The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Tue., May 6, 1997

Fifth Session

TUESDAY, MAY 6, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
SPEAKER'S RULINGS:
Resolution No. 342 [Page 1372] - In Order 1381
Document [Pages 1331 to 1333]: Not Quoted - Tabling Not Required 1381
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 348, Agric. - Sobeys: Partners in Business - Support, Hon. G. Brown 1382
Vote - Affirmative 1382
Res. 349, Agric. - NSAC: 4-H Poultry Project - Role Recognize,
Hon. G. Brown 1383
Vote - Affirmative 1383
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 350, Sea Cadet (Can.), Top: Cadet Greg Muir (Stellarton) -
Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 1384
Vote - Affirmative 1384
Res. 351, Fin. - Deficit Elimination: Methodology - Condemn,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1384
Res. 352, Health - Budget: Admin./Patient Care - Costs, Mr. G. Moody 1385
Res. 353, Health - Environ. Health Centre (Fall River): Vol. Advisory Bd. -
Congrats., Mrs. F. Cosman 1386
Res. 354, Educ. - Students (Econ.-Disadvantaged): Supports -
Creation, Mr. A. MacLeod 1386
Vote - Affirmative 1387
Res. 355, WCB - Employees (Extra): Premium (Additional) - Resolve,
Mr. R. Russell 1387
Res. 356, Liberal Party (N.S.) - Leadership Convention:
Participation Increase - Trust Funds Use, Mr. J. Holm 1388
Res. 357, Sports - IKON N.S. Amateur Awards: Bill Arsenault
(Lr. Sackville) - Official of the Year Congrats.,
Mr. William MacDonald 1388
Vote - Affirmative 1389
Res. 358, Col. Co. Firefighters' Assoc. - Special Hazards Response Team:
Commitment - Acknowledge, Mr. B. Taylor 1389
Vote - Affirmative 1390
Res. 359, Antigonish Movement - Pioneers (Kay T. Desjardins/
Rod MacMullen): Deaths - Mourn, Ms. E. O'Connell 1390
Vote - Affirmative 1390
Res. 360, Educ. - NSSSA (Leadership Conf.): Success - Congrats.,
Mr. G. Archibald 1390
Vote - Affirmative 1391
Res. 361, Cape Breton Nova MLA - Liberal Party (N.S.): Credibility -
Struggle Continue, Mr. A. MacLeod 1391
Res. 362, Nat. Res. - Forest Industry: Importance - Acknowledge,
Mr. D. McInnes 1392
Vote - Affirmative 1392
Res. 363, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Policies (Econ.): Failure - Condemn,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1393
Res. 364, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Roads (Rural) - Improve,
Mr. B. Taylor 1393
Res. 365, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Shearwater (DND to Dev. Cpn.):
Plan - Arrange, Mr. R. Russell 1394
Res. 366, Sports - Hockey: Pictou Co. Weeks AAA Midget Team -
Awards Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 1394
Vote - Affirmative 1395
Res. 367, Econ. Dev. - Job Creation: Benefits/Costs - Consideration Urge,
Mr. J. Holm 1395
Res. 368, Econ. Dev. - Michelin Plants: QS 9000 Registration
Recommendation - Applaud, Mr. D. McInnes 1396
Vote - Affirmative 1396
Res. 369, Educ. - Hfx. Dance Assoc.: Arts Cuts Response - Consider,
Mr. G. Archibald 1397
Res. 370, Educ - Reform: Funding Inadequacy - Acknowledge,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1397
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 116, Health - Reform: Diagnostic Serv. - Waiting Time
(QE II Health Sciences Centre), Dr. J. Hamm 1398
No. 117, Health: Cardiac Prevention and Rehab. Research Centre -
Availability, Mr. R. Chisholm 1400
No. 118, Health - Hospitals: Funding - Stabilized, Mr. G. Moody 1402
No. 119, Environ.: Beverage Containers - Deposit, Mr. R. Russell 1404
No. 120, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment -
Quality Control Contract, Mr. B. Taylor 1405
No. 121, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Muns.: Deficit Reduction -
Offloading, Mr. J. Holm 1407
No. 122, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment -
Safety, Mr. B. Taylor 1410
No. 123, Environ. - Eastern Tire Services: Tires (Retread) - Disposal,
Mr. D. McInnes 1412
No. 124, Educ. - School Construction: Public-Private Partnerships -
Hanscomb, Mr. G. Archibald 1413
No. 125, Human Res. - Contract Compliance: Commitment
(Lib. Party [N.S.]) - Status, Ms. E. O'Connell 1414
No. 126, Health - Special Care Facilities: Demand - Analysis,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1416
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. A. MacLeod 1418
Hon. B. Boudreau 1422
Mr. R. Chisholm 1424
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:08 P.M. 1426
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:08 P.M. 1426
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Road Repairs Taxes - Reinvest
Mr. B. Taylor 1426
Mr. J. Holm 1429
Hon. D. Downe 1432
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. A. Mitchell 1435
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Queens County: Roads - Repair, Mr. J. Leefe 1435
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 6:41 P.M. 1436
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:56 P.M. 1436
CWH REPORTS 1436
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 7th at 2:00 p.m. 1437
CORRIGENDUM
Monday, May 5, 1997
Table of Contents - Page 2
Titles for Resolution Nos. 341 and 345 should be reversed.

[Page 1381]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 6, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Fifth Session

12:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Wayne Gaudet

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mrs. Francene Cosman

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin with the daily proceedings, I wish to rule on a number of matters that were brought before the House.

First of all, I wish to rule on the notice of motion that was brought to the attention of the House yesterday by the honourable member for Hants West. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect raised a question on the correctness of the facts contained in the said notice of motion. This is clearly a dispute between members on facts and is not a point of order. Therefore, the notice is tabled.

On the other matter, I would like to bring to all members' attention the matter brought to my attention last Thursday respecting the matter of the tabling of a document. In the House on May 1st during Question Period, the honourable Minister of Education demanded the honourable member for Kings North to table a document to which the member referred. After checking with Hansard, I believe that the member for Kings North did not quote from any document. I am satisfied that there is no requirement for the member for Kings North to table any such document. The authority of this ruling is found in Beauchesne, 6th Edition, Page 151, Paragraph 495(5).

We will now begin the daily routine.

1381

[Page 1382]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 348

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

Whereas Sobeys Incorporated has developed a Partners in Business promotional program, which I will pass around for all members to look at, to encourage consumers to buy Atlantic products; and

Whereas this special flyer has been prepared to identify food products that are produced right here in our area; and

Whereas Sobeys believes in promoting local industry, as do other retail stores like our honourable colleague Mr. Moody, in their business;

Therefore be it resolved that in the opinion of this House that all members support local suppliers and Partners in Business together.

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.

Are there further Government Notices of Motion?

MR. BROWN: Yes, I have another one.

[Page 1383]

AN HON. MEMBER: It is good to see that one minister is working.

MR. BROWN: I will tell you, I work all the time and, Mr. Speaker, I want to say I am having great meetings with all the retail sectors like Sobeys, Bolands and the whole package.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 349

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 4-H Poultry Project was developed initially to make sure that 4-H members started their poultry projects on the same competitive basis; and

Whereas the project now provides baby chicks from the heritage stock hatched at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College that is helping to preserve this heritage genetic poultry stock; and

Whereas just recently over 1,500 chicks from fine heritage breeds were delivered all over Nova Scotia to the 4-H poultry members who will be raising them to show at 4-H events over the summer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the role that the program, in partnership with the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, plays in teaching 4-H members about poultry management, heritage breeds, and poultry showmanship.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 1384]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 350

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

Whereas 18 year old Greg Muir of Stellarton has been named the top sea cadet in Canada; and

Whereas winning this award is no easy feat when one considers there are 222 sea cadet corps in Canada with approximately 10,000 members; and

Whereas the selection of Canada's top cadet is done in a very strict fashion with all cadet corps in this province submitting the name of their best cadet with Nova Scotia's top cadet then being chosen from that group;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature acknowledge the national award that has been bestowed upon Cadet Greg Muir and wish him every success with his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 351

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 Liberal Throne Speech and budget claim that the tide has turned for Nova Scotians and there are only clear skies ahead; and

[Page 1385]

Whereas this rosy view of the world is completely out of touch with reality in Nova Scotia, including Halifax, where Liberal downloading has put residents between a rock of steep tax increases and a hard place of reduced public services; and

Whereas even erstwhile Liberals, like the Mayor of Halifax, are itching to throw the Liberals out;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Liberal Government for eliminating the Tory deficit by transferring it to municipalities, school boards, hospitals, universities, community organizations and ordinary Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 352

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

Whereas a recent editorial in the Yarmouth Vanguard highlighted the sad state of health care in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas money has been blown into the wind on huge expenditures within the Department of Health, inflating the bureaucracy while ensuring as many friends of this Liberal Government as possible have $100,000 per year jobs; and

Whereas the Vanguard Editorial offered realistic and sensible advice to this Liberal Government which was, "If you want to fix the health care system . . . make sure the $1.2 billion being spent by the Department of Health is going to the hands-on service providers, those people who actually care for those who need health services and less to the administrative bureaucrats running the programs";

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government and, in particular, the Minister of Health assess and report to this House how much of the total health care budget is being spent on administration at the expense of direct patient care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River.

[Page 1386]

RESOLUTION NO. 353

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

Whereas the world's first Environmental Health Centre officially opened in Fall River, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Environmental Health Centre's mandate is to become a national resource providing leadership in prevention and treatment of people with environmental sensitivities; and

Whereas clinics in Dallas, Toronto and Vancouver have also begun looking at environmental disease, although none have the specially designed facility that Nova Scotia now boasts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly congratulate the volunteer advisory board of the Environmental Health Centre for establishing the world's first leading-edge health care facility and recognize the Nova Scotia Government for being at the forefront in Canada's research and treatment of people with environmental sensitivities.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

I here several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 354

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

Whereas the Canadian School Boards Association released its report Students in Poverty: Towards Awareness, Action, and Wider Knowledge this spring; and

[Page 1387]

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas the document states, "Each Canadian has a vested interest in overcoming this social obstacle, but governments have a legal and moral imperative to take the lead in removing whatever barriers prevent students from enjoying the full benefit of the public education to which they are entitled"; and

Whereas Statistics Canada recently reported that the country's poorest children are more than three times as likely as the richest children to be in remedial education classes;

Therefore be it resolved that this government look into how social and educational supports can be created so that students from economically disadvantaged homes are offered natural advantages such as breakfast, books and a quiet place to do homework that children from middle-class homes generally enjoy.

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

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 355

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

Whereas the Liberal Government campaigned on the promise of jobs, jobs, jobs - a promise it has since reneged on and conceded that it is the private sector that creates jobs; and

Whereas this government has, instead, allowed obstacles in the path to create jobs; and

Whereas the Labour Minister last week couldn't answer in this House why a business is fined for creating jobs, but for not reporting the extra numbers early enough to the Workers' Compensation Board to avoid being penalized by the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the Labour Minister seek an immediate resolution to a problem which discourages business in their efforts to create jobs for Nova Scotians.

