April 29, 1997            HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLIII  No. 16

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin the routine proceedings, the Chair would like to welcome to our galleries today twenty-five seniors from the Mount Pearl Parks and Recreation Friendship Club, in the electoral district of Mount Pearl, accompanied by the director, Ms. Sheila Dooley, Department of Parks and Recreation of the City of Mount Pearl.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Oral Questions


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Health.

Minister, will you please tell us what you plan to do with, I guess, the so-called election goodies that were handed out yesterday? Will we see some money going to health care, as the Premier seemed to think in his interview, or is it a case, as you and the Minister of Finance mentioned yesterday, that there is going to be no new money this year? Why is there a difference of opinion between you and your own Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

There is no difference of opinion between the Premier and myself. If the hon. member would take time to ask for or seek to listen to the transcripts of both what I said and the Premier said in the context of the questions we were asked, you will find that there is great unanimity and absolutely no contradictions.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, unanimity occurred when the Premier reached all the way from Vancouver and slapped him on the wrist, or maybe this morning as he flew overhead on his way to Bristol he reached down; then there was unanimity.

I ask the minister: You said in this House yesterday that we will have an extra $66 million a year over three years for health, post-secondary education, and social services. Now, yesterday the federal announcement indicated that there will not be one cent of extra money allocated over what is allocated this year. In fact, yesterday's announcement by the Prime Minister indicated that the current level of Canada Health and Social Transfers this year of $12.5 billion is not going to go down to $11 billion over the next few years but will stay at that level. I ask the minister, in light of that announcement - our Province during this fiscal year is now receiving $272 million under Canada Health and Social Transfer, down from $427 million two years ago - if we have extra money: How much will we receive next year above this $272 million we are receiving now?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the announcement yesterday by the federal government was very clear; it was simply this: That whereas there was a previous announcement that the floor for the CHST would drop to around $11.1 or $11.3 million, it would not now happen and that the floor would be maintained and stabilized at $12.5 million. That simply means that the further reductions that were to occur next year and the next and the next as previously announced in other budgets no longer is the way they are going. It is now a situation where next year we will have $16 million more than was predicted and that we thought we knew about when we went on our budget three year planning cycle. So, obviously it has an impact on what our fiscal capacity will be over the next three years and to the extent that we know we are going to be better off over the next three years then we had otherwise understood, it gives us something to reflect on in the context of what we have already said we have to work with this year.

So, it is very simple. The Leader of the Opposition tries to make something more out of it then he wants to. He listens to the cut and paste job that some of the media do on interviews. That is part of their job as well I suppose, but the facts of the matter remain unaltered, unchanged, and very clear to the simple mind.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to take his seat.

A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On the contrary, I am reading from your ministerial statement yesterday, minister. It states: The extra $66 million it will mean for this Province from 1998-99 to 2000, 2001 is significant and is evidence of the federal governments understanding of the need for more funding in the area of health, education, and social services. That is where it came from minister, not from the media, not from anybody else and that is misleading the public and telling them we are going to have more money.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his question, he is on a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: The minister has done nothing but flip-flop on health care. He said the system was fine a couple of months ago. A couple of weeks later it is adequate and now I say to the minister, it is stress now that he needs the health care for.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his question please.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the minister: when did he start realizing we have a serious problem here in our system in this Province in health care and will the minister commit today more money into the area of health care, money that is desperately needed before this health care forum even begins?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I have too much respect for the anticipated outcome of consultation that we will have with front line workers in this Province and others, with respect to matters having to do with health care, to be foolish enough to respond and be baited by a question from the Leader of the Opposition who asks: Will you commit to put money in before you have consulted?

Well, that is not the way we operate, Mr. Speaker. We put money in during the budgetary process after we have consulted, such as through the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board's consultation process. We put money into our budget after we have heard from the Social Strategic Plan consultative process and we will, if necessary and where appropriate, direct new money, if we have it available to us, after we have consulted through the health forum. But we are not going to prejudge what the recommendations of the stakeholders might be or the consumers who have come forward; we will take the time to hear them and then we will move appropriately thereafter.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, that is rather amusing. You take it out without consulting but you do not want to put it in without consulting. Yes, is that not hypocrisy? I say, Mr. Speaker, that is hypocrisy.

