The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House will resume on
April 25, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Nov. 27, 1996

Fourth Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1996

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 837, Girl Guides of Canada: Anniv. (85th) -
Congrats., Hon. E. Norrie 2440
Vote - Affirmative 2440
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 44, Dalhousie-Technical University Amalgamation Act,
Hon. R. Harrison^ 2440
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 838, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Public Anger -
Recognize, Mr. R. Russell 2441
Res. 839, Health - Min.: Volvo Lease - Alternative Consider,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2442
Res. 840, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Questions -
Address, Mr. R. Russell 2442
Res. 841, PC-NDP - Coalition: Result - Discord, Mr. P. MacEwan 2443
Res. 842, Health - Emergency Serv.: Ambulance Serv. -
Funding Formula Develop, Mr. G. Moody 2443
Res. 843, Cornwallis Park (Anna. Co.): Retirement Community -
Support, Mr. J. Casey 2444
Vote - Affirmative 2444
Res. 844, Educ. - Reg. School Bd. (SW): Sub-Office Site -
Support, Mr. J. Leefe 2444
Res. 845, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: APEC Analysis -
Recognize, Mr. A. Mitchell 2445
Res. 846, ERA - Pictou Co. Chamber of Commerce Business of Year Award:
Trenton Works - Congrats., Mr. W. Fraser 2446
Vote - Affirmative 2446
Res. 847, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Auditor Gen. Special Report -
Complete, Dr. J. Hamm 2446
Res. 848, Nat. Res. - NSRL: Auditor Gen. Special Report -
Table, Mr. J. Holm 2447
Res. 849, ERA - Kohler Windows (Debert): Japanese Expansion -
Congrats., Mr. E. Lorraine 2448
Vote - Affirmative 2448
Res. 850, Hants West MLA: Answers Available (1996)/
Answers Unavailable (1980-1991) - Admonish, Mr. R. Hubbard 2448
Res. 851, Scott Weeks Commun. Serv. Award - Dr. Howard Locke:
Dedication - Acknowledge, Dr. J. Hamm 2449
Vote - Affirmative 2450
Res. 852, SMU - Marketing: Global - Success Congrats., Hon. R. Harrison 2450
Vote - Affirmative 2450
Res. 853, Commun. Serv. - Small Option Homes: Standards Finalization -
Commitment, Mr. A. MacLeod 2451
Res. 854, Women, Status of - Advisory Council Appointments -
Process Beware, Mr. D. McInnes 2451
Res. 855, Shelburne - Hbr. Auth.-Icelandic Steamship Co.: Cooperation -
Recognize, Mr. C. Huskilson 2452
Vote - Affirmative 2452
Res. 856, Educ. - Dal. Students Union: Safety Level (Women) Improvement -
Commend, Ms. E. O'Connell 2452
Vote - Affirmative 2453
Res. 857, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Kings Co.: RCMP Additional -
Funding, Mr. G. Moody 2453
Res. 858, ERA - Tourism: Eastern Shore - Success Commend,
Mr. K. Colwell 2454
Vote - Affirmative 2454
Res. 859, ERA - Job Creation: Info. Tech. Educ. -
Opportunity Recognize, Mr. R. White 2455
Res. 860, Cumberland North: By-Election - Call, Mr. J. Leefe 2455
Res. 861, Commun. Serv. - New Beginnings Prog.: Location New -
Congrats., Mr. D. Richards 2456
Vote - Affirmative 2456
Res. 862, Fin. - Underground Economy: Expansion Determination -
Explain, Mr. B. Taylor 2457
Res. 863, Sysco - Deal: Forge - Encourage, Mr. J. Holm 2457
Res. 864, Fish. - School (N.S.-Pictou): Anniv. (50th) -
Congrats., Mr. D. McInnes 2458
Vote - Affirmative 2458
Res. 865, ERA - Gypsum Producers: Export Success -
Congrats., Mr. R. Carruthers 2459
Vote - Affirmative 2459
Res. 866, Fin. (Can.) - Bankers (Can.): Profits Defence -
Whining Cease, Ms. E. O'Connell 2459
Res. 867, Sports - Swimming: Dart. Crusaders Swim Club Invitational Meet -
Success Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 2460
Vote - Affirmative 2460
Res. 868, Angus Matheson MacKinnon - N. Atlantic Ocean Solo Voyage:
Trip/Book - Congrats., Mr. A. MacLeod 2461
Vote - Affirmative 2461
Res. 869, Fin. - Gov'ts. (N.S.-PC) Fiscal Mismanagement (1978-1993):
Effect - Recognize, Mr. K. Colwell 2461
Res. 870, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Yarmouth-Bar Harbor Ferry:
Winter Service - Action, Mr. B. Taylor 2462
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 353, Fin.: PST & GST Harmonization - Consequences, Dr. J. Hamm 2463
No. 354, Health Care - Erosion, Mr. R. Chisholm 2464
No. 355, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Wholesale Goods -
Rebates, Dr. J. Hamm 2467
No. 356, Health - Ambulance: Response Time - Record, Mr. G. Moody 2468
No. 357, Health - Hospitals: Funding ($17.5 M) -
Distribution, Mr. G. Moody 2470
No. 358, ERA - Res. No. 773 (22/11/96): Implementation -
Update, Mr. J. Holm 2472
No. 359, Environ.: Sydney Incinerator - Biomedical Waste,
Mr. A. MacLeod 2473
No. 360, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Tire Recycling (TRACC) -
Contract, Mr. B. Taylor 2474
No. 361, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Tire Recycling (TRACC) -
Shortfall, Mr. T. Donahoe 2476
No. 362, Educ. - High School Curriculum: Changes -
Funding, Ms. E. O'Connell 2478
No. 363, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund:
Board Meetings (Post 26/07/96) - Min. Attendance, Mr. T. Donahoe 2480
No. 364, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Board Meeting (26/07/96) -
Min. Invitation, Mr. B. Taylor 2481
No. 365, Environ. - Resource Recovery Fund: Board Meeting (26/07/96) -
Min. Invitation, Mr. T. Donahoe 2482
No. 366, Fin. - Offshore Gas Royalties/Equalization Payments -
Relationship, Mr. R. Chisholm 2484
No. 367, Health: Regional Boards - Resources, Mr. D. McInnes 2486
No. 368, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Changes -
Discussions, Mr. R. Russell 2488
No. 369, Aboriginal Affs.: PST & GST Harmonization -
Effect, Mr. R. Russell 2490
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 742, Health - Care System: Corporate Takeover -
Prevent, Mr. R. Chisholm 2492
Ms. E. O'Connell 2492
Hon. B. Boudreau 2495
Mr. T. Donahoe 2498
Mr. J. Holm 2502
Res. 646, Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Legislation - Delay,
Mr. R. Chisholm 2505
Ms. E. O'Connell 2505
Hon. W. Gillis 2508
Mr. R. Russell 2511
Mr. J. Holm 2514
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Gov't. (N.S.): Alternative (PC-NDP) - Unviable:
Mr. P. MacEwan 2519
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 28th at 12:00 p.m. 2522

[Page 2439]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 1996

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fourth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

2439

[Page 2440]

RESOLUTION NO. 837

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

Whereas the Girl Guides of Canada, in this year, are celebrating the 85th Anniversary of Guiding in Canada; and

Whereas this past summer Nova Scotia and Nova Scotian Girl Guides proudly hosted the 29th World Conference of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts; and

Whereas last Friday evening, Girl Guides in Colchester County hosted a giant 85th birthday bash with over 600 in attendance, this being one of the many such celebrations throughout the country and throughout the year; and

Whereas the Girl Guides Association provides great opportunities for girls and young women to learn skills, develop as leaders and grow as productive and motivated citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extends its congratulations to the Girl Guides of Canada on its 85 years in Canada, and its thanks to the guides and their leaders for the many contributions to our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 44 - Entitled an Act to Amalgamate The Governors of Dalhousie College and University and the Technical University of Nova Scotia as Dalhousie University. (Hon. Robert Harrison)

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

The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

[Page 2441]

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, permit me to introduce two individuals in our gallery today who are witnessing the tabling of this historic bill, Dr. Ted Rhodes, the President of the Technical University of Nova Scotia; and Dr. Tom Traves, the President of the Dalhousie University.

These individuals, Mr. Speaker, are to be commended for their leadership, their commitment, and their vision for seeing and acting on the tremendous advantage to students and to the economy of this province, of combining the strengths of two great institutions to create something even better.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the members of this House to extend the warmest of welcomes of the House of Assembly to Dr. Traves and Dr. Rhodes on this historic day. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 838

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

Whereas this Liberal Government is too afraid to consult Nova Scotians in an open public forum on its deal with Ottawa to impose a regional blended tax; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are sick and tired of this government's hide-and-seek approach to governing and the utter disdain and contempt it holds toward public opinion; and

Whereas Tuesday's ad in the Chronicle-Herald resulted in over 400 calls and faxes to the Progressive Conservative caucus office from angry Nova Scotians within hours of it appearing in the morning paper;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government recognize that Nova Scotians are mad as heck and won't tolerate this government shoving yet another burdensome tax down their throats and that it immediately withdraw any plans to implement the BST.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 2442]

RESOLUTION NO. 839

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 Minister of Health has reaffirmed this government's let them eat cake attitude by changing the rules so that he can drive to bed closures and privatization announcements in a flashy new Volvo; and

Whereas the Minister of Health suggested that is all right, because he has worked out a cushy deal that enables him to drive his new Volvo 850 for the price of a Chevy Lumina; and

Whereas such corporate subsidization and ministerial luxury raises serious questions of propriety;

Therefore be it resolved that if this government wants to support our local auto manufacturer, it do so by leasing a used vehicle, thus avoiding the appearance of being on the take from the corporate sector.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 840

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 Minister of Finance, who urges Nova Scotians to have faith in his BST miracle cure for the economy, has so little faith in his own deal he has refused numerous invitations to appear on a local open line radio show; and

Whereas in his stead, he sent an equally ill-informed PR flak; and

Whereas Nova Scotians are fed-up with the non-answers to important and relevant questions with respect to this Liberal Government's latest tax grab;

Therefore be it resolved that instead of passing up the opportunities to talk about the so-called win-win appeal of the BST, the Minister of Finance face the music by welcoming every opportunity to address the many questions Nova Scotians would dearly love to put to him, questions to which he obviously still has no answers.

[Page 2443]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 841

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

Whereas a spectre is haunting Nova Scotia, the spectre of PC-NDP harmonization; and

Whereas the PCs are so desperate for power, they have rejected the notion of a harmonized sales tax, an idea originated by the honourable Greg Kerr, substituting therefore a harmonization with socialism in the hopes of gaining power at any cost; and

Whereas the socialists are so confused these days they have convinced themselves that the unity of opposites will somehow result in a dialectical synthesis, thereby justifying their being swallowed up by the Tory Party;

Therefore be it resolved that this House find itself in a dilemma, not knowing which to censure more of these would-be coalition partners, but concludes that the end result of the PC-NDP harmonization will be a most discordant and most unharmonious end for both of them.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 842

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

Whereas Emergency Health Services Nova Scotia plans to establish regional block funding for private ambulance operators, based on call volume statistics; and

Whereas this will result in many rural areas in the province going without ambulance service in close proximity; and

Whereas this is further proof that the Liberal Government is implementing two-tiered health care across the province, one for urban areas and one for rural areas;

[Page 2444]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health direct Emergency Health Services to develop an ambulance service funding formula based on additional criteria.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 843

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

Whereas a recommendation has been made to have a section of Cornwallis Park developed into a retirement community; and

Whereas Cornwallis Park is the ideal location for such a retirement community; and

Whereas the establishment of a retirement community at Cornwallis Park will provide a much needed economic boost to this part of Annapolis and Digby Counties;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend their support and encouragement for this project at Cornwallis Park.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 844

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 Southwest Regional School Board has decided to establish a sub-office; and

[Page 2445]

Whereas the board publicly requested bids for sub-office space; and

Whereas one of the government's stated purposes for school board reform is to save money on administrative costs;

Therefore be it resolved that the House supports the Southwest Regional School Board selecting a sub-office site which provides the best value to the taxpayer and ensures more funds for the classroom.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[2:15 p.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 845

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

Whereas the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council recently conducted an extensive analysis of the harmonized sales tax and how it would impact businesses and consumers in this province; and

Whereas that analysis revealed that the harmonized sales tax will be good for the business climate, will have a positive impact on business investment, will simplify the tax collection process and will remove interprovincial barriers to trade; and

Whereas that analysis revealed that consumers will also benefit from the harmonized sales tax and will collectively save millions of dollars when this new tax is implemented;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that this comprehensive, independent analysis conducted by the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council confirms that the harmonized sales tax is a win-win deal for Nova Scotia, and congratulate this government for undertaking a policy that will generate enormous economic benefits for this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 2446]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 846

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

Whereas the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce recently held its 6th Annual Business Achievement Awards Program; and

Whereas Richard MacKay, President of Trenton Works, accepted the award for Business of the Year for Trenton Works Ltd.; and

Whereas Trenton Works has become a real success story for Nova Scotia, employing over 1,200 people throughout Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly congratulate Trenton Works for receiving this outstanding award and recognize the vision, spirit of innovation and sense of community provided by Greenbrier.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 847

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

Whereas this government appointed Mr. Robert MacKay, Deputy Minister of Priorities and Planning, as Chairman of the NSRL Board; and

Whereas it has been alleged that there was political interference in the day-to-day operations of the Crown Corporation by Mr. MacKay and former Minister Downe, which has cost Nova Scotia taxpayers millions; and

[Page 2447]

Whereas this alleged political interference in the day-to-day operation of NSRL business led to the resignation of several board members and the wrongful dismissal of the CEO and two senior staff members of NSRL at a cost to the taxpayer of approximately a million dollars;

Therefore be it resolved that this House agree to request the Auditor General to complete his special report on NSRL issues as soon as possible and immediately upon completion, file his report with the House if it is sitting and if the House is not in session, file it with the Clerk of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 848

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

Whereas serious questions have been raised in this House about the mismanagement of Nova Scotia Resources Limited; and

Whereas the Auditor General, at the request of members of this House, is nearing completion of a report on important aspects of NSRL, but may not complete that report during the current sitting of this House; and

Whereas legislation requires that the House be in session in order for a report of the Auditor General to be tabled;

Therefore be it resolved that in the interests of timely discussion, this House authorizes the Auditor General to table his report on NSRL with the Clerk of the House upon its completion if the House is not in session.

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

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

[Page 2448]

RESOLUTION NO. 849

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

Whereas as a result of trade missions to Japan, along with visits to Nova Scotia by Japanese developers, Kohler Windows of Debert is expanding its overseas market to export its product to Japan; and

Whereas Kohler Windows' expansion to Japan opens up the Japanese market which has a need for 1.5 million housing units a year for the next 10 years, a need which Nova Scotian companies like Kohler Windows are prepared to capture; and

Whereas the Japanese are very impressed with the Kohler plant in Debert, the high skill level of its employees, as well as the technology used at the plant to produce consistent high-quality products;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Kohler Windows of Debert, its management and its employees for the successful expansion to the Japanese market and recognize that the export of Nova Scotia products to Asian markets is good for the economy, not only in Colchester County but the whole of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 850

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

Whereas during the debate on Resolution No. 643, the honourable member for Hants West said, ". . . it is passing strange that this government which considers itself to be a great money manager didn't do very well in forecasting for the Department of Health"; and

[Page 2449]

Whereas the honourable member for Hants West was a member of the Executive Council of the previous Tory Government; and

Whereas while a member of that previous government, the honourable member was party to allowing the government to accumulate a debt of over $8 billion;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House admonish the honourable member for not having had the answers when he was in power, but having all the answers now that he is in Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 851

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

Whereas Dr. Howard Locke will receive the Scott Weeks Community Services Award today; and

Whereas Dr. Locke has been a respected member of the Aberdeen Hospital medical staff for over 50 years and epitomizes all that makes a good physician; and

Whereas Dr. Locke has also made tremendous contributions to his community through the church, preservation of local history, the YMCA and the YWCA and charitable endeavours;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature acknowledge the dedication and effort put forth by Dr. Locke as he is recognized for his dedicated community service today.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

[Page 2450]

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 Education and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 852

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

Whereas Saint Mary's University has launched two projects funded by the University Partnerships in Cooperation and Development program of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada; and

Whereas in one project, Saint Mary's University in partnership with the Nova Scotia Agricultural College and others, will strengthen aquatic resource management capacity in Cambodia; and

Whereas in the other project, Saint Mary's University in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Gambia will assist in developing Gambia's first university;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature extend congratulations to Saint Mary's University for its success in marketing Nova Scotian expertise in a competitive global market, to the benefit of countries and peoples in the developing world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 2451]

RESOLUTION NO. 853

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

Whereas in 1995-96 there was a moratorium on new small option homes because concern had been expressed about the lack of standards; and

Whereas in the fall of 1995, the Community Services Minister said that regulations would be developed within a year; and

Whereas the minister promised after the tragedy of Edward Shepard's death at a small option home in March 1996, that guidelines for small option homes would be ready in September of this year but only managed to have interim standards yesterday;

Therefore be it resolved that the Community Services Minister make a commitment today to the families and friends of those in the homes that standards will be finalized and be in effect by the end of the year.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 854

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

Whereas two current members of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women proudly detailed their Liberal credentials in a recent newsletter from the Advisory Council; and

Whereas this confirms the Liberal Government's fearful response to any independent, arm's length watchdogs agency; and

Whereas the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council recently requested the council to review the appointments process to ensure that it is open, fair and accessible to all women in Nova Scotia, despite the minister's own refusal this spring to consult with provincial women's groups on appointments to the council, contradicting her commitment to do so in 1994;

Therefore be it resolved that fair-minded women beware of commitments from the minister to ensure an open, fair and accessible process as they have been broken before.