[Page 1388]

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 356

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

Whereas the 58,000 unemployed Nova Scotians are less able to participate in the selection of the next Liberal titan because of the $25 voting fee and the $10,000 candidate fee to be imposed by the Liberal Party; and

Whereas the leadership convention should be as wide open as possible, since it is choosing the individual who, for a few days at least, will be the Premier of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Liberal Party's toll-gated, enriched trust funds are flush as a result of their last stay in office;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liberal Party to break open their toll-gated, enhanced trust funds to subsidize the tens of thousands of Nova Scotians left behind by the Liberals' policies so they too can be active participants in the Liberals' titan selection process.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

RESOLUTION NO. 357

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

Whereas Bill Arsenault of Lower Sackville has been an amateur boxing official for 25 years; and

Whereas Bill is internationally recognized for his officiating abilities, having most recently officiated at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta; and

[Page 1389]

Whereas at the IKON Nova Scotia Amateur Sports Award held Saturday in Halifax, Bill was named Nova Scotia's amateur official of the year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend best wishes to Bill on the receipt of this prestigious award and wish him continued success in the future.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 358

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

Whereas a new special hazards response team is now in operation as a result of an initiative undertaken by the Colchester County Firefighters' Association; and

Whereas the Colchester County Firefighters' Association is operating the new haz mat team after it simply became too much for the Onslow-Belmont Fire Brigade to handle as an individual department; and

Whereas thousands of litres of volatile chemicals are shipped annually between Halifax and Cape Breton on Highway No. 102;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature acknowledge the commitment undertaken by the Colchester County Firefighters' Association in ensuring a special hazards response team is in place and ready to go if needed.

I would request waiver, Mr. Speaker.

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

It is agreed.

[Page 1390]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 359

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 within the last week, Nova Scotia has lost two great pioneers of the Antigonish Movement; and

Whereas in 1931 Kay Thompson Desjardins answered the call of Moses M. Coady, devoting her life first to the St. F.X. Extension Department and then to the Maritime Cooperator, thus advancing the cause of economic justice through cooperation; and

Whereas Rod MacMullen, known as the dean of credit unions, spent a lifetime in the credit union and cooperative housing movements in the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House mourn their passing and recognize their instrumental role in building the cooperative movement and the cooperative spirit which, though begun in Nova Scotia, has spread throughout the world.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 360

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

[Page 1391]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Secondary School Students' Association held their 6th Annual Provincial Leadership Conference from May 1st until May 4th at Saint Mary's University with over 300 high school students and their advisors attending; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Secondary School Students Association has been representing high school students at a provincial level while creating positive school cultures for the past six years; and

Whereas this organization plans to continue its leadership training and be a resource for high school students for many years to come with the financial support of the provincial government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge the Speaker to convey to the executive of the Nova Scotia Secondary School Students Association, advisors and secondary school students involved, their congratulations on the success of their annual meeting and offer their strong support of this association's worthwhile volunteer efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver of notice.

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

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 361

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

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova said in a recent community publication that the Liberal leadership process must be one that, "the public will accept as having been fair and open"; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Liberal Party has a well-deserved reputation for closed-door, back-room deals, such as the secret results of the 1995 leadership vote; and

[Page 1392]

Whereas the only open process within the Nova Scotia Liberal Party has been the doling out of high salaried patronage goodies to well-connected Liberals such as George Unsworth and Vince MacLean;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton Nova keep up the struggle in his long and strenuous battle to restore any public credibility to the operations of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 362

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

Whereas 20,000 people are employed directly or indirectly in Nova Scotia's forest industry; and

Whereas the forest sector produces sales of approximately $1 billion annually; and

Whereas this week, May 4th to May 10th, is National Forest Week across this great country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature acknowledge the valued importance of the Nova Scotia forest industry and that we work with all sectors of this industry to ensure the depletion of this resource does not take place.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 1393]

RESOLUTION NO. 363

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

Whereas this government's disastrous economic policies have both created unemployment and driven down wage levels in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has the second-lowest average weekly wage in Canada, higher than only Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas latest statistics show that Nova Scotia was the only province to experience a decline in average weekly wages between January and February 1997;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the failed economic policies of this Liberal Government which not only create unemployment but also depress wages.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 364

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

Whereas the condition of secondary roads in rural Nova Scotia has reached atrocious levels; and

Whereas numerous examples of the deplorable condition of our secondary roads exist, including a section in Inverness County where a section of Highway No. 104 between Port Hawkesbury and the rotary is so bad that the Warden of Inverness County recently requested the Department of Transportation and Public Works to fence off one of the lanes; and

Whereas other areas desperately needing attention are Digby County, the South Brook Road in Cumberland County and many roads in the lovely Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley region of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this government and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works stop spending so much time determining whether he will toll Highway No. 103 and get on with improving basic infrastructure in rural Nova Scotia that in no way, shape or form should be allowed to deteriorate to any worse level than what it already is.

[Page 1394]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 365

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

Whereas the Chretien Government in its first budget announced the scaling down of CFB Shearwater to a mere heliport and moves to privatize the rest of the airport facilities, to the silence of this government; and

Whereas this government has failed to facilitate the transfer of surplus former air base facilities to the Shearwater Development Corporation from the Department of National Defence, which was supposed to have been completed in March 1996, that is one year ago, Mr. Speaker; and

Whereas the federal and provincial Liberal Government inaction has left the development corporation hard-pressed to find tenants and left all four of the tenants presently on the base in limbo, due to the fact that they are on a month-by-month lease, including the province's own Air Ambulance Program;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism table before this House a detailed plan and timetable to arrange for the transfer of surplus base facilities at Shearwater from the Department of National Defence to the Shearwater Development Corporation, so that we can see the economic development of Shearwater before the end of this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 366

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 Pictou County Weeks Construction Triple A midget hockey team capped off a very successful 1996-97 season over the weekend at the Nova Scotia Triple A Midget Hockey League's Awards Banquet in Truro; and

[Page 1395]

Whereas Pictou County goaltender Joey MacDonald was chosen League Most Valuable Player, while Pictou's Derek Field was presented with the League Scoring Championship Trophy, while being named the league's most gentlemanly player; and

Whereas the awards for Pictou County players did not stop at three, as Pictou's Trevor Ettinger was named the league's top defenceman and Ben Cotter was presented with a $1,000 student athletic scholarship;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature extend best wishes to those award winners from Pictou County and all Triple A Midget Hockey League Award winners for such a successful and competitive 1996-97 hockey season.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for 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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 367

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

Whereas the Department of Economic Development and Tourism spends hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds each year to promote tourism and the jobs that it creates; and

Whereas eco-tourism, with its emphasis on promoting natural, unspoiled destinations, is critical to the growth of Nova Scotia's tourism industry; and

Whereas actions like the underhanded delisting of Jim Campbells Barren are having a destructive impact on Nova Scotia's image as an eco-tourism destination and undermining tourism promotion efforts and potential jobs in the tourism industry;

[Page 1396]

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges the Liberal Government to consider all the benefits and costs before it executes back-room deals in the name of job creation.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 368

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

Whereas only approximately 500 plants worldwide have been designated with the QS 9000 registration; and

Whereas this registration is one developed by North America's three major automobile makers; and

Whereas the QS 9000 registration recognizes companies for their environmental, safety and continual management improvement plans;

[12:30 p.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud the recommendation given for QS 9000 registration to Michelin plants in Granton, Pictou County; and Bridgewater - with the Waterville plant to receive its audit this fall - and wish them every success in their future production plans in Nova Scotia and on-going initiative as an innovator in today's work environment.

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.

[Page 1397]

RESOLUTION NO. 369

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

Whereas the Halifax Dance Association provides high-quality training and an artistic and recreational outlet for thousands of children, youth and adults, with many students leaving to continue training in prestigious schools across North America; and

Whereas some $52 million has been cut from the education system since 1993; and

Whereas one of the first areas to suffer, when boards are forced to transpose those cuts onto the classrooms of Nova Scotia, is arts education;

Therefore be it resolved that this government consider the Halifax Dance Association's suggestion in response to the losses in arts education: to utilize existing arts training organizations as an area for extension services to fill in the service gaps of our secondary education system, and allow greater ease for the students to obtain their credit in their effort to pursue their cultural interests.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 370

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 previous Minister of Education claimed that forced amalgamation of school boards would preserve the integrity of public education in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the current Minister of Education claims that a $13 million boost in provincial funding will make things right in our educational system; and

Whereas despite these half measures, school boards in Nova Scotia are still faced with staff layoffs which could lead to further overcrowding of classrooms;

[Page 1398]

Therefore be it resolved that this government acknowledge that school board amalgamations and pre-election spending band-aids are not enough to repair an education system devastated by Liberal budget cuts.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On one of the resolutions I just had an opportunity to read, which was submitted today by the member for Cape Breton West, he indicated references to high salaried patronage goodies being distributed to well-connected Liberals. Now, if he had left it at that, I don't think I would have risen, but, for the second time this session, he names particular individuals. So I wonder if the honourable member can produce a list of the two individuals he named and the high-salaried patronage goodies that he alleges they received? If he can't do it, then he should withdraw the resolution. Does he have that or does he not?

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of order that the minister brings up, the Chair will certainly take that into consideration and report to the House on a future day.

Before we move to the orders of the day, I wish to advise that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the late debate. The honourable Leader of the Opposition will debate at 6:00 p.m. this evening:

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works recognize the valuable input from both the businesses and residents of Nova Scotia by reinvesting some of their hard-earned tax dollars back into the sorely neglected and deplorable road conditions in the province.

We will now commence Oral Question Period which today will last one hour. The time now being 12:35 p.m., the Oral Question Period will run until 1:35 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - REFORM: DIAGNOSTIC SERV. -

WAITING TIME (QE II HEALTH SCIENCES CENTRE)

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health who is across the floor eagerly awaiting the question. A couple of weeks ago, I questioned the Minister of Health on the wait times for various procedures at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Science Centre. The minister very kindly provided me with a document - and I will give him

[Page 1399]

a copy because I don't expect him to remember this - in which he provided me some statistics for the wait times of some x-ray examinations, for surgery, orthopaedic surgery, cardiac waits, angioplasty waits, MRIs and so on. In an attempt to verify the validity of the information provided, I looked at the first relevant number that is on the sheet and it was the average wait at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre for an upper GI and a barium enema. Would the minister be prepared to indicate if the information that he tabled was compiled accurately and is he satisfied that the information is up to date?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, I am sure the honourable Leader of the Opposition is aware, I don't give the barium enemas personally, although there may be some in the House that might wish otherwise. I can only assume that the information is correct. If the honourable Leader of the Opposition has other more recent information, I am sure he will share it with me.

DR. HAMM: I do appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that the minister didn't personally compile this information but since he was prepared to table it, I think he bears some responsibility for its accuracy. That piece of paper indicated that the average wait for an upper GI and a barium enema at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre is 15.7 days. While that is perhaps slightly longer than we have been used to, it is within an acceptable range.

A quick call this morning to the booking department at the Queen Elizabeth II Diagnostic Centre indicates that the wait for an upper GI is as much as 56 days and the wait for a barium enema is over 30 days to 42 days. Now would the minister indicate (Interruption) We called the booking department this morning at the hospital to find out what the wait is if you are booking these procedures, a very simple thing to do, to confirm whether or not the information is accurate.

My question is, would the minister be prepared to explain the discrepancy?

MR. BOUDREAU: Barium enemas for the Official Opposition take longer. (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, that is quite an answer.

DR. HAMM: Well, I am not prepared to accept the minister's response. (Laughter) He seems to be treating this with some levity. This particular question was generated two weeks ago by a patient who called to complain that they were waiting for this examination and didn't feel that a six week wait was acceptable. That is what brought the question forward in the first place. Now is the minister prepared to go back and check all the information that was provided on April 23rd and to confirm whether or not the rest of the information is any more accurate than the misinformation on the wait time for upper GIs and barium enemas?

[Page 1400]

MR. BOUDREAU: I am sure the honourable Leader of the Opposition brings this forth as a serious issue. I am surprised, for example, that he wasn't questioned as to how urgent the need was for such a test because I am sure that in some situations they are dealt with very quickly, in other situations they may be dealt with less quickly if it is an optional situation. Let me say, I have no hesitation in assuring the honourable Leader of the Opposition that I will go back to them and ask them why they could not have accommodated the Leader of the Opposition more quickly.

