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May 12, 2000
Hansard -- Fri., May 12, 2000

First Session

FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2000

Health - Nurses: Additional - Fund, Mr. D. Dexter 5629
Health - Nurses: Additional - Fund, Mr. R. MacLellan 5630
Health - Nurses: Additional - Fund, Dr. J. Smith 5630
Health - Nurses: Additional - Fund, Mr. K. Deveaux 5630
Health - Environmental Illness: Treatment Clinic - Support,
Mr. D. Dexter 5631
Res. 1999, Tourism - TIANS: Work - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 5631
Vote - Affirmative 5632
Res. 2000, Health - QE II: Cuts - Reverse, Mr. R. MacLellan 5632
Res. 2001, Health - Nurses: Hiring - Promise Fulfil, Mr. D. Dexter 5633
Res. 2002, Econ. Dev. - W. Valley Dev. Auth.: Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 5633
Vote - Affirmative 5634
Res. 2003, Health - Alzheimer Disease: Drug Formulary -
Aricept Include, Mr. D. Downe 5634
Res. 2004, Health - Nurses: Hiring - Promise Unfulfilled,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5635
Res. 2005, Educ. - Acadia Univ.: Microstructural Analysis Ctr. -
Recognize, Mr. D. Morse 5636
Vote - Affirmative 5636
Res. 2006, Health - Nurses: Contribution - Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 5636
Res. 2007, Cdn. Alliance - Members [PC (N.S.) 3]: Joining Resist -
Alt. (Wresting [Nfld.]) Party Join, Mr. F. Corbett 5637
Res. 2008, Educ. - St. F.X. Univ.: Youth Internship Prog. -
Eryn Hessian (Bedford) Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 5638
Vote - Affirmative 5639
Res. 2009, Sports - Basketball (Inverness/Richmond Champs JH Boys):
Isle Madame Islanders - Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 5639
Vote - Affirmative 5639
Res. 2010, Educ. - MSVU: Hon. Degree: Betty Peterson - Congrats.,
Ms. E. O'Connell 5639
Vote - Affirmative 5640
Res. 2011, Culture - Media: Journalism Award (Atl.) -
Fred Hatfield (Vanguard Yar.) - Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 5640
Vote - Affirmative 5641
Res. 2012, Agric.: European Meat - Exclude (N.S.), Mr. R. MacKinnon 5641
Vote - Affirmative 5641
Res. 2013, Health - QE II: Cuts - Face, (By Mr. J. Holm)
Mr. Robert Chisholm 5642
Res. 2014, Educ. - Anna. V. Reg. Sch. Bd.: Transport. Gold
Achievement - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 5642
Vote - Affirmative 5643
Res. 2015, Educ. - Sch. Bds.: Funding - Adequate Ensure,
Mr. W. Gaudet 5643
Res. 2016, Health - QE II: Cuts - Nursing Mgr. (Dawn Ryan) Justify,
Mr. D. Dexter 5644
Res. 2017, Libercrat Party - Sask. Leg. Debates: Video - Supply,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 5645
Res. 2018, Educ. (Min.) - Election Campaign: Promises Misleading -
Condemn, Mr. P. MacEwan 5645
Res. 2019, WCAT - Decision (Chronic Pain): Appeal (Gov't. [N.S.]) -
Stop, Mr. K. Deveaux 5646
Res. 2020, Health - Reform: Failure - Condemn, Mr. D. Wilson 5647
Res. 2021, Educ. - Schools: Staff - Importance Recognize,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5647
Res. 2022, NSP - Prince Mine: Coal - Use Encourage, Mr. B. Boudreau 5648
Vote - Affirmative 5649
Res. 2023, Cdn. Alliance: Rationale - Recognize, Mr. H. Epstein 5649
Res. 2024, Health - Cuts: Siege - Recognize, Mr. R. MacLellan 5649
Res. 2025, HRDC - Employment Ins.: Seasonal Employees Review
(HoC) - Congrats., Mr. John MacDonell 5650
Res. 2026, Bridgewater - Town Crier: Ozzie Stiles -
Dedication Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 5651
Vote - Affirmative 5651
Res. 2027, Premier - PC Conf. (Que. C.): Absence - Note, Mr. J. Pye 5652
Res. 2028, Health - QE II: Cuts - Info. Release, Dr. J. Smith 5652
Res. 2029, Health - DHA (S. Shore): Effect - Caucus (Gov't. [N.S.])
Remind, Mr. D. Dexter 5653
Res. 2030, Dartmouth S. MLA - Red Tape Reduction Task Force:
Absence - Recognize, Mr. M. Samson 5653
Res. 2031, Health - QE II: Cuts - Question, Mr. J. Holm 5654
Res. 2032, Fin. - Budget (2000-01): Hide (Gov't. [N.S.]) -
Ferrets Await, Mr. R. MacKinnon 5654
Res. 2033, Educ. - MSVU: Elizabeth May (Hon. Degree) - Congrats.,
Ms. E. O'Connell 5655
Res. 2034, Educ. - MSVU: Elizabeth May & Betty Peterson
(Hon. Degrees) - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 5656
Res. 2035, Educ. - Cuts: Library Techs. - Justify,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 5656
Res. 2036, Col.-Musquodoboit Valley MLA - Political Aspirations:
Undermining (Gov't. [N.S.]) - Condemn, Mr. P. MacEwan 5657
Res. 2037, Culture - Music (Celtic): Dougie MacPhee &
David Greenberg - Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 5658
Vote - Affirmative 5658
Res. 2038, P&P - Red Tape Reduction Task Force: Appointments
(PC Backbenchers) - Commend, Mr. D. Wilson 5658
Res. 2039, DND - Helicopter (Sea King): Trip (Sen. Bernard Boudreau) -
Godspeed Wish, Mr. K. Deveau 5659
Res. 2040, Justice - Sunday Shopping: Ban - Preserve,
(By Mr. B. Boudreau) Mr. K. MacAskill 5660
Res. 2041, Educ. - Schools: Prog. Assists. - Importance Recognize,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 5660
Res. 2042, Educ. - Dal. Univ.: Toques Sales (Homeless) - Thank,
Mr. J. Pye 5661
Vote - Affirmative 5664
Res. 2043, Justice - Abused Women: Safety - Views Explain,
Mr. H. Epstein 5662
Res. 2044, Health - Cuts: Ship (N.S.) - Sinking Obvious,
Mr. John MacDonell 5663
No. 46, Financial Measures (2000) Act 5664
Mr. J. Pye 5664
Mr. M. Samson 5673
Ms. E. O'Connell 5690
Mr. B. Boudreau 5702
Mr. F. Corbett 5715
Mr. P. MacEwan 5728
Mr. J. Holm 5744
Dr. J. Smith 5757
Adjourned debate 5768
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., May 15th at 2:00 p.m. ~ 5769

[Page 5629]


Fifty-eighth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.


Hon. Murray Scott


Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Kevin Deveaux

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will begin the daily routine.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of health care workers in the central region and the IWK-Grace Hospital. The operative clause reads, "THEREFORE, we, the undersigned, want the Provincial Government to take action on the NURSING SHORTAGE and to fund additional permanent RN and LPN positions to be allocated throughout the province." There are 707 names on this petition and I will affix my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.


[Page 5630]

MR. RUSSELL MACLELLAN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the members of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union in the Cape Breton Regional Health Care Complex and the Eastern Health Region containing 682 signatures. The operative clauses reads, "THEREFORE, we, the undersigned, want the Provincial Government to take action on the NURSING SHORTAGE and to fund additional permanent RN and LPN positions to be allocated throughout the province." I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the members of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union in the northern health region containing 423 signatures. I have affixed my signature.

"WHEREAS, the Registered and Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia, who are Nova Scotia Nurses' Union (NSNU) members, have been working excessive overtime and unable to take vacation, and

WHEREAS, patient care is being negatively effected in such things as delays in surgery, delays in admissions and bed closures, and

WHEREAS, the Government has failed to take effective action on the NURSING SHORTAGE,

THEREFORE, we, the undersigned, want the Provincial Government to take action on the NURSING SHORTAGE and to fund additional permanent RN and LPN positions to be allocated throughout the province."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union, from the Western Regional Health Board. There are 457 signatures. The operative clause reads, "THEREFORE, we, the undersigned, want the Provincial Government to take action on the NURSING SHORTAGE and to fund additional permanent RN and LPN positions to be allocated throughout the province." I have affixed my signature, and would ask to have it tabled.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[Page 5631]

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition to support a full-time treatment clinic for environmental illness in Nova Scotia. The operative clause reads, "WE, the undersigned, wish to firmly express our support for (1) More physicians training in Environmental Medicine, and (2) a full-time Environmental Medicine treatment clinic service here in Nova Scotia, that will use treatment protocols and procedures that are accepted and widely used internationally within the field of Environmental Medicine." There are 305 signatures, and I have affixed my signature in support.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.





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


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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia is hosting its annual general meeting today; and

Whereas the association's mandate is to lead, support, represent and enhance Nova Scotia's tourism industry; and

Whereas the association works in partnership with other organizations to grow this significant part of our economy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join me in recognizing members and staff of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia for their ongoing work and wishing them continued success in their efforts to build this vital sector.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

[Page 5632]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.


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

Whereas yesterday Premier John Hamm said the loss of 418 jobs at the QE II hospital is a "positive step"; and

Whereas stepping onto the unemployment line is not a positive step for the hundreds of dedicated health care professionals who have lost their job because of this Tory Government; and

Whereas the extra workload imposed on nurses and other clinical staff and the longer waiting times will not be a positive step for patient care;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier is blissfully unaware of the upheaval he is causing in the health care system, and the only positive step for the QE II would be a reversal of cruel regressive Conservative budget cuts.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

[Page 5633]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.


MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas today, May 12th, is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, a nurse known for her compassion and caring; and

Whereas it is fitting that Florence Nightingale's birthday falls in National Nurses Week, when nurses are recognized for their contributions to the health care system; and

Whereas the overworked and under-appreciated nurses of Nova Scotia are reading today that the Premier thinks it is a positive step to lay off nurse managers, who are on the front line of patient care;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier keep his promise to nurses by hiring more of them and ensuring that they have a rewarding work environment, not laying them off and giving the survivors even more administrative tasks that take them away from their patients.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.


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

[Page 5634]

Whereas the Western Valley Development Authority was one of 12 regional communities across this country selected yesterday for a Smart Communities Demonstration Project; and

Whereas the Western Valley Development Authority represents the Municipalities of Annapolis, Clare, and Digby, and the Towns of Annapolis, Royal, Bridgetown, Digby and Middleton; and

Whereas the Western Valley Development Authority's project was one of 129 submitted nearly two years ago to Industry Canada, a list that was reduced by the selection committee to 46 before the 12 winners were announced;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend our congratulations to the Western Valley Development Authority for their efforts and foresight, which will lead to their becoming a world leader in the integration of information and communications technologies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

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 Lunenburg West.


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

Whereas there are over 11,000 people with dementia and more than 7,000 suffering from Alzheimer's disease in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Aricept is the only approved drug treatment currently available in Canada for mild and moderate stages of Alzheimer's disease; and

Whereas the Alzheimer's Society of Nova Scotia is asking that this Alzheimer's disease treatment be added to the Nova Scotia Provincial Drug Formulary;

[Page 5635]

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his Conservative Government act immediately to ensure this Alzheimer's disease treatment is approved and included in the Nova Scotia Provincial Drug Formulary.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.


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

Whereas this province has decided to pass on a golden opportunity to recruit nurses which would alleviate overworked and overburdened nurses in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas six provinces and several U.S. states are participating in Health Careers Interaction 2000 in Toronto, and Nova Scotia is not; and

Whereas this golden opportunity to recruit desperately-needed nurses is being squandered by a Minister of Health who hasn't got a clue about recruiting nurses;

Therefore be it resolved that this Minister of Health explain to this House why his government is not following the blue book promise to hire more nurses.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5636]

The honourable member for Kings South.


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

Whereas a thriving research community is a key ingredient to Nova Scotia's growing knowledge economy; and

Whereas the students and faculty of Acadia University will soon be pursuing cutting-edge research at the new Acadia Centre for Microstructural Analysis; and

Whereas the provincial and federal governments are investing more than $1 million in this centre which will house sophisticated equipment and help Acadia University pursue research in emerging fields, secure research grants and private sector contracts, and attract more business to Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the significance of the new Acadia Centre for Microstructural Analysis in further developing Nova Scotia's knowledge economy and wish the students and faculty of Acadia University well as they endeavour to put Nova Scotia on the map as a world leader in research technology.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

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 Dartmouth East.


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

Whereas today is the last day of National Nurses Week in Canada; and

[Page 5637]

Whereas today is also Florence Nightingale's birthday, a most fitting time to mourn the death of health care in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this Tory Government's "butchering of the health care system" will result in nurse lay-offs, bed closures and cuts to the quality of health care provided to all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate nurses from across this province for their outstanding contribution to the delivery of patient care and condemn this Tory Government for their inability to recognize the importance of nurses to the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.


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

Whereas polls show in the federal by election in Newfoundland that the Canadian Alliance is running neck-in-neck in last place with the Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party; and

Whereas a political scientist in Newfoundland states, "There's a sense that some of the things the Alliance says are rather nasty and they don't reflect traditional Canadian values and certainly not Newfoundland values"; and

[9:15 a.m.]

Whereas we feel that maybe the members for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Preston, and Dartmouth South should give some thought to joining the Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party where they can pile-drive their political opponents for real;

[Page 5638]

Therefore be it resolved that we recommend to the members for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Preston and Dartmouth South that instead of joining the Canadian Alliance Party, they join the Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party and adopt the names of Bruiser Brooke, Mad Dog Olive and Dancing Dave as their wrestling persona.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.


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

Whereas Eryn Hessian, of Bedford, has been chosen as one of the 15 participants for the Youth Internship Program of the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University; and

Whereas Ms. Hessian, who will be graduating at the spring convocation, will work for five months with one of the institute's overseas' partners in Asia, Africa or the Caribbean;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Eryn Hessian on being chosen to participate in this great educational and development experience.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 5639]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.


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

Whereas the Isle Madame Islander's Junior High Boys Basketball Team captured the Inverness-Richmond Championship on Saturday, April 29, 2000; and

Whereas the team won their final match against the Margaree Panthers with a score of 43 to 34; and

Whereas the boys demonstrated good sportsmanship while at the same time practising the belief that a good defence is the best offence;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Isle Madame Islander's Junior High Boys Basketball Team for their outstanding achievements and wish them all continued success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

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

Whereas Mount Saint Vincent University will honour Betty Peterson with an honorary degree during spring convocation on Friday, May 12th; and

[Page 5640]

Whereas Betty Peterson has worked extensively on peace and women's issues and is an advocate for civil and Aboriginal rights;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Betty Peterson upon receiving an honorary degree from Mount Saint Vincent University and for her outstanding commitment and work on behalf of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

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

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 Yarmouth.


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

Whereas Fred Hatfield, editor of the Yarmouth Vanguard, was recently honoured by the Faculty of the University of Kings College School of Journalism with the Atlantic Journalism Award; and

Whereas this award is presented to an individual or a media organization judged to have made an outstanding contribution to journalism in the past year or number of years; and

Whereas in announcing the recipient of this year's award at the Atlantic Journalism Award gala in Halifax, Fred was recognized for his staunch independence, work ethics and his love of language;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Fred Hatfield for his commitment, dedication and the integrity he brings to the profession, and congratulate him on receiving this year's award.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver.

[Page 5641]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

Whereas in Europe mad cow disease has resulted in the destruction of more than 150,000 cattle and close to 75 human deaths; and

Whereas according to today's CBC Newsworld report, some 100,000 people are carrying the virus generated by mad cow disease; and

Whereas it is further reported this disease has spread from Great Britain to France;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Agriculture collaborate with the federal government to ensure that measures be undertaken that no European meat enter Nova Scotia from the European countries, where mad cow disease has been identified, until the European communities receive a complete bill of health from this disease.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

[Page 5642]


MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Leader of the New Democratic Party, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Minister of Health pretended ignorance when questioned in this House about lay-offs of non-unionized staff at the QE II, which had been approved by the board and distributed to the media; and

Whereas the Premier and the Minister of Health have taken control of the health system, including the QE II, a responsibility that the Premier welcomed when outside this House he extravagantly praised the lay-offs; and

Whereas Nova Scotians got a taste of Tory openness when these control freaks issued no news releases about the QE II decision, made no ministerial statements and denied all knowledge in Question Period;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health and Premier should go eyeball to eyeball with Nova Scotians to reconcile their election promise to value the work of nurses with a first round of Tory lay-offs at the QE II that has already hit nurses harder than any other group of employees.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please, the resolution was much too long.

[The notice is tabled.]

The honourable member for Annapolis.


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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board is the 2000 winner of the Nova Scotia Pupil Transportation Gold Achievement Award; and

Whereas this marks the fourth consecutive year since amalgamation in which the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board has won the Gold Achievement Award; and

[Page 5643]

Whereas the board scored 198.5 points out of a maximum 200 points to win the award based on criteria that includes the number of accidents, compliance with maximum passenger loads and luggage and inspection reports;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our congratulations to School Board Co-ordinator Murray Goulden and staff for doing such an excellent job in the transportation of students on a daily basis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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 Clare.


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

Whereas the Halifax Regional School Board announced that it would have to cut 35 library technicians to live within its budget; and

Whereas the loss of these library technicians will mean closing school libraries at the junior high level; and

Whereas the impact on students will be such that little or no research will take place, depriving the students of one of their most worthwhile learning experiences;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education cease her game of smoke and mirrors concerning education funding for school boards and immediately give the school boards adequate funding to carry out the most basic of learning experiences.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 5644]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.


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

Whereas Dawn Ryan a nursing unit manager in charge of the critical care unit at the QE II was given her pink slip yesterday; and

Whereas Dawn was in charge of 50 staff, including nurses and LPNs and was responsible to have the proper number of staff on shift, as well as offer direction, advice and assistance to nurses and LPNs; and

Whereas Dawn has 25 years of experience, has worked in numerous departments at the QE II and, in fact, has a loyal following of people who regularly transfer to her department when she moves;

Therefore be it resolved that the unaware Minister of Health explain how such a valuable nurse, like Dawn Ryan, could be cut and who will perform her duties now.

Mr. Speaker, I would request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

[Page 5645]


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

Whereas the coalition of the NDP and the Liberal Party in Saskatchewan provides evidence of the kinship between these two Parties; and

Whereas the proposed creation of the Libercrat Party in this province is growing surprisingly more popular; and

Whereas the members of the Liberal Party and the members of the New Democratic Party need support and encouragement to proceed with their merger;

Therefore be it resolved that the Committee on Assembly Matters arrange to have the televised debates of the Saskatchewan Legislature made available to the caucus offices of the founding members of the Libercrat Party so they can proceed with the confidence that such a union would be in the interest of both the Liberal and New Democratic Party's long-term future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver?

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.


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

Whereas the Minister of Education, during the last election campaign, promised that hospital beds would open when Sydney Steel was closed; and

Whereas yesterday it became clear that over 300 staff from a hospital in the minister's own riding are about to get the axe, meaning that hospital beds will certainly close; and

[Page 5646]

Whereas while Sydney Steel is still open, the government seems determined to shut it down too and leave the workers out in the cold;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the Minister of Education for her misleading election campaign and the government for its cold-hearted, insensitive and merciless attack on Sydney steelworkers and Halifax hospital workers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.


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

Whereas the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal determined that it is unconstitutional for discriminate against workers suffering from chronic pain syndrome; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government is appealing the decision of WCAT and challenging the decision before the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government is actively working to defeat a decision that supports the rights of injured workers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House direct the government to stop its appeal of the WCAT decision and start paying injured workers what they deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.

[Page 5647]


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

Whereas the day after announced massive cuts of the QE II health care workers, their families and all Nova Scotians fear the health system is about to collapse; and

Whereas communities like Glace Bay are fearful that their emergency services will be reduced or eliminated, making Glace Bay residents travel to Sydney for emergency treatments; and

Whereas the Minister of Health seems unfazed by his health care destruction budget that will paint him in history as the most vicious Health Minister in Nova Scotia history;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the Health Minister for failing to address the need for meaningful health reform rather than the current approach of slashing, burning and indeed amputating key parts of the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.


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

Whereas school secretaries and custodians play crucial roles in a busy, active and safe school; and

Whereas continuing education cuts will jeopardize the safety and cleanliness of our schools; and

[Page 5648]

Whereas students, teachers and parents are appreciative of the vital importance of school secretaries and custodians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education recognize the importance of these valuable members of the school staff by ensuring that necessary funding is available to school boards to maintain these positions.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Power generating plant in Point Aconi has been testing new imported fuels since last summer; and

Whereas this fuel is made of petroleum coke and coal imported from the United States and South America; and

Whereas any foreign fuel used at Point Aconi opens the door wider to the use of imported coal at the expense of the local community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage Nova Scotia Power to make full use of the plentiful coal available at Prince Mine, which makes a major contribution to the local economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 5649]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.


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

Whereas it seems that Preston Manning is dubious about some Tories switching to the Canadian Alliance; and

Whereas originally the Reform Party was formed to protest the elitism of the Brian Mulroney Conservatives; and

Whereas Mr. Manning states, "I don't think the rank and file of the public are going to pay a lot of attention to high level endorsements";

Therefore be it resolved that this House inform Mr. Preston Manning that the public is indeed watching and recognize the Canadian Alliance for exactly what it is - a reincarnation of the Mulroneyesque, elitist Party only this time from the West.

[9:30 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.


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

Whereas the preliminary effects of the Health budget are now being revealed; and

Whereas in his letter to staff at the QE II, CEO Bob Smith wrote, "I had hoped changes could have been made in a more gradual and less disruptive manner but that was just not possible given the magnitude of our budget cut"; and

[Page 5650]

Whereas he went on further to say, "The decisions involved in today's reorganization are among the most difficult and agonizing that I, and my colleagues on the executive team, have ever had to make as professionals";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that our health care system is under siege by a government with no concept of compassion and no ability to recognize the permanent and perhaps irreparable damaged caused to our health care system by these cuts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.


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

Whereas in the House of Commons a motion was passed by members to review Employment Insurance benefits for seasonal employees; and

Whereas due to the demands of Canadians across the country, the Prime Minister was forced to admit that the Employment Insurance Act had to change; and

Whereas the motion that was moved by Yvon Godin and seconded by Michelle Dockerill is the first step in reversing discriminatory and disastrous changes made to the EI Act by the Liberals;

Therefore be it resolved that we congratulate the members of the House of Commons for realizing that seasonal workers are not some marginal part of the workforce, but rather integral to our economy, and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

[Page 5651]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.


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

Whereas Bridgewater's Town Crier, Mr. Ozzie Stiles, has been elected as President of the Nova Scotia Guild of Town Criers; and

Whereas Mr. Stiles has done a phenomenal job as being Bridgewater's most dedicated town crier for the past 19 years; and

Whereas Mr. Stiles will be representing criers at functions throughout the province;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mr. Ozzie Stiles on his outstanding achievements and wish him well at this year's Nova Scotia Town Criers Championship to be held on June 24th and June 25th in Parrsboro.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

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 Dartmouth North.

[Page 5652]


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

Whereas the federal Tories are gathering in Quebec for their policy conference; and

Whereas the federal Conservative Leader, Joe Clark, will be looking for all possible assistance; and

Whereas the members for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Preston, and Dartmouth South might not be given permission to attend this important conference of their Party;

Therefore be it resolved that this House notes that the Premier is taking two important steps to help the federal Tories, by personally staying away from Joe Clark's Quebec City conference and by spending public funds to keep his restless backbenchers busy at home.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.


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

Whereas the Minister of Health said he could not guarantee that the massive number of staff cuts at the QE II would not impact patient care; and

Whereas Bob Smith, CEO of the QE II said he ". . . had hoped the changes could have been made in a more gradual and less disruptive manner"; and

Whereas even after the extent of the staff cuts were outlined yesterday, the Health Minister still maintained his ignorance of the details;

[Page 5653]

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health immediately find out the details so that he can inform health care workers across Nova Scotia what the real impact of these disastrous cuts will have on the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour.


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

Whereas the budget of the new district health authority of the South Shore has cut $2.7 million from its operations; and

Whereas in addition the new district health authority has to build a new administration to prepare the health services plan and to support the community health boards; and

Whereas Philip Langford, the Acting General Manager for the Health Services Association of the South Shore said, "It is obvious from the size of the cuts we're talking there won't be some people here, but who and how many, that's still up in the air;"

Therefore be it resolved that the government caucus be reminded that perhaps it is the Progressive Conservative MLAs that Mr. Langford is talking about.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.


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

[Page 5654]

Whereas the appointment of five Tory backbenchers to a Red Tape Reduction Task Force is a welcome relief for those who feared these members had a shot at Cabinet; and

Whereas surprisingly the honourable member for Dartmouth South, a former businessman, was conspicuously absent from the task force; and

Whereas also absent from the task force was a non-partisan all-Party approach that could have given the task force some credibility;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the obvious slight to the honourable member for Dartmouth South by the Premier, and remind the Premier that he represents all Nova Scotians, not just Conservative backbenchers.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.


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 CEO of the QE II has announced that a total of 418 jobs will be lost as a result of the business plan he has sent forward to government; and

Whereas the Minister of Health, when asked if he concurs with the QE II's massive cuts in staffing, said he trusts the QE II to do what is right within the budget limitations imposed upon them; and

Whereas Nova Scotians can now be certain that this Minister of Health and this government have no strategic plan or vision for health care, other than to cut, cut, cut;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health please ask the Premier, is this what Marcus Welby would do?

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.


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

[Page 5655]

Whereas since the John Hamm Government was elected in July 1999, Nova Scotia has skipped from third to ninth place in terms of economic performance in this country; and

Whereas Premier John Hamm admitted he did not know what the mathematical formula was for corporate taxation in his Financial Measures (2000) Bill - actually that should be the Minister of Finance, my apologies; and

Whereas an estimated 3,000 persons in Nova Scotia will lose their jobs since the Hamm Government introduced the budget.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Hamm Government please go and hide, and wait for the people of Nova Scotia to ferret them out, if they so choose.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.


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

Whereas Mount Saint Vincent University will honour Elizabeth May with an honorary degree during spring convocation on Friday, May 12th; and

Whereas Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist, and lawyer, as well as the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, and the first Chairwoman of Dalhousie University's Elizabeth May Chair in Women's Health and Environment;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Elizabeth May upon receiving an honorary degree from Mount Saint Vincent University, and for her outstanding commitment and work on behalf of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

[Page 5656]

The honourable member for Clare.


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

Whereas community involvement at the grassroots level is the backbone of this province; and

Whereas environmentalist Elizabeth May and peace activist Betty Peterson are shining examples for their work with the Sierra Club of Canada, and peace and women's issues respectively; and

Whereas both of these women will receive honorary degrees as 500 student graduate from Mount Saint Vincent during spring convocation ceremonies this morning;

Therefore be it resolved that Elizabeth May and Betty Peterson be congratulated by members of this House for their outstanding achievements.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.


MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I have seen everything, Mr. Speaker.

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

Whereas this government's attack on education funding will mean the loss of library technicians from the schools; and

[Page 5657]

Whereas junior high school libraries are being closed; and

Whereas millions of dollars worth of technology will now sit with no one around to train students on its proper use;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education explain how the loss of library technicians can possibly be justified on either educational or financial grounds.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova. (Interruptions)


MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, it is encouraging that they all know me so well.

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

Whereas the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley at one time wanted the Leader of the Opposition, now the Premier, to resign; and

Whereas the honourable member has recently been courting the Reform Party/United Alternative/Creep Party/Canadian Alliance; and

Whereas in order to keep idle hands busy, the honourable member has been appointed to a task force to cut red tape and replace it with blue tape;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House condemn the government for trying to undermine the honourable member in his aspirations to embrace the Canadian Alliance and shun the Progressive Conservative Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 5658]


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

Whereas Celtic music has been a vehicle of identity for Cape Breton Island for centuries; and

Whereas Doug MacPhee has been a master Celtic pianist for many years and is now accompanied by David Greenberg, a talented Cape Breton fiddler; and

Whereas together Doug and David have released a new CD entitled "Tunes Until Dawn," a compilation of traditional Celtic music displaying their undying talent and love for their roots;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Dougie MacPhee and David Greenberg for their tireless work in promoting our traditional Celtic heritage to music lovers all over the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton East.


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

Whereas yesterday's announcement of a red tape task force comprised of only Tory MLAs has narrowed the Cabinet Sweepstakes by five; and

[Page 5659]

Whereas the appointment of MLAs for Yarmouth, Kings West, Kinds South, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and surprisingly the member for Eastern Shore to that task force clearly eliminates them from the running; and

Whereas the elimination of such prestigious competition leaves the member for Dartmouth South, Shelburne, Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury and Kings North to jockey for any potential Cabinet positions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Premier for appointing those Tory backbenchers to the red tape task force so they do less damage there than had they been appointed to Cabinet.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.


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

Whereas Senator Bernie Boudreau has undertaken to put his life on the line by taking a trip on a Sea King helicopter, after the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff declined this honour; and

Whereas the Senator feels that is going to be either a real or a simulated rescue mission; and

Whereas we can all only hope that the Senator returns unscathed by his joy ride;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish this Senator Godspeed on his journey into the great unknown.

[Page 5660]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.


MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, the honourable member for Victoria, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[9:45 a.m.]

Whereas Sunday has traditionally been the only day where those employed in the retail industry in Nova Scotia have to spend with their families and loved ones; and

Whereas the retail industry is the biggest employer of Nova Scotians with more and more families having two parents working in this industry; and

Whereas the reality of both parents working on Sunday will be a deterrent to their children's upbringing;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government not abandon the youth of Nova Scotia as it has with recent cuts to education and preserve Nova Scotia's ban on Sunday shopping.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.


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

[Page 5661]

Whereas special needs children are a positive addition to classrooms across this province; and

Whereas these students daily benefit from the support and attention of program assistants in these classrooms; and

Whereas program assistants work closely with classroom teachers each and every day to meet the varied needs of these students;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education recognize the importance of program assistants by ensuring that necessary funding is available to school boards to maintain these positions.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.


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

Whereas Dalhousie University and selected merchants sold 4,000 toques in the Toque Tuesday fund-raiser in January; and

Whereas this was an innovative effort to support the fight against homelessness; and

Whereas Phoenix Youth Program and Metro Non-Profit Housing both just received cheques for $10,000 while Raise the Roof national strategy to address homelessness got $5,000 from Toque Tuesday's fund-raiser;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the students of Dalhousie University and selected merchants for selling the toques to provide funding for the homeless.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5662]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I think you should reconsider that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.


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

Whereas this Tory Government has decided again to attack the most vulnerable in society by axing the Victims Support Program; and

Whereas leaving an abusive relationship is hard enough when support is available but without the Victims Support Program, it has become even more difficult; and

Whereas people working with abused women feel that women will just stay in an abused relationship because help is now too difficult to find;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Justice explain to abused women why he feels their safety is not worthwhile.

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 5663]


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

Whereas Captain Chaos, the member for Truro-Bible Hill, now controls the Department of Health; and

Whereas under Captain Chaos valuable, experienced nursing managers are being cut at the QE II; and

Whereas following the lead of the Admiral of Acrimony, the Premier, Captain Chaos has cut $80 million out of health care in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that with Admiral Acrimony and Captain Chaos at the helm of the good ship Nova Scotia, it is obvious that health is slowly but surely sinking under the sea.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise on a point of information with respect to my last resolution. There were no political connotations implied. It was simply recognizing the contribution of people in the community and Dalhousie University students . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Maybe the honourable member would share that with the Government House Leader and let him decide.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to read the Therefore be it resolved if you . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is it agreed to let the honourable member reread the Therefore be it resolved?

It is agreed.

MR. PYE: "Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the students of Dalhousie University and selected merchants for selling the toques to provide funding for the homeless."

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 5664]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

I would like to say that a lot of times there is so much noise in the Chamber that it is very hard to hear the speakers and sometimes what is intended may not be what is heard. So as a result, that is what happens.



MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 46.

Bill No. 46 - Financial Measures (2000) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North. You have 33 minutes.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if I can entertain yourself for just a moment. There was a tremendous amount of heckling last evening when I did the first 27 minutes of my speaking. I counted about 17 minutes of not giving me the opportunity to truly address the issues that I want to. So, therefore, I am wondering . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Obviously, the honourable member is joking?

MR. PYE: So, Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if I can tack on, without penalty to any other member of the Legislature, the remaining 17 minutes.

