The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
October 26, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., Apr. 22, 1997

Fifth Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Housing & Mun. Affs. - Birch Grove [CBRM]: Sanitary Sewer - Install,
Mr. A. MacLeod 785
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Intervale Road [CBRM] - Pave,
Mr. A. MacLeod 786
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 134, Fin. - Expenditure Add.: Health/Justice - Approval,
Hon. W. Gillis 786
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 9, Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company Act, Mr. R. Carruthers 787
No. 10, Incorporate the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the
Dominion of Canada Act [Repeal], Dr. J. Hamm 787
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 135, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Officers Consult,
Dr. J. Hamm 787
Res. 136, Health - Min.: Care - Prioritize, Mr. R. Chisholm 788
Res. 137, Liberal Party (N.S.) - AGM (1997): Valley Libs. (2) Excluded -
Blunder Learn, Mr. R. Russell 788
Res. 138, Health - Springhill Hosp.: Future - Commitment, Mr. G. Moody 789
Res. 139, Maritime Prov. Harness Racing Comm'n. - Truro Raceway:
Prog. Resumption - Importance Recognize, Hon. G. Brown 790
Vote - Affirmative 790
Res. 140, Health - Physicians: Shortage - Bureaucrats (Drs.) Use,
Mr. G. Archibald 790
Res. 141, Educ. - Sackville H.S. Concert Band: New Jersey Comp. -
Success Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 791
Vote - Affirmative 791
Res. 142, Health - WHO Conference (Hfx.): Delegates - Welcome,
Mr. D. McInnes 792
Vote - Affirmative 792
Res. 143, Health: Min. - Resign, Mr. G. Moody 792
Res. 144, Justice - Institutions: Abuse Victims - Injustice Recognize,
Mr. T. Donahoe 793
Res. 145, Environ. - Earth Day: Dev. Projects - Effect Assess,
Ms. E. O'Connell 794
Res. 146, Disabled (Cdns.) - Dave Shannon Cross Country Tour:
Commitment - Salute, Mr. A. MacLeod 794
Vote - Affirmative 795
Res. 147, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Scotian Homes (Bob Bona)
Top R-2000 Builder (CHBA) - Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 795
Vote - Affirmative 796
Res. 148, Educ. - Schools: Advisory Councils - Costs Justify,
Mr. T. Donahoe 796
Res. 149, Cumberland North: By-Election - Call, Mr. D. McInnes 796
Res. 150, Budget (N.S.) (1997-98): Document Responsible - Produce,
Mr. R. Chisholm 797
Res. 151, Commun. Serv. - Family & Children's Serv.: Cuts - Stop,
Mr. A. MacLeod 797
Res. 152, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Cease,
Mr. J. Holm 798
Res. 153, Health (Can.) - Cancer (Cervical): Screening Prog. -
Commend, Ms. E. O'Connell 799
Res. 154, Sports - Hockey: Air Canada Cup (Nat. Midget)-New Glasgow -
Organizers Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 799
Vote - Affirmative 800
Res. 155, DND: HMCS Scotian (Anniv. 50th) - Congrats., Mr. R. Russell 800
Vote - Affirmative 801
Res. 156, Exco - College of Physicians Council: Remuneration -
Increase Limit, Mr. B. Taylor 801
Tabling Deferred 802
Res. 157, Educ. - Luke Conrad (Millwood H.S.): Can. Day Poster -
Congrats., Mr. G. Archibald 802
Vote - Affirmative 803
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
The Report of the Education Funding Review Work Group (April 1997),
Hon. R. Harrison 803
Sports and Recreation Commission Annual Report,
Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 1996, Hon. A. Mitchell 803
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health: Healthy Communities Project - Expansion, The Premier 803
Sysco - Rail Order, Hon. Manning MacDonald 806
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 39, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Plans,
Mr. T. Donahoe 808
No. 40, Nat. Res. - Donkin Mine: Leases - Transfer Assess,
Mr. R. Chisholm 810
No. 41, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Justification,
Mr. T. Donahoe 812
No. 42, Fin. - Business Inventory: Purchases - Tax Treatment,
Mr. R. Russell 813
No. 43, Health - Reform: Diagnostic Services - Waiting Time
(QE II Health Sciences Centre), Dr. J. Hamm 815
No. 44, Justice - Correctional Facilities: Privatization - Plans, Mr. J. Holm 818
No. 45, Health - First Responder Program: Western N.S. Firefighters Assoc. -
Views, Dr. J. Hamm 820
No. 46, Health - Ambulance Service (Glace Bay): Maritime Medical Care -
Subsidy, Mr. G. Moody 820
No. 47, Health: QE II Health Sciences Centre - Patient Transfer (18/04/97),
Mr. B. Taylor 823
No. 48, Justice - Family Violence: Judges - Training Require,
Ms. E. O'Connell 824
No. 49, Sports - CN Line: Pictou-Oxford - Jurisdiction, Mr. D. McInnes 826
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 158, Environ. - Earth Day: Importance - Acknowledge,
Hon. W. Adams 828
Vote - Affirmative 829
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Dr. J. Hamm 829
Mrs. L. O'Connor 833
Mr. J. Holm 836
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:36 P.M. 840
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:36 P.M. 840
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Nat. Res. - Donkin Mine: Leases - Transfer Refuse:
Mr. R. Chisholm 841
Mr. A. MacLeod 844
Mr. P. MacEwan 846
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 23rd at 2:00 p.m. 849
NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS:
No. 1, Econ. Dev. & Tourism: Advertising (1997) - Specifics,
Mr. D. McInnes 850
No. 2, Bus. & Cons. Serv. - Insurance: Legislation Review Comm. -
List Provide, Mr. G. Archibald 850

[Page 785]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 22, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. This petition is from the residents of the Community of Birch Grove, and the operative clause is as follows:

"We, the residents of Birch Grove, Cape Breton County, Nova Scotia, hereby petition the County of Cape Breton, Province of Nova Scotia and Government of Canada for funding under the Canada/Nova Scotia Infrastructure Agreement for the installation of a sanitary sewer in Birch Grove. The Nova Scotia Department of Environmental Health has determined that 74% of on-site sewage systems in the community are malfunctioning. The community recognizes this potential health hazard and hereby petitions the Government for correction of this problem and the protection of the health of the community.". I have signed it in agreement.

785

[Page 786]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition and this is from the residents of the Intervale Road, located in Marion Bridge, Cape Breton. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We, the residents of the Intervale Road and its three feeder roads - namely, MacDonald Road, Chapel Road, and Gibbons Road - once again request the immediate paving of the 5.7 km Intervale Road which is located in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.". I will attach my name.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 134

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

Whereas the Expenditure Control Act was enacted by this House as Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1993 to limit government expenditures to a specific predetermined level; and

Whereas the program operating expenditure that exceeds the level authorized under the Expenditure Control Act may only be made after a resolution has been passed by this House authorizing such an expenditure; and

Whereas it is necessary to exceed in the program operating expenditures authorized by the Expenditure Control Act for fiscal 1996-97 in order that this House honour its commitment to fund an appropriate level of service to Nova Scotians;

[Page 787]

Therefore be it resolved that a sum not exceeding $139,479,000 be granted to the Lieutenant Governor to defray expenses in respect to the following matters: Department of Health - $124,115,000; Department of Justice - $15,364,000; total - $139,479,000.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 9 - Entitled An Act Respecting the Bank of Nova Scotia Trust Company, the Montreal Trust Company of Canada and the Montreal Trust Company. (Mr. Robert Carruthers)

Bill No. 10 - Entitled An Act to Repeal Chapter 152 of the Acts of 1913. An Act to Incorporate the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the Dominion of Canada. (Dr. John Hamm)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 135

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

Whereas the government is deep in negotiations with an organization known as Atlantic Corrections Group to develop a Cooperative Business Solution on the configuration of our provinces correctional facilities; and

Whereas the correctional officers of Nova Scotia know more about the operation of our provinces correctional facilities than any other group and must be full participants in any review process relating to our correctional institutions; and

Whereas it has been suggested that a report on the Cooperative Business Solution is to be presented to the Priorities and Planning Committee on or about May 16th, only 25 days away;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice give a commitment today to the correctional officers of Nova Scotia that no report will go to Priorities and Planning Committee without it first having been subjected to full review with appropriate representatives of the correctional officers of Nova Scotia.

[Page 788]

I ask for waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 136

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

Whereas concerned citizens from across Nova Scotia came together last night to rally in support of maintaining and enhancing health and health care services for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Minister of Health was too busy pursuing his leadership ambitions to publicly address the concerns of Citizens to Save Our Health Care; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia have the right to know where the Minister of Health and would-be Premier stands on the many important issues raised by the "Declaration for Health and Health Care in Nova Scotia";

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House urge the Minister of Health to put his responsibilities for our health care system ahead of his leadership aspirations.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 137

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

Whereas two longtime Valley Liberals were turned away by security from the Nova Scotia Liberal Annual Meeting; and

[Page 789]

Whereas these dedicated grassroots Liberals would likely have been more warmly received had their names been Unsworth, Robertson, MacNeil, Reid, Morash, MacKay, Murphy or Hayward; and

Whereas these grassroots Liberals now know the sting felt by most Nova Scotians from Liberal double standards;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government learn from this weekend's blunder and stop acting on behalf of a privileged Liberal patronage elite and start governing in the best interests of all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 138

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

Whereas on March 20th the Minister of Health assured doctors from Springhill and the Friends of All Saints Citizens Committee that the Springhill hospital was safe from downsizing and closure; and

Whereas when the member for Hants West sought similar assurance from the Minister of Health last week the minister backed off his earlier commitments to the people of Springhill saying, "I at no time told either institution that there would be absolutely no changes in the details of their institution, that is obviously a decision for the regional health boards"; and

Whereas when presented with the official transcript of the minister's exchange with the member for Hants West, the residents took exception to the minister's latest interpretation of events, believing that he did in fact commit to maintaining existing services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately write to the doctors of Springhill and the Friends of All Saints Citizens' Committee and state in clear and unequivocal terms exactly what commitment he is prepared to make with respect to the future of existing hospital services.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 790]

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing.

RESOLUTION NO. 139

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

Whereas the harness racing industry is important to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Maritime Provinces Harness Racing Commission have worked with the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition to re-establish live racing in Truro; and

Whereas live racing will begin on May 4, 1997, at the Truro Raceway;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize the importance of having live racing programs resume at the Truro Raceway.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 140

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

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians are presently without a family doctor; and

Whereas the future of emergency services in Windsor, Digby and Springhill remains insecure as doctors work to exhaustion; and

Whereas this crisis in health care was brought about as a result of doctors fleeing Nova Scotia to escape the government's disastrous health reform efforts;

[Page 791]

Therefore be it resolved that the government take immediate and concrete steps to address the critical physician shortage by dipping into its expanding pool of doctor bureaucrats such as Drs. Reid, Murphy and LeMoine.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 141

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

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas the 76 members of the Sackville High School Band returned home yesterday after participating in a competition organized by Performing Art Consultants at Wayne Valley High School in New Jersey; and

Whereas the band placed first in the concert band category for high schools with less than 1,000 students and Melissa Burrill, a trumpet player, was named the outstanding musician in the concert band class; and

Whereas their success is a tribute to the high quality of the music program offered at the school and the dedication and talents of its musicians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the members of Sackville High School's concert band on the 1st Place performance and extends best wishes to them and the music program for future successes.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 792]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 142

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

Whereas the World Health Organization is holding a four day conference this week in Halifax on intersectoral decision-making; and

Whereas health care experts from around the world are attending the conference to produce a set of recommendations for organizational policy changes in 1998; and

Whereas the World Health Organization is holding its conference in Canada because of this country's leading international role in the development of health care;

Therefore be it resolved that the House welcome the World Health Organization delegates to Halifax and wish them the very best in their deliberations on the future of health care throughout the world.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 143

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

Whereas over 200 concerned Nova Scotians travelled from all parts of the province to voice their concerns over the deteriorating state of Nova Scotia's health care system at a candlelight vigil in Halifax; and

[Page 793]

Whereas many attending the vigil could recite personal experiences with the health system that clearly shows Nova Scotians are falling through the cracks of a health system in disarray; and

Whereas the Health Minister and would-be Premier showed where his priorities lie when he opted to work the crowd of the Liberal leadership delegates at a Party function in Dartmouth rather than fulfill his responsibilities as Minister of Health by attending and explaining his government's health care policies at the vigil at the Grand Parade last night;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and would-be Premier do the right thing and resign his portfolio so that the huge task of putting health care back on track can be assumed by someone who is not so distracted by political self-interest.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 144

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

Whereas it has been recognized that those youths who suffered abuse at the hands of provincial authorities have already been victimized; and

Whereas the change in rules mid-stream by the province in November 1996 forcing claimants to offer testimony in a taped interview with the RCMP, altering the compensation process and giving to itself, the province, a longer deadline to respond to the claimants; and

Whereas the province refused to also lengthen the deadline at that time for those able to apply for compensation and has since denied a few who did not know of the procedures under way in time and are now told they are ineligible;

Therefore be it resolved that the Justice Minister recognize the injustices it has inflicted on those victims now re-victimized as a result of the rule changes and seek a better alternative to the sudden harsh and adversarial approach it is now taking and offer real help to those victims who need it, instead of continuing its preoccupation with the bottom line.

