The Nova Scotia Legislature

The House resumed on:
September 21, 2017.

Hansard -- Fri., Dec. 12, 1997

Sixth Session

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1997

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
National Unity: Select Committee - Hearings Schedule, Mrs. E. Norrie 1269
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia,
Hon. A. Mitchell 1270
Health: Education Video - Romancing the Odds, Hon. J. Smith 1270
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Fin. - Second Quarterly Report (1997-98), Hon. W. Gillis 1271
Housing & Mun. Affs. - Winter Works Program, Hon. G. Brown 1274
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 22, Halifax Regional Municipality Act, Mr. P. MacEwan for
Hon. B. Holland 1276
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cheverie Crossway (Hants Co.): Action -
Take, Mr. R. Russell 1277
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 421, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Municipalities: Downloading - Address,
Dr. J. Hamm 1278
Res. 422, Province House - Staff: Holiday Season - Greetings Extend,
Mr. J. Holm 1279
Vote - Affirmative 1279
Res. 423, Health - Autism: Early Intervention Prog. - Establish,
Mr. G. Moody 1279
Res. 424, Fish. - Lady Wallace Crew (Wedgeport): Bravery - Congrats.,
Hon. A. Surette 1280
Vote - Affirmative 1281
Res. 425, Fin. (Can.) - Employment Insurance: Reduction Increase -
Letter Send, Mr. R. Russell 1281
Vote - Affirmative 1282
Res. 426, DFO - Atlantic Salmon Hatcheries: Divestment Prevent -
Min. (Fish. [N.S.]) Support, Mr. J. Leefe 1282
Vote - Affirmative 1283
Res. 427, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Pictou Co. Entrepreneur of Year:
Margesons - Congrats., Dr. J. Hamm 1283
Vote - Affirmative 1283
Res. 428, Nat. Res. - Sable Gas: Metro Hfx. Chamber of Commerce -
Effort Commend, Mr. J. Abbass 1283
Res. 429, Gov't. (N.S.) - Announcements: Unemployment -
Consequences Understand, Mr. B. Taylor 1284
Res. 430, Fin. - N.S. Savings & Loan Co.: Pension Surplus - Intervene,
Mr. R. Chisholm 1285
Res. 431, Educ. - Cole Harbour H.S.: Zero Tolerance - Result Congrats.,
Mr. D. McInnes 1285
Vote - Affirmative 1286
Res. 432, Commun. Serv. - Adoption Info. Act: Fees - Review,
Ms. E. O'Connell 1286
Res. 433, Educ. - Amherst R.H.S.: Uncertainty - Address, Mr. E. Fage 1287
Res. 434, Metro Transit - Staff: Food Bank - Collection Commend,
Mr. William MacDonald 1288
Vote - Affirmative 1288
Res. 435, Human Rights - Tom Miller Memorial Award:
Dan Christmas (Native Rights Work) - Congrats.,
Ms. Helen MacDonald 1288
Vote - Affirmative 1289
Res. 436, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Louisbourg: Cruise Ship Destination -
Market, Mr. A. MacLeod 1289
Res. 437, Educ. - Schools: Public-Private Partnerships -
Credit Card Remove, Mr. J. Holm 1290
Res. 438, Queens: Children's Christmas Fund Telethon (Anniv. 19th) -
Organizers-Congrats./Support-Encourage, Mr. J. Leefe 1290
Vote - Affirmative 1291
Res. 439, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Incentives: Companies (N.S.) -
Support, Ms. Helen MacDonald 1291
Res. 440, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Marine Atlantic HQ:
North Sydney - Ensure, Mr. A. MacLeod 1292
Res. 441, Women - Persons (Declared 18/10/29): Statue (HoC) -
Congrats., Ms. E. O'Connell 1292
Vote - Affirmative 1293
Res. 442, Sports - Hector Arena (Pictou): Surplus - Commend,
Mr. D. McInnes 1293
Vote - Affirmative 1294
Res. 443, Econ. Dev. & Tourism - Lobster Trap (Invention):
Harold Elliott (Cumb. Co.) - Success Wish, Mr. E. Fage 1294
Vote - Affirmative 1294
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 2, Income Tax Act 1295
No. 5, Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act 1295
Hon. G. Brown 1295
Mr. R. Russell 1295
Mr. J. Holm 1296
Hon. D. Downe 1296
Vote - Affirmative 1297
No. 7, Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act 1297
Hon. W. Gaudet 1297
Mr. J. Holm 1297
Mr. J. Leefe 1298
Hon. W. Gaudet 1299
Vote - Affirmative 1299
No. 8, Family Maintenance Act 1300
Hon. A. Mitchell 1300
Mr. R. Russell 1300
Ms. E. O'Connell 1300
Mr. B. Taylor 1301
Hon. A. Mitchell 1301
Vote - Affirmative 1301
No. 9, Judicature Act 1301
Hon. A. Mitchell 1301
Mr. R. Russell 1302
Mr. J. Holm 1302
Hon. A. Mitchell 1303
Vote - Affirmative 1303
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Hon. R. Harrison 1303
HOUSE RECESSED AT 11:21 A.M. 1304
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 11:33 A.M. 1304
ARRIVAL OF LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR 1304
BILLS GIVEN ROYAL ASSENT:
Nos. 2, 3, 1304
Nos. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16 1305
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again at the call of the Speaker 1306
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 444, Housing & Mun. Affs. - Co-op Housing:
Higher Interest Rates - Subsidize, Mr. J. Holm 1307
Res. 445, Gov't. (N.S.): Secrecy - Condemn, Mr. R. Chisholm 1307
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER:
No. 2, Commun. Serv. - Parent Finders: Recommendations - Review,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1309
NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS:
No. 3, Educ. - Schools: Class Size Reduction - Plan Outline,
Mr. E. Fage 1310
No. 4, Educ. - Student Loans: Private Trade Schools/Private College -
Number, Mr. E. Fage 1310
No. 5, Educ. - Dart. H.S. & Prince Andrew H.S.:
Black Student Support Workers - Need Review, Mr. E. Fage 1311
No. 6, Health - Amherst Reg. Hosp.: Site Progress - Report, Mr. E. Fage 1311
No. 7, Health - Amherst: Doctors-Increase/Hospital Status-Raise,
Mr. E. Fage 1311

[Page 1269]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 1997

Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Sixth Session

10:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Gerald Fogarty

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Keith Colwell

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We can now begin today's sitting of the House of Assembly, Friday, December 12th, with the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

MRS. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Select Committee on National Unity, I beg leave to table the schedule of our upcoming public hearings.

MR. SPEAKER: The schedule is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: I regret that I was sort of asleep at the switch here, reading a report from the minister. Could we return, at the end of the daily routine to Presenting and Reading Petitions?