[Page 2452]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 855

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

Whereas Shelburne has the third best natural harbour in the world; and

Whereas the Icelandic Steamship Company has been calling on the Port of Shelburne for over a year; and

Whereas in an effort to better unload and transport their cargo, the Icelandic Steamship Company has recently invested in a side-lifter for the Shelburne dock;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the outstanding cooperative efforts of the Shelburne Harbour Authority, working with the Icelandic Steamship Company, to expand the capabilities of the Port of Shelburne.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax-Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 856

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

Whereas during this period known as Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Nova Scotians will try to focus our thoughts on violence against women; and

[Page 2453]

Whereas the Dalhousie Students Union has used funds from the university's capital campaign to install on campus eight blue light safety boxes, providing direct contact with the Dalhousie Security office; and

Whereas in the spring of 1997 Dalhousie will install seven more blue light systems on campus;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the Dalhousie Students Union for this substantial and practical initiative that has improved the safety level for women on the Dalhousie campus.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 857

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 Municipality of Kings County has one RCMP Officer for every 1,541 people; and

Whereas the RCMP has offered to add three officers, to meet the demands of increasing crime in Kings County, at a cost of $217,000 to the municipality; and

Whereas one Kings County councillor cited this issue as an example of the unfairness of the recent service exchange agreement with the provincial government, which stuck the cost of policing with the municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government stop downloading costs to our municipal governments and start cooperating with the municipalities to save money together and not at the expense of the other level of government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 2454]

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 858

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore once again continues to lead the entire province in tourism growth, with an 8 per cent increase in September room sales, despite poor weather this fall; and

Whereas this is the fifth straight gain this year in room sales on the Eastern Shore and is all the more remarkable when overall tourism has been falling off throughout the province; and

Whereas in the past three years the Eastern Shore has made many concerted efforts to market the Marine Drive and the natural beauty of the region, through Annual Tourism Days, which bring together tourism operators, businesses, community organizations, Tourism Nova Scotia officials and tourism marketers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the tremendous efforts being made by tourism operators, businesses, government and individuals to promote tourism and commend the people of the Eastern Shore for their outstanding hospitality and success in attracting increasing numbers of tourists to the area.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

[Page 2455]

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 859

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

Whereas a meeting of the Atlantic Technology Forum, currently being held in Halifax, has been told that there exists a serious shortage in Atlantic Canada of skilled information technology workers; and

Whereas the technology sector is averaging a 60 per cent growth rate, worth about $250 million to the economy of our Atlantic Region, which presents a job creation opportunity for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia through the Nova Scotia Community College is taking a leading role in educating skilled information technology workers along with the region's educators, business and other regional governments;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the opportunities that exists to spur on the growth of Nova Scotian economy and create jobs by educating more Nova Scotians as skilled information technology workers and acknowledge the leadership role of this government in the growth of the technology sector in this province.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 860

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 budgeting process for 1997-98 within government departments is well underway; and

Whereas since the Liberal Government came to power this budgeting process has had a negative impact on the residents of Cumberland North; and

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Whereas the residents of Cumberland North deserve representation in this Legislature to ensure their views are represented and not blindly ignored by the Premier and the government;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier show courage and call a by-election for Cumberland North to provide residents with representation in the Legislature so their best interests can be properly pressed on the government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 861

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

Whereas the New Beginnings program provides compassionate support and unique skill development often needed for people living with the many challenges of mental health problems; and

Whereas the goal of New Beginnings is to increase an individual's level of independence as they prepare for the enjoyment of community living; and

Whereas yesterday it was my pleasure to represent the provincial government at the opening ceremonies of the New Beginnings' newly refurbished location;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to the Board of Management, the Nova Scotia Foundation, the staff and the many community supporters for providing a fine new location for this program and extend every success to those who will benefit the most from the assistance provided by New Beginnings.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[Page 2457]

RESOLUTION NO. 862

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 former Minister of Finance in an article in the Chronicle Herald on January 31, 1995 said the underground economy in Nova Scotia presently costs the government and ultimately the tax payers in excess of $80 million annually; and

Whereas it is estimated that the underground economy in Nova Scotia represents 3.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product; and

Whereas effective April 1st and implementation of the BS Tax, Nova Scotians will be saddled with increased costs on the basic necessities of life such as home heating oil, gasoline, electricity and children's clothing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage Liberal Government explain to Nova Scotians why they are so determined to expand Nova Scotia's underground economy instead of providing a measure of tax relief that will not only sustain but increase employment while not forcing businesses already on the edge into bankruptcy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 863

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

Whereas all Nova Scotians support the continuation of a viable and stable steel facility in Cape Breton; and

Whereas the deal that Bernie Boudreau and Joe Shannon negotiated with Minmetals in 1993 on behalf of this government has proven less than satisfactory in achieving the goal of a viable and stable steel operation; and

Whereas the current Minister responsible for Sydney Steel has been reported as saying that the proposed new deal with Global Steel is "basically the same deal Joe Shannon and Bernie Boudreau did with Minmetals";

[Page 2458]

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourages the Minister for Sysco and his Cabinet colleagues to stay at the table until they have forged a deal that will ensure a secure future for steelmaking in Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 864

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 Nova Scotia School of Fisheries in Pictou is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas the school, after being dealt a cut in funding over the last few years, has expanded the types of programs offered, and raised $530,000 in partnerships with private industry, government programs such as native training initiatives, and individual tuitions; and

Whereas over 100 students from around the world may be studying in Pictou at any given time with instructors who also give classes across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia School of Fisheries be congratulated on its 50 years of service and wished at least another 50 years of continued success.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

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RESOLUTION NO. 865

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

Whereas National Gypsum of Milford, the province's largest exporter of gypsum, along with the province's other gypsum quarries have enjoyed near-record exports of Nova Scotia gypsum; and

Whereas a total of 6.8 million tons of gypsum has been shipped to American markets and sales could top 7 million tons in 1997; and

Whereas in addition to the hundreds of jobs which the gypsum quarries provide, the economic spin-offs of exporting gypsum are very significant for the provincial economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the province's five gypsum producers - National Gypsum, Fundy Gypsum, Domtar, Georgia-Pacific Corp., and Little Narrows Gypsum - for the near-record export success, and acknowledge the positive economic impact these companies have upon the Nova Scotian economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 866

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

Whereas the Bank of Montreal has inaugurated the annual parade of profits by announcing a record $1.17 billion profit for this year; and

Whereas despite an 18 per cent profit increase over the previous year, Bank of Montreal Chairman Matthew Barrett is reported to be irritated over the fact that he's forced to publicly defend the bank's exorbitant profits; and

[Page 2460]

Whereas Mr. Barrett shouldn't mind a little irritation in return for his $2.5 million a year salary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House say to the bankers of Canada that it is bad enough we have to put up with their excessive profits and their sky-high service charges, but please spare us the whining.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 867

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

Whereas last weekend 275 swimmers, representing 19 clubs from the Atlantic Provinces, participated in the Dartmouth Crusaders Swim Club invitational meet held at the Dartmouth Sportsplex; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Crusaders Swim Club was the overall and large club winner at this three day event; and

Whereas Jeff Bailey of Dartmouth East was the high point winner in the boys 15 and over category;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Jeff Bailey, the Dartmouth Crusaders, the volunteers for this event and the staff of the Dartmouth Sportsplex for a very successful weekend.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 2461]

RESOLUTION NO. 868

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

Whereas in the summer of 1995, Angus Matheson MacKinnon sailed the North Atlantic Ocean solo from Sydney, Cape Breton to Swanage, England; and

Whereas the Catalone Press recently published an autobiographical account of the trip in the book, Atlantic Challenge: An Epic Solo Voyage across the North Atlantic; and

Whereas for 41 days aboard his vessel, The Research II, Angus Matheson MacKinnon never forgot the two most important things in life to a Cape Bretoner, where you are headed and, most importantly, where you are from;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Angus Matheson MacKinnon for his remarkable accomplishments on the literary pages and the high seas.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 869

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

Whereas due to the gross mismanagement of Nova Scotia's economy by Conservative Governments, Nova Scotians are slapped with an annual $1 billion interest charge fee, which syphons off money from Nova Scotians to foreign interests; and

Whereas this $1 billion, if we had it to use, could pave more than 10,000 kilometres of roads throughout the province each year, providing jobs for thousands of Nova Scotians, and in five years, resurface every road in the Province of Nova Scotia;

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Whereas this financial mismanagement of Tory Governments has stifled the development of first-class roads in the province, roads which could otherwise promote growth in the business sector, stimulate exports and increase the tourism industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that years of gross fiscal mismanagement by generations of Conservative Governments has bled billions of dollars from this province, money which could better have been used to improve roads all throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 870

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

Whereas in July of this year, the federal government unilaterally called for private sector proposals to operate the Yarmouth-Bar Harbor ferry, while ignoring requests from the community and province for input into the process; and

Whereas the Premier was silent as his federal Liberal cousins called for proposals that said nothing about winter service; and

Whereas Northumberland Ferry Service Limited is prepared to consider year-round service;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier, who claims he is exasperated by the lack of action taken by Ottawa towards winter ferry service between Yarmouth and Bar Harbor, immediately step forward and show true leadership with a plan that will protect the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity that will be lost unless in southwestern Nova Scotia, such service becomes operational between January and May.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

Moving to Orders of the Day, Oral Questions Put by Members, the time now being 2:45 p.m., Oral Question Period will run for one and one-half hours, until 4:15 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

FIN.: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - CONSEQUENCES

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. My question to the minister is quite simple. I have an aunt over in Prince Edward Island, Aunt Anne, who lives in the Village of Green Gables and periodically she writes. My question to the minister is, after April 1st what will it cost Aunt Anne to write to me and what will it cost me to reply to that letter?

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, not counting a whole lot of factors but let us just stick to the postage. After April 1st the tax on stamps presumably will be 15 per cent. In Prince Edward Island I assume it will be 7 per cent.

DR. HAMM: The minister has just said that when my Aunt Anne, of Green Gables, writes to me, it will cost 49 cents. If I decide I want to write a letter to my aunt in Prince Edward Island, living in Canada it is going to cost me 53 cents to reply to that letter. (Interruption) Well, that is interesting.

To continue with the minister, would the minister confirm that the cost of dance lessons, music lessons, musical instruments, exercise classes, amateur sports, minor hockey, ice time and so on will all go up 8 per cent after April 1st?

MR. GILLIS: We seem to have a switch from the first question. We were on mail and hearing from your aunt in P.E.I.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, a number of things will go up. They were whipped off so fast I did not want to get into a technical analysis of them. Some things will go up. Some things will go down; for example, repairs of an automobile and the price of an automobile. When one goes

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to a grocery store, the amount paid at the checkout will be less because groceries remain untaxed whereas on the incidentals the tax goes down 4 per cent.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister did not pick up on the issues. They were dance lessons, music lessons, musical instruments, exercise classes, amateur sport, ice time, minor hockey and so on. For the minister's information, they will all be up after April 1st if we are not successful in stopping the BST.

We have a debate in the House and we are talking about bicycle helmets. That comes under the topic of safety equipment. Would the minister confirm that items such as bicycle helmets and life jackets, which are presently exempt from the provincial sales tax, will also cost 8 per cent more after April 1st?

MR. GILLIS: I am not going to give interpretations for Revenue Canada. I am sure the minister has studied the technical paper. In general, the rule is that hockey helmets, for example, if they presently attract the GST, then they will also attract the harmonized tax.

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

HEALTH: CARE - EROSION

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Health. It is on the issue of user fees and extra billing, a matter that causes me - and I know a lot of Nova Scotians - some considerable concern because it is the thin edge of the wedge in terms of increasing the erosion of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia, the erosion of a single-tiered health care system to a two-tiered health care system.

I have raised this issue with the minister before, specifically with respect to the fees being charged for pap smears and for prostate examinations. I also raised the issue with the federal Minister of Health, the Honourable David Dingwall, who responded to me in a letter which I received (Interruptions) If the Minister of Technology, or whatever he is, over there would care to listen, I would be happy to get to my question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CHISHOLM: The federal Minister of Health responded in a letter which I received on November 14th, Mr. Speaker, and he said, "My officials are aware of the situation and are discussing it with provincial authorities.". I would like to ask the Minister of Health, could he report to this House on the outcome of the discussions with the federal ministers' officials on the whole question of user fees and extra billing in the Province of Nova Scotia?

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HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I know that the honourable member has a genuine concern, as does every member in this House, of the danger of a two-tiered system developing in this province or, indeed, in this country anywhere. It is a challenge for all of us to address not only this year but next year and in the next decade, because that will be a very clear issue in health care; that will be a very clear issue.

The specific examples that he mentioned, yes, we have an ongoing concern and we have an ongoing discussion with the federal minister. We have to distinguish when we are looking at items which, on some occasions, are billed, whether or not those are services covered under the Canada Health Act and there are some issues involved here, but we share the concern of the honourable member and, specifically, we are having discussions with the federal minister on those questions.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister tries to suggest that it is a question of what services are user fees or what is really extra billing or what isn't. It is a lot like the Minister of the Environment's defence of fees as not being tax. The issue is that patients are being asked to fork money over out of their own pockets for medically insured services and that is the issue. In fact, in Alberta, the province has been fined for these kinds of services, this kind of billing under the Canada Health Act. One of the reasons why doctors say that they need to charge this extra fee, or these extra fees, is because they are not keeping up with the increasing costs under MSI.

Mr. Speaker, one of his first acts as Minister of Health was to turn over $17 million extra to physicians in the Province of Nova Scotia, and I would like to ask the minister why it is that he didn't get some kind of a commitment from physicians at that particular time in exchange for the $17 million to stop extra billing and the use of user fees in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, first of all, the honourable member should know that there are medically related services which are not paid for in every province of this country, including the provinces which are governed by his Party. In fact, some of the issues which he brought to the House here, in criticism of our government, the Children's Dental Program, check and see what the Children's Dental Program is like in Saskatchewan, or what about British Columbia, the rich socialist province, check and see what the coverage is there and compare it to Nova Scotia. So, to get up and thump your chest and talk about a two-tiered system and try and make people believe that everything is covered everywhere except here in Nova Scotia is just simply not sensible; in fact, one might even say, it is mildly misleading.

I think in relations specifically to the doctors, we are working very hard with the Nova Scotia Medical Society and, indeed, individual doctors, to develop an agreement which will go forward into the next fiscal year and years beyond which will, I think, address many of the problems in a sensible, managed, careful way, the problems of the pressures on our medical

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system, and those pressures won't get smaller. So I think that the doctors have been acting responsibly; we have been acting responsibly; and we are working together to try to come up with a solution to a very serious problem. I have to tell you, chest thumping doesn't help a lot.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say to the Minister of Health, that he may not consider the continued use of user fees and extra billing to be a problem, but many Nova Scotians do as they see increasingly the burden, the paying for the health care system be shifted from the general public to individuals and to families. That's the problem.

We are talking about two services here, two medically necessary services, pap smears and prostate examinations which if cancer is detected early then it can be treated. In fact, in British Columbia they pay women to come in and have pap smear examinations, that is what is happening in that particular province.

In my final supplementary, I want to ask the minister, as he talks about taking time and waiting to try to deal with the fiscal realities of the province, all the while the one-tiered system is under constant attack and is being eroded, will he not recognize by allowing these kinds of practices to continue, he is creating and allowing to be created a two-tiered system at the same time as he is trying to protect a one-tiered system? What he is doing is, in fact, allowing a two-tiered system to be created.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I have said that with respect to procedures he mentioned there are real concerns there and we are following those concerns and we are having discussions with the federal minister and indeed, with the Medical Society in a sensible way. What bothers me about this honourable member is that he doesn't seem to be able to make a very fundamental connection.

One of the fundamental reasons that the health care system is in difficulty is because about $800 million that could be spent there is being spent on interest because of a government that for 15 years didn't make any connection between how much money you spent and what the effect was on programs. If the honourable member does not understand (Interruption). Mr. Speaker, the honourable member had three questions. I didn't interrupt him. If the honourable member doesn't understand the connection between responsible management of the health care system and the preservation of a single-tiered system, then he will never be any help to anyone. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

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FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION:

WHOLESALE GOODS - REBATES

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. My office received a call from a wholesaler and he imports parts and goods from outside the province and from outside Atlantic Canada and sells them to retailers in Nova Scotia. This wholesaler presently charges the retailer 7 per cent GST. My question to the minister is, will he indicate if the retailer will now be required to pay, after April 1st, the 15 per cent tax on the wholesale goods they purchase and if so, will they qualify for a full 15 per cent rebate?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I am not getting into rulings that would normally be made by Revenue Canada. The Leader of the Opposition is well aware of the technical paper released a month ago, Harmonized Sales Tax, A Technical Paper, issued by the three governments. I have, as a service to the honourable Leader of the Opposition, I am going to give him the toll free number for Revenue Canada where that person can call and have that clarified. The number is, 1-800-959-8286.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance just really catalogued the problem. We want to know about our provincial sales tax and we have to call Ottawa. We have signed away the right to control our provincial sales tax to the federal government in Ottawa. That is what we have done and have done it for four years. Oddly enough the minister was very helpful, he gave me the 1-800 number but this is what happens when the individual who approached our office called the 1-800 number. They were told they would have to call back because no one knows the answer to that question. In fact, the wholesaler advised me that he already lost a $5,000 order and he is in jeopardy of losing thousands more because retailers don't get straight answers when they call the Finance officials on the other end of the 1-800 number.

My specific question to the Minister of Finance here in Nova Scotia is, will he undertake to immediately issue a directive to retailers that states categorically what this government is planning to do so that more sales are not lost because of the confusion that surrounds the entire BST fiasco?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, there is not confusion. If people want to work with the departments they can find out. I gave the honourable Leader of the Opposition, in an effort to be helpful, the federal toll-free number because Revenue Canada, after April 1st, will be administering the tax. He wants some other approach, I don't know, but I am going to give to the honourable Leader of the Opposition the toll-free number for Nova Scotia for the Department of Finance. It is 1-800-731-7707, so maybe he should try that.

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[3:00 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: Thank you, thank you. You know one would think that the Minister of Finance, responsible for our provincial sales tax, would, in fact, be able to field these questions with great ease. The minister keeps asking if I read the technical paper. I guess the question I have for the minister is has he read the technical paper, because he doesn't answer questions that clearly could be addressed by the technical paper. The difficulty is that the toll-free number gets you nowhere, and that is why I am bringing it up in the Legislature.

Now, my final supplementary to the minister. Many retailers are placing orders, or plan to place orders, with wholesalers for goods that will not be delivered until April 1st. Can the minister indicate, does the retailer get a 15 per cent rebate on all the inventory in stock on April lst; if not, how will the application of the new tax work, given that the order for the goods was placed before the new tax came into effect?

MR. GILLIS: Anybody can try to go through the myriad of points. As the honourable Leader of the Opposition knows, there are on the joint paper, 13 sections and many issues. It is not appropriate, just as it is not appropriate for the Minister of Justice to give legal opinions, it is not appropriate for the Minister of Finance to be giving technical opinions on whether or not tax applies.

