The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Wed., Apr. 16, 1997

Fifth Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Standing Committee on Human Resources, Mrs. L. O'Connor 385
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs,
Hon. J. Smith 385
Anl. Rept. of the Fire Marshal's Office, Hon. Manning MacDonald 386
Anl. Rept. of the Department of Justice, Hon. A. Mitchell 386
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
House of Assembly - Red Room: Ceiling - Repair, The Premier 386
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 103: Beechville-Upper Tantallon -
Twin, Hon. D. Downe 388
Sysco: Proposals - Evaluation, Hon. Manning MacDonald 391
Health: Physician Services - Stabilize, Hon. B. Boudreau 395
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 76, Fin. - HST: Voters (Election [N.S.]) - Verdict, Mr. B. Taylor 400
Res. 77, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Premier's Speech (A in R 15/04/97) -
Decisions Req'd., Mr. R. Chisholm 400
Res. 78, Fin. - HST: Petitions (1996 - Official Opp'n. Ldr. [N.S.]) -
Inaccurate, Mrs. L. O'Connor 401
Res. 79, Nat. Res. - C.B. Coal: Viability - Leader (NDP [N.S.]) Misleading,
Mr. R. MacNeil 402
Res. 80, Sports - Hockey (Memorial Cup): Hfx. Mooseheads/
Jamie Brown (Lr. Sackville] - Success Applaud,
Mr. William MacDonald 402
Vote - Affirmative 403
Res. 81, Exco - Barren (Jim Campbell): Decision Secrecy -
Inquiry Appoint, Mr. J. Holm 403
Res. 82, Volunteer Week: Westville Honour Roll (1997) - Recognize,
Mr. W. Fraser 403
Vote - Affirmative 404
Res. 83, Health - Canadian Cancer Society: Volunteers - Applaud,
Mr. D. Richards 404
Vote - Affirmative 405
Res. 84, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Layoffs (MT&T & Cpns.):
Discouragement - Strategy Develop, Ms. E. O'Connell 405
Res. 85, St. Joseph's Church (Lingan): Anniv. (100th) - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacNeil 405
Vote - Affirmative 406
Res. 86, Volunteer Week - Lun. Co.: Contributors - Congrats.,
Mrs. L. O'Connor 406
Vote - Affirmative 407
Res. 87, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - South Shore Tourism Assoc.:
Awards - Shel. Co. Founder's Day Organizers/ Nominees Congrats.,
Mr. C. Huskilson 407
Vote - Affirmative 407
Res. 88, DFO - Digby Scallop Fleet: Min./Fishers (Reps.) - Meet,
Mr. J. Casey & Mr. E. Rayfuse 408
Vote - Affirmative 408
Res. 89, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - R.H. Davis Co. (Yarmouth):
Anniv. (100th) - Congrats., Mr. R. Hubbard 408
Vote - Affirmative 409
Res. 90, Educ. - Prince Andrew High School & Mr. Greg King:
Conf. Bd. (Can.)/Royal Bank Natl. Award - Congrats., Hon. J. Smith 409
Vote - Affirmative 410
Res. 91, Sports - Athletics (Boston Marathon): Brent MacDonald
(Hammonds Plains) & Runners (N.S.) - Success Wish,
Mr. William MacDonald 410
Vote - Affirmative 410
Res. 92, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Dover Mills: Expansion - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Fogarty 411
Vote - Affirmative 411
Res. 93, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Jobs Prediction
(01/04/96): Inaccuracy - Apologize, Mr. D. Richards 411
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 12, Nat. Res.: Sable Gas - Benefits, Dr. J. Hamm 412
No. 13, Nat. Res.: Sable Gas - Benefits, Mr. R. Chisholm 414
No. 14, Exco - Ethics: Code - Table, Mr. B. Taylor 416
No. 15, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Jobs - Guarantee, Mr. A. MacLeod 418
No. 16, Nat. Res.: C.B. Coal - Future, Mr. A. MacLeod 419
No. 17, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Coal - Future, Mr. J. Holm 421
No. 18, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Sheet Hbr.: Terminal - Status,
Mr. G. Archibald 423
No. 19, Human Res. - EDIP: Extra Appropriation - Status,
Mr. R. Russell 424
No. 20, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Compensation - Monies Expended,
Mr. R. Russell 425
No. 21, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Distribution - Strategy,
Ms. E. O'Connell 427
No. 22, Health: Pharmacare - Billing Procedure, Mr. D. McInnes 429
No. 23, Health - Ambulance Service (Glace Bay): Maritime Medical Care -
Subsidy, Dr. J. Hamm 430
No. 24, Health - Ambulance Service: Maritime Medical Care - Subsidy,
Dr. J. Hamm 432
No. 25, Exco - Barren (Jim Campbell): Decision - Info. Security,
Mr. J. Holm 435
No. 26, Health: QE II Health Sciences Centre - Wage Disparity,
Mr. G. Moody 436
No. 27, Health - Home Care Services: HST - Applicability,
Mr. G. Moody 437
No. 28, Nat. Res. - Forests: Management - Status, Mr. B. Taylor 438
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 4, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Job Creation: Failure - Condemn,
Dr. J. Hamm 441
Dr. J. Hamm 441
Hon. R. Mann 443
Mr. R. Chisholm 446
Mr. A. MacLeod 448
Res. 12, Helath - Reform: Results Destructive - Recognize,
Mr. G. Moody 451
Mr. G. Moody 451
Mr. D. Richards 453
Mr. R. Chisholm 455
Mr. R. Russell 457
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Eastern Shore: Growth - Efforts Recognize:
Mr. K. Colwell 460
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 17th at 2:00 p.m. 463
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 94, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - C.B. Econ. Renewal:
Ideas (Premier Savage) - Review Subject, Mr. R. Chisholm 464

[Page 385]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the Annual Report of the Standing Committee on Human Resources for 1995-96.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1996.

385

[Page 386]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to present the Annual Report of the Fire Marshal's Office for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Department of Justice for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, this a statement. At the same time it is a report from the Committee on Internal Affairs. On Tuesday, April 15th, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works indicated to me that there were some significant problems with the ceiling in the Red Room. The ceiling in this room is a superb example of Georgian architecture and, according to most authorities, is one of the most important ceilings in Canada, architecturally speaking.

There has been considerable trauma done to the ceiling since the House opened in the year 1819. Steel was introduced in 1896. The 1917 and 1945 explosions were of some significance and, of course, repair and construction have been carried out on the roof and ceiling areas on and off over the years.

Robert Parker of Robert Parker Associates, an architect who has been an advisor and friend of this building, indicated the plaster in the ceiling is in danger of falling. An expert in plaster from Ontario has viewed the building and agrees the ceiling cannot be left as it is any longer. Although there is no absolute call on this, the plaster on the ceiling could collapse at any time.

Accordingly, I called an urgent meeting of the Committee on Internal Affairs this morning, on Wednesday, April 16th, and we recommended to the Speaker that the Red Room be closed and that Minister Downe and his department pursue the repairs to the ceiling with all expedience.

[Page 387]

The main issue for the sitting of the House is the loss of this room as a committee room. Accordingly, all three caucuses will be consulted and a final decision will be made as to where the committees will meet while the House is sitting. The Uniacke Room is available, the Cabinet Room may be available and of course there is the Dennis Building which is also equipped for committee meetings. A further meeting on Friday will determine where we would recommend that committee meetings take place.

I have given a copy of this to the Opposition. They may wish to comment on it because they were represented at the meeting as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: I will accept one representation from each caucus if members wish to speak on this issue before the Chair responds.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Premier for providing a copy of his remarks beforehand. Two issues. Number one, the Premier mentioned in his remarks the choice of an alternative for committee meetings, and it would be the choice of members of the Opposition that it be either the Cabinet Room or the Uniacke Room, rather than the Dennis Building. We do have some difficulty in manning two meetings at once and I am sure that will be an issue for the members of the New Democratic Party as well.

I certainly endorse the preservation of this fine old building. I compliment those who are responsible for anticipating this problem before the ceiling is lost. I would indicate to the Premier that I would expect that the work would be tendered to those firms that have the expertise to work on an historic property, and that it would be handled in that regard. It is an inconvenience, but it is a worthwhile one if it can preserve that ceiling.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to rise and say that, yes, we had met and participated in coming up with this recommendation. We, in fact, suggested that the Dennis Building may be an acceptable alternative for one of the committees because in the instance of the Law Amendments Committee, we are not going to be dealing with a lot of legislation and we are quite prepared to accommodate, where necessary, given the circumstances.

The other point, Mr. Speaker, we were advised by staff this morning at our meeting that a more detailed and complete report as to the complete status and technical details with respect to the ceiling in the Red Room will be forthcoming in the next few days, if not sometime early next week.

[Page 388]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will accept the recommendation of the Internal Affairs Committee and support their decision. The Red Room will be closed immediately for repairs in the interest of safety to all.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, earlier today, I had the privilege to announce a very important highway project, one that will mean safer, more free-flowing travel for thousands of commuters into Halifax via Highway No. 103.

Major growth in communities along the stretch of highway between Beechville and Upper Tantallon has had a significant impact on driving conditions in this region. In the last five years, the traffic volume on Highway No. 103, from Halifax to Upper Tantallon, has increased by 30 per cent. Our traffic count indicates that between 12,000 and 13,000 vehicles a day are using that section of highway. As you can imagine, Mr. Speaker, the ramifications of this volume on the highway are clear. Not only is the drive congested at peak travelling times, but there has also been an impact on the condition of the highway.

Mr. Speaker, today, I announced a five year plan to twin 18 kilometres of Highway No. 103 between Beechville and Upper Tantallon and the work will begin this year. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, Phase One of the $22 million project will begin with work around the interchange between Highway No. 102 and Exit 2 at Beechville. We will widen the lanes and improve the approaches to the ramps, and install a raised median barrier.

Also this year, we will begin clearing right-of-way property and grading between Beechville and Nine Mile River. This work will cost $4.25 million. We are committing $5 million per year in each of the next three years, and the balance of $2.75 million will be in the final year of the completion of the twinning project.

In addition to this development, Mr. Speaker, we are spending $2.1 million to repave 18 kilometres between Beechville and Upper Tantallon. This will happen this construction season. In fact, it will happen very soon.

Mr. Speaker, projects like the one I have announced today are vital elements in the long-term strategy to provide Nova Scotians with safe, efficient transportation routes. We want to make it easier to move goods and services in and out of those bustling communities. We want to see an end to traffic tie-ups that slow down businesses and to stop the frustration of motorists.

[Page 389]

[2:15 p.m.]

Of course, Mr. Speaker, safety is another key in this and every highway development. All of our studies have had a sense of common sense in them. Four lane, divided, controlled access highways are safer, reducing the number of injuries and fatalities associated with traffic mishaps. When traffic volumes have grown 30 per cent in five years, it becomes evident that this project will make the drive across this 18 kilometre of highway much safer. Safety is a priority in our commitment to better roads for Nova Scotians.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we want to note that this project will have an economic impact on the communities along the route. This project will not only provide increased safety and relief for commuters but it will also have an economic impact on communities along the route. Over the next five years we expect the twinning project will generate 170 jobs directly associated with the construction and another 270 jobs indirectly, another plus for those doing business in these communities.

In a broader sense, Nova Scotians prosper with the supports in place that boost business. A safe, sound highway system creates an environment that encourages business movement in and out of the communities. Whether it brings goods and services to our neighbourhoods or tourists, we are establishing a framework for success. The benefits will soon be realized as sections of this project are completed and serving the needs of a growing community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for providing me with an advanced copy of his announcement. I certainly welcome the announcement and I am sure that the citizens in that area of the province welcome the announcement. The many commuters, the hundreds of people who use that highway are going to be very much appreciative of this project. It will enable the passenger motorist to more safety commute and it certainly will afford the transportation industry with more opportunity to more safely and quickly move their commodities.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the public highway infrastructure in this province, at least in most of our constituencies, is falling into a state of disrepair. I was hoping that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, inasmuch as I welcome this announcement, was going to tell us he was going to come in with a program that would improve and pave and repave some of our secondary highways in this province.

The Minister of Transportation and Public Works should remember, and I am sure that he does, that it was the honourable member for Queens, John Leefe, who made three recommendations during last year's budget deliberations. In one of them he very strongly put

[Page 390]

forward that this section of highway be improved, be twinned. I commend the Minister of Transportation for listening to my honorable colleague from Queens.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works states that he was over to Great Britain and he is exploring new partnerships and new ways of partnering projects such as this. I can't help but wonder, has this government's philosophy changed relative to public/private partnerships and toll roads? We have now a section in this highway, at least a section of Highway No. 104, where we are going to have a toll; another section of Highway No. 104 announcement, a pavement-politic type announcement was made a couple of weeks ago. Again, the minister made no mention of tolls and I certainly support this. So my request to the Minister of Transportation would be, has your government's philosophy changed relative to tolls?

My goodness, Mr. Speaker, is this announcement just a coincidence? Or is it by design that it falls on the eve of both a provincial and a federal election? It is another classic example of pavement politics.

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

Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: I just thought I would wait for a moment before I begin, Mr. Speaker. I don't expect that my comments will be necessarily as long as the previous speaker, or that of the minister who made the announcement. However, one observation that I will make at the beginning is that I am very pleased to see that the minister who was off in England very recently, looking at ways to develop more privatized partners in terms of building highways, didn't decide to turn this one into a toll road as well.

Mr. Speaker, there is absolutely no question at all in my mind that the announcement the minister has made today is extremely necessary. That section of highway has been known for many years to be an extremely hazardous, extremely dangerous piece of highway in the Province of Nova Scotia. To me, out of all the things the minister said, the number one issue is safety, and that road in its current condition, because of the volumes of traffic and the number of accidents that do occur on that section of highway, is an extremely unsafe section of highway and does desperately need to be repaired. That has been known for a long time. The unfortunate thing is - and the minister leaves himself wide open to this, as does the government - the fact that they are waiting until the last moments to be making such announcements; in fact, that does certainly lead to the perception - real or perceived, but the very real perception - that these announcements are starting to be wheeled out as the election gets nearer, and certainly that perception is out there. The reality is, however, that this section of road is badly needed.

[Page 391]

The other thing that the government also should be doing and the government promised was that they were going to be preparing a priority list of projects across the Province of Nova Scotia and be identifying those projects in the order of rating system so that Nova Scotians could know when reasonably serious deficiency in road work would be done. The government has steadfastly refused to do that. What I call upon this minister to do which his predecessor did not, is to prepare that list, to put it out so that the public can know - this is an essential piece of road; there are many others as well - firstly, how the priorities are being set and, secondly, so that they will have a reasonable understanding as to when those very serious road projects that are needed will, in fact, be undertaken.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, given the seriousness of the situation here and the need to have that section, one of the things that disappointments me, quite frankly, is that it is going to be taking place over five years because that section of road, every year that passes, the safety concerns, of course, continue to mount. I just hope over that five year period that no more human tragedies will result because the route has not already been completed. Thank you.

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

MR. BRUCE HOLLAND: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to have a word on this issue. This is a tremendous announcement for the people of Timberlea-Prospect that was made today; a tremendous announcement for the people of Chester-St. Margaret's, the Honourable James Barkhouse's riding; and the whole South Shore from Bridgewater, Lunenburg, right through Queens, Shelburne, Barrington, right down to Yarmouth, who have needed this highway done for a long time. It is a matter of safety and need and nothing else. I am proud of this announcement and proud of this minister for doing it. I will be sure to let my constituents know that the NDP and Tories want to toll the highway to Yarmouth. They will know that loud and clear after today. Thank you. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to provide all members of this House with details of how we are moving forward in our goal of a secure future for Sydney Steel, one that considers the interests of the workers and recognizes the commitment made by all Nova Scotia. Members of this House will be interested to know that this government is moving forward in a formal manner. We are now entering a structured evaluation process, a request for proposals, which is being issued today. The process is a two-way street. On the one hand, it provides prospective buyers with information about the history, operations and assets of Sydney Steel. Interested companies must sign confidentiality agreements to gain access to this information; that is being done to safeguard the interests of the steel mill and its workers. On the other hand, the request for proposals is also a way of qualifying prospective buyers. We are requesting that private sector operators fulfil certain

[Page 392]

criteria and answer specific questions. There is a long list of specific information that we want from them. We want to see their detailed plans for the long-term viable operation of Sysco and its workforce.

Mr. Speaker, we will see how the companies which have expressed an interest in acquiring this plant plan to make Sysco an integral part of their strategic operations. In short, we will see the fit. Sysco cannot continue as an orphan. Its history for the last 30 years shows why this does not work. I am confident there is a long-term future for this plant, once it becomes part of a larger, strategic operation or family of operations.

We are now entering a structured, formal process, because this is a complex operation and a complex issue. We are looking, not for a quick fix, but for a solid turnaround for the mill. Its future belongs with the private sector operator that has the best long-term, viable plan for the plant and its workers.

Mr. Speaker, proposals are due by June 20th, and then we will begin the next step, which is evaluation. I can anticipate the question from the opposite side: members of the other Parties will want a date for the sale.

Mr. Speaker, we may have a cut and dried solution, or we may enter into discussion and future negotiation. The bottom line is that we are entering a structured process that will give this government detailed information, long-term plans and solid proposals. That process will proceed with due respect for the confidential nature of the information being provided and evaluated by both parties.

Today's announcement moves us closer to the goal of securing the long-term future of the mill and its workers. I am sure that is a goal that members of this House, on both sides, the workers of Sysco, and all of us share. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of his statement before the House sat today. I would like to point out that I think it is a step in the right direction for the steelworkers in Cape Breton. We have to remember that it is the steelworkers that this is all about. We have a great workforce in Sydney Steel. We have a good complement of finely crafted, well-trained individuals, and this is important.