1269

[Page 1270]

AN HON. MEMBER: With unanimous consent.

MR. SPEAKER: It is agreed. We can do that, yes.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia for the year ended March 31, 1997.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity today to table an education video on problem gambling produced by Communications Nova Scotia for the Department of Health. The video titled Romancing the Odds is the first of its kind in the province. It is cleverly designed to work with other interventions to educate and increase public awareness of problem gambling and to promote healthy lifestyle habits.

Romancing the Odds will be distributed free of charge to problem gamblers and their families. This will be done through our Problem Gambling Service, Drug Dependency Services offices and our toll-free problem gambling help line. The video should also greatly benefit allied professionals, self-help groups, educators and others who are directly or indirectly affected by problem gambling.

Romancing the Odds received a high rating from a formal focus group process. Focus groups included professional counsellors, recovering problem gamblers, educators and members of the public. In fact, the video was highly praised at the Atlantic Film Festival. The Writer/Director, Lulu Keating, who is in the gallery today, received a community achievement award for this video and other similar projects. We are very fortunate to have such fine local talent and resources right here in Nova Scotia to produce such an excellent educational tool.

With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would now like to introduce some of the key people who are responsible for this video. Ms. Lulu Keating, as I mentioned, Writer/Director; Duncan Moss, Producer; Dennis Holland, Senior Director Community Health Services; and John LaRocque, Coordinator of Problem Gambling Services from the Department of Health. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House as I table this video. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The video is tabled.

[Page 1271]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to report on the province's Second Quarterly Report for 1997-98. It is not always possible to have such reports delivered directly to the members of the House. In this case, though, I am pleased that the schedule of the House and the release of this report coincide.

My message to honourable members and to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia is simple: our budget remains on track and in balance.

Our recent commitment of extra funds for Health and several other departments, has been offset by savings in other areas, reduced debt servicing charges and increased revenues. As a consequence, we now forecast a surplus of approximately $1.6 million for the year ending March 31, 1998.

Mr. Speaker, before I go further, I want to acknowledge that maintaining this balance for the remainder of this fiscal year will not be easy. The needs of our health care system, in particular, and other departments as well, remain substantial. We believe we can meet those needs within the current financial framework. To do so, however, will require the continued efforts of many public servants.

All across government, our employees are working hard to find new ways to deliver services more efficiently and effectively. They are given the task of keeping our budget in balance and they are doing a fine job of it.

I also want to acknowledge that the unions which represent many of these public servants are doing their best to obtain wage increases for their members. The government believes our public servants deserve an increase after their important role in bringing our province back from the brink of financial disaster. (Applause) Together with the unions, the Minister of Human Resources is trying to work out at the bargaining table what a fair compensation package should be.

I also want to acknowledge the concerns of consumers who are looking for some relief relating to the harmonized sales tax. My officials are actively working on affordable solutions in those areas. In this regard, we hope to report progress in the not-too-distant future.

I would now like to return to the current Quarterly Report. Because we have achieved some financial flexibility, we are able to afford increased spending in areas such as health. In total, we have made extra commitments of $111 million in areas such as Health, Community Services, Transportation and Education, with the bulk of that money going to health care.

[Page 1272]

Fortunately, there have been a number of positive financial developments that provide the funds necessary for these expenditures. First of all, some of the program spending is going down. Some departments will come in under budget and there is a change in a prior years' estimate.

Secondly, we now have some revised data from the federal government. As a result, we are able to make some changes in our revenue estimates. We are forecasting a reduction in provincial source revenues and an increase in federal sources. The increase on federal sources is mainly from adjustments to prior years' data.

If I may, I want to make a small point here on the method by which we get information on tax collections and transfers from the federal government. In each case, there is a significant delay. Businesses and citizens file income tax forms months after the tax year ends. The information is processed, assessed and reassessed. As you would understand, it takes a couple of years before we see the final numbers.

In the meantime, we make cautious estimates and make plans with a bit of a buffer. We budget with an eye to flexibility in case we need some room to make adjustments, and we expect that the pluses and the minuses will largely cancel each other out. In this case, with the information we have now, there are more positives than negatives. We are now forecasting a modest increase in revenue of approximately 0.5 per cent.

Finally, we are now forecasting a reduction in debt servicing costs. This is primarily due to interest rates that are still well below budget forecasts. Despite the recent rise in short-term rates, the increase has been less than what we had built into our estimates in April of this year. The debt service cost savings, the increase in revenues and the reduction in program costs total $108.5 million. When we combine these favourable developments with the commitments for increased program spending, we end up with a forecast surplus of approximately $1.6 million. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

[10:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this is the second quarterly report and I think everybody should be aware that this report covers the financial matters in the Department of Finance until September 30th. It is the third quarter results which are probably going to be of more interest. However, this document is of considerable interest in what it does not say.

The minister is patting himself on the back that he is still coming in with a budget forecast. Again, this province is carrying itself on the generosity of the rest of Canada. This government has over-expended in the first two quarters, but they are still showing a revenue surplus simply because of the fact that they have $35.8 million additional coming in from in

[Page 1273]

the federal government from the prior years' adjustment on the transfer of funds from the feds and also the net debt servicing costs down by $50.5 million. This is a total of about $88 million that is coming in, not through good management by this government but simply because of the fact that the federal government is providing additional funds to this province because we are doing so poorly.

I see the minister shaking his head, but we only have to go to personal income tax, which is down $17 million in the first two quarters of this year from the projected figures from the minister. These figures, I would suggest to you, do not translate into a financial balanced budget at the end of this fiscal year, but they translate into a deficit. If we take into account the promises made by this government with regard to taking the provincial side of the harmonized sales tax off clothing for children, school supplies and oil and electricity, we will find that their CHST returns are going to go down dramatically. I would suggest that that is going to result in a deficit at the end of this fiscal year.

I do not find anything in this particular report from the minister to be of favour for this government because it translates into increased expenditures by the government and increased receipts because we are doing so poorly. Thank you.

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

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Let me say that I think the most relevant sentence in this whole statement is the one that says, ". . . I want to acknowledge that maintaining this balance for the remainder of this fiscal year will not be easy.". Something could never be more true, Mr. Speaker, given the fact that we are already starting on a very flimsy base. Let's not forget that the quarterly report that was brought out in September of $1.-whatever million surplus was immediately translated by the Auditor General into a $10-plus million deficit. So when the Auditor General actually looks at these figures, what is he going to come up with?

What we do know is that this government is on a spending spree - $27 million to Michelin, costs out of sight on the Horton school, other schools in the works to be built, postponing the inevitable on public sector wage increases, the HST relief plan, NSRL. Things are clearly out of control with respect to fiscal matters of this government. We asked the government this fall to bring forward a mini-budget to this House so we could properly have a debate on what is going on in the Province of Nova Scotia. What do they do? At the last minute they drop a statement that has not been examined and that cannot be defended by this minister or his officials. They bring it in on the last day and expect Nova Scotians to buy it. Well, I will tell you what, they won't be buying it.

