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December 1, 1994


Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 P.M.


Hon. Paul MacEwan


Mr. Gerald O'Malley

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe we can commence this afternoon's proceedings at this time.

Before we begin, I have an announcement I would like to read to all members. I am asked by my secretary to remind you, those of you who have not responded to the invitation to attend the CPA dinner on Tuesday of next week, to please notify the Speaker's office by noon tomorrow as the final count has to be given to the caterer before the end of tomorrow. So please let us know your intentions one way or the other on that, if you could, by noon tomorrow.

Are there any introductions of visitors?

The daily routine.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the citizens of the Village of Scotch Village, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 90 citizens of that village, ". . . requesting that a Post Office franchise be established in a local store in the Village as was promised by the Postal authorities when the Village Post Office was closed many months ago. The support of Members of the Provincial Legislature is requested to assist the residents by urging the Postal authorities to honour their commitment.". I have signed the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.


The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by approximately 13 residents from the Fish Cove Drive area in Enfield. These citizens are petitioning to have a blind spot in their road fixed and also note that Bellefountaine Road's ditching and resurfacing still remains unfinished. I have endorsed this petition with my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. ROBERT CARRUTHERS: I do have one further petition, Mr. Speaker.

I beg leave to table a petition signed by approximately 390 residents and interested people from Highway No. 14. Mr. Speaker, you will note that there is a paving project scheduled for the spring for approximately 12 kilometres of highway but I have also signed this petition and I wish to lend my support to it. These citizens are petitioning to have the full Route 14 resurfaced.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN SAVAGE (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to address an issue that touches the lives of all Canadians. The World Health organization predicts that more than 40 million people will be infected with HIV by the end of this decade and has called on governments, private organizations and individuals to recognize December 1, 1994 as World AIDS Day. This year the theme is AIDS and the Family. We are being called upon to renew our commitment to provide care, treatment and support for people affected by AIDS, their friends and their families.

Displayed in this House, Mr. Speaker, on the Hollis Street level, are selected panels of the Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt. These panels are a powerful statement of the impact of AIDS on people's lives, and I commend the NAMES Project Canada for making it possible for us to experience this quilt. The panels that we see displayed here are part of an international effort, brought about by the friends, families and caregivers of those who have been lost to this disease. Its purpose is to raise awareness and to promote understanding of a tragic situation that is often misunderstood.

The Canadian project, which began in 1989, is already the second largest AIDS quilt in the world. Its 430 panels contain memorials to 700 Canadians - men, women and children -from all regions and cultures of this country.

Province House, Mr. Speaker, is the first public building in Canada to display the Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt. Later today, the British Columbia Legislature will be the second.

Mr. Speaker, I will conclude by asking that the House honour the victims of HIV and AIDS with a moment of silence.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, I would like just an opportunity, if you will permit me, to respond briefly to the statement which the Premier has just now read to our House. I want to start by complimenting him on opening our proceedings today with this statement, which addresses a very important, and for many, a very tragic issue in our community and across the world.

I would like to begin, if I may, by praising the work of the coalition and the various groups here in this province and across this country, who have been working so long and so hard. As the Premier's statement indicates the Canadian project was begun in 1989 and a tremendous amount of work and public awareness initiative has been undertaken in that time.

I couldn't let this statement pass and the subject matter of the statement pass without paying a very special tribute to both Randy and Janet Conners. Randy succumbed to this vicious illness and has passed from us, but as all members will know, his widow, Janet Conners, works tirelessly still, particularly in the area of education and public information relative to HIV and AIDS. I think both are to be appropriately remembered on this particular occasion. I was pleased to rise, along with all colleagues, and observe the moment of silence in honour of the victims of HIV and of AIDS.

The only other comment that I would like to make, Mr. Speaker, is that when I hear the Premier read the words, as he did, "We are being called upon to renew our commitment to provide care, treatment and support for persons affected with AIDS, their friends and their families.", the only comment I will make and not mean it to be a negative comment but more a challenge to the Premier and his colleagues, that the test of the Premier's belief in those words and those of his colleagues will be evidenced by the development and the initiation of programs and reasonable funding of programs and initiatives which will, in fact, put flesh on those words. Because without a serious preoccupation and commitment to programming and legitimate funding of those programs, those words will, on a later date, ring rather hollow.

It is my sincere hope on behalf of all of those who are afflicted by this devastating disease that the government will, in fact, move in that direction, there will be such programs, there will be such a commitment and there will be reasonable funding. I am hopeful that the government's demonstrated practice will bear that out.

In all other respects, I repeat, Mr. Speaker, I think it is a very important statement made by the Premier and we support it heartily and encourage all members, as he has, and all Nova Scotians to make their way to Province House to take a look at the quilt which is - as I have in the past - a very, very moving memorial to and reminder of the blight of this devastating disease. I compliment the Premier on the statement.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to rise today to commend the Premier on making what I think is an extremely important and appropriate statement. I certainly would also like to associate my thoughts and my caucus' views with the views expressed by the Leader of the Official Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I note in the Premier's statement that he has talked about Nova Scotia and the House here being the first public building in Canada to display the Canadian AIDS Memorial Quilt. I think that what we want to do is not only be the first public House to be displaying the quilt but we want to be number one and show the true leadership in providing the education and the programs designed to prevent and to eradicate this disease here in Nova Scotia and provide leadership in doing that, indeed, around the world.

We have to have, if we are truly committed to eradicating this disease, a true commitment, not something that is only displayed or talked about on December 1st, International AIDS Day, this has to be something that is part of our thinking and part of our decision making 365 days of the year.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier quite correctly pointed that there are 40 million who it is expected will be inflicted with HIV by the turn of the century. That, of course, is only talking about those who are actually directly affected in terms of having the disease. It doesn't talk about all of the loved ones, the family and friends who are also going to be devastated by a member of their family or a friend who contracts this dreaded disease.

I hope and I pray on behalf of all of those who are concerned and, indeed, this is something that should concern us all because each and every one of us is affected by this tragic illness. I sincerely hope that the province will show leadership in terms of providing the funding and the programs that will be aimed at educating the public and assisting those who are suffering from this illness.

Mr. Speaker, I commend the Premier for making the statement. I look forward, as I say, to this being a 365 day of the year initiative and it will be a topic that there will be an opportunity for increased discussion on during the late debate at 6:00 p.m. tonight.

[12:15 p.m.]

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

MR. CLIFFORD HUSKILSON: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to the House of Assembly, I would like to introduce Mr. Eric Smith. Mr. Smith is formerly from Shelburne County and he is an AIDS activist. I would ask the House to please give him the usual applause. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my colleague for Shelburne got in ahead of me. I just wanted to introduce, I thought it was an appropriate time to introduce Eric at the time that the statement was made. Thank you, my colleague.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today with regard to the independent investigation into incidents and allegations of sexual and physical abuse at the former Shelburne School for Boys, which I announced on November 2nd.

Since that time, Mr. Speaker, the scope of this investigation has been expanded to include the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre in Truro, the Nova Scotia Residential Centre in Truro and the Children's Training Centres in Sydney and Dartmouth, for a total of five institutions.

At the time of the initial announcement, Mr. Speaker, I indicated that a person well removed and completely independent from the Government of Nova Scotia would be sought out and selected to direct this investigation.

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to announce that the former Chief Justice of New Brunswick, the Honourable Stuart G. Stratton, Q.C., of Fredericton, has agreed to undertake this very important task. Specifically, Judge Stratton has agreed to retain and direct qualified and experienced investigators, ensure the independence of the investigation, assess the evidence gathered and report to me. As I have indicated previously, that report will be made public.

The terms of reference for this task have been broadened since my initial announcement earlier this month, or I believe it would actually be last month, Mr. Speaker, we are now in December. They are as follows:

1. To investigate the incidents of sexual and other physical abuse of residents that occurred, or is alleged to have occurred, at the institutions;

2. To investigate and determine the practices and procedures in place at the institutions that either permitted or hindered the detection of abuse of residents;

3. To investigate and determine whether any employees in the institutions or any public officials were aware of abusive behaviour of staff towards residents; and

4. To investigate and determine what steps, if any, were taken by employees or officials in reference to any such abuse.

Without intending to constrain Judge Stratton in any way, it appears that the primary focus of this investigation will be from about 1956 until the mid-1970's. Judge Stratton has been authorized to retain the services and approve the payment of reasonable expenses of a qualified and experienced investigator or investigators and such other technical, secretarial and clerical personnel who, in his opinion, are required for the purpose of this investigation.

Judge Stratton is expected to report the findings of his investigation to me by June 30, 1995. This date is later than our original plan, Mr. Speaker, due to the expanded nature of this investigation. In his report, Judge Stratton will take such measures as he feels necessary to protect the privacy of the victims.

Mr. Speaker, it is my intention to make Judge Stratton's report public within two weeks of its delivery to me. I am very confident that Judge Stratton's background and experience make him uniquely qualified to assume this responsibility and enable him to make a significant contribution to our dealing with this difficult situation.

Judge Stratton has had a distinguished career, both at the Bar and on the bench. Recently, he chaired a review panel which examined allegations of abuse at the reformatory in Kingsclear, New Brunswick. This led to the establishment of the Miller Inquiry into those allegations. Judge Stratton is well-respected, experienced and his keen intellect will serve this challenge very well.

Mr. Speaker, those in this House who may be familiar with Judge Stratton's career, may be aware that he stepped down as Chief Justice in New Brunswick two years ago, for health reasons. I raise this point only to inform the House that Judge Stratton's condition has been successfully treated and he is in fine health. Moreover, he is eager to take on the challenge that he has accepted.

Judge Stratton will begin his work immediately. Office and secretarial support arrangements have been made for him, and he will be in Halifax tomorrow to begin this investigation. As I have indicated earlier, Judge Stratton will be providing me with the report by the end of June 1995.