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

HEALTH:

CARDIAC PREVENTION AND REHAB. RESEARCH CENTRE - AVAILABILITY

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: I am going to stay away from that particular topic but I am going to go to the Minister of Health with a question relative to priorities of this government.

The Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation Research Centre was opened with some considerable fanfare back in October of this year. In fact, you may recall and members may recall seeing a full picture in one of the local newspapers of the Premier riding on a treadmill. The program had to do with prevention research, particularly on issues relative to coronary care. It is an important program and a program that while we applaud it we are somewhat concerned because there was an initial fee being charged of $45 for people to enter the program.

We now learn, and I am going to table a letter here dated April 29, 1997 from the director of this centre that shows that the fees have gone from $45 for the service up to $1,400 for that program. I would like to ask the Minister of Health - and I also, before I do, recall that that same director and others suggested that this was such an important program back in October 1996 that it clearly should be covered under MSI - why it is that he is allowing such an important program, such important services, to only be available to those who can afford them?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: If the honourable member would be kind enough to table that letter that he referred to, I will have an opportunity to look at it and perhaps respond in more detail. As it is now, I can just take the question on notice.

MR. CHISHOLM: This is a preventive program. It is an example of preventive, of wellness programs and it has been tabled if the Minister of Health would like to see a copy of that. We are just giving the minister an opportunity to familiarize himself with that. I could also send over the newspaper clipping that has the Premier's picture on it from last year.

[Page 1401]

Clearly, this extremely important program highlights the value of prevention, of wellness programs and clearly is intended to avoid the extremely expensive and certainly intrusive procedures of surgery and other services that are required by people with coronary care problems. Given the fact that this is exactly what this program is intended to do, I would like to ask the Minister of Health why his department, by refusing to fund such an important program is, in effect, being penny wise and pound foolish, instead of investing in what is clearly a good example of a preventive health and wellness program?

MR. BOUDREAU: I am just now having a chance to look at this and it does indicate that this service, which is I do not believe an insured service anywhere in the country. Maybe the honourable member will tell me that that is not correct but I am not aware that this type of preventive program is an insured service anywhere in Canada. It was provided and in fact we have gone on from that to initiate a massive study in this province - the ICONS Project - which will, I think, have a dramatic effect on cardiac health in Nova Scotia.

[12:45 p.m.]

This letter he refers to indicates that there will be a cost to individuals of $30 per session, which includes group educational sessions and nutritional assessments. I simply say that this particular type of service, as far as I am aware, is not insured anywhere in the country.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister would like to divert attention away from the Province of Nova Scotia and the problems we have here in the health care system. Let me assure him that this particular program, it says $30 a session, two sessions a week for 24 weeks. It works out to $1,400 for the program, clearly an example of a preventive health care program, of a wellness program, something that is heralded by this government under health care reform as being the way that they are heading, in fact, in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I ask this minister in my final question, how can this minister talk about health reform in the Province of Nova Scotia when he will refuse to support such a program and the result is clearly prevention for the rich and the knife for the rest of us?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think that is an overstatement in the extreme, bordering on the irresponsible. There are all sorts of programs in the health care field which would be useful, which would be helpful to individuals and which the government and the public cannot provide. What about the Province of Saskatchewan? Are they irresponsible for not providing this program? I wonder if he has complained about the Province of British Columbia. That rich, socialist government in British Columbia doesn't provide this. Does he complain about that? No. You see the real purpose of these complaints, as he yells across the floor, is to try to create a panic situation for purely political purposes.

[Page 1402]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - HOSPITALS: FUNDING - STABILIZED

MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question is for the Minister of Health. The minister on a number of occasions has talked about stabilized funding for hospitals in this province. I would like to know from the Minister of Health what he means by stabilized funding. Can the minister assure me that all hospitals in this province will get zero or plus 1 per cent, 2 per cent, 3 per cent or 4 per cent? I understand that hospitals will vary. Is the minister, by saying that he has stabilized hospital funding in the province, indicating through you, Mr. Speaker, to all Nova Scotians, that the hospitals this year will not see a decrease in their funding but will have some sort of increase, just to keep pace with inflation? Is that what the minister means by stabilized funding?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is an experienced commentator on the health care field, having been a minister himself. We have also had the opportunity and the advantage of discussing for almost a full day in estimates exactly these types of questions. What it means is that the overall funding for acute care facilities across Nova Scotia, in fact, I believe, if I recall the figures - and I can dig them out in a moment - has actually gone up. What we have said across the board is that we will not be reducing funding.

Now in individual facilities that will be a question for regional health boards and non-designated institutional boards to deal with that in specific terms, but generally there will be no decrease for acute care facilities.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, that is why I am trying to pin the minister down. When he says there is no decrease in funding for hospitals in the province, in total terms, that could mean the QE II could get a large increase and maybe Cape Breton and the Valley Regional could have a decrease.

I think what I am trying to find out from the minister, and I know that he is saying now that the funding comes from the regional boards, but if the funding comes from the regional boards how can he, as minister, give assurance that there will be no cut in hospital funding? In other words, there will be stabilized funding across the province. I would ask the minister if he could give me assurances that there would be no hospital, be it Cape Breton or Valley Regional or any other, that will not get a decrease in their funding from the previous year? In any hospital that is going to have stabilized funding, they obviously could not operate on a decreased funding level, and that is on the minus side. Can the minister assure me that that is what is happening?

[Page 1403]

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, overall in the budget issue involving hospitals, the forecasted expenditure for 1996-97 - that was the year just ended - was $607,622,000. This year it is projected at slightly under $612 million, that is overall. I know the honourable member will remember the last day in estimates when we went over board by board and gave individual figures - I don't have them right in front of me - but we gave individual figures for last year and this year for the eight boards which have jurisdiction for all the institutions. That is the four regional health boards plus the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, the Izaak Walton Killam-Grace, the Nova Scotia Hospital and the Cape Breton Health Care Complex.

In the eight boards we broke it down board by board to indicate that there would be, in fact, slightly additional funding. If the honourable member wants me to go beyond that and within boards break it down facility by facility, then that is not within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Health nor do I think it should be.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, he says it is not within his jurisdiction, but my problem is that when the minister said there would be stabilized funding for hospitals this coming year, be it Valley Regional or any other hospital, people would think in those areas that they weren't going to be cut. What I am asking the minister, if he has no control over stabilized funding for hospitals, then he shouldn't stand up and tell Nova Scotians there will be no cuts at the Valley Regional Hospital or any other hospital when in actual fact, as I understand it, some of the hospitals are going to have either a minus 4 or minus 5 per cent cut over last year. That affects the health care of those residents in that particular area.

I would ask the minister again to clarify what he means to the people in the areas where the hospital budgets are being cut when he talks about stabilized funding. What does he mean to the nurses and others who may end up losing some of their jobs or not providing the service when in actual fact their numbers will be less in their particular hospital? Will the minister please explain that he has no control over it but yet he can tell everybody there is going to be stabilized funding?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is quite right when he says that the Minister of Health shouldn't get up and make comments about a specific hospital. What I said was that there would be stable funding in the acute care sector and there will be. As a matter of fact, the honourable member has the details board by board of what those numbers are because we gave them to him in the estimates debate.

I know the honourable member supports regional health boards because he is on record in this House on a number of occasions as supporting regional health boards. Unfortunately, his Leader does not; he is on record in the House as being opposed to regional health boards. I know the critic, as a supporter, values the regional health boards and since we are going to have them, if we are going to have them, we may as well let them do their job.

[Page 1404]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

ENVIRON.: BEVERAGE CONTAINERS - DEPOSIT

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of the Environment. About a year ago the Minister of the Environment imposed a deposit tax on containers of various pop and what have you. I was wondering if the minister would confirm in the House today that when you go in to buy a case of pop, for instance, and there are a dozen cans in the case, is it fair to say that you pay a 10 cent tax on each individual can within that case?

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is that on each and every beverage container in the province that contains juice or beverage, there is a 10 cent deposit on each container.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture today handed out a Local Suppliers Partners in Business flyer and there are Mini Sips in the flyer. (Interruptions) I thought that might get their attention. They are manufactured by Scotsburn, as a matter of fact. It is not funny for the kids. There are 10 of these Mini Sips in each bag. Do you pay 10 cents on each Mini Sip in each bag, I will ask the minister?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I will help the honourable member with his memory. A year ago he had it dead wrong. He got it right this time. There are 10 Mini Sips in a bag, not 30. The total package of those said Mini Sips has a 10 cent deposit applicable. So it is applicable to the bag of 10 Mini Sips.

MR. RUSSELL: I know I can only ask one question in my final supplementary, but one is, if a child went in and just bought one, would they have to pay the 10 cent deposit and, if you bought the whole bag full, do you take back 10 little Mini Sips sacks or the complete carton that the Mini Sips come in?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, he has gone beyond my realm of the waste management strategy on the recycling operation. He has gone to the decision of the retailer and I think different retailers have different methods of which they will disperse of the product. But they do know, in fact, they must apply 10 cents to that package of 10 Mini Sips.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Fall River on an introduction.

MRS. FRANCENE COSMAN: Mr. Speaker, through you to the members of the House, sitting in the east gallery, we have two Grade 6 classes today from the Eaglewood Drive Elementary School in Bedford and they are accompanied by teachers Pam Woodill and Lee Ann Thompson, and parents who have volunteered to come on this trip, Marlene LeLacheur, Donna Giffin, Mrs. Morrison, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Burris. I hope I didn't miss

[Page 1405]

any parent in the group. I would ask the students and teachers and parents to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.:

HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT - QUALITY CONTROL CONTRACT

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Subject to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act ruling, the Official Opposition finally received a version of the Highway No. 104 western alignment specifications.

I wonder if the minister would tell this House and all Nova Scotians, who received the quality control contract relative to the specifications on the Highway No. 104 western alignment?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: I would have to take a look at that, Mr. Speaker, in regard to the answer to that question. I can't recall the company that won that specification and that contract.

MR. TAYLOR: I would think, Mr. Speaker, that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for the Province of Nova Scotia would recall who received the contract for the quality control specifications and the policing and monitoring of the Highway No. 104 project. We have it on good source and authority that, in fact, a New Brunswick company received the quality control contract and a Nova Scotia firm, Nolan Davis, the lowest bidder that actually came from Nova Scotia, told the Department of Transportation and Public Works that in order to properly monitor the Highway No. 104 western alignment project, in order to properly police the specifications relative to the Highway No. 104 Western Alignment Corporation, more staff would be required to do the job.

I ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works if he is cognizant of the fact that a company from New Brunswick was able to receive the contract because they came in with a cheaper price and, in fact, had less personnel to do the monitoring and to do the policing?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I find the question somewhat interesting in regard to the members opposite almost kind of misleading the House or trying to let the House think that we are doing something wrong here. I ask the question back to the member, show us anywhere where the Highway No. 104 project has not been at standard or above standard in regard to this project, in regard to the standards that were specified and developed on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia and the specifications for this highway work. This highway will be a safe highway for all Nova Scotians and all those who want to come and visit.

[Page 1406]

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if that was his first supplementary or his final. I will tell the minister then and I am sure the minister is aware that it is the same equity partners that are involved in Highway No. 407 in Toronto. The Premier in Ontario has ordered an independent evaluation conducted relative to safety. So I will tell the minister that the material specifications, for example, have been modified. Normally, and in most cases, crushed rock, crushed gravel is used in the subgrade. The subgrade has to meet stringent guidelines for hardness and gradation. However, on the Highway No. 104 western alignment, for example, and this is one example for the Minister of Transportation's benefit, the consortium was able to have the specification requirements relative to the subgrade circumvented and a lesser quality of pit run gravel was used. Is the minister aware that pit run gravel was used in the subgrade? In most people's minds this will provide for an inferior highway.