Now I have given two numbers, Mr. Speaker, in an effort to be helpful. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition get back to his friend in the wholesale business and ask him, if he hasn't tried the provincial number to try it, and, if that is not successful, the buck stops at my desk. He can call my office number and I will have it checked out and get back to him. The number is 424-5720.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - AMBULANCE: RESPONSE TIME - RECORDS

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. As the Minister of Health knows, recently the Department of Health ran some ads trumpeting the wonders of the emergency health system that they have introduced. The ad leads one to believe that patients are getting to hospitals faster now under the new emergency health (EH) system than they did before under the old system.

I am wondering if the minister could advise, through you, Mr. Speaker, to me and others, what information the Department of Health used when running the ads in determining that, in actual fact, people were getting to hospitals faster under the new EH system than they were prior to the new system being put in place?

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HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I will be happy to take that question on notice and attempt to provide, in a timely matter, the information the honourable member requested. I might say, however, that part of the rationale will be the approximately 80 new ambulances that now have been distributed throughout the province and are bringing a level and quality of service that has been quite without parallel anywhere in this country. I think we are very fortunate. People see them every day around the streets and highways of Nova Scotia. We have these ambulances now in effect and they are delivering quality service. But I recognize that the honourable member may want something more specific than that and I will attempt to get it for him.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I happen to think the private operators running the system before ran a good system and I think many members in this House know some people that had very excellent ambulances prior to the minister buying 80 new ones. I will ask the minister, there was a freedom of information request put in by one of the MLAs in our caucus asking about the response time for calls that the ambulances were doing in the province. The answer we got back, and I will table the freedom of information request, is that there are no records of the response times. So if the department has no records of the response times, other than telling us they are wonderful looking ambulances, I wonder on what basis the ads indicated the response was actually faster than previous, as they were run by the independent ambulance operators before?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, one of the difficulties we have had in attempting to achieve responsible management and quality control of the health care system was the fact that statistics like that traditionally and historically have not been kept. Perhaps when the honourable member was minister he kept them but I haven't found them and he may tell me where they were. In any event, I will ask the question that the honourable member directed to me in the first instance to members of the department and I will respond to him.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I understand the minister wasn't the minister at the time when this was set up but he can talk about my day but in erroneous ads, misleading either about what was happening when there were no statistics. My final supplementary to the minister and he has indicated that there are 80 new ambulances now on stream as I understand it. I understand the former Minister of Health, I know this for a fact, made an announcement that we were going to have 150 new ambulances in this province. I am told that some people are going around the province and are being told that we are not going to have 150 new ambulances to cover the province as initially talked about, we are going to have 100 to 110. In other words, we are going to have about two-thirds of what the initial amount of ambulances were going to be to cover this province.

There were about 200 ambulances, prior to this new system, by the independent ambulance operators who I have a lot of time and respect for, who ran very good operations. Now we are going to go with at least less than what we had before but even two-thirds of what the former minister said that was needed to cover the province. I would ask the minister,

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how in the world are we going to now have better coverage with two-thirds the ambulances projected by the former Minister of Health that was needed in this province to run a top-notch emergency health service system?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I guess I had some of those numbers wrong. There actually have been 85 new ambulances delivered to date, absolutely the finest examples of high-tech health care delivery in the world. Part of the pride in saying that, by the way, is that they were manufactured right here in Nova Scotia, allowing a new industry to develop a potential and a capacity to export across the world and they have been doing that quite successfully. So that is 85 new ambulances.

There have also been 12 new critical care transport units. Those are larger, more complex vehicles. They are now in service across the province. I might say that there are now defibrillators in areas of the province that didn't enjoy them before, including six locations in industrial Cape Breton and nine more locations throughout the Mainland. All of these services are now in place and are working very effectively.

What we are doing is a survey across the province to determine precisely what the most effective, configuration will be, how many units at the end of the day that will require. I am telling you how many units are out there now and when this process is completed, we will know how many units finally will be brought to bear.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - HOSPITALS: FUNDING ($17.5 M) - DISTRIBUTION

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health announced that he has added an additional $17.5 million for hospitals, as I understand it for this year. I was wondering if the minister could give me the information or if he can't today, running through his book, if he could table precisely what hospitals got what amounts and for what purpose and how that $17.5 million was distributed to the hospitals, what criteria were used, who got it and what amounts around the province?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, obviously, I wouldn't have that information with me today but that information will be made public.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I honestly believe that I will get it from this minister, I never used to get it from the previous minister but I believe I will get it from this minister. I would ask him to get that to me as soon as possible. In a letter that the minister wrote to our Leader, Dr. John Hamm, he indicated in that letter, just to refresh his memory on what he said in the letter, that the amount will be used to relieve cost pressures currently within the health care system.

[Page 2471]

I wonder when the minister indicated, and he provided that money back in August, I believe, and he said it would relieve the pressures of the current system, would that amount of money cover the debts that the hospitals have accumulated up to August, or does that amount accumulate the debt that they would accumulate until the end of this fiscal year?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, let me step back one stage for the honourable member. When I assumed the responsibility, we had completed, a matter of a week or so earlier, a line by line audit, if you will, of the Department of Health's current year budget, that is 1996-97, the one that expires on March 31, 1997, with a view towards ensuring that the numbers we had in the budget would match the actual programs. As the honourable member knows, when he was minister and when my predecessor was minister, I think for something like 9 of the last 10 years, the Department of Health overshot its budget. So I think that probably most of the years he was minister, that was the case, that your budget or your expenditures overshot what you had budgeted. That has been the case in something like 9 of the last 10 years.

We thought that this year we would try and do it a little differently; we would make sure that the budget figures were realistic and then we would try and bring the performance in to match the budgeted figures. So we would do that right upfront and share that information with the public and with the Opposition. We have done that.

That was true in every category. For example, in home care, that is why we added the $12 million to this year's budget for home care. That is why that was done. That is why the money, as the honourable Leader of the Third Party talked about, went into the doctors' fund. That is why the money went into the hospitals, so we would match what we thought the actual expenditures would be, to the budget.

MR. MOODY: I am glad the minister recognizes that when there are needs in health care that we have to put human life ahead of actual dollars. In other words, if there are times that the department has to spend more to provide adequate health care, that he is one of those ministers who will find that money to make sure that no Nova Scotian suffers because of lack of funding in that department. I am pleased with that because that may have to happen.

The minister talked about the detailed analysis conducted by Priorities and Planning, and Finance that resulted in the $65 million being added. I would ask the minister, would he be so kind as to table that information, the detailed analysis, so that we could fully understand all areas of the department that are receiving funding. If he would table that information, it would be much appreciated.

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, at the time we announced the new budget allocation for health - approximately $65 million it was - we did detail at that point where all of the budget figures would go, where all of the additional money would go by category, but I would be happy to do that again for the honourable member.

[Page 2472]

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

ERA - RES. NO. 773 (22/11/96): IMPLEMENTATION - UPDATE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Premier. Last Friday the Premier will know that in a very rare display of support for the workers in this province, government members agreed to waive notice and they gave unanimous support to a resolution that I had introduced that called upon the government to cease purchasing products from Imperial Oil until that multinational company ceased to harass the former employees and their spouses or survivors.

My question to the Premier is quite simply this, what steps has the Premier taken to ensure that the wishes of this House have been or are being implemented?

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the issue is being looked at.

MR. HOLM: Well, the Premier says that the issue is being looked at. I don't know what has to be looked at. This House very clearly passed a resolution that called upon the government to cease purchasing Imperial Oil products until that company, which has been to court on several occasions, unsuccessfully against the employees, cease to harass these workers, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed, some of whom have passed way and their survivors are being sued by this.

My question to the Premier is quite simply this. If this government does not condone this heavy-handed approach being taken by Imperial Oil, what steps are you prepared to take to ensure that the Government of Nova Scotia does not support such a company by purchasing their products?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, despite the genuineness of this whole issue - and I might add that I too have met with people from Ultramar and have put my case in - despite that, he is playing political games, as he knows full well. This House is not bound by a recommendation that passes on the floor of this House, and you have been in this House long enough to know that. The media knows it and everybody knows it. What we are saying is that we took it seriously enough that we are prepared to consider the implications of what you have asked. I am giving you the courtesy of saying that we consider that as something important; I am not prepared to give you an answer a scant three days later.

MR. HOLM: Thank you very much. Mr. Speaker, despite what the Premier is alleging in his comments, I want to assure the Premier that I take this, also, very seriously. I take it extremely seriously, but none of us in here feel it as seriously as the families and those former workers. I believe that we do have a responsibility to them and to other workers to show that

[Page 2473]

them that we will not tolerate this kind of practice and behaviour from businesses in Nova Scotia.

My final question, then, to the Premier, Mr. Speaker - and I am taking the Premier on his word that they are looking at it and taking it very seriously - I would like to ask the Premier if he will give us a timetable. Will the Premier report back before this House adjourns this session to advise what steps, if any, the government is prepared to take to try to force Imperial - by boycotting their products or whatever - what the government is prepared to do to support those workers who have, by any fair analysis, been given the rawest of deals?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would repeat that I have met with some of the families and I have, I must confess, expressed my concern both to our commissioner and to the person in charge of the entire pension plan in the province here. I have asked for an explanation and we are pursuing this; I am not prepared to be tied down by an artificial timetable created in Question Period.

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

ENVIRON.: SYDNEY INCINERATOR - BIOMEDICAL WASTE

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question, through you, is for the Minister of the Environment. I would like to ask the minister, is he aware that yesterday at the incinerator located in Sydney, that there was about 200 pounds of biomedical waste burnt in that facility?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: I will respond in the negative; no, I am not aware of it.

MR. MACLEOD: It is my understanding, Mr. Speaker, that this waste was burnt there yesterday and it was supposed to be part of a test burn. A burn that, I might add, that was not supposed to occur until December 10th. There were no permits in place, as I understand it, and the members of Local 759 of the Outside Workers of CUPE were not aware that this hazardous waste was going to be burnt and were not wearing the proper safety attire.

My question to the minister would be, can the minister explain how such a burn could occur without a permit in place?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member in asking the question probably has answered it. I cannot give a better answer than he gave as to why it took place when it was not supposed to. What I will do is I will meet with him following Question Period and perhaps he and I, together, can find the answers that we can deliver to the public as to what did happen, why it happened and what we will do about it.

[Page 2474]

MR. MACLEOD: I thank the minister for that attempt at an answer, Mr. Speaker, but my final question to the minister, what steps will this minister take and this government take to make sure that this type of thing does not happen again?

MR. ADAMS: I think it is only proper that we find out if it, indeed, did happen, what happened and, as I have heard, who did make it happen. Mr. Speaker, I cannot answer that question until I get the details.

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

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND:

TIRE RECYCLING (TRACC) - CONTRACT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of the Environment. The minister may be aware that the tire deal does not sit too well with some members of his own caucus and he is also fully aware that it does not sit well with a good number of Nova Scotians and, of course, the Opposition Party.

In Saturday's edition of the Chronicle-Herald, on November 16, the minister is quoted as saying that the Preston area ". . . seems like a perfect fit with the criteria . . ." of the Mennonite Central Committee. Mr. Adams said he lobbied the plant operator. In fact, Doug Vicars, the General Manager, said, "'I love Wayne; he's a great guy.'". (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Adams, on the other hand, said that, "he's pulling for Preston but has had no say and is waiting like everyone else . . .". Is the minister aware that five municipal units have contacted TRACC in an effort to submit a plan regarding the establishment of the facility in their municipality and that Mr. Adams' friend, Mr. Vicars, has not returned their calls?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: I am trying to get the question, Mr. Speaker. I will give him credit for the compliments. I appreciate them. I do not get them often from the Opposition. He is asking me if I am aware whether or not municipalities have got phone calls returned by a private company? There is no way I would know whether that happened or not. I could not tell you whether any calls that he made to Simpsons were answered or not.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister said it, a private company. Last Thursday, during Question Period, the minister told us that the contract between the Resource Recovery Fund Board Inc., a body incorporated and existing under the laws of the Province of Nova Scotia and TRACC was done at arm's length from the Savage Government. In fact, the minister said, ". . . it was done independent of government, for all the right reasons . . .". He said, I don't think it is our business to find out what the day to day activities are of the Resource Recovery Fund Board. His comments can be found in Hansard on Page 2192, Thursday, November 21st.

[Page 2475]

My question is this. Will the minister tell this House and all Nova Scotians where he was when the vote was taken and the decision made by the Resource Recovery Fund Board Inc. relative to signing the contract?

MR. ADAMS: It seems to me that it was the Caribbean, I believe, Mr. Speaker, at that time. I think I was in the Caribbean on a trade mission at that time when the agreement was made.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the minister thinks he was in the Caribbean.

I go to the Premier with my final supplementary and I am reading from the July 26, 1996, minutes of the Resource Recovery Fund Board meeting. Ernie Bolivar happens to be the Mayor of Bridgewater and a board member of the Resource Recovery Fund, and I will table this document. "Ernie Bolivar noted that the presence of a number of Dept. of Environment representatives, Minister Adams, P.R. Director Paul MacEachern, Gordie MacDougall in addition to regular Dept. of Environment Board representative created pressure in the decision making process on this issue.".

So I ask the Premier, will the Premier tell this House whether he has developed a code of conduct, of ethics for his ministers and, if so, will the Premier tell this House whether the Minister of the Environment's presence at meetings of the Resource Recovery Fund Board - and, again, I mentioned that arm's length agency - which created pressure in the decision making process, will the Premier tell this House whether the minister's presence at those meetings represents a contravention of his code of ethics? Does the Premier not feel the Minister of the Environment ethically compromised himself?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I should tell you, first of all, at the time that was addressed I was in Iceland. So it is very difficult to be absolutely sure of these reports. As we have told the Opposition time and time again, the people on this side of the House will go anywhere for jobs for this province. That is what our objective is and I make no apologies for being in Iceland meeting with the President and meeting with people concerning the opportunities for jobs.

Having said that, and I will tie down the dates more accurately for you later, I have absolutely no belief that the Minister of the Environment has crossed any codes of ethics. He has behaved ethically in the issue of looking for something for his riding, which as you probably are aware has one of the highest unemployment rates in the province. The minister (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask members across the floor to please hold their comments to themselves.

[Page 2476]

THE PREMIER: The minister has a responsibility as an MLA. I have raised this with the Leader of the Opposition when he raised his somewhat remarkable comments about asking for business. The minister has every right, particularly with an arm's length body, to attempt to get a business for his riding, particularly when it suffers from the pains of chronic unemployment such as it does. So, therefore, the answer to the ethics (Interruptions)

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

THE PREMIER: I guess the simple line, Mr. Speaker, is that the gall of a Party to talk about ethics; when they were in government, my goodness.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND:

TIRE RECYCLING (TRACC) - SHORTFALL

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question too is for the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment is aware that the previous Chair of the Resource Recovery Fund, Mr. Elwood Dillman, indicated that he, Mr. Dillman, felt that the TRACC tire deal was not good for Nova Scotia, was not good for Nova Scotians, was not good for the Nova Scotia environment. But notwithstanding and not losing sight of the fact, as was pointed out by my colleague just a moment ago, that the Minister of the Environment was present at the July 26th meeting of the Resource Recovery Fund Board and was exerting pressure on the members of the board, as a consequence of that meeting and ultimately, following that, the TRACC deal was signed.

Now, we have a situation, Mr. Speaker, where as a result of this minister's agreement, we have a consumer tax on passenger tires at $3.00 a tire; we have a consumer tax on commercial tires at $9.00 a tire; those amounts of money go to the Resource Recovery Fund. The Resource Recovery Fund under this agreement is required to pay $2.50 to TRACC for every passenger tire equivalent. The passenger tire equivalent of a commercial tire to the passenger tire works out to a ratio of about 6 to 1. (Interruption) Yes, there is a question. The commercial tires are, on balance, six times the weight of the passenger tire. The result is that the Resource Recovery Fund is going to be required to pay TRACC six times the tire equivalent, six times $2.50 or $15, and they will have received from the poor Nova Scotia taxpayer who has paid the $9.00 tax on it, the Resource Recovery Fund has recovered $9.00, but they have to pay TRACC $15.

My question to the Minister of the Environment is, will he tell us who is making up the shortfall which the Resource Recovery Fund experiences on each of those transactions, because if he isn't or somebody isn't, the Resource Recovery Fund is going to be in bankruptcy within months? Will he explain that to the House please?

[Page 2477]

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his animated question. Before I get to the question, he made some allegations which are not accurate. He related back to July 26th as the date when the Resource Recovery Fund Board signed the contract with TRACC. That is absolutely not true.

MR. DONAHOE: I didn't say that.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Elwood Dillman has never told me, Mr. Speaker, that TRACC was not a good deal for Nova Scotia. That is not true.

To get to the point of the question, in terms of the details of the contract between the Resource Recovery Fund Board and the proponent, which is TRACC, those details were negotiated between those two and I believe and I have confidence that they know where the profits and losses are at their end.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, this minister knows and I ask him to deny it if he believes that what I now say to him is untrue, this minister knows that the negotiated agreement was negotiated in part as a result of pressure exercised by this minister at the July 26th meeting and it was sent by the Resource Recovery Fund to this minister, "for approval.". This minister, while the Resource Recovery Fund negotiated it, had the ultimate approval of the execution of that document.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, again I will clarify the terms that were referred to in the question that was put. The July 26th date which he referred to earlier and denies, was not the date on which the agreement was signed, the contract did not come to me until after that date. There were many meetings of the Resource Recovery Fund Board and TRACC and in fact, since July 26th, the negotiations were done without this minister being invited.

Mr. Speaker, I think we hit some nervous tensions over there and people are a little upset that their research has been less than perfect.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I better try to come directly to the minister and see if we can get a straight answer. I would like a straight answer from the Minister of the Environment on this proposition, that the net result of the agreement which the Resource Recovery Fund has signed, is that the purchaser of the commercial tire pays $9.00 in tax. That $9.00 in tax goes to the Resource Recovery Fund. Then the Resource Recovery Fund on the basis of the tire equivalent and the amount of rubber crumb ultimately processed by TRACC, is required to send to TRACC $15 relative to that $9.00 collection. The net result is that on each and every one of those transactions, the Resource Recovery Fund which was supposed to produce money available for municipal units and for other organizations for environmental purposes, is in the process when this begins of going bankrupt. I want the Minister of the

[Page 2478]

Environment to tell this House today that the financial arrangement which I have just now described is correct or incorrect? If he says it is incorrect, I defy him to table tomorrow a document that describes the actual financial circumstances that pertain.