I want to just mention the selection process. I want to make a brief comment with regard to the process by which we came to approach Judge Stratton to consider this task. We realized that there would probably be very few people available to us, whose qualifications combined the independence, experience, and sensitivity necessary to undertake this assignment successfully. As well, we also realized that this person would need to be available right away.

We made several inquiries across the country and we considered several individuals who were recommended to us. In the final analysis, Judge Stratton's integrity and independence; his experience and availability; led us to make a formal request to him, which he accepted. You may recall, Mr. Speaker, when I announced this process earlier this month, I used a budget figure of approximately $75,000 for this investigation.

With the expansion of the investigation and the subsequent need for more time to complete it, that figure is now approximately $140,000. Judge Stratton will be remunerated at a rate equivalent to a Provincial Court judge. Mr. Speaker, Judge Stratton has asked me to point out that the success of this innovative process will require the cooperation of all those people who were, or are, involved in any way. I have assured Judge Stratton of the government's complete cooperation in his investigation. I trust that all others will be equally cooperative.

In concluding my remarks I would like to publicly express our gratitude to Judge Stratton for agreeing to undertake this very important component of our overall plan to address this troublesome situation. The three-step plan, as you will recall consists of this investigation, which starts tomorrow; an audit of current practices at these institutions, to be done by Ms. Vicki Samuels-Stewart, which began today; and consideration of an alternative dispute resolution process intended to provide fair and reasonable compensation to victims. This plan, of course, leaves us with the option of proceeding with a public inquiry, should that prove necessary.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that, with the steps we have taken and the process that we put in place, we are well on our way to accomplishing our goals. We want to find out what happened, and who was responsible. We want to be sure that this awful victimization cannot reoccur, and we want to provide fair compensation to victims. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: In response to the statement read just now by the Minister of Justice, I want to say first of all that it represents as he indicates his following through on statements which he made in this place something like a month ago. I don't know Judge Stratton personally but I know something of his work as a jurist in the Province of New Brunswick and there is no question that he has completed a distinguished career as a jurist there.

The terms of reference to which the Minister of Justice refers are by my quick reading and I should have perhaps prefaced my remarks by thanking the minister for sending a copy of his statement over to us before he began his reading of it. The terms of reference are, I believe, sufficiently broad in scope to enable the kind of analysis or investigation which we would hope that Judge Stratton would undertake or would be in power to undertake. I am a little bit concerned and it has been said before and I repeat again that the process which the Minister of Justice has determined should be followed here while potentially an effective one has within it potentially the seeds for its own destruction. Now, what do I mean by that?

If you read the statement just now shared with the House by the Minister of Justice, you will find on Page 11 that the Minister of Justice, Mr. Speaker, was saying to you and through you to all of us that, ". . . Judge Stratton has asked . . ." the minister ". . . to point out that the success of this innovative process will require the cooperation of all those people who were, or are, involved, in any way.".

There are some of those who have been a little bit concerned that we might have been better advised or, more to the point, the minister might have been better advised, to proceed by way of an investigation which provided that person, be it Judge Stratton or other, to have the powers afforded or accorded under the Public Inquiries Act, and I refer, of course, to the power to subpoena and to compel the attendance of witnesses and so on.

I am a little bit concerned that Judge Stratton may, notwithstanding his and the minister's plea that everybody involved cooperate, that the issues at hand and under investigation here are so volatile in some ways and as it relates to some individuals who will surely be found to have been involved with certain of these matters, that the likelihood of cooperation and willing cooperation is perhaps somewhat reduced.

So, while I think it is important that we get on with the task, I am concerned that charging the responsibility for the undertaking to somebody who does not have some of the powers provided under the Public Inquiries Act may prove to, almost inevitably, lead us to the situation where a great deal of information will be gathered, but that a conclusion may well have to be reached as was the case in the Kingsclear situation, where a very difficult, protracted and contentious review of this kind was then, in fact, followed by a fuller scale inquiry. I am not so sure that what might in the final result prove to be an interim step is necessarily the right way to go.

I do note that in the statement on Page 13 the minister says, Mr. Speaker, that this plan leaves us, leaves him, his officials and the government ". . . with the option of proceeding with a public inquiry, should that prove necessary.". His response to me may well be, well, let's try this format, let's hope that all those who will be called upon to participate are fully open and cooperative. If they are, then Judge Stratton can get to the bottom of these very difficult issues and we will not, perhaps, need to engage in a public inquiry with all of the attendant expense and added trauma and turmoil which would accompany that.

I hope he is right. I have a very real concern that this might prove to be but an interim step. It is, however, so that I am not heard by the minister or other members to be criticizing the minister because that is not my intention this morning, I simply raise the caution or concern that we might well have been smarter to start full bore with an inquiry, with Judge Stratton or whomever having the authority to compel the attendance of witnesses and so on.

That having been said, I compliment the minister for moving in what appears to be an expeditious fashion, and I particularly compliment him on his commitment made here today, that he will make Judge Stratton's report public within two weeks of the delivery of that report to the minister. It is a report which all of us here, and thousands of Nova Scotians, will await with great anticipation.

I hope, as I conclude my remarks, that the minister's faith in Judge Stratton is well placed and that the work done by him will prove to be sufficient to gather all the information necessary so that the appropriate courses of action can be taken to ensure that this kind of abuse can just simply never, ever be allowed to occur in this province again. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the announcement of the minister this afternoon in regard to the independent investigation into incidents and allegations of sexual and physical abuse at a number of provincial institutions. I want to congratulate the minister on having responded, I think quite quickly, to expressions of real concern about the failure in the initial announcement of this investigation to include the several additional institutions, the Nova Scotia Youth Training Centre, the Residential Centre in Truro and the Children's Training Centres in Sydney and Dartmouth in the terms of reference for that investigation.

[12:30 p.m.]

Obviously there are major concerns that have already come to light in the instance of Shelburne and enough concerns and allegations in regard to the other institutions that it is, indeed, warranted to include them in the terms of reference. I congratulate the Justice Minister for doing that.

I can certainly imagine no one finding fault with the stated goals that the minister has reiterated here today in the conduct of this independent investigation to find out what happened, who was responsible, to be sure that the victimization does not recur and to provide appropriate and fair compensation to the victims.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I do have some considerable reservations about whether those important goals, which I completely support, can be adequately achieved through the course that the minister has launched. I want to make it clear at the outset that does not reflect any lack of confidence whatsoever in Judge Stuart Stratton. I think he clearly has a great deal of experience behind him. Although I know very little of him personally, I am sure that he will undertake that task with great earnestness and sincerity, bringing all the expertise that he has available to bear on the investigation.

I guess what concerns me is when I read the terms of reference, I have some difficulty imagining how, with anything less than the powers of a full public inquiry, those terms of reference can really be achieved. I just don't know how, on the basis of a kind of vague trust that people will fully cooperate, that it is going to be able to get to the heart of the situation, get to the facts involved and be able to deal with the situation.

I have publicly expressed my confidence and certainly congratulate the minister for having recognized that the whole issue of ensuring that current procedures and policies are sufficient to protect against further victimization, that that has been set in motion and I am pleased that the minister has announced that will go ahead on Monday, today, as of December 1st, with Vicki Samuels-Stewart in the lead.

I have a great deal of difficulty imagining how the need to fully investigate and have people serve as witnesses to what happened is likely to happen to the full extent needed, in order to really establish what did happen, who did know, who was responsible, what steps were taken and what steps were not taken to result in this appalling victimization of children and youth, already severely vulnerable and children who were there in the care and custody of the provincial government, in order to protect them, in order to ensure that they had their special needs met and, instead, became doubly victimized.

I have a lot of concern and, frankly, lack faith, not in any way related to the particular judge appointed to carry out the investigation but, rather, lack faith that the procedures will be sufficient and the powers of the judge will be sufficient to deal with it where there will be reluctance to fully cooperate, because of people who will surely incriminate themselves or be in a position of pitting themselves against others, in some cases others under whom they have served in previous or current employment situations.

So I want to say, Mr. Speaker, while I think the minister is sincere in launching this effort, he has said that he feels this will be a less costly, in terms of the time involved, to get to the heart of the matter and get on with compensation. I personally do not foresee that it will be possible, without going to a full public inquiry. I have to ask the question of whether in the end, we will not have created a situation that will be more costly, even more time consuming and frankly even less likely to protect both the interests and the privacy of the victims, by making this first run at an independent investigation only to find that the matter cannot be fully and adequately dealt with and therefore will end up in a full investigation in any case. Already the Minister of Justice has acknowledged that more resources will be needed to deal with the expanded terms of reference and I am not sure that we would not be better served if we went straight to that full public inquiry, get on with it and hope that justice can be served in the process. However, I wish Judge Stuart Stratton well in his undertaking and hope that the minister and the government will remain open to that full public inquiry if it is the clear result of the independent investigation that that has yet to be done if justice is to be served. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.




MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


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

Whereas today on World AIDS Day, it is important that we pause to realize the devastation of AIDS on the lives of millions of individuals and their loved ones around the world; and

Whereas those pressing forward with AIDS awareness and education have lost a faithful worker just one week ago, that being Terry Martin, Vice-Chairman of the Nova Scotia Persons With AIDS Coalition, to complications from the disease; and

Whereas the AIDS quilt on display in this House today is significant in that it acts as a reminder of the memories of so many precious lives lost to AIDS;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the importance of wearing the red ribbon today: recognition of the need for a continued and renewed fight for a cure for AIDS which strikes at the lives of men and women, young and old, regardless of race, religion or sexual preference.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas the theme of this year's World AIDS Day is AIDS and the Family: Families take care, a message to remember those who have died as a result of this disease, to support those living with HIV and AIDS and to remind us of the importance of prevention; and

Whereas rural youth remain among the groups who are most at risk and least likely to practice the preventive measures that reduce their exposure to this deadly disease; and

Whereas discriminatory public attitudes and government reluctance to undertake a full community-based prevention strategy have always been the greatest obstacle of AIDS prevention in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House affirms the struggle and human dignity of those living with AIDS, mourns those who died during the last year and underscores the urgency of gaining the participation of every group at risk in effective AIDS prevention.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.