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

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

[Page 794]

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 145

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 April 22nd marks Earth Day, a day set aside to remind us of our responsibility for stewardship of our natural environment; and

Whereas on this Earth Day members of the House are faced with difficult issues, including offshore natural gas development and the removal of Jim Campbells Barren from the list of protected sites; and

Whereas both of these issues remind us that hoped for economic benefits must always be weighed against real environmental costs;

Therefore be it resolved that in the spirit of Earth Day and in the interests of our natural environment this government begin to pay as much attention to the environmental costs of development projects as it does to their desired economic benefits.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 146

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

Whereas former Dartmouth resident Dave Shannon, a quadriplegic fully paralyzed below the shoulders, is on a cross-Canada tour to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities; and

Whereas his 9,000 kilometre journey, which began April 1st in Saint John's, has found its way to Nova Scotia, where he received an official welcome yesterday from the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

[Page 795]

Whereas Dave Shannon's message of determination and hope resonates with all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the House salute Dave Shannon for his deep and sincere commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities and sensitizing the rest of society to their needs.

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 member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 147

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

Whereas Bob Bona and his team at Scotian Homes in Enfield have been recognized nationally for their work on R-2000 homes; and

Whereas the Canadian Home Builder's Association has recognized Scotian Homes as the top R-2000 builder in the country; and

Whereas Canada is deemed to be a world leader in the construction of R-2000 homes and their technology;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize Bob Bona and Scotian Homes of Enfield for being the recipient of such a prestigious national award and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

[Page 796]

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 Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 148

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

Whereas the Minister of Education and Culture said in this House last Thursday that, "there is a natural momentum in that these 225 school councils have formed on their own"; and

Whereas he added that, "the evaluations and the information learned in the eight pilots was quickly disseminated without a formal report"; and

Whereas the minister's predecessor said the department was, "beginning with a limited number of pilots to ensure they can be properly monitored and evaluated", and were kicked off with $200,000 to get the pilots off the ground;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister offer to the students, parents and teachers of this province, justification for the extra thousands spent to set up eight so-called pilot school advisory councils and the unknown dollars currently being spent to evaluate an advisory body which, according to the minister, needed no help but simply blossomed through "natural momentum.".

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 149

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

Whereas Cumberland County Councillor Gerry Langille is calling upon this government to issue the writ for a by-election in Cumberland North; and

[Page 797]

Whereas the residents of Cumberland North deserve equal and effective representation of their concerns in this Legislature; and

Whereas the residents of Cumberland North have been without an elected member of this Legislature for five and one-half months;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier immediately address this issue and call a by-election so the residents of Cumberland North will have a representative serving on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 150

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

Whereas the government has produced a budget which it claims turns the tide and solves all of our problems, with gobs of cash going into health care and education; and

Whereas the budget proposes to put an additional $13 million into education but makes no provision for pay increases for teachers, who are beginning negotiations on a new contract next month; and

Whereas a pay increase of just 2.5 per cent for teachers would wipe out the entire infusion of new money into the education system;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the government to consign its pre-election, good news, pre-election budget to the trash can and bring in a responsible document reflecting the real state of affairs in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 151

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

[Page 798]

Whereas one social worker interviewed for the recent January Story Campaign of the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers reported that "a collapse" was near in the delivery of child services; and

Whereas this statement is representative of many social workers experiencing significant cuts, increased workloads, demanding and contradictory policies and high levels of fear, anxiety and uncertainty; and

Whereas last week's announced budget will further cut an additional $2.5 million in salaries and benefits in Family and Children's Services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberal Government stop cuts to Family and Children's Services, which increase workers caseloads, increase workers stress and increase the number of children in danger.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 152

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

Whereas this government has been flirting with the notion of privatizing correctional facilities since 1994, spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars in the process; and

Whereas during that three year period this government has failed to produce one piece of evidence that privatizing correctional facilities would satisfy anything but this government's ideological fixation on privatization; and

Whereas the absence of supporting evidence or public demand for private-for-profit jails has not deterred this government from its pursuit of these hare-brained schemes;

Therefore be it resolved that this House demands that the government stop wasting time and money and make a clear declaration that private-for-profit jails are not on in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 799]

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 153

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 federal Minister of Health has taken a positive step with the announcement of a new screening program for cervical cancer, through a collaborative project with the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network and the Nova Scotia Gynaecological Cancer Screening Program; and

Whereas the federal Minister of Health has failed to exercise his powers under the Canada Health Act to stop extra billings and user fees currently being charged by Nova Scotia physicians for pap tests; and

Whereas we know that a yearly pap test is essential to detect cancer of the cervix at an early stage but user fees have been shown to discourage people from being tested;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the federal Health Minister for the new screening program but urge him to take action against the growing trend by doctors to charge women $5.00 for an annual pap test.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 154

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

Whereas the Air Canada Cup National Midget Hockey Championship Tournament begins action today at the New Glasgow Stadium and continues through to Sunday; and

Whereas this event will host several elite midget hockey teams from across Canada, along with hundreds of team supporters, scouts, hockey officials and dignitaries from Canada and the United States; and

Whereas the Air Canada Cup is expected to contribute close to $1 million to Pictou County's economy;

[Page 800]

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the organizers of the Air Canada Cup and wish them the very best for a successful tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

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 Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 155

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

Whereas this year, 1997, marks the 50th Anniversary of HMCS Scotian, Canada's largest naval reserve division; and

Whereas the naval reserve has had a physical presence in Halifax since its creation in 1914; and

Whereas naval reservists have served Canada and Canadians bravely throughout the First and Second World Wars, Korea, the Gulf and several peacekeeping operations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the commanding officer and members of HMCS Scotian on their 50th Anniversary and thank them for their dedication to the national security of this great country.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice.

Is it agreed?

[Page 801]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 156

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

Whereas former defeated Dartmouth North Liberal candidate Don Valardo still exercises control of the Minister of Business and Consumer Services and current member for Dartmouth North when it comes to currying favours from this Liberal Government; and

Whereas the most recent example transpired this morning as Dawn Valardo, wife of Don Valardo, was appointed to the Council of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia by this Liberal Government's rubber-stamping patronage-dispensing machine, better known as the Human Resources Committee; and (Interruptions)

Could I have a little order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please.

MR. TAYLOR: Whereas the remuneration for members serving on this committee is under review at the present time;

Therefore be it resolved that unlike the Minister of Health who ensures his key election organizers are rewarded with $100,000 a year perks, the Minister of Business and Consumer Services, despite her support for the Minister of Health, not allow this remuneration review to result in thousands and thousands of taxpayers' dollars being put into the pockets of the two Dons.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would respectfully request that you take that proposed resolution under advisement and examine it in consultation with the Clerks.

[Page 802]

MR. RUSSELL MACNEIL: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I just want to bring it to the attention of the House that the honourable member who just passed the resolution was at the meeting this morning where this person was appointed. Nothing came up from him saying that there was anything wrong with the appointment. I spelled out the thing very (Interruptions) I was the one that made the nomination for it. I find it very irregular that this person can stand up now when we had our meeting at 9:00 this morning and he said nothing. I would say he should have to take it back.

HON. JAMES SMITH: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, this House many times recognizes volunteers and the great part they play in this province. The name of Dawn - D-a-w-n - Valardo was used in a resolution that I find highly objectionable. That person has donated thousands and thousands of hours to the community. As late as a few weeks ago she called me from her volunteer work at the hospital to come and visit a past patient of mine who is dying. I went in and met with that person. That's the kind of person that that person is carrying out a character assassination on and that is not right and that is not fair. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The motion that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley brought to the floor of the House today, I will take that notice under advisement and report to the House on a future day.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 157

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

Whereas Luke Conrad, a Grade 11 student from Millwood High in Sackville, was honoured for designing the top Nova Scotia poster in the 1997 Canada Day Poster Challenge; and

Whereas on April 12th, Millwood High received a new computer in recognition of Luke's efforts; and

Whereas Luke's poster will move on for consideration at the national finals of the 1997 Canada Day Poster Challenge;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Sackville's Luke Conrad for his achievement to date and wish him the very best at the national level.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for waiver of notice and perhaps you could send him a note on behalf of all the members.

[Page 803]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed that this 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 Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education and Culture.

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report entitled, The Report of the Education Funding Review Work Group, dated April 1997, and copies will be distributed to each of the members of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the Sports and Recreation Commission for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1996.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Statements by Ministers.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I apologize for the lateness of this; it was incomplete. I did send copies over, but it was kind of late and I apologize for that since I do normally like to give advance notice.

[Page 804]

I am pleased to rise in my place today to announce a new province-wide initiative to establish healthy communities across the province. Providing health care services is more than a medical responsibility or an ethical responsibility - it is, indeed, both of those things - but it is also a social responsibility, and this government is committed to fulfilling that social contract in this province.

Today I am pleased to announce a brand new initiative for the Province of Nova Scotia, in the sense that it comes from the provincial government. It is an expansion of the healthy communities concept that I advocated throughout my career.

When I became Mayor of Dartmouth, we declared Dartmouth one of the first healthy communities in Canada. I am pleased to acknowledge that we did receive funding from the then Minister of Health for a couple of years to enable that to take off. We used the determinants of health as our guide, recognizing that good health involved more than a person's physical well-being or health care services.

I am proud to say that the City of Dartmouth took a place on the international stage with its healthy communities project in the early 1990's. I am doubly proud that we are now in a position to build on this concept as a province-wide initiative. We will empower our community health boards in the development of more healthy communities.

Good health isn't just about buildings and services, it is about people and communities coming together to provide leadership in creating healthier communities for all. We know that health starts at the grass-roots level with people who understand local issues and ways to address the things that put their health at risk.

This new healthy communities project will fund up to $0.5 million to encourage healthy community initiatives throughout the province. Community health boards will be the key to the success of the Healthy Communities Project. Community health boards are responsible for developing a health plan through widespread community participation. The health plan will include local strategies that promote and improve health in their area. The Healthy Community Project will help community health boards facilitate the development of local action strategies by bringing individuals and groups together to improve the overall health of their communities.

The Department of Health and regional health boards will oversee the provincial initiative by ensuring a coordinated effort in evaluating and sharing of information between participating communities.

The key here - and I think it is an important point, Mr. Speaker - is that all communities across the province will benefit from the lessons learned through this program and how best to apply this information to their own experiences. I believe this initiative will

[Page 805]

enhance the position of our newly formed community health boards as locally based agents for the improvement of community health.

The healthy community initiative will take us one step closer to our goal: better health for our communities and for us all.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the Premier, and his statement did arrive in lots of time for it to be read before he made the announcement in the House. I thank him for that. The question that this statement brings to mind, of course, is what is the true role of community health boards in the development of healthy communities and the development of a health care system in the communities?

Chiefly what the Premier has said today is that there will be a $0.5 million fund to enable community health boards to have a reason to be. The entire problem of health care reform in this province began when the decision was made to do it from the minister's office, make some political appointments to the regional health board and, in fact, as the Minister of Health had indicated as early as last summer, shortly after he assumed his new portfolio, that the community health boards were to be put on hold for 18 months.

This announcement does not suggest any legislation. It does not suggest any specific terms of reference. There has been no input, and I underline and emphasize the word no, from communities in terms of health care reform in this province. This is really an all fluff and no stuff kind of statement, because, in reality, it does not do what should be done and that is to return health care planning to the communities and to give a real role to the community health boards.

It is hard to disagree with the Premier when he and I both understand the importance of healthy communities. Where our opinions start to separate is how to get that job done. I would suggest that this is simply a face-saving measure for the government who understands now fully that putting the community health boards on hold was the wrong direction to move in the first place, certainly the wrong direction to move when the minister announced that this past summer and I would suggest, very strongly, that there is not a lot of substance to this statement.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, let me say that I welcome this announcement because healthy communities are an important initiative for wellness and health in this province. This government has talked about the whole healthy communities initiative since before they came into power but certainly since they came into power, very little effort has been made towards establishing that. One half million dollars to encourage these

[Page 806]

initiatives throughout the province is certainly welcome. But, let me say, that it will only be available, of course, to those communities who have been able, in the face of significant resistance by this government and by the Ministry of Health, to establish community health boards on their own. I say on their own because the Minister of Health and his staff have made it clear that they are not going to attach any priority to community health boards. They have continued to allow a piece of legislation to exist upon which health reform is commencing, the Regional Health Boards Act, without considering the need to make amendments to include the roles and responsibilities to community health boards.

If this government was truly committed to fostering community health boards and community involvement in the process of health reform in this province, they would do two things. Number one, they would amend Bill No. 95, or bring in a revised Bill No. 95, Regional Health Boards Act, to include the role and the responsibilities of community health boards, and, number two, they would truly devolve responsibility for resources and decision making, in terms of not only determining health needs, but how, in fact, to meet those health needs in each and every community around this province, Mr. Speaker.

That is what needs to happen here in order to see real health reform. What we see, while we support the healthy communities initiative in the Province of Nova Scotia, this and the way it is being done, is just another example of the top-down decision making that we have seen from this government throughout its supposed health reform process and it is the main reason why, in fact, health reform is off the rails in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a ministerial statement. I am pleased to inform the House that Sydney Steel Corporation today has received an order for 7,000 metric tonnes of rail from Rio Doce America, who purchased these rails for their parent company, CVRD, of Brazil, the world's largest mining company. Production of this order is expected to begin almost immediately. This order represents a significant breakthrough in Sydney Steel's efforts to penetrate new markets in South America. This order for Brazil is the second new major market that Sydney Steel has been able to enter in the past two months. The first was a Russian order for fully head hardened rail, which will be produced following the rolling of the Brazilian order.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I believe that was a ministerial statement?

MR. SPEAKER: That is correct.