[Page 5665]

MR. SPEAKER: I think not.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to begin where I left off and when I adjourned debate on Bill No. 46, I left off with respect to the consequences of human resources and the approximately 600 people who in fact were going to lose their jobs as a result of the cuts.

Mr. Speaker, what I am saying here is that I believe I made mention of the then Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, John Hamm, with respect to his commitment to a five point plan with respect to the Nova Scotia Government employees. I want to say that I found out the signature was not worth the paper it was written on when I asked the Minister of Human Resources as to his commitment with respect to this five point plan.

I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, that there are some very serious issues with respect to this. I do believe that the collective bargaining contract with respect to the 6,000 NSGEU employees has now expired, I believe it was on March 31st, and that this is a cost to the Financial Measures (2000) Act, Bill No. 46, and that in fact it has to be measured. Also, I believe that the minister has indicated that there will be some training programs, some support programs for those people who have to make the transition from being a government employee into the workforce. There will be some educational programs that will assist these individuals through the transition as well from government employment into the private sector or into other governmental services. What I want to say is this is all well and good, but it really does not address the issue that individuals have lost their jobs and the consequences of those job losses.

Mr. Speaker, it has been farsighted and it has been something that has been going on now for 14 years. It has been going on by the federal Government of Canada. It has been going on by every provincial government across this country. As a matter of fact, there was a report out most recently where in fact the federal Government of Canada dismissed some of its senior employees, some of its dedicated employees, and have found that they have brought them back because of their expertise and had to bring them back on contract services after giving them notices of retirement and leave.

Mr. Speaker, all this cost the taxpayers of Canada a tremendous amount of dollars. Frequently this happens at the provincial level and it costs taxpayers of the province a tremendous number of dollars when, in fact, you could continue to keep these individuals employed because they are experts in their fields and most often many of them have 10 to 15 years service. When they have this number of years of service, you can very well imagine the kind of dedication and contribution that they provide to the general public out there, the public who from day one may call any particular department, for any given reason, with respect to a need or a want. As a result, they are the front-line people and they are the people who are on the end of the line and they are the people who in fact provide the services to Nova Scotians.

[Page 5666]

Nova Scotians, during this election campaign, had no idea, never dreamed that they would be getting a reduced level of service. As a matter of fact, many Nova Scotians complained about their level of services as a result of the Savage cuts, and we also know what the Savage Liberal Government did from 1993 to 1998. We also know they are not here today, they are not the government of the province today as a result of those budgetary measures. Those budgetary measures were extremely stiff for Nova Scotians, Nova Scotians found that intolerable and unacceptable and therefore decided, in the 1997 election campaign, it would be a minority government. As a matter of fact, the minority government, Mr. Speaker, which you were part of, functioned exceptionally well for this province, it kept the government in line and kept everything operational. (Interruption) I hear the member for Digby-Annapolis, who was a member of that minority government, and he knows quite well that on many occasions we united together in voting and support.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, a question. I am just a little bit curious as to whether he has, as of today, any remorse for helping to put the Conservative caucus on the government benches?

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, it is typical of Liberals to put the responsibility and blame on everyone else but themselves because quite often they are unable to shoulder the responsibility of their own consequences. That is what happens and that is why the Liberals are where they are today and why the Tory Government is there today as well. Although I did entertain the member's question, I sometimes wonder if it is proper to entertain a question from the Liberal Party at all anyway.

Having said that, I think they recognize the responsibility and this government recognizes the responsibilities that they have before them. I believe this government also recognizes that it is a one-term government, so it wants to do everything according to the corporate agenda as quickly as possible and get out, because then they might have jobs in the corporate community. That is the only interest that this government has, if not, they wouldn't continue to carry on the kind of practices they are carrying on. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, it is not unusual for me to stand alone, I have stood alone before and I can stand alone again, but I have to tell you, it truly is disheartening when you recognize the kind of gutting that has taken place within a short period of time. I hope this gutting is not just simply to give Nova Scotian taxpayers, at the end of the four year mandate, a 10 per cent tax cut. I didn't enter politics or join government on the basis that I would get a tax cut, I am proud to pay my taxes, providing the government is accountable for the delivery of services and programs and where the tax dollars will be spent. I think that holds right across Nova Scotia. Many Nova Scotians who I have talked to have never once complained about the tax dollars they are paying but they have complained about how those tax dollars are being spent and that is the gist of this whole thing.

[Page 5667]

We have this notion, this train of thought, this idea that everybody wants reduced government, they want a smaller government, they want to pay less tax, which I have not heard, and maybe my sphere or circle of friends is uniquely different than that of the government because many of the Nova Scotians that I have talked to have said, look Mr. MLA, we are interested in paying our taxes but we also want a delivery of services.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move on to the privatization which might take place in the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Many people in rural communities rely upon the jobs in the Department of Transportation, every one of the backbenchers who represent rural communities can attest to the fact that many of those employed individuals are single family earners in rural communities. Many of those people earn their income and that money is dispensed back into the community.

[10:00 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you that I remember as a young person, while going to school, working for the Department of Transportation in the summertime. There used to be the opportunity to employ some student help with respect to cutting the brush along the roads to make sure that the power lines and the clearance and the visibility of the vehicular traffic could be seen, as well as the operators of the vehicles would be able to see, to make certain that they were in fact on the road at all times and not off the road. Having said that . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Staying the course.

MR. PYE: Yes, staying the course. I have to tell you that it was a great experience for me.

During that early experience, there was a lot of political patronage looming large. I remember there was a summer election at that time - I won't mention the year - and I do remember the supervisor and he indicated that he was quite worried because, if the government changed, he may lose his job. That was a fact back then. Because of the political patronage that was carrying on, there were many people who lived by the term of the government in power. Those highway workers out there, and those people who were employed in the Department of Transportation, even though they were summer jobs, had a sense and a feel for a man who had a family of seven or eight, whose job hinged upon whether a government would continue to stay in power or not.

I know the members from the rural communities understand that, and they understand very well the impact of such things. Now those individuals are concerned with respect to the privatization of public workers within the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Think about the guys who used to drive those graders, and still drive those graders; think about the individuals who drive the snowplows, and operate the plows; and think about the individuals who maintain the highways.

[Page 5668]

Mr. Speaker, the point is those are very important jobs. They are jobs that stay in the economy. If in fact you privatize it, it goes to the lowest common denominator. So there is less money in the pockets of those individuals, and there is less money spent in the community. You have to realize the importance of privatization. Privatization brings the fact that you are coming down to the lowest common denominator, and the money is not in the pocket, jobs are insecure and you don't have the kind of flow that you would want to see to create the kind of business climate that exists in those rural communities.

Let me tell you, when a person is employed in government and lives in a rural community, those are stable dollars, stable income, and that money goes through the community. You know, the Town of Stewiacke, and how many dollars that would represent in the Town of Stewiacke, with respect to public employees being employed with government and the dollars that flow through there. They are constant dollars; they are secure dollars. The Town of Yarmouth as well and the Town of Digby, they all know, absolutely know. You know the kind of dollars that flow through the economy.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to make a point and move on now to the potential privatization of liquor commissions. This is nothing new. I think that it has been tried in almost every province. There is a debate about what kind of success there is, if there is any success at all. I will tell you, it again brings the dollar that the individual earns down to the lowest common denominator. It also takes away an asset of government, which is a revenue-generating asset, an asset where in fact the government makes money and continues to make dollars while employing people at good wages.

Mr. Speaker, that in itself has to be measured and has to be weighed. I don't care what rural community you are from. The Liquor Commission in Sherbrooke, for example, or the Liquor Commission in Truro, or the Liquor Commission in Amherst, each one of those Liquor Commission offices employs individuals who have a stable income, a guaranteed income and the kinds of dollars to spend to put into the community to buy the consumer goods that continue to generate and make the economy flow. To me, that is significant and very important, because without those dollars we certainly do not know, and we will not know, the kind of impact that that has on a community. Bringing it down to the lowest common denominator is, by no means, a positive for reflection on the efforts of those dedicated people.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to move back to health care. I am absolutely surprised at the Minister of Health, because I have to tell you that the Minister of Health has demonstrated to me that he is a caring minister, he fully understands the consequences of the delivery of health care services, and I do believe in his heart of hearts that he has the best interest of all Nova Scotians, be they aged or not, and a primary delivery of health care services to the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 5669]

I do know that minister, who is from the small-town community of Truro-Bible Hill, understands the importance of health care across this province. He also understands the kind of health problems that exist in Nova Scotia, and he also knows there is a need to deliver those kinds of health care services to those Nova Scotians. But when I heard yesterday that some people are already getting their pink slips and the minister was unaware of it, I just wonder how closely attached the minister is to his department or to the QE II services. One of the former students of the member for Timberlea-Prospect, 23 years working in the health services, is now going to be out of a job. Mr. Speaker, that is intolerable, it is inexcusable not only to the employee working there, but to the delivery of health care services in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, this is what Bill No. 46 is all about; it is the balance and checks that are needed to keep this government in line with respect to its commitment that it made walking door to door in the 1999 election campaign. It is this government's commitment to Nova Scotians that, in fact, the right thing to do is to provide the delivery of health care services.

When you think about it, Mr. Speaker, within the next year, 418 who are now employed in the QE II services are going to be out of a job. I don't know - and I am sure the Minister of Health is unaware of what they translate into the number of dollars or translate into the delivery of services to Nova Scotians. I have often had the opportunity to frequent hospitals; I have been there on a few occasions and I must say that I was very pleased with the delivery of services. I want to tell you that it takes a special dedicated person to be in the hospital services industry. I am not only talking about nurses and doctors, I am talking about LPNs, I am talking about the support staff all through the system; every one of those individuals make up the delivery of what we know as the health care services that Nova Scotians have come to enjoy.

When we look at the possibilities of these health care services being eroded by this government, who did not carry it out in the election campaign, then I think there is a sad commentary with respect to the responsibility of politicians to enact upon what they actually mean when they are election campaigning. To me, that is significantly important; it is important to Nova Scotians. If we look at what Nova Scotians consider to be the issues which they believe are the most significant issues facing Nova Scotians today and when I sent out a questionnaire, this is my response: the significant issues are with respect to health care and education. There is absolutely no question where Nova Scotians rate. Both the quality of health care services and education, no question whatsoever, Mr. Speaker. I have never heard a Nova Scotian say that they weren't prepared to pay more tax dollars to get a better delivery of health care services nor did I ever hear a Nova Scotian say that they weren't prepared to pay more tax dollars to get a better quality of education because we know that both of them are instrumental in the securing of a society. One, for the caring of the society and two, education for at least the well-being and the betterment of a society. When we look at that, we also have to recognize that within this Bill No. 46 that we have an obligation here and we have a strong obligation to make sure that what is being done is being done right.

[Page 5670]

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a bit about tourism and the significance of tourism to Nova Scotia. Tourism in Nova Scotia is a billion dollar industry. As a matter of fact, it is over a billion dollar industry. Today TIANS will be having its annual general meeting. As a member of the Dartmouth Visitors and Convention Bureau working on tourism for the City of Dartmouth and recognizing the important contribution that tourism contributes to the economy of Nova Scotia and to many small communities and many cities, as a matter of fact, we can measure tourism by the growth of hotel complexes, shopping centres, boutiques, craft shops, the whole nature. We can measure tourism by the growth in that industry.

Mr. Speaker, what I want to say is that while serving on the Dartmouth Visitors and Convention Bureau, served with some fine people but I want to mention one person in particular which I know the government side knows quite well and that was Scott McCrea. I have to tell you that Scott McCrea was the Chairman of the Dartmouth Visitors and Convention Bureau for a period of time. He is a member of the Armour Group and also with respect to understanding the importance of tourism to Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: Employed summer students.

MR. PYE: Absolutely, employed summer students. He was quite actively involved in setting out new ways to attract tourism. I remember last year, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Economic Development standing up - and that was a former Minister of Economic Development, Manning MacDonald - and speaking about the importance of tourism and the connection between Iceland and Nova Scotia with respect to Icelandair, of which the minister is very much aware, and it used to generate out of Reykjavik, Iceland, and every month - many Nova Scotians don't know this, but the Minister of Economic Development knows this - every single month a plane flight comes from Reykjavik into Nova Scotia and every single month, those individuals come in here and they buy goods that Nova Scotians wouldn't think that they would even buy like automobiles (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Economic Development is very much aware of what they do purchase and what comes out of the economy, as a matter of fact, with respect to that. I want to say that I am pleased to have been a part of that and very proud to have been a part of that when the idea was first dreamed of, as a matter of fact, conceived of bringing people in from Iceland to shop at MicMac Mall and into the metropolitan area and going out. Now the government has recognized the value of tourism and provided a department to itself called Tourism and Culture because when the government made this statement, I believe the government stated that it recognized the important contribution that, in fact, tourism had made to this province and that the dollars were, in fact, 60 per cent new dollars that came into the economy of Nova Scotia. That 60 per cent new dollars coming into the economy of Nova Scotia meant a tremendous amount. As a frequent traveller throughout the province and so on, I come to recognize the VICs, which is acronym for the visitors information centres . . .

[Page 5671]

AN HON. MEMBER: The ones in small towns.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, the ones in small towns and small communities in outlying areas. I just want to make a comment with respect to some of the visitors information centres that we will be losing. Let's think about the Town of Oxford. I believe it is considered the Blueberry Capital of Nova Scotia. The Town of Oxford, many people from all over North America and around the world may very well know that and they may want to come and visit. They will need to use that visitors information centre with respect to what is new, what is coming down and so on. There is also Joggins, there is also Pugwash and Pugwash, of course, as we know, is the home of the thinkers. As a matter of fact I think the Cyrus Eaton homestead or estate is still there and every single year attracts intellectuals to sit back and do the kind of intellectual thinking we need to make sure there is some balance with respect to how we develop theory, policy and the like.

[10:15 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there is also Glenholme, the Town of Amherst. Mind you, they can say, we can escape a visitor's information centre in the Town of Amherst simply because there is one on the border between New Brunswick; but that is not possible. Many of the people who come to the Town of Amherst want to know the historical relevance of that town (Interruptions) The Fathers of Confederation. They want to know how the town developed, the main industries in the town, the town's notoriety, the sports heritage. You name it, there is a monumental facet of history that, in fact, many people who come to visit these communities want to know.

Then, Mr. Speaker, we go off to Springhill. When we look at Springhill, we recognize that it is the home of Anne Murray, as my colleague, Darrell has mentioned in his resolution the other day. In fact, Anne Murray is from Nova Scotia, and we need a visitor information centre to tell people historically how Anne Murray developed into the singing star she is today. In fact, it was way back when, I believe it was called Frank's Bandstand at the time - I am just reminiscing, Singalong Jubilee. (Interruption) Thank you, member for Truro Bible Hill (Interruption) Oh, so did I, Charlie Chaplin, Marg Osburne. We know historically all that. (Interruption) Charlie Chamberlain, eyes.

We also know that, in fact, Springhill is noted for the Miners' Museum, the disaster that happened in the 1950's when there was a very serious mining disaster in the Town of Springhill which closed the mines at that particular time in Springhill. Springhill since that day has never been actively involved in coal mining in the way it had historically prior to that time.

These visitor information centres, Mr. Speaker, are significantly important to these rural communities because they employ students and student employment is twofold. It gives students an opportunity to earn some dollars to continue getting their education. It is also historical information, and it is developing skills. It is also recognizing that there are

[Page 5672]

(Interruption) It doesn't matter what political stripe you are, you could have been a member of a visitor information centre. Those students who were there received an education. Many of these tourists who came from away often were enlightened as to what their town, their city, their country was all about.

AN HON. MEMBER: Three minutes.

MR. PYE: Is that all I have left? Oh, Mr. Speaker, and I am just getting started. I am told I only have three minutes, and I am surprised at that. I really wanted to get into a very deep subject, and that is gambling in Nova Scotia. That is the kind of subject, gambling in Nova Scotia. That is the kind of subject that I wanted to get into. I am surprised my time has gone so fast.

Mr. Speaker, I have been speaking with an organization called VOLTS, the acronym for Video Online Lottery Terminators Society. These individuals have been actively involved for a couple of years, with respect to trying to get some funding out of the provincial government, with respect to money going into helping gambling addiction. They tell me there has been a $400,000 cut in the core program. I have asked the Minister of Health where the dollars from the gaming foundation have gone, and whether the Minister of Health recognizes gambling as a health problem. The Minister of Health did not indicate that he recognized gambling as a health problem, but the former Minister of Health did recognize it as a health problem.

There has been approximately $3 million set aside in this fund. Let me tell you, so far only $1 million of that $3 million has been spent. It has been spent by the provincial government on a responsible gambling program. It was to train bar staff owners and bar club owners how to spot and identify gamblers in the bars. This really had no significance to the gamblers, but had a great impact on making sure the government's revenue continued to stay.

Mr. Speaker, out of the $1 billion of gambling that was generated last year in Nova Scotia, $500 million of that was from video lottery terminals, $500 million. So far only $2 million is left in that foundation fund, either in the health - wherever we can ferret it out, and I don't know where we can ferret it out, and yet we don't know where, in fact, the programs are going and what kinds of programs are going to be delivered to help gambling-addicted individuals.

Mr. Speaker, to me that is extremely significant. We have to make sure that the dollars are well spent.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

[Page 5673]

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to rise again to speak on Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, going into second reading. It is without a doubt that Bill No. 46 is the financial blueprint of where this new government wants to go with the finances, the economic development, and the future of this province. It is because of this bill that I certainly have a lot of questions, and I think Nova Scotians have a lot of questions as to what the intentions of this government are.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by talking about economic development and some concerns I have and, I think Nova Scotians have, on that issue. I think Nova Scotians were alarmed when the budget came down, to see that 45 per cent of the budget of the Department of Economic Development was cut in the last budget. For those of us who have been here in the last few years, one would know that that budget has been reduced significantly in the last number of years, but never to the extent of what we saw this year.

Nova Scotians are asking, what is left? What is left for this government to try to encourage and implement economic development in this province. The minister continues to assure us that everything is still on the go, everything is going well, and we should not be worried. I think we have seen, in the last few days, that Nova Scotians do have reason to worry. Yesterday we heard the announcement that Sears is pulling out its call centre in Halifax. Over 800 jobs are going to be lost. When they asked this government for assistance, they were told no. I believe Michelin, just last week, again put forward a business plan, looking for the support of the provincial government, and again, the minister said no.

Mr. Speaker, one of the issues I wanted to discuss, ironically, I believe it was May 2nd, all members of the House would have received a memo which came from Mr. Leo Muise, the director of the Aquaculture Division. In it, it is called the 1999 Nova Scotia aquaculture production statistics. Those of us who are familiar with that industry will know that the government here, and unfortunately our province, and it has been successive governments, have lagged far behind our counterparts in other provinces in the development of aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that in the last few years and the statistics show it, that trend has been changing and what we received from Mr. Leo Muise indicates that in 1999 the aquaculture industry in Nova Scotia had a production level of $33.8 million. That is incredible, incredible to think that just a few years ago, five years ago, I don't even think we were at the $1 million figure and now we are at $33.8 million. Ironically, to show you the growth in this industry, in 1998 the production level was a record at that time of $25.4 million. So we have seen an increase of $8 million in one year and I would hope that the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would be very proud of this and would brag about what this province has been able to do and that he would support the aquaculture industry and its continued growth here in this province.

[Page 5674]

HON. GORDON BALSER: It depends on how much it is.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I hear the Minister of Economic Development say it depends on how much. I would like to bring the Minister of Economic Development who, when he was a backbench member for the Tory caucus, sitting in fact, I believe, in the exact same seat that the member for Dartmouth North, I would like to table an article which was in The Chronicle-Herald. Unfortunately, I do not have the date, but it is written by Mr. Gordon Delaney of the Valley Bureau of The Chronicle-Herald. The story took place in Digby. It says, "MLA wants review of government's aquaculture policy". It went on to say, "The provincial government's policies on aquaculture needs to be revamped to reflect the growing importance of the industry to Nova Scotia says Tory Economic Development Critic, Gordon Balser."

MR. BALSER: A good member.

MR. SAMSON: A good member says the Minister of Economic Development. I hope he recalls saying this. He said, "We have to try to get the government to commit seriously to the aquaculture industry, the Digby-Annapolis MLA said in an interview Tuesday." (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, the minister says that we don't throw money in a sink hole. I think the fact that that industry increased by $8 million in one year to $33.8 million, I don't think that is throwing money in a sink hole. I think the numbers speak for themselves, but here is the best part and I think you would want to pay particular attention to this. This is what the Minister of Economic Development said while in Opposition. He said the province is "paying lip service" to the industry which was worth $15 million in Nova Scotia last year, said Mr. Balser, so I would estimate that is 1997 that he was referring to. So it is $15 million in 1997 when he made these comments and 1999, two years later, it more than doubled.

He goes on, and I want to say what he said further, he said, "but if you are going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk," said the member at the time. He said, "Mr. Balser has written Fisheries Minister Keith Colwell requesting discussions with people in the industry, government and business leaders. He also wants the province to develop a long range strategy to help develop the industry."

Mr. Speaker, I fully agree with what the member said at that time. Now he is a Minister of the Crown, but one would hope that a member who said, if they are going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. Well, this is the time for that minister to do the walking because he has done the talking, we have it here. Now it is time for him to do the walking. The aquaculture industry in Nova Scotia is being watched by the provinces that surround us in Atlantic Canada and they want to see, does this Government of Nova Scotia support aquaculture? Are they going to support the growth of this industry or are they going to let it collapse?

[Page 5675]

MR. BALSER: The Bank of Montreal is watching.

MR. SAMSON: Well, he says the Bank of Montreal is watching. Ironically, at a hearing on one of the major producers in this province, unfortunately, the province did not feel it important enough to even send a lawyer to even know what was going on. So that shows the importance that that minister feels to toward this industry.

[10:30 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I told you, $33.8 million is how much was produced in this province. I want you, Mr. Speaker, and I want the backbenchers and all the Tory MLAs to know what is going on here. The minister says, throwing money into a sinkhole. Out of that $33.8 million we know how much finfish is a high-value product. I am pleased to say that Scotia Rainbow which has sites throughout this province, itself was responsible for $17.1 million of that $33.8 million; 52 per cent of the total revenue that came out of aquaculture came out of one company. And the minister laughs at the situation they are going through right now. (Interruption) No, there is nothing funny about it. That is correct, and I would hope the minister would actually heed his own statement. It is not funny. He has made snide comments in this House before on that issue, and I think it is despicable. The Minister of Community Services laughs.

When an honourable member stands up and makes these kinds of comments in the newspaper and then when he is a Minister of the Crown laughs at the industry that grew over 50 per cent in two years. Now, when he has the opportunity to put his words into action by saying, we are going to invest in this industry, we are going to help it get through the hard times, we are going to get it over that bump, and we are going to see it succeed, we are going to see it continue to grow, and then he laughs. Mr. Speaker, that is a shame.

I want to tell you, this is not about one company. This is about an industry. When one company produces 52 per cent of your total revenue, you can't just laugh it away or just pass it off. When that company itself employed in 1998, 195 people; in 1999, 291 people; and in 2000, it is anticipated to reach up to 378 people. That is not a laughing matter, Mr. Speaker, because those are jobs, they are good paying jobs, they are sustainable jobs, and they are in rural Nova Scotia.

In fact, I don't need to lecture the minister of the importance of this industry or the importance of this company, because in his own riding, one of his own companies, Dianna Aqua, directly sells its product to Scotia Rainbow. So he doesn't need me to lecture him on the importance of this company. As a respectable MLA of this House and a member for Digby-Annapolis, he should know the importance of this industry. He should know that his own company in his riding will not survive if this company is not successful. So he has a vested interest, and I don't have to lecture the member for Pictou East on the importance of this industry. One of the sites is in Liscotte, in his own backyard.

[Page 5676]

Two young gentlemen in their early twenties started this from the ground up, a fish hatchery. They should be commended, Mr. Speaker. I think they are both still under 30 years old, and they are part of one of the largest finfish aquaculture operations in the world. That should be applauded. That hatchery started in Pictou. So the member for Pictou East doesn't need to be lectured on the importance of that.

The member for Inverness doesn't need to be lectured on this either. He knows the importance of this operation. He has a site in his own riding. He knows that site and the potential it has, working out of the Bras d'Or Lakes. He knows where there is room for growth. He sees where his own people can be employed and where this is going, so he doesn't need me to lecture him on that. He knows very well. In fact, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, a site is in his own riding; Saddle Island I understand is in his riding. So he would know himself the importance of this industry.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 46 is unfortunately an example of where this government is going. They are letting Sears walk out of this province. The minister laughs at the problems being encountered by Scotia Rainbow. Nova Scotians are to ask, what do we have to be optimistic for? Especially as a member for the Strait Area, this is the time; we have talked about the potential of the Strait Area for years, but now it is finally starting to click and is being put into action. We would hope that the Department of Economic Development in this province would be there to assist and support, but all indications are, to hell with the Strait area, to hell with Sears, and to hell with Scotia Rainbow. That is the message coming from that minister. What a sad statement that is.

I hate to have to bring this to the floor of the House, because I know the minister himself will say, I am not going to discuss deals on the floor of this House. I have done my best not to have to bring this to the floor of the House. I have met with the minister. I have met with company officials with the minister and we have made those representations and I did not want to bring this to the floor of the House. But we are at the eleventh hour, and guess who is holding up the deal? Guess who? It was the province. That is a sad fact. That private investors are ready to save this business, see the potential that it has, that is 52 per cent of the total revenue for aquaculture in this province and guess who is saying no? The Province of Nova Scotia. That's not a laughing matter, Mr. Speaker. That's disgraceful.

One has to ask, what role did the province play in Sears leaving our province to go to Ontario? Was it, again, the one who said we don't want to play? So they moved out.

Mr. Speaker, we have talked about the potential of this industry, in fact, the minister's words when he was in Opposition, I can't put it better myself, because we all realize that this industry is a volatile industry, similar to the farming community. I have heard the Minister of Agriculture get up I don't know how many time and support the agriculture industry. Do you know what? I have never heard him get up in this House and say anything good about the aquaculture industry. That's disgraceful. Never once has he bragged. The fact that Leo Muise

[Page 5677]

puts out a release to all members saying, $33.8 million was generated by this industry, and the minister does not even stand up in this House to make a ministerial statement or issue a press release on this is disgraceful.

I know that minister is an honourable member and I don't know why he doesn't support this industry and if he does, why he is being quiet about it, why he doesn't brag about the fact that Nova Scotia has become a leader in this industry. He sits there and he doesn't say a word. I can't explain that, Mr. Speaker. I really can't. If he doesn't support that industry, I would ask him to do the honourable thing and go to the Premier and asked to be relieved of his duties as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Mr. Speaker, maybe yourself, I think you would make a great candidate as minister of that portfolio and I have no doubt that you would stand up in this House, that you would stand in this House and you would be the first. I think it would take a steamroller to hold you down from standing up in your place and bragging that this province is now probably leading Atlantic Canada in the aquaculture industry. Instead the minister doesn't say a word. Well, maybe we will get a word now. I would be more than happy.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think it is important to inform the honourable member opposite that certainly the aquaculture industry has huge growth potential and I do promote and promote it strongly. When questions are asked in the House, I reply to them. With resolutions last session, last fall, I highlighted the value of the industry. During estimates I was disappointed when the honourable member was not present to endorse the aquaculture industry or be involved in the discussion even with the estimates on the budget. It was kind of disappointing that the member opposite, who is doing all the chastising, didn't take time to endorse the industry and take part in estimates and be involved like other members of the House who are truly concerned about aquaculture, and promote it.

MR. SPEAKER: Honourable member, I don't believe that is a point of order. It certainly is information that has been brought before the House.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the point of order that the honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture raises, there are two sides to that. When the estimates of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture were going on in the Red Room, at the same time there were some estimates going on in the Chamber. The honourable member for Richmond was in here at that same time. So maybe the minister or maybe through you, Mr. Speaker, maybe there is a way where the honourable member for Richmond can be in both places at the same time. Still, I haven't been able to be creative in order to basically advise my honourable colleague to be in two places at the same time, because I know he wanted to be in this Chamber when the estimates of the Minister of Education were being debated. So, that honourable minister certainly knows full well that the honourable member for Richmond could not be in that room.

[Page 5678]

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Marketing, I would suggest on the point of order that has been raised by the honourable member for Clare, he is absolutely correct when he says it is difficult to be in two places at once; however, it is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, how cowardly for a minister to stand and say, well, you didn't ask me in estimates so you don't care about the industry. That is about the most cowardly statement I have heard in my two years in this House. That member knows full well that I have stood on my feet on numerous occasions and praised the aquaculture industry and raised concerns about its future, unlike the minister himself.

We had a Fisheries Critic who did question the minister on the issue of aquaculture and on the issue of fisheries, and I can tell you I was present for some of the answers and I quickly saw that it was useless for me to be there to ask questions, because they were useless answers. Most of the answers were: I don't know, I am not sure, I have not spoken to them, I will find out for you, I will get back to you. I have better things to do with my time and I had better questions to ask that were important to the people of Richmond County to try to get answers that were useful, not the diatribe that came from the minister, but he has established quite a career of doing that, as we saw in the estimates debate on Agriculture here in the Chamber itself.

To see that this company, bringing in 52 per cent of the revenue for aquaculture with the difficulties that exist, and that the minister appears to not even have made any representations to his own colleague who sits next to him in this Legislature, is incredible. It is incredible that he has never stood and issued support for this company; he has never stood up to say that this one company has produced $17.1 million in its second year of operation. This is not a company that has been in place for 10 or 15 years or 20 years and has been losing money; in two years it became the biggest finfish aquaculture operation in the world, right here in Nova Scotia.

He would not know that, Mr. Speaker, in his time as minister. He has never once even stood up in this House and made that statement or made that claim, or bragged about the fact that we are the home of the largest finfish aquaculture operation in the world; never once. One can only ask, why would a Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the one company that has the brightest future and is producing at incredible levels in this province, and the minister doesn't see fit to even stand up and say one word about it.

Mr. Speaker, D-Day is coming, the workers are watching and, as I said, they are not just watching from Richmond County, they are watching from all over the place. The residents of Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury are watching; they have already been approached about possibly having some sites in their area, with the growth of this company, so that MLA

[Page 5679]

knows the importance of the future of this company for his own riding. As I said, the member for Pictou East will have some questions to answer if this company does not succeed, based on the operations in his own backyard. Nova Scotians are watching.

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure you, if this company is unsuccessful because the Province of Nova Scotia is not willing to offer assistance in light of the fact that private industry has indicated it will invest in this corporation, I want to tell you there is going to be hell to pay not only in this House, but throughout this province. Sears Canada is a company from away and it is all right for the minister to say we don't want to give money to Sears, they have enough money. But a company in rural Nova Scotia, which is now a Nova Scotian company where 95 per cent of the ownership is coming from Nova Scotia, that argument, these are not come-from-aways. Look at that board of directors; 90 per cent are under the age of 40 and in fact, four are under the age of 30. It is incredible to think that this company, within two years, is now responsible for 52 per cent of the revenue from aquaculture in this province.

[10:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, hopefully I never have to get up and give this speech again. I hope that next week I can stand up and sing the praises of the Minister of Economic Development and sing the praises of the Minister of Fisheries, and of this government, for having supported the future of aquaculture, and being able to say to the Minister of Economic Development, you lived up to your word. I will say it, because those two ministers know that when they invested in this company shortly after taking power, I stood in this House and I read a resolution praising those two ministers and praising this government.

I will do so again, because you give praise where praise is due. I will tell that minister, you lived up to your word, you talked the talk and you did walk the walk, as you said should be done. Nova Scotians will wait, and they are waiting anxiously to see what this government is going to do. Certainly the people of my constituency are watching to see what role the Province of Nova Scotia is going to play in either the survival or the collapse of this industry.

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, there are many concerns about Bill No. 46 that concern my constituents and, I believe, concern the people of Nova Scotia. I have already mentioned the concerns around the 911 system, the new fee to be imposed on users throughout Nova Scotia, and I was pleased to see that the minister, as a result of raising these concerns, did provide a bit more information. I thank him for that, and it is unfortunate that one has to stand in this House and demand information before one finds out, but the Opposition has to do what it has to do. In this case it took the media to have the minister provide more details around that particular question.