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 Drop-In Centre is an innovative way to meet the needs and support those with chronic psychiatric illness; and

Whereas the Pictou County Drop-In Centre has proven itself as being effective in assisting many; and

Whereas the Pictou County Drop-In Centre is undergoing a funding crisis;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health continue to aggressively search for a financial solution to allow the Drop-In Centre to keep its doors open.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaverbank.


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

Whereas community service is vital to the well-being of our communities; and

Whereas the residents of the Scotia Nursing Home have been in need of a wheelchair-accessible van so that residents may partake in a variety of activities outside the nursing home; and

Whereas the Friends of Scotia Nursing Home Residents Association has successfully raised money for the purchase of a wheelchair-accessible van so that the residents of the Scotia Nursing Home may enjoy all that life has to offer.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the success of the Friends of the Scotia Nursing Home Residents Association, those who contributed to the fund raising campaign as well as Kay McCullough, Jean MacDonald, Mary Reedes and Ila McMullin.

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

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

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 Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas resale of the Ultramar facility in Eastern Passage requires an early decision by the company to sell the entire Ultramar facility including the refinery, docks and storage units; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has a great deal at stake with 150 direct jobs plus spin-off jobs lost if a buyer is not found for the Ultramar facility; and

Whereas if the company is not successful, some $20 million will be lost from the local economy each year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature unanimously support and strongly encourage every effort by government and workers to market and sell the Ultramar refinery, docks and storage facilities as one unit.

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 Halifax Atlantic.


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

Whereas yesterday, the City of Halifax became the first municipality in Nova Scotia to offer employment benefits to employees with same-sex partners; and

Whereas no valid excuse exists to continue to deny the same benefits to gay and lesbian employees as those offered to other employees; and

Whereas the unfairness of not providing these benefits is being recognized by more and more private and public sector employers across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the City of Halifax for taking this progressive step toward the fair and equal treatment of all employees.

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

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

Is there consent?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.


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

Whereas despite over 8,000 individuals signing their names to a petition tabled in this House last week in support of retaining essential health services at the North Cumberland Memorial Hospital; and

Whereas despite the continued assurance by the local member from Cumberland North that the hospital would not close; and

Whereas December 1st has arrived with no commitment to retain essential services in the facility, but instead cold silence to a community that has fought long and hard . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Go to Pugwash and ask them instead of standing there . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, order, please.

MR. MOODY: . . . since May to save a few in-patient beds for 72-hour assessment for emergencies;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health explain to the community of Pugwash why he has ignored the voices of some 8,000 people who support the hospital remaining an essential service facility and offer details to the community of just what health services will be available to their area after today.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


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

Whereas the government has in this session of the Legislature, introduced at least four major pieces of legislation concerning workers' compensation, environmental issues, casino gaming and municipal affairs, each of which has the potential to dramatically affect the lives of all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Premier, in an attempt to threaten the Opposition, asks publicly how the Opposition would like coming back to the Legislature a day after Christmas; and

Whereas the Progressive Conservative caucus is ready, willing and able to be here on any day necessary to represent the concerns and interests of Nova Scotians with (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order so that we can hear the notice of motion.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read it again, the whole thing. You should do the whole thing again.

MR. SPEAKER: Carry on. Order.

MR. DONAHOE: Do I have the floor, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: You know that you have the floor, carry on.

MR. DONAHOE: Whereas the Progressive Conservative caucus is ready, willing and able to be here on any day necessary to represent the concerns and interests of Nova Scotians with whom this government refuses to meet and to whom this government gives no detailed or straight answers, as demonstrated by the large number of representations at the Law Amendments Committee;

Therefore be it resolved that this House take whatever time is necessary to adequately and effectively debate and improve the legislation which has the potential to so seriously impact the lives of all Nova Scotians.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party.


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 Mayor of Wolfville was one of many municipal leaders who were lured by Liberal promises of consultation, no imposed amalgamation and one-tiered social assistance into working hard to elect this government; and

Whereas Mayor Gwen Phillips of Wolfville now finds this government's municipal changes "unacceptable" and she has made that clear to the MLA whose campaign she managed, the Minister of the Environment; and

Whereas Mayor Philips agrees with the MLA for Cape Breton West that this Liberal Government is imposing major tax increases upon municipalities instead of proceeding with the agreed, promised service exchange;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs who have stood by while the MLA for Cape Breton West was exiled by the Premier for the crime of honesty should consult their own campaign managers, constituency executives and municipal leaders to determine whether or not they should join him.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas in March, the Health, Justice and Finance Ministers promised that a public education blitz on the hazards of second-hand smoke would be part of their plan to lower tobacco prices; and

Whereas tobacco sales have increased, yet the public education efforts on second-hand smoke seem to have disappeared into thin air; and

Whereas legislation to limit the health dangers of second-hand smoke has now been postponed, with the excuse that public education must be done;

Therefore be it resolved that this House regrets the sorry spectacle of a government that has simultaneously lost revenue, harmed public health and broken yet another promise after failing to face down a threatened Tory campaign for cheaper cigarettes.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


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

Whereas the government launched this session by boasting that the public overwhelmingly supported the number one Liberal initiative, metro amalgamation; and

Whereas at the first sight of an unfavourable poll about amalgamation, the Premier announced that reports of public opinion were now officially irrelevant; and

Whereas 1 per cent of Nova Scotia population are now very satisfied with this government, while 39 per cent are very dissatisfied, according to the most recent poll;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urges Liberal Cabinet members to maintain their dignity by resisting the urge to treat polls in a canine manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

Are there further notices of motion? If none, that concludes the daily routine. Before we advance to Orders of the Day, I wish to advise the House that the Clerk has conducted a draw for the Adjournment debate at 6:00 p.m. The winner this afternoon is the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. He has submitted a resolution reading:

Therefore be it resolved that this government get serious about effective AIDS prevention.

We will hear on that matter at 6:00 p.m. The time is 12:49 p.m. The Oral Question Period today will run for one hour, that is until 1:49 p.m.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. I would ask the Minister of Finance if he could indicate to this House what action, if any, his department and officials of his department have taken in recent times to investigate and act upon the proliferation of illegal VLTs across this province, in the face of the knowledge that those illegal machines are becoming more and more prevalent across many regions of the province.

I know we all are aware of news reports of yesterday's RCMP activity, but I would ask the minister, who has responsibilities through the Tax Commission, the Lottery Commission and elsewhere to describe actions taken by him and his officials to address the illegal VLT issue in the province in the last number of months?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable Leader of the Opposition is aware of our policy which was announced in the House. That policy has been put in place and enforced by a number of different measures. First of all, through the Minister of Justice, measures were put in place to add to the resources of the RCMP and, indeed, municipal police forces, to deal with the problem.

In addition to that, we assisted, through the personnel, with the amusement tax regulation, the honourable Minister of Housing and Consumer Affairs, dealing with the policy, as we have announced it, to ticket the appropriate gaming devices which were available in the various outlets across the province. That has gone forward as well.

Finally, with the provisions in our policy having respect to liquor licensing, our liquor license inspectors as well, sought to enforce the policy and, indeed, have taken action under that policy.

MR. DONAHOE: This minister, on the 20th of May, some four or more months ago, promised that he would be hiring or the government would be hiring as many as 10 enforcement officers. I would like to ask him today, as of today, how many of those enforcement officers have been hired and, as a consequence of their work, how many seizures, if any, have been made by those officers?

MR. BOUDREAU: As I have already publicly indicated, Mr. Speaker, those officers have not been hired to date, and for a number of reasons. One of them is that we were able to utilize other personnel, such as the personnel I have described. A second reason was that in many areas of the province, there was widespread and almost immediate compliance after our policy was announced. The third reason, of course, was because of the magnitude of the task in dealing with all of the individuals across the province who indicated an interest in seeking one of these positions.

So, the process has been completed, all of the interviews have been done and the first people will be on the job shortly.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, I guess the concern I would like to raise, and it certainly has been raised with me by many, is that we are now hearing the minister some four months after a statement to the effect that these 10 inspectors would be hired, that they are not hired, that it will happen - he doesn't tell us when - he says shortly or whatever. I would like to ask the minister this question, if I may, if the steps taken to enforce the laws which are intended to make it possible to ensure that the province is rid of illegal VLTs has been as poorly handled as I believe and as many people in the province believe it to be, because they are growing in number and not reducing in number, is the information which reaches me, can the minister give us any assurance that the enforcement laws relative to illegal gaming will be adequately handled in the event that we move to casino gambling, in any better fashion than what, as I repeat, many Nova Scotians consider to be a very ineffective fashion relative to existing, illegal, video lottery terminals?

MR. BOUDREAU: I think the honourable Leader of the Opposition has misrepresented the situation in that regard, does so honestly and with good intention, no doubt. The point of the fact is that we brought to bear, once we announced our policy in this House, considerable new resources against the VLT problem.

In terms of personnel, it involved the Nova Scotia Liquor License Board inspectors, which are located in every area of this province, the amusement tax board regulators who go to every area of this province. We added additional resources to the RCMP and to municipal forces. The result was an absolutely dramatic decrease in the number of illegal VLTs. If the honourable Leader of the Opposition doesn't accept that, then he must have been visiting different locations than I was.

It is an ongoing problem, it continues to be a problem and I have news for the honourable Leader of the Opposition, it will always be a problem. I think we brought resources to bear, we made dramatic gains. We are not through yet, we are going to bring additional people on scene, but I think that to characterize it and say that the problem is increasing and you didn't really deal with it, that is not accurate and, if nothing else, the revenue figures would put lie to that question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Minister of Human Resources. It is on the issue of the provision of same-sex spousal benefits to employees of the Province of Nova Scotia.