The minister asked the question, I provided the answer. Is the minister aware that pit run gravel was used for the subgrade instead of crushed gravel, which is normally used, according to Nova Scotia specs?

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like a little bit of pit run going on in here today.

AN HON. MEMBER: Pit bull.

MR. DOWNE: Maybe a pit bull or is that pit bore, or whatever it is. The reality is, Mr. Speaker, this member is challenging the engineering capabilities of the Department of Transportation and Public Works. This member is challenging the engineering capabilities of the private company that is there to monitor the safety in the construction and design of this highway. This individual over here, I don't know if he is an engineer, if he is an engineer, if he has proof that whatever we are doing on this highway is wrong, show it to us, prove where there is a fault.

I would like to make it very clear to the members of this House, when he refers to Highway No. 407, which was a public-private partnership but the Ontario Government paid the bill and because they paid the bill, now it is under review; it has cost them somewhere around $13 million or $14 million because the Government of Ontario has assumed the risk and the Government of Ontario is paying the bill and the taxpayers of that province are paying the bill. We, in the Province of Nova Scotia, have no risk and are not paying any bill associated with any problem with Highway No. 104, not like Highway No. 407.

Secondly, when he refers to the safety issues of Highway No. 407 in Ontario, I would like to say that the Highway No. 104 situation here is above those standards. We have built a good highway in Nova Scotia and he has to prove where we haven't.

[Page 1407]

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

HOUSING & MUN. AFFS. - MUNS.: DEFICIT REDUCTION - OFFLOADING

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct a question through you, sir, to the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs. The minister, of course, will know that HisWorship Mayor Fitzgerald is quoted in the press today as saying that the Liberal Government "'. . . is getting away with unbelievable sins . . .'" and that those sins which include things like the offloading of programs and costs to municipalities, the BST, the amalgamation costs are killing municipalities. That's what he said. Those Liberal policies are going to result in substantial tax increases, undoubtedly they are also going to result in employee layoffs and reduction of services.

My question to the minister is quite simply this. Why is it that the government that he represents chose to sacrifice the municipalities, the taxpayers in those municipalities, the employees in the services at its own altar of deficit reduction?

HON. JAMES SMITH: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I missed the last part of the question. Something on the altar? We sacrificed something on the altar.

AN HON. MEMBER: Walter on the altar.

DR. SMITH: Could he be more clear? I am sorry there was noise in the House, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We will ask the honourable member to repeat please.

MR. HOLM: I won't go over the whole thing. I will just ask the minister very simply, why is it that this government chose to sacrifice the taxpayers in the municipality, the programs and services that they offer at the altar of this provincial government's own deficit agenda?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for repeating because I think it is very important that you hear the question. I think the issue is one of leadership. I think there are times, as have come now, they have had some efforts to work as a council. I think my statement is just simple, I think it is a time for leadership and I think it is time for that council to get on and take its responsibility and deal, if they want to be known as a level of government, to take their own responsibility. I don't want to get involved here today, in the House, with we said and they said and that sort of talk. The figures that are being thrown about are not right, they are incorrect. They benefit in many areas, they have benefitted many thousands of dollars from infrastructure, they have benefitted many millions of dollars from the service exchange. The transition amalgamation costs will not be on their books, generally

[Page 1408]

speaking, until 1998-99. I just say it is time for leadership and it is time for that council to take responsibility for its own actions and get on with the business of government. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. HOLM: I thank the government members for their loud round of applause. Mr. Speaker, the minister stood in his place and implied, he didn't only imply, he really stated that there was a lack of leadership and that the municipal council, the councillors in Halifax, were not acting responsible.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is all their fault.

MR. HOLM: It is all their fault, the minister says. Mr. Speaker, what this minister is also admitting is that this government is ducking its responsibility and trying to shovel it all off. The minister said that the figures the municipality is using are not right. Some of their costs, obviously, that are being attributed are bogus. I would like, then, to ask the minister, I would like to challenge the minister, will you table, then, on the floor of the House, your government's assessment? You table what figures the government or the municipality is putting forward in its costs in terms of its amalgamation costs that you say are bogus and which ones are responsible because the minister is implying that they are showing a lack of leadership. Well, let's see the minister provide some and let's see your assessment as to what are, in fact, the true actual costs of amalgamation.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, Hansard will reflect some of those figures and I say them here in the House today and I am prepared to support them. The other morning His Worship mentioned that he rarely gets a call now on social services and that is because we now are moved to a one-tiered system thanks to the Minister of Community Services. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, when that figure is included, that figure, social services, the $22 million for instance, this is for the member over there and his question, that was already included in their year's budget. That was not part of municipal service exchange. That is above and beyond. That is a misrepresentation of the facts. On top of that, this provincial government has given them more flexibility within their program. They have a one-tiered system, it is working very well. The mayor, himself, says he rarely, if ever, gets a call now on social services and that is what we said would happen when a one-tiered system came and it is capped. So all the changes that are coming from other levels of government, like the federal government to us, through our CHST and all those that are impacting on us that we have had to absorb, the Minister of Health here, the Minister of Community Services there and all of our government. (Interruption) We have been more than fair and we have capped that social services. So to say that that $22 million of social services to HRM is an increase, that is not true. That was not in municipal service exchange. It was in their original budget and even more would have been in their budget but the one-tiered system is making it fairer for the people they serve, fairer for the taxpayers of the region and that is the way we are doing

[Page 1409]

business and that is the way we are helping the HRM and it is time for them to get on and take their own responsibility. (Applause)

MR. HOLM: I am sure that the taxpayers in HRM are going to be impressed with the minister's answer when they get their tax bill, the second half in October, which will see the rates skyrocketing from what they are. The members on the Liberal benches, all 19 or however many there are from HRM are hoping the election is over before that ever happens.

Mr. Speaker, the minister says that the mayor rarely gets a call on social services any more. In fact, when this government originally talked about service exchange, the province promised that they were going to be taking over the costs of social services, in exchange for the roads that were being passed off to the municipality. Like so many other promises, they broke that promise. They didn't follow through on it, $22 million that it is picking up.

The minister comes up with one example. I go back to the point that I was raising in my second question and I ask the minister, will you provide, put on the floor of this House so that the taxpayers of this municipality can see it, will you see what this government considers to be the actual costs, legitimate costs of amalgamation, which ones you consider to be bogus? Will you put down on paper what you consider to be the savings that the municipality has received and what were the increased costs the municipal taxpayer is going to have to put up as a result of this government adopting the Tories' previously rejected by this Liberal Government's amalgamation strategy that you imposed?

DR. SMITH: The matter that the honourable member brings before the House today is a very important one. It is one that as Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs I have grappled with. I have sat by and read the media reports, print and electronic and other means that the message has been given to the press. As minister, I have some responsibility to do something about that and to counteract some of the misinformation.

We, in our department, with senior officials have discussed that. I don't really know - I was hoping that the truth would more come out as time went on. So I am very interested in this discussion here today as to how we, as a department of the government, might set the record straight.

I think that the member of the Third Party over across the way has offered a challenge and I will take it back to our department. Hansard will stand on the record. I will also give him another one in closing, the HST. In no way will that be costing the Halifax Regional Municipality over $6 million. I mean our figures for the whole province would be closer to that and that is another figure that I would dispute. Now whether you agree or not, that is what I offer to the House today. So I will say I will stand on anything I have said here that Hansard will reflect tomorrow when we read it and I think that we do have to look at a way to counteract some of this misinformation and I will take the challenge. I will table it in

[Page 1410]

Hansard and part of the records will show there and I will bring forth to the House other matters. Thank you. (Applause)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.:

HWY. NO. 104 WESTERN ALIGNMENT - SAFETY

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to direct my question to the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The minister, during our last exchange, confirmed that he really doesn't know that the specifications on the Highway No. 104 western alignment have been modified and, in fact, the requirement pertaining to the subgrade has been basically circumvented by the negotiators. The minister wasn't aware of that. That is inconceivable, as far as I am concerned. The minister confirmed that he doesn't know who provided the quality control, who received that contract, but yet he tells Nova Scotians that the Highway No. 104 is safe, that we have nothing to be concerned about when, in fact, the same principal equity partners are involved in the Highway No. 407 in Ontario and that highway is shut down.

Again I ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, how can he stand in his place and assure and guarantee all Nova Scotians that the Highway No. 104 western alignment will be safe for the motoring public?

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I have heard the rhetoric from the member opposite for so long now that it would not matter what I said; he would never believe that anything is possible on this side of the House that is good. It doesn't matter if we put our act together in regard to whatever issues that we have to deal with. The mismanagement of their organization for 15 years that we have rectified, on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia - he doesn't want to accept anything.

Now, we talk about Highway No. 407 being shut down; we talk about a median differential, in the size of the median. Our median on Highway No. 104 is wider than the median on Highway No. 407. That is one reason why we have done a safer job in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[1:15 p.m.]

In Ontario previously under a New Democratic Government and now under a Conservative Government, they put posts in the middle with these big lights so that if anybody gets off the road, they can run right into those things. We have never done that in the Province of Nova Scotia. They have done it in Ontario. Under the negotiations of that particular agreement, now the taxpayers of Ontario are responsible for paying the bill.

[Page 1411]

AN HON. MEMBER: Shame.

MR. DOWNE: Shame on that particular situation on Highway No. 407.

I would challenge the member today or tomorrow to table today or table tomorrow a report that states from an engineering point of view that what we have done on Highway No. 104 is not safe. I would challenge the member to put his proof where his mouth is always at, on the floor of this House with a true statement of fact of what he is talking about. He gets up and continually points out that everything is wrong. I would like him to sit back and put some proof on the table.

Secondly, I would be very happy to take that member opposite and the media and anybody else, within reason, to Highway No. 104 and show them the programs that are going on there, show them the engineering specifications, show them the quality of work that Nova Scotian men and women are doing on that project. I would like to show him the work that has gone on in the engineering specifications by the staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works - Nova Scotian engineering at the forefront of world-class production, right here in this province. That is what he is challenging. He is challenging the reputation of the Department of Transportation and Public Works and its engineering staff. He is challenging the Nova Scotians that have gone and worked in that project. He is challenging the men and women on the trucks and in the design and everything else. That member opposite is challenging anything that is good in Nova Scotia, for political gain. (Applause)

MR. TAYLOR: That member's mouth is running off like a soup sandwich. My gosh. He is in Mexican overdrive, if anybody ever was.

Perhaps I could table a document for the minister for ease of his reference. We could table a document. It pertains to a recent announcement that the member made pertaining to the Salt Springs to Alma project. Perhaps he would be a little bit more familiar with that project. I want to remind the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that historically the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works has had the benefit of having several Nova Scotian companies do the bidding on tendered work. As I pointed out, the minister recently made this announcement pertaining to the Salt Springs to Alma highway. I am not sure if pit run gravel is going to be permitted regarding the subgrade or not. I am sure that members of the Nova Scotia travelling public hope it is not going to be permitted either.

Concern has been expressed to officials in the minister's department following his announcement. The fact of the matter is that his department is putting together a contract worth nearly $12 million and the concern being expressed is about the size of that contract; $12 million and the security deposit that would be required would eliminate many qualified Nova Scotia contractors.

[Page 1412]

Will the minister confirm today that such a tender is being put together pertaining to the Alma to Salt Springs project?