Mr. Speaker, again, seniors throughout this province are watching and they are asking - the idea of bringing back the seniors tax rebate - is it but a ruse by this government or are they really sincere in bringing this back? We haven't the information necessary to be able to

[Page 5680]

determine the true intentions of this government. Considering what this government did to us in the last election, with that blue book, and what they said they would do, and now to see what they are doing, there is no trust left in this government, and the seniors are saying they won't be fooled this time. There are no seniors rushing out to spend the money they hope to get back on that tax rebate because, unfortunately this government, in such a short time, has lost the trust and confidence of the people of Nova Scotia. It is incredible.

I almost enjoy, probably too much, when I return to my riding and speak with seniors, especially the Acadians in my riding, the ladies always have a colourful way of describing the Tories and the Premier, but I can't repeat them here in this House. I would have to tell them in French to give the full effect and, unfortunately, not many members would understand; my colleague from Clare would certainly understand. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, while you might not understand what I am saying, I think it is safe to say that you would probably rule the translation to be out of order and unparliamentary. That is what seniors are saying throughout this province, in any language they might speak, whether it be Gaelic, English, French, Mi'kmaq, or any other language in this province. I think they have all come up with some colourful expressions to describe the Tories and their actions.

Mr. Speaker, back in Richmond County, I can tell you that the adage, Tory times are hard times, is a long time standing, and this new government is proving them to be oh so correct. Most of my phone calls now are, well, I am sorry, I apologize, but somebody on July 27th went and voted Tory, and now we are stuck with this Tory Government, and the doom and gloom they are bringing upon the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, it is a shame. Nova Scotians have become so frustrated they don't know who to blame next. It is quite clear that what this government said it would do and what it is imposing upon the people of this province is completely incredible. On the one hand they talk about how the economy is growing, the future of this province, how well our economy is doing, and yet at the same time they are cutting and slashing every program we hold so dear, saying we have to get hold of this deficit. How can you keep saying the economy is well, it is growing, and there is more revenue, when you then turn around and say that you have to slash all of these programs because there isn't enough revenue?

Mr. Speaker, that is double-talk, and double-talk at its worst. Seniors are the ones who have been around this province much too long to be fooled by that. The fact is that people, especially seniors, are mad at themselves. They are saying, we got fooled, snookered by these Tories. We actually believed them. They are mad. They say, we can't believe we were taken in by this Tory Government.

When they see Bill No. 46, what a cruel wake up call it is to the seniors throughout this province. One would hope that the Minister of Community Services would provide us with more detail on this rebate, not wait until the House is out of session, not wait until we have gone back to our constituencies for the summer to work directly with our constituents, but

[Page 5681]

would stand up before this House rises and give us the exact details of how this is going to work. Not say, this is what we are doing for year one, we are trying to phase it in so year one, here is what we are doing. Seniors are saying, well what about year two? What about year three? What about year four? When you get to year two are you going to say, well, it cost a bit more than what we thought so we are cutting it out again. Another cruel ruse on the people, on the seniors of Nova Scotia. We will be watching that, Mr. Minister. We will be watching that on behalf of the seniors. We will be their voice to make sure you will live up to what you are saying.

Mr. Speaker, we are starting to see, and I am pleased to see, and I think Nova Scotians are starting to see, that finally this government is waking up to the concerns being raised by Nova Scotians. Because of the hard work of the Opposition and from parents and teachers and students throughout this province, this government did a 180 on education and turned around and did not go down the road it was going because they saw the opposition that was here in Nova Scotia. The Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs had all the reasons in the world to cut the community accessibility program for disabled people, and ironically, he had all the reasons in the world to put the program back in on an about-face, or as was once described by the Tories when they were in Opposition, a flip-flop.

That is just one of the first to come, Mr. Speaker, because I figure by the time this government is over, most of the ministers and the backbenchers will have whiplash from the flip-flops that are going to take place. Government by disaster is what we are seeing here. They throw out these ideas and wait to see what the response will be. They claim this is government policy and then they change exactly what they said they were going to do. Some of the more foolish things we have seen them bring in is this john legislation. Now the Minister of Justice is going to make people pay for staying in jail. The only thing he forgot was that he closed down all the jails, and there is nowhere for them to stay, but he is going to make Nova Scotia believe he is going to raise revenue in doing this.

Mr. Speaker, we are seeing more and more in the legislation brought in here, there isn't one original thought out of the 30 members of this government being shown in this legislation. The john bill came from Manitoba. The idea of making parents pay for their children comes from Manitoba. We keep saying that Hamm-Harris Government, but I change that to the Hamm-Filmon Government. Certainly we should give credit to Premier Filmon for a number of the bills which have come before us today from this government. All this original thought Nova Scotians were led to believe was in the blue book, this new future for the province, is just an old borrowed failure from another Tory Regime in another Tory province.

We saw what happened in Manitoba, if I am not mistaken. I think they held on by the skin of their teeth over in Manitoba. They barely held on. That should be a wake up call for many of the backbenchers in this government, because while a lot of them laugh at what they call the one-termers in the Liberal and NDP caucus, I am afraid to say, it is looking like there will be a lot of one-termers sitting on that Tory caucus also. We will see who will be laughing

[Page 5682]

after the next campaign. They might have thought it funny for the members who lost this campaign. We will see how many laughs come from the Tory benches in the next campaign.

Mr. Speaker, we see where this government is going with people on social assistance. This government knows it is playing one of the worst games I have ever seen, and that is preying on people who are on social assistance, and it is leaving the thought that people want to be on social assistance. They want to bleed the government. (Interruption) Oh, I heard him this morning on CBC, basically what he is saying, well, we have got to kick them in the arse because they are on social assistance at home doing nothing and the Tories are coming there to give him a kick. That was his message this morning. He was asked, that minister was asked (Interruption) Well, the member for Dartmouth South says, some day we will be speaking English, I am not sure if that is some sort of comment at my Acadian roots or not, but coming from that member, nothing surprises me, his ignorance goes beyond any level that I have ever seen in my life, so I will pay no attention to his ignorant remarks.

Mr. Speaker, the message from the minister was basically, he was asked, well, what about people who are on disability, what are you going to do with them? His message was basically well, we will have to determine how disabled is disabled enough to be on assistance. Imagine! Talk about Big Brother going to take care. We are going to determine if you are disabled or not or if you are disabled enough.

Then we have a Minister of Economic Development who is just watching industry leave this province, yet they are going to put these people back to work. Where are they going to work? Where are they going to work in a province that has just slashed the one department there to help foster an environment for growth, a department which has been cut by 45 per cent, and yet they are trying to convince Nova Scotians that they are going to put people on assistance back to work. Mr. Speaker, that's disgraceful.

The direct assistance program for those single individuals who receive assistance is now gone. Another cut. Well, they didn't need that says the Minister of Community Services, these people should be working anyway. They shouldn't be home collecting assistance. Let's give them a little boot here and encourage them along their way, get them out of the house, they don't need that extra $70 or $90, that's a luxury. Mr. Speaker, most members of this House would not consider $70 or $90 to be a luxury, it is a pittance. When one thinks that these individuals receive this as a bonus, a bonus for the year, that's their Christmas bonus, $70 or $90. Yet, the Minister of Community Services says, well, that's just too much, these people are too comfortable on the system, they need the Tories to come in and give them a little boot to get them out of the house and put them to work. We don't know where they are going to work.

AN HON. MEMBER: They just don't know how they are going to get there.

[Page 5683]

MR. SAMSON: No, they don't know how they are going to get there, we cut their travel allowance. We are not funding them to take education any more, any courses or upgrading, so we are just going to send them out to work to find a job.

Mr. Speaker, now they have to compete with 840 people who were working at that call centre in Halifax, so they can add that to the people they are competing with and based on the actions of this government, there could be a lot more, even in my riding, if they don't change the direction in which they are going.

Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that he is playing on some of the red-neck opinions of his Tory caucus and Tory supporters in attacking people who are on assistance and making them believe that people who are on assistance want to be on assistance. I have had people come in to see me and they have brought me their T-4 slip at the end of the year and when I saw the income those people had, I couldn't believe it.

AN HON. MEMBER: 55 per cent of Nova Scotians earn less than $20,000 a year.

MR. SAMSON: I couldn't believe the income. A monthly income, I couldn't believe, Mr. Speaker. So to say that these people on assistance are comfortable, they are living in luxury and we can cut them, is just incredible. So now what are they going to do? Well, first they have increased the fees for speeding tickets and parking tickets and now in Bill No. 46, they want to stick another fee on top of that.

Mr. Speaker, at no time during the election did this government, in saying that it was going to cut all this administrative fat, say we are going to stick it to Nova Scotians. Stick it is what they have done and especially stick it to those who can least afford it. It is just incredible the road that this government is going down.

We are seeing in health care today, my colleague, the former Minister of Health, the honourable member for Dartmouth East stood, I believe it was Wednesday in this House, and he was ridiculed for suggesting 300 nurses would be cut from the QE II. Ridiculed! I remember the member for Dartmouth South was barking from the other side of the House, saying, you are fear-mongering, blah, blah. (Interruption) Well, that is what it sounds like over here. I don't know what you guys hear on that side, but that is what we hear on this side. That is what we heard from this backbench and this backbench tells us, no, no, it is not true, the minister and the Cabinet, they let us know what is going on. We know what is going on; no, we are not in the dark.

[11:00 a.m.]

The member for Dartmouth South barks at my good colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, saying you are fear-mongering, for saying 300. The minister says I don't know what you are talking about. He says, anyway, I am not the spokesman for the QE II,

[Page 5684]

go ask them if they are cutting 300 nurses. Don't ask me. Don't ask me, a Minister of the Crown, responsible for health care.

So, today, we find out, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, was wrong after all. He was very wrong, to say that there would be 300 cut from the QE II. He was wrong and he should apologize for being wrong because there was 415 that they are going to cut.


MR. SAMSON: Not 300, 418. Do you know what? I did not hear any barking from the member for Dartmouth South this morning. In fact, he should stand up an apologize. He should apologize and say, do you know what, I got caught and I have egg on my face because not only did Cabinet leave me in the dark and my colleagues, well, my God, Cabinet left the Minister of Health in the dark because he did not even know what was going on. I am still not sure if he knows today what is going on; 415 nurses.


MR. SAMSON: What else is coming? We can see more and more how much, as was quoted this morning on the radio, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East saying these Tories are trying to run out of the House as fast as they can to hide from what is coming. Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, if these Tory backbenchers and these Tories thought education was something, boy, you have not seen anything yet because you just wait. The member for Dartmouth South will probably say you are fear-mongering. He is pretty quiet today, I am pleased to say to all the people of Nova Scotia, that he is being quiet. In my own riding, I don't want to fear monger. I met the Minister of Health with my warden and two of the councillors and we did not raise that issue at the time. We were meeting on disaster relief.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow an introduction?


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for Richmond for yielding the floor for an introduction. In the east gallery we have three nurses, Colleen Elliott, Nadeen Brooks and Georgina Fotheringham. They are nurses from the Mira Nursing Home in the Truro area and they are here to express their concerns in the current budget. They attended the press conference this morning held by the Nurses' Union and they are concerned about the impact of this budget on health care and, particularly, where they work in long-term care. They asked me where they should sit. I said I thought you should sit in the east gallery where you will be able to look those Tories right in the eye. (Interruptions) I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 5685]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, we met with the Minister of Health.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member allow another introduction?


MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the member for Richmond. I was attempting to get up quicker and I was attempting to get the other honourable member up actually, but the member for Sackville-Cobequid is quite right, we have two more nurses in the west gallery. From Antigonish we have Charlene and Bill Long. I would ask the House to give them the usual warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SAMSON: I was just starting. I am going to continue. Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, we met with the Minister of Health. It was not on health at the time, it was on Emergency Measures Organization dealing with the disaster we had in Richmond County, another example where this government is refusing to provide assistance to those who need it most in this province. I told the warden and I told my councillors that you better keep your ears open in the next few days, the next few weeks, because I don't think the Strait-Richmond Hospital is safe. He asked, how could you come to the conclusion that you don't know if the Strait-Richmond Hospital is safe? They had these same fears, I must point out; they were not caught by surprise at that statement.

I said that when the bill came in for community health boards and I looked at the list of hospitals, Strait-Richmond Hospital wasn't even there, so I asked the minister, what happened to Strait-Richmond Hospital, where is it? He said he didn't know, which we have become accustomed to hearing from the Minister of Health. He didn't know yesterday when it was said that 300 people would be cut from the QE II.

He came back to me the next day and he said, fear not, good member for Richmond, it was just a typo, oops, we forgot to put your hospital in the bill. I said okay, Mr. Speaker, we all make mistakes, and maybe I shouldn't be too concerned. I know that minister knows the importance of the Strait-Richmond Hospital. He has two Cabinet ministers from the Strait area, the MLA for Antigonish and the MLA for Inverness right directly behind him, and the MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury knows how important that Strait-Richmond Hospital is, so I don't have to fear this typo is an indication of more things to come.

I spoke to a union member outside and he raised concerns about them closing the detox centre at the Strait-Richmond Hospital. I said, fear not, I am going to be responsible and put it directly to the minister, and we can put an end to it, and that is it. So during estimates I stood up and asked the minister, could you please clarify what the intentions are of your department with the detox located at the Strait-Richmond Hospital? I figured that would put

[Page 5686]

an end to it; I thought that was the responsible way. No press release; no fear-mongering; let's put it directly to him. He stood up - the same puzzled look which he has given members of this House so many times during estimates and during Question Period. With brutal honesty, he said, a detox centre? Heck, I didn't even know you had a detox centre at the Strait-Richmond Hospital, and sat back down.

Mr. Speaker, needless to say, that doesn't give much encouragement to me as an MLA, nor do I think it gives much encouragement to the people of this province, when a Minister of Health says your hospital was a typo, then he didn't know we had a detox centre, and yesterday says he didn't know about 300 people being laid off at the QE II. Then he went so far as to say, I am not the spokesperson for the QE II, why don't you go and ask them, and the whole time a press release had been issued to all members of this House and to the media and that Minister of Health wasn't even aware.

Mr. Speaker, I spoke earlier on the six months' hoist motion, and I believe that was an appropriate motion. It was an opportunity for this government to step back and try to re-examine where it was going. Unfortunately, once again, the backbenchers and all members of the Tory Government voted in unison to defeat that motion and try to plow ahead with where they are going. I can tell you - and the media is picking it up - their plow is in need of new tires. Their plow is spinning and it might need some chains or something on the wheels, because it is not going anywhere.

This Opposition is prepared to sit day and night; we are prepared to sit all year to make sure the concerns of Nova Scotians are being heard. So any government members who have vacations booked for June or July, I would highly recommend they change their plans or if they don't change their plans and leave this House, I can assure you the minute we have a chance to close this down when we can defeat them on a vote, that vote will take place. We will defeat them because Nova Scotians are telling us to get rid of this Tory Government and do whatever we have to do to get rid of them. I want to assure you I am prepared to sit here day and night to do my best to do that on behalf of my constituents and on behalf of Nova Scotians.

If these members - this is their first summer sitting in this House - think that it got hot in here the last few days, you haven't seen anything yet and I am sure the Clerk, who has been here for many years, can attest to any of the government members just what it is like in this House come the month of June, and I don't even dare to think what it would be like to be here in July.

When your House Leader tells you, just hold on and be patient, we are getting through, you have 12 bills left to go. We have been on this one bill for over two weeks, so do the math. I can tell you right now, out of your 12, there are a lot that aren't going anywhere anytime soon. If this is the way you want to run the government, if this is the government you ran for and that you want to be a part of, no problem. If your constituents feel this is an appropriate

[Page 5687]

use of your time to be here trying to pass legislation which does not have the support of the people of your constituency or of Nova Scotia, keep it up.

If the House Leader said today he figures we will be in for one more month, well something is going to have to drastically change. Either this government is going to concede on these bills and make the changes necessary to gain the support of the Opposition or he is going to withdraw them or he is going to go, again, to the crazy hours of this House. That is fine, because his crazy hours didn't work before and they are not going to work now. The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank might think it is a good idea, obviously he doesn't have much to do with his own time, but that is fine. As a government member, he has to keep his rear end sitting in that seat all day. That is fine, I just hope he doesn't get sores or anything. We will stay here, and we will continue to represent the people of Nova Scotia. If he hasn't gotten any sores yet from being in that government, he is probably safe for a while. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, oh, oh, oh, well you know, you know, Mr. Speaker, oh, Mr. Speaker, oh, oh, oh, Mr. Speaker, yes, yes. Oh, yes, yes, that is exactly what Richmond County needs now, the likes of the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

Well, in Richmond County, he can always call upon his colleague, who is a Tory one day and an NDP the next day. Mr. Sutherland, a former councillor here in Halifax ran for the NDP, unsuccessfully, ran for the Tories. (Interruptions) I should point out, for the first time in the history of Richmond County, under his candidacy, the Tories were in third place for the first time since Confederation in Richmond County. If that is the type of person that member says is going to represent Richmond County, as his advisers, that is the last thing Richmond County needs. That member laughed at the person he defeated and calls her a one-timer. I think the term one-timer may someday look him in the mirror. He will look at it, because he might just have the term one-timer given to himself come the next election. I don't think he will be laughing then.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, Bill No. 46, while it does have some points in it that we do support - and I had indicated that when I spoke previously on it - there are other serious concerns that Nova Scotians are still saying, what are they up to and what are they doing? I will not be voting for this bill. (Interruptions) I will not be voting for this bill. I can tell you that right now. I won't leave the people of Richmond County in suspense. They tune in to my cable show each week, they know very well what my feelings are about this government. I might have to add the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank in my next show, to discuss his suggestions.

Mr. Speaker, the idea that today, in this province, we have a government that has cut 70 programs for Nova Scotians and still, in blatant arrogance, refuses to come clean with Nova Scotians and tell them which 70 they are, is an absolute disgrace. I hear the member for

[Page 5688]

Sackville-Beaver Bank talking about waste, about the only waste I can see is coming from his own mouth. I won't be distracted by those little rabbit tracks.

AN HON. MEMBER: Ask Bill Dooks. Ask Bill Dooks.

MR. SAMSON: I already did that. It is quite clear that Nova Scotians are being deceived. Nova Scotians are saying, just come clean and tell us what you have cut. If you look at it strategically, if these backbenchers even made some recommendations to Cabinet, and said, look guys, come clean on budget day, give the Minister of Finance the list of 70 programs and say it all at once, read all 70 programs during your financial speech, your Budget Speech. Give it then because do you know what? That means it is one story, one day. The press won't pick it up anymore because they already know about it. Instead, we go into estimates. Each day we found a program that was cut, it was a front-page story. So did it work for this government? It blew up in their face.

[11:15. a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I think the Opposition, both Parties, have done a fine job in ferreting out these cuts but I am afraid to say I think there is a lot more which we did not get because unfortunately there are only 40 hours of debate in this Chamber and in the Red Room, 40 hours each and that is not enough time. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture said earlier, well, it is too bad you didn't come and question me during my estimates. Well, had I had more time, I may have taken him up on that offer. I did last year. Unfortunately, what I recommended last year and what he indicated he would do, to no surprise, he did nothing. So I felt that this year my time would be much better used discussing concerns on education and on health and in my critic portfolios of Justice and Environment. Even in Business and Consumer Services I had the opportunity to ask questions on behalf of my good colleague. So unfortunately, I did not get the time to question on Fisheries and Aquaculture.

One can only hope, after what I have said today, that next week the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, hopefully Monday, will stand, will take the information provided to him by Mr. Leo Muise, the Director of Aquaculture, and stand in this House and brag the aquaculture industry and brag its accomplishments. I think that is the least we can expect and if that minister has listened to anything I have said - and I think he has because he stood on his feet, so I touched a nerve when I said he was doing nothing for the aquaculture industry, so one would hope that if he is really sincere - that next week he will stand in his place, not wait for next year's estimates to say something, but will stand in his place in this House and support the aquaculture industry.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are saying each day, why is this government doing this to Nova Scotians? One of the other issues I should point out is, they said the Minister of Education said over a month ago that she would stand in this House and announce the financing for the new 17 or 18 schools that were on the list for construction. Well, a month

[Page 5689]

has gone by; still no announcement. We know that the member for Kings South didn't like P3. I don't know if he has made any other recommendations to the minister but she is certainly not coming forward with any. (Interruption) The member for Antigonish hollered something. I missed it.

Mr. Speaker, one of the main concerns of the Strait area and the Strait Regional School Board is that under a Liberal Government, fortunately, new schools are being built for that school board. Do you know what they have been saying? They said, our schools are being built right now. We saw the Minister of Education take the moving truck down to Sydney last week to take out the computers and the equipment but what is she going to do with our schools? We don't expect that she would be foolish enough to go yank computers and equipment out of schools already built but for those under construction, that is where they can play the games and start yanking out the equipment even before it gets on site. We will be watching and the Strait Regional School Board will be watching.

I would hope that the Minister of Housing and Municipal Affairs, who actually has one of the schools in his own riding, he should have two because if he was representing his constituents properly, the school in Pomquet would have been announced right now and would be constructed, but he remains surprisingly silent on the issue of the rights of Acadians in his own riding. Again, we see in my own riding where the Acadians are denied a proper school by this government. One would hope that the member for Antigonish will finally start to make representations on behalf of the Acadians in his own riding and see that that school is constructed, as has been promised to him and to his constituents by the Minister of Education. So we will be watching, Mr. Speaker. This a full-time job, to say the least, and certainly this new government has given us an extra initiative to watch every move they make, to check the background of every decision they announce and to see exactly what they are up to.

Nova Scotians don't want to be fooled. They want this government to be honest with them. They expect honesty in government. I don't think the member for Kings South ran on a platform of being dishonest. I know a few of the constituents in his riding are quite confused by his actions and wondering, the member who was so adamant about school construction, about P3 and about other issues, how suddenly he has become silent other than a few rantings and finger-pointings here in this House. I spoke with them, in fact, last weekend. They were down in Richmond County and I promised them I would get them a tape of their member's great speech in this House - his how dare you speech. They thought that would be quite amusing and promised to share it with their friends who would want to see it.

Mr. Speaker, we are in for the long haul, Bill No. 46; there is much more debate to take place on this bill. The backbenchers have no choice but to listen, because they have to be here, and we will continue to be here whether it takes a month, two months or three months. There are 12 bills left to go that are not moving anywhere fast; even the Private Members' Bills that they introduced are getting bogged down. The Acadia University Bill is not even going

[Page 5690]

anywhere and we are still not quite sure why the member who represents that university did not introduce that bill himself; Nova Scotians are asking us to find the reasons why and I am confident that we will.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I again want to remind this government that there are serious concerns out there; they do have a responsibility to Nova Scotians. They don't expect you to be everything to them, but they expect you to be responsible and to live up to the proud tradition of previous administrations here in this province. I don't think any of these members want to be one-termers, but I can you right now that you are well on your way. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MS. EILEEN O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill No. 46 and I rise to speak against it. I rise to speak against its principles and these principles, which this bill reflects, are the same principles which have produced an agenda in other legislation: the Education Act amendments, which we have not yet really discussed; the Health Authorities Bill, which is utterly destructive and devastating to health care in Nova Scotia; and to the budget. The Health Authorities Act, Bill No. 34; the Education Act amendments; and this bill all have a great deal in common. What they have in common is a fundamental error that I want to spend a few minutes talking about.

Mr. Speaker, when I was still in the classroom, we used to have quite a bit of fun on a learning unit called Errors of Deductive and Inductive Reasoning. The students were always surprised when they looked at the actual mechanisms of their thinking errors. For example, stereotyping was a common thinking error, certainly among school students, and the students would be surprised when they saw the line of thinking that had produced this error-ridden conclusion.

It seems to me that this government has started with a deductive thinking error, and that would be a faulty first premise. A faulty first premise produces the wrong conclusions and this government decided that no matter what it had said in the election - and that is another whole story: the story of a political Party presenting itself to the voters of this province with a compassionate face, a commitment to people and not just to dollar signs, and the people of this province believed them and they went about voting in larger numbers for them than for any other Party. These people found themselves in the position of making decisions that affect every single Nova Scotian, in a myriad of ways, not just in one way or another, but making decisions that affect them fundamentally every minute of the day, waking or sleeping, in every possible situation that they could find themselves in and this is all based on a fundamental error.

If it isn't based on a fundamental error - and I will get to the error in a minute - then it is worse than we thought because if it is not based on erroneous thinking, then it is not based on thinking at all. If it is a kind of mindless knee-jerk, ideological expression and has no

[Page 5691]

thoughtful process behind it at all, then Nova Scotians are in much worse trouble than we even know, Mr. Speaker, because there has been a sense all along, since the budget and with the Health Authorities Act and the other things that have gone on in here, that this government in many respects has no clear sense of what it is actually doing. That should make every Nova Scotian nervous.

If they know what they are doing and they have worked it all out, then their fundamental error is they have decided that what you do when you have a deficit is you target program spending. This means that you take it out of the pockets, out of the health care, out of the classrooms and out of everything that Nova Scotians have. We have heard the rhetoric over and over again; pay now for gain later, and we are going to feel better. The Premier's favourite stance is, what about the future? We have to do this now. If we don't do this now, we are going to be in worse trouble later.

Mr. Speaker, a look at recent history will tell us all very clearly - and you don't have to have a long-term memory for this one - we have been there, we have done that and what it did was put us in worse shape than it had ever put us in before. There is not a person in this House, and I don't think there is a person in Nova Scotia, who does not know that fiscal restraint has been at least given lip service and frequently imposed on Nova Scotians for almost 10 years. There is nobody here who does not remember the wage freezes and the wage roll-backs and the earlier rounds of protests outside this very House. I was there myself, along with thousands of others.

We have had nearly 10 years of program restraint in this province. We have had cutbacks. We have had holding the line since I think 1994, for example, on community services' spending. We have seen what the government calls restraint and, Mr. Speaker, the damage has been noted and may, in fact, if it continues, be incalculable.

A lot of people have talked, for example, in this House about what has happened to schools because of deferred maintenance over the last 20 years. If you don't maintain a school - you don't make small roof repairs; you don't fix the window leaks; you don't clean them properly, because you do not have the money; you let the mould grow in the vents and on the walls; you ignore small water leaks; and so on and so forth - then after 20 years we have a crisis in school buildings. In fact, Mr. Speaker, it is perfectly clear, everybody knows it, that it is costing more to either rescue or replace schools than it would have cost all along to maintain them hygienically and keep them in good working order, and our children are suffering for this.

The Premier gets up and he says, well, we have to suffer some pain for gain later. What we actually have to suffer is pain for more pain later, because if we impose the kind of restraint, the kind of government downsizing, the loss of Public Service jobs and all the other thousands - and I say thousands - of implications of this bill and this budget and the legislation that comes along with it, it is going to be harder to dig ourselves out of that hole, and it is

[Page 5692]

going to cost more than if we hadn't done it in the first place. So, I think that is the position we take. I think it is true that a great many government members may well know this.

[11:30 a.m.]

They have embarked wholesale on an agenda they don't fully understand, they don't fully understand the implications of. It is full-steam ahead, and we will just see. Well, Mr. Speaker, we have already seen. After almost a decade of fiscal restraint, we have to ask that question, are these cuts, these massive destructive cuts going to get us where we need to go and whether we have the right approach for sharing this pain that is supposed to provide some kind of future reward?

Mr. Speaker, the first thing I want to mention is how the government got itself to the position where it can use these figures. I have heard the phrase deficit panic in here. This is what this government has created. In order to do it, it has inflated the deficit to $767 million, and it has done that by putting one-time costs onto the deficit. When you look at the numbers, and you take off the one-time costs, these one-time costs make up about 55 per cent of the deficit. As a Nova Scotian, listening to the radio or watching the news, if I hear that the deficit is $767 million, it sounds awful. It sounds huge, terrifying, and I say, yes, we have to do something here. But if I hear $300 million, it is not good, and nobody among my colleagues has suggested for one single minute that it is good to have a deficit of $300 million, we don't say that. But we also know it came from years and years of overspending by both of these Parties who sit across and beside us. But, we have never said it wasn't a concern, so let's just get that out on the table and make sure everybody understands that. But, $300 million is not $767 million. It just isn't. It is less than half of it. Presumably, the strategies that could be engaged to deal with that deficit would be different ones than strategies you would engage in for one that is over twice as high.

The folly of, if you like, deferred maintenance of the whole province, whether it is education or health care or community services, the folly of that should be seen when we look even just to our recent history and before we even look at other provinces or anywhere else. It will cost us in the future. It is penny wise and pound foolish to do what this government is doing, and it will cost us in the future, Mr. Speaker.

So, if the cause of our deficit, of our smaller real deficit is not our spending, because, as I have just said, we have been on the fiscal restraint train since the early 1990's, if, in fact, we haven't blown a wad on all these programs, then what is the cause? Now, some of the causes are, in fact, too low program spending, Mr. Speaker. When you look at the numbers, you discover that this province has spent less money on program expenditures, and there are other causes for our difficult situation here in the province. One of the things that we have had to deal with in this province, particularly in certain pockets of the province, is high unemployment. We all know, it is a sad fact, it is not news to anybody here, that the unemployment rate in Cape Breton is what - double - at least the official unemployment is

[Page 5693]

double what it is in the rest of the province, and there are and were other pockets of unemployment. Guysborough was certainly a have-not county until the offshore gas came along.

The other thing that has really affected us in this province is the cuts that the federal government has made to its spending here. We have had a massive federal presence, if you like, in this region, in this province. We had Devco, we have the military, we had transfer payments for the health care sector, Mr. Speaker. One of the most unnerving things about what the federal government has done is the disproportionate cuts to funding to Nova Scotia compared to our population.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk for a minute about the federal government because the federal government has done a huge disservice to the people of this province. Policies that the federal Liberal Government have implemented have cut the number of people and it has disproportionately affected women, cut the number of people who can collect EI payments in about one-half, am I right? Just about half; 30-some per cent of Nova Scotians who are unemployed can now collect EI. What did they do with the money? They squirrelled it away, they piled it up like King Midas in his counting room, they piled it higher and higher and treated it like it was their money instead of money that belonged to the people who had paid in and who are entitled to benefits under employment insurance.

Mr. Speaker, they cut back on transfer payments by billions of dollars and then they said to the provincial governments, well, you deal with it. We had a Liberal Government sitting over there and did they say this is not all right? No, they did not. Did they say that while we had only 3 per cent of the Canadian population that we took 15 per cent of the federal cuts and that this was not only unfair but unworkable? No, the previous government sat over there and didn't make a squeak. They didn't make so much as a squeak because their buddies were in Ottawa and they did not want to be seen to be defending the people of Nova Scotia against unfair and unreasonable cuts.

So what this government is doing now, put up the dart board and the face on the dart board is any Nova Scotian. The numbers on it are the programs. The program cuts are hitting every Nova Scotian in the face.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start with one of the more identifiable of these and the one that has had the most conversation in this House over the last few weeks. I agree with the member for Richmond who says, you had better sit back in your chair because we are not going anywhere soon. We are not going anywhere until Nova Scotians understand that these cuts to health care and the cuts to community services are equally devastating or more devastating than the cuts that we have discussed, debated and seen protested around this House in the last number of weeks.

What did we have with Education?

[Page 5694]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you for yielding the floor for an introduction.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: I want to thank the MLA for Halifax Fairview for allowing me the opportunity to do an introduction. Today, Mr. Speaker, in your gallery, we are joined by the lovely wife of my colleague, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes. Today, she is joined by her mom, Mrs. Lou Reid, who is visiting us here in this province. She is from the lovely Province of Ontario. I would ask them both to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. Thank you. (Applause)

MS. O'CONNELL: Mr. Speaker, what we saw with the arrival of the Education budget on the floor of this House was not a pretty picture. We saw numbers that the government did not understand; we saw a continual ducking of responsibility; we saw a changing of stance; we saw uninformed figures. We had a minister who stood over there and said, 400 teachers is all it is. We saw the results of that, Mr. Speaker. We saw a government that had to back-pedal like crazy, make concessions and then sat back and said, ah, yes, but we didn't change the budget.This is like little kids saying they didn't do something when, in fact, they did but they found a way to cover it or some other kid led them into it.

Mr. Speaker, this is absurd. The Minister of Education said, one day, this was her responsibility. The next day it wasn't. The next day it was again and on and around we went. This budget, which she was clearly, extremely uninformed about, was a budget that they had cooked up somewhere in a room without talking to any of the players, anybody involved in the system, not to the Funding Formula Review Work Group, not to the school boards, not to people on the front lines, not to anybody who had a blue clue about what was going on in the schools, people who knew how to read pupil-teacher ratios and people who knew the necessities of program assistants. Now what they have come back with is not enough money and a commandment. The commandment is, having rearranged school board deficits on to another piece of paper, don't cut teachers or don't cut too many teachers, right? So now we see the trickle down theory of cuts.