The task that this minister is about, trying to help Sydney Steel, is not an easy one. It is not an easy one because the minister who was responsible for Sysco before him put together one of the worst deals in history when we talk about Minmetals. There are all kinds of loopholes in that deal. We had partners that would not even talk with the government. We

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had partners that were trying to bail out of a deal. We had a deal of convenience, Mr. Speaker, not one of security for the workers.

This announcement today, at least, requires some standards to be put forward. Ask the people who are going to be involved in Sydney Steel to put it on the line and tell us what they are going to offer to the people of Cape Breton and to, in turn, the Province of Nova Scotia, and that is important, Mr. Speaker. There have been too many years that Sysco has been a political football and, if there is a future for Sysco, I believe that it is in the private industry. If it is done right, not a haphazard deal like the Minmetals deal, this will be good. It will be good for Nova Scotia. It will be good for the Sysco workers, and I want to say that it will be good for Cape Breton Island, because we have an Island with 27.4 per cent unemployment, the highest in the country.

Now, some people in this House are going to rant and rave about this announcement and make all kinds of accusations and that is fine. Those people probably do not even live on the Island. They do not know what these steelworkers are going through. One thing that each and every member of this House should remember is that at the end of the day, what we want is a viable industry with a strong workforce, a workforce that we can all be proud of. That has to be the ultimate goal. I thank the minister for his statement today.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I do not know who is going to rant and rave about this announcement. It is the first time that we have seen even the semblance of order and planning used in connection with the future of Sysco. I do not see that any member of this House could stand up and object to that. I commend the minister for it. Maybe when the member for Timberlea-Prospect kicks off his leadership bid he will throw his support behind this announcement also.

I do want to add my consent and my encouragement to the minister responsible for having imposed on what has been a very turbulent time in the history of Sysco over the past four years when first the former government under the Tories and then the Liberal Government under the minister responsible at that time, the now Minister of Health, announced to everyone around the world that Sysco was available. They were not going to put any more money into it and just come and take it off our hands.

What we have seen is that - if it were not so serious, I would call it a comedy of errors - over the past four years with Minmetals and the latest saga of information coming out of this group of people who call themselves the Global Steel Corporation who have been making presentations on behalf of a group that want to take over Sysco. I think this is the only way

[Page 394]

to stabilize the situation, or one way, a way that I approve of and our caucus agrees with to add some future to the discussion about what to do with the future of Sysco.

There is no question that this has a considerable amount to do with the future of steelworkers and the workforce at that facility and those 1,200 that are laid off. It also affects the people of Cape Breton, the taxpayers and the residents of Cape Breton who are affected very considerably by what happens to this industry, and certainly to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. There has been an investment over the years in this industry and it is of interest to everybody in Nova Scotia that what happens with the future of this steel mill is in the best interests of Nova Scotians, including steelworkers, Cape Bretoners, and all Nova Scotians.

I would say in closing that maybe if we are adding some order to this and are maybe going to be a little more clear in terms of what information is available, the minister might consider over the next few days or maybe even hours, to let Nova Scotians know whether there is any truth to the rumour that Minmetals has sold their interest to Global. My reading of that contract with Minmetals, as inadequate as it was, did provide the Province of Nova Scotia to have the last refusal on that. In other words, that they could match any deal that Minmetals had come up with. I would like to know a little bit about that. I know that that is causing some considerable concern and the broker who is operating this deal has told anyone who is interested that it is a private business deal. Well, it is not a private business deal. It is a deal that affects Nova Scotia's taxpayers. It affects Nova Scotians. It is something that the Province of Nova Scotia is involved with and should get to the bottom of.

In closing, let me say again that I support the statement of the minister and look forward to him continuing his relationship, which I understand has begun with the national office of the United Steelworkers of America, because there is another group that knows a lot about steelmaking in this world market.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: I would like to respond to this ministerial announcement because of the location of the Sydney steel plant in my own constituency. I would like to commend the minister for his diligence in this matter. I have been very favourably impressed by not only his tremendous effort, the long hours that he has put in, but also I am very impressed by the constant flow of information that he has volunteered to the community and now that the House is sitting, to the House here.

I certainly agree with the strategy as he enunciated and with his viewpoint that Sysco cannot remain as an orphan steel plant. He believes that it has to be tied into a broader operation and I agree with that appraisal. I think it is very vital to the future of the industry that it not be operated as an orphan plant in Sydney any longer.

[Page 395]

I am pleased with the timetable that has been announced. I wish that these things could be done more quickly but I understand that in the meantime there is some work that is to be done at Sydney Steel. The order for head hardened rails placed by Stavan-Transmet Company of Yekaterinburg, Russia, is to be rolled beginning May 1st, I understand. There may be perhaps some other work that might come up there. I certainly remain very expectant and hopeful in that regard.

I was also pleased to note the recent announcement that eight unemployed steelworkers would be taken back to work doing demolition work on various sites on the plant where the facilities are no longer in use. They are eyesores and fire hazards and also contain a good deal of recyclable old steel, which could be put back into the electric arc reduction furnace.

Mr. Speaker, I don't want to speak any longer than the others who have responded to the ministerial announcement but I was very pleased to see the apparent general consensus that the minister is heading in the right direction, that he has the support of the House, that's encouraging. We have a lot of discouraging circumstances in Sydney right now with veteran steelworkers unemployed in large numbers and some of them are very, very concerned, most of them, I am sure all of them, about the future. Certainly, we look forward to the continued countdown as this process unfolds and hopefully it will lead to the finding, location of a new operator who will put some large investment, heavy investment into Sysco and make it work properly so that it will become a genuine asset to all the people of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw the attention of the members of the House to the presence in the west gallery of Mr. Cecil O'Donnell, who will be our candidate in the upcoming provincial election for the constituency of Shelburne. Mr. O'Donnell is accompanied by his brother Roy. I would ask them both to rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report to the House that negotiations between the Department of Health and the Medical Society of Nova Scotia resumed last night and continued until early this morning.

Over the past month, I have personally met with more than 500 doctors across this province after releasing the discussion paper Good Medicine: Securing Doctors' Services for Nova Scotians. I heard concerns directly from the physicians of this province, particularly those in what we call rural Nova Scotia - which is almost everywhere except here in the Halifax area and in industrial Cape Breton.

[Page 396]

I made a commitment to the doctors that the problems they identified would be addressed in an immediate way, and not await the completion of a prolonged negotiating process with the Medical Society. Therefore, I can announce that we are proceeding today with the following initiatives to stabilize physician services:

First, a new payment to doctors on call for duty at a community hospital emergency room. This payment has never existed before and will be worth either $600 or $780 a night for doctors who are available to work in their local emergency department. The payment - at a rate of either $50 or $65 an hour depending on the size of the hospital - will also be paid to doctors on call for emergency room work on weekends and holidays.

Mr. Speaker, this is the first time such a payment for standby service has been made across the Province of Nova Scotia. No other Atlantic Province offers such a payment. Only Alberta and Ontario have similar payments in place. In addition, physicians in more remote areas of the province will be paid an annual fee of $20,000 on top of their existing fee-for-service payments. This payment recognizes that doctors in these areas are often available to their patients day and night. (Applause) Again, never before has such a fee been paid across Nova Scotia.

The second initiative I am announcing today is the creation of an enhanced Rural Physicians Locum Service to be funded and operated by the Department of Health. An important concern raised by rural doctors is the lack of substitute physicians, known as locums, who are available to fill in while the family doctor is ill, on vacation, on maternity leave, absent from practice for continuing medical education or some other reason. The Department of Health will hire a pool of doctors who will be made available to rural physicians to take over their practices when they are absent.

Third, to help all doctors in the province, especially specialists, the Department of Health will provide additional resources for malpractice insurance premium rebates to cover anticipated rate increases. This improves what is already the most generous malpractice insurance premium rebate program in Canada and for the first time, Mr. Speaker, the government will pay malpractice insurance for a group of doctors known as residents who are engaged in post-graduate work in a teaching hospital.

Fourth, finally, in recognition of the value of doctors' partnership role in improving our health care system, the Department of Health is creating a Physician Consultants Fund. Payments from this fund will go to doctors who serve on committees or special projects at the department's request.

Doctors throughout the province also told me about problems created by the computerized billing system operated by MSI. Measures to correct the problems have already been initiated and doctors have been consulted on ways to continually improve service.

[Page 397]

The Medical Society was notified last night during negotiations that we intended to proceed with these measures immediately and have received this public statement today. May I say, Mr. Speaker, let it be well understood that current negotiations with the Medical Society will continue on these and other items of mutual concern. However, the government felt that immediate steps should be implemented on an interim basis to address the most pressing problems right away without any delay. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I guess negotiations started quickly. The minister told me yesterday that Dr. Rick LeMoine was going to be on the negotiating team and then all of a sudden he wasn't but now that he has time, that he is not on the negotiations team, I guess he spends it in the Legislature.

Anyway, I want to say I hope the Minister of Health is going to treat the nurses and other health care workers like this, that before negotiations start that there will be pool of money for all of the other health care workers as well as the physicians of this province. You know there is no question, the problem arose with physicians by this government from the very beginning. They created the problem. (Interruptions) Now, Mr. Speaker, they are trying to correct it quickly because they know they are in difficulty when they go to the polls. There is absolutely no question and I think you can look at studies in the past, there is no question when the Physicians' Task Force was looking at it, there is no question there is a need for doctors to receive sufficient funds to work in emergency departments. That is happening around the province because doctors have left and there is not enough of them there due to cover the area. I was going to ask the minister, he is talking about $20,000 and I want to know how those areas are defined in the rural area?

[2:45 p.m.]

We found out before when there were certain areas of the province that to get physicians to go to certain areas, there would be some recognition. Then we found out that that didn't cover many areas of the province. I wonder if the minister could tell us how many areas of the province will get the $20,000 annual fee extra and will that satisfy the number of people in this province that haven't got physicians at the present time?

The idea of locums is a good one, obviously, and I think that is needed; there is absolutely no question. Many rural physicians in this province don't get time to take a holiday with their family, and work seven days a week, work long hours, absolutely no question, and there is a need for locums to be provided.

The malpractice insurance, I guess, was put in to help the specialists because most of this as I see in this package is helping rural physicians. It is interesting to note that doctors will be given money to work on committees from a consultants fund. I hope the minister

[Page 398]

recognizes that nurses and other health care workers work on important committees as well and that the government is prepared to fund them for the important work they do around the province and give their valuable free time, many of the nurses and other health care workers, to try to make this health care system work. We have a lot of people giving free time in this province, a lot of volunteers. Now we are going to pay physicians, I hope we are going to pay nurses and other professions for doing the very same thing because they deserve every bit as much because they are front line workers, as well as the physicians in this province.

The minister hasn't said how much this package is going to cost, he hasn't costed this out. I expect we will see that along with other things that will come out of negotiations. It is important that many of these problems that are there that were created by this government are addressed. If we don't address it there will be hundreds of thousands of people without physicians in this province. We are in a crisis situation and this is a patchwork approach to start the process and in some of the areas, I agree, it is necessary but let's make sure that we don't single out one group of health professionals and we are not prepared to do them for the rest. That is an important process.

I commend the minister for addressing this very important issue but I also caution him on the precedent that he has set. He started giving out money before negotiations have actually started, which is unprecedented probably in the history of negotiations any place that I know of in this province.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is a wonderful opportunity to be in this House and to be a part of this Legislature and I learn things every single day. I didn't realize just what a simple solution there was to dealing with the problems in rural Nova Scotia in terms of delivery of physician services and health care services. I didn't realize there was such a simple solution to dealing with doctors leaving the province, that it was simply a matter of throwing money at them. It was just simply a question of walking into negotiations and not doing what happens at any other negotiations table between an employer and the workers which is generally - this isn't always the truth but generally what happens is - that parties sit down and they say, okay, we are going to really go nose to nose here on money issues so let's get all of the other stuff out of the way and then we will get down to the nuts and bolts of bargaining and deal with the monetary issues.

What the Minister of Health did in this case, the candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party, he walked in with a great big satchel of money and he says, Doctor Christmas is here, what do you want? Pick out of the bag and somebody else will deal with those other issues; maybe Rick LeMoine will be sent in after I give you all this money and we will just get down to business.

[Page 399]

Mr. Speaker, I am telling you, it boggles my mind. There was some suggestion by the critic from the Official Opposition that the minister didn't know how much this is going to cost. I hope that is not true; I hope the minister can stand up in this House and tell us how much it is going to cost when you talk about paying $700 or $800 extra a night for doctors in local emergency departments. I would like to know that . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: What do they get an hour for sitting on committees?

MR. CHISHOLM: . . . and the money for committees and so on.

Listen, there is no question that the problem of the delivery of medical services in many of our rural communities needs to be solved. You know, I think it is like paving before an election. Thank God an election comes along every four years, so that people get their roads paved.

Mr. Speaker, the issue about the delivery of health services in many communities in this province is a lot more complicated than simply throwing money at doctors. It has to do with multi-disciplinary health teams; it has to do with the establishment of community health boards. It is a lot more complex, and the interconnection between the people who deliver services and the people who receive services is much more complicated, I would suggest, than this.

I tell you what, I say to all those other health care workers out there to line up outside the door of the Minister of Health and try to get his signature on the bottom line before the convention is held in June or whenever it is because, obviously, this Minister of Health, as opposed to the previous Minister of Health, has one pile of money to spend before he is elected to be the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Premier of this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis on an introduction.

MR. EARLE RAYFUSE: Mr. Speaker, without even being told that the Middleton political science class was in the building, I found a mug and a pen on my desk and I will mention at this time that I have one at home, which is my favourite mug, and now I have one for the city. Thank you very much. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you to all members of the House, the Middleton Grade 12 political science group. Each year, Mr. Hines brings in his group. Usually it plans to be here during Question Period, because I have always told them that that is the best time to come in on Wednesday. Today there should be lots of fire and lots of excitement. I would like them to stand and receive a friendly greeting from the House of Assembly. (Applause)

[Page 400]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 76

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

Whereas many prices have not dropped, as promised, in the government's ads promoting the 15 per cent BS Tax, which became law on April 1st; and

Whereas in spite of his earlier predictions, Nova Scotia's Finance Minister admitted on Monday that there is not much his government can do if sellers don't lower their prices; and

Whereas the minister said it is up to consumers to boycott businesses seen to be gouging them further, expressing, "I think the consumers will vote with their feet";

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance and this government recognize that, yes, consumers again will use their feet to vote when he and his BST cronies are given the boot during the next provincial election.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 77

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

Whereas despite gloating about it in the Speech from the Throne, the Premier has said it is the National Energy Board that will decide on the route of the Sable gas pipeline; and

Whereas despite the gloating, the Premier has said it is the National Energy Board that will decide whether Nova Scotians will have access to gas at a cheaper rate than non-Nova Scotian consumers; and

[Page 401]

Whereas despite the gloating, the Premier has said it is the National Energy Board that will decide on employment benefits accruing to Nova Scotians from the Sable project;

Therefore be it resolved that this House remind the Premier that the government cannot have it both ways, taking credit for the Sable project, while sloughing off the hard decisions on the project to a federal regulatory agency.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 78

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

Whereas during the Fourth Session of the 56th Assembly of this House, the Leader of the Opposition tabled several petitions containing names of people opposed to the HST; and

Whereas one of the names on one of the petitions was that of Mr. Burpee Slauenwhite of Barss Corner, Lunenburg County; and

Whereas Mr. Slauenwhite has written to me indicating that his signature on the petition was forged;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize that Mr. Slauenwhite did not sign a petition in opposition to the HST and that the documents as tabled in this House did not reflect an accurate list of petitioners.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and passage without debate and I have attached the letter to be tabled.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 402]

RESOLUTION NO. 79

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

Whereas the Leader of the Third Party, by means of a resolution in this House on Monday, April 14, 1997, accused this government of favouring Sable natural gas to the detriment of the coal industry in Cape Breton; and

Whereas the natural gas from Sable will be used to replace the use of expensive offshore oil for power generation; and

Whereas this government is committed to the continued viability of the Cape Breton coal industry;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the actions of the Leader of the Third Party for misleading the citizens of Nova Scotia about this government's efforts to ensure the continued viability of the Cape Breton coal industry.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 80

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

Whereas Jamie Brown of Lower Sackville, a member of the Halifax Mooseheads Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team, has shown excellent leadership in the team's drive for the Memorial Cup; and

Whereas Jamie, even though he is a defenseman, is the second leading scorer on the Mooseheads during the playoffs; and

Whereas Jamie, who had one goal and two assists in last night's 5-3 win over Chicoutimi, will again be a key player when the Mooseheads strive to eliminate Chicoutimi from the play-offs in Chicoutimi on Friday night;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the efforts of Jamie Brown and the Halifax Mooseheads and wish them every success as they continue their quest for the Memorial Cup.

[Page 403]

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

Is it agreed that notice be waived?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 81

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

Whereas the Premier has said that Nova Scotians must take it on faith that there was no breach of Cabinet secrecy around the decision to remove Jim Campbells Barren from the list of candidate protected areas; and

Whereas the Premier tells Nova Scotians to "trust us", based on "the reputation of this government which in four years has had absolutely nothing that it could be blamed for"; and

[3:00 p.m.]

