The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House adjourned:
June 16, 2017.

Hansard -- Mon., Dec. 1, 1997

Sixth Session

MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Educ. - A Provincial/Territorial National Youth Employment Strategy,
Hon. R. Harrison 477
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Westray Report: Gov't. (N.S.) - Response,
Hon. D. Downe 478
Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Winter Employment Program,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 480
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 186, Health: World AIDS Day - Recognize, Hon. J. Smith 483
Vote - Affirmative 483
Res. 187, DFO - Min.: Sustainable Fishery - Cooperation,
Hon. J. Barkhouse 484
Vote - Affirmative 484
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 11, Workers Compensation Act, Mr. R. Chisholm 485
No. 12, Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act, Mr. J. Holm 485
No. 13, Halifax Regional Municipality Act, Mr. J. Abbass 485
No. 14, Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ
Incorporation Act, Hon. F. Cosman 485
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 188, Health - AID: Cure - Pray, Mr. G. Moody 485
Vote - Affirmative 486
Res. 189, Health - World AIDS Day: Battle - Continue, Mr. R. Chisholm 486
Vote - Affirmative 487
Res. 190, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Highways Blocked
(C.B., Pictou, Cumb. Cos.): NSP Delayed - Investigate, Dr. J. Hamm 487
Res. 191, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Snowplowing:
Equipment & Staff (Max.) - Address, Mr. R. Russell 487
Res. 192, URB - NSP: Power Interruptions Extensive - Investigate,
Mr. R. Chisholm 488
Res. 193, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Amherst: Snowplowing Equipment
Shortage - Rectify, Mr. E. Fage 489
Res. 194, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Winter (Pre-06/12/97) Recognize:
Snowplow Operators - Recall, Mr. B. Taylor 489
Res. 195, DND - Job Cuts: Opposition - Re-Affirm, Mr. J. Holm 490
Res. 196, Pictou East MLA: Birthday - Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 491
Vote - Affirmative 491
Res. 197, Health - Paramedics: Workers Rights - Extend, Mr. R. Russell 491
Res. 198, Health - Tainted Blood: Victims (Hepatitis C) - Negotiate,
Mr. G. Moody 492
Res. 199, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - TIANS Award:
Ernie Rhuda (Yarmouth) - Congrats., Mr. R. Hubbard 493
Vote - Affirmative 493
Res. 200, Agric. - Fruit Growing Industry: Importance - Recognize,
Mr. G. Archibald 493
Vote - Affirmative 494
Res. 201, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - C.B.: Snowstorm (First) -
Ill-prepared Explain, Ms. Helen MacDonald 494
Res. 202, Housing & Mun. Affs./Econ. Dev. & Tourism -
B&B Assessments: Comm. Reps. - Nominate, Mr. D. McInnes 495
Res. 203, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - TIANS Awards: Mastodon Ridge/
N.S. Showcase (Stewiacke) - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 495
Vote - Affirmative 496
Res. 204, Educ. - Schools: Hazards (Environ./Health) Cause/Cure
Gov'ts. (N.S. Present/Previous) - Condemn, Ms. E. O'Connell 496
Res. 205, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Joy Calkin (CEO Extendicare):
Leadership (Maclean's Mag.) - Recognize, Mr. G. Archibald 497
Vote - Affirmative 497
Res. 206, Sports - Soccer: Panthers (Senior Girls' New Glasgow H.S.) -
Success Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 498
Vote - Affirmative 498
Res. 207, C.B. Nova MLA - Gov't. House Ldr. Office:
Internal Affs. Comm. - Accusations Investigate, Mr. J. Holm 498
Res. 208, Sports - Canada Summer Games: Athletes (N.S.) -
Success Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 499
Vote - Affirmative 501
Res. 209, Commun. Serv. - Child Care: Commitment - Support,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 500
Res. 210, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. No. 104 Western Alignment:
Safety Problems - Remedy, Ms. E. O'Connell 501
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. R. Russell 502
Hon. E. Lorraine 513
Hon. W. Adams 520
Mr. R. Hubbard 525
Mr. R. White 530
Adjourned debate 532
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Dec. 2nd at 1:00 p.m. 533

[Page 477]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

7:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable members, first of all I would like to give an explanation for the late start this evening. You have found, I am sure, on your desks, a copy of the Westray report. It was felt that it should be distributed before the House convenes because it would just be perhaps less disruptive than to go ahead later on. It is, as you can see, four volumes and very weighty. So each of you should have a copy on your desk.

We will now commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report entitled A Provincial/Territorial National Youth Employment Strategy.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

477

[Page 478]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, tonight I would like to speak to this House and to all Nova Scotians as minister responsible for the government's response to the Westray report.

At 5:20 on the morning of May 9, 1992, this province was rocked by one of the worst tragedies in our history - the Westray Mine disaster. That morning this province lost 26 coal miners; 26 families were left without loved ones and thousands of Nova Scotians shared in their pain and sadness.

Five years later, the memory and sadness of that day remains with us all, most especially with the families. But today also marks one of the first steps toward understanding this senseless tragedy. Today at 11:00 a.m. in Stellarton, Justice Peter Richard released his report into the Westray Mine disaster. The commissioner's report is extensive with more than 700 pages and four volumes of information. While we are just beginning to work our way through it, the overwhelming impression is that this report is thoughtful and thorough.

I would like to thank Justice Richard and his staff for their hard work and dedication in the face of challenge and complexity. This report will make a real difference in the lives of working men and women in this province. This government will see that it does.

I would also like to thank the families. They have been the ones fighting to be heard, fighting to keep the memory of Westray alive and fighting to make a difference. The families have been through hell and back. While I can never fully understand their pain, I do understand their conviction. I have sat in the same room and seen it face to face.

Earlier today the Premier established a Cabinet committee consisting of the Ministers of Labour, Natural Resources, Justice, and Housing and Municipal Affairs. Westray will be given high priority. This is not a report we will put on the shelf. This is a report we will carry with us until all the issues are addressed. We owe it to the families and we owe it to the memory of 26 miners.

This government will respond with an initial plan of action prior to Christmas. We have a lot of ground to cover and many decisions to make but we are committed to a timely response. The Westray families have waited long enough.

This government will do the right thing. We will make this province a safer place for people to earn a living and to raise their families. This morning I took a few minutes to visit the Westray memorial in Stellarton and I read the names of the 26 men once more. We can never allow another Westray. People do not go to work to die. Unfortunately, this

[Page 479]

government cannot change the past. I wish we could but we can make a difference in the future.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I make this pledge to the families. Westray will not be some vague memory of a tragic accident. It will be a living, active presence in workplaces across Nova Scotia. Your husbands, your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your friends, will never be forgotten. Every time someone wants to cut a corner or bend a rule, we will remind them there can never be another Westray and this government will not allow it. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his announcement today. I first became aware of the Westray explosion at 6:00 o'clock on the morning of May 9, 1992, when I was called to the hospital having been told there was an explosion at the mine. At 7:00 o'clock, I was at the pit-head only to be told that the hot gases coming out of the mine were still preventing anyone from entering the mine. The questions began at that time as to why.

[7:15 p.m.]

Now, the Westray report quotes a French sociologist and inspector general of mines for France in the 1800's, "The most important thing to come out of a mine is the miner.". With this in mind, today is the day to move on and take the recommendations of Justice Richard and ensure swift action. I have faith that this government is sincere in its commitment to respond by Christmas through the Cabinet committee it announced today. This is the very least we owe to the memory of those 26 young men who lost their lives on May 9, 1992, as well as their families who carry on five and one-half years later.

The blame has been squarely and widely laid after 77-some days of testimony from over 70 witnesses. There was corporate, political and bureaucratic mismanagement. The information from the inquiry, two years in the making, allows us to look at the mistakes and allows us to put in place procedures to ensure that such a calamity is never allowed to happen again. Justice Richard has closed his book. Now it is time for government to act to right this tragedy. There need never be another Westray.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's statement. Let me just say that I was pleased to receive and to hear the recommendations of the commissioner today. The responsibility with respect to this disaster was clearly laid at the feet of both the government and the company. The recognition that the miners played no part in that was an important one for the miners who are still there in that community, and for the families of those who died.

[Page 480]

Mr. Speaker, this committee that has been formed will clearly be judged on its actions. The families, the miners and the people of Nova Scotia demand action, from this government, on those recommendations. I must say that we need to dispel at least two myths right off the top. Number one, we need to dispel the myth that there have been big improvements in workplace health and safety in the Province of Nova Scotia since 1992. That is not, in fact, the case. There are still problems out there, very serious problems. We have an Act right now that is improved, but we still have many outstanding regulations that have not been passed, and we still have not put the resources towards inspection and enforcement to ensure that all those in workplaces recognize that it is not good enough to pay lip service anymore to workplace health and safety.

The second myth, Mr. Speaker, is that the way to create economic growth is to drive down employment costs, reducing wages, benefits, and employment security of employees. All that does is that it reduces employees options, putting them in a position where many of those miners were, where they felt completely insecure in terms of their working conditions. We must ensure that from this day forward the workers in the Province of Nova Scotia understand and feel confident that they can say, no, when faced with unhealthy and unsafe conditions at work.

Finally, let me say, that today the provincial government must change direction, Mr. Speaker. The government must take responsibility and start to build an economy where workers never choose, no more should workers choose between their job or their life.

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

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, job creation is top priority for this government. In the past year, several new companies have invested in Nova Scotia and created work for Nova Scotians; companies like Orenda, MacDonald Peat Moss and AT&T Canada and existing business such as Stora in Point Tupper are reinvesting in this province. It has become apparent to everyone that Nova Scotia is a great place to do business. These businesses all offer evidence that our economy is working and that confidence in Nova Scotia is rising.

Nova Scotians are also creating their own jobs. In the past four years, the Community Business Loan Program has helped create and maintain more than 2,000 jobs and started over 350 successful small businesses. With 80 per cent of all new jobs being created by smaller companies, it is apparent that small business is big business in Nova Scotia. However, Mr. Speaker, we all know that some areas of the province are not experiencing the same opportunities for growth. The metro area has a lot going for it but some counties are not so lucky. Life in our rural communities can be difficult, and with the approach of winter, life can be more difficult still.

[Page 481]

That's why I am pleased to announce the Winter Employment Program. (Applause) This program, Mr. Speaker, is designed to help people in the hardest hit areas to get back to work. The Winter Employment Program will help create a total of 1,625 jobs for people in this province, beginning in early January. One component of the program, Nova Scotia Works, is targeted at areas of province where there is higher unemployment, namely the Counties of Victoria, Richmond, Inverness, Cape Breton, Digby, Guysborough and the Eastern Shore of Halifax County. The provincial government will partner with business, non-profit organizations and other levels of government to provide 500 jobs in these areas. Economic Development and Tourism will assist in providing a wage subsidy to qualified employers who create job opportunities between January and June 1998.

The Winter Employment Program has several components, with each component leading to jobs for Nova Scotians. We are partnering with Community Services and other provincial government departments to fund a Youth Service Learning Action Pilot Project. This project will provide learning and work experience options for 100 out-of-school youth. The Public Sector Employment Program is creating jobs within government departments for another 40 people. The Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs will provide funding for 325 jobs at the regional housing authorities.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize my colleagues, the Honourable Guy Brown, Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, and the Honourable Francene Cosman, Minister of Community Services, for their assistance in creating jobs for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

Early in the new year, Mr. Speaker, our partners at the Department of Community Services and Human Resources Development Canada will join me to launch two new employment programs. These programs are focused on sustainable job creation. While the finishing touches are still being added to these programs, I can tell you that we expect them to lead to an additional 660 jobs for Nova Scotians. So watch for a further announcement on these exciting initiatives early in the new year.

Mr. Speaker, when all projects are up and running, they will amount to $3,900,000. That is a $3.9 million investment in the Winter Employment Program by Economic Development and Tourism and its funding partners. I am sure all members will agree that the program will foster much-needed economic activity in the seven regions and perhaps the coming holiday season will be a little bit more encouraging for many Nova Scotians. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

DR. JOHN HAMM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for providing a copy of his remarks in advance. This is, I guess, what one could say a good news-bad news announcement. The good news is that 1,600 people who are currently unemployed will find employment this winter, particularly in those areas of the province that have the highest

[Page 482]

unemployment rates. The bad news is that this announcement was really needed; really needed, Mr. Speaker, because this government has failed to create employment in rural Nova Scotia. Small communities are getting smaller as young people are forced to leave our small communities right across this province and seek employment elsewhere. Statistics released recently back up my statement that rural Nova Scotia is shrinking and withering on the vine because this government cannot create the kind of economic opportunities that allow our young people to stay.