What we have now, particularly in Halifax, which, as far as I know, does not have a declining enrolment - am I right about that - it has an increasing enrolment, particularly in suburban areas, right? So we have a position in the area I know most about, which is Halifax, where we are now going to lose the program assistants that were put there in the first place to assist with the constitutional right of children in this province to get an education. Mr. Speaker, I was on that front line and I want to tell you, it isn't easy. It isn't easy even with program assistants. It is not an easy task. I never had more than one high-need, special needs student in any one of my classrooms. It was not easy even with full-time program assistants. So here we are with the trickle down and now out go the program assistants and, to my horror, and I hope to others as well, library assistants.

[Page 5695]

[11:45 a.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting, this government's attitude to books, and the previous government's, too. Technology was the God that we bowed down before. We got Industry Canada money and we got CAP sites in schools and we had school boards helping community enterprises with technology sites. Three and one-half years ago, a month after Sherwood Park School was open - the first P3 school in this province - I walked in there and there wasn't a single book, not a pamphlet, not a monograph, not a picture book, nothing in the library at Sherwood Park School. There may be some books there now, but what we know is that the books that they had they could bring, although there were stories later on about books being thrown out from other schools because they weren't just stylish enough for the new P3 schools. There were no book budgets. There were no budgets to stock those libraries.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about how important this is. People who don't get involved in education say, well, we have the Internet. Let me tell you the purpose of a school librarian, or a school library assistant. The purpose of that person is to review, critique, evaluate, gate-keep, buy, distribute, encourage to use the books that are carefully selected, that are age-appropriate, they follow the curriculum, that support the curriculum and that children can come in, be directed to make the best use of their time, their knowledge, their developmental level, so that they can produce the best possible work in their classroom and in their homes, work to bring to school and present.

Mr. Speaker, we hear now that school libraries are going to be closed. What in the name of Heaven can this government be thinking? You open a school and you close a library. That is a program cut. Is there any way to measure the damage that will be done with this kind of mindless program cutting? I don't think so. Then we hear there are going to be cuts to maintenance. We have been around this block. We have been there and back and now we are going to go around it again. We have new schools that are going to deteriorate because the maintenance budgets are cut and we are going to have old schools that deteriorate even further.

Which brings to mind the high school in my riding, Mr. Speaker. It has been under environmental review for I don't know how long now. At least, two months ago, results were promised for this environmental review. The options of this review: minor repairs, major repairs, bring in the bulldozers. There is a school that is a perfect emblem, a perfect example of what happened in this whole province during the late 1970's, the 1980's and the 1990's. We watched it disintegrate. Now, the bulldozer may come in. It may even get a new school. I don't know. Then, they are not going to maintain it, because there is no money to do it. It is the vicious cycle of program cuts, the error in reasoning of this government that is going to take us all down with it.

[Page 5696]

Mr. Speaker, I need to talk about health care. We have to talk about health care and we are going to talk a lot more about health care. The other members are right. We haven't even begun. If the members on the other side have holiday plans for anytime in June, they might want to look at changing them, because we are not going away until Nova Scotians can see the devastation. We saw the health care program cuts, we are beginning to see them, and we are starting to see it unravel before our very eyes. How many nursing supervisors was it that were cut, that received their pink slips yesterday, nurse managers? There are 12 nurse managers gone.

The notion that this work can be downloaded to the front-line workers is an absolute absurdity, and the nurses have said so. If there is nobody there to do a task that you used to pay people to do, somebody has to do it. In order to do it in their day, they have to not do something else. What does it take for people to understand this? What does it take for the government to understand that there are only 24 hours in the day and there are only so many working hours in the day and if it has to be done, somebody has to do it. Whatever they are doing, it means they are not doing something else. We have heard the number; 418 cuts to the QE II alone. It is my understanding from those who are in the field that those kinds of cuts are hugely damaging and no matter what the government says, programs will be affected, front-line care will be affected.

Then we have the bigger political issue in health care. We have a government that brought in a bill, Bill No. 34, which basically said, I want all the marbles. The minister says, I am going to run everything from my big office; I am going to sit in there and I am going to dictate.

This province spent, I don't if it was 10 years or longer, Mr. Speaker - my colleagues can tell me - that the work started on health care reform in this province. Was it the late 1980's? We had commissions, we had a health council, we had people working on behalf of Nova Scotians who understood what they were doing. What has happened? We have had a series of political misfortunes, starting with the previous government, and we have a government that constructed its Health Authorities Act in the same way that it constructed the Education Act amendments - they went in the back room and said, well, we will just do this and we will just assert that it will not do any damage; we will take those regional health boards, which a very recent study recommended not be disbanded, and blow them up and we will start all over again. But the difference being, that all the power is from the top to the bottom and nothing is bottom-up.

Mr. Speaker, I wonder how many Nova Scotians will sit on a community health board when they read the terms and conditions of their volunteer employment? There is an eerie similarity between that and the government's recent move to create a school board of one in the southwest district, to have the CEO report directly to the minister. This has been done before, too, in the deputy minister's previous province of residence. My recollection is that very little has worked well there.

[Page 5697]

Never mind the mechanics of it, let's talk about breaking faith; let's talk about what the government says to Nova Scotians. The previous government said to Nova Scotians, get involved in education, get in there; sit on a site selection committee, sit on a school advisory council, get on a PTA, get involved in your child's education, and thousands of Nova Scotian parents did exactly that. They amalgamated school boards, which made it very difficult to be involved in anything but the school level. They built these monstrous geographical entities, disconnected them from municipalities and now they are complaining they are these monolithic things that have no accountability. Well, did Nova Scotians ask them to do that? I don't think so. It is a misfortune and a disaster of both those governments' own making. What did they do to solve it, well we just fix everything by saying to these people, run along now, we don't need you anymore, but if you would like to sit on a school advisory council and slave your guts out so we can tell you there is no money for the incredibly creative and cost-efficient ideas that you come with; well, breaking faith with Nova Scotians over and over and over again.

People have been setting up community health councils. There is one in my area. People have been going to meetings, working on plans, trying to figure out what their community needs for health care. What do they find out with the Health Authorities Bill? They can meet; they can talk; they can write; they can think; they can read until the cows come home, and when they have slaved over it, knowing their community, the minister can say, I don't think so, because I have all the power and you have none.

So there we have it, and we have what I said before about this bill. We have the downloading of responsibility and the uploading of power. We have the downloading of cuts and the uploading of this power-grab this government is engaged in.

Let's talk about more program cuts, Mr. Speaker. Let's talk about Community Services. I heard a woman on the radio yesterday morning, a woman who is one of the very few people willing to say, I am on social assistance. I am one of those people. She said her name. She talked about it openly. She said that it was going to be incredibly devastating for her. We know there is no transportation allowance. We know that people on social assistance can now only make half as much money to supplement their meagre assistance which has not been raised since 1994. Mr. Speaker, did you want me to yield the floor? No? Thank you. We heard this woman talk in a very personal way about how this government's agenda was, in fact, going to do the opposite of what its rhetoric said it was going to do, which was help people get off social assistance and go to work.

Mr. Speaker, I can't imagine trying to find a job, trying to go out in the morning with no transportation assistance, no clothing allowance, no phone, and no ability to even make a little bit of extra money so you can get a phone or a suitable piece of work clothing. I cannot imagine, and we see it every day in our constituency offices; it is not like these members don't know about it, unless they don't answer their phones, because every day in our constituencies, we talk to people - and you do, too, I know you do - who have no food,

[Page 5698]

who can't make ends meet, whose children are poorly clothed or cold, have no school supplies, or have poor, inadequate housing, because they cannot make it in this province, and they certainly cannot pull themselves up into a better situation with the assistance the government gives them. It is utterly shameful. I agree with the commentator on 1st Edition last night, I believe it was, who said that the great hidden disaster of this budget is the destruction to community services.

Mr. Speaker, we have talked about agriculture on the floor of this House, and my colleague for Hants East has done a good job. He has worked as hard as he could to try to convey to the government the distress and the absolute lack of utility of cutting a whole technology program in agriculture.

[12:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have here a huge number of program cuts. We have program cuts if you go to school, if you go to the doctor, if you go to the hospital, if you are on social assistance. So you might say, well, I don't go to school, I don't teach in a school or work in a school, my health is just great, thank you very much, and I have a job - well, in this province you might not have it for long - it is no concern of mine. Well, the insult to injury, the slap up the side of the head, if you want to call it that, is that in addition to program cuts, this government's notion of raising revenue is to charge you $1.00 every time you turn around and step outside your front door. Their notion of generating revenue in this province is not economic development, it is to charge you for every single thing you try to do and to charge you to move around.

Now before I even get into the particulars of user fees, which are taxes, Mr. Speaker, they are unquestionably taxes, I want to talk about what kind of taxes they are. They are what we would call a form of a flat tax, in my understanding. A flat tax is a tax proposed by whatever the name of that right-wing Canadian Party is now, I can't remember, they used to be called Reform. I don't know, CRAP or something.

Mr. Speaker, I was driving down here the other day and I heard on the Nation's Business, one of their adherents preaching the gospel of the flat tax, a 17 per cent income tax for all Canadians. Well, a flat tax has the unpleasant consequence of costing the poor more than it costs the rich. If everybody in this province pays - oh, let's just pick one anywhere here - $35 more for a new driver's license or a learner's license, everybody in this province pays it. Somebody who lives on social assistance, who might clear $9,000 a year, pays it; that is $35, the same amount. Somebody who makes $60,000 a year pays the same amount. Now if you do the math, the percentage of each person's income is vastly different. So we now have, by another name, a whole range of flat taxes being imposed on the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 5699]

We even heard - and I will start with this one - the notion of charging people to lie down in a hospital bed, Mr. Speaker, in an acute care bed if, in the government's estimation, they didn't belong in that bed. At the same time we heard this bizarre user fee suggested at the same time that the government announced there would be no increase in chronic care beds. Go figure. I don't understand it. Ambulance fees increased. They are going to raise $5 million. Seniors' Pharmacare, we have talked about. The co-pay has increased. The premium in the co-pay will rise every year based on increases in drug costs. So it is indexed to drug costs. Home support services, they are going to make $2.2 million out of that.

The Child Abuse Registry, which many of us, I believe, when we sign forms for people who are volunteering with the Girl Guides, are going to be program assistants in schools, they are checked. They are going to have to pay for that, Mr. Speaker. The government is going to make $77,000 by charging people mostly to volunteer in their communities; $77,000 is a spit in the ocean. Why do it?

The ferries, we heard the member for Victoria talking about the fees on ferries. We know that there is a little loophole there for regular users but, nonetheless, the fare is going to almost double. Environmental approvals are going to pull in $200,000 for the government, sheriff and probate fees are going to pull in nearly $1 million and, everybody's all-time unfavourite, Mr. Speaker, we are all going to pay now to call 911. Now, I have had the misfortune of having to call them twice now when my house was broken into and, believe me, on a cost-benefit analysis, I couldn't say that I got value for my money. But the fact of the matter is we have been around and around this issue and it is not right to charge every Nova Scotian so that the government can make $600,000 or $700,000.

Stationary engineers licensing is going to raise $200,000. Arbitration cost-sharing, downloaded to employers and employees. Propane fuel and electric permit fees are going to raise $166,000.

Discretionary fees in hospitals. Now there has been quite a go-round about that. The minister didn't know, I don't believe, the numbers on that, and we were required to ferret it out. Mr. Speaker, this is something we have heard in another form in a previous Legislature. I recall in here, the argument, the discussion, the concern of Nova Scotians around tray fees in doctors offices. We know, research tells us, that user fees are a deterrent to health care. We talked a lot - perhaps more than some members would care - about charging tray fees for PAP tests, which would deter women from getting the health care they need in order to prevent cancer. It is back, only its on steroids, and we have a whole range of user fees for hospitals.

The home sewage disposal program will be privatized. Homeowners will pay hundreds of dollars more for design, installation and approval of septic systems, plus a new $50 fee. Domestic well water services, privatized; petroleum tank tagging, new fee; industrial waste management, new fee; water course alteration, new fee. A levy on automobile insurance policies; fuel dye will be charged back to oil companies, that is a new fee; commissions paid

[Page 5700]

to wholesalers to collect fuel tax eliminated and the cost will be passed on to consumers; commissions paid to tobacco wholesalers for the same reason, cost passed to consumers, and it goes on and on.

The Driver's Handbook, I have mentioned, and the driving licenses, I have mentioned. The cost of the Driver's Handbook, which is a new one and I am sure that the young people who work here may be particularly affected by that, as well as all other young Nova Scotians. Licensing fees for insurance agents increased, and I am sure there is more than that.

Mr. Speaker, we have two things going on at the same time, when we are talking about money: we have decreased program spending, and increased costs to Nova Scotians to live in this province. What we know though - which the government doesn't seem to know - is that revenues have been going up in this province. We may find ourselves in the position of the federal government, tearing it down, slash and burn, then find ourselves with a little counting room and a pot of money and, oh dear, what will we spend it on? Then we will see this government give Nova Scotians one minuscule percentage back of the tax that they already took in user fees, while they were cutting services, programs and jobs to them.

Deficit projections for 1999-2000 have consistently underestimated revenues. In October 1999, revenues were projected to increase $72 million over 1998-99. The second quarter update, released on December 22nd, projected a further increase of $44.5 million. An update issued March 3, 2000, added another $96 million in revenue estimates, a total revenue improvement of $140 million in less than five months.

Surely a government ought to be able to project revenue increases that we will be making. If it didn't give large corporations break after break, while charging the hide off working people, then maybe it would have some sense of what is really going on around here. We have a tax imbalance, we have program cuts, we have user fees and where is it all coming from? Is it coming from a knowledgeable understanding of the finances of this province in the future, and is it coming from an intelligent reading of the past? Mr. Speaker, I don't think so.

One good example of that is the trend to privatization. The government professes that it may not really privatize the Liquor Commission, for example, but it has a review committee set up and the terms of reference are pretty clear. Now we know that the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission is a profitable enterprise and we know that included in those increased revenues last fall was a substantial increase in profits to the Liquor Commission. Now it may be possible that the Liquor Commission profits are going up because this government is driving Nova Scotians to drink or it may, in fact, be a profitable enterprise that will continue to be profitable and which it would be foolish to release to the private sector for a one-time paydown on this hyperinflated, phoney deficit. So that is a good example of job losses as well.

[Page 5701]

Nova Scotia has a Public Service that has fought hard historically for fair wages and it has given Nova Scotians good service. I think I hear some of them outside right now, Mr. Speaker. Nova Scotians have given their best in the teaching profession and in other support services in the schools. They have given their best in health care in trying times. They have given their best in government departments and in government-owned enterprises, such as the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission. Nova Scotians have given their best in trying times; they have made sacrifices, there is no question, all organized Nova Scotians did with the cutbacks over the last 10 years. Like the teachers, who are the ones I know best, they have said, we will work a little harder, we will do a little better, we will see if we can't manage this latest challenge. They have done so, and what do they get for it? They get a government that comes in here and mindlessly says, government is bad.

Well, I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians don't think that and where this government is badly off the rails is that it doesn't understand that what Nova Scotians want is not less government or no government, Nova Scotians want better government; they want competent government; they want a government that looks at the whole picture, that looks at the bottom line, too, and says how can we best allocate the resources that we have, before we flay the hides of all Nova Scotians and take the skin off their backs again, let's figure out what it is that we can do in a reasonable time-frame to unload our debt and our deficit, in a reasonable time-frame, not in the three years that this government talks about, and let's show Nova Scotians, those on social assistance, those hard-working public servants, those small businesspeople, those people involved in education and health, everybody who works and contributes to this province.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, why in the name of heaven can't this government say to them, let's get a balance, let's look at the problem, and let's work this out? The problem now, with this majority government passing legislation that is going to further dismantle the government infrastructure and services of this province, that is going to further create unemployed Nova Scotians, put further pressure on Community Services for social assistance, is going to download all this pressure, and there will come a time in the not-too-distant future where what we will have on our hands in this province is an even worse mess than we had in 1990 and 1992, when government wages were slashed.

The audacity of the Minister of Education to stand up and offer options for teachers. I call them the dog food options. She got up and said, well, its okay, teachers will retire early. One of the wonderful options, which isn't an option at all for most people, that wonderful option was to go home and not get paid for two years. This is the thanks you get from this government for working hard day after day through your life and contributing to this province in the Public Service. You get a minister who is so clueless, she thinks that is an option.

[Page 5702]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would suggest to the member that is very unparliamentary, and I would ask her to retract that. That is a personal attack on a member. Retract that statement please.

MS. O'CONNELL: Which part of it? What is unparliamentary?

MR. SPEAKER: Calling the member clueless. I would ask the honourable member to retract that.

MS. O'CONNELL: Sure, I would be happy to retract it. She is very uninformed. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, my point is, and I think it has been made, that Nova Scotians who make a contribution are not even understood by this government, and the notion that most of us have to work and most of us do a good job of it and most of us do our best to raise our families and feed them, and then we get a government, an uninformed government, that suggests that they can make things happen because they don't even understand the simplest things about Nova Scotians. What they have to understand is that Nova Scotians don't want what they are dishing out here. Nova Scotians don't want less government, they want good government.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you, what I hear outside right now, and what we have heard outside before, and what we will hear, tells us that what we don't have in this province is good government. We don't have an intelligent, informed government that looks at the whole situation and makes sensible decisions for all Nova Scotians. That is more regrettable than this government seems to understand or will ever understand. (Applause)

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour and a privilege for me, as the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, to rise today and discuss the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. It is interesting to hear some of the statements by our socialist friends next door. It is certainly interesting. It is too bad they had not thought of that last spring when they played a major role in defeating the Russell MacLellan Government which I feel had a very successful April and May of last year, probably the most successful in a decade in this province.

Mr. Speaker, this government should be ashamed of this budget that they put forward. There are major holes in the budgets of Health, Education and, in particular, the Department of Agriculture, especially in Agriculture as it pertains to Cape Breton The Lakes, and I am very concerned with all three. The full impact of this particular budget is not known. It will not be known for quite some time and it will not be fully realized for quite some time. As a member, I stand here and I, no doubt, was forced to vote on an incomplete budget. I feel like

[Page 5703]

I was held hostage with no alternative but to vote on something that was not even totally detailed.

So how can we vote for this companion that has been brought forward by the Minister of Finance? It is the same thing, Mr. Speaker, the budget contained no hard facts and neither does this bill. The details were left out because I believe the government does not even know them themselves. The ministers themselves, it is quite obvious when they rise here to reply to questions in Question Period in this House, they don't know the answers. It is certainly obvious that the backbenchers are not even aware of the direction that their government is going.

I guess that is why the Premier told us, as an Opposition, that it was our responsibility to ferret out the information because I feel, Mr. Speaker, that he does not even know what is included in this budget or this bill and he does not know the implications that it is going to cause in Nova Scotia. We saw the same type of budget in New Brunswick and we saw the Auditor General in that particular province take a long, hard look at that particular budget in New Brunswick. I want to acknowledge that my caucus has written the Auditor General and, hopefully, he will agree to do the same thing that the Auditor General in New Brunswick has agreed to do and that is to take a long, hard, good look at this budget and this bill.

This government, Mr. Speaker, I feel is deliberately hiding the facts and are trying to deceive Nova Scotians. We don't have to look any further than education to realize that. The minister I feel had no idea what was in her budget and what impact it would have on the education system in this province. Only after a few weeks of protest did the Minister of Finance pull a rabbit out of a hat. Of course, all members are aware, and most Nova Scotians are aware, that he came to the rescue with his $88 million slush fund which is not really uncommon to Tory Governments if we look at the history of the latter part of the 1970's and 1980's of Tory Governments.

I guess we will never know, but I would like to ask where did this trust fund come from and why, if the government was going to bail out school boards, why did it not do that in the Budget Address and do it at the proper time and do it in a responsible manner? So it is quite obvious that they were not aware exactly of the impact that it was having on the education system in this province when they presented it and they are certainly, in my opinion, not fully aware of the impact that is going to be realized as a result of the budget. It leaves me to wonder why they put themselves through that much hardship if they knew they had a solution. It makes me wonder out loud, and I guess the answer is obvious. It is obvious to me that the backbenchers and many of the ministers were not aware that this money was there. They didn't know it was there, they didn't know what they would use it for, and I don't think they totally know what they are going to use it for today.

[Page 5704]

The minister pulled together his spin doctors and he said, find me a pot of money so that I can justify using it on education in particular. They came up with, Mr. Speaker, a slush fund, which they have been famous for for many years in any budget that was ever presented in this House by previous Tory Governments.

What about health? I notice the Minister of Health is here. He is over there working away. I don't know if he is paying much attention to what I am saying, but he should be paying attention to what is carrying on outside this House, on the streets of Halifax, as I speak. Protest upon protest. I don't know if he realizes those are health care workers out there, and it happens to be a day of protest because it is someone's birthday. If the minister is concerned about that, I don't know, I don't see him paying much attention. Perhaps we will send him a birthday card.

It is obvious, as I stand here today, the QE II has announced lay-offs. The minister said yesterday he didn't know how many people would be lost. I don't know if he was being honest, Mr. Speaker, or if he really didn't know. If we knew, then he must have known. That is what I am assuming. I would suggest that the minister has very capable people within his department to advise him on these cuts prior to the cuts occurring. It leads me to believe, at least, that the minister is not being totally honest with the members of this House, and more importantly, with the people of Nova Scotia.

If the minister still pretends he doesn't know the impact on the QE II, then perhaps I should remind him of the numbers. There are 300 people, Mr. Speaker, who are going to lose their jobs at the QE II, and that is reality. I would suggest that many of the backbenchers pinch themselves and wake themselves up and come to grips with the impact the budget and this bill are having on the people of this province. The Director of the Pharmacy is one of the positions that has been eliminated at the QE II. The Director of Physiotherapy, who happens to have 25 years of experience in that particular capacity at that facility; 25 years experience. You can't do that and not feel an impact. It is impossible.

If it is that bad at the QE II, the provincial flagship, how bad is it going to be on rural Nova Scotia hospitals? That is what I am concerned about, Mr. Speaker. What about down in Lunenburg, and what about Queens; what about New Waterford? What about at the Northside General, one that my area is particularly interested in? What impact is that going to have on these particular hospitals and many other hospitals that are located in rural Nova Scotia? If the minister is willing to do this to the QE II, then I would caution the rest of the provincial territories in which hospitals are located, particularly in the rural areas, look out fellow Nova Scotians because here they come.

What about the program review? That is a pretty interesting topic in itself. Where is it? The minister indicated that the Health budget was based on the results of the program review. The members of this House and the people of Nova Scotia have the right to see this review, and have the right to see the document that has thrown health care into chaos in the province.

[Page 5705]

I wonder out loud, the minister, in my opinion at least, should be eager to present this document and acknowledge and educate the members of this House and the people of Nova Scotia, why he feels these cuts were necessary in his department. If it justifies the cuts, then why not show them to Nova Scotians so that they can see for themselves and judge the minister accordingly.

[12:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I have no other choice but to wonder why the minister is hiding this document, and why the whole entire government is hiding the document? I don't believe that even the backbenchers have seen this document; at least the ones I speak to, they happen to be very secretive and very cautious in stating whether or not they have seen this document. I would challenge any one of those members, backbenchers included, to present this document so that we can have a look at it, so that we can really have a close look, to see if the Minister of Health is telling us the truth, and allow us the opportunity to judge for ourselves whether this budget is necessary and whether the cuts in health care in particular are necessary. Let's see the document so that we can put it forth to the people of Nova Scotia, and allow them to judge. Given the facts, let them judge the direction this minister is taking health care in Nova Scotia. Present the facts, I don't think that is an unreasonable request. It is basically based on principle.

Any responsible minister in government, I would suggest, wouldn't have any problem presenting a document that justifies the direction they are taking this province in. Where is the document? Why isn't it tabled here in this House for all members to have a look at, and as I indicated prior, more importantly, to the people of Nova Scotia that this government serves, that this government is supposed to serve, all residents of the province, not just in metro areas?

Mr. Speaker, I see you are looking at me, so I know I must focus on this bill, the Financial Measures (2000) Bill. I appreciate your looks, before you speak. As a new member, I am becoming familiar with what these looks mean. I will just move on to this bill. I guess I have to wonder out loud, in debating this issue, what about the economy? How does this bill impact on the economy of the province? The announcement made yesterday by Sears is an indication that the business community has realized what the Opposition has been fearing and is fearing since the Tories came to power is, in fact, reality. I would suggest that the backbenchers and the members of this government pinch themselves. Wake up. Smell the coffee. It is reality.

The Tories are going to return us to the economy of the old. Remember that one, Mr. Speaker? The economy of John Buchanan and Donald Cameron. It is obvious. The economy under those governments, where companies like Stora and Michelin are wondering whether or not they are going to remain in this province. Mr. Speaker, hopefully, this government will

[Page 5706]

realize the impact that these two major industries have not only in their immediate communities, but on the economy of Nova Scotia, in general.

It is time that these backbenchers come to grips with reality and seek out the information that members of this House on this side have been trying to obtain since this budget was presented. We have been unsuccessful, Mr. Speaker, in our request to obtain that information and, perhaps, particularly, the backbenchers would have more input with the front-liners or the Ministers of this Cabinet, and the Premier, himself. So, as I indicated before, hopefully, these backbenchers are going to wake up, smell the roses, smell the coffee, pinch themselves and come to grips with reality, so that they wake up and it is Friday and it is May in this province. The impact, since they have been sworn in as a government is devastating in all areas, when you look at the economy, health care, education. This government is disintegrating the province. The whole province is falling apart, piece by piece.

As it was indicated today, this province comes from number one economically and it is down to about number nine in the country, Mr. Speaker, in eight or nine short months. The reality must set in, sooner or later. I ask questions in this House, for instance, pertaining to the Marine Atlantic operation in North Sydney. The minister responsible for that particular industry in this province doesn't even know where North Sydney is. He didn't even know that North Sydney was a place. I would suggest any responsible government and any responsible minister, in my opinion, would educate himself on the portfolio that he is responsible for. He would be aware of where these communities are and the impact that these industries have on their communities and the province as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that it is the responsibility of the Premier to insist that his ministers are educated on these departments that they are responsible for. That is another problem I see with this budget. It makes me wonder who cares. Well, I believe it is obvious, in discussing this budget and this bill with the backbenchers, that they do care. I am not suggesting for one minute that they don't care. They do care. They care about the people they represent. They care about the province, as a whole. Many comments that I hear on the street, this government doesn't care about Cape Breton, for instance. They have no interest whatsoever. I would suggest that the minister I feel is responsible for the well-being of Cape Breton, the honourable member for Inverness, does care about his hometown and he does care about the Island of Cape Breton. I would suggest that the other member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, who represents Port Hawkesbury, he cares also. That is obvious in just discussing various issues with him.

Mr. Speaker, it is true that these members must come forward so that the people they represent know that they care and that is important. It is important not only to the people that they represent but the people in my area that happen to be Nova Scotians, too. They want to be comforted to know that they have a minister, at least one individual sitting at that Cabinet Table, that is going to have a positive impact and input into the direction that this government is going. That, obviously, to this point has not occurred. It is obvious that the minister has

[Page 5707]

been silent on many issues that are vital to the well-being of Cape Breton and to the province as a whole, and it is time that these members stood up to be counted for the people, not only of Cape Breton Island but for the people of the province.

Mr. Speaker, Sears has already made their decision to leave. We see that over and over. I have never seen so many jobs disappear in the province since, I guess the Ontario Government, I guess Premier Harris started his cutbacks in Ontario; is this a coalition government with the Province of Ontario and perhaps Alberta? Many of those very negative programs and policies that were implemented in those other provinces are mysteriously finding themselves in the daily lives of Nova Scotians, and that makes me wonder where this government is getting its direction. Is it Nova Scotia-made opinions this government is following? I would suggest not; I would suggest that this Cabinet and this government have successfully, to date, eliminated any role that their backbenchers and their caucus has in the daily . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes entertain a question?

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, that is quite easily no. Perhaps that honourable member should stand up, he has the same opportunity as I have as a member of this House, to stand up if he wants to ask questions, and put his own presentation forward, and tell the people in Nova Scotia where he stands in regard to this government and the direction it is going, without asking a little old rookie MLA from Cape Breton The Lakes a question. He should be asking questions of his front-line Health Minister, and the Education Minister and the other ministers who are over there. That is where he should direct his questions. That's my suggestion to him.

It is just not business leaving this province; business is not the only thing that is leaving. Housing starts in Nova Scotia are alarming; just 200 housing starts in April. That's 20 per cent lower than this time last year. Now, Mr. Speaker, you really don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure this out. Even I can figure it out, so I would suggest that with the knowledge some of these backbench MLAs have, they could figure it out rather easily, or they should. Of those 200 housing starts, 195 are in Halifax, in the metro area. That leaves only five - and I hope those honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House are paying attention - five housing starts in all of rural Nova Scotia in the month of April.

Mr. Speaker, the boasting has been eliminated, but this was supposed to be the government of rural Nova Scotia, as I recall. They were going to represent the entire province, but in particular - and it sounds like an echo in my ear - I recall that we are a government for rural Nova Scotia. We are going to do this wonderful job for all rural residents. Wham! What a surprise. What a wake-up call all those voters got since last July, Mr. Speaker. I think they are very well aware of the mistake that was made.

[Page 5708]

[12:45 p.m.]

This government, Mr. Speaker, has abandoned Nova Scotia, rural Nova Scotia in particular, and the people know it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow an introduction?

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes for permitting me to make this introduction. I understand the member was in full flight, and I apologize, but I do appreciate the opportunity nonetheless. Through you and to all members of the Legislature, I would like to introduce Mr. Reese Morash. Mr. Morash is a well-renowned citizen from the community of Lantz in Hants County, and he is a former member, and perhaps even still a member, of the Hants East Educational Task Force. Please stand and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it was certainly a pleasure for me to yield the floor. I also extend my wishes to those of honourable member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: He got it right. (Applause)

MR. BOUDREAU: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, this government has already abandoned rural Nova Scotia in particular. I believe it has abandoned all areas of the province, particularly in health care and education and agriculture as I indicated before. Since January, there were only 733 housing starts. Of all those numbers, only 41 have been outside metro Halifax. This is a government that boasted it was a government of rural Nova Scotia, ordinary Nova Scotians, don't you recall? It is unbelievable. I have never seen such devastation in seven or eight months in my entire life.

The people know that this government has no vision. It didn't have any when it got elected, and it certainly doesn't have any today. It hasn't got any vision for the growing of Nova Scotia's economy, and the people are getting out while they can. This is going to be a very sad legacy for this government, Mr. Speaker, when the only economy in Nova Scotia will be within the boundaries of the Halifax Regional Municipality. But, I guess that is the goal, from what I understand. I suggest it will be very pleasing to the Metro Halifax Chamber of Commerce. They certainly don't care about rural Nova Scotia, and they have made that very clear. I don't believe this government cares about rural Nova Scotia either. That is obvious with the direction they are going in and the presentation of this budget and this

[Page 5709]

Financial Measures (2000) Bill. It is obvious that they have abandoned rural Nova Scotia in its entirety.

If they did care, Mr. Speaker, there would be more of a concentrated effort to invest in rural Nova Scotia, in the same manner as the previous Liberal Government led by Russell MacLellan where this province leaped from a distant, in this country to, number one in economic growth in just a short period of time that my Leader and former Premier had; number one in the country. That was quite a turnaround in my opinion.

This government would not present that sorry excuse for the economic plan that the Minister of Economic Development presented to Nova Scotians. What a sham. I am afraid of the legacy that this government is going to have on rural Nova Scotia and the government backbenchers had better start representing rural Nova Scotia or else they will have the honour of sitting just one term. I think that is reality. I think it is obvious that people are going to recognize and judge them on the representation that they are providing the people who they represent in this House.

They have a very short four years to do that, Mr. Speaker, and I would remind the backbenchers, in particular, that they have lost eight months already. So that time is going to roll around quite quickly and they must come to grips, they are going to have to bang on the doors, you know, of the same people that I do when I am campaigning. When those people come to the doors, don't forget, they are going to meet seniors who they increased their Pharmacare costs, they are the ones who will have to justify, they will require the answers on those days. So it gets back to this document that has not been presented or tabled in this House. I would suggest the backbenchers are going to require that document in the days as we move forward and they will require that document and the information it contains when they are debating these issues on the doorsteps of the people who they affect because those people are not going to have short memories. They will remember and they are going to remember the direction that this government provided for the province.

