The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., May 17, 1996

Fourth Session

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Port Morien-Birch Grove: Road - Upgrade,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1821
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Nova Scotia Tax Reform - Economic and Fiscal Analysis,
Hon. B. Boudreau 1821
Justice: Maintenance Enforcement Program - Information,
Hon. W. Gillis 1822
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health - Formulary for Physicians and Pharmacists, Hon. R. Stewart 1822
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 614, Health - Family Physician of the Year (Can.-1996):
Dr. John O'Connor (Dart. East) - Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 1824
Vote - Affirmative 1824
Res. 615, Health - Emergency Medical Dispatch System: Need -
Recognize, Hon. R. Stewart 1824
Vote - Affirmative 1825
Res. 616, Educ. - St. Patrick's HS (Hfx.): Humanitarian Efforts -
Recognize, Hon. J. Abbass 1825
Vote - Affirmative 1825
Res. 617, Health - World No-Tobacco Day: Promotion - Recognize,
Hon. R. Stewart 1825
Vote - Affirmative 1826
Res. 618, Sports - Hockey: Amateur Assoc. (Cdn.) AGM - Welcome,
Hon. J. Abbass 1826
Vote - Affirmative 1827
Res. 619, Environ.: Job Creation - Welcome, Hon. W. Adams 1827
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 34, Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre Act,
Hon. R. Stewart 1827
No. 35, Université Sainte-Anne Act/Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne,
Hon. W. Gaudet 1827
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 620, Health - Care: Cumb. Co. Stability - Restore,
Dr. J. Hamm 1828
Res. 621, Human Res. Dev. (Can.) - CEC (Gottingen St.):
Closure Postponement - Urge, Mr. R. Chisholm 1828
Vote - Affirmative 1829
Res. 622, Health: Hearing and Speech Month (May 1996) -
Recognize, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1829
Vote - Affirmative 1829
Res. 623, Health: Election Advertising - Cease, Mr. G. Moody 1830
Res. 624, ERA - Schooner Logo: Halifax Chronicle-Herald Use -
Restriction, Mr. J. Leefe 1830
Res. 625, Don Tremaine (Ex-CBC): Hon. Doctorate (SMU) - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Fogarty 1831
Vote - Affirmative 1832
Res. 626, Fin. - Budget: Phoney - Declare, Mr. J. Holm 1832
Res. 627, Educ. - Commun. Col. System: Advertising -
Election Expenses Declare, Mr. T. Donahoe 1832
Res. 628, Educ. - Eastern Shore DHS & Gaetz Brook JHS Bands:
Performance - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 1833
Vote - Affirmative 1833
Res. 629, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Roads Takeover (Hfx. Reg. Mun.):
Job Losses - Humanity Show, Mr. B. Taylor 1833
Res. 630, Health - NSAHO: Tendering (Dairy Products) - Review,
Mr. R. Hubbard 1834
Res. 631, Agric.: Limestone Subsidization (C.B.) - Reinstate,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1835
Res. 632, Health - Office (Min.): Bureaucracy Increase -
Reassess, Mr. G. Archibald 1835
Res. 633, Health - Care: West Hants - Deliver, Mr. R. Russell 1836
Res. 634, ERA - Upper Clements Wildlife Soc.: Park Maintenance -
Applaud, Mr. J. Casey 1836
Vote - Affirmative 1837
Res. 635, Lbr. & Nat. Res. - Westray Families: Mins. - Meet,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1837
Res. 636, ERA: Tourism (Min.) - Appoint, Mr. D. McInnes 1837
Res. 637, Educ. - Geog. Sc. Campus (Lawrencetown): Anniv. (50th) -
Best Wishes Extend, Mr. E. Rayfuse 1838
Vote - Affirmative 1838
Res. 638, Educ. - Edith Margaret Punt (Anna.): Cartography Award
(Nat. Geog. Soc.) - Congrats., Mr. E. Rayfuse 1838
Vote - Affirmative 1839
Res. 639, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Truckers (C.B.): Contracts -
Equality Ensure, Mr. B. Taylor 1839
Res. 640, Health - Reform: Reality - Face, Mr. A. MacLeod 1840
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 10:52 A.M. 1841
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 10:53 A.M. 1841
CWH REPORTS 1841
PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 3, Lower River Hebert Cemetery Company Act 1841
No. 5, Stella Maris Residence Dissolution Act 1841
No. 7, Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Financial
Assistance Act, 1996 1841
No. 15, Anglican Church Lands (Tidnish) Act 1841
No. 17, Halifax Regional Water Commission Act 1841
No. 22, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act 1842
No. 23, Dartmouth Pollution Control Account Act 1842
No. 24, Bridgewater Parks and Recreation Commission Act 1842
No. 25, Halifax Trust Funds Transfer (1996) Act 1842
No. 26, Bridgewater Waterfront Development Corporation Act 1842
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 4, Nursing Assistants Act 1842
No. 27, Acadia Trust Company Dissolution Act 1842
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 13, Occupational Health and Safety Act 1842
Hon. G. Brown 1843
Mr. R. Russell 1843
Mr. R. Chisholm 1845
Mr. A. MacLeod 1847
Dr. J. Hamm 1847
Mr. J. Holm 1848
Hon. G. Brown 1849
Vote - Affirmative 1852
Message from the Lieutenant Governor Acknowledging Address in Reply to the
Speech from the Throne, read by the Acting Premier 1852
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 9, Meat Inspection Act 1853
Mr. A. Surette 1853
Mr. D. McInnes 1853
Mr. J. Holm 1853
Mr. B. Taylor 1854
Hon. W. Gaudet 1855
Vote - Affirmative 1855
No. 11, Children and Family Services Act 1855
Hon. J. Smith 1855
Mr. A. MacLeod 1855
Mr. J. Holm 1856
Mr. J. Leefe 1857
Mr. T. Donahoe 1859
Hon. J. Smith 1862
Vote - Affirmative 1863
No. 12, Adoption Information Act 1864
Hon. J. Smith 1864
Mr. A. MacLeod 1864
Mr. R. Chisholm 1865
Mr. B. Taylor 1865
Mr. J. Leefe 1866
Mr. J. Holm 1869
Hon. J. Smith 1870
Vote - Affirmative 1872
No. 18, Financial Measures (1996) Act 1872
Hon. B. Boudreau 1872
Mr. R. Russell 1872
Amendment Moved 1876
Ruled - Out of Order 1876
Mr. R. Chisholm 1876
Amendment moved 1881
Ruled - Out of Order 1881
Mr. T. Donahoe 1882
Amendment moved "bill be read six months hence" 1894
Mr. J. Holm 1895
Mr. G. Archibald 1899
Mr. J. Leefe 1902
Mr. R. Russell 1903
Mr. R. Chisholm 1905
Vote - Negative 1908
Mr. J. Holm 1908
Mr. G. Archibald 1916
Hon. B. Boudreau 1922
Vote - Affirmative 1924
No. 29, Executive Council Act/Public Service Act 1924
Hon. R. Mann 1924
Mr. R. Chisholm 1925
Mr. R. Russell 1926
Hon. R. Mann 1927
Vote - Affirmative 1928
ARRIVAL OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR 1928
BILLS GIVEN ROYAL ASSENT:
Nos. 3, 4, 5, 7 1928
Nos. 9, 11, 12, 13, 15 1929
Nos. 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 32 1929
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again at the call of the Speaker 1930
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 641, Health - Family Physician of the Year (Can.-1996):
Dr. John O'Connor (Dart. East) - Congrats., Mr. D. Richards 1931
NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS:
No. 3, ERA - Free Trade: Negotiations - Update, Dr. J. Hamm 1932
No. 4, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Gas Pumps: Calibrations - Inaccurate,
Dr. J. Hamm 1932
No. 5, ERA - ACOA: Businesses New - Contributions, Dr. J. Hamm 1932
No. 6, Premier - Purchasing (Atlantic Premiers): Review - Changes,
Dr. J. Hamm 1933
No. 7, Commun. Serv. - Family Benefits: Claims - Processing,
Dr. J. Hamm 1933
No. 8, Health - Drug Plan: Prandase - Coverage, Mr. G. Moody 1934
No. 9, Transport. - Roads Takeover (Hfx. Reg. Mun.): Job Losses -
Number, Mr. B. Taylor 1934
No. 10, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Schools: Hwy. Safety Progs. -
Status, Mr. B. Taylor 1934
No. 11, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Truckers (C.B.):
Contracts Rules (Gov't. [Can.]) - Enforce, Mr. B. Taylor 1934
No. 12, Environ. - Landfills: Clay Topping - Opposition,
Mr. B. Taylor 1935
No. 13, Justice - Antigonish: Courtroom - Changes, Mr. T. Donahoe 1935
No. 14, Educ. - Hfx.: School Repairs - Letter (Theresa A. Thomas),
Mr. T. Donahoe 1935
No. 15, Educ. - Student Loan (Mrs. Betty Beaver [Sherbrooke]):
CIBC - Harassment, Dr. J. Hamm 1936
No. 16, Environ. - River Tillard: Riverbed Damage - Investigate,
Mr. B. Taylor 1936
No. 17, Nat. Res. - Wood: Harvesting - Statistics, Mr. B. Taylor 1936
No. 18, ERA - Tourist Visitor Info. Centres: Jobs - Created,
Mr. D. McInnes 1937
No. 19, ERA - Tourism: PST & GST Harmonization - Impact,
Mr. D. McInnes 1937
No. 20, Environ. - Golf Course (Lunenburg): Approval - Expenditures,
Mr. J. Leefe 1937
No. 21, Fish. - Schooner Sea Foods: Loans - Negotiations, Mr. J. Leefe 1938
No. 22, Educ.: Landmark East School - Funding, Mr. T. Donahoe 1938
No. 23, Educ. - C.B.-Strait School Bd.: Amalgamation - Report,
Mr. T. Donahoe 1939
No. 24, Educ. - Commun. Col. System: Senior Managers -
Appointees (17/05/95-17/05/96) List, Mr. T. Donahoe 1939
No. 25, ERA: NSRFC - Geophysical Survey Activities, Mr. T. Donahoe 1939
[Page 1821]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, MAY 17, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Paul MacEwan

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will call the House to order at this time. Are there any introductions of guests that members wish to make before we begin the daily routine?

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition entitled, "Port Morien-Birch Grove Re-Paving Petition". It reads, "We, the undersigned residents of the Port Morien-Birch Grove area respectfully request that the road between Birch Grove and Port Morien be given serious consideration to the upgrading and re-paving of this road in this construction year.". I have attached my name and I do agree with it.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report entitled Nova Scotia Tax Reform - Economic and Fiscal Analysis. (Applause)

1821

[Page 1822]

Mr. Speaker, in doing so, I would beg your indulgence to thank staff of the Department of Finance and the Queen's Printer who worked overtime in order that I might fulfil my commitment to table it before the end of the session. I might also advise members that copies will be sent for each MLA to the caucus offices.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was asked for information on the Maintenance Enforcement Program by the member for Halifax Citadel. I have a copy here for the member for Halifax Citadel and also a copy for the Leader of the Third Party. It was a question about the number of calls and any backlog and so on. I just want to give a copy to both members.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place to bring to your attention and to table Nova Scotia's new Formulary for Physicians and Pharmacists. It is the first of its kind in Canada and it is the direct result of recommendations made by the 1994 Nova Scotia Pharmacare Reform Working Group.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia's new formulary is unique as it follows the anatomical, therapeutic and chemical classification system used by the World Health Organization and the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board. The formulary is a comprehensive resource tool featuring detailed drug therapy information traditionally found in more than one document. The formulary features over 100 treatment summaries written by local physicians, drug listings and indicators of comparative drug costs.

The unique coding system will allow physicians and pharmacists to quickly review treatment options for a specific medical condition. Comparative costs will also be highlighted. This will help to ensure the most beneficial medication is being prescribed for patients while at the same time effectively managing costs.

Nova Scotia's new formulary is a creative and effective solution to meet the challenge of increasing prescription drug costs. It will help physicians and pharmacists to continue to provide quality care.

This formulary, Mr. Speaker, is scheduled to be released in mid-June and was developed by the Department of Health in cooperation with physicians, pharmacists and seniors. The formulary is just one example of how we continue to work together with these groups to improve medication use by Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, in reply to the ministerial statement, first of all I would like to congratulate the minister on producing this piece of work. I think it is a step forward and will, properly utilized, result in better patient care. However, it does give me an

[Page 1823]

opportunity to make a comment that within that formulary are many drugs that are not available through our Pharmacare Program here in the province. The minister is quite aware that that is the case. For example, there are many medications which are very useful, very necessary and which are received by a patient on prescription and they will not be paid by the senior's Pharmacare Program even though they are included in the drug formulary which the minister has tabled.

I had a conversation with a senior just very recently, actually two weeks ago, and that senior, over the past three months, had paid $430 to become enrolled in the Pharmacare Program. He was late being notified for last year and paid that; then, of course, he was notified for this year and he paid his $215. He wasn't on any particular medications and after paying his $430 - this is what prompted his representation to me - he did have an illness. He went to his physician and he received a prescription only to find, after paying $430, the medication that was prescribed was not covered. In fact, he had to pay $99 for that prescription.

Mr. Speaker, my comment is simply this, if we are going to have a program of drug payment here in the province that is a premium paid program, then we must give coverage and give good representation in each category of drug so that, in fact, the coverage can be considered 100 per cent.

My final comment is, you don't buy car insurance that only covers one side of the car; you cover the entire car. We must provide to seniors through our program adequate coverage to make sure that all categories of drugs have good representation and the kind of situation that I just described does not become commonplace. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say that from what I can see from the announcement made by the Minister of Health today that this is a positive step towards trying to gain some control over the prescribing practices and the escalating costs of drugs in the Province of Nova Scotia, in particular under Pharmacare.

The concern that I continue to have, Mr. Speaker, is that the way this government, up to this point, has gone at trying to deal with the increasing costs of Pharmacare is to, in effect, penalize people and groups like the seniors by doing things like de-listing drugs, by increasing the amounts that they will have to pay and otherwise, basically, blaming them for the increase in the cost of Pharmacare. As I indicated in a resolution yesterday, seniors do not write their own prescriptions. I think that that is an important factor to keep in mind. As the Leader of the Official Opposition said moments ago, that we have now a premium-based drug program for seniors and yet, increasingly, there are more and more drugs that aren't on that list and drugs that are clearly required by many seniors to treat their particular health condition.

While I rise in support of the progress being made, slow as it is, on the question of a new drug formulary, I want to say that and at the same time raising, again, my concerns, Mr. Speaker, about the way seniors, in particular, in this province and other people covered by the Pharmacare Program have been adversely affected by a strategy which has been designed to try to ensure that they use the program as little as possible when, in fact, the focus should be in this area, at controlling the prescribing practices of doctors and the cost of drugs as charged by the pharmaceutical companies. Thank you.

[Page 1824]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 614

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

Whereas Dr. John O'Connor, M.D., of Dartmouth East, has been named Family Physician of the Year for Canada by the College of Family Physicians; and

Whereas Jake, as he is affectionately known, has shown a great commitment to excellence throughout his lifetime as a self-starter, sharing with others, giving care and attention to his patients while finding time and love for his family and community; and

Whereas through his own actions, he has set a high standard of professionalism in continuing medical education; hospital, nursing home and emergency care; within the Armed Forces and throughout his community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize and extend congratulations to Dr. John O'Connor, M.D., on the occasion of his being named 1996 Family Physician of the Year for Canada.

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

[10:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 615

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

Whereas an emergency rescue took place in Truro earlier this month, utilizing the new centralized dispatch facility established by Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the emergency medical dispatcher was able to provide pre-arrival instructions to the caller who was reported to be a young child who had suffered a grand mal seizure and choked on some food; and

Whereas the pre-arrival instructions were successful and the patient was transported by ambulance to a hospital for examination;

[Page 1825]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the need for an emergency medical dispatch system and support the province-wide expansion of this valuable service.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 616

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

Whereas several high school student councils throughout the province are participating in the Thirty Hour Famine in aid of the world's underprivileged and poverty stricken people; and

Whereas councils camp out in their schools for a full 30 hours and do not consume any solid food, milk products or soft drinks; and

Whereas this weekend, 35 students from St. Patrick's High School student body in Halifax will be participating in this event;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the humanitarian efforts of students of St. Pat's who are participating in the famine project, and congratulate them on their efforts to help change the lives and attitudes of people around the world.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 617

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

[Page 1826]

Whereas Smoke-Free Nova Scotia is coordinating a smoke-free business walkabout to celebrate World No-Tobacco Day on Friday, May 31, 1996; and

Whereas volunteer teams will visit businesses in the downtown Halifax area to promote smoke-free environments; and

Whereas the volunteers will distribute Let's Clear the Air in Our Workplace information brochures;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Smoke-Free Nova Scotia's efforts to promote smoke-free businesses on World No-Tobacco Day.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 618

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Hockey Association has taken the initiative to bring the annual general meeting of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association to Halifax, May 17, 1996 to May 20, 1996; and

Whereas Windsor, Nova Scotia, has presented irrefutable proof that it is the true birthplace of the game of hockey; and

Whereas teams from Nova Scotia have won many national championships in hockey over the past 175 years, the most recent being the Canadian Inter-University Athletic Union Championships, won by Acadia University Axemen in March 1996; and

Whereas the annual meeting of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association will bring over 300 visitors to Halifax, and place Halifax on the country's sport pages during that time;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Nova Scotia Hockey Association for promoting the sport of hockey by bringing the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association's annual meeting to the province of hockey's capital, and that the House extend a warm welcome to all visiting hockey delegates.

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

[Page 1827]

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 619

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

Whereas recent initiatives, including the Solid Waste Resource Management Strategy, have created new jobs for Nova Scotians, including the 375 people now working in the enviro-recycling centres; and

Whereas the Environmental Technologies and Industries Section of the Department of the Environment has identified some 500 jobs created during the current fiscal year; and

Whereas the Department of the Environment is hearing on a regular basis from other jurisdictions that are looking to Nova Scotia for environmental solutions to their own problems;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of the Environment joins with its fellow government departments and the public in welcoming the new positive economic climate this government is creating.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence, if I might make an introduction prior to tabling legislation, I would like through you to introduce to you and to the House guests and friends in your gallery. Representing the IWK-Grace Health Centre are Mr. Rick Nurse, who is President and CEO; as well as Ms. Kelly Cameron, board member of that institution; Karen Stone from the management staff; and Ms. Ruby Blois who is here as well. These are friends of women, children and families and, I might say, of the citizens of this province and I would ask them to rise and receive the accolades of this House. Thank you for being here this morning. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 34 - Entitled an Act to Incorporate the Izaak Walton Killam-Grace Health Centre for Children, Women and Families. (Hon. Ronald Stewart)

Bill No. 35 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 106 of the Acts of 1977, the Université Sainte-Anne Act. / Loi modifiant le chapitre 106 des lois de 1977, la Loi de l'Université Sainte-Anne. (Hon. Wayne Gaudet as a private member)

[Page 1828]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 620

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

Whereas the delivery of health care in Cumberland County is reaching a crisis stage because of funding reductions and the shortage of doctors; and

Whereas hospitals in Cumberland County have seen their budgets reduced by $2 million in the past three budget years which has included a $0.5 million cut at Highland View Regional Hospital in Amherst; and

Whereas the head of Highland View Regional Hospital's Emergency Department said on Wednesday that, "the success of the Health Department's health care reform program will be measured in gravestones.";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health move immediately to restore a semblance of stability to health care in Cumberland County.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, if I may, before I read my resolution, introduce to this House a group of people in the west gallery. I will read their names and apologize to them in advance if I don't pronounce a couple of them properly but I will pass the correct spelling on to Hansard, so it will show up properly in the record.

These women are here, Mr. Speaker, and to other members of the House, representing the occupation at the Canada Employment Centre on Gottingen Street. Let me say, as I introduce them, I tip my hat to them, as I know many members of this House will, for the valiant effort, the fight they have been waging, and many of their sisters and brothers in that area, to bring this issue to a head. First of all, Innis MacDonald, Lydia Tyszko, Collette Murray, Paula Banckert, Crystal Mulder and Anne Betts. Please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 621

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

Whereas members of the community have been occupying the former Canada Employment Centre on Gottingen Street since March 27th, in an attempt to stop the downsizing and conversion of the CEC to a service centre; and

[Page 1829]

Whereas the occupation has been going on for 52 days and has attracted widespread community support for the occupiers and encouragement from many members of this House; and

Whereas despite a resolution of this House passed on March 29th, the federal Minister of Human Resource Development has reiterated his opposition to negotiating with the people occupying the former centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House again urges the Honourable Doug Young to direct his local staff to postpone the closing of the Gottingen Street CEC and return immediately to the negotiating table to resolve this dispute.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 622

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

Whereas the Cape Breton Society of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing works together with the Society of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Nova Scotians to provide public education workshops, interpretive services and resources to generate greater understanding and support for the deaf and hard of hearing; and

Whereas more than 58,000 Nova Scotians are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing; and

Whereas the Elks and Royal Purple of Canada have established a program to bring about the earliest possible identification of the hearing impaired child by continuing to research how to assist in the detection, development and rehabilitation of these children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize May as Hearing and Speech Month and support province-wide efforts to benefit the deaf and hard of hearing.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1830]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 623

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

Whereas the Department of Health has embarked on an expensive television advertising campaign promoting the Liberal agenda of home care; and

Whereas these advertisements are misleading as they ignore the deficiencies in the home care system; and

Whereas the money spent on these advertisements could be put to better use by improving the home care system, by, among other things, hiring more staff;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Health stop paying for the Liberal Party election advertising and concentrate on delivering the programs the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are paying for.

AN HON. MEMBER: Waive notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House that notice be waived?

I hear some Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 624

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

Whereas the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, in conjunction with the Bluenose II Preservation Trust, has disgracefully tried to intimidate a number of Nova Scotia business owners in recent weeks, by way of threats of legal action and even visits by Willie Moore, for using a schooner logo for promotional purposes; and

Whereas to date the minister's legal storm troopers have not yet harassed all business owners using the schooner logo but may well be doing so before too many more weeks pass, especially with the Legislature closed and no Question Periods to face; and

Whereas the Halifax Chronicle-Herald Limited, donor of the International Fishermen's Trophy, uses the caption of a schooner logo each day, to highlight Nova Scotia news briefs on the first few pages of the provincial daily;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister for the Economic Renewal inform Nova Scotians today whether his legal storm troopers and perhaps even Willie, himself, will soon be assaulting the Halifax Chronicle-Herald and ordering that the paper no longer use its schooner logo.

[Page 1831]

[10:30 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: I don't know if I can allow the use of the term storm troopers. The storm troopers, Sturmabteilung were a very notorious outfit in Nazi Germany. I would rule out of order the use of the term, storm troopers.

AN HON. MEMBER: You used it yourself.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, the term storm trooper has been used in this House by a member for Cape Breton in the past.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I might perhaps voice my concern about the use of such terms in the House.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 625

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

Whereas at yesterday's convocation ceremony, Saint Mary's University conferred upon Donald Graham Tremaine, a very close friend and former colleague of mine on CBC Radio and Television, an honorary doctorate; and

Whereas Dr. Tremaine achieved this high honour as a result of his contributions to Canadian broadcasting and his service to the community. In broadcasting, Dr. Tremaine established a number of firsts, the most significant being the first to read a television news broadcast in Halifax in 1954; and

Whereas, in serving his community, Dr. Tremaine assisted the following charities: the Canadian Cancer Society; the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia; the Canadian Kidney Foundation; the Grace Maternity Hospital, where he helped raise $75,000; the IWK Children's Hospital Annual Telethon, which he hosted for 10 years and which raised in excess of $26 million; the Restoration Committee for St. Paul's Cemetery, serving on the board and helping to raise $850,000; he was honoured with the Confederation Commemorative Medal in 1994 and the next year was made a member of the Order of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in extending to my good friend and former colleague, sincere congratulations and best wishes on achieving this most distinctive award of an honorary doctorate.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1832]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention of members of the House that sitting in the Speaker's Gallery is Mr. Allan Billard who will be our candidate in the upcoming provincial election in the province. I wish the members to afford him their courteous applause. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 626

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

Whereas in the boggled minds of the Minister of Finance and members of the Liberal Government, this session of the House will go down in history as the balanced budget session; and

Whereas anyone who does not peer at the world through red-coloured glasses will know that the so-called balanced budget was achieved only through the most blatant sleight-of-hand procedures; and

Whereas the Liberal propaganda machine is already in full myth-making mode, cranking out the false news at taxpayers' expense;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interests of forewarning future historians, this House officially declare this as the session of the phoney balanced budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 627

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 community college system is so short of funds that programs and seats are being cut; and

Whereas expensive television advertisements are now being shown to Nova Scotians extolling the virtues of this reduced community college system; and

Whereas these ads, paid for by the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, are nothing more than advertisements for the Liberal Party and unfairly create the impression that there are unlimited opportunities for our province's young people in our community college system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia repay the cost of the advertisements to the people of Nova Scotia and declare them as election expenses as they are clearly designed to promote the Liberal Party more so than community college opportunities.

[Page 1833]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 628

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

Whereas at the recent MusicFest 1996 Festival, the Gaetz Brook Jazz Band and Grade 8 band both won bronze medals, the Grade 9 band won a silver medal and the Eastern Shore High School Band won a bronze medal; and

Whereas the 60 band members from Gaetz Brook, under the direction of Mr. Tom Rusinak, and the more than 100 students from the high school band, under the direction of Mr. Nathan Beeler, are very enthusiastic and eager learners; and

Whereas the bands from Gaetz Brook Junior High will have an opportunity to share their musical talents with the community in a series of concerts this spring and summer at the IWK Children's Hospital, the Public Gardens, the official opening of Upper Clement's Park and at the Dartmouth waterfront;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the 60 band members from Gaetz Brook Junior High, the 100 band members from Eastern Shore District High and their band leaders for the high quality of music they produce, while exemplifying the important benefits of music programs in our schools.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 629

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 Halifax Regional Municipality will soon be taking over work from the Department of Transportation on connector roads in Halifax County; and

Whereas as a result of this takeover there is considerable concern over the status of 40 jobs once this takeover is finalized; and

[Page 1834]

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has made workers in his department suffer enough already with the loss of hundreds of jobs, including recent layoffs in the safety division;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works show a form of humanity and see what can be done for the 40 individuals on the brink of losing their jobs with the Department of Transportation as a result of this road takeover by the Halifax Regional Municipality.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 630

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 Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations recently released a tender for supplying of dairy products in this province; and

Whereas this tender is not in the best interests of small dairies, such as Cooks Dairy in Yarmouth, as they would be required to provide distribution on a provincial basis rather than on a regional basis; and

Whereas Cooks Dairy provides dairy products to southwestern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations review their tendering process and allow dairies to tender on a regional basis rather than a provincial basis.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction, first, if I might. I would like to introduce, in your gallery, Mr. Mike Slayter, who is a Group Leader for Parent Finders; Faith Hendrickson, the Registrar and Searcher for Parent Finders Nova Scotia; and Janice Hector, Search Team Coordinator for Parent Finders Nova Scotia. These people are here today to view the proceedings of the House and they have a great deal of interest in the Adoption Information Act, Bill No. 12. I would like the House to give them a warm round of applause. (Applause)

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

[Page 1835]

RESOLUTION NO. 631

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

Whereas there are many important economic spin-offs from the farming business in Cape Breton County and surrounding area; and

Whereas it was recently announced that the subsidization of limestone in this region has practically ceased to exist; and

Whereas discouraging the use of limestone through excessive costs will lead to a significant reduction in use, which will lead to a loss of productivity and profitability at the farm level;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Government acknowledge the request of approximately 550 farmers and reinstate this program immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 632

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

Whereas the Valley Regional Hospital or Valley Health Services is facing a budget cut of $1.8 million this year; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has added approximately $1.8 million in salaries and administrative expenses to his department through the hiring of additional communication officers and personal assistants; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has clearly lost touch with Nova Scotia when he allows the lay-off of health care workers, and makes people wait for desperately needed hospital attention while continually hiring communications and administrative staff;

Therefore be it resolved that before the Minister of Health has the audacity to cut nearly $2 million from the operating budget of a hospital, he reassess the increased bureaucracy at his own office prior to informing Nova Scotians they must do with less health care while he does with more.

AN HON. MEMBER: Waive notice.

MR. SPEAKER: I hear some Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

[Page 1836]

RESOLUTION NO. 633

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

Whereas the Liberal Government is spending thousands of dollars on television commercials promoting a Home Care Program that is non-existent in many areas across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Liberal Government, while spending thousands and thousands of dollars on television commercials for home care, has gutted $2.8 million from the annual operating budget of the Hants Community Hospital in Windsor over the past three years; and

Whereas this $2.8 million has resulted in the loss of both jobs and beds at the Hants Community Hospital, while also creating anxiety and stress for the citizens of Hants County concerned about the delivery of health care;

Therefore be it resolved that before spending another nickel promoting a Home Care Program that leaves Nova Scotians asking more questions than there are answers, the Minister of Health take this funding and put it towards the basic delivery of health care for residents in West Hants and across Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis has a resolution.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis you have the floor, sir.

AN HON. MEMBER: He wasn't standing up.

MR. SPEAKER: He had sought the floor earlier and had given me notice.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 634

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: I am supposed to be a sitting member, but I am standing at the moment. (Laughter)

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

Whereas Community Economic Development requires that economic solutions must be locally driven in order to create long-term sustainable development; and

Whereas the success of the Upper Clements Wildlife Society is an example of community cooperation and community solutions in partnership with government; and

Whereas the Upper Clements Wildlife Park Society has been successful in its fund-raising efforts;

[Page 1837]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the successful and continuing efforts of the Upper Clements Wildlife Society in maintaining the Upper Clements Wildlife Park as a treasure for all Nova Scotians.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 635

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 Westray Families Group has expressed growing frustration with the performance and testimony of some provincial officials before the Westray Inquiry; and

Whereas the families group has expressed concern that by their attitudes and performance, these officials may be putting other workers in the same danger as that faced by Westray workers before May 9, 1992; and

Whereas the families group has raised legitimate concerns about workplace safety in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Ministers of Labour and Natural Resources stop hiding behind legal niceties and meet with the Westray families forthwith.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 636

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

Whereas the Savage Government continues to extol the benefits of the tourism industry; and

Whereas today, Nova Scotia tourism is receiving free promotion from the American television program, Good Morning America, which is broadcasting live from Lunenburg; and

Whereas the Savage Government ignores the vital importance to employment and to the economy of this industry by continuing to deny it departmental status;

[Page 1838]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier recognize the value of tourism to Nova Scotia and appoint a Minister of Tourism when the next shuffle of the Titanic's deck chairs is undertaken.

[10:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 637

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

Whereas in 1946, through the efforts of Major James A. Church, DSO, MC, of the Royal Engineers and members of the Lawrencetown Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, a survey school for war veterans was established and today that school is known as the College of Geographic Science Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College; and

Whereas in conjunction with his stewardship of the college, Major Church developed a training program for the Maritime Provinces and Association of Nova Scotia Land Surveyors and was instrumental in the development of legislation to regulate land surveying in this province; and

Whereas the college, as the result of the dedication that Major Church and his successors, has over the years expanded its curriculum to include map making, photogrammetry, cartography and has earned an excellent academic reputation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the contribution made to the province by the College of Geographic Science and extend congratulations and best wishes to its faculty, students and alumni in their 50th Anniversary year.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable to the House?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 638

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

[Page 1839]

Whereas the National Geographic Society Award in Cartography, which is co-sponsored by the American Association of Geography Cartography Specialty Group, recognizes student achievement and encourages student research in the art, science and technology of mapping in the cartographic or related disciplines; and

Whereas from among the best universities and colleges in North America this year's award had been jointly granted to a graduate student from the University of California at Berkeley and Edith Margaret Pundt, a May 1996 graduate of the College of Geographic Sciences at Lawrencetown; and

Whereas Edith is the first geographic science students to be so honoured and among a very few Canadian students ever to be selected;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend to Edith Margaret Pundt our sincere congratulations on her remarkable achievement and wish her well in her future endeavours.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is that agreeable?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 639

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

Whereas construction and renovation work is presently under way at the Sydney Wharf; and

Whereas concern has been expressed by truckers in Cape Breton about the federal Chretien Government not adhering to the 20/80 rule; and

Whereas a letter from the office of the Member of Parliament for Cape Breton - The Sydneys recently said it was up to the Nova Scotia Government to make sure the federal government adheres to this province's 20/80 rule to ensure fairness to Cape Breton truckers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works attempt to have the two levels of government stop passing the buck and make it crystal clear to truckers in Cape Breton today that they will be treated with equality and justice.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 1840]

RESOLUTION NO. 640

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

Whereas the Minister of Health, instead of reforming health care in Nova Scotia has formed a state of chaos; and

Whereas since the Liberal Government came to power examples of this chaos have been clearly evident in all areas of Cape Breton; and

Whereas at least $9 million has been removed from the operating budgets of four hospitals in Cape Breton County in the past two budget years while another $1.2 million has been removed from hospitals in Inverness, Victoria and the Strait of Richmond;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take a look in the mirror to see if he really believes he is Mandrake the Magician when it comes to reforming health care in Nova Scotia or face reality and see that he is making life miserable for thousands of Nova Scotians seeking proper medical care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

That appears to conclude the daily routine. We will now advance to Orders of the Day.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Yesterday in Question Period some members of the Opposition, including the honourable Leader of the Opposition, expressed great interest in this pamphlet outlining our tax reform package, Advantage Nova Scotia, which has the 1-800 number on the back, 1-800-731-7707. The question that was asked in Question Period was the cost of production and confirming the amount produced. There were 10,000 produced. I think I informed the honourable member that I thought the cost was around $1,600. The actual cost was $1,626.40 and the contractor was KenMac Print.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[Page 1841]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[10:52 a.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. Robert Carruthers in the Chair.]

