity which we all believe in and have struggled towards. I have mentioned that highly successful struggle, I might say, in the particular school where I worked. We have focused in this province on equity and so we should have but we have neglected adequacy. I got to thinking about it and you know what, Madam Speaker, you can have equity without adequacy but do you know what you have got? Everybody has equal access to nothing and I mean nothing. That is exactly what is happening in this province.

So let's not say that there has been adequate funding, adequate support. Let's not say that we can run around this province solving it by charging people to sit in their desks, and by using volunteers to fill professional roles that, in the past, were not only job creators but were highly skilled jobs that people trained to do and brought their expertise to the children of this province. Madam Speaker, it makes me so cross to think about it.

We need to talk for a minute about the school advisory council, Madam Speaker. Now, we know that in New Zealand five years later, they cannot get anybody to serve on them. We know why. You know, the minister can talk about the hours of dedication that people put in, in their communities. Well, after five years, everybody's brain is fried and there is nobody left to do it anymore because they have to go home to their own families, they have go earn their own incomes and then they have to come to school and do a job that should be done by the people who are in charge of education.

Madam Speaker, you know, if you read the new Education Act carefully, you discover that this government has said in the regulations, here we go, let's have school advisory councils. They have not even had the decency to address one particular issue of governance which is, there is not one single word in there that allows for dispute resolution mechanisms around this province. What do they do, Madam Speaker? They throw it to the board and

[Page 4045]

where the boards cannot solve it they say, sorry, you are on your own. You are going to run it with volunteers and the partnerships of business and so on and so forth.

Madam Speaker, there are solutions. We have suggested them before and we feel that they need to be said again, particularly when we hear what the minister says here today. Yes, the Strait area has a declining enrolment. That's absolutely true. But maybe what is wrong here is not that we have too few students to be educated. Everybody needs to be educated. Maybe the problem here is that we need a different funding formula. Why are we funding them by the head as if that was somehow representative of the cost of education?

MADAM SPEAKER: One minute.

MS. O'CONNELL: One minute? Thank you, Madam Speaker. So why are we not saying to the school boards, we will come up with a better way to fund those programs, that wide range of programs that provide for an educated populace?

The last point I want to make, Madam Speaker, is that maybe what we do need, in addition to that, we need in this province a small school policy which, if properly devised and supported, will make schools like the Margaree School which is the most cost-effective school in this province . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear! Hear!

MS. O'CONNELL: . . . will make schools like that live and will make their communities live on too. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to address a few remarks today to Resolution No. 1165. I took careful note of the remarks of the previous speakers and perhaps a few of the things I will say will, unfortunately, be, in a sense, a tiny bit repetitive.

I think what frustrates me as much as anything else about the situation which our young people in the Strait region are facing now is that they are being subjected to a realignment of the delivery of education in the Strait region, in part on the basis of a document which has language like this in it: The average decline in our student population is slightly in excess of 2 per cent per year. Although the trend is alarming, particularly with a capitation based formula, it does not represent the greatest management challenge to the Strait area. Changing the formula is not the solution. These are the words, frankly, that in the context of educating our young people concern me greatly, decision makers have to find ways to connect the kind of restructuring that has to occur in our school system with the creation of an appealing, progressive economic climate in our region. This area is not just losing students from schools,

[Page 4046]

it is losing the human resources required to identify and nurture the natural advantages which it has to create wealth. That has to change.

That is a reflection, if I may say so, Madam Speaker, on an earlier failing of the current Minister of Education. Because in a previous incarnation, that minister toured the province as the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, and that minister made speeches all over the place talking about community economic development. He and his colleagues from the Strait area talked about the wonderful things they were going to do to support and buttress and expand and grow the economy of the Strait area. Now we have a school board, which I may say is the result or the brainchild or the aberration of the previous Minister of Education, which brings together, in my opinion, and it is only my opinion that I state here today - I know from discussions with hundreds across this province, my opinion is shared by many hundreds, by many thousands, and it is, particularly, and I think, most important, shared by hundreds and thousands of men and women who are teaching in our province's schools - that this particular school board configuration is too large and it brings together a piece of geography and a number of communities which simply do not have a community of interest.

As I said and as others said when we debated recent amendments to the Education Act on an earlier day here in this place, we predicted at that time, and the chickens are coming home to roost, that school boards in this province were going to be in very real difficulty and much of that difficulty was going to be a direct function of a very ill-conceived amalgamation process. Rather decision makers have to find ways to connect the kind of restructuring that has to occur in our school system with the creation of an appealing, progressive economic climate in our region. This area is not just losing students from schools, it is losing the human resources required to identify and nurture the natural advantages which it has to create wealth. That is exactly right.