I don't want to be all negative here, Mr. Speaker. It is really difficult for me to be entirely negative. I try to be positive and I look for good initiatives within this bill and there are a few that I have found, I have to be honest, there are a few. Not being stubborn or being a know-it-all, Mr. Speaker, I sought advice from my colleagues and they share my opinion that there are some issues in this bill that they feel are necessary and are good for the province. However, there are many that worry me. We had heard this government speak quite a bit about the financial accountability and the open and honest government that they are going to provide. Well, I am waiting and a lot of people who I represent are waiting. They are waiting for that accountability and their open and honest government.

Present the document, table the document. Where is that paper that we can justify this budget on, does it exist at all? We don't really know I guess, Mr. Speaker. I am willing to accept the statement that the Health Minister indicated that the document does exist, but I

[Page 5710]

have not seen it tabled yet. I have not seen it and I guess we will just wait and see if the honourable member and the honourable minister does, in fact, table that report here for all members of this House and all Nova Scotians so they can have a review on that and judge it for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, we have all heard stories about the financial ruin and, economically, we are being destroyed and all this terrible stuff that this government is putting forward for Nova Scotians to rely on, we are in financial ruin. This government has indicated very clearly and has told Nova Scotians about the uphill struggle they are facing and how the cuts they are proposing are absolutely necessary. I mean, we hear it every day of the week from this government and its members. We hear that song and dance on a regular basis and it talks about foreign debt. We agree with some of the comments that are being made about foreign debt. After all, it was our Liberal Government who started Nova Scotia down the road toward limited foreign exposure.

So our Liberal Governments have learned the lessons, valuable lessons from the then honourable Premier John Buchanan and honourable Premier at the time, Donald Cameron. We know because they were costly mistakes for the people of this province. Very costly. We, as a Party and as a government, Mr. Speaker, that we could no longer afford to be borrowing money from other countries, playing roulette with foreign exchange. I believe this government is following down that path when it comes to foreign debt and foreign borrowing.

So when the Minister of Finance began speaking of limiting Nova Scotia's foreign exposure, we agreed because we started the province down that road. We agree. I have to express my happiness that this government does intend to continue what we began, as a Party and as a government. The only thing that is unfortunate is that this government is only going half-way down on this commitment. That is the way I see it. When the government set out in this bill to deal with foreign exposure, they set a very realistic incredible target of 20 per cent. This is an acceptable level from what I gather. It is not just my own opinion, as I indicated before, I sought out the advice of my colleagues, who I must admit are very well versed and experienced in the operation of a government. Since nine of my colleagues were former ministers, who I would suggest enjoyed the success, since 1997, that Premier Russell MacLellan had in leading this province back to prosperity. Economically, health care was improving; you can look at any area and there were improvements in all areas.

I see the Minister of Tourism smiling over there. Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister should take his smiles outside the House because there are some health care workers there who may want to speak to him. Perhaps he should come to grips that a healthy Marine Atlantic in North Sydney is very healthy for the prosperity of the tourist industry in this province, and get involved and do something about it, and take a direction. Get aggressive in pursuing the plight of these workers who work there to enable those workers to provide the service they know, and have historically provided to the people of Canada in the past, and will continue in the future.

[Page 5711]

MR. SPEAKER: I wonder if the member might permit an introduction?

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

MR. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for giving me the time. In our east gallery today is a citizen from beautiful Yarmouth, and he drove all the way up today to come in and see our proceedings. Mr. Roy Bent from Yarmouth. Would you please give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I also welcome the gentleman the honourable member has introduced. Sometimes I wonder if they are trying to catch me off my game here or what because it just seems when I start on a roll here - but as everybody knows I am usually a pretty patient guy, and I will find my line. Don't worry.

Mr. Speaker, we feel some of the problems start, and where they come in is with some of the language that is provided in this bill. The government says they cannot finance or refinance any foreign debt into the province's total foreign debt exposure which is at or near or below 20 per cent. In the next breath, though, I must realize and acknowledge that the government says foreign investment is okay, as long as it is fully hedged.

[1:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what is it going to be? Do you want to invest in foreign markets or not? It is a simple question, very simple. I would suggest that the answer is relatively simple.

The minister knows, I am not sure if the backbenchers would know, or the minister has acknowledged to them, of course, that the minister is fully aware and knows that a fully-hedged financial transaction, although it has diversified at an exchange risk, still consists of foreign content. Mr. Speaker, if I know that, I am sure the Minister of Finance is aware of it. Certainly his staff and the knowledgeable individuals who work within his department have acknowledged that point to him. Perhaps where the problem comes in is that he doesn't share this information with his other colleagues in Cabinet or, more importantly, with those people who stood here in the House last fall and bragged that they represented rural Nova Scotia and they were a government for rural Nova Scotia and they were very proud of the fact that they were representing ordinary Nova Scotians. I seem to remember that, Mr. Speaker. So perhaps the communication problem could be spruced up a little bit over there on that side of the House if, for some reason, the backbench, the caucus, got a little bit of courage to ask these ministers to provide that information to them.

Mr. Speaker, this all flies in the face of the government wanting to get out from under the thumb of foreign banks. Does the minister have no confidence in the Canadian system of banking that he has to find ways to allow the province to finance their debt in other countries?

[Page 5712]

Why would the minister give this bill some teeth and require that all debt financing be in Canadian funds until our foreign exposure target of 20 per cent is met?

There seems to be a lot of trap doors for this government to escape out of and it seems that this is one of them, Mr. Speaker. Every issue is the same. Escape doors open everywhere and they just dash out there and stand up and say anything they want and make statements that have no credibility and doesn't have any way to justify their replies to many of the issues that are going on.

In the days to come, Mr. Speaker, I would like to hear the Minister of Finance if, indeed, his government is serious about reducing the province's foreign exposure. I am looking forward to that because I think it is very obvious. I know I am not well experienced in the provincial scene but during my days as a municipal representative, it is quite obvious and I have learned very clearly and early in my career that you can't have it both ways. This minister is fully aware of that, I would suggest that he had better come clean, or the people he represents will be asking some very serious questions of him when he bangs on the doors when that day comes, as no doubt it will.

I would like to change my focus a little bit, Mr. Speaker, if I may. This government, I guess, is a little bit of a joke I think and they campaigned on less red tape. Well, well, well, less red tape, isn't that interesting.

Just yesterday, Mr. Speaker, the Premier announced the red tape committee that will go forward out into the province, the various communities and discuss the issue of red tape. In my opinion, at least this was one of the areas that I, personally, and my caucus, was looking forward to and perhaps having a little bit of input and direction into this area. However, because of the irresponsible acts of the government, this committee, in my opinion at least, is nothing short of a farce. Five members, all from the one governing Party, are going to set out into Nova Scotia this summer on a vacation-like atmosphere, paid for by the taxpayers of this province, and I can assure you that I, for one, will be looking forward, looking very clearly, waiting, daily, for the results that this committee will bring forward to this House. I will be looking for that study and that committee to report directly to this House because this one is going to be very interesting, in my opinion at least.

In any event, I would suggest that they will be all welcomed with open arms in any community in this province. When they visit, they will have to be staying in hotels, buying lunches and various things and I would suggest that that will be welcomed in any community in the province because economically, especially after this government is through this spring, these communities will be hard-pressed to welcome any such intruders into their communities, even if it is only for the dollars that they spend while they are there.

[Page 5713]

They said, Mr. Speaker, that the inefficiencies which they could find in the system would help them to find better ways to do things. What a joke. It is just a total joke. They also introduced the red tape commissioner, adding another level of bureaucracy to the system. That is interesting, especially when we look at the Education budget and the minister and the Cabinet standing up and saying, well, they want cuts to administrators; we are too heavy with administrators today. This government has seen fit to go out and create another level of bureaucracy. They have also seen the size of their own staffs increase, no downsizing or cutting back on administration there and I would suggest that the salary increases and the wages that have been set for these individuals are exorbitant, amongst the highest in this country, certainly not a direction that I would suggest the people of Nova Scotia imagined or, more importantly, voted for last July.

This government, these ministers, all they are doing is feathering their own nests and they just keep piling on the bureaucracy. Now this government wants all government business enterprises to have prior approval of all financial transactions. Isn't that wonderful, Mr. Speaker? This is coming from the government that wanted a tighter, more efficient process in government in this province. It is amazing. This is coming from a government that wants private business to come in and do everything for them. This is the government that takes all its clues from the Halifax Metro Chamber of Commerce; the heck with all other areas of the province, just cater to the metro area and the province will be fine.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that theory just does not fit in this province, particularly when we drive outside the metro area and we come to the reality that there are other communities that exist, particularly down in Lunenburg, the South Shore, the western part of the province, down in Cape Breton, Antigonish, Guysborough, and all throughout the province. I think it is time somebody realized over there that we are largely a rural province here in Nova Scotia. I think, as a government, that was supposed to be representing rural Nova Scotia, we were all waiting for that, excited about the impact that this government was going to have on rural Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, if the first eight months is any indication, then I would suggest that the people are not looking forward to any more such impacts on their daily lives.

I guess the minister, Mr. Speaker, was sick today because he talked about the business opportunities in the free market, businesses like government enterprises or large, complicated organizations. From time to time, they need to be able to secure a loan, a line of credit or a bond or some other financial note in order to do business. It makes me wonder, does this mean that the enterprise will necessarily run a deficit? I don't believe so. It means that cash flow and expenses do not always occur. Any good reasonable government recognizes that. Business does not have the luxury to wait for prior approval if an opportunity exists. It must take it immediately. Immediately, they must grasp the opportunity and move forward, so the positive impact will occur on the communities in this province.

[Page 5714]

This is the way all business works, Mr. Speaker. So unless the Premier wants to privatize all government services and resources, he had better remove the shackles from the hands of government enterprise. I am paranoid and I don't have a problem admitting it. I am paranoid and a lot of the people that I represent are paranoid. The people that I talk to on the streets in Halifax are paranoid. The people that I speak to in service stations in Antigonish, they are paranoid, because the Premier and his comments on health care and just throwing out a few comments about user fees and this sort of thing within health care, are just totally unacceptable to the people in this province. They are totally unacceptable. I certainly hope that this fearmongering will not continue. More importantly, I certainly hope the Premier is not serious, because this would be a terrible deed to impose on the people of this province that have shown him and given him the responsibility to be Premier of this province. That, certainly, was not one of the issues that he campaigned on, I can assure you of that.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that this is not the agenda that this government has. Certainly, I pray it is not. Maybe this Hamm agenda is becoming a Klein-Hamm agenda. Perhaps, the Premier has an idea to privatize health care. But I can assure him that it will be met with walls of steel from all parts of this province, not just the Opposition Parties, but from the people who live everyday lives in the Province of Nova Scotia. If the Premier does have that idea in the back of his head, I would suggest to him and his minister that they just get amnesia very quickly and eliminate that fear that they are imposing on the people in regard to health care in this province. If this government is not looking to privatize everything in sight, then they should allow government enterprise to go about doing its business and it should continue to allow government enterprise to conduct their business on a daily basis.

Mr. Speaker, I indicated before, there was a couple of points in this bill that we feel are important, positive. For instance, when a department wants to initiate a new program which was not budgeted for that particular year, and the money was not allotted for, then the program must wait for next year or the department would have to find money within its existing budget. That is positive. We believe in that measure. It is a step forward in the budgeting process. We feel very firmly that departments must be held firm to the money that are budgeted for them. Things such as natural disasters and other man-made disasters - like this government is man-made - and other disasters that happen not too regularly in this province, but I am glad to see the minister has recognized these occurrences happen, and there are measures to deal with them in this bill.

[1:15 p.m.]

It is interesting, though, after much talk we heard about the balanced budget that there are no provisions found in this bill. It is interesting to see that the balanced budget bill doesn't take place until 2002-03. I seem to remember that the Premier was saying during an election that they would balance the books in year three. That is in the blue book they printed and various speeches he made during the campaign in news releases. He indicated clearly that a balanced budget would be achieved in three years, not four years. That really doesn't matter.

[Page 5715]

What matters is what will his minister do if he presents a budget with a forecast deficit. That is what I am interested in, what this Premier and what this minister will do.

Mr. Speaker, I recall the Premier suggesting that a Premier should resign if there is a budget that doesn't balance. Perhaps at least, if he doesn't want to agree with that, at least ensure that the Minister of Finance would resign if he does not present a balanced budget in this House in 2002-03. That makes me wonder why his entire Cabinet wouldn't put their jobs on the line. There is nothing that brings out the best in you than a little bit of incentive. I can attest to that personally.

Mr. Speaker, the manufacturing processing tax is eliminated in this bill. It has a very negative impact in areas particularly in Cape Breton. Instead of eliminating tax credits, the government should be implementing more tax credits, targetted for areas of high unemployment. These measures could and should stimulate growth . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in rising today to speak about Bill No. 46, the Financial Measures (2000) Bill, it is important to speak in terms of a philosophy of a government as it relates to the finances of a province. We got into this with this government on their interpretation of the financial situation of this province. But, I think, to understand where they are coming from, it is probably just a very short trip following its Leader, because the Leader of this government, the Premier of today, while in Opposition, his position - first of all that is where I guess his line of broken promises started - I think the then Premier can remember that the Leader of the Tory Party at the time had said they would support the government for two years . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Two more years.

MR. CORBETT: Two more years, that is what he told Nova Scotians, that the province needed stability and that he was willing to support the government for two more years but what happened was when he saw the good side of a poll, he cut and ran.

What did that tell you about the measure of the man, Mr. Speaker? That said that he cared less about Nova Scotians and more about the Tory Party. He had to do something to fend off a revolt by the members of his caucus at the time and that was how he did it. So, before we even started an election, we have a broken promise.

Then we go into an election and the Tory Party put forward a platform that in no way reflects the type of legislation, the type of budget they brought down on the shoulders, indeed the backs, of working people of Nova Scotia. That platform was so far out of whack it is

[Page 5716]

unbelievable. It does not in any way come close to what Nova Scotians thought they were getting; they voted for a platform and got the opposite. They got a list of broken promises from this government that went into the old, tired explanation, that when new governments come to power that they have to clean up the mess of the elephants that just left.

Now there is another aspect that we are not talking about, a Party that has been out of power for three or four terms. We are talking about a Party that was in power here for almost 15 years in successive governments. What did they do? Overspend and overspend and now, all of a sudden, in the ugliest form of New Age advertising, tell people we are the new and improved. They do not want to take responsibility for their previous time in government and what they did to the economy of this province; they have a very short attention span that runs about six years. They don't want Nova Scotians to remember that there are members in that very Cabinet today who were in the former Cabinet of the Buchanan, Bacon and Cameron era, that brought us into this mess. They want us to forget that, Mr. Speaker, they want us to forget the devastation they brought on this province.

This is a budget that has taken one aspect of this province, that says we listen to you in whole, we do not care about the other people. They are trying to tell people we can actually cut two or three years out of your life, as a student, as a nurse, as a sick patient, as a person on social assistance, we can cut two years out of your life and it is going to be all right. You can bear that burden, don't worry about it, the years of Grade 1 to Grade 3 don't matter to this government apparently, because it is going to be better in the future.

What we have done, we have acknowledged it is the casualties of war mentality. That is what we are doing here. We are going to damn the torpedoes, we are going to move straight ahead here and we know there are going to be some casualties. Well, Mr Speaker, that would be fine if it was war, but it is not war. It is everyday lives to Nova Scotians. What they are doing is wrong. They are feeding off and making pay for their past transgressions, the hard-working people of Nova Scotia.

I was in here the other day when someone was up speaking, and the Minister of Economic Development was chiding him from across the floor and telling that member how great the economy was. The economy is smoking. He was going on saying all these things. It leads on to wonder, if the economy is so good, why so many cuts? Why not buy our way out of this. We have the money. We have the money. We have the money, Mr. Speaker. That is exactly what this minister said. He would buy our way out of it. That is exactly what the Minister of Economic Development said. What they want to do is give money to their friends. That is what they say, the economy is good.

I want to take them for a walk in the poor people of Nova Scotia's shoes while they contemplate giving tax breaks to Sobeys and they, in fact, give money to Scotia Bank. The Minister of Economic Development says, well, Sears leaving isn't so bad, we got value for dollar. So, apparently it is a five or six year run on a business and it leaves and then we feel

[Page 5717]

we got value for dollar. That is their idea of economic development. What are we doing, Mr. Speaker, to help poor Nova Scotians? What we are going to do is have severe cuts in Community Services. These people aren't exactly leaving this province and going down and putting their money in the Grand Cayman Islands, I tell you. They don't even get by cheque to cheque. There is not one family that is in receipt of Community Services money who is not spending the last couple of weeks of the month at food banks, but yet, the Minister of Economic Development will say the economy is booming.

How is it booming? We have all kinds of unemployment in rural Nova Scotia. When this unemployment occurs in rural Nova Scotia, how are we replacing those jobs? We are replacing the jobs maybe here in metro but not back in the areas where they lost them. So what we are doing is seeing a depletion of the rural economy. People are going out, and that is it.

There is a real problem here with these children who will be hurt. What are we going to do? (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Want me to go over there and shut him up?

MR. CORBETT: No. Mr. Speaker, somebody wanted to keep the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank quiet. He certainly wouldn't get up on his own and debate the fallacies that his government puts forward, but he is there. Maybe he and the Premier has to take his child to school soon, so I will leave him alone.

Mr. Speaker, the poor are asked to bear a disproportionate amount of this kind of renewal of the economy. There is not renewal, there is no investment. They are not investing anywhere. In the neighbourhood where I grew up, at one end of the street there was a coal mine, there were three convenient stores, a shoemaker, a large school, two grocery stores, two barber shops and a full hairdressing salon.

[1:30 p.m.]

Today, there is a small hardware store there, Mr. Speaker, one convenience store, no mine, and I think the beauty salon may still be there, but if you look at that today, and we are not talking ancient history, we are talking about 20 years, we are talking now about an area that employed about 45 people to an area that now employs approximately, and that is taking out the mining sector of it, seven or eight people. So it does not take long to figure out that there are fewer jobs. Yet they will have you believe that the economy is booming. So if it is booming, where is the money? Where is the tax revenue from a booming economy?

As I have often said in this House, Mr. Speaker, it is not a booming economy. It is an economy that is centred here in metro and it is the old hub and spoke mentality and, indeed, the hub is well, but the spokes have not been branched out.

[Page 5718]

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member permit an introduction?

MR. CORBETT: Certainly.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I want to express my gratitude to the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre for yielding the floor. I would like to introduce to the House today, a resident of Alder Point which lies within the constituency of Cape Breton The Lakes, Todd Hurley. Todd is a member of the Florence Fire Department. He is an important, vital volunteer within their community. I would ask all members of the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome the gentleman to the gallery, today, also.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Have you been out there, Frank, to Alder Point?

MR. CORBETT: I have been to Alder Point many times, to the Clearwater plant out there. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley asked me if I have ever been to Alder Point. It is very scenic, very nice, very nice people, a lot of LeBlancs. I ask the member for Cape Breton The Lakes, Leslie LeBlanc is in Alder Point.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, that in a small way an example of real job losses for the people who live especially in my part of Cape Breton, but what does this budget do for people without work? Does it give them hope for employment? It does not. We cannot go back to the old Bennett days, as Prime Minister, what was the term he used to say, he used to tell people he prayed a lot. I think there was a phrase back during the Depression that Bennett says he prays a lot, but the Lord ain't listening to his rot. I think there is a lot of that going on. (Interruption) Yes, and he ain't listening to their rot.

Mr. Speaker, it is easy for us to say to people, just bide your time, things will get better, but we are not talking about someone who is looking at four or five months of hard times. We are talking about years of poverty here, that they have been wanting a hand up with, but yet this budget does not give them any hope at all. What it does do is blame them. It blames people. We are saying if we did not give you so much money for welfare, we would not have this problem. If we did not help subsidize your wages, we would not have this problem. If we did not subsidize and help you with health care, we would not have this problem. If we did not give you decent schools, we would not have this problem. So what we are doing is blaming the poor in this province who can least help themselves, but what does the government do? It turns its back, because it ran on one platform and is working on another. It was such a fallacy that book, it could have been something that was written by the Brothers Grimm in relation to what we see this government doing.

[Page 5719]

Did young people in this province think that they were going to see taxes on them when they went for their driver's license? No, that was not part of the platform. Young people trying to find their way into the economy, poor people again, by and large, Mr. Speaker, who would like to get out and get their license, maybe borrow their parents' car if their parents are lucky enough to have a car, to go out and search for work - another small impediment but yet it is an impediment. We put up walls. We can say what we want and we can call them what we want but fees are a form of taxation. They want to say that they are cutting and it would be interesting - and I will talk about this later - if the red tape commission, will get involved with that, these fees as red tape. (Interruption) Well, that is something I will get to later.

Let's talk about another fee. I can say that Nova Scotians didn't know they were voting for the increase to the Pharmacare, the indexing of cost in Pharmacare. Nova Scotians didn't vote for that. Nova Scotians thought when they were voting for this government that they would protect those things, yet they raised these fees and what they said was the rationale for raising those fees was that the prices were going up but, in reality, the prices stabilized. Why are they increasing fees there? Mr. Speaker, there are more questions than answers with this government.

Another one where we talk about - and for the last few days we have had some employees of Sysco who were in our gallery for a few days, they are not here today, wanting to know answers about their future. There is nothing in real terms in this bill to help them. The Minister of Finance put $378 million from the debt of Sysco on the books which I think was the proper thing to do. If that debt is there, that is where it should be. Where I disagree with the minister is that he put it down there as one large figure for environmental remediation and pensions. What he should have done, if he was going to do that, is to put one sum here that would show what the environmental clean-up costs would be and the other costs would show what the pension costs will be, for two obvious reasons. First of all, they are two different styles of debt. The other thing would be that you would then be able to factor out what he is doing here. You would be able to go and ask questions - where are your figures; where do you get your figures for environmental remediation. It would also help the steelworkers who are now at the table with this very government, trying to bang out a deal on the pension plan. They would know the pot of money they are dealing with.

Many people will tell you that there is a 30 year pension plan in there and there are many steelworkers who have 30 years at that plant. The problem is that because of the ups and downs of that business, there are very few people who actually have 30 actual years worked in that plant. They may have 30 years of seniority in there but actual working time, for most of them, are the high teens, low 20's, so you have a gap there. So they are not actually eligible for a full 30 year pension. These are the things that had they known what pot of money they were dealing with, well maybe then they could go and better hammer out a deal. Whoever comes in behind them, they are going to operate that mill. They have to know the size of the workforce they are going to inherit and any costs they are going to inherit. If

[Page 5720]

they are going to inherit the pension liabilities, if they are going to incur any of the clean-up liabilities, environmental liabilities, I think that is important.

So I think what the Minister of Finance should have clearly done, as opposed to just putting $378 million for Sysco on the books he should have had the openness to break those figures out. So, we, as legislators, and the rest of Nova Scotians, could have really understood where it was going. It is the refrain that we often we hear from that side about go ferret it out. It is one of those things we have to ferret out, but it goes back to another question of mine, Mr. Speaker, that is, again, you are playing with people's lives here. You are talking about people who say, look. I just want to get on with my life. I know that if I could have a pension I could live on, I could probably move my life forward.

The government has decided to take a stand and say, no, we are going to play hard ball negotiations with you, rather than say, here is the money, here is the size of the pie, you guys cut it up. Because, obviously, they know what they are going to put in there, because one has to believe the figures of $378 million, if that is in the budget, then they have got to use a rationale to arrive at that. So where is it? Where is that call? Where is that order, if you will, of how they determined how much is for environmental clean-up and how much is for pensions? That is what we are looking for here.

We have talked about people without work. What is going to happen to people who will be without work? That is what this budget does. This budget puts people out of work. So what are we going to do with these people? There are going to be teachers laid off. There are nurses laid off. There are going to be civil servants laid off. So let's say, conservatively, that there are 1,500 more people added to the unemployment lines in this province.

AN HON. MEMBER: Very conservative.

MR. CORBETT: Very conservative, Mr. Speaker. I am being generous to them. But what I am saying, what happens there? We all know that when you lose a job, not just one job is lost. So with that 1,500, it is not hard to extrapolate that out to say that there are 4,500 job losses. Say if each one of those other jobs, there are two more tied to that. So now we could conceivably have 4,500 people unemployed in this province. Where are we going to put them to work? They are going to be in areas of high unemployment again. If we start cutting jobs in rural areas of Nova Scotia, we have seen it, we have seen jobs losses with the speciality folks, inspectors and so on, in the Department of Agriculture. Most of those are in rural areas. There is not a whole lot of work for those who go. So what happens, maybe, if they are lucky, they come here. They move here to metro and some kind of super company will hire them and then they will be dispensed, from time to time, back to firms in the Valley and in other parts of the province to do inspections and so on.

[Page 5721]

What we have lost here, we have lost two things. We have lost the hands-on person for the Department of Agriculture as a specialist. We have now, to the farmer, he or she has now incurred a cost to get this private sector person in here and what we have lost, probably, worst of all, is a resident from that rural community, a pressure that should have not to be borne by that community. This is a direct result of government's action and how it spends its money. We can't afford, in rural Nova Scotia to lose jobs. It is hard enough when the government is telling us to wait a few years, that the economy will turn around. Not only are we seeing that the economy in those areas are stagnant, they are moving down because we are losing valuable people. Now we will lose farm specialists, we will lose medical support staff out of those communities, we will lose teachers, we will lose librarians, we will lose custodial people, we will lose bus drivers. All these people will move out of those communities.

[1:45 p.m.]

What happens in those communities, Mr. Speaker, when stuff like that happens? Well, one of the major things that happens is, because it is rural, there is no rapid transit, there no transit infrastructure per se, so everyone depends on their personal automobile to get from here to there. So what happens? There are fewer people, the municipality has fewer tax dollars, then all of a sudden what happens is, we have problems with our highway systems. The roads come into disrepair. I would suspect the Minister of Transportation would agree with me that today we have extreme problems in some of our counties as it relates to our highway system. And it will get worse.

I hear someone holler, just spend more money. Now, we could get into a debate about taxation, but I would not want to leave the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank too far in the dust. What he doesn't understand for some reason, if you lose jobs, you lose revenue. If people are not working and are not contributing to the economy, you lose revenue. I think even someone of the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank's level can understand that. I think that goes without saying. He had a career in real estate at one time, and he understands that. I am sure there are some markets that are easier to sell a house in than others. I would say that if he was trying to sell a piece of real estate in Halifax County, it would be a heck of a lot of easier than selling it in Cape Breton County. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: Would you buy a house from that man?

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: You can't buy one with post-dated cheques.

MR. CORBETT: No. Mr. Speaker, he is telling them you can't buy one with post-dated cheques. You can't buy them on promises either, and this is what I am trying to get through to their heads. What does he expect the residents of this province to live on? On their cheap dreams? The member for Sackville-Beaver Bank laughs. I tell you what. I would like to see that member come to New Waterford. Come to Reserve. Come to Dominion. Come to North

[Page 5722]

Sydney, Sydney Mines, Glace Bay. Get them to see the real side of poverty. A poverty that his Party played a large role in creating. He talks about you can't buy stuff on a promisory note. I would say to him that former Premiers of his Party did just that to Cape Breton. So don't put the blame on the people of today. I would ask him to proportion his blame out fairly. He doesn't agree with that, and I guess that is a lot of our problem.

Let's look at education. We had a fiasco shortly after the introduction of the budget of what was really in the Education envelope. We were told the day of the budget that there were 400 teachers who were going to retire in this province and that was it, and as we ferreted through the document everybody realized that that was a fallacy, that it was not going to happen, but no, this government stuck to it and then when they saw the real numbers . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: The member for Yarmouth believed it.

MR. CORBETT: You know, I think sometimes he flies his plane a little too high and air gets thin out there and I don't blame him for believing that, but we had that and the saying, the ink wasn't dry on that document", when they realized the numbers were wrong. But did they go and say to Nova Scotians, whoops, we made a mistake? It was not that way, Mr. Speaker. They went and played three-card monte with most Nova Scotians, until time almost ran out on them and then they had to go to a slush find to cut a deal with the school boards.

What did they do? They made a deal and, yes, lo and behold, there are going to be teacher lay-offs. We were told there were no teacher lay-offs. Well, there are going to be teacher lay-offs, but what else do we have here, Mr. Speaker? We have another round of lay-offs that we don't even know about yet. What will that involve? It will involve librarians; it will involve janitorial staff; it will involve bus drivers, cleaners, right down the line. Secretaries, all the way down the line. So we don't know when this is going to happen and the devastation that it is going to cause. We probably will not really know it until the children go back to school in September.

AN HON. MEMBER: My wife is a librarian, is she going to get . . .

MR. CORBETT: I don't know. (Interruption) Do you know what? That is a glimmer of hope, Mr. Speaker. The member for Yarmouth says it may not be as bad. Do you know what? I would hope it isn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe it is fear from you people . . .

MR. CORBETT: I would hope that that is all it is, fear from this side, but we have proven it, that when they said there would be no lay-offs, there are going to be lay-offs. Were we wrong? They said no lay-offs; we said lay-offs. Are there lay-offs? Yes, there are lay-offs. There are lay-offs of teachers.

[Page 5723]

Mr. Speaker, it is frustrating to deal with this government when they talk about their program cuts and how they have to be done. It is like the Minister of Justice cutting money from Tearmann House and using the term - what is it? - value for dollar. How do you extract that value for dollar? Is it we have only saved two lives when we thought we would save four lives? Is that what that means? Does that mean that the women and the spouses in that part of the province don't deserve protection? It strikes me as odd, from the same minister, to do these two things; to take money from a woman's shelter and not protect them from spousal abuse, yet the same government has no problems in spending large sums of money fighting a gun control bill. That makes no sense, because if you look at family violence that involved shootings, most of these are done by long guns. So what part of justice is the Justice Minister on?

Mr. Speaker, it is important that we protect the people in our society; it is important that people who are in abusive situations feel they have a safe place to go. That is extremely important, but if we are telling them that we are going to quantify your safety, then we are sending the wrong message. It is extremely important that this province understands that, that the people in this province understand that. Are we getting value for our dollar when we see protesters out in front of this building protesting, and we see many police called here for the safety - and I don't know whose safety they are called for, I don't feel threatened by it. Is that value for dollar? Is that one of the ideas that the Minister of Justice says that is value for dollar? The women Guysborough, Pictou and Antigonish Counties, $52,000, is that getting value for dollar? I don't know. That baffles me. I don't understand. It is another one of those things where the government throws a number out and will not stay and qualify it. Why not, Mr. Speaker? Why throw the whole program out. If there are problems with the program, I agree with a government that will act to tighten up the rules, but to say we weren't getting value for our dollar and, therefore, it is gone is like (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I have talked somewhat about the Minister of Justice. I disagree with his position on Tearmann House and how he pulled back funding and I don't think explained it properly to Nova Scotians. We are worse off for it, we are not better off by getting rid of programs like that. Again, who does that affect? By and large, it affects the poor in this province that have no voice at that Cabinet table. They are seen as something to be tolerated but not helped. When you see things come out of this government, it is easy to shake money loose for a large corporation, but it is not so easy to shake money loose for the poor and say how we can spend that money and help them build up and become, if you want to use the term, productive. It just doesn't make sense. We should be helping these people instead of putting road blocks in their way.

Back in the 1930's and 1940's, we had communities in this province that took the challenge and with some initiative and help from the governments moved a lot forward. I think in terms of the credit union and co-op movements in the Reserve area, where it was the first housing co-op in this country. There were people there who were lucky to have a job, but banks saw them, as this government sees people of poverty today, as a bad credit risk. So,

[Page 5724]

what they did, they banded together and, through their collective nature, started building what is referred to in Cape Breton as co-op homes. There are co-op homes throughout the province, indeed, throughout the country now. But they were the first ones. It was their pride in community, their, as this government would have you think, thinking outside the box idea and moving it forward. They have helped themselves. Yet, do they get a platter from the government on this? No, Mr. Speaker, they get kicked.

These people should be applauded. It is hard, Mr. Speaker, when you continuously take a group and beat them down. How can they have confidence in your province? If you don't have confidence in your elected officials, that has a spiralling effect, and one of them is you don't have confidence in your economy.

[2:00 p.m.]