[Page 807]

MR. RUSSELL: Neither of the Opposition Critics received a copy of that and I would ask that we be permitted to delay our response until after Question Period. Secondly, it was impossible to hear the minister because of the uproar in the House.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, were you to delay the right to make responses, it would prejudice the rights of - for example, it is in my constituency and I wanted to say a few words about this.

MR. SPEAKER: You can certainly delay it until after Question Period, okay?

The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I apologize for that. I received this just five minutes ago and I was not sure of the protocol, so my apologies to the members opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise on an introduction. I would like to introduce to the House a number of representatives from the NSGEU, Local 480, who are here, I believe, to meet tomorrow with the management and employee relations meeting, looking at correctional centres. It represents the nine correctional centre facilities in the province. I am going to have the honour of meeting with them tomorrow at that meeting. I would like the House to give them a warm greeting and ask that they please stand and accept the welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Before we move to the Orders of the Day, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate. The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party will debate at 6:00 p.m.:

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the Minister of Natural Resources to refuse to transfer the coal leases associated with the Donkin Mine until a full and complete review of Devco's Donkin proposal determines that such a transfer will not hurt employment in the Cape Breton coal industry.

We will now commence with the Oral Question Period, which today will last for one hour. The time now being 12:48 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 1:48 p.m.

[Page 808]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES: PRIVATIZATION - PLANS

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Former Ministers of Justice in this present government have said both in this House and elsewhere that they do not fundamentally agree with the privatization of the operation of our prison system. If the major player in this decision-making process, the Minister of Justice - at least the previous Ministers of Justice - is not convinced that that is the way to go, I would like to ask the newly-minded Minister of Justice if he would tell this House who is it or what is it that is the driving force behind what appears to be a very eager initiative on the part of this government to engage in privatization of the correctional system?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, it is no secret that the correctional centres in this province have been neglected for a long time and that it is time that we look at solutions, to make sure that we have proper correctional centres that can perform the service they are supposed to perform for the people of Nova Scotia, that they are safe for the employees who work there. It was this government that made the decision that we had to do something about it. We entered into a private-public partnership to examine this problem. This was a public-private partnership with a group called Atlantic Corrections Group. They will be coming forward with their report in the near future. We have no commitment to operate correctional centres by the private sector. When we receive that report we will look at it, we will study it and make a decision at that time.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the minister will be aware and probably had delivered to him at his place an update document prepared by Local 480, entitled Partners in Crime - Politicians and Prison Corporations. If the minister reads that, as I am sure he already has, he will find that the experience in other places where governments have engaged in private sector initiatives with regard to the building, operation and maintenance of correctional facilities has virtually, in every case, been an unmitigated disaster.

I want to ask this minister if he will give a commitment here this afternoon. It is our understanding, as was said earlier here today that in about four or five weeks it is his intention to take a document to the Priorities and Planning Committee of his government, relative to this whole matter of privatization of correctional institutions. Will this minister today give a commitment that no such document will go to Priorities and Planning without there first being full, complete and open communication with Local 480 on the theory that the men and women who work in the correctional institutions of this province know more about it than certainly does this minister and many others, than virtually anybody else in this province, they

[Page 809]

work there day to day? Will this minister give a commitment that no document will go from his office to Priorities and Planning without him committing today to full and open discussions with the leaders of Local 480 so that their input, advice, guidance and counsel can be reflected in that document?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, previous Ministers of Justice before me have consulted fully with the employees and the union representing these institutions. I intend to have a meeting with them tomorrow and I will continue to consult with them. We will be receiving the report in the near future and when we receive that we will give it very careful study and will deal accordingly with it.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, those are interesting words but unfortunately they don't come within a mile of responding to the question that I put. The minister says he is going to meet with the correctional officers tomorrow, then there will be some further meetings, discussions and so on (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you might invite the Minister of Community Services to perhaps keep his mouth shut while we are trying to engage in Question Period, please?

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

MR. DONAHOE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So the Minister of Justice has just now told us that he will meet with the correctional officers tomorrow and I am pleased that he will and I am sure they are as well. But the question I was asking and I would like him to answer if he is prepared to do so and if he is not then we will all understand how to interpret that refusal, will this minister give an undertaking that when the document is ready, as far as he is concerned, to go to the Priorities and Planning Committee that he will before it does go have a follow-up meeting with representatives of Local 480, the correctional officers of the province, to enable them to ensure that their experience, background and knowledge of what the real life is working and administering correctional institutions in this province is reflected in the document that goes to the Priorities and Planning Committee? Will he give that undertaking?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to my meeting with the representatives of Local 480 tomorrow. I will continue to consult with them. We are waiting for the report and I am not prepared to make any commitments until we have the opportunity to examine the report. What I will say is that we, as a province and a government, understand our obligation to make sure that we have correctional facilities that suit the needs of the people of the Province of Nova Scotia that do the purpose that they are intended, that are safe for the employees that work there and we will not shirk that responsibility. (Applause)

[Page 810]

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

NAT. RES. - DONKIN MINE: LEASES - TRANSFER ASSESS

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. Last Thursday we received an announcement from the Cape Breton Development Corporation of their intention to enter into an agreement with a firm called Donkin Resources Limited to transfer coal leases and other title to lands that they own with respect to the Donkin Mine site. I have since written to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Premier, bringing to their attention the fact that it is the responsibility of this government to give final approval to any such transfer of coal leases.

The whole issue relative to the future of the coal industry in Cape Breton and, certainly, the future of Devco and the jobs now of 1,200 miners is, I think, under question as a result of this deal.

My question to the Premier. Given the announcement, and the lack of information, and given the sensitivity of the whole Donkin Mine site issue relative to the future of the coal industry and the future of Devco, will the Premier, before any consent is granted or any approval granted with respect to the coal leases, will he carry out, or cause to be carried out, a full assessment of all aspects of this deal before in fact that transfer is determined?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a departmental affair. We have a very competent Minister of Natural Resources to whom the member has already written. I will ask her to answer the question.

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Yes, I have received a letter from the member opposite and I am in the process of responding to that letter. I think the member opposite is raising some concerns that may be legitimate, but I think he is jumping the gun a little bit here. I think we have a letter of intent and a press release without expressing an intent to study the possibility of opening up Donkin Mine.

I have heard nothing in this House for the last three or four years here but the fact they want to get Donkin Mine up and running. We have a situation here where someone has come forward and offered to do a study to see if that is feasible and to see if that can happen. A letter of consent from the Minister of Natural Resources is there now with their lease and if there is any opportunity for that mine to open up, a request would then come forward. We do not expect that for two or three years. I have had no request to release any licences. I think the member opposite may be raising some concerns, but I think they are very premature.

MR. CHISHOLM: I would appreciate returning to the Premier on this issue, given the commitments that this government has made and the federal government has made, and given the potential impact this will have on the economy of Cape Breton and on the economy

[Page 811]

in fact of all of Nova Scotia, and yes there has been a fairly wide consensus about how integral the development of the Donkin Mine is, but it is not simply in isolation, it is, with respect to the future of Devco, as part of a unit, as part of the organization that is developing the coal industry in Cape Breton.

My first supplementary to the Premier. In 1967, under an Act to Establish the Cape Breton Development Corporation, that Act says that withdrawal of the federal government from the coal industry was to be based on progress in providing employment outside the coal-producing industry and in broadening the base of the island's economy.

This announcement and the privatization of the Donkin coalfield will have a significant impact on the coal industry in this province. I ask the Premier as my first supplementary. Given the fact that this is an obvious - the decision would be the withdrawal of the federal government from the coal industry - does he not believe that this is sufficient evidence of the federal government withdrawing and he will in fact investigate, and cause to have investigated, the impact of this decision on the economy and jobs in the Island of Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: We as a province have worked with our federal colleagues to try to enhance the basis of employment in Cape Breton. While we are not at all happy with the total result, we will continue to do so.

[1:00 p.m.]

I think the issue has been quite admirably dealt with by the Minister of Natural Resources and the issue of whether or not there should be the kind of assessment is, at this point, not necessary.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, not necessary? We are talking about an economy in Cape Breton that has unemployment of 27.4 per cent. We are talking about the possible future of close to 2,500 jobs in the coal industry in Cape Breton. If the Premier doesn't think that this is, in fact, important enough for him to put some of his attention to, then maybe the whole government should resign, and not just this Premier. This is a resource that all Nova Scotians own. This is a resource that the Government of Nova Scotia is responsible for. In order for this transfer to happen, the Government of Nova Scotia has to approve it.

I ask the Premier, on behalf of the government, will he commit now that these transfers will not be approved until an assessment of the impact is completed and made public?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have never found that yelling at an issue produced anything, but it is a well-known fact that empty vessels make the most sound. What I am prepared to do is to look after the jobs of the people of Cape Breton, in conjunction with the

[Page 812]

Minister of Natural Resources. I have absolute faith in the minister and will continue to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES: PRIVATIZATION - JUSTIFICATION

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Minister of Justice. I wonder if the Minister of Justice would agree with me that the correctional officers of Nova Scotia, over the last many years, have conducted themselves in a professional and effective manner and have provided top-quality service in the administration and operation of the correctional facilities of the Province of Nova Scotia? Would he agree with that proposition?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I have been Minister of Justice for a number of weeks, but everything I have heard is, yes, I would agree with that.

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, if that is the case and that is the minister's view and that is what he has heard from all sources, and that is, in fact, the view as I heard espoused by his predecessor Ministers of Justice, I would like then, by way of first supplementary, to ask him this question, if the correctional officers of the Province of Nova Scotia, as properly constituted now, have provided a quality, expert, professional service in the operation and maintenance of the correctional centres of the Province of Nova Scotia, I would like to ask this minister if he would explain what is the rationale and the driving force that convinces him and his government colleagues that it is now necessary to engage in $300,000 worth of study as to whether or not we should move away from the present arrangement and get into some as yet undefined public-private arrangement with God knows who? What is it, if he and I agree that the present correctional officers provide a quality service, that motivates the push to look elsewhere?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the honourable member that the study we have undertaken looks into far more issues than simply the question of whether the institution should be run by a private sector operator or a public sector operator. It deals primarily with the state of the correctional centres themselves and what we can do to make sure we have proper facilities in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think that is considered one of the major problems we have before us. One of the reasons we have this problem is that for 15 years, little or nothing was done. We now have to find ways to make sure we have correctional facilities which are safe for the residents that reside there, they are cost-efficient for the people of Nova Scotia and safe for the employees that work there. We will ensure that is done. (Applause)

[Page 813]

MR. DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, the minister has helped because we now have a clear distinction between the two elements of correctional centre and correctional facilities operation. One, I take it, the minister is addressing is the matter of the physical plant, the buildings and their configuration and whether or not they are safe and appropriate for the employees, the correctional officers, to work in them so that they are safe not only for the correctional officers but, of course, for those who are incarcerated there.

If then the minister is saying to us today, Mr. Speaker, and I get the sense that it is the principal initiative of this study, that it is the physical plant arrangement, will the minister give this undertaking, that when complete, the study, which is now under way with Atlantic Corrections Group, will address the issue the minister just alluded to, namely the physical plant, the safety, the structures and so on, and that he will consult with the correctional officers in that regard. They have to work in these buildings, but once the decisions or recommendations are reached relative to the physical plant will he give the undertaking that under no circumstances will any contract be made with anybody other than the correctional officers, the NSGEU and the correctional officers now, that they will be the employees, that he will not move to somehow firing them or getting rid of them and going to a private sector organization to provide the manpower to operate the correctional facilities of the province? Will he give that undertaking?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, the study that we have undertaken is many faceted and it looks at all aspects of the correctional facilities that we have. This report will be coming forward. We are looking forward to it with anticipation. We will study it. We will make sure that we meet our commitment to make sure that we have the proper correctional facilities for the Province of Nova Scotia that we require. As far as consultation, we have consulted and we will continue to consult.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

FIN. - BUSINESS INVENTORY: PURCHASES - TAX TREATMENT

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. I had calls from a number of small businessmen in my constituency, and one in particular, and they all are with regard to the health services tax and deal with what the regime is for handling the health services tax insofar as inventory that was purchased prior to April 1st. They have had some considerable difficulty getting answers to the question as to how they handle that inventory that came into stock, as I say, before April 1st but was still unsold after April 1st. I was wondering if the minister could advise me of how that inventory is handled?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, as the member probably knows, the collection of the health services tax is under the Business and Consumer Services Department and I am sure that that honourable minister could help. Mind you, if there is anything that the Department of Finance could do as well to help in terms of information, we would certainly

[Page 814]

be glad to do that with the transition from the provincial sales tax system to the harmonized system but it may be that you might want to redirect your question.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I knew that answer and I knew that would be the answer I would get from the minister. He doesn't know anything about it. The difficulty is the Finance Department right across the road doesn't know anything about it. You phone the Department of Finance over here and have a question, that is a legitimate question dealing with matters of the provincial sales tax before April 1st and they refer you to Ottawa. They give you a 1-800 number. This gentleman phoned that number 50 times and he couldn't get an answer so he phoned me. I tried yesterday 10 times, I tried today 4 times and couldn't get an answer. I phoned back to the Department of Finance and they said that is the only number to get the information on. How in Heaven's name, will the minister tell us, are people with small businesses in Nova Scotia going to operate with regard to the harmonized sales tax if they can't get the rules that apply to their particular problem?

MR. GILLIS: It seems as if we have bait and switch here, now we are talking about the harmonized sales tax and how they are operating. I will say very clearly, and I implied that in the first answer, if there is a problem pre-April 1st with the old tax, I am sure my colleague the Minister of Business and Consumer Services will help but if the member would provide this person's name, we will have some person call this person to help with the provincial tax.