Here is a statement by a community and a group of communities in the Province of Nova Scotia that, as far as I am concerned, Madam Speaker, says, in very few words, but speaks volumes in those few words, that this government has failed to do those things which they promised would be done, namely create new wealth in the region affected and in the region which so immediately and directly affects the lives of the young people in these schools.

Madam Speaker, and I know you know it, I am sure you know it, because I am sure you are getting it from the men and women who are the classroom school teachers in your constituency and I am certainly getting it in mine, and it is particularly prevalent in rural Nova Scotia and it is certainly evident in urban Nova Scotia, that the one profession in this Province of Nova Scotia, with the possible exception of the beating up that this government has done on the medical profession, but the one profession in this province which has taken the most significant hits since this government came to power in May 1993, is the classroom teacher in the Province of Nova Scotia. The classroom teachers are under siege. The classroom teachers in virtually all of our schools across this province are just having their brains beaten

[Page 4047]

out, trying to figure out how to cope with what is going on in the classrooms and the circumstances which they face.

Those circumstances are the advent of advisory councils. They are the advent of dramatically reduced resources. They are the advent, or the explosion and the growth, unfortunately, of those men and women having to deal with young people coming to their schools who are ill, who have serious learning disabilities, who are coming, unfortunately, from home environments where there is no love and nurturing for them. They are coming to school unfed; they are coming to school addicted an in some cases cross-addicted.

We are simply not, in my opinion, and nor is the Department of Education through this minister and, certainly, it did not through the previous minister, respond by way of the kinds of programming and support necessary to make it possible, make it realistic to assume that there might be a chance for the classroom teachers to provide the quality service to our young people which we would want.

Why did Nova Scotians respond so sympathetically to the act of civil disobedience, being the sit-in by the young people in Cape Breton recently? Partly it is because the students' spunk was backed by plain-spoken explanations of their mission. Their eloquence contrasted starkly with the defensive bureaucratic mumbling of board officials. The public admires honest speech and distrusts bafflegab. Partly it is because Nova Scotians worry that educational reform may turn out to be as big a bollocks as metro amalgamation and the reorganization of health care. We hear vague promises of greater efficiency but see only reductions in the resources available to our local schools.

The previous Minister of Education toured this province and he said to us all, Madam Speaker, let's have this wonderful amalgamation. He had this brainstorm - God forgive us, he had this nightmare - he had this amalgamation program. He used to make speeches and his successor, the current Minister of Education, applauded loudly and roundly when the previous Minister of Education talked about, there will be $11 million worth of savings as a result of these amalgamations and it is all going to go to the classroom teacher.

The fact of the matter is, Madam Speaker, as I know you know and I sure know that the classroom teachers of Nova Scotia know it, not a nickel of that $11 million made its way to the poor, beleaguered classroom teachers. It was a scam and it was a scheme and it was simply some pig-headed notion adopted by the previous minister, supported by this government that, for some reason, amalgamation should take place.

The Liberal Government, Madam Speaker, which came to power in this province in May 1993, had a warm and fuzzy education election platform for the people of Nova Scotia. That policy, you might recall, said, among other things, "Child-centred education, defined as an education system which puts students first and treats them as individuals, is the focal point

[Page 4048]

of the Liberal vision of education . . .". That document goes on to say, Madam Speaker, "We will excite young minds and awaken them to the joys of life-long learning.".

Well, what we have excited some of them to in the Strait area is to bar themselves inside the school because they are convinced that this minister and this government and, unfortunately, the local board are not prepared to listen and take their views seriously.

I know the difference between the role and the function and the authority as between this minister and the board on the one hand and the local community on the other, and the advisory councils which are now in place as a consequence of the recent amendments. But I don't know, frankly, that I see anything to this point that leads me to believe that there has been the kind of effort and energy exerted by the minister and by the board and by the young people who felt it necessary to conduct the sit-in recently to try to find a way in the Strait area to bring resolution to this particular difficulty.

[5:30 p.m.]

The document itself, as I said, produced by the board, I think speaks volumes when they talk about their real problem in the Strait area is the problem that we have been trying to have this government understand for three years now, that is that they have been abysmal failures in regard to economic development initiatives. They are understanding that they need help in terms of economic development, which, in turn, makes it possible, makes it even a little bit more realistic at least, to think that these amalgamated boards are going to work.