[10:53 a.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered Bill No. 9 and recommends it to the favourable consideration of the House without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

When shall this bill be read a third time?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Now.

MR. SPEAKER: Today.

Ordered that this bill be read a third time later today and listed on the order paper for third reading.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private and Local Bills for Third Reading.

PRIVATE AND LOCAL BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I propose that these bills be now read for a third time en bloc.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreeable to the House that the bills be read en bloc?

It is agreed.

Bill No. 3 - Lower River Hebert Cemetery Company Act.

Bill No. 5 - Stella Maris Residence Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 7 - Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Financial Assistance Act, 1996.

Bill No. 15 - Anglican Church Lands (Tidnish) Act.

Bill No. 17 - Halifax Regional Water Commission Act.

[Page 1842]

Bill No. 22 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 23 - Dartmouth Pollution Control Account Act.

Bill No. 24 - Bridgewater Parks and Recreation Commission Act.

Bill No. 25 - Halifax Trust Funds Transfer (1996) Act.

Bill No. 26 - Bridgewater Waterfront Development Corporation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Member's Public Bills.

PRIVATE MEMBER'S PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Would you please call Bill No. 4. On behalf of the honourable member for Bedford-Fall River, I move third reading.

Bill No. 4 - Nursing Assistants Act.

Bill No. 27 - Acadia Trust Company Dissolution Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motions are carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour for third reading.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I so move and I look forward to the comments of the Opposition Parties, which have been very good with me and the government with regard to this legislation.

[Page 1843]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in speaking on Bill No. 13, one must first of all start off by saying that the minister has addressed the introduction of this bill in a fashion that I think other members of his Cabinet could suitably follow, that is he came forward with a discussion paper, a White Paper, and then a draft bill, all three of which received fairly substantial distribution around the province to interested parties for examination. As a result of that, we had a bill introduced in this session of the House that was, for all intents and purposes, an amalgam of those suggestions that had been made to the minister by those various groups, as I said, that were on the circulation list.

Mr. Speaker, if I may, the Leader of the New Democratic Party would like to make an introduction.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Hants West for allowing me to make an introduction before he gets on a roll in his speech; I wouldn't want to break his flow.

Mr. Speaker, I want to introduce to you and to other members of this House, in the west gallery, a group of students from the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre, Class 3. These students are led by Jennifer Wallace. I would just like to say a few words, if I may, about the Halifax Immigrant Learning Centre. These are people from many countries who are interested in how government works in this country and in this province. They are studying about Canada - the geography, the government and history - and they are here to learn specifically about the Government of Nova Scotia.

At the school, Mr. Speaker, there are four classes, approximately 102 students and 10 children in their day care. I would like to ask all members to join me in welcoming these guests to our Legislature and for taking the initiative to find out more about the government in this province. I want to ask everyone to give them a warm welcome and a thank you. (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to join in welcoming the group in the west gallery.

As I was saying, I am congratulating the minister on the process that he used to put this bill on the floor of the House. The fact that it has gone fairly speedily through this House, I think, is indicative of the fact that there have been very few people who are unhappy with the bill. In essence, Mr. Speaker, I may as well say right now that the caucus of which I am a member will be supporting third reading of this bill and the transition into the proclamation phase.

Having said that, I think there are some things in this bill that the minister may have to correct, perhaps by regulation or perhaps even bringing the bill back in the next session or two for further fine-tuning. What I am referring to primarily, Mr. Speaker, is that as with any legislation that grows, there are things that come to mind that you think, gosh I wish I had

[Page 1844]

done that when I first brought the bill forward. First of all, I know that I have to say that occupational health and safety and money spent on occupational health and safety should be of extreme importance not only to the workers but to the employers as well because time lost on the job, brought about by accidents or incidents on the job, costs the employer money in two ways. He loses that employee's skill for a period of time while the employee is recovering and also, of course, it affects the Workers' Compensation Board and the premiums that must be paid by all employers.

Our rates for workers' compensation in this province, Mr. Speaker, are too high and that is unfortunate. One of the things that people look at when they are going to establish a business in a province is what is the cost of establishing that business in that province and secondly, what is the cost of the benefits that I will have to provide for my employees. Certainly, one of the essentials is the coverage by workers' compensation, in fact, it is in the law, it has to be done.

[11:00 a.m.]

It is to the employer's benefit to have a workers' compensation rate that is low and to have a Workers' Compensation Fund that is healthy. Insofar as the employees are concerned, it is also to their benefit to have a Workers' Compensation Board that is healthy because then, benefits can increase. You can't have one without the other and the key is to reduce the number of accidents.

We will probably never achieve perfection but we should try and get as low as we possibly can. We do that with three different sticks that the Minister of Labour has. One is he can put in place an educational system that informs people of the importance of safe work practices and assist the employers in coming forward with the necessary training. Number two, he can carry out many inspections to make sure not only that compliance is being looked after but that also, everybody is aware of what their particular workplace doctrine is for a safe workplace. Thirdly, of course, he has the final stick which is unfortunately the penalty clauses. If you don't cut the mustard, well then, under the Act you could end up in jail or you could, in fact, end up in jail with a $250,000 fine as well. It is a pretty hefty penalty within this Act if you go to the limit.

I think that that is fine but I am troubled to a fairly large extent with the effect of this legislation on small businesses. I think that unless the minister has adequate resources for education of the workforce and the employers, unless he has adequate money available for a large force of inspections so that every workplace in the province would be inspected at least once every couple of years and at the present time that is absolutely impossible to inspect every workplace in the province every two years. At least it should be done and possibly we should be aiming for every year and on a random basis so that every workplace is up and running on a daily basis in accordance with the best practices for the safety of the workforce.

Those are a few things that I would like the minister to consider, particularly as I say, the plight of the small businessman who now has to really get involved in safety, who perhaps has had no involvement whatever before with occupational health and safety, is now required to climb on the bandwagon and to adopt these practices. I am delighted to be able to vote in favour of this bill but however, with the caveats that I think there are some things that the minister still is going to have to do through regulation to take care of those small businesses across this province. Thank you.

[Page 1845]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I too rise to indicate my support and the support of my caucus for Bill No. 13, an Act Respecting Occupational Health and Safety. This has been a personal goal of mine for the last seven years in this province, working with workers and others in the province to try to strengthen occupational health and safety laws in this province and to ensure or to work towards a climate developing in this province where there is absolutely no tolerance for the kind of injury, the kind of sickness and the kind of carnage that too often has been allowed to go on in workplaces in this province. It is our responsibility as legislators to end this idea that a job at any cost is acceptable. Surely we have learned enough, especially in the past few years with the disaster at Westray, that we cannot allow that philosophy to continue in this province.

I agree with the concerns raised by the member for Hants West about the potential implication on small employers of this bill and the potential cost for education and training. I say in all seriousness, Mr. Speaker, that the way this bill is applied, I think, and the sensitivity that is used in working with employers at all levels is extremely important. We must not turn a blind eye any more to unsafe and unhealthy working conditions in all workplaces, regardless of size. That is the bottom line, as far as I am concerned, Mr. Speaker.

I call on the Minister of Labour to ensure that not only do we get the words, not only do we get the rules and the regulations which are important, the structure upon which we are going to provide for properly enforced, properly administered workplace health and safety rules, Mr. Speaker, but I call on him to ensure that a philosophy that has existed in the Department of Labour for so many years, a philosophy of reaction instead of pro-action, ends, and if it hasn't ended already that it end right now, with the passage of this bill in this Legislature. No longer can his department and he, as the minister responsible, allow a philosophy of three strikes before an order to correct an unsafe workplace. No longer can we allow that to continue. No longer can we permit individual inspectors to shirk their responsibility, because of a sense that a philosophy that comes down from the upper echelons that urges them to show leniency with employers, no longer can we allow that to exist.

I think a big part of ensuring that this bill is as good as the language and as good as the drafting of it, is to ensure that resources are put into it, to ensure that there are resources put towards increasing our inspectors and the inspection resources of that department. We have to ensure that further resources are put into education and training, not only for small and medium size employers but for all workplaces, and, in particular, for this minister's staff. It is imperative that those inspectors who do work have the resources, have the backup to be able to enforce this Act. That also goes to the Minister of Justice, to ensure that there are sufficient resources in the prosecution services that when inspectors do go as far as putting in infractions, to charging employers for infractions against this Act, that we have the resources in place in the prosecution services to provide for quick and speedy and stiff enforcement of this Act, Mr. Speaker.

There are a couple of important issues dealt with in this bill. One of them deals with communication, with information flow. There is responsibility not only on behalf of the employers but also on behalf of the employees. The employer and the employees in the Department of Labour have to communicate much more directly on all issues relative to workplace safety and health, right from ensuring that information is posted, if an order is issued by a department or any other direction is given to an employer that something is cleaned up. That has to be posted in a place where all employees will be able to see it. Everything from that to minutes of joint occupational health and safety meetings have to be

[Page 1846]

kept within the Department of Labour so that we have a constant logging of all communication, of all information around safety and health in the workplaces. It is imperative that that be done, Mr. Speaker.

Also, the right to refuse provisions in this Act have been strengthened, I believe, in a very significant way to ensure that if a worker decides that the circumstances under which he or she is working are unhealthy or unsafe, that they have the right and the responsibility to refuse to work and that that refusal will be communicated to every other employee in that workplace, Mr. Speaker, so that they too will understand the implications of performing that work. That is extremely important.

The no discrimination clause that ensures that workers will not be penalized by fear of losing their job or being demoted or otherwise have their employment situation restricted is extremely important. I applaud that.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other parts of this Act that are extremely important. Let me just say, in closing, I had the opportunity to speak at an earlier stage in this bill and I won't take any more time now, except to say how important this process has been. The minister's Advisory Council on Occupational Health and Safety has been working on this legislative review and change for over three years now. They have been working hard. It is a body that represents both workers and employers in the Province of Nova Scotia. There has been a fair bit of communication within each of those representative groups. It has not been an easy process. I know I have been kept apprised of the process at many stages throughout the three years. It has not been easy for any of those people participating, but they have worked hard, they have kept their eye on the ball and I believe reached some important compromises but have maintained the integrity of the philosophy that is contained within this bill. So I thank them for their dedication.

Let me say, also, that the minister's staff, the staff of the Department of Labour who have been working on this project have been undaunted by many of the demands that have been placed upon them and, at times, the lack of persistence or the sense that this issue wasn't going to go forward; they have hung in there and they have continued to work with the advisory council. They have done a fine job providing supporting documentation, providing information to those members and, finally, to the minister, Mr. Speaker, and I am glad that they have stuck with it as long as they have to ensure that the minister has been able to bring this Act before us in the fall, to distribute it throughout the province so people have had the opportunity to have input.

Now that we have had that extensive consultation and I and my caucus, we are able to stand here in this House and support passage of what I consider a very important piece of legislation for Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, for workers and employers, I hope that we can indicate that this is a sign of how the bad old days of lax health and safety enforcement and protocol in the Province of Nova Scotia have ended. I know that I for one will continue in my efforts around this province to increase awareness of the need to have safe and healthy workplaces and the absolute intolerance that needs to be shown toward that whole philosophy that a job at any cost is in any way acceptable. I think that is a responsibility that we all have and I will work with this member and any other members that are equally concerned about this issue.

[Page 1847]

[11:15 a.m.]

In conclusion, let me say I am glad to rise and speak in support of this bill. I again thank all of those who have been involved in the hard work that has gone into the development of this bill and its final drafting and tabling here in this House. I look forward to seeing proclamation at the earliest opportunity. Thank you.

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I take great pleasure in rising to say a few words about this bill today. First and foremost, I would like to compliment the minister and his staff on the way that they have handled this whole situation. I think that the minister's style in handling this situation and certainly, his experience in this House, has proven that by working with people you can accomplish a great deal. I can only say I hope that other ministers on the other side of this House will learn from the Minister of Labour as to how you can actually get a bill through the House and make a difference for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia.

In a former life I worked on a health and safety committee and I was part of an industry that has a high accident rate, the coal industry. I can tell you that this legislation is important to the people who work in heavy industry, especially in Industrial Cape Breton. There are a lot of people that I have had the opportunity to talk to since this bill was first introduced by the minister and many of them are quite excited about what he has been able to accomplish. We all realize that there is more work that has to be done but we certainly have a starting point here. I am concerned on what is going to happen with the small businesses and with farmers. I do know from discussions with the minister that he shares and is going to consider those concerns.

It is important that Cape Bretoners and Nova Scotians have jobs but it is also important that their families have their spouses come home to them. This legislation will help with that. I am very pleased to be able to stand here today and say that I will be supporting this bill and again, I would like to congratulate the staff and the minister on the work they have done here. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a few brief words on Bill No. 13. I, again, add my congratulations to the minister for bringing forward his bill which will improve safety in the workplace, a topic that is particularly relevant, I think, in today's situation when we look at what is going on at the Westray Inquiry.

The one point I would like to make with the minister, while I am endorsing his bill, is the question of the availability and the affordability of the training programs which will be required for employers to participate in this particular change in the direction of occupational health and safety in the province. I only bring that to the minister's attention again, I know he is aware of the problem and it is a key problem for employers.

Many small employers, some engaged in businesses in which there is not a great deal of flexibility at the bottom line are very concerned about the costs of the training programs. This must be addressed in a serious way through either regulation or by other means by the minister to make the transition to this new situation that the bill puts before us, an affordable one and one with which employers feel comfortable. By facilitating their concerns, we can ensure a better compliance with the legislation. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I too will be very brief. My colleague and Leader, the member for Halifax Atlantic has said most of it. I just want to add my words, not only of thanks and appreciation to the minister and his staff but also very directly to the representatives from the workers and to the employers [Page 1848]

who worked on the health and safety committee and worked very tirelessly over a long period of time to ensure that this legislation came forward. I know that there were compromises made on both sides and through the process there came a greater understanding and appreciation of each other's concerns and issues and that was a very positive and healthy, I believe, learning experience for both sides. It is an example that when there is a commitment to bring parties together, that you can actually resolve very complicated and extremely vital and important issues by working in a cooperative manner, if that opportunity is afforded.

I would sincerely hope - and I say to not only the minister but to the minister's colleagues - that the example, the process that was followed here, can be one that can also be used by other ministries in trying to develop legislation to improve the situation. Certainly in this day and age, we shouldn't have for a long period of time, Mr. Speaker, been prepared to tolerate workplaces that are unsafe. I don't believe that the vast majority of employers want to compromise the health and safety of their employees and I certainly know that workers don't want to have to work in environments that are unhealthy or unsafe.

I also say to the minister that if this legislation is to be effective - and the minister has already indicated, for example, in the Law Amendments Committee process that it is his intention to hire 10 new health and safety officers this year, two of whom are going to be educational officers - that is important. However, I am also reminded that even with those increased numbers starting to bring us back up, maybe as high as we were before, we still (Interruption) will be next year, have more game officials or those who are involved in working for the Department of Natural Resources, protecting, going out, investigating and ensuring the regulations that revolve around the wildlife and game in the province. The number is still considerably less than those who are looking after the health and safety of the men and women and young people in this province in the workplaces. Our wildlife, certainly, is vitally and very important, but I put people first.

Mr. Speaker, that kind of situation has got to be addressed because in order for this legislation to be effective as I believe all sides of this House, all workers and employers, want it to be, that is going to require the infusion of some resources to ensure that, for example, the proper training and education is in place and also to ensure that the proper monitoring is in place to make sure that we will not in the future have to read in the newspapers or hear anywhere at all, that there have been accidents that could have been prevented and that men and women of this province were either injured or killed as a result of working at a worksite that was in fact not up to standards.

So with those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say that I will be supporting this and I look forward to the minister elaborating a little bit in terms of the kinds of resources and plans to ensure that this Act is, in fact, going to be effective. I am just reminded of the Family and Children's Services Act, when that was originally introduced, and which we again all supported, unfortunately the level of resources were never able to be

[Page 1849]

found to make it effective and, as a result, many individuals have unfortunately not benefitted as they should have from that legislation.

So, again, Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for bringing this legislation forward.

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

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, to me and to the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, this is certainly an opportunity that people have worked towards for the last three to five years. This is a very proud occasion for my staff, who are really committed.

Now I am going to try to answer them, because I am aware of the time factor. The honourable member for Hants West, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, the honourable member for Cape Breton West, the Leader of the Opposition, and the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, each one of them raised some very serious issues with regard to this legislation; serious in this way: because what they brought up about education and all those things are so true.

It is not good enough to put a bill through this House, the problem won't go away. You can put all the bills through here that you want, and I don't care what Party you are with, it doesn't do anything for the problem, unless you are prepared to take that foundation you have laid, which is the legislation, and then build on that. It is up to every MLA, whatever political Party they are with, to ensure that governments today and governments in the future - the proclamation date is in the bill, which is January 1st, now that it has gone through this House - it is up to you people to ensure that government responds to the needs of labour and management in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I am not being political, and I hope people accept it for the way it is, and the truth of the matter is, when I started working on this, when I first went to the department, and I mean I started bringing it to government, I want to say here today publicly that if there is anybody who totally supported me on day one, it was the Premier of this Province whose heart was in the right place when it came to occupational health and safety. (Applause)

I want to thank my staff members at the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, because we are trying to develop a new philosophy with regard to the workplace environment; that has to take place. This legislation won't do it alone, Mr. Speaker, we have to have a philosophy change in government, in management and with the labour movement itself, for a new workplace environment that we hope to develop.

I want to say this, that the staff I have in the Department of Labour, I believe are committed. Yes, we are doing things differently today than we used to but the way we used to do things, we can't necessarily blame the staff. I think we have good staff and I am very proud. Three who are associated with my department, who, I believe, have done a great job, are in the gallery today. (Applause)

I want to say that the key is process. I put two major bills through this House: the Credit Union Bill, which will have a massive impact on Nova Scotia; and this one, and this is the process. My colleagues know that I support this process on every major bill that I ever have anything to do with, with regard to the House. I want to thank the PC caucus and the NDP caucus for their support, because their critics have talked to me over the last year. They have contacted me, they have talked to me, and we have had dinner together because they were both interested in this legislation and what we had to do. I want to say publicly that we should have more of that, like it used to be in this House. We should work together and have that sort of relationship.

The review, I want to use, which is in the bill, the advisory council, on a continuous basis. They have done a great job. There is no Nova Scotian who can say, in all honesty, that they haven't done a great job with regard to this, along with my staff.

[Page 1850]

With regard to time loss, and I think that was a great point because there is a new philosophy we are developing in our department and that is dealing with the time loss, the total cost. I am only going to say this very quickly, some of you people know the time restraint but I believe I have certain things to say which are important to all members of this House.

[11:30 a.m.]

Last year in Nova Scotia, in this small province, we paid out $110 million in WCB claims. That doesn't count all of the industries that are not covered, like financial institutions and all those sorts of things. Indirect costs with down time, retraining, according to a formula they used, was $575 million. So in a population of less than 1 million people, last year it cost us about $700 million in Nova Scotia. Do you want to be competitive? I say to employers all of the time and all MLAs should be sending this same message, that if you want to be competitive, you have a great opportunity under occupational health and safety and costs of lost time within your industries or within the total industries in Nova Scotia.

So, the employers, the employees and the families should always be included in the discussions. We have to have a partnership and we have to come together. We are giving that leadership within our department now to accomplish those things. Education is the key to it all. If there is any member or any Nova Scotian who thinks getting this bill through is going to deliver, let me tell you, it is not going to deliver.

I have met this morning, already, which my staff know, with my financial people, with the deputy minister and maybe I assumed that the bill was going through, and that I shouldn't have, but I said, I want my education officers and I want my inspectors in place by September 1st, so we are moving there. We are also developing videos at this time as well as manuals.

The workplace environment I have touched on. A job at any cost, God I wish we heard that more often you know from all political Parties. I am not one of those people that believe you should have a job at any cost. I believe that if a job is not long-term and beneficial to the family and to Nova Scotians, then I don't think we should be out there fighting for those types of jobs. It is important and that philosophy is how you would develop a new environment within the workplace in this province.

I am going to tell you, we are going to be proactive. We need people to train and we will have the people. We hope to start that training with communications by September 1st and I want to say this with regard to small business, I came up through small business and had it. Let me say this, half the arguments you hear on the street are not true. Employees with less than 20 employees, it is a small business, do not require a safety program on the site, less than 20 employees. So will people please remember that when you go back home to your constituencies. It is stated very clearly in the bill. They don't require a safety program with

[Page 1851]

a written procedure. All these books they talk about and all of this legal stuff, God, I don't know what province they are talking about, they are not talking about Nova Scotia. Myself and my department would never bring a bill to the House that would do that.

The only paper required for employers and let me tell you this and you people remember, the only paper required for employers with between 5 and 19 employees is a one page safety policy. If they can't print it, get them to send it to us and I will print the thing for them, make them some extra copies and send them back home. That is all they need, a one page safety policy. We will have a book that will show how to do that so what the cost is I don't understand with regard to paper, legal costs and all of those things. That is not in the bill that I have introduced.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, a question for the minister. The minister just said that there is no cost. Maybe that is so.

MR. BROWN: No, I didn't. I said there is cost, but not the amount that you hear.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, okay, what is a reasonable amount and what is an unreasonable amount? All I was saying, and the Leader of the Opposition was saying, was simply that the costs should not be very great because there is a training element required. For instance, I know a gentleman who has a very small shop and he manufactures furniture, kitchen cabinets. He does that in a small shop; I think he has seven employees. That is a very dangerous kind of situation, because they are using power tools, saws and what have you. To the best of my knowledge, none of his staff have ever been through a training course; probably he hasn't himself. So there is going to have to be a training component there, an education component, and that is going to cost money. So I would just like to tell the minister that it isn't without cost; there is a cost.

MR. BROWN: Oh, Mr. Speaker, I agree there is a cost and already the Nova Scotia council is developing programs and trying to work that out.

I want to talk about small businesses. Several people have approached me with regard to restaurants and motels. Well, Guy, are they really a problem? I want to tell you, they are running away with their problem in Nova Scotia. In 1992, there were 569 injuries; 1993, 720; 1994, 739; and I just have early figures on 1995, while that is being completed. This is only through the WCB; this does not include those who do not have WCB, which is a lot of them with one or two employees. So the restaurant and the food business, their rate of injuries is growing faster than most others. They feel they don't need this sort of thing. Well, they do, with about 800 injuries in Nova Scotia in 1995 likely.

I realize that with small business, yes, there is going to be training, but we are trying to develop that, we are keeping it as simple as we can, cutting down on the paperwork, like I said, to one page, from 5 to 19 employees. If the guy can't get that published, I will personally publish it for them.

Again, the farmers. Myself and Minister of Agriculture, through our departments, are about to sign, we have finalized an agreement where the agricultural reps will be going out there and saying the same thing about occupational health and safety. What we have had is the WCB going in and the agricultural reps will say, well, I have nothing to do with that. That has to stop. Every Nova Scotian has something to do with occupational health and safety.

[Page 1852]

The Leader of the Opposition, he brought up the small business and I agree with him, and the member for Sackville-Cobequid. I say to all members of this House, in closing this debate, if you ever have any ideas or suggestions or concerns, then you contact us. Because, I am going to tell you, we are going to listen in that department and we are going to act on responsible suggestions.

Mr. Speaker, I thank all members of this House for their cooperation and I say to all members, through your office, that this is a great day for Nova Scotia, for employers and for employees. My staff, which is committed, it is a very proud moment for them and it is a proud moment for me, and I thank all of you members for the type of support you have given me. Thank you. I move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 13, the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Premier. (Interruptions)

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: The writ. I saw the Lieutenant Governor this morning, I want all members to know. Mr. Speaker, and members of the House, I have a message from the Lieutenant Governor.

Mr. Speaker, and Members of the House of Assembly, I have the pleasure to report that today I presented the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne to His Honour, John James Kinley, C.D., S.M., D.Eng., P.Eng., FEIC, Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia. His Honour has delivered a formal acknowledgement of the Address to me and has asked me to place his acknowledgement before the House of Assembly, which I take pleasure in doing.

His Honour's acknowledgement reads as follows:

"Mr. Speaker and Members of the House of Assembly:

I have the honour to acknowledge receipt of the dispatch of April 22nd, 1996, presented by the Deputy Premier and other Members of the Executive Council in reply to the Speech delivered by me at the opening of the present Session and passed by the House of Assembly on the 22nd day of April, 1996.

I thank you for your loyal Address and for your assurance that earnest attention will be given to the business of the Session and to all other matters which may come before you for consideration.".

It is signed, John James Kinley, Lieutenant Governor. I will table that.

[Page 1853]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

Bill No. 9 - Meat Inspection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture for third reading.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: On behalf of the honourable Minister of Agriculture, I would move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 9, the Meat Inspection Act. Is there an intervener?

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just want to comment on Bill No. 9, the Meat Inspection Act. I think this bill has been a long time coming. It has been worked on for many years and I do congratulate the minister for taking it forward.

I am sure there wasn't much meat sold in this province that wasn't inspected, but the fact is that one carcass could do a lot of damage. The fact is that the bill now will require that all meat will be inspected in Nova Scotia. As I say, I believe it is a good bill.

It also gives the custom operators, people who custom kill and sell the beef, wrap the beef, they are excluded from this bill. I think that is a good thing as well because they are not selling to retail, they are selling directly to the customer. If that customer is not satisfied with it, he won't buy again; next year, he just won't buy it from that person. So I think that is important.

There is also time, I understand, for some of the plants to be brought up to par, to meet certain requirements, and there is a time, I think it is three years, to give them time to install and do the required renovations to bring their plants in shape.

All I want to say again, Mr. Speaker, is that I think this is a good bill, that we certainly support it. It is good for the province, it is good for the consumer; it is really consumer protection. As far as the farmers are concerned, I think there may be some smaller farmers hurt a little by it, but the fact is that there are a lot of plants around the province and I am sure they can get their meat butchered, if necessary, at uninspected plants. So we will be supporting the bill. Thank you very much.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to echo, pretty much, the words of the previous speaker. I say "pretty much" because, quite honestly, I couldn't hear everything the member said, with the way the sound system sometimes is. I think that the legislation before us is a good piece of legislation. The minister will know, and other members who sat in the Law Amendments Committee will know, that there were a number of concerns expressed, particularly by the small producers, those who produce one or two animals that are slaughtered and provided to the local markets and so on in their area, but not necessarily sold through the farmgate. I just say to the minister, certainly there is a great deal yet that has to be fleshed out, if I may, with the bill in terms of (Interruption) The minister responsible for

[Page 1854]

the Halifax Fairview by-election for the government says that was a pun. The point that I am trying to make is that there are a great deal of regulations that yet have to be developed, that go along with the legislation. I am trusting the minister and his capable staff to work with those small producers to ensure that the regulations and the requirements that are going to be brought in, recognize the uniqueness of some of those very small operators.

[11:45 a.m.]

I have talked to a number, most recently actually, down at the farmers' market just last weekend. I have been told how one could possibly be put out of the chicken business because they produce so few animals, but it would require a 45 or 50 minute trip to go to a slaughtering house because of where they themselves are located. There is a slaughter plant closer by where they can take their other animals, but that would make that section of their operation possibly non-viable.

So all I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that I think that the legislation is needed and I certainly am supporting it. I am just looking forward to a commitment from the minister and from the government that they will be sensitive in terms of developing the regulations to ensure that we aren't over-hammering, so to speak, some of the very smaller operations and that the regulations are going to be able to meet the need, the situations and the reality. Obviously you can't have inspectors coming out every time somebody is going to be slaughtering one animal, for example.

So with those few remarks, I would indicate to the minister and to the government that we will, in fact, in our caucus be supporting this bill on third reading.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, am pleased to support Bill No. 9. The minister will know that during second reading of this legislation, I raised the concern that I had relative to the description or lack of a description of a retail shop. I think for greater clarity, there should have been a definition relating to a retail shop. The minister and his staff are to be commended because the bill does not apply, if you will, to the slaughter of an animal owned by an individual where the meat or meat product of the animal will not be sold or exchanged for gain. So we certainly support that.

The constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley does have a good number of meat shops, Mr. Speaker. We also have a good number of cattle on the hoof in our constituency, that may be considered to be meat on the hoof. That is another issue, another matter, but we do support the legislation. We see where the minister is going to appoint some inspectors to look after the additional responsibility that befalls his department. We certainly support that.

I don't know whether or not the costs are going to come out of the consolidated fund in the future, as is going to happen this year. We hope that this doesn't become an additional tax to the agricultural community because we have all found what this government has done to the agricultural community and more particularly, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, by allowing $1.2 million to be ripped out of the budget. That money, of course, went directly to the agricultural community. So we do support the Act Respecting the Inspection and Sale of Meat and Meat Products. Thank you.

[Page 1855]

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

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr Speaker, I want to thank the honourable members for their support on this piece of legislation. I think everyone agrees that this bill is long overdue, with the amount of work that has taken place, especially when we are looking back, for quite a few years, maybe 20 years on this very issue of providing inspected meat to consumers in Nova Scotia, or even further, providing a choice to consumers in Nova Scotia, to either buy inspected meat or uninspected meat and this piece of legislation certainly provides Nova Scotians with that option.

Again, I want to thank the members for their support. We are going to have to certainly provide some consideration - as the member for Sackville-Cobequid pointed out earlier - when the rules and regulations are being drafted. We certainly will pay very close attention to this particular area.

Again, I want to thank the members for their remarks and I move Bill No. 9 for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 9, the Meat Inspection Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 11.

Bill No. 11 - Children and Family Services Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all members of the Legislature for their support of Bill No. 11, the enhancement of support services and a bill that will enhance the services to children, particularly relative to their personal safety and other matters relative to the rights and responsibilities that we have to children. In so doing, I would move third reading of Bill No. 11.

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me privilege to rise today to speak on the Children and Family Services Act, Bill No. 11, in its final reading. This bill certainly deals with a very important aspect of our life here in the Province of Nova Scotia. It has been put in place to help protect our children who are so innocent. There is no question about it that one of our greatest jobs here is to protect the unprotected.

[Page 1856]

Children are certainly our most important natural resource and anything we can do and anything this bill has been put forward to do to help those children is important. It is a step in the right direction, there is no question about that. I implore the minister that he monitors this program and makes sure that it is not just a piece of paper, that it actually does what it is set out to do, that the staff has the support and resources that are required to make this bill function the way I know the minister has intended it to do. More importantly, that the children know that the resources are there and that they can benefit from what this bill is planned and intended to do.

One of the major worries that a lot of people have in the Children and Family Services Act is the caseloads of the workers that have been put in place. I understand when the minister first introduced the bill there were provisions for extra workers, but again I want to implore the minister to make sure and monitor this program to see if indeed the number of caseworkers that have been added is enough and if there are not enough, to take the steps that are needed to make sure that this program will be successful. We are dealing with the lives of children and there is nothing more important that we can do as legislators to make sure that their quality of life is improved.