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member referred to the transfer tire equivalent for a truck tire being $9.00 for an environmental fee that the consumer will pay, compared to the $3.00 environmental fee the consumer will pay for a passenger car or light truck tire. To finish the answer to the question let me say that I am not aware that there is any verge of bankruptcy of the Resource Recovery Fund Board but to the contrary and I will inquire with my officials and my representatives from the department as to whether or not that scenario is true, but I don't believe that there is any indication at all that there is any verge of bankruptcy, unlike the province that we found in 1993.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

EDUC. - HIGH SCHOOL CURRICULUM: CHANGES - FUNDING

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education and Culture. My question relates to the new Department of Education document called, Quality in the Classroom. This document contains the revised high school graduation requirements for schools in Nova Scotia. This document includes at least three substantial changes to the high school curriculum. The first one is an expansion of program requirements with more math, more technology and a fine arts requirement. It includes expanding co-op and independent study programs and it includes a new challenge for credit program in fine arts. On implementation, more teachers will be required in both the sciences and the arts. I ask the minister will he give more money to school boards in Nova Scotia to finance these major, substantial changes to the high school curriculum?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: A good question and I thank the member opposite for it. The question has to do with making sure that our young people have the highest quality of education to be found anywhere in Canada and that the resources that match those standards of quality are allocated to schools.

I don't know of any government faced with the kind of economic circumstances that we faced that has done more to ensure that those boards, those teachers, those schools, have the resources necessary to accomplish that task. In addition, they now have parents, staff members, faculty members and students sitting on boards to ensure that those quality standards are first set and then maintained.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe that I heard a commitment there from the minister so I am going to ask him a slightly different question about the document. The document points out that in the expanded, independent study program, the classroom teacher

[Page 2479]

will continue to provide guidance, supervision and assessment to enrich and evaluate students' learning, as teachers have done in the past, but on a more expanded basis.

If the minister is not prepared to do anything but download onto volunteers in the system in a major way, will he at least commit to enough funds to school boards to ensure that teacher time allocated to supervision of independent study will be compensated for by smaller class size?

MR. HARRISON: The allocation of resources and managing the resources within the education system is a function of a partnership between the department, between the school boards and the commitment to seven boards and school councils, to ensure that those dollars are spent in the interests of only one thing, and that is making sure we have the highest quality of education in this nation.

All of the initiatives that have been discussed, some of them for 10 years, are being implemented with resources such that they can be accomplished, such that they can be done again to those highest quality levels. So the answer to her question, I believe, is yes, those resources will match the initiatives leading to higher quality on the part of our teachers, on the part of our schools and parents and for the benefit of the students of this province.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, this document also contains a further measure which sounds to me as if it is downloading and, in fact, there won't be enough resources. There is something in this document called the Challenge for Credit Program, whereby in this program upper and middle income students whose families can afford to buy private education for their children in music, theatre, dance and art, can purchase high school credits. Mr. Speaker, schools have already privatized busing, maintenance and school construction and now it looks as if they are going to privatize schools programs.

I want to ask the minister, why has this government tried to absolve itself of responsibility for public education by privatizing anything that moves, paints or sings?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I know it is difficult for the members opposite, given their ideology, to consider that a partnership with the private sector is beneficial, but there are some 70 partnerships now existing in this province, not only with the private sector but with NGOs that are delivering services effectively to the citizens of Nova Scotia. There is no reason to believe that in the construction of a school that the private sector can't benefit, not only the children and their parents, but their own company's expertise, from the point of view of export.

To specifically focus in on Challenge for Credit as an example of privatization, I think it may feed an ideological argument but it doesn't come very close at all to the issue at hand. When you consider that some child or young person is able to reach certain levels of music proficiency in the Royal Conservatory Music Program, for instance, that young person, in our

[Page 2480]

opinion, should be able to, as an example, challenge for credit such that the fine arts credit, the performing arts credit, for which they are spending countless hours in development of skills and talents, would be part of their high school transcript, Mr. Speaker.

We happen to think that that is a good idea. We are committed to working with our stakeholders to ensure that Challenge for Credit is done properly, along with many of the other initiatives listed by the member opposite. The concept of a mad dash to privatization, Mr. Speaker, I think reflects more the ideological perception of this Party, as opposed to the reality in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND:

BOARD MEETINGS (POST 26/07/96) - MIN. ATTENDANCE

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of the Environment. I wonder if the Minister of the Environment would share with us how many meetings, subsequent to July 26, 1996, of the Resource Recovery Fund Board did the minister attend?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: I don't recall any after that date, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DONAHOE: I take it, by definition, he does recall the meeting of July 26th. I wonder if the Minister of the Environment then would, having been a participant in the discussions of July 26th when the proposed agreement with TRACC was on the agenda, share with us here today, what is the extent of the holding in TRACC Nova Scotia of the Mennonite Central Committee? Could he describe and outline that for us here in the House today?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the answer is, no, I cannot outline that in the House today.

MR. DONAHOE: First of all, I am amazed that the minister knows as little as he knows about this deal. Here is a proposition where this man is participating in a process which is going to result in the imposition of a tax on every Nova Scotian tire purchaser, $3.00 on a passenger tire and $9.00 on a commercial tire. He knows the square root of zero about the detail. I want to, through you, Mr. Speaker, say to the Minister of the Environment that the fact of the matter is that the Mennonite Central Committee is not a part of TRACC Nova Scotia, as has been advertised widely by the minister and his people and that is so because they were unable to sign the contract as a contracted agent because that would impact upon their present non-profit status and the fact of the matter is that TRACC is a shell company that has no assets and is run by a person who has no history and no background in tire recycling. (Interruptions)

[Page 2481]

The question for the minister and the peanut gallery, Mr. Speaker, through you, is, will the minister acknowledge that TRACC Nova Scotia is, in fact, a shell company, has no assets and is operated by a person who has no track record in the tire recycling business?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think I have a little bit more intelligence than that. The answer is no.

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

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND:

BOARD MEETING (26/07/96) - MIN. INVITATION

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to go to the Minister of the Environment. The Minister of the Environment did attend many meetings of the Resource Recovery Fund Board relative to establishing a tire recycling facility in this province. But the meeting on July 26th, the Chair of the Resource Recovery Fund of the day, Elwood Dillman, and the Vice-Chair, Jeannie Cruickshanks, did not invite the Minister of the Environment to attend that meeting because they were discussing a tire deal that they thought would be in private. They felt that the very presence of the Minister of the Environment would be very intimidating for the board members making that decision.

Under whose invitation did the Minister of the Environment attend that very important meeting?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, in asking that question, puts certain people in a very embarrassing position. I can only tell him that I was invited by several members of the Resource Recovery Fund Board, including the chairperson.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of a supplementary, I have it on good authority and good source (Interruption). The member for Cape Breton Nova, when he was in the Speaker's Chair, liked to suppress democracy, but I should remind him that he is sitting as a backbencher now.

Mr. Speaker, I asked the minister under whose invitation. Will he get up and name the person who invited him to attend the meeting on July 26th in Debert when the tire recycling deal was discussed. Will he name the person that invited him?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, quite simply put - I am not going to screech and holler like the member who is asking the question; obviously, he is in a tight position, a bit embarrassed - the fact remains that several members of the Resource Recovery Fund Board realized that, as minister, I am ultimately responsible in all matters of the Resource Recovery Fund Board

[Page 2482]

and there were at least three who thought I should be at that meeting to participate, along with other members of my department, in that debate.

MR. TAYLOR: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is certainly a good job this is Question Period because it certainly is not answering period.

The Resource Recovery Fund Board (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I can table the document for the minister and I know the minister already has this document. He states that TRACC - Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada Corporation - is a partnership between Atlantic Canada Office of the Mennonite Central Committee. It is an arm's-length agency from the government, and I want to know, again, why was the Minister of the Environment attending meetings of the Resource Recovery Fund Board. Why was that minister there?

MR. ADAMS: Again, Mr. Speaker, I repeat the answer; he did not hear it the first time. As I have done on three or four other occasions in the past, when I am invited by that body as the minister ultimately responsible for it, I will go to the meetings.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

ENVIRON. - RESOURCE RECOVERY FUND:

BOARD MEETING (26/07/96) - MIN. INVITATION

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: I wonder if I may, Mr. Speaker, put a question to the Minister of the Environment through you. I wonder if the Minister of the Environment is prepared here today - because I have very, very serious doubt about the accuracy of some things we are hearing here today - is prepared to say here today, straight up, what members of the Resource Recovery Fund Board invited him to attend the meeting of July 26, 1996?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I do not think it is appropriate to do that in the House of Assembly, name people on the floor of the House who otherwise have no business in the affairs of this House. The answer is no. (Interruptions)

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

MR. DONAHOE: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of the Environment, what is not appropriate at all is the rather ugly scene that apparently has unfolded. This minister has suggested repeatedly, here in this place and elsewhere, that the Resource Recovery Fund Board is arm's length and independent from government. He is now here acknowledging that he is at the meeting and that he and his departmental officials are participating in the discussions relative to the development of a contract with TRACC, and the minutes of the meeting indicate that the minister and the officials exercised such pressure that certain members of the board felt that pressure from this minister.

[Page 2483]

Can the minister please explain to me, was he there to observe the events and the goings on of the meeting, or was he there in an effort to participate and influence and exert pressure on the decisions which were being made by the members of the Resource Recovery Fund Board?

MR. ADAMS: I was invited to be an observer and that is the capacity in which I served. I would ask, Mr. Speaker, in the answer to that question, that the question that is put here today would be put as simply and as straightforward as possible, without the characteristic of suspicion.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, Mr. Speaker, it is the substance of the matter and the matters we are raising which raise the suspicion, and if the honourable minister is sensing some element of suspicion then, clearly, the questions have had some impact.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister will acknowledge here today that the minutes of the meeting of July 26, 1996, disclose that following discussions of the deal with TRACC, the minutes of that meeting of July 26th disclose that the proposed, as suggested by a departmental official, contract was to be sent, at the recommendation of one of the staff members present at the meeting, to this Minister of the Environment for approval by this minister. Will the minister acknowledge that that, in fact, did take place at the meeting of July 26, 1996?

MR. ADAMS: Again, Mr. Speaker, I know that did not take place. I still don't know why they don't ask the direct question, if there is one. The whole issue centres around the fact that obviously I appeared at a meeting and that bothered somebody. The fact remains, and I will repeat it, that I have an ultimate responsibility as Minister of the Environment for the Resource Recovery Fund Board. They have to report to me on their activities. If they feel they want to have me at a meeting to observe on their activities and discussions, then so be it.

The same member here asked me a minute ago, Mr. Speaker, he admonished me for not being at arm's length, and then he chided me for not knowing the details of profit and loss versus tire equivalent and charges. Does he want me to hold arms or to separate arms? He is not sure.

What they have, Mr. Speaker, is a vendetta and they are trying to reach it in this minister. Sad to say, they won't find it here.

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

[Page 2484]

FIN. - OFFSHORE GAS

ROYALTIES/EQUALIZATION PAYMENTS - RELATIONSHIP

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Finance. It has to do with the development of offshore gas. I go to the Minister of Finance specifically because it has to do with the calculation of the royalty that will be coming to the province and the connection between that and equalization payments.

Mr. Speaker, we have been trying to track down the relationship in this current royalty agreement with equalization payments, in other words, with the relationship between the Province of Nova Scotia and the federal government. We have heard from the Minister of Natural Resources who has said that Nova Scotians can expect benefits from royalties anywhere from $400 million to $3 billion to $4 billion. I think it is important that we kind of narrow that down a little bit so we have some idea of exactly what we are talking about in terms of the benefits from the royalty agreement to Nova Scotians.

I want to ask the Minister of Finance, when and if this project goes through, if we get some kind of sudden influx of monies in the form of royalties from this agreement, what effect will it have on equalization payments. So I want to ask the Finance Minister, will he indicate whether these projections that have been made are net of any loss of equalization payments? We are trying to get a handle on what the actual benefit is going to be for the Province of Nova Scotia.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, we know that if there is a vast or a very large return from royalties from an offshore project if it proceeds that it will eventually affect transfer payments from the Government of Canada. But the Minister of Natural Resources is the minister that is coordinating the discussions with Mobil Oil and the companies that are involved with the Sable offshore project. I think it is most appropriate that that member redirect his questions there.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me tell you, we have been through a number of different departments in the government and we ended up in the Department of Finance because this has nothing to do with the royalty agreement negotiated by the Department of Natural Resources, details of which we have not been able to get either. This has to do with what kind of impact the royalties are going to have on equalization payments. In other words, what we are trying to find out is what is going to be the net benefit to the Province of Nova Scotia of the development of natural gas. I guess the Minister of Finance may be, by referring me to the Minister of Natural Resources, saying that he doesn't know. I would ask him, maybe, to try to find that information out and return it to us.

My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker, is to the Premier. We have had the Premier and the Minister of Natural Resources basically painting visions of sugarplums and pipe dreams, of the benefits that are going to come out of this natural gas development, about all the jobs

[Page 2485]

that are going to be created. What I want to ask the Premier is what specific commitments he or his ministers have been able to get from, let's say the Sable offshore energy group, what commitments, specifically with respect to jobs has he been able to get in terms of such things as the construction of the fixed platforms that are going to go in? Has his government been able to get such commitments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, obviously, these questions are questions of a departmental nature and should be answered by the department. But I do, in a serious spirit, want to try and answer the first question. The equalization payments that a province gets are based upon the last year's income up or down. Experience has taught us that when there are unsuspected bumps either way, they usually result because of either prosperity or less than prosperity in the previous year. This is a standard formula.

To try and understand the formula of equalization, the previous minister spent a lot of time on this and after three years he confessed to me that he still didn't understand the equalization formula and I would defy anybody over there to do the same. It is an intensely complicated one that depends upon the prosperity of the three main provinces and the incomes that happen in this province.

What we can tell you is that as a result of increasing wealth, particularly in the resource-based industry that we are talking about and as a result of the opportunities that will arise from more and more people to be employed, then the income that will come in transfer payments will drop. How it will drop and when it will drop will be based upon the formula that I believe only one person in Ottawa, who is an Executive Director of some department that nobody even knows, is able to produce. It is a very complex issue but as one goes up there is no question that what we would get from the other provinces goes down. The good thing about that is that that increases the sense of independence that this province badly needs.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate how complex it is but it is a matter that is extremely important to the future of this province. We are talking about a royalty agreement that extends, as I understand it, over a period of 25 years. The royalty agreement that existed in the mid-1980's, around 1987 for example, provided a gap of 10 per cent above the national average in terms of the revenues that could accrue before it would affect our equalization payments and that is the kind of information we are looking for, that Nova Scotians want to hear about, is what is going to be the net effect of the influx of revenues from the natural gas with respect to the equalization payments. Anyway, maybe the former and current Ministers of Finance could get together and give us some information at some point on these details.

My final supplementary goes back to what I asked actually in that question and that was about jobs. We have met with the group that are in charge of the Sable Offshore Energy Development and they explained to us that this government has gotten no commitments from

[Page 2486]

them about how many jobs are going to spin off in the Province of Nova Scotia, how many resources are going to be put into the development and the building of the platforms, how many tradespeople are going to be involved in the design and so on and so forth.

I would like the Premier, because he has been the one primarily that has been talking about what a huge boom this is going to be for the Province of Nova Scotia in terms of jobs and I would like to ask the Premier, and I am sure the member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour wants to know for his constituents too, has he or his officials gotten any firm commitment about the numbers of jobs that are going to be generated in Nova Scotia as a result of the development of offshore natural gas, whether it be through the construction of the platforms or whether it be through the construction of the onshore facilities, has he or his officials gotten any commitment about the number of jobs that are going to be created?

[4:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, before once again trying to hand it off to the appropriate minister, I think it is important, I tried to answer the question without cheapening the debate. To drag in the views of people who are saying that nothing has been arranged or nothing was said is really not a very fair response to the kind of approach that I have made to you.

What we have said is that there is a tremendous amount of work to be done before this project is even approved. It will probably be August, September or October before the final thing is approved. The additional information concerning jobs, if you wish that, I am sure the minister who has issued statements on this would be quite happy to give you some comments.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

HEALTH: REGIONAL BOARDS - RESOURCES

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last Wednesday in the Legislature, on November 20th, the Minister of Health said there are community health boards, there were 12 functioning community health boards across Nova Scotia.

My question to the minister is, will he indicate under what authority these boards are operating, and if they are recognized by his department as having any kind of decision-making authority? What, if any, resources are made available to the boards by either the department or the regional health boards?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, there were a number of questions in there and I don't know that I can even recall all of them. I did indicate in Question Period that I think the last time I checked there were something like 12 community health boards up and operating and another 15 in the development process and close to realization.

[Page 2487]

The honourable member knows, because we made that announcement back in August, that we were not going to formalize by regulation either the structure of the board, how they came to be elected, because there are variations from parts of the province to other parts of the province as to how that has been done. We were not going to formalize any particular structure but that we were asking them to continue with the same mandate that was outlined in the blueprint. That outline includes developing a community health plan for their area. That is continuing and I am happy to say that more boards are coming onstream all the time.

I think one of the member's questions, too, had to do with what resources we were allocating. I can give you one right off the top of my head; we have allocated $180,000 to the RHBs over the past two years, specifically for CHB development; that is $180,000 over the two years. In addition to that, we are developing, at the departmental level, education packages for individual community health board members and we are continuing that process of development in education.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. In my constituency there are a number of people who are meeting and acting unofficially as a community health board. They are trying to make decisions as to what should be done and for the health of the people of our area. Is the minister going to recognize that group as a community health board and will he be giving them funding?

MR. BOUDREAU: The funding and, indeed, the ultimate responsibility for the development of the community health boards occurs through the regional structure, through the regional health board. That is why when I indicated a moment ago that there was $180,000, that $180,000 went from the Department of Health to the regional health boards for them to assist in the development.

The direction and the contact should come directly through the regional health boards. If that group that has come together are looking to formalize their structure as a community health board, I think they should contact the regional health board and see what process they want to go through to, indeed, legitimize that particular group.