The legacy, in my opinion, Madam Speaker, of the amalgamation of school boards, perpetrated by the previous minister and touted now by the current minister, I believe the legacy is going to prove to be a diminution of the opportunity made available to the young people in the classrooms of the Province of Nova Scotia.

This suggestion that the amalgamation was going to save money, has proven, as you know, Madam Speaker, to be an absolute, cruel joke. I may be mistaken, but I believe that the only amalgamation which has resulted in any saving - and again my understanding in this connection is that the saving is exceedingly modest - was a very modest saving in Kings County. In all other amalgamations, it is my understanding, and the minister may correct me if I am wrong, of school boards in this province, compliments of this misguided government, the opposite result was reached, not savings but, rather, increased costs and reduced amounts of money available for the classroom teachers.

There are about 1,400-some, almost 1,500 fewer teachers in the public school system in the Province of Nova Scotia since this government took power; that is a 12 per cent or 13 per cent reduction in the teaching complement. Meanwhile, the student population in this province has dropped from - my memory - 1.3 per cent. Is it any wonder that the men and women who are now in the classes of the Province of Nova Scotia are having a more and

[Page 4049]

more difficult time? Is it any wonder, as those poor, beleaguered and well-intentioned and dedicated classroom teachers are struggling as they are, is it any wonder that their resentment is growing as well, as they watch CEOs and the leaders of their school boards being paid $120,000 and $130,000, more money than is paid to the Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia, while they, the classroom teachers, as the ones who have to attempt to support and nurture and educate and excite - to use the words of the Liberal Government document - the young minds and awaken them to the joys of lifelong learning.

This government has been beating the classroom teacher into the ground ever since they became government, and we are seeing the sad reflection of that here in this circumstance which occurred at the Strait in recent times.

One of the difficulties that the classroom teacher faces, Madam Speaker - I am sorry, I will get off that track, I will go back, with the sign from you that I have one more minute - the Minister of Education has responded to me on two or three occasions, when I have written to him on behalf of school boards, asking that the Formula Review Committee that is looking at the funding formula for the school boards of Nova Scotia, that there be consideration given to the difficulties being experienced by school boards on the basis of geography, the very thing that we, in Opposition, said was going to be the problem for these school boards, that they cover too large a piece of geography.

I hope and trust that when the minister wrote back to me, as he did on a couple of occasions, that he will be asking the Formula Review Committee to address the formula on the basis of geography, that he is true to his word and that they will and that some relief will be brought to the Strait Board, on the basis of a realignment of the funding formula. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, we will now call Resolution No. 1145 and since we are running out of time, there will be eight minutes for each speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: Eight minutes or seven minutes, honourable member? I think it is going to be seven minutes.

Res. No. 1145, re Health - Children's Dental Prog.: Cuts Made - Promise Ignored - notice given Dec. 12/96 - (Mr. G. Moody)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 4050]

DR. JOHN HAMM: Madam Speaker, I will get quickly to the task because this is a very important topic and one of the tragedies that has been perpetuated during this session of the Legislature has been a downsizing of the Children's Dental Program.

I would like to start by reading what the government press release issued on October 1, 1996 said. The lead reads, "Changes announced today to the Children's Dental Program are aimed at providing quality sustainable oral health services for children". Those were the words quoted of the Minister of Health, Bernie Boudreau. The release goes on, "The new program covers the education and prevention components of the Nova Scotia Public Health Services Dental Hygiene Program and treatment services offered in the MSI Children's Dental Program, which were both developed in the 1970's". It goes on to say that the Department of Health developed the new combined program in consultation with the Dental Association and the Dalhousie Faculty of Dentistry.

News that the program was developed in consultation with the Dental Association apparently came as a surprise to Dr. Nette, the President of that association. Dr. Nette issued a press release and I will read a few lines from that press release, "The provinces's dentists are concerned about the loss of benefits from the current MSI Children's Dental Plan and the recently announced new dental program will have a detrimental effect on youngsters' oral health. Pointing to the Nova Scotia Government's desire to trim $3 million from the previous plan's budget, Nova Scotia Dental Association President Dr. Andrew Nette calls the new program a result of a budgetary move which could lead to up to 2,000 kids with poor dental health.". The release goes on with, "With the cuts to age eligibility and services covered, we fully anticipate there will be a deterioration in our children's oral health, particularly in certain groups.".