With regard to the harmonized sales tax, which is administered by Revenue Canada, maybe the member should call up the line. Revenue Canada have the responsibility. You can't have two governments running it.

One of the advantages is that under the HST you don't have two sets of audits. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, one of the advantages is that we do not have two sets of auditors visiting businesses. They have one set of forms to complete to make their returns.

Again, I repeat that if there is some specific problem relating to pre-April 1st with regard to the provincial tax, I am sure my colleague and I will help. If the minister, or the member for Hants West could provide - he was a minister and the people did something about that in the last election; we will see about the future.

Again I offer, on behalf of my colleague and I, if we can help provide information about the past we will do that. In the meantime, maybe the member could call the office of the federal Revenue Minister or the MP for your area and ask them if they would get on top of the case.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that is the whole problem; it is a buck-passing government over here. Anything they don't know, anything they can't solve is somebody else's problem.

[Page 815]

I am talking about a problem that applies to both the PST and the HST. If he heard the question, I am talking about inventory that was purchased prior to April 1st. The person is holding that material in his inventory right now and he is going to sell it. What is the process with regard to input tax credits on those items that he purchased before April 1st?

He cannot get an answer and he is not alone. I have had at least three others who have phoned me with the same problem and nobody can give them an answer, except for this phone number which is always engaged.

Now, Mr. Speaker, would the minister tell me the answer to my question? How is that inventory handled, or doesn't he know?

MR. GILLIS: Maybe one of the reasons the former government, of which this member was a senior member, made such an abysmal mess of the finances of the province was they were trying to run the individual departments. This is what probably happened.

Mr. Speaker, I offer again (Interruptions) We have babble from the back. If the member for Hants West will provide me with the name and telephone number of that person, I will get a senior official in the Department of Finance to call them and be of every bit of assistance we can.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - REFORM: DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES - WAITING TIME

(QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE)

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. We are being besieged, as Opposition members, by complaints about the health care system. The biggest difficulty, I think, is to have the minister and the government acknowledge that there are problems within the health care system and that the reform process in this province simply hasn't worked.

Now the latest complaint I had actually came this morning. I wish to ask the minister, is the minister aware that appointments are now being made at the X-ray department, or what is now known as the diagnostic imaging department, at the QE II Health Sciences Centre, that they are booking appointments for simple procedures such as upper GIs and barium enemas for late June? In other words, if you call up today to access this test, you are given an appointment for late June. Is the minister aware of that?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think I should not allow the preliminary remarks to go unchallenged before I specifically address the question. This government and, indeed, myself as minister have never ever indicated that there were not challenges and problems within the health care system. You would be a fool to say that. What

[Page 816]

we have said is that the system generally is operating well. As a matter of fact, it is a quality health care system. It has been, it is now and it is going to get better.

What I think we have seen, by contrast, is the Opposition running around saying that the sky is falling, it is in total collapse and in some cases, Mr. Speaker, perhaps even hopeful that their dire predictions will come true. In fact, that is not the case; of course there are challenges in all sorts of areas and we are meeting them in a gradual, planned, staged, incremental way. While we are meeting them, by the way, we are paying for it as we go, with our own money.

[1:15 p.m.]

With respect to the particular specifics of the question, those items are managed by the board which is in place at that facility. I can certainly contact them and ask them what the situation is with respect to those particular procedures and how, whatever the waiting list is, it might compare with the waiting list 3 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, the minister does bear a responsibility to make sure that these tests are available in a timely fashion, and the minister is really playing loose with the facts when he would suggest that these are political observations that there are problems within the health care system. The minister wasn't here last night, but 200 people arrived outside the Legislature who really are echoing the same message that the minister gets here daily in Question Period. Many of those people are not known to me and, I believe, are not known to the Leader of the New Democratic Party; they are simply Nova Scotians concerned about the accessibility of a reasonable health care system here in Nova Scotia.

The minister has made a commitment that he will look into the question, but what I would like to ask the minister specifically, is he prepared - and it is a very simple thing to do, all you have to do is call up and say, look, I have a slip and this test is ordered, when will I get the test? - table by Question Period tomorrow the waiting time for the 20 most requested tests at the Diagnostic Imaging Department of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre? The 20 most requested tests, a very simple thing to determine.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, again the honourable Leader of the Opposition is using an old Opposition tactic, and it is to put words in the mouth of a minister or government and then attack what the Opposition alleged that the minister said.

I think I must once again gently point out to the honourable Leader of the Opposition that in point of fact this government and this minister have never at all denied the fact that there are serious challenges in the health care system, as evidenced by the people who showed up here yesterday. There is wide concern across Nova Scotia about the future of the health care system. We have addressed it and will continue to address it in a sensible, responsible

[Page 817]

way, not denying that there are problems and challenges but, yes, denying that the system is in the type of collapse that some political commentators have proposed.

With respect to the particular request of the honourable Leader of the Opposition, I will seek that information; I presume he meant from the QE II? He nods in agreement. So I will simply ask them if they can give us that information and in what time period it is reasonable to expect them to have it for me.

DR. HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that commitment and I will eagerly await the results of his inquiry.

When the minister is in discussion with the availability of service at the QE II Centre, I wonder, will he make an inquiry as well as to what has happened to the waits for elective surgery, particularly since the move to the new centre? The information that I have received is that the waiting lists for elective surgery at the new facility have increased dramatically; many of the waits for elective surgery are now double what they were just a few short months ago.

There is a real problem with down time in the operating room - that is the amount of time between one operation and the next - and I understand there are serious problems with the case-cart system, which is the way the sterilized equipment comes to the OR. The information I have is that the down time, the non-productive time in the operating rooms at the new facility are double the wait times at the old facility. Would the minister look into that as well, because it is a very serious problem and it is contributing to inefficiency and unrealistic waits for elective surgery.

MR. BOUDREAU: I think that I certainly will. Let me say that right off the top. I will address that situation.

It is a new facility. It is a pretty major move which took place, basically to follow through and implement a decision that was made by the former government when they decided to commit funds to construct the new facility. We are in a period now of transition. We are moving in a very major way, perhaps the very largest move made in the history of the province in terms of health care facilities moving from one facility to another. I know the honourable Leader of the Opposition would not want in that transition period to pursue information that might give people of the province a somewhat distorted view of what the situation will be as the facility completes this transition period.

The real problem, though, and the difficulty that I have with the questions from the honourable Leader of the Opposition, is the characterization of the health care system as being totally in collapse. First of all, it is not accurate. Secondly, at least one might question the motivation. Thirdly, it ignores the fact that in 1993 when the former government was in office, we faced a situation where the entire province and all of the social services in it were

[Page 818]

facing desperately the type of collapse he is talking about now. The reason was very simple. We were out of money. We were out of borrowing. The first to be impacted, the very first to be impacted would have been the health care system they presume to be so concerned about at the moment.

Yes, there are problems. Yes, there are challenges. Yes, we have to deal with them. We will deal with them responsibly in a planned way and we will preserve this system, not only for ourselves but for our children and our children's children.

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

JUSTICE - CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES: PRIVATIZATION - PLANS

MR. JOHN HOLM: I too would like to address a question to the Minister of Justice to whom I listened very carefully as he gave his non-answers earlier this afternoon.

Many American jurisdictions bought into this private-for-profit correctional facility delivery system. In the United States we have seen countless reports about problems that have occurred. We have heard countless reports about escapes. We have heard about the kinds of services and treatments within those facilities. We have heard about cost overruns. We have heard about money being misappropriated and not going where it was designated to go. We have heard about tremendous changeovers in staff. One of them within a year had changeovers in four wardens in the period of less than one year.

My question to the Minister of Justice is given the kind of experience that we see and have witnessed and of the countless evidence south of the border, why is this government trying to be an American wannabe? Why is this government considering - even considering - imposing that kind of system here in Nova Scotia?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: I go back to my earlier remarks that in the Province of Nova Scotia our correctional centres need considerable upgrading and we wanted to make sure that we examine this problem very carefully and that we are able to provide the sort of institutions to the Province of Nova Scotia, the residents and employees, that was required. This is the purpose that we have undertaken this particular study.

We do not come to it with any views as to which way it should be run. I think it has been stated in the past that our preference will be to continue to have the institutions run by the public domain but we believe that we owe it to the people of Nova Scotia to consider all options. When we receive the report, we will do that.

MR. HOLM: The minister and I agree on one point and that is that the correctional facilities in Nova Scotia certainly do need to be upgraded and that need has been there for a long time.

[Page 819]

Certainly there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that has been provided by this government or anybody else that Nova Scotia is going to benefit or in fact that the public supports the scheme that this government has.

The minister has indicated that he will be consulting. We hear from this government over and over again how they consult, but they never do it in a meaningful way. For example, the officers who work within the system, who are a very crucial part, who are important stakeholders, are not involved in the planning process and today this minister refused to guarantee or to commit that the report that the government is to receive will even be shared with those officials prior to being given to Priorities and Planning. So I would like to ask the minister this question. Since he said that he wants to have facilities that are safe and appropriate, who better to consult with on the soundness of the recommendations that are being brought forward other than those who know it intimately from their work within it? Will the minister, therefore, guarantee that once that report has been received that the representatives of the correctional services, the workers, will be involved in evaluating that process before any decision by government is taken to proceed down this hare-brained road?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I value the input of the employees of our correctional facilities. I look forward to consulting with them. I look forward to meeting them tomorrow. We do have this report coming forward in the near future. We will receive the report. We will evaluate it very, very carefully and we will deal with it in the proper manner. Thank you.

MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, the minister values the input of the correctional workers so much that he isn't even prepared to guarantee that he will evaluate that report with them prior to making a decision. Some input. I suggest these workers deserve more than a pat on the head and sent home with that.

My question to the minister is quite simply this. It appears very definitely that this government is fixated more on the ideology of privatization of public services for profits than they are about actually ensuring that we have safe and appropriate facilities in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to ask this minister, what is the highest priority of this government? Is it to continue to play the bogus shell game of trying to hide the true financial costs on the books of your private for-profit partners or to provide safe and appropriate facilities for the workers and for the people of the Province of Nova Scotia? Which is the priority?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, like all services that we offer, it is to make sure that we provide the sort of service that the people of Nova Scotia require. We provide it in a cost-efficient manner and we are fair to all people involved.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 820]

HEALTH - FIRST RESPONDER PROGRAM:

WESTERN N.S. FIREFIGHTERS ASSOC. - VIEWS

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health had arranged to appear in the press certain releases in January in relation to the First Responder Program. These announcement indicated what a wonderful thing that First Responder Program is and how pleased they were that 66 per cent of the firefighters in the province were to be first responders. It was a wonderful service and it raised the expectations of the public that, in fact, everybody was within easy reach of a first responder. The problem is they forgot to consult with the firefighters. That prompted a letter by Fire Chief Doug MacLean to the minister's department written earlier this month, and this was not only representative of that fire chief but of the Western Nova Scotia Firefighters Association. Obviously, what the department was talking about in terms of emergency health response was incorrect.

My question to the minister is specifically, in view of the letter of concern from the firefighters association, what action has the minister taken to address the concerns expressed by the Western Nova Scotia Firefighters Association?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the honourable member could give me a copy of the letter he refers to, so I might see it. Was the letter addressed to me?

DR. HAMM: It went to Tony Eden.

MR. BOUDREAU: So it wasn't addressed to me. Well, if I could get a copy of that letter I perhaps would be in a better position to answer any subsequent supplementary question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants . . . for Kings North . . . for Kings West, sorry.

HEALTH - AMBULANCE SERVICE (GLACE BAY):

MARITIME MEDICAL CARE - SUBSIDY

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I almost thought I was representing three constituencies for a moment.

My question is for the Minister of Health. Last week in this House the Minister of Health was asked a question about financial arrangements by Maritime Medical to buy out the ambulance service in Glace Bay. The minister first indicated that he didn't have the information available to answer the question and he said later he was not about to release the financial details of a private-sector transaction. Well the minister knows that all these

[Page 821]

transactions that have gone on around the province, where operators have bought out other operators, part of that package was a commitment by the province to put in additional money to pay off that money. He knows that there were public funds involved, so when public funds are involved, we ought to know what kind of deal is actually happening.

[1:30 p.m.]

I wonder if the minister will table today, or will tell us today, what subsidy or budget arrangements with Maritime Medical have been arranged to allow them to buy out the Glace Bay ambulance service? In other words, what arrangements have they made with regard to a commitment by this government, with government funds, now that they have bought out or are about to buy out the Glace Bay ambulance service?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well first of all, Mr. Speaker, I am not aware that any deal has been completed at this stage. If the honourable member has that information, he has more recent information than I have.

The process is, as I have attempted to explain it previously in this House, the Department of Health is obviously interested in any transaction which takes place to purchase an ambulance operation. We are interested in two aspects: we are interested in pre-qualifying potential bidders, if you will, so that we don't have somebody in the process bidding to purchase an existing ambulance service that, for one reason or another, is a totally unacceptable operator; and on the other end - and this is getting more to the point where the honourable member brings his question - at the end of the day the government really pays these operations in any event, so that from that point of view, whoever purchases the operation does so after disclosing a business plan to the department, so the department can conclude whether or not it is a reasonable business plan.

So we get involved, I guess you might say, at the front end in terms of qualifying bidders, and then we necessarily get involved at the back end, when it looks as if there may be a deal brewing, to make sure that the business plan of the presumably successful bidder is reasonable. At the end of the day, I agree with the honourable member, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are going to be paying, so that is where we have an interest. The important crux of the deal, where two private sector parties get together and one decides to sell and the other decides to buy, is not something that the Department of Health wants to be involved in.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, the minister is right - but there is a third aspect where the government is involved that he didn't clearly state. I understand about getting involved to make sure that those who are bidding or taking over are qualified to do the job and then looking at the business financial plan.