This government will go to any end to avoid accountability but, do you know what? The day of reckoning is fast approaching when this government is finally going to have to atone for the mistakes they are making.

[Page 1274]

One final thing, Mr. Speaker, in light of how the expenditures are clearly out of control on the government side, I think it is time that this minister brought a resolution into this House, in accordance with the Expenditure Control Act, Part III, Section 13, where we bring a resolution into this House to actually debate, to discuss and debate the expenditures of the Province of Nova Scotia. That is the kind of accountability that Nova Scotians expect, that is the kind of accountability that Nova Scotians deserve.

Let me say in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, that public servants in the Province of Nova Scotia had better make sure they take all their valuables out of their desks because what is coming down the road at the hands of this government is not going to be a pretty picture.

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

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I want to bring the members up to date very quickly with regard to the Winter Works Program. The applications will be on their desks before long, they are outside now.

As Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, it is with a great deal of pleasure that I rise in the House today to announce the details with regard to the Nova Scotia Housing Authorities, and it applies to every housing authority in the province. Approximately 350 people will be hired this winter to maintain the 12,000 public housing units throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, in total, as my colleague the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism recently announced, this will create up to 1,600 jobs. This represents a total provincial commitment of $3.9 million and lever dollars through the housing authorities, federal and municipal, to create these jobs. It is a good example of partnerships; the federal government, the municipalities and the Nova Scotia housing authorities working together.

The housing jobs will be distributed province-wide, all over Nova Scotia, with priority given to high unemployment areas. The jobs that have been requested by the housing authorities that they can manage is what they will receive. Some of the jobs will include light maintenance, such as cleaning, painting and minor repairs.

This program is good for two reasons; it creates jobs in many areas of the province and it is also improving the housing stock across the province. Sixty-four per cent of our units are for seniors. The Winter Works Program will begin in January and runs for a maximum of 16 weeks under this program. Interested persons can pick up applications at the 18 regional housing authority offices, the Canada Employment Centres and Access Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, through you, each member will have an application to take with him.

[Page 1275]

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, indeed it is a welcome announcement that we hear this morning because any time we have jobs announced for Nova Scotians, that is a good thing. The problem, of course, is that he says we are designating this to high priority areas. I realize that Cape Breton is one of the areas that has been prioritized but I want to say that regardless of where you live in the Province of Nova Scotia, if you are out of work it is high priority to find a job, and that is what needs to happen.

Mr. Speaker, there are other counties that feel as if they have been left out of this picture, out of these jobs. I hope that is not true but people in Pictou County have told me, people in Colchester County and Cumberland County and in Queens County tell me that they are being left out of the picture and that is not acceptable. It seems that if you don't have a Liberal member, you don't have a shot at these jobs.

I want to tell you, there are 350 people to be hired and I hope that this government has the good common sense to hire people on need, not on political affiliation and not on where they live, but because they need the jobs. There are a lot of people, Mr. Speaker, that need to go to work.

This program runs for 16 weeks, which is a good amount of work, but you know this program was announced by the Minister of Economic Development on December 1st in Sydney. People should be going to work today, Mr. Speaker. They should be going to work so that 350 Nova Scotians and their families could have a good Christmas, not a Christmas of wondering are we going to have a job? Can we survive after this holiday season is over? This should be the announcement of people going to work, not about applications being ready. This government has known for two weeks or longer that this was going to happen and people should be going to work today.

Jobs are needed now, not down the road. If people are really, really, concerned, Mr. Speaker, about the people of Nova Scotia, they would be putting them to work today. Thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, a couple of words, if I may, on this. Certainly I welcome the announcement by the minister today. Of course, the 350 jobs being announced aren't new jobs, they were already announced. This is simply the section of jobs that are going to be allocated to the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs, so they are part of the 1,600 that were announced earlier as was indicated.

[Page 1276]

Mr. Speaker, I don't know what the total jobs were that were announced for last year and it is something that I will have to look at, so I am not sure if the total number of winter works jobs being announced this year is greater or less, certainly the need is no less.

There are two other points that I would like to make, briefly. First of all, Mr. Speaker, in echoing what the previous speaker had said, we have to ensure the jobs are provided to people who need them most, and certainly there is no room for partisanship in terms of who those jobs go to. They shouldn't be allocated on a political basis, they should be allocated on the base of fairness and greatest need. I would suggest to the minister and to all members of the government benches that one of the best places to do that is to ensure that the hiring is done independently, possibly through the Canada Employment Centre, where politics is not a major consideration when they refer people for interviews. We have to ensure that politics is removed from hiring whether that be full-time or part-time employment in the Province of Nova Scotia. Nothing less is acceptable.

Secondly, I certainly welcome the fact that money is going to be put into maintaining and repairing existing housing stock and that the housing authorities are going to be receiving money. I might add, however, Mr. Speaker, that we have to have ongoing maintenance programs, not only in winter works' times. We have seen what has happened when public buildings are left unattended to, neglected because of lack of funding. We have seen, for example, that schools across this province have had to undergo extensive repairs and many of them shut down because of air quality, et cetera, because there was not the proper funding being provided for regular ongoing maintenance.

Those who live in housing authority complexes and in seniors' complexes deserve to know that their buildings are going to be properly maintained on an ongoing basis, not just during winter works, make-work projects and we are going to be taking care of our housing stock in an efficient manner so that we will not find ourselves in the situation where you have to pump out millions of dollars to do the upgradings, as is happening in the schools.

So, Mr. Speaker, with those brief comments, I want to indicate that certainly I welcome the ministers' announcements and I certainly welcome the minister announcing, and his colleagues announcing too, how they are going to ensure that the jobs are awarded on the basis of need, not Party politics. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 3 of the Acts of 1995. The Halifax Regional Municipality Act. (Mr. Paul MacEwan for Hon. Bruce Holland as a private member.)

[Page 1277]

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, could we revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions?

[10:30 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We will revert to the top of the daily routine, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank you and the Government House Leader. The petition is addressed to the Honourable Donald Downe, Minister of Transportation and it reads:

"We the undersigned request that you take immediate action to remedy a very serious situation which exists at Cheverie Crossway . . .", that is crossway not causeway, ". . . on Route 215 at Cheverie, Hants County.

There is no longer any windbreak on this section of the highway and it is left open to the strong winds and very rough high tides of the Minas Basin.

The section is a built up highway and does not have any ditches to prevent vehicles from going over the bank on either side of the highway.