MR. DOWNE: I am quite familiar with both of these projects - the Highway No. 104 western alignment - and when he asked the question earlier about the company, I believe one of the names of the companies that is doing the engineering is Rankin. I do not remember the full name of the corporation and that is why I indicated that I was not able to disclose the full name of the engineering firm.

He talks about the issue of pit run versus some other material. Whatever materials are being used are materials that are based on agreements by our engineering crew that would not mitigate anything to do with the safety of the highway. Springhill to Amherst, highways were built, highways were built all over Nova Scotia that used all sorts of material in the fill of those roads under Conservative leadership and those roads have been continually falling apart because of the inability or the concern of government to put proper engineering into some of those highway constructions.

With regard to the issue of Salt Springs to Alma, he talks about the overall project; in fact, there is $22 million to $23 million worth of work that is going on in that particular project this year. Out of that there is one area, the $12 million that he is referring to, that should be split up. We are looking at whether or not we can split that up or put it under one package bid. We are looking at whether or not it is practical to do it that way. We are looking at the fact that in one end of that project you have hundreds of thousands of tons of material that we need to take off, we need to level that particular area. We have another end of the project that needs hundreds of thousands of tons of material to fill back up because there is a low part. How do you even do that with regard to having two separate contracts? Do you create an environmental problem? What do you do with the extra fill? We are looking into all of those issues and the member opposite understands that, he just doesn't want to tell the whole facts to the members of this Legislative Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ENVIRON. - EASTERN TIRE SERVICES:

TIRES (RETREAD) - DISPOSAL

MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of the Environment. Eastern Tire Services in New Glasgow is one of the largest retreaders east of Montreal. They employ over 45 to 50 people year round and they do 125,000 casings a year. When that dealer sells four retread tires to a person, he takes in four tires. What does the retreader do with the four tires he takes in because the recycler won't take them?

[Page 1413]

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, the member is right, the recycler, if he is talking about the contractor who got the deal for the province, is collecting those tires that are replacing new tires on which a $3 environmental fee is being paid. Retreads were not subject to that program at all but there is good news in the future. As the program unfolds, those tires will be picked up, not right away and there is no definite timetable yet but we are working collectively with the Resource Recovery Fund Board and with the Tire Association of Nova Scotia to move in that direction. I would say that the answer to his question is in the future, as opposed to right away.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I did mention earlier that the tire retreader does 125,000 casings a year. He is having difficulty buying used casings from the recycler (Interruption) Yes, he is. The minister is shaking his head and I can tell you that he is having difficulty. Why can't that company buy casings at a reasonable price?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, it is my information and I will stand to be corrected but I have been at a number of meetings where this issue came to the fore and I am satisfied that there is no difficulty with Eastern Tire obtaining casings. I have been assured that by a number of people who have been working on that issue. In fact, there may be a problem with too much supply of casings and the price is very competitive, if not the best that he can achieve.

MR. MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, I think the minister should look into this further. On December 4th, my colleague asked the minister about this same matter and this is now May 6th. This man has stacks of tires, just drive by Highway No. 102 going past Truro and take a look to your right and you will see another big stack of tires. What are they going to do with them? Eastern Tire has to haul them to Montreal at great expense. What is the minister going to do with these tires that are stockpiled around the province that the recycler won't take?

MR. ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, I think that Eastern Tire has been in business for a number of years and they have been dispersing their tires and nothing has changed in that regard. He is going to have a better answer down the road, as he knows. He has been told, he has negotiated with our people in the RRF and with the Retail Tire Association of Nova Scotia. The answer is in the works, and the operator of that company knows full well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

EDUC. - SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION:

PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS - HANSCOMB

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to ask a question to the Minister of Education. Last week, the Minister of Education tabled in the House for us some documentation indicating that it was a better deal for the taxpayers to have the private-public partnering building schools.

[Page 1414]

Can the minister explain, for clarification, because I have this thing that he tabled before me and it is from Hanscomb, could the minister indicate to us just who is Hanscomb and were they contracted to do a comparison of a school built with public funds four years ago versus the projected cost of constructing, for instance, the Porter's Lake Elementary School?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question is Hanscomb is a company that has expertise in the area of benchmarking and they were asked to compare schools that were built in what we will call the traditional mode with those that were being built under public-private partnering.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the minister could indicate a couple of things, one of them being, is this the entire documentation that proves it is cheaper to build a school and is a better deal for the taxpayers? Is this the entire bit of information that the minister can provide for the Legislature and for Nova Scotians to prove his point that this is a better way to build a school?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I think the answer to the question has to do with whether or not the information provided reveals in fairly clear terms, at least to me and to my department, the fact that when we compared and benchmarked two different projects, I think the member opposite was provided with, that there are clear cost comparisons, clear analysis that indicates that one method is less expensive than the other.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Well, I guess the minister didn't answer the question. I guess he answered a question, but certainly not the question as to if this is all the information he has; I don't think he had all the information required to make the decision. I am wondering, is Hanscomb one of the companies, Mr. Speaker, that is involved in the public-private partnering in Nova Scotia?

MR. HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, certainly at the time we were doing the benchmarking, Hanscomb was seen as a company that had particular expertise. There are some 10 consortia in the business now throughout the province and I can get the background on whether Hanscomb has been contracted by any elements of those 10 consortia and provide it for the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HUMAN RES. - CONTRACT COMPLIANCE:

COMMITMENT (LIB. PARTY [N.S.]) - STATUS

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in the Human Resources Estimates, the Minister of Human Resources admitted that he did not have any knowledge of the history of the proposed (Interruption) I am sorry. The question is for the Minister of Human Resources.

[Page 1415]

Yesterday, in estimates, we had a good chat about contract compliance. The minister did say that he did not know anything about the history, or not too much, at least, of his Party and his government's commitment to contract compliance, which is defined in the Liberal's Speech from the Throne of 1993, as a program that ensures that private sector companies wishing to do business with the government, follow generally acceptable policies on pay equity and minority employment opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, I was happy to provide the minister with some information and I was even happier to see that he was reading it, but this commitment goes back 10 years. It goes all the way back to a Liberal Party report of 1987, which was then incorporated, when this Party became government, into the Speech from the Throne. Absolutely nothing, to my knowledge, has happened since. I do want to ask the Minister of Human Resources whether the government has abandoned this commitment to contract compliance?

HON. ALLISTER SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for forwarding me the information to do with this particular matter. As for my estimates yesterday, I must tell her today that I do not have a clear answer at this point but I am willing to go back to the department and to see where the matter stands.

[1:30 p.m.]

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate that. The trouble is that the evidence over the past number of years indicates that this may dead-end as well. There is a new urgency about it because the more that the government does public-private partnering, the more that private companies become involved in contracts and services for government. So as it does that, the urgency is greater and the need is greater.

Mr. Speaker, in this process the government is losing its ability to ensure that historically disadvantaged groups - women, visible minorities and the disabled - get a fair share of economic development in this province. So I would like to ask the minister, why has the government abandoned that commitment up to now, in favour of its corporate friends?

MR. SURETTE: Mr. Speaker, the issue of public-private partnerships is a different issue altogether than the issue she raised initially. What I would like to say here is that the Department of Human Resources has made considerable advancement on the issue of affirmative action, by improving the department, adding staff to the department, consulting with other various groups on this particular issue, including the Human Rights Commission. I am glad to say that we are making advancements on the whole affirmative action issue, even by changing the name to Diversity Management, so that we can inform the public that yes, it is a matter of importance to us and that we are very interested in pursuing this.

[Page 1416]

MS. O'CONNELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, changing the name of a department doesn't advance anything, in my view. Diversity Management sounds like something that is badly needed at Natural Resources.

In any case, Mr. Speaker, ministers come and ministers go; ministers have come and gone in the past in this government. My question is, how many more ministers will come and go before the Liberals meet this commitment to this central election plank and give to the disadvantaged Nova Scotians the long-promised policy and make it real?

MR. SURETTE: Again, just to reinforce the fact that yes, this is of considerable importance to us as a government. We do have a unit within the Department of Human Resources that looks at the entire affirmative action issue. I know we have had a number of ministers come and go within the Department of Human Resources; however, it has always been an issue of high importance to all of our ministers and it is to me as well. We will continue to move in the right direction.

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

HEALTH - SPECIAL CARE FACILITIES: DEMAND - ANALYSIS

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. I wonder if the Minister of Health could indicate to this House if his department did any kind of analysis on the number of Nova Scotians waiting to find entrance into a long-term care facility? If so, would he table that information?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am sure we have information on that subject and I would be happy to share it.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again my question is to the Minister of Health. As we know, there is a moratorium on nursing bed homes and on special care homes and community residential facilities. Nova Scotians who would otherwise be in these types of institutions are occupying hospital beds, or that is the belief. Despite the government's belief that we are getting all kinds of home care, there are people who actually need the services that are offered by nursing homes, special care homes and the like. I wonder if the minister could identify when the moratorium on these facilities will be lifted?

MR. BOUDREAU: I think, Mr. Speaker, it is safe to presume that it will not be lifted this year, as is evident from the budget that we have tabled in the House. We hope to focus on the long-term care facilities across the province on a priority basis as we move through this fiscal year, but it is unlikely that the moratorium will be lifted within the fiscal year.

[Page 1417]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, again my question is to the Minister of Health. We know that there is a demand for these beds, we know that there are a number of people out there in private industry who are willing to supply these beds and we know that the private operators are struggling to survive. Now the minister has been given a proposal by one hospital in Cape Breton to look at taking some active treatment beds and making them long-term stay beds. The question we have for the minister is, would it not be better to lift the moratorium and let private industry help supply the beds that are out there to the people who need the long-term care rather than taking beds that are being used for active treatment and making them long-term care beds?

MR. BOUDREAU: Well, if money were not an issue, then it would be nice to tell the private sector to go out and build as many long-term care facilities as they wanted to and we would simply pay a per diem for all of them. The current financial commitment in that area this year is something like $106 million and we simply could not afford to double that or increase it substantially in one fell swoop.

I think what we want to do is give long-term care facilities priority in terms of our directions this year. Both the Minister of Community Services and myself have met with long-term care facility organizations as well as small option homes. We are looking at bringing forward a co-ordinated multi-departmental approach, one that looks at such things as single entry assessment and implementation and as well looking at utilization of existing hospital beds.

All of that is part of the solution, but there is no easy solution short of borrowing a whole bunch of money in an election year and having a lot of groundbreaking ceremonies, which I think in the long run would not serve the interests of the province.

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

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The honourable Leader of the Opposition mentioned in Question Period that he had information that the waiting time for barium enemas was something in the neighbourhood, I think he said, of 52 days or 53 days. During Question Period one of my associates took the opportunity, without identifying himself, to check with the QE II and was informed that the waiting list was two weeks long which would be consistent with the information we filed. Now perhaps the Leader of the Opposition, if he would table when he received the information and from whom, then we might check to see where this discrepancy occurred.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Rising on the point of order made by the Minister of Health. That call was made this morning, made by a member of staff, and the information that I transmitted by way of a question to the minster was the information we received this morning from the

[Page 1418]

Booking Department at the Diagnostic Imaging Department of the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. That is where the information came from.

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of order, the information is tabled.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Today I rise to give a little bit of a history lesson, I guess, to some of the members of the House regarding the coal industry and where it belongs and how it fits into the economy of Cape Breton and the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia.

As the members of this House are well aware, I spent 19 years in the coal industry - or 19 years with the Cape Breton Development Corporation - prior to becoming a member of this House. Over the last couple of weeks and certainly since my short history in this House, the coal industry has played a major part in a lot of the debates and discussions that have taken place.