[Page 822]

As I know, and I know he is aware, of some transactions that have taken place around the province, when his government looked at the particular group's financial plan there was a commitment obviously what price was paid, the company obviously has to know down the road how they are going to pay for it, and there was a commitment by this government in other areas of the province, be it in the Valley or be it in Yarmouth, that over a period of time, through the subsidy program, there would be money forthcoming to pay off that purchase. In other words, they would obviously have to make enough profit to pay off that purchase or it wouldn't survive, I think the minister agrees.

What I am asking the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, will the arrangements with Maritime Medical be the same as the other arrangements that were made by those other operators who have purchased other operators in the province already to date?

MR. BOUDREAU: Again, Mr. Speaker, as I say, the Province of Nova Scotia, the Department of Health specifically, has an interest in what the business plan is. The business plan involves, by a successful purchaser, is what did I pay for it, how am I going to get that money repaid, and that is obviously coming from operations, and operations means, for the most part, the Department of Health. So any purchaser would be as anxious as we are that there was a business plan in place that the department found acceptable. So that is not a surprise either from our end or the purchasers' end.

I am not so sure I understand exactly what the honorable member is driving at. Because I think we agree, probably, on the large part of the process. If he is saying that he wants to know, in a particular transaction that has taken place, what the arrangements were or what the business plan said or any of those things, if he wants to ask the question specifically in this deal that has taken place, what were the arrangements, I will certainly consider that request for information, based on basically the elements and direction in the Freedom of Information Act.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable minister for offering that because I am looking for that kind of information, which is government money. I understand there were different scenarios around the province, but when there is government money that is committed, I am trying to find out what it is that is committed in those particular cases. That is really what I am asking. I want to know if they are all the same and I know the business plans vary, but I guess are we working out of the same formula to treat everybody the same and I would like to know what that is.

My last supplementary to the minister is, the minister gave an indication to the ambulance operators that they would get a budget-based formula. They were promised that. In other words, when we started this year, April 1st, they would operate on a budget-based formula. I would ask the minister if that is in place and, if it is, could he table that information as well?

[Page 823]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the approach in terms of budget-based formulas and margins and so on will be common across the province. So let me say that as a fundamental principle, that the approach will be common. Secondly, let me say, as well as the principle, that any operator out there who is not interested in selling and wants to continue to operate in this province, can do so and that operator, whoever he or she might be, will be given the option of doing that. We don't intend to chase anyone out of the business. The approach will be similar in terms of the common approach to such things as profit margins and so on.

What I will do is take the honourable member's question on notice with respect to the approach and perhaps I can bring him back some further information at a later day.

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

HEALTH: QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE - PATIENT TRANSFER (18/04/97)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the honourable Minister of Health. Last Friday at 5:00 a.m., an 80 year old man received a call from the QE II Health Sciences Centre informing him that his critically ill wife had been transferred at 3:30 a.m. from the critical care unit, CCU, at the QE II Health Sciences Centre to another hospital.

Can the minister, in light of his repeated claims that we have sufficient beds, explain why this critically ill woman had to be moved at 3:30 a.m. to another hospital?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the honourable member honestly expects me to answer that question here. (Interruptions) It is one of those questions that was not asked seeking information. It was seeking something else. I will take it on notice and I will respond.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister indicated earlier that there are many serious concerns with the health care system. Can the minister indicate then, on what basis beds are being allocated and is it based on a formula per hundred, per thousand patients? On what basis are beds being allocated in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. BOUDREAU: I presume the existing amount of beds are being allocated on the basis of professional judgment on the part of our health care team. If they are being allocated in any other way, then I would be surprised and I think the honourable member would want to give me some information on that.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, in light of the regional health boards having financial control of hospital budgets, can the minister advise if the regional hospital boards have received a plan from the Department of Health relative to bed allocation?

[Page 824]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the regional health boards now are currently presenting and refining their business and health services delivery plans, discussions have taken place. But I would remind the honourable member that while he makes a great point of indicating that hospital beds have been reduced and they have been, significantly over the last number of years, in point of fact by one measure in terms of the number of procedures that are performed by the health care system in our province, the number of procedures have gone up. There are more people being served, more medical procedures being done, in spite of the fact that there are fewer beds.

There is a clear realization, I think, by most people in the health care profession that bricks and mortar don't necessarily equate to quality of health care. In point of fact, over the years the former government, often on very little notice, decided to announce another hospital. It was like Johnny Appleseed going through the Valley dropping a hospital here and a hospital there and so on. This was always amid much ballyhoo, much public attention. The warmest moments they had as a government were cutting ribbons and putting another name on a plaque somewhere. Well, the numbers will tell them that even with fewer beds, more people are being served. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

JUSTICE - FAMILY VIOLENCE: JUDGES - TRAINING REQUIRE

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. One commendable initiative of this government has been the family violence prevention initiative and its consequent Framework for Action. When the minister announced it on April 4, 1995, he said the program would, ". . . emphasize a pro-arrest, pro-prosecution approach to family violence.". He also said, "A training program will be provided to all justice workers . . . to ensure compliance with the new policy.". It seems that all Justice workers does not include judges because in a letter to me the minister said that the training of judges would interfere with the independence or perceived independence of judges. There have been recent press reports, in fact, two in the last 10 days that indicate the leniency of some judges toward crimes of domestic violence. In light of this I would like to ask the Minister of Justice, will the minister commit to requiring judges to take the training provided by the Framework for Action?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, it is a very important principle of our system that the judiciary is independent from the executive wing of the government and that must be in our system. So for that reason, although it is a very important objective, it is wrong for us to direct judges to take any particular course of training. This is a matter for the Chief Justice of the particular court and I know that they are aware of the sensitivity of this and I have every faith that the Chief Justice of the particular court will ensure that this sort of training is given.

[Page 825]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister's answer doesn't surprise me. This is the answer that he has given before. I guess the question that concerns the women and families of this province is, how come we have a family violence prevention initiative that works and it is working and people have praised this program, it is working until it gets to the very top? Those of us who have been in education and everyone else knows, I think, that the purpose of education is not to censure or influence decisions and in this case decisions of judges. It is meant to help them address their own biases regarding family violence, biases which when they enter into judicial decisions ultimately interfere with the administration of justice. So since this is the case I want to ask why is the government frustrating its own initiative to address unfairness to women in the Justice system?

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the question and I am very pleased that she recognizes this initiative as working very well in all parts of government.

[1:45 p.m.]

She expresses the concern, again, about the judiciary. Mr. Speaker, I have to repeat, that we cannot direct the judiciary to take any particular course of action. If we do in this regard, then we can direct them to take courses of action in other regards and that is wrong. That defeats our system.

They are responsible for running their own system and responsible for training. I have every confidence that they will do that in the proper way.

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I think the whole premise that the minister is operating on here is a false one and that is about whether or not education somehow damages the independence of the judiciary. The education of a judge is not meant to predict the final outcome of any judicial decision, it is meant to assist judges in the process of their thinking and their understanding.

I really need to know, and I think a lot of women in this province and a lot of families want to know, what is the government prepared to do to address the issue of the personal biases of judges? Does he have a better scheme that will work? These biases need to be addressed, Mr. Speaker. They are interfering with justice and they are endangering the lives of women in this province.

MR. MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I understand the concerns of the honourable member and I can sympathize with her. I think this is a very important issue. It is an issue that this government takes very seriously and has taken steps to try to correct in all respects that we can within our power.

Again, it is very important, understand, that the courts of this land are separate from the executive wing and any time that you interfere with that, you do our system a grave harm.

[Page 826]

MR. SPEAKER: We have approximately one minute left.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

SPORTS - CN LINE: PICTOU-OXFORD - JURISDICTION

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I had three questions for the Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission.

The Pictou-Oxford shortline, which was the CN line between Pictou and Oxford, is now vested in the Province of Nova Scotia. Would the Minister provide details to me as to whom and where abutting landowners are to apply in order to have the province fulfil its responsibility to the owners of the property? In other words, if there is flooding and whatever, who do they apply to?

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, that is a question that I will have to take under advisement and get back to you on.

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

Before we move to Government Business, I would like to recognize the Opposition Critic to respond to the ministerial statement of the honourable Minister of Labour that was made earlier today in the House.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, it pleases me to be able to rise and say a few words about the statement that was made by the Minister of Labour. It gave us an announcement about a 7,000 ton order that was given to the Sydney Steel Corporation, Sysco. Although it is a small step, I think it is a significant step. It certainly is important to the people that work at the plant and I think that we should, in this House, recognize the hard work of the sales and marketing of Sysco and the Sysco workers. Also, I would like to pay a tribute to the workers there because I think it is the quality of their product that makes it easier for the sales force to go out in a very demanding world and meet this demand.

Although this order will represent about a month's work, it is an important step, as I said, towards putting people back to work. It is with a very significant company and, hopefully, it will be the first of many orders.

The thing that we have to remember is that a significant number of the people who work at the Sydney Steel Corporation are still on the layoff rolls. We have to try to get more initiatives such as this to get more people back to work because the ultimate goal of every

[Page 827]

member of this House should be to make sure that the Sysco steelworkers are there to provide the kind of product we know they can.

Although it is a small order, it is a step in the right direction and I congratulate the marketing force at Sysco and the workforce for the work they have been doing.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to congratulate Sysco and its workers for continuing to hang in and plug along when they have been faced with some very significant challenges over the past number of years with the Minmetals deal, which continues to be shown to be an absolutely disastrous period in the history of Sydney Steel, as a result of the challenges of the rail order that went to China and the lack of day-to-day management and direction by a board of directors run by Minmetals, officials that never met, effectively, Mr. Speaker.

I commend the people who are now in charge, who are proceeding to operate and to try to build back the reputation of Sysco that has been damaged over the past few years and, certainly, again, to those workers who have continued, even though there have been significant questions raised about whether or not they could produce a quality product as a result of the challenges by the Chinese under that major rail order and from CN, they are showing themselves, in the face of adversity, to be willing and able to hang in and continue to work in an effective and efficient manner to produce a good product. So I rise and commend Sysco for this announcement.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, as the member in whose constituency the Sydney Steel Plant is located, I would like to say a few words on this ministerial announcement. Looking over the text of the announcement, I don't see one word in it about Minmetals. It is about Sydney Steel Corporation having received an order for 7,000 metric tons of rail from a firm in Brazil. That is what the ministerial announcement was about and that is what members are supposed to respond to in speaking to the announcement.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you agree or disagree?

MR. MACEWAN: Certainly, I feel that this announcement is significant. It is significant because the Brazilian company that has placed this order just happens to be the largest mining company anywhere in the world. The largest mining company in the world is where we have gotten this particular rail order from, so that augers very well for the future. It indicates that if the rail sampling that is being provided to the Brazilian company is well received, that there is potential for further orders from a very large customer that could

[Page 828]

translate into a great deal of future work. That, I suggest, Mr. Speaker, is the significance of this announcement and not anything about Minmetals.

I would further like to say, while I have the floor, Mr. Speaker, that I think we should commend the Sysco workforce and the Sysco sales force, but we should also commend the minister responsible, and the government, for having supported this industry in its time of need, which has been over the last number of months, and for working diligently day and night to make this kind of thing possible, rather than shrugging and walking away as some might do.

So, Mr. Speaker, I hope this augers well for the future. I notice that the rolling of this rail will get under way immediately, prior to the Russian rail order, because of the technical specifications of the Russian order. That means that steelworkers will be going back to work in Sydney, in my constituency, very soon and I think we should all welcome that, irrespective of politics.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

RESOLUTION NO. 158

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

Whereas some 82 per cent of Nova Scotians surveyed in a recent poll believe that environmental clean-up will contribute to a growth of the economy of this province; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have shown a commitment to a greener environment by recycling some 152 million beverage containers in the past year, creating well over 300 jobs;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly acknowledge the importance of Earth Day 1997, which is today, and that it demonstrates the importance of working together toward a greener, cleaner and healthier environment.

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

[Page 829]

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.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to take a few minutes to address the House before going into Supply. I want to make some comment on our health care system in the province. These remarks are generated by the concerns of a number of people who chose to come to Province House last night to indicate, in a very public way and in a very forceful way, their concerns about the direction that health care has taken in this province.

Many of these people travelled from as far away as Cape Breton because they truly believe that health care in this province has deteriorated dramatically since 1993-94. Part of the identity that we share as Canadians in this country when we are looked upon by others from outside the country is our access to good universal health care that is available to each and every citizen of this country.

There is a crisis both in care and in confidence. The 200 people who chose to come here last night bear testimony to the fact that this is not simply political mutterings in this place designed to make the Minister of Health uncomfortable. These are the opinions of Nova Scotians, those who have had cause to try to access the health care system in this province over the last number of months. They are the people who know the facts of the case. They

[Page 830]

are not fearmongers, but they are disillusioned and disappointed when they try to access what was once a very accessible health care delivery system in this province.

Unfortunately, they were unable last night to get the ear of the minister who was engaged in other activities. The minister cannot continue to deny that there are problems in health care delivery in this province.

What was the minister's response when 200 people elected to come to the steps of Province House and bring their concerns to the government? He said their fears were common but unfounded. The minister is half right. The fears are common but they are not unfounded. The government and this minister continue to dismiss the legitimate concerns of Nova Scotians who know through bitter experience on many occasions that the system is failing and that Nova Scotians are falling into the cracks.