This section of highway is particularly vulnerable to the force of wind driven waves, ice and debris.

The highway is used by school buses serving the Dr. Arthur Hines Elementary School, Hants West Rural School and the travelling public.

There are many times when the wind driven spray makes it very dangerous and sometimes virtually impossible to travel this section of the highway.

We therefore respectfully request that you take immediate action to remedy this situation.".

[Page 1278]

Mr. Speaker, the petition I have signed and it is signed by 100 people. There are another 200 or 300 more signatures out there that I did not have time to pick up yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, this is a very dangerous situation and the road, itself, is going to be washed away this winter if, indeed, no remedial action is taken. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

Before we go to Notices of Motion, there has been a request for an introduction.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

DR. EDWIN KINLEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce some visitors from the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect. The group is from the Halifax Christian Academy, with their leader Daphne Thurber. There are 13 students and they are in the east gallery. I would ask you to introduce them in the usual fashion. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 421

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

Whereas the I don't know, I'm not sure, I can't tell you Premier is in Ottawa trying to undo some of the damage he was a party to creating; and

Whereas the I don't know, I'm not sure, I can't tell you Premier who was quoted as saying, "It's been a tough few years with the feds down loading their deficit onto the Provinces", seems to forget that he was a member of the government that downloaded those costs onto the provinces; and

Whereas the I don't know, I'm not sure, I can't tell you Premier ironically leads a government that has downloaded huge costs onto municipal governments;

Therefore be it resolved that the I don't know, I'm not sure, I can't tell you Premier, who has a new-found concern over federal downloading, show the same concern for municipal governments by immediately addressing the problems thrust upon them as a result of the unprecedented downloading by this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

[Page 1279]

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 422

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 holiday season is a time to give thanks for all the good things we have in life; and

Whereas it is also a time to remember family and friends along with all who have served us so well throughout the year; and

Whereas members of this House have been and continue to be well served by all members of the Province House staff;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend warmest best greetings of the holiday season and best wishes for the new year to all members of the Province House staff and their families.

Mr. Speaker, I would request 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. (Applause)

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 423

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

Whereas every year more and more Nova Scotian children are diagnosed with autism, a frightening and often misunderstood neurological disorder; and

[Page 1280]

Whereas wait times for assessment are usually six months or longer and post-assessment treatment programs almost totally non-existent, leaving anxious parents to cope with the shattering news of their child's prognosis and the overwhelming frustration of little or no government programs to assist their child reach his or her full potential; and

Whereas the evidence is clear that early intervention, particularly before the age of six, can make the world of difference for the child, for the parents and families and at the same time reduce demands for more costly support services as the children get older;

Therefore be it resolved that the government commit today to work with the Nova Scotia Autism Society, early intervention specialists and the IWK to reduce wait times for assessment and to establish a meaningful early intervention program with specific targeted dates for implementation province-wide.

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

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 424

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

Whereas on November 27, 1995, the crew of the Lady Wallace, a fishing boat out of Wedgeport, came across another lobster boat in distress and loaded down with traps in the early morning off the Tusket Islands; and

Whereas the crew of the Lady Wallace, despite strong winds and cold, high seas, was able to rescue the four man crew of the Simon Jacques - Kevin LeBlanc, Neil LeBlanc, Jamie LeBlanc and Steven Bower; and

Whereas the Governor General recently recognized the heroic efforts of the crew of the Lady Wallace with the Governor General of Canada's Certificate of Commendation;

[Page 1281]

Therefore be it resolved that this House also extend congratulations to George Wallace, Malcolm Wallace, Darryl LeBlanc and Curtis Doucet, the crew of the Lady Wallace, for their act of bravery in saving the lives of four fellow fishermen.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 425

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

Whereas it is estimated that there is approximately a $12 billion surplus in Canada's Employment Insurance system; and

Whereas this Savage-MacLellan Liberal Government has agreed with Ottawa to a change to the Canada Pension Plan, resulting in middle income Nova Scotia workers paying an additional $700 a year from their hard-earned paycheques; and

Whereas despite this major increase in CPP contributions, the federal Minister of Finance is refusing to reduce EI premiums any lower than the 20 cents per $100 of insured earnings effective January 1st;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature agree a letter be sent via the Speaker's Office to Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Finance Minister Paul Martin, urging an increased reduction in EI premiums so billions of dollars will not continue to build in our EI system and in turn be used for political purposes while Nova Scotians are being taxed to death.

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

[Page 1282]

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 426

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

Whereas the Government of Canada continues to move toward divesting federal salmon hatcheries in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas in 1982 the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia signed an agreement which made Nova Scotia responsible for trout hatcheries and left Atlantic salmon hatcheries the responsibility of the federal government; and

Whereas by abandoning federal hatcheries in Nova Scotia, the Government of Canada will be responsible for the loss forever of certain threatened river specific stocks of Atlantic salmon;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature supports the Nova Scotia Minister of Fisheries in taking whatever action he deems necessary to prevent the federal government from divesting itself of Atlantic salmon hatcheries in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1283]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 427

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

Whereas the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce recently held their Annual Business Achievement Awards banquet; and

Whereas the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce paid tribute to many individuals and organizations who have contributed to the betterment of Pictou County residents; and

Whereas the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce bestowed upon Wayne and Carmel Margeson the honour of Entrepreneur of the Year for their success with their family eating establishment, The Dock;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Margesons for being recognized as Entrepreneur of the Year and for providing the residents of Pictou County with good food, fun, entertainment and enjoyment for the entire family.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 428

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

[Page 1284]

Whereas in a recent policy update issued by the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce, the chamber states that the new gas deal negotiated by Premier MacLellan is better for Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce represents the business voice of Metropolitan Halifax with over 1,300 members; and

Whereas the chamber has stated it will continue to work with the Premier on behalf of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend the Metropolitan Halifax Chamber of Commerce for this cooperative effort with respect to the Sable gas project and urges the Leader of the Opposition and the NDP to work cooperatively with the Premier on this project which will benefit all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 429

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

Whereas the Savage-MacLellan Government likes to re-announce kissie, huggie, squeezie announcements; and

Whereas these kissie, huggie, squeezie announcements are really feeble attempts to placate rural Liberal MLAs' demented lust to participate in patronage; and

Whereas kissie, huggie, squeezie announcements really don't cut it with the thousands of unemployed and impoverished Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Savage-MacLellan Government understand that there is nothing kissie, huggie, squeezie about being down and out in Nova Scotia, under a government whose response for job creation is, I don't know, I'm not sure and I can't tell you.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.