Whereas Nova Scotians who have witnessed this government handing out untendered contracts, appointing political friends to high paying jobs and breaking its word on the introduction of ethical guidelines will find blind trust hard to give;

Therefore be it resolved that this government and the Premier stop deluding themselves about their high principles and establish an independent inquiry to investigate the Jim Campbells Barren affair.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 82

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

[Page 404]

Whereas during our Provincial Volunteer Week I am proud to attend the celebrations this evening recognizing the Westville Volunteer Honour Roll for 1997; and

Whereas the Westville Volunteer Honour Roll is our town's way of saying thank you to those citizens who give freely of their time to enrich the many recreation, sports and cultural programs offered in the Westville area; and

Whereas these caring people we honour this evening give unpaid help from the goodness of their hearts, enrich the lives of their fellow citizens and ask for nothing in return;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the many contributions of those listed, and extend congratulations to the Westville Volunteer Honour Roll for 1997.

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

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 member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 83

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

Whereas April is Cancer Research Month, a time to recognize and promote the progress and goals of cancer research; and

Whereas this month is also Provincial Volunteer Week, a time to recognize the outstanding citizens all over the province who contribute their time to worthy causes; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Cancer Society comprises more than 6,000 volunteers who work in areas of public education, patient services, emotional support and fund-raising;

[Page 405]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly applaud the volunteers of the Canadian Cancer Society for their exceptional efforts and outstanding contribution to our communities.

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. 84

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 new telephone directories have been popping up in the Halifax Regional Municipality the past few days, beating out the dandelions as an early sign of spring; and

Whereas the printing of this new-look phone book was contracted out to a company in Ontario, destroying the jobs of 12 MT&T employees, seven of whom were offered jobs at another printing company with lower wages, reduced benefits and no seniority; and

Whereas this took place despite a 46 per cent increase in profits for MT&T in 1996 and was followed by 140 more layoffs earlier this year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn MT&T and other profitable corporations which lay off workers just to improve the bottom line, and urge this government to develop strategies for discouraging such practices.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 85

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

[Page 406]

Whereas the church is an important part of our communities; and

Whereas 100 years of existence deserves special recognition; and

Whereas St. Joseph's Church in Lingan is celebrating its 100th Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations to the congregation of St. Joseph's Church on this special occasion.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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 member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 86

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

Whereas the week of April 13th to April 19th has been declared Provincial Volunteer Week to pay tribute to volunteers in communities throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this week offers us time to reflect on the countless ways volunteer organizations, including the Mahone Bay and Area Lions Club, enrich various facets of our community's life; and

Whereas hundreds of people in Lunenburg County, including John (Jack) Hughes who has been a guiding strength in the Scout movement since 1947, and Raymond Francis who has served the Parish of Saint John's Anglican Church, Lunenburg, are recognized for their generous donations of time and effort to many worthwhile activities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly recognize that volunteer action is a powerful force, and congratulate many Lunenburg County individuals and organizations for making our community a better place to live.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for passage without debate.

[Page 407]

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 member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 87

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

Whereas for 35 years, the South Shore Tourism Association has boasted our region's natural beauty, cultural heritage and historical significance, becoming the largest tourism association in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas three Lighthouse Route Awards for local tourism initiatives were handed out on Friday, April 11, 1997, at the South Shore Tourism Association's Annual Awards Banquet; and

Whereas Shelburne's Founders Days took our county's top honours for last year's celebration focusing on Birchtown's proud Black heritage;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend congratulations to the organizers of Shelburne County's Founders Days and to all the nominees of this year's South Shore Tourism Association's Lighthouse Awards.

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 Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 408]

RESOLUTION NO. 88

MR. JOSEPH CASEY: Mr. Speaker, this resolution is moved by myself and the honourable member for Annapolis, Earle Rayfuse.

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

Whereas fishermen of the renowned Digby scallop fleet are facing undue hardship as a result of federal regulations governing the Bay of Fundy scallop fishery; and

Whereas due to these regulations, the boats of this fleet are severely restricted in the areas in which they can fish, thus causing crew members to earn an average of $1.00 to $3.00 per hour; and

Whereas a representative group of these fishermen for the past two weeks has been occupying the offices of Human Resources Canada in Digby, as well as the offices of the MP for South West Nova;

Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon the federal Minister of Fisheries to immediately meet with the representatives of these fishermen in order to arrive at a prompt and equitable solution to this impasse.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 89

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

Whereas for a business to exist for 100 years is a remarkable thing; and

[Page 409]

Whereas the R.H. Davis Company of Yarmouth was honoured for this significant milestone with a presentation from the province at a ceremony held last Wednesday, April 9th; and

Whereas this House should also recognize this company's centennial;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly forward their congratulations to R.H. Davis for their commitment to the community of Yarmouth and the people of Nova Scotia.

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

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 Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 90

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

Whereas students from Prince Andrew High School, under the guidance of Mr. Greg King, have been actively involved over the past couple of years in community-based policing projects; and

Whereas research obtained for these projects includes information on community services, local needs and safety audits; and

Whereas next month Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth East will be awarded a Conference Board of Canada/Royal Bank National Award for its innovative Business- Education Partnership Program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Prince Andrew High School and Mr. Greg King on receiving this national award and commend them for their hard work and dedication in making communities a better place to live.

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

[Page 410]

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 member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 91

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

Whereas 14 years ago Brent MacDonald of Hammonds Plains was a slightly overweight lifelong smoker with no athletic background; and

Whereas Mr. MacDonald felt at the time that a change in lifestyle was in order if he was going to live for any length of time; and

Whereas as a result of his concern, Mr. MacDonald took up running and next Monday he will participate in his 10th consecutive Boston Marathon;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. MacDonald on his past achievements and wish him and all Nova Scotians participating in the Boston Marathon a successful completion of the race.

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

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 member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

[Page 411]

RESOLUTION NO. 92

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

Whereas Dover Mills has been established in Halifax since 1968; and

Whereas its processing capacity was about 45,000 tonnes of wheat a year, until its first expansion in 1984; and

Whereas earlier this year, a new $3.6 million flour-milling facility officially opened on the Halifax waterfront, increasing the processing capacity by 50 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly extend best wishes to Dover Mills for years of successful operations and recognize this business investment as an example of their confidence in the Nova Scotia economy.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 93

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

Whereas economic forecasting is a highly specialized field of study; and

Whereas economic forecasting was feebly attempted by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley in this House on April 1st of last year; and

Whereas the member's predictions were inaccurate, since the Province of Nova Scotia has instead had a net increase of some 25,000 jobs;

[Page 412]

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley apologize to the members of this Assembly for his inaccuracy by promising to leave such learned forecasting to the experts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

Before moving to the Orders of the Day I would like to announce to the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate and the honourable member for Eastern Shore will debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening the following:

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the successful efforts of local business, government and community groups to create sustainable economic growth and job creation along the Eastern Shore.

The time now being 3:13 p.m. the Oral Question Period will last one hour and thirty minutes which will conclude at 4:43 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

NAT. RES.: SABLE GAS - BENEFITS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Premier. Yesterday in Question Period the Premier said it was not up to his government to demand concessions from the producers and transporters of natural gas, he said it was up to the National Energy Board. I ask the Premier, did this government or did it not demand from Mobil and its partners a preferential price on gas and a guaranteed supply of gas to Nova Scotians before the government gave the green light to go ahead?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, once again I have to remind the House of the lamentable ignorance that the Leader of the Opposition shows about this process. This is a joint responsibility of the federal and provincial government to decide who gets gas. It is not up to a simple province to decide whether they get it or whether we keep it. All our evidence will be filed at the joint review panel. It is very important to understand that, and I urge you to

[Page 413]

base your questions and your understanding of it on the decisions that this joint review panel is going to make assumptions based on what we have submitted. We have submitted claims, we have worked with the companies long and hard, but the ultimate decision is made by a joint review panel, which I think you really must know.

[3:15 p.m.]

As you are well aware, we have not signed a deal with anybody. We have signed a framework, which was the basis for them proceeding to the next step. I hope that is clear now, Mr. Speaker, for the Leader of the Opposition.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, to continue with the Premier. It is extremely lamentable, what is going on. It would seem to me that Nova Scotians, through their government, have surrendered their interest in gas to the National Energy Board.

Now it is interesting to note and perhaps look at the difference in the approach taken by the Government of New Brunswick. They very clearly said there will be no pipeline in New Brunswick unless New Brunswickers get a preferential price and unless there is a lateral to the City of Saint John; they made their position clear on behalf of the people of New Brunswick.

Will the Premier answer the question. As the representative of the people of Nova Scotia, is he prepared to accept a ruling by the National Energy Board that requires Nova Scotians not to get a preferential price for their gas and, if he is not prepared to accept that, what is he prepared to do?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think we cannot use the word that I would choose to use but there has been some twisting of the truth, shall we say. You will remember that Minister Graham, the minister from New Brunswick, came out, all hot and fire one day and withdrew it the next day. So the attitude and the stance that New Brunswick has taken is theirs. That is their business, that is the way that they will do it and that is the way that they will attempt to influence the panel, but everybody knows that the panel makes the decision.

Let me remind the Leader of the Opposition that New Brunswick does not get royalties, that New Brunswick does not get the 4,000 jobs. (Interruption) Well then perhaps you should go down and listen to the hearings because then you would be better informed. The whole issue of jobs for Nova Scotians - which will be borne out in the next little while - will not be New Brunswick's. This is the stance that New Brunswick has taken, which is their business.

Our stance and, through that, our ministers, is to put the evidence and our case before the Joint Review Panel because that is the process that the Nova Scotia Government and the federal government arrived at to deal with this issue. I do urge you to please understand this issue.

[Page 414]

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the Premier that I understand the issue. What I am trying to establish is whether or not the Premier understands the issue. This government had a back-in provision on the offshore pipe that would have enabled this government to demand the kind of concessions that I am talking about and that provision was given away by this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no.

DR. HAMM: My final supplementary question to the Premier. Did this Premier or his government demand, as part of its negotiations with Mobil and the other partners, that laterals would be established to all of the major centres in Nova Scotia, guaranteeing a supply of our natural gas to be available to our businesses and residents right across this province? Did you make that demand to the companies?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, he still doesn't understand, I guess, that is a matter that is not for those companies. The issue, by the way, of giving away what we gave away was this government's decision that, on the record of the previous government and the absolute mess that they made of participation in the oil industry, this government would not put money into this gas industry. We are determined that we will stay that way.

We could have gotten in, yes, and it would have cost us if we wanted to, maybe $0.5 billion which we, unlike your previous - not the government that you are attached to but the government that you now represent - the previous government, that government spent money and wasted money in oil development which is to the detriment of the Nova Scotia economy ever since. We made a decision that we will not get involved financially and that is a decision that is the right one. Government makes the decisions, the oil companies go after the gas.

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

NAT. RES.: SABLE GAS - BENEFITS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. I want to get something straight in my head about the position of this government vis-a-vis the development of Sable gas and, in fact, the whole question of where the power lies in this whole equation. Yesterday, the Premier in this House, when asked about such questions as the route of the Sable gas pipeline, whether Nova Scotians will have access to gas at a cheaper price or the whole question of jobs for Nova Scotians, referred us all down the street and he basically said, go down to the NEB hearings. Yet back in the fall when the Premier was perhaps still more interested in provincial politics than he may be now, he said in a flyer to his constituents of Dartmouth South, Nova Scotia must receive the maximum benefits from Sable gas, the pipeline route will be determined by economics, not politics. Nova Scotia's position is that this province receives the maximum benefits. If we don't then the gas might as well stay in the ground.

[Page 415]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know, maybe from the Premier, what power did the Premier believe the province had back in the fall that he made those statements to be able to, in fact, keep the gas in the ground?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, once again, I guess, the process of how the gas comes out, the price, the routing, is decided by a joint review panel set up by the province and the federal government and the National Energy Board. That is an established process to which both governments agreed. We place our case before them, the others place their case before them. Our position is the position that the minister has enunciated regularly which we called Nova Scotia first and Nova Scotia will get those benefits and Nova Scotia will always get those benefits. I think you will just have to wait and see. But try and understand the process, this decision is not made by any one government, it is made by the joint review panel.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, that's all well and good for the Premier to stand here in this House and try to lecture me about the process that is to be followed in determining whether or not Sable gas is going to be developed and where the determination is going to be in terms of the benefit. But it wasn't all that long ago when this Premier and other Ministers of the Crown were prepared throughout this province to stand up and say that we are going to fight on behalf of Nova Scotians to make sure that we get the maximum benefit out of this deal.

What I want to know is, now it is down the street where the decisions are being made. I want to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, what has changed between when he was on the trail back in the fall and his Cabinet Ministers when they stood up and spouted what they were going to do on behalf of Nova Scotians, what has changed between then and now that we have the NEB sitting down the street?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I cannot be responsible for the state of ignorance that he may have had back in the fall or now. That's his problem. The issue was quite clearly stated back last year that there would be the creation of a joint review panel which was sponsored by both the Nova Scotia and the federal governments. It is our ambition, quite clearly stated and I think you will find that it will work, that there will be 4,000 jobs for Nova Scotians; that there will be royalties; that there will, indeed, as more gas is discovered be an opportunity for a long-term royalty and a long-term source of finance for this province.

I am disappointed at the lack of faith that both Opposition Parties show in the Sable project. It is discouraging that people will not pay attention to the process which was set up quite clearly in public and I am sorry that they don't understand it.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, look, I certainly am reluctant to try to make the Premier feel somewhat discouraged about our lack of enthusiasm but, you know, when Nova Scotians are saying to me increasingly, when evidence about what is going to happen with respect to the development of Sable gas, when that information is released, is this what

[Page 416]

happened back during the Gerald Regan days when people were sold a pig-in-a-poke? Is this what happened back in the John Buchanan days when the people of Nova Scotia were sold a pig-in-a-poke?

That is what is happening here and that is why, Mr. Speaker, when it comes to ensuring that Nova Scotians get the maximum benefits out of this deal, I want to ask the Premier, finally, why did the government give up the power that they have to ensure that Nova Scotians get the maximum benefits from the offshore development of natural gas?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think if he is interested in looking at the record, he will note, right from the beginning, with the previous Minister of Natural Resources and the one that took over and myself, we used the words cautiously optimistic and optimistically cautious. At no time did we hold up little bottles like Premier Buchanan did. What we have done is to pursue a course in public of negotiations and a lot of hard bargaining with the companies in private, because, obviously, that is what is going to be done, and you will have to wait and see. But don't misunderstand the process which has been transparent and clear to most people, except perhaps the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to draw to the attention to all members of the House the presence in the Speaker's gallery of the federal Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the next Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Jean Charest. Please afford him our usual warm welcome. (Applause)

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Charest is accompanied by the next federal Member of Parliament for Halifax, Terry Donahoe.

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

EXCO - ETHICS: CODE - TABLE

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Premier. I would ask the Premier if he has gotten around to codifying his code of ethics and conduct and, if he has, will he table it here in the Legislature?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am afraid I cannot do that at the moment.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, last fall the Premier clearly indicated a draft code of ethics and conduct would be prepared and tabled in this House. He made that same commitment when he was running for the premiership of this province in 1993.

[Page 417]

AN HON. MEMBER: It hasn't been needed.

MR. TAYLOR: It hasn't been needed. My question to the Premier is simply this. Is he prepared to guarantee to this House that no one outside of those present in Cabinet the day the decision was made to drop the Jim Campbells Barren from the protected wilderness site list - no MLAs, no government officials, no company officials, no lawyers, no one other than Cabinet - was made aware of the decision to drop the barren until sometime after the flurry in trading took place? (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, may I repeat the question?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member will repeat the question.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is simply this. Is the Premier prepared to guarantee this House that no one, outside of those present in Cabinet the day the decision was made to drop the barren - you are the President of the Executive Council, I understand, so no one outside of Cabinet was aware the day the decision was made to drop the barren - from the list of protected areas. Can you guarantee that nobody other than Cabinet members were aware, no MLAs, no lawyers, no departmental staff? Can the Premier make that commitment to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I find it passing strange that criticism of the code of conduct of this government is coming from a Party opposite, some of whom have written lawyerish letters, two of whom were kicked out of the House, some of whom have had very dubious connections for 15 years can question us on four years in which there has not (Interruptions)

[3:30 p.m.]

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

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have had four years in which the members of this Cabinet have taken the oath of confidentiality with absolute seriousness. On not one occasion has there been any issue on which there has been any doubt about the way and the integrity in which this government, and this Cabinet in particular, has answered.

When you look and contrast it, and I leave that to Hansard to record, with the 15 years that we saw before, it is, indeed, astonishing that across there those people have the gall to approach us about integrity! Give us a chance, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 418]

Let me try and divert the issue slightly. The reason that we cannot present this is that Mr. Justice MacIntosh, the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, wrote to both Parties in October 1995. I have to report to you that the member for Halifax Citadel did reply but, as yet, we have had no reply from the New Democratic Party.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, again I submit, as I have said many times in this House, it is really good that it is called Question Period and not Answer Period because that was nothing but fiddle-faddle. I asked the Premier if anybody outside of Cabinet, a very sincere question, requiring a simple yes or no, and he could not even answer the question with a simple yes or no.

I would ask the Premier this question, perhaps he could answer this question; I would ask the Premier if he discussed the issue of the Jim Campbells Barren, if he discussed it with his caucus before bringing it into Cabinet or if he or any one of his colleagues had indicated to anyone prior to Cabinet making the decision to lift the barren from the list, that they supported delisting the site?

THE PREMIER: No, Mr. Speaker.