Coal has been mined on Cape Breton Island since 1685. It had the nation's first systematic mining and that was undertaken in Port Morien around 1720. Since that time, there have been 110 mines come and gone on Cape Breton Island. In the Sydney coalfield alone reserves total more than 850 million tonnes. It is estimated that 60 per cent of this reserve has been mined. When you take that at a rate of 25 cents a tonne for the coal that has been removed, this amounts to about $127.5 million put into the provincial Treasury. Yet, this government keeps telling us that Devco and mining is a federal issue. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that is not so.

The Cape Breton Development Corporation employs upwards of 2,000 people. That means that they have a major impact on the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia, not just the economy of Cape Breton Island. That means that what happens to the people who are

[Page 1419]

employed at Devco is important to every individual in this House and to all members of this province.

The Minerals Resource Policy put together by this government says, "The Government of Nova Scotia recognizes that the mineral industry is important to the social and economic well-being of the province . . .". Also, "The government will provide leadership by implementing the policy and ensuring that the necessary conditions are maintained for the mineral industry to create wealth for present and future generations of Nova Scotians.". I think that says a lot and it is a worthwhile goal and it is a goal that I hope each and every member of this House would strive to make happen.

Yet, Madam Speaker, there seems to be a whole lot of different things coming on and happening. Only a year or so ago, we had members of the UMW come to this government, ask this government for $70,000 to help fund a study on the history and the future of Donkin. This government refused, saying that it was, indeed, a federal issue. Lately, we have heard many things about the Donkin Mine. We have heard about a company called Donkin Resources Limited that wants to come forward and develop the Donkin Mine. They want to do that to create jobs. I want to go on record, there is nobody more in favour of jobs on Cape Breton Island than I am, but you have to wonder just at what expense are these jobs going to be created?

One year ago, government could not find $70,000 to fund a study. This year, an election year, there is $300,000 made available to a private concern to help do a study. Now the question has to be, why is it, in just one short year, $300,000 can be found by a government going into an election? Why is it that when the UMW of America, people who make their living in the industry, people who have a genuine stake in the industry, looked for $70,000, it couldn't be found? Those are the type of questions that I think this House should be addressing and should be answering.

Interestingly, in the policy about coal mining, it is singled out for being the most important because it accounts for nearly 50 per cent of the annual gross value of output by minerals. Due to the value of the coal mining industry, it plays a big role in this province's economy. The province's quality of life, especially in rural areas, is greatly influenced by the economic health of the mineral industry; direct, indirect and spin-off employment, salaries and wages, and purchases of goods and services, affect all areas of this province. In Nova Scotia, most of the mining sites are removed from the urban areas and they are, therefore, important wealth generators in the rural parts of Nova Scotia.

So when we talk about the coal industry on Cape Breton Island, we are not just talking about the economy of Cape Breton Island, Madam Speaker, we are talking about the economy of the whole province. Interestingly enough, and the members of the government bench who represent areas of Cape Breton will know, as well as I do, that we have an official rate of unemployment of 27.4 per cent, the highest rate in the country. More interesting is the

[Page 1420]

fact that the unofficial rate is believed to be about 50 per cent and that is with the coal mines as they are now, surviving as it is.

[1:45 p.m.]

So the question we have to ask ourselves is, what can we do to maintain this industry and still find a way to advance employment and opportunities on the Island of Cape Breton? I will be the first one to say that that is not an easy answer to come up with. It is an answer though that each and every one of us should and has to try to address.

When we look at what Donkin could provide for us, those who have been involved in the coal industries over the years have believed that Donkin was an insurance policy, a policy when if something happened to the Prince Mine, which is an older mine - and yes, the Cape Breton Development Corporation has taken the direction of changing the direction in the mine. Hopefully, that will increase its life but we are not sure if that will happen.

We know that the Phalen Mine, which has had a lot of geological problems over the last couple of years, is indeed a major component of the Cape Breton Development Corporation but the geological problems in Phalen are such that nobody knows just when another problem is going to happen. We have had rock outbursts, one of the only mines in North America that actually suffered rock outburst problems. We have had very major, severe roof-falls, falls that have never been seen in the industry before by people who have worked at it a long time.

Now, we have been fortunate up to this point because we haven't had a loss of life and I certainly hope we never will. It was always believed by the people who worked at Phalen and in different parts of the industry that there was indeed a back-up if something did happen and that back-up was Donkin. The amount of resources in Donkin are substantial. The quality of coal, depending on who you listen to, is questionable, but the types and quality of mining that are available these days can make Donkin a feasible operation. It is well believed that Donkin is the future of the Cape Breton coal industry and, indeed, the future of the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

Let's just talk for a second and say that we stabilize our coal industry, say that we stabilize the Sysco plant in Sydney and that we maintain the levels of employment that we have there now and they continue and flourish, which would not be a bad thing and I think everybody in the House would agree that would be a good thing. But we still have a 27.4 per cent unemployment rate. That is if we can maintain what we have now, so where do we go? What is the answer?

Some will tell you that part of the answer might be a lateral from Sable Island Gas coming in to Industrial Cape Breton. What that would do is allow manufacturers to come to Industrial Cape Breton, set up shop and have a reasonable supply of a natural resource that would help make them more competitive in the international market. What happens if this

[Page 1421]

natural gas actually does have an effect on the Cape Breton Development Corporation and on the coal industry? What happens then?

The idea behind natural gas being given to Nova Scotia Power is so that it will replace expensive, offshore oil in places like Tufts Cove. That is an admirable goal and I think it is a goal that should be congratulated. What happens if they start replacing Cape Breton coal? Where do we go from there? What happens to us then as an island? What happens to our economy? It is a question that has a lot of people wondering and it is a reason why a lot of people are upset that this government has not demanded that there be a lateral line put in to Industrial Cape Breton. It is not only industrial Cape Breton that might suffer, there are also places like the South Shore and the Annapolis Valley.

I really believe and I think most members of this House would believe that this natural resource should benefit each and every Nova Scotian but at the same time, it should not put one natural resource against the other. Now I understand there are those who will jump to their feet and say, we have guarantees. If they have guarantees we would like to see them tabled. We would really like to see what the socio-economic impact is going to be on industrial Cape Breton when natural gas comes ashore. That should have been done first and foremost, but not just for Cape Breton Island, it should have been done for all parts of this province. What we are trying to do, or at least what we should be trying to do, is make sure that each and every Nova Scotian gets the best deal possible that natural gas can bring us.

So do we put our coal industry in distress, so that we can bring natural gas ashore? I don't think so. I think what we have to do is be very sure that we maintain the jobs that have supplied so many people, so many times and so many families the quality of life that they have enjoyed, working in the mines of Cape Breton. The thing we have to do, Madam Speaker, is make sure that what we are doing is not going to have an adverse effect on the economy of the Island of Cape Breton.

Regardless of what people in this House may think, if Cape Breton's economy fails, it is going to have a major impact on the economy of the Province of Nova Scotia. I know that is not what anybody in this House wants. We all want to be sure that we get the best bang for our buck.

So, Madam Speaker, I just hope that people will sit down and really seriously think about the problems that natural gas may create. Hopefully, they won't, but what if they do? What is the plan put in place by the government to tackle these problems? You are supposed to have some foresight, you are supposed to have some planning and you are supposed to have some insight into what is happening. There are many people in the industry who don't feel that that is what is going on.

[Page 1422]

If there is one thing I could ask, and certainly to the members of the Government side of this House, it is that they look very carefully at how natural gas will affect our coal industry and, more importantly, what will we do if our coal industry decides that it is going to be downsized because of natural gas coming in? Where do we go? Who do we talk to and what is the plan? Madam Speaker, there are too many people involved, there is too much at stake for anyone to be playing petty politics. I don't believe that is the case; I really want to believe that people are seriously interested in making sure that we do the best job we can. I want to thank you for the opportunity to say those few words.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I was just moved by the comments of the member for Cape Breton West on the subject of coal, to rise for just a couple of moments to add actually one perspective to the debate. I am not going to discuss in detail the views expressed by the member for Cape Breton West because I feel assured that regardless of some of the fine points of his debate that he fundamentally supports Cape Breton coal and would promote the continued use of coal, both in his private discussions and in his public debate here in the House. So I am not going to take any issue.

The one view I want to bring, and I do so because I heard the Leader of the NDP go on at great length here in the House when the Minister of Natural Resources was in estimates, about the future of Cape Breton coal and his concern for the miners and so on. I am reminded, Madam Speaker, about the views of a very prominent supporter of the New Democratic Party, in fact touted by many as a would-be star candidate here in Halifax, Mr. Howard Epstein. Mr. Epstein, who is one of the prominent members of the Party, is on record with some very disturbing views about coal.

Now these are not rumours of views, these are official submissions. As a matter of fact, I am going to give you a little quote. It is an actual quote out of a submission by Mr. Epstein. It appears on Page 12 of his submission to the Westray Inquiry, which was made on April 4, 1996, fairly recent. Now this is the star candidate of the NDP here in Halifax. I am quoting directly, Madam Speaker, "There are overwhelming problems in the Cape Breton coal mining industry. It is easy to predict that those mines will close. We also say that for environmental reasons, they and all coal mines should close.". Now that is the view of the star NDP candidate.

Madam Speaker, unlike the member for Cape Breton West, and I don't agree with the member for Cape Breton West all the time, but unlike the member for Cape Breton West, at least you know where he is on the issue. There is a real problem with the NDP trying to work both sides of the street here; in one case working one side and then, when it suits them, switching 180 degrees on the other side.

[Page 1423]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I just want to clarify, is the minister saying that I have been unclear, as the Leader of the New Democratic Party, as to my position and the position of the Party that I lead, about the coal industry in Cape Breton? Because if he is suggesting that there is some confusion or some question as to the conviction of that position, which is public, not only from my words, but also in Party policy and in other public documents, then I would like to ask the minister to simply table that. I have no problems with the remarks he is making about a member of the NDP or anyone else, because, unlike the Liberal Party, we do allow differing opinions within our Party, but we do make very clear what the position is of the Party and that is the job of the Leader, to, in fact, articulate the Party policy on those issues.

MADAM SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

The honourable Minister of Health.

MR. BOUDREAU: Madam Speaker, I certainly hope the Leader of the Third Party rises to join in this debate. As a matter of fact, I am going to specifically invite him to do that. If you will just wait a moment, I will be just another moment or two. Those are the views of a very prominent New Democratic Party supporter here in Halifax, a touted star candidate, who says that the mines are going to close and you know what? That is a good idea. Close the mines, that is what he says.

I have a specific question. If the honourable Leader of the NDP wants to join this debate, and he seemed to a moment ago, I have some very simple questions for him. Will he stand up in this debate and condemn the views of Howard Epstein? Will he condemn those views that have been publicly stated and, more to the point, will he assure the miners in Cape Breton that he will demand that Howard Epstein retract those views before he endorses him as a candidate for his Party in the upcoming election? (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: I am going to make one comment before I recognize the honourable member. We have, in the past several sessions of the House, been very careful not to use this legislative floor as an opportunity to bring other people's names into the debate when they were not here to defend themselves. Now, having said that, I think it is obvious that when a person is a political candidate, they are likely to be on the receiving end of some commentary in here. I have noticed that happening from all three Parties. I just wanted to read that point of clarification into the record.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 1424]

[2:00 p.m.]

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and participate, perhaps briefly, but, nonetheless, to participate in this debate. Let me say that the person that has been mentioned, Howard Epstein, is not a candidate for the NDP at this particular time. He has indicated some interest in running for the nomination, an interest which I have encouraged, as I have with a number of other upstanding members of this community and other communities, to run for the nomination and allow New Democrats in that particular constituency which it has been suggested the Minister of Health, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, may decide to run in. So I wonder if the Minister of Health, in throwing and trying to disparage the position of Mr. Epstein is, in fact, trying to feather his own bed here as he considers the whole question of whether to shift his attention from Cape Breton The Lakes, where the suggestion has been, certainly from his own constituents, that his chances of re-election are very slim, to Halifax Chebucto.