The minister's response to opposition - and I do not mean political Opposition - but to doctors and to nurses and to anyone else who raises these concerns is that they are politically motivated or are a negotiating tactic. Well, you only have to talk to health care workers to realize the overwork situations that exist in our health care institutions in this province where the level of service has been spread so thin that the caseload is only accessible if in fact sick people are not involved. Once the level of care that has been made available is forced to deal with legitimately sick patients, then the system is in fact overloaded and cannot respond.

This government does not like criticism. I do not think perhaps any government likes criticism. I daresay that when the members of the present government were in Opposition that their criticisms of the government of the day, prior to 1993, I do not think those criticisms were necessarily accepted with smiling faces. You know, at least the previous government had the courage to allow its health care delivery system to be examined at arms length by a Provincial Health Council - the public's watchdog over health care issues, a non-political body.

What was the government's response? They decided in their wisdom that they did not want an arms length critical body looking over their shoulder each step of the way so they arranged for the Provincial Health Council simply to wither on the vine by failing to make nominations as terms of office expired. So, they did not like the Provincial Health Council because they could not control it. So what did they do? They decided they are going to put all this in the hands of the regional health board. The regional health board was part of the Blueprint Committee's recommendations. However, I cannot fail to point out not in reality a recommendation of the Blueprint Committee but, in fact, was given to them by the then Minister of Health, that regionalization was a given.

[Page 831]

[2:00 p.m.]

Now the Blueprint Committee, while I don't necessarily agree with all of it because it places far too much emphasis on regional health boards, certainly didn't indicate that four years after health reform we would still be dealing with regional health boards entirely appointed by the minister. That was never part of the plan but that is part of this government's plan because that is what is happening today; we still have regional health board members appointed by the minister.

It is interesting that the minister makes the appointment and then divorces himself of the accountability. When specifically questioned as to what is going to happen in health care delivery, he says, well, that is up to the regional health board. Has he forgotten so soon that he has appointed each and every member to those regional health boards?

The failure, of course, of the health care reform system is that it wasn't driven by community health boards, it wasn't driven from the bottom up, it was driven from the top down.

I think community health boards are an excellent idea but they need two specific tasks. Those tasks have to be enshrined in legislation. Those tasks are simply the planning of community health care delivery and service and responsibility for the administration of that service. Until that is established, we will not have a health care system in this province that will truly work, that will truly satisfy the criticisms of those in the community who realize that their concerns are not being addressed. The concerns being addressed are simply the concerns of the accountants in the Department of Finance and in the Department of Health in the province.

Now according to the minister and his officials, the health care system is working 99 per cent of the time and there is no cause for concern. I would suggest to you that the true statement is that the health care system is overworking 99 per cent of the time and it can't get the job done, it can't respond to the requirements of a satisfactory delivery of health care in this province.

The minister says there is no cause for concern, there is no need to worry. Well, the bottom line is that Nova Scotians are worried and their worries are well-founded. What is particularly disturbing to many Nova Scotians is that despite the minister saying that the good times are here and there is gobs of new money for health, the people don't trust the ability of this government to design and provide a health care system in which we could all have faith and a return even to the level of care that was available prior to 1993. You can't expect a minister to address the problems until he is prepared to admit that they exist.

[Page 832]

I remember very clearly when the new minister took over when the Premier saw fit to make a change in the Ministry of Health. He said there is really nothing wrong, that his job was to explain the system and he was going to engage in a public relations campaign to convince Nova Scotians that what is not working is working.

Well, the public relations exercise hasn't worked, we are still having the same volume of complaints coming in about the system and we are still having people marching on Province House, trying to get the attention of government to admit there are serious problems. They have to back up and readdress how they are going to redefine the delivery of health care in the province.

It is not unusual to hear of Nova Scotians coming to hospital by ambulance, only to be sent home because no beds are available. It is not unusual to hear of Nova Scotians having major surgery, maybe a hip replacement, maybe a mastectomy, to be sent home a few days later with a drain in place and without the benefit of home care. Many of them are older Nova Scotians who either live alone or live with an elderly spouse who are sent home to be provided for by that elderly spouse or perhaps by a helpful neighbour, the kind of health care that traditionally we have delivered in the hospital. I don't want anyone to interpret my remarks as saying that I don't believe in home care because I do. But I believe in home care that is available, that works and is ministered through the hospital from where the patient is discharged.

I had occasion today to ask the minister about the unrealistic waits for diagnostic imaging services, the waits for upper GIs, barium enemas here in Halifax at the QE II Health Sciences Centre and I asked him about the increasing wait for elective surgery because of the difficulty and the transfer of service from the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre to the new Halifax Infirmary. I will await with anticipation the kinds of numbers that he comes forward with. The numbers that I have are very discouraging, the waits are unacceptably long and health care is not being as available and as accessible as it was.

What has happened? Why have things gotten off the rails? Well, by government officials own admission now, although it took them many, many months to finally agree to this and fess up, they had no plan. They had bits and pieces of a plan but no overall plan.

The government has closed hospitals, it has downsized hospitals, it has cut 30 per cent of the acute treatment beds out of the province, it has put a freeze on nursing home beds and that is unfortunate. When I visit hospitals I always ask them, how many beds are occupied by those waiting to get into a nursing home? Right across the province you usually get the figure 10 per cent. So at any one particular time there are 10 per cent of the acute treatment beds of this hospital occupied by those who are simply waiting to get into a nursing home. They are too sick to return to their own home but 10 per cent of the beds are being occupied by those simply in waiting.

[Page 833]

Does the moratorium on nursing home beds make any sense? It has provided a bottle-neck that has resulted in those who require acute care being refused treatment downstairs in the emergency department of their hospital.

Planned health care reform, obviously and if you read the Blueprint Committee, it was to be a step by step process in which no acute care process was to be eliminated until the alternative service was in place. Home care agencies as well are reporting that patients are being discharged over the phone with no assessment to determine need. Home care is being dispensed on the basis of the bottom line of the home care budget. Everyone is shut out of the process.

The government has failed to respond to the Nova Scotia Nurses Union's call to action, no action from the minister. They have reported in graphic detail the working conditions in our hospital and as yet, those working conditions have not been addressed.

There is much that we could say but I leave you with one thought, most Nova Scotians are aware that we have had a serious erosion of health care delivery. But what most Nova Scotians don't realize because of the botched health reform process in this province, that this year the estimates of the province indicate we will spend $8 million more on health care delivery in this province than we spent in 1993-94, despite the fact thousands of health care workers are laid off, 30 per cent of beds are closed, health care workers have had a furlough and then 3 per cent wage roll-back.

Mismanaged health care reform is costing more money, providing less service and there is no confidence in the system. This is a Liberal policy and reform system that has gone bad and the sooner this government recognizes it, the better for all concerned. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg.

MRS. LILA O'CONNOR: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today and speak on the new home oxygen service offered through the Nova Scotia Home Care Program. I think it is only appropriate that I speak on a positive service that this government is offering, after listening to the honourable members speak very negatively.

I would like to thank the government and the Minister of Health, both the present minister and the previous Minister of Health for this program. To better explain my enthusiasm for this valuable service, I offer to the House an account of an old friend - we will just call her Smith today. Mrs. Smith is from my riding, the riding of Lunenburg, a rural coastal community whose economic background has been mostly in the fishing industry. Mrs. Smith's husband fished all his life. They struggled over the years to raise four children and now enjoy the company of 15 grandchildren.

[Page 834]

At 60 years of age Mrs. Smith's health problems began, it seemed, quite suddenly. You see she had never really been sick when she was younger and then, out of the blue, I was hearing about difficulties with osteoporosis and pneumonia-like symptoms. Then just this past Christmas, during a hospital stay, came the diagnosis of pulmonar fibrosis, a chronic lung disease. Following her diagnosis, it was obvious she could not overdo things, she had to rest more and be especially mindful not to take on too much with the grandchildren. Anyone who has 15 grandchildren, or even one grandchild, knows how difficult that can be. Of most importance, her doctor insisted that when she returned home from hospital, she would require oxygen nearly 24 hours a day.

At that time the cost of a home oxygen program was between $240 and $270 each and every month. That is just for the basics. This does not include the convenience of such things as a portable oxygen machine. The portable oxygen machine is just as valuable and important as the machine at home because this allows them the freedom of leaving their home, being able to go for drives and visiting with family and friends. So, as you can see, the portable oxygen machine is important.

At the time of her discharge there was the old home oxygen program in place but costs were only covered for residents of Halifax County. Even then you didn't qualify if you had other resources or were very well off.

What seems particularly odd about that program for Halifax County residents was that for the most part, it was a pilot project that had been studied, evaluated and had gone on since 1982. That is almost 15 years - 15 years for a pilot project. Although the Halifax County program could handle 55 patients, their waiting list was at least three months long before another patient could join. Add to this the people living outside of Halifax County, such as Mrs. Smith, well, to be honest, this situation just didn't seem fair.

Mr. Speaker, I know that many people, the doctors and staff and community volunteers, all worked hard over the years, approaching the provincial government about a permanent service. All of them tried to expand the service province-wide. For one, I can compliment the fine work of the Lung Association here in Nova Scotia, who have been diligent in providing home oxygen to people who couldn't afford it. There have been other representative groups and individuals, such as medical specialists, who have been involved in assisting people living with chronic lung disease. I compliment them as well.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention one who comes to mind, Mr. Jack Hughes, who lived in Maitland, just outside Mahone Bay. Mr. Hughes had to have a lung transplant last year and Mr. Hughes campaigned vigorously for this program to be province-wide. Unfortunately, Mr. Hughes died last week from another illness but I am sure he was very pleased to know that what he wanted so badly for the province has come about.

[Page 835]

Mr. Speaker, I hope I am speaking plainly enough so that you, the Opposition members in this House and all present understand that without home oxygen, people with severe breathing difficulties, most often chronic obstructive lung disease, don't live as long.

[2:15 p.m.]

Now, the good news is that studies have shown that these same people are the ones that have the best results from long-term, low flow oxygen in their home. In fact, it is one of the therapies that can actually prolong their life. I know, Mr. Speaker. I have a family member who lives outside Canada and I know how important the home oxygen program is to that person.

Let's return to Mrs. Smith. Earlier this year on a return visit to Mrs. Smith's home, I found her doing well physically, but her husband was somewhat dismayed by the financial burden placed on their very limited resources. (Interruption)

I have been asked to sit down for a few minutes for an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works on an introduction.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague allowing me to take the floor for a moment to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery four very distinguished individuals, Blanche Keats who is from Digby and who is now President and Chair for the Denturists Licensing Board of Nova Scotia, Ken Edwards who has just been re-elected for the third term as President of the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia, Art MacAulay, who is Vice-President of Denturists Society of Nova Scotia, and Director of Denturists' Technology Program, the Nova Scotia School of Denturism and Jim Crowell who is Secretary-Treasurer for the Denturists Society of Nova Scotia.

I would ask if those members would please rise and the House give a warm welcome to those individuals in our House today. (Applause)

I want to thank my colleague for allowing me the time to make that introduction.

MRS. O'CONNOR: I am very happy to. I would also like to welcome you to the House.

Upon Mrs. Smith's discharge, her family had all pulled together to ensure she didn't overwork around the house. They brought in meals and encouraged her to sit and eat with them. Mr. Speaker, her new best friend was installed in their home. This machine takes the air in the room, compresses the oxygen content and sends it along a tube for Mrs. Smith to breathe in. Of course, this tube is up to 40 feet long so the grandchildren are having a great

[Page 836]

time playing with it. It was the cost that was causing the most stress in this family's new lifestyle. Remember, Mrs. Smith didn't live in Halifax County and, therefore, she was responsible for the cost.

Finally, on April 1, 1997, this government established the new long sought after home oxygen service. (Applause) It was time to fix the patchwork and close a gap in service to Nova Scotians. Of course, those who were already on the limited service in Halifax County will remain, seeing no change in service as they have come to experience it.

For over 400 people in Nova Scotia, this is really exciting news. These are the people who will now benefit from the new service through the Department of Health, 400 people and their families. (Interruption) Yes, you are right, honourable member, 400 people and their families.

Through the Department of Health, the province will become what is called the insurer of last resort, after private insurance, or if a patient is covered under the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, a new client to this service will be assessed on a sliding scale for payment. In other words, people who are low-income earners will pay little to nothing and people with more money pay a modest amount.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the service will now cover not just the basics but the cost of an oxygen concentrator, emergency back-up oxygen supply, disposable supplies, service calls for equipment and respiratory follow-up of the individual. It is important to know that this service is just one of the valuable services offered through the Home Care Program. So let me give you an idea of what I mean. If an individual was receiving home care support and paying a co-pay of $60, the fact that all of a sudden he needs home oxygen as well, it will not result in an increase in the co-pay. I will repeat, if you are paying a co-pay of $60, your co-pay will not increase because you need home oxygen.

Today I am pleased to further report that Mrs. Smith continues to do well and, because of this family's income level, the new home oxygen service covers Mrs. Smith's costs. I can only credit this government's commitment and drive to establish one of this country's finest Home Care Programs that has now made the time right for the home oxygen service, but I will save my endorsement speech on the Home Care Program for a later date. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: As I begin my remarks this afternoon, I want to compliment the previous speaker on bringing the topic forward; we do not agree always on all things, but we do on a few. Certainly the home oxygen program is something that I know many members

[Page 837]

of this House, on all sides, in all caucuses, have been pushing for for a lot of years. It is an extremely important program and it is one that we, also in our caucus, are delighted to see implemented, effectively April 1st. It is a matter of an injustice, a patchwork system that had been in existence for a long time and it discriminated against those who did not live in a particular area and they did not get the advantages. So on behalf of the caucus, I say that on that particular item we are in agreement and we are pleased to see that that program has been put in place.