The list of private sector employers that are both voluntarily and involuntarily beginning to recognize that the provision of benefits to same-sex spouses is a human rights issue, it is an issue of fairness, it is an issue of equality. The City of Halifax has just announced that they are going to be the first municipality in this province to extend these benefits to same-sex spouses. I would like to ask this minister as the minister responsible for this issue, when is she going to take the necessary steps in order to have the Nova Scotia Government be added to the list which includes New Brunswick, Ontario, British Columbia and the Yukon, of provincial jurisdictions that provide same-sex spousal benefits to their employees?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite is very sincere in his concern. We too, would like to be considered a fair employer and treat all our employees with equal treatment. I know the member opposite is aware that we in the department are currently reviewing the situation. He has named four jurisdictions across the country, provincially, that have granted this. I would like to congratulate the City of Halifax's new administration for moving so quickly on this.

There are a number of concerns that have been brought to my attention from a human rights point of view as well as court hearings. Those have gone to appeal, some decisions, and the overall trend appears to be toward granting such benefits. We are investigating that and as soon as I can have a good file on which to make a decision, I will make a decision whether I will take it forward. Thank you.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the minister seemed to indicate a number of concerns that she has, resulting in her moving at a snail's pace towards taking some action on this. I would just like to say that the City of Halifax, the Board of Management made this decision in February of this year and I believe, if my math is correct, nine-odd months later and the extension of these benefits are now provided. The question in terms of whether it is a human rights issue or a legal issue or whatever have been dealt with by this jurisdiction as well as every other jurisdiction I have mentioned, in the country. I would like to ask the minister again, will she not move immediately because it doesn't need to take this long? Let's show some leadership in the Province of Nova Scotia on this issue and begin steps immediately to put this action in place.

MRS. NORRIE: As I have stated in my previous answer, I am looking at all the implications of this; there is legislation that we have to look at before this comes forward. There is the Department of Finance we have to have consultation with and when I am satisfied that I have all that information I will consider taking it forward.

MR. CHISHOLM: I guess my final supplementary is very simple. The minister had this issue brought to her attention approximately one year ago. She mentioned in this House on May 18th, that she felt it was very important, she had her staff conduct research in order to take the issue to Cabinet. She obviously has not done that yet. My final supplementary to the minister is, how long is this going to take for you and your government to move forward on such in important issue, an issue which deals with fundamental human rights?

MRS. NORRIE: I respect the impatience the member opposite is stating and I assure him that I will bring it forward as time permits me to do so. Thank you, very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.



MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: My question is for the honourable Minister of Human Resources and I would like to ask her a question through you, Mr. Speaker. My question to the Minister of Human Resources is, did staff from the Department of Human Resources write and draw up the contract for Dr. Dan Reid so he could become the special assistant, or one of the special assistants to the Minister of Health?

HON. ELEANOR NORRIE: I believe that that job was advertised and I can check into the matter to find out if it has been prepared within my department.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Human Resources. Did the Department of Human Resources classify the position and recommended the salary level of $115,000 which as you know is higher than a Cabinet Minister, higher than the Minister of Health, higher than the Premier and, in fact, it is higher than anybody else that is working for the government. Did the Department of Human Resources classify the position so that it would have a salary of $115,000?

MRS. NORRIE: Mr. Speaker, I will have to look into my department and find the answer to that question.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I am not doing very well with my answers. My questions aren't too bad; the questions are good. To the Minister of Human Resources, the Department of Human Resources is responsible, as you know, for the staffing of all departments and what I am wondering is - and it is difficult, since I didn't get answers to the first questions, to frame a proper question for this - did the Department of Human Resources consider offering the position that Dr. Reid has received to any of the workers that have been laid off from government service and I think very immediately of the 100 that were laid off last week from Supply and Services and there were almost a hundred laid off in the Department of Economic Renewal, did the Department of Human Resources consider the plight of any of the laid off workers when naming that position so that perhaps they could be filled from within?

MRS. NORRIE: I believe that that appointment was an advertised appointment. I would think that the Department of Human Resources, if they would accept applications for that appointment, they would select their candidate from those people who applied for the job.

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


MR. GEORGE ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The minister knows that today is the deadline for the closure of beds at the hospital in Pugwash. The people have been looking forward to a meeting with the minister and, as yet, they haven't been able to get one; they have been looking for answers and they haven't received any. My question for the minister is what criteria, what was the basis for your decision to close the hospital in Pugwash?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, we have not closed the hospital in Pugwash, we have developed new programs along with the community to operate out of that facility, a 24 hours a day outpatients, all of the things that we have determined in conjunction with that community that fills the needs of that community in terms of health care.

I think that if the honourable gentleman opposite wishes to gain information regarding what is there that he, first of all, ask people in Pugwash and the people on the various community organizations that we are dealing with - and we are dealing with them as late as today and this week - in terms of what will come for their community as we go along the road to renewal. That is important, we are involved in the community there.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, I think the people would still like to have a meeting with the minister. The minister has indicated all of the services that are going to be taking place in the facility, even though the beds are going to be closed. You said at some earlier point that Pugwash was within 45 minutes of Amherst and that is why the bed closures are taking place; could you indicate then why other areas with a hospital, New Waterford, Glace Bay, North Sydney, they are all within 45 miles of Sydney, but yet they were spared, so what is the real criteria for what you have done?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I alluded to the answer to this question yesterday when I had an exchange with the honourable member opposite, and those honourable members who sit opposite, in terms of what is needed in the community and expanding some program and changing others. Significant to this is the ability that we have to treat acute emergencies relatively quickly and in a way that has not been present in the given community in the past.

We take all of those things into account and we are, again, on the road to changing major programs so we can provide better service in the community, not necessarily dedicated to keeping beds open, when we can do a better job in restructuring and redeployment of funds to serve the needs of those communities.

MR. ARCHIBALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, there are approximately 8,000 people who are served by the hospital facility that was located in Pugwash. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the minister said he is a very caring person. (Interruption) Jiminy Cricket, I hear so much racket over there. The minister has said that he is interested in providing service for people. The people in Pugwash have been requesting a meeting with the minister and he absolutely refuses to meet with them.

Could you please explain why you have decided that you will not provide the hospital care service that the people in Pugwash have been demanding and why you will not go to Pugwash and speak with the people and tell them firsthand?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the line of questioning of the honourable gentleman opposite illustrates why health care was so delayed in terms of reform in this province. It was always, the minister will do this, the minister will grant you this, and so on. Well, we are not doing that. We are going into communities, with reputable people I might add, and working with those communities and those boards that have been established at facilities and we are saying, what are your needs?

The honourable gentleman opposite, of course, omits the fact that we have improved several programs in Pugwash, such as the management of myocardial infarction, or heart attack. He, in addition to that, neglects the fact that we are working with the task force on home care to provide for better home care and hospital in the home services as late as today. This gentleman opposite, Mr. Speaker, is ignoring the very definite improvements that the community themselves have requested and we have, indeed, agreed would be great improvements to the health care for North Cumberland. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health knows that in the last budget a number of hospitals were slated to close. Included on that list was the Western Kings Memorial Hospital in Berwick. At that time, there was a community meeting, of which the minister failed to attend. It was attended by a large group of people and a community group was formed and, along with the hospital board, they put a proposal in to his department in late summer. One that is there at the present time.

I have been hearing constantly in the last week or so that the President of the Liberal Party in Kings West has indicated that Western Kings Memorial Hospital will stay open in some form after March 31st. Would the minister please confirm or deny her statements?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, may I first correct some mis-impressions on the part of the honourable gentleman opposite. The changes in hospitals, we are not closing the facility, per se. We are talking about the change in terms of acute care beds in those facilities. So that when we talk about closure of facilities, closure of hospitals, we have to be very specific and very careful in terms of what we are meaning. We are meaning that the acute care beds at Berwick are going to be relocated at Valley Medical Centre. We have said that and that has happened.

What we are going to do in terms of that, is consult with the community, which we have done by the way, and there is a very exciting proposal that we have been given and we have responded positively to that proposal. I have never met or talked with the president of any political Party in that area to discuss, in any way, the issues surrounding this hospital. So, therefore, I am unable to confirm or deny anything that anyone says who has not said it to me directly.

I will tell him this. That proposal is very exciting. It has to do with long-term beds. It has to do with diagnostic facilities and so on and we are very much appreciative of the efforts of the community and I believe it was helped political interests in that area, I might say, but specifically to the hardworking board and the other people in that hospital.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I was trying to listen very carefully to what the Minister of Health was saying, and he can correct me if I am not hearing exactly what he is saying, I think he said that his announcement last spring was not really to close hospitals, it was, in other words, to provide a different role for some of the facilities - I think that is what he said. I think I heard him say that the role of the Western Kings Memorial Hospital would change, in other words, it would not have acute care beds but would remain open for some services.

I would ask the minister to confirm that that is what he saying, that there will be a facility there, providing some services, obviously that were in the proposal by the board on behalf of the community group, after March 31st?

DR. STEWART: That is true, yes, this proposal was very comprehensive, it was developed after some needs assessment was done. It was exciting, in the sense of fulfilling needs in that region, in that area. We have been very positive in our assessment of that. I believe there have been conversations as late as last week, or very recently, regarding that.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for confirming the rumours I am hearing, that the facility will remain open in some capacity. I have also heard, and I would ask the minister if this is true, that I know the proposal asked that there be 95.2 jobs, I believe, in the proposal, and again the word around the community is there will be in excess of 100 jobs.

I would ask the minister to confirm that there will be some jobs, and I won't ask him to say how many today, but to confirm today that all the people presently working at Western Kings Memorial Hospital obviously will not lose their jobs on March 31, 1995.