Let me address that question. I do not know how much clearer I need to be, other than to say that the New Democratic Party, through our policy forums, has a clear policy in support of the coal industry in Cape Breton. On record, we had the debate. It is a democratic organization and there were . . .

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: On a point of order. The question is, will he insist that all of his candidates support his coal policy?

MR. CHISHOLM: I note the Minister of Health is somewhat impatient that I get to my answer. He should remember what it is like to be in the Opposition when you are asking a question of members of government. Ministers often do not even try to get anywhere near an answer to a particular question, but I intend to address this question.

We have a party policy in support of the opening of Donkin, urging the government to invest in a feasibility study to look at the development of Donkin in the whole strategy of the three mine plan for the future of Devco. Party policy. Now how did we arrive at that? We arrived at that with some debate and some discussion. Did everybody agree with that? No. It is fair to say not everybody agreed with that. Was it an interesting debate? Absolutely, always is. I invite the Minister of Health to come to one of our policy meetings sometime and sit around. It is not like what I understand the Liberal Party does and everybody just agrees with what the Cabinet Minister says or they make their particular decisions known by - you know, they hold those discussions behind closed doors.

Let me say that that is the policy of the New Democratic Party. In terms of what I have said on the record as the Leader of that Party, I have been very clear. I represent, I am the spokesperson. That Minister of Health wants to maybe some day be the Leader of his Party, of the Liberal Party. At that point he will be the spokesperson for that Party on these matters. What I have put on the record very clearly and on many occasions, including this weekend

[Page 1425]

in Glace Bay in the riding of the Minister of Community Services, talking to many of his constituents about the whole question of the commitment with respect to the coal industry - as is the case with those issues that are clearly on the public record - that I as the spokesperson for the Party and the Party has taken positions on, that is the position of the New Democratic Party on those issues. Irrespective of what candidates, irrespective of what other MLAs may think personally, that is the position.

We are a democratic organization, you see, and we make those decisions and we are bound by them. That does not end debate. That does not mean that I would expect members of my caucus to simply be silent on issues that they want to raise, but in terms of the position of the New Democratic Party and what we would do as government, that is our position very clearly.

While I am up the member for Cape Breton Nova just wandered in and I have a little clipping here, I hope I can find it here somewhere. It talks about the position that that member took back in 1984, that is when that member too was the Leader of a political Party, it was the Cape Breton Labor Party back in those days. He was representing the views of the members of the Cape Breton Labor Party with respect to Donkin. In those days there was a move by the then Progressive Conservative federal Government to privatize Donkin. I can't seem to find that clipping but believe me when I do (Interruption) Well, the member for Cape Breton Nova wants to dismiss that, that is history. He wants to pretend that history doesn't exist, well history does exist and what a sin, I can't seem to put my hands on that. As usual, the member for Cape Breton Nova, the then Leader of the Labor Party in Cape Breton was extremely articulate in voicing his opposition to the privatization of Donkin Mine and the threat that would have to the future of the coal industry.

I was somewhat shocked I must say when I say that, given how that member has stood in this House and chided me and members of the New Democratic Party and the mineworkers for flip-flopping, I think was what he said. He said that on the one hand we supported the development of Donkin in relation to a three mine plan for the future of Devco but on the other, when there is this plan to privatize Donkin, all of a sudden we are opposed to it. I thought it was not only inaccurate, as usual, for the member of free speech but also certainly didn't reflect some of the positions that he has held in the past. Then again, that member has been all over different positions on that issue.

I see the Minister of Health is less interested now in my comments and that is fine because obviously I gave him a very clear explanation, a very clear presentation of the position of the New Democratic Party and will be when we form government after the next election.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[Page 1426]

[2:08 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[6:08 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 of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate has been chosen as announced earlier and won by the honourable Leader of the Opposition.

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works recognize the valuable input from both the businesses and residents of Nova Scotia by reinvesting some of their hard-earned tax dollars back into the sorely neglected and deplorable road conditions in the province.".

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ROAD REPAIRS: TAXES - REINVEST

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the therefore be it resolved, I am very pleased that you did read it because we think it is important that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and, in fact, this government do recognize the valuable input from both businesses and residents of Nova Scotia by reinvesting some of their hard-earned tax dollars back into the sorely neglected and deplorable roads.

We brought this resolution forward this evening in hopes that the very busy Minister of Transportation and Public Works would participate in the debate. Earlier today during Question Period - and I am pleased to see the Minister of Transportation and Public Works who is a very busy individual back in the Legislature, but earlier today (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Agriculture should look at things a little bit on the lighter side. There

[Page 1427]

is no need of getting all exercised. I apologize, I didn't realize he was in the Chamber. There is no need to read the riot act.

Earlier today during Question Period the Minister of Transportation and Public Works went into a hysterical, partisan, rhetorical rant, which he normally does. In fact, over at the Official Opposition offices we received some calls from some Liberal friends of his who thought that he was very discourteous. They thought that he was very bad-mannered and impolite. They thought there was no need for him to respond to questions that were well-placed and certainly put to the minister in a reasonable fashion, but that is an aside. I am hoping tonight the minister will tell us a little bit about how he intends and more importantly his government intends to restore the roads in this province back to a condition that is acceptable.

Now I realize that all government departments are under a budget and in fact all individuals and organizations in this province are under a budget. I know that the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Community Services, the Department of Education and Culture, and so on down the line, the Departments of Housing, Human Resources, Justice, Labour, all departments have to live within their budget.

I am pleased to see a modest increase in the Department of Transportation and Public Works' budget this year. I certainly hope that we will see some more work on the capital side of the budget. There is, certainly, a need for new pavement on many of our secondary roads, many of our gravel roads. I have been told by the district director and the area manager for the northern region that the government is really going to focus on existing paved roads. I can understand the rationale for that. I can't say that I support it, entirely, but, certainly, we have to bring our roads back into a better condition than they presently are.

About one week ago, Mr. Speaker, I tabled a document in the House, and I guess I may have misplaced it here for the purposes of tonight's debate, but I explained to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and all members of the House how the previous government, from the years 1988 until 1992, and I should submit to you that I was not a member of the government then, but you can see when you look at the constituency by constituency breakdown, you will find out that all constituencies were treated fairly in terms of highway projects.

Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt about it, Antigonish, for example, I am not going to go through the breakdown and, in fact, we even mentioned that Cape Breton The Lakes, for one example, an Opposition riding, had the fifth largest expenditure in the province and Cumberland North, for example, received some $40 million. So you can see that the government of the day tried to disperse and dispense the funds in a very fair manner.

[Page 1428]

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the maps, and I am sure that the Department of Transportation and Public Works has maps that are more easily discerned, relative to the number of dirt roads and the number of paved roads, than some of the ones that the rest of us have. You will very clearly discern that some constituencies don't have anywhere near the number of kilometres of roads that other constituencies do. But, nonetheless, I want to point out that in spite of the fact that major employers in the Musquodoboit Valley and, I guess, in the whole constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, employ hundreds of Nova Scotians and, yet, this government has completely shut out Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley from any capital projects on secondary roads. We have been completely shut out.

[6:15 p.m.]

Yes, there has been some much-needed work on the 100-Series Highways, and that is appreciable and supportable because your heaviest volume of traffic is on your 100-Series Highway, but with the largest number of kilometres of roads in the province and a heavy industrial base, I can't understand how this government, for what now is nearly the fifth construction season, has continually neglected and, in fact, abused, if you will, the taxpayers in the constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

I realize the present Minister of Transportation hasn't been in his portfolio for quite a year now, but I encourage the Minister of Transportation to look at the roads and look at them on a needs-based assessment. I know that is going to be quite difficult for the Minister of Transportation because it is my understanding that a number of our highways right across Nova Scotia are falling into a state of disrepair.

Lately there have been some good news announcements. The government seems to have found the end of the rainbow and I am glad that they have. I am hoping that the Minister of Transportation will show some goodwill towards the employers in this province, whether it is employers in the constituency of Colchester North or Cumberland South or Cape Breton North or wherever. I hope the minister recognizes that it is time to do some much-needed work on the highways across this province. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I know my time is winding down a little bit here.

I am really pleased that the member for Cumberland South, the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, is in the House tonight because he should be fighting hard on behalf of the citizens in Cumberland-Colchester to have this government tear down those tollbooths that they are erecting up there because what this government has done is create an inequity in this province where citizens in Cumberland County and Colchester County are going to have to pay a toll every time they travel up and down Highway No. 104. Yet, on the new highway, the minister in his statement allocated $23 million for the Salt Springs to Alma highway without tollbooths, and the Tory caucus is opposed to tolls. The minister is talking about certainly expending our four lane highways.

[Page 1429]

Conversely now, all the announcements exclude the mention of public-private partnerships. The minister talked a little bit about going to Great Britain but he didn't really expand on that, and he hasn't been honest with his constituents down in the South Shore. I understand from an editorial that I have before me here, and at the risk of seeming ungrateful for an election handout - and I can table this, Mr. Speaker - the people on the South Shore are saying that we, too, must ask how the government intends to pay for the twinning of Highway No. 103.

So it is nice to get up at election time and make a big, grandiose announcement that we are going to build the highway, but are you going to toll Highway No. 103? That creates inequities when you talk about tolls in one area of the province, the same highway, the same Highway No. 104. I can't understand how the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, a member who represents his people, a man from the people, can support a government that is going to impose a toll tax in his constituency. How can that member support that? I can't understand. He can't put forward a justifiable argument.

They will get up and say that safety is the number one consideration but they have found the end of the rainbow. Here is $59 million for this; $54 million for that; $23 million for that. So, Mr. Minister, in good conscience, please tell Nova Scotians what happened to your public-private partnering initiatives? That is my question. We have to know what happened to the public-private partnering initiatives. We were told that it was going to be the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel; from now on this is the way we are going to build highways.

We found out today that specifications have been modified. We are not certain; we don't want to fear-monger and say that safety has been compromised but we are saying for the Minister of the Environment's benefit that specifications have been modified. Some of the regular specs that are used, Mr. Speaker, have certainly been adjusted to accommodate the proponent on Highway No. 104. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I say that that is a hard act to follow. I mean that in the most literal sense because if that was not an act - not only was it a good act but the member delivered it very well. He kept his face straight while he was cracking all of his one-liners. To think that this member can be such (Interruptions) Well, he says he was not in then. He was not a member of the former government, but you know he obviously endorsed their practices. He endorsed their policies because he turned in his Liberal card so that he could run for them in the by-election to replace the former Minister of Transportation who had resigned to run federally and who got his backside kicked.

[Page 1430]

That same former Minister of Transportation is running again federally and I sincerely hope that the same thing happens. I have been a member of this House now for going on 13 years. You know, for that member - well, he says you have never been in government, but I am glad to be able to stand here and say that I have never been part of those kinds of shenanigans. People in this province do not want paving politics. We have seen that for years. Now what we have is the Tories trying to do the same thing that they did when in government, only in the reverse. For that member to say that the Tories when they were in power did not use paving politics; for that member to say the Tories did not penalize and try to discriminate against ridings that did not have Tory members; that member has the most creative imagination or the most selective imagination imaginable to man.