We certainly will be voting in favour of this bill. I too would like to pass on my congratulations to the minister for bringing it forward and congratulate his staff. I want to really emphasize that it is just a stepping stone. There are many other things that have to be done and I am sure with the monitoring of the program, we will identify the problems. I would encourage the minister, when the problems are identified, that he would move ahead and make the appropriate changes so that this bill can do exactly what it is supposed to do. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I will be brief. Certainly, on behalf of our caucus, I am pleased to indicate our support for this bill. As I say that, however, I am reminded actually of the words that the Minister of Labour said when he was wrapping up in response on the health and safety legislation, and that is that a piece of legislation is but a framework and it really does very little or nothing to advance the cause for Nova Scotians if the resources are not there. Good intentions are one thing but we also have to have the actual resources on the ground in order to carry forward those good intentions.

I am mindful, Mr. Speaker, for example of the recommendations that were made in the Children and Youth at Risk, Nova Scotia underfunding child welfare system, that was put forward by the Nova Scotia Coalition for Children and Youth, in which they pointed out the need for a number of amendments and certainly also the need for a commitment to the actual financial resources so that the human resources to carry forward the good intentions of the Children and Family Services Act can be carried out.

When that Act was introduced into this Legislature it was applauded by all members, all sides of this House, the government of the day and Opposition Parties of the day. It was acknowledged at that time that there would be - if my memory serves me correctly - a need for an infusion of at least an additional $10 million into the programs in order to be able to be meeting the basic needs. That hasn't unfortunately come to date so far. As we are looking forward into the future, and as we are thinking about our commitments to our children and to the families, we have to remember that sometimes it is prudent to put people first and dollars second.

I know that the government is fixated on the notion of the fiscal deficit, but we also have to be mindful that if we neglect the human deficits that can be created or the deficits that can be prevented by the initial infusion of some resources, that the long-term social and economic consequences are in fact much higher. The costs of penal institutions and other kinds of actions such as that are far more expensive than putting in the preventive measures on the front end.

I am sure, and I know, that the minister himself is very much aware of that and I know that the minister is very much concerned about and committed to the children in this province, and particularly, [Page 1857]

children at risk. I am speaking on the basis of what I feel about the minister's personal intentions and feelings, that he would share very many concerns for our adolescents.

So, Mr. Speaker, in indicating my support for this, I hope that his colleagues will not only now, but in the future, provide the resources. As the Minister of Labour said, all members of this House, including the Opposition, have a responsibility to put pressure on government to make sure that the resources that are essential for the health and safety legislation to proceed, are there. I would say to the Minister of - not only Community Services - but also to his colleagues, that they also have a responsibility, along with members of the Opposition, to make sure that the government does provide the necessary resources to ensure that this bill is more than simply a framework, but that it actually can function and does function in the manner in which it is intended by ensuring that the resources are there to do just that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I open my remarks by saying that I will, in fact, be supporting the legislation which the House has before it this morning, which was introduced by my friend and colleague, the Minister of Community Services. I do want to remind all of us that the legislation, as is the case with all legislation, lays out parameters of what the law requires to be done, in this case, with respect to Family and Children's Services. Also, legislation lays out the penalties for those who breach the law which is passed in this place.

I know from my 18 years as a member in this place and as a representative of my constituency of Queens that passing laws is simply not sufficient to meet the real needs of society. It is absolutely essential that we not rely on cure but rather that we move toward preventive measures. Such a cure, while always needed, will be needed in less abundance than may now well be the case.

[12:00 p.m.]

I work very closely with Children and Family Services in my constituency and I have had an excellent relationship with them through many years. I hope that they view their relationship with me in the same light. I am greatly concerned and I don't chide this minister or this government but rather provide this as an overview of all of these years in this review, when I say that there are insufficient human resources available to meet the needs of the men, women and the children who all too frequently find themselves clients of Children and Family Services, whether at the municipal level or at the provincial level.

We are now so tightly focused on processing forms that we all too frequently do not have time to remember that there are faces behind those forms, there are families that are being addressed on those forms. If only we could have our workers who work so diligently

[Page 1858]

in the field, be able to provide more time in counselling and working with families, then it would be less frequent that the full weight of the law would have to be brought to bear. I think in the long-term, there would be a net saving, certainly with respect to human suffering and in likelihood, with respect to the investment that the government of the day must make in this area.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member yield the floor for an introduction? Yes.

The honourable Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, through you and to members of this House, literally in the final hours of this spring session, it gives me great pleasure to introduce three guests who are in our gallery today, from the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The first is Mr. Van Dam, who is the Consul General, Kingdom of the Netherlands, based in Montreal. With him are Mr. Arend Huitzing, Councillor and Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Netherlands Assembly in Canada, in Ottawa; and Mr. Gavin Rainnie, the Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands here in Halifax. These gentlemen are visiting our province today to re-establish ties, to establish new ties for business relations and we welcome them to not only Halifax but to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I am sure that each of us, in dealing with our local agencies has become aware of the tremendous caseloads that the men and the women who work in the field deal with on a day to day basis. I know that in my own small community, which is relatively small compared to others across this province, that the caseload practically cannot be handled by a single person. There are just too many problems out there. Some of those problems are societal and are the result of changes that have occurred in society over a long period of time. Others are the result of more immediate experience, particularly, with respect to the recession which we have experienced throughout the industrialized world in the early 1990's and the failure of the emerging economy to provide sufficient employment opportunities for men and women in Nova Scotia and indeed, elsewhere.

It is so essential that we invest more of our financial resources in the human resources necessary to provide the kind of counselling, the kind of preventive counselling that will ensure we do not continue to rely on cure, which is always more painful and more expensive than is prevention.

We need more funding, we need more people, we need to have highly skilled, highly qualified, highly trained people in these positions in Family and Children's Services. With the provision of these kinds of financial and human resources, then we will find that the legislation which the minister has brought before the House and with which we are dealing in third reading today, will serve the people of Nova Scotia, all of us, very much better than is the case without those resources available. I say it will serve all of us that much better because when one Nova Scotian family suffers, all Nova Scotian families suffer. It is only when we all can stand on our own two feet that we as a province can look forward as a single people, with one viewpoint, towards the future which is full of hope and which we know will meet the aspirations of all families in this province.

I will be supporting the bill. I commend the minister for bringing it in but I do ask him to please use his good influence to make these additional resources available as quickly as possible. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1859]

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the member for Halifax Citadel, I understand that the member for Cape Breton West has an introduction.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, through you to all members of this House, I would like to introduce Mr. Troy Jenkins, my constituency assistant, and his mother, Ms. Anne Jenkins, who are here from the beautiful constituency of Cape Breton West, to put an infusion into the economy of Halifax this weekend. I ask that you all give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I don't propose to detain your committee unduly long but I do have a couple of comments that I would like to make in relation to Bill No. 11. The minister and other members know of my background and history in regard to dealing with this legislation and its previous incarnations and with children and families in need.

I want to start by saying that the minister deserves kudos, and he certainly gets it from me, for coming forward with an improvement to the current legislation. The general intents of the amendments are excellent and the fundamental underpinning of the amendments with which the minister comes forward is predicated on the one and only line that can, in any way, shape or form, be relevant when we are talking about Children and Family Services: that is that our children are innocent and that we must, as a community and as a society, do all of those things which our human and fiscal resources allow us to do to ensure that the maximum service is provided to those young people who are innocent. They simply must be protected.

I won't bore you, Mr. Speaker, and others recounting some of the absolutely obscene and scandalous experiences of which I became aware during my law practice, working in the field of child abuse, but in buildings not very far from this historic Province House there are, unfortunately, circumstances which do occur which, as far as I am concerned, represent the most egregious failing of what we like to consider ourselves to be, namely an enlightened society. I refer, of course, to some of the most heinous crimes committed against innocent youth. This bill helps, and in some ways rather significantly, to address and respond to some of those needs and concerns.

I think particularly, Mr. Speaker, the amendment we see here in this legislation to the existing Clause 1, Section 22(2) is very important because it would allow people in authority, those in the know, such as social workers and police authorities and others, to step in when there is a substantial risk of abuse.

Now the minister will be aware, and I am sure he has had discussions with his officials in this regard to this point, that he and his officials will have to exercise considerable caution when pursuing the legislative authority provided by the new Clause 1, Section 22(2)(ja). In the present legislation, Section 22(2)(j) says that action can be taken when, "the child has suffered physical harm caused by chronic and serious neglect by a parent or guardian of the child, and the parent or guardian does not provide, or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to, services or treatment to remedy or alleviate the harm.".

[Page 1860]

Then this bill adds Clause 1, Section 22(2)(ja), a new clause to follow that. It provides that action can be taken. I should, for completeness, go back to the intro. "A child is in need of protective services where" - and now the new (ja), "there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer physical harm inflicted or caused as described in clause (j).".

So I know from my experience in the Family Court over the years, we are going to have to be very careful in regard to the application of Clause 1, Section 22(2)(ja). What I mean by that, and as the minister well knows, the social workers are going to have to be absolutely crystal clear that they have the evidentiary base upon which to make the statement that the child is in need of protection and they are going to have to be able to provide evidence that certain things were going on in that child's environment to satisfy a court that there was, as the Act will now require to be found, a substantial risk that the child will suffer. It is a situation where the child has not, in this example, suffered the physical injury but is being declared a child in need of protection on the basis of evidence led to satisfy a court of competent jurisdiction that without intervention, the child will suffer.

I simply urge the minister to make sure and I am sure he has already done this, that in concert with his officials, he spends a great deal of time in concert not only with his officials but with the legal expertise available to his department, that he will ensure that the social workers clearly, clearly understand the kind of evidence that they will be called upon with which to come to court to make that claim.

I think too, that the amendments that we see down in Clause 12, Section 70 are worthy of mention and are important. If you go to the present legislation and you find Section 70, which I never seem to be able to do very easily or quickly but you get down into Section 70 we are into a section of the legislation which deals with restrictions on placement of children for adoption. This bill proposes to amend Section 70A(1) and it does so by doing the following: "A person who has had the physical care and control of a child for more than twenty-four consecutive months may, during the further continuance of that period of physical care and control, commence proceedings for adoption within the meaning of clause (a) of subsection (2) of Section 67 if, and only if, (a) all necessary consents for adoption have been obtained or have been ordered dispensed with pursuant to Section 75;". Then, Clause 13, Section 70A(1)(b) - this is really what I want to address - "a parent whose consent to the adoption has been obtained has, before giving the consent, received professional counselling by a person or a member of a class of persons approved for that purpose by the Minister;".

[12:15 p.m.]

The minister knows from his medical practice and his time as Minister of Community Services, that this whole area of the provision of counselling to men and women who are parents of children, relative to the question of whether or not they should give their consent to the adoption of their child or children, is one of the most wrenching human experiences to be experienced by any human being. I simply want to, in that context, in that connection, urge that the minister takes again a great and a special care to ensure that the nature of, level of and extent of the counselling which is made available so as to ensure compliance with the new Clause 13, Section 70A(1)(b) is, in fact, really, incontrovertible so that we don't have a situation where we find that having to be returned to the courts, because I have seen that happen too many times. It is really traumatic and debilitating for all involved, and particularly the children and the parents who are supposed to get that counselling.

[Page 1861]

The amendment, Mr. Speaker, just by way of final comment to Clause 14, Section 76(1)(a) of the legislation, is, I think, important. In the present legislation, we are still dealing with adoptions and there are prerequisites to adoption. The bill which the minister has before us now, will shorten the time period for giving notice to the minister of a proposed adoption from six months to one month where it is a step-parent adoption. I was engaged in my law practice many times with taking adoption applications to the courts in step-parent adoption situations and this, I say, Mr. Minister, through the Speaker to you, is a very sensible change. This situation, assuming all the other appropriate consents are forthcoming, the requirement to ask the step-parent and his or her spouse to be required to wait six months for adoption, is and has been, in many cases in the past, a very real difficulty and rather an impediment to say the least.

Having said those things, Mr. Speaker, I guess what I would like to say, by way of final comment on this particular piece of legislation, is not unlike comments which were offered by my colleague, the member for Queens. This particular piece of legislation is really, I guess, the starting point. I have done it many times, I have said it many times in more speeches than I can count and I have said it here in this place, and virtually every member of this House has said it, our children are our future. Well, that is absolutely true. The difficulty is that we unfortunately say those words and then we don't always as a community and as a society take the whole role and function of parenting very seriously. You can get lessons in everything in the world, with the possible exception of lessons in parenting, and what more important role, function and responsibility for any human being than to be the very best parent he or she can be to his or her children?

The Act we amend is called, An Act Respecting Services to Children and their Families, the Protection of Children and Adoption. I know the minister knows, because he and I have talked about it a little bit sporadically over the last couple of years and, indeed, we had some encounters when I was on the other side of this Chamber and he on this side of the Chamber, and I know, as a professional physician and as a good, decent human being, he understands the importance of this piece of legislation.

May I say, and I think it is worthy of comment, that while I and other of my colleagues have been critical of this government in a whole range of areas, I really do say, sincerely, that the government deserves credit for having, in very difficult, recessionary times, during the making of a series of exceedingly difficult decisions relative to attempts to balance budgets and address fiscal difficulties, that this government has, in fact, found ways in which to dedicate greater resources to the Department of Community Services. That I say, and say sincerely, is to the credit of this government.

The final, bottom line is the quality, the effectiveness, the vigour and the vitality of our community as a province, 8 years, 10 years, 12 years and 20 years from now, is going to bear direct reference to the ability and the effectiveness with which we do as a society, as a bureaucracy, we do those things which are provided for and set out in this legislation. For every one child and family which we allow to go down the tubes - if I may use that inelegant phrase - and not be properly cared for and not have the proper resources made available to them, we can be guaranteed that the next two generations, we will then at that point, have at least three, if not some multiple of, three other families, because it is clear that the child which suffers abuse in childhood is prone, at an obscenely high percentage occurrence, to be engaged in abusive situations when he or she reach adulthood and, in so many cases, not only reach adulthood, but reach parenthood.

[Page 1862]

I support the legislation. I think it is important and valuable. I do sincerely hope that the minister will find that he and his colleagues have sufficient fiscal and human resources to really do what this Act really calls upon us as a society to do. He knows how frightfully difficult that is. He knows how many more people and how many more dollars that really will take to do well.

I know that on occasion those of us on this side of the table, to the Speaker's left, are sometimes, by this government, accused of, well, there they go again, see, they are talking about spending more money. Well, I don't have any embarrassment or hesitation at all, I am not abashed in the slightest to stand in this place and say that to the extent that it is reasonably possible, to enable the Department of Community Services, this minister and the men and women who work in the social service industry - if I may use that phrase - in the Province of Nova Scotia, I am not at all embarrassed to ask the government to do what they can to make sure that there are more such people and that they are provided with the fiscal and human resources to make it possible for them to do the things which are set out in this and related pieces of legislation.

If we abandon our young people and if we aren't serious about systems and programs and make it reasonable that men and women who are going to have the legal responsibility to raise children don't have any chance, indeed in some cases I would go so far as to say aren't forced, to experience some parenting training programs, then, frankly, we are just deluding ourselves. Legislators of 20 years or 40 years from now, when many of us are long gone, will be sitting here talking about, my God, why is it we have such difficulties with physical abuse, with sexual abuse, with the horrendous abuse of young people, why is it that we have families in turmoil?

We have a real chance, through this legislation and through many of the institutions and infrastructures which are now in place, to do something and to do something well. These changes to this bill add to the strength of this minister and this ministry to make some of those things possible. I extend my kudos to him and I trust he will be able to be persuasive during whatever time he has around the Executive Council table, with his colleagues, to ensure that the human and fiscal resources are made available to him and his ministry to see that the job is done as I know he hopes and, believe me, I certainly hope it can be done. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services to close third reading.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable members this morning, not only for their kind comments but their very relevant comments on the issue of balancing between fiscal restraint and social programs, the issue of balancing the social workers' professionalism and the mandate they have, to ensure prevention programs are in place; balancing that with the need of protection for children and their personal safety.

I will be very brief, Mr. Speaker, because I know time is moving on this morning, but I just want to make a couple of comments. When I first came to this Legislature in 1984 - we bring our experiences and share them with each other, such as they are over the years - I remember in my reply to the Throne Speech that I highlighted, particularly, the issue of child abuse. Later Speaker Donahoe took me aside and said that, as far as he knew in this distinguished Legislature, that was the first time that that had really come to the floor.

[Page 1863]

Since that time in 1984-85, we know what we have learned as a society and as a culture and what has happened to our children. I don't have to remind particularly, this session of the Legislature where we have allocated $33 million for compensation for children of sexual abuse within our institutions, alone within this province, $33 million that will do practically nothing to heal the suffering and the grief and the sadness and the damage that has been done.

What was happening to children was not believed because what was happening was unbelievable. If there are some things that are upsetting to us these days in our society, I think it is the realization of what is happening. We are getting closer to the truth and I think the truth, sometimes, is very difficult. So I really want to thank the Government House Leader, my colleagues, the Official Opposition and the members of the Third Party for uniting behind this type of legislation.

When the Children and Family Services Act came in, in 1991, many of us in the House spoke for a full hour and supported that legislation of the previous government. This morning, we are just continuing what that Act was meant to do. At that time, that Act changed the name from the Family and Children's Services Act to the Children and Family Services Act; in other words, the message was that this is an Act for children, and I think that is important, realizing the rights and responsibilities of parents as well.

So briefly, in closing, I just want to make a commitment that, yes, our government has supported our department in difficult times; spending this year was cut 3.6 per cent to the government's budget. In the Department of Community Services, we have realized an increase of 1.8 per cent in our budget. That will go toward the financial and program audits that we can do throughout our regions, helping the professionalism of our workers, the core training programs that are important for all of our staff, the protocols that we share with the police and the judges and all of the others because, as the member for Halifax Citadel has just mentioned, the standing that our workers have when they come before the courts pleading for the rights of the personal safety of children, it is so important and we realize that.

[12:30 p.m.]

The advisory committee that we have, this was mentioned by one of the speakers, the accountability and the reporting. That report from the advisory committee that will monitor the Act, it is currently tabled and I have made a commitment also, further, to table that in the Legislature, so whoever the Minister of Community Services will be in the years ahead, they and their department will be accountable to the Legislature and the people of Nova Scotia.

With that, I would like to move third reading of Bill No. 11, An Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1990, the Children and Family Services Act. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 11, the Children and Family Services Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1864]

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 12.

Bill No. 12 - Adoption Information Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services for third reading.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I move Bill No. 12, the Adoption Information Act for third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 12.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it seems to be my day to get up and congratulate the minister on bringing forth some legislation. It has been a long time coming and there have been a lot of people who have put a lot of work into making what we are talking about here today happen. Some of those people are in the gallery and through their persistence and work and the work of the department, today we have legislation.

The Adoption Information Act, Bill No. 12, deals with a very emotional issue and much has been said over the last little while, since I have come to this House, about it. I have learned that there has been much said over the last number of years. Every family in the Province of Nova Scotia has been touched or knows somebody who has been adopted. The lives of countless Nova Scotians have been, and continue to be, profoundly affected by adoption.

While this bill may not be perfect, it is an important step in the process to humanize restrictive laws which only place roadblocks in front of people seeking access to information which should be rightfully theirs. Some will say that this bill doesn't go far enough and, with my limited knowledge, I wouldn't agree or disagree with that, but what I do know and what I firmly believe is that we have a starting place, somewhere to move forward from.

Again, with discussions that I have held with the minister, I believe it is safe to say that he feels that way too; this is the start. We can move on now, we can build and we can make stronger legislation so that we can meet the demands and the needs of the people who are affected by this bill.

It is easy to sit and criticize, but it is very hard to lay the foundation to make the progress that we need to make. We may be starting off at a crawl, but I feel we can work toward a marathon with this legislation. It is my belief that this is only the beginning and that there will be improvements made in future sessions.

I know the members of my caucus and I have talked about this bill on several different occasions, and we have been contacted by many people who have very grave concerns about adoption. Although, because of a previous commitment, I did not sit in the Law Amendments Committee when the presentations were made, two of my colleagues were there and they brought back the information that was passed on and I had an opportunity to look at it. You know, as big and ugly as I am, I got a little bit soft on the whole thing, it is an emotional issue.

Progressive compassionate legislation must be enacted to help these people. So it will give me great pleasure later today to be able to vote in favour of this legislation.

[Page 1865]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I rise and indicate the support of myself and my caucus colleague for Bill No. 12. I want to say a couple of things as clearly as I can; there has been considerable effort put into review of this legislation and review of adoption in the Province of Nova Scotia. Recommendations were made by the committee representing the adoption community into amendments to the Adoption Information Act.

There are a number of important steps that were not taken by this government. I refer specifically to the rights of the adoptee to have access to information. Mr. Speaker, one of the things that bothers me about this bill is that it still has throughout it or contained within it this idea that the rights of adoptees matter less than the rights of birth parents. I don't know where that comes from. I believe very strongly that children who have been put up for adoption, when they become adults, at the latest if not well before that, they have the right to have full access to information with respect to their biological past, to their heritage. I can't understand why we can't accept that and acknowledge that. That is my biggest problem here.

I can't imagine, Mr. Speaker, a parent, for example, who has an adopted child, not being able to give that person access to their past. There still is in this bill, as far as I am concerned, provisions whereby adoptees have to come begging to the Department of Community Services. I think that is wrong, it is humiliating and I think it continues that patronizing, patriarchy of the state that we are trying to get rid of.

Yes, this bill improves adoption in the Province of Nova Scotia but there is still that line throughout this bill that I believe firmly says to me and to adoptees, that you are second class citizens and that even though you are an adult, you still don't have the right to have access to your information, that it has to be approved by somebody else. I think that is fundamentally wrong and I wanted to have an opportunity to say that, even though I will certainly support this bill, I believe it is an improvement but I will certainly herald the day when the Province of Nova Scotia finally gets rid of those antiquated ideas and begins to treat adoptees with the kind of respect that they deserve. Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to perhaps echo some of the sentiments expressed by the two previous speakers. My colleague from Pictou West and I, irrespective of some media reports, were in the House on the evening when the witnesses and the presenters were in the Red Room. We were very much riveted, if you will, to the subject matter that was brought before us. I think we had five people representing, if you will, the adoption community. Four of the members expressed their concern that the government must stop treating adult adoptees as if they are children.

While this legislation is a step, it is a small step, perhaps in the right direction. We read in the legislation where the director shall establish and maintain a passive adoption registry. We also read where the director has been conferred and certainly granted, if you will, a lot of power by the legislation. I think anybody's interpretation would come to that conclusion, Mr. Speaker. There is no question that the bill clearly focuses on the director. There is an appeal mechanism in place. I believe that the minister and his staff have to be very careful relative to the appeal process because seeking birth parents is not a frivolous quest for adoptees. It is a very important initiative that has great consequences. I believe the presenters told us that 90 to 95 per cent of reunions are successful.

Mr. Speaker, we had an opportunity again, I want to point out, to listen to the witnesses from the adoption community. One of the presenters told us that when she had an opportunity to listen to her mother's voice and compare it to hers, when she had an opportunity to look at her face, to see herself in her mother's face, it certainly made one who does not come from the adoption community realize how important it is to those individuals. So I think the bill is obviously a step in the right direction. There are still some concerns [Page 1866]

that perhaps the minister and his staff have not gone far enough. There was one presenter that suggested that he has concerns that his privacy may be invaded because of this legislation.

Those of us who are not adopted take basic information for granted. We know who our biological parents are. It is difficult and one of the presenters advised me to further educate and inform myself. Although I never had an opportunity to tell the witness, I certainly plan on doing that. As a young boy growing up in the small community of Chaswood in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley, Mr. Speaker, I grew up with a young man, a very good friend of mine, who was an adopted child, and believe me, there is a lot to be said about adoption. I don't believe any of the presenters were speaking against adoption per se. We believe in adoption. In a lot of cases, adoption is the way to go, but I think there comes in everybody's life a point in time, some suggest it is the age of majority, I am not sure myself whether or not that is the case, but it is terribly difficult for many of the people that are in the situation of seeking their birth parents, they have an extremely difficult time because of the bureaucracy and the encumbrances that are in place.

I certainly support the legislation, but let's be clear that adoption does not sever family ties. Instead, Mr. Speaker, as one of the presenters pointed out, adoption uniquely unites families, but when a child is trying to find out who their mom and dad is, it is important that we, as legislators, provide the vehicle and the mechanism to make that process as easy as we can. I firmly believe that when we hear statistical evidence that suggests that reunions are successful in 90 to 95 per cent of the time, then I think we can safely say that progressive steps from the Department of Community Services are required.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I want to say that I will be voting in favour of Bill No. 12, the Adoption Information Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to echo the support that all members are giving to the minister with respect to this endeavour.

The minister will know and members who may have heard my remarks in second reading will, perhaps, recollect that while I do support the measures in this bill as a significant and an important step forward, I do believe that it does not go the full distance which is fully justifiable, not only in the interests of those who do wish to find their birth parents but, indeed, I believe, in the general interests of society.

Knowing from whence and, indeed, from whom we came is very important to most of us. Granted, there are some who do not husband that curiosity but I dare say that the vast majority of us find ourselves in that situation. Some of us are more fortunate than others, indeed, greatly more fortunate with respect to those who do not know their birth parents and have never known their birth parents, who as a result of this legislation, may be one step closer to finding that out but not at the end of their journey. Those people do not have the

[Page 1867]

good fortune that many others of us do that we can look back into our families' past to understand better why we are the way we are or why we are who we are, why we do the things we do. We know nothing of the genetic soup that resulted in us being here.

I think back to one of the more dramatic and, indeed, theatrical exhibits of somebody trying to find out the answers to all of those kinds of questions. We can look back to the very popular book and subsequent television series, Roots. We can see how important it was to Arthur Haley, a member of the Afro-American community, who wanted to find out where his people had come from. Even Arthur Haley was better advantaged that the people upon whom this bill was focused because he knew who his parents were, he knew who his grandparents were and he was at least able to go back to that first ancestor who was brought to the United States, albeit, in slavery. Then, eventually, through tremendous research and by summoning up tremendous courage, he was able, through visits to Africa, to firmly establish where those roots were located.

I was very surprised the other morning to come into work and find an e-mail waiting for me. I would like to share it with the House because it bears directly on the arguments that I would wish to put forward on behalf of those who believe that they have a right to know who their birth parents were. "Just a brief note to say that you also have a fairly unique name. I wondered if we were related. Mom and Dad said that I had relatives somewhere in England (Richmond) and, also, maybe, somewhere in the U.S.A.".

The author of the e-mail goes on to say: "My name is John Leefe and I am originally from Queenstown in New Zealand. My parents originally came from Auckland in New Zealand. If you wish to contact me, my address is . . ." and he gives his e-mail address.

Well, indeed, I did contact this other John Leefe living on the other side of the world. I knew immediately from his reference to Richmond that we would have a common ancestor and we have discovered that, in fact, my great-grandfather and his great-great-grandfather were brothers. An interesting and, for me, a warming experience, an opportunity to know more about myself and where my distant family has gone, what they have done, what their successes have been, what their failures have been. We, in fact, have communicated since I received this e-mail.

How sad and how tragic that so many persons who are adoptees and living in Nova Scotia, or, indeed, anywhere else in Canada or in the world, will never have the opportunity to share the simple experience that I had just a few days ago. How terribly sad for those who wish they could share that kind of experience with relatives of whom they know nothing, not even a name. Family is so important, so vital, so essential to each and every one of us. How terrible, how unjust that some persons, by accident of birth, are denied the right of knowing about their own families.

Some members may have seen recently a television program, on CBC I believe, a group of men and women in the United Kingdom who are the children of Canadian servicemen serving there during the War and who were trying to find out who their dads were and were being blocked by the bureaucrats in Ottawa, who will not release information pertinent to that quest. Again, a personal example, a good friend in my constituency who learned just a short while ago that, in fact, her father had a child in the United Kingdom as a result of a wartime relationship - this man did have a wife at home in Liverpool - and the family, rather than being upset over this revelation, looked upon it as an opportunity to share the joy of unknown and, therefore, of course, unfound relations.

As I speak, the daughter of this Canadian serviceman, who passed away last year, and her mother, the wife of this Canadian serviceman, are in England visiting with this woman's half-brother and learning about each other, about their family, a family about which they had known nothing. It has brought great joy to their lives and a contentment that had not been there previously. A wonderful experience for all, but an experience that resulted from happenstance, not because the law provided an opportunity for them to know.

Not everybody has the time or the good luck for happenstance to work for them. How awful it must be to have no past. Think of it. Every member in this House, think of it, think of yourself with no past, no [Page 1868]

mother or father, no grandparents, no great-grandparents, and not knowing what they looked like, what they were like, where they lived, knowing none of those things. Then, perhaps if we think in that way, we can understand in some small measure what drives these people forward who wish to have the right to know who their birth parents are.

Is there anyone in this House, among the 52 of us, who would stand and say I don't care if I ever knew who my mother or my father were. We know that there is not one, single person among us who would, in fact, ever stand and say that, who would, in fact, ever sit and think that.

Earlier this week, on Tuesday I believe it was, I put forward a notice of motion that was passed by all members of the House, commending the Gilbert and Sullivan Society for the production of The Sorcerer that they are putting on over this weekend at the Cohn here in Halifax. I understand it opened to very good reviews last night and I know that will please all members who supported that resolution.

Gilbert and Sullivan reminded me of another operetta written by both of them, The Pirates of Penzance. Those of you who are Gilbert and Sullivan fans will remember that Frederick, in fact, was the person who did not know his birth parents, Frederick being one of the pirates, a pirate apprentice in The Pirates of Penzance. One of the lines that Frederick sings is, "Have pity on my lonely state, I am an orphan boy.". The choir responds, "How sad, an orphan boy.". Have pity on my lonely state.

I would think that each and every person who has encouraged the minister to make this leap of faith so that they will be able to find out who their birth parents were and if they wish, to establish relationships, would understand those lines of Frederick's and probably have thought them themselves, at least in so many words, have pity on my lonely state, I am an orphan boy.

There is not a single person on this planet alive today who ever asked for the privilege of being conceived, not a single one. It seems to me only an extension of natural justice that any one of us who has been conceived, therefore must have the inalienable right to know who those persons were who took the most vital decision in our lives, the decision which created the very life each of us enjoys.

So I say, that while this legislation moves us an important step forward in this great quest by these people who suffer the anguish of not knowing who they are, it does not go as far as they and I and many other Nova Scotians wish that it would. I hope that I will be in this place long enough to be able to see an amendment to this legislation at some future date which will make it possible for the 52 members of this House to take that one last, giant, absolutely essential step to achieving that goal for these men and these women, who each day wake up and look at themselves in the mirror and say to themselves, who are you? From whence did

[Page 1869]

you come? Why are you the way you are? Why do you look the way you do? Why do you act the way you do? Why do you have no past?

It is not very often that the 52 members of this House have it within their capacity, within their hands immediately to do something that can cause all of those heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching, emotional questions to be answered. I hope that when that day does come that each of those Nova Scotians, like Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance, will be able to respond by saying as did Frederick upon learning the nature of his birth and his birth parents, "Oh joy unbounded. Oh sweet relief.". Mr. Speaker, I will be supporting this bill in third reading.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am going to be very brief, a couple of minutes. There is a great deal I would like to say, a great deal that I believe needs to be said but I am going to basically just say that I am going to associate myself with the comments, by and large, made by the previous speakers, including the last one, the member for Queens.

[1:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, everybody does have a past, everybody does have a history. One of the primary differences, however, for those who have been adopted is that they don't know what their history is. Their history ends in terms of their knowledge of that history with their generation.

I sat at the Law Amendments Committee meeting and, Mr. Speaker, I have been in this business now long enough that sometimes, once you are in this business, you tend to, after having heard enough stories that although you can be sympathetic, you sometimes, maybe, and I hate to admit it, get a little bit hardened and you are not as open to having your emotions swayed as we were before we got into this business. But I have to tell you, after listening to the presentations that were made and the compelling way in which the message was brought to us at the Law Amendments Committee, not only by the words that were on the paper, but the emotion, the feelings that were conveyed by those who appeared before us, asking for our help to give them what I believe should be their legitimate and legal right to have, you couldn't help but be moved.

Representatives from Parent Finders, Family Finders and others made compelling argument. There is the history end, in knowing where you are from and knowing who your family is and knowing your roots, being able to find out something about that, to find your brothers and sisters, to find out if you have brothers and sisters, Mr. Speaker. Those are things that we just take for granted, those of us who are not adopted. But there is another side too that was talked about and the tragic stories we heard about people whose parents were trying to find their natural born children so that they could have passed on to those children vitally important medical information that their children should know because of the impact that that could have on their life and possible threats to their life as a result of knowing certain family traditions and histories of a medical nature.