[Page 1285]

RESOLUTION NO. 430

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

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada recommended in 1994 that provincial legislation is needed to protect members of pension plans where the courts award pension surpluses to the employer; and

Whereas the introduction of needed pension reform has been delayed; and

Whereas this delay has allowed the continuation of injustices, like a recent court decision that awarded a $4 million Nova Scotia Savings and Loan Company pension plan surplus to the creditors of Central Guaranty Trust Company;

Therefore be it resolved that in accordance with the recommendation of the Supreme Court of Canada, the government take immediate appropriate action to intervene on behalf of members of the Nova Scotia Savings and Loan Company pension plan, to ensure that members of the plan receive their fair share of the pension plan surplus.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No or two.

The notice is tabled.

The honorable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 431

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 staff, students and parents of Cole Harbour High School have shown the province and country that although they were faced with long-standing difficulties within their school, they would find workable solutions; and

[Page 1286]

Whereas at a meeting this week for parents at the school they were told by the principal that since instituting a zero tolerance policy towards students who don't behave and with the addition of security guards, the suspension rate has dropped to 75 per cent over last year; and

Whereas while the new rules and new hours for classes are having mixed reviews, a lot of parents, teachers and students have expressed publicly how much better they are feeling about that school;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate the students, staff, parents and board for making some tough choices in their effort to change, for the better, the learning environment at Cole Harbour High School.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 432

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 this government passed the Adoption Information Act in 1996, supposedly opening up access to adoption information by adoptees and birth parents; and

Whereas under this Act a person who wishes to trace a birth child or birth parent faces a non-refundable fee of at least $250; and

Whereas Parent Finders, a group advocating on behalf of adoptees, has repeatedly told this government that such fees have the same effect on many individuals as outright denial of access to this information;

[Page 1287]

[10:45 a.m.]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services fulfil the intent of the legislation by immediately reviewing the decision to charge fees under the Adoption Information Act.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice on the motion.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 433

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

Whereas during the recent by-election campaigns, the Premier said of the new Amherst Regional High School promised the community, "There would be no turning back."; and

Whereas the community has been very enthused and involved since the initial announcement of a new school, but has had its hopes and plans put on ice as it is now uncertain as to when the school will proceed and how it will be financed; and

Whereas the Premier said in October that the moratorium on public-private partnering to build new schools shouldn't delay development of a new school, which seems strange if he, at the same time, has raised serious questions about the government's unsettled financing scheme and instituted a moratorium;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier realize the high level of uncertainty he has created in Amherst as parents, students and teachers, along with the community, wait and wonder if all of their planning and work towards a new school is on hold indefinitely, and, if not, explain how the school will be financed.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.

[Page 1288]

RESOLUTION NO. 434

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

Whereas last week I introduced a resolution commending the Metro Transit drivers for driving empty buses to sites and collecting food for the Food Bank, therefore may it be recorded that the Metro Transit staff have collected 26,000 pounds of food and $2,043 in donations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House commend the Metro Transit staff for their caring and concern.

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.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before my notice of motion, may I please make an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, proceed.

MS. HELEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House today, in the west gallery, two people from my constituency and two very good friends of mine, Reg Day and Shane Ryan and I would ask them to stand and receive greetings from this House. (Applause)

RESOLUTION NO. 435

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

[Page 1289]

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Municipality recently handed out its annual Tom Miller Human Rights Memorial Award; and

Whereas the award is named after Eastern Canada's first Black Alderman who served on Sydney's City Council, and is given out each year to an individual who has made significant contributions to the municipality by encouraging human rights; and

Whereas this year's winner of the prestigious award is Dan Christmas, a senior advisor with the Membertou Band Council;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer its congratulations to Mr. Christmas for his tireless dedication to his community and his work on behalf of Native rights.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request 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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 436

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

Whereas tourism is a billion dollar industry in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Louisbourg has not only the finest national historic site in the country but can also boast of a fine harbour; and

Whereas cruise ship traffic is a significant part of the Cape Breton tourist trade;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Economic Development and Tourism direct his department to have Louisbourg marketed as a cruise ship destination in Nova Scotia.

[Page 1290]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 437

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 Minister of Education has allowed his private-partner colleagues to pick $30 million out of taxpayers' pockets to build his constituents a super school; and

Whereas despite this the Minister of Education rises day after day in this House and makes great declarations about his Party's phony fiscal responsibilities; and

Whereas day after day the minister claims his decision to pay for school construction with a credit card is the most cost-effective way, yet almost daily we learn that the cost of Harrison High has taken another leap;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take the taxpayers' credit card away from the Minister of Education and his private sector friends.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 438

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

Whereas Sunday marks the 19th Anniversary of the Queens' Children's Christmas Fund Telethon; and

[Page 1291]

Whereas to date this annual event has raised $250,000 for needy children in Queens; and

Whereas this fund is an expression of the generosity of the people of Queens towards the less fortunate;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the organizers of the Children's Christmas Fund Telethon and encourage Queens residents to continue their generosity to the needy, especially during this Christmas season.

Mr. Speaker, I seek 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 member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 439

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

Whereas 15 employees at Point Tupper's Louisiana Pacific Wallboard were laid off just three weeks before Christmas; and

Whereas Bras d'Or MP Michelle Dockerill has joined the former employees in condemning the firings as unfair, deceptive and mean-spirited; and

Whereas Louisiana Pacific was lured to Nova Scotia with millions of dollars from taxpayers and recently sold out to U.S. Gypsum, another company from outside the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this government put an end to its practice of giving millions to attract non-Nova Scotian companies to the province and instead offer support to local businesses which have a stake in Nova Scotia.

[Page 1292]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 440

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

Whereas Marine Atlantic's head office will soon be moved out of Moncton to an as yet unknown destination; and

Whereas North Sydney is an ideal location for Marine Atlantic's head office because it is near all the necessary amenities such as railroad, airport and highways; and

Whereas since becoming Premier the member for Cape Breton North has been eerily silent on support for North Sydney as the new head office for Marine Atlantic;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier act immediately to ensure that North Sydney is the new headquarters for Marine Atlantic.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 441

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 on October 18th, 1929, Britain's Privy Council declared women to be persons; and

Whereas this was the result of the work of the Famous Five who fought for the recognition of women as persons - Nellie McClung, Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney and Irene Parlby; and

Whereas yesterday the House of Commons voted unanimously to put up a statue honouring the Famous Five;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all members of the House of Commons for recognizing these famous pioneering women.

[Page 1293]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 442

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 Hector Arena in Pictou has rebounded financially and is now operating with a surplus of close to $20,000 over the past two budget years; and

Whereas despite difficult financial times the arena is expected to post an operating surplus once again in 1998; and

Whereas credit for this financial turnaround can be attributed to many people, including the arena manager, commission's board, rink staff and volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature commend Hector Arena Manager Bob Naylor, the arena commission's board, rink staff and volunteers for their dedicated hard work in making the Hector Arena in Pictou an enjoyable recreational venue.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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.