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

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: JOBS - GUARANTEE

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is also to the Premier. Last night in his response to the Speech from the Throne the Premier said that he was not proud of the high unemployment rate in Cape Breton and I believe that to be true. The Premier also said that there were 4,000 jobs to be created by Sable gas. We all know that the unemployment rate for Cape Breton is 27.4 per cent.

What I would like to ask the Premier, plain and simple, with a yes or no answer, is could he please tell us what guarantees he has in place that these 4,000 jobs will be given to Nova Scotians? Would the Premier be willing to supply this House, before the end of Question Period, with the answers and with the guarantees that he has in his possession, to the members of this House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I believe that despite the lack of clarity, it is a serious question and one that deserves an answer, perhaps not as simple as yes or no. What we have seen published by Mobil in their statements, and I can't give you the exact date but I think it was sometime in October, that they would be employing 4,000 Nova Scotians. In the construction period between October and/or November, whenever the decision is made and November 1999, that there would be major employment in terms of opportunities for sleeves and all the metal work that will be done.

[Page 419]

It is also important to remember that when we talk about Cape Breton, one of the biggest potentials for offshore gas is the development of the petrochemical industry, primarily in Cape Breton. That is an opportunity that we are pursuing; we have already had contacts from some major companies that are interested in exploring the petrochemical opportunities both at Port Hawkesbury and in that neighbouring area. It is too early yet, because obviously the decision has not yet been made on natural gas - the board has to make its decision - but I can tell you that the opportunities for employment for Cape Bretoners in the petrochemical industry in the next three years is really going to be enormous and I think that will be a major part in assisting Cape Bretoners in their quest for employment.

MR. MACLEOD: I find that very interesting and, for once, I hope he is telling the truth. But I will say that the question on many people's minds (Interruptions)

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Withdraw, withdraw!

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the Premier is speaking what he believes to be the truth, but I want to make it very clear that the people who are building the pipelines have said they have no desire in putting a lateral into Cape Breton, so I would like to know how you are going to have a petrochemical industry in a place where there are no lines. How are they going to get the gas there? How are they going to create jobs and how are they going to give work to people?

THE PREMIER: I am sorry to have to say this (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: If the person who asked the question really wants the information, I can give it to him. He doesn't understand the process. It comes ashore at Country Harbour. The wet condensates will be piped into Cape Breton and the area around there. So, that is where it is going. Point Tupper is the place, but there may be other places including the salt caves. There are tremendous opportunities here, so let's not knock the opportunity for the petrochemical industry in Cape Breton. I would be willing to bet that member over there - who may be, perhaps, outside the House like me at that time - that by this time in four or five years there will be a significant industry in Cape Breton that will restore confidence in Cape Breton.

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

NAT. RES.: C.B. COAL - FUTURE

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, he might be right, I might be outside the House, but it will be the decision of the people and not the caucus.

[Page 420]

Last night, in his response to the Speech from the Throne, our Premier said that natural gas will not replace coal, the backbone of Cape Breton's economy, but that this gas will replace expensive offshore oil, and I hope he is correct. I want to ask the Premier if he could share with the members of the House the written guarantees that he has to show that natural gas will not replace Cape Breton coal in the generation of power in this province? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, leaving aside the obvious indecision of the member, the issue of what gas will replace has, indeed, been stated by Nova Scotia Power. Their first intent - and we only have evidence of what we see in the paper and what they present - is the conversion of Tufts Cove to a gas powerhouse. That is not the replacement of coal; that is the replacement of expensive offshore oil. Nova Scotia Power produces energy, not us, and we believe that their intentions, stated regularly for the last several months, are that nothing can replace in price the coal component of what they use to produce energy; it is as simple as that. They have stated that they will continue to use coal. What I suggest, however, is that you look very carefully at the environmental requirements in the next 10 years, because that will be as big an issue as any.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I am quite aware of the environmental guidelines that are going to come into effect over the next 10 years, but I still didn't hear a guarantee from the Premier that there would be no replacement of coal by the natural gas. He said here last night that there would not be, but he has not shown it.

I would ask the Premier how he can make such a statement. How can he say that last night at one time, and today he says something completely different, when we have already seen offshore coal being brought into Cape Breton by the power corporation? We have seen the power corporation going out and looking to be a distributor of natural gas. We have been told there would be no new taxes by this government. We have been told that there would be jobs, jobs, jobs. We were told that the answer was 30-60-90. We have been told that the BST would create jobs.

Would the minister please tell us and the rest of the people of this province why we should believe the statements he is making here today?

MR. SPEAKER: Is the question to the minister or to the Premier?

MR. MACLEOD: To the Premier.

THE PREMIER: I would remind you of our belief in working with the partners that we have, Mobil and Shell, and the fact that we have together worked with them in the last little while to emphasize the number of jobs and the opportunities there will be.

[Page 421]

In terms of the replacement of coal, I suggest that you address your remarks to the power corporation. It is the power corporation that will be making those decisions, not us. They have no reason to publicly lie about what they are going to do.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my final question through you is again to the Premier. The Premier prides himself and his government of being a government that is ready for all things that may happen in this province. My question to the Premier is, could he tell us what is his government's contingency plan if indeed coal is replaced by natural gas? We will have 2,200 families put out of work. Can you tell me what this government's plan is when and if that happens? That is the question.

THE PREMIER: I am concerned about the member's blood pressure.

The hypothetical question that he asks, we do not answer. Nobody answers a hypothetical question of that kind. What we are saying is that for the foreseeable future - five, ten - there is no indication coal will be replaced as a source of energy for the power corporation. I would remind him that any guarantees from the power corporation cannot be given, because thanks to the Conservative Party, we no longer own the power corporation.

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

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: COAL - FUTURE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Of course, the Premier could re-regulate it or more strictly regulate it. However, I want to go back to the original question and what the Premier said yesterday. The Premier did state very clearly and he did here again today that the Sable gas will not replace the coal but that it will only replace the imported offshore expensive oil. That is what he has kept saying.

The Premier's comments differ very significantly from what we were told when we met with senior officials of Nova Scotia Power very recently. I want to ask the Premier, did he speak with Nova Scotia Power officials before he made his comments in this House and is he speaking on their behalf?

THE PREMIER: Those are two totally different questions. Yes, I did speak to the Nova Scotia Power Corporation. I spoke with the President and CEO, David Mann.

MR. HOLM: We also know that not only if the Tufts Cove plant over here switches to natural gas from oil, that that will turn into a load plant which means it will be a major producer and the coal plant will be turned down and be reduced to being peak-period. That alone will affect it. Plus we also know that the Trenton plants have the potential to be converted over to the gas. That would be being looked at and that has the potential to have a major impact upon jobs in Cape Breton.

[Page 422]

ATi Consulting did a report. They did an analysis. They are a strategic management company that this government is very familiar with because they have hired them themselves. They obviously have faith in this company. They took a look at the costs associated with displacement of coal by gas for electric generating and they found the following impacts will be lost by Nova Scotia. They said in that report that 1,603 jobs, 504 of them direct and 1,099 indirect and induced; $52.8 million in direct and multiplier household incomes; and $57.5 million in Gross Domestic Products. The placement impacts on the coal industry exceed the gas production economic impacts as calculated by the proponents; that is what that study showed.

[3:45 p.m.]

My question to the Premier. Before he runs around making all of these statements about how wonderful this is going to be for Nova Scotia and how the jobs in Cape Breton in the coal industry there and in other parts of this province are safe, has his government done a cost-benefit analysis that can compare the costs associated with the benefits that are going to be accrued? Do you have such an analysis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is a little unfair to throw this kind of study which is dumped on me at short notice. What I can tell you quite clearly is that the best evidence we have from the power corporation, the best evidence we have from some of our consultants, is that the replacement of expensive offshore oil will occur at Tufts Cove. The potential that you may be looking at in other plants will not be under consideration for 10 or 15 years; that is the information we have. Therefore we are quite confident in stating - and we are not just concerned about trying to suck and blow in Cape Breton at the same time - what we are saying quite clearly is that gas is going to replace expensive offshore oil, that it will not replace coal and that the coal industry will continue to be supported.

I would remind you, and perhaps people in Cape Breton, that this government lifted the $0.5 million fee that we charge every year in an effort to make Cape Breton coal competitive.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier keeps telling us to go down the road to the energy board hearings and we can get the information. Maybe the Premier or somebody from his staff, or the minister, would like to go down there because they can get the information too, it is filed before the panel. If the Premier and his government doesn't have this kind of information, then they should have it.

I want to ask the Premier, speaking on behalf of his government, why is it that you have neglected to do your job and why is it you haven't done the analysis that shows a clear cost comparison, the pros and the cons as related to the impact that the gas industry is going to have?

[Page 423]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I think some things are coming to light. This document was prepared on behalf of the Ecology Action Centre, an official intervener at the joint review panel's public hearing with respect to the Sable Offshore Energy Project. We have not seen these figures before. I am quite prepared to take them into consideration but I would perhaps toss back a question, whether or not the potential candidate in a riding in Halifax represents the NDP view on gas?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - SHEET HBR.: TERMINAL - STATUS

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. I would like to ask why his government, through the Business Development Corporation, has asked the operators of the Sheet Harbour terminal to stop marketing that facility and why that facility has been forced to turn away business?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe we have. If anyone from my department, from the Business Development Corporation, has instructed anyone to stop marketing the Sheet Harbour facility, it has been done without my knowledge. There has certainly been no directive given.

I believe the member opposite is aware of the process that the province has gone through, an open process, to look for a manager of the facility. But, to my knowledge, there has been no direction given to stop any marketing initiatives. In fact, one of the reasons we have looked for private sector management has been the lack of aggressive marketing.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, Westside Stevedoring has been forced to turn away business because they are not allowed, by the Government of Nova Scotia, acting through the Business Development Corporation, to give any quotes of long-term price commitments to any customers.

Could the minister indicate why he has decided that the local operators living in Sheet Harbour are no longer allowed to give long-term contractual arrangements?

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, my predecessor, the former minister, went over the process, an RFP process, looking for private sector management. The company being referred to by the member opposite chose not to submit a proposal for that project.

MR. ARCHIBALD: The operators of Westside Stevedoring, Mr. Speaker, have spent over $200,000 in cargo handling equipment. Traffic has been dropping off because they are unable to operate under the uncooperative nature of the minister's Department of Economic Development and Tourism. Negotiations are continuing with Ceres Corp., a metro-based

[Page 424]

organization, with their headquarters, I believe, in New Jersey. However, there is a slow death being placed upon the local operators in Sheet Harbour.

How much longer before the minister will honestly sit down and negotiate with the local operators in Sheet Harbour who have made the personal commitment to operate that facility so they can expand? Mr. Speaker, the interesting point probably is just when it looks like there is a possibility that the port will get very busy through offshore is when the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism has decided that we should be looking at Ceres Corp. as the managers, rather than local business people who have been doing an admirable job under adverse conditions for so many years.

MR. MANN: It is interesting that the member opposite would completely ignore the answer to the questions he is asking, but instead is reading from a letter, which I assume a copy was sent to him, that was sent to me last week by people from Sheet Harbour. He wants me to sit down and negotiate with someone who chose not to submit a bid and ignore those who did submit a bid. That is tremendous logic. That is fantastic logic now. Let's put out a bid for proposals, but let's not negotiate, let's not talk to anyone who put a bid in. Let's go and talk to the ones who chose not to put a bid in.

In fact, those people were contacted and asked, specifically, did they want to put a bid in? They chose not to do so. That was not my decision. It was not my predecessor's decision. It wasn't Ceres Corp.'s decision. It was their decision. They did not want to put in a bid, so they are not at the table.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HUMAN RES. - EDIP: EXTRA APPROPRIATION - STATUS

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. In the dying days of the 1995-96 fiscal year, there was an extra appropriation made to the Department of Human Resources for the early departure incentive program [EDIP] in the amount of $23 million.

My question to the minister is, how much of that money has been expended to date?

HON. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, this was a figure that was put in the budget as a preliminary figure which the Cabinet of the day did not have a good idea as to how much would be needed for this program. There was no way of foreseeing this. EDIP, by the way, is a program used as a tool to help departments if they have to downsize. They can use the program as a tool for letting people go with assistance, with a severance package. There was no way of knowing as to how much money was needed up to this point. I don't have the figures at my fingertips, but would be willing to look for them.

[Page 425]

MR. RUSSELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, as it happens, I can probably help the minister out. There is something less than $2 million expended on that program, which, by my mathematics, leaves something in the order of $20 million to $21 million still sitting around. Will the minister tell us where that $21 million is right now?

MR. SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I can't confirm the figures as to whether the $2 million is accurate or not accurate. I trust the honourable member that they are accurate but I do not know if they are so. I am willing to go back to my department and get the accurate figures directly from my department. As to what happens with the remaining $21 million, it is in every department and there are contingency plans in every department. As I said at the onset, there is no way of knowing how much we needed for this particular program.

The answer to the honourable member, I will go back and check to see exactly how much money has been put in this program.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is to the Minister of Finance. I wonder if the Minister of Finance will tell us where that $21 million is and how much of it is being expended and what it is being expended on and, if he doesn't have those figures and numbers and places at his fingertips, will he supply them to this House before the end of today?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, this government has been more accountable than any other government in history. (Applause) We have tabled quarterly financial reports, which has never been done before in the history of Nova Scotia.

The honourable member should be patient. Tomorrow the budget will be tabled and once it is tabled, there will be ample opportunity to question both the Minister of Human Resources, myself or anyone else on this particular matter. I think that is the way to deal with it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

JUSTICE - INSTITUTIONS: ABUSE COMPENSATION -

MONIES EXPENDED

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance is talking about accountability and transparency and all those great words. The point of fact is that they got this money in 1995-96, actually by chicanery. They took into their budget in 1996-97 dollars that should have been expended in 1995-96. Okay, they did that. They got $23 million in there and they expended only $2 million of it in 1996-97. To me, there is still $21 million floating around there. I suspect very much that this is part of these great programs that are coming

[Page 426]

forward right now to build highways here and pave this and do this and that and the other thing.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. In 1995-96, right at the end of the fiscal year, when we got down to the last moments of that fiscal year, the then Minister of Finance came in with an extra appropriation for the Justice Ministry in the amount of $32 million, which was to be used for compensation for victims of abuse. Now they already had $10 million in the kitty in 1995-96, they got an extra $32 million in 1995-96, so that is $42 million and in this past year they have taken an extra appropriation of $10 million. Would the minister tell the House how much of that $52 million that is in that fund for victims of abuse has been expended?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: I believe that the appropriation was $33 million, plus another $10 million that was added at a later time. This is a program for compensation for victims of abuse which was started during this administration. It is a very important program; it is on-going.

I do not have the figures at my fingertips as to exactly how much has been paid out at this time but I can inform the honourable member that I can get an up-to-date report for him. The program is ongoing and we are working to bring this to a successful conclusion.

MR. RUSSELL: Wonderful words. Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the minister spent nothing like $52 million, nothing like that at all, yet he has taken an extra $10 million in fiscal 1996-97 out of this program. Again, he is setting up a slush fund.

On top of that, Mr. Speaker, this minister halfway through the program changed the rules; heretofore those payments were to be made to the person affected, in other words the victim, they were to be made in cash. Now, the minister said I do not like that too much, it is costing us too much money, we will spread the cost of this program over four years.

[4:00 p.m.]

My question to the minister is, at the present time can he provide to the House a list, I do not want the names, of cases and amounts paid. Can he provide that to the House before the House adjourns today?

MR. SPEAKER: To whom was the question asked?

MR. RUSSELL: The Minister of Justice.

[Page 427]

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, this is a very serious program. The institutional abuse is something that goes back to 1966 and this government is the first government in that period that decided to look at that and try to find some program to compensate these victims (Applause). In order to do this we have devised a program which, I think, is going to that in a very fair way and in order to accomplish that you have to allocate so much money to carry out the program and you do not spend it all the first day that you get it.

I have money allocated for the program. The program is ongoing, we will ensure these people are properly reimbursed for the suffering that they have had. It is not a slush fund, it is a fund for a very important purpose.

MR. RUSSELL: My final supplementary is to the Minister of Finance. There is a total between these two programs that my last two questions have addressed of $75 million and that is a lot of cash. By information that I have and admittedly it may not be exactly correct, but, however, on information that we have received from the Department of Justice and the Department of Finance, it appears that the total amount expended on these two programs is somewhere in the order of about $25 million - that is expended and committed. There is still $50 million there.

Would the Minister of Finance tell me what he is doing with that $50 million that is still sitting in the kitty?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Any money that comes from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia under the Government of John Savage is well used. These two programs (Interruption) The early retirement program is an important program to the public servants of Nova Scotia that take early retirement or leave. The problems, the victims of abuse compensation is to compensate for abuse that stretched back into the 1950's actually and was not dealt with by successive governments, including the 15 years in which that honourable member was on this side of House.

We have that money put away; the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Human Resources have seen that there is adequate money for early retirement on the one hand and compensation for victims of abuse and we intend to pay for those particular programs for which it is intended.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

NAT. RES. - SABLE GAS: DISTRIBUTION - STRATEGY

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Yesterday and again today, the Premier made reference to the development of a petrochemical industry and the jobs that it would create, especially in Cape Breton.

[Page 428]

I have here a government study, commissioned by the Department of Natural Resources. I have the report here from CHEMinfo Services Inc. in Toronto, A Scoping Study to Identify Petrochemical Opportunities Based on Offshore Natural Gas in Nova Scotia. When you look at the information provided by the companies engaged in the offshore, the only plan they seem to have is to transport the liquefied gas out of this province just as fast as they can.