I am not going to try to relate those stories here, but, Mr. Speaker, if there is anybody in this House today who wants to find out more, I would suggest that they talk to our guests in the galleries or to get in touch with one of the organizations or ask the Clerk's Office to provide you, if you haven't already received it, copies of the briefs that were presented.

[Page 1870]

I have no hesitation saying to the Minister of Community Services, to the members on the government benches, that I will be supporting this legislation. I also have no hesitation saying if the government is afraid that going farther is going to be tying up this House and business in terms of people trying to filibuster or trying to hold up the House because we want to bring forward new and improved legislation and amendments, I commit that I certainly will not be taking part in any kind of a process trying to hold up the business of this House, Mr. Speaker, if we are going to be moving steps forward, bringing through amendments and improvements to strengthen this legislation in a way that gives to the thousands of Nova Scotians who are denied the knowledge that the rest of us take for granted and that is so important to most, if not all of us.

I know, Mr. Speaker, I can't even begin to imagine the anguish that members who are seeking and wanting to know who their brothers, sisters and parents may be, Mr. Speaker, and also for those parents who have information that they feel is vitally important for the future health of their children, those to whom they gave birth but are unable to find them. I said I would be brief and I am.

I urge the minister to continue the process. He has excellent recommendations at work provided to him by the committee on the release of adoption information. Review that information. If need be, if the minister or the department feel that there is a need for further dialogue then let's get that dialogue on now, Mr. Speaker, not for some off in the unforeseen future, looking at making further amendments.

There are many other pieces of legislation being left on the order paper that are not yet being addressed. Well, I urge that we certainly pass this bill now but between now and the fall. Let's get it on, let's have those discussions, let's look at further amending this bill this year to provide those who have been denied knowledge of their heritage for far too long, the opportunity and the right to have in an expeditious and fair manner, these adults that that information will, as I say, in an expeditious manner be made available to them, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services to close third reading.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, prior to moving Bill No. 12 for third reading, I will just make a few comments. I did particularly want to thank the legislative committee, the Government House Leader and members of our caucus for the support that they have given to this bill, an Act to Provide for Adoption Information. Also, I particularly want to thank the Official Opposition and the Third Party for the passage of this bill through the House of Assembly so that we could get on with the work of putting our resources in place and continuing to resource this bill.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very positive bill. There are a lot of things hanging on the edges that would indicate it is crawling along, it really does nothing much. This bill is a giant step forward for adoption information in this province. We are going from the least active, probably as some have said, the worst system in Canada, to we will be among the top three. There is no province in Canada that will have a better Adoption Information Act than Nova Scotia when this is passed. I want to make that perfectly clear.

It strikes a balance, Mr. Speaker, between programs. Make no mistake, we are putting programs in place. We spoke about this in the Children and Family Services Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the resources must be in place.

[Page 1871]

Our staff and the advice that I have got that we have done this prior to even introducing this legislation - we have put three new staff in our department working on this to resource this bill. We are not going to do what other provinces have done where you open it wide open, the gates are open and everything falls apart. We are going to do it and we are going to do it the right way. We are proceeding, yes. If I am minister, I will be back and if not, if I am in the Opposition or wherever, I will support more open but we have to do it in a step-ways fashion. It is a balance, it is a large step.

I am told, Mr. Speaker, that easily now, and the person who gave me the advice is a very conservative lawyer, if there are any very conservative lawyers left, that this will address over 90 per cent of the requests that we will have. I do just want to make a couple of statements. Make no mistake, members of the Legislature, this is a positive Act.

I think we should congratulate ourselves, as a Legislature. This session of the House, to me, has worked very well. I think the two bills this morning, Bills No. 11 and No. 12 that we have done for our department, I really want to say, thank you, to all the members. I think this is the British parliamentary system at its best. We do not operate under the American system, regardless of what people think from watching television. It is a give and take and it is a balance. We have done that and I want to particularly thank the member for Lunenburg who personally shared with us, and, Lila, I want to thank you. There are other adopted members in this Legislature who don't feel that they could do that, but I want to thank you that you were able to do that in your life's journey.

Mr. Speaker, the Law Amendments Committee representations were good; I read them and I have heard some of them before. I think anyone who shares their life story, like Lila and others have done, it is a very positive and personal thing. But not all unions are happy. To be rejected, to feel that you were rejected by your biological parents once and to find that when you do contact them, they don't want to see you, that is a second rejection. I think we have to have those safeguards built in. So many of these, make no mistake, have not been happy adoptions, nor will they be happy reunions, because many of these children have been abused, sexually abused, there has been incest in families, and we have to respect the rights of people regarding that. So many of these children who were adopted are now adults, but they were abused and neglected, and badly abused.

Read The Daily News, this morning, the two people who are going to prison for killing their child. They are applying for rights of access. Now you picture that 20 years down the road, Mr. Speaker, how are they going to explain to the siblings how they, in fact, murdered one of their siblings? It is not all happy out there. Our staff are aware of this and I want to compliment them.

But these presentations did share the personal stories. The gentleman who came and requested that there be a no-contact veto; he did not want to be contacted by his biological parents, and we respect that. The Act will cover that and we will do that.

So much in our society has been negative, and that is why I want to say that I do appreciate the cooperation of this House on this particular bill.

I was reading this morning in Time Magazine, they were speaking about, post-Vietnam War, how antagonistic our society in North America has become, and I think sometimes that is reflected. So people setting out on a journey to try to make things better, sometimes if they don't do it the right way, they are going to find out they are off the rails and they will end up with nothing, or less.

[Page 1872]

There were several comments made in some of the briefs and I did want to comment, because I would be remiss if I did not. I am not out to protect our staff unduly, but there were several remarks - and one here this morning - about the bureaucratic system. The member for Halifax Atlantic said about the people having to come begging to the Department of Community Services. I resent that and I think he should rethink his comments. I want to let you know that the people in the Department of Community Services - some of them are here this morning - are as compassionate and caring as anybody in this House and anybody in this province. (Applause)

With that, I will close, Mr. Speaker. There have been problems, we talked earlier about our issues with children and protection and our society has had difficult struggles and we are struggling, but I think we are coming to realize what we have to do. As long as we are clear and committed to that, then I think we are on the right track.

In closing, I want to thank Alex Shaw, who is in the gallery, and Susan Drysdale for the work that she has done, and all the people in our department: Martha Crowe; George Savoury; and also Janet Nearing and Bonnie Ramsey who are here, as well, this morning. I want to thank them and I want to mention their names, particularly in light of my final comments, because I know these are people who are involved and they are caring and they are compassionate Nova Scotians and they will do what is right. Whoever the minister is, I am sure they will guide him or her in the right direction.

I want to thank honourable members of this House of Assembly; I am very touched that we were able to pass this bill this morning. I look forward, in times to come, that there will be adequate resources and future amendments. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 12. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 18.

Bill No. 18 - Financial Measures (1996) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 18, I think, as all members are aware, is An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures and, in fact, it is a bill that implements the changes made in taxes by the Minister of Finance in his most recent budget, and this gives cause and effect to those changes.

[Page 1873]

Mr. Speaker, today is Friday, and every Friday it seems that the Minister of Finance comes into the House and he has something new to pass on to the House. Today is no exception. Today we had him come into the House - this morning some time, about 11 o'clock - and table a document called Economic and Fiscal Analysis. Now when a minister tables an item such as that in the House, and the House is sitting, particularly a financial document that the members of the Opposition have been asking for over and over again, for about the past five weeks or six weeks, it was only common sense and common courtesy to deliver that document to the desks of all members. I did not get a copy on my desk.

[1:15 p.m.]

I understand that copies have been distributed but, very conveniently, they have been distributed down to the caucus offices. Now I didn't know that until I inquired, (Interruption) and they are not there yet, I am told. So in point of fact, no member in this House has really had a chance to look at this document. No member in this House has had the opportunity to even get hold of a copy to read.

AN HON. MEMBER: Meanwhile, the media is out reading their copy.

MR. RUSSELL: Well, I was coming to that. So when I got a call about 30 minutes ago to go out and speak to a member of the media about a document and he waved this thing in front of me, I said what is it and he told me. Now I was aware that the minister tabled a document this morning, and I assumed that it might contain some of the material that we have been looking for, as I say, for about the past six weeks regarding modelling that the department has done - studies and other statistical information - to back up what the minister has brought forward within his budget. Our argument consistently, Mr. Speaker, has been that he cannot produce the figures to back up what is in the budget.

Now today, when his bill is almost through the House, we are into third reading, very conveniently this piece of material arrives. It doesn't come to members of the House, it gets shipped off somewhere, probably by Canada Post, via Winnipeg, down to our caucus offices and we will read all about it next week when this House is no longer sitting and when we no longer have a Question Period in which to question the minister on some of the assumptions that are within this document.

However, Mr. Speaker, we have been able to obtain a document which we are sharing among ourselves and I have had a chance to look at least at some significant figures in this document which incidentally has something like - well it is not page numbered all the way through - so I don't know but I would guess 100 or more pages full of statistics, tables and what have you and trying to derive some useful information from that document that would, indeed, give us some indication as to whether or not what the minister is saying in this particular piece of legislation is correct. I, for one, don't believe what he is saying in his budget. I don't believe what he is saying in this bill which will enact those financial measures.

When I look at this - and as I say, I have only looked at three or four pages within this document - I am led to that conclusion, Mr. Speaker, because the minister has said that the impact of a blended sales tax in the Province of Nova Scotia is going to be nirvana for everybody in the province. It is going to be shared by rich and poor alike.

Well, there is Table No. 6 on Page 23 of this document, which talks about the consumer impact by family income level. That is, we are talking about those who, for instance, are below $10,000; $10,000 - $20,000; $20,000 - $30,000; $30,000 - $40,000; $50,000

[Page 1874]

- $80,000; and $80,000 and above. We are talking about those various levels of income. What do we find? We find that under the consumer impact by family income level, those who are earning under $10,000 will make a saving of $13 per annum, not per week, not per month, but per annum. Those who are making $80,000 and more will save in excess of $600, so there is hardly fairness in that spread, Mr. Speaker, and this is assuming the best possible assumptions that the Department of Finance and this minister can come forward with.

Mr. Speaker, as we go through, we are told by the Department of Finance, on Page 49, at a 50 per cent pass-through. Now we are imaging that there is going to be a 50 per cent pass-through, which I seriously doubt is going to happen because most small businesses in this province are operating on a very slim margin at the present time and this will provide them with an opportunity to increase their margins. But at the 50 per cent margin, we are told in this particular publication, ". . . the cost of clothing and footwear, electricity, other fuels (home heating fuel) laundry and dry cleaning, motive fuels, purchased transportation, recreational services, personal care, housing construction and real estate commissions will all rise by roughly one per cent or more.". This is the cost of living, Mr. Speaker, by 1 per cent or more.

We are told that the minister says to us on Page 48, Mr. Speaker, that the direct impact of harmonization is a $84.3 million increase in the consumer tax burden borne by the people of this province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, how in Heaven's name can the minister stand up and say that this budget is going to, as he says in his Budget Speech, "In the spring of 1997, Nova Scotia's economy will begin to feel a new surge of vitality, as the largest single tax cut in this province's history takes effect. Blending the Provincial Sales Tax and the federal Goods and Services Tax into a single, lower tax on consumption is positive tax reform.". What baloney, what nonsense. How can the minister expect us to believe what he is telling us there, telling us here and telling us in this bill?

Now, Mr. Speaker, if the minister had produced this document in this House about a week or 10 days ago, we would have been afforded the opportunity to go through this document, to determine whether or not the assumptions that the Department of Finance has used and the statistics that the Department of Finance has used are going to equate with what he is saying in Bill No. 18. But we don't have that time, the minister hasn't afforded us that time.

I do not believe for one minute, Mr. Speaker, that that document, that fat document of 120 pages, came off the printing press only last night. I don't believe that. I would suggest to the minister that he has had those numbers for a long time. In fact, if he didn't have those numbers when he went to Ottawa, then he was dealing with a stacked deck because he had to know what the impact was going to be on the province and he had to know exactly what he was going to go for in the package that he signed with the federal government.

My colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel, just pointed out that, "Prior to any pass-through assumptions, the direct impact of harmonization on consumers is an increase in the tax burden amounting to $84.3 million.". I think I mentioned that just a moment ago. That is a very large burden to impose on the taxpayers of this province.

I don't know why we are dealing with the BST, I don't know why we are dealing with personal tax increases in this particular budget because this is the budget, supposedly, from 1996-97. These things that the minister has introduced in this bill, that he has introduced in his Budget Address, are confined mainly to 1997-98. Is there something he doesn't want to tell us about 1996-97? That the year is going to be a bummer? That the Gross Domestic Product of the province is going to rise by only 1 per cent this year? That our present intolerable situation, with 64,000 people out there looking for jobs, is not going to improve? That our unemployment rate is not going to go down? Is he trying to hide that by saying, yes, but don't worry about this year because pretty soon it will be April 1, 1997, and things are going to be better. People don't believe that.

[Page 1875]

In the interim, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that those who are presently unemployed and are unable to get municipal assistance, being held up getting family benefits for sometimes as long as six months, what are those people going to do? Are they going to stop eating? Are they going to stop clothing themselves? No, Mr. Speaker, that isn't going to happen and the people of Nova Scotia are not going to forget. They have come through a winter of discontent and they are now going to go into a summer of discontent.

This province is not performing and the reason it is not performing is because the Minister of Finance, the Premier, and the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency are not doing their jobs. They are not creating a climate where people have confidence. Unless you have consumer confidence, people do not go out and spend money. If people do not go out and spend money, then there is nothing in the economy for people to expand their manufacturing processes across this province. The result is, we are in the doldrums and we are stuck there. We are stuck there until, as I said, the Minister of Finance tells us 1997 has arrived and things will be coming along.

There is a section in here on utilities, Mr. Speaker. Looking at taxes alone, consumers will pay about 4 per cent less for their long distance calls - that could well be, but those who are unemployed don't make too many long distance calls unless it is to try and get through on his 1-800 number to complain - and will pay about 4 per cent more for their power bill, up from 10.21 per cent to 15 per cent. That is on Page 16 of the utilities section.

This book, by the way, is not numbered all the way through. I guess they cannot count above 20 or something. There are little sections all the way through that take us from 16 to 20 and you have to know where you are to find the place. Anyway, that is beside the point.

The point is, Mr. Speaker, there is no substantiation for any of these changes that are taking place in this particular bill to be done today. They could be done in the fall, they could be done next spring, because the majority of this bill deals with matters, as I say, that should, indeed, be contained in the 1997 budget.

Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that we have just gotten this document, in view of the fact that there are a number of items in this bill that should be considered, I believe, by a committee that travels around this province and talks to people - because obviously the minister is not going to talk to the ordinary people in this province. He goes out and talks to the chamber of commerce. I have got nothing against the chamber of commerce and they represent a sector, but how about the other sector, the consumers out there who have to go out every day and purchase items that at the present time are taxed at the rate of 7 per cent and sometime in 1997 are going to be taxed at 15 per cent? When is he going to speak to those people? He is not going to.

In fact, in that document that the minister was telling us about this morning, that he raised 10,000 copies of to distribute to those who may, indeed, be voting up in Halifax Fairview, there is nothing in that document that talks about anything that is in this document

[Page 1876]

that everybody around here seems to be reading at the moment, that he put out this morning. There is nothing to substantiate one word in that red document (Interruption) Yes. Not one word. Yes, this document, this one. There is not a thing in here. "We are building on solid ground.". Well, if that is solid ground, Mr. Speaker, I hope there is not an earthquake.

This says nothing about what the downsides are of this particular bill that we are putting through the House today, nothing on the downside about what is contained and coming forward in 1997. This document is fluff; this document is Liberal propaganda.

Mr. Speaker, in this document it is quite interesting. I just found a page that deals with the MUSH sector, the municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals. As you know, they were paid GST rebates on their taxable purchases but they didn't pay provincial tax.

[1:30 p.m.]

Now we learn that with the BST, the blended sales tax, that municipalities will receive a partial rebate of GST paid on their taxable purchases of 57.14 per cent, universities 67 per cent, schools 68 per cent and hospitals 83 per cent, so that in fact, hospitals come off the best because their costs will go up by 17 per cent and municipalities are the worse off where their tax payable goes up by 42 per cent. That is a massive downloading again on the municipalities. This government balances their budget but they do it by cutting and passing off costs onto other levels of government or else raising fees for the poor beleaguered taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

I believe that this bill should be referred to a committee and I believe it should be referred to the Public Accounts Committee and that the Public Accounts Committee should be directed to go around this province with this document, the Budget Speech, with the document, Bill No. 18 and with the document, Economic and Fiscal Analysis and let the people have a look and make a decision on whether or not the Minister of Finance is telling it as it is or if the Opposition is telling it as it is.

"I move that the words after `that' be deleted and the following words substituted: The subject matter of Bill No. 18, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, be referred to the Public Accounts Committee'.".

MR. SPEAKER: There have been previous rulings from this Chair that since second reading the bill's principles were adopted and that a referral to a committee is out of order. I would so rule.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I realize that I cannot dispute your ruling but I would ask if perhaps you would take a second look at it. As far as I am concerned, clearly, Beauchesne allows dilatory motions the same as are provided for in second reading. This is a dilatory motion, it is a motion that is completely in order for second or third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any further interveners on third reading? (Interruption) The resolution has been ruled out of order.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to speak on Bill No. 18 for a few moments. It is unfortunate that the ruling is such and I am not arguing on that but the point that was made and the reason behind or the attempt in the amendment was to have this matter

[Page 1877]

referred back to the Public Accounts Committee for further review. The reason for that is because of what has transpired here today. The matters dealt with in Bill No. 18, deal with a whole host of tax changes being proposed in the Province of Nova Scotia, both this year and next. It deals not only with income tax and other income tax changes in the province but it also deals with and directly relates to the changes in how consumption based taxes are going to be dealt with in this province. We have been attempting, since this House opened, to get information from this Minister of Finance on the impact of those changes, on any analysis that may or may not have been done about the winners and the losers and that information has not been forthcoming.

In fact, the Minister of Finance when he stood in this House back on April 18th or April 25th - I don't remember even when the budget came down - but when the budget was read in this House, Mr. Speaker, there were all kinds of assumptions presented there, all kinds of assurances made that were not supported with any kind of evidence at all. I refer specifically to one point that I have been harping on in this House for the past two or three weeks, and that is the whole issue of the benefit of these changes to a family of four earning $15,000 or less and, in the budget, it says very clearly that those people will recognize a tax reduction of $930. No supporting documentation, nothing.

We went back and looked at information, talked to Revenue Canada and pulled out Statistics Canada reports and so on, Mr. Speaker, to try to get some sense of whether there was any foundation at all to these claims. We couldn't find anything to support that. It wasn't until we got our hands on an Analysis of the Low Income Tax Reduction with Illustrative Examples, produced by the Fiscal Policy Division of the Nova Scotia Department of Finance, that we actually began to get the low-down on what was really happening here.

What this report clearly told us, Mr. Speaker, was two things. The statement in the Budget Address that those, that group, that category of Nova Scotians would not receive one red cent; nothing, because they don't pay any tax. So the claim of the benefits that are going to be realized by these low income Nova Scotians was not true. When we brought that to the attention of the Minister of Finance and we talked about 208,000 tax filers, the minister said, oh no, no, no, that is not right; you may be right on the one, but you are not right on the other. It is not 208,000, it is a different number. It is 157,000 or something. Then it is not even that, it is that group between the level and, by the way, the level then went from $15,000 up to $18,000 before you started to receive one penny, Mr. Speaker.

Then we started to have a little debate about this $8 million enhancement to the low income tax reduction that was going to benefit all of these folks. In fact, what we were able to find out, and this was in response to the minister's contention that it was those people, those tax filers that existed between the level of family benefits and the level where the income tax program will have an impact, so that is between family benefit recipients and the $18,000-plus mark, the question was, how many are there?

How many of those people are there? Well, we took out of there, out of the 208,000, we said, well, there are 32,000 Nova Scotians receiving family benefits, there is another approximately 19,000 on municipal assistance, so that brought it down to about 157,000. Well, 157,000 Nova Scotia tax filers who fit into that group, that category where they would benefit from the $8 million, Mr. Speaker. That represents a savings for those people. They don't earn enough income to even pay any income tax in the first place so they don't get anything back from the government to offset the BST, other than this $8 million. What is this $8 million going to do? Well, if you take 157,000 Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, and you factor in the $8 million, you get a benefit of about $1.00 a week.

[Page 1878]

Now, Mr. Speaker, this document comes out at the eleventh hour, Nova Scotia Tax Reform Economic and Fiscal Analysis, the document that we have been looking for, for weeks from this minister. That document comes out and what does it tell us? It tells us a lot of things. We have been skimming it madly for the past three-quarters of an hour that we have been able to get our hands on it and that is not because the information was provided to us, let's make that really clear. The information was provided to the press out here and we were told when we asked for it, we were told that it was being delivered to our caucus offices. It still has not arrived in our caucus offices. Luckily, we were able to extract a copy or two because the media recognized the fact that we had a right to see this information, also, and I thank them for that.

What have we been able to get out of this? Well, let me deal, first of all, with that question that I was pursuing of the low income tax reduction, Mr. Speaker. Well, I was right on the $208,000. I found this information in here, Targeted Relief for Low Income Individuals. The $8 million that the minister talked about, let's not forget what has been said. We are going to look after low income Nova Scotians here because we recognize that there are winners and there are losers and that changes in the GST/PST is going to inordinately benefit those people who earn more money. We are going to target some money in for these low income folks.

From the $208,000 - now, let me take you back to that category of people below where the tax reduction will help them, that group that fits in there between that level and the family benefits recipients level. I told you that we took out people receiving family benefits and people on municipal assistance, Mr. Speaker, and we came up with 157,000. Well, the minister also took out 68,000 students, along with family benefits municipal social assistance recipients and a group of WCB recipients to come out with a figure of 62,000 individuals who will receive a savings of $129 a year.

My figures had $1.00 a week but after changing this, after making the other additions or subtractions from that 157,000, we get down to 62,000. So now these people are up to $2.00 a week, slightly over $2 a week in savings. I will tell you what. I would like to have a few more hours at this information to be able to prove the veracity of it because we have already seen a whole bevy of statements made in documents by this minister, Mr. Speaker, that have been a long ways away from accurate.

What else is in here, Mr. Speaker? Well, we have just received the document, I am informed, from our staff, four minutes ago. The document has been finally delivered to our caucus office. One would wonder whether it was not time that the House would be closed by now. I feel that there is grounds to be that cynical with the way this minister has handled this whole issue, right from the start.

[1:45 p.m.]

Let's look at a couple of other things here. We talked about the BST being a very significant shift from businesses on to consumers, and we were working with rough information. We said anywhere from $300 million to $400 million, Mr. Speaker. We were operating on information that we had, we tried to pull it together, not from information that the Minister of Finance would be able to give us because he didn't, even though we asked him repeatedly to give us that information.

[Page 1879]

Well, let's look at it here; inflationary impact, "The third indirect impact", it says here on Page 48 of this document, "is the result of the removal of the health services tax on business inputs. HST collected on business inputs amounts to roughly $240 million.". Now, $240 million suddenly isn't going to be paid by the business community, it is going to be paid by you know who. It is going to be paid by the consumers, Mr. Speaker.

It is interesting to look at what else is in this paragraph. It says, "Businesses can either flow-through these savings from harmonization to consumers, exports, zero-rated and exempt supplies, and the government and the MUSH sector, or they can re-invest some of these savings or they can pay out dividends. Thus, consumers will benefit from a portion of these savings regardless of the flow-through assumption.".

Flow-through assumptions, you may ask yourself, what are those? Well let me just take a moment and talk to you a little bit about the flow-through assumptions. The flow-through assumptions are the basis on which the government is making its claims of the savings that consumers are going to realize. Now businesses, according to the minister, are going to save $240 million and they are going to pass $140 million, half of that, on to consumers. That is an assumption based on what, I don't know for sure because every business person I have talked to has said, we are hanging on by our fingertips; we had to absorb the GST, we had to absorb the PST that was put on business services, recreational services, Mr. Speaker, is what I am told, and if there are any savings from this, and that is questionable, then the chances of passing that on are nil is what I am told by business people.

I even recall when this was first announced, the Atlantic Regional Representative of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the same thing, and we don't often say the same thing. He said that this assumption is a big one, about the 50 per cent pass-through because he understands the fact that the small business people he represents are hanging on by their fingertips and they just simply don't have the wherewithal.

I don't know where to go with this. Let's take a look at the consumer impact by family income level. Let's take a look at that chart, Table 6. It talks about average sales tax. There are columns here, Mr. Speaker, that say average sales tax increase and if you are earning between $10,000 and $20,000, these are 115,000, reportedly, families earning in that income level, they will realize a tax increase of $102. In the family income range of $30,000 to $50,000, another 101,500 Nova Scotian families will benefit by $229. If you go up to $80,000 and above, they are going to realize a saving of $373. You can see that it is set up so that the more income you make, the more benefit it is.

Then, if you combine that with the average personal income tax decline, it is the same sort of table. The benefits are less at the $10,000 - $20,000; or the $20,000 - $30,000; I mean, there you are looking at $100, $20,000 - $30,000; $30,000 - $50,000 it is $100, a $100 saving as a result of the personal income tax changes, Mr. Speaker. You go up to $80,000 and above and you are up to $425 savings.

Now they also have a column in here which is average price decline which, again, is basically numbers pulled right out of the sky, right out of the stratosphere, Mr. Speaker. They have no relation at all to reality here. None whatsoever. They assume that 50 per cent net pass-through of the HST savings to consumers.

We have been talking in this House and I and my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, have been trying to bang away at this ever since the whole business about the negotiations behind closed doors out at the airport became known. The silent back-room deals

[Page 1880]

being cut. We said, what is this going to do to the economy of Nova Scotia? What does this mean for us here in this province and we haven't gotten any information. We are getting it now at the eleventh hour. We are getting it now at the eleventh hour, Mr. Speaker, and I am sorry if I appear overly critical but I can't help but conclude that that was intentional, to deceive me and to deceive Nova Scotians in terms of what the true implications were of all of this. Again, you go through the different industries and, of course, and the member for Hants West talked about this before, the idea that utilities are going to pass on all these savings to us. Well, I won't hold my breath waiting for that.

I want to go back to the example that I raised the other day. There is an industry sector in here called service industries. I look at recreation. I talked to somebody the other day who is in the bowling business, Mr. Speaker. What it says here, of course, is that they are going to pass along savings from the input tax credit. As the gentleman said to me, what does this mean for me? He said, the only input I have in my business any more, because I have already invested in the capital and in my place, and that will be good for 10 years, is electricity, and will I or will I not get any savings on that? He said, that is my biggest cost. Well, we will see, won't we. We will see. But, he said, even if I do, I had to absorb the extra costs of the GST because people that are coming and purchasing my services, couldn't afford that increase.

So he said, we got through that and are still hanging on, and then we came into this government's decision to levy the PST for a full year, 11 per cent on his service, and he said, I couldn't pass that on either. I had to eat that. He said, there are a lot of people that haven't been able to eat it, but he said, I have been able to eat it. Thankfully, I was in the business a certain length of time and had already invested and been able to pay down some of my debt and so on and so forth, but there are a lot of people that aren't as fortunate. He said, I will tell you what, if I am going to receive any savings, and a lot of people that I have talked to, a lot of my colleagues in the recreational service business, if there are any savings to this whatsoever, and we still haven't concluded that there is, he says, we are not going to pass that on because we can't. We have been eating all these increases now for the past five years; we can't afford to pass it on if there is any, he said.

On top of that, the fact that the people that come in and purchase my service, they come in and bowl here, have had their incomes continually declining and are now going to have to pay additional taxes in order to come in and bowl here. This does not bode well. It does not bode well for my business and for many businesses in recreational services.

Those are just a few examples of the impact that people out here are talking to me about and talking to other members about, and that is without this information. But you know what? It is here in this book. This book underlines just how specious the claims are of the Minister of Finance of the savings that Nova Scotians are going to realize as a result of these changes.

Let me talk about one final thing, Mr. Speaker. Not only is this and the budget and all the other claims about balanced budget foolishness that are being talked about by this government, not only are they based on assumptions which are fanciful in the extreme, but they are based on the future; they are also based in 1997. Nova Scotians are supposed to believe in these assumptions but, not only that, that in 1997, you are going to pull it all together and they are going to benefit. I tell you what, Nova Scotians I talk to think that is just a load of rubbish. They think it is a load of rubbish.

[Page 1881]

What makes it even more easy for me to talk about how it is a load of rubbish is the fact that the minister continues to withhold information and to trickle it out in the way that he is doing which, as far as I am concerned, is contemptuous of this House, is contemptuous of me, is contemptuous of every member of this House, and is contemptuous of Nova Scotians. I, for one, am not at all happy about that, Mr. Speaker, and I think Nova Scotians will agree with that conclusion, let me tell you.

[2:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what I am going to suggest, because I think this is wrong, what is going on here - it is too serious a matter; we are talking about the future of this economy - I am going to move this amendment: "I move that Bill No. 18, The Financial Measures Act, 1996, be referred back to the Law Amendments Committee for public hearings.". So we can get to the bottom of what is going on here, we can have the business person in my riding come in and talk about these assumptions and how accurate they are; we can have Peter O'Brien from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses come in and talk about what his members are saying; we can have the experts come in and talk to us about the veracity of these assumptions; and Nova Scotians can have some input into these fanciful claims that the Minister of Finance and his colleagues are making about what is going to happen to the economy of Nova Scotia. I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: I have had a chance to look at the amendment. I refer the House to Beauchesne at Page 214, Section 737(2), speaking about the recommittal of a bill at third reading,

"Any Member may move to recommit a bill for one of the following purposes:

(a) to enable a new clause to be added to the bill when the House, on report, has passed the stage at which new clauses are taken.

(b) to enable the committee to reconsider amendments they had previously made.".

The motion before us is to have the bill referred to the committee for public hearings. Once again it seems to me that once the bill has passed the stage where the principle has been approved by the House, then I would find an amendment such as this at third reading to be out of order.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I certainly believe that the intention of the motion that is brought forward by my Leader is an extremely important principle and a good idea. I have heard your ruling, however, by the consent of the House or the majority of members in this House, we can agree to do whatever we want. Therefore I would plead through you to members of this House and suggest to the members of the Government benches, that if they have any intestinal fortitude, if they have any faith and confidence in the veracity of the statements that they are making, that they would welcome the opportunity to have this go to the Law Amendments Committee where citizens of this province will have an opportunity to come in to express their views and to pass judgment so that the legislation that we pass-through this House in the final stage will be the best that it can be.

Therefore, Mr. Speaker, through you, I am appealing to this House to indeed pass this motion forward so that we can debate it and send this bill back so that it can get some proper kind of consideration.

[Page 1882]

MR. SPEAKER: It would require the unanimous consent of the House to suspend the rules. Is there unanimous consent of the House? There is not.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: No, I'm not speaking on third reading unless you let me.

MR. SPEAKER: You have already spoken, I'm sorry.

MR. RUSSELL: I would just like to make a comment on your ruling. It is my understanding that recommittal is a perfectly common occurrence in any Legislature. In effect, what we are asking here is for a recommittal to another committee of the House, namely, the Law Amendments Committee. I have serious doubts as to whether or not, I shouldn't say that the ruling you made, is correct but I will say it any way.

MR. SPEAKER: I always appreciate the information from the member but the ruling that I have made is the ruling that I am standing by.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer a few comments in relation to Bill No. 18, Financial Measures (1996) Act. This bill was introduced in this Legislature on May 15th, prior to that there was extensive discussion, mostly in Question Period, in which we attempted to engage the Minister of Finance in some meaningful dialogue relative to his relationship with and discussions with the Minister of Finance of Canada, Mr. Martin, about what was going on with PST and GST harmonization discussions. We pleaded and pleaded and begged for information relative to what the impact of those discussions and the potential blending of PST and GST might be.

Virtually from the day that Bill No. 18 was introduced, we pleaded further with the Minister of Finance to provide some details, some information, some econometric modelling. I recall that we even asked the government's leading cheerleader, the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, to produce econometric modelling that would show that the impacts, which the Minister of Finance was suggesting were of a positive nature relative to the blending of the PST and the GST and the introduction of this particular piece of legislation would, in fact, put flesh on the bones of that rhetoric.