[Page 1294]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 443

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

Whereas the owners of Elliott's Lobster Trap Ltd. in Wallace, Cumberland County invented a concrete marine ballast skid, a new trap used in the lobster fishing industry; and

Whereas Elliott's reinforced concrete skids have eliminated problems associated with old wooden lobster traps; and

Whereas the success of this new lobster trap has been phenomenal with one lobster fisherman contacting Mr. Elliott and wanting to place an order for 2,000 traps;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly extend our very best wishes to Harold Elliott of Wallace, Cumberland County, and wish him every success in his new lobster trap and applaud him for his entrepreneurial spirit.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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.

If there are no further notices of motion, we will move on to Orders of the Day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1295]

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Third Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, we will now move to third readings as they are on the order paper. Bill No. 2, No. 5, No. 7, No. 8 and No. 9.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2.

Bill No. 2 - Income Tax Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be now read for a third time.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the bill be read for a third time. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 5 and in the absence of the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works, I move that this bill be read for a third time.

Bill No. 5 - Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to rise in my place and to state that I am glad that this bill is being put through the House today for third reading and it will have proclamation, as I understand it, shortly, later this morning. Thank you.

[Page 1296]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I just want to rise in my place and say that I want to indicate that our caucus certainly is very much in support of the legislation and will be voting in support of it.

I also want to congratulate the representatives of the highway workers who have been, for about 25 years, trying to get this kind of legislation, because the legislation is going to give them protections. It is going to mean that no longer will they be employed just at the discretion of the Executive Council but that they will now actually have a recognized bargaining unit with the security, really very similar to that of the Civil Service Act. I think that this is something that is a very long time in coming. For all those, but especially the representatives of the highway workers for over the, I think it was a 25 year period of time that they have been pushing for this, I want to congratulate them for not having given up but consistently persisting that this matter be advanced. Their determination over the years has finally paid off.

I also congratulate the minister for having recognized that this was a proper thing to be doing, Mr. Speaker, and I would not only say for highways workers but in all areas. It is a point I raised earlier, when the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs made his announcement that we have to ensure that all workers, whether they are full-time, part-time, or casual, that they are going to have some sort of protection and that they are going to be hired on the basis of merit, not on politics.

[11:00 a.m.]

I am very pleased to be supporting this legislation here at third reading and I look forward to an early proclamation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works to close the debate.

HON. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I want to simply say on behalf of our departmental staff and the many women and men who work in our department, a very strong thank you to the members of the Official Opposition and to the Third Party for their support in bringing this forward. I talked to Gareth Drinnan, who is President of CUPE 1867 and I relayed the support of the House, in principle, for what we have been doing to date. I believe this is a good piece of legislation that protects our workers for the future.

Also, in closing, I want to thank the Honourable Guy Brown who brought it forward while I was taking a call. I also want to officially thank the Minister of Human Resources, the Honourable Allister Surette; and the former Minister of Labour, Honourable Manning MacDonald; and the current Minister of Labour, Honourable Gerald O'Malley, for their

[Page 1297]

support and their efforts in bringing this forward. I can say, Mr. Speaker, that the members of our department want to thank all people in this House for their cooperation in bringing this forward in a very expedient way. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 5. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that the bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Affairs.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I now move that Bill No. 7 be read a third time.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, again, just to indicate our support for the legislation. It is not usual that you have such harmony in here and that all sides seem to be supporting a particular piece of legislation, that may be a sign that the government isn't bringing forward anything controversial as there is a date coming up in the spring.

Having said that, I think that quite honestly, again, that this legislation is going to streamline the process of the granting of licences, permits, et cetera. There has to be ongoing work with the regulations. There are some concerns that I have that, of course, the government will, and still continues to have the powers to make regulations to affect and change fees, permit fees, licencing fees, et cetera and it is a good way to crank up the revenues of the province at the same time that they are saying they are not increasing taxes. It is a practice that we have seen over and over again from successive governments. I am sure that as long as the Liberal Government stays in power, that that practice will continue.

I think it is also important to recognize that the legislation came about really as a result of the hard work and cooperation as well with the small business community, in particular, Mr. O'Brien. Anything that is going to assisting - so long as it is not going to be totally deregulating and the government is not going to be getting out of those areas where it has

[Page 1298]

responsibilities to protect the public interests and to protect proper standards - if we can do things that are going to make it more efficient for business, Mr. Speaker, and also individuals, that is a welcome advancement.

Certainly this is an important step. However, it is something that has to be reviewed on an ongoing basis because permits, licencing conditions, et cetera, can change as can the need for regulations.

The only other comment I would make is that I certainly would appreciate it if governments would make it a practice to have all regulations that they are going to be amending and changing put out for public discussion for a period of time prior to those regulations being changed. That would give any of the public who might be affected by those regulatory changes an opportunity to comment on them, and that can assist in getting them right the first time.

In this age of technology, the government has a very easy way to get that out. All you would have to do is publish the anticipated or proposed regulation changes, for example on the government's web site, and dates by which they would like to have input provided. I think that would help create efficiency and give greater involvement to the communities affected, into the decision-making process.

With those brief words, Mr. Speaker, I indicate our support for the legislation as it is proceeding through this House for third reading this morning.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. JOHN LEEFE: Mr. Speaker, this is but one step on a very long journey, a journey to which this government is as yet uncommitted, yet one which I believe that all of us who represent the interests of our constituents should necessarily commit ourselves. There is no doubt that the regulatory regimes which are in place here in Nova Scotia - with respect to the provincial government and also with respect to the bylaws that have been adopted by the various municipalities - the municipalities, of course, operating under the aegis of provincial legislation, do not always operate in the best interests of today. They are, after all, designed to meet the interests of yesterday.

As a consequence, it is absolutely essential that we establish an ongoing mechanism whereby all regulatory regimes of the province and indeed of the municipalities as well, are put to the test of the current time and are put to the test to ensure that they meet the demands not only of today but insofar as we are able to forecast it, of the future as well. That can only be done if we have a commission, a body, which operates to a reasonable degree at arm's length from government and makes recommendations not only to government but indeed, directly to the House so that we understand what kind of recommendations they would make with respect to improving the regulatory regime here in the province.

[Page 1299]

While all of us certainly support regulatory regimes which protect the environment, protect public health and so on, we also must ensure that inadvertently we do not adopt or allow to continue to exist on books, regulatory regimes which dampen the opportunity for investment in business in Nova Scotia both existing business and new business. How many times have we heard it said by people in the private sector who are themselves in business or who speak on behalf of those who are in business, that job opportunities are lost because we have regulatory regimes in place which make it very difficult, which create impediments in the way of business to create new business opportunities here which, of course, always will relate in the creation of new jobs? Nowhere is this more important than in the small business sector, the small business sector always being touted by all of us here and correctly so, as being the engine of the provincial economy. There are more people employed by small businesses in Nova Scotia than there are by big businesses.