My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is what strategy does the government have to guarantee there will be any liquefied gas left here to have that value added put on it.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has to know that when the Sable Offshore Energy Project is onstream in the fall and they make their decision in the fall of this year, and they start developing gas offshore Nova Scotia, when the gas does come ashore, it will be separated at Guysborough County and the liquid portion of that will stay in Nova Scotia and be piped to Point Tupper, where there are opportunities, there are terminals there, and those wet liquids could be turned into a petrochemical industry.

There are any number of companies interested in that. I have spoken to a number of companies about them coming to Nova Scotia to use that resource that will be there, to develop and enhance that area of the province, to make further use. The most valuable part of this whole project will be the fact that we can use that part of it and build a whole new industry here in this province.

We are looking forward to that happening. We have a whole process we are going through in the next two months. Final decisions will be made for approvals between now and the end of the summer. The proponents will make a final decision by November of this year whether they are going to go forward. We hope that that can happen and we can look forward to a future of Nova Scotia as being a have-province, rather than a have-not-province.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister says that she is hoping. It is not very often that I say anything positive about the Government of Alberta but, in Alberta, the gas companies have been required to have a petrochemical industry to keep the liquefied gas in the province to do that. I don't hear the minister saying that there is any way that the government can make this happen. So will they do what Alberta did, make the regulations that make it possible to build a base for this industry?

MRS. NORRIE: The member opposite may not have heard the number of discussions that have taken place in this House over the last year, but the Nova Scotia Government is not in the gas and oil business. What we are doing is creating an atmosphere, creating a climate so that companies can come here and work. (Interruptions)

[Page 429]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MRS. NORRIE: We are not in the gas and oil business. We are working with companies to come here. We are creating a climate here in the province to attract companies to Nova Scotia. We also now have the best record in Canada on new investment in this province, based on the economy that we have set here in the province, based on strengthening Nova Scotia by putting our own fiscal House in order. We are attracting the most investment in any province in this country.

Mr. Speaker, we are not in the gas and oil business. We will have the companies that best do that come here to create those jobs, to create the industry that will be attracted here by the wet gases that are here. That is already in the process of happening. I would say that Nova Scotia will benefit, very greatly, from the gas project that is offshore here in Nova Scotia, without any taxpayers dollars invested by the people of this government.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the government is not in the fish business and the fish are gone. The government is not in the tree business and the trees are going. I would like to ask the minister why the government is repeating the same mistake over and over again. We are not asking the government to get into the oil business or the gas business or the tree business or the fish business. We are saying to this government, why can't you prevent the companies from carting away our resources the way they have for the last 200 years, giving it all away?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is saying that we are giving something away? You don't seem to understand that this project is a project put on by the companies that are involved with the project. They are making the investment. We are going to get all the benefits from royalties, from taxes, from a whole new industry here in this province and the petrochemical industry will be a part of that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

HEALTH: PHARMACARE - BILLING PROCEDURE

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. My colleagues and I have had many discussions with seniors in regard to billing procedures for Pharmacare and I will use an example. Could the minister explain how a person could be billed twice in the same year for the Seniors' Pharmacare Program with two different figures?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am quite certain it is not the intention of the Pharmacare Program nor the Board of Trustees that administer that program to bill any senior twice in one year for the same coverage. If in fact there was such a case, I will be more than happy to review it for the honourable member.

[Page 430]

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister and I will give him the letter later. I won't table it because I don't want to use the senior's name. Anyway, the first bill was for $179 and the second was for $215. The senior had paid over the previous two years and he was very concerned about this bill. Could the minister indicate to me what checks and balances are being done to see that seniors are not paying more than they have to?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think this program is administered involving a very large number of seniors, as the honourable member will appreciate. I was just trying to find out if I could tell him exactly how many seniors are involved but there is something in the range of 100,000. I suppose in any program of that size you are bound to find a glitch every now and then. When we do, we try to address it as quickly as possible. In the case that the honourable member refers to, he would prefer to pay the lower bill.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister. When the bills are sent out to the seniors there is no name on the bill other than the Nova Scotia Senior Pharmacare Program and so this particular gentleman that I am talking about suggests that why couldn't there be some name on that form so when they write, they will be writing to John Doe so that that person can talk to somebody that is really dealing with it. You said there are 100,000 people and I know there are some mistakes but my suggestion to you, Mr. Minister, is that there should be somebody's name on the bottom of the bill whether it is John Doe, or whatever, but I think it is a reasonable suggestion. I would ask the minister if he would look into that matter for me please?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, yes. Not only will I be happy to look into it I would be happy to pass that comment along to the board of the seniors who in fact are responsible for and administer the program. I just thought I would mention to the honourable member I found the statistic I was looking for in answer to his previous question. There are now more than 108,000 seniors covered by the program in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERVICE (GLACE BAY):

MARITIME MEDICAL CARE - SUBSIDY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health is very aware that his department's efforts to change the emergency response system in this province has taken another turn. My question to the minister is simply, has the minister's department, through any arrangement or agreement with Maritime Medical Care in their purchasing of the Glace Bay ambulance operation, made any budgetary concessions or any subsidy arrangements with the company to allow this to happen?

[Page 431]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I have taken the approach that I would not become personally involved with the various transactions that have occurred across the province in terms of the purchase and sale of individual ambulance services. As the honourable member knows, there have been quite a number over the past 12 months to 18 months so I can't answer his question specifically.

I may repeat to the honourable member that the involvement of the department comes at both ends of a potential transaction. It comes at the front end when we qualify a potential purchaser or bidder if you will and it comes at the back end when we ensure that the arrangements that have been made and the business plan that is in place make sense because at the end of the day the taxpayer, through our subsidies that we pay, in effect picks up a good measure of the operating costs. We have some interest in seeing and being involved in what the business plan was. In the particular case in question, I cannot give any personal knowledge.

[4:15 p.m.]

DR. HAMM: I thank the minister for the answer and I will continue with the minister. The minister indicated that he is not aware of any specifics of financial transactions. The minister did make reference to front-end arrangements with Maritime Medical Care regarding getting into the ambulance business. My question to the minister is, when those arrangements were being made, was there any front-end arrangement that Maritime Medical Care would be participating with the province in either a subsidy or in the financing of Maritime Medical Care entering the emergency system business in the purchase of ambulance companies around the province?

MR. BOUDREAU: I don't think I even mentioned Maritime Medical Care in my answer whatsoever. I said that the province will pre-qualify bidders or potential purchasers. I would be surprised if Maritime Medical came along and said they were interested in being a purchaser. I would be surprised if we did not pre-qualify them. They are a reputable Nova Scotia company and they have done great work and shown great success in various areas of endeavour. I would be surprised if we did not qualify them.

In point of fact, that is the initial part of the process. In the latter part of the process no doubt there are all sorts of discussions that happen between any potential bidder who has been pre-qualified and the department having to do with the business plan end of the transaction.

DR. HAMM: The minister is clearly avoiding the question. The question is simple. Is the Department of Health involved in financing Maritime Medical Care in getting into the ambulance business? Are they involved in the financing or are they not?

[Page 432]

MR. BOUDREAU: I have attempted to give a clear answer. My first clear answer was, I do not get involved in the details of these transactions. I am sure if I did, the honourable members across would be saying I was interfering. I was in some way attempting to exercise political influence. They would be the first ones to holler. What I said was I do not get involved in the details.

What in point of fact is the case, is that the Government of Nova Scotia, through the payments it makes to ambulance operators all across the province indeed subsidizes and, if you will, through that method provides the resources necessary to finance purchases. That is why we are interested in how much people pay for these operations.

MR. SPEAKER: On a new question, the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERVICE:

MARITIME MEDICAL CARE - SUBSIDY

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, again, I will continue with the minister. I find it passing strange that the Minister of Health would not be aware that his department would be committing funds and he would not even know it. That really is the essence of the minister's answer.

AN HON. MEMBER: He would be a great Premier. No idea of what is going on.

DR. HAMM: I will go again to the minister. I think it is a very straightforward question, relatively innocuous. Is the Minister of Health, and his department, going to provide any loan guarantees to allow the buyout of ambulance services by Maritime Medical Care in this province?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: That may be a very simple question, but it is not the one he asked a moment ago. He has now moved his mark, and my answer is the same. My answer is that I do not get involved in the details of these transactions. In fact, we have competent people. We pay them well. As a matter of fact the Opposition from time to time has complained how well we pay them, in fact, to give them responsibility. (Interruption) They would certainly be overpaid, Mr. Speaker, if we made all the decisions and did not allow them to do their jobs.

DR. HAMM: The record will clearly show that the minister again is avoiding answering the question. The Department of Health, granted, before this minister was in place, made a commitment to ambulance operators that a new budget-based agreement would be in place by April 1996. One year later, the ambulance operators are still awaiting the fulfilment of that commitment. My question to the minister, will the minister advise when that commitment will be kept?

[Page 433]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable Leader of the Opposition has specific questions that he wants to address, perhaps if he writes them down and sends them to me I can attempt to have them addressed. In respect to the last question, we are moving together with the ambulance operators of this province very quickly and we have, as a result, put in place in Nova Scotia an emergency health services operation which is without parallel this country. In fact, to demonstrate that, aside from the catcalls from some of the members across who did nothing for all of the years they were responsible. But just as a little measure of proof of that we have now agreements with two countries in the Caribbean who have expressed very great interest in learning from our EHS operation benefiting from the training and, in fact, using some of our equipment. They realize, as those members opposite do not, that we have one of the finest operations in the world and we can be very proud of it. (Applause)

DR. HAMM: Again, I did not hear discussion about a budget-based agreement in the minister's answer. Certainly, the ambulance operators have been waiting since April of last year for the department to fulfill that commitment and to give them that kind of an agreement. I am sure that they will be perhaps less impressed than the members of the government benches with the minister's answer.

My question to the minister, in continuing on the development of the ambulance service in this province, could the minister outline the experience that Maritime Medical Care has had in the provision of emergency response services and were other sources looked at to develop a province-wide approach to the delivery of service?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, just in response to the honourable Leader of the Opposition's aside, because he does not put it in the form of a question. In response to his aside, if he has specific ambulance operators that are now very discontent with this process that has been underway, perhaps he can table the letter, if he has a letter. Does he have a letter today? He could table it because I have not received any and if he does table that letter when I sit down I would be happy before the day is out to contact that operator. We will see if he tables the letter.

In answer to his question, he says what experience does Maritime Medical have, should we have done something else, should we have decided. This is a private sector transaction. There is a buyer and a seller. There is a willing buyer and a willing seller. Is the honourable Leader of the Opposition suggesting that we should somehow come into the picture and say to an ambulance operator, no you cannot sell to this person, you can only sell to the other? That sounds like the NDP - I am surprised that the Leader of the Opposition would hold such a position.

We have a responsibility to make sure that organizations are responsible organizations, they are credible organizations. I think MMC is a responsible, credible organization in this province and has been for some time. We are not going to tell any ambulance operator that

[Page 434]

either you must sell to this person or you must not sell to this person and I think that would be wrong.

DR. HAMM: We have been at this so long, I am beginning to lose track of which supplementary we are on. This is my first supplementary. I will go onto the new question. I thought the Speaker said first supplementary.

I find this strange because the minister seems to want to create the impression that after all the interest that this government has had in the development of an ambulance and an emergency response system in this province that all of a sudden there is something going on out there and there is an arrangement that seems to be leading down the road to one operator for the entire province. The minister claims he doesn't know if the department made any commitment and he doesn't know if anybody else is involved and, all of a sudden, he is two arm's lengths away.

Now is the minister prepared to table tomorrow the information from his department that will absolutely determine what subsidies and arrangements have been negotiated with Maritime Medical Care, allowing them to go to the Glace Bay operation and perhaps others, and offer to buy out those operations? Would he also provide the details of the contractual arrangements that he made with the private operators when they were being encouraged by government to buy out smaller operations in their area?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, speaking of tabling, the honourable Leader of the Opposition didn't table that evidence, that letter.

AN HON. MEMBER: He doesn't have it.

MR. BOUDREAU: I guess he didn't have one. Well, that is fine.

Mr. Speaker, I am not about to bring to the floor of the House of Assembly details of a financial nature that might be involved and might be very relevant in a case of a private sector transaction which has taken place.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition says, well where has the minister been? He doesn't know the details of this transaction. I say, where has the honourable Leader of the Opposition been? Transactions have taken place all over Nova Scotia for the last 18 months and the Minister of Health has not been in the middle of any of them and they have gone through very successfully. In fact, as a result, we have brought a level of consolidation to the ambulance system that has enabled us to make great strides in the delivery of quality service.

Now I don't know if the honourable Leader of the Opposition is for that or against that but I can tell you that I am not jumping into the middle of any commercial transaction and spilling all of the details in the House of Assembly.

[Page 435]

DR. HAMM: Well thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is very obvious that the minister is not going to part with enough information to allow anyone to make up their mind as to whether or not this is going to be positive or negative because we don't seem to be able to get even the simplest information from the minister.

Is the minister prepared to guarantee that whatever arrangements have been made with Maritime Medical Care, they will not preclude or eliminate those ambulance operators who have invested their time and energy and resources into providing ambulance services at the local level, that they will have equal opportunity to continue to be participants in the delivery of emergency services in this province?

MR. BOUDREAU: That is precisely the point, Mr. Speaker, we will not either dictate who should be a successful purchaser or who should not be a successful purchaser. I think these are private sector transactions and, if there is a qualified group of bidders and a purchaser finds one that he is comfortable with and it is a reasonable deal, then we should stay the heck out of it.

What I would say, though, if it will relieve the honourable Leader of the Opposition's concern, is that if there is somebody out there and they are operating an ambulance system and they don't want to sell to anyone, they want to stay in business, they will stay in business.

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

EXCO - BARREN (JIM CAMPBELL): DECISION - INFO. SECURITY

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I direct my question through you, sir, to the Premier. Yesterday the Premier referred to me as a projector of sleaze. (Interruption)

[4:30 p.m.]

The Premier agrees with me on that, rather than with his Government House Leader. Anyway, regardless, there was a reference to me in there, related to sleaze, because I dared to ask some questions about the possibility about a leak of information, intentionally or inadvertently, about a Cabinet decision that was made to delist the Jim Campbells Barren. The Premier also told the press that he had not even raised the issue with his Cabinet.

I would like, therefore, to ask the Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker, how is it he is able to give such categorical assurances that there was no leak of information when he has not even raised the topic with his Cabinet colleagues?

THE PREMIER: Because, Mr. Speaker, the members of our Cabinet took an oath of confidentiality. They have demonstrated in four years that they have stuck rigidly to this and I see no reason to believe that they have varied from that at all.

[Page 436]

MR. HOLM: I hear a member spouting off about absolute honesty, Mr. Speaker. The member who was spouting that obviously didn't even hear the comment that leaks can be inadvertent, which can be as serious.

My next question, Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct through you, sir, to the Minister of Natural Resources. I would like to ask the Minister of Natural Resources if any senior officials or members of her staff were advised or made aware of the decision that had been made at Cabinet?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: The normal course of events, when any decision is made in Cabinet, is that it goes through a process. It has to go through the Executive Council Office and then, when the final minute is approved, it comes back to the department, to the senior official in the department.

MR. HOLM: Maybe the minister can tell us then exactly when it was that the first word about the Cabinet decision, again, got back to her department, or any officials within her department, and if she has been able to assure herself - and I say again, Mr. Speaker, pieces of paper can even be left around, information can get out sometimes and it is not intentional that it gets out . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It is a question of removing the cloud.

MR. HOLM: It is a question of removing the cloud. My question to the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier has not seen it necessary to consult with his Cabinet colleagues to see if there is a possibility that a leak could have occurred there, so has the minister assured herself that no possible, intentional or unintentional, leak could have occurred from her department about the decision that was made?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I will say again to the member opposite, there is a process that is followed on any decision that is made in Cabinet. A minute comes to the Executive Council office, it comes back to the minister and the deputy minister and then the normal process of release of that could be at any time; sometimes it is immediate and sometimes it could be two or three months before that decision is made public.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH: QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE - WAGE DISPARITY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Health. I would ask the Minister of Health, does he recall a meeting last fall with the president and the secretary-treasurer of NSGEU, in which he made a commitment to begin discussions this past January with a view to addressing the wage disparity issue at the QE II? Would the minister recall that particular meeting?

[Page 437]

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Not specifically, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MOODY: Well, the meeting did take place. It was reported that it did take place, so I would assume he will bone up on what actually happened. Since the minister didn't recall the meeting and January has passed, will he undertake to pass along to me, and through you to the other members, what discussions, if any, have taken place since that meeting?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I have had discussions with the president of NSGEU and also with some nurses from the institution, on at least a couple of occasions. The subject of wage disparity was raised and I have indicated the position of government at this point in time. That was conveyed to them and I think they understand our position.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure what the position is, maybe he can clarify that. As I understand it the QE II is struggling to reduce its budget by $23 million. Obviously, I assume that his position is that he recognizes the disparity and that will be taken care of. He has precluded the budget this session for the doctors of additional money. Is he prepared at this time to deal or at least put money in the budget to allow the QE II to address this issue of disparity with the workers there in this coming budget?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the disparity of the QE II, obviously is one for the QE II board, they have the jurisdiction in this matter. The budgets in the acute care sector generally will be included in the budget information and I am sure we will have further discussion about it at that time.