Now, the minister made reference to seven counties that will benefit from this program. I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, very strongly, that every county in rural Nova Scotia needs such a program, because our young people are leaving and cannot get full-time year-round jobs that will allow them to stay in those communities. The minister knows full well of what I speak.

This government came to power with approximately 60,000 unemployed Nova Scotians and promising to put them back to work not with a Winter Works Program but with year-round full-time employment. And what happens? We still have a fluctuating number around 60,000 unemployed Nova Scotians, some almost five years later. So this government has come to power on false pretenses, the false pretenses that it could solve the economic woes of Nova Scotia. This country, in the four and one-half years this government has been in power, has been on an economic freight train of growth and this province has failed to get on board.

I do welcome the minister's announcement. It is a welcome announcement to the almost 60,000 unemployed Nova Scotians who are out there looking for full-time work. This will be a stopgap measure but let's not fool ourselves, it is that and that alone, a stopgap measure, a band-aid for chronic unemployment in rural Nova Scotia that is crippling this province. Thank you.

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

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to comment on the ministerial statement presented by the honourable Minister of Economic Development and Tourism. Certainly, coming from Cape Breton, every job is a welcome job. Unfortunately, that is a statement we have to make all of the time on that Island. It certainly is a recognition that the economy in Cape Breton is far from a stable economy. The job prospects in Cape Breton continue to be extremely weak.

I wish that the statements that were being made tonight were ones that would bring more security in the job market in Cape Breton and ones that would be jobs that people could look forward to as being jobs that would last, so that people could get on and plan their lives in Cape Breton. What we would dearly like to have there would be a stable job market and

[Page 483]

stable job force. As this government has not been able to bring that to us we certainly, as I said in the beginning, welcome each and every job that comes to Cape Breton. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 186

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

Whereas December 1st is World AIDS Day; and

Whereas HIV/AIDS continues to affect individuals and families in communities across Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Department of Health is pleased to help launch today a renewal of the province's AIDS Strategy with our partners in government and the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly commit to the importance of recognizing World AIDS Day and support the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS through prevention, education and research.

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

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 Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could make a brief introduction, relevant to the resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Carry on Minister of Health.

[Page 484]

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to introduce through you and to the House this evening in the east gallery the Chairman of the AIDS Coalition, Wilson Hodder, accompanied by Eric Smith, a long-time AIDS activist and a member of our department, and also accompanied by Deborah Keays, who is Director of Public Health and Health Promotions. They are here tonight in recognition of World AIDS Day and I would like to have extended to them the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 187

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

Whereas the House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans held public meetings in Sambro and Shelburne on November 29th; and

Whereas the presenters spoke with a common voice about the adverse consequences of consolidation and privatization of the fishery resources; and

Whereas the cumulative impacts of user fees are crippling many independent fish harvesters and processors;

Therefore be it resolved that the federal Minister of Fisheries and Oceans take time to work with the province, industry and community-centered organizations to develop a vision, a policy framework and appropriate legislation which supports a sustainable fishery and strengthens the capacity of coastal communities to survive, diversify and prosper.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver 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

.

[Page 485]

[7:30 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 11 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Workers Compensation Act. (Mr. Robert Chisholm)

Bill No. 12 - Entitled an Act Respecting Fair Marketing Practices in the Sale of Gasoline and Diesel Oil. (Mr. John Holm)

Bill No. 13 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 3 of the Acts of 1995. The Halifax Regional Municipality Act. (Mr. Jay Abbass)

Bill No. 14 - Entitled an Act to Enable Congregations and Other Incorporated Bodies of the Christian Churches, the Churches of Christ and the Disciples of Christ to Incorporate. (Hon. Francene Cosman as a private member.)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 188

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

Whereas over 400 Atlantic Canadians and millions of people around the world face an uncertain future and suffer the physical and emotional pain of living with the deadly AIDS virus; and

Whereas AIDS does not discriminate, attacking men and women, young and old, rich and poor and people of all colours, creeds and religions; and

Whereas today is World AIDS Day, a time to remember those who have lost their battle with AIDS and to comfort those who are today suffering;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature take a moment of silence to pray together for a cure for this deadly disease; that we remember in our prayers those who have died from it, their friends and families; and further, that we take a moment to comfort all of those who presently suffer from this mean and unforgiving disease.

[Page 486]

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

You did request a moment of silence and prayer. Would all members please stand.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 189

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

Whereas today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day; and

Whereas despite efforts such as Nova Scotia's AIDS strategy, 2,500 to 3,000 new cases of HIV infection are reported each year in Canada; and

Whereas around the world the number of reported AIDS cases is growing at an even faster rate, particularly in developing countries;

Therefore be it resolved that on this World AIDS Day this House urges a firm re-commitment to the battle against AIDS at the local, national and international levels.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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.

[Page 487]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 190

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

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians were without power following the most damaging storm to Nova Scotia's power system in 15 years on Thursday of last week; and

Whereas despite working around the clock, crews were unable to reach certain areas affected by the power outage because roads were not sufficiently cleared to allow crews to begin work on restoring power; and

Whereas areas affected included Cape Breton, Pictou and Cumberland Counties, including Advocate, where approximately 800 residents were without power for a total of 55 hours between Thursday and Sunday morning;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately begin an investigation into why so many highways remained blocked for such extended periods of time, thus preventing crews from reaching areas affected by the power disruptions.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 191

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

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is abdicating his responsibility as minister by allowing safety to deteriorate with a lack of adequate snowplowing and salting on Nova Scotia's highways and secondary roads; and

Whereas a school bus slipped off a road in my constituency of Hants West earlier this afternoon, sending 40 children to hospital; and

[Page 488]

Whereas fortunately the injuries sustained were minor; the road conditions at the time of the accident were very poor and could have been much improved with additional salting and more frequent snowplowing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately move to address what has become a very serious safety issue and get all the winter equipment and personnel onto provincial highways immediately so that the residents of Hants West and all Nova Scotians can feel secure in their travels.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 192

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

Whereas Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other spent many hours in the cold and dark as a result of power interruptions caused by last week's winter storm; and

Whereas many of those Nova Scotians say their predicament was not just the fault of the weather but was also because Nova Scotia Power downsizing has left the utility without enough workers to deal with such emergencies; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the private monopoly, NSP, is providing adequate service to its customers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join many Nova Scotians in urging the URB to conduct an investigation into the lengthy power interruptions that caused so much concern and inconvenience to Nova Scotians this past weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

[Page 489]

RESOLUTION NO. 193

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

Whereas snow clearing equipment was removed from the Amherst area to plow the private sector operated tolled highway known as the Cobequid Pass during last Thursday's blizzard; and

Whereas the forecast for the Amherst area is presently calling for up to 35 centimetres of snow before this present system passes; and

Whereas there is presently a shortage of equipment at the Amherst depot to properly handle the plowing of the Cobequid Pass, the Trans Canada Highway from Amherst to Oxford, as well as local secondary roads in the Amherst area in a timely and safe manner when these dangerous snowstorms occur;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works immediately move to rectify the shortage of snowplowing equipment in the Amherst area and place public safety on our highways during and after snowstorms as the number one priority.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 194

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

Whereas Nova Scotians were hit today with the third significant snowfall of the year; and

Whereas despite the amount of snowfall Transportation and Public Works crews are being forced to work extra long hours because of the Savage-MacLellan Government's refusal to bring back all winter plow operators; and

Whereas this refusal is placing the lives of motorists in jeopardy because of unplowed roads and slick winter driving conditions;

[Page 490]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works stop being hidebound by the bureaucracy of his department, recognize that winter started earlier than December 6th this year and realize that Nova Scotians are now in the grip of old man winter and immediately recall winter snowplow operators to service Nova Scotia's highways.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 195

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

Whereas Nova Scotia with just over 3 per cent of the Canadian population has been hit harder than any other province, absorbing 16 per cent of federal spending cutbacks; and

Whereas further job cuts and privatization planned by the Department of National Defence will do even more harm to Nova Scotia communities and local Nova Scotia businesses; and

Whereas the Premier has said that he, "will not accept the further reduction of federal jobs in Nova Scotia";

Therefore be it resolved that this House reaffirms its opposition to further reduction of federal jobs in this province, including the reduction and privatization of civilian and military jobs by the Department of National Defence and that Mr. Speaker, on behalf of this House, convey this position to the Prime Minister and the Minister of National Defence.

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

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice and passage without debate.

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

[Page 491]

RESOLUTION NO. 196

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

Whereas the honourable member for Pictou East ably represents the people of his constituency, as demonstrated by the eloquent delivery of his Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne; and

Whereas the honourable member is known for his many phone calls to members' offices, homes and cell phones, which are often of a teasing and humorous nature; and

Whereas the honourable member for Pictou East just celebrated his 42nd birthday on Saturday, November 29th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join me in extending birthday congratulations while embarrassing the honourable member for Pictou East.

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

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 197

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

Whereas paramedics across Nova Scotia provide an important and vital public service; and

Whereas paramedics are not given the same basic rights and protection under the Minimum Wage Order, the Labour Standards Code and the Workers' Compensation Act as most other working Nova Scotians; and

[Page 492]

Whereas many paramedics in rural Nova Scotia continue to work up to 120 hours per week under difficult working conditions, putting the safety of patients at risk;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health meet with representatives of the NSGEU and representatives of rural paramedics not presently members of the NSGEU to discuss work-related concerns and, further, that he urge the Minister of Labour and the Chief Executive Officer of the Workers' Compensation Board to move quickly in extending the rights and protection afforded other Nova Scotian workers to Nova Scotia's paramedics.

[7:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 198

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

Whereas the Krever Report clearly demonstrated Canada's blood system failed its users and condemned many to death, suffering, and shortened lives full of physical and emotional pain; and

Whereas the Krever Report recommended that compensation for years of suffering and pain be extended to cover hepatitis C victims who contracted tainted blood; and

Whereas this Liberal Government continues to sacrifice dignity, fairness, justice and what is right to concerns over the bottom line when, time and time again, it found cause and threw millions at wasteful expenditures including compensation for wrongfully dismissed bureaucrats;

Therefore be it resolved that this Liberal Government immediately negotiate a fair and just settlement with hepatitis C victims tainted by Canada's deadly blood system and, further, that it acknowledge that the excuses it has used to date are an insult to the intelligence of Nova Scotians who want and expect their government to be accountable, just and compassionate.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

[Page 493]

RESOLUTION NO. 199

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia Awards were given out on the evening of Tuesday, November 25th; and

Whereas among the awards given out was the Travel Trade Award; and

Whereas Ernie Rhuda of Yarmouth received the Travel Trade Award for his many years of service in developing and guiding tours throughout this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Assembly congratulate Mr. Rhuda for his contributions to tourism in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I would 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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 200

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 Nova Scotia fruit growers are holding their annual meeting in Kentville this week; and

Whereas of the nearly 9,000 acres of tree fruit harvested annually in Nova Scotia, the farmgate value, processing and fresh market sector's estimated value is between $60 million and $70 million annually; and

[Page 494]

Whereas the Nova Scotia fruit growers are at the forefront of modern technology in high density orchards, in finding new and better varieties of apples to grow while also leading the way in technology towards marketing of their product;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature understand the significant importance of the Nova Scotia fruit growing industry and wish them the very best as they begin debate on issues of vital importance to their sector and to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to 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 Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 201

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

Whereas in proclaiming Winter Safety Day in this House on November 25th, the Minister of Transportation declared that winter sometimes sneaks up very unexpectedly; and

Whereas winter snuck up unexpectedly on the Department of Transportation in Cape Breton and other Nova Scotian communities; and

Whereas the government's lack of readiness placed countless Cape Bretoners and others at risk for extensive lengths of time, depriving them of medical and other necessary services;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation explain to this House how it was that despite the minister's enthusiasm for winter safety, his department was so ill-prepared for the first snowstorm of the season in Cape Breton.