Of course we have not seen that econometric modelling, we haven't seen the detail of the analysis done until, lo and behold, within a couple of hours before all House Leaders had indicated, had agreed that this session of this Legislature would close, the Minister of Finance tables a document called Nova Scotia Tax Reform Economic and Financial Analysis. He tables it, if I may say so, Mr. Speaker, in a way which is so far beneath the standard of his stature as a parliamentarian that I have believed always existed with this Minister of Finance, that I am absolutely scandalized that the minister could conduct himself in the way he did, either of his own volition or by way of having been, God forbid, duped into doing so, by either his colleagues or others.

It offends, I suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, the history and the tradition of this place, it offends my rights and entitlements and privileges as a member, it offends the practice in this House. How many times have we seen a minister, particularly a Minister of Finance, table a document which purports to describe the economic and fiscal analysis of Nova Scotia tax reform? What issue can be more important to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, never mind us lower life MLAs in the Opposition benches, but what could be more important to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia and what kind of a system did he employ? He employed the most cynical and the most, in my opinion, deceitful approach possible. He stood up and he said, and I noticed and I watched him and I was delighted that he did it, he stood up and patted himself on the back and said, I am making good on my promise that I would table this document for the members.

[Page 1883]

Did the members have the document distributed to them here in this place? No, we didn't. When has that ever happened before, Mr. Speaker? I am tabling a document, Mr. Speaker, it is a very important document, it purports to describe to the Nova Scotia taxpayers what their fate is, in relation to what I am doing with this budget with this piece of legislation, with the harmonization of PST and GST but I am not going to give any of my colleague MLAs a copy of the document. If they would like to have it, though, they could perhaps check with their offices because we are mailing it or couriering it or sending it by God knows how, off to their offices. Therefore, they can pick it up after the Lieutenant Governor has come by, in a short time, signed off all of the legislation passed, this particular Bill No. 18 included, and then they can go home and they can read about it.

That, Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect is cynicism in the extreme. It is beneath the quality of the man whom I believe, as a parliamentarian, has displayed far more talent and far more class than that. The bloom is now off the rose of the Minister of Finance and with him and through him, every member of this government. This is crass, mean, deceitful proceeding within hours of the closure of this Legislature. That's all that this represents. The deceit is being perpetrated, most important, not upon me and not upon the MLAs but upon the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

You look at this document, I had to go to the Clerk and I asked the Clerk, Mr. Speaker, do you have a copy of the document tabled by the Minister of Finance and, of course, he did and he sent me down to the Clerk's Office and the staff there were kind enough to allow me to have a quick read. As I went out to go to the Clerk's Office to see if I could get a copy of this particular document, I was most intrigued to learn that every member of the press gallery was out reading their copy of that document. I am a little bit curious, more than a little bit curious, frankly, a little bit envious, that every member of the press gallery would, in the opinion of the Minister of Finance, be more deserving and more worthy of receipt of a copy of this particular document than would his colleague MLAs. What is going on, Mr. Speaker? What is going on? What is there to hide?

Well, a very cursory reading of the document indicates that there is a great deal to hide. It is now clear to me that this particular Finance Minister has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth relative to the impact of Bill No. 18, the impact of his budget and the impact of the blending and harmonization of the PST and the GST because, Mr. Speaker, if you have a chance to read some of this documentation, you are going to find - by the way, Mr. Speaker, if you would like a copy, if you call your caucus office, they might have it by now - if you read that document, you will find that the Nova Scotia taxpayer is not being treated anything close to as well as the Minister of Finance has been attempting to have them and others believe over the last many days since we started to discuss the blending of the PST and the GST.

How many times, Mr. Speaker, did members of this Legislature ask the Minister of Finance to produce a piece of paper which describes and discloses the analysis done to make good on his statement that the blending of the PST and the GST and the accumulative effect of doing that and this legislation was going to result in something like 3,000 new jobs in the

[Page 1884]

Province of Nova Scotia? How many times did we ask for such a document, for such a study, for such an analysis? Time and time again, countless times we asked for that.

Well, here is a document which he tables in the dying moments of this session, Nova Scotia Tax Reform Economic and Financial Analysis. Do you know what? I have found in a cursory reading, there are three or four references to the fact, and that is all they are is references, they're statements, all of this will result in 3,000 new jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia. There isn't any financial analysis, there isn't any econometric modelling, there isn't any detail that describes on what basis, in what financial sectors, in what time-frame and what kind and quality of jobs any or all of those alleged 3,000 new jobs are going to represent. Don't you remember, Mr. Speaker; don't you remember? The cynicism and the disappointment was extreme.

There were days in this place when I and others stood up and we asked the Minister of Finance, tell us about those 3,000 jobs. Do you recall, with the cynical sneer and the curled lip and the arrogant attitude, if I may say so, from the Minister of Finance, and he turned to his caucus colleagues and, in a jocular kind of fashion, do you remember the lines he got off?

[2:15 p.m.]

In a jocular kind of a fashion, he would say, you know (Interruptions) Yes, I can't help but think, as I hear the babble and the rabble from across the way, as the Minister of Finance, as he is wont to do on occasion, would turn and look face to face at his colleagues -no wonder he burst into laughter, most of Nova Scotia is starting to burst into laughter as they look at the colleagues of the Minister of Finance - but how many times, Mr. Speaker, did the Minister of Finance, when, in all seriousness we asked, Mr. Minister of Finance, would you please provide for us here in this House, provide for the Nova Scotia taxpayers some detail, some analysis, some background, some flesh to your statements that what you are doing with the finances of this province and what you are doing with the proposed harmonization of PST and GST will create the 3,000 jobs that you talk about?

Do you remember what he used to do - this is where I got off the track a moment ago - he used to turn to his colleagues and, almost with a smile, he would say, you know my buddy, Frank McKenna, up in New Brunswick, he is talking that his harmonization of the PST and the GST in New Brunswick might even generate 10,000 jobs in New Brunswick, maybe I should have said here in Nova Scotia something closer to 10,000.

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the member could help me with something here. I have been looking through this bill and I must be missing it, but I don't see anything about harmonization in this bill.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, Mr. Speaker, if I can find the bill, which I am having trouble doing, because I have been so enthralled with this particular document . . .

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, may I be helpful?

MR. SPEAKER: You certainly could be helpful.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid is going to be helpful.

[Page 1885]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, in an attempt to be helpful. One of the clauses in the bill has to do, supposedly, with balanced budget legislation. Of course one of the major ways in which the government is intending to balance the budget is to bring in the BST to rip off Nova Scotians, so that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, I thank you for your help, but the member for Halifax Citadel has the floor. I guess what I am saying is that I realize third reading is a general discussion, but it is not as general as second reading. I don't see anything in this bill about that report or about harmonization, so I wonder if the member can direct me to where harmonization is in this bill, or whether this report you are referring to is mentioned in the bill. I would be more than pleased to have a look at it, but I don't see it myself and I would ask the member, would he direct his comments to the bill before us?

MR. DONAHOE: Well, Mr. Speaker, the estimates of the Province of Nova Scotia presented by this minister, which require this particular legislation to take life, are predicated in some measure on the impact of the PST and the harmonization of the PST and the GST. It is simply not possible for us to address the legislation which gives life to the 1997-98 estimates I might say, and we are talking about what is going to happen to the finances and the fiscal life of the Province of Nova Scotia in 1997-98 and, in fact, it is all, in large measure, predicated on the impact of the harmonization of the PST and the GST.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, just to the honourable member's point, we have spent 40 hours debating estimates. We are dealing with this bill and I think I am going to have to ask the member. I am going to allow you to be as wide-ranging as reasonable, but I don't think we could suddenly start debating all the estimates because there is a financial bill before us.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, it is, with respect, all part of the package and it is impossible to talk about Nova Scotia tax reform and talk about this legislation and talk about the future that is going to be faced by the Nova Scotia taxpayers without allowing the opportunity for analysis of the impact of the harmonization of the PST and the GST.

MR. SPEAKER: I think I am going to rule that debate on the harmonization of the PST and GST is not relevant to the bill that is before us.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, if I may, a press release was issued by the Nova Scotia Government Information Office. It was issued on Friday, May 17, at 12:05 p.m. It is a note to editors, Nova Scotia Tax Reform Analysis Tabled, and it says:

"The detailed economic and fiscal analysis of Nova Scotia tax reform was tabled in the House of Assembly today by Finance Minister Bernie Boudreau. The 80-page report contains the facts and the assumptions which support the benefits of tax reform for taxpayers, businesses and the Nova Scotian economy.

The overall economic output for Nova Scotia is projected to experience a real increase of $174 million, or 0.8 per cent of the 1997 Gross Domestic Product. This will mean at least . . ." - here is his 3,000 jobs again - ". . . 3,000 full-time, permanent jobs. (See Page 12.) As part of a balanced package, sales tax harmonization is supported by $52 million in individual tax breaks and other benefits a) $32 million in personal tax reductions;".

That is what we are debating in Bill No. 18.

MR. SPEAKER: I don't think that is what we are debating in Bill No. 18. What I am suggesting, I don't know if there is a news release. I don't think it matters that there was a news release put out by the minister. It could discuss estimates and his overall plans for the future. I think we have to recognize that the bill before us is Bill No. 18. It is not the budget. It is not the estimates. It refers to the Assessment Act, it refers to the Equity Tax Credit Act, it refers to the Expenditure Control Act, it refers to the Income Tax Act and it refers to the Provincial Finance Act. I think those are the matters you should direct yourself to.

[Page 1886]

I don't really want to get into a debate on it. That is what I have ruled. If you would like to overrule me, you would have to appeal. You know the process.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, I know the process and I know what we are seeing happening here today too. It is impossible for me to comprehend, Mr. Speaker, that if we have a bill in front of us which talks about tax relief, about a saving to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, albeit in 1997 - that, if I may so, puts us into the year 1997 - and we are then told by this same minister that as part of a balanced package, sales tax harmonization is supported by $52 million in individual tax breaks and other benefits - and, if I may say so, the document to which I am referring does talk about, in Table 6, the average provincial income tax decline which will be the direct result of the piece of legislation that we debate - if that takes me to Page 23 and Table 6, with respect, Mr. Speaker, as of right, to every single page in the document.

MR. SPEAKER: What document are you referring to?

MR. DONAHOE: Nova Scotia Tax Reform Economic and Fiscal Analysis.

MR. SPEAKER: I am referring to Bill No. 18.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes. And Bill No. 18 talks about the fact that there will be income tax relief available to the Nova Scotia taxpayers. Correct?

MR. SPEAKER: That is what you should debate then.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, and I am debating it, Mr. Speaker, with respect and with your indulgence, and may I plead with your approval, I am debating it on the basis that we now have in the public domain, a document presented by the Minister of Finance, himself, which purports to tell the Nova Scotia taxpayers what the impact according to the Minister of Finance of that income tax reduction is going to be. He has a document to prove it, he says, and it is that document that I am addressing.

If I am addressing that document in regard to the Minister of Finance's statement as to how Nova Scotian taxpayers are going to be benefitted by income tax reduction, I say with the greatest respect because that same minister also says that his bill is part of a balanced package and the sales tax harmonization is supported by the $52 million in individual income tax breaks, he is joining in his own release, sales tax harmonization to the $52 million in individual tax breaks. It is the Minister of Finance who has joined harmonization to his tax breaks and not me, and not I. The document, itself, says, from a broad fiscal policy perspective, harmonization comprises both the memorandum and the 1996-97 budget.

MR. SPEAKER: The member doesn't seem to understand the point I am trying to make and I am only going to make it this last time. It doesn't matter that the Minister of Finance puts out news releases connecting everything he likes. If you wish to debate the news

[Page 1887]

release, go outside and debate it. What we are debating in this House is Bill No. 18 and just because the Minister of Finance or anyone else outside tied the two in, does not change the rules in this House.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I am not known to be obstreperous and I don't propose to be on this day. We have Bill No. 18 before us. Bill No. 18 has provisions in it that if they pass, they will result, according to the Minister of Finance, in tax relief being made available to the Nova Scotian taxpayers, albeit not until 1997. Are we on all fours thus far? The Minister of Finance has also, I suggest, in support of an explanation of that reality, has himself produced a document, if you will listen to the words for me, from a broad fiscal policy perspective harmonization comprises both the memorandum and the 1996-97 budget. If we are going to allow the Minister of Finance to make that statement here in this Legislature and to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, that harmonization comprises both this memorandum and his budget and Bill No. 18 puts flesh to his budget, and you are not going to allow us to talk about harmonization, then frankly that is censor, with the greatest respect.

MR. SPEAKER: I beg your pardon?

MR. DONAHOE: I believe that is censor if that is, in fact, we are not permitted to talk about harmonization of PST and GST. I say to you, Mr. Speaker, that you are censoring my ability . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Well, you may consider it censor, but I don't, and since I am in the Chair, that is what it is going to be. This is the last time I am ruling on it. I have consulted with counsel. Counsel supports me in this regard that there is no mention. If you can find the connection, I would be more than pleased to allow it. I am not trying to stop you from debating something; I am trying to find the connection. You had pointed out to me - it doesn't matter what the minister says outside, in news releases or other reports, it is the bill we are debating. I mean, to allow the logical extension of that kind of argument is that if anybody says anything about anything, then you are allowed to talk about it. So I have ruled on it. There will be no more discussion on the harmonization with regard to Bill No. 18.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 18 clearly speaks about income tax. It talks about income tax reductions in 1997-98. Now if your ruling says that I can't go to the Estimates Book, for instance, to point out something to do with that particular section of the bill, to bring up some anomalies, to bring up some different figures.

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: That is not what . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Well, then, Mr. Speaker, what are we debating? Are we just reading through the clause and that is the only thing we can refer to? You have to refer to back-up information and part of the back-up information to the bill is this piece of paper that was put out by the Minister of Finance this morning. So why is it not possible to refer to this document, which the minister himself says is tied directly to the bill?

MR. SPEAKER: Excuse me. The ruling that I have made is that the discussion on harmonization - I think the member has proven the point; he said that the Income Tax Act is referred to in the bill. If you wish to speak about the Income Tax Act, and you can use it until the cows come home, but I have seen nothing in the bill that references harmonization. That is the ruling.

[Page 1888]

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I ask you with respect to, if you will, if you have the bill before you, to turn to Page 4. If you will indulge me reading, and you read along with me and other members surely will as well. Page 4 of this bill says; Heading, Part II, Clause 11 "For greater certainty, this Part applies to the 1996-97 and subsequent fiscal years of the province.". Clause 12(1) "In each and every fiscal year of the Province commencing with the 1996-97 fiscal year, the amount appropriated by the Legislature for net capital expenditures and net program operating expenditures shall not exceed the amount of revenue forecast to be received by the Minister for that fiscal year.".

Those words, with respect, Mr. Speaker, make it possible for me to talk to you and to colleague members and to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia about revenue forecasts to be received by the minister for that fiscal year. Those forecasts are directly referable to the harmonization of the PST and the GST.

You will note that Clause 11 says that, ". . . this Part applies to the 1996-97 and subsequent fiscal years of the Province.". How can it not be possible for me, as a member, or any member of this Legislature, to have the opportunity to talk about projections of revenue and income and the impact of fiscal and financial changes, the impact or potential impact of harmonization of the PST and the GST in 1996-97 or subsequent fiscal years.

What do those words mean? I suppose then, that means that we would have to rule that the Minister of Finance should take all these documents back and burn them because he hasn't introduced a piece of legislation which allows him to talk to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia about what might happen in years subsequent to 1996-97. It is lunacy, it is ludicrous. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is the member seeking a ruling?

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I offer the comments which I just made to you on the basis that I believe that since the Minister of Finance's legislation says that it is intended to be a multi-year piece of legislation, that it is, therefore, possible for him to talk about what he thinks might happen, good and bad, in terms of economic growth and taxes and fiscal circumstances in the province. If it is appropriate for him to do that, as I believe it is, it follows that it is appropriate for us to be able to do likewise.

He describes in this legislation a process which is intended to force his and future governments to conduct themselves in certain ways depending on revenues and expenditures in future fiscal years. We have documentation, it happens in this particular instance that the one to which I have made some reference thus far is one produced by the Minister of Finance, but there are documents now available to us which indicate what might happen in future years in terms of revenues and expenditures. This isn't a bill, Mr. Speaker, which with the greatest respect, can restrict our discussion of only what is going to happen between April 1, 1996 and March 31, 1997, because the minister himself decided to use language which carries us into years subsequent to March 1997.

Everybody in this House, yourself included, Mr. Speaker, knows this is a multi-year budget and I, therefore, say to you with the greatest respect and I, frankly, plead with you, to come to the conclusion that it is therefore only fair, reasonable and appropriate that all members who wish to address this legislation be permitted to do so on the basis of offering opinion as to what projections are realistic for years subsequent to 1996-97.

[Page 1889]

MR. SPEAKER: I have no objection to any discussion on projections, none at all.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and those projections are in large measure, the projections made by the Minister of Finance and the questions asked and the projections made by those of us on the Opposition benches are, in large measure, predicated on the understanding that a deal has been made by the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia to harmonize or blend the provincial sales tax and the Goods and Services Tax and to produce this new, so-called, blended sales tax.

Well, Mr. Speaker, in that connection, we have heard the Minister of Finance say in this place many times that the general impact of the blending or harmonization of the GST and PST will result in the production of something like 3,000 jobs and I hope this is the last time I say it, but I will say it, no document from the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency, no document from the Minister of Finance, no document from any member of this government has been tabled in this place which puts any flesh on those rhetorical bones. They simply make the statement this is all going to create 3,000 jobs.

Why would any right-thinking Nova Scotian believe a word of that? This is the same government who now having offered promises to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia that they would be doing wonderful things to employ some 58,000 or 56,000 unemployed Nova Scotians and we now have more unemployed Nova Scotians three years into the mandate of this government than we had when they started. So why would anybody in their right mind believe the Minister of Finance when he stands up and what he is now doing here with this Bill No. 18 and with his multi-year budget, why would they believe that there are any jobs coming?

The problem that this multi-year budgeting brings with it, of course, Mr. Speaker, is that we get language that imposes certain obligations. I support the effort to move to a balanced budget and to make a serious assault on deficit control and reduction. We get language in the legislation which talks about, Clause 14, Section 12(3), "Where net capital expenditures and net program operating expenditures for a fiscal year exceed the total revenues for that year, the resulting deficit shall be recovered no later than the end of the second fiscal year following the fiscal year in which the deficit occurred by a reduction in expenditures or an increase in revenue, or both, over that period.".

It goes on further, in Clause 14, Section 12(4), "Where the amount of revenue to be received by the Minister in a fiscal year exceeds the amount appropriated by the Legislature for net capital expenditures and net program operating expenditures for that year, the resulting surplus shall, after accounting for any recoveries required pursuant to subsection (3), be used to reduce the public debt of the Province or reduce taxes, or both.".

Well, the minister's bill brings us into future years and taxes, and that immediately, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker, brings us into the impact of the taxes which will be faced by every single Nova Scotian as a consequence of the agreement made by this Minister of Finance and this government to harmonize the PST and the GST.

The suggestion is made, Mr. Speaker, that there will be, when that harmonization takes place, a 50 per cent pass-through of the indirect impacts from a number of things: the revenue to be generated from the 2 per cent surtax on business purchases of new and used motor vehicles from dealers, and heavy equipment; the increased costs for businesses due to the tax burden on exempt supplies; and the savings created by the removal of the health services tax on business inputs. The overall inflationary . . .

[Page 1890]

MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps the honourable member didn't understand me when I said you may speak about projections. I haven't changed my view. The debate on the harmonization, I am sure, will come to this House at some time, and when the matter of harmonization comes forward, we will debate that issue then. To the limited extent that it has an effect on balancing the budget in the sense that it was a piece of legislation before us that requires a balanced budget, to that extent you can speak of the harmonization. But to debate the pros and cons of harmonization is not what this bill is about.

MR. DONAHOE: I repeat, with respect, Mr. Speaker, if you would take a look at Clause 10 of the bill, on Page 3, you would find that there is a provision which says, in Clause 10(1), Section 18A(1), "Where an individual has received directly or indirectly, the benefit of a tax credit in respect of which the person is not entitled, the amount of the benefit is payable forthwith by that person to the Minister.". Well, is that - and you see, the problem is, we don't have as much explanation or information as should be made available to us - input tax credit a credit to offset a refund that a supplier may claim in respect of tax paid on the purchase of taxable goods and services for resale?

This bill talks about tax credits, tax credits in respect of which a person is not entitled and the consequences. So if we are going to be talking about a piece of legislation which addresses the question of the tax credits, Mr. Speaker, I say again to you, with respect, that it is not unreasonable to talk about other documentation which addresses the question of how these tax credits work or don't work, or what impact those tax credits will or will not have. What is the point of having the clause in the bill if we are not allowed to talk about it?

MR. SPEAKER: I think the clause simply states that anyone who gets the benefit of a tax credit that he is not supposed to get, has to give the money back.

MR. DONAHOE: Yes, and one of those tax credits, Mr. Speaker, with respect, because we are told that this is a multi-year budget and we are told that harmonization of PST and GST is going to take place during the life of this bill, one of the elements of that harmonization is the development of input tax credits. So that is a tax credit.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, to that effect you are on solid ground.

MR. DONAHOE: We are told, Mr. Speaker, that a 50 per cent pass-through on these indirect impacts from the things I have just referred to, that on that basis the overall inflationary impact on consumers in Nova Scotia is going to be virtually nil. I would ask if he would be prepared to do so when he closes, if the Minister of Finance might provide us with the guarantee that that 50 per cent pass-through will in fact have that impact.

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the minister in the course of debating his own bill, Bill No. 18, has said a number of times, and he is also said it in relation to harmonization of PST and GST, that Nova Scotian taxpayers are going to have considerably more disposable income. He suggests that the possession by Nova Scotia taxpayers of considerably more disposable income - they are not going to put it in a sock or squirrel it away; they are going to spend it - that is therefore going to create additional economic activity and that is going to generate more tax activity and so on.

[Page 1891]

Mr. Speaker, we understand that a zero per cent pass-through of the indirect impacts, the inflationary impact reverts to a direct impact of 0.6 per cent impact. A 50 per cent pass-through of the indirect impacts, the inflationary impact on consumers is minus 0.06 per cent. On the surface, therefore, we are told that the overall inflationary impact, assuming a 50 per cent pass-through, suggests harmonization will not affect consumer spending overall. "However, harmonization may cause consumers to change the manner in which they spend their money, where it is possible to alter the basket of goods and services they purchase.".

Now part of the problem with what the alteration of the basket - and boy is the basket going to be altered - at 50 per cent pass-through, we are told, the cost of clothing and footwear, electricity, other fuels including home heating fuel, laundry and dry cleaning, motive fuels, purchased transportation, recreational services, personal care, housing construction and real estate commissions will all rise by roughly 1 per cent or more. All of those services, and those are the services and the goods which tens of thousands of Nova Scotian families avail themselves. Clothing and footwear - every family needs clothing and footwear - electricity, other fuels, home heating fuel, laundry and dry cleaning. To do your laundry and dry cleaning is going to cost you more - purchased transportation. Families who by reason of no fault of their own, don't have resources to own their own vehicle and they have to purchase transportation. That is now going to cost them more money.

Recreational services of whatever kind. I thought we were attempting to establish an economy in this province which was based in large measure on the attraction of tourism and one of the most fundamental elements of the attraction of tourism is to have the most expansive range of recreational activities and services that we possibly can. Now we have a Minister of Finance who introduces legislation and makes deals which result in the fact that those recreational services will cost more.

Personal care - what does that mean? What does that mean to the Minister of Health? What does it mean that personal care is now going to cost more? Does that mean that my elderly family, that I, if I become disabled and require personal care, that any amount of money that I have to pay if I am fortunate enough to have the resources to pay some money for personal care, that that is now going to cost more for me and my family and thousands of families across the Province of Nova Scotia because of this budget?

Housing construction - this government, somewhere else, we have a reference to the extension of the housing rebate - is going to cost more. Mr. Speaker, the trouble with this whole situation is that what we have - I have used the phrase before and I am going to use it again - an unbelievable shell game going on here.

We have a Minister of Finance, Mr. Speaker, who introduces a multi-year piece of legislation and a multi-year budget. He talks about the fact that we, the Liberal Government, the Savage Government are going to do so well by the Nova Scotia taxpayers. Do you know how well we are going to do by the Nova Scotia taxpayers, say they. We are going to do so well we are going to relieve them of $120 million of tax obligation. Then in the next breath, thinking, I am sure, that the Nova Scotia taxpayers are three times as stupid as he really thinks they are, he then says that in order to alleviate the problems that we would experience as far as the provincial coffers are concerned, my good buddy federal Minister of Finance Paul Martin is going to send me down a bunch of money and that will alleviate some of the difficulty that we will experience on the provincial budgetary side.

[Page 1892]

Whose money is the federal Minister of Finance sending down to the Province of Nova Scotia, to the Nova Scotia Minister of Finance? He is not going to his wallet or his personal bank account to send that money back. He is not going down the hall to Jean Chretien and saying, Jean, have your personal resources gotten to the stage where you can write some multimillion dollar cheques because I have to send them to the Minister of Finance in the Province of Nova Scotia. You know perfectly well none of that is happening and so does every thinking Nova Scotian and every thinking Canadian.

What happens is that the Minister of Finance in Ottawa goes to the Department of Finance in Ottawa and he says, I need a bunch of the money that the Nova Scotia taxpayers have already sent up here from their respective homes in Nova Scotia because I have got to send it to the Minister of Finance to alleviate the adverse impact that he would otherwise experience because he went to the people of Nova Scotia and tried to have them believe that he was offering them the biggest tax relief in the history of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Well, does anybody ever ask, did the Minister of Finance ask, what happens as far as the budgetary considerations for all of us as federal taxpayers? Because there is only one taxpayer. What happens to us as federal taxpayers? Let's make the assumption that I believe the Minister of Finance in this province is urging the federal Minister of Finance to do. What happens if the federal Minister of Finance makes the same kind of a deal or a similar deal with every province across this country?

Part of that deal is that there will be payments from the federal Minister of Finance to all of the provincial Ministers of Finance to help lighten the load when the Ministers of Finance provincially go to their people and say, what nice boys and girls we are, we are reducing the tax burden on the provincial taxpayer. Well, the Minister of Finance nationally is going to have to write some billions of dollars worth of cheques to send those transitional monies to Finance Minister Boudreau and to his counterparts across the country.

Can't you then just see it? Paul Martin, federal Minister of Finance, or his successor will stand up in Parliament one of these days, after making that deal across the country, and say, ladies and gentlemen, Canadian taxpayers, we made this great deal, we harmonized, we promised that we would eliminate the GST. And Sheila Copps, I am tempted but I won't.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I suggest that the honourable member is starting to . . .

MR. DONAHOE: Starting to stray?

MR. SPEAKER: . . . to drift and stray quite a bit from the bill that is before the House.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I certainly am into flotsam and jetsam when I talk about Sheila Copps so I had better not stray that far.

The difficulty, Mr. Speaker, is that the impact, the effect of this bill and the budget which it implements is, if carried across the country in the same fashion, going to result in all of us, all Nova Scotian taxpayers, looking the federal minister in the face, in him looking us in the face, one of these days and saying, I made the deal with the provinces, I need more money from all of you.

[Page 1893]

Can you imagine that you have a Minister of Finance in the Province of Nova Scotia patting himself on the back, a standing ovation when he delivers his Budget Speech here not so long ago, Mr. Speaker, and he got a wonderful rousing standing ovation from his colleagues, all of whom, I presume, were applauding the fact that clothing, footwear, electricity, other fuels including home heating fuel, laundry and drycleaning, motor fuels, purchased transportation, recreational services, personal care, housing construction and real estate commissions all are going to cost the Nova Scotia taxpayers more. I presume that is what all of his colleagues were applauding when they rose to their feet to give the Minister of Finance his standing ovation.

Mr. Speaker, this multi-year budget and this multi-year bill at which we now look, as I have said, has this impact of expanding the base. It also has the impact of downloading in places where tax relief is needed.

I forget the number, I think it is something like $9 million that has been ripped out this year out of the assistance to universities budget. The impact of this budget and this legislation, Mr. Speaker, is that the municipalities and the universities and the schools and hospitals are now going to be required to pay taxes, which previous to this budget they did not have to pay. Here we go again, here is the flip side. I offered you my opinion as to what I think we are going to hear from Paul Martin or his successor on a future day. I know what we are going to hear from the municipalities and with understanding and justification.

Virtually every ministry of the provincial government has turned to the municipalities and has said to them, we are extracting ourselves from arrangements which were in place with the municipalities and it is going to cost you more money. We are now in a situation where, as a result of this budget, the municipalities are going to end up paying taxes which they previously did not have to pay and they are going to have to pay something awfully close to 43 per cent more tax than they paid; the universities, 23 per cent; the schools about 32 per cent and the hospitals about 17 per cent.

Is it any wonder that the range of services available at the municipal level, in our universities, in the school system, it is about $30 million that this government has ripped out of the public school system since it became government. This is the same government, Mr. Speaker, which constantly talks about our children are our future and proceeds to emasculate the capacity of the public school system to do its job.

Mr. Speaker, it is hard to know what to say about a bill which hacks and rips at the Nova Scotia taxpayer. On the one had we have the minister talking about Bill No. 18, talking about the greatest tax relief in the history of the province, and you read further and deeper and you find that there is a whole range of absolute essentials for every Nova Scotian family, which are now going to be taxed which were not taxed previously.

Some of the wealthy do very well, thank you very much but there are, unfortunately, tens of thousands of families in this province, who need help. I am sure, many of them are home today clapping their hands in glee, looking at the prospect of saving in 1997 $13 worth of personal income tax. That will go a long way.

I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if you could indicate when my time expires.

MR. SPEAKER: You have about four and one-half minutes.

[Page 1894]

MR. DONAHOE: So, Mr. Speaker, I apologize for taking so much of the time of the House. I may not have done so had I not been so disappointed and so frustrated by the fact that a Minister of Finance, whose credibility I was prepared to put some stock in, would conduct himself in the way in which he did today and would confound and compound the issue and would further the attempt to obfuscate what really is going on here. It really is sad.

[3:00 p.m.]

It is sad to see that the Minister of Finance, who I know has worked hard and I know has paid a great deal of attention to what he has been doing during his time as Minister of Finance, could, in my opinion, blow it and blow it so badly in this budget, in this Bill No. 18 and in the development and the presentation of this document, Nova Scotia Tax Reform, Economic and Fiscal Analysis.

AN HON. MEMBER: He blew it on the casino.

MR. DONAHOE: I am being reminded that he blew it on the casino fiasco. Those chickens are coming home to roost. The Minister of Finance really probably did start blowing it with that operation.

Mr. Speaker, I, therefore, before I close, would like to make a motion to the House.

"I move that the words after `That' be deleted and the following substituted: `Bill No. 18, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, be not now read a third time but that it be read a third time this day six months hence'.".

MR. SPEAKER: This, I believe, is the third amendment proposed of this type, being of the dilatory type which basically questions the principle of the bill. Earlier rulings of the previous Speaker have been that this bill has come before the House and has been debated and the principle of the bill has been approved, and that an amendment which questions the principle of the bill cannot be again considered at this time. The other two amendments were ruled out of order for that reason. I find this amendment to be of the same nature and I so rule it out of order.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: On a point of order. What you are saying is that no amendments can be made on third reading in future in this House. That is absolute nonsense because historically dilatory motions have been permitted on third reading. What has changed overnight that no longer can you submit an amendment which is a dilatory motion, which is permitted under the book that you are always quoting from, Beauchesne?

Beauchesne says that you can make the same motions for dilatory amendments in third reading as you can in second reading, and a six months' hoist is certainly one of them. That is not fair, it is not right. I'm sorry.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. The rules of every House of Parliament, whether it is our House of Parliament or any other within the British Parliamentary System, are very clear. The function of the Chair, among others, is to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. In seeking to put forward this dilatory motion, the honourable member, my colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel, is clearly within the bounds of the rules of this Parliament and any other Parliament of which I know.