I listened with interest to comments of my friend from the New Democratic Party. Very clearly, it appears that he seems to have gained some kind of insight into the terrible choking impact of regulatory regimes on investment by looking at what the New Democratic Government did in the Province of Ontario, very seriously undercutting and indeed, destroying much of the economic opportunity in that province under the Rae Government.

With those words I will certainly be supporting the legislation but supporting it in the sense that it is but a first step on a very long and very necessary journey. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Business and Consumer Services.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, again I would like to thank the honourable members for their support on this bill. As I pointed out earlier throughout this debate, this is part of the process that is before the House. We anticipate bringing something at a later day.

In closing, I would like to thank all of the members who actually spent two years on our task force to review over 288 different licences, approvals and certifications. We are very pleased that we are able to bring something forward and with that I would move third reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 7. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

[Page 1300]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 8.

Bill No. 8 - Family Maintenance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to move third reading of Bill No. 8. Just a very few short words. This allows for the implementation of the child support guidelines here in Nova Scotia which will provide for a fair and consistent standard in determining levels of child support. It will result in the treatment being the same whether family matters come before Family Court or Provincial Court and whether it deals with families who are divorcing, who are married or with questions of custody and maintenance for unmarried parents.

We believe it is good legislation and it assists parents and children in very difficult situations. I would like to thank my staff for their support and the hard work they put forward in this. I would also like to thank all members opposite for their cooperation and their comments during the debate. I would move third reading of Bill No. 8.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would just simply like to say to the minister, through you, that this caucus will be supporting this legislation. We consider that this legislation is a giant step forward and we are glad that the minister brought it forth. Again, I urge speedy proclamation of this particular piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I too rise on behalf of our caucus to support this legislation. I think that the two key provisions of the legislation that are so significant, so important, to families with children in this province are that it first of all is inclusive. It does include family structures that were not before recognized. The second, and perhaps even more important thing, is that it puts children first. I think it has been a long time coming in this province for all of us to recognize that the claims of dependent children need to come before anything else in the matters that come before courts when families break down.

I commend the government for its leadership on this particular issue because I think it is up to legislators to indicate to the general public what the most significant concerns are. I think this legislation has done that by putting children first. Thank you.

[Page 1301]

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that I too am very much in support of these changes to the Family Maintenance Act. I know the minister has received a lot of calls from constituents and Nova Scotians right across the province regarding the Family Maintenance Act. There are certainly some other areas that I trust the minister is also looking at that probably should be tightened up to provide some of the people who are, in fact, being impacted by sanctions, for example, that are not implemented. I do appreciate these changes. I think they are necessary and I agree with my colleague to the left that, in fact, it does put the children first and that is most important about these changes. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: I thank the honourable members for their comments and I move third reading of Bill No. 8.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 8. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

Bill No. 9 - Judicature Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to move third reading of Bill No. 9 which is amendments to the Judicature Act. The purpose of these amendments is to create a unified Family Court. This will result in a Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia and eventually will be the elimination of the Family Court here in Nova Scotia. This will eliminate the two-tiered court system. It will provide for a much simpler system. It will mean less costs and a simpler system for all those who use it. The unified Family Court will be phased in over a period of time. Presently, we have 18 Family Court Judges, we will be going to 14 Justices of the Family Division of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, plus an Associate Chief Justice.

[Page 1302]

[11:15 a.m.]

In addition to the economies that will result from the unified Family Court, the main difference is that they will be federal court justices and these justices will be paid by the federal government. This will result in significant savings to the provincial government. All of this money will be used to enhance services to families. So this means we can provide for greater mediation, alternative dispute options, post-separation counselling, parenting education, conciliation services and these sorts of services.

The objective is again to put children first and to assist families who are going through a very traumatic period to try to ensure that matters that can be settled without resorting to court can be settled and that the workload on the court is lessened and only those matters which are important do go forward to the court.

Mr. Speaker, we feel this is very progressive legislation. Again, I want to thank my staff for their very hard work on this and all those in the Barristers' Society, courts and people involved in Family Mediation Services who have cooperated and offered advice on this. I also thank members opposite for their comments and assistance. I move third reading of Bill No. 9.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, again, I would like to congratulate the minister and his staff for bringing forward this legislation. It is not unique, several provinces are already on board and others are in the process of adopting similar legislation. There is no doubt that it is a significant improvement over the system that we presently have. So the caucus that I represent is pleased to endorse this bill.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to certainly echo and associate myself with the comments that have been made by both the minister and the Justice Critic on behalf of the Conservative caucus. This is legislation and the kind of reform certainly I know that in this caucus we have been speaking in support of for 10 years. It is not a new idea but it is one that does take, unfortunately, quite a long time to bring to fruition. It is not a simple matter and we also are dependent upon the federal government in part, too, in how fast they are able to appoint new judges according to their own legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that this is indeed very progressive legislation. I look forward to the earliest stage beginning, as the first judges are being appointed and certainly to the expanded services. I had requested and believe received during the second reading debate from the minister assurances that the money that is being saved for the province in terms of the salaries of the judges once they are moved up to the Supreme Court will be picked up by

[Page 1303]

the federal government and that those monies, all of those monies, will be put back into providing the enhanced services. I think that is extremely important, Mr. Speaker, and that it will help those families and most particularly the children, and it will enable, hopefully, a lot of disputes being resolved in a more pleasant manner rather than having to go and battle it out through the courts. So I think this is, indeed, a positive measure and I look forward to, over the next number of years, three to five years, for this program being implemented right across the province. Our caucus certainly will be voting in support of this legislation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I recognize the minister to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ALAN MITCHELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable members for their comments and I move third reading of Bill No. 9.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 9, the Judicature Act. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. RAYMOND WHITE: Mr. Speaker, with unanimous consent of the House, I would request that we revert to Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report entitled, the Annual Report of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1304]

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would now ask that you, sir, call a short recess for approximately 10 minutes. The Lieutenant Governor is here, and the Clerk has to get the bills signed and then we will be back here and please be back here at 11:30 a.m. so that we can finish this.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We will have a short recess for approximately 10 minutes, while we await the arrival of His Honour, the Lieutenant Governor.

[The House recessed at 11:21 a.m.]

[The House reconvened at 11:33 a.m.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: His Honour the Lieutenant Governor is without.

MR. SPEAKER: Let His Honour be admitted.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable John James Kinley, preceded by his escort and by Mr. Douglas Giles, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, bearing the mace, entered the house of Assembly Chamber. The Lieutenant Governor then took his seat on the Throne.