[Page 495]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 202

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

Whereas the tax assessment policy on bed and breakfasts has been autocratically and unequally applied to some bed and breakfasts and not to others; and

Whereas this was brought to the attention of the Liberal Government months ago and it is still unresolved; and

Whereas representatives from the bed and breakfast industry and TIANS have been asking the Departments of Housing and Municipal Affairs and Economic Development and Tourism to form a joint committee to work together to find a satisfactory resolution to this matter;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs and the Economic Development and Tourism Minister immediately nominate representatives to this committee, with a view to resolving this matter before the year's end.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the House, if I could with your indulgence, that the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, Edward Lorraine, the representative for Colchester North, was very fortunate and lucky over the weekend. The honourable member, in support of the Nova Scotia Truckers' Association and the IWK Early Intervention, won a 1998 Ford 4 x 4 150 half ton. Congratulations, I think we should recognize the luck of the honourable member. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 203

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

[Page 496]

Whereas tourism is an extremely important industry in Nova Scotia and will bring $1 billion in receipts this year; and

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia honoured its best and brightest at a recent dinner; and

Whereas the Mastodon Ridge and Nova Scotia Showcase of Stewiacke took the attractions award;

Therefore be it resolved that congratulations be extended to Mastodon Ridge and Nova Scotia Showcase of Stewiacke, as well as all of the recipients in the other categories for being the best in the business, together with every wish for an even brighter 1998.

I request waiver of notice, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice, which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 204

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 yet another school, Sir John A. MacDonald, in Hubley, has been shut down because of environmental problems; and

Whereas the regular closings of schools due to environmental hazards and health risks is caused by years of Tory mismanagement of education, leading to deferred maintenance; and

Whereas this Liberal Government has failed to deal with the problem but, instead, holds out the false solution of P3 schools;

[Page 497]

Therefore be it resolved that the House condemn the previous Tory Government for creating the problem of sick schools and the current Liberal Government for proposing a cure for the problem that is as bad as the disease.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 205

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

Whereas Maclean's Magazine recently headlined Canada's top women chief executive officers; and

Whereas women account for only 2 per cent of CEOs among Canada's top 500 companies but 45 per cent of the labour force; and

Whereas Joy Calkin, a native of Kentville, Nova Scotia, is President and CEO of Extendicare and is one of the few women to head a large, publicly traded Canadian company;

Therefore be it resolved that Joy Calkin be recognized and congratulated for her leadership and be extended every wish for a continued long and successful career.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver of notice, which requires unanimous consent.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 498]

RESOLUTION NO. 206

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

Whereas New Glasgow High School played host to the 1997 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Soccer Championships; and

Whereas the New Glasgow High Panthers competed with teams from West Pictou, Liverpool and Amherst; and

Whereas the Panthers won the Senior High School Girls' Division II Provincial Championships;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the high calibre of soccer displayed by the Panthers and extend congratulations to the players, their coaches and managers, as well as their families.

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

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. 207

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 member for Cape Breton Nova, the Government House Leader who wasn't, first denied knowledge of his new office and then admitted that he had seen three but that none, including the one with the panoramic view of the Grand Parade and Halifax Harbour, were suitable for a person who holds such a senior rank in government; and

[Page 499]

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova has suggested the office was the Premier's idea but the Premier said it was the idea of the member for Cape Breton Nova; and

Whereas the member for Cape Breton Nova, while saying he wouldn't put anything past New Democrats, made serious allegations by suggesting they may have put the lettering on the door of the office which reads, House of Assembly Government House Leader;

Therefore be it resolved that this House calls upon the Internal Affairs Committee to investigate the accusations of the member for Cape Breton Nova and report back within seven days outlining any disciplinary action to be taken against New Democrats in this House.

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

MR. SPEAKER: I heard many Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 208

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I will be asking for waiver of notice.

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Canada Summer Games Team had their best finish in the history of the summer games since this national competition was first held in Halifax in 1969; and

Whereas Nova Scotia athletes brought home a total of 33 medals from Brandon, Manitoba; and

Whereas Nova Scotia athletes put their hearts and souls into achieving their outstanding accomplishments;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature extend our very best wishes to those Nova Scotian athletes who participated in Brandon this summer and wish them every success in the future while acknowledging the dedication and hard work they put towards making all Nova Scotians proud of their individual and team setting achievement.

[Page 500]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 209

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

Whereas the government has said it is committed to assisting parents who are attempting to move from social assistance to the workforce; and

Whereas in a November 10th radio interview the Minister of Community Services suggested the province can't afford more subsidized child care and will not use the windfall savings from the increased Child Tax Benefit to fund child care spaces; and

Whereas on Saturday, November 29, 1997, the Child Care Advocacy Association at its conference, Speaking Out for Child Care, pointed out the obvious - that if the government succeeds in its plan to help parents move into the workforce there will be no one at home to look after the kids;

Therefore be it resolved that this government support its own policy direction and reconfirm its commitment to affordable, accessible, high quality child care as a prerequisite to assisting parents to move from social assistance to the workforce.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, could you call Resolution No. 208 and ask for unanimous consent?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, I was expecting the honourable member for Cumberland North to request waiver of notice. Did you indeed do that?

MR. ERNEST FAGE: Yes, I did request it, Mr. Speaker. I requested it before I read the motion.

MR. SPEAKER: I am sorry, I missed on it then.

MR. FAGE: I apologize.

[Page 501]

MR. SPEAKER: It requires unanimous consent.

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. 210

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 December 1st marks a sad day in the history of Nova Scotia, namely the imposition of tolls upon those who travel a 45 kilometre section of the Queen's highway; and

Whereas it is clear that the new toll highway has done nothing to create a safer voyage for motorists travelling over the Cobequid Mountains; and

Whereas the sole justification for the tolls and the exorbitantly higher costs of this government's P3 Highway No. 104 was that it would be safer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Liberal Government to announce what it intends to do to remedy the safety problems that became apparent even before the official opening of the toll road.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Before we move on to Orders of the Day, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel on an introduction.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[8:00 p.m.]

DR. EDWIN KINLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw attention to a visitor in the gallery, Mr. Peter Delefes, who in addition to be a well respected teacher in Halifax, was the New Democratic Party candidate in the recent Halifax Citadel by-election. I would like to recognize him. (Applause)

[Page 502]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tonight I would like to commence by speaking on fiscal matters. I would like to address the claim made by this government opposite that over the past four years they have achieved some kind of a financial miracle in coming down to a position whereby this year, supposedly, they are finally going to have a balanced budget.

There are several ways in which a government can balance a budget. Number one, of course, is they can increase taxes and if they increase revenues well quite obviously they are going to reduce whatever deficit they have and they can indeed show a surplus. Another way that they can reduce a deficit is to fire a whole bunch of civil servants because we know that the cost of maintaining a civil service is quite expensive, in fact, it is one of the major expenses of government. If they chop a whole bunch of civil servants then again, they will cut expenditures and in consequence they can reduce their deficit. A third way that they can reduce a deficit is to cut expenditures on programs. You can slash hospitals and cut funding to schools, cut funding under social services, you let the roads in the province go to rack and ruin, you can provide limited access to legal services and on and on. Those are a variety of ways in which a government can balance a budget. I am happy to advise the House and all Nova Scotians that this government has taken on all three to demonstrate to the people of Nova Scotia that we can have a balanced budget.

They would tell us, of course, that no, you are wrong, we have balanced the budget because we are superior financial managers. We have had two superior financial managers in the eyes of the government, one is our present Minister of Finance and the other one was the past Minister of Finance who has now gone on to better things in the private sector.

[Page 503]

If we just address the problem of how the government gets extra money, I think I can demonstrate very clearly how this government has balanced the budget, not because of superior fiscal management but just simply because of the fact that they have obtained massive, and I mean massive, increase in revenues. As a for instance, between 1993 and 1997 this government has accumulated $970 million in extra equalization payments alone. I am not talking about the normal equalization payments, I am talking about additional equalization payments that this government has received over the past four years. They have received additional equalization payments because they have done a lousy job of governing this province. They have operated far below the average Canadian province and in consequence, we have become a welfare recipient from the Government of Canada and we have received $970 million in additional equalization payments over the past four years and that is pretty close to $1 billion.

On top of that they have saved substantial dollars due to the fact that universally across the whole of North America, the rates of interest have gone down. When the rates of interest fall, the payments on the debt fall. The debt is there and you have to pay interest. If you get a drop of 1 per cent in the interest rates, you are saving something like $10 million in equalization. Mr. Speaker, I am happy to tell you and I am happy to tell Nova Scotians that over the past four years we have saved $447 million, total, in the cost of servicing the debt, so now we are up to something like almost $1.4 billion; in fact a little bit over $1.4 billion that we have saved just in those two areas. I am glad the minister is taking notes because I am sure he is going to go back and check his books, and it is in the book.

There is another item in the Estimates Book of the Province of Nova Scotia, and it is called Prior Years' Adjustments. Now, Prior Years' Adjustments is funding that comes to the province indirectly because of a shortfall in payments on equalization; in other words, the federal government sends down a letter to the Minister of Finance every year and says that this year your entitlement to equalization is $1 billion, and the government says, fine, and they plug that into their budget. However, if the federal government has made a mistake because the province's Gross Domestic Product, the province's economic activity, has been lower than it was the previous year, well then you get a Prior Years' Adjustment; they send you some more bucks.

How much have we gotten in Prior Years' Adjustments over the last four years? We have gotten $189 million additional, so now we are up to approximately $1.6 billion so far in this little tax grab. Well, it isn't a tax grab, it is a gift grab to the Province of Nova Scotia. That is one way that the government can get revenue; they get it by being a welfare case in this country and receiving funding from the federal government. The other way they can get money is to raise taxes.

Mr. Speaker, you remember when this government came into power in 1993, the then Premier of this province, when he was asked the question by Mr. Nunn from the CBC, will you raise taxes if you form the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia, stood up and

[Page 504]

said, no. He was then asked by Mr. Nunn in a television interview, will you raise existing taxes, and he said, no. Well, let's just see what has happened to taxes over the past four years. We know, for instance, that within about four months of taking office, they whacked on $75 million of extra taxes on the people of Nova Scotia. If he had just accepted that $75 million over this past four years, that alone would come to $300 million. But that is only the sharp end of the stick.

AN HON. MEMBER: The tip of the iceberg.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, the tip of the iceberg. We have picked up almost $0.5 billion, almost $500 million over the past four years in increased taxes; that is, personal, corporate, and taxes on such things as used vehicles, the transitional tax on vehicles and the tax on gambling, et cetera, which all add up to something in the order of $500 million that they have accumulated over the last four years. On top of that, Mr. Speaker, when our present Premier was in Ottawa and he approved the harmonization tax, this province got a bribe from the federal government amounting to about $270 million.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. When we are talking about the harmonized sales tax, I believe "bribe" is unparliamentary and he should withdraw it.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it was not a bribe, it was an incentive payment under the table to the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The words "under the table" are unparliamentary. That is not acceptable, honourable member.

MR. RUSSELL: I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, okay, over the table to the Province of Nova Scotia, about $269 million to sign the harmonized sales tax agreement. Now, that harmonized sales tax, that $269 million additional boost that they got was to come to the Province of Nova Scotia over four years. However, the federal government this last fiscal year had a very good year. Mr. Paul Martin had money coming out of his ears, he had so much money coming in. So, he said that what we are going to do is we are going to pay it all in a lump sum to the Province of Nova Scotia and you can hold the money and you can also draw the interest on that money. So Nova Scotia gets that $269 million which was to have been paid over four years and now our Minister of Finance says to the federal Minister of Finance, how much can we spend each year? The federal Minister of Finance said, well, I don't care. He said, you have the money, you do whatever you want with it. So this government, this year, has wacked off almost $120 million, almost 50 per cent of that incentive payment that they got from the federal government.

[Page 505]

So you add all these numbers together, Mr. Speaker, and what do you get? You get well over $2 billion. In fact, you get $2.2 billion in additional money that this government has reaped from either increasing taxes or in gifts from the federal government. Divide that by four years and you have an annual amount coming into the province in additional revenues of $500 million per year. Now it wouldn't matter even if the NDP were in power and they were getting $500 million a year extra, they would probably manage to balance the budget. They would have difficulty, but they would probably do it.