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

HEALTH - HOME CARE SERVICES: HST - APPLICABILITY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, a new question for the Minister of Health. I am still not sure whether he supports the issue of clarifying the wage disparity or not, he said that he had a policy but I am not sure what it is. My question for the Minister of Health is, could he please advise what private home care services in this province - the minister is aware there are private home care services in the province I am sure, what of those services - will be taxed under the HST that is presently being provided?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think we tabled an outline on that, probably both myself and the Minister of Finance. Rather than risk any misstatement of that policy, I will undertake to provide the written document for the honourable member by this time tomorrow.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the answer and I look forward to it. The minister is aware that a personal care worker, PCW, it is my understanding those services are taxed if it is provided by private home care service agencies. If it is a licensed practical nurse,

[Page 438]

LPN, it is not taxed. In other words if it is personal care work by an LPN it is not taxed. If it is provided by a PCW, then it is taxed. I wonder if the minister with the document he is going to give me tomorrow could clarify that particular issue?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, yes, I will.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I have talked to a number of private home care operators and they have been given a number of answers. As a matter of fact, one answer they got from a Liberal backbencher was that home care was not taxed and then they were audited by the Finance Department and ended up owing the Finance Department $10,000 because in actual fact part of the home care was taxed. I would ask the minister and I hope the paper he gives me tomorrow will clarify so those private operators in the province - because I had a number of calls last week and met with a number of them, so they - can be clear on what aspect of the private home care service is taxed and what of the private home care service is not taxed?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, yes I think that is a reasonable request.

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

NAT. RES. - FORESTS: MANAGEMENT - STATUS

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question if for the honourable Minister of Natural Resources. Can the minister tell me today whether the province at the present time is involved in an intensive forest management strategy or mode?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, yes.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, can the minister then please tell me why, based on the Nova Scotia Forest Management Strategy unveiled by the Department of Natural Resources in 1994 said that only 2,857 hectares of forest land have been regenerated instead of the recommended 8,107 hectares?

MRS. NORRIE: No, I am sorry I cannot provide that information today.

MR. TAYLOR: I hope the minister finds time to look into that because the strategy did commit to regenerating a little over 8,000 hectares. The strategy also was committed to pre-commercial thinning of some 5,772 hectares and only 2,457 hectares were actually pre-commercially thinned.

[Page 439]

If the minister cares to check those figures she can look at her graph in the strategy on Page 14 and find these numbers. I wonder if the minister can tell me today, with the considerable concern being expressed in a number of areas about the depletion of our forest land, whether her department has any plans to re-intensify their forest management strategy?

MRS. NORRIE: The member opposite will know there has been a lot of public discussion, and the member opposite has been part of that, to come up with a strategy in this province to make sure that we have a sustainable forest management strategy here. We have worked with a coalition of forest interests. We have also worked with the Round Table on the Economy and the Environment to come up with a strategy, to come up with data and to come up with a long-term plan for the future of this province and the forest industry.

I have consulted with a number of companies, a number of contractors, a number of small woodlot owners, large woodlot owners, as well as the larger companies, to come up with a strategy that would meet all of our commitments while at the same time we have a forestry here that will serve us long into the future. I would ask the member opposite to work with the government and to work with all those concerned to make sure that that does happen.

I will tell the member opposite as well that within the department we are working to make sure we come up with a strategy that will reach that same end. We are committed to that. The member opposite has heard me speak on a number of occasions and I also know of some of the work that is being done by the private woodlot owners, by industry, by the government, to help fund that within the province. There was a strategy announced just recently, an agreement between Stora, the private woodlot owners, as well as government, to help fund that, to come up with a long-term plan.

I think it is a very good plan. It is an agreement that was announced. I would recommend that all those out there who are involved in the industry, whether it is sawmillers, small woodlot owners, large industry, follow the example that has been set by the eastern counties here in Nova Scotia to come up with a strategy. If you look at the budget numbers coming out tomorrow, you will see we are committed to that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for Question Period is now over.

THE PREMIER: I have a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I inadvertently misspoke when I said that the NDP had not replied to Mr. Justice Dooley. It was in fact Mr. Justice MacIntosh, not Justice Mr. Dooley. That is his other name. What happened was that the then Minister of Justice wrote to both Parties. The Conservative Party did reply. The NDP did not reply.

[Page 440]

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, if I may. The letter the Premier is referring to was a request that the Parties participate in determining the code of conduct for elected officials. Certainly our position has always been that that is a decision that politicians should not be involved in, that it is something that should be determined by an independent body. That is our position and always has been our position.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. During Question Period I raised concerns with the Premier and I referenced a study that was done by ATi Consulting. This is a company that I have understood to be a very professional company. It is one that I understood the government itself believed to be extremely credible and they have in fact hired that company on many occasions. Whether you like or dislike some of the findings the company discovered in the report, it is deemed to be a professional organization.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the Premier slurred the reputation of that company this afternoon and insulted their integrity, because the study they put forward, they were working for a company or for an organization, a proponent, and the Premier didn't seem to like the information and he simply discounted their study, which would be an insult to the integrity and the professionalism of that company simply because of the organization they were working for, and I would like to ask the Premier to apologize to ATi for the slur that he has made on that company's reputation.

MR. SPEAKER: The point is noted.

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, here we do have the shoe on the other foot. Here we have the NDP defending a company? My goodness! At no time did I slur anybody; at no time did I indicate that this company was anything. All I said was that it was produced for the Ecology Action Centre. I think that is all I said and I think Hansard will show that.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. During Question Period, I asked the Premier if anybody outside Cabinet knew about the decision to lift the Jim Campbells Barren designation. The din was such that I really didn't understand the answer, so I am just asking for clarification. Did the Premier say that nobody outside of Cabinet knew about the decision?

[Page 441]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member could make reference to Hansard, please.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 4.

Res. No. 4, re Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Job Creation: Failure - Condemn - notice given Apr. 11/97 - (Dr. J. Hamm)

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order as a result of a question asked during Question Period yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition. I have the answer he requested and I would like to table it and perhaps read into the record that the answer to his question regarding the number of decisions rendered by the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal. The number is a total of 185 decisions. I would like to table this for the attention of the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SPEAKER: The answer is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his prompt tabling of the information. I welcome the opportunity to debate this resolution. It was a resolution that I introduced into the House myself. One would wonder why the Opposition would want to debate such a resolution, since the Premier has been on record on more than one occasion extolling the fact that this government has created 20,000 new jobs; 20,000 new jobs have been created.

Well, you know it is very interesting because month after month we look at the number of unemployed in Nova Scotia and we see that the number always hovers near 60,000. So one would ask in this House - as I am asked when I travel around the province - where are the jobs that the government talks about? They certainly are not in rural Nova Scotia; they certainly are not in Cape Breton. Where are the jobs?

In reality, what is happening in this province is that the new jobs are low-paying and sometimes part-time jobs and, in fact, they are replacing better paying jobs with full benefits. Now to back up my argument, in 1993 and in 1994 and in 1995 there has been a progressive lowering of the average Nova Scotia family income. The figures for 1995 show 80.1 per cent of jobs in Nova Scotia are full time and in the next year, 1996, that number has dropped to

[Page 442]

77.3 per cent. So we have lower paying jobs and we have fewer full-time jobs and more part-time jobs. Those are the simple facts of the case.

Now let's look at the unemployment rate. The Nova Scotia unemployment rate, unadjusted three month moving average, for March 1996 was 13.4 per cent. For March 1997, the unemployment rate was 1 per cent higher at 14.4 per cent. It is not much wonder that Nova Scotians are asking, where are the jobs? What is going to happen?

That is the bad news, but let's look at what is happening. What have we got to look forward to in our future? We have a government with no job strategy in place, no job creation plan. Nowhere is that more evident than in Cape Breton, where again we see the federal government coming to Cape Breton with millions of dollars to spend and the provincial government does not have a plan to ensure that the tens of millions of dollars that are being provided to Cape Breton will have any lasting benefit.

Where will growth be? Well, CIBC economist, John Clinkard, said that the growth in Canada's Gross Domestic Product will be between 3 per cent and 3.5 per cent in the coming year. That is great. That means that Canada will continue to grow. But, is Nova Scotia going to grow? Are we going to be participants in that growth? Where can the growth be? Mr. Clinkard goes on to say that that growth will be very largely due to growth in the construction industry. What is going to happen to construction here in Nova Scotia with our blended sales tax?

One of the hardest hit parts of our economy will be in construction with the increased cost of construction, new home construction, apartment construction, home renovation, apartment renovation. We had a flurry of activity in the month of March in this province as homeowners, as apartment owners and construction people scrambled to get the work done before April 1st, knowing full well that the same work afterwards would cost more, perhaps 3 per cent to 4 per cent more. We will see a downturn in residential and apartment construction in Nova Scotia and renovation, thanks to the blended sales tax. So we will not participate in the growth of the economy of Canada in the construction industry.

Let's look at our retail business. This government could fail to understand, while every other person, it seemed, in Nova Scotia and across Canada was understanding that tax-included pricing was the wrong way to go because it would simply put the retail business in this province on its knees; 40,000 Nova Scotians work in the retail industry. You, the members on the government benches, were the last in Canada to understand the effect of tax-included pricing on the retail industry, the very last people in Canada to understand it. (Interruption)

The member for Dartmouth East would have us believe that he is right, the government was right, when the other provinces made the decision that it wasn't right, the Senate made the decision it was not right, consumers made the decision it wasn't right, the retail business

[Page 443]

made the decision it wasn't right, but this government holds itself out as being the ultimate decision-making body, the ultimate source of decision making and good sense in the economy and that simply isn't so. This is the government that talked about 30-60-90 and jobs, jobs, jobs. That was the extent of their understanding of the Nova Scotia economy.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is your position on tax-inclusive pricing?

DR. HAMM: I don't like it. I don't like it until half the country are involved. The Balkanization of Atlantic Canada by tax-included pricing was not and is not right for Nova Scotia. Madam Speaker, we do have a future in this province and part of that future is the development of our gas resource. We cannot afford to trip up on the development of this very important resource because even if it is badly managed and badly managed it is being, it will have a positive impact on jobs in this province. If it is well managed and all the benefits accrue to Nova Scotia that could accrue, then it will be our stepping stone in the coming century to real prosperity.

We will have in place a source of cheap energy; if the proper arrangement is in place, the cheapest energy in eastern Canada, cheaper than our partner provinces because it is our gas and we deserve the cheapest gas in all of Atlantic Canada. We pay more because of our position on the coast. We pay more than New Brunswick to get raw materials to our province. They do not subsidize that and we pay more to get our manufactured goods to the central markets and New Brunswick does not subsidize that. I am not prepared to subsidize cheap gas in New Brunswick by giving them the same rate of transmission as is available to the people of Nova Scotia. Lets develop our gas resource and provide this province with a real future.

My time is finished, but I conclude my remarks. I implore this government to become proactive in placing before the people and the NEB the position of Nova Scotians regarding the long-term utilization of natural gas available from the Sable offshore energy project.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism.

HON. RICHARD MANN: I do not know that I have heard a more unfocused and wandering diatribe in my life; perhaps last Thursday it happened. Someone in the Gallery came down after listening to the Leader of the Opposition respond to the Speech from the Throne and they said, that is not true. What is he talking about? That is so political. They said I am involved in the health care delivery system and what he is saying and bringing to the floor of this House is not true. Why is he doing that? Why is he allowed to get away with that? Here we have him up again today with Resolution No. 4 that goes on and on about certain things and then he gets up and talks about gas again. He totally ignored what he heard today in Question Period, totally ignored the facts and wants to put on the record statements that, again, someone up there in the Gallery might say that is not true.

[Page 444]

Lets look at some of the facts. He quoted one person in his whole diatribe, one person on statistics about the growth in the country. Well, let me quote some and it will not be my own department that I am quoting - let us start with Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey. March 1997 Nova Scotia continues to lead the region in job creation. We have created 25,500 net new jobs since May 1993. New Brunswick lost 3,800 in the same time period. Let us go and see what they are saying in New Brunswick - that guy Valcourt - Tory, what is he saying? He is after Mr. McKenna. He is saying, Mr. McKenna, why can't you keep up to Nova Scotia's rate of job growth? Why can't you match the Nova Scotia performance in job creation? That is the Tory saying that. Do you know what Mr. McKenna said? He cannot explain why his efforts to create more jobs are not being reflected in the monthly employment statement. "It is very frustrating. I can tell you it is not for lack of work. We are working at it night and day and almost anyone would acknowledge that we are putting more effort into it than anybody else. If there are things we are doing wrong, I would like to know what they are, I am willing to learn from anybody.".

Well, here is where they are going to learn. Net loss of 3,800 jobs during the same period that Nova Scotia grew 25,500 and it is on its way up at an alarming rate. Those are the facts - Statistics Canada, not Nova Scotia Economic Development and Tourism Department - Statistics Canada, but he does not quote that.

[5:00 p.m.]

It is very interesting, I have been in this portfolio for nine months and I don't know what could be more exciting at this time than the excitement being expressed and directed toward the Province of Nova Scotia. He asks, where are the jobs? Well, I live in the Village of St. Peters, a small village, and he has been there a couple of times. He has brought 9 and 10 Tories out for breakfast meetings and he could drive through that little village - and the member for Cape Breton West spends a fair amount of time there - and he could look at 10 new businesses that have been there in the last two or three years alone. Each one of them with two, three, four or five jobs and an extra five, six or eight jobs at the grocery store and the members know that, and there are the jobs.

Are they the same jobs or do they pay the same rate of pay as the steel plant did when there was a full complement of workers? No. But what would you do? You would go in and build another steel plant to replace the jobs? Is that the type of solution you would have?

Yes, we have gone to Cape Breton and we have gone there with projects and we are not pleased or happy with the unemployment rate in Cape Breton. I challenge you all to come up with the solution because we have challenged you before, and I ask you today if you have the solution, bring it forward, we will listen, we will implement it. You don't have an idea in your head. Let's spend another $8 billion maybe, let's double the debt service charges maybe. That is the answer Mr. Hants West, that has always been your answer; that is what is wrong.

[Page 445]

When we go to Cape Breton with jobs, what do they say? Dr. Hamm and Mr. Holm say it is a band-aid, there is no vision, it is not good enough. But they have no new ideas, not one original thought, not one original idea themselves, just criticism. The one project they applaud is the East Coast Rope, the new rope factory. The Province of Nova Scotia put what, six times the money the federal government did into that one and they praise that one and criticize all the rest. There are 300 jobs and they criticize them.

There are 138 information technology companies alone in Cape Breton Island now. One person, two people, five people, but it is growing, there is a growth. There is no one in this House, no one in this province who will suggest that it is an easy task to overcome the unemployment problem in Cape Breton, an area, industrial Cape Breton that has been dependent on coal and steel forever. Entire communities built on two industries and when those industries suffer there is going to be a significant problem in industrial Cape Breton and that has happened. There is not an overnight solution.

You talk about vision. He says there is no economic development strategy in this province. So you know what they did at their annual meeting? They took the draft document, the Nova Scotia Economic Development draft document and passed it around to their economic development committee and used that for the basis of their economic development strategy meeting at the Tory annual meeting; that is what they did. I will tell you, it didn't take long to get back to us and I am shocked, and appalled, that the Leader of the Opposition would allow that to happen, let alone circulate the documents.

There are problems in all areas. The Halifax area has the lowest unemployment rate east of Toronto and that is good. Even in Halifax, the unemployment rate went up because of the influx of people coming back. I was down to the opening of Fast Lane Technology a couple of weeks ago, where 21 young Nova Scotians have top quality jobs with a subsidiary of Newbridge Networks. Four of those young people came home from Ontario, migrated back to Nova Scotia to take on quality positions and that is important.

We could go through a list. We have Stora making record investments; Michelin making investments; IBM, MCI, SHL looking to increase their investments in the province. We see the member of the Third Party, he will criticize the OSPs and the Mentors. We see Phonetics, and Telecom, Keane, Sysco and Newbridge, they are all coming in. The cluster is working because this government was not afraid to make the investment. It is spreading and there is more coming.

We went to Italy last week, we came back with six solid proposals and 50 manufacturing companies coming to Nova Scotia in June or July to look around to see where they want to set up their businesses. It is working. It is unfortunate when someone who is supposed to be responsible goes around and does nothing but shoot their mouth off and bad-mouth the Province of Nova Scotia, the province they live in.

[Page 446]

Cape Breton is more than a burning building, but unfortunately we see and hear about it too often. The Maritime Junior Hockey League is more than a young player getting his face beaten in while he is unconscious, but that is all we are seeing.

In Nova Scotia there are tremendous things happening and I would suggest to the Leader of the Opposition he would better serve his province and better serve his people if he got up from behind his desk, travelled around this country a little bit and told people what a great place this is to do business.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I am happy to engage in the debate this afternoon about a resolution which says something about unemployment and the problem. I have been somewhat critical of the government and I want to start off by suggesting that there is a reason why people in this province are somewhat critical of the lack of success this government has had in creating jobs.

That stems primarily from a very clear promise that was made by this government in 1993, on the basis of which they got elected. They said to Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other, on TV ads, in the newspapers, on the radio, that if you elect us, we will put 58,000 people back to work. They made that commitment to Nova Scotians and the fact that they have not done that and in fact have tried to ignore that commitment or suggest that that was then and this is now is the reason people are so dissatisfied with what this government has done. It is not as much a question of how many jobs have been created as much as it is that we are far from the 58,000 unemployed that the government talked about in 1993. (Interruptions)

The member for Timberlea-Prospect has been feeling his oats somewhat today. We are certainly pleased to have him participate, even if he does it off the record. Let me remind him that as of March 1997, there continued to be the same number of unemployed in this province that there were in April 1993. There were 58,000 unemployed in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The Minister of Economic Development and Tourism stands in his place and expresses some outrage at the Leader of the Opposition. I am not here to defend the Leader of the Opposition. He did say that Cape Breton is more than a burning building and that the only time people talk about unemployment in Cape Breton is when something disastrous happens. That is absolutely false. That is erroneous. That is unfair.