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable gentleman very properly says, I am unable to confirm numbers, in terms of that. I would say that every effort has been taken to address the issue of employment and so on, but I am unable to confirm the numbers and I would not like to make a definitive statement regarding that at this time.

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


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Transportation; I have to ask this question to the Minister of Transportation about the sale of the land to Mr. Moore and Mr. Smith, given what his colleague, the Minister of Fisheries, has said. The Minister of Fisheries defended the sale of this land on the basis that the former Tories had done similar deals with their Tory friends, providing land to somebody who is a councillor, somebody else who ran for them, I guess, and also to a bag man. So my question to the Minister of Transportation is, is the Minister of Fisheries correct in that the reason why you have agreed to sell this land was that since the Tories had done it, you felt it appropriate that you should also do favours for your Liberal supporters?

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I don't believe that is what the Minister of Fisheries said at all. I believe his comments were perhaps more in keeping with who had been offering the criticism of the deal and perhaps that individual was involved in it; no, I can say that is not the reason why the transaction took place.

MR. HOLM: Well, the minister says that is not why it took place. I would like to ask the minister quite simply, if you plan to sell the land to Mr. Smith and to Mr. Moore, whose connections, I would suggest, are very well known, why did you even bother to ask the Municipality of Chester whether or not they approved or would agree with that sale? Why did he even bother to ask them if you knew you were not going to respect the request, in any event?

MR. MANN: I guess the involvement of the Village of Chester in this whole affair is one that one would have to question as to why they are involved because in conveyance deals from the Department of Transportation, normally the municipalities are not involved. Looking back at this file, which began long before I arrived as Minister of Transportation, in fact going back a number of years, I guess the village was involved. So I would assume the reason that they were involved all along is probably an historic one.

MR. HOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, it may have been an historic one and it may also be that there was historic opposition to it because this road was being used, for example, by the fire department and others. What we appear to be having here is history repeating itself and that is that the supporters of the Party in power are getting that which they want. I would like to ask the minister again, will he consider cancelling this deal, given the fact that this road would have reverted to the municipality within a matter of a few short months, given the fact that the service exchange is taking place. Will you cancel this deal so that the municipality can assume the ownership of the road which they were to do in any event?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. MANN: Mr. Speaker, he touches on a whole number of issues involving this deal. This deal was approved in July. This is not something that happened last week or last month, even, or the month before. It happened in July and he certainly would have read about it because I believe he gets a list of the Orders in Council that are put out a week following the times the decisions are made. This decision was made at some point in the past few months, I suppose by the time it went through the OIC, and he would have had that.

Mr. Speaker, as I say, the deal is done. The finances have changed hands and the arrangements to transfer the land have been made. I would like to point out that as far back as 1992, I believe it was, the Department of Transportation indicated that they wanted to close this road down and turn this into a public walkway. That was before our administration. They offered it to the Village of Chester, to take over to maintain that walkway. The Village of Chester refused to do that at that time and did not want to take that responsibility and the costs associated with that and so that deal, I guess, was not done at that time.

The Chester Garden Club are the other adjoining landowners there on the other side of the highway. They have written in support of this, Mr. Speaker. The people who use the Chester Garden Club do not want, or they are bothered, I guess, by the disruptions and the safety concerns, if you will, of using this old road as a short cut around an intersection. There are pages of people who have supported this deal in the past. So there is a long history to this problem and I guess people will think what they will because of Mr. Moore's involvement. I don't believe Mr. Smith has any involvement with any political Party that I have ever heard of and I am not sure the Chester Garden Club is politically motivated and they are fully supportive of this as well. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, it seems the last two times I get an applause when I rise. Thank you very much. (Laughter)

My question, Mr. Speaker, through you, is for the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health has added a number of new staff in the last number of months. He is going to hire a new advisor on physician affairs. He has hired a new person, an emergency services director, a new health reform commissioner, a communications consultant, senior director and I could go on and on. We have, around the province, hospital workers and nurses being laid off. I would ask the minister, since we are laying off people around the province, and he has continued to hire, when will the minister have enough staff to implement his reform plan?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, I would, of course, remind the honourable gentleman opposite that the addition to these positions have been considerably less than the numbers who were employed some time ago and I can go into the details. On a later day, we could table some of those statistics. Our reform initiatives are in need of people, qualified people, people to carry out some of the tasks that were for so long put off in this province and I make no apologies for asking for bright young talent, talent that will carry forward renewal that will very much affect positively the lives in Nova Scotia.

It is the quality of the individuals and not necessarily the quantity. We have, in fact, made major renovations in terms of our central office here and these positions were necessary to carry on. They were not in the bureaucratic structure before and we needed them very badly.

On the one hand, the honourable gentleman opposite urges me consistently to get on and do x or do y and this requires, of course, personnel to do so. I might say that much of our staff is frequently taken up with the rather demanding tasks of providing information and trying to do things for the current system in order to give what is necessary to do our job here in this place.

MR. MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I do not mean to be a burden on the minister, looking for information. I would ask the minister, he did say in this House on May 10th that his department was going to downsize and he said they are looking for quality and not quantity. I think of people who have gone like Allan Prowse who to me was quality, I don't understand how he can get up and say the people that left weren't quality and the people now coming on are. My question for this minister is, is he on target for his 1994-95 budget on the downsize in his department, not the hospital workers, the nurses that are laid off, but the people in his department is he on target in downsizing?

DR. STEWART: Yes, certainly we are very much on target in terms of the achievement of our goals that we have set for this year, in terms of both the personnel that we will be needing. We have other changes to make, this is an ongoing dynamic process. We have not completed it and we will not complete it for the next 12 to 14 months but we will be getting on with the job doing it properly I might add and we will attract as best we can very talented individuals, some of whom have left because of restructuring but many of whom remain and many who will join the team in addition.

MR. MOODY: My final supplementary is to the Minister of Health. Would the minister not agree that at the rate he is going there will be more administrators and paper pushers for his reform plan than there will be actual health workers out in the community delivering the health services?

DR. STEWART: It is insulting in the extreme to call these people who have, in fact, dedicated themselves, both in the past in his administration and the current, as paper pushers. This is just reprehensible, they are valued, good civil servants, public servants, who go on and do their job daily despite having to face the glare of publicity and to face the innuendos that frequently are hurled across the floor of this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. I wonder if the minister can confirm that the transition board for the amalgamated health institutions in metro which he appointed last July has as of today not yet met once?

HON. RONALD STEWART: That board has not had a formal meeting, no.

MR. DONAHOE: Can the minister, by way of supplementary, offer this House and concerned Nova Scotians why it is that after all these many months that board has not yet met?

DR. STEWART: Yes, I have been in touch with the chair of the board and there is some legal work that has to be done, there are some other issues that have to be resolved apparently before this board will be up and functioning. We have never promised a given date or time that these very monumental changes, very much monumental changes in the health care system, the same as the regional health boards, we have not given timeframes that are very specific simply because there are always unanswered questions and some significant changes that may have to be made.

MR. DONAHOE: Well, we have a new dimension suggested now that there may be significant changes having to be made, that doesn't at all jive with earlier answers given to me, with respect, by the minister some considerable time ago. When I asked him questions similar to the ones I now put to him some months ago he waived around the Schedule A attached to the Order in Council saying, there is no problem, these organizations have their mandate, there is their mandate it is set out in the Order in Council and he referred me to that and yet, four months after the fact this transitional board has not met and now we are being told it's legal problems and there may have to be changes made and so on. I ask this minister if he will make this commitment to me and to the House, that he will between here and the session tomorrow make appropriate inquiry, develop a document that describes and explains why it is that this board has not met, outlines the legal problems, outlines the potential changes which may be necessary and that he will come to this House tomorrow and table that document for the consumption of all members and all taxpayers in this province? Will he make commitment?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, the honourable gentleman opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, has frequently referred to the monumental task that this would impose upon any government structure or any public institution, the bringing together of four institutions and I agree it is a major task and we are going to do that major task, carefully step by step and if that does not appear to please the honourable gentleman opposite perhaps he would give us a timetable with which he would agree. I am telling him very confidently that we will organize this properly in terms of the major task ahead of us and we will do it very properly, so that the honourable gentleman opposite will be pleased as other members of this place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.


MR. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. I am sure that every member of this Legislature realizes that Chester is an historic and idyllic village; in fact, I think it is noted as one of the most beautiful places in Nova Scotia. I was wondering if the minister was aware that, in his capacity as Minister responsible for the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission, the contribution of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission to the charm of the village has been to erect an electrified sign 20 feet long by 5 feet high?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: No, I don't think I was aware of that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. RUSSELL: Is he also unaware that this monstrous, ugly sign is purple in colour, and it has flashing lights that say, Liquor Store, Liquor Store? Is he unaware of that particular aspect of the sign?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think I have to admit that while I share the honourable member's view of Chester as being one of the most beautiful spots in the province, obviously, I haven't been there lately because I don't think I could have missed such a sign as the member has described.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the minister would give his commitment to the House today that he will remove that sign and replace it with a sign much more in keeping with the ambience of the Village of Chester?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will undertake to the honourable member and to the House to apprise myself of the situation with the senior management of the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission and I would want to do that, of course, before I made any further undertaking.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question to the Premier. We heard earlier this afternoon and yesterday about a government policy decision to approve a salary of $115,000 a year for one of their own to be employed in the Department of Health. My question relates to another recent government policy decision to slash the disability benefits of literally hundreds of young Nova Scotians from $408 a month to $174 a month. What that translates into is a measly, miserly $2,088 annual income.

My question to the Premier is the very question posed to him in a recent letter from Mr. Jackie Barkley, one of the young adults who is facing this kind of discriminatory and mean-spirited treatment. In Mr. Barkley's case, had he moved out of or were he to move out of his parental home, he would instantly become eligible for a disability allowance of $714 monthly, saving provincial taxpayers $306 each and every month. Would the Premier answer Jackie Barkley's question in a recent letter, which I will be pleased to table and that is under these circumstances and I quote directly, "Does it make sense for me to stay home or to move out on my own?"?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a matter that is primarily within the purview of the Minister of Community Services. I am not prepared to make any comments at this particular place, except to say I will look into it.