We heard tell of consultation - that word has been used a lot over the past year. We heard it a lot a year ago, I say to the minister. Now, is the minister really admitting today, by saying we are going to have a health forum, that he does not know what areas of the health care system are in trouble? Is that what he is telling us? Are you telling us that you do not even know what is going on in your own department?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: On the contrary, Mr. Speaker. We know that there are areas where we have to pay more attention in the health care system than in other areas. We know that there are certain difficulties, particularly with rural doctors, and if the hon. member would recall, just a month or so ago, he would also know that we made a significant effort, as a government, to address that particular issue. The hon. member, if he were to think back just a little bit, would recall that we put $1.5 million into the Budget last year to address the cardiac waiting list problem. But some of these initiatives, Mr. Speaker, take time to yield fruit and while we are waiting for that to happen, and in the context of the concerns we have today in certain areas of health care, we have decided to do a consultation process, and at the end of that, we will determine what action will be appropriate.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, and in the meantime, while we are waiting to bear fruit, the tree fell down minister, that is what happened and you are flip-flopping like a fish on a wharf. That is what you have been doing in health care for the past number of months.

Now, I ask the minister, if he will stand in his place - Mr. Speaker, he read in this House yesterday, that $66 million new dollars are being put into health care, extra money that they are going to be given. I want the minister to stand in his place and apologize for misleading the people of Newfoundland and Labrador by that statement and withdraw it now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On the contrary, I will stand in my place and I will affirm or re-affirm two things: number one, that the hon. member, not like most of the things he puts forward, he does read fairly well. He did read the statement that I presented yesterday. I did indicate that there were $66 million new dollars going to be available, because it was $66 million that, up until yesterday morning, we did not have at our disposal on a go forward basis commencing next year. So there will be $66 million new dollars that we did not anticipate that we will have to work with.

Let me assure the hon. member that the government that governs this Province, through the Cabinet that has been put in place, under the leadership of the Premier and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, will make, I believe, I am confident, appropriate decisions on where that new money will be spent in the interest of health care and/or other areas of social concern.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. I believe the minister is aware of the convenience store in Castors River that has been awarded funding under NORTIP. He is also aware that Northside General Convenience Store is now suffering business losses as a result of the government-funded competitor. I ask the minister, will he tell us what he intends to do about this matter?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, this is an issue that was raised some weeks ago by the hon. member with my office. We have checked into this particular matter. The BDCs, as you know, are governed by the Federal Government, and they did issue forth a loan to a competitor in the local area. We think that is wrong. We have made our feelings known to the Federal Government in this regard. They should not be lending money where there is already competition in place, and we have asked them to review the whole matter for us.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, it is my understanding that NORTIP, who draw their money from ACOA, are supposed to follow guidelines that ensure they do not provide funding to a competitor of an existing business.

I ask the minister: Considering the proximity of the three stores that were in the area prior to the money being given to the competing store, and considering the out-migration in the area and the documented losses by Northside General, what plans does the minister have at this particular time to ensure that this issue is corrected?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I just responded to that question. We think that particular loan made by this agency was inappropriate. It is always inappropriate to take public funds and expend them at low interest rates when there is competition and healthy competition in the area. Now, currently, there are a number of convenience stores in that area. NORTIP issued a loan, it was a preferential interest treatment loan. They should not have done so. We have made our feelings very clear to the business development section through the Federal Government and through the member of Parliament concerned. We are simply saying that it was wrong and we have asked for a full review of the matter. We think it was most inappropriate, how they conducted themselves.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: I ask the minister, outside of saying that the decision by NORTIP was wrong and telling the Federal Government that you feel their decision was wrong, what does the minister intend to do? What is the minister going to do to reverse this problem?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I do not know how many times I can say it. We have made our position quite clear. I know that when I was Minister of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the current Minister for Rural Renewal, we have very stringent guidelines in place to ensure that loans are not procured where there is healthy competition in an area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Now, look, we do not govern federally. We are not responsible for those programs. We are not there on a day-to-day basis. We can only make our feelings and our views known to the appropriate people who issue forth these loans, and we have done so.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, although the Minister of Health may be interested, as well. Several nutritional studies in Newfoundland indicate that 25 per cent of our senior population is nutritionally at risk. In other words, one in four of our seniors are so poor they cannot afford adequate nutrition. This is a tragedy of great proportion. What measures has the government taken to identify seniors that need positive intervention and what pro-active measures has the government taken to address this critical issue for our senior citizens?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The question was directed to my hon. colleague, but in-as-much as the responsibility for seniors in this Province rests with the Department of Health. I am happy to respond to it.