So, Mr. Speaker, what I am saying, and I make my case and my case can be demonstrated clearly from the numbers in the books, that this government, in getting down to a supposed surplus position this year, has not done that by any magic or by any great managerial skills, any great investment strategy. They have done it strictly due to the fact that they have managed to get additional funding from the federal government and from the taxpayers of Nova Scotia.

So, Mr. Speaker, I think that if this government wishes to go to the polls and claim, one of the reasons you should vote for us is because we look after your money so well, we should tell them directly, we are going to throw you out because you are wastrels, you have wasted $500 million per year that you have gotten in additional funding and why do I say that? Because this government has let the health care system in this province go to rack and ruin because they said we had to balance the budget. They have let the education system in this province go down the drain because we had to balance the budget. They have let go thousands of civil servants because we had to balance the budget. They have let our roads go to rack and ruin. We have potholes, we are not even getting snow removal at the present time in this province because this government has to balance the budget.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it just ain't on and people are not going to be fooled. They know. They know darn well that this government has had the funding to do that but this government has frittered that money away. They have frittered that money away because if you talk to people now and ask them, what do you think of the health care system you have, what do you think of the health care that you can get today? They will say it is lousy. Ask them if it was better in 1993, before these characters came into power, and they will say yes, it was better. Yet today, they are spending more money on health care than we did back in 1993 and yet you can't get a bed. In the Hants Community Hospital, they have people lying on stretchers in the corridors. We had six people there over the weekend, on stretchers, because there were no beds. What kind of a health care system is that? We have a health care system where we don't have doctors for thousands and thousands of people in this province. It is wrong, it is bad, it shouldn't be allowed to happen.

We have problems with our schools across this province, Mr. Speaker. Only now, with an election coming up, is the Premier getting to his feet and saying, oh, you want a school? Sure you can have a school. We have schools going up all around the province. Where did

[Page 506]

all the money come from all of a sudden? Well, he is going to go out and borrow some to buy these schools.

Mr. Speaker, the same thing applies to the roads in this province. The secondary roads in this province are a disgrace and I mean an absolute disgrace. I can remember back when I first ran for this House in 1974 and I was complaining about the roads then. That was also under a Liberal Government, incidentally, and at that time the roads were pretty bad but not as bad as they are today. They are in terrible shape. But this year, the Minister of Transportation gets to his feet and says, don't worry, I am going to let the tenders early for next year. We are going to have all kinds of roads. Of course, he is saying this knowing full well that this group has to go to the polls some time before May, probably February or March they will go trotting off to the polls and after that, well, then they won't be around. But even if they were around they would be saying, well, you know, the money just isn't in the Treasury. Sorry, we can't do it any more. That is what the story is going to be. The story from this government is promises, promises, promises - promises that they are not going to fulfil and the public will not know about it until after the next election.

[8:15 p.m.]

The other subject that I would like to speak on - How much time do I have left, by the way?

MR. SPEAKER: You have approximately 25 minutes.

MR. RUSSELL: Good heavens, I have lots of time.

The next subject I would like to speak about is what this province has done to rural communities. The strength of Canada and the strength of Nova Scotia is the strength we have in our small communities. It is not the big cities. It is not the big urban areas. It is those small centres scattered around this province. What makes a community? A community is a very simple structure. It is one in which there are certain things that people expect to receive service from within that geographical area. Normally, you have to have a post office. Normally, you have to have a gas station. Normally, you have to have a grocery store. There are other things that the government, either directly or indirectly, is responsible for. One is probably the local hospital.

In the small communities around this province people used to feel an ownership in their hospital. They did not used to talk about the government's hospital in their town. They used to talk about our hospital in the town. Why do you think they had the impression that they owned the hospital? I will tell you. The reason they thought they owned the hospital was that in the majority of cases they had paid for the hospital. This government came along and grabbed it, took it away from the local community, and gave it to a regional board miles and miles down the tracks and gave them no voice in the operation of their hospital.

[Page 507]

Women's auxiliaries - I guess they are not women's auxiliaries anymore - or auxiliaries of hospitals that have raised thousands of dollars to equip those hospitals are now faced with the fact that if they provide any more funds for that hospital it will go to the provincial government. People in small communities in this province are angry. They are angry, they are mad, and they are going to demonstrate just how mad they are early next year. They are mad because it was their hospital and now they do not even have a say in what that hospital is going to deliver. They do not even have a say as to whether that hospital is going to continue in existence. They do not have a say in anything.

Regional boards might be fine for a government that thinks globally and thinks all about Halifax, but I am telling you, in the small communities it is just not cutting the ice. The people in small communities want to get back control of the medical services within their province. They want to take back their hospitals. They want the powers that are presently being given to the regional boards back in the community in the hands of a community hospital board where they can meet, maybe once a week or once a month, and they can discuss what is going on at the hospital; what complaints they have with the local hospital, what personnel they want at the hospital, how much funding they want, what programs they are going to have at the hospital. It is their hospital. It does not belong to a regional board, for instance in Halifax. In my area the regional board down here controls the Hants Community Hospital but it does not belong to the city; it belongs to the town. That is number one.

The second thing that makes a community is a place for the education of their young people. It is very important that they have schools; they have up-to-date schools; they have an adequate number of teachers; they have the right number of classrooms; they have the books and the other equipment that goes along to provide education for the young people. This government has been remiss, sadly remiss, in handling the education system. They keep talking about superschools. I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, most people do not care too much about superschools. What they care about is the school in their own community where Johnny and Mary go every day. That is the school that they are concerned about. They want Johnny and Mary to be able to get to school - if they have to go on a school bus, to get there safely. They want Johnny and Mary to have a teacher who is fully qualified and compassionate and provides good education for them. They want to have the necessary textbooks in the school. They want to have the necessary gymnasium and sports activities available to their children.

It is very important that people have a direct say in the schools within their community. This government, in their wisdom of regionalization and big is great, have taken all the community schools and put them together into regional school boards. Now in my particular case and in my riding, and I think it applies to everybody in our caucus and I think also to most of the rural members of your caucus, they would agree that since regionalization of school boards has occurred that there would be more problems in the schools than ever before because the parents, the teachers, the students and just the ordinary Joe Citizen who pays taxes through the municipality to help support the school, no longer has a direct voice in that

[Page 508]

school system. Mr. Speaker, that is wrong and it has to change. We have to give the education system back to the communities.

The third thing that makes up a community is that you have a justice system, a system whereby people feel safe. I know, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure that other rural members can remember back - not way back in the far-off past - but just fairly recently where if you lived in a small community, you did not lock your doors at night, you didn't close your windows and put up barricades that say . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: I still don't.

MR. RUSSELL: . . . I don't either but there are lots of people who do, and with good reason. They have flashing lights all around their houses and dogs and Lord knows what.

Mr. Speaker, everybody is entitled to essential protection. That is where the justice system comes in. Again, we have gone in for regionalization of justice. No longer do we have the village policeman or the town policeman, now we have the RCMP.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: The best force in the world.

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, I have no argument. Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Hants East just said they are the finest police force in the world. I have no argument with that, but the lack of funding from this government has cut back the delivery of police services to such an extent that the story I am about to tell you is absolutely true.

The RCMP had an article in my local newspaper and what did it say? It said that between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. there would be no police services available. When I first heard about that I could not believe it, I just could not believe that that would happen because it is just an open invitation. In fact, there is a chap there in the rural part of my riding who owns a service station. He said that at 3:15 a.m. you can bet on a brick coming through my window and people will get in there and clean out all my cigarettes. It happened four times, at about 3:15 a.m. So he settled himself down there with a German shepherd and a shotgun and it didn't happen after that. But, nevertheless, that shows you the kind of a justice system we have in this province.

They moved the Registry of Deeds, the Prothonotary's Office, all those accoutrements that go along with justice, down to regional centres. They said, don't worry, it is just down the road a piece, you can always phone them. Mr. Speaker, that doesn't work because the people have to go down to another area to do a piece of business and, while they are down there, they pick up some groceries and buy something else and come back home.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where do you get your driver's license now?

[Page 509]

MR. RUSSELL: Oh, that is what I was coming to. The Registry of Motor Vehicles for drivers' licenses, et cetera, is not local any more, it is down the road again. When people find that they can't get particular services in their community, they go down the road.

Now Cape Bretoners know all about going down the road but it is happening now all across rural Nova Scotia; people are going down the road to get this and to get that and to get the other thing and, while they are down the road getting this, that and the other thing, they are down there spending their money. They are not spending it back in their own communities. As a result, Mr. Speaker, people are learning to shop outside of their local area. When they learn to shop outside of their local area, your local merchandisers go out of business.

Mr. Speaker, I think I have mentioned four or five things but the litany could go on forever. They have taken away the old Department of Lands and Forests from most rural areas; they have taken away the local public health board and the inspectors from areas. Over and over again - the Department of Environment is another one that has disappeared - all these services have been moved from small town Nova Scotia in the interests of balancing the budget, becoming more streamlined we are told, becoming more efficient. Mr. Speaker, it is nonsense. They are not as efficient as they were, they are not saving money, all that they are doing is making people angry.

I have been telling this crew over and over again, I have told them every year that they have been sitting on that far side, that if they don't listen to people, if they don't get out there and talk to people and absorb what they are telling them, they will never get elected again and it is going to happen because they just will not learn, they are very slow learners. Unfortunately, they will probably learn after the next election which is when all of their promises are supposedly going to come to fruition.

I am very annoyed. I am very disappointed and I, too, am very angry at what they have done to rural Nova Scotia. The next government coming in is going to face one horrendous problem sorting out the mess that these people have left for us. That mess extends to every department of government. In fact, at the present time I will bet you can't go out there on Hollis Street and ask the people at, for instance, the Department of Lands of Forests, who looks after the forests of Nova Scotia today? Most people shake their heads and say, well maybe the Department of Transportation or something. No, people do not know. They have shuffled the names up, they have shuffled up the Budget Book and they have made a complete mess of the administration of this province. As I say, the next government that comes in has got to sort this mess out and it is going to be incredibly difficult. However, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that we are up to the challenge.

The next thing that I would like to talk about is that in their rush to save money, in their rush to streamline things, in their rush to reform, in their rush to regionalization, there is one segment of society that they have forgotten all about completely. That segment is probably

[Page 510]

the most important segment out there if you ever want to get re-elected because these are the senior citizens of this province. Now there is one thing you can say about seniors, they are old; two, they have been around a long time; but three, they vote. Seniors get out there and they vote.

What has this government done to seniors? (Interruption) They will vote as often as necessary to get rid of a government like this one, I can assure you. This government has hosed the senior citizen population of this country. There is an old saying about treating people fairly, in other words, Jackie, Johnny, the goose and the gander and all those sort of things, the essence is treat everybody the same and treat them fairly. One of the first things this government did and one that has every senior citizen shaking his head, including me, I am a senior citizen and I am upset about it although it wouldn't probably affect me.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're not?

MR. RUSSELL: Well, yes, I am. I'm going to be 65 next week. Anyway, there was a program put in place by the previous government who did care for senior citizens, who did worry about their well-being. We put in place a program and it was called the Property Tax Rebate Program. (Interruption) We paid for it, yes we did.

The Property Tax Rebate Program was one whereby senior citizens who were on the supplement - everybody knows what the supplement is; if your only source of income is Old Age Security then you get a supplement to bring you up to a living wage - we have seniors living in houses and the government was trying to encourage people to remain in their houses because that is a good thing, keep the seniors in their houses because if you don't they will have to go into a senior citizens' home and a senior citizens' home now costs the government about $35,000 a year and that is a lot of money.

However, we said, okay, seniors have moved out of their homes for various reasons. One of the reasons is, although they own their home and they have it paid off, they can't afford the taxes. So we struck a deal. We said to senior citizens, if you are drawing the supplement, in other words, if you are a low income senior, to provide you with an incentive to remain in your home, we will pick up 50 per cent of your property tax. Seniors loved it. It was a good program. The money went to seniors who deserved it.

[8:30 p.m.]