I want to turn to another topic that I cannot be complimentary to this government about, and I have changed the issue that I was going to talk about today as I had planned to talk about something else that I will probably bring up on a future occasion. I got motivated to speak today about the privatization plans of this government for the correctional facilities as a result of non-answers; I would actually be so unkind as to suggest that what we heard was more in the way of compost than anything in the way of substantive answers from the Minister of Justice this afternoon regarding concerns that were brought to his attention.

This government has been involved in what it called consultations that I can only suggest are bogus consultations from day one with regard to the consultations with those who are involved in this.

It has been approximately three years since this government started to talk about the privatization. They have said they are involved, that they are concerned, and the minister today said that he values the input of the workers who are involved. He does not value their input so much, unfortunately, these people who work in the system, who are intimate with the system, who understand the problems, who understand better than anybody in this Chamber what is wrong with it and what needs to be done to correct it.

He values their input so much that he was not prepared, and still is not prepared, to commit to involve them either in the planning process that was being done to evaluate the system and to come up with recommendations and suggestions as to how to make it better, safer and appropriate to meet the needs not only of those who work within the system as correctional officers, but also to meet the needs of Nova Scotians. He would not even commit to make sure that when the report is received from that private consortium that has been hired by the government to make the recommendations - of course, you can be darn sure they have a vested interest, in particular one of them, as they are already involved in an operation in the States - not very successfully, I might add - they undoubtedly would be interested in delivering that service here in Nova Scotia.

I suggest to the minister, I suggest to the Liberal Government and I would invite all Liberal members, whether you sit on the front benches or the back benches, to speak to the Minister of Justice to urge, to demand, that the Minister of Justice involve the stakeholders in this formative stage of the deliberations.

[Page 838]

The stress factor of those, because of the uncertainty, as well as the kind of conditions under which the workers are working, is immense. That is taking a toll on them, on their ability to do their job and, ultimately, on their families. That is intolerable and it is unneeded, especially when they can be very helpful to the government in trying to plan and design a system that meets our needs.

Mr. Speaker, this government appears to be intent, they are at the altar of their privatization ideology. They seem to be wed to the notion that what is transpiring in the United States and in a few other jurisdictions is something that we in Canada and we here in Nova Scotia want to emulate. I say not, to that suggestion. If you take a look at the United States, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world, along with Russia and South Africa, and you take a look at what is happening there and you see how there has been a proliferation of these private-for-profit prisons and you look at the record and you hear about the problems that have occurred, and if any member of this House is not familiar with a lot of those problems, speak to me and I will give you documents. I will provide you with all kinds of information that outline them across the U.S.

Let's bear one thing in mind, those American companies and any Canadian company that is involved that is going to try to bid to build private prisons here in Nova Scotia for profit, intend to make a profit. That is a profit for them. Their primary objective is not the best for Nova Scotians. Those who live in the States, they are not looking out for Nova Scotians' best concerns, they are looking out for the interests of their shareholders and, of course, many of these companies used to even be involved, some of them, in the arms business. So the answer is to incarcerate, to throw people in jail.

Those who have run these facilities, it is like a hotel, not in terms of the quality, I might add, of the facilities in which people are placed, but they are paid a per diem, they are paid in accordance to how full those correctional facilities are. They are turned into warehouses. If you have somebody in a correctional facility, if you have empty beds, there is no motivation to rehabilitate so that those people can return to the community as productive, law-abiding citizens. That is not their primary concern.

Here we talk all the time about the failure of our justice system in the fact that we are not as successful as we want to be in rehabilitating those who are incarcerated so that when they are released that they stop their antisocial practices and behaviours and they turn around and become productive members of society. Mr. Speaker, those who run the private prisons for profit, that is not to their advantage. They want return customers, because as they get return customers, they get more bucks into their bank account, more for their bottom line, more profits.

That is not what I want to see for Nova Scotia and it is not what I believe the people of this province want. Yes, people in this province want to have a correctional facility, a correctional service, that meets their needs. They want to know that those who work in the

[Page 839]

facilities are safe and secure. They also want to know that taxpayer's monies that are being spent on those facilities are not only going to be used to have an environment that is safe and secure for those who work in the facilities, but also to work to develop programs and to deliver programs, to change the antisocial behaviour of those who, for one reason or other, whatever offence they committed, landed them in jail. We don't want repeat customers. That kind of philosophy goes against the private-for-profit mentality.

[2:30 p.m.]

What we appear to have happening here, we have had several ministers, this is the third minister who said his preference is to continue to operate this as a public system, not a private-for-profit. Well, if that is the preference, let's stop playing games and say that it what it will be.

Mr. Speaker, we have now in the Province of Nova Scotia a leadership convention going on where two wannabe titans are trying to become the Leader of the Liberal Party and the Premier of this Province. I would invite those two wannabe titans to state their positions very clearly. I would like those two who are running for the leadership of the Liberal Party and for the Premier's position in Nova Scotia to state, do you or do you not support private prisons for profit? I think that we have a right, as the people in this province, to know that. Even though their term, as such, may be short, they can do a lot of damage in that short term, until the voters boot them out of office.

Mr. Speaker, I wait to hear their positions and their declarations. This government is playing on its privatization agenda, that ideology, a shell game. They are pretending that we have such a great fiscal system in place, balanced budgets, for political reasons because as you race to the polls you have to pretend that you are good fiscal managers. So what they do is they hide costs, like they hide the capital costs of projects, whether that be Highway No. 104, whether that be the building of these private partners, private-for-profit schools and now their refusal to out and out state that they will not develop prison systems or our correctional facilities in the same way. Imagine, Nova Scotians and Canadians supporting the concept that people should make profits, make money from crime and from the correctional service. Imagine. We have laws that confiscate the profits gained from those who made it during a criminal activity. Here we are saying that the government is even considering, which I find offensive, the concept of allowing companies to make profits.

What they are doing, Mr. Speaker, is pretending that somehow, hocus-pocus, by magic, these monies are going to appear and Nova Scotians are not going to have to pay the costs of building those facilities. That is because those monies will not appear on the budget estimates; they won't appear in that lovely book that they pass out each year as a capital debt for the Province of Nova Scotia. Instead, they are hidden on the books of the private-for-profit company partner. That is what they are trying to do, pretend that our debt costs are lower.

[Page 840]

In reality, Mr. Speaker, we have to pay the operating cost and part of that operating cost, the same as in the education, is we have to pay the mortgage payments as part of the lease payments for that private partner, plus we have to pay their profits and give who knows what else to them. This government won't even commit, won't even guarantee - the minister wouldn't today - that those who have worked so hard on behalf of this province in very adverse situations, very difficult situations in our correctional facilities, wouldn't even guarantee that those people will continue to be employed.

Mr. Speaker, mark my words, if the government is going to buy, holus bolus, this idea that private is better, if they are going to buy this enchilada that is being presented to them by their would-be partners who want to make a buck off crime here in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians had better realize, the government had better realize that parts of the province where things have occurred is that the management system and the evaluation checks and balances of government have not been there and that to put those checks and balances and monitoring to ensure that the programs and services are going in and all the kind of things that are needed costs money. So the savings that government thinks it is going to obtain are figments of their imagination.

Based on the evidence that we have seen elsewhere, it would have been far better to involve up front those who are knowledgeable about the system. Treat them as partners, not pat them on the head and say we will consult with you after the fact. Treat them as partners. Value, truly value, their input and make sure that our tax dollars are going not to the profits of some come-from-away company that wants to take our money out of Nova Scotia, but instead into providing programs and services that are in fact safe and appropriate. That means providing the programs to ensure that as many as possible of those who have committed an offence and are incarcerated will not become repeat offenders, instead of providing the motivation for the company that runs those facilities to have them come back on a regular basis so they can maximize their bottom line and their profits.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:36 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[6:36 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee on the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and reports progress and begs leave to sit again.

[Page 841]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is Opposition Day and I will ask the Leader of the New Democratic Party to indicate the business for tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow's business, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, will start off with Bill No. 8 and then move to Resolution No. 51.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, the hours for tomorrow will be 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. I move that we adjourn until tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: We have now arrived at the moment of interruption, as was previously agreed to by the House earlier today. The debate for this evening is:

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House urge the Minister of Natural Resources to refuse to transfer the coal leases associated with the Donkin Mine until a full and complete review of Devco's Donkin proposal determines that such a transfer will not hurt employment in the Cape Breton coal industry.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

NAT. RES. - DONKIN MINE: LEASES - TRANSFER REFUSE

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak on this very important issue here this evening. The "Therefore be it resolved . . ." was part of the operative part of a resolution that I introduced in this House on Monday.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak for a moment on why I believe that it is so important for the government to ensure that this transfer of coal leases does not continue until a full and complete review of the proposal has been conducted.

[Page 842]

Mr. Speaker, coal and the coal industry have been an important part of the coal history. Coal and coal miners have played a particularly significant role in the history of the New Democratic Party and in the whole social democratic movement in this country. For that and for that fight and that battle is the reason why the New Democratic Party has stood side by side with the mineworkers and their members to fight against the move by the federal government to withdraw its responsibility from Devco and from the coal industry in this province.

Mr. Speaker, the coal miners have fought for decades to protect the interests of themselves and their families and the communities where they live and they are still fighting. In the 1920's, it was Roy Wolfson who was their adversary. In the 1990's, they are fighting the Treasury Board. But their enemy, in both cases, is the bottom line. The difficulty here is that when you consider the bottom line with respect to Devco and with respect to the coal industry, you must remember the kind of economic impact that withdrawing that kind of support from the economy of Cape Breton is going to have at this particular time.

You will recall, perhaps, the announcement back in early January 1996 when the federal government had already decided that they were going to continue along with the strategy set up by the Mulroney Government to gradually withdraw funding from Devco to allow them to basically operate on their own. Back last January we saw the impact of that as the announcement of over 700 jobs would be lost at Devco, plus thousands of indirect jobs in an economy in which jobs are all too scarce.

What we have seen of late as people have tried their best, the mineworkers and other members of the community have tried to impress upon both the federal and provincial governments that there is a future for the coal industry in this province. We have 30 years left in a contract with Nova Scotia Power to burn Nova Scotia coal. What those people and what we have said is that if we are going to burn coal to generate electricity in this province, then we should be burning Nova Scotia coal and that, in fact, is a commitment that this government should be making to the coal industry, to coal miners and to Cape Breton.

If we are going to change that strategy, if we are going to turn away from the coal industry in this province, let's have some public debate and discussion about doing that before the decision is made and about looking at what the impacts are going to be if, in fact, that is what we are going to do. The economic impact of the coal industry has been estimated at well over $200 million to the economy of Cape Breton and in excess of $1 billion in the Province of Nova Scotia. So by turning our backs on the coal industry in this province it is going to have a huge impact on the province itself.

We have seen and heard recently of the discussions down the road at the hearings into offshore natural gas development and the potential impact that that may have on the coal industry as Nova Scotia Power plans to buy more offshore natural gas and the potential exists for them to replace Nova Scotia coal with gas for the generation of electricity.

[Page 843]

Now the latest announcement is that not only is the federal government not going to allow Devco to proceed with the only strategy that has been developed to give some future hope for that corporation and for the coal industry in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and that is the development of the Donkin Mine, not only are they continuing to back away from that but we have now had the announcement that Devco is going to sell off the Donkin Mine and the Donkin coal mine field to a private operator.

The question that comes to my mind is what does that mean for Devco? What does that mean for the future of all those miners and all those people who work both directly and indirectly for that corporation? What kind of hope does that lead to if the only bright spot in their future, which is the development of Donkin, is shoved off to the side to the private sector, what does that mean in terms of the impact of jobs by that corporation?

That is why we have suggested and we have urged this government before that transfer is allowed to take place, because the coal is a resource owned by Nova Scotians and responsibility for it rests with the Province of Nova Scotia through the Minister of Natural Resources, if there is to be a transfer of those coal leases from Devco to someone else, then it is the minister and the Province of Nova Scotia that has to approve that transfer before it goes forward. So what we have asked and what we have asked all members of this House is to consider the potential impact this is going to have on coal miners, their families, their communities and many businesses in Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, if in fact this strategy will do what many fear, lead to the demise of Devco. Consider those implications before you decide to proceed and approve the transfer of those leases.

That is what we feel is the responsibility of this government, it is the responsibility of all members in the House and particularly the members of government who represent those ridings in Cape Breton. It is time that this government stood up and showed the fact that it's not only responsible for those coal leases and resources in Cape Breton, but it is going to do its utmost to protect the livelihood and to protect the jobs of those Cape Bretoners who are so dependent on the coal industry.

[6:45 p.m.]

Only until we get a commitment from the federal government to show that they are meeting the commitment that they made back in 1967 - that commitment that they have shown there is sufficient work being created in economic activity outside the coal industry to replace the jobs that are going to be displaced - only then should they be allowed to walk away if that, in fact, is what they are going to do. Cape Bretoners, coal miners, Nova Scotians need this government, need all government members to stand up on this issue. This government has been silent about the future of the coal industry for the past four years. Now is the time because the future of this industry, we may be seeing the end of it as a result of the political demands of an impending federal election and we call on all members of this House, in particular, members of government to urge the Minister of Natural Resources to ensure

[Page 844]

that the full public airing of the impacts of this decision are considered before she gives approval for the transfer of those coal lease. Thank you very much.