MS. MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, I want to correct the record. I read wrongly; it is from Jackie Barrett, the letter that the Premier has received. He has received that letter; he says he doesn't want to make any comment on it, but this goes to the heart of government policy with respect to deinstitutionalization or, at least, stated government policy. The Executive Director of the Disabled Persons Commission has said that this policy does not recognize the cost of disability; it does not recognize the value of the care provided by family members; and it is contrary to any policy directive towards deinstitutionalization. Is it the position of this government and this Premier that the commitment to support a policy of deinstitutionalization is, in fact, being retracted in view of the slashing of these disability benefits.

THE PREMIER: No, Mr. Speaker.

[1:30 p.m.]

MS. MCDONOUGH: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the government is still standing behind its supposed commitment to provide community supports for deinstitutionalization, how does the Premier answer the concerns that have been expressed so widely, and I will quote just briefly from one, which is to make the point that the option of community and home-based care that the province claims to support will now not be feasible for many disabled people and their families. Evidently, the higher costs of institutional care have been overlooked by the government.

How does the Premier answer that concern that has been raised from one end of the province by disabled persons themselves, seeking independent living, and by those who are advocates on behalf of disabled persons who will be so affected?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I repeat what I said, this is an issue which is within the purview of the Minister of Community Services. I do not have specific answers to her specific questions and it would be inaccurate and foolish of me to comment otherwise. I have said what I will do, that is we will look into it and I will talk to the Minister of Community Services who, incidentally, is away this afternoon at a meeting with Mr. Axworthy, as also is the Minister of Education, on the UI and educational cuts. But I will undertake to talk to him about it. That is the sensible course for me to take.

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


MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Justice. Many times we, as a province, are required to pay for the maintenance and enforcement of many federal laws. Mrs. Irene Bugley of RR No. 2 Amherst, has a concern about the sentences given to convicted offenders. I agree, Mr. Speaker, and I would expect that different members in this House would agree with Mrs. Bugley when she suggests that we pick up our morning newspaper and we turn on our radio and we hear about a wide array of crimes and penalties that more times than not result in a less stringent sentence than is given to those convicted of illegal hunting.

She suggests that if a person shoots a moose or a deer, the penalty is harsher than if a person molests a woman or child. I would like the Minister of Justice, as would Mrs. Bugley from RR No. 2 Amherst, she wants to know why do they allow criminal offenders, such as sexual offenders, out of prison to seemingly offend again?

HON. WILLIAM GILLIS: Mr. Speaker, any time you look at a justice system, there is always variation between judges and sentences they make. The one thing the honourable member should keep in mind is that sentences, such as for sexual offenders, are laid down under the Criminal Code of Canada and the Minister of Justice for Nova Scotia has no say on what those are. More than that, the judges are independent to make their own decisions and all honourable members would frown if there is an intervention.

In terms of letting people out of jail sooner than they should be out of penitentiaries, again it is, for the longer terms and serious sexual offences, it is the Government of Canada. I would suggest kindly to the honourable member and to the person who contacted him, that that person should contact the Member of Parliament in the area and the two federal ministers - the Solicitor General and the Minister of Justice for Canada - who handle corrections on the national scene and the matter of the Criminal Code of Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.


MR. TERENCE DONAHOE: My question is to the Minister of Finance, in his capacity as Minister responsible for the Atlantic Lotto Corporation, on lotteries matters and gambling casinos and all those good things. The minister, in response to questions from me earlier today, attempted to leave the impression that there really isn't a big problem with illegal video lottery terminals across the province.

I guess I would like to start, if I may, Mr. Speaker, through you to him, by asking him to explain, if that, in fact, if I have understood him correctly, if that is the case, why is it that the Lottery Commission, as I understand it, is planning to hire the enforcement officers this week that he has talked about and that we saw the spectacle of a province-wide RCMP-municipal police force raid yesterday, if the problem is not quite extreme?

HON. BERNARD BOUDREAU: I think, Mr. Speaker, what I said to the honourable member was exactly the opposite. I said, illegal VLTs have been a problem. They were a problem for most of the 15 years that he sat in government. They are a problem today, they will continue to be a problem. We will always be faced with the necessity of enforcing our policy. They will not go away.

What I attempted to correct was the impression that the honourable Leader of the Opposition left, that things had deteriorated and, in fact, now there was not the vast improvement that I believed had occurred since we introduced our policy.

MR. DONAHOE: My understanding, from discussion with police authorities, Mr. Speaker, is that there are thousands of these illegal video lottery terminals and that they are showing up with increasing frequency in the last number of months in places where, indeed, they had not been seen before.

I ask the Minister of Finance to advise, when did he receive his latest report from police authorities, whichever, RCMP, municipal or his own Tax Commission authorities, as to the number of illegal video lottery terminals actually functioning in the Province of Nova Scotia and if he would table such a report?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I think more to the point, if the honourable Leader of the Opposition has this information, if specifically police have informed him that there are thousands of machines out there, obviously they know where they are, too, otherwise they would not have the number.

I wonder if the honourable Leader of the Opposition would table that information. Tell us which police have informed him of that, where the machines are, because I do not have that information.

MR. DONAHOE: I ask the question, again, to the Minister of Finance, if he is prepared to make a commitment to this House to table the most recent report which he has received from appropriate police authorities, advising of the number of illegal video lottery terminals functioning now in the Province of Nova Scotia? Will he table the latest report he has received?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, the RCMP, in enforcing their responsibilities under the Criminal Code, do not report to the Minister of Finance, nor should they, nor will they in the future. We have constant contact with various agencies in our efforts to deal with a very serious problem with VLTs, which will always be the case, but I think we have done so very effectively.

Now, if the honourable Leader of the Opposition is coming up here with hint and innuendo and suggestion that that is not the case, which has been his habit of late on a number of issues, Mr. Speaker, I challenge him to produce the information. He has used it in the House. He has said he has had all kinds of information from police chiefs, also, there are thousands of them. I challenge him, as a responsible Nova Scotian, to table the information. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.


MR. GEORGE MOODY: I would ask, through you, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health a question. The Minister of Health has indicated he has had to hire all these high-priced people, thousands of dollars for quality people, whether it is $115,000 or more. In June of this year he advertised for a position called advisor on agency program integration and I would ask the minister whether that position has been filled yet?

HON. RONALD STEWART: Mr. Speaker, no. That position has not been filled. We were able to consolidate some tasks and we are not pursuing that particular one.

MR. MOODY: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the minister what kind of work on consolidation - originally he must have thought he needed the position or he would not have advertised it, I would ask the minister, who in the department, in the consolidation is now going to do the work of that particular individual that he had advertised to hire?

DR. STEWART: Mr. Speaker, it was a consolidation of several other tasks that we were able to bring together in the director of operations. We were successful in doing that and eliminating the need to hire an extra person.

MR. MOODY: My final supplementary is, Mr. Speaker, I have not figured out what the task is yet because he has not explained the tasks of the individuals he drew together or why he needed an advisor of agency program integration.

I would ask the minister to just briefly explain who is now doing that work and whether or not there is any additional money involved in the people doing the work? Who is doing the work and are there any additional monies involved?

DR. STEWART: Yes, Mr. Speaker, very simply, the director of operations, Mr. Maxwell, is doing that work. There were several other tasks that we were able to put into other directors and executive directors of the department and we did so after examining and re-examining the talents of several people who were hired prior to our pursuing this particular job and job description.

I think we did do that in a very diligent way, trying to reduce the numbers of people who needed to come on board.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.


MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to direct my question through you to the Premier. In a series of questions this afternoon to the Minister of Human Resources on the question of extending benefits to same sex spouses, the minister responsible appeared quite hesitant on taking the initiative on this policy question on behalf of government.

I would like to ask the Premier, given the fact that jurisdiction after jurisdiction in both the private and public sector have realized that this is a human rights issue, this is a question of fairness, this is a question of equality, and have made the decision to extend these benefits to same-sex spouses, I would like to ask the Premier, as the Leader of his government, if he would make a commitment to this House today to ensure that this question, this policy decision, be made in the very near future, on behalf of Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the commitment I will give is that I will leave it to the minister, who has indicated - in case the person asking the question did not hear - that the matter is under review. When the matter is fully reviewed, the very competent minister will bring it back to Cabinet and then their decision will be made.

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we are talking about an issue that has been before this government for over a year now. The minister has done the research, the information is before her, it doesn't cost a cent. There is also a question, the fact that our human rights legislation in this province prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Is it going to take, as it did in the case of Bell Canada, an arbitrator who forces this employer to move forward on a question of following the law? My supplementary question to the Premier is, how long is it going to take his government, and I underline "his government", Mr. Speaker, to move forward on this important issue, in terms of following the law and the precedents of this country?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have been in power for 18 months. During that time we have made more changes, had an agenda that has been criticized by Liberals and Tories alike for being too fast, for doing too much, and we have had an agenda that has been very busy. That is not to say that this item is not important. What it is, is that it is one of the items, it is a departmental item, it is being considered by the minister and I have no doubt that the minister will bring forward a very adequate and proper recommendation when she is satisfied that it is appropriate. But to indicate that we have done nothing in 18 months, I would have thought was very foolish.

MR. CHISHOLM: Well, Mr. Speaker, it appears that on AIDS Awareness Day we are going to get a whole lot of empty words from this Premier, who tries to present himself as the Leader with a social conscience.

My question to this Premier is, how can he justify this lack of action on a matter of justice, especially on a day like this, when he stood in this House and recognized the importance of responding to the victims of this serious and debilitating disease?