MR. MCINNES: To the minister, the $180,000, was that divided among all the boards or was that to each board? Are we going to give the community health boards any defined power? I am going back to answer your question. I wasn't sure whether the $180,000 was directed to one regional board or to all to all the boards. When are you going to give authority to community health boards?

MR. BOUDREAU: I just had an opportunity to glance at a note here while the honourable member was asking his question. I see there has been an update. I said there were 12 boards established the last time I checked. Actually, that number has gone up to 14 now and there are another 15 in the planning stages. So that is an ongoing process.

[Page 2488]

The boards themselves don't have a sacrosanct budget. We do not fund that. We don't pay the board members. That is all very much a community and a volunteer operation at the community health board level. The funding goes to the regional health boards for the process of developing these boards because they do not spring up all the time by themselves. A lot of the seed work and a lot of the development is done by the regional health boards. I have to tell you, as well, that the Department of Health continues to spend money within our own budget to add in the development process and the education process of individual community health board members.

The honourable member asked for a further clarification. The $180,000 was given to the regional health boards for their activities in developing community health boards, all the boards.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - PST & GST HARMONIZATION: CHANGES - DISCUSSIONS

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Last Thursday, I asked the Minister of Finance, with regard to the BS Tax, as to whether or not the details had been finalized and whether or not if any changes that were made along the way between now and April 1st would be strictly at the expense of the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, on the revenues of this province. I got a rather fuzzy answer from the minister. In fact, I will not bother reading it because I don't think anybody can understand it. What he said, in effect, I believe, is that, at the present time, even though they are consulting with various groups around the province on the BST, that they cannot make any substantive changes in the tax regime as outlined in the agreement with the federal government. Would the minister confirm that that is correct?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I will confirm there was a Memorandum of Agreement signed in the spring and it was followed by a formal agreement, which I tabled in this House, which outlines the principles of harmonization. Those principles cannot be varied unilaterally. So that is what I was talking about. Further to that, there were discussions going on. Revenue Canada and the various provinces welcomed any input over a reasonable period, I think it was a matter of a few weeks, on the technical paper if something was missed so it could be looked at and there could possibly be relatively minor changes made in the agreement as we went towards legislation.

MR. RUSSELL: Still a pretty fuzzy answer, Mr. Speaker.

My first supplementary to the minister is simply this. At the present time, either the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Municipal Affairs is having discussions with the municipal units. The essence and the bottom line of those discussions is the fact that the municipal units are going to be whumped with a bill of about $8 million to $10 million

[Page 2489]

because of the imposition of the BST. Somebody has to pay that $8 million to $10 million. If the municipalities have to pay it, then they are going to charge the property taxpayers to pay increased taxes to meet that obligation or, if the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Municipal Affairs says that the province will pick it up, then the province has to haul in the provincial taxpayer to pay for it. Which taxpayer, Mr. Speaker, is going to end up paying for that additional $10 million that is going to be incurred by the municipalities in this province on April 1st?

MR. GILLIS: The member is using various figures which are exaggerated. There have been a number of meetings held with the executive of the Union of Municipalities. There was a meeting held, I would say roughly, in the last three weeks, with the new President, Warren Stoddard and at that meeting, certain discussions were held, certain proposals were made. The Minister of Finance, along with the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs and, I think, the Minister of Business and Consumer Services are waiting to hear back from the Union of Municipalities on this matter.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, then I take it from the minister that, indeed, there are going to be some changes made to accommodate this additional tax, and I don't know what the number is. I understand the Minister of Finance says it is around an $8 million increase for the municipal units. The municipal units say it is around $10 million. If indeed the municipal units are accommodated then either his tax take from the people of Nova Scotia will be increased by $10 million or the municipal unit tax take from the property owners will be increased by $10 million. Will he agree that somewhere between $8 million and $10 million is going to be extracted from the pockets of the Nova Scotia taxpayers, regardless of what agreement he makes with the municipal units?

MR. GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I don't think that that honourable member would object to the rebates that were announced. There is nothing secret here, we said that we were looking at rebates for the MUSH sector, we are looking at rebates on housing. They are offsets put forward by the Government of Nova Scotia because we are concerned about housing, that is why we are doing it. We don't want to hurt the housing industry, we want to help it. (Applause)

There are rebates for the important tourism industry and it is coming from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, that is certainly important too. We also have rebates to the MUSH sector in general which includes the hospitals, schools and municipalities and we are proud of that and we have for charities and non-profit. That is all an important package and it is money we are providing for and it is no secret, it was announced at that time of the announcement. (Applause)

[Page 2490]

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

ABORIGINAL AFFS: PST & GST HARMONIZATION - EFFECT

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, obviously the Minister of Finance doesn't understand what it is all about. There is only one taxpayer in this province and that is you and me and everybody else who is out there working, who are paying taxes. Whether or not you are a municipal taxpayer or you are a provincial taxpayer, this particular tax is going to crack everybody in the pocketbook. If indeed the minister is going to give all these benefits back to the various units, he was talking about the housing industry, he was talking about books, talking about municipal units, et cetera, the bottom line is that he is going to have to increase the taxes somewhere.

He has to get the money somewhere to fund those rebates. (Interruption) I don't understand it, the Premier says. Well, I have a question for the Premier. I wonder if the Premier would explain to me exactly what happens with the aboriginal peoples and the blended sales tax? What changes does the blended sales tax make in the tax regime to the aboriginal people?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that is occupying the attention of the people in the department as also, I might add, the report that came through on the Royal Commission. We will be happy to discuss those at an appropriate time.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, what an amazing government we have over here. The Minister of Finance doesn't know what is going on in his department. He is referring us to 1-800 numbers in Ottawa and the Premier, who is the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, doesn't know what is going on either. All of these matters affect the taxpayer of Nova Scotia. Would the Premier confirm that if there are any arrangements made with the aboriginal peoples, to lessen the impact of the BST on the aboriginal peoples, that that will reflect in taxes on the remainder of the taxpaying public of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one other cheap question trying to deflect the expense of one onto the other, the divisive nature of a government that for 15 years could never understand how to hold a book or anything. What we are saying, and I repeat this, that this tax is going to be a wash for consumers, not the kind of poppycock that we have heard in the last little while, that it will be a major benefit at introducing jobs in this province and it will be seen as a major victory for this province when we get to a position where jobs will come as a result of a tax that in the word of APEC and all the other companies (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask that you ask him to let me answer his question.

[Page 2491]

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Premier has the floor. (Interruptions) Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please.

THE PREMIER: I think I have given the answer. What I would tell the people of this province is that this tax, in its job creation potential and its impact on aboriginals and its impact on people generally will be of major benefit to this province and stop listening to those wailing minnies on the other side. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The time allocated for Question Period has expired.

Before we move to the Opposition Members' Business, I wish to point out to the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate and the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova will debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening.

Therefore be it resolved that the Tories and NDPs are not a viable option to the present Liberal Government. (Interruptions)

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, with your permission and with the indulgence of the House, in Question Period today the member for Kings West asked me for some information and at the same time and in so doing he expressed confidence that I would supply him with that information. I am happy to say to the House that I am prepared to table this now.

He asked for the breakdown of the $65 million additional monies to the health care budget which were announced in August and specifically the details on the $17.5 million funding for hospitals. So I now table that information.

MR. SPEAKER: We will now move to Opposition Members' Business.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you call Resolution No. 742 and the debate will be led off this afternoon by the member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 2492]

Res. No. 742, re Health - Care System: Corporate Takeover - Prevent - notice given Nov. 21/96 - (Mr. R. Chisholm)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on Resolution No. 742. It is a very important resolution because it is about one of the most vital issues facing Nova Scotians and Canadians today. That issue is the slow, steady, frightening erosion of our universal health care system. I am also pleased to speak on this resolution because it addresses a major concern we have about this government and its attitude toward the deterioration of our health care system.

The Premier, the Minister of Health and the former minister are like the three monkeys, Madam Speaker. Not only do they plug their ears so they will hear no evil, they cover their eyes so they will see nothing. They open their mouths only to mouth empty words of reassurance or to label critics special interests. Lately on this side of the House, we have been compared to Chicken Little, hollering about the sky falling. Members of the government should not be so cavalier about the sky falling. From where they sit it may appear pretty secure, but in the real world health care cuts have meant that for some people the sky is falling.

People who have had their health care cut back to the point where they are being forced to look at moving to a nursing home may well think the sky is falling on them. People who have had a loved one just discharged from hospital and sent home to die may well think the sky is falling on them. People who have been discharged to fend for themselves because there is no hospital bed available may think the sky is falling on them. For most of us, those of us lucky enough not to have a serious illness in our family at the present time, the sense is not so much that the sky is falling; it is more like the roof is slowing caving in.

For most of us the concern about Medicare is that it is unravelling before our eyes. Just two weeks ago, Canadians marked National Medicare Week. That should have been a time, Madam Speaker, of celebration. It should have been a time for all of us to be thankful for a health care system that is one of the best in the world - a system that guarantees all citizens quality health care, regardless of income. We are thankful but this year's celebration is tinged with deep concern. That is because it has become increasingly clear that Medicare, as we have known it, is unravelling before our eyes. The conditions for a disastrous, private, two-tiered health care system are being cultivated and fertilized by Liberal Governments here and in Ottawa.

Health care, as you know, Madam Speaker, has always been of the highest priority for New Democrats. It was the New Democrat Government in Saskatchewan in 1962 that first introduced Medicare to Canada. It was pressure by New Democrats on the minority federal

[Page 2493]

government of 1963 to 1968 which led to the establishment of Medicare on a nation-wide basis.

In Nova Scotia New Democrats have pressed for years for necessary health reform. (Interruption) It was not the CCF, it was the NDP. The CCF did not exist by that year, Madam Speaker. In Nova Scotia New Democrats have pressed for years for these health reforms. If reform had been adapted by Conservative Governments during the 1980's, we would not be in the mess we are in today.

Our caucus has also introduced in this House last spring a Private Member's Bill to enshrine the five principles of Medicare in provincial law. The Canada Health Act sets out the five principles for a provincial health care system to protect citizens. These are: that provincial health care systems must be publicly administered; comprehensive in the services they offer; universal; accessible to everyone; and portable between the provinces. This government has paid lip service to those five principles while steadily allowing them to be eroded.

Over the past few months our caucus has concluded an intensive schedule of meetings and consultations with Department of Health officials from various health care sectors, regional health board representatives, physicians and the Medical Society, nurses, patients and consumers, labour unions and health care activists. Contrary to what the Premier and the past and present Health Minister tell Nova Scotia, the health care system in Nova Scotia is in crisis. We believe the Liberal Government is laying the groundwork for a corporate takeover of our health care system and an end to the one-tiered system we have all cherished. They can go through their three monkeys routine and deny there is a crisis but this attitude isn't going to do a thing to solve the problem.

Madam Speaker, the reality is that people in Nova Scotia are feeling their health care deteriorating, not getting better. They are not prepared to accept the government's assurances that everything is okay. Nova Scotians are concerned about the present Liberal Government's desire to privatize the health care system wherever possible.

When our caucus met with Health Department officials early last month, we asked why the 1-800 line for problem gamblers was put to tender and not provided by Drug Dependency staff. Officials told us it was a policy decision made by the government. The awarding of the contract to Toronto-based Corporate Health Consultants is a clear signal that the health care system in Nova Scotia is open for business. There were five bids, Madam Speaker, for the 1-800 line for problem gamblers; four came from non-profit organizations, one was from Corporate Health Consultants and it was not necessarily the low bid but CHC got the contract, evidence of this government's health care privatization agenda.

In the same vein, we have recently witnessed the QE II award a contract to Health Staff Inc., to provide casual nursing services. The president of Health Staff Inc., who has been acknowledged as one of the top 40 under-40 entrepreneurs in the country, is famed for having

[Page 2494]

auctioned off chocolate bars for profit at the age of 10. Now she will make profits from the labour of casual nurses. In addition, Madam Speaker, contracts to two private for profit companies have been awarded to provide non-professional home care services in the central region. It won't be long before giant U.S. health care corporations are moving to get a foothold in Nova Scotia's health care system. The Liberal Government in Nova Scotia is not upholding the principles of the Canada Health Act. Instead, this government is encouraging profit making from illness. This government is clearly encouraging corporate takeover of health care.

User fees are another example of the erosion of our universal health care system. They have been described as the thin edge of the wedge that will destroy Medicare. User fees, which discourage the poor and elderly from seeking health care, break the rules of accessibility, comprehensiveness and universality. User fees are becoming a common practice in Nova Scotia: $5.00 for pap smear test; $40 tray fees for prostate biopsies; $8.00 and $5.00 fees for physician visits; and fees for blood tests. The Health Minister dismisses our concerns and says these are not user fees. The federal Health Minister, David Dingwall, refuses to deal with these user fees or comment on whether these charges to patients violate the Canada Health Act.

This government seems almost to welcome the advent of pay-as-you-go health care. Last month, the Premier applauded the opening of a new cardiac prevention and rehabilitation research centre, services that are only available to those who pay a $45 fee, Madam Speaker. MSI will not cover the service. It means that only Nova Scotians who can afford to pay can receive the much-needed preventive health services offered by the centre.

There is no doubt that Medicare in Nova Scotia is in jeopardy. Health care providers are increasingly under pressure to withhold care to home care clients or to try and cope with workloads that are unmanageable. Families and volunteers cannot take the place of health care workers. We all fear the U.S. situation where families go bankrupt because of illness and lack of adequate coverage. This doesn't happen in Nova Scotia, or does it?

What do we need to do to preserve Medicare? It is no great mystery, Madam Speaker. A lot of study has gone into health reform. The Liberal platform for the 1993 election campaign listed much of what needs to be done, as did our platform. If the government simply lived up to its campaign promises, a lot of the problems in our health care system would be solved.

Health reform is not about deficit reduction. Health reform is not about cutting millions from the health care budget. It is not about endangering the principles of the Canada Health Act. It is not about closing hospital beds before ensuring that home care is properly in place. It is not about privatizing and contracting out. Madam Speaker, health reform is about making our health care system more effective, more affordable and more responsive. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

[Page 2495]

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

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and participate in this debate on a very important issue, obviously an issue that is a very fundamental and emotional concern to every single Nova Scotian. I welcome the honourable member's contribution, the new member for Halifax Fairview. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to hear her speak at any length on this issue. She obviously brings a degree of concern and commitment and perhaps even emotion to a subject that, as I say, is a very important one.

I have to say, and it probably won't surprise anyone, including the member for Halifax Fairview, that I don't share all of her views. She has, I think, adopted an approach that is very familiar to the Third Party in this province. It is an approach that continually overdramatizes the difficulties and the problems faced in any particular area, but particularly in the area of health care and details those problems at great length and offers very little in the way of solutions. In every single opportunity over the last eight years that I have been in this House, I keep leaning forward, waiting to hear a positive proposal in any of these debates and I hoped, perhaps this time, since this was the honourable member's first real intervention in the health care field, that I was going to hear it from this member as I have not heard it from any of her colleagues; unfortunately, that wasn't the case.

[4:30 p.m.]

Part of the difficulty is that this Party, in detailing what is a very serious issue, still relies on the jargon of the 1930's, the 1940's and the 1950's. It is a jargon that comes very easily to the lips but, indeed, it is a jargon that has been discarded for the most part by their own Party in every province where they were anywhere close to assuming the responsibilities of governing. You can look at the various provinces, but the one I like to look at is Saskatchewan because, I have to tell you, their Party didn't do a bad job there.

They came into a very difficult situation, much the same as we had. As a matter of fact, I think that probably the two governments in this country's history that dug the biggest holes for their successors were the Buchanan-Cameron Government here in Nova Scotia, and perhaps a close second was the Devine Government in Saskatchewan, they left it for Premier Romanow when he came in. He didn't deal with this kind of rhetoric that we have heard today and that we have heard consistently, he dealt with reality and any success he has enjoyed, I suspect, comes from that approach.

There were some things though that I do agree with and I want to start in a positive way with the member for Halifax Fairview in trying to find common ground. There are some areas that I want to agree with her. First of all, she said in her comments that we have in Nova Scotia a top-quality health care system, one that we can be proud of and one that we can

[Page 2496]

treasure. I agree with her; she is right. I think all of us, and particularly her Leader, should say that a little more often. Now that is not going to prevent her saying "but", as she did in her speech; she is going to say "but I have some concerns, these are my concerns", and that is legitimate, that is fair debate, those are the things we should be talking about in here. I think every now and then, her Leader and perhaps the other member of her Party should say, as she did, that we have a top-quality system here in Nova Scotia because it is true, that is the fact.

The second thing the member for Halifax Fairview said that I agree with - and she brought some emotion from me when she did make this statement because I agreed so much with her - she said if the former government had gotten into health care reform years earlier, we wouldn't be having the problems we are today. I agree with her, she was right on, again, and I want to stand four-square with her on that conclusion.

You can see that in all kinds of areas, but just pick out home care. Check when the other provinces our size in this country started a comprehensive Home Care Program and check the development they had and the years they took bringing it into place and then face a situation, as we did, where there was really no comprehensive Home Care Program in this province. So, I agree with the second statement that says that it is too bad the former government hadn't started this a long time ago, it would be a much easier task today.

The third thing I agree with her - now we are really building up common ground here - the third point on which I agree with her is when she talks about the challenges that face the system. There are challenges. Occasionally, if I am characterized as having said the health care system is working just dandy, there is nothing to be concerned about, let's all just relax, that is not the case. There are challenges here and one of the challenges is the one she outlines about the decision that is going to occur in this country over the next number of years as to whether or not we have a single-tiered system or whether we do not. That issue is going to be decided in this country in the next five years, in my view.

I don't trivialize the topic that she brings here today. It is a fundamental topic. I wish we addressed it seriously more often instead of sometimes the trivial side issues that we get sidetracked into. But this is a fundamental issue. She brings it and I congratulate her for doing that and I say, I agree with her that the health care system does face serious challenges. As good as it is at the moment, it faces challenges.

We found it in a circumstance which was not as wonderful as members of the former government would have us believe. All of a sudden, in their speeches these days, they talk about the panacea back there, you remember back there when everything worked so well, when everything went so smoothly, when all of the services were available. Let's talk about a few of the things we found operationally. I couldn't possibly begin to cover everything in the few moments I have, so I am just going to pick a few little areas that I do want to talk about.

[Page 2497]

What were the serious operational problems? Well, one of them was that our system was not directed toward outcome. Surely, that is the fundamental issue in health care. What was the outcome? Did the person get better? How long did it take them to get better? Or, if they didn't, how were they treated in terms of the quality of life for whatever time they had left? It is the outcomes that are important in health care.