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to be able to stand today and speak on this resolution, and to talk about the Donkin Coal Mine. The Donkin Mine is actually located in the constituency of Cape Breton West, and the resolution that was brought forward is have, ". . . a full and complete review of Devco's Donkin proposal . . .", and determine, ". . . that such a transfer will not hurt . . .", the employees of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, that being the transfer of the coal leases that are associated with Donkin Coal Mine.

There is no doubt that the coal industry is a very important part of the economy of the Island of Cape Breton which, in turn, makes it a very important part of the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia. It is certainly, without question, that Donkin Mine has a major role to play in the future, not only of the coal industry but, I believe, in the long-term viability of the Cape Breton Development Corporation. For many years we have believed, those who have worked in the coal industry - and before I came to this House I had the privilege of working in the coal industry for 19 years, some of that underground, and I had the opportunity to do some testing on the coal that came out of the Donkin Mine - it has long been our belief that, indeed, Donkin was the insurance policy.

We are all quite aware that Prince Mine is an older mine with a high-sulfur coal and that Phalen, although a newer mine compared to Prince, still has a whole mess of its own problems. The geological problems that are there have created a lot of concern in the coal industry over the last number of years and, certainly, last year when we saw the major lay-off because of the roof fall.

Now we hear that the Cape Breton Development Corporation has entered into an agreement with Donkin Resources Limited, where they are going to look at the viability of passing off the resource of Donkin to a private corporation. The first and most important thing that we have to put in front is jobs, because the unemployment rate in Cape Breton Island is 27.4 per cent, the highest in the country. We want to be sure that we are doing what is right. Jobs are important, but there are also some jobs that might be put in jeopardy by a deal like this, and those are the jobs of the people who are currently employed by Devco.

The warning bells went off and we have to wonder, just what does this mean? What is going to happen to the Cape Breton Development Corporation if, indeed, Donkin is sold off? Is that going to mean there is no future once something happens to Prince or Phalen - and we hope that it doesn't - or when they work it out and there is no coal left?

[Page 845]

This government has an opportunity, because it controls the coal leases, to make sure that this deal is checked and that the right checks and balances are put in place so that the jobs of the current employees of the Cape Breton Development Corporation are not being put in jeopardy.

It seems that this government really doesn't care what takes place on Cape Breton Island. They have an opportunity now, through this proposal, to make sure that the checks and balances are met. Look at what they did with Sable gas and the fact that there is not even a lateral coming into Cape Breton, yet this very gas that we are talking about could, indeed, spell the end of the coal industry in Cape Breton and in Nova Scotia. Last year this government couldn't or wouldn't supply to the members of the UMW $70,000 to do the same kind of study that is being talked about now. Yet when there was an election on the horizon, $300,000 was found by the federal government.

Is that all this is? Is this just an election ploy? Do the workers and does the future of the coal industry mean anything or is this just a way of keeping people quiet again, until the elections are over? Those are the kinds of things that have to be addressed and have to be answered.

We have to be very careful to support the jobs that are involved in the coal industry. Now you will hear many stories around that the United Mine Workers have been pushing to get Donkin open and that is true. I have been pushing and others in this Chamber have been pushing for that but none of us have said that it should be a private operation; none of us have said that we should put other people's jobs in jeopardy and none of us are going to stand by and watch this happen.

Last year when there was a problem, there were 13,000 Cape Bretoners who signed a petition recognizing the importance of the Donkin Mine to the future of the coal industry. When they signed that they were supporting the opening of the Donkin Mine as part of a three mine operation under the Crown Corporation and they were not signing that petition for a private mine. That is something that is very important and should be kept in everybody's mind. So, Mr. Speaker, we are talking about something that is the very lifeblood of a lot of the families in Cape Breton; we are talking about a future for a lot of people.

This government has not shown any leadership when it comes to developing employment strategies for Cape Breton Island. Last year in their Speech from the Throne they mentioned the big problem with unemployment in Cape Breton and southwestern Nova Scotia; this year they didn't even bother to mention Cape Breton Island in the Throne Speech. I am going to tell you, Mr. Speaker, as a representative from that area, the problem of unemployment has not gone away and it does have to be addressed. If, just for once, this government could see to make sure, by keeping these leases in place and not transferring them to a private company, at least check out and make sure that this process that is being talked about is not going to jeopardize the 2,000 miners who are involved, and their families and the

[Page 846]

spin-off jobs that come from that, then that would be a small sign of some respect for the people who live on Cape Breton Island.

Mining goes back a long way in Cape Breton. Mining has been going on since 1685, with the first mine developed in Port Morien around 1720. Since that time, Mr. Speaker, we have seen 110 mines come and go in Cape Breton Island. Everybody just said, that is the way it is.

This time we have an opportunity to make sure that the way it is is the way that the people want it. Over the weekend I talked to a number of people who have worked in the coal industry, people whom I had the pleasure of working with. Each and every one of them has shown a great concern as to what is taking place, a deal that was struck behind closed doors, a deal that was delivered to the public on the same day that the budget came down in the province, on the same day that there was a potential candidate announced for the Liberal leadership of this province.

It is like they were trying to hide something. If this is such a good deal, why was it not put out to the public tendering process so that other people would have an opportunity and even the union would have an opportunity to look at the proposal and put forward an idea? If this government cares about people, if this government cares about those who are involved in the coal industry, and certainly if it cares anything about the high unemployment rate, we have to move and move swiftly to make sure that everybody gets the best of this deal.

We do not want to put jobs in jeopardy any more than we want to create jobs that are going to take away from other jobs. Jobs are important. They are very important to Cape Breton Island and we want to create jobs, not displace jobs.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, if there is an expression of interest in developing the Donkin Mine which would provide jobs in Cape Breton where they are so desperately needed, I should think it would be unacceptable for any government to refuse to consider such a proposal. Indeed, in my view, expressions of interest in the possible development of the Donkin Mine ought to be viewed as good news for the Cape Breton coal industry and for the Cape Breton community. This is something that in Cape Breton there has been agitation for for a very long time. For a very long time the United Mine Workers union and other groups in the community have called for exactly what I understand is being proposed now, namely a feasibility study to determine the feasibility of a coal mine at Donkin and then if possible, the development of such a mine.

I do not believe that this provincial government, I do not believe that any provincial government, a Conservative or an NDP Government, would stand in the way of economic development on Cape Breton Island or the economic development of the coal industry.

[Page 847]

To try to put this matter in some perspective, I think that it should be stated that at this stage, there is only a proposal from a private sector group to do any of what has just been referred to. Certainly in my view, it would be premature at this point to discuss the transfer of the coal lease because other steps that take much time would come long before there would be any such discussion or application.

The Donkin Resources Limited proposal has three phases. Phase 1 would include a feasibility study which is what many, including the union and the NDP have been calling for over and over again. Phase 2 would follow after Phase 1 had been successfully completed and had demonstrated that there was indeed feasibility for such a development. Phase 2 would not proceed if Phase 1 indicated that the mine was not feasible. Phase 2 would include additional studies and preliminary engineering. The time span that it is estimated Phases 1 and 2 would take to complete is approximately two years; 24 months during which I am sure there will be debate every time this House sits and in every other forum known on these matters. All stakeholders will certainly have every opportunity to be consulted and to make their point of view known.

If it is feasible to develop a Donkin Mine, Phase 3, actual development, would start three years from now, not immediately at all. Given that the feasibility study has yet to be done, I would suggest it would be rather premature to argue about the Donkin coal lease. Now, certainly it is fair to state general principles, but to get too aggressive about it, to think that this is all a done deal and everything is already been decided, I think is very premature because the feasibility study hasnt even begun yet. Certainly, it should be at least determined whether it is feasible to develop a mine before we argue about the particulars. I do not know that Devco is abdicating its responsibility at this time. I would like to see the mine developed under the auspices of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, but the estimated costs of doing that are $100 million and I do not know from what source that $100 million is going to come.

[7:00 p.m.]

I don't know from what source that $100 million is going to come. I don't believe that a federal government headed by the honourable Jean Charest, as unlikely as such a government might be, would provide that sum of money either. Because it was the Government of Brian Mulroney that initiated the new policy direction at Devco of gradually taking it away from public subsidy and making it a self-supporting operation. I don't believe it is fair for the Official Opposition to say that a Liberal Government ought to do something that they themselves, as a federal government, would not do and did not do when they were in power.

In any event, it would seem to me that in the interests of giving Donkin a fair chance for development, it would be prudent to examine any reasonable proposal that is advanced to that end and that if there is a private corporation, a private company, consisting of Mr.

[Page 848]

Steve Farrell, Mr. Doug Burns and Aubrey Rogers, if they are interested in looking into this, who would want to stand in the way of somebody looking into that? I would think that there might be more groups that might come forward and say, we would like to look into that as well, but, to date, only this group has. They have come forward and with the existing information on the Donkin Mine site and the coal reserve itself, they have expressed an interest. The question is, do we encourage that or do we discourage that?

Mr. Speaker, as far as the Cape Breton Development Corporation goes, it has a long-term contract to supply coal to Nova Scotia Power. I realize all the problems of the geology of the Phalen Mine and lifespan of the Prince Mine and that is a separate issue that is going to have to be addressed separately, I think, the long-term future of Devco as an operation. But, certainly, any transfer of coal mining leases to Donkin Resources Limited wouldn't just happen overnight or in the twinkling of an eye, there would have to be a transfer application made. What I am reliably advised by the Minister of Natural Resources is that such a transfer application, in her opinion, is not expected for a couple of years, well after Phase 1, and after Phase 2 also has been completed and then there would be a decision as to whether to proceed with mine development. So given that neither Devco nor the province has $100 million to develop this coal mine, I would think it would be unacceptable to withhold examination of a private sector proposal.

I do not know if this company has the wherewithal to proceed with such a matter. It seems that it is an organization that has just been put together very quickly. We seem to see a lot of those types of organizations these days, with steel companies springing up from the green grass and having no expertise or knowledge and, yet, some would seriously propose the sale of our steel plant to such an organization. But this doesn't involve the sale of anything, it involves the feasibility study. I note that the engineer involved, Mr. Steve Farrell, is the very same engineer that has been repeatedly endorsed, I believe, by the United Mine Workers of America, as the engineer that they think ought to conduct the feasibility study. Now Mr. Farrell is advancing himself in the form of an incorporated company with two partners and saying, yes, I would like to undertake a feasibility study and he has been provided some capital to do that. Some are coming along and saying, oh, no. You must not do that. I don't understand, Mr. Speaker, I am confused how they can be for something and then be against it when it happens to take place.

Our government continues, Mr. Speaker, to have great faith in the Cape Breton coal mining industry. Most of all, this government has faith in the people of Cape Breton and in their ability to adapt to change and opportunity in an increasingly competitive world. We have no desire to stand in the way of what may be an opportunity to brighten the future of coal mining in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I have here a number of items I would like to table, documenting, for a long time, that the stakeholders involved have been calling for the very thing that seems to be happening today, or at least the move in that direction. October 13, 1994, union, that is

[Page 849]

the United Mine Workers of America, states opening of Donkin Mine a must, from the Chronicle-Herald of October 13th. A letter dated December 5th, and I am not saying anything about privatization, I am talking about a feasibility study. (Interruption)

I am missing the NDP campaign in the riding of Bras d'Or. Indeed, I am missing the NDP campaign in the federal riding of Bras d'Or. We all know what the NDP position is. They are all for jobs except when they actually happen and then they are agin them. We know that NDP position very well. We are hearing now from the honourable gentleman who didn't even know the name of Roy Wolvin and thought his name Roy Wolfson. His name was Wolvin, w-o-l-v-i-n, not Wolfson (Interruption)

My support for the coal industry is well known as is the New Democratic Party's infinite capacity for making mischief. I suggest that the future of the Cape Breton coal industry and jobs for Cape Breton is too sacred a cause to be distorted by the so-called New Democratic Party. What we need in these times is responsible leadership, a balanced evaluation of proposals that are put forward and above all, responsibility rather than attempts to make cheap politics because there might happen to be a federal election coming. I can tell you this, Mr. Speaker, I believe the federal election will be over within two months and the Cape Breton Development Corporation will still be there and this proposal will still be there and the need for a Donkin Mine will still be there and the people of Cape Breton will still be there.

Elections come and elections go but the Cape Breton coal industry will carry on into the future facing a number of very complex problems which have to be dealt with rationally and not from a perspective of attempting to make the maximum political mischief which I suggest, sir, is the approach of those by the Sergeant-at-Arms rather than a genuine desire to try to help the coal miner or Cape Breton unemployed people. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all the honourable members 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 is adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:06 p.m.]

[Page 850]

NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on April 21, 1997

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 1

By: Mr. Donald McInnes (Pictou West)

To: Hon. Richard Mann (Minister of Economic Development and Tourism)

(1) Will the minister provide a detailed list of all advertising being undertaken within the Department of Economic Development and Tourism for the summer and fall of 1997, as well as advertising being done jointly with the Atlantic Provinces?

(2) Also, will the minister provide details as to what specific tourist destinations are being promoted in the advertisements and whether destinations such as the Upper Clements Wildlife Park and the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park have been specifically mentioned in any of the advertisements?

QUESTION NO. 2

By: Mr. George Archibald (Kings North)

To: Hon. Sandra Jolly (Minister of Business and Consumer Services)

(1) Will the minister explain why no consumer organization is represented on the committee struck to review insurance legislation in the Province of Nova Scotia and also provide a list of the present committee and the 11 organizations/companies and the Atlantic Superintendents of Insurance who have been appointed to this committee?

(2) Will the minister also provide details as to why the committee does not anticipate holding any public hearings concerning new insurance legislation?