[Page 1895]

Additionally, sir, while it may well seem that denying this opportunity is only the government putting the Opposition in its place, I remind that we are not here of our own accord; we are here to represent the people of our constituencies, the people of Nova Scotia. By denying any member of this House the opportunity to function within the rules set down by this House, in fact, the people of Nova Scotia are being denied their right, their opportunity to have their voices heard through their elected representatives. That, sir, is wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: I have had a chance to consult with counsel and give this some thought. The earlier one I think definitely questioned the principle of the bill. This one, since it is a hoist, proposes to defer the reading for a period of six months, I think can be construed as not attacking the principle of the bill but it should be read this time six months hence. So, therefore, I am going to allow the motion and find it in order.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, on the amendment.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to say that my tenor has changed quite dramatically since that ruling and what I thought I would probably be standing up and saying on the initial ruling.

What we have before us and I think it is being demonstrated this afternoon by how uncharacteristically quiet and, obviously, therefore, ashamed, the government members are, we have (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could the honourable members please come to order. The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see that the Minister of Municipal Affairs takes exception to my comments because she is working at her desk and, as another colleague said, we want to make sure that what we do is actually work with Nova Scotians and work on behalf of Nova Scotians. If this bill is hoisted for six months, then we can take this bill around, then we can get consultation, then we can find out the hard, true facts about what is being done to the people of this province by the Liberal Government here in the Province of Nova Scotia; done to the people of Nova Scotia and then they can take a look at it in comparison to the report that was just tabled in this House a few hours ago.

The government in this bill talks about balanced budget. We know and I remind the Minister of Municipal Affairs who takes exception to the fact that some people question the great wisdom and vision of this Liberal Government, I remind that minister and her red team colleagues that a study was done for the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities that confirms that one of the principal ways that this government is trying to balance the budget is by offloading those costs onto the property taxpayer. Mr. Speaker, costs don't go away because the Government of Nova Scotia says, we ain't going to pay them and they turn around and say that somebody else is. It just means that your bill comes from another source.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians' health care, education and other services are under assault. If members of this House don't believe it, go home, pick up your telephone or even better still, put on a pair of sneakers, get out and around your neighbourhood, knock on some doors and talk to the people who live in your ridings. Because people who live in this province are living in the real world. They don't have red sunglasses on. They aren't hiding behind some curtain, they are seeing the realities in their daily lives about what is happening to them and their family members.

[Page 1896]

In this bill and in the budget and in all the hoopla that the government brings in, they talk about how there is going to be tax relief for Nova Scotians.

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you spell relief?

MR. HOLM: Somebody asked me, how do you spell relief? I don't know but I know a spelling error; if you spell it L-i-b-e-r-a-l you would have that circled as a spelling error.

MR. SPEAKER: I remind the honourable member that we are dealing with the amendment. The amendment is that this particular bill should be not read at this time but at a second time six months hence. I would like him to please relate his remarks to why that should be.

MR. HOLM: I am trying to get to a very specific point with that, Mr. Speaker. One of them (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member please continue with his arguments.

MR. HOLM: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I offended the sensitivities of the member who used to have an oil refinery, another one in his riding.

Mr. Speaker, in this bill they talk about a tax reduction. They talk about how there is going to be relief provided to those who are in the lowest income brackets. The Minister of Finance has promised that there is going to be an $8 million pool of money to assist those Nova Scotian families with an income below $15,000. It was pointed out to the minister that there were 208,000 such families in the last tax filing year and the minister pooh-poohed that because when it was pointed out to him it would have worked out to 74 cents per family, the minister said, that is not true.

Mr. Speaker, we have now found that it is not true simply because the government has obviously declared that all kinds of people are not persons. They have reduced that 208,000 figure, the ones to whom they are going to give assistance, by eliminating from that group those who are on social assistance, workers compensation and students. Over a six month period of time, if this bill is hoisted, not only will the Minister of Municipal Affairs, who hasn't yet, as of yesterday, had the time in a very busy schedule, to pick up the telephone to call the UNSM, to talk to them about the offloading effects that she and her colleagues are imposing on the municipal units, in excess of $40 million, that can be done in that period of time. The Minister of Finance can take his show on the road and actually go out and talk to Nova Scotians, these non-people, who according to the government don't need assistance - like students, who are facing a probably 10 per cent increase in tuition fees this year. According to the minister, students are generally unaffected by new sales taxes and many of their essentials are tax free. Get that! Tuition, residential rent and basic groceries remain tax free. Heating costs, which are going to be taxed, and electrical costs, which are going to be taxed, apparently won't be passed on to the students.

Mr. Speaker, students also need personal care and personal care items, students also need to buy books and materials and clothing and all kinds of other items, going to university where the prices keep rising, because the provincial government is slashing the amount of assistance being provided to post-secondary universities, which are institutions, which are now also going to face the BST. Now, of course, the Liberals are trying to change the name of the BST to the VAT; I guess the former name blended has hit too close to home.

[Page 1897]

MR. SPEAKER: Is this why the bill should be read six months hence?

MR. HOLM: Yes, I am talking about it.

MR. SPEAKER: It is?

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Because that is the only thing we are discussing . . .

MR. HOLM: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I believe that in a six month period of time the Minister of Education, along with the Minister of Finance, will have an opportunity to assess how much, as the Minister of Finance in his document that he tabled today, said that students, if they are affected, they can add a few more dollars onto their student loans, onto their debts that they are going to graduate with. The minister says that they have student aid available to them. It is in the document.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Is this why the bill should be read six months hence?

MR. HOLM: I would agree, Mr. Speaker. That is one of the reasons why it should be read six months hence because that may give the Minister of Education an opportunity to re-evaluate the appropriateness and the ability of the student aid program in the Province of Nova Scotia to be addressing the needs that are going to be imposed upon it, because the Government of Nova Scotia has decided that students are non-persons.

MR. SPEAKER: I don't believe this relates either to the bill or to the amendment and I could caution the honourable member and direct his attention to the provisions of Sir Erskine May, with which he is well familiar, concerning irrelevance and tedious repetition.

MR. HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I want to say it is a pleasure to see you back in the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: It is a pleasure to see Sir Erskine back on my desk.

MR. HOLM: I am pleased. I didn't know that Sir Erskine had left your desk.

MR. SPEAKER: He had gone downstairs. We didn't think we would need him any more.

MR. HOLM: Well, I am glad he is back. I certainly would not want to test Sir Erskine. I might want to test the government members. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the Premier is right now, if he is still in Iceland or if he is in another country, but maybe he might even want to come back. He might even want to drop another piece of paper today called a writ because I would love to take this and the minister's propaganda campaign to the streets. (Interruption) I say, let's go as well, no hesitation, to the Minister of the Environment.

Mr. Speaker, obviously the impact of this legislation is going to be uneven, particularly in different farming communities across the province. Now over a six month period of time, if I may be so presumptuous, as I am speaking, I will try, of course, to always insert at the appropriate place in my dialogue that phrase, about the advantages of six months,

[Page 1898]

but not only that, I would like hopefully to have that taken as an assumption. Under the bill as it was amended, certain municipalities will, and in fact, all municipalities have now the ability to exempt farmland that is registered, from paying the tax on that agricultural acreage.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, with due deference, I fail to find any relevance in this to the amendment that the bill be read six months hence at all. I point out to the honourable member the provisions of Sir Erskine May, to which I recently referred, that, "If any Member wanders from the question under discussion, the Speaker will interrupt him and remind him that he must speak to the question. If a Member persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition either of his own arguments, or of the arguments used by other Members in debate, Standing Order No 41 empowers the Speaker, after calling the attention of the House to the Member's conduct, to direct him to discontinue his speech.". Now that is what the textbook says. I ask the honourable member to confine himself strictly to the amendment.

MR. HOLM: As I am the first person speaking to this particular amendment, obviously I cannot be repetitious with what any other member said, Mr. Speaker, and, of course, Beauchesne is the major book that we take the references to in this House.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my point about six months is indeed very relevant on the point that I am going to be talking about. We are going to have certain communities and certain persons and individuals who are involved in agriculture across this province being placed in a disadvantaged position relative to the competition. A six month period of time will give an opportunity for either a committee of this House, or, in fact, the Minister of Agriculture teaming up with the Minister of Finance, to travel around with the Minister of Municipal Affairs to find out what kind of an impact her tax offload, not only of the cost but of the responsibility, will have on particular agricultural operations in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we do things right because what the government has said is that certain municipalities, in fact any municipalities, may give tax exemptions. Those municipalities that have a large and a stronger tax base than others, may have the financial means to be able to absorb those increased costs that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Minister of Finance are offloading to them. But others may not, and that needs to be studied. That needs to be studied, and to study something takes time.

Even as ineffective and inefficient as this government is, hopefully in a six month period of time they would be able to wend their way around this province - particularly to the agricultural communities to talk to the Federation of Agriculture, to talk to independent farmers who are not members of that and also, very importantly - to talk to municipal councils and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. That is a very important and productive use of that six month period of time.

Mr. Speaker, in this bill, as well, there are provisions about income tax; there are provisions in here about what kind of income tax reductions are going to be made. Now, the Minister of Finance has said that he is working out a new arrangement to be completed within about six months; he said that about one month ago when he told us that we were going to get the BST. They are working out those details - the federal government and the provincial government, the highest officials, presumably even the ministers will come together at some time. They may not be sending all of the correspondence by faxes, they may actually come face to face.

[Page 1899]

You know, supposedly, in six months time we will know what products are going to have that BST added to it. We will know, Mr. Speaker, whether or not a 2 per cent - which actually, in terms of the total income tax that people pay, it works out, if they pay any, about 1.25 per cent; it depends on how you cut the figures - but we will know, as a result of a study, of an analysis - because we have had absolutely nothing done yet - hopefully we will know if the amount of income tax reduction projected is going to be nearly enough to offset the harm that is going to be done to those in the middle and lower income brackets, those who run and operate our hospitals and our health care system who are also going to have to pay that tax, those who run our education system who are going to have to pay that tax, a six month period of time will be able to give this government, and more importantly their officials or staff, a chance to evaluate those cost implications; a chance over that six month period of time to devise changes in amendments, and maybe even - and it is not unheard of - a supplementary, or a sub-budget to bring in the financial measures to undo the damage and harm they are planning to impose.

Surely to heavens, the government's timetable, their agenda is not - well, maybe it is, maybe they have some other plans. Maybe they have some other things they are trying to hide or they are trying to lock in. But I think . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Well, I am going to interrupt once again. Just be seated for a moment. You suggested before that Sir Erskine May's observations were not in harmony with those of the Rule Book of this House of Assembly. But I would direct your attention to Rule 24(2), headed, "Irrelevance or repetition in debate", stating, "Mr. Speaker or the Chairman, after having called the attention of the House or of the Committee to the conduct of a Member who persists in irrelevance or repetition of his own arguments in debate, may direct him to discontinue his speech.".

Now, I think that I have heard quite enough. I have not heard clear, concise submissions as to why the bill should be read six months hence, but I have heard a rambling treatise going all over the map and I think I have heard quite enough. I direct the honourable member to discontinue his speech.

Are there further speakers to the amendment?

MR. JOHN HOLM: Excuse me. Mr. Speaker, if I may, on a point of order. In the comments that I was talking about over the last period of time that I have been on my feet, I have been very careful to provide constructive suggestions as to what can be done during that six month period of time in which this bill should be hoisted. I am not going to challenge your ruling. If you order me to take my seat and will not permit me to do that, that is your decision. I cannot overrule it and I know you will be backed up by the government members. But if that is your ruling, I feel that my rights as a member of this House are being violated.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the objections are entered into the record.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. HOLM: Might as well throw me out because it is the same thing.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: No, no, relax, we need you in a minute. Don't be hasty. (Applause) Stay where you are.

[Page 1900]

Mr. Speaker, there is a very serious amendment for a six months' hoist. The members have got a very serious reason for asking for a six month breather. Today, in probably one of the slipperiest, deceptive ways that we have ever seen, this was tabled in this Legislature in the most peculiar way.

AN HON. MEMBER: As promised.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Oh, listen to them, as promised, as promised. Come on.

The people of Nova Scotia need six months. When we read the budget, those were the words of the Minister of Finance, that his harmonization was going to be great for Nova Scotians; each and every person was going to save money. All of a sudden, the minister in his slippery way tabled this. How is it tabled? Very peculiarly. The Clerk had one copy only. I did not get mine, nobody else got theirs. We had to go rooting around to find them. We did find them and when we read, we were shocked at the detail on all the pages and we needed time.

Well, how do you think Nova Scotians, without the advantage of the Legislature, are going to read, understand and comprehend all of the implications of this long document? The minister himself said they had been working on it for 18 months. Well, I find this most peculiar because, Mr. Speaker, this GST/PST amalgamation was not an 18 month arrangement, it was something that just happened in the last few months. Now we find that it has taken 18 months to get this far. All we are asking for is six months so the people of Nova Scotia can begin to understand the implications of a tax grab of magnitude proportions.

Mr. Speaker, if you look at some of the tables in here, we need time to interpret them. Nobody saves any money. It is going to cost each and every Nova Scotian, depending upon their income, anywhere from $44 to an additional $373 a year. Now, how can this be when the minister told us that everybody was going to save money and he was going to lose $82 million? We need time. Six months, I think, might be able to get us in a method so we can figure out, how, in the name of all that is good and holy, does this happen? It is going to take six months for us to understand the new math of the Minister of Finance.

Mr. Speaker, according to this document prepared by some of the greatest economists that the Minister of Finance could find, the direct impact of harmonization is an $84.3 million increase in the consumer tax burden. You see, it is deceptive for the minister to say that he is going to be losing money. That is all we have been hearing, so much so that the federal government indicated they would send down an extra $100 million to the minister to help us out. Now we find out that in addition to the bribe from Ottawa to help save Mr. Chretien, we are also going to get $84 million from the beleaguered taxpayers of Nova Scotia. This Minister of Finance and this bill that we are debating indicates that it is going to be a cost-saving.

Well, let's meet with the farmers, Mr. Speaker. Let's give the farmers six months to figure out how they are going to come up with the extra money to pay property tax for the first time in a generation. They need time. Maybe in six months more of us can convert our cars to propane. It would take six months to do it, probably. It would give us time to get propane so we could take advantage of what the minister said. I think the only person that is going to save any money is the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis because his car burns propane now. So, the rest of us need the six months to convert our cars.

[Page 1901]

[3:30 p.m.]

You see, Mr. Speaker, I don't think anybody in Nova Scotia expected anything like this. The last minute of the last day of the Legislature closing, to have a bill so sneakily smuggled in and then we had to drag it to get it out. Little wonder. An $84 million tax grab on top of all the other tax grabs this minister has applied to us in the last two months: the tin can tax, the tire tax. Now Nova Scotians, instead of savings, are going to be paying an extra $85 million a year. Is this fair?

We need six months. The people of Nova Scotia, in fact, should be given six months to study this because it takes six months to understand the tables he has. The PVAT revenues from exempt suppliers are estimated to total $60 million. The pass-through assumption is 50 per cent, from 29 per cent, you see. The minister thinks that half of the tax that businesses might save they might pass on. With those maybe-might be, up in the air kinds of numbers, the minister seems to think that a tax saving - look, it is laughable, Mr. Speaker.

The minister thinks people earning less than $10,000 a year are going to be saving the grand total of $13. That is pretty exciting. Mr. Speaker, this tax is going to apply to all and sundry. Things that people are buying: shoes, clothing less than $100. The Minister of Finance said, don't worry about the tax because you are going to wind up paying less due to harmonization. Now we see the fallacy, the untruth of the minister's statements.

The Minister of Finance has been getting away with murder across this province for the last two years. People seem to think he has done a marvellous job. Balancing Bernie. Mr. Speaker, the deception that he is trying to pull on Nova Scotians is shown clearly in his own words. As Opposition members, we have been warning Nova Scotians about the tax grabs and the tricks of this government. The Minister of Finance today confirmed all of the things that we have been telling Nova Scotians. This week, we saw the Advantage Nova Scotia pamphlet, paid for by the taxpayers.

MR. SPEAKER: Now we are getting quite far afield. I just want to caution the honourable member, first of all, we are on third reading, which by definition is a much more narrow type of debate than you have on second reading, where it is much broader. Then finally, we are on an amendment, asking that the bill not be read a third time now but be read six months hence. That is a very narrow window. You can explore it fully, but when you get beyond that, then you are getting into trouble. So, I caution you.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, this week has been a very disgraceful week for Nova Scotians who are believers in this government. We have seen the government stoop to new lows, even for this government, with the publication of the pamphlet, for propaganda of the Liberal Party at taxpayers' expense, filled with half truths and no truths. The truth that should be told to Nova Scotians is the miserable planning that is going on, the lack of economic growth. There is absolutely no economic plan for the province except, gouge the taxpayer again.

I want every Nova Scotian to realize they are going to be paying $85 million because without debate in the Legislature, without any details this Minister of Finance went to Ottawa and signed a deal with his federal counterparts. For what? What did he get in return? Nothing of benefit to Nova Scotia taxpayers; perhaps of benefit to the Liberal Party in Nova Scotia and the Liberal Party in Canada but that is about as poor a recommendation as you can get, when a Minister of Finance places Party politics ahead of Nova Scotians.

[Page 1902]

From this table that he has published today, all Nova Scotians now know the backbench didn't realize, they believed the minister when he said there were going to be tax savings through harmonization. Even some of his Cabinet colleagues believed him.

Now, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know exactly that what the Minister of Finance was saying was absolutely totally wrong and fabricated. In this document that he tabled under the table, it shows a $84.3 million increase, and that is all they are admitting to. It could even be higher than that.

Mr. Speaker, I urge you and the members of this Assembly, give the people of Nova Scotia six months, so they can be told and they can learn and they can understand exactly what this secret Liberal deal is to harmonize the tax. I urge members to support the amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I have not spent as many years in this House as you or one or two other members but I have spent a good many years here. I was a watcher of this place in the years before I was given the honour of coming here to represent the good people of Queens but never ever in the 18 years in which I have been a member have I seen the subterfuge played out the way the Minister of Finance has attempted to play out the subterfuge that he has put forward today.

Mr. Speaker, I know that I go beyond the bounds of the amendment if I speak for too great length at that but I must say that before I speak to the substance of the amendment itself. The legislation that we have before us this afternoon in third reading and, more specifically, this amendment, speaks to the absolute vital importance of men and women in labour and business to have the opportunity to address the sum and substance of this legislation and the supporting documentation which, at the very last moment, this minister slipped onto the table here in the Chamber. Six months is not a long time to provide the public opportunity to thoroughly review the sum and substance of what it is that this minister proposes, not only for this fiscal year but for several fiscal years to come.

This bill has the potential to affect Nova Scotians literally for decades, because of the legislation that it proposes. Surely it is insufficient to allow this bill to move through this House so quickly and with so little opportunity for public comment. That is why it is so absolutely essential that the people of this province have those six months available, in order to better understand precisely what it is that the Minister of Finance intends to do. Surely, that is not too much to ask.

Under normal circumstances, sir, we could be told that the opportunity was provided at the Law Amendments Committee for consideration to be given to this bill. But the information which the minister slyly slipped on to the Table today hoping desperately to avoid debate of its substance was not available to the public. So the Law Amendments Committee discussion is irrelevant with respect to this bill. That is why it is so absolutely essential that the people of this province have that six month period available to them, through this House, through their elected representatives, to understand fully the impact of all of the facets of the legislation which is before us today.

Six months. Is six months too long to ask? Will six months derail this government? I can't answer the second question but I can answer the first. No, it is not too long. Six months is far shorter than the period that was provided to Canadians when the goods and services tax was first put forward, that went through a four year discussion in public. Six months will only put us into the fall, which means the government can then move forward in the fall to complete third reading of this bill. Six months takes us through a summer to provide an opportunity for the people of Nova Scotia to give full and complete consideration and then advice to the minister respecting the financial measures which he has before this place.

Had the minister not done what he did today, I suspect he would have gotten away carte blanche without having had to explain himself. Because of the way in which he chose to handle this matter in this [Page 1903]

place, he has put himself in jeopardy in such a way that I have never seen this minister do before either in government or in Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely amazed that this minister, this senior minister in the government would exercise such sleight of hand and so risk destroying a reputation which up until today he sought to maintain and to dignify. I believe this minister may be able to begin to rekindle his good name if he will support this resolution to provide another six months for the people of Nova Scotia to come to grips with the information that he so surreptitiously slipped onto the Table today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to the amendment to Bill No. 18, which would postpone this bill for a period of six months. If there is any one reason that this bill should be postponed it came from the mouth of the Minister of Municipal Affairs yesterday when we were debating this bill. The question was put to her, have you consulted with the municipalities regarding the changes to the Assessment Act. She said that, in effect, she had not contacted the president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities, she had not sent letters out to the municipal units of this province asking for their opinions on these changes to the Municipal Act as they affect farmland. She had not consulted with councillors, she had not consulted with anybody in municipal government.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, this bill imposes upon the municipalities, no matter which way you slice the bread, $1.2 million of additional revenue that they are going to have to raise. They have to raise that because they have to balance their budgets.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as you probably are aware, and I am sure all ex-councillors in this Chamber are aware, most municipalities have already set their tax rates for 1996-97. So what are they going to do? Are they going to revise their budgets? Are they going to revise their tax rates? Are they going to tax, as they may, farmland that is in business by a registered farmer. Are they going to tax those who have acreage for recreational purposes? What are they going to do? I'll tell you what they are going to do, because of the fact that it is so late in the taxation year for municipalities, they are going to have to go back to the drawing board and readjust their rates. That is what they are going to have to do and they are going to have to get the money. Where do municipalities get their money from? They get it from the ratepayers within their particular county.

[3:45 p.m.]

Now $1.2 million in the provincial budget is a fair chunk of money but it is not the greatest amount of money that this government wastes. The money that is paid to the municipalities, Mr. Speaker, is very large in their books, though. So if there is no other reason why this bill should be postponed it is to provide the municipalities with the opportunity to present to the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the Members of this

[Page 1904]

Legislative Assembly and to the ratepayers right across this province exactly what the impact is of this particular piece of legislation. That can be done. This does not have to be done this year. There is no reason why the Assessment Act has to be in force and in effect in this fiscal year.

Most of the majority of the rest of the bill, Mr. Speaker, doesn't come into effect until the fiscal year 1997-98. In fact, any other provincial government across this country, normally when they come out with their Budget Speech, they talk about definitive tax changes in the year in which the budget is going to be put in operation. This is the budget for 1996-97 and yet 50 per cent of what is in that budget doesn't have force and effect until 1997-98 so that can also be put in abeyance without any cost to the minister.

It is also very important, Mr. Speaker, during that six months that this document that the minister so surreptitiously tabled this morning, is available to the public to analyze. This document consists of, I am told, 80-odd pages. It is impossible to tell; I think it is over 100 pages actually, but there are a lot of pages in this document and the pages are not numbered as you are probably well aware. Be that as it may, by postponing this bill for a period of six months, the minister can come out and say that certain areas within his budget, certain areas within this document, economic and fiscal analysis, can be explained by certain figures and numbers and modelling that the Department of Finance has done.

When you look at this document, Mr. Speaker, you begin to wonder how on earth the Minister of Finance can make some of the statements that he has made. I can't see, for instance, how the budget and this document are going to create 3,000 jobs.

MR. SPEAKER: We are on the amendment.

MR. RUSSELL: Bill No. 18, if you will, just simply puts into force and effect his budget. Bill No. 18, Mr. Speaker, is based on certain presumptions. The presumptions that the minister has come forward with we have asked for the basis of those presumptions for the last four to six weeks and we haven't gotten them. Today we have got them and that is why we are asking for a delay in the passage of this bill because it is vitally important for every Nova Scotian to learn exactly what is going to happen, not only in 1996-97, but in 1997-98 when the various tax measures in Bill No. 18 come into effect.

Mr. Speaker, there is a way, I think, that the minister could very easily extricate himself from the mess that he is in, and he is in a mess. He is in a mess because he has a document here that does not substantiate Bill No. 18 and Bill No. 18, of course, is the budget bill for the Department of Finance of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, there is, in this document, some numbers that require a lot of explanation because in the minister's own words, the changes, for instance, in personal income tax, the changes with the imposition of the blended sales tax, et cetera, are going to save every Nova Scotian a certain amount of money. He said that that would be spread evenly across the whole spectrum of those taxpayers in this province. But you look at the numbers that the minister has presented to us today and we find that it ranges from a low of $13 per annum and, as I said before, that is not $13 a week or $13 a month but $13 per annum which is $1.08 per month, he estimates.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's about 27 cents a week.

[Page 1905]

MR. RUSSELL: About 27 cents a week that he estimates the people of Nova Scotia are going to save. If, however, you are a taxpayer and you are earning more than $80,000, you are going to save over $600 per annum, about $50 per month. A far cry from $1.08 for the part of the population, Mr. Speaker, who are most going to be affected by the changes in Bill No. 18. That is why I think there has to be dialogue with the people of Nova Scotia, there has to be dialogue with all these other organizations that are affected by this budget so that they may, for themselves, figure out, is this a good deal for me or is it not? I think the overwhelming opinion is going to be that the Minister of Finance should go back to the drawing board and redesign not only his budget, he should redesign Bill No. 18 and this piece of paper should be consigned to the trash can. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to rise and speak for a few minutes on the amendment introduced by the member for Halifax Citadel which is that this bill, Bill No. 18, be read a third time somewhere hence. I do so because I think it is extremely important that we have the opportunity to digest some of the information that has lately come to our attention because while the document, Bill No. 18, deals strictly with the budget that has been introduced by the member, it clearly is part of a fiscal package and all you have to do is, for example, take a look at the document that we just uncovered today. There are several references to how the budget is part of a broad fiscal policy perspective that includes the whole harmonization issue, that the budget, the design of the April 25th budget, which is what this bill is all about contains measures that address . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Now we are on the amendment, not the bill.

MR. CHISHOLM: Yes, but the amendment deals with basically hoisting the bill so that we can deal with it. The bill that we are referring to contains measures that address the balancing of impacts as they affect both consumers and businesses in the province. Then further it says that, the memorandum and the budget together address these budget criteria. Then it goes on to talk about it. The point, Mr. Speaker, is that this document is responding to or is addressing in part, another issue and that is consumption-based taxes.

MR. SPEAKER: This is an amendment that the bill be read six months hence. It is not a treatise on consumption-based taxes.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, what I am trying to argue, Mr. Speaker, is that the bill - I would hope that you would expect me to explain why I want to hoist the bill, why I think we need to have further time in order to review it and that is because of the implications of the provisions of that particular document which are part of a fiscal package that this Minister of Finance has presented to the people of Nova Scotia. That fiscal package includes the blending of the PST and the GST.

What we are learning more about as we go along and need to analyze, I think, in more detail, is whether, in fact, the assumptions upon which this fiscal package are based, are sound, are real. I think it is important that we give those issues some consideration because this budget was introduced, let's not forget, . . .

MR. SPEAKER: This amendment was introduced. That is what we are talking about, not this budget, this amendment.

[Page 1906]

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am referring to an amendment, correct me if I am wrong, which is to effectively hoist this bill for three or six months.

MR. SPEAKER: That is correct.

MR. CHISHOLM: In order to speak in support of that amendment, I would expect members of this House would want to hear from me why I need more time, why I think we need more time. What I am trying to do is to express to you and to other members of this House, Mr. Speaker, that the issues relative to that bill are sufficiently complicated and the impact sufficiently significant that we need that time, clearly, because the tax breaks that are provided for in that bill, that we need the three months or six months to review, include, or at least it was proposed and still contended by the minister, that it means a $120 million tax break for Nova Scotians. But, in fact, as we begin to learn more about this whole proposal, what we see, for example in the blending of the GST and the PST, is really over a $240 million tax break for business compared with an $80 million tax increase for consumers. Now, where the budget comes in, where the budget document . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Now you are on to the budget. You are away from the amendment and away from the bill and on to the budget. You are two steps away from the amendment.

MR. CHISHOLM: Where Bill No. 18 comes in, Mr. Speaker, is that it is intended to address some of this shifting of tax burden from business to consumers, and what I have tried to argue now for the past couple of weeks, is that I don't think the bill and the provisions of Bill No. 18 are, in fact, going to have the kind of impact that the minister would suggest. We can go back to a number of the provisions in that bill that I think need more analysis. They clearly need more analysis, because of the fact that the benefits are not going to be at the level that is expected by the minister. If we had three months or six months, then the Minister of Municipal Affairs, for example, would have an opportunity to discuss with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture the impact of the additional tax on farm acreage.

I had representation last night from a member of the executive of that federation, and they just cannot believe that the minister - or that this government - is proceeding with these changes which are going to mean an extra $1,000 a year for many farmers, plus a few other of the measures are going to mean an additional burden on many farmers at a time when they can least afford it. That is the concern and that is why sufficient time is necessary.

We have already had a lot of discussion in this House about who is going to benefit from the $8 million that is proposed to be directed towards some group of people, some category of people, and there is some question as to whether it is 157,000 Nova Scotians or whether it is 65,000 Nova Scotians. However, it is Nova Scotians who are not earning enough money to pay any taxes but are not on social assistance and, therefore, will receive some benefit to offset the extra costs they are going to be exposed to, as a result of the blending of the sales taxes.

[4:00 p.m.]

I still have not heard, although there are some assurances in additional information that we have been getting, but I would like to have time, as I am sure other members of this House would, to analyze the assumptions that are made that were the basis for the proposed tax relief that is in this budget, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 1907]

This bill is known by some, I guess, as the balanced budget bill, and it has been suggested as such by the Minister of Finance. What it does is it talks about the balance between revenues and expenditures and if, in fact, expenditures exceed revenues, then we have to ensure that any other money raised, whether that be through the sale of capital assets or otherwise, are put directly into the debt and that if we have, or are appearing to have a further deficit, then what we have to do is either reduce services, reduce expenditures, or increase taxes.

The other part of this whole equation, the forgoing of tax revenues through this harmonization process, if the assumptions of the minister are not correct, Mr. Speaker, then that is going to have a phenomenal impact on the income of Nova Scotians and, therefore, the economy and the economic growth of the Province of Nova Scotia which, in turn, I would suggest, will reduce the revenues to the Province of Nova Scotia which, in turn, will mean that we will be faced with major expenditure reductions. In other words, major cuts in services, health, education, social services, capital expenditures, or we will have to forgo the tax increases that are proposed for in this budget.

The implications of this information that has just come to our attention in the past few hours is so serious, Mr. Speaker, that I think we need to review it, we need to study the issue in much more detail. That is why I stand in support of this amendment. The people of Nova Scotia deserve to be treated better than having information doled out to them in this manner. That is why I say that it is incredibly important that we take this kind of time.

If I take you back a couple of weeks, we just got hold of some information then which raised questions about the low income tax reduction and who it was going to benefit and who it wasn't going to benefit, that meant that the minister had to change his projections in the budget.

Now if we were able to do that and have that effect, then so, too, undoubtedly, will we have an opportunity to review this additional analysis that has come out to potentially have some effect on Bill No. 18, Mr. Speaker. What I am saying is that if these assumptions that are contained in this document are not accurate, then all members of this House should have the opportunity to make changes to Bill No. 18 before the damage is done, before we are locked in and before the deception is allowed to continue. In other words, Nova Scotians are being led to believe that they are going to be realizing significant tax savings in a year's time, when that may not be, in fact, the case. Some of us would suggest it is clearly not the case.

We will have an opportunity through further analysis and given time as provided for in this amendment to review those issues, Mr. Speaker, and to have input from Nova Scotians, to have input from experts and then provide that input to the Minister of Finance and his department, who then will be potentially faced with an opportunity to make changes to Bill No. 18. I think it is a responsibility that we must take very seriously because it has to do with the economic growth of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Let me remind you and other members of this House that we are talking about economic growth, the predictions by this government, of just a little over 1 per cent. We are not talking about a whole lot of room to play with. In fact, an economist from one of the major banks suggested this week that Nova Scotia's economy is only going to grow by 0.5 per cent. Now, if that is, in fact, the case, we have to recognize that if the assumptions contained in the harmonization plan are off, as I suggest they are ...

AN HON. MEMBER: As accurate as the casino projections.

MR. CHISHOLM: ... if they are as accurate as the projections made around the casino, then we are in for trouble. Nova Scotians are facing a real calamity here in terms of the fiscal health of the Province of Nova Scotia. When you think about it, if this plan goes through, Mr. Speaker, not only could the economy suffer, jobs further suffer, we won't even be able to meet the pathetic job growth targets that this government has set. That does not bode well for the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 1908]

I urge all members of this committee to consider seriously the information that we have received today. If any of them have not seen it, then I suggest they go out and talk to the media who have copies and maybe they will give them an opportunity to review it.