The Sergeant-at-Arms then departed and re-entered the Chamber followed by the Speaker, the Honourable Gerald Fogarty; Chief Clerk of the House, Roderick MacArthur, Q.C.; and Acting Assistant Clerk, Arthur Fordham, Q.C. They took up their positions at the foot of the Speaker's Table.]

SERGEANT-AT-ARMS: It is the wish of His Honour that the ladies and gentlemen be seated.

MR. SPEAKER; May it please Your Honour, the General Assembly of the Province has, in its present session, passed certain bills to which in the name and on behalf of the General Assembly, I respectfully request Your Honour's Assent.

THE CLERK:

Bill No. 2 - Income Tax Act.

Bill No. 3 - Beaver Bank Act.

[Page 1305]

Bill No. 5 - Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

Bill No. 6 - Cape Breton Regional Municipality Act.

Bill No. 7 - Licences, Permits, Registrations and Certifications Act.

Bill No. 8 - Family Maintenance Act.

Bill No. 9 - Judicature Act.

Bill No. 10 - Rainbow Haven Act.

Bill No. 14 - Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and Disciples of Christ Incorporation Act.

Bill No. 15 - St. Peter's and Area Lions Club Lands Act.

Bill No. 16 - La Picasse Tax Exemption Act.

THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR:

In Her Majesty's name, I Assent to these Bills.

[The Speaker and the Clerks left the Chamber.]

[The Lieutenant Governor left the Chamber.]

[The Speaker took the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. GUY BROWN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the House Leaders of the other two Parties and to thank members in all Parties for their cooperation and understanding during this session. I want to also indicate to you the orders that I have. We will be back here sometime around February 16th to 20th. I may delay the day for somebody who is going on vacation in the media and I may not come back until the 21st.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that?

[Page 1306]

MR. BROWN: Lisa is going away. I can assure you that we will be back. The Minister of Finance will be introducing a budget, that is my understanding. I just want all members and their families to enjoy the holiday season and I hope you have a great time. Personally, I am going to Fort McMurray, my wife and I, to be with our son for Christmas, so I will be gone for 10 days or so, so if you need me, phone Fort McMurray, please.

Mr. Speaker, through you, sir, I believe that there is the tradition that we are working together in the best interests. We disagree on philosophy and that is what this House is all about but when it comes to business that is in the interest of Nova Scotia, they have supported it and I thank the Opposition Parties for that, sir, through your good office, and thank you very kindly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, and members of the House of Assembly, I move that this General Assembly be now adjourned, to meet again at the call of the Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned.

[The House adjourned at 11:41 a.m.]

[Page 1307]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 444

By: Mr. John Holm (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs announced in this House yesterday that the province is taking over social housing, thus helping its federal Liberal counterparts in their quest to devolve social programs onto the provinces; and

Whereas before downloading, the feds froze the subsidies to cooperative housing, a part of the same social housing, at 1996 levels, at a time when many housing cooperatives renewed mortgages at the lowest rates in over 40 years, on housing stock that will require increasingly costly maintenance as time goes by; and

Whereas the Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs assured the House and cooperative housing members yesterday that their interests will be looked after, that it will be business as usual;

Therefore be it resolved that this minister reassure cooperative housing members that this government will help with the required subsidies if mortgages are renewed at higher interest rates.

RESOLUTION NO. 445

By: Robert Chisholm (Halifax Atlantic)

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

Whereas for many weeks this Liberal Government has been promising answers to Nova Scotians on important issues like Sable gas, the plan for P3 schools, the school capital construction priority list, the response to the Westray report and the strategy for cutting the BST on home heating fuel and other necessities; and

Whereas with the House about to rise for at least two months only the Sable gas announcement has come forth and the Premier took it on the lam to Ottawa the day the deal was disclosed; and

[Page 1308]

Whereas allowing this House to scrutinize and question one major announcement out of five is an insult to the principle of accountability and to every member of this House of Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemns the Mac-Savage Liberal Government for being secretive, unaccountable and downright spineless for its refusal to debate and defend its controversial decisions in this assembly.

[Page 1309]

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Given on December 10, 1997

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 2

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

To: Hon. Francene Cosman (Minister of Community Services)

(1) Parent Finders has submitted 14 recommendations to the provincial government on reforming access of adoption information. Instead of asking Parent Finders to revert their attentions to the Special Committee on the Release of Adoption Information, will the minister commit to reviewing the recommendations herself with the aim of then pushing for action on those changes herself and amending what is considered a flawed Act?

(2) If the Minister of Community Services does not agree on reviewing, herself, the 14 recommendations which were presented, will she explain why she does not believe that these changes to legislation and policy should be implemented?

[Page 1310]

NOTICE OF QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWERS

Given on December 12, 1997

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 3

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Education and Culture)

(1) Could the minister outline his plan to reduce class sizes in schools across this province as outlined in this and the government's previous Throne Speeches?

(2) Could the minister outline how much additional money will be directed to see that there are more teachers and fewer students in each class?

(3) Could the minister explain if the needs of children with special learning challenges will be more adequately addressed in the coming budget? The shortfall, in terms of a financial commitment by government for the 1997-98 budget year, that is the difference in the suggested level of funding out of last year's funding review work group report and the 1997-98 response by government, was significant. Will government look at the need for a significant increase in funds needed for teachers and boards in this province to properly be able to implement the government's inclusion policy in our classrooms so that everyone is given the attention they need to learn?

QUESTION NO. 4

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Education and Culture)

(1) Can the minister provide statistics with regard to (year to year) the number of students at private trade schools who apply and receive student loans from the provincial government to attend private colleges?

(2) Can the minister also provide the number of those who do not complete and program and default on their loan payments?

(3) Can the minister explain the measures available to his department to enforce the regulations governing trade schools and calculate how often those regulations are enforced and/or put into effect?

[Page 1311]

QUESTION NO. 5

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

To: Hon. Robert Harrison (Minister of Education and Culture)

(1) Will the Education Minister review the situation in the schools of the former Dartmouth District School Board with regard to the need to additional Black student support workers - one in both the two high schools (Dartmouth High and Prince Andrew) and two to cover the needs of both elementary and junior high school students? This position has proven successful in other schools nearby and it is confusing for the students in the schools mentioned why their need for that same attention, which pays dividends in the long run, is not as high a priority?

QUESTION NO. 6

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

To: Hon. James Smith (Minister of Health)

(1) Request that the minister provide a detailed written report on the progress in identifying the site for the new Amherst Regional Hospital as well as the expected date for finalizing the site selection process.

QUESTION NO. 7

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

To: Hon. James Smith (Minister of Health)

(1) Could the minister indicate what specific new actions he will take to resolve the doctor shortage in Amherst and to secure Amherst Regional Hospital's level 3 status?