This crew came in, Mr. Speaker, and they said, where can we save some money? Well, let's whack the old people. Let's look at what programs we have for them and they found this one, the property tax rebate and some bright person in the government, I forget who it would be at that time, in charge of the Senior Citizens Secretariat, said, what a great idea, we could probably save a buck or two. However, seniors who are drawing that are going to be upset if we cut them off, so why don't we make it a two-tiered system. In other words, if you are

[Page 511]

presently drawing the property tax rebate you can continue to draw it, but if you are a new senior coming on line and you are otherwise qualified, you can't draw it. So we have Jack and Jill living next door to each other in similar houses, Jack is 66 and he is getting the property tax rebate, Jill comes along, she turns 65, same house, same income status and she can't get it. Is that fair? Is that what we are all about that we treat seniors who are equivalent from the point of view of what they own and what they have and we pay it to one but not to the other?

Now, if they had been really democratic, they would have said, well, we can't do that because that is just not fair, we will take it away from everybody. I am surprised that these characters didn't do that but they didn't. They went for this system, Mr. Speaker, whereby they had two tiers of senior citizens insofar as the property tax rebate is concerned.

How many millions of dollars do you think they saved, Mr. Speaker, by knocking off the property tax rebate? Probably hundreds of millions of dollars, I would think, anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. RUSSELL: Oh no, no, well, certainly tens of millions of dollars. No, he still shakes his head. Well, certainly millions of dollars. Still shakes his head. They saved something like about $750,000. Now, I wouldn't mind having $750,000 but when you are spending $4 billion and you are getting, as I said before, windfall profits every year of almost $0.5 billion, surely to the Lord you could put $1 million into a program that is keeping seniors in their homes. The result is, seniors now who can't pay their taxes, what happens when you don't pay your taxes? Well, then somebody comes along and grabs your house for nonpayment of taxes, puts it up for tax sale, they have nowhere to live and so they go into a nursing home and the government pays $35,000 per annum forever until that person dies. What kind of brains figured that one out, I wonder? Boy, somebody was really thinking overtime.

That was one program, Mr. Speaker, that we had which was a good program. It didn't cost very much. Then we had another program which was called SCAP, Senior Citizens Assistance Program. We brought that in about 1980-81 or something. This was another program designed to keep seniors in their homes. The deal was this, if you were a senior citizen living in your own home and you were on Old Age Security plus the supplement then you were entitled, under certain circumstances, to get a grant from the Department of Housing for home repairs. So that if, for instance, a senior's furnace broke down and they had to replace the furnace, a furnace costs about $5,000 these days, the senior hasn't got the $5,000, under the Senior Citizens Assistance Program the Department of Housing would provide the $5,000 to the senior citizen - actually they wouldn't, the maximum was $3,500, so it had to be a $3,500 furnace but anyway, they would provide the $3,500 to buy that furnace and they would say to the senior citizen, if you continue living in that house for the next four years, we will forgive the loan completely. However, if you get out and sell the house or do something like that, then you are going to have to pay for that portion still remaining on that program. It was a good program. It was a great program.

[Page 512]

Now, I was horrified, Mr. Speaker, back in 1996, I think it was, in the 1996 budget - I haven't got it here with me, no, I haven't - the SCAP program had disappeared. The SCAP program, by the way, I can tell you exactly what that cost, $3 million per year. Again it kept people out of the nursing homes, out of the senior citizens' housing and those kinds of things. It kept them in their own homes; it saved the government money. It cost $3 million.

Once again the government, in their rush to save money, figured, well, let's do away with the SCAP program but let's do it in a real sneaky way so they won't know what is going on. What they did was they rolled it into another program and said, don't worry, the money is there but it is just called something different now; now it is known as Rural and Native Assistance Program.

AN HON. MEMBER: They did that in agriculture, too, and there's no money, you can't get it.

MR. RUSSELL: We'll come to that, too. They said not to worry, the money is there, it is in that fund. What they didn't tell the people of Nova Scotia was, number one, there was less money in there and, secondly, that seniors would have to line up behind every other group that wanted emergency assistance, so that what was left for seniors was just a wincey bit, just a small amount, which wasn't sufficient because if you phoned the department about three minutes after the budget had come out and said, I have Mr. Brown who desperately needs a furnace and he is eligible under the SCAP program, you got the answer, well, I'm sorry but all our funds have been committed for this year.

Once again, what kind of a program is that? What kind of flimflam is that? It was flimflammery. That is what this government has done. They do these things over and over again and they think, well, seniors are old people, they don't understand these things.

Did I ever tell you about Pharmacare, Mr. Speaker? Have your constituents ever told you about Pharmacare? Has any backbencher here been told about Pharmacare? I imagine they have. What a complete and utter mess. This year, just by the bye, I noticed that the Minister of Health made a great announcement that we are going to spend another $100 million on health care, there is going to be another $100 million into the budget. Everybody said oh, wacko, that is wonderful, that is real good news. Then somebody said, well, what are you going to spend the money on? He said, well, we have already spent $60-odd million of it and the other $40 million is committed and, of that $40 million that is already committed for this year, $11 million is to top up the Pharmacare Program because it is not working.

The reason it is not working, Mr. Speaker, is people just didn't think before they put in place that particular program. They did not think it through. In fact, one of these days my colleague to my left, the member for Kings West, will be talking in this House about Pharmacare and I don't want to undercut him. But he is going to tell you emphatically that at the present time there is tremendous mismanagement of the Pharmacare system and,

[Page 513]

secondly, that in all probability there is no need for a premium to come out with a bottom line similar to what we have today.

You know, Mr. Speaker, we pride ourselves on delivering - at least most governments do - programs for those who can't really cut the mustard themselves. Seniors are very much in that particular ballpark. When a senior citizen turns age 65 they expect to go on the Pharmacare Program and they expect that, as part of that, they will be getting their drugs free.

What this government has done to the free drug system, they have taken so many drugs off that list, Mr. Speaker, they have taken so many pharmaceutical services off that list that today there are hundreds, probably thousands of Nova Scotian seniors out there who are not taking their drugs because they can't afford them and because those drugs are not available, as they should be under the Pharmacare system.

These things have to be changed. They are not going to be changed with this government. I am saying to the people of Nova Scotia that you have to change the government if you want to get change. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. (Applause)

HON. EDWARD LORRAINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity to say a few words in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. First of all, I want to say what a great pleasure it is to welcome you to the Office of Speaker of this House of Assembly. I know you will do an outstanding job and I am committing my full support to you as Speaker of the House.

Mr. Speaker, you will either be the fifth or sixth Speaker that I have served under since coming to the House in 1981. I remember the first Speaker I served under was the Honourable Arthur Donahoe. I found him an excellent person and so on right down through all the Speakers, even the previous Speaker who just finished with that great speech he made, not that I agree with everything he said, but he had great delivery, I served under him as Speaker of the House.

I also want to congratulate the Deputy Speaker on being elevated to his very important position. I know he too will carry out his duties and responsibilities and treat all members in a fair manner.

I would also like to congratulate the Lieutenant Governor, Mr. James Kinley, and his gracious wife and the excellent Speech from the Throne that he read in this House of Assembly a week ago last Thursday. The speech sets out the government's direction for the province over the next year and I am very proud to be part of that.

[Page 514]

I want to congratulate our Sergeant-at-Arms, Doug Giles. I feel he has done an excellent job maintaining order in this House of Assembly; sometimes it gets pretty unruly. (Applause)

Of course, I want to thank the Clerk of the House, Mr. Rod MacArthur and his Deputy, Mr. Art Fordham, for all the assistance they have given me over the years that I have been representing the constituency of Colchester North in this Chamber.

I would be amiss if I did not congratulate the new members that were elected in the recent by-election: Ms. Helen MacDonald for Cape Breton The Lakes and Mr. Ernest Fage from Cumberland North - I must say I was very pleased when another farmer was elected to the House of Assembly, though if I had my wish I would sooner he be of a different political colour, but I do welcome Ernie as another farmer in the House of Assembly - I also want to congratulate our new member and colleague, Dr. Edwin Kinley, from Halifax Citadel. I know he will do an excellent job of bringing the concerns of his constituents before this Assembly.

I also can't tell you how pleased I am to see our Premier in this Assembly after being elected in Cape Breton North with such a large majority. Premier Russell MacLellan has demonstrated his understanding and concern for the issues that are important to the people of Nova Scotia. I know he will lead the province into a new era of prosperity.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Premier for the support he has shown the agriculture industry, particularly over the past few months in light of the recent drought, which I will be discussing in more detail a little later on.

I want to thank the residents of Colchester North for the faith they have shown in me as their representative to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly since 1981. It continues to be an honour to serve them and I am grateful for not only their support since 1981, but really since 1972 when I entered County Council as the Warden for Colchester County.

I also want to thank the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for a number of highway projects that have been done in my constituency. In the past two years, 22 kilometres of Highway No. 311 have been repaved. Also, the highway running from MacBains Corner to the Pictou County line - and I am sure the member for Pictou West is well aware of the condition of that road - that road has been repaved this past summer. There have also been quite a number of subdivision streets either repaved or, for some of them, first-time paving; as well the Upper Brookside Road was completed this summer. Mind you, only 2.1 kilometres, but still it is very important to the residents living on that road. That was new paving. Maybe it was recycled, but nevertheless it is blacktop and people appreciate it.

[Page 515]

[8:45 p.m.]

There was another road that we have been trying for a good many years to get some work done on and to get paved. That was the Jeff Ross Road at Brule. I want to thank the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for these projects and for the upgrading of a whole group of secondary roads, whether it be grading or gravelling, all through the constituency of Colchester North. I can honestly say in the last two years we have seen more upgrading and repaving of secondary roads than we have since I came to the House in 1981.

I also want to mention the member for Kings West is here. He did agree to pave Route 326 during his term as Minister of Transportation. As I said at that time, if you drove a team of oxen across that highway, it would be safer than driving a car at a pace that a team of oxen could walk. The highway was in that state of repair. It had to be the worst highway in the Province of Nova Scotia. I do want to give credit for getting that much while I was in Opposition.

I also want to recognize and thank the Minister of Education and the Minister of Public Works for the new school that was located in my constituency, but on the outskirts of Bible Hill that will service that whole area of Bible Hill and Valley. I tell you, it is a state-of-the-art school and I understand that school is right on schedule. It was promised to be completed in the fall of 1998. It will be completed on schedule. The students will be going into that school as of the first of January when the school opens after the first of the year.

The PC members are making comments and correcting me - 1998 instead of 1978 - and that is fine. I noticed last fall in the press, which I felt I had to respond to, their nominated candidate came out in the press and was very critical of the Government of Nova Scotia and said the completion date of that school which was going to be delayed until sometime later on in 1998, if it was opened then. He talked a lot in that article in the press saying that the residents in that area were so concerned he was getting calls on a daily basis. I could not help but think, and I said so when I responded to the article in the paper, I am the elected member and have been there for a good many years and why would he be getting all these calls and I never received one call. It struck me very strange. I ended up my article by saying all he had to do was make a phone call to me and I could have told him the past history of that school, how many years we have been trying to get it and when we finally did get it we surely did not need criticism that was going to set that school back. That school is not going to be set back. It will be open in early January when the students go back after Christmas.

If you would permit me, I would like to take a few minutes and talk about the importance of the Nova Scotia agriculture and food industry to the future of the people of this province. In last week's Throne Speech our government outlined a vision for Nova Scotia over the next year. If you will recall, part of that vision is creating opportunities and employment and supporting the sense of a community we enjoy all across the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 516]

I want to say here and now in this Chamber that the province's agriculture and food industry plays a vital role in fulfilling this vision. As Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, I'm proud to be part of a government that supports the agriculture industry and to have the opportunity to work with the leaders of the farm community and individual farmers right across this whole province.

Our agriculture and food industry is progressive and diversified. Agriculture is an industry based on the land, and it is a growth industry. Through a dedicated spirit, the adoption of new technologies and the opening of new markets, Nova Scotia's farming community will continue as an essential part of our economy and the rural fabric of this province.

Directly and indirectly the industry employs 12,000 Nova Scotians and contributes more than $1 billion to the provincial economy every year through primary production. We can't even begin to measure the economic spin-offs by this industry. They are so significant that you just can't measure the whole thing.