MR. SPEAKER: I hope the final supplementary related to the first two questions.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what we have seen today in this grandstanding of a man who has leadership ambitions in his own Party (Interruptions) is just . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: The manner in which this is brought up repeatedly and the anger and the hostility really does not do justice to the significance of the issue. This is an important issue, this government will deal with it, I have a competent minister who is looking into it and not before will it come before the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.



MR. DONALD MCINNES: Mr. Speaker, and I did have a question for the Minister of Education but I understand he is out of the House today. So, my question today is for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. Through you to that minister, the Chief Fire Officers Association of Nova Scotia passed a resolution at a recent meeting calling upon you, sir, as minister to immediately implement the 911 system across Nova Scotia. Can the minister tell Nova Scotians today when he might abide by this resolution and begin implementing the 911?

HON. ROBERT HARRISON: I am pleased to answer as best I can his question but know full well that the letter to which he refers and the people represented by that letter the firefighters of this province and the volunteer firefighters throughout this province are entitled to good solid answers on a question like this. It is absolutely critical to them that they have the highest quality dispatch system literally in North America. We will be heading to that with a tender call fairly shortly for a telecommunications, wireless component to the information highway as well as land-based. Once that call is made we will have the answer in terms of time and in terms of quality that these firefighters are desperately looking for. This government does not shy away from its commitment to provide top quality telecommunications expertise particularly for the dedicated individuals who are members of the firefighting force of Nova Scotia.

MR. MCINNES: I appreciate the minister's answer but your government has talked about a new integrated radio system for emergency respondents in Nova Scotia that would see frequencies go as high as 800 megahertz. Is the minister considering that type of radio communication?

MR. HARRISON: One of the new tendering practises of this government, not new in Canada necessarily but Nova Scotia version called, Common Business Solution Procurement, which puts out the problem. The problem has been identified so clearly by these firefighters that they need certain types of communication; the RCMP and many other people in emergency response throughout this province have identified needs. That call will go out within weeks, literally, of this date in the House and the industry will come back to us with the telecommunications advice that this province has desperately needed for a long time.

MR. MCINNES: Well, again thank you and I know it is a very important issue to the Fireman's Association of Nova Scotia. I just ask that the minister press on with this matter and get on with it and deal with it and get back to them as soon as possible.

MR. HARRISON: I realize there is no question there but I want to call upon my colleague the Minister of Transportation and Communications because as Nova Scotia was restructuring the Department of Transportation, New Brunswick was announcing a Minister of Electronic Highway, just to give you some sense of the legacy that this government inherited in terms of the priorities and decision-making of the past 15 years. We have more than caught up and articles are being published throughout the telecommunications journals about just where Nova Scotia's position is now to take advantage of the very things that he is talking about. I want to compliment the Minister of Transportation, it is his department that will be issuing the CBS call and the response, I am sure, from the industry will lead firefighters to a new level communication capability. (Applause)

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

The honourable the Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[1:49 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gerald O'Malley in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Paul MacEwan, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The adjournment debate was won by the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic on the subject:

Therefore be it resolved that this government get serious about effective AIDS prevention.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic wishes to defer to the honourable member for Halifax Fairview.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


MS. ALEXA MCDONOUGH: Mr. Speaker, as all members of the House know, this is acknowledged to be World AIDS Day and on this occasion we here in this Legislature, as in other Legislatures across the country, have I think seen fit to introduce resolutions to make public statements acknowledging not just the horrors of AIDS, in terms of the pain and suffering and loss that have been the result of those who have been victimized by that dreaded disease, but also to acknowledge our responsibility to take proactive measures to address the AIDS problem and, specifically, to address ourselves to the all-important public initiatives needed to take effective prevention measures.

For that reason my caucus chose to both enter the late debate today on the topic of AIDS and to introduce a resolution earlier today addressing specifically the importance of introducing, on an urgent basis, the kind of comprehensive, proactive, prevention strategy that is desperately needed in this province today.

Let me just say a word or two to put what we are dealing with here into context. I don't think there is any question that we now have made some major gains in terms of people understanding that AIDS is a disease that can afflict every segment of the population, male and female, straight and gay. It is a disease which is untreatable in the sense that once one becomes stricken with AIDS, there is no known cure and there have been a tragic number of deaths.

Yet, despite all of the words, all of the claims that we are taking seriously the threat of AIDS, we do not have what you could remotely describe as an aggressive, comprehensive, prevention strategy in this province today. One of the points that is often missed on the government is that in order for AIDS prevention to be done in a really effective way, it needs to be part of, it has to be done in the context of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education. I think too often that hasn't been understood and yet to state the obvious, teaching people of the importance of safe sex is really to prevent many diseases, to prevent the incidence of AIDS, to prevent other sexually transmitted diseases and also, equally importantly, to reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy.

I think that the government is to be commended for having responded to the repeated calls for anonymous testing and made the decision to lodge that anonymous testing clinic that has been set up in the context of the Planned Parenthood Metro Clinic. I think that is an important step in terms of recognizing that AIDS prevention needs to be carried out within that broad context of reproductive health measures. But we have a very long way to go before we can say that we have a truly comprehensive and effective strategy in place.

I think it is noteworthy that as far back as January 1990, the Advisory Council on the Status of Women acknowledged this important point and began pushing hard for there to be a comprehensive response. They, in fact, carried out a study on the status of family planning and sexuality education in Nova Scotia and there were really shocking conclusions from that study about the inadequacy of sexuality education in general, and in particular, the failure to launch effective AIDS prevention measures. So, not surprisingly, the single most important recommendation they brought forward was that the province recognize the importance of sex education in both the prevention of unintended pregnancy and in the prevention of all sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

Mr. Speaker, it is true that this government has begun to fund the AIDS Nova Scotia Coalition but really in a limited way. I think we don't have anything like the kind of broad educational program in our public school system that is desperately needed. I know that not only did my children come through that system almost untouched by any education around the threat of AIDS but one of my sons is actively engaged now in trying to help raise funds for AIDS education, AIDS prevention programs. At the moment there is not the kind of effective program directed to our school population that it is absolutely incumbent upon this government to support.

The amount of money, if one looks at the Supplement to the Public Accounts, for example, for 1993 in total that is now being spent for AIDS prevention, or at least in the last year for which we have those full statistics, perhaps the minister can update us here, it really is a paltry sum, just over $100,000 in total, in the various programs we have been able to identify that could remotely be described as support for AIDS prevention programs.

Mr. Speaker, I know I have only a couple of minutes left but one of the things that disturbed me greatly that was said in this House this afternoon and shows how profound our ignorance is, when my colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic brought forward the issue of same-sex benefits and made the point to the Premier that on the occasion of all this ceremonial talk about being concerned about AIDS victims, that this surely is an appropriate occasion on which to show some leadership and give some direction around the provincial government recognizing same-sex benefits as the City of Halifax, to its credit, has done and other public and private employers have done in this province and elsewhere in recent years.

In that context, several backbenchers on this side of the House taunted the NDP member with the comments, what has that got to with AIDS? That is an entirely different issue.

Let me just say, in the moments that remain, Mr. Speaker, for anyone who doesn't understand that there is a relationship between those issues, let them refer to a very informative and I think a very touching article in today's Halifax Chronicle-Herald and The Mail Star in which a very courageous man by the name of Jim Bigney has really opened his life. He has made his life an open book to say to people, here is what kind of a toll AIDS takes on a relationship and on a family, and has been courageous enough to provide leadership of the same sort that has been provided by others who have also been singled out, by Eric Smith, by Randy and Janet Connors, by Robert Allan and others, in providing real leadership, but has said to the world, please understand that until homosexual relationships in which there is an AIDS victim are acknowledged to be relationships that have legitimacy and that do constitute a family, then we will be reviled, we will be rejected, we will be ridiculed and we certainly will never be adequately supported and compensated in the instance of being stricken by this disease and suffering the kind of loss that is involved.

Mr. Speaker, an important signal from the government would be to acknowledge that this is a family and, for Heaven's sake, in the context of one of the ugliest, most bigoted debates that has gone on in this country for a long time, spurred by the attitudes of the federal member for Central Nova, represented in the House of Commons, surely it is time for people to show some courage and backbone and decency and justice, to acknowledge that these are families. It should not be lost on people that the stated theme of this year's World AIDS Day has been, AIDS and the Family: Families take care. Surely it is about caring for one another as individuals in relationships and as a society and the government has a responsibility to play some leadership in that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. RONALD STEWART: I want, first of all in a sincerity that I think is born of the day and of the importance of day, to thank the honourable member opposite for not only her comments but for bringing this subject to the late debate this evening. It is to my mind an honour to participate and to talk from my perspective as minister in terms of this issue and these issues and the ramifications in the presence of the former minister and the work that he has done in a real way to combat or to begin the combat if you would around this difficult and horribly tragic disease and the ramifications thereof.

There was mention in the resolution that we ought to get serious about this illness. It is certainly difficult not to get serious about this tremendously tragic illness and the infection with HIV that is predictably going to take away from the world up to 40 million people, in very short order. It is incumbent on us to treat this challenge, these tragedies with the respect and, more than that, the action deserving of them.

The question has been posed whether this government is doing enough and the answer is very simply said, no, we are not doing enough for such an overwhelming situation and the tragedy that results from each of the people so affected. The honourable member opposite reminds us that the theme of World AIDS Day today is AIDS and the Family. I would suggest that we look perhaps not at the traditional definition of the family too, as she has suggested in her comments particularly toward the end of her talk, and perhaps as families take on different complexions, different forms, we might even suggest that perhaps we as a community are families in a sense and that families ought to care for each other.

One has to only walk down the stairs of this place which perhaps in its 175 years of history has not had the dramatic effect or the dramatic demonstration of tragedy so effectively illustrated by the display of the AIDS quilt down on the lower floor; looking at each of those panels and seeing or trying to understand what each represents and trying to meditate and contemplate the suffering behind each. I could stand in a defensive mode and say this government has done x, y and z, we have done this, we have done that. No one really could call that sufficient in the face of these tragedies that are occurring as we speak; the tremendous suffering, the lack of support in some people's lives when they are unfortunate enough to contract this illness and so on.