People have been talking for many years about the unemployment problem that exists in Cape Breton. Certainly, since this government was elected in 1993, commitments were made by this government. The last one, officially, was in the Throne Speech in 1996 where this government said that in order to address the special problem of unemployment in Cape Breton, we are going to focus our attention because the problem is so bad.

[Page 447]

At that time the unemployment rate was just under 20 per cent. Now this year the unemployment rate in Cape Breton is 27.4 per cent. It has been climbing all year long. There was not one mention, not one word, about that unemployment crisis, a crisis that has received national attention. There has not been one mention of that by this government, certainly in this Throne Speech.

There are people who are offering suggestions about what can be done, Nova Scotians as well as people that live in Cape Breton. In fact my caucus colleagues and I held a round table in Cape Breton, in Sydney, back on February 24th, where we brought together to talk a group of people representing different sectors - small business, technology, the music industry, the coal and steel industries, fisheries. They were not New Democrats. We encouraged them to become New Democrats, but they were not there because of their Party affiliations. They were there because of their commitment to their community and their commitment to try to solve the unemployment problem in Cape Breton.

They spent three hours with us and they made a number of important suggestions about what could be done now, the things the provincial government needed to do now, immediately, to try to kick-start, to try to turn around the epidemic problem of unemployment in Cape Breton, recognizing the fact that government cannot solve the problem by itself, but the government had a responsibility to play a role, to play a part, in solving the problem. In order to do that they put together some suggestions, and I represented those suggestions in a letter to the Premier on March 17th. In a three-page letter I listed about nine specific measures that the government could undertake, very reasonable suggestions that the government could undertake, Madam Speaker, in order to begin to turn unemployment around in this province.

What have I heard from the Premier? I haven't heard a thing. In fact, the only thing I have heard from the Premier is a reference yesterday in this House to facile answers to ideas for stimulating Cape Breton economy, Madam Speaker. That is what he said about the time and the energy and the effort put in by Cape Bretoners to provide his government through us with suggestions about what could be done to solve the unemployment problem. He and the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism proudly proclaim that small-scale, high-tech tourism and the music industry are the economic salvation for Cape Breton.

I am not suggesting that is not true, that those are not important components. Some of those ideas were suggested by those people that participated in the round table. But the ideas that were in my letter to this Premier on March 17th came from Cape Breton. They came from a round table. They came from Cape Bretoners, Madam Speaker, sitting together for three hours, representing some of the issues and some of the strategies they felt needed to be put in place in order to solve those problems. That Premier and the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism have not had the courtesy, or shown me or them the respect, to even respond to those answers. I suggest to them that they take some of their ideas and they put them through the rigour of a round table of Cape Bretoners as a way to try and solve the

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problem, instead of sitting down here in Halifax and ignoring what is going on and pooh-poohing any suggestions that people may come forward with.

Madam Speaker, there is no question that Nova Scotia is a small province in a big world. Our ability to create jobs is limited by national and international monetary and fiscal policies, as well as trade agreements. But we believe that this government does have a role to play. This government can take some responsibility for helping communities, for helping Nova Scotians get back to work. Because in a time when we have growing unemployment and growing poverty in this province, the best answer to the fiscal crisis, the best answer to the problems of poverty and ill-health in the province of Nova Scotia is a job.

I say to this government, that turned around its commitments that it made in 1993 and suddenly decided its fiscal agenda was the most important, if they set the same kind of targets for job creation, Madam Speaker, and went to the kind of measures that they had to balance their budget, taking money from low-income and middle-income consumers - you know the economy has operated so badly in the past year that we have gotten more money from the federal government, from other more successful provinces, in order to help us to balance the budget - if this government showed the same kind of commitment to Nova Scotians, to the unemployed in this province, I believe that we could make some considerable headway in the task of creating jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[5:15 p.m.]

This government has a responsibility and it is time that Nova Scotians had a government that was committed to creating jobs, so we can turn the future of this province around. Thank you very much.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Madam Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to be able to rise today to speak on this resolution that pertains to unemployment. You know I come from the constituency of Cape Breton West. It takes me about four and one-half hours to drive from Cape Breton West to Halifax, and it is becoming more and more apparent to me that we are light years away when you talk about being in Cape Breton and talk about being in Halifax.

I heard the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism talking about Cape Breton and saying that it is more than burning buildings and people getting their faces beaten in a hockey rink and he is right, it is a lot more than that. There is a lot of tradition, there is a lot of strength in Cape Breton. The only thing, Madam Speaker, is it is the only time that people listen, the only time that this government listens is when it is bad news. They don't concentrate on our positives.

[Page 449]

I want to talk a little bit about some facts, not my facts, but facts that have been put forward many times. Family incomes in Nova Scotia, the average in 1993 was $45,669, a fact. The average in 1995 was $44,826, a fact. The unemployment rate, adjusted three months with the moving average, in March 1996 it was 13.4 per cent. In March 1997 it is 14.4 per cent in Nova Scotia and that is a fact.

Madam Speaker, in Cape Breton for the same period, in 1996, the unemployment rate was 23.1 per cent. Today, in 1997, the unemployment rate is 27.4 per cent. That is a fact. TAGS is running out in Cape Breton Island and people are being affected by it; that is a fact. The new EI rules brought in by the federal government make it harder for people to get unemployment insurance in an area with the highest unemployment rate in Canada, and that is a fact.

The food banks are being overworked and overtaxed because people don't have enough money to do what has to be done, to look after their families, and that is a fact. The children in our communities are discouraged because when they look at trying to get a better education, they look at the student loan system and they are discouraged, and when they try to get into a community college, they are discouraged. Madam Speaker, if our future is discouraged, then that doesn't say much for the rest of us.

We could go on and on and talk about all the things that have happened in Cape Breton, the good, the bad and the indifferent. I went to the same high school as the minister, the honourable member for Richmond. I don't know how he can figure out, how he can stand in this House and tell everybody it is a great world when you have an unemployment rate of 27.4 per cent. I am sorry, I must have missed something along the way. There may be jobs being created, but there are more people not working and that is the problem. That is the problem we all have to address in this House. You can stand up here, politicking all day - and there is a lot of that going on and I have done some of it myself and I know that - but, Madam Speaker, this problem is real.

It is real when you get an average of 30 phone calls a day from people who need some kind of assistance. It is real when you go and talk to the people who don't know where their next meal is coming from. That is the kind of unemployment rate we are dealing with on Cape Breton Island and the people that I represent are being affected by all the things that are happening. The new BS Tax has an effect on people. It is going to cost them more when they turn on their lights, it is going to cost them more when they try to heat their homes and that is a fact.

So to say that it is the policy of this government that they have tried to help Cape Breton Island, I do not think that is true, I do not think it is correct. The policies of this government have not helped the unemployment rate in Cape Breton Island. The minister, the member for Richmond, spoke about the stable industries of coal and steel and they are very important. Today the minister responsible for Sysco made an announcement, probably the first

[Page 450]

announcement made by this government that was substantial toward Sysco that made some sense. The job ahead of that person dealing with Sysco is a very hard job after the deal that was put in place by the former Minister of Finance, but there are other things that we have to deal with. We have to figure out what it is that will make our children want to stay in Cape Breton; what it is that we can do as governments that will make industries want to grow in Cape Breton. I believe that the solutions are not big solutions and I also do believe that the solutions will come from people that live on Cape Breton Island.

They need the support of the men and women that are in these Chambers because the ideas can come forward, but some of those ideas are going to require changes in some of our laws. They are going to require changes in some of the legislation so that people can come in, form an industry and do it without having to go through a whole lot of government red tape.

If this government is serious, and they should be, we all should be, about helping the problem of unemployment and I concentrate on Cape Breton, but it is a problem in other parts of this province and I realize that. If we are serious we have to sit down and look at the type of laws that on the books that make it hard for businesses to start. We have to look at how we are investing our monies so that the government and, in turn, the people of the Province of Nova Scotia are really getting the best bang for their bucks. We have to realize that coal does play a part in the economy on Cape Breton Island. I want to tell you that coal plays a part in the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia and you cannot take 2,200 families and put them out of work and think that somebody that lives in Canso or think that somebody who lives in Bedford or thinks that somebody who lives in Yarmouth is not going to be affected because they are. The task before us is a big task.

Another industry on Cape Breton Island that has been affected is the fishery. There are all kinds of problems and it is not only Cape Breton Island, it has been right across this province. There are some small initiatives that we can do to help out. Some things like the laws regarding the length of boats that are used for fishing in different industries. Some things like looking at the different quotas that are available and how they should be used. Those are the ways, by looking at those kinds of resources that we have in place, that can help to bring back our economy.

Unemployment is not a nice thing. If we are really serious here, what we have to try to do is give back hope to the people of the Province of Nova Scotia and hope cannot be legislated and it cannot be bought, it needs good, strong and firm leadership. I believe in order for us to make a difference as members of this House, as members of political Parties we have to show that leadership. We can stand and we can yell back and forth and ask questions of each other all we want, but at the end of the day I truly believe that the people in this House are doing what they believe is best for the Province of Nova Scotia. What we have to do is realize that the enemy is the unemployment rate and we have to attack that enemy wholeheartedly so that we can make a true difference in this province.

[Page 451]

Madam Speaker, I could go on and repeat myself a little more probably, but the problem is 27.4 per cent unemployment on Cape Breton Island, 14.4 per cent throughout Nova Scotia. That is the problem, we all know the problem. We spend many hours talking about the problem. Just once I would like to see us stand up and talk about what some of the solutions are. Madam Speaker, with those few words I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 12.

Res. No. 12, re Health - Reform: Results Destructive - Recognize - notice given Apr. 11/97 - (Mr. G. Moody)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, just for the record, Resolution No. 12, the whereas clause:

"Whereas in 1993 this Liberal Government promised to improve the health care system by putting the consumer at the centre, involving providers and giving communities greater say in the decision-making process; and

Whereas it has instead ignored the consumer, shut out providers, abandoned communities and carried out ill-conceived and backward policies without the benefit of a plan;".

You know today the Minister of Health made an announcement concerning doctors. I listened to the minister outside the House and he explained that he went around the province and talked to a lot of physicians, 500, and he wasn't aware until he had gone around the province of the difficulties doctors were having. I said today that I am hoping that the nurses get the same treatment and he will start the process immediately of going around the province. I know anyone who has used the health care system will tell you that the doctors, nurses and technicians, all of those people are great people who work hard. When anyone goes there and you say what kind of care do you get, you get it from caring people, they do care about the patients. That has never changed in this province and we are very fortunate to have those kinds of people.

Do you know what else people say when they go to the hospital and have to use the services? That nurses are overworked, that they are short of staff and that in the outpatient departments they are short of staff. There are not enough providers to give adequate care, the nurses that are run off their feet will tell you. If the minister has time to meet with the doctors, he surely has time to meet with the nurses of this province so that he can come up with the

[Page 452]

kind of money that solved the doctors problems, to come up with the money that would solve the nurses problems in this province.

I don't believe that there is a health care facility in this province that isn't presently understaffed and underfunded. What is the government going to do to address those issues? Is the minister saying that the doctors are more important than the nurses, that he doesn't have to go around the province and listen to 500 nurses like he did with the doctors? Is it that these people are not an important part of the health care system? They are a very important part of the health care system and they all have to be treated equally, fairly. Recognize that every group that contributes to health care in this province is very important. This government has to immediately address that situation so that the other providers in this province will have that same opportunity.

You know this government said that the consumer would have an opportunity. What this government did was they set up regional health boards. Those people don't fairly represent the community because the Premier said you have to be a Liberal to be on the regional health board. They said we will set up community health boards but this present Minister of Health put a hold on what role the community health boards are going to play. What has happened is that communities have again been shut out from the process.

One of the things that I hear from communities around this province is that they no longer have any input, any say in what happens to the facility in their area or have any say at all to what happens to the kind of programs that are in their community. I know that the regional boards have told various community health boards in this province about what their role might or might not be and it varies across the province. There is no legislation, there is no direction for community health boards. Many of the good people that were involved in setting up the community health boards were told that they could not be a member of the community health board. They took the time out to help set up these boards. They were eliminated by the regional board and were told that they couldn't even apply to be part of community health boards.

What this government has done is taken away all the control. I heard one doctor say last week when I met with a number of them, no longer does the community feel that they have any kind of ownership of their community hospital, that they have any kind of say in what happens.

[5:30 p.m.]

Many people across this province gave millions of dollars to build these structures, gave millions of dollars for equipment in the many institutions across the province. Now, what has happened? That has all been taken away from them. They no longer own them. The regional board owns them. They have no ownership. They have no say. What has happened in our system, the reason that we are having the kind of difficulties that we are having is that this

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government has not recognized at all, they haven't recognized the providers, except for the physicians, on the changes that might be made to health care. They have not talked to the people, the many volunteers, the hundreds of people that work for nothing to make our health care better. They have not been consulted. Now this Minister of Health is addressing just one of the many difficulties that has been created by the health reform of this government. Many of the things they did they called reforms were basically no more than cuts.

If you read the newspapers, and I know you do, Madam Speaker, you will know that the workers at the QE II are demoralized. Health care workers are demoralized in this province. I know the doctors were demoralized and maybe, hopefully, they will feel better after today's announcement. What does that do to the other health care workers? They are probably more demoralized because they don't feel this government recognizes them as being an important cog in the overall health care structure that we have in this province.

So, Madam Speaker, I hope this government recognizes that there are many problems. The minister recognized today that he didn't even know the difficulties that physicians were having until he met with 500 of them. Well, I am sure if he meets with 500 nurses and 500 technicians and other health care providers, he will learn what difficulty they are having in providing health care in this province, as well. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. DENNIS RICHARDS: Madam Speaker, it is a great pleasure to rise today and speak for a few moments on this particular resolution. I have listened and heard a great deal of information passed around in this House and other places with regard to health reform. I recall back in the late 1980's, a major report was being compiled under the direction of the then government, referred to as the Royal Commission on Health Care for Nova Scotia. The Royal Commission on Health Care was supposed to set out a pattern of activities and changes that were required in order to make health care delivery fit the latter part of this century and move us into the 21st Century.

Madam Speaker, it was a very comprehensive report. It is a report, in fact, that took a couple of books to make it complete. I was pleased at that time to participate in that report. I had served in a variety of capacities in terms of health care systems. I recall one of the first recommendations of that report. I quoted that recommendation here in this House before, but I think it is so important that I am going to restate it. One of the first recommendations of that report said that there should not be any further construction of hospital facilities in Nova Scotia.

Do you know what happened, Madam Speaker, after that report was tabled and received by the then government? It was received by the honourable member for Halifax Citadel, I believe, and he received that report and within weeks, the announcement was made to build a facility in his riding, I might add, at horrendous cost, but it was typical of what

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health care systems were during that era. Build bricks and mortar and don't worry about health care. Their thinking was, if you had bricks and mortar, that was health care.

Well, I have to tell you, Madam Speaker, it is not health care. In fact, health care deteriorated dramatically during that time because there were no measures of outcomes to look at, they didn't know how to do that. In fact, there were no systems in place because all their money was going into bricks and mortar.

Now apparently it was a great thing to do, to go across Nova Scotia from one end to the other, cutting ribbons. I guess that was a politically smart thing to do, but it wasn't a good thing for health care delivery because it was at the direct expense of patient care.

You know, Madam Speaker, we have talked and listened to what reform is all about. I heard the honourable member for Kings West on many occasions speak to this point, but during his era, during his time when he was Health Minister, let's take a look at some of the facts, at some of the statistics. Nova Scotia had one of the poorest health rates going. Our health care was going down. There were more people suffering from heart disease, cancer, pulmonary disease and obesity. In fact, we had the highest rates in all those categories that I just mentioned. Nova Scotians have the highest rate of disability; they smoke more; and have more accidents than other Canadians. Those are shocking statistics.

What was the answer to all that? Let's build more hospitals. In some way that was a message that we were going to improve health care for Nova Scotia. Madam Speaker, it doesn't improve health care for Nova Scotia. In fact, it takes good care away from those who are in the most desperate need. So yes, there has been some dramatic change in the delivery, but just because there has been some change in the total number of beds in the Province of Nova Scotia, does that mean that we are not performing more services? On the contrary. Of the top 100 procedures that are conducted in medical institutions across this province, there has been an increase from 68,000 to 72,000 procedures. We have more knee replacements, more hip replacements, more cataract extraction surgeries and a raft of other significant improvements that are what Nova Scotians require.

Now one might say, how can we do all that if we cut the number of beds? For the first time in a very long time, Madam Speaker, we are managing health care. Management is a new word that those members on the opposite side haven't quite come to grips with.

Now we have had to make a number of other changes as well. We had to develop, for the first time, an emergency response system that was going to service all of Nova Scotia, from one end to the other, giving a standardized program. We had to recover the Pharmacare Program because it was bankrupt, because of our friends across the way. That has been done, by the way, and now the Pharmacare Program is one of the best in this country. (Interruptions)

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AN HON. MEMBER: He doesnt like your speech.

MR. RICHARDS: No, they never like the truth, that is the fact. Every time we speak about the facts and they don't like it, they go on and talk like that. I am surprised, in fact I am shocked and appalled that the honourable member would go on like that, but, anyway, I suppose that is typical and we have to put up with it.