Members opposite like to say about us being the Opposition and being negative all the time, well, I certainly would love to be more optimistic but what is even worse is that the government itself is sending out all the wrong signals. I have talked to physicians in Cape Breton and some were involved with recruitment. They are saying, goodness gracious, how can we try to attract physicians to our area if every time you pick up a newspaper or see a television news show the province is telling you we can't afford them. That is the message they are getting. They are not getting a message to come to Nova Scotia, we will look after you, it is a good place for a physician to open a practice and start a family and get involved with the community. Quite the opposite, they are getting a message from this government, go west, young man, because this is not the place for you. (Interruptions) Well, I hear from across the way that is their message as well, Mr. Speaker, that is the words of recruiting physicians. That is what recruiting physicians telling me that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name one.

MR. CORBETT: Dr. Naqvi.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name two.

MR. CORBETT: Dr. MacDonald. Do you want me to name three? Dr. Lynk. Do you want me to name four?

Mr. Speaker, it is tremendous, isn't it, how they always like to kick on the poor. There are people in my riding who get along fairly well and they are hardworking but there are a lot of people in and around my community who are extremely poor. Do you know what? I wouldn't trade the people in my constituency for 50 other constituencies because they are good people.

[Page 5725]

I look over here and I see the member for Cape Breton Nova. We know a lot of the same people. The member and I have known each other since the late 1960's.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is your buddy?

MR. CORBETT: Well, we are not buddies, we disagree vehemently on things. I don't mind saying that, Mr. Speaker. I will tell you something, as much as I may disagree with that man from time to time, and even the way he may treat me, but I will say this much about the member for Cape Breton Nova, that he has the affection of his constituents. He and I are at loggerheads over many things; we write opposite columns in the newspaper and we tear each other apart from time to time, but the idea is that although I may disagree with him, if you go to that member's riding, they say he is there for them. That is the part that I think when we are up here talking about the poor, that it is lost over there from time to time. They are not out with them, they don't see day to day. That is why they are asking the poor to carry the burden of their financial mismanagements for years past.

What are we going to do with them? Tell me substantive things that came out of this budget that are going to help the poor today. Silence. This is unbelievable. So what we are saying is look, we don't feel we have to be on the side of the folks from Tearmann House, we don't have to be up-front with the employees of the Sydney Steel Corporation, we don't have to be up-front and be there for people who are in receipt of community services, we don't have to be up-front when it comes to economic development in this province. So we have all kinds of problems here. What they are saying is look, we are going to put you in for a two year roller-coaster ride, so hang on tight. So the least poorest of the poor will not have the advantage of a decent education, a health care system in shambles, no idea of any kind of government participation and economy to help them get a job.

So what are we going to do? What are we saying to these people? What message are you sending out when you talk about giving tax breaks to the Sobeys and not helping the poor. That is fundamentally wrong. What we are going to do to really help the poor, to really help pull them up by their boot straps - I think that is what the Minister of Economic Development said about people last winter, let them pull themselves up by the boot straps - is we are going to put forward the red tape commission.

Mr. Speaker, if I was on that red tape commission, I would be loosening my tie, because I don't know what they are going to do. If it is going to be a committee of the House, why wouldn't it be a full committee of the House. We had a committee on the WCB two years ago and it was reflective of all Parties. Does it have to be equal numbers? No, but it should be reflective of all Parties. Yet, what this government decided to do was take a position and say, that is it. All we want to hear, all we want this interpreted is our way. We would not like to have another group of MLAs on this committee who may write a dissenting opinion, who may give a minority view of what they really heard. Yet, this government seems to be quite satisfied with the make-up of that committee. I don't think, when Nova Scotians

[Page 5726]

voted last summer, that is what they voted for. They voted for fairness and they didn't get it. They voted what they expected, what they expected was people who would go out and listen. What they got is four Tory hacks and that is it. (Interruption) I am talking about the poor.

Mr. Speaker, they talk about the future. The future is now, for a lot of people, the future is not two years down the road. The future isn't waiting for some concocted document by the Tory Party to show them that their books are balanced. It is today, for a lot of people. It is today, lining up in front of Hope Cottage; it is today, going to Loaves and Fishes in Sydney; it is today, going to the Glace Bay Food Bank; it is today, for those four steelworkers who don't know their future because this government won't deal with their complaints in a forthright manner. The future is today. We do not have the advantage of two to three years for these poor people. We don't have the future for these people.

It is simply amazing how these members across the way will laugh and ridicule people who work in the steel plant. They are over there blaming steelworkers, Mr. Speaker, for a debt. Did the steelworkers negotiate the contract with Tippins? No. You know who negotiated that contract? John MacLennan Buchanan negotiated that contract. He negotiated that contract that was spent on an electric arc furnace, Mr. Speaker. The shame of those backbench members over there when you - look, he is waving bye, he and the Premier must be taking his son to school now.

Mr. Speaker, it is a serious problem and it is fair game for anybody in this House to chide other members when they are up and that is fair - it is more than fair, actually - it keeps them honest. But to continuously say that these problems aren't out there, that the only deficit they have to tackle is the financial deficit is wrong. We have to go out there. To ignore the fact that we have this problem is ludicrous and it is hurtful. We have had their own committee set up by Volunteer Planning that highlighted these very problems but they refused to attack them. They refused to get rid of them as a blight on this province. What they would rather do is further punish them. I think if we were to seriously try to rebound economically in this province, and it is in the rural areas and indeed Cape Breton, areas like southwestern Nova Scotia, industrial Cape Breton. We are extremely fortunate in a section of Cape Breton, the Point Tupper area, because of investments by Stora Enso and a few others that the economy is very well. But it is to move that out.

It is similar to why aren't we pushing to have natural gas lines put in Cape Breton as a priority, and in other rural areas? That would give them the same advantage, in an economic fuel-based area, the same way as other parts of this province. Why can't we do that? That would be a small way of saying to those people that, look, we see your plight. We understand that you need a hand-up, not a handout, Mr. Speaker. This is what we are talking about. We are not talking about helping one end of the province by hurting another.

[Page 5727]

We want, I think, an even distribution for everybody and I think with that type of philosophy it would help this whole province to grow. Then we would be able to see that if we had people working, and therefore the province is collecting revenue, we could start investing in buildings. We have talked to the Minister of Education about some of the deteriorating aspects of some of the schools. If we had everybody in this province fully participating, the best they can, to the economy, we would be able to invest maybe more in helping those areas and that is what we want. We would like to see a day where we are not here arguing about the Community Services budget because it is so small because we have so many people out there actively engaged in the workforce. That is what our desire is. I think, in a large way, that is what most Nova Scotians want but we are not going to get there in any great fashion or any direct fashion if we are telling those groups that you have to lag behind because asking them to wait two years is more than two years for them. They are behind now. Why would you do that to them? Why would this government not try to help them in a more tangible way today? Why can't we do that? Why does this budget, and through it this Financial Measures (2000) Bill, Bill No. 46, why does it have to attack them and not help them? I think we need these people participating.

Volunteer Planning talked about lifetime learning, Mr. Speaker. Why aren't we helping these people to get out there and reinvigorate themselves with new education? We are hoping to see that in this budget. There was some money spent in the community college system and in our post-secondary.

[2:15 p.m.]

I think we have to realize that we have a real problem here if we don't act on it soon. We have a problem of not only two economies, but two classes of Nova Scotians - the haves and the have nots, Mr. Speaker, and that is to nobody's advantage. What we have to do is come up with new ideas. What we have seen, so far, in the short life of this government, is the same old ideas. There are no new ideas. If there were new ideas in moving this province forward - there is going to be resistance. If you are talking about a big change, there is going to be resistance there. Because, by and large, people are in comfort zones and don't want any great shifts too quickly in their lives. We have to change that, that there is nothing new coming from this government. There is not a thing in this document that helps the disadvantaged in this province.

Why can't they do that? They tell us about new ideas and they are the government. They are the ones that should be leading the way. But, yet, they put forward a same old, same old style document, Mr. Speaker, one that does very little, or nothing at all, I should say, to help the disadvantaged in this province. What are we going to do? What can you do, as a government, to help these people?

[Page 5728]

Mr. Speaker, there is a saying that the reason democracy works is not because majorities win, but minorities agree to be governed by them. We believe that and, therefore, we are willing and we were. You accept what happens in the democratic process, but when you see it and you see that they are not taking the proper road, to steal a line from the Minister of Finance, the road less taken, when I see it, I realize why no one took the road because there is no help here. There is no help for a lot of people. There is a whole gap here, much larger then this government would even consider thinking about who they are hurting.

Mr. Speaker, in wrapping up, I want to say to you that I hope that this government will see the error of its ways and realize that you have got to help the poor and you can't hurt them anymore. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this afternoon to address Bill No. 46. This is a massive bill. It is as thick as a book. It runs 98 pages, containing 100 clauses in 20 parts. These 20 parts, and I think, at this stage of the bill, I can read them out because we are dealing with the principle of the bill and the principle of the bill is identified in the topic of each of its 20 parts added together.

Now, the 20 parts are as follows: 19 of them amend existing Statutes of the province, or repeal them, and the 20th part gives effective dates for those 19 measures to take effect. The first part deals with the Alcohol and Gaming Authority and proposes to abolish it. The second part deals with the Assessment Act; the third with the Corrections Act; the fourth with the Emergency "911" Act; the fifth with the Equity Tax Credit Act; the sixth with the Expenditure Control Act, which is repealed; the seventh section deals with the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission; the eight with the Home Ownership Savings Plan (Nova Scotia) Act; the ninth with the Income Tax Act; the 10th with the Probate Act; the 11th section deals with the Provincial Finance Act; the 12th section deals with the Senior Citizens' Financial Aid Act; the 13th section deals with the Stock Savings Plan Act; the 14th with the Summary Proceedings Act; the 15th section amends the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act; the 16th section amends the Trade Union Act; the 17th amends the Venture Corporations Act; the 18th section amends the Victims' Rights and Services Act; and the 19th section amends the Workers' Compensation Act.

This bill then is a virtual encyclopaedia of the legislation of Nova Scotia, 19 important portions of which it proposes to amend or to repeal. This is a massive bill that puts together what normally I think would be 19 separate bills under one cover. One of these sections, Part IX, dealing with the Income Tax Act, is 76 pages long, it runs from Page 5 to Page 81 of the 99 pages of legislation that have been tabled by the Minister of Finance. These are technical amendments, and then 59 pages of some of the most complex and algebraic formulae dealing with the Provincial Income Tax Act, and we have here, in addressing the bill in principle on second reading, one hour to try to deal with all of that; obviously, you can't.

[Page 5729]

An intelligent dissertation on the principle of each of those 19 different parts would in my view probably require 19 hours, one per part. We don't have it. I think that the putting together of so much legislative change in one package is an attempt to try to circumvent the proper examination of proposed new legislation by this Legislature. The government, I think, is attempting to get a great deal through here in one gulp, by denying the opportunity for proper examination of each of these parts.

It is true that the House, at a later time, if the bill passes on second reading, will debate this clause by clause, and each of the 99 sections will have to be voted on, one by one, and debated in a forum in which there is no time limit. But there is also the concept, Mr. Speaker - and I think you will be aware of this - of what is called legislation by exhaustion. It means to package to your legislation in such a way that the members of the House will become physically exhausted and unable to consider it, because their minds will have become boggled, their minds will have become inoperative.

Through those kinds of methods, through those techniques, a government can get through stuff that otherwise wouldn't get through. I think that is not to be commended. I think despicable is probably a tad on the unparliamentary side, but the thought can be in the brain although it may not be expressed openly with the mouth. I don't think too much of that. I am not favourably impressed by that approach. It doesn't show to me that this government is on the up and up; it doesn't.

This government came to power with heady visions that were dangled before the electorate of Nova Scotia, put us in and we will set it right. We know of such simplified versions of the gospel, as were contained in this postcard stuffed into every mailbox in the riding of Halifax Citadel, I believe it is, the south end of Halifax in any event. (Interruptions) He is over there parroting away, his turn will come. If he wants to join the debate as soon as I sit down, he can get up and he can go for an hour. Right now, I have floor. This postcard stuffed into every mailbox in south end Halifax stated that a Tory Government, if elected, would among other things, protect our health care system. It is right there in black and white. A Tory Government would protect our health care system. That is packaged into the broader context of doing that by shutting down Sydney Steel. Nonetheless, they pledged to protect our health care system.

Now, the ordinary meaning of that phrase to most people would be that they were going to protect our hospitals and our health care workers. Just a few moments ago, we saw some of them out there at the entrance to the building. They certainly didn't feel this government was protecting our health care system. They felt this government was destroying our health care system.

That is just an example of how this government is governing, and this bill is another example, because rather than introducing this legislation in parts or in separate bills so that we could debate each of these provisions separately and have some discussion as to their

[Page 5730]

impact on the overall shape of government in this province, instead all 19 are put together as one package and you are told you have to speak to the principle of the bill, but no one will identify what that principle is. It is a conglomerate. It is a mishmash of 19 different Statutes.

Look for example at Part X1X, the Workers' Compensation Act. I suppose some critics with this session of the House when it is over will say no legislation was passed during this session to amend the Workers' Compensation Act. It wasn't even looked at. But the fact is the Workers' Compensation Act is amended by the this bill. It is buried in here on Page 97 of 99 pages. And there is a clause here that requires the budget of the Workers' Advisers Program to be paid for from the accident fund instead of from the budget of the Department of Labour. That change, Mr. Speaker, is going to have a very significant impact on the accident fund. Those of us who know anything about Workers' Compensation know that.

I suggest to you, sir, that had a bill been introduced here that would amend the Workers' Compensation Act to transfer the costs of the Workers' Advisers Program from the Department of Labour estimate to the accident fund of the Workers' Compensation Board as a separate bill, as a separate measure, that bill would have received considerable attention and debate and representation. Interested groups would have been asked to be heard at the Law Amendments Committee. But buried as it is, four lines in a bill of 99 pages, it is obvious that the government intends to try to slip that through without having it examined. People will be preoccupied with the broader picture and will forget that a part of this bill does what I have just stated to the Workers' Compensation program.

Now, I know that when the Russell MacLellan Government was in power, I would say that more time was spent on the Workers' Compensation Act than any other Statute in the province. Certainly major attention and consideration was given to addressing that particular piece of legislation. Yet, this particular change was not recommended by the all-Party committee that examined the Workers' Compensation Act and program in depth, to my knowledge. I don't know the rationale, the reason, the financial ramifications. They haven't been presented or explained because of the burying of this important change in the Workers' Compensation Program in so massive a bill in hopes that it will not be spotted there and so nobody will notice.

Then later on, when it is found that perhaps the accident fund is depleted, or that there isn't enough money available to pay benefits out to injured workers because of this new charge against the accident fund, or that employer premiums have been increased to cover these new and additional costs, and so employers in Nova Scotia, small fishermen and others who are covered under workers' compensation and have to pay premiums, find themselves having to pay much more, and when small contractors find that their backhoe has been repossessed because they could not afford to pay the new and higher workers' compensation premium, they will be told, oh, but that was passed by the Legislature. It got right through when they passed Bill No. 46.

[Page 5731]

Mr. Speaker, this is not the kind of approach that I favour. I think the Workers' Compensation Act - and I am just taking this as an example of what is wrong with this bill, it is not the whole case against the bill at all, it is only a small part, a small slice of the pie, but I suggest to you that this isn't the proper way to legislate on workers' compensation - is of sufficient importance that it ought to be addressed on its own merits and amended by way of a separate piece of legislation here in this House.

That is just one example. There are many other changes here, the Victims' Rights and Services Act, there are, oh, so many more. Had I more time and had I done more research on these matters before getting up to address the House this afternoon, I might have prepared some in-depth remarks, for example, on the impact of this legislation on the Probate Act or the impact of this legislation on many other programs and proposals. That may come when we get down to the clause by clause, if they want to go the whole nine yards and try to get this bill passed before we rise for the summer. Perhaps the summer may fade into the winter at that rate.

[2:30 p.m.]

I want to say this about the bill as a whole; this bill is introduced, in my view, on some false premises. This bill is introduced on the notion that there exists a massive financial haemorrhage in Nova Scotia, a crisis of unbounded and unprecedented magnitude which this government, in their role as surgeons and physicians, are going to prescribe the correct medicine for and cure, painful as that cure may be. That whole line of reasoning, Mr. Speaker, is absurd. The finances of Nova Scotia are not nearly as bad as the group opposite pretends. As proof of that I would hold out to you the content of the budget tabled in this House last year by the honourable Don Downe, Minister of Finance. A confident budget, an expansionary budget, a budget that was in balance, a budget that did not provide for any cuts or lay-offs, closures, cancellations, none. It was an expansionary program; we were moving forward. Nova Scotia was going from good to better.

That was the outlook and I don't care what the members opposite want to say because they should be quiet for a moment and hear the truth, instead of listening to nonsense. That budget, and I know that we fell on that budget because of the perfidy of the New Democratic Party, stands in history as a proud document, as a reflection of our province that was on the way ahead. Had that government remained in power, and it would be in power to this day were it not for my friends to the left, we would in no way be faced with what we are faced with today. It is an artificial crisis, it is a manufactured crisis, a crisis that is manufactured for the perceived political needs of the Progressive Conservative Party. They think if they create pain now . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Give us a break.

[Page 5732]

MR. MACEWAN: Oh, we will give you a break in the next election when we annihilate you.

Mr. Speaker, they think that if they can somehow convince the public that there was some kind of a financial crisis from which they rescued the province, by first of all manufacturing the problem so that they can then "solve" the problem, then they might get re-elected when the next provincial election is held, so they can do it to the people all over again, do it again. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, they know the crisis they have manufactured is artificial and unreal; they know that the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance is a fudge-it budget; they know there is much greater federal assistance directly and immediately ahead for both health and education on a massive scale that will eliminate any need. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, they know. Just today it was on the front page of the National Post, certainly not a Liberal newspaper, the headline of today's National Post reads as follows; from Ottawa, "The Chrétien cabinet is preparing to offer billions of dollars in guaranteed new annual health care funding to the provinces . . . the annual $14-billion federal contribution to the provinces for health and education will have to be expanded by $5-billion in 2004, and by possibly as much as $10-billion several years later."

Mr. Speaker, could we have a little order, please? I can't shout over all that catcalling.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has requested more order. I do support the honourable member's request. Could we have a little more decorum in the Chamber, please.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling this newspaper article shortly but it reads as follows, "This pace of annual increases would suggest an extra $2-billion next year, increasing to $3.5-billion in 2003 . . . " Now it is well known to everybody apparently but this government that there is increased federal financial assistance for both education and health care on the way. It is also well known that the economy of Nova Scotia, which was doing much better under a Liberal Government but still is growing some, won't generate additional revenue if it is so depressed that everybody loses their job and so nobody pays any income tax or any other tax.

If they could only have maintained the course that was being pursued under our government, if they had only had the courage to have a little bit of confidence in the future, instead of to be overcome by total doom, gloom and pessimism, they could have held steady on the course that the MacLellan Government had set. They could have continued with the expansion in education rather than the massive cuts and closures and lay-offs and cutbacks. They could have supported health care in the way we were prepared to support health care, Mr. Speaker, and all would be well. Whenever I encounter those who are unhappy, whenever I receive letters or telephone calls of protest, I explain to those people that yes, I agree with

[Page 5733]

them, and do you know this crisis is so needless because all we had to do was keep the Russell MacLellan Government in power and all would be well.

But, Mr. Speaker, because of this artificial crisis and the perceived needs of the Tory Party over a four year program, they have caused much needless pain and distress to many Nova Scotians and aside from the technical complexities of the bill and the construction of the bill, which I object to, and is merging together too much under one cover to be dealt with at one meal. I also object to this bill because this bill implements the government's fiscal agenda and that agenda is wrong. That agenda has caused all kinds of people all kinds of trouble.

I recall explaining to the House, some days back, about my grandchildren who came home from school with blistered feet. I wondered why, after spending a day in school learning, were their feet blistered and the answer was that they hadn't been in school at all, all day, they had spent the whole day tramping the streets of the City of Sydney protesting against the cutbacks and closures imposed by this government on education. Mr. Speaker, when even young children are being radicalized by this government's reactionary policies, I think that that is wrong. I think that is a shame. When I was young, you didn't vote until you were 21 and you didn't think about politics very much until you were around about that age but I can tell you that every child in the classroom today, even in Grade Primary or Grade 1 or Grade 2 is thinking about politics because of this government. They may not fully understand our election system but they know that John Hamm is very bad. They may not fully understand about Party politics but they know that that group of people called Tories are not good. When young children and older people, nurses and teachers and all kinds of people are being traumatized by this artificial, needless . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Heartless.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . and heartless, yes, indeed, approach by this government.

Mr. Speaker, the government has, in my view, acted in a very cowardly way when they have declined to accept responsibility for the consequences of their own actions. Time and again we have been told that the teachers who received lay-off notices didn't get them from this government so they weren't real. If the government is entitled to say that the lay-off notices the teachers received weren't real, I think I am equally entitled to stand here in my place and say that the financial crisis that they precipitated isn't real either, at least it isn't really justified. It is an artificial thing that they created. My, my, it is not a new thing.

I remember reading in History about the hyper-inflation in Germany in the year 1923. That was created by the Government of Germany, there is no question about it. They simply turned on the printing presses and ran money as long as the presses would run right around the clock. Why was that? I will tell you why it was. This may not relate directly to the bill, but the Government of Germany had financed the First World War by internal borrowing, by

[Page 5734]

selling bonds to its own citizens and by enabling the printing presses to run around the clock, they could pay those bonds off and so emerged out of debt. Now that is a government that put its people to the wall, ruined them, for the sake of achieving its own financial goals and getting out of debt and having balanced books. It is certainly not a very good example for a government here in Nova Scotia to be following. At the same time, that is, in a sense, the type of approach that this government is taking. Because, to achieve artificial . . .

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I was wondering if the honourable member would entertain a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if that is a point of order, but considering it is my honourable friend, the member for Inverness, sure.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: I was just wondering if the honourable member, he was talking about all the problems that are happening with his area and I was thinking about the riding of Bras d'Or-Cape Breton and I was wondering, after the next federal election, if a lot of these problems that he is talking about might be fixed in the riding of Bras-d'Or-Cape Breton?

MR. MACEWAN: I have no idea. I don't have the power to foretell the future. I can only say, through you, sir, to that honourable member, that, yes, I hope so. But I don't know. But I do know that this government is needlessly causing pain and suffering to the people of Nova Scotia. We have had it said by them that the notices received of lay-offs by teachers and I suppose now, health care workers, aren't real and didn't count, because they weren't issued by the government.

I have here one such lay-off notice and it was very real to the person who received it. This person had not been particularly politically active in the past. It is a young woman in Sydney whose parents are well known to me, but who had not, I don't think, been actively involved in politics until now. But I can tell you, when she received this lay-off notice, she became actively involved in politics to the extent that it profoundly upset her. She profoundly thought that the government that she felt was responsible for it being issued was a bad government and that caused her to compare how things are now with how they were when Russell MacLellan was Premier. She said, my goodness. I wish you fellows were back in because things were much better back then. They weren't like they are now. To that extent, it may not be a very profound political analysis. It may not have the depth of Aristotle or, perhaps, the perspective of Socrates but, certainly, it is valid enough for that person. I can be quite certain that when the next election comes, I will have her support.

[Page 5735]

I want to read a bit from this letter, Mr. Speaker, and then I propose to table it. It is addressed to Lynn Crawford of 86 Hankard Street, Sydney. It is from Dr. John Hayes MacNeil, superintendent. It is on the letterhead of the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board and it reads, "Re: Termination of Your Probationary Contract" It states, "We regret to inform you that the School Board, due to adverse circumstances beyond its control, must terminate your probationary contract on July 31, 2000. This letter is the notice required to be given to you under Section . . . ", such and such, " . . . of the Education Act . . ." It goes on to state, "If possible . . . we would appreciate if you would advise . . .". I am not going to get into all the details. I will table it so that anybody who wants to read the whole thing can read it, but it concludes, "The Board regrets that it is necessary to take this action."

The lady who received that did not believe that the school board was responsible for that letter. It clearly stated that it was due to adverse financial circumstances beyond its control. What were those adverse financial circumstances? It was the news that that school board had received from this Minister of Education, that their financial allocation for the upcoming school term would be drastically reduced. That is what it was. Therefore, she believes, because she is an intelligent person, that the culprit responsible for this notice of termination was not the school board, was not the superintendent of schools, but rather was the Minister of Education and the Tory Government headed by Premier John Hamm. Let me table this letter for honourable members who want to see it. It is just a sample, I have others, but that is the type of letter that has gone out as a result of the financial policies of this government which are contained in Bill No. 46.

[2:45 p.m.]

Now health care workers are receiving similar notices and I suppose they, too, will be told that it is not real and that only administration will be affected. Mr. Speaker, if the cuts to the school boards had been a conditional cut that had to be applied to administration and could not be applied to anything else, then perhaps you could believe their yarn, but when they did not do that, they simply advised school boards, the amount of money you will be receiving next term will be reduced from your present allotment to a smaller number without any conditions, without stating that the cuts have to be applied in the field of science education, or in the field of physical education, or in the field of administration, or guidance counselling, or whatever it might be, remedial reading services, it meant that the cuts would be imposed at the front-line level. That is what it meant, that the crosswalk guards, the school bus drivers, the custodial people, the janitorial people and the front-line teachers will be the ones . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

[Page 5736]

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member permit a question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain another question?

MR. MACEWAN: I will take one more, but if it is irrelevant, I will not answer it.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, through you, could the honourable member tell this House if the school board he is talking about is the same school board that provided a Cape Breton Regional councillor, who is a school teacher as well, who earns $59,000 a year according to this news article, provided him with 50 per cent of his time off school to do that volunteer job? Could he tell us, is that the same Mr. Hayes and the same school board that did that?

MR. MACEWAN: I am not going to answer that kind of a provocative, nonsense question. That certainly is a separate issue from what I am discussing and in no way relates to the principle of Bill No. 46. Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to accept any further Tory interventions in the guise of points of order or questions.

MR. SPEAKER: Perhaps the honourable member has a point. We should stick exclusively with the principle of the bill in second reading.

MR. MACEWAN: The principle of the bill is a very hard thing to define, Mr. Speaker. The title is An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, but you have to then go beyond that, what financial measures, and the financial measures are the 19 that I have enumerated. Those are the principles I guess of the bill. It is a bill that amends the Alcohol and Gaming Authority, Assessment Act, Corrections Act, Emergency "911" Act, the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission, the Senior Citizens' Financial Aid, the Stock Savings Act, the Trade Union Act, and so on and so forth.

In a broader sense, Mr. Speaker, and that is what I have been addressing in the last number of remarks, the principle of the bill is the implementation of the government's fiscal agenda because that is what the bill does. It is the bill that is needed to fully flesh out the budget. We know that the Appropriations Act has already been carried by the House and it provides for the expenditure of certain sums of money, department by department, but it goes no further, but those changes to the Statutes that are needed to implement the terms of the Appropriations Act are what would be contained in Bill No. 46. So to that extent it is a direct extension of the budget and I think, therefore, those matters that are of a budgetary nature and that relate to the budget could safely and reasonably be considered to be part of the principle of the bill. The bill is not introduced in isolation. It is part of the government's fiscal agenda package.

[Page 5737]

As I have explained before, Mr. Speaker, and notwithstanding what I have just said, it is not a bill that has to be passed at this spring session of the Legislature because it is assumed by the House having passed the budget and the Appropriations Act that the fiscal measures of the budget required by way of legislative change, well, perhaps are not carried, but are going to be carried. They are as good as carried, perhaps. Governments in the past have proceeded, as this government did last year, to introduce a budget and then to wait some time before actually implementing the legislative changes needed to fully make it operational.

Whether the government here intends to do that or not, we don't know, because they call the agenda day by day, and they could, tomorrow, move that the House rise and not meet again until called by the Speaker, and that might be in October or November. They have that option open to them, but if they want to stay here day by day and try to get this legislation through, they are going to have to listen to reasonable submissions, both on the principle of the bill and also on the clause by clause, if we get to that stage. We know that it won't happen immediately after we deal with it here in second reading, if it passes. We know there is the Law Amendments Committee that deals with it first and, I should think, considering all these different changes that the bill provides, there might be a fair number of groups and citizens who might want to make representations on this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: One would hope so.

MR. MACEWAN: One would expect so. Mr. Speaker, I will put it to you this way, if there isn't, then that is pretty clear indication that this government is trying to pull a fast one by putting so much legislation together under one cover.

I would be hopeful, for example, that those who are affected by the Workers' Compensation Act would want to be present; I would hope that they would want to be here. I know that I am not on the Law Amendments Committee but, if I was, I would certainly want to know how this impacts on the workers' compensation program. I would want to have the chairman of the board and the chief executive officer appear before the board and give their honest, candid judgement on how this change would affect operations, assessments, premiums, benefits, and all those other aspects of workers' compensation that are important.

The Workers' Advisers Program, I don't know how many people know about it, but this bill is certainly about (Interruption) Oh, you would know about it for sure, but many others may not. It was one of the reforms brought in by the Liberal Party. It established throughout the province workers' advisers offices that work on a full-time basis helping people with problems with workers' compensation. That service didn't exist before. Prior to that time there had been workers' counsellors, and those workers' counsellors were designated by the Governor in Council and were usually lawyers in practice.

[Page 5738]

I know the Workers' Compensation Act provided for the appointment of anyone as a workers' counsellor, they didn't have to be a lawyer. The practice was that only practising barristers would be appointed and, up to a certain point in time, they were appointed on the basis of political favouritism - there is no question about that - both by Liberal and Conservative Governments. The Liberal Government of John Savage attempted to make it a more broadly based thing and said any lawyer who applies, who satisfies our standards, can be designated. So we had some NDPers who applied, like my good friend, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage - I say that in his capacity as a lawyer, not in his capacity as a member of this Legislature - he applied and he was designated and he became a workers' councillor.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: I was an adviser.

MR. MACEWAN: All right, he was an adviser. This office exists to help workers who have problems with workers' compensation. They have an office in Sydney, and they have an office in Halifax. I do not know where else throughout the province, but there are a number of them. How many offices are there? Two. All right. There is one in Sydney and one in Halifax. I have been to those offices. The one in Sydney has a full-time staff of three: one a lawyer; the other two, former legal secretaries, two lawyers who were workers' counsellors; and they have a support staff of secretarial and clerical employees. The office is in the City Hall building, the Civic Centre on the Esplanade, and I would imagine that the rent there for the quarters they occupy is substantial. I don't know how much; it might be $1,000 or more per month. I would imagine that the total cost of the budget I could easily look up in the estimates for the Department of Labour, because that is where they have been until now.

Mr. Speaker, what I am trying to say here is that probably the total cost of running that program for the year might be $1 million, or something in that range. I just say that as a ballpark estimate. Whatever it might be, this bill will take those costs, take them off the Department of Labour that has been paying them up until now, and will transfer them over to the accident fund, which is a pool of money out of which the workers' compensation program operates. So it has an additional lien, an additional burden on the accident fund. If something were to happen, maybe there were an explosion or an accident in which all kinds of people were badly hurt or killed, a disaster, that would have a significant financial impact on the accident fund. If there were a lot of injuries, if the accident rate goes up in a year as compared with the previous year, that increases the strain on the accident fund.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, will increase the strain on the accident fund by adding to it the costs of running the Workers' Advisers Program that they have not had to bear up to this point in time. This bill will have a significant impact on the workers' compensation program. The question is, how significant? The Minister of Labour, to my knowledge, I don't want to accuse him wrongly, but to my knowledge has never volunteered that information here in the House. He could have risen under a ministerial announcement to say, Mr. Speaker, I want to explain that the financial impact of Bill No. 46 on the workers' compensation program is as

[Page 5739]

follows, but that hasn't been volunteered. So we are flying blind. We don't know. Those of us who care a little bit about workers' compensation, and there are many in this House who are kind of interested in that program for one reason or another, we are going to want to know that.

It wouldn't be responsible, Mr. Speaker; we are elected by the people and paid by the taxpayers to do something up here, not just to sit and blindly vote yes, like the deputies did in the supreme Soviet. I don't want to get into that, but I have explained to the House from time to time how they were able to get all the legislation and the budget for the year passed in three days because they all voted yes together. There were 1,200 of them. None of them debated anything, and after the measure was presented to them, they all voted, Da. No Nyet, all Da. Well, we are not like that here. That is why I am reciting that little history. We are not like that here. We have to know what we are doing before we vote Da to anything. We don't know on this Workers' Compensation Act provision.