The seniors of this Province have played a significant part in the growth and development of this Province, and if you are looking at a government that has a concern for any part of the population that is point specific, they are the seniors. I meet with the seniors groups regularly and I take every opportunity to interact with them.

Specifically, what are we doing to assist seniors in the Province? Well, the hon. member would know that we probably have the best network of personal care homes in the Province, that care for a lot of our seniors and are doing an excellent job. The hon. member would probably know that we have exceeded the targets for long-term care beds in the Province over the last ten years, such that we have an excess of capacity provincially in that area. The hon. member would know that this government has instituted a home-support program that is the richest and most enhanced in all of the country, and we deliver a lot of our services to seniors in that regard. The hon. member would know that there are a number of programs at work throughout the community health system in this Province, through our community health boards, that work toward ensuring that not only seniors but every segment of our population has good information on nutrition and has good advice on nutrition, and we seek to promote good nutritional habits and dietary patterns to aid and abet their diet and their good health.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, a supplementary.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In other words, the government has done nothing to identify those seniors who are at risk.

Dr. R. K. Chandra, an internationally renowned researcher in nutrition, has shown conclusively that poor nutrition in this age group called seniors is definitely linked to respiratory infections such as bronchitis, pneumonia, and flu-like symptoms, and a significant proportion of health care in seniors can be cut back if we can improve their diet.

Again, I ask the government: What are you doing to identify those seniors at risk? And what programs are you going to introduce to be proactive and start to address the problem?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, thank you.

I am not about, today, to try to get into a lengthy answer as to what all of the programs are that are put out there and are active in trying to aid and look after seniors in the Province. Frankly, I am sure I would not remember most of them; so, as opposed to trying to put them all out there from memory, I undertake to find out and table in the House for the hon. member a specific answer to his specific question, as I understand it: What specific programs do we have in place that are geared toward nutritional effectiveness for seniors?

I will take that question under advisement and provide the information in a timely fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader, a supplementary.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the minister for the commitment.

In a report dated March, 1996, Dr. Chandra estimated that for every dollar spent in dietary counselling to improve the nutritional status of seniors, we will save $10 in health care costs; good prevention practices or, to use the cliché most common today, good, healthy public policy. They say that addressing the issue of nutrition for seniors is good public policy. It certainly is good social policy, it is good fiscal policy, it is good medical policy, and it is good human policy.

I say to the government: I ask the minister if he would be more proactive and identify the long-term strategies, share them with the seniors, share them with the public, so that the seniors in this Province can know that the government in this Province is willing to invest $1 dollar, because investing $1 in nutritionally-funded programs will save $10 in good future public-spending dollars.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member reads very well from Dr. Chandra's writings, and I could not take any issue with any comment or proposition that Dr. Chandra puts forward. I say the hon. member does very well to read from Dr. Chandra's writing, but there is not very much original coming from the hon. member in what he said.

To the more substantive part of his question, I, certainly, on behalf of this government, will commit to continue to have the high level of collaboration, dialogue and discussion, interaction, and all other types of mechanisms that we can use, to work with the seniors of the Province through their provincial associations, as represented by their president, Mrs. Gladys Snow, from Bonne Bay, through Don Hollett who is the national president of the seniors of Canada, working with him, through the Seniors Resource Centre which operates in St. John's, and all of the other venues and opportunities and agencies that represent seniors. I do make a commitment to continue that high level of collaboration and working relationship with them to ensure that the seniors of this Province are best served by a good Liberal government with a big Liberal heart.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. the minister to take his seat.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to revisit an issue that was raised yesterday and ask the Minister of Education some more specific questions dealing with the Terra Nova project.

Minister, what shortfalls have your department identified in local personnel availability for the Terra Nova project and what corrective and foresightful training initiatives are being prepared by your department to ensure that the positions that become available are taken by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the short answer would be that a specific job by job analysis in terms of looking at short comings for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians has not been completed recently.

There was work done on that, that dates back almost a decade in terms of opportunities in the offshore, Mr. Speaker, because with respect to Terra Nova, everybody understands now that it was not until very recently that the type of platform they were intending to use was not public knowledge, except in the last few months or so.