There was no such thing as outcome management and, as a result, we had a system and we are still working on this, this is not solved, that had the highest mortality rates in the country when it came to cancer, right here in Nova Scotia. When it comes to coronary artery disease, the highest mortality rate in Canada is right here in Nova Scotia. Does that sound like a system that is producing superior outcomes? That was our case.

We had a home care system that probably provided very minimal service to about 5,000 to 6,000 people. If you were not a senior, you were not even considered. We are talking about home care cuts now in a circumstance where we have $60 million going into the program. The Department of Health, I looked at the budgets and I look back and, I think, in 1988-89, the Department of Health spent $805,000 on home care. Now this year it is $60 million and next year it will be more because it has to be more. (Applause)

The first problem was our system was not outcome oriented and, as a result, we were not producing great outcomes, folks. I am sorry, but that is the truth. Secondly, we were over-bedded. We were over-institutionalized. The reality is that the former government went around like Johnny Appleseed dropping hospitals wherever they thought there might be some political gain. As a result of that, we were over-bedded. The reality was, that in the system that the former government created that at any given time, I am told, the reports I received, is that upwards of 20 per cent to 25 per cent of the beds in the province were vacant. But we were paying for them. We were paying a lot of money for them and they were not being used. Does that make sense in an era when we have shrinking resources? Is that the smart way to spend money?

The third serious operational problem was that it was not our money that we were spending. It would have been bad enough if we had the money and we were just spending it unwisely. But we did not have the money. We were spending our children's money to support what was essentially, in many areas, a wasteful system. We were using the money that our children should have been using to support their home care to support an inefficient and ineffective home care, in many ways, not completely, but in many ways, for us.

So those were the operational bugs. Don't go back and tell me that everything was perfect in 1992 or in 1990 or in 1985. That was not the case. We were building for a crisis. If we were building for a crisis across government, nowhere was that crisis building faster or larger than in the Department of Health and that is what we had to do. So what did we do? We looked at a number of things. First of all, we tried to deinstitutionalize health care. That

[Page 2498]

is when you talk about home care. The Opposition Parties criticize this government for what we have done, the cutbacks in home care.

I want to tell you I am not at all ashamed to say that this government is spending $60 million on home care this year. That is a lot of money. It is $12 million more than we spent last year. It is more than we spent the year before. You can go back and look at it. There is no program in government that has expanded as quickly as home care has, because we recognize that you have to deinstitutionalize. Is $60 million enough? No, it probably is not. We are going to have to spend more and we will, but we are going to do it in a rational, focused, managed, responsible way. That is the way to run the health care system.

We are going to regionalize. I am not going to get into that but I think people are aware of the regional health boards and community health boards and their development.

We are going to manage the system. Here you come to the fundamental difference between ourselves and the NDP. We both agree that the single-tiered system is precious. We both agree that we have a quality system here. Where we part company is that they have no idea, no suggestion to make as to how we are to maintain that system. They seem to say that there is no concern about the financial resources. It does not matter; whatever you want to do, just put some more money in. We do not have to worry about focusing resources; we do not have to worry about if we are getting the best health outcome for the dollar we spend. Don't worry about it; there is all kinds of money. That is not true. The people out there know it is not true because it is not true in their lives. They know when they are running their household that that is not true and it is not true in the health care system.

I will tell you, I read a book over the weekend and I want to leave the House with this one quote because I think it is worthwhile. The book is entitled The Boom, the Bust and the Echo. Anybody who has not read that, I suggest you pick it up. There is a section in it on health care. This is why we have to preserve the single tier. The answer is that it is unjust for the wealthy to have better health care than those who are not wealthy. The best way to ensure that Canada maintains a good public health care system is to give the rich and the powerful a good reason to support it. Having their lives depend on it is the best reason of all. With that, we will support the single-tiered system in this province.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to offer a few remarks in response to Resolution No. 742. I was most intrigued by remarks from both the member for Halifax Fairview and the Minister of Health. Without meaning to brag in any way, while I was never Minister of Health myself, I am the son of a man who was Minister of Health in this province for 15 years. It was in fact during the time of my Dad's time in the ministry that he and the government of which he was a member negotiated Medicare for the Province of Nova Scotia and the health services system for the Province of

[Page 2499]

Nova Scotia. His role in that and the fate of the system which was undertaken at that time has been a matter of interest to him and to me for all the years subsequent and the subject of discussion and debate between the two of us many times in the intervening years.

One of the fundamental problems that has developed, as the Minister of Health knows and every member in this place knows, one of the difficulties is that successive governments of Canada frankly have backed away from the fundamental premise upon which the system was predicated and that was that there would be a 50/50 sharing in the delivery of programming and the Government of Canada's share has shrunk and shrunk to the point where now far greater amounts and many more elements of the delivery of a quality health care system fall to the shoulders of the provincial taxpayer and the provincial Treasury. That backing away, I might say, and to repeat, is the hallmark of successive Governments of Canada and certainly the current Chretien/Paul Martin Government among them.

I would like to offer a few remarks, Madam Speaker, if I may, in relation to this resolution by taking a little bit of a look at an issue to which the minister did make some reference. In particular, I would like to make a point that notwithstanding his rather fulsome remarks in relation to it, I think has perhaps been lost in the mix of health care concerns relative to the substantive clause of this particular resolution which we debate today. Specifically, I want to refer for just a few minutes to the state of home care.

[4:45 p.m.]

The minister talked at great length and almost broke his arm patting himself on the back referencing the number of millions of dollars which he alleges are being dedicated to home care. But I want to offer a couple of observations to suggest that home care, as it is delivered in Nova Scotia today, is in some difficulty, notwithstanding the expenditure of the amounts of money that the minister has referenced. May I say that if the minister was, as he was, so quick and so glib to suggest that a previous administration was spending great amounts of money on health care and the outcomes were not good, I want to say to him, Madam Speaker, through you, that this government is spending great amounts of money on home care and the outcomes are dismal there. The home care which was promised by the previous minister; promised by Premier Savage, a medical doctor; promised by the previous Minister of Health, a medical doctor; and promised by others on the Treasury benches, just simply has not been delivered as advertised.

Home care, as this government toted it when it unveiled its plans last June, Madam Speaker, was - we were told and all Nova Scotians were told - was going to keep people out of the hospital; it was going to keep them out of the nursing homes; it was going to be the best program in all of Canada. Nova Scotians in need of care would get better care and it would cost the taxpayer less. It was a win-win situation. It was said that not only is it going to be the best in Canada, it is going to cost the taxpayers less. Today, we now have the Minister of Health saying we are spending some $80 million dollars and next year, I can

[Page 2500]

guarantee you, we are going to be spending more. It is not costing less and it is not delivering the service which had been promised by this government. It was, seemingly like all Liberal predictions, the great Liberal expectations, it has turned out to be something of a disaster, particularly for seniors, the elderly and the infirm.

The government gave with one hand and they are now, Madam Speaker - as I know you know, because I am sure you are getting similar kinds of calls to those which I am receiving - ripping back with the other. The hospital beds have closed; there are tremendously long waiting lists for nursing home care and now they are cutting back on that home care, and the result is that Nova Scotians who require medically necessary services are forced to go without or pay for it. In essence, those who can afford to pay have some form of home care and those who cannot, don't have it.

The government, Madam Speaker, has forced literally hundreds and hundreds of seniors, many of them in their late 70's and their 80's and their 90's, who have very serious medical difficulties, to dip into what little savings they have to pay for medically necessary services, or to remain in their own homes. Many others who cannot afford to pay for these services are simply told to find a friend. I mean, these things are being said to the seniors and the infirm and the sick seniors of our province: Simply find a friend. Find a family member. Find a community group who might help out. If they cannot, well, that is too bad and at that point, then you are on your own, no home care, no hospital care and maybe, just maybe, there will be a bed come up in a nursing home in a year or more if a Mrs. Jones or a Mr. Smith or a Madam X should happen to pass away.

In essence, Madam Speaker, Liberal cuts have created an unfair and an uneven playing field, where some who can afford to hire nursing care get it, and others who cannot must go without. Some will argue that there has always been some level of unevenness, if people wanted to and could afford to buy additional nursing services, then that was done.

I want to make an important point or what I think is an important point that I daresay no one can take issue with. Never before have we seen the numbers of Nova Scotians affected or the degree to which they have been affected because never before were there so few alternatives to Nova Scotians and particularly senior Nova Scotians in need. The cut to hospital beds, over 30 per cent of the beds have been cut in recent years, the freeze on new subsidized nursing beds, these things have resulted in literally hundreds if not thousands of Nova Scotians either paying directly for services they need or, more tragically, going without.

When we talk two-tier there is absolutely no question, we must be wary of corporate intrusions into medical-hospital services. We must keep a close eye on contracting out but we should also keep a close eye on the impact which government cuts, cuts made by this Savage Government have and have been having upon Nova Scotian's ability to access services that have been traditionally provided by government. When we talk two-tier and when we hear the Minister of Health talk about his commitment to preserving our so-called one-tiered

[Page 2501]

system, I want to, if I may, borrow the phrase of the former Minister of Natural Resources, frankly, I want to hurl. It is his actions, it is the actions of this Minister of Health, following upon some very, very unfortunate decisions taken by his predecessor Minister of Health, it is his actions and this government's cuts that have resulted in the mess which we now see in home care.

I really did find it interesting that on the one hand this Minister of Health, as he did today, stood up and railed at the previous administration for spending more money than it should on health care and the provision of health care. He was critical that while that money was being spent there wasn't sufficient attention to outcomes and results. We are not and are not becoming, as he suggested, a healthier community and so that had to stop. In the next breath he turns around and he tells us and the Nova Scotian taxpayers, look at all the $80-some millions that he and his government, this government is spending on home care and then he goes on to say that indeed next year we will be spending more on home care.

I tell you, Madam Speaker, and I know you know it is true and I know that every member in this place knows it is true because you are getting the same kinds of calls in that regard which I am getting and the hard, cold, unfortunate, tragic reality is that more and more seniors who need even modest home care assistance, frankly, are not finding it possible to secure that. (Interruption) I hear from some members, oh my goodness, oh my goodness. Well, I agree with oh my goodness, that is a pretty good reaction to those remarks from me because the remarks are absolutely accurate. More and more seniors in this province are, unfortunately, not receiving even modest home care as promised by this government. Yet at the same time, this Minister of Finance stands up and brags about the fact that there are some $80 million being spent on this home care.

Madam Speaker, I know my time is up, that $80 million should be assessed and is being assessed right now as to outputs and results. I can tell you that on the basis of everything that I am learning from across this province, the situation is worsening and the outputs and the results test of Minister Boudreau's Home Care Program would be a dismal, failing grade indeed. I will close with this, this is threatening to thousands of families who have limited, very modest and some very limited resources, this mess in home care - and it is a mess - is sure to get worse if you can imagine that, after April 1st of next year, when the BST will be applied to privately arranged personal care services. That is where this government is driving more and more unfortunate families, most of them of very, very meagre and modest resources.

So I am pleased as I close, Madam Speaker, to have had the opportunity to offer remarks in regard to this particular resolution. You will note that my comments were directed toward the home care element of the reality of health care delivery in this province. It is in need of drastic repair and it is, if it is not repaired, going to drive us to a two-tiered system where them that has buys their BST-added home care and those who do not suffer very real tragic circumstances. We need an overhaul in the home care system of this province.

[Page 2502]

I thank you, Madam Speaker.

MADAM SPEAKER: I recognize the honourable member for Sackville Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you very much, Madam Speaker. As I begin my remarks I would like to compliment the member for Halifax Fairview on her presentation this afternoon. I think it was - in fact, not only do I think but I know - and I feel very confident that anybody who saw it or anybody who will be reading her remarks will agree that it was indeed a very thoughtful and a very good analysis of what has been happening in the Province of Nova Scotia with regard to health care under this Liberal Government and what had been happening to it under the former Conservative Government as well, Madam Speaker.

I think that it would be an interesting comparison to look at the remarks that were made by the member for Halifax Fairview and look at the comments that were made by the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health stands in his place and in and outside of this House and he talks about those in the Opposition and he accuses people like the members of the New Democratic Party of acting like Chicken Little.

I suggest through you, Madam Speaker, to the Minister of Health that he is acting like an ostrich and that the Liberal Government are acting like a whole flock of ostriches, sticking their heads in the sand. They are not seeing what is happening in the real world and they certainly are not understanding what is happening in the lives of the people who are out there and are trying to gain access to the home care and the health care system in the Province of Nova Scotia. We are accused of being Chicken Little. I suggest that you are definitely a bunch of ostriches. You are living in a fairy tale land if you begin to believe half of what the Minister of Health and the Premier are saying around this province.

The Minister of Health talked about Saskatchewan and he talked about how the New Democratic Government in Saskatchewan dealt with reality, that they recognized that they came head-to-head and face-to-face with the reality of financial crisis that was existing in that province as a result of the programs of the former Conservative Government and how they began to address it. (Interruption) Do you know - the member over here says 53, I think it was 52, but I am not going to worry - 52 or 53 hospitals were in fact in Saskatchewan closed down.

You know what, Madam Speaker, before they did that they did a needs assessment. They went around and did needs assessments. They also took a look at the resources that were available in that province. That includes human resources. They then planned the programs that needed to be put in place in the community so that that community health care system, adequate comprehensive home care and home services would be provided. Before those hospitals were closed, those services were moved across and so that there was a continuum of service, not what we have had happening here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 2503]

Here the government is concerned about outcome management. Madam Speaker, for this government the primary concern in terms of outcome management is to find whatever ways it can to cut and to slash the costs, even if that means that in the short and the long term the people of this province are going to be denied essential health care services when they need them.

The member for Halifax Citadel was not exaggerating when he was talking about people in the public, the members of the general public who have been trying to gain access to the home care system and are finding that they cannot. He is not the only one who has had calls like that. I have had calls like that. My colleagues have had calls like that. I do not believe for one minute that members on the Liberal benches have not had calls like that either. The difference is that those on the Liberal benches feel they have to act like lemmings. They have to be quiet and just follow quietly along. They cannot speak up on behalf of their constituents. They cannot speak out and they cannot complain about the fact that somebody is told it is going to take eight weeks before we can do an assessment and that the assessment will not be done because you are not classified as being essential or in an emergency situation. You are just in a situation of great need and we only have time to get to those who are emergencies.

Madam Speaker, there are challenges that lie ahead. This government knew those challenges just like they knew what the financial situation of the province was back in 1993. They can pretend all they want, but the Premier of this province was almost bang on before the 1993 election when he said what the actual true, not what was being reported by the government of the day, but when he was predicting what the true deficit of the province was, almost bang on. Knowing what the finances of the province were, this Liberal Government went around, then in Opposition trying to get in government, making commitments, making promises as to how they were going to be reforming and maintaining the health care system.

[5:00 p.m.]

One of those crucial keys was the implementation of community health boards. Another promise that yet again just recently got shoved to the back burners so that the communities can be involved. The boards were supposed to provide the opportunity for the communities to be involved in designing those health care services within their communities that are needed. But, oh no. This government that says it is interested in health care and it is interested in involvement. The only thing that this government is interested in community involvement for is so those people being released from hospital, being sent home, they want them to go in and provide the services for free as volunteers in the home. They certainly are not giving them the chances through those community health boards to help to design the systems.

Yes, indeed, Madam Speaker, the federal government, because of their backing away from the commitments to a unified health care system, a standard across this country, deserves a lot of bricks chucked its way because of its changing to the funding formula and

[Page 2504]

the implementation of the new CHST, which is going to be ripping many more tens of millions of dollars, in fact, hundreds of millions of dollars out of the health and eduction systems in Nova Scotia over the next number of years.

The answer is not to privatize health care and the answer is not to establish two-tiered health care systems. The answer is not behind closed doors with a select few to sit down and talk about which services we will cut without involving the general public. You take a look, for example, Madam Speaker, at the kind of things that are being cut, medically unnecessary procedures to be de-insured, according to this government, eye testing, routine vision care for children the ages 10 to 19. Well, you go into any school and you talk to the teachers and you say, are the children in your classroom going to have difficulty learning if they cannot see the board, if they cannot read the written word in front of them. The answer is obviously yes. If those families that have difficulties financially are hard pressed, they are going to be even more hard pressed because of the BST that this government is ramming down on them. Those people, if they cannot afford to have their children's eyes tested on a regular basis and get those glasses, those children, educationally, are going to suffer, which will mean that they will suffer for the rest of their lives and then all society will suffer.

Routine biopsies, Madam Speaker. Here it says they generally are removed for cosmetic purposes. Well, I am awfully glad that my daughter had a biopsy done 15 years ago. Four cells were all that were found, but she is completely cured. A routine now de-insured. If people do not know, if people are told that you are going to have to pay to have something removed, it could be suspicious, we don't know, but those who have difficulties financially and if there is not given, as we were, oh I am sure it is nothing, if they do not have solid reason to believe that yes indeed, that something could be malignant, there are situations that will not be checked, there are biopsies that will not be done and that is wrong, for a measly $300,000 which is peanuts in the scheme of things, probably less than the government spends for paper clips in the run of a year.

Yet, at the same time as that, this government is quite prepared to privatize, as they are doing in a number of areas, the 1-800 line number for the Toronto company for gamblers, allowing the contracting of home care services to private companies, providing for casual nurses being provided by, again, a private company, each time remembering that those private companies are taking a profit out of the wages of the workers, plus also a profit that is leaving the province going into those private pockets, whereas if the health care system was managing those, those profits - if you could classify them as such - would be dollars that would be saved to the taxpayers, to the health care system, that could be reinvested right back into those health care systems to provide those services that are being cut.

The Minister of Health runs around bragging, patting himself on the back - maybe he will have to go see a doctor to get some treatment for the strain in pounding his back - when he is talking about the $60 million that is now being spent in home care. The minister says that before they took office there was only $850,000 of provincial government money, but what

[Page 2505]

he didn't say is that there were many millions of dollars worth of municipal money and one of the things that the government has done is that they have picked up, the government is now putting in money that municipalities used to and now municipalities are paying for the costs of the roads and those municipalities, paying for policing services, paying a lot more of the other costs, it is part of the service exchange. So that is not all new money and let's not pretend that it is.