I seize on that section of the bill, Mr. Speaker, because I know more, perhaps, about workers' compensation than I do about some of these other matters that the bill deals with. I don't know very much about the Venture Corporations Act. I know that Clause 85 of the bill changes cross-references in the Venture Corporations Act that are necessary as a result of amendments to the Income Tax Act by this bill. I know that much, but what that actually means in terms of impact on those who are dealing with the Venture Corporations Act and depend on it for a livelihood or have some passing interest in it in some way, I have absolutely no idea. No one has provided me, as a member of this House, with any briefing note, with any backgrounder, with anything to explain how that section is going to be impacted on should this bill pass.

The Victims' Rights and Services Act, Clause 86, Section 11A(1)(h) is going to be repealed by this bill. Also Sections 11C and 11G, 11H(2), 11I, 11J, 11L(1) and 11L(3) are repealed. What does that do? What is the impact of that on the Victims' Rights and Services Act? Information like that, Mr. Speaker, should be provided to the members of the House as a part of any bill that is presented. I am certain that if I as a private member were to introduce a Private Member's Public Bill for the amendment of the Victims' Rights and Services Act to do those very things that are required under this legislation that are enumerated here, and that bill were called for second reading, I, as sponsor of the bill, would have to get up and explain what that meant, explain what that did, and give some backgrounder to the members of the House before I could expect them to vote on it, either one way or the other. But here we are just expected to vote yes, blindly. That is unacceptable.

We could go on through the bill, clause by clause, Lord knows there are enough of them. Part XVI deals with the Trade Union Act. Part XVI assigns, among other things, costs, arbitrations, and states that where an arbitration is conducted, it is to be paid for half by the employer and half by the trade union, and where the arbitration is conducted by an arbitration board, the cost of the member appointed by the employer and the trade union are to be paid

[Page 5740]

for by the employer and the trade union, respectively, and the employer and the trade union need to pay one-half of the expenses of the chairman of the arbitration board.

[3:00 p.m.]

Now I am not a specialist in that particular area. I haven't done any of that kind of work in the 30 years that I have been in Public Service. I have done an awful lot of workers' compensation, but I haven't done any arbitration under the Trade Union Act. So I don't know very much about it. I have no hands-on experience. But I know, again, that if I were to introduce a Private Member's Public Bill amending the Trade Union Act, stipulating that particular provision, that I would be expected to defend that to the House and to explain and justify and rationalize and cost-impact that particular measure before I could expect any voting support for it. Because of the procedure taken by the government in introducing this amendment to the Trade Union Act, that necessity has been eliminated, has been bypassed. They are able to slip this amendment to the Trade Union Act through without any knowledge by the parties affected, I suppose, that it even exists.

I know, Mr. Speaker, and you know, that if the Minister of Labour had stood up and said, Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce an amendment to the Trade Union Act, that that would have been picked up immediately by every employer organization, every trade union organization, every labour federation in the province, and they would have wanted a copy of the bill and they would have gone over it line by line and phrase by phrase, asking, how will this affect us? What is the impact of this? They would have lined up down at the Law Amendments Committee to make their representations and to enter their submissions. Instead, because this amendment to the Trade Union Act and others, I believe there are four clauses that amend the Trade Union Act.

Clause 83 clarifies how the expense of the Construction Industry Conciliation Board will be paid. Well, by golly, Mr. Speaker, if that had been introduced as a separate amendment to the Trade Union Act, you can be certain that every construction industry union and every construction industry employer or organization in Nova Scotia would have been alerted and would have had their representations down here. I hope what I am saying isn't making the honourable member for Halifax Needham feel so badly that she . . .


MR. MACEWAN: It is not that bad? It is tedious, I know, to listen to all this blather. (Interruption) It is not me? Okay. A little rest is good, Mr. Speaker. A little bit of afternoon rest is great. If I am speaking too loudly that people have to put their heads down and hold their ears, I will try to lower the level of the decibels somewhat. It is a little easier on the throat, too. (Interruption) Yes, that is a challenge, because I have about 15 yards to throw my voice to reach the backbenches down there.

[Page 5741]

AN HON. MEMBER: If you go down too low they will think it is Tony Bennett.

MR. MACEWAN: Heaven forbid, Mr. Speaker. In any event, I think I made my point about the Trade Union Act. Now we have another section over here that deals with the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act. My goodness, Lord knows that there has been enough done to antagonize the teachers of Nova Scotia so far by this government, but I suppose then that they have only just begun, because here they are amending the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act. I know how sensitive amending that Statute is. If an amendment to that particular Act had been introduced on its own legs, well, my goodness, there would have been a great deal of accountability required by the government before they could expect to get that particular measure put through. By burying it between Pages 94 and 95 of a 99 page conglomerate bill, they hope, again, to get the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act passed without controversy, just quietly and swept under the rug.

So you see, Mr. Speaker, there are very bad habits being developed by the government in the construction of this particular bill, bad habits in which they ought not to be encouraged. If they can get away with it on this occasion, Lord knows they will want to try it again and again. Well, we don't want to encourage them in bad habits. I want to say something about this bill that I probably shouldn't say, but I am going to say it anyway and that is Part XII, I support Part XII. It is only two lines, but I think it is very good. Part XII restores the seniors' financial aid to the seniors of this province and I think we all support that, even the member for Sackville-Cobequid agrees with me that that is very good. There are only two lines of the bill, only two lines of 99 pages. The rest of it I would have to withhold judgement on, although I am told there are some other parts here, too, that might be good. I don't know. There is so much here, it is hard to find the good parts. It is buried in so much bad.

In any event, Mr. Speaker, there are lengthy sections here that certainly are unexplained and the presumption is, by the government, that they can get this through by the legislation-by-exhaustion process and I think that is fundamentally wrong. I think it is a contravention of democracy, really. I know that it has been used in other jurisdictions. I know that Mike Harris has used it in Ontario to get stuff put through and I have heard some stories from Ontario and they don't sound like they have a very good system of government there these days.

The best kind of government, I should think that the model that one ought to strive toward would be insofar as possible the attaining of government by consensus. Now I can tell you this, that when we had the minority government of Premier Russell MacLellan, we had to govern by consensus. We couldn't go railroading stuff through. If there was a clear consensus against the measure, we didn't press it. We just let it sit on the back burner and life carried on. The universe continued to unfold as it should. The planets were still all in place. The daily rotations of the Earth continued without interruption. It was a good experience. I wish that experience could have been prolonged, Mr. Speaker, because I think we had the best government we ever had in the history of Nova Scotia and now we have the worst.

[Page 5742]

In any event, I believe that is the goal you ought to strive toward and I think that our education that we received in those days of the minority government, that lasted for 15 months, was a lesson that I haven't forgotten about the desirability of government by consensus, insofar as possible.

A question from Sackville (Interruption) Yes, I have two minutes. Do you want to ask me a question?


MR. MACEWAN: All right, now, in any event (Interruption) I said I would take no more from the Tories and I stick to that. (Laughter)

Now, I want to say this, Mr. Speaker, if you can attain that kind of consensus, then there will be far less strife, there will be far less agitation, there will be far less demonstrations. There might be somebody from time to time who is unhappy, I suppose there are occasions like that even in Heaven, but they will be far fewer than they have been under this confrontationist approach that this government takes of ramming stuff down the throats of the people whether they want it or not, of telling people we know what is good for you and you will accept this medicine whether it tastes good or not because we are going to do it and that is that. I think that is a very arrogant use of power by a government that does not have the majority support of the people of Nova Scotia. Even if they may have a majority of the seats in this House, my recollection is that they have less than 40 per cent of the support of the people of Nova Scotia at the last election and that does not give them carte blanche to do whatever they want. It certainly does not. They ought to have a certain measure of humility in their bearing, in their makeup, and to realize the fact that they are going to have to stand for election once again, and they are going to have to stand answerable and accountable for what they have done during the time they were in office.

I realize that all the component parts of a government's record over a four year time are pretty difficult to place together and put to the people at election time but it is the general impression the people go by and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker - I think I have about 10 minutes left so I am not going to be prolonged in these observations - that I think it would be in their own best interests if they weren't quite so aggressive and quite so anxious to ram through measures such as this bill demonstrates. My goodness, that bill seems to weigh, to me, about two pounds.

AN HON. MEMBER: P.E.I. phone book.

MR. MACEWAN: It is as big as the P.E.I. phone book indeed and here they are bringing in all that to be voted on at one vote here in the Legislature. No wonder the Opposition has sought to prolong the debate on the bill. If the Opposition had given them speedy second reading of this bill, we wouldn't be doing our job. We would be part of the

[Page 5743]

government and that is not what we are here to do. If the government was doing a good job, they would draw public support. This government is not doing a good job and therefore they are not drawing public support, they are drawing people down to the Legislature every day of the week but it is certainly not to support them.

I can say, sir, I think this bill is an opportunity for us, as members of the House, to focus on the shortcomings of this government and on its program and especially on its financial program because, as I said at the beginning, the financial crisis that this government has unleashed is so unnecessary, it is so unreal, it is caused by changing the accounting systems that have been used in the past that were acceptable to governments. In fact, actually the Liberal Government significantly changed the accounting systems that had been used by past Conservative Governments in Nova Scotia, as is well known. But they come in and suddenly they want to change the accounting system, the bookkeeping system to something, anything that finds there is trouble instead of good order. If they can find trouble, then they are happy and the more trouble, they can manufacture the happier they are. The deeper they can drive Nova Scotia into the hole by artificially contrived figures, the more they go out and the more they can lay-off. The more they can cut, the more they can shut down and the more they can close. Then they can pat themselves on the back, saying what good boys and girls we are, and expect that people are going to say yes, I want more of that kind of government, sign me up for the Tory Party, I want to support more of John Hamm and company as my government.

Well, that may be the world they live in, Mr. Speaker, but that is why I question what planet they are living on. As I stated the other night, I am not even convinced they are living on Neptune, I think they are all the way out to Pluto (Interruption) Well, Mars anyway.

Now, we have been holding up the bill by extended debate. I don't see the need for each speaker to necessarily go a whole 60 minutes. I think I have said all that I need to say. I think I am within about five minutes of where a full hour would have taken me; I started at 2:18 p.m. and it is now 3:12 p.m., six minutes from the hour. I trust the next speaker is ready to start out from the blocks because I think I have made the main points I want to make. If honourable members want to check further on the facts I have recited, I think I tabled a copy of today's National Post but, if I didn't, here is another copy where honourable members can read the good news on Page 1, that there is more federal funding coming for health care and education and that I am sure, will meet the need.

In the meantime, I say that we do have the resources that we could, especially when you are projecting deficits on the strength of programs that have not even commenced, such as a Sysco clean-up project, and I hope there is a Sysco clean-up project. That is a separate issue from keeping the plant operational because only a very small portion of the total former Sysco site is now occupied by actual productive works. The rest of it is a terrible site that has to be cleaned up and there should be money budgeted for that, but not in the sense of artificially creating a false deficit that isn't real, for a program that hasn't really been started up yet and

[Page 5744]

that I predict with confidence will not start up before the coming fiscal year. The one we are now in has ended, it would probably be more appropriately dealt with in the estimates for the coming fiscal year, beginning April 1, 2001.

In any event, they have used these devices to create a financial crisis, a perceived claimed financial crisis which I claim is false. I have already explained to the House a number of times about fudge-it budgets and noted that here was one, unquestionably, in British Columbia and I claim that there is also one here. I do say that the numbers tabled by Don Downe last year were real numbers and they were good numbers and they were numbers that created a sense of confidence and reflected optimism and an expansionary outlook which has been completely lost since this government gained office, and I regret that. For those reasons, Mr. Speaker, and many others that I don't have time to fully enumerate, I want to indicate that I will not be supporting this bill on second reading. I thank you.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I stayed in my seat for a moment there because I had some anticipation and at least some optimism that at least one of the silent - I was going to say something, I will rethink what I was going to say - that one of the silent members on the government benches was going to elevate themselves from their hindquarters in their chairs and enter into the debate.

See, Mr. Speaker, that isn't what happened, I want to say that I am, indeed, very flattered to know that there are so many members on the government benches who have decided to remain here this afternoon, to have the opportunity to listen to what I and members of the opposite benches have to say to them.

Mr. Speaker, when we have the opportunity to speak to the government members, one of the things that is obviously quite evident is that when we are speaking to them, we are often telling them what is in the legislation for the first time. It appears quite evident that not only do the backbenchers often not know what is happening with government legislation, but it has also been given the information that ministers weren't aware, when they were asked questions by the members of Opposition, that members of the front benches often, themselves, are unaware of information and details regarding their budgets and the implications of those budgets.

[3:15 p.m.]

Hopefully, through the informed discussion which is taking place on this piece of legislation, there will be an opportunity for members of the back benches to actually become better informed. It wouldn't be unheard of for members of the government bench to actually even be permitted to stand and to speak on the legislation. You, Mr. Speaker, have also been in this House and as a former Speaker, not just a Deputy Speaker - and I don't say just as a

[Page 5745]

Deputy Speaker in a derogatory term, but when you were the official Speaker of this House - I am sure that you remember government members of the day actually getting to speak on a piece of government legislation. That is something that I look forward to, whether it be the honourable member for Shelburne, the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, the honourable member for Kings West, any of these particular members opposite, I look forward to them.

Mr. Speaker, it is not as if you have to necessarily be an experienced speaker to be able to find something to talk about in this particular piece of legislation. You see people jogging down the street sometimes and they carry weights in their hands as they are jogging or walking fast, and that movement, carrying the weight, makes it even more of an exercise, even more of a workout. If you were to be carrying one of the copies of this piece of legislation in each of your hands, that would be like carrying a substantive weight in your hand, because what we have before us - not necessarily because of its content - is a weighty document.

I should correct myself there, because it is also a weighty document, not only in terms of the actual weight of it, but because of what it contains, and what it is setting up and what it is trying to do. That is really what we want to spend some time dealing with this afternoon, not only the fact that it is a 100 page piece of legislation, not only the fact that it has within it over 100 clauses, and many of those 100 clauses also have subsections, but rather what is contained within it.

Now this piece of legislation, as others have said, is not simply a bill, this is a hodgepodge of things. This legislation makes amendments and changes to all kinds of pieces of legislation. It amends and changes, for example, the Income Tax Act, as it currently is. Then it changes the whole income tax system and decouples the provincial income tax system from the federal system. It makes amendments to the collective bargaining acts for the teachers, to the Trade Union Act, and to many, many other countless ones.

What it really is is a hodgepodge of legislation. It is a piece of legislation that is throwing everything together to amend all of these other Statutes, rather than doing what would really be the proper businesslike approach, and that is, to amend each of those particular Acts individually by separate pieces of legislation. That would be the proper way of doing it, but the government, in some of the things they do, you might say that they are not very clever because of what they are doing, that it is not very smart for Nova Scotians, but this is crafted in this way, quite craftily, because there is an objective here. The objective is to limit the amount of debate and examination of all those various items.

If, for example, we were going to do each one of those different topics separately, the Income Tax Act alone was one stand-alone piece of legislation, we could have a full second reading debate, as we are on this one. That separate piece of legislation would be examined in the Law Amendments Committee process. That separate piece of legislation would be examined in the Committee of the Whole House and then at third reading as would the same

[Page 5746]

process for each of the other pieces of legislation that they are amending, but by lumping it all together, what they are doing is, in effect, limiting the amount of debate that can take place on the subject matters in the bill because now all of those different Statutes, all of those different items that are being amended, all have to share that time restraint in which we have to deal with a piece of legislation.

So, Mr. Speaker, although they are not necessarily very bright when it comes to doing what is right for Nova Scotia, maybe this is the wily Government House Leader with his years of experience telling them how to do things in a crafty way and certainly the Government House Leader can be quite clever in the way that he goes about doing things. I say that as a compliment in all honesty. He has ensured that the Minister of Finance and the others came up with this concoction which is called An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. Now, whenever you look at a whole bunch of other different pieces of legislation, you will have to know to go back to this one to find out where the amendments and changes are.

Having said that, this piece of legislation, of course, each one of those has a principle. So when we are talking about the principle of the bill, we are really talking about almost the principles of any piece of legislation that deals with financial matters in the Province of Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is totally wide open, John.

MR. HOLM: It is totally wide open and, do you know, Mr. Speaker, this legislation is doing a number of key things, if I can put it in a broad way. It is setting the stage for privatization. It is setting it up so the government can go out and privatize government programs and services. Nothing is safe and you can just see those little Tories in the back rooms, wringing their hands with glee and, they are dreaming of the days when they can see the sugar plum fairies and all of the money that they can make in the way of profit when this government goes out and privatizes the programs and services that it delivers.

Why is it doing it? Has this government done any kind of economic or social analysis to determine if privatization is a good thing, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't think so.

MR. HOLM: Not. The Minister of Finance admitted that in the estimates of the Department of Finance. No, we have done no study but, according to the minister, it makes good common sense. If it makes good common sense, Mr. Speaker, it should not be too hard for the government to prove it by doing a study but, you know, they privatized Nova Scotia Power. Those were Tory times. The Tories did that. A gentleman, I think he might be, he maybe still is, or he is about to leave the position as President of the Metro Chamber of Commerce, he is about to leave that position and he is being replaced by another Tory, Ian Thompson but, you know, Murray Coolican, that fellow, works for Nova Scotia Power. I

[Page 5747]

think he is Vice-President and, of course, he would defend privatization because he works for the shareholders of Nova Scotia Power, the shareholders who bought Nova Scotia Power at a tremendous undervalued price. So they bought it according to the Tory philosophy that, oh, gee whiz, we cannot do anything, we will have to sell it off. By a small "c" conservative evaluation Nova Scotia Power was sold off at an undervalued price, by about $140 million at least.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in addition to that, instead of the Tories saying - and they would be perfectly correct if they had said this - Nova Scotia Power, when it was run by the government as a Crown Corporation, was far too politicized. Politicians of the day used it for their own political advantage. That would have been absolutely correct, totally correct, but instead of taking the bull by the horns and saying, we insist and we are going to set it up and have it run in an efficient businesslike manner, so that the profits that are made are able to pay down the debts of Nova Scotia Power so that Nova Scotians, residences and businesses can receive lower power rates. They sold it off. We got a pittance, a one-shot deal. Since then, the Power Corporation has made about $700 million in profits, monies that have gone off to shareholders, most of whom live in the States and Upper Canada.

Now had the government of the day had a different feeling. They sold it because of a philosophical feeling, not any kind of social or economic impact analysis or study. That wasn't done. It was, as the president of the day said, a philosophical feeling. Wow, deep insight. A philosophical feeling, that was a Cameron-Tory agenda and how they did their business plans on a philosophical feeling, the same kind of philosophical feeling that is now spread across the new blue team, blue plight on the province.

Privatization, now I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, some people made some good money when that was sold off, but had that money, had it not been sold off undervalued or, better still, had the government said, well, let's make sure that this operation runs in an efficient, business-like manner and the profits come back to this province, how many more jobs would have been able to be created in Nova Scotia? How many jobs would have stayed in Nova Scotia, because the debt of the Power Corporation would have been able to be paid down with those profits and as a result of paying off that debt, the power rates could have dropped? That would have left more money in the pockets of all Nova Scotians, rich and poor. It would have meant that the small businesses in this province that create the vast majority of jobs would have had more money to keep in their pockets, to employ more people, to expand their operations.

Now, we have this government, the Tories, you would think almost, for a moment, that Don Cameron is still in charge, and some say he is, some suggest he is. Some think that, actually, we have now a red Tory Government and that instead of Don Cameron being in charge, they think that John Savage and Bernie Boudreau are still in charge. That is why they say it is a red Tory Government, not because they think they are progressive, but they really can't see any difference between Don Cameron, John Savage and John Hamm. It is all the

[Page 5748]

same philosophy. It is all the same victims. It is still an assault on public services. It is assault on the middle and low income. It is an assault on those who can least defend themselves. And, it is the same agenda.

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this legislation, and I may come back to privatization, for example, I may talk about the Liquor Commission. I might go and talk about the Minister of Transportation wanting to privatize things off. I could go to the Department of the Environment where privatization is taking place, go to the Minister of Agriculture where privatization is taking place. All of this, and you can go to other areas, we haven't been able to ferret them all out. We are still trying to ferret them out, because we are following the Premier's advice. The Premier said, we are an open and honest government, so we won't tell you anything. Anybody in here remember, open and honest and accountable government? Anybody remember that? Anybody over there remember those commitments? How about you, Minister of Health, did you remember the commitment you made to be open and honest and accountable? Transparent (Interruption) I am sure he does. He said there has never been one more transparent that this one.

So I am waiting for the minister to lay on the table the business plans he is going to accept for the hospitals. (Interruption) Oh, I hear that word, program review. Now, do you remember, Mr. Speaker - when I say do you remember, I am speaking to all members of the House through you because that is the way the rules are set up. We have on the government benches 30 members of the blue team. Now, in reality, you can't really say there are 30 members. We have 30 members who were elected to the blue team. We have then the A team, they are the ones who play all the time. Then we have the back-ups, called the backbenchers who are the B team and who are trying to curry favour with the captain in hopes that someday they may be able to come to the front benches and make it to the A team. So, they are training all the time, being loyal and dutiful and, therefore, not raising any questions. But, they promised and they said during the election that there would be a program review. And that program review was going to be completed prior to the budget. Wasn't that what they said? Didn't this program review have to take place so that they would know which programs and services to eliminate?

That is what I understood. I think the members in the gallery might even agree that is what they said. Now, it is a work in progress. We are told that there were about 70 programs to be eliminated. With the hard work of members in our NDP caucus, you can go to the NDP web page,, and you will find some of those things we have ferreted out in terms of programs that are going to be eliminated. You will also be able to find some of those fees that they are sneaking in, increasing.

[Page 5749]

For a transparent government like the Minister of Health said this was, one has to ask yourself, why is it up to the Opposition to have to ferret out that information. I would have thought, for example, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank would be running out door to door, bonding with his constituents to say, here are the programs we are eliminating. Go to the seniors and say, hey, guess what? This is how much more money we are going to take out of your pockets in the Pharmacare Program. That would be open and transparent. But instead, we are told, ferret it out. We were even chastised by the Minister of Education, when a question had been asked of her in Question Period; sort of chastised, well, it is your fault because you didn't ferret it out during the estimates. We should have found it out. Shame on us. Oh, bad Opposition. Here is one that snuck by you; didn't catch that one.

I don't know. I am sort of old fashioned. I thought that transparent means that you can, expect that the information will be brought forward. When you go now, as a young driver, to take a driver's test, in fact, when you go in to say, could I get the information, can I get a book so I can study to get my driver's license, it will be very transparent then. Give me your money.

It is becoming very transparent to hospital workers at the QE II, and other centres across this province, when the CEO and your boss walk in and says, look, I'm sorry, but here is your pink slip. That is very transparent.

It is going to be very transparent when parents are asking, why will my child not have a program assistant next year and the person tells them, because we do not have any money for it. It will be very transparent to that parent that they don't have the service that their child needs. What will not be transparent is that the Minister of Education will be hiding and every other member on the government benches will be hiding from responsibility for that. They will say, it is not our fault. We give the school boards enough money to deliver the programs and services.

At health care, when people are lined up and the waiting lists continue and the nurses are even more overworked, it is not our fault. We gave them enough money. Oh, no. So, Mr. Speaker, this bill is about all of these things and more. Because this bill is one of those essential tools that the government wants to be able to implement its savage Tory budget.

I want to go back to program review again for a moment and the ways to save money. You know the Hamm-Tories, in Opposition, they introduced - I think it was June 17th - was that the date that the government was defeated? Close to it, if it wasn't. They introduced - a bill and, in fact, it was introduced by none other then the front-bench player, some might say that he is the right-winger on the team, now the Minister of Economic Development. He is the member for Digby-Annapolis, and the legislation, it was then called Bill No. 124, was introduced by Gordon Balser.

[Page 5750]

Mr. Speaker, it was a very interesting piece of legislation and what this legislation did was say that they were going to be setting up a red tape reduction commission. It laid out the duties. It laid out the responsibilities and so on, of what this red tape commission was supposed to do. The mandate of the commission is to work with the Executive Councils and the departments to begin the task of removing unnecessary barriers to job creation, economic growth and better government in the province.

The reason I bring this up is because yesterday, outside of this House, some of the heavyweight backbenchers on the government benches were appointed, not with any legislation, to a red tape commission. It is four Conservative MLAs. They are going to go out and look at the red tape. I don't know, but I would assume or guess that some of the red tape stuff that they are supposed to be looking at (Interruptions)

I have just been informed - for those who are watching and are interested, government members, now probably a number of them were from government backbenches - that as of Wednesday, we had over 2,000 hits on our ferret site, that is the NDP website. Over 2,000 hits at the www.ferret site, the NDP caucus. I am sure that a lot of those were from the Tory backbenchers, maybe even from a minister or two trying to find out what was happening within their own department, because there you can get a composite of what went on. I want to thank the person who gave me that note, because it is very important information to have.

Mr. Speaker, the point that I want to get at is, here we have this Red Tape Reduction Task Force being established by the Tories to travel around the province to look at what programs, what kinds of things should be eliminated. I thought that was program review. In other words, what it sounds like is that they don't know, they didn't find out much in program review except how to sock it to a few individuals. Now we have this high-pressured, high-powered group running around the province.

My colleague and good friend, the very capable Leader of the NDP, actually wrote to the Premier about this, wrote it today, it was hand-delivered to the Premier's Office. They talked about this during the election campaign, that bunch over there, the blue team, the right-wing Conservatives and talked a lot about this, and they promised that it would be independent of the government of the province.

Anybody who looks at the make-up would see some very right-wing, I would suggest, MLAs from the Conservative benches - and I won't name them because I don't want to embarrass them - who are even considered to being courted by that group called the Alliance, which used to be Reform.

Mr. Speaker, how would you possibly consider that one of those backbench member, who are trying to be as nice as they can to the Premier - oh, please, Mr. Premier, just shuffle your Cabinet, bring us in, bring us in - how would you suggest that appointing four of them to go around the province is going to make it independent of government? Don't think so.

[Page 5751]

I am wondering, at a time when the Minister of Education is saying that she doesn't have money to assist children with high special needs in the schools, when the Minister of Community Services is cutting the budgets and the allotments for disabled people in this province who are on social assistance, when you have this government increasing the Pharmacare Program for seniors, you tell me, I want to know - maybe the Tories have this deep personal fund - who is going to pay for these wannabe Cabinet Ministers to travel around the province? Who is going to pick up their tabs? It is not a committee of this House.

[3:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, since it is not a committee of this House, the House should not be paying

for it, it certainly should not, the House of Assembly would not be paying for it. Are Cabinet Ministers? Maybe the Premier's Office is. I would like to know who is going to pay for the food, who is going to pay for the travel, who is going to pay for the accommodations and expenses. Maybe they are going to be pitching a tent, I don't know, Mr. Speaker. (Interruption) The member opposite says there will be corn in the field by that time. Maybe he will be picking up his food along the way. I know that a number of the comments the member makes are rather corny, however, I know his comments are but I didn't know he wanted to subsist on the corn as well. However, he is going to be one of the members.

I am wondering if the public is going to have advanced notice of this heavy-duty Red Tape Reduction Task Force. Are there going to be advertisements in the local newspapers, saying, hey, come on out, come down to the barbeque and meet these four independent Tory backbench members of the Hamm Government, come on down. Are there going to be ads in the paper? (Interruption) Oh, five members but only four Tory MLAs, the other one is an independent Chair. He is the business person, the independent Chair.

A member on the government benches was holding up his hand, saying five, Mr. Speaker - five members but only four of them are Tory MLAs. They obviously could not have been told by the government who is really on this, another secret kept from the backbenchers. That member who said that to me isn't one of the four selected, he was not one of the four who were going to be honoured. However, I am sure - he can't have been considered by the Premier to be very independent. The ones the Premier chose are obviously ones that he doesn't trust. They are not toeing the Party line, they must be some who are going to vote against this legislation because they have to be like that if they are independent.

There is a tradition, and this as encouragement to members on the government benches, of some Tories voting against the positions of the Tory caucus. I think the member was from Cumberland County, one of the two MLAs here, I won't identify the person, who voted against the Tories when the Tories voted in favour of the Liberal financial measures Act; one member. He didn't get kicked out of caucus. John Hamm was the Leader then. He didn't get kicked out of caucus for voting against the financial measures Act, so I look forward - maybe it will be the member for Halifax-Bedford Basin who will vote against this, her conscience will

[Page 5752]

get to her and say, I can't support doing what we are doing to all those people. I don't know, Mr. Speaker. I just have the hope that some of them opposite will see some of this light.

I wonder who is going to pay for this. I wonder if the reports of this task force will be made public and, if so, when? I wonder what legislation this task force, that the Premier is probably sitting up in his ivory tower in his penthouse office across the way, listening to my every word, I wonder on what basis he is setting it. I wonder which disadvantaged group he is taking the money from in order to pay for these wanderers around the province. I wonder, Mr. Speaker.

Oh, I know where it is coming from, the Tories are taking it out of their own slush funds. What do you think? Maybe, because they would not take it out of the slush fund that is in the budget, it has to be coming from the Tory Party. I am sure of that because the Alliance member wannabe over there wouldn't want to take any more money out of health care, out of education, out of necessary social programs so that he can travel around this province in style at that expense. Cabinet Minister in training wheels. I think a few of the spokes are out of those training wheels, too. (Interruptions)

However, Mr. Speaker, I am down now to about the third line on my notes, so I have a little way to go. They are awful brave over there as they sit there and they do their little natters and they throw their little barbs. But, I am sure that the front benches, the Government House Leader, wily character that he is, crafty, wouldn't have wanted to go to them and say, look, now, I want you to know, member for Pictou West, member for Pictou East, member for Queens, who want to be recognized, guess what guys, you are equal members of this House.

Therefore, you have a right during second reading debate to get to your feet. You don't need to be afraid. You have a right to talk. You do have that ability. I don't know if they have that ability, because I haven't heard many of them talk, so I don't know if they have that ability or not, but by the rules, they are permitted.

The Minister of Community Services, who is putting his claw in and drawing out the meagre supports and level of funding that many of the most disadvantaged in this province get, he has the right to stand on his feet in this House and to speak on this bill at this time as well, and justify what he is doing. I heard a lot from that member when he was trying to say, get that $58 million prison out of my riding and send it off somewhere else. His tongue wasn't tied then. I seem to remember that gentleman even walked the sidewalks out here with people carrying signs. I think so. Oh, look, that minister, the member for Bedford-Fall River says, but it is in the riding of Sackville-Beaver Bank.

Yes it is, Mr. Speaker, it was in the physical boundaries of what is the Sackville-Beaver Bank riding. However, the vast majority of people who were upset with its location in Bedford, and they were residents of the Minister of Community Service's riding, and he and

[Page 5753]

his good friends were out there going with their signs, Not in my riding. Put it somewhere else. I could hear him speak up then. But I don't hear a peep from him when it comes to talking about restoring and providing a decent level of assistance for the most difficult in this province, the disabled. (Interruptions)

We are told, oh, we are going to get $50 per child or money to go back to buy school supplies in the fall. But every other month of the year, from those families, they are going to take double that amount of money out.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The Speaker has an extremely hard time hearing the member who has the floor. Maybe I could ask the honourable members, if they want to carry out discussions amongst themselves, to leave the Chamber please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I really appreciate that you asked them to be quiet, and it is encouraging to know there is at least one member in this House who is actually interested in what I have to say. However, I also want to say, people say to me, how can you stand being in there? How can you stand being in there with that bunch on the government benches, those Tories? Quite truthfully, they used to say the same thing when the red team was over there; I used to get the same thing.

One of the things that I used to come back with, and I still say is, you know there is a tremendous privilege that comes along with this job and that is that I can look across the floor, eyeball to eyeball, and I can say to members opposite exactly what I think about what your government is doing. I have that ability and - do you know? - they even have to stay and listen. They can try to turn their ears off, but they have to stay and listen because, if they don't, do you know what I am going to do? I am going to say, quorum, let's go home. At least I have the ability to force some members - a little bit of satisfaction - to stay and listen so I can say what I think about what they, as a government, are doing.

Having said that, I am not talking about them as individuals. I am not talking about them as people because, as individuals, I say this sincerely, Mr. Speaker, I think that the members on the government benches, the new members, the backbenchers, they ran for the right reason, as did members on this side of the House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Come on, John, don't get carried away.

MR. HOLM: They know they ran with the hope, or on the understanding, or on the wish that they would actually be able to do something for the good of their communities and their constituents. I believe that. You did not run for the money, because the amount of money people make in this House, although it is certainly a lot higher than the average salary, but I am not suggesting for a minute that people ran for personal things but, the reality is that once you have gotten here, you have been delegated, those on the backbenches, to a support

[Page 5754]

position for the front benches and you are equally responsible for what is being done to this province.