The honourable member opposite refers to the establishment of some of the programs that in fact, very honestly, very forthrightly have been started by previous administrations whether you have mentioned the needle exchange program or one mentions the project, men who have sex with men, they were all there, all beginning or even begun in full form when this administration took over. We built on some of those, there is no question about that but that again, as has been suggested, is not enough. The idea of anonymous testing was not something that came as a light from heaven, it was indeed on the books and looked at and expanded on in terms of its planning and so it was and I want to give due credit to that.

We have taken some more steps to build on those foundation stones, gone on and yes, the anonymous testing site was established but there was only one of them, it wasn't throughout the province. We have a look at this and we have questions still remaining, certainly in terms of the projected numbers; we were looking at perhaps 150 in six months, we have 200 in a couple of months. Were there any positives? Well, that is not the real question we ought to be asking. There were no positives. There was I think one intermediate or indefinite but that was later confirmed as negative from what I hear from the statistics but those are not the questions either.

The questions rather are, are we performing a service? Is this an essential plank in the platform which the honourable member opposite refers to? The broad approach to AIDS, an attack on this disease? We need to say are we reaching the at-risk people? The answer is, we probably are not reaching the at-risk people. Are we doing everything for those who are on the streets in various occupations whether it be the prostitutes who ply the streets of Halifax or the children who are without homes or who are homeless and those families thereof? We have to again re-evaluate. The other question, of course, specific to this is whether or not this should be expanded and available throughout the province. I think we are coming to the obvious conclusion that this is a needed service and it is a desirable service and a desired service. We have too begun to expand our capability in terms of personnel with an AIDS advisor, specific to the minister, with authority to look at the various aspects. We have certainly formed partnerships with the AIDS community. We have, again, continued and will continue the AIDS Commission and the Advisory Commission on AIDS to the minister.

[6:15 p.m.]

All of these things, the ante-natal survey that is being done, which is going to be very helpful, so that we can help make some decisions based on solid data. We have, of course, an important part to play in the justice system to look at the risk that inmates of our prisons and so on might be exposed to.

All of these things are elements of that. The support of local research, the epidemiological studies that must go on, and then we must also make sure that in our plans for health care renewal or reform in this province, that this specific illness is targeted as a major need, in terms specifically, of home care. We have identified this in our planning. The funding of a full-time HIV infection educator and some studies on sexually transmitted disease, particularly in some of the rural counties, all illustrate that there is much more to be done and, indeed, we have to do this.

We have to, Mr. Speaker, on this day, re-evaluate ourselves, re-evaluate ourselves as a ministry, as a government, as a community - as a family, if you would, of communities - to see whether we are, indeed, answering the problem and the problems. Suffice it to say, that we have taken a few steps and we have to take more and we have to go further. The inter-departmental, the inter-ministerial cooperation necessary in government to do so, has led to some results in terms of where we go from here.

So, in posing this question again, I close with thanks to those who are participating in the debate to understand that we are set on a course that must improve the approach for help for those people who are already infected. But, as the honourable members opposite may well remind us, the best cure is prevention. That brings us into the discussion of how we are going to approach the problem of those groups that are at higher risk, but those groups that at one time we may have thought were not at risk and therein lies our challenge. I thank the honourable members opposite for bringing this to our attention in their comments this evening. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. GEORGE MOODY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in what I think is a very important debate, especially on this date, on World AIDS Day.

I think it was a year ago that the minister released the AIDS Strategy that had been worked on in this province, it was year ago today. In that report, there was a range of new and ongoing measures included in the Nova Scotia AIDS Strategy related to the commitment of the government and to the work with partners in its fight against HIV and AIDS. I remember how this policy was developed. It started with the AIDS Commission. I remember hearing from community-based groups that they felt that they hadn't been heard. I think it was about two years ago in December that a meeting was held that I chaired with staff of the Health Department to allow the community-based groups, Mr. Speaker, to have some additional input on what they felt would make a good AIDS strategy for this province. Because if it is not community-based, I don't feel that it will be successful. I think it has to be community-based and I think all the community groups around the province felt very strongly about that.

I was pleased that this government continued on with that AIDS Strategy. I give credit to the minister that some of the work that was started has continued. I think he did say, and I honestly believe him, that yet we have only begun. We really all know that more has to be done.

I was a little bit disappointed in the strategy itself because it got watered down a little bit, Mr. Speaker. I will talk a little bit about that later. But I have to go back to my days as Minister of Health because actually before becoming Minister of Health I wasn't like the present minister, I had very little knowledge about AIDS. I have to say it was because of people like Robert Allan, who worked at the AIDS Coalition who came to meet with me and tried to help me become informed. Then also, Dr. Bill Hart and the AIDS Commission that I used to meet with, where I again would learn. As I said to Leslie Barnes downstairs today, in viewing the quilts, we made some progress but it is small steps and we have to continue the road that we are on.

I also learned a great deal from my friendship with Randy and Janet Conners. They became very special friends to me, Mr. Speaker. I remember Randy's spirit and the contribution he made even through actually some of the weakest moments, just to fight for AIDS education in this province, a fight that Janet continues to make.

I think they showed Nova Scotians that it doesn't just affect one group in our society. They have shown us that AIDS touches men and women, heterosexual, homosexual, young and old. So, Mr. Speaker, there have been a lot of people who have made an impact. I could list a lot of AIDS activists who have committed themselves to working in this province, like Leslie Barnes and others, who continue to volunteer their time and to try to make a difference.

You know, Mr. Speaker, when we think about AIDS and its effect, the cost of looking after someone, the impact, the health cost, probably $0.75 million and we look and say - and I know the minister acknowledges this and I agree with him - that prevention is a key. If every person you save, you not only save a life and you can't put a price on a life, but through education and prevention, you can save $750,000 on health costs besides or on the cost to society, besides a life. So that is so important.

I am glad and hope that the minister is continuing the Mainline Needle Exchange. I hope it is being funded, I hope it is continuing because I know that that program had some effect. It is hard sometimes to evaluate preventive programs and it is difficult to say, yes, we saved this many dollars and we did this. But I think one of the important things that came out of the AIDS strategy was, I think, a commitment by this government on a curriculum in the schools, Grades 10 to 12 if I recall, the Career Life Management Course.

I think it is so important that young people learn early, the Career Life Management Course that has been promised to be put in place for 1996 and I hope that commitment is still in place and there will be funding for it. The government, like all governments and I think this government has acknowledged today through the Premier and the Minister of Health, that this disease is very important, for us to set in motion a strategy to combat this disease, a strategy that is preventive, a strategy that will be informative and help reduce the numbers. That strategy and programs will take not only a commitment and a will, but will take some dollars.

I think the Minister of Health was saying that if we get into a prevention strategy, that is a good investment for government, a good investment for the people of Nova Scotia. I know that the AIDS Coalition, the Nova Scotia Persons With AIDS Coalition, would be willing to help and is most anxious to help. But they need a comprehensive prevention strategy for Nova Scotia and this group is anxious and keen to implement such a strategy. Because with those kinds of volunteers, I think government can be more successful than if they try to do it totally on their own.

So, I hope that there is that continued commitment to provide the funding that is so important. It is so important that we also provide funding for AIDS victims. Unfortunately, with all the preventive programs that we will put in place, we will end up unfortunately, with some people who will contract AIDS. These people and their families go through a very difficult time, their loved ones go through a very difficult time. I think home care for AIDS victims is so important. I think a lot of people like to spend their last days at home and I know in order to do that, people have to have support.

I know Randy Connors was very lucky in that he had the support of Janet, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She gave all kinds of care, not only loving care but nursing care and personal care. There are people in this province who need that from external sources. I don't think we can expect people to give seven days a week, 24 hour a day care, we have to ensure there is a home care program in place that will help these people.

Every day, somebody we know of, or hear about, is affected by AIDS. I hope there is a commitment by all members of this House and the government, to demonstrate their commitment through support and funding for these groups and people, who can get out there. I know that there are people continuing to volunteer their time but they need our support, they need government support to make a difference. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. The time allotted for the Adjournment debate has expired and the House will now revert to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

[6:31 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gerald O'Malley in the Chair.]

[7:57 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gerald O'Malley in the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That committee has met and begs leave to meet again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if we could have the consent of the House to return to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour.

HON. JAY ABBASS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table a report from the Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, entitled, Workers' Compensation Appeal Board of Nova Scotia, First Status Report, November 1994. I want to thank the members of the Appeal Board and in particular the Chair, Linda Zambolin for having done the work necessary to make sure that this was brought forward in time for consideration as part of the Law Amendments Committee process. I would recommend it to members as providing useful background in considering all the pros and cons of the discussion we are now having over the version of an appeal structure we should eventually adopt.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RICHARD MANN: Mr. Speaker, we will be sitting tomorrow from the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine will be to resume debate in Committee of the Whole House on Bills on Bill No. 115. One can only hope we will have as much progress tomorrow as we have had today. (Laughter)

I move that we adjourn until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made and carried.

The House will now rise to sit again tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.

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



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 in October even the Justice Minister criticized his own government for foot-dragging on long overdue paving projects saying, "Clearly, I would like to have had this work done this year"; and

Whereas instead of the promised paving, Antigonish Liberals heard the Transportation Minister at their AGM say, "our only hope" is to get people to believe the Liberals are honest; and

Whereas at the same meeting, the MLA for Antigonish addressed, "a subject near and dear to all of our hearts" -- road paving, by boasting about the tenders called instead of the paving done;

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals have no hope at all if they cannot even be honest with themselves about something as near and dear to their hearts as paving the roads in Antigonish County.