The implications of Bill No. 18 are quite serious, Mr. Speaker, and I would therefore urge all members to support this delay in the passage of Bill No. 18, give us an opportunity, give all members of this House an opportunity and all Nova Scotians an opportunity to review the information and collect any additional information and make the necessary changes to the fiscal plan of the Province of Nova Scotia as presented in Bill No. 18.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the bill be not now read but be read six months hence. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried in the negative.

We are now back to third reading of Bill No. 18.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, as I stand to begin my remarks, I cannot help but note and think about or look at two headlines that I received today. One is from the Yarmouth Vanguard, dated May 10th; the title says, Budget balanced on backs of poor. The second one is from the Digby Courier, Nova Scotia budget balanced by hypocrisy, extortion. I think that both of those headlines are most appropriate when we consider this bill that is before us and what has been going on in this House in terms of the legislation.

The minister wants me to table them. I would be happy to table them so that the Minister of Finance can keep them in his collection about what people around the Province of Nova Scotia think about what the government that many people say he leads, is actually is doing.

Mr. Speaker, I find myself almost at a loss for words which is not always typical for me.

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't believe you.

MR. HOLM: Well, I am a little bit cautious about what I may be allowed to say, too, which limits my vocabulary. Mr. Speaker, when I take a look at the bill that is before us, and you put it in the context of the document that was tabled today, that I am not allowed to talk about, the document, however, that shows that those who are in the Mercedes class, those who can afford the Lincolns and the Cadillacs are going to receive further benefits from this bill in the way of tax breaks, and more from the harmonization. They are normally the top executives, not the employees in the companies that are going to receive huge tax breaks. The employees, the ones that the Budget Address talks about, the workaday Nova Scotians, the working poor, the middle class, those who are farmers, labourers, they are going to pay more.

[Page 1909]

They are going to subsidize further the Mercedes class so that they can drive through life yet a little bit more comfortably.

This bill that is before us talks about a balanced budget. I introduced a resolution earlier today that said instead of this being recognized as the year of the balanced budget for historic accuracy, it should be noted by this House as the year of the phoney balanced budget because we would this year, if this legislation were in effect, already be in breach of the Act, we would already by this legislation be mandating at least an additional $90 million in cuts to health care, education and other essential programs in the Province of Nova Scotia; the laying off of hundreds more public servants, Mr. Speaker, if this legislation were in effect today because this legislation says that if there is a deficit, you can't run it, and therefore you have to cut your costs.

We know, Mr. Speaker, by sleight of hand, this government already shovelled approximately $90 million from last year ahead into next year's fiscal expenditures. If we don't have a surplus of $90 million next year that the minister and his colleagues can slide across the table into an envelope for use in the upcoming year, we have to make tremendous cuts.

Mr. Speaker, I say to those members of this House, if you don't know what your constituents are thinking, if you don't know what the people in your communities that you were elected to represent think about what you have been doing to health care, education, services in general, put on your sneakers, get out on the streets, walk up and down some of the roads, knock on doors, talk to people, and you may have an eye opening and one that you wouldn't quite like to see.

Mr. Speaker, this government is again offloading more cost to municipalities. According to the studies that they have done in their projections, they have or are in the process of offloading about $40 million. In this bill alone, they are offloading another $1.2 million under one clause alone. They are promising businesses that they are going to be removing and they are going to be cushioning the loss to municipalities of the revenue that comes in, equipment and machinery, because municipalities are going to have that done away with, that tax base, another tax benefit to the business community on top of the $240 million that they are going to get under the BST.

Mr. Speaker, if the province doesn't have enough revenue, then they have to come up with that revenue and one of the ways to do that is to further offload onto municipal taxpayers. As members of this government are prone to say, there is only one taxpayer and those middle income earners, those low income earners, . . .

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: They are getting hosed.

MR. HOLM: . . . those who are on fixed incomes, they are as, the member for Hants West says, getting hosed. They cannot take it anymore, the amount that this government is shovelling off. All the government is doing is changing who is sending the bill. Instead of it being from the Minister of Finance, it is going to have the municipal clerk's signature on the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I have said on a number of occasions, but never have I said it with more conviction and more meaning, when I say I have never been more proud not to be a Liberal.

[Page 1910]

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would entertain a question. A little earlier, when the member rose, I took great interest when he said about the headlines of two papers. These headlines, were these the front page headlines?

MR. SPEAKER: I don't think this relates to the bill.

MR. HOLM: Oh, Mr. Speaker, he has got me. I honestly don't know. I don't think they were on the front page of the paper, they were on top of the articles in large letters. I don't know what the font size was but it was probably about 10 times the size of the font print in the article.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just had a chance to look at them. They are Letters to the Editor. (Laughter) Do you have difficulty discerning the difference between the two? I would think that is somewhat misleading.

MR. SPEAKER: I think we are getting off track here. I think we should get back to Bill No. 18 and away from the Letters to the Editor column.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I can't ask the member a question because he is not on his feet, but if he was, I would ask him, does he consider something that citizens of the communities put in newspapers to have no meaning? Does he consider them not to be articles and does he not think when you put large, bold headings above them that that is a headline? I don't know, I am sorry, I didn't mean to upset the member for Hants East but if I did, if I mis-spoke myself, if my referring to the Letters to the Editor from concerned citizens who went to the effort of expressing their opinions, taking their time to do that, offends the member for Hants East, I withdraw those comments. I withdraw referring to them as articles and will withdraw the comments about them being headlines because I don't want to upset the member for Hants East. That is an important topic relative to the $84 million that is just imposing upon the consumers of this province. Yes, I am sure that $84 million tax increase is really a minor issue compared to whether or not a Letter to the Editor could be considered an article. So I want to thank the member for having pointed that out to me.

MR. CARRUTHERS: You are quite welcome.

MR. SPEAKER: Now let's get back to Bill No. 18. That has been enough of that diversion. Let's get back to the bill.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your assistance. I have to congratulate the member, though, he did get me off track slightly and I have to now rethink where I was. So, he did have one bit of success, he did accomplish something constructive.

I apologize if I am going to repeat myself while I am getting back to where I was. Mr. Speaker, I believe I had talked briefly about the offloading of the increased costs, about the farm costs but what I didn't say is that again, as a result of the way in which this government even amended this bill, they have now set up different classes of farmers because some municipalities, those that are more affluent, those particular ones, may have the ability to absorb some of that. They may have the ability to spread some of that. I would suggest that maybe they may want to spread it to some of those businesses that are going to get a $240 million tax break from the Minister of Finance. So if they are going to get a $240 million tax break, maybe they could afford to put a couple of bucks back into the pie, to help the farmers who are going to be hurt because of the tax increase that is going to be offloaded to them by the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

[Page 1911]

In this bill, and we are talking about revenues, we are talking about taxes, we are talking about programs, we are talking about services because we are talking about balanced budget legislation and what the government has to do if they don't have that money, Mr. Speaker. It is also talking about if, for some unknown or unforeseen event, something that obviously would have been beyond the government's control because based on their performance to date, they have done absolutely nothing to generate economic activity in this province, by the fact that we have so many unemployed in Nova Scotia now, compared to what it was when they assumed office and even a few years ago; the numbers keep going up.

If some unforeseen activity happens and the revenues of this province increase, possibly because the rest of Canada will recover and our equalization payments will go up and we will get more in the way of transfers from Ottawa, if that happens, the government has, according to this legislation, said that we cannot be recovering from the damage that has been inflicted upon our health care system and our education system because we have to be spending that money, either to pay down the debt and/or reduce taxes.

Based on the amounts of taxes they are proposing here, Mr. Speaker, most people that I talk to, who may end up saving $10 a week, according to the minister's 1.25 per cent tax reduction, and that is what it is, those people would rather see that $10 go into maintaining their children's education which is, by the way, something that we all benefit from, whether we have children in school or not because as our children are better educated and become employed, and employed at good jobs, then the benefits of that spread throughout the whole economy. We all benefit from that.

Despite the fact that we now have classroom sizes that are ballooning, despite the fact that many of our children in our classrooms don't have textbooks, the basic materials that they need - and the member for Clare says "many" and I say indeed, yes, many, very many don't have those. Despite the fact that the number of individuals, of professionals and para-professionals who are in our schools to assist children with special challenges are dropping, the numbers are decreasing, despite the fact that we know that the need is rising, this legislation prohibits us, the way it is struck, if there is a surplus in revenues, to spend some of that money to try to undo some of that damage and to address the human deficit that this government is creating.

Mr. Speaker, post-secondary education and community colleges, tuition fees are rising, class sizes are growing, the needs are growing. What does the government say? Well, according to the new BST document, they are not even persons, they don't even qualify for assistance under that $8 million fund; they won't even get part of that $2.00 a week. Instead, increase your student loan, they are told.

In this bill we have before us, if the revenues, and if we could just even project for a minute, we can't be hypothetical in Question Period but you can look at some different scenarios with respect to this legislation.

I pointed out that we had, not today I didn't but on other occasions, a $10.4 million reduction in education. That worked out to just about 2 per cent. If the government's revenues in the following fiscal year, not this one that we are in now, 1996-97, but in 1997-98, are in fact at approximately the same level that we are at in terms of expenditures this year, we are going to be $90 million short. That is a fact, if the revenues next year are actually the same as revenues this year are projected, $90 million short, because monies were transferred ahead, which can no longer be done.

[Page 1912]

Now, if we have to cut an additional $90 million out, this year what was it, $34 million out hospitals?

AN HON. MEMBER: Thirty-three million dollars.

MR. HOLM: Out of hospitals, $33 million. That would be a cut triple to the amount that is being done this year. In education, if you took it all from education, that would be a cut nine times greater than what they are doing this year.

Now, of course, Mr. Speaker, some of that revenue shortfall can be made up, according to the way that the Liberals operate, by saying to municipalities, we are going to charge you yet again even more for the policing costs, we are going to charge you more for the services or we are going to offload even more things onto you, but municipalities aren't going to take that anymore either. Our essential programs and services cannot tolerate it.

We have an economic development strategy in this bill but the legislation that accompanied that, Mr. Speaker, remains in the committee process. It hasn't even been brought forward.

We have in this discussions about the equity tax credit and how that supposedly is going to be assisting investments within rural communities and in communities across this province aimed at trying to address the high unemployment that we have in many parts of this province. A top priority for the Liberal Government.

AN HON. MEMBER: The 30-60-90.

MR. HOLM: The 30-60-90, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: This bill is not about 30-60-90, please.

MR. HOLM: No, it isn't, Mr. Speaker, I am just talking about the top priority. It was then, is what I am trying to say as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: So were jobs.

MR. SPEAKER: That was then and this is now.

MR. HOLM: This is about jobs. Yes, that's true, Mr. Speaker, your observation is very good about being concerned about jobs; that was then, this is now.

MR. SPEAKER: I wasn't speaking about that, I was speaking about the bill. Past events are extraneous to the bill.

MR. HOLM: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I thought that you were responding to me. Anyway, the equity tax Act and the amendments here, of course, are intended to try to get at that long forgotten promise that was then. It sets up a system which will enable supposedly tax credits, greater investment, even RRSP investments, government guarantees of portions of the money for those investors who are going to be spending their money in these community economic developments aimed at creating jobs.

[Page 1913]

Jobs, to help men and women across this province do something for which they feel good, to help to develop their self-esteem as well as to help to feed them and their children. A top priority. So much of a top priority that we have to get this bill through today but, you know, the Regional Community Development Act, somehow, which goes along with this, isn't of such a high priority. The government is prepared to leave that sitting on the order paper.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Well, that's Bill No. 10 and we are on another bill, Bill No. 18. There is quite a difference between Bill No. 10 and Bill No. 18.

MR. HOLM: Yes, they are very different but they are tied together. In order for this to be effective, Mr. Speaker, we have to have something that isn't here. All I am trying to point out, in as parliamentary language as I possibly can muster, is that the effectiveness of what is being done here is being greatly hampered by the government's will for some reason or other. I don't know what it is, I don't know what the plans are but somehow they want to be out of here today and they were unwilling to come back here next week to address things like that other bill, Bill No. 10, the one that is on the order paper, which I know I am not allowed to mention but is a parallel piece of legislation to this. Somehow their agenda is important not to have to be in here next week. Whatever it is, it is more important than trying to work and to help those community development organizations, those men and women who are working desperately trying to help small communities across rural Nova Scotia survive.

Their Liberal agenda for next week - don't know what people are doing on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, I don't know if there are golf games planned or other important meetings - obviously, is more important than making sure that this provision will be able to have some meaningful effect, because we are not going to be here.

Mr. Speaker, in this legislation before us there are one or two positive things. I have said that before but I wanted to make sure that I said it on the record in here, on third reading. One of those things is that the Minister of Finance is going to submit quarterly financial reports to the House of Assembly. I would love to know if they were audited financial reports because the Minister of Finance has dropped some other documents on us in this House, like this one that we saw today that I won't mention the name of but I am sure the members of the government opposite know about the (Interruption) Well, I will then, since somebody asked me to - the Economic and Fiscal Analysis, Mr. Speaker, about tax reform. When one sees what that does and how inaccurate it is and then one takes a look at the quarterly financial reports, I would have to say that we have to have independent, audited financial reports.

The government comes up with so many conflicting stories, it is amazing when they put different pieces of paper out on the table how one differs from another but of course they were very selective. I have to be honest, I was going to say something that was unfair to the Minister of Finance. Unthinkingly, I was going to accuse him of saying something that I would have been wrong. I was going to be alleging that the Minister of Finance was saying that Nova Scotians were going to get this big tax break and they are not.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, those who are the very top executives of major companies in this province, those who are in the $200,000 and $300,000 and $400,000 tax bracket, they are, indeed, Nova Scotians, and yes, indeed, those in the higher income levels, thank you very much, Mr. Minister of Finance, and Liberal colleagues, I am sure they are saying. No wonder the top executives, the top members in the Halifax Board of Trade are saying, we support the

[Page 1914]

Minister of Finance. They might be considered to be a little bit out of touch if they were going to say that if the government is going to give us huge tax breaks, we aren't going to support them. But the employees in those businesses, they aren't - most of them - making those huge bucks, the men and women who work in the businesses and the banks in this town and who are being heavily overworked, many of whom are actually being laid off, even in the banking system.

When you talk about the banks and when some of us are critical, we are not talking about the managers, the clerks and the accountants and the people who are working in those banks, we are talking about the upper echelon, the top, who are the ones who are making the huge profits, and who, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much Mr. Minister of Finance, I am sure they are saying, isn't this lovely, our profits aren't high enough and you are giving us another $240 million tax break to the businesses here in Nova Scotia.

We might pass some of that through, we might, and if Nova Scotians are lucky. Now the Minister of Finance is saying - although there is absolutely no study, no analysis and no nothing to show it - that 50 per cent of that will be passed through. You know, Mr. Speaker, the kind of financial hard times that many of the smaller businesses in this province have been facing. Those small businesses, the owners and operators, many of whom are making absolutely nothing, many of them if you were to calculate the hours that they work, the wages and money that they take out, are not making much more than the minimum wage themselves because of the very difficult economic times in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Those economic times are made so bad in large part because the consumers of this province don't have the money to spend on disposable items, Mr. Speaker, and courtesy of an $84 million increased tax on consumer goods, they just received $84 million less, on top of the approximately $140 million to $180 million less that they have as a result of the gas price increases. That is on another topic so I won't go into that one.

Obviously what is being done here is a far cry from what is needed. Mr. Speaker, when the minister is talking about financial analyses or financial reports, whenever I think of the financial reports, I tend to also think of the Auditor General because the Auditor General is, in fact, and his office, charged with examining the books of the Province of Nova Scotia, not only for the accuracy of the dollar count, but as to the effectiveness and the efficiency of the operations and for strategic planning and so on. Of course, in the recent report, the Auditor General was very critical of the strategic planning that really wasn't being done by this government as they are turning around, slashing programs, health care and hundreds of government employees, of course, we know hundreds more, some projections as high as 2,000 more, about to be laid off or released by this government.

I would love to see this bill, and I certainly have raised this, and the Minister of Finance wasn't obviously willing to make any kinds of changes to it, but to see that the Auditor General's Report would be tabled on a timely basis. In other words, as soon as it is completed, that it be provided to the Minister of Finance for a copy and then to be tabled to the people of Nova Scotia, instead of having that and the Supplement to the Public Accounts delayed so that we don't even get the supplement until it is a year out of date. That might have been progress, Mr. Speaker, to that legislation. It would have been progress as it would have been to allow the Auditor General to release reports on individual audits and departments as they are done. Then we may not have to wait for a year, even to begin to try to pressure the government to make the necessary changes and improvements. They could start to do it right away.

[Page 1915]

In this, Mr. Speaker, again, there is a provision for the Crown to be selling off Crown assets, and saying that the sale of those assets, the monies that will be raised will be used to pay down the debt. Now under pressure from the public - and I would like to think that the Opposition had a little part to play in it, as well, but I am sure the government would never acknowledge that - the government has backed away from its plans to sell off Crown lands and, at least for the time being, they don't plan to sell off the Liquor Commissions.

You know, they are moving forward with plans to sell lands and to sell assets, and one of them, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, has already put out a tender call and received proposals back for looking at programs of the Department of Housing and housing lands and housing developments, to try to figure out if these programs should continue, And even if the consultants decide they should continue, the government is still instructing the consultants to say how those lands can be liquidated, sold off, so that the money will go into that. That is contained in this bill, because it is setting up for the sale of those assets, those lands.

Mr. Speaker, I have no hesitation saying to you, and through you to all members of this House, if this government tries to just unload for a quick buck and to alter zonings, and so on, on those lands, like those in my community around Second Lake, I can assure you that you will hear from the residents in that community loud and clear, as you will in other areas. I know there are developers who are chomping at the bit to get that land. Some of them, if you read the newspapers, you will see that they don't always have the warmest welcome in the neighbourhoods where they go because of the kinds of practices that they have been involved with. You might even be familiar with whom I am thinking, but that is not in the bill so I won't mention any companies.

Mr. Speaker, I take a look at this bill and all of the accompanying paraphernalia, the document of today that I am sure the minister, because of the timing - it did come to our office, for example, at 1:40 p.m. - the instructions were, I shouldn't say that they were, but one can be excused for being slightly cynical for believing that the instructions were to send this document over after the House had risen. I am sorry, I have been around this place long enough and I know the Friday afternoon routine; government always puts out the bad press releases late in the day when they hope that the press and the public won't be paying attention. You learned that well, Mr. Minister, and Liberal colleagues of the minister, from the previous government; they did it too. This, what was done today, I think, in all honesty, is one of the most cynical, underhanded tactics that I have witnessed from any government in a long time.

I have absolutely no hesitation, I have absolutely no shame or regrets, in saying that given the tremendous harm that is going to be done by this bill, this bill is being done for one reason and that is politics. The Liberals think that by doing this clause, and supposedly a legislated balanced budget requirement, that that is going to make good political hay for them, so they think. They also know, Mr. Speaker, as do I, that any future government, including this one, next year will have an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, 1997. We have them every year to put into effect financial measure changes in a budget.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the hours of debate will be the same next year as this year, 20 hours, and we do see that from time to time there are attempts made and with the large majority that the government has they can bully things through this House to change the Rules of this House, they have done it before. But next year, whoever is in office can introduce another bill, the 1997 version, and they can say, first amendment, notwithstanding Clause 1 of an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, 1996, the province will not provide to the municipalities, for example, that tax relief. They can do that.

They can also say, Mr. Speaker, notwithstanding Section such and such of this Act that the monies can also be used for paving or transportation, whatever they may want to use it for. If their polls are anything like the polls that I get when I am knocking on doors, they are not going to be as anxious as they would hope to be to meet the voters. So maybe next year they are going to need even more money to try to pave their [Page 1916]

way back to power. They will be going and looking for anything and everything that doesn't move, so they can get those paving machines rolling. With the amount of money that is in miscellaneous funds, they can be doing that, of course, this year as well.

Mr. Speaker, this is a political document far more than it is anything to do with the good fiscal management or fiscal planning. My final comment, in absolutely no way do the kinds of very modest, 1.25 per cent tax breaks provide any kind of compensation to the consumers who are going to be ripped off big time, starting next April Fool's by the new BST that the Minister of Finance and his federal colleagues negotiated together and signed on a week or so before they told us in this House, the date on the document shows that the time when they supposedly didn't have any agreement even in principle, they had, according to the document that I have, provided by the minister, already signed the document.

So, Mr. Speaker, as I said before, I am only too proud to say that I will be voting against this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to rise in my place and speak on this bill because this bill is so intertwined with the events of today that are so disappointing to all members of this side of the Legislature when this book was tabled and slipped under the covers. It is not fair the way it was done. I can't help but think that it was done in such a way that Nova Scotians, and particularly members of the Legislature, were supposed to not understand and not know the real meaning of this harmonization and the real meaning of this Bill No. 18.

We have seen the most sinister piece of business take place today, Mr. Speaker. Bill No. 18 starts off, the first attack was on the farmers of Nova Scotia without any consultation. Through amendment, this government changed the attack from the farmers to another case of downloading on the municipalities. Let the municipalities of Nova Scotia make the tough decisions on how they are going to raise money. In Kings County, it is over $200,000. An income tax reduction, in a couple of years time, that is a promise. Well, this is just one of those Sheilas and we all know what a Sheila is, it is a political promise that isn't worth anything. She had to back down and resign after every media outlet, every politician, even the Prime Minister finally became embarrassed at having a person like that but there was no remorse. That is the same as this bill, a political promise from a political politician who truly cannot be trusted.

Some people, Mr. Speaker, now have realized that politicians don't tell the truth sometimes and sometimes they say things to try to garner support, that they really did not mean. The Premier of the province, no taxes. The Minister of Finance raised every tax that he could find in 1993. When he entertained us with the tabling of this bill and the budget, it was the greatest tax reduction in Nova Scotia's history. When he started talking about harmonization, the greatest tax reduction in history, he was telling us he was to be admired

[Page 1917]

because he was the Minister of Finance who could balance the books even though the government would lose millions of dollars in tax revenue because of the harmonization.

I was suspicious, I will admit it. I figured it was just another one of those Sheilas and today we found out that that is true. In a report paid for and sponsored by the Department of Finance and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, we find just exactly how sinister and how deceitful this government really is.

Let me read to you, Mr. Speaker, so you will know, the line on Page 28 of this miserable book that we weren't supposed to see, "The direct impact of harmonization is a $84.3 million increase in the consumer tax burden . . .". Is that the same Department of Finance whose spokesman was telling us that it was a sacrifice that we must make for business, to have this amalgamation?

The Minister of Finance said that this harmonization will create 3,000 jobs. You know, when it comes to jobs, you can believe one thing with this government: they cannot create any. When it comes to taxes, you can believe one thing: they will raise them. More jobs, Mr. Speaker? This is the most dismal record of any government in Canada for job creation. We have lost jobs and this miserable bill put forward is going to cost even more jobs to Nova Scotians because an $85 million tax grab will not create 3,000 jobs, it will lose another 3,000 jobs to add to the 4,000 that we lost in the last 12 months.

There are now 64,000 people looking for work and there are now 4,000 fewer jobs in Nova Scotia than there were a year ago. Things are going backwards. Not only are there more people looking, there are fewer jobs to look for. That is the dismal record of this government. Lower taxes in this bill, Mr. Speaker, I don't believe it. I do not believe for one second that this Minister of Finance, if he had the power, would reduce taxes.

I am pleased to say that this Minister of Finance will not be in the position to raise or lower taxes when the electors of this province get hold of him. To bring forth a document like this, that is totally and unbelievably tabled in this House, one copy to the Clerk, every single other - and I have a desk full of them, do you want some of them, Mr. Speaker? We have desks full of papers and documents that have been tabled. Every single - time the Pages bring them and place them on the desks of the members, but not this time because the Minister of Finance knew that this was not the document that Nova Scotians were led to believe was coming. He wanted to slip it through and sneak it through so we wouldn't find it until the doors of this Legislature were closed, then perhaps nobody would notice it.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it didn't work that way; members of the Opposition found the document; as soon as it was tabled members of the media were requesting copies.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member that we are on third reading of Bill No. 18, the Financial Measures Act. I ask him to please direct his remarks to the bill.

MR. ARCHIBALD: This bill right here, I have a copy and I read it. It is not a big bill. It is hard to believe that this bill that is eight pages long, on both sides, is going to cost Nova Scotians $85 million in increased sales tax and probably cost us another 3,000 jobs. It is a spiralling effect. When things start going bad, it is hard to put the brakes on. This government has greased the skids and we are on a downward slide. The only thing to stop the slide will be an election, so the people of Nova Scotia can once and for all say to the Premier and this band of people who have not told the truth on taxes, not told the truth on casinos, not told the

[Page 1918]

truth on job creation - can you name me one thing that this government can stand up and say, this is what we promised and this is what we have done? Mr. Speaker, I don't think you can because when you read this book you will see that this government has not been truthful about this harmonization pledge and promise.

The economic climate from this book that was tabled, when this book was tabled - the budget - each of us got a copy. You should read the things in it, "The measured economic growth . . . will continue in 1996, at an annual pace of about 1.3 per cent.". Where did they get that number from? The Bank of Montreal indicates to one and all who want to listen that the growth rate in Nova Scotia will not be that great. What do they say? They say 1 per cent, the second lowest in Canada. Housing starts are down by one-third, Mr. Speaker and little wonder because this bill that you want me to refer to all the time, put the taxes up on the building of a house, puts the taxes up on the buying of a car, on your shoes, your pants, your ties, your shirts, your haircuts, your dry-cleaning. Name me one thing that escapes. Are there any taxes that are going to be lowered as a result of this? The Minister of Finance says, we are going to lower the taxes.

Let's get serious, how in the name of time is the Minister of Finance going to raise $85 million if he lowers the tax? Who does it hit the hardest? Does it hit the wealthy in this province the hardest? No, Mr. Speaker. Is there any relief for the low income families in Nova Scotia? Certainly not. The low income people in Nova Scotia, and there are a lot of them, in fact most of them, get nailed the hardest. What kind of a government is that that would go after low income people again? For the real low income people, after you put all of the maybes, maybe there will be a decline in prices through the flow-through of the tax savings that industry provides. Maybe. This is one of those Sheilas, a $63 reduction in federal income tax.

[5:00 p.m.]

Now look, Mr. Speaker, if you are making between $10,000 and $20,000 a year, you just might save $66 a year. Now $66 a year, do you know what? That is a lot of money, isn't it? About $5.00 a month. We are going to go a long piece on that but you have to get the $5.00 a month, you have to make sure that the manufacturers pass on this tax saving that Mr. Minister of Finance thinks they are going to get and then you have to believe the Minister of Finance when he said he is going to have a tax reduction in two years' time. Can you believe it? The same guy who said, I am not going to raise taxes now says, I am going to put them down in a couple of years. You find me two people on the street who believe it and I will give you the $5.00 because I don't think anybody believes anything this government says.

Anybody who had any doubt, after the deception that was tried on Nova Scotians today by the weirdest way of tabling a document. Now if a government wants to table a document that is good, they want to get it out to everybody as quickly as they can. But not this time, Mr. Speaker. They knew. This Minister of Finance and his colleagues . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. I have heard that argument from the honourable member just a few moments ago.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Did you?

MR. SPEAKER: He is repeating the point that he has just made and I would also remind him that we are dealing with Bill No. 18.

[Page 1919]

MR. ARCHIBALD: You are right. It is right here. I have it right here in front of me, Mr. Speaker, but you know, I don't even think that the Minister of Finance's government colleagues knew what was in this bill and that is amazing. It is like the lemmings - isn't it lemmings that all run over the cliff together and follow the Pied Piper. Well, we are beginning to see that the Minister of Finance isn't the Pied Piper that he once was. The media were really starting to ask him questions and it is not just over this. This is just perhaps the straw that has broken the back of the credibility of this government.

If you look back at the Sydney Steel fiasco, the Chinese were going to pay $100 million to buy it. Now the Province of Nova Scotia is giving them $50 million to take it. The rail order that the Minister of Finance worked the contract for has been an utter disaster. Now they don't want to pay for the rails. The casino deal that each and every Nova Scotian now knows is a fraud . . .

MR. SPEAKER: These are irrelevant to Bill No. 18.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Bill No. 18 just, really and truly, Mr. Speaker, shows the total incompetence of this government and the Minister of Finance because the Minister of Finance couldn't even get his story straight. He told us we were going to save money and now we are going to find out that each and every Nova Scotian is going to pay more.

If you make $30,000 - that is what most MLAs get paid, a person earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year, their taxes are going up by $229. That is what they are going up. It says so in this book. Do you think it is funny? Laugh all you want but those are the facts. You can read it. It is black and white and I covered it with yellow so I could highlight it.

You know, Mr. Speaker, the people from $20,000 to $30,000, $158; $10,000 to $20,000 is $102. You see, the consumer impact by family income level, where is the tax savings in hard numbers? The Minister of Finance cannot produce them and I don't blame him for shoving this book under the table instead of on top of the table when he tabled it. I wouldn't blame him either, $85 million is not to be sneezed at, after all the other tax increases and the tax on agricultural land, why would the Minister of Finance and his colleagues vote in favour of Bill No. 18? Bill No. 18 is going to cost Nova Scotians millions and millions of dollars, not just farmers but every single person because there is not a person in Nova Scotia that sometimes doesn't buy a pair of shoes or a pair of pants or a jacket. The farmers are going to be paying taxes on their land now that haven't paid it before.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that farmers are suffering greatly. The government doesn't seem to be listening. The Minister of Finance indicated that this document was 18 months - count them - a year and one-half, in the making. That is what he said to the media. Now we just found out that we were going to harmonize the GST and the PST the other day, but the Minister of Finance has been negotiating and doing studies for a year and one-half. It is one after the other, one little deception after another. This one today is $85 million. That is what they admit to. I think it is going to be more than $85 million because we, as Nova Scotians, I think are going to have the distinction of paying more taxes than any other province in all of the Dominion of Canada.

You see, Mr. Speaker, this Bill No. 18 was supposed to be creating jobs. The tax bill, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, that was going to create jobs so that more Nova Scotians would be working and drawing a salary and creating more employment. Every single economist, even the ones that work for the Minister of Finance, even the ones that work for the federal Department of Finance, will tell you that taxation kills jobs.

[Page 1920]

The Minister of Finance knows that Nova Scotia has fewer jobs now than we did when he became Minister of Finance. He knows there are more people unemployed now than when he became Minister of Finance. Wouldn't you think that would concern him just a wee little bit? There are longer waiting lists at the hospitals since that gentleman became Minister of Finance. There are fewer hospital beds. There are more children in classrooms now. Mr. Speaker, this bill is going to make it worse.

The Minister of Finance is doing nothing to provide for better government and better services. People in Nova Scotia who are going to pay the $85 million, what are they going to get for it? They are going to have fewer jobs, crowded classrooms and the waiting lists will be even longer than the record number that the Minister of Health has been able to set in hospitals across the province now. The classes in Nova Scotia will be getting so big that if the students ever learn the teacher's name between the beginning of the year and the end of the year, it will be a miracle. Mr. Speaker, I talk to teachers and they say that it is nothing to have 40 youngsters in a classroom today.

What is the solution of the Minister of Finance who comes forward and all the little lemmings that follow him? I am telling you, I think that if this book had been tabled today and it said that this tax grab was $200 million, all his supporters would have said okay. What is wrong with MLAs from across Nova Scotia? Am I the only one who wants to represent my constituents and say, no more taxes? Mr. Speaker, am I the only one who can say, Bill No. 18, leave the farmers alone? Stop downloading on the municipal units.

Mr. Speaker, the government benches are not listening to the people of Nova Scotia. They are saying to me, taxation is killing us. But the government is not listening. The government's solution is to build a casino, not as big as you said you would, but build something that we can gamble in. You see, we have a fundamental problem with Bill No. 18 and all of the ramifications of it.

When you bring in a bill and brag about it as being the biggest tax reduction in the history of the world, certainly in Nova Scotia, and then we find out that it contains the biggest tax increases in the history, that is when you have to wonder. There is a word, if I tell you what the Minister of Finance did I cannot stay in the House because a parliamentarian does not call another parliamentarian a liar, so you can't say things like that in this House; you have to be careful. But, Mr. Speaker, what word would your pal Beauchesne use to describe a person who said this is a big tax decrease and then two weeks later, when we are ready to close the House, we table this document that says it is the biggest tax increase? What adjective describes a person who says one thing when it really means something else? (Interruptions) What is the adjective? Sheila?