Mr. Speaker, if you truly want to do something good for your constituents in this province, you will stand up to the front benches because, you know, it just takes four - the same number of MLAs who are going to be travelling around the province, probably at the taxpayers' expense, with the red tape commission - to say, no, no, let's call a halt, four MLAs on the government benches to say to the Premier and to others, we will not support this legislation unless there are important changes made and, it will happen. In fact, what they can do, even in the committee stage, is they can support amendments to make this legislation better. It just takes four. So to the constituents of the government members who might be getting a little bit discouraged thinking, we cannot get through to them, just remember, you get through to them one at a time and you can effect changes.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Speaker is back.

MR. HOLM: The Speaker is back. Mr. Speaker, your colleagues are wanting me to repeat something that I said earlier, and I would be happy to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would remind the honourable member about repetition in the House.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I knew that rule and I certainly was not going to try to trespass on it, but I was only going to do it for their sake, because they wanted me to tell you something.

This government has built up this hysteria. They have run around and they have talked about the huge deficit. They have talked about how we are in such terrible straits and, of course, the Liberals are bad and on that, they are right. The Liberals were bad, but then one has to ask, why do you, as Tories, have to be as bad or worse? Is there a competition to see who can go down the furthest? There is competition over there.

[4:00 p.m.]

There is no question, none whatsoever, that the finances of this province are not in great shape, but to turn around as this government is trying to pretend, and to say that we have a $767 million deficit last year, uh, uh. I cannot say the word on the floor which would be a proper summation of what I think that claim is because, Mr. Speaker, you would say that is unparliamentary, but while you can say I cannot say the word because it is unparliamentary, at least one thing, I can still think it. So, Mr. Speaker, through you to the members opposite, I wish to - what's the word - I want to send my thought as a thought to them. Hopefully, they understand what I think you are doing when you use that figure. It is transmitted across. I think that even that thick bunch understands what my thought is.

[Page 5755]

Mr. Speaker, they have included in their so-called deficit of last year, the Sysco liabilities of over $378 million. By the way, it is a figure that has not been verified by anybody, especially the Auditor General, not a cent of which has been borrowed or spent. They have Y2K costs in there of $42 million.

Now here is a hopeful one, they do have an election cost in there of $6.4 million. Wouldn't Nova Scotians see it as a wonderful investment to spend another $6 million to have another election to get rid of the bunch across. Unfortunately, it is not likely to happen unless four MLAs on the government benches - just four - want to bring him down.

Mr. Speaker, they have first year mandated implementation costs of $5.5 million; older fisheries workers' adjustments is gone after this. All together, if you add up the one-time costs, I am sure that they didn't take the members of the government benches aside, even the Cabinet Ministers, to say, here, let us break this down for you, let us tell you our little secret game. They didn't tell them that in reality that at least $469 million of that expenditure is a one-time cost. They would not have done that because you have to scare the backbenchers, too, because they have to be good little doobies, you want them to follow along without any question. So you don't want to let them in on the secret either, it is up to the Opposition members to ferret out that information.

There are other things as well, not only those one-time costs. The budget is a $65 million loss for Nova Scotia Resources that was in last year. That was reduced to $32 million and that amount should continue to be lower, Mr. Speaker, which again reduces the size of the projected debt and deficits. The $31.8 million operating losses for Sysco, that will not reoccur if the government proceeds with the sale.

Foreign exchange losses, well, I am not going to say I don't know what will happen in those this year, Mr. Speaker, because the Canadian dollar is down but optimistically or hopefully I think it is only realistic to believe that it will come back up and actually go higher.

There were unallocated recoveries worth $20.1 million in 1997-98 and $14 million in 1998-99 simply disappeared from the calculations in 1999-2000. I could go on with more things like that. What the government is doing, though, I honestly do believe is low-balling their revenues. Do you know why? Because they want to be able to say look at what good fiscal managers we were, look at what we have done. At the end of the year, gee, our deficit is lower than we thought it was going to be. We are so good. Hogwash, Mr. Speaker, they are underestimating their revenues and, if they really wanted to, what they should be doing instead of cutting and slashing and hacking, instead of pretending that they are Don Cameron and John Savage, instead of doing that, proving the old, unsuccessful way, and do you know that under those hack and slash programs what happened? Unemployment went up. Guess what also happened - deficits went up and confidence in the economy went down. (Interruption)

[Page 5756]

Yes, part of what the member for Dartmouth East says is correct and I appreciate that and he is correct in that. In fact, employment did go up at that stage. But you know, Mr. Speaker, under this hack and slash budget produced by the Minister of Finance, some would suggest the Premier, behind the Premier, unemployment is projected to rise. In fact, it has already gone up under the blue team. It is now over 10 per cent. It is projected to be over 10.2 per cent by next year and up to 10.4 per cent. Maybe those increases are a reflection of the, literally, thousands who will lose their jobs as a result of this budget. Those are people in your constituencies who are like you. They have families. They have responsibilities. They are people who volunteer in your community, in my community, work to make your community better. They have dedicated their working lives to serving the public, whether that be in the Department of Agriculture, which the Minister of Agriculture and his colleagues no longer value, so they just hive it off; like those health care workers who got their notice yesterday at the QE II and over 400 are projected to lose their jobs at the QE II because of your budget, which will mean longer line-ups, reduced health care, increased workloads for those who are remaining.

It includes those who were let go, who work in the school system, transporting the children back and forth to school. It includes those who clean those schools to keep them healthy and safe in an environmental manner. It includes those who work with children with special needs and, yes, not all special needs assistants will disappear. Now it is going to be only those with the most severe of physical and mental disabilities who will be able to get those assistants because there will not be enough to go around, because of this government. I don't just blame the Minister of Education for that. I do not put all the responsibility on the shoulders of the Minister of Education. It was each and every one of the 30 Tory MLAs who support that budget.

I would suggest that the figure as to how much was going to be cut was given to the Minister of Education. She had some responsibility in where those cuts were made, some not very good choices. She had some responsibility of not being candid and telling people up front what those cuts were going to mean in the school system and for not having an idea as to how the funding formula system works and what the implications were. But, Mr. Speaker, the member for Yarmouth, who sits in his back seat and, oh, he can squawk, he can make all kinds of noise from the back row, but, on his feet, when he gets up on his feet behind the microphone to have his words recorded in Hansard, he is awfully silent.

Mr. Speaker, those people are all reality, they are all real people who are losing their jobs. They are all going to be part of that increased unemployment rate. They are, also, the people who provided very valuable and badly-needed services to your constituents and to mine. Bang. Without any consideration, they are gone. Why? Oh, because the downtown metro chamber of commerce tells you to get rid of them. Cut. Hack. Slash. It might be interesting for the government members to do a little bit of research today and look at the kinds of things that attract businesses to communities and get them to stay. Do you know what they are going to find? One of the primary things that now attracts a business to a

[Page 5757]

community, is the education system. That is a vitally important infrastructure. The second one is health care. Those are critical, crucial infrastructure programs. What are you doing? Supposedly to get our economy in order, you are slashing those key things that are essential to help grow the economy. Are they doing anything to grow revenues? No. What have they done?

I heard the Premier's reports from down in Houston. He got some front-page headlines which would be the main reason he went down there. He got some positive front-page headlines in The Chronicle-Herald here, Mr. Speaker - which tends to be rather friendly to this bunch - about how he is getting tough with the big oil and there is going to be more in the way of Nova Scotia content. Okay, fine, he has the headlines. But what have you done about it? How much? I don't know, he says, we haven't figured that out yet. Got his headline, what else does he want? Nova Scotians want those jobs here for the economic growth. They also want to get a fair share in the way of royalties, and they also want the businesses to locate in Nova Scotia and pay Nova Scotia taxes. What have they done in this bill? Nothing.

Mr. Speaker, if one takes a look at the taxation system, those old-boy, back-room friends who, as I said earlier, get those sugarplum fairies dancing in their heads about privatization, about how many more big bucks they can make when they take over these undervalued services, as the government is going to undervalue and offload the services they deliver, they are down there, but they don't want anything done with taxes.

Under the corporate taxation system, Nova Scotia has one of the lowest in the country. If we had the average corporate tax rate of our neighbours in New Brunswick and other provinces that are a same size, the average would be 8 per cent. That is not the high, that is the average. Right now we are the lowest. That would generate about $32 million. Whoa! What would that do for education, Madam Minister of Education? All that money that has been cut is back. Those teachers assistants' are back; the Grade Primary students are not going to be forced to walk 3.5 kilometres along dangerous roads to get a bus, because courtesy busing will be back; the buildings will be able to be kept clean; and there would be money left over.

Mr. Speaker, if one takes a look at the tax revenues in terms of the business rates, small and large . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to address Bill No. 46, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures, during second reading. We have heard a variety of speakers. Many have outlined the extent of this bill, the 98 pages that we see. We have also had considerable debate on a motion to hoist the bill for six months for further

[Page 5758]

study. But in addressing the principle of the bill in second reading, I will address the issues of the content of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, the first thing we do see is our various initiatives under the Alcohol and Gaming Authority being impacted by this legislation. So, this legislation starts off with disbanding that particular authority, and you could debate the principle of that for quite a period of time.

[4:15 p.m.]

It is a substantive bill. It has many clauses and it will have a journey through this House of Assembly, following the second reading, as we go through the Law Amendments Committee, back to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and then through third reading. One could debate, regarding the principle of the bill, and other initiatives whether, in fact, the government needs this bill to govern the next few months. I note, in reading the bill, that there are initiatives, particularly impacting with the federal government, that that may well be so.

Anyway, on Part 1, Mr. Speaker, we are addressing the issue of the disbanding of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority. Now that may have seemed to be not needed, but then what will follow as to what really supplants that. The Assessment Act, in Part II highlights the interrelationship between the provincial government and the municipal government. That, in itself, is a matter of importance in addressing the principle of a bill such as this and the relationship between those two levels of government, where the work is done by one level and paid for by another, with the taxpayers following, with interest, then seeing improved services, I believe, in that area. So it is important that those types of initiatives are addressed, because I think the sophistication of the information technology and the geomatics and all the other initiatives that have come forward to make this a more sophisticated system, I think taxpayers are realizing that.

We deal also with the Corrections Act in Part III. There are many principles of the Act, many of which you, Mr. Speaker, would be familiar with in your line of work and expertise. The issue of emergency 911 rears its head again. We saw previous legislation last fall, the 911 services where a tax would be imposed on the use of the phone for 911 calls. How that was going to be at that juncture, we were not able to get information. The Minister of Health, at that time, who is also responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization, said that it would be revealed in due course. It was in the previous Act and it was there but it wouldn't necessarily be used. Well, now we see it coming forward in Part IV. You can debate that principle for quite a period of time. Other provinces have that, we realize. It is a fact and it is being slipped in here in these 98 pages of the bill, An Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures (2000).

[Page 5759]

The importance of emergency 911, particularly in an area like the Halifax Regional Municipality unit where we see the amalgamation of various police forces, firefighting units and to be part of such a sophisticated ambulance service, one of the best in North America, so we see that whole system being coordinated now. I think it is an area, while it is a user fee, it is one that, I think, will be accepted by people, certainly those who need the service and use it, Mr. Speaker, but it is a tax and we, on this side of the House, want to highlight that within this particular bill.

There are other matters, as we move through, Mr. Speaker, on the Equity Tax Credit, the Expenditure Control Act and then we come to the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission Act. I will have other comments to say later on that, but it is a group that, again, this government has wielded the axe and treated a group of community citizens, volunteers, very harshly. So if you deal with the principle of the bill in the broad sense, it certainly would question the principles of this government in dealing with the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission. I will have more to say about that later on.

We come to the federal issues of the Income Tax Act and various initiatives there that I would think would be most important to this government, that this be got through this session of the house and the relationship with the federal government that is important to realize various functions, relative to the liability for tax the taxes for individuals, Mr. Speaker, the foreign tax deduction, matters of income tax, relative to corporations, mutual funds and those other particular initiatives. The one area that has been a bit of a surprise and where companies have been setting standards and high standards of international standards of the ISO 14000 Certificate and the ISO 9000 Certificate. Those are matters I have viewed with some concern when research initiatives are undertaken with that, and there were rebates relative to that.

So in discussing the principle of the bill, Mr. Speaker, one can wonder why that type of message is being sent out to research and industry at this particular time. It is one that I noted, and I know that companies have been very proud. Some of the honourable members are asking for an adjournment motion, but I don't suspect that that would be entertained by the Speaker at this juncture. There would be no reason to. I mean it is still light out and we have got lots of time here on a Friday. I am sure the members would just be out causing themselves more difficulties. Of course, now with their budget passed, it is safe to go back to their communities for a little while, but I am not so sure about that really. It is amazing what a few years in municipal government will do to your sensibilities. (Interruption)

I am into the formulas now, Mr. Speaker. I was pretty good in algebra, some of it takes me back and it makes me think of some of those Grade 11 exams when we used to have those normal exams. There is page after page of Formula A. There are some here, A x (B+C), and all the other initiatives. I did want to find some areas on those standards, on the ISO 9000, but those were changes that were announced in the budget presentation and one I found

[Page 5760]

particularly difficult to understand why that would be done at this particular juncture. The income tax section does cover an awful lot of these 98 pages and that is really a major part.

We deal with the film industry and tax credit changes; the political contributions; the openness of that particular process is dealt with; the returns and assessments and appeals; appeals to the Supreme Court and access to that court. We know how important that is and it is important it is not trivialized, that there are adequate fees within that court, and this particular document deals with those initiatives; the administration enforcement and various procedures relative to evidence, as well the collection of tax, the payments and deductions.

Mr. Speaker, it deals in addressing the principle of the bill. It also addresses the offshore issue. It deals with probate in the United States, and I think it is a really important area that we discuss the principles and that we have a full debate on matters relative to the Probate Act and the management of estates and the accountability within that jurisdiction. It deals with matters of the Provincial Finance Act and the provincial accountability within that. It does repeal some others, the Seniors Citizens' Financial Aid Act and the Stock Savings Plan Act, the Summary Proceedings Act and it does impact also on the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act. We could debate that for a long time. We have had many debates within this House of Assembly relative to the situation with teachers. We look at the initiatives within Ontario now and the impact again that we are seeing. They say some of the differences between this province, the Hamm Government and the Harris Government, is that when the Harris Government took on education they gave the parents something in return, a promise that they would hold the standards and measure the standards of teaching. I see they have brought that in, they have kept that promise.

One thing you have to say about the Tories is that when they say they are going to be tough and bring in tough things, they do. We mentioned that earlier, about the toughness with the Houston oil companies and that, so I imagine they are quivering down there in Houston today, Mr. Speaker, and it is probably not from the cold.

Anyway, the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act is impacted there, and the victims' rights - and watch on this side of the House and my role as Critic of Community Services and also my interest in Justice, the violence prevention initiative and the victims, the impact there - we have seen this attacked by this government, Mr. Speaker, already.

It is funny how, when in Opposition, you bring these things forward and sometimes you think it may be too negative but we say well the violence prevention initiative was disbanded, but the various departments will look after themselves. Lo and behold, what do we hear from the Tearmeann group, the program in New Glasgow for battered women and children? We hear that the money has been pulled from the Justice Department. So here is a direct impact and this really does demonstrate how that can impact, and these are important issues when discussing the principle of the bill.

[Page 5761]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow an introduction?

DR. SMITH: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Dartmouth East for yielding the floor. I would like to bring to the attention of the members of the House, in the east gallery, a close friend of mine, Delbert Boudreau, who is here with his grandson, Jean Marc d'Entremont, from West Pubnico. He is a member of the Nova Scotia Fury ice hockey team. He is nine years old and he is here having some practices with his team. They are going to be going to Ottawa in a tournament next weekend. He has shown a lot of drive and I am sure his grandfather is very proud of him. I would like them to both stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it was a pleasure to yield the floor.

I will be very brief in this matter. We speak in terms of the Acts that are impacted by this 98 page Financial Measures (2000) Bill, also the Trade Union Act, and we saw the amount of settlements that the previous government was able to bring to successful fruition with the large number of civil servants within this province, and also the relative peace and harmony that we have had in this province over the last while within the trades force. I think that is a compliment to the leadership in many different areas, both within government and within the union movement.

Earlier today we spoke in terms of the workers' compensation, that the member said that one might return home thinking that there was nothing done with the Workers's Compensation Act but, in fact, this large volume does address that Act particularly, as well as the Venture Corporations Act. So that really in a way summarizes, Mr. Speaker, the main areas of that that one can address.

It is a companion document to the budget that has received approval of the House, but it is ironic in that we have found out more about the budget probably in the last few days and the real impact of that budget than we had found out during the full debate on Supply that was brought forward by this government.

During the debate earlier, on the six month motion or the motion to hoist for six months, we had a chance to bring forward a lot of our concerns about the budget itself, and although we stuck to the issue of why this bill should be hoisted for six months, it did give us a chance to touch a lot of initiatives and debate in that time the principle of the bill as well.

[Page 5762]

We voice concern about this budget. Tearing away first, we see the infrastructure on education, we have gradually seen the impact of that. The government went to the slush fund, brought in some of the $88 million that is set aside for the transition programs, the salary wage adjustments and those types of initiatives. So it has just been this last week, Mr. Speaker, that we have been seeing the impact on the health care system. We have seen the impact on the QE II, the $30 million approximately there of shortfall, and the impact on that institution. These are all integral parts when talking about the principle of Bill No. 46. It is not only the various areas that I have read off here, but it is also this being a companion document bill to the budget, it really spells many areas of influence beyond what is exactly spelled out within the bill itself.

[4:30 p.m.]

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, in addressing the principle of this particular bill and its relationship with the budget, the budget was not what people voted for just one year ago, less than a year, even now as we speak. The priorities, as we said, of this budget, are not the priorities that Nova Scotians hold dear. There has been an introduction of user fees. There has been a cut in health care. We have seen cuts in teachers. We have seen the impact on information technology, both within education, particularly where some of it has actually physically been removed from schools in response to this budget change.

Yesterday we learned of six managers and other persons in the QE II that information technology would depend upon. That, as much as anything, was scary to see 12 nurse managers/supervisors being discontinued. I think we will learn later just what it means to have information technology slashed in that central institution. That hospital, the QE II, Mr. Speaker, as we all know is a hospital for hospitals, as much as a community hospital or a regional hospital here in the capital region. So, what happens there is really paramount to what will happen throughout the province. You cannot have linkages between Yarmouth and Sydney, and Amherst and all the other hospitals that are so important. We have such a mobile population. A person might be seen in one community one day, and another somewhere else on another. It is the importance of having accurate, secure data. We had a plan for that, and we introduced that in our Health Investment Fund. It was not to be. It was part of what went down when the budget was defeated. Now we see a much lesser amount, probably less than one-third over the next three years, from this government, designated for that type of a system. Then we see the QE II responding to the necessary changes that they have to make to stay afloat to address the wounded, the bleeding, the sick and those with cancer who come to that hospital and we see them choosing this area as one that will have to wait again.

I have never so dramatically seen the importance of technology, Mr. Speaker, as when MSI a few years ago, their costs were just sky-rocketing, and the graph was going up directly. Through consultation, they were advised that they needed technological change. I think it was in the area of $2 million, which was a considerable amount of money at that time. They injected it at that time. That graph today, instead of going straight, has levelled off. This

[Page 5763]

group, to us - I was Minister of Health, and other colleagues were ministers at that time, we were told very clearly by the group of health care providers and the decision makers in health care in this province, if we gave them the tools, they could do the job.

Part of those tools they needed, in this sophisticated, technological era where people are so transient and records are no longer satisfactory to be written on paper and passed from one person to another and mailed to another and lost here and there and gathered around and falling out of charts. That sort of system is no longer adequate and that information technology was a large part of that.

I am just barely computer literate, at this time, but I do appreciate that what they were saying was an integral part. So it was really troublesome to me, Mr. Speaker, when yesterday I learned that a large part of that initiative has really had to be sacrificed just to attend to the bleeding and wounded and ill and the acute illnesses, once again. That is what I mean when I stand here today, addressing the principle of Bill No. 46, and talking about the impact of the budget and related documents, such as Bill No. 46, that this has on the infrastructure of the health care system in Nova Scotia. This is setting us back years. We are behind now. It was playing catch-up and now the train has stopped. It has just stopped dead in its tracks.

We see lots of changes, Mr. Speaker, within the Pharmacare Program. So I did want to make a few comments just on that, specifically, but there are initiatives within Bill No. 46 that are positive, and there are many that really worry us here on this side of the House. We have heard the government speak quite a bit about financial accountability and open and honest government. That was the promise. We heard a lot of that in the election. We have heard a lot of stories about the horror stories and the financial ruin and the economic collapse of the whole province and that sort of thing. That is a means to justify some of the changes. There are challenges. There is absolutely no question. Anyone would be aware of that. There is a need for accountability.

I spoke, in my comments, when we were addressing the six months' hoist, about the issue of running government like a business. Well, it has to be business-like in some ways, good business-like, because all businesses are not run well either. That is for sure. Those that are well run, then government can use them as a model. But we also need to do things as a government that the businesses will not do. We look at social services and many other programs. Let there be corn in the fields, it will be a good year. It will be a hot summer when those guys hit the trail this summer. I hope it doesn't burn up the cornfields so that when that blue ribbon committee goes out around, they have a place to get the odd meal.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East, will you entertain a question?

[Page 5764]

DR. SMITH: Being as he did his own hour here under difficult, physical circumstances, I would entertain a question. I had to correct him earlier because he had some statistics wrong.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: I saw that the member mentioned the fact that there are going to be some Tory members travelling around the province on this red tape commission - blue tape. They call it red tape. I am just wondering if you have been able to ferret out where they are going to take the money from the budget to pay for that, whether they are going to take more money from Community Services or from Education or Health to pay for the expenses of these members, their lodgings and so on? I am wondering if your caucus has been more successful than us in ferreting out where they are taking that money from, which needy programs? (Interruption)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Being Friday afternoon and everybody wanting to be helpful and everything, perhaps, whereas the NDP received so much money from the unions during the last election campaign, and the Liberals have a trust fund, perhaps they would make a donation to the cause.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order, but, obviously, a point.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Maybe the member can tell us which of those banks and big corporations, oil companies and so on, which contributed to him and his campaigns, how much of that money is going to be dedicated towards paying for his expenses and those of his colleagues, who are supposedly independent.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Again, not a point of order. Maybe the two members would like to use their own time.

DR. SMITH: Under some circumstances, I would begrudge the time allotted to that sort of trivia, but it is sort of interesting when we see those two groups at each other - a hard right and a hard left and the tillers. Generally, a sailboat will end up going around in circles. I still like the idea of camping out in the fields, eating corn. There will be a few cabbages left over and maybe some pumpkins and that sort of thing. Down in Queens County there will be some salt herring. I think they should really camp out and that would be a way to cut red tape. (Interruptions)

No, my answer to question that I know is serious because the honourable member had brought it up before, but it has not been in the announcements, we have not been able to ferret it out. I think right now they seem to be leaders in the campaign. They have two ferret mascots so they seem to be the ferreting-out group so we will leave it to them, they have a source of that information.

[Page 5765]

It is seriously, Mr. Speaker, because I am speaking about accountability and that is a good point. I have been on committees from this Legislature, all-Party committees and we have been reimbursed for our expenses, modest as they might be. We do see another layer coming in here. I think it was quite interesting that the members of the government were tacked onto that committee, what we thought was going to be a very simple operation now has become a travelling road show. If you think that Bill Lynch creates some interest in the town, I somehow think that this is going to be a cartoonist's delight sooner or later and I am looking forward to the first cartoon that we have some of these people hitting town, looking for red tape.

Anyway, seriously, Mr. Speaker, this government told the people of Nova Scotia what an uphill struggle they had and how they were facing the cuts and that what they were doing was absolutely necessary. I think I have concerns about that being the fact and I also believe and I could hear increasingly among Nova Scotians, is this really necessary, is there another way of doing this? I mentioned technology. Technology will send that part of the health care system behind. Every year that we wait will take another three years to catch up. If we wait two years it will probably take another six years. So it just keeps going on and on and snowballing. We have to make a commitment to certain sectors and that certainly is one of them. So we talk about repatriating the foreign debt and we certainly agree with that and we had initiatives in that area. It really was our government that started that limited exposure of the foreign debt.

We learned the lessons from the earlier Tory Governments because we could see right in front of our face, Mr. Speaker, some of the costly mistakes that were made. We could no longer afford to be borrowing money from other countries, playing Russian roulette, or foreign roulette with the foreign exchanges.

It is important that this government continue what we began but it is only going halfway or part way with its commitment. When the government set out this legislation, their section to deal with foreign exposure, they set a very realistic, credible target of 20 per cent exposure. That would be an acceptable level.

Some of the language within these changes really has made a difference and is open to some interpretation. So we will be watching this matter, Mr. Speaker, and I don't want to get into a lot of the banking and the financial issues specifically. That is for other members who are more versed in it than I. When I am speaking to the principle of a bill, such as Bill No. 46, I like to try to look at the broad issues of the principle, how it impacts on the infrastructure with Education and Health, Community Services and those types of programs. Those programs in Justice that we see being chipped away, the early signs of disbandment of those particular programs. We spoke earlier about less red tape, and it is very relevant to that now. We have a commissioner now appointed, and we talk about the size of the staff increasing. We see increased bureaucracy really to support now a travelling committee, and we would

[Page 5766]

like to hear more about that. Maybe we can just leave that as it rolls out, and we will be hearing more about it next week.

[4:45 p.m.]

These notes have been so reworked, Mr. Speaker, I may have to go back to my old notes. We talk in terms of privatization. There is a lot of interest right across this country. Daily, the national newspapers are reporting exchanges between the Klein Government and Allan Rock, the Federal Minister of Health. I noticed something come across my desk today, the Merck Frosst Canada that does Canada's health news weekly, health edition. I will read it for the benefit of this government: The Ontario Health Minister, Elizabeth Witmer, hand delivered a cheque for $42.9 million. She hand delivered the cheque, actually took the cheque and delivered it to the Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation. She said she was concerned that the deficit would impede the ability of the Hamilton Health Sciences Corporation, a government-appointed supervisor, in developing a new business for the super hospital. That is action. That is a Mike Harris Government.

So I say to those ministers over there in the front bench. They are sorting of musing and smiling to this. Why don't they just maybe on Monday morning go up to the QE II with that cheque, and take it out of the slush fund over the weekend if you can get the keys to that fund again, like you did for Education, and just cut a cheque for about $29 million for the QE II to reinstate those 12 nurse managers/supervisors, the six information technology specialists, the manager for nuclear medicine, all the imaging and diagnostic procedures there. So the next time the people go, maybe some of the honourable members - I hope they don't have to go for that sort of a test but they might - that they won't have to stand in such a long lineup, because the manager of that department has been removed and discontinued. That is why it is important. If you are going to follow what Premier Harris is doing in Ontario, I would say, there it is, you have read it here today.

We talk in terms of privatization of health care. We notice a lot in the budget, Mr. Speaker, in addressing the principle of Bill No. 46. We have to address the issue of revenues and that was very clear that they are depending on third-party revenues to increase. That can be done with the insurance companies. It could be also out of province and out of country. How far we will move, I am sure this government will be watching what is happening in Alberta very closely where you have public money being put into the private side. We should be pretty clear what is happening there. I always thought it was the other way around, that private money might go into the public side. Klein has it turned around a little bit and actually public money is going into the private side. That is a funny way of privatizing, but it is doing it with the public's money. If this government is not looking to privatize everything in sight, then it should allow government enterprise to go about doing its business reasonably.

[Page 5767]

This legislation, as I said, is not all bad. For instance, when a department wants to initiate a new program which was not budgeted for or that money was not allocated for, that program must wait for next year's budget or the department is going to have to find new money in its existing budget. This is a positive step forward, we believe, in the budgeting process. The departments must be held firm to the monies which were budgeted to them. We all recognize that, and we see this as a positive initiative within Bill No. 46, but we also must be cognizant of the fact that things sometimes happen beyond our control. There is drought within the agricultural community. There are flu epidemics within the health care system, particularly in the month of February, and if we have not collected that data, surely to goodness, we should because it is pretty clear that the graph shoots up along February. This year it was a little earlier, perhaps even in January, and right across this country. So there are things that happen (Interruptions)

Somebody is calling from the corn patch over there, Mr. Speaker. One thing about him, his partners, all those backbenchers who are on that red tape committee, they will not lose that fellow in the corn pasture. He may get shot at for a bull moose, but he is not going to be lost in the cornfield. Anyway, I digress and it is not the principle of the bill, I am sure.

So the budget, while the departments must be accountable and held firm for the money that is allotted to them, we are also aware, as I mentioned, that things do happen out of our control, natural disasters or even some disasters that happen from our own doing. We have recognized that here within this bill and these occurrences are in the legislation. I would like to think that our Liberal Government did the same thing.

It is interesting to see the balanced budget provision found in this legislation, Mr. Speaker. It is also interesting to see that it does not take effect until the 2002-03 fiscal year. It seems to be that the Premier did say during the election that the books would be balanced by the year 2002-03. It seems to me that that is a four year period of time. We know they have trouble adding sometimes and I don't want to really keep bringing this up because the Minister of Finance has been so kind to me. Actually I have taken a couple of constituency matters and he has responded promptly, even though the answer has been no, I mean he has done it with such grace and charm that . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It was a partial no.

DR. SMITH: It was a partial no. We will not get into that but, anyway, we would like him to be able to add and to pay attention to the mathematics. I guess the question that we would ask about the legislation is what would happen, how would the minister respond if in 2002-03 he was presented with a forecast, a deficit within that time?

We do have certain discrepancies, particularly in Health. We see the deputy minister telling the regions, which are now, I guess, we are waiting for the authorities and the hospitals were called the NDOs, well, it is okay to run the deficits for two years, but yet we don't have

[Page 5768]

the legislation to allow that. So those are matters of concern that must be addressed and that are not really properly addressed within the legislation.

There are lots of provisions for departments to table reports and resolutions if they run over budget. This legislation also makes these departments make up the shortfall in that next year's budget, but there is nothing to say what will happen if the budget is not balanced and we seem to remember that the Premier said he would resign if their budgets don't balance. I think we have clips of that in case of that so we will be keeping them in reserve just for the next couple of years. We should look at perhaps now that he is on that side of the House, he has moved from the Third Party status to that side of the House, that perhaps the Premier would like to make the commitment since it is nowhere to be seen in this legislation. So we know that the minister took great pride in making tough decisions, saying he was going to be a strong leader, that he could make these tough decisions and we have seen the results of that, heaven forbid, we have seen it, but perhaps there are some other things he would like to tidy up to put this into legislation.

Maybe instead of the Premier resigning, maybe the Minister of Finance would resign. He could volunteer, if he, in fact, presents a budget in the House in 2003, which is not balanced. Maybe we could go further and ask the whole Cabinet to put their jobs on the line, because they all follow behind. Certainly, some of them are here because of those promises that were made by that Premier during that last election campaign.

That will sharpen them up a little bit, too, Mr. Speaker. It will sharpen them up if maybe their jobs are on the line. They will have to call the boys in from that red tape commission. They might be down in St. Lawrence or somewhere or up in Yarmouth and they have to call them in to be accountable for that budget that is not keeping the commitment of the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to move adjournment of the debate?

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would take this opportunity to move adjournment of debate on second reading of Bill No. 46.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate of second reading of Bill No. 46.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 5769]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, before moving adjournment for the day, I would like to rise on a point of privilege. The point of privilege refers to a debate yesterday on Bill No. 46 and comments made by the honourable member for Cape Breton East. I mentioned to the Deputy Speaker, who was in the Chair at the time, and it was unclear as to exactly what the member had said. However, on checking the Hansard for yesterday, I am led to believe that there is a point of privilege. The honourable member said, and I am just taking a portion, I realize from what his total remarks were, he said, "One thing, Mr. Speaker, I don't think, in this case, that the Premier does not mind, perhaps, lining his own pocket, or the pockets of the Minister of Finance, because this government is certainly prepared to approve a budget . . ." Mr. Speaker, I would, on behalf of the Premier and the Minister of Finance, ask you to take that under advisement, please, and take that statement in the context in which it is given in the remarks and decide as to whether or not there should be a withdrawal of those remarks from the honourable member.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I would move that the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit until 10:00 p.m. Following the daily routine, we will be proceeding with Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill No. 46 and, if we finish Bill No. 46, on to Bill No. 47. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I will take that matter under advisement.

The motion is that the House do now rise until 2:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

We are adjourned until Monday at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 4:58 p.m.]