I want to refer for a moment, Madam Speaker, to the announcement made today by the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health, in his short time in that department, took it upon himself to travel extensively throughout Nova Scotia and listen to the concerns that were expressed directly to him. What he said was, there are some major concerns in health care. There is no question about it. He said, what I will do is, I will put a plan in place as quickly as possible to make sure that the most serious of those concerns are addressed.

Madam Speaker, when he rose in the House today and he made this statement, he was responding to those concerns. I am very pleased that he was able to do that and I only wish I had more time to give more detail of this major issue that faces all of Nova Scotians. (Interruption) Well, if they would like to, I don't mind continuing. I have more notes here. I can talk until 10:00 p.m. tonight. But, I recognize my time is up.

MADAM SPEAKER: The Leader of the New Democratic Party.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak for a few moments on health and health care reform in the Province of Nova Scotia, or perhaps the lack thereof better said.

Madam Speaker, I must say that I agree with the resolution. I agree very much with this resolution and the fact that, ". . . in 1993 this Liberal Government promised to improve the health care system by putting the consumer at the centre involving providers and giving communities greater say . . .". When I read this resolution, I thought, my goodness, it could have come right from the NDP caucus. In fact, as a member of our staff said, it was probably better written. But there is no question, because in the NDP caucus, we have been talking about the kind of health reform that the Liberals advocated, back in 1993, for the past 20 years.

In fact, we go back to the Nova Scotia Legislative Select Committee on Health, Province of Nova Scotia, 1984, Madam Speaker, where a committee of this House recommended the kinds of refocusing of health care in the Province of Nova Scotia that we have talked about, that the Blueprint Committee talked about again in 1994. This question of re-orienting the system from acute care to primary care is nothing new. The need for a better and a more expanded home care system in the Province of Nova Scotia is nothing new. The idea of expanding health care to include home care and pharmaceutical care is nothing

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new. This is something that has been talked about for the past 10 years, if not 20 years, in the Province of Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, we have not had any action.

While we agree on many things with respect to what is happening with the health care system in this province, we differ, the Official Opposition and ourselves, on the fact that it is not good enough for us to return to a system focused on institutional care, but, in fact, to reassert, reinvigorate the reform process that was commenced, or that was supposedly commenced, in 1994 under this Liberal Government, Madam Speaker. There were some changes that took place in the latter days under the Tory Administration, but they were far too few and it was far too late to make the kind of changes that were really essential in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, in areas like delivering adequate health care to our communities, we have talked about, in this province, the need to expand the capacity of our health care practitioners to include nurse practitioners, to include other health care professionals in our communities so that we can develop these multi-disciplinary teams. We have not done it. We have not taken any action in that. Even today, with this announcement of $8 million being handed over to physicians in the Province of Nova Scotia, that does not come anywhere near solving the problem in dealing with the issue that has been recommended and the recommendations that have been made to governments over the past 15 years, and that is, to expand the multidisciplinary team that is providing help in our communities; to give more authority to communities to come up with the decisions that need to be made relative to what health care needs exist in the community and how best to meet them.

[5:45 p.m.]

Let's not forget that there are problems with the health care system in this province. We have heard from seniors who have had their home care cut back during program review. We have heard from people in this province who have lost loved ones waiting for an ambulance to arrive, people who have been sent home from emergency wards because there was no orthopaedic surgeon available.

We have heard about and visited communities that have lost emergency services and family physicians. We heard, just a couple of weeks ago now, about a heart patient who was sent home and who died because there was not a bed for him at the Infirmary. We have heard from families, increasingly, in this province who are struggling to meet the demands created by an inadequate home care system as their family members are sent home to die and they need to spend upwards of $10,000 a month in order to provide for the necessary 24-hour nursing care.

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These horror stories are symptoms. They are symptoms of a problem. They are symptoms of the fact that the health care system in this province and the whole question of health care reform is very seriously off the rails and needs to be stabilized. It needs to be reoriented.

Do you know what people talk to us about? We had a health care round table a few weeks ago with representatives from across the province from all different sectors of the health care sector. What they said is that we need a government that has the political will to devolve responsibility to communities, to devolve responsibility just as the recommendations were made in the Royal Commission on Health Care back in 1989 and the recommendations of the Blueprint Committee in 1994; devolve the responsibility and provide the resources to communities to meet the health care needs in those communities. They will do it in the most effective and efficient way.

That is what we have heard from people. What this government has done is effectively set up four regional health boards. They set up four mini-Departments of Health around the province. They have put community health boards on the shelf. Yes, there are community health boards forming around the province, in spite of what this government is doing, but they are doing so without any mandate, without any defined responsibility. If this government in fact is truly committed to real health care reform in the Province of Nova Scotia, reform based on shifting emphasis from acute care to primary care, then as a starting point instead of throwing more money at physicians, what they will do in concert with other issues is they will amend the bill that set up the regional health boards to ensure the establishment of community health boards.

It is those kinds of actions, that kind of initiative, that are necessary in order to ensure that health reform and health care in this province are in fact something that we can be proud of.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to address this resolution which deals with the problem of medical care in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I listened with interest to the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage when he was talking about how much this government has done over the past three years to make the health care system better. What utter hogwash. I defy that member to go around his riding and ask the people in his particular constituency if the health care system in place today is better than it was in 1993 when he came into office. You will receive a resounding no because that same question has been asked around this province. I am sorry if I am shouting, but I can get excited about this subject. That question has been asked around this province and do you know what - 87 per cent of Nova Scotians say that health care has deteriorated during the past three years. That is a poll, that is what Nova Scotians are saying.

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Now I do not care what you say, but I do care what Nova Scotians are telling me and they are telling me that the delivery of health care in Nova Scotia today is disgraceful, it is horrendous and it is not working. (Interruption) I do not care where you were born. I have probably lived in Nova Scotia longer than you have, honourable member. I know all about, you are not a Nova Scotian until your great great-grandfather was born in this province. I am telling that member across the way that I talked to Nova Scotians and he can't be doing that if he is getting the responses that he says he is getting.

It is fine to talk about closing hospital beds and I know that the former Minister of Finance, the present Minister of Health is very proud of the fact that he has slashed hospital beds and closed them across this province. Reform of health care, for the information of people over there, I am sure you are aware of it, started back in this province actually around about 1982. However, we recognized right off that we could not dismantle the hospital system until we had another parallel system in place to replace it. In other words, there has to be a home care system up and running before you start chopping hospital beds. What this minister and his predecessor and the former Minister of Finance have done, they have cut out the funding to the institutions and said, we will start funnelling some money into home care - fine. However, let's get the home care system up and running because right now if you are in the hospital and you have undergone some kind of a procedure, you are out of there because somebody else is waiting for that warm bed you are vacating, to get into it.

We have at the present time in Windsor a hospital with 28 beds. At the very minimum we need, in the Town of Windsor, 35 beds, but we cannot have 35 beds, not because we do not need 35 beds, but simply because the Minister of Finance says, you cannot have the funding for 35 beds. You say, well, what are we going to do? Send them home and the home care system will look after them. The problem is that we do not have a home care system that is looking after people in the country areas. In the cities that may well be so. I won't argue because I don't know. Maybe home care is working fine in the cities, but you get out in the rural areas and it is not working. People are being left to die - D I E , because of the fact they are not getting home care. (Interruption) That is not wrong, that is the truth and I was trying to go through my book and find a case just about three weeks ago, but I have not been able to locate it and the gentleman said I could use his name.

The point is that the health care system we have in this province at the present time is a mess and the present Minister of Health is tinkering with the system to try to get it back on track and it is not working. He came out with a program, he made a ministerial statement with regard to tossing some monies towards the doctors in hoping that would solve the problem. It is not going to solve the problem because I received a press release today from the Windsor Medical Society and they say that the physicians of Nova Scotia will be providing staffing to the Hants Community Hospital Emergency Department from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily. "The long-term objective is to provide full emergency services. This goal will be achieved when we have adequate physical physician manpower in our community.". In other words, they have turned down the carrot offered by the Minister of Finance.

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Secondly, the statement that the Minister of Health made today is not correct. The Minister of Health said that he is talking about the payments for doctors on call for duty at a community hospital emergency room. He goes on to say that, "This is the first time such a payment for standby service has been made across the Province of Nova Scotia. No other Atlantic Province offers such a payment. Only Alberta and Ontario have similar payments in place.". That is not true. I don't know if the Minister of Health can hear me, but that is simply not true. In the Province of New Brunswick, they are providing a standby fee to doctors. In the Province of Newfoundland, they are providing a standby fee. (Interruption)

I don't care what the Minister of Health says. He says, no. I phoned across New Brunswick this afternoon to find out and I found out. It is that simple. But you guys don't know how to run a government because you are not willing to listen. You are not willing to talk to people. You are not willing to do things in the correct manner, which is to, first of all, explore the options and then move on. You rush in, hack and slash, and then you are upset when the system falls down around your ears, as it does. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, I am not addressing that member. I have one minute. The point that I would like to make is simply this. In the Windsor situation, we need more manpower and we won't get more manpower unless we have a hospital system that is up and running. We will not have sufficient doctors unless we have a home care system that is up and running. We will not have sufficient physicians there unless we provide some kind of an agreement with the doctors with regard to remuneration for their services.

Mr. Speaker, the point of the fact is, the minister is trying to solve the problem simply by saying to the doctors, I will throw some money your way. That is not going to solve the problem. In fact, that is going exacerbate the problem because now the nurses and CNAs and the rest of those involved in health care are going to demand the same kind of treatment. So I hope he has a big bag of money.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the Opposition Business for today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be sitting from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. At 2:00 p.m., we will have the presentation of the Budget and then the daily routine and Question Period. Following that, we will be doing Public Bills for Second Reading, beginning with Bill No. 1 and Bill No. 2, a great place to start.

I move that we now rise to sit tomorrow from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.

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MR. SPEAKER: The motion has been made for the House to rise and sit again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

The motion is carried.

We have now reached the moment of interruption. The Adjournment motion this evening was submitted by the honourable member for Eastern Shore. The debate tonight will be:

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the successful efforts of local business, government, and community groups to create sustainable economic growth and job creation along the Eastern Shore.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

ECON. DEV. & TOURISM - EASTERN SHORE:

GROWTH - EFFORTS RECOGNIZE

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is with a great deal of pleasure that again I rise in this House to speak about my constituency and the significant growth in jobs and economic growth we have had in our area over the last four years.

We have developed very quietly, in local communities, in excess of 350 new jobs. Now, if you understood my constituency, you would understand how significant that number is. We have an urban-rural mix in a truly rural area that is far from markets and far from customers. So to get 350-plus new jobs in the community is quite an accomplishment. I give a great deal of credit to the people in their determination to make this happen.

If you look back in history and see what the Tory approach was to creating jobs, it was throwing money at the problem and the problem would get bigger. They would make work projects, government money thrown at things. The money was gone, the jobs were gone and there was no hope for anyone. You also look at the money they spent on infrastructure, such as areas like the Chezzetcook Industrial Park. They dumped $8.5 million in there and not a single job out of it. Luckily, one good thing out of it was, they left a facility that I could work with and the community could work with and put some people to work. Because of that, we have gone from three businesses and probably about 30 jobs, or less, a lot of those were part time to 12 businesses today with over 100 full-time employees. That was an area that the community had totally given up on. I can guarantee you that I didn't give up on it and I know our government didn't.

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[6:00 p.m.]

You talk about other things in the community that are happening. I have often talked in this House about tourism and how proud I am of the tourism operators and the approach we have taken. When I was first elected I met with the tourism operators in the area. They were discussing whether or not they could spend $35 a year on a pamphlet, the only pamphlet they were going to produce to promote their area. I can tell you that that has sure changed.

Last year we came forward with one of our promotions, just one of our promotions, the great lobster weigh-in. One of the gentlemen who was organizing it came into my office and dropped off a whole pile of brochures. I asked him how many he had and if I could get some more. He said, well we have printed 4,000 so far and we are ready to print 4,000 more, without hesitation. It showed a real change in attitude. Because of that we have had a tremendous growth in the number of establishments and I might add high-quality establishments. There is not a single establishment in my area in tourism that I would be afraid to send anyone to. I know they would have a good time and would want to come back and would tell their friends about it. That has created a minimum of 50 new jobs in the area which are long-term, seasonal, permanent jobs. That is very significant, especially in areas where there was no employment at all.

I also look at the progress we have made on the clam flats in East Chezzetcook. Over 250 years of history, you just went to the clam flats and dug clams; if they were there, they were and if they were not, they were not. I am telling you, I have worked with the people of the community. We put a community group together; we have clam diggers on the committee, we have processors on the committee and we have people in general on the committee. We have opened the clam flats that have been closed for, I guess, about 12 or 15 years now, this year on a trial basis because the community worked together.

Now clam digging doesn't seem to be very glamorous and I spoke about it in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne but I am telling you that the people who work in this industry work hard and make a good living. There are 100 full-time seasonal jobs in the clam industry. Those jobs we are preserving and actually may improve upon if we can get the stocks back up to where they should be.

I will give you another example of the things we have done. We have had the Ship Harbour aquaculture site, which was built by the last Tory Government. At the time it was built I suppose it really made sense. It sure didn't make sense after that because private industry has taken over and fulfilled the need that that facility had put in place. At the time that we sold it in the last few years it probably cost us about $150,000 a year of taxpayers' money just to have someone there to make sure that the place wasn't vandalized. I can tell you that we have changed that. Through ads put in the paper on two different occasions, to ensure that we got the best deal we could for the taxpayers, we sold it to AquaPrime Mussel Ranch Limited, a local company that works in the Ship Harbour area and actually has the

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biggest mussel farm in all Canada. They now have purchased the property and are expanding it and will employ between three and five people in Ship Harbour, an area with an extremely high unemployment rate. That will be long-term, sustainable employment.

You know another thing that has helped us with economic growth in our area is simple things. For instance, we didn't have any banking machines in 1993 on the Eastern Shore. Now that sounds stupid. You think well, if you don't have a banking machine, so what? But think about the tourist who comes in on a Saturday afternoon and goes to the grocery store or the gift shop and wants to buy something and they don't have any money and they won't take a Visa because most of the companies are really small. So they go to the banking machine, they get the money out now and they go and spend the money in that community. Hopefully, it ties them up long enough so they have to stay overnight so we have them longer.

Another thing that our government has done, in cooperation with the federal government, we put a fibre optics line into Sheet Harbour. Now that ties Sheet Harbour into the Internet and everything that brings. I can tell you, for an area that is economically depressed and has been depressed and suppressed over the years, that has made a tremendous difference because now the people in the area are able to connect with the outside world on an equal basis with anywhere in the world and that is very important.

We also have several companies in our area, one I can think of in particular, Novacan Information Services. They are very active in the World Wide Web, they do website design, Internet consulting and several other things. It is a tremendous asset to the community and this is the type of industry that is coming to the Eastern Shore. It is where a person can come and enjoy the beautiful lifestyle and still make a really good living.

We are seeing a major change in the emphasis on the Eastern Shore from the resource-based industries into these types of industries. I can tell you after talking to the staff of the Economic Development and Tourism Department, which I do on a regular basis, I have more entrepreneurs approach me from the Eastern Shore than anywhere else in the Province of Nova Scotia. Those entrepreneurs, I would say, since I have been elected, four years, have been 90 per cent successful, which is an unbelievable number - and from running a business myself I can tell you it is an unbelievable number - in starting businesses. There has only been one that I can recall in the four years that has gone out of business and that is a terrific record. It just shows the determination of the people in the community and when they are given the right direction and the right type of assistance, without government grants I will add, they are moving forward.

The program the province put on to help the small businesses and the Investment Tax Credit Program have been two of the best things that have ever happened. If you look at the statistics of the job creation from the Small Business Loans Program that they have in place now with the Department of Economical Development and Tourism you can see the benefits of this program. It is probably one of the best things that was ever done in the province. Not

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only that, when the money is put back into the province it can be re-loaned again to help another small business, rather than the giveaways.

I can use some examples going back to the Tory years when they would come along and give somebody a grant to start a business in their home. Well what happened was - and I could go around to all kinds of homes and show you the beautiful extension they have on their home. They all happen to be Tory supporters I could never figure that out but anyway, it really didn't help the economy any. Guess what? Today they have a beautiful sunroom, they have an extra bedroom in their home. The only people that might benefit from this might be the municipality with the tax increases they are proposing. That really doesn't help the community with job creation at all.

I feel with a strong, sustainable approach to really working with people that have business ideas, helping to promote the businesses that are solid and working with them through proper loans - and I don't mean free loans, I mean loans that they reasonably pay back with business advice which, fortunately, I have been able to provide to a lot of constituents in my riding based on the 18 years I have been in my own business. The economy is slowing growing. The economy has to grow on a gradual and slow basis in order to be sustainable and to ensure people have jobs long into the future. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Are there further speakers? If not I would like to thank the honourable member for having taken part in tonight's late debate.

The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will now rise to sit again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:08 p.m.]

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NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 94

By: Mr. Robert Chisholm (Leader of the New Democratic Party)

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

Whereas the Premier has rejected as "facile answers" the ideas for stimulating the Cape Breton economy presented to his government by a cross-section of the Cape Breton community which took part in the New Democratic Party's Round Table on Jobs; and

Whereas those ideas included stabilization of keystone industries, development of secondary processing of natural resources and planned decentralization of government activity; and

Whereas the Premier rejected these "facile answers" and instead promoted small-scale, high-tech tourism and the music industry as the economic salvation for Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that before riding off into the sunset the Premier should get a dose of reality by subjecting his ideas for Cape Breton's economic renewal to a review by a representative cross-sample of Cape Breton community and economic development representatives.