There is nobody who is a reasoned person who looks at their record, no matter how you want to cook your books, at what happened under the Tories would suggest that this former government did anything but use paving politics. When the election rolled around, out came the asphalt trucks and the graders and we have a long history in this province on the day after the election of that equipment coming to a grinding halt. (Interruptions)

Well, I have had meetings with department staff for both sides and I am not going to get into that. The point that I want to get into here is what Nova Scotians want, what Nova Scotians deserve is to expect that the government will operate like a business, in a businesslike fashion in terms of maintaining the essential infrastructure. If we have a need in this province, if we have an unsafe road in this province, the last question we should ask is what is the political stripe of the person who represents that riding. The first question we should ask is where are the greatest needs. If a person's life is going to be put at risk if they drive down a road - whether the people who live around that road are represented by Liberals, Tories or New Democrats - that should be the first priority. That should be the first priority.

Well, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley says that is a pipe dream. Well, maybe under the Tories it is a pipe dream and maybe under the Liberals it is a pipe dream, but Nova Scotians do have dreams and they have expectations as well. They expect that the government will treat them in a fair and equitable fashion. That is not too much to ask and even that member who spoke with his creative imagination, that wonderful act, is sitting back now and suggesting, well, that is really the way it should be because he says that will never change, Mr. Speaker, in his comments.

Mr. Speaker, what we have to do is we have to plan, not in an election year, to announce that all of a sudden, lo and behold, we have an extra $59 million more to put in this year to try to pave and to patch everything to get our way through an election. What we have to do is have a good, accurate assessment of what the conditions of our roads are. I have travelled on roads in many parts of this province. I say to the member for Inverness, without any hesitation, there are a lot of roads in his constituency that I consider to be in a very bad

[Page 1431]

state of repair and are dangerous because of that state of repair, a number of them secondary roads that I have gone across.

Mr. Speaker, I don't begrudge for a minute the people in that riding if some of those roads that I have driven on should happen to be repaired because they maybe need it. What I am saying is that we have to, in a conscious and a businesslike way, sit down, develop the criteria, develop points that are defendable and we have to select those roads to upgrade, to maintain, and we have to have a regular structure and we have to do it in a concise way. Then let's tell the people how our roads are and if people in a particular area are looking to have road improvements you say, look, we understand your concern, we have evaluated your road, we agree that it needs to be done, but, you know, this year we cannot do it. According to our schedule, next year or the year after we will do that project. We are giving you our commitment. This is our time line and we will do our roads and we will maintain that infrastructure in an orderly fashion, the same way as a proper business that is well run will turn around and will look at their fleet of equipment and they will say that each and every year, we will maintain or we will replace certain parts of that infrastructure so that it all stays in the best possible shape that it is and you are not hit with a huge bill every four years when there is an election.

That is what Nova Scotians expect and that is what Nova Scotians deserve from the government, not a government that is going to all of a sudden smash open the piggy banks and pour out the dollars on an election year, as appears to be what is happening again this year. When you do that, you are also allowing those roads that are in bad shape, which have those cracks where the sub-bed or the bed of the road - I am trying to think of the proper term - under it, the bed of the road and so on, the base, when you are leaving that road which has huge cracks, craters in that road to allow the water to get in because of those cracks or poor drainage underneath and you know that that needs to be done, if you wait for four years to be doing that when the election rolls around so that you can pave it to make the people happy as they drive down on their way to the polls, in the hope that that is going to help, what you are doing is causing the base to deteriorate and it can very well lead to the requirement that the whole asphalt section be torn up and a whole new base put down. It is far more costly.

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to support for one second the fanciful rhetoric and creative history that was made by the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. Not even my imagination, which can sometimes go rather far, can go so far as to suggest that the former government - I can't even repeat his lines with a straight face - tried to treat all people in this province in an equitable fashion. Not even I can say that with a straight face.

I say, Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians are sick and tired of. I suggest that any government, regardless of the political stripe, if they think that they are going to continue to participate in that kind of politics, and that is pavement politics - let the system deteriorate and only do the work in election years - that government deserves the cynicism of the people

[Page 1432]

of this province. I suggest that the people of this province deserve far better than that and no rewriting of creative history is going to change that. The worst example that this government could possibly follow is to act like the Tories before them because, indeed, the ministers, with the exception of one - I will say, Mr. Moody was the one minister in the Department of Transportation when the former government was in office that did try to look after the concerns of people regardless of their political stripe. With those comments, I will resume my seat.

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

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment the member for Sackville-Cobequid for his very kind and very fair comments, because highways across this province are not only a major corridor of opportunity for all of us but the issue of safety and integrity and needs-based assessments are very important. We have tried to show that in this administration.

[6:30 p.m.]

This year we will be spending money in Cape Breton West, over $2.5 million; in Colchester-Musquodoboit, over almost $2 million worth of work; Halifax Atlantic, almost $0.75 million; in Halifax Fairview, $1.2 million; in Halifax West, almost $1 million; in Kings North we are spending money in that area; in Pictou West, $25.8 million being spent; in Sackville-Cobequid, $2.5 million being spent.

Mr. Speaker, those are areas that are not of a political persuasion of this side of the House. It shows that roads across this province need to be looked after and that this administration is showing that fairness and balance in looking after the quality of highways for all Nova Scotians because those individual citizens need to be treated in a fair and just way. I want to compliment the member for his very kind remarks about the integrity aspect of highway construction.

The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley made it clear that the political wing of his Party would make sure that that would not be the way they would proceed, if ever elected. In fact, he made it very clear from the comments back and forth across the House that if they were ever chosen to be the governing Party that they would only fix roads in their riding. I find that absolutely deplorable and unacceptable to the taxpayers of this province. I find that almost inexcusable that a member, as the Critic for Transportation, would ever bring those comments forward to the House at this point in time.

Mr. Speaker, I have the real pleasure to be the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I am very honoured to have the responsibility to look after some 26,000 kilometres of highways and some 3,500 bridges, because they provide a fundamental value to all Nova

[Page 1433]

Scotians. Transportation infrastructure has a tremendous impact, not only on the social but on the economic lives of all of us in this great province.

A sound infrastructure drives the economy so that individuals in business can travel to and from their work. It allows individual Nova Scotians to travel across this beautiful province. It allows tourism to be able to expand and when people come to visit beautiful Nova Scotia they have a chance to drive on roads that should be considered acceptable.

They are allowing industries such as agriculture and fisheries and mining and forestry and any other manufacturing sector to be able to move their goods and services to and from the point of export and sale, allowing jobs and opportunities for Nova Scotians to expand. We are in a position, Mr. Speaker, we are poised after two decades to start rebuilding our highways and being able to do it by paying our own bills, not by borrowing from the grandchildren yet to come but by being able to pay our own way. That is a major feat in this administration and one that I hope all Nova Scotians always remember.

Mr. Speaker, some $129 million of federal-provincial money will be spent on bridges and road construction in 1997-98. That is a very substantive amount of money to be able to put into a highway infrastructure. It is being done because it is required to be done. It is being done with our own money, not borrowed money, not of the past where they would go out and do work with borrowed money but with our own money that we have.

The work that will go on this year, Mr. Speaker, will create literally thousands of jobs throughout rural Nova Scotia, which is very important for us all. Rural individuals need jobs; they don't want an unemployment cheque, they want a paycheque. Transportation, being able to spend those monies in highway activities is a very important initiative.

Mr. Speaker, the rhetoric coming from the other side talks about jobs; 25,500 new jobs created in Nova Scotia, the best performance in all of Canada in reducing the unemployment levels and that has been able to be accomplished.

This year we will be laying about 850,000 tons of asphalt and another 325,000 tons will be laid on Highway No. 104 western alignment. You can go back in any year and realize that the dollars that we are able to invest in transportation are going on the ground, on the roads, in asphalt and in gravel, creating jobs and better highways for Nova Scotians. We will be spreading about 7.5 million metric tons of gravel this year, not only on Highway No. 104 but in all the secondary roads that we have in Nova Scotia.

We are getting the work done and it is being done as I speak. We are providing hundreds of jobs for construction workers, truckers, engineers right across this province. A $59.5 million program to improve rural roads is a major initiative as a government. Better roads for Nova Scotians is key and critical for us all. Some 60 road projects will be announced over the next period of time. Thirty tenders have already gone and the work has

[Page 1434]

begun. We are working to do what we can to help rebuild our highway system in this province. Well maintained roads mean safety for Nova Scotians and safety for the ones that are driving. We have turned the corner and Nova Scotians will reap that benefit.

Let's look at the long term and the infrastructure. We need additional capital in our budgets to be able to make that requirement a possibility. Part of that requirement will come in the fact that the federal government, in our view, needs to make a national priority the highway infrastructure programs in this country and in this province and we are continually bringing that forward.

Obviously, this problem hasn't come over the last 10 months or the last three years. The problem of the depletion of the highway system has been going on for over a decade. With the demise of the rail services in Canada and in Nova Scotia, the trucking industry has increased dramatically. In fact, just on Highway No. 103, we talked about a 30 per cent increase of highway traffic in the last five years alone.

More pressure on our ageing highways is a critical issue. We have a plan and a planned response to deal with this. Managing our fiscal resources is a key issue for which we are doing to provide Nova Scotians with the kind of infrastructure they need. Money spent on our transportation infrastructure is an investment in Nova Scotia, in our people, in our industries and in our future. I have made this case to the federal Minister of Public Works on many opportunities and in fact we will be discussing this matter at the end of this month. I believe the $35 million we received this year is important and we would like to see more money from the federal government with regard to the infrastructure system we have. Nova Scotians realize the importance of that. I want to conclude, where I only have two minutes left, because I would like to have spent a lot more time on this issue.

In 1992, the capital budget under the previous government was $175 million for Transportation. Only $16.5 million was dedicated to upgrading roads. This year in 1997, we will spend $129 million for highways which is a lot less than what they were spending in that particular year. But instead of $16.5 million, we have targeted $59.5 million in upgrading roads for this province and we are doing that because we have our priorities straight, something that they have never been able to do.

We are investing in Nova Scotia to see that Nova Scotia will prosper and this province is showing the prosperity every day with the numbers of jobs and growth in our infrastructure, the unemployment and in capital investment in this province. Above all, Nova Scotians know deep down inside we are doing it by paying our own way. We don't use a credit card to go buy groceries anymore, we don't use a credit card to go and borrow money for the future, we are paying our own way. We are going to pave our own way and we are going to pave the highway system in Nova Scotia to the best of our ability to help increase the infrastructure of this province so that goods and services from agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, tourism, mining and forestry, all of those sectors in all the manufacturing of this province, tourism and

[Page 1435]

everyone else will have an opportunity to have better roads and better opportunities to meet their market requirements. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all of the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's debate.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 17 - Municipal Elections Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by several dozens of people from Queens County. They have taken it upon themselves to circulate this petition and make it known to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that they can no longer tolerate the condition of the roads in their area. The roads have deteriorated to such an extent that driving has become hazardous and they can no longer bear the added expense of maintaining personal, commercial and public vehicles. As responsible citizens they are

[Page 1436]

demanding accountability from their elected representatives, particularly the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I so table the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[6:41 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

[7:56 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mrs. Francene Cosman in the Chair.]

MADAM SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Bills reports:

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

MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, would you call upon the Opposition House Leader for tomorrow's business.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Madam Speaker, business after Question Period tomorrow will be Resolution No. 39, which deals with the broken promises of 1993; and Resolution No. 9, which deals with economic development, unemployment seriousness in Cape Breton. So that will be Opposition's Business after Question Period tomorrow.

The hours for tomorrow will be from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. (Laughter) Oh, from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

[Page 1437]

MADAM SPEAKER: From 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Madam Speaker, I tried to extend the hours but the Opposition House Leader tried to shorten them. I move that the House do now rise to sit tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 7:58 p.m.]