Cuts to the dental program are simply another Liberal Trojan Horse. The government drapes its announcement with words like quality and consultation, but when you take away the packaging, it is nothing more than a cut, pure and simple, a $2.7 million cut that will damage the oral health of up to 22,000 and quite possibly even their general health as they grow up to adulthood. The government maintains that these cuts are being made in the name of prevention. The government seems to think that all of its cuts are improving health care services in the province. I guess they think the more they cut, the better things gets. The minister figures he can simply cut his way to perfection.

I can speak as a medical doctor with some authority about the overall health as a result of oral hygiene. When I went into practice in 1963, the oral health of the residents of my community was simply atrocious. I saw over the 20 years of a sensible program directed at children a marked improvement in the oral health of those young people that I had occasion to see in Pictou County. A case where many young people in their teens had a mouthful of caries or simply a mouthful of teeth that had to be extracted was replaced, in large, by our young people in our county having almost flawless dentition and many having no cavities at all.

[Page 4051]

Dr. Brian MacLeod of Sydney summed it all up when he said the Nova Scotia Government has gone ahead and disassembled the program to the total detriment of the children of the province. After they raked the medical, we knew it would be coming along, we just did not know how drastic or non-sensible it would be. Similar refrains were sounded by other practising dentists, including Dr. Errol Gaum who is the only full time practising children's dentist in the province and who has spearheaded the drive to stop the cuts. Unlike Dr. Ismail, the architect of the changes, Dr. Gaum knows and fully understands the value of the Children's Dental Program to good oral health. The Minister of Health, however, likes to read the letter of Dr. Ismail in which he defends the cuts and he will no doubt do that again today. Let us face it. Dr. Ismail is not a practising or a wet-finger dentist. He was asked by government to do the job he did and of course we expect he is going to defend his own work.

The bottom line is that this program, contrary to the claims made by the minister, was not developed in consultation with the Dental Association and the Dental Association does not view the changes in the same light as Dr. Ismail. Dr. Ismail and the minister are on their own in defending the new program. Dentists across the province maintain that this new program is regressive and maintain that it will hurt the oral health of thousands of children. The reason that it will hurt the oral health of children should be clear to government. The early adolescent years are the most critical years in a child's dental health. These are the years of the highest potential for dental decay and gum disease. These are the years when the last permanent teeth, the cuspids, the bicuspids and the 12 year molars erupt. These are the years when preventive action can be taken to address severe orthodontic problems.

A sealant program that does not place pit and fissure sealants to prevent tooth decay in all teeth which at this time have a high susceptibility to decay is totally ineffective. Such is the case with the new dental program since it does not cover the adolescent years.

I will close my remarks, Madam Speaker, by saying what others have said before me. By reducing dental coverage from age 12 to 9, the early adolescent years, the most critical years in a child's dental health have been eliminated. To totally eliminate the adolescent from a dental program is a sure invitation to totally destroy all we have accomplished in the dental health of our youth in the last 20 years. A dental program that takes care of extensive dental decay and advanced gum disease, then asks those with mild forms of the same to fend for themselves leaves no alternative for those who do not have the financial means and do not fall within the poverty line to wait until it gets worse. This teaches negative reward, unacceptable practice in a preventive health program.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Madam Speaker, I just want to rise and I guess if there was a phrase I could use that would be appropriate, it would be some people function in the past; some people function now and in the future. The issue of health care, the deterioration ranging from such things as waiting lists, which we have deflated recently. Interestingly enough, I was

[Page 4052]

talking to a doctor today whose brother in the United Kingdom is on an eight month waiting list for coronary bypass. Would that he was lucky enough to live in Nova Scotia. The waiting list has been shown in effect to be a bogus issue. There are problems in certain specialities, we all know that. The ambulance services, the air ambulance, home care - that much vaunted criticism that they throw across regularly - may be 1 per cent of the problem; the other 98 per cent are being well served by a home care system that has $11 million more money in it and it is working for Nova Scotians and they recognize it.

The issue of the past versus the future is perhaps best contained in this whole question of dental health. Once again, we would have to refer you to this issue of Dr. Ismail, but I think it important that we do not just take Dr. Ismail's word; that we look at other people who are involved in this. What we are talking about with sealants is a very interesting comment. I am sure the House would be very interested to know that what this means in terms of Nova Scotia is that we are one of the first in North America to use sealants and make them available to all children. If you use the sealants as recommended by Dr. Ismail, as recommended and once again one should be cautious when we talk about the issue of whose decisions these were. Some of them are very interesting. Some of the criticisms that were put out, for instance, the issue of fluorides, rubber cup polishing and sealants is based on guidelines developed by the Canadian and American Dental Associations, not by bureaucrats and academics as that much vaunted dentist, Dr. Errol Gaum has claimed.