Nova Scotian agricultural products are being enjoyed in the Maritimes and around the whole world. Our largest export crop, wild blueberries, not only support such successful local businesses as Oxford Frozen Foods and Sarsfields in the Annapolis Valley, but are being exported to such places as Germany, France and Italy. A number of other Nova Scotian fruit and vegetable crops are also supporting such industries as Oxford Frozen Foods, creating hundreds of jobs throughout the Province of Nova Scotia.

In Nova Scotia we produce the highest quality of hogs in Canada and the highest quality of mink in the world. Nova Scotia's mink industry contributed over $16 million in new money to the provincial economy last year and is helping sustain rural areas of this province like Digby County.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . the hogs are the best in the world, Ed.

MR. LORRAINE: Well, I'm being a little bit modest; I'm not quite as out-going as you were when you were a minister, but I'm trying to be very honest and truthful and they are the best in Canada. If you want to say they're the best in the world, I'll agree with you and I hope they are.

Nova Scotia's reputation for producing quality, healthy foods gives Nova Scotia businesses a competitive edge at home and abroad. This reputation will continue to serve us well as we develop new opportunities in such areas as cranberries and herbal and natural health remedies. Four, large, new cranberry developments are being undertaken in the Annapolis County. That will bring economic prosperity to that region of the province, create jobs for Nova Scotians and help sustain our rural communities.

[Page 517]

I am happy to say that our Farm Loan Board has been working with these developments because, in order to plant an acre of cranberries, it costs at least $30,000, I'm told. So it takes a lot of financing to get this industry built up and the Farm Loan Board has been working with those people and have done a pretty good job.

I should note that this reputation for quality products has been further enhanced with the recent consolidation of provincial food inspection services under the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing. Just this summer, all inspection services were transferred from the Department of the Environment, so now all food inspection is under the Department of Agriculture. We have a staff there that I believe is going to do a tremendous job in making sure that our food is the finest quality that consumers can buy.

Many Nova Scotians have enjoyed the fresh mini-carrots now sold in grocery stores. I'm proud to say that quite a few of these carrots are produced here in Nova Scotia. This a fresh, quick and healthy product for Nova Scotian consumers and creates new employment opportunities in the processing. You can all remember what our mothers used to say, whether you liked carrots or didn't, you had to eat them because they were good for your eyesight. Maybe she was right, because I did eat carrots and my eyesight is not that bad.

As a resource-based industry, producers have to be stewards of the land so we can continue to have a sustainable resource that provides quality food and economic wealth in the future. Nova Scotia farmers are stewards of the land; they are always adopting new, more efficient ways to produce food while limiting the negative impact on the environment. I think that is important to each and every person in the Province of Nova Scotia.

For example, in the Annapolis Valley, apple producers have adopted a highly technical, completely computerized monitoring system that alerts them when conditions are right for the development of different diseases. This system allows them to use less pesticides by being able to combat diseases quickly and efficiently, which increases the quality of their products and helps the environment. I am sure the Minister of the Environment would be interested in that.

Mr. Speaker, this all illustrates the present and future importance of the province's agriculture industry as a creator of jobs and opportunities for our rural communities. I really believe through the agriculture industry we can create a lot of steady, permanent employment. The Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing is in the business of supporting this continued growth in the agriculture industry. Mr. Speaker, our department is committed to supporting the industry over the long term through a solid safety net program that will help stabilize farmers' incomes when times are really tough. Key safety nets for the industry are the Net Income Stabilization Account, that is called NISA; then we have Crop and Livestock Insurance Program and the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board. We have many areas and expertise to assist the production in the Province of Nova Scotia.

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In the last year, enrolment in the NISA program has increased by 190 per cent. At present, more than 500 producers are enrolled in the Crop and Livestock Insurance Program. I know when I was farming myself, I felt that was a good program and I always carried crop insurance on corn crops. I want to see the day come when we will be able to have crop insurance for forages as well, because I think it is very important, particularly after last year.

On July 1st of this year, new Farm Loan Board regulations were implemented that lowered interest rates on loans to farmers and made payment options more flexible. In general, Mr. Speaker, response from the industry to the new lower interest rates has been very positive. The board has processed well over $30 million in new and refinanced loans since the new interest rates came into effect. This represents over a year's work in less than six months. In total, the lower interest rate will mean an average saving to borrowers of approximately $1,300 per year. By building these solid safety nets for the industry, producers have long-term security to develop their businesses and better deal with unforeseen challenges. Certainly this summer's dry weather was one of those challenges.

In the past year, Mr. Speaker, farmers in Nova Scotia have had to deal with high winter kill in forages and a cold, wet spring that delayed the planting of crops. These things really hurt farmers, even before this summer's dry weather hit. When no rain came, it made it very difficult for Nova Scotia farmers. Some areas of the province received less than 10 per cent of the normal rainfall. When rainfall fluctuates that much, there is going to be an impact, and there was an impact on the province's agriculture industry this past year.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that the specialists in our department worked endless hours in trying to identify who required feed. As you know, we put out a 1-800 number. We had to identify first, before we could take any action, who required feed, who was short of feed and who had any surplus feed, whether it be within the province or outside the province. That feed that would be required would be for the dairy, beef and the sheep industry, to get enough feed supply that could carry them through the coming winter months that we are in now.

In addition to this, Mr. Speaker, our department established what I just mentioned, the toll-free listing service, to help match those producers with feed and those who needed it. We also conducted a forage survey to help us better identify where the hurt was across the province.

[9:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, at the request of the Nova Scotia Cattlemen's Association, I was asked to meet with the Farm Loan Board and ask the Farm Loan Board to establish or set aside $3 million to $7 million until the end of December, so that producers would have the money available to borrow, should they need to borrow money to purchase feed. So far, more than

[Page 519]

$0.5 million in new money has been loaned to producers and $1.5 million in existing loans has been refinanced.

At the end of October, as you are all aware, I went to Ottawa with our deputy minister and the executive director, to meet with the federal counterpart, Mr. Lyle Vanclief, the honourable Minister of Agriculture for Canada, on behalf of all the producers in Nova Scotia. Mr. Vanclief told us upfront that there would be no ad hoc funding but he did say that they would be willing to work with us to find some flexibility in our current safety net programs. Mr. Speaker, discussions and work in this area are continuing and will continue until we reach a satisfactory solution.

As we discussed in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker, the federal government announced a few weeks ago that they would be implementing the section of the Income Tax Act that would allow producers who were forced to sell off their stock, due to the drought, to defer part of their income tax to help replace their herds. This came as good news to producers in the Province of Nova Scotia. The drought hit an already hurting beef industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. They have had approximately five bad years of low prices. They have faced a number of challenges in the past few years, including lower than average prices, I mean by 20 cents or more a pound.

My predecessor, the Honourable Guy Brown, established a task force to look at the challenges and opportunities in the Nova Scotia beef industry. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the task force for working long hours. I met with them sometimes at night. They wanted to analyze the industry and then they prepared a report. The task force made 22 recommendations. I am pleased to say that the majority of them have been implemented. Just last week I was able to tell the province's beef producers that our government will be paying their entire NISA contribution for the 1996 stabilization year, as my predecessor did last year, by putting up $400,000 to pay the producers' portion in the NISA program, which was actually 4 per cent of the eligible net sales.

If you want, I can go into detail and explain that. It is a bit of a complicated thing but it is a program that I think has been excellent.

We will be paying the producers' share and the province's share of the NISA contribution, which amounted to 5 per cent of eligible net sales. The federal government will also pay their 3 per cent, which will amount to an additional $300,000 from the feds, over and above the $500,000 that I announced to the Cattlemen's Association back three weeks or a month ago.

I know, Mr. Speaker, there will be more challenges to face in the coming years but the industry is focusing on the opportunities. Since becoming minister, I have travelled to almost every part of the Province of Nova Scotia, either attending exhibitions - I believe in the past six weeks I have attended all the county federation agriculture meetings, except for one or

[Page 520]

two that were on the same night and I couldn't attend, but I have been to 12, if not 14, of the county Federation of Agriculture meetings and was very pleased to get there and speak with the farmers and understand individually what their problems were.

I should note that it was during these meetings that the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, Mr. Jim Austin, at pretty near every meeting when he spoke following me, he told us how good the harmonized sales tax has been for the agricultural community in the Province of Nova Scotia. You will hear a lot of doomsayers but that is the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture that said that and in fact, the Minister of Finance was at one of the meetings one night when the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture made that statement.

I mentioned the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and Mr. Jim Austin, and I do it with a great deal of respect. I consider them to be the main voice and I guess the only voice to the government from the agricultural community throughout the Province of Nova Scotia. I have listened to them, I respect their views and I appreciate their views. Mr. Austin is doing what I consider to be a great job as president. We have had a number of meetings together and he is an excellent person to work with. I know I can speak for the government when I say we are successful when we listen to each other and we work together.

In closing, I want to reiterate the important role that agriculture plays in the lives of all Nova Scotians. Through their hard work, producers in this province provide us with some of the best quality foods in the world. They also contribute to the economy and our way of life and I can call on all Nova Scotians to join this government in supporting the agricultural industry by buying local products. Nova Scotia producers do a great job and all of us need to applaud them for that.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the time you have allotted me. I want you to know that I will be voting in favour of the Speech from the Throne and the path it sets for the Province of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of the Environment.

HON. WAYNE ADAMS: Mr. Speaker, if I might, before I begin I would like to take this opportunity to introduce just above the press gallery in our gallery tonight, a very active citizen of the Preston community, a person who has been a strong and active advocate in the women's movement and areas of education in the Black community, currently the President of the East Preston Ratepayers Association and more importantly a proud mom of one of our new Pages, Evan, if the House would please welcome in the traditional way, Ms. Dolly Williams, who is in the gallery being shy. (Applause)

[Page 521]

Mr. Speaker, it is indeed my pleasure to rise on this occasion to participate in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne debate. I want to add my voice to those who have already congratulated our new Speaker, yourself, sir, a man who demonstrates that you can really get to the top providing you reach for it. I am sure there will be many times in this session and others where in this place your play-by-play experience will come in very handy.

I want to congratulate my neighbouring MLA, Keith Colwell, on his appointment as Deputy Speaker. (Applause)

To our Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Doug Giles, who I recognize has stood tall and proud across the years, bringing law and order to the City of Halifax, being a member of Halifax' finest, bringing pride and honour to the security of this noble place, Province House; we welcome him back for another session.

I welcome and congratulate our new members to this House of Assembly: the member for Cumberland North, Ernest Fage; for Cape Breton The Lakes, Ms. Helen MacDonald; for Halifax Citadel, Dr. Edwin Kinley; and of course our esteemed Premier, the Honourable Russell MacLellan, representing Cape Breton North. (Applause) The Premier is a true people-person, a leader and indeed a winner. We look forward to the next general election in Nova Scotia as a governing party and I look forward to this governing party renewing its strength but like Churchill, "I don't want to look too far ahead, only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at any one time.".

At this point, Mr. Speaker, I would like to express my best wishes to our former Premier, Dr. John Savage, and his wife, Margaret, as they embark upon yet another - and I mean yet another - mission of bettering humanity in this world, this time on the continent of Africa. We shall remember them fondly and we will always know that it was they who toiled in the heat of the day to make Nova Scotia better tomorrow than it was yesterday.

As other members have said, Mr. Speaker, sitting here in this House of Assembly brings about great responsibilities and great honours. In my case, it is the honour of representing the people of the constituency of Preston. This constituency stretching from Westphal to West Porters Lake, including the communities of Montague, Humber Park, North and East Preston, Cherry Brook, Lake Loon and Lake Major, Lake Echo and West Porters Lake, is a riding as diverse as Nova Scotia itself. The Preston constituency has a mixture of cultures, a mixture of social and economic conditions. It presents a challenge that I have come to love.