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it fibber?

MR. ARCHIBALD: No, you can't use that. I guess you just call him a Sheila, because it is a political promise and it doesn't count. Do you see, Mr. Speaker, what we are driving at here? A political promise that doesn't count. Bill No. 18 certainly does not deserve the support of members of the Legislature.

In the area I represent there are a lot of farmers; it is the largest farming community in Nova Scotia. My colleague, the member for Kings South, has farmers in his area. Is the member for Kings South going to speak against this bill? He has taxpayers and he has farmers. We need to stick together so we can work together and make things better for Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, The Three Musketeers, come join us. (Interruption)

[Page 1921]

Yes, all for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. We should be working together to make things better for Nova Scotians, not making it so that jobs disappear and money goes from our pockets as though we had holes in them and they just kept falling out like pebbles. We cannot put up with this any longer. The Nova Scotian economy needs an up-lift, it needs a little shove, it needs a little assistance, not anything like a tax increase. What school of economics did the Liberal Government go to where it says, tax increase on this side equals jobs on this side? It must be the new Minister of Finance's school of economics, and he is the only student and the only teacher, because there is not one single person in this wide world who thinks for 30 seconds that a tax increase equals more jobs.

I have a silly pamphlet over here . . .

MR. SPEAKER: We are on Bill No. 18, not on the silly pamphlet.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the pamphlet was sort of on Bill No. 18 - I keep Bill No. 18 close to my heart - but I see one of those pamphlets right in front of me, and that checks off all of the things that make governments and make Nova Scotians advantage. But, you see, the Minister of Finance said, this harmonization, this Bill No. 18 was going to create 3,000 jobs and it was going to save taxpayers. When the minister says one thing and the bill does something else, what I want to know is how come I have to stick to talking to Bill No. 18 when the Minister of Finance can stand in the House and tell us all sorts of stuff that has nothing to do with Bill No 18, nothing to do with the budget, nothing to do with the massive unemployment in Nova Scotia but yet I have to stick to Bill No. 18? Why can't I stand up in the House and tell you stories and a whole lot of baloney?

[5:15 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, my time is running out, I am afraid. I would like to make a couple of more points. The point is that a single sales tax, in the words of the Minister of Finance, will save Nova Scotians $120 million. (Applause) Mr. Speaker, listen to them clap. It is unbelievable. If the Minister of Finance told them to jump out the windows, you would have to get out of the way because the glass would be flying. I cannot believe that he didn't table this document with his own caucus. That is why they still think - let me tell you, this foolish pamphlet that the taxpayers got hosed into building, saving $120 million . . .

MR. SPEAKER: This not Bill No. 18. You know it is not Bill No. 18.

MR. ARCHIBALD: I am on Bill No. 18. Don't you worry, I have it right here by my heart. It is never far from me.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance said we were going to save $120 million. Right here it says it is going to cost us $85 million. Now, a maximum of 3,000 new, lasting jobs will be created in Nova Scotia from the boost of a blended GST and PST. What on earth does it take to get through to this crowd that the minister is not being forthright and truthful? The Minister of Finance cannot have it both ways. You cannot say, on the one hand, you are going to cut taxes and make 3,000 jobs when the latest studies show the costs. That tells me if a $120 million saving equals 3,000 new jobs, an $85 million tax grab must cost you probably 2,500 jobs. So really and truly, this Bill No. 18 is going to reduce the job potential for Nova Scotia by 2,500 jobs, using the figures of the Minister of Finance.

[Page 1922]

Does the Minister of Finance have the nerve and the honesty and the integrity to own up to the numbers? Certainly not. Business will recover because of the sales tax. You know, business might recover the sales tax on the BST. Is the Minister of Finance going to make them pay it to the consumer? He is hoping they do but is he going to make them? You see, you have to read this book, Mr. Speaker, you can't just read Bill No. 18.

MR. SPEAKER: You have to read Bill No. 18 for the third time, that is what we are doing here, not the book.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Yes, you have to read one with the other. You need the supporting documentation, Mr. Speaker, to understand this thing. (Interruption) I don't blame the members opposite for telling me to get the hook and sit down because this is so damaging that they don't want anybody to know. They don't even want their back bench to know. I am beginning to think they have taken the right of reading away from them.

Mr. Speaker, this report assumes the best case scenario is that manufacturers will pass along 50 per cent of the saving, but in this throwaway, that is just so much garbage, the Minister of Finance says they are going to pass it all along. If I was the Minister of Finance and I was producing Liberal documentation to send around and then I found out that every single line in it was wrong, I think I would print a new batch.

I have just the starting point for him right here because I have printed up the truth. What it says in black and white, it tells you that our economic growth rate is the worst in Canada in 1994; the second worst in 1995; projected to be the second worst in all of Canada in 1996. There are 6,000 fewer jobs now than there were three years ago. There are 4,000 fewer jobs in Nova Scotia. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, it is Friday afternoon, some of the members have other things on their minds. We have lost jobs in every single region of Nova Scotia. Bill No. 18 will guarantee that there will not be a municipal unit, there will not be a region in Nova Scotia that does not suffer job loss and does not suffer tax increases. Bill No. 18 is an absolute utter disgrace. The only recommendation I have for the Premier, who is out of the country today, the minute you get back issue the Writ, fight the people on an $85 million tax grab. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance to close the debate.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to say how much I appreciate the interventions and the contributions which have been made by all of the Opposition members in this debate, particularly the last, the member for Kings North, who as usual brings a unique contribution to the floor of the House of Assembly. I can only say that if I thought for a moment he was serious, I might be hurt.

There have been a couple of things raised tonight, I really want to just address them. I will be very short, I don't think more rhetoric will add much to the deliberations here. I have been given that advice by my honourable House Leader. So let me be very brief.

First of all, much of the debate here hasn't been about the bill at all, it has been about this report, which was tabled earlier today. So I want to take one minute to talk about that report.

Mr. Speaker, for approximately a year to 18 months this issue has been on the table, harmonization; it has been in the paper, people have known about it, read about it without any difficulty at all, the national media were covering it in Ottawa when the Finance

[Page 1923]

Ministers met, all of that happened. For the past, probably a year, there have been serious studies under way at the Department of Finance, in many, many areas.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when I was questioned about that in the House earlier in this session, the Opposition wanted a report on these studies that had been done. I said there isn't any report. All of the studies have been done but there is nothing in report form that I can bring to the House of Assembly for you. Then the Opposition said, well, can you have it by tomorrow afternoon or some such request. I said, no, I can't have it by tomorrow afternoon, we have a budget, we have estimates through, at the very earliest opportunity we will produce it and, in any event, I give my undertaking that this report, which we had to fashion, will be here before the House closes.

I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, it took a great effort by people in the Department of Finance and by the Queen's Printer, I might add, to be able to meet that commitment. There is no legislative requirement that we bring this here at all. As a matter of fact, we could say, look, we just never did a report like this, and we hadn't, all of those studies were done individually. We could say, no, no, we didn't do a report, I am sorry you can't have one. We did the report precisely so we could share it. We brought it here as we said we would. (Applause)

I know, Mr. Speaker, and I have always said that there are pluses and minuses to harmonization. This is a professional report that was done by professionals in the Civil Service. This is not a political document. It wasn't done by the minister (Interruptions) Well, some people are suggesting that the professional economists in the Civil Service have produced this as a political document. I think that is abhorrent. This document comes to us here, done by professionals, giving us the pluses and the minuses. Now they don't like this. (Interruption) They have seen great political opportunity because they could cherry pick through the report, as they have done with great relish. Let me say . . .

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would the minister entertain a question? I wonder if the minister would advise the House if the same experts that prepared the document Economic and Fiscal Analysis, also produced this document, which unfortunately I threw in the garbage, called Advantage Nova Scotia, We are Building on Solid Ground. Was that produced by the same experts?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this report was produced by the policy division of the Economic Policy and Analysis Division of the Department of Finance. That document was prepared in the department based on this information. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you just one little thing about this report (Interruptions) if I can manage to get the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this whole tax reform that we introduced is to bring about some very simple benefits: a simplified tax system, one tax system, more competitive businesses that will create growth in jobs in Nova Scotia, a growth in our domestic product of up to 0.8 per cent and 3,000 new jobs as a result of that. (Applause)

[Page 1924]

Now this report substantiates every single one of those objectives. Every single one of them. We said, Mr. Speaker, as we set these objectives forward, we wanted to achieve them without negatively impacting on any single income level in Nova Scotia. This report substantiates that. (Applause)

Let me make one more comment before I put it aside. Table 5, and the title of it is very clear, Total Impact on Consumers. That is the total impact. I won't bother going through the details - anyone can look at them - the bottom line is total consumer gain, $61,414,000 annually. That is the consumer gain. Now you can't cherry pick the report. You can't pick the things out of it that are going to support your political positions and then reject things that won't support your political positions. Shame on them for doing that, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions)

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, because of this political subterfuge here conducted by the Opposition today, because of that, they really avoided debating the bill itself because this bill had very fundamental principles involved: a balanced budget - which the NDP argued against, by the way - the first Party I have ever heard argue against balanced budgets, and the Official Opposition, who knows where they were. I think they wanted to balance the budget without cutting anything, without doing anything harsh. That was obviously the approach they took for 15 years. They were also in favour of balanced budgets back then, too. Every year they predicted one. They were in favour of them back then too.

Well, we will circulate this document to every regional library in Nova Scotia and people can go in and look at it. Read it for yourself. Never mind the rhetoric, never mind the political rhetoric, read it for yourself. (Applause) I'll tell you what else we will do, Mr. Speaker, we will take these issues to the public and say, do you believe in a balanced budget? Do you believe in creation of jobs through making our businesses more competitive? Do you believe in investment growing in Nova Scotia, so we can compete in the next century? Do you believe in leaving anything worthwhile for our children? Well we do.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and with that, I move third reading. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 18, the Financial Measures (1996) Act.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 29 and on behalf of the Minister of Finance, I so move. (Laughter)

Bill No. 29 - Executive Council Act/Public Service Act.

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

[Page 1925]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make a few comments at third reading to repeat some of the things that I said in committee.

MR. SPEAKER: We have a rule against irrelevance and tedious repetition. (Laughter)

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I think I could probably find lots to say on this particular bill if the members of this House would wish that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Probably an hour's worth.

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. CHISHOLM: Yes, probably, but what I wanted to say about this was to raise again and put on the record my concern with the way in which the government has proceeded with its reorganization. It did so, on this basis, without consultation with the employees. The organization representing civil servants in the Province of Nova Scotia was not consulted before this announcement was made. I think that does not bode well for a positive and a cooperative process that is essential to seeing this take place.

I also want to say that when the announcement was made of the reorganization, the Premier made some significant pronouncements about, for example, the fact that there would be no layoffs as a result, that there were going to be some jobs that would perhaps be lost as a result of attrition but that there would be no layoffs. Yet I learned yesterday, for example, Mr. Speaker, that 24 people at the Registry of Motor Vehicles have lost their jobs as a result of the reorganization and the decision by the new Department of Business and Consumer Services to contract out the jobs within the Safety Division of the Registry of Motor Vehicles. Also there were changes or jobs lost at the scales and for the mobile safety inspectors.

I think it is important to recognize that what often happens, and this is a concern that many of us raise when the government announces that a department is going to change or reorganize or a department's name is going to change, that often what is affected is basically a smokescreen for further layoffs, further downsizing by those particular departments.

As I indicated earlier, not only did that happen in the Economic Renewal Agency when it was reorganized but also chaos ensued for a considerable number of months, and years, in fact, in that department, which affected the ability of that department to provide services not only to Nova Scotians but also to businesses throughout the province.

A final point I want to make is this new Technology and Science Secretariat, that has its own minister at $90,000-plus, plus its own deputy at probably the same. I think certainly this is the first in a long time that we have had a minister and a deputy of a department which barely exists and certainly has a nominal budget, if any. I simply don't understand what the sense is here. You have rolled in something as important as Consumer Services with business, why couldn't you have put the Technology and Science Secretariat in with the Economic Renewal Agency or keep it in with Transportation, for Heaven's sake, where it was for a while. It simply gives some basis to the claim by some skeptics that it was simply a way to keep the member for Halifax Needham happy and in Cabinet, but certainly that is not enough of a reason to set up a secretariat like this with such a heavy load on top.

I think as an indication of the fact that that department doesn't need a full minister and a deputy is the fact that that minister seems to have plenty of time to look after the Halifax Fairview by-election, Mr. Speaker. Certainly, most ministers of the Treasury benches would tell you that they don't have time to handle issues outside their matters with respect to running government and maybe the Executive Council should revisit this decision, and maybe they will once the Halifax Fairview by-election is over and then the minister responsible doesn't have anything to do, maybe that will be considered.

[Page 1926]

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I urge the Executive Council to ensure, before its too late, that effective and full consultation and a cooperative working relationship is developed with the union representing these employees that, in fact, they don't follow through as they have begun with plans to contract out and privatize more services of the Public Service because this economy cannot survive even at this level if we continue to cut out employment and stable jobs in our communities around this province. So, with those few words I will now take my seat and allow other members to rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, in rising to speak on Bill No. 29, I would like to, first of all, draw to the attention of the House that this is the first time, I think, in any province, any provincial Legislature, that we have had a minister responsible for a secretariat. I don't know why, indeed, for instance, the Seniors Citizens Secretariat couldn't have a certain minister assigned and a deputy minister assigned if indeed that is the policy of this government. We have now a minister in charge of an agency and we have a minister in charge of a secretariat.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you think his job performance could be based on how they do in Halifax Fairview?

MR. RUSSELL: Well, we used to have at one time, ministers without portfolio, and they were assigned to those minor things that were in government that ministers of departments didn't have the time to fully service. So you had a minister without portfolio and that minister looked after all those minor things within government. But now in this government, which is downsizing, so we are told, we are creating, in fact, two new ministries, two new ministers, two new departments that are called one an agency and the other one a secretariat. This is job creation, Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the Liberal Government of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like at this time to reiterate two points that I made, I think, during second reading. One is I think that the agency, that I referred to, is a genuine department of government and it should be called a department and it should have a title that reflects what it is supposed to be. Business and Industry, bringing into this province and encouraging the expansion of indigenous business within this province and also the bringing of new business. That is legitimate and we need a minister that is out there expounding those things that will do that.

The other thing is I think we should still have a minister of tourism. I think we should have a separate tourism ministry because of the fact that of all our natural resources in this province, the only one that is growing consistently, year by year, is the tourism industry. They deserve a separate voice apart from the present Economic Renewal Agency. They deserve a voice that is going to speak on behalf of the tourism industry. An industry beyond belief. An industry that is going to earn us $1 billion, the minister says, by the year 2000. I think it is probably going to happen before that because we are approaching that right now. We have a product to sell, we have a product that increases employment in this province beyond any other natural resource that we have. It is here, it is not going to go away, it is not going to

[Page 1927]

decline, it is going to expand. Surely to goodness, if this government wants to have a minister appointed to something, rather than appoint a minister to a secretariat or appoint a minister to an agency, let's appoint a minister to a department, a department that has viability, a department that has the ability to grow and create jobs. I think that is incredibly important, Mr. Speaker.

With those few words I will state that I will vote in favour of this bill but I am voting in favour of this bill because I believe that some of the combinations that have taken place under this Bill No. 29 are favourable, they are good for the province, they are good for the various departments. However, I cannot abide having a minister in charge of an agency and a minister in charge of a secretariat. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I am not going to take up too much time in closing debate but I want to say a couple of words. I came to this Legislature in 1988 and when I came there were 22 departments. There was a Speaker, a Deputy Speaker and a Premier. The member opposite may talk all he wants about job creation but I think if you look back to those days when there was a Solicitor General and an Attorney General, there was a Minister of Education and a Minister of Advanced Education, there was a Minister of Small Business and a Minister of Economic Development and a Minister of Tourism, which is now three combined into one department, and a Minister of Consumer Affairs and a Minister of Housing and a Minister of Municipal Affairs.

I think when we talk about job creation we can stand here very proud about the fact that there are 16 ministers in government and not 22. In fact, we have perhaps downsized by at least six jobs; six deputies and six associated people. I think there is a lot to be said for that and the reasons why perhaps it was 22 and other people to complement that.

I do agree with the member opposite. I know the Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency agrees with the member opposite that the name should change in the Economic Renewal Agency. I think that is something that we are going to take very seriously and have been discussing and have to send a signal to people who want to do business in Nova Scotia, the development industry, trade, tourism are words that have to be associated with departments we are dealing with.

I make the commitment, and after speaking to the minister today and passing on the comments of the member yesterday, that is something we are going to take a serious look at. The Department of Business and Consumer Services is a consolidation of eight or nine agencies or parts of departments, to make it much easier for the consumer out there, to make it easier for the business community to do business.

The Department of Transportation and Public Works is obviously a department of infrastructure. I think the moves that are made in this legislation are credible. I think you will continue to see more credible moves in identifying departments of government to make it more effective and efficient to do business with the province. I move third reading of Bill No. 29.

[Page 1928]

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 29, the Executive Council and Public Service Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government business for this session. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[5:44 p.m.]

[5:45 p.m.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor is without.

MR. SPEAKER: Let His Honour be admitted.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John James Kinley, preceded by his escort, and by Mr. Douglas Giles, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the Mace, entered the House of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took his seat on the Throne.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber, followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Paul MacEwan; Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur; and Acting Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C. They took up their positions at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

MR. SPEAKER: May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which in the name of and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 3 - Lower River Hebert Cemetery Company Act.

Bill No. 4 - Nursing Assistants Act.

Bill No. 5 - Stella Maris Residence Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 7 - Hantsport Memorial Community Centre Financial Assistance Act, 1996.

[Page 1929]

Bill No. 9 - Meat Inspection Act.

Bill No. 11 - Children and Family Services Act.

Bill No. 12 - Adoption Information Act.

Bill No. 13 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Bill No. 15 - Anglican Church Lands (Tidnish) Act.

Bill No. 17 - Halifax Regional Water Commission Act.

Bill No. 18 - Financial Measures (1996) Act.

Bill No. 22 - Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act.

Bill No. 23 - Dartmouth Pollution Control Account Act.

Bill No. 24 - Bridgewater Parks and Recreation Commission Act.

Bill No. 25 - Halifax Trust Funds Transfer (1996) Act.

Bill No. 26 - Bridgewater Waterfront Development Corporation Act.

Bill No. 27 - Acadia Trust Company Dissolution Act.

Bill No. 29 - Executive Council Act/Public Service Act.

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I Assent to these Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Your Honour, having been graciously pleased to give your Assent to the Bills passed during the present Session, it becomes my agreeable duty on behalf of Her Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects, Her faithful Commons of Nova Scotia, to present to Your Honour a bill for the Appropriation of Supply granted in the present Session for the support of the Public Service and to request Your Honour's Assent thereto.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 32 - An Act to Provide for Defraying Certain Charges and Expenses of the Public Service of the Province.

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I thank Her loyal subjects, I accept their benevolence and I Assent to this Bill.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber.]

[Page 1930]

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Acting Premier.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker and members of the House of Assembly, I move that this General Assembly be now adjourned, to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned, to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

[5:52 p.m. The House adjourned.]

[Page 1931]

NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 641

By: Mr. Dennis Richards (Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage)

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

Whereas Dr. John O'Connor has been a dedicated family physician practising in Dartmouth for over 30 years; and

Whereas Dr. O'Connor was voted Canada's Family Physician of the Year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada at their annual meeting on Thursday in Vancouver, B.C.; and

Whereas Dr. O'Connor who also serves as the Chief of Staff at the Dartmouth General Hospital is only the second Nova Scotia doctor to be recognized by this award in its 26 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend congratulations to Dr. John (Jake) O'Connor for being awarded Canada's Physician of the Year and commend him for his outstanding commitment to patient care and to the enhancement of the medical profession both here in Nova Scotia and across Canada.

[Page 1932]

NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on May 17, 1996

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 3

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

Nova Scotia was the first province to pass encompassing legislation to widen free trade across Canada. Several provinces are still at odds over just how much they want free trade actually expanded between provinces. A main sticking point is the development of a common national standard for registering businesses.

(1) Please provide a detailed update on the negotiations respecting free trade between the provinces and Nova Scotia's position on a national standard for registering businesses.

QUESTION NO. 4

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. Donald Downe (Minister of Business and Consumer Services)

Last spring the inaccuracies of gasoline pumps and the invisible errors that were happening with them resulted in media stories reporting that motorists were paying for gasoline they were not getting. In fact, pumps across Atlantic Canada led the way with 20 per cent of them being reported as inaccurate. On June 27, 1995, the then Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs provided our caucus with information stating talks with a representative of the Legal Metrology Branch of Industry Canada had been held and that the newspaper reports were a "bit" misleading because the invisible errors were taking place at fish plant marine terminals and other industrial type outlets. The representative also told the minister that blanket inspections would continue and very tight tolerance levels would be enforced. She also said the representative was following up on questions relating specifically to Nova Scotia and that additional information would be passed along.

(1) Can the minister indicate whether any additional information relating to Nova Scotia has ever been passed on to him?

(2) Can the minister also provide me with details as to the amount of calibrations carried out by other oil companies and their service stations across Nova Scotia?

QUESTION NO. 5

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

In April 1995, the President of Nova Scotia's Business Development Corporation told a legislative committee that New Brunswick development officials could "pencil in" ACOA contributions as they worked out deals to recruit outside companies. Don Leet also said at that time, "As we understand it, there's far great co-operation between our federal counterparts in New Brunswick as opposed to Nova Scotia.".

[Page 1933]

(1) Can the minister provide me with detailed information as to what his department has done in the past year to correct this obvious problem?

QUESTION NO. 6

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John Savage (Premier)

(1) Is the Premier aware of any changes being considered by the Atlantic Premiers concerning an independent review of government purchasing?

The former Minister of Supply and Services promised that the Atlantic Procurement Co-ordinating Committee made up of officials from the four Atlantic Provinces would make all of their decisions public. However, the new Atlantic Procurement Agreement makes no such promise.

(2) Will the Premier undertake to ensure this issue is addressed and will he push for independent reviews?

QUESTION NO. 7

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. James Smith (Minister of Community Services)

A specific concern of some municipalities across Nova Scotia is with the processing of claims for family benefits by your department. For example, a single parent in receipt of family benefits, and who has another child, has her benefits completely terminated if she does not apply for maintenance support from the father of the children. This is happening even though she is presently eligible for benefits for any previous children. This, of course, results in increased general assistance costs to municipal units.

(1) Can the minister tell me why benefits are being completely cut off if the recipient has not gotten around to apply for family maintenance?

In Nova Scotia last year there were 32,553 clients who were recipients of family benefits. If so many difficulties are being experienced in administering this program, I would like to know how the minister ever hopes to manage provincial social assistance province-wide!

(2) Does the minister have any way of tracking exactly how many single parents have been cut off of family benefits because they failed to apply for family maintenance and what is taking place, for example, in the new Cape Breton Regional Municipality where the province has assumed the cost of social services?

(3) Are single parents being cut off completely because they have no municipal general assistance to fall back on?

[Page 1934]

QUESTION NO. 8

By: Mr. George Moody (Kings West)

To: Hon. Ronald Stewart (Minister of Health)

Canadian diabetics who suffer from adult onset or Type 2 diabetes have been given a new tool in their never ending battle to control blood sugar. The drug Acarbose or as it is known on drug store shelves, Prandase, was cleared by Health Canada last fall. The drug has been used successfully for several years in Europe and Asia and will result in the slowing down of the digestion of carbohydrates allowing them to be absorbed more gradually into the bloodstream and in turn helps the diabetic's weak pancreas better control blood sugar levels.

(1) Can the Minister of Health state whether it is on drug store shelves across Nova Scotia yet and how much longer before this drug will be eligible for coverage under the Nova Scotia Government's drug plan in Nova Scotia?

QUESTION NO. 9

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Transportation and Public Works)

(1) Please provide details as to the number of Department of Transportation workers who will lose their jobs as a result of the Halifax Regional Municipality becoming responsible for work on connector roads and the reason why a similar number will not be rehired.

QUESTION NO. 10

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Transportation and Public Works)

(1) Please provide details on how talks are going with the Department of Education about having highway safety being taught as part of the regular school curriculum.

(2) Are programs at school now in place as a result of the job losses suffered by those individuals who provided motorcycle training and those who provided safety education for elementary school children?

(3) Also, please provide a list of the companies which are now carrying out these duties through other agencies or private sector operations.

QUESTION NO. 11

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Transportation and Public Works)

(1) Can the Minister of Transportation and Public Works provide Nova Scotia truckers with his government's policy as to how rigidly his department enforces the 20/80 rule on federal construction projects in the Province of Nova Scotia and whether this policy will be enforced during the construction project now in progress at the Sydney Wharf?

[Page 1935]

(2) As well, can the minister state as to when the 20/80 rule will be written into all government contracts?

QUESTION NO. 12

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Wayne Adams (Minister of the Environment)

(1) Can the minister explain why the Department of the Environment is opposed to the use of clay so that it can be placed on top of garbage at provincial landfills and why the Department of the Environment refused to cooperate with Bedford consultants, Pridy Associates, in providing information for a recent study on the usage of clay versus sand?

QUESTION NO. 13

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. William Gillis (Minister of Justice)

Concern has been raised by members of the Antigonish Barristers Society over the lack of courtroom space in Antigonish and the potential jeopardizing of public safety. Government by Design indicates that a priority for the Department of Justice in 1996-97 is the implementation of a courts and registries restructuring plan.

(1) When will actual implementation of this plan begin and will the concerns of the Antigonish Barristers Society be addressed?

QUESTION NO. 14

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

You received a letter dated May 4, 1996 from Theresa A. Thomas of Halifax. She expressed concern on the lack of protection of the health and safety of her child who attends school in Halifax. As you know, her daughter is in Grade 3 and has been exposed to the following during school hours: tarring of the school roof; painting of the building exterior with a very strong exterior oil-based paint; and painting of the interior. The inhalation of these chemicals is known to be harmful to both children and adults.

(1) Has the minister replied to Ms. Thomas?

(2) Would he forward a copy to me? If he hasn't, would he answer her questions as follows.

(3) Will the government take necessary measures to ensure equal compliance throughout the province and assist boards in obtaining information?

(4) Will the government coordinate actions of Departments of Education, Health, Environment and Labour to ensure regulations and laws of the Departments of Environment and Labour are adhered to within the school system?

(5) Will the government educate public officials on the importance of this issue?

[Page 1936]

(6) Will the government monitor for effectiveness?

QUESTION NO. 15

By: Dr. John Hamm (Leader of the Opposition)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

I received a copy of a letter from Mrs. Betty Beaver of Sherbrooke, Guysborough County. For three weeks, Mrs. Beaver was continually harassed by a collections agency and CIBC over payments for her son's student loan. Apparently, there was a misunderstanding between a "continuation of enrollment" form and "letter of confirmation" form. Mrs. Beaver indicates that most post-secondary institutions do not possess a "continuation of enrollment" form, yet student loan officials with CIBC told Mrs. Beaver that one was required by the government.

(1) Since all three caucus offices received a copy of this letter, will the Minister of Education state what steps have been taken in investigating this problem with CIBC?

(2) Does the government require CIBC to demand a "continuation of enrollment" form and if so, why?

QUESTION NO. 16

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Wayne Adams (Minister of the Environment)

In November last year the River Tillard Bridge was torn down. At that time, an inspector with the Department of Transportation in St. Peter's filed a complaint with the Department of the Environment in Port Hawkesbury alleging a firm subcontracted to work in dismantling the bridge drove heavy equipment into the river and allowed creosote timbers to damage the riverbed. Environment officials anticipated the investigation into this matter would last only a couple of weeks.

(1) As over six months has passed, will the minister provide me with a copy of the report done by his department's enforcement branch?

QUESTION NO. 17

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

To: Hon. Eleanor Norrie (Minister of Natural Resources)

The forest planning director for the Department of Natural Resources said in an interview in mid-1995 that Nova Scotia's forest industry faces an uncertain future. The Canadian Institute of Forestry recently echoed those same concerns. In excess of 2 million cords of softwood were expected to be harvested in 1995. Total cordage figures according to Mr. Bailey were expected to be ready in early 1996.

(1) Please provide the 1996 figures and also provide me with a detailed accounting as to how statistics concerning the harvesting of wood are maintained.

[Page 1937]

QUESTION NO. 18

By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

In late February area directors of Nova Scotia's Regional Tourism Association expressed concern to all members of this Legislature over the 1996 Provincial Employment Program and its application to Tourist Visitor Information Centres. The concern dealt with the fact that only 250 jobs would be allocated this summer instead the number in previous years of 285. The reason this was going to happen was because budgets were only going to be divided by $5.00 per hour per person. In a letter to Ms. Linda Deveau in late February, the minister informed her that the wage contribution requirement for the Visitor Information Centre Employment Program was being lifted.

(1) Can the minister provide me with the actual number of jobs created at information centres this summer and how much community sponsors and/or tourist associations were forced to put into the program?

QUESTION NO. 19

By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

(1) Please provide any detailed economic analysis undertaken by the tourism division of the Nova Scotia Economic Renewal Agency as to the impact the harmonized tax will have on sectors of the tourism industry including campground owners who are very concerned that a harmonized tax will result in empty sites instead of pitched tents.

QUESTION NO. 20

By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. Wayne Adams (Minister of the Environment)

(1) How many dollars has the Government of Nova Scotia approved for expenditure on the new golf course being constructed under the auspices of the Municipality of Lunenburg's Industrial Commission?

(2) To date, how many dollars have been released by the government for construction of this golf course?

(3) Is the release of dollars for the golf course project contingent upon environmental approval by the Nova Scotia Department of the Environment?

(4) What government, government departments, municipalities, government related agencies and private sector interests are partners in this project and what assets in terms of real property and cash is each bringing to the project?

[Page 1938]

QUESTION NO. 21

By: Mr. John Leefe (Queens)

To: Hon. James Barkhouse (Minister of Fisheries)

(1) What is the extent of the Province of Nova Scotia's exposure by way of outstanding loans, loan guarantees or grants to Schooner Sea Foods of Wedgeport?

(2) Have any negotiations been entered into between the Province of Nova Scotia and Schooner Sea Foods or its representatives respecting the infusion of new government funding?

(3) Has the government entered into any agreement or agreements with Schooner Sea Foods respecting new funding or rearrangements of existing funding either directly or indirectly?

QUESTION NO. 22

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

For many years the Landmark East School has worked with and helped educate children with learning disabilities. With special education funding now going to school boards, Landmark East is forced to cut the number of spaces for learning disabled children in half, from approximately 60 to approximately 30. Now, the Department of Education is offering the school $250,000 to promote itself and convince school boards to fund Landmark East.

(1) Instead of forcing an internationally recognized special education school to spend money on promoting itself, why doesn't the minister re-direct the $250,000 to directly support the school and keep more spaces open for those students with learning disabilities?

Many parents in Hants, Kings and Annapolis Counties are worried for their children's future. They are worried because their children, instead of getting quality one-on-one care at Landmark East will be relegated to mainstream schools where, quite frankly, these children will be lost in the shuffle. One concerned parent has a 12 year old son who requires special education teachers, not regular resource teachers. Her son's physicians recommend Landmark East yet he won't be able to attend if the minister denies funding assistance.

(2) Will the minister give the House and this parent an explanation why her son will be mainstreamed when the son's doctors state that he needs to attend an educational institution such as Landmark East to properly address his disability?

(3) What evidence does the minister have to support this move to mainstreaming children with special needs into regular classes at any cost and if he does have such evidence, would he provide me with a copy?

[Page 1939]

QUESTION NO. 23

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

(1) Will the minister provide me with the report on the amalgamation of the Cape Breton-Strait School Board?

QUESTION NO. 24

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. John MacEachern (Minister of Education)

With the changes in the community college system, many new senior managers are being hired by the department.

(1) Would the minister provide a list of the names of all senior management appointees within the Department of Education from May 17, 1995 to May 17, 1996 along with a brief biography of each appointee?

QUESTION NO. 25

By: Mr. Terence Donahoe (Halifax Citadel)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister for the Economic Renewal Agency)

(1) With regard to the NSRFC, have geophysical survey activities in Nova Scotia ceased and if so, when did they cease?

(2) Please provide an outline of grants received from provincial, federal or other agencies for geophysical survey activities carried out by the NSRFC for the period from date of cessation of geophysical survey activities and the 10 year period before cessation.

(3) What has been done with the data derived from geophysical survey activities?