[5:45 p.m.]

This is not a bureaucratic decision. It was made by the Dental Association. It is very interesting to look at it. The first province in Canada that pays for all dental sealants at an early age is this government here and this Province of Nova Scotia. Now that is a decided start. (Applause) I think it is important to look at what differences I indicated between the old and the young. The real issue is not so much the cut in coverage as the question of shedding some of the old methods of dental practice. This is where, if you want to look at what the Opposition talk about, is the removal of two years in terms of the use of preventive work with children. The point is further, at the very beginning, we are offering a process which in many ways is the cutting edge, to use a terminology that may be used well in dentistry, in the area of prevention. Once again, it is important to note that these are not, Madam Speaker, ideas that have been drummed up by bureaucrats, but are recommended by the American and Canadian Dental Associations.

I think it is most important that we somehow get the message out that this method of treating is one that will ultimately prove far better for children than the two years at the end of a program. This is an important distinction which is lost on people who live in the past. How much time do I have?

MADAM SPEAKER: You have until 5:51 p.m.

[Page 4053]

THE PREMIER: Let me just conclude with a couple of other remarks that I think are very important. The financial check that is provided for low-income families has been deferred until, for instance, the province gets a better idea of the impact of the new treatment guidelines. For now, all children in the province can get treatment services, fillings if their teeth qualify. This, in effect, is a focused program. It is a program that focuses on children in dental need and it is a program that focuses on parents of children who are in financial need. It is very important. The financial check has been deferred for the time being, but it will work and it will produce a better quality of dental care, ultimately, if people are prepared to accept the recommendations of both the Canadian and the American Dental Associations, as opposed to a couple of people who believe in the old process which is, of course, where the Opposition Party comes from.

This program focuses on education and prevention. Let's not forget the fact that up until the age of 10, there will be an annual check-up and on treatment for children with dental need, it will be there. It is very important to emphasize the issue of good oral health, where it starts. It starts in the home. It starts with the school. It starts everywhere, educators and the Department of Health, of course, as well. We have a program that in the opinion of unbiased people, is the best in Canada. I hope that impresses itself on people. This is, despite the removal of those two years because of the inclusion of early preventive work and the inclusion of parents, teachers, schools, all the components of a real dental health program working together, this is, in the opinion of many people, the best dental program in Canada.

This is a program that is being assaulted by the people who fear monger, who raise the issue of two years and who then, rather like the dentists who support them, are living in the past. This is a good program. This is a program that is sustainable, a word that was never used by the Opposition because sustainable to them had a totally different meaning. Sustainable programs are ones that work. They are programs that can be maintained. They are programs that will produce good dental health and I am proud that we have a government that looks at all the options and produces a modern, new approach to dental health, instead of one rooted in the past. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise. I am kind of disappointed that I have so little time to discuss such an important issue, especially given that I am following the Premier, someone who, in trying to defend a decision of government, talks more about the Opposition or about those people and the credibility of the people who are opposed to it than he actually does about the reason why he thinks a particular decision is a good one.

Why would anybody in this province, except the Premier, stand up and say this decision is a good one, just like our decisions to cut health care, just like our decisions to allow waiting lists to get out of hand, just like our decision to cut back on home care so that many seniors

[Page 4054]

and many ill and infirm people in this province are suffering not only physical but also financial strain as a result of these decisions, Madam Speaker.

The Premier stands on his feet and says that this program has only been reduced by two years. The reality here is that this is a program providing dental services to children, where eligibility was effected under the previous government down to 12 years. When this Party was in Opposition they railed at that decision, they condemned that decision, Madam Speaker. When they were running for election, they said to Nova Scotians, another one of those myriad of promises that had been broken, they said that not only are they going to protect and ensure that there are no further cuts to the Children's Dental Program, they said they were going to work to improve it and to restore the age eligibility to 14 years and 16 years. That is what this government said.

It is no wonder, in light of what this government is doing and the federal government is doing that we get a cartoon like this in the Daily News today that basically says - the Prime Minister says that what he is really sorry about is that there are still gullible people out there who believe election promises. Imagine the level of cynicism, Madam Speaker, that allows the Prime Minister to convey that kind of attitude. You and I know that many Nova Scotians are extremely concerned about it.