The most daunting challenge is to overcome the traditionally chronic unemployment in the Preston black communities. But progress is being made. Contrary to what the members opposite have said on many occasions, there is hope for the future. Over the past year, some 12 new small businesses have started up in the Preston area. The former A.W. Evans Elementary School in North Preston is now being converted into an incubator commercial complex offering new job opportunities and new launching places for small businesses such

[Page 522]

as the area's first and only laundromat and local convenience store. The opening of Preston C&D, an environmental industry that collects, separates and resells construction and demolition debris, provides seven new jobs to people in the riding. Work is now underway to establish a stone-crushing operation and an asphalt plant in the same community. A Dartmouth-based welding shop has moved into Preston, again boosting the area's economic base.

Mr. Speaker, two publicly-operated day care centres in East and North Preston continue to operate with the assistance of this government. Not only do these centres offer top quality child care in a safe and loving environment, they provide jobs to local child care specialists. We credit two great Liberals for these two child care facilities. We look back in 1969 when Dr. Savage, a Dartmouth physician, helped establish the North Preston Medical and Child Care Facility. Then we move on to the year 1972 when a former member of this House of Assembly, the Honourable A.G. Brown, helped Mrs. Joyce Ross to establish the East Preston Child Care Centre.

During the past two years, Preston has welcomed the partnership formed with Health Canada, the Nova Scotia Department of Health and the IWK-Grace Hospital to open a new prenatal nutritional program as well as a Health and Family Services Centre. East Preston, North Preston and Lake Echo have benefited, Mr. Speaker, from the start-up of the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Program and we have new and renewed community facilities in East Preston and Lake Echo with a renewed volunteer fire department in North Preston.

Elementary education has been boosted quite prominently, Mr. Speaker, in the Preston riding over the past three years with new schools both at North Preston and West Porters Lake. The Preston Area Boys and Girls Club is back in operation, after being out of business for too long, serving the needs of over 80 young people and we are pleased and proud to have some 60 young men and women involved in the newly formed Westphal-Preston Army Cadets, sponsored by the Princess Louise Fusiliers of Halifax.

We hold high, Mr. Speaker, the skills and triumphs of people like Steve and Peter Giles of Lake Echo and other outstanding athletes of the Orenda Canoe Club. Canadian champions and Olympic heros, they show the way for young people and they prove that our youth are the leaders of tomorrow with internal strength as well as demonstrated strength in sports.

The sparkling jewel in the cultural crown of Nova Scotia continues to shine. I hereby refer to the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, located in Westphal, in my constituency. The centre continues to be a major player with tourists. It does a tremendous job of promoting the history and contemporary story of black Nova Scotia. The centre serves to preserve and protect our culture with several publications and wide-ranging events.

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The Black Cultural Society celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year. His Excellency, the Right Honourable Romeo LeBlanc, Canada's Governor General, delivered the anniversary address. His knowledge of black history and culture was simply outstanding. Again, I extend to all members of this House of Assembly an open invitation to take some time and to visit and tour the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, the only facility of its kind in Canada and one of the few throughout North America.

[9:15 p.m.]

Of course, the country's oldest foster care facility is located in the Preston constituency. I refer here to the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children. This 72 year old institution is developing plans, I am proud to say, to capitalize some of their real estate holdings in an effort to ensure self-sufficiency for the future. The development of these lands will mean more job opportunities as time goes on.

In his address to this House of Assembly, His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor set a tone that we should all strive to emulate. He said we as a, ". . . government will measure progress in terms of healthy families, strong local economies, fairness for all Nova Scotians, and vibrant communities.". He went on to add, we, ". . . will strive to bring stability, security, and a sense of pride and accomplishment to every aspect of our lives.".

I want to take a few moments to talk about this sense of pride. I want to explore how it can help enhance our sense of community and, at the same time, generate additional economic growth. As Minister of the Environment, I have been blessed to be able to travel to some of the most spectacular natural masterpieces of Nova Scotia. Last summer, I got to walk in the interior of the Cape Breton Highlands. I can tell you and all members here that Alexander Graham Bell was right when he said no place can match the beauty of that Island. Soon I will have the honour of sponsoring legislation to protect 31 of the natural wonders of this beautiful province which is ours.

Tourism can be an environmentally responsible and intellectually satisfying experience. It is a major generator of economic growth and international understanding. Most of us in this House have heard from business leaders who have visited this place on vacation and have decided to stay. They have created jobs here and made a positive difference in the lives of Nova Scotians.

The search for roots - where we came from and where we are heading - is a vital craving of the human soul. It has helped to create the welcome resurgence of Celtic music and traditions. Thousands of people have come to Nova Scotia as a result. We can also see this search for the past in the steady growth of friendly contact between the Acadian community and the Cajuns of Louisiana. My colleague, the Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs, has strenuously worked to strengthen the ties loosened by centuries.

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While government tends to provide statistics to back up its cases, sometimes a personal anecdote brings things into a clearer focus. During the visit of the Mathew to Halifax this past summer, I struck up a conversation with a couple who were taking in the sights one beautiful Sunday on the Halifax waterfront. They told me they were from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. When I asked how and why they decided to spend their holidays in Nova Scotia, they told me a newspaper article in their local paper planted the idea. It seems that during a visit to that state by our Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs, the Honourable Allister Surette, he had spoken to a reporter about the historical ties between Nova Scotia and Louisiana. So they came here to the land of their ancestors.

I am sure we have all experienced such things in our travels across the province; a search back, a look back, a re-acquaintance. Nova Scotia's strengths lie in the multiplicity of its make-up. Just as the Scots, the Acadians, First Nations and others have made their contribution to the building of this wonderful place, so too has the black community. We believe it is time to focus our energy on attracting black tourists to a land that holds so much of their history. The African-American tourism market is a sleeping giant, in my regard. Research in 1988 showed that travelling black Americans were spending some $90 million abroad. That figure being 10 years old and with the population now in excess of 30 million, I am certain the disposable income of black Americans for travel has grown significantly.

Then, Mr. Speaker, I say the market is there. The product they are seeking is right here in good old Nova Scotia. Now we have to put them together and I am pleased to inform the House that a plan is ready. Dr. Sharon Oliver of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, has developed a proposal for the establishment of the International Black Heritage Foundation. She envisages a living testament to the struggles and contribution that blacks have made towards the development of the Americas.

Since the publishing of Alex Haley's book, Roots, the desire of black people to know more about their past has taken them across America and into Africa. Nova Scotia blacks played an important but almost unrecognized role in the history of this nation called Canada. The Maroons helped build Citadel Hill and other fortresses across the province. Black Loyalists settled in Shelburne, blacks even fought for the colony of Nova Scotia against the Americans. The Nova Scotia Black Battalion fought for Canada in the First World War, in segregated quarters.

Mr. Speaker, some early blacks, despairing the search for justice was fruitless in this province, departed Nova Scotia to return to Sierra Leone in the year 1792. In more modern times Nova Scotia blacks have cut a wide and somewhat distinguished path in the world of medicine, education, culture, religion, law and social leadership, not to mention politics. Dr. Oliver has created a plan that I believe can turn history and heritage into attractions and economic growth. The concept envisages the promotion of Black Canadian heritage in much the same way as European history on this continent is now the centre of a massive tourism enterprise.

[Page 525]

Blacks of the world would come to visit Nova Scotia and learn more of their past. It would help generate awareness among the general population and awareness creates understanding. We all recognize and know that, Mr. Speaker. I believe that the Black Cultural Centre could evolve into a major repository of black heritage in much the same way that the Beaton Institute preserves history of those who settled in Cape Breton so long ago.

I believe Dr. Oliver has created a proposal that would create economic growth in the black communities and beyond, certainly across Canada, Mr. Speaker. Yet, just as important, it would bring Nova Scotia black history toward the light, for all of us to see. This government recognizes that there is no greater weapon than education in the war against racial indifference. That is why in the Speech from the Throne this government committed ourselves to a new curriculum, to better reflect black culture and scholarships for African Nova Scotian students.

The International Black Heritage Foundation proposal, Mr. Speaker, needs the support of both the federal and provincial governments. I want to see this happen and I commit myself to working towards its establishment. We have heard from some members of the federal government who have also written their support for the establishment of the same. Until all of us know more about one another and learn to accept that there is strength in diversity, that there is a meaningful purpose to celebrating our differences, we will all continue to be victims of ignorance and bigotry. I would urge all members of this House to help by pledging to make this dream a reality as we enter the new century.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you and all members of the House for listening to this presentation. I do intend to vote in favour of the Speech from the Throne and in favour of the content of the character of the speech as presented and certainly I would not be voting in favour of any amendments. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HUBBARD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak in the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne debate. May I also take this opportunity to congratulate you on your recent promotion, although I think I will avoid the Reach for the Top puns. It was quite recently, however, that I did see an old news clip of you interviewing a member of the Nova Scotia Voyageurs hockey team. I think it was related to their recent induction into the Sport Nova Scotia Hall of Fame. It gave me a chance to think what a successful and varied career you have had. I can only hope that the player you were interviewing can say the same, wherever he is. I think his name was Larry Robinson.

May I also note another sportsman of my acquaintance, Keith Bridges of Yarmouth, was a recent inductee into the Baseball Nova Scotia Hall of Fame and I know he was in good company.

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I would also like to congratulate the Premier and Ed Kinley, our two recent additions to caucus on their recent by-election victories. My wife, Barbara, and I watched the poll-by-poll results at Ed's headquarters and it was an exciting night.

MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: He would let anybody in, wouldn't he.

MR. HUBBARD: You could hardly move in there, George. It was so exciting people couldn't get in. They were outside on the sidewalk.

I would also like to congratulate the new member for Cape Breton The Lakes, Helen MacDonald, and Ernie Fage, the member for Cumberland North. Well done to both of you as well.

I would like to pass on my regards to His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor. I was very proud that Yarmouth was chosen as the setting for the provincial Garden Party last June. I was very pleased to see many of colleagues attend. I thank the Lieutenant Governor and the former Premier for coming to Yarmouth, where they were welcomed by over 600 residents and visitors.

Also held in Yarmouth this past summer was the Maritimes Fire Chiefs Convention, for which I am proud to say this government provided funding, thanks to the Honourable Manning MacDonald. Our firefighters perform a vital service, Mr. Speaker, for our communities, as I am sure all members here agree, and are much deserving of our thanks.

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to speak not only to highlight the many positive activities in my constituency of Yarmouth, but also to highlight the positive mood that Nova Scotians across this province are experiencing. This positive mood comes from the confidence Nova Scotians have in a government that is making the right decisions, creating the right atmosphere for business growth and listening to the people.

This was evident from a recent visit to Yarmouth by the Premier, where he appeared on an open line radio show. The show went well. So well, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier commented on the nice people we have in Yarmouth. Now, I certainly agree with him. I agree with him that we have our share of nice people in Yarmouth, but I think it is more than that. You can feel it; people have a good feeling about where this province is going. Now, the Third Party may feel differently about this, but that is because they would like to see this province going too but I guess they would rather see it going to Saskatchewan or Hamilton where the people they like are.

The Nova Scotians I know - by the way, I seem to know quite a few who are good at working elections and are very willing to work on them, but I guess since they are all Liberals, the Third Party must import their campaign workers, and I guess that makes them in favour of free interprovincial trade. (Laughter) They trade them depressing rhetoric and, in return,

[Page 527]

get campaign workers from Hamilton and Saskatoon - but the Nova Scotians I know are proud of their province, Mr. Speaker, proud of the strength of the people here and proud that this government is creating a stable, secure province for their children and grandchildren.

You know, Mr. Speaker, over the past few days I have listened to the Opposition Parties whine and moan about many things, but their claims of a deteriorating health care system seemed particularly absurd. These comments by the Opposition seem foolish in light of what this government has done to repair the holes that the Tories left in the province's health care system.

These people that go on and on about the health care system, Mr. Speaker, one example is the emphasis on and the success of the Home Care Nova Scotia Program. When this program started it served 7,000 Nova Scotians. By last year this number increased to 18,000 Nova Scotians with this number expected to increase. Along with numbers, dollars to this program have also increased. (Interruption) Have a listen boys. It increased from $48 million in 1995-96 to $70 million for 1997-98.

[9:30 p.m.]