Also, this government has already cut more than $160 million from hospital budgets. They shut down over 30 per cent of the beds, supposedly on the basis of that if we cut down on all these beds, those people will be able to receive the treatment and care that they need at home. The numbers of dollars that they are putting into providing comprehensive, coordinated home care is only a small fraction of what they are cutting out of the hospital budgets alone.

Obviously, I haven't even begun to touch on a lot of the items and I look forward to an opportunity to return to this debate on a future occasion.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable New Democratic Party House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 646. This afternoon, the member for Halifax Fairview will lead off the debate on that one.

Res. No. 646, re Fin. - PST & GST Harmonization: Legislation - Delay - notice given Nov. 18/96 - (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Madam Speaker, the resolution that we have put forth for debate today calls on the government to accept the invitation of federal Revenue Minister Jane Stewart and delay passage of the BST until people have had the opportunity to pass judgment on it in a general election. There are two good reasons for this resolution.

AN HON. MEMBER: When did she say that?

MS. O'CONNELL: I read it in the paper so it must be true. (Laughter) I want to talk about the first reason for our resolution. First, it is a bad tax and we have said that many times. It takes from the basic necessities of life and it gives to the luxuries. I want to stop right here and talk about that for a minute.

I don't suppose in my lifetime I will ever be in the market for a yacht, and I can't imagine what a good yacht or a cheap yacht costs, but if we look at the price of a yacht, say a yacht that costs $175,000 - as I said I don't know if it is a cheapie or a really fancy one -

[Page 2506]

under the current system, if you buy a $175,000 yacht, you pay $32,847.50 in taxes. Under the BST, you will pay $26,250. The savings on a $175,000 yacht are $6,597.50

Now, I want to talk about a necessity and this is a necessity that I have not heard discussed in this House, Madam Speaker, and it may be because people feel uncomfortable talking about it, but I want to talk about a necessity for women. Fifty per cent or more of Nova Scotia's population is women, although that is not reflected in this House. If you look at the cost of personal hygiene supplies for women, tampons and sanitary napkins, you would be hard-pressed to argue that these are not the essentials of life for women. We looked at this and we discovered that, if you use the 1991 census, there were 241,980 women in Nova Scotia between the ages of 15 and 49. We estimated that the average woman in Nova Scotia would use 420 tampons a year, or 52.5 boxes of 8.

If the price of eight tampons is $2.99, Madam Speaker, and the GST adds 7 per cent, then an additional 8 per cent adds 24 cents, and we have done the math and we have discovered that under the BST Nova Scotia women will pay $3,048,948 under the harmonized tax for a basic necessity of life. The government will be grabbing that much money from the pockets of Nova Scotian women, and there are very few people in this House who will contribute to that tax grab.

Madam Speaker, I want to go on to my second reason why this is such a terrible tax. The second reason is that the process has been an insult to democracy. The BST, dating back to late last March when the federal and Atlantic Finance Ministers met at the International Airport to cook up this deal, has been one long tale of back-room dealing and deceit. When we asked questions about this deal in the House, before it was signed, we were told we could not get the details until after an agreement was reached with the federal government. In other words, Nova Scotians were not told the details of what was in store for them, lest they interfere with the Liberals little plan to hide the GST broken promise of the federal Liberals behind a new name, harmonization.

As an indication of the deceitful way in which the Liberals carried out their negotiations, the then Finance Minister spent the week of April 15th telling Nova Scotians there was no deal on the BST. We later revealed in the House that the deal was, in fact, signed on April 12th. Now, Madam Speaker, the former minister denies he signed it on the 12th, but he has never said when he did sign it and perhaps history will one day reveal whether that was a bald-faced lie; certainly, he had the agreement and it was dated April 12th.

Madam Speaker, when the deal was finally announced, the Liberals tried to deceive Nova Scotians by calling the BST a win-win situation. The New Democrats never did believe this stuff. We figured it was a tax break for business and a tax increase for consumers. You did not have to go too far afield for those readings, both the Tory Provincial Government in Manitoba and the NDP Government in Saskatchewan rejected Paul Martin and his harmonization song because they saw it that way.

[Page 2507]

We asked questions about the BS Tax as a tax shift on over one dozen occasions in the Legislature. The Minister of Finance stonewalled every time. He only stopped stonewalling on the final day of the session when the document entitled Nova Scotia Tax Reform: Economical and Fiscal Analysis was tabled, either by accident or design. It put numbers on what we have been saying all along, that the BST is a $240 million tax break for business and an $84 million tax increase for consumers, and that truth will come out, Madam Speaker.

The next stage in this rather sad tale occurred between the tabling of the background documents in late May and the release of the technical paper and signing of the comprehensive, integrated tax coordination agreement on October 18th. The government promised consultation but, for the most part, that consultation excluded the public. Clearly the government listened to some people though during the consultation process, the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, for example. But the public was pretty well shut out, as were MLAs. This government's contempt for the public is exceeded only by its contempt for the Legislature.

[5:15 p.m.]

They mounted a huge PR exercise to release their technical paper in October, then casually coughed up the Integrated Tax Coordination Agreement only when the Leader of the NDP asked for it. They declined to bring their BST legislation into the House this fall, so that Nova Scotians can examine the issue over the winter. Then the Premier jets off to Toronto with his Liberal buddies from Newfoundland and New Brunswick, to tell the Toronto business journalists about the joys of the BST and the legislation hasn't even see the light of day, let alone been passed.

Madam Speaker, this government tries to pretend this is a normal procedure, that it is like any tax measure that gets announced in the budget, comes into effect and is ratified later. This is nonsense. The BST is a major tax change, involving four governments and involving major concessions of provincial jurisdiction over its tax base and its tax rate. It is not the kind of deal that a government that cared about democracy would negotiate behind closed doors and then ram down people's throats. Even the GST process was superior to this one. It took two years between its inception and its implementation. There was an election in between, as well as coast to coast public hearings by a parliamentary committee.

So, Madam Speaker, on behalf of this resolution I call upon the government to hold off on the passing of this legislation until the people of Nova Scotia can have their say. Some of the people in this place may feel that some of us would not be ready to go to the voters so soon after a by-election in this province but I have to tell you, I am ready to go to the voters of Halifax Fairview and ask them whether or not they accept this legislation being rammed down their throats, which will cost them for the necessities of life. So I urge that this resolution be supported in this House. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

[Page 2508]

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Yes, Madam Speaker, I have some comments I would like to make on this resolution. I understand that I have about 12 or 13 minutes, would that be right? Thirteen. In any event, we had the honourable member for Halifax Fairview do some selective listing of impacts on various people and sectors and mentioned a yacht - I am sure that members of our caucus are really concerned about yachts - and then went on to some other examples of where costs have gone up on certain other products that are necessary. I agree there are certain things, that there are ups and downs. When you go to the grocery store, for example, and you buy paper products and soap, of course they are necessary. But, in fact, at the grocery store the groceries haven't changed and paper products and soap will actually go down almost 4 per cent.

To tell the full story, I think it might have been useful for that honourable member to talk about some other things that are common, that will be going down almost 4 per cent in price. I am not going to bore the House but these are necessities too: furniture, almost 4 per cent; household appliances, tools and household equipment are down 4 per cent; people need watches, most people use them - I know that the Flat Earth Society is probably still using sundials - but most of us have to use a watch, a Timex or whatever; purchases of automotive vehicles, both new and used, Madam Speaker; parts and supplies and labour on automobiles, most people use them; even sporting and athletic equipment, prices are going down.

Other things that are going down that that honourable member should be reminded about are window coverings. These are pretty basic necessities of life. Bedding and other household textiles, kitchen utensils, tableware and flatware - those too are necessities and they are going down. Paper and plastic and foil supplies - they are going down, Madam Speaker. (Interruptions)

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GILLIS: Seeds and plants and cut flowers. Maybe the honourable member for Kings North will try to prevail upon the Opposition House Leader so he will get a slot maybe next week in Opposition day. I won my spot. Maybe he should try to win his.

Madam Speaker, I could go on but all I will say in conclusion is that you can take a couple of selected things and criticize the fact that the odd prices go up, but a lot of things go down as well. That also should be kept in mind.

The other thing I want to mention that came up by the member leading off debate on the resolution was about consultations and meetings. I want to make clear again - I have said this in the House before in Question Period - these meetings we held - people were in touch with us. We did not go to the Metro Chamber of Commerce or the Retail Council. They came and requested meetings. There were a wide variety of groups that came and requested

[Page 2509]

meetings besides the Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Council of Canada. I think these are worthy organizations. I just want to take a minute or two just again to remind the House of some of the groups that did come forward and reflection I do not think that honourable member and her Party should be critical of them. We had the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. They have had a number of meetings. They represent people in all corners of the province. (Interruptions) We have those meetings with those groups. (Interruptions) Madam Speaker, there again is another person who should try to talk to the House Leader who sits next to him and see if he can get on the list for next week and put his comments on the record, that will be good. We will really be listening to him.

In addition to the Consumer Association of Canada we had the Tourism Association of Nova Scotia. We had the Homebuilders of Nova Scotia more than once. We had the Dairy Producers, Madam Speaker. We had the booksellers. Surely those are worthwhile organizations. The public libraries, the independent grocers, the cash register dealers. The list goes on and on. The Consumers' Association again, volunteer firefighters, Symphony Nova Scotia, Exhibition Association, Atlantic Truckers Association. I could go on and I will just conclude by mentioning the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations were interested in the health field, and the Seniors Federation.

To criticize us for not talking to people is a dud. It is not true and the people that came forward and took the initiative, Madam Speaker, to do this - there is a long list of representative groups. They had the meetings with staff and ministers and those were held. So those are the facts of the matter. I just want to put that on the record so there is no misunderstanding.

I think we are talking about HST and tax. We are seeing changes here. We are seeing a tax package. We are having tax decreases for people in general and those of low income in particular - the low income taxpayers, plus an $8 million program which will be announced soon. We will help those who are unfortunate enough not to pay tax. Madam Speaker, this is a fundamental change in the way we collect tax. The current system hides taxes paid by business. There is $240 million, approximately, that is paid in provincial sales taxes by businesses in the cost of goods and services and that inflates the cost of those goods and services and that will be removed. What we have now drives up the cost to businesses. It makes them uncompetitive and as a result the businesses must pass on those costs. This is a reform for businesses and it is not just the giants - it is not just the huge corporations - small businesses will benefit from the HST input tax credits. Small businesses will benefit with the taxes they now pay on their telephone bill, on their computers, shelves in the store and the renovations if they are expanding or doing business like that. All of that, the tax credit is refunded.

We have, Madam Speaker, reduced costs for farmers. When they are building a new barn right now, they have to pay the tax. That will be an input tax credit. That will help agriculture and the department led by the Minister of Agriculture. There is reduced cost for

[Page 2510]

fishers. The truck, for example, that they use to carry their nets or their lobster traps to the shore will cost less because they will have input tax credits, not only on the cost of the vehicle but on the gas they put into it and the repairs and all the rest of it.

Motel operators, the tourism industry; beds, linens, the soap, repairs, all of that will be a decrease for a very important industry for all parts of Nova Scotia. This is not just for Hudson Bay or Sears or Wal Mart, the big corporations; this is for the average store in Nova Scotia. Grocery stores will get benefits from this. Their costs will go down, Madam Speaker.

In addition - and I notice that the member for Halifax Fairview did not bring this up in terms of a balanced approach when she expressed her concerns - in order to compensate and make up for the revenues that we are losing with our decrease in taxes, we are instituting a corporate capital tax. I would think that the members from that corner of the House, the socialist Party, would applaud a capital tax. It is aimed basically at the larger corporations. There is a reduced rate to firms with capital between $5 million and $10 million. If you are below $5 million, you do not pay the capital tax at all, Madam Speaker. The larger firms, who can afford to pay this, pay the 0.25 per cent tax with capital over $10 million.

I have already talked about those. This will help pay for the costs of our income tax cuts, for the first time in the history of Nova Scotia, Madam Speaker, provincial income tax goes down by two points, or 3.4 per cent. That is important to Nova Scotians. (Interruption) To put it in dollar terms, for a family of four with one person earning $40,000 a year, it means $125 for that particular person. It may be that the NDP are buying expensive hamburgers - maybe they are buying chateaubriand - but we are for the people and we are decreasing these taxes. (Applause)

In addition to that, we have the Nova Scotia low income tax reduction. For a single parent, for example - and I think it is relevant - earning $22,000 a year, it means there is an extra $230 in that person's pocket. A family of four with the same income, $22,000, would have an extra $320. That is meaningful. That will help those people and that is why it is being done. Madam Speaker, these income tax reductions will show up in the paycheques of next July. In July of 1997 that legislation is passed, it is going to take effect. This is not pie in the sky and flat earth stuff from the people from the far corner of this House, the rainbow government in waiting.

In addition, I want to mention the $8 million assistance for low income persons who are in that unfortunate position of not paying tax. We should announce soon the details of that, which will help offset some of the costs for people on low income, because they do not have the benefit of the income tax reduction. The total benefit in aggregate is $53 million in this regard, Madam Speaker.

Before I conclude - and I see I have around four minutes left - HST promotes economic growth. On this side of the House, we are for jobs, we are for economic growth. We want

[Page 2511]

people working, with a paycheque. If business is paying taxes, Madam Speaker, who benefits? The businesses have choices. They can make new investments. They can modernize their businesses. They can become more competitive. They can preserve jobs. They can hire new people. So I do not think investment is bad; I think investment is good.

They also can have payouts to their shareholders. The larger corporations, as I pointed out, that have this benefit will have to pay the capital tax. But for the small companies, the shareholders are usually the owners/managers of the company and they will have extra money to spend. They can spend it on their families, on their homes and on their business. It is put out in circulation. It is sloshing around in the economy. It creates jobs. That is how we will realize a growth in our GDP and more people working.

Competition forces down prices. Business will be forced to compete and meet the lower prices. Anybody who thinks that companies will not pass through any of the savings that they realize is going to be surprised once this is in full operation. This is not a gift; it is a part of the natural market process. People in business know that there is competition. The downtown merchants in Halifax or any part of Nova Scotia know that they have to compete with the larger retailers and prices are important.

[5:30 p.m.]

So, Madam Speaker, no matter what happens, the money moves on, the government collects less, the money stays in the economy and it creates jobs. On balance, we have a benefit to the province. We have transitional funds that will help us over the next several years until the economy grows and we will have more people working.

Madam Speaker, I think we have to keep in mind the overall picture, tax reductions, along with the HST, the income tax, plus a stimulation for the economy that will put more people to work. I think we will all agree, if some of the young people, especially, can get to work, with 3,000 more people working, this is a benefit for all Nova Scotians. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, if we are to believe the present Minister of Finance and the previous Minister of Finance, we are led to believe that the BST is the greatest thing that has ever come down the tubes for the Province of Nova Scotia. That is, if we are to believe the present and past Finance Ministers. My question to these ministers, if, indeed, they themselves believe that this is the greatest thing to come down the pipes, why on earth are they unwilling to speak to the people of Nova Scotia before they signed the deal? Why?

Well, the minister will say, but we did speak with the people and he circulated, with great pride, a list of 80 different people, maybe there is even 100 organizations and firms, et

[Page 2512]

cetera that he has spoken to. Madam Speaker, I cannot find on this list anywhere where the minister has gone to a public meeting, open mike show, questions and answers, and asked the people what they think of the blended sales tax, what do they think about the fact that their costs are going to be hiked to the tune of, in many cases, 8 per cent or 15 per cent. I think the answer that the minister would have gotten is an emphatic no. We do not want it. Because that was done in the Province of Prince Edward Island. They went out to the people and the people said no, we don't want any part of a blended sales tax.

We started, Madam Speaker, two days ago with an ad in the Chronicle-Herald and it will be repeated in other newspapers in time, asking people whether or not they agreed with the blended sales tax. To date, we have not received, I don't think, one - I don't think there has been one call from a person that has said, yes, we agree that we should have a blended sales tax. We have had hundreds, and that is no exaggeration, of calls so far on that line of people who object to the imposition of the blended sales tax by this government.

What they object to primarily is the fact that they were not asked. Nobody said to them, would you agree to a blended sales tax. This government did not come into power saying, we are going to blend the health services tax with the GST. In fact, they came into power saying, no new rates, no increase in taxes. That was what this government said to the people of Nova Scotia when they were elected back in 1993. How far they have strayed from that statement. Everything that is taxable, everything that is movable, in fact, things that are not even movable are being taxed today at a greater rate than they were previously or else being taxed when they were not taxed at all previously.

The minister says, and he read from a list and one that was circulated by the department, which details what particular services and goods, et cetera, are going to increase in taxes and what is going to decrease, et cetera. He spoke about, in particular, the things that are going to go down in price after the BST if it does indeed become the law of the land. He spoke about furniture, household appliances, watches, automobiles, sporting and athletic equipment, et cetera. There is no argument, the facts are there, yes the prices are going to go down on those durable goods. What he didn't mention was the things that people have to buy everyday.

I have furniture and I probably will never buy any more furniture in the rest of my life. I am not going to go and buy a car any more because I can't afford them every three or four years. People, however, including myself, are going to have to have electricity in their homes, are going to have to buy clothing and footwear, they are going to have buy newspapers, they are going to have to buy fuel oil and other fuel, they are going to have to buy gasoline, they are probably going to have to update their homes, they are going to have to use professional services on an ongoing basis, they have to get dry cleaning and hair cuts, et cetera, et cetera. All of these things, which he neglected to talk about, are all increasing come April 1, 1997. That is part of the problem.

[Page 2513]

The other part of the problem is the fact that the people are unable to get answers, to what should be fairly simple questions, from the Department of Finance. The impact and implementation of this tax has left this province and gone to Ottawa. If you phone today and ask about the impact of this tax after April 1st, the Department of Finance right in downtown Halifax will give you a number to phone in Ottawa. When you phone that number you get the answer, well we haven't worked that out yet or we are still in consultation with the Department of Finance in Halifax.

I think this is putting the cart before the horse and I think it is something that the minister should heed and just say whoa, stop, let's wait, let's get the thing sorted out and then we will go to the people with a provincial election and if indeed the people of Nova Scotia return this group to a majority government again, well indeed they could go ahead and would have satisfied the people that they had the opportunity to speak on the tax.

There are still a lot of loose ends with this tax and we have gotten from the Department of Finance several tables supposedly showing the consumer impact by family income level. According to the Department of Finance and this was one of those documents that came out in that final hour of the spring session, all groups whether their family income is zero or $80,000 and above, are going to save substantially with the implementation of the blended sales tax. These are all predicated on one thing and that is that the rebate of the BST to the manufacturers, to the retailers and to the providers of services, will be passed through to the consumer.