The $3 million cut to the Children's Dental Program, it has been estimated, will result in 20,000 Nova Scotia children going without proper preventive treatment. You know there was a study in this province back in 1992, Dental Services Review Committee to the then Minister of Health, the Nova Scotia Government, it recommended "Oral health services must be placed under the general MSI program. This should be done on a scaled payment basis. (a) birth up to age 18 - 100% government payment; (b) 18 to 64 - 100% individual . . ." and then it talked about one method of co-payment.

What it said was the reason it recommended this, Madam Speaker, was because it says, "The oral cavity is part of the human body. Therefore, oral health is part of the total body health.". The crying shame about this decision that this government has made is that when they talk about reforming the health care system and focusing on primary health care, what they have done is attacked preventive health care at an age when it is most important, at the pre-adolescent age, where it is so important that children not only learn good oral care but that they have any problems maintained and properly treated, so that the problems don't become much worse and be a much greater burden on the health care system in the future. Studies show clearly that poor oral health contributes to poor health in general.

That is exactly what the big drain on our health care system is today and why it is that we need to reform our health care system to ensure that we have more focus on wellness, that we focus our resources on issues of prevention, Madam Speaker, and this is going completely in the other direction.

[Page 4055]

I think that the specifics of the program and what is wrong and why this is a wrong-headed decision have been made. But let me say, it is like the question I raised in this House with the Minister of Health a few weeks ago when I raised this issue. I said to him, this whole question is about choices. The government, the Minister of Health and his department, commissioned a study to find ways to cut the Children's Dental Program by $3 million, the same way they have conducted a review of home care in order to cut hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars out of the Home Care Program at the expense of seniors and the ill and the infirm in this province, Madam Speaker.

They are taking $3 million away from the Children's Dental Program at the same time they are handing over $240 million to large corporations in the Province of Nova Scotia; at the same time they say to our children that they do not have money to ensure that the size of their classrooms don't continue to grow out of sight; and when they continue to tell us that they cannot afford speech pathologists in our schools, in our school boards. They tell us that they must cut the Children's Dental Program by $3 million, so that the only children now who are going to get treated are children who show up with bad teeth, those children under 10 years of age. Imagine the mentality that sets up that type of equation.

When this government wants to fob off money by the millions, Madam Speaker, to its rich and powerful friends, they got the money and they got it real quick, whether it is $4 million to Mentor or whether it is $3 million to Pratt & Whitney, or whether it is $240 million to the Risleys and to IMP and to other of the favoured in this province. They have got the money, but when it comes to funding children's dental care, when it comes to funding home care in the Province of Nova Scotia, when it comes to ensuring that people are not put at a disadvantage as a result of inadequate education, this government does not have the money and I say shame on them.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, that concludes Opposition Members' Business for the day.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, I wonder if you could revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 4056]

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

Bill No. 50 - Registered Nurses Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

MADAM SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read for a third time on a future day.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Madam Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and the order of business, following Question Period, will be Committee of the Whole House on Bills beginning with Bill No. 48. I move we adjourn until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is that we adjourn until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow.

The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, I think you ordered that bill be referred for third reading and I think it has to be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MADAM SPEAKER: You are quite right.

Ordered that the bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

I am sure trying to speed things up.

The House stands adjourned until 8:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 5:59 p.m.]

[Page 4057]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1231

By: Mr. Russell MacNeil (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas local volunteers play a vital role in helping others in communities across the province, and contribute greatly to a sense of shared responsibility for the welfare of others; and

Whereas Rita Cummings of Lingan has played an active role in supporting the activities of her church, has worked for various charitable causes, and has earned a well-deserved reputation for being willing to assist anyone who is in need; and

Whereas a Rita Cummings Appreciation Day was recently held at the Lingan Community Centre, where local residents took the time to recognize the contribution she has made to assisting others within her community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Rita Cummings on being recognized for her many years of volunteer work, and thank her, on behalf of the residents of Lingan, for her dedication to the common good.

RESOLUTION NO. 1232

By: Mr. Russell MacNeil (Cape Breton Centre)

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

Whereas the New Waterford Volunteer Fire Department recently celebrated their 80th Anniversary; and

Whereas the 28 members of the New Waterford Volunteer Fire Department recently used this occasion to demonstrate fire fighting techniques and to teach children about fire safety and fire prevention; and

[Page 4058]

Whereas the New Waterford Volunteer Fire Department has served their area well over the past 80 years, and is a valued part of the New Waterford community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the New Waterford Fire Department on its 80th Anniversary, and recognize the commitment of its members, past and present, to protecting lives in their community.