It was this Liberal Government that introduced the new air ambulance service. It now takes 47 minutes to go from Yarmouth by air ambulance to Halifax. They didn't do that, we did that. It was this government that introduced a whole new fleet of emergency health care ambulances, made in Yarmouth; quality vehicles, travelling the world, not only serving the province. They're going all over Canada, the United States and all over the world.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back and tell you once again, home care shows that this government continues to respond to the needs of Nova Scotians. I recently confirmed my intention to re-offer in the next election. This gave me pause to reflect on how Yarmouth has benefited from the efforts of this government. Job creation remains a top priority for me. I was very pleased with the recent announcements regarding two firms in my area, Telesis and Tech Pak.

Telesis is an auto insurance call centre which will employ 23 people in Yarmouth. I am pleased that the province was integral in providing assistance to help this company establish. I think it is a good example of how the Liberal Party is the Party in Nova Scotia capable of dealing with business today. Why is this? The Tories can't be taken seriously and the NDP would get seriously taken.

The renovation of the former Dominion Textiles plant continues to help create jobs in Yarmouth. I just heard one of the members talk about the jobs that we lost. I want to point out that this textile plant closed during the former Tory Government's term, taking with it hundreds of jobs.

[Page 528]

As Yarmouth's MLA, I'm working hard to fill that former plant with new businesses to hopefully regain those jobs lost and more. I think that by working with our local regional development authority we'll do it. Most recently this government was able to announce the assistance to help the plant renovate to accommodate Tech Pak Canada Incorporated, a company manufacturing Styrofoam containers. Tech Pak currently employs a dozen workers and is expected to add approximately 15 more employees as soon as renovations are completed and new equipment is installed.

Other companies have benefited from the retrofit of the Domtex plant, the plant that we bought, between us and the federal Government, this government, to fix the problems that they created there with the closure. We were able to keep 35 jobs as a result of getting our hands on this plant; the purchase, because Nova Tech Braid, who were located in that building, were considering moving to the United States. The enviro-depot, also located there, brought with it 31 new jobs. Job growth occurred in other areas as well thanks to the successful recruitment of businesses like Emerald Forest Products, which located in the Hebron Industrial Mall. This created 15 jobs in the mill with a spin-off of 30 jobs for wood cutters to supply the wood for this mill. Nova Scotia's participation in the trade missions has had a spin-off in the Yarmouth area as well, with a local ambulance manufacturer, the one I talked about earlier, creating 50 jobs because of the contracts that resulted from the trips overseas. Another 40 to 50 jobs were created because our assistance to another company helped lead to a plant expansion.

We know that over the Tory reign there was year after year of startling deficit. However, it seems this money was squandered, as we inherited a social deficit from the Tories as well. I know I have the agreement of many members of this House when I say that it was disturbing to see how they had left our health system, our day cares, our disabled, our education system, our seniors - the same ones that these people talked about tonight - that is what they left us. They let all of this fall by the wayside, they didn't care.

I am proud of the efforts of this government to rectify the situation under extraordinary circumstances. In Yarmouth, these efforts have included the construction of a seniors' complex that was the first of its kind in the province. We have also provided housing for the disabled, with a four person unit complete with around the clock care. We have increased the number of subsidized day care spaces throughout the province which led to an additional nine spaces in Yarmouth.

We have kept Juniper House, a transition house, open and assisted in supplying them with a computer and office equipment. (Interruption) Nine. Well, we had four when we took over so an increase of five, I would say that is pretty good. Nor were the arts forgotten, Mr. Speaker, with the establishment of the satellite gallery of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in the former Royal Bank Building in Yarmouth. We were able to do all of this without the open season on the dollar attitude of the previous government. (Applause)

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I should add, as a former recreation director, that sport, fitness and recreation are close to my heart. I am proud that this government has not forgotten recreation. Throughout Yarmouth County there are clubs, playgrounds, ball fields, athletic facilities, halls and community centres that have benefited from this government. There are too many for me to go over so I will just list some of them.

There are something like 26 groups that have received assistance but I will list some of them. We assisted the Port Maitland School Playground/Trail Committee with a grant for $29,000 for this project. We were able to assist the Overton Community Field Committee with $19,000 to complete their multi-purpose sports field. We obtained a $17,500 grant for the Lake Vaughn Fire Department to assist them with an expansion of their fire hall to make it into a community hall, where they now hold strawberry suppers and all kinds of things for the community.

We provided Central School Playground with a $25,000 grant to complete a multi-purpose playground. There was a grant of $50,000 for the Town of Yarmouth Recreation Committee to complete two lighted baseball facilities. The YMCA got a grant for $42,000 for the upgrading of their facility. Milo Aquatic Club received $2,000 for club upgrades. I could go on because there are 26 of them sharing hundreds of thousands of dollars. I just want to say that this government did not forget the importance of sport, fitness and recreation to communities.

I would be remiss if I did not mention of what benefit the two phases of the Infrastructure Program have been to my constituency. Under Phase I, both the Town of Yarmouth and the municipality received significant funding for sewer projects. Under Phase II, the municipality received further funding, this time for the Arcadia sewer project. Also under Phase II, the town was successful in receiving funding for upgrading of town streets. This program has been a success throughout the province and I congratulate the minister for his efforts to ensure a third phase of this very successful program. Thank you, minister.

The future is very bright. My western colleagues and I are pleased that the completion of the Barrington Interchange, a long overdue project, is now underway. Also recently announced was the expansion to the Western Regional Hospital. As we speak, the start of the pre-expansion construction has begun. This means the helipad construction has started, as well as space for additional parking to accommodate the expansion.

I also plan to continue work with Skate Yarmouth in attaining a new arena for our area as well as helping the Yarmouth County Historical Society to raise needed dollars for their expansion.

As I said earlier there is a sense of optimism in this province, despite how hard the Opposition Parties would try to convince people to look at the darker side of life. There is a positive feeling out there as people know they have a government that listens, responds, and

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most importantly, leads. It is with recognition of that sense of optimism that pervades our province that I add my support to the passage of the Speech from the Throne as read.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to reply to the Speech from the Throne. (Applause) First of all, I want to bring greetings to you from the people of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury; also to congratulate the Lieutenant Governor on his address; and also to you, Mr. Speaker, on your recent appointment to this prestigious position.

To the Premier and to Edward Kinley, to the members for Cumberland North and Cape Breton The Lakes, I want to extend my congratulations on their recent election victories.

Reflecting back on the Premier, Mr. Speaker, I want to mention a couple of things. First of all, the new Premier was the first choice of the Liberals as our Leader. He has been the first choice of the voters of his constituency and he remains the first choice as the number one Leader of any Party in this province to date. I predict he will be the first choice of Nova Scotians in the upcoming election in which the Liberal Party will continue its plans.

I would like to pay tribute to the late Arthur Langley, Mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury. Many communities are very fortunate to have leaders who are builders; leaders who have insight as to which direction they would like to take their community. I believe the success Port Hawkesbury is experiencing now, the growth indeed, are due to the efforts of Arthur Langley, the former Mayor of the Town of Port Hawkesbury.

I want to thank the residents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury for their continued support, and also that of my family. I am certain many members appreciate the support that they receive from their family members as we carry out our duties.

I want to thank the Premier for his continued confidence in the recent appointments he has given me to carry out as a member of this caucus. I want to comment on one of the commitments that I have and that is special advisor on literacy. Recently, the volunteers who serve on the community literacy initiative for the Province of Nova Scotia indicated that under this program we have set up 27 learning networks throughout Nova Scotia and over 4,000 Nova Scotian learners have benefited from this program. I want to give you a personal example of what this program means to adult learners.

Recently in Halifax we marked International Literacy Day at the regional library. As I left the library, I met an adult learner. This gentleman was in his late 50s and he said, the library to me is no longer a foreign place. I have taken literacy classes and now the world is open to me and my children. I think this is the importance of literacy. The work that has been done by many people throughout Nova Scotia over the years who have dedicated their time, their energy and the love of encouraging Nova Scotians to improve their literacy skills.

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[9:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, during the Speech from the Throne we recognized the bravery of many Nova Scotians. I want to draw attention to Edith Porter, of Country Harbour Mines. She recently has been awarded the Medal of Bravery. At great risk she rescued her grandson from a potential drowning incident. Indeed, she is to be congratulated for her unselfish commitment and her recent recognition for bravery.

Mr. Speaker, I want to comment about community development and community involvement. I want to use two examples. In the Town of Port Hawkesbury over the last number of years there has been a group working very hard to develop the waterfront and to highlight the talent and energy of Cape Bretoners. I think it is well known throughout Nova Scotia that Cape Breton is known for its music. Throughout the summer on Granville Green, near the waterfront, there have been concerts highlighting the talents of Cape Bretoners and Nova Scotians. I can remember attending a concert attended by thousands, in which the famous Cape Breton family, The Rankins, performed. Again, that is a testament to the community, the support of industry, of how we can develop the assets of our community.

This summer in the Town of Canso was held the first annual Stan Rogers Festival. As many members know, the Town of Canso has a population of 1,000 people. However, in order to run this three day event which attracted nearly 10,000 people, 400 volunteers were involved. The 400 volunteers from all over Guysborough County came and donated their time, in order to make this a successful event. I do believe that the Stan Rogers Festival which is being planned for this year is an example of how the community can develop on its traditions and its history and yet use that to stimulate the economy. Mr. Speaker, one of the themes was "rise again". That community, like many throughout Nova Scotia, will do that under the Liberal Government.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about some of the positive things that have happened in health. Guysborough County was very pleased and honoured to be chosen as one of the first sites, at Guysborough Memorial Hospital, to pilot the Telemedicine Program. This has meant that for many of the citizens the diagnostic work could be done in Guysborough. It meant that they did not have to travel to Halifax for professional assessment. For many citizens this has certainly made that experience very worthwhile.

A small thing that has happened, Mr. Speaker, but that certainly has been noticed by the residents, is the placement of ambulances at the local hospitals. Now you may wonder, why is that a change? In the past it was encouraged that ambulances should be located away from the hospitals, travel to the hospitals to provide the service and then charge a rate for mileage. We now have the ambulances located in the hospitals and throughout the constituency, providing excellent service. What is important is that when that ambulance arrives at site, we have trained technicians who can deliver quality care to the residents where they need it the most, right at the accident site.

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One of the new innovations has been the mobile breast screening unit, which has been seen throughout the constituency, again in an effort to apply preventive medicine to the local area. Some of the areas I represent are somewhat remote. To have the air ambulance able to arrive to take patients to centres, is certainly an asset. With the announcement of a fixed-wing aircraft, airports such as the one at Port Hawkesbury will be able to take advantage of those opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard time and time again in the Speech from the Throne and from other members, the importance of Stora Forest Industries to the economy of the Strait area and to Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury as a whole. We talked about creating a climate which would encourage business to locate in Nova Scotia. During what has been known as the Stora crisis, our government was there to help Stora through that crisis, to signal to industry that we wanted them to locate in Nova Scotia. At that time we advanced to Stora a $14 million forgivable loan. Stora has paid back that loan and is now under one of the largest industrial expansions in Nova Scotia.

I would be remiss though, Mr. Speaker, if I did not say that the new paper mill will result in a reduction of quotas for the need of pulp. That will have an impact on Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and I certainly am concerned.

I want to report on the recent announcement of Navatrak, a new industry that is locating in Port Hawkesbury and it is information technology. They see Port Hawkesbury as a logical location and I believe this will be the seed for future development in information technology not only in the Strait area, but throughout the constituency.

I want to touch lightly on agriculture, and I want to advise the members of this House that a former member, Sandy Cameron, has opened a salmon smokehouse in Sherbrooke. Now what is unique is that we have just had a trade mission sponsored by the RDAs to Boston and while Mr. Cameron was there he opened up new markets. So it shows that with the proper work, looking at the niche in which specialized development can be done, there is a market, and I think the members would want me to congratulate not only Sandy Cameron, but all of the entrepreneurs who are looking at business opportunities throughout Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

Mr. Speaker, I know it is getting late and I would, at this time, move that we adjourn the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne until tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that because of the lateness of the hour, we adjourn the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the members' attention that we will be sitting from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. tomorrow, from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday and 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Friday.

Tomorrow in the House, we will do four private and local bills that are on the order paper, plus we will do Bill No. 2 for the Minister of Finance and then carry on with the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne after the day's business has been completed.

I now move that the House do rise to sit again tomorrow afternoon between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House now do rise to sit again tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 9:53 p.m.]