I have spoken to a number of small businesses who at the present time are operating in this province and whose margins are such at the present time that they are just hanging on by their fingernails. When they receive, if they do, if this tax becomes a reality and they start to receive tax credits which will enable them to survive, they are certainly not going to pass that on to the consumer.

AN HON. MEMBER: Some of them will be driven out of business.

MR. RUSSELL: That is exactly true, there will be businesses driven out of business and in fact, we have a group, as the minister is well aware at the present time, that owns 19 stores in this province who are giving very serious consideration to moving out of this province because it will no longer be economically feasible to survive here. Look how they are treating their people, the minister says. Look how you people are treating the consumers and the taxpayers of this province. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

[Page 2514]

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: The member is talking about a company that is considering closing stores in Nova Scotia. I have not heard specifically about Nova Scotia but I have heard of a company, MMG Management Group, talking about closing stores in New Brunswick. I can table a copy of a story that was in a daily paper here on Tuesday, talking about "Stockroom clerk powerless as he watches work slip away". It has nothing to do with harmonization. "'I gave my whole life to that company. After 31 years . . . I think they could have done something for me' . . . Lately he considers himself lucky when he's able to get 11 hours of work each week.". I wouldn't worry too much about that. I am going to make a copy and table it. (Interruptions) Are you on the side of this company and are you concerned with an employer like that?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, is this minister against a company that has 19 stores in this province, employs 500 people? Certainly with downsizing there have been lots of people hurt, including employees of this government who have been mistreated and given pink slips. So don't tell me about private enterprise and their cutbacks in the hours that they are giving to people. This government has treated their civil servants in a fashion that I think is absolutely irresponsible and lacking any compassion whatsoever.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at this Table 6, Consumer Impact by Family Income Level, and you accept the fact that, indeed, there is not going to be a pass-through of the tax credits, then you will find that rather than every income level coming out with a plus at the end of the exercise, every person who is actively employed in this province will be losing money. I don't think that is conducive to the people of this province accepting this horrendous increase, this rip-off of the taxpayers and the consumers of this province.

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Official Opposition today raised a point about stamps. Perhaps the members opposite thought that was facetious. However, it is not facetious that we have within the Maritimes, within Atlantic Canada we have a province that is not a party to the BST Agreement. They are just a short ferry ride, in fact very shortly that will be just a short car ride away from the Province of Nova Scotia. I wonder if the minister is going to impose police at the borders of this province and the Province of Prince Edward Island to prevent people going across there and shopping. In point of fact, for everyday durables it is going to be cheaper to shop in Prince Edward Island than it is in the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to stand to speak this afternoon on the resolution moved by my colleague from Halifax Fairview. I listened with a great deal of interest to the comments made by the Minister of Finance when he tried to defend, when he tried to put a positive face, a good spin on the government's decision to harmonize the Mulroney GST with the provincial PST to come up with the Liberal BST. I had to have some sympathy for the Minister of Finance and I thought he did a very credible job trying to make an argument for something that is indefensible.

[Page 2515]

HON. JAMES BARKHOUSE: What has Glen Clark done about it?

MR. HOLM: Now, Mr. Speaker, I hear the Minister of Fisheries croaking over there and I am sure he is going to chirp in sometime later on with his typical comments across the floor. I look forward to the day when the Minister of Fisheries stands in his place on the floor of this House and puts into a public record, so that the citizens in his constituency can see what the minister is doing to try to defend those who are going to be harmed so much by this tax in that area. So I look forward to the Minister of Fisheries doing something more than harping and carping across the floor, as he is used to doing.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it is time for the government to come back to the real world. The Minister of Finance talked about how this is going to be such a great incentive to business, how there are going to be these flow-throughs, how there are these tax reforms that are coming and we are going to be having this very modest, tiny reduction in the income tax paid here in Nova Scotia and that that is going to benefit Nova Scotians and that that is going to be providing them with all the additional monies they need to pay this approximately $84 million of additional consumer taxes that are being imposed, inflicted upon them by the Liberal Government.

First, let me say, Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that figure of $84 million. I believe the figure is much higher than that. But I also want to use one example that the minister said. The minister, in one of his examples, talked about a family of four with an income of $40,000, with one breadwinner in that family, pointing out that that supposedly is going to be saving $125 to that family in income tax. Now I appreciate he is probably singing from the same sheets that were passed to him by the Minister of Health, who was Minister of Finance and who had made the major cuts in the Health department and now is having to live with the decisions he made as Minister of Finance.

However, the minister should also know that Nova Scotians are living in the real world. They are living in the real world and they know, for example, if they heat their home and have a $1,500 a year home heat bill, forgetting about the huge increases in fuel prices that have gone about lately, in part because the former government deregulated and this government will not re-regulate or give the URB the powers to regulate maximum prices. However, Mr. Speaker, those people, if they are paying $1,500 a year, thank you very much to John Savage and his Liberal team, they are going to have to pay into the Treasury of Nova Scotia an additional $120 in BS Tax. That one item alone, not taking into consideration how their power bills are going up by 5 per cent, not taking into consideration that their gasoline bills are going up by 8 per cent, not taking into consideration that now for clothing under $100, they are going to have to pay an additional 8 per cent, for socks, for underwear, for ties, for shorts, for t-shirts, for baby's clothing, shoes, accessories, 8 per cent is going on that now. Thank you, very much.

[Page 2516]

All of these people out there, the Minister of Fisheries, I know that the people in your riding are just lining up to say, Mr. Minister, Mr. Member, we thank you very much. We really appreciate the fact that now, as a result of a decision that you are going to vote for without coming to us, without any public consultation, without listening to the people, you are prepared, you are telling us that we now have to pay an additional 8 per cent on all of those items, plus drycleaning, diapers, toothpaste, postage stamps, hair cuts, school supplies, not books, but children need a lot more than books for school. They also needs pens, paper, they need binders. Any member in here who has a child who goes to school knows the list of items that they get every year, the sneakers and everything else, 8 per cent more. Thank you, very much they are saying to you. They really appreciate it, especially those low or middle income families that are being hurt by the decision of this government, without one little bit of evidence to prove that it is going to create any jobs at all. Firewood, many products, many services that formerly did not have any taxes now are going to be taxed as well. Thank you, the people are saying. We really appreciate the opportunity for you to reach even deeper into our pockets and to rip out even more money. Oh, they appreciate it.

Now the Minister of Finance said that many groups came to consult with the government. Many groups came forward to talk and some even bragged about how successful they were. This, I am sure, most members of the House have already seen and I am sure it has warmed and filled the hearts of the Liberal members and made them proud with what was said in this. This is from the Business Voice, November-December, 1996, from the Metro Chamber of Commerce. The heading says, Chamber's lobbying efforts produce tangible results.

I want to talk about a few of the things that it says, a few of the quotes out of this. As tangible evidence that there is strength in numbers, the Chamber's lobbying efforts on tax harmonizations were very successful. Four of the five changes we requested were incorporated into the harmonized tax and a compromise has been made on our fifth request. That would sound like the chamber of commerce has been 90 per cent successful in bending the ear of the Minister of Finance, of the Premier, of the Liberal Government.

The government made adjustments to address our concerns - and this really, my heart bleeds for these groups and so does the government's because obviously the government listened to them - the government made adjustments to address our concerns on the potential negative impacts on supplies to the finance and insurance sector. These poor companies, these financial institutions that are recording record profits in the billions of dollars across this country, the chamber of commerce stood up for them and yes, like the defenders for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia, the Liberal Government stepped in and made sure, we listened and we made the adjustments to the BST to satisfy the interests of the financial world. (Interruption)

[Page 2517]

The member for Timberlea-Prospect says that this is a pack of lies. I haven't heard any of the consumers or anybody else coming back and being able to brag about the fact that those who have to buy the products, the necessities of life, their interests have been listened to. The Chamber's ongoing efforts to maintain a close liaison with all levels of government meant the federal and provincial Finance Departments worked with us in developing this legislation.

So according to the chamber of commerce, the government worked with them but it sure didn't work with the school boards, it sure didn't work with the municipalities which are now going to have to pay BS Tax, which includes a PS Tax which they didn't have to pay before. That is going to affect every property owner's taxes in the Province of Nova Scotia. It is going to take more money out of the classrooms as school boards are not going to be rebated that full amount.

I have yet to hear the Minister of Education or a member of this government say that any additional monies that those school boards have to pay in the way of increased tax because of your harmonization is going to be put back in. If you are, say it. Otherwise you are taking it out of the children's education, it is taking it out of their future. It is going to make even more cutbacks, even larger class sizes, even less resources.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: A question, Mr. Speaker. I thank the honourable member, I will try not to trespass on his time because I know there is a limited amount. I just want to ask him if he will continue to quote from the article from the Business Voice for November-December. He cited discussions relating to the finance and insurance sector but I would remind him, and I am sure he would be aware of this, that this doesn't just apply to the banks and probably not at all because they are in a different phase, but Maritime Life who employs a lot of Nova Scotians.

Is he going to come to the agreements that we came to with the chamber of commerce about housing and the MUSH sector? And MUSH stands for municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals. I think he should come to that and indicate that we are in agreement on a wide number of things, including housing and the MUSH sector. My question is, will he be coming to that? Will he quote on it?

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Yes, indeed, Mr. Speaker. And yes, according to the chamber, the government has reached agreement with the chamber of commerce on those items but I have not heard that the government has reached satisfactory agreement with the MUSH sector. I have not heard that the municipalities in the province are satisfied with the agreement that you reached with the chamber of commerce on their behalf. The last time I heard from the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and at the UNSM Conference, the UNSM Conference was saying that they were rejecting it, that they wanted a full rebate, they did not want to have to

[Page 2518]

pay the provincial sales tax at all. One minute left, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Time, especially when you feel passionately about something.

I am just going to end with this, because there isn't enough time. If the government is truly committed, if this government has any confidence in itself, if this government meant anything when it said that we believe that when we assume office there is going to be a new broom sweep through, it is going to be open and it is going to be honest and it is going to be public, it is going to be consultative. If the government believes in that, if that wasn't pure rhetoric - I almost said something else that would have been unparliamentary - if it wasn't pure rhetoric, this government will agree to hold full, public, open, town hall style meetings across this province. But, since they haven't got the courage to do that then call the election and, through those processes, then I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that people would demand that those meetings be held and anyone who can't stand and defend the actions will be given their unemployment slip, just as a lot of Nova Scotians are going to be as a result of this BST when it is implemented. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable NDP House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, there being only three minutes left, maybe we will agree to call this the moment of interruption, we are at the end of the business of the day, and turn the business over to the Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will sit tomorrow from the hours of 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. Following Question Period government business will commence with Committee of the Whole House on Bills, starting with Bill No. 8. We may do second reading of bills following that. (Interruption) Can we what? I will try. Two of the three Parties have agreed to sit from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Friday. It is now unanimous, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Friday.

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

MR. SPEAKER: We have now arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate has been chosen, as announced earlier, and won by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, who will debate:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Tories and the NDP are not a viable option to the present Liberal Government.".

[Page 2519]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

GOV'T. (N.S.): ALTERNATIVE (PC-NDP) - UNVIABLE

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, we live in strenuous times. Governing today is a most difficult proposition. This is due certainly to the legacy that the current government inherited and that of the Government of Canada as well, a legacy of mismanagement and waste, a legacy of lack of foresight and planning, a legacy of the belief that one could plunge the government deeper and deeper into debt on an annual basis and that there would never be any reckoning and that merry process could continue, presumably indefinitely.

In 1993 this government came to power with a rather different approach. This government believed in tackling the problems it inherited in a very head-on way. Had the Conservative Party remained in power, Lord knows where Nova Scotia would be today. We hear a great deal from the Conservatives in these Chambers and that is well and fine, as the Official Opposition that is their duty, I suppose, to express their point of view.

One matter on which we hear very little, if anything, from the Official Opposition is the, I would think, very fundamental and basic issue of where would Nova Scotia be today if they had won the first provincial election? Where would Nova Scotia be today? We know that during the Cameron years - and all of them except for the very back row were elected on the proposition that the remedy for Nova Scotia was that Donald Cameron and his government should continue to govern - the strategy that that government had was to take no substantive action on the deficit, but rather to sell off the province's assets to meet current demands for cash. They sold off the Nova Scotia Power Corporation. Had they remained in power, presumably they would have sold off additional assets because they were not willing to take the fundamental steps necessary which this government took. Certainly this government did not want to inflict any pain on the people of Nova Scotia. I know this government's heart was in the right place. When they came to power they came to power with the very best intentions but they did not know the full realities of the terrible mess that the Tories had got Nova Scotia into.

[6:00 p.m.]

I must state, Mr. Speaker, that I am somewhat disappointed that the Conservatives have not remained here to take part in this debate because I had anticipated that they would be wanting to vigorously take notes and address the points that I propose to raise. In their complete absence it is rather like speaking to a vacuum.

[Page 2520]

I will simply say this. We know that we have had experience with the Conservative Party. We know what they were like in government. We endured that crowd for a very long time. They had two basic approaches, the Buchanan approach and the Cameron approach. The Buchanan approach was summed up best, I think, in the catchphrase of don't worry, be happy. If there was any additional reinforcement needed, it could be provided by the singing of a chorus of Out on the Mira. While that government told the people of Nova Scotia not to worry but to be happy, they rang up deficits of $400 million and similar figures year after year in an uncontrollable runaway hay ride of financial mismanagement.

I might note that my absent friend, the honourable member for Kings North, who from time to time is somewhat critical of me in these Chambers, was Chairman of the Management Board, so I suppose that he was the architect and quarterback of the process that I am just describing.

They lie in wait hoping that they can somehow regain power, even if it means forming an electoral coalition with the socialists, in the hopes that they can get back to start once again their wayward ways as were interrupted in 1993. That, I should think, is the essential proposition to which the Tory Party is dedicated, to get back into power so they can get back to the good old days, back to the past, back to the patronage, back to the plunder, back to the colour coded filing systems by which they would prioritize requests for public works in the Department of Transportation and Public Works and in other agencies of government so that everything can be directed to the blue ridings and everything taken away from the red and the green. That is the way they govern. They want to get back in so they can have more of the same. Well, I do not think that is quite good enough for Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker.

This government is not perfect. There is no perfection on this earth, as our friend the honourable Minister of Finance stated when the agreement was reached in Ottawa on the harmonized sales tax. It is not Nirvana, but it is the best that is possible to achieve, given the realities of the situation we inherited and with which we are working. Steady progress has been made, Mr. Speaker, by this government, a government which interestingly is portrayed as giving its number one priority to financial management and debt repayment, but in actual fact, the number one priority of this government has been health. The number one priority of government in terms of spending, in terms of direction of effort and direction of energy, has been in the health sector. Debt repayment has been second. Other departments have come afterwards.

This government has attempted to address the problems that had to be addressed and had they not been addressed, Nova Scotia would have plunged towards complete ruin, bankruptcy, the breakdown of all public services. There would not have been complaints about cuts. There would have been the total chaos of a total breakdown in the delivery of public services, similar to what happened in the City of Washington, D.C. when that jurisdiction went bankrupt and the employees of the city and the retired pensioners drawing pension cheques from the city took their paycheques down to the banks and found out that

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the banks would not cash them because the City of Washington had gone bankrupt. That is what would have happened in Nova Scotia, in my view, had the Conservative approach carried on uninterrupted.

We have another approach to power represented in these chambers in the New Democratic Party, which has never been in power in Nova Scotia so we have no experience with an NDP Government in this province to judge them by. But there are other Canadian jurisdictions which have had NDP Governments. I think the nearest one to here, the one with which more Nova Scotians would be familiar than any other, is the experience in the Province of Ontario, under the Government of Premier Bob Rae, who governed in one term from 1991 to 1995.

I might say this about the Rae Government in Ontario, that certainly its Leader and many of its leading lights were people that came from a very impressive background. Bob Rae himself was a Rhodes Scholar and had been federal Finance Critic for the New Democratic Party in Ottawa. In other words, had Uncle Broadbent become Prime Minister, presumably Bob Rae would have been his Minister of Finance. So Bob Rae certainly had the background and the credentials on paper when he came to the Premiership of Ontario in 1991.

That government ran up a larger deficit in one year than any other provincial jurisdiction in Canadian history, $8 billion in one fiscal year. It felt that this could carry on like John Buchanan. Don't worry, be happy. But the auditors and the credit rating agencies and the bankers intervened and informed Mr. Rae and his government that if they did not bite the bullet, if they did not attempt to exercise some measure of financial restraint, that their province would be downgraded to the point where it could not borrow any more money. They would be cut off in terms of the money markets of the continent and of the world. They were constrained by forces that were beyond their control, we might say. They were constrained to have to cut back on some of their favourite programs, some of their pet programs.

If I had more time, Mr. Speaker, I could get into that in somewhat more depth, but let me say this. I was up to Toronto last month and I went to Queen's Park and I observed the proceedings there in that Legislature. I noted that there were only 15 survivors left from the Rae Government that had all the answers when they were out of power, but when they got into power, they certainly failed to deliver on any of them. They disillusioned all of their own supporters, disillusioned, most particularly, their supporters in the ranks of organized labour, which were forced into a social contract, legislated.

I could go into that in more detail and I will on a future occasion. I will also go into something of the NDP record in Saskatchewan and, more notably, in British Columbia. Because certainly in Saskatchewan, while the Party there has run a government that is held in some repute, it is by no means a left wing government and I don't think anyone should be deceived on that, to think that the Government of Saskatchewan is somehow a socialist

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government. It is not. It is a right of centre government as compared to this government here in Nova Scotia. Certainly, this could be demonstrated in a wide range of fields.

If we move out to British Columbia where our good friend, Glen Clark, is hanging on by the tips of his fingers to power and go into the records of Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding Society, a trust fund and racket that was operated in that province for a long time, we will see that NDP Government in power certainly leaves a great deal to be desired.

So I think, Mr. Speaker, in summation, that we should be quietly thankful that we have such a good government as we have here in Nova Scotia and that when we look at the alternatives, they are found sadly to be wanting and that this government is the best alternative available. We should keep it and hopefully see it re-elected with an increased majority. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Are there further speakers? I want to thank the honourable member for having taken part in tonight's debate. The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will rise to sit again tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

[The House rose at 6:09 p.m.]