They are still looking at some possible revisions, but the generic nature of the types of job opportunities that are available in construction of whatever type of facility and platform they use is already well-known in the industry and in the Province. And with respect to operational matters on the type of production platform that they actually use offshore, the details that are being finalized again the college system in the Province, the Marine Institute and the University have already geared up for the generic types of jobs.

It was only recently that I was at the Seal Cove campus of the college of the North Atlantic with the federal member for St. John's East, announcing the new training modules that are available for offshore drilling that are already filled to capacity by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, who have sought out themselves the type of information about the job opportunities that are going to be available offshore and are already in training, so that they will be well-trained and able to take the jobs that are available.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to me that the short answer is that there are no foresightful training initiatives being put in place to take advantage of future employment opportunities for people in this Province.

I would like to ask the minister this: Does he share Petro-Canada's assertion that there is enough skilled labour in Canada and in other maritime regions in the world to fulfil the drilling requirements of Petro-Canada? Does he share that assertion by Petro-Canada and, if so, why is he, as minister, allowing that to happen?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe that the hon. member opposite is probably again, like some portion of our population of Newfoundland and Labrador, trying to make some real parallels and comparisons to the Terra Nova project and the Hibernia project.

The reason the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada, through HRD, took such an active and proactive interest in training for the Hibernia project was because it was supported by vast amounts of public money. And because there was public money in it, because there were taxpayers' dollars in it, we felt that we were obligated to direct the actual training for that particular project. Terra Nova is very different, Mr. Speaker. Terra Nova is private sector, industry-driven. When the representatives of the Terra Nova group say that for their purposes - because it is their money, there is no taxpayers' money from anybody in Newfoundland or Labrador, there is no federal taxpayers' money in this, it is their private investment dollars. They do not feel any particular onus, obligation or commitment to ensure that anyone gets the job other then someone qualified.

We have pointed out to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and have already prepared them, by making sure that our colleges, the Marine Institute and the University, know the kinds of jobs that are available at Terra Nova. We do not have any money in it, we are not paying for any training specifically for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. But those who have already come forward and expressed an interest through government or through the industry sector itself, they know what kinds of jobs are there, they are already in training programs training themselves, the same, Mr. Speaker, as if they would opt to train to be a teacher.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to get to his answer quickly.

MR. GRIMES: - at the university, and nurse through the nursing schools and so on. They have ferreted out the opportunities, they are in the training programs and Terra Nova is quite right -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to take his seat.

MR. GRIMES: - in its own right to suggest that there are lots of people already available for them and we are hoping most of them would be Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for kilbride, a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, nobody, nobody in this House faults Terra Nova or faults Petro Canada for looking after Petro Canada, but I do fault the minister for not looking after the people of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister this: Isn't it time for the government, specifically your department, to begin to maintain a skills certification directory, that would catalogue clearly the positions that we have available on the one hand, the skilled personnel to match it on the other hand and on the third hand, where deficiencies exist, that we put training programs in place right now so people in this Province, not in Canada, not in the maritime regions around the world but the people in this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador can take full advantage of those employment opportunities? Would you not agree with that, minister?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the hon. member made that speech in asking a question because in fact, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly the approach that has been taken.

The answer that I gave in case he missed it somewhere, was that the generic types of jobs that are available in offshore have already been categorized in the Province, that has been done over a ten-year period since a former Premier by the way, Premier Peckford started touting that oil was going to save Newfoundland and Labrador back in the 70s, so it is almost twenty years ago now that people started doing that kind of inventory and the proof is in the pudding, Mr. Speaker, to coin a phrase, in that he should check with the people who are already in the training programs at Seal Cove, directed at both Hibernia and Terra Nova because the inventory has been done, it is recognized that there is not 100 per cent Newfoundlanders and Labradorians trained to take the jobs; they have already gone into the training programs. The second batch will go into the training programs later this spring; they will all be trained and available to seek the jobs in the Terra Nova project when it comes on stream in a year or so, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker. my question is to the Minister of Forestry Resources and Agrifoods.

Yesterday I asked the minister a couple of questions concerning Newfoundland Farm Products and I would like to ask him another question today, if he would confirm that this particular facility is now sold and the owner is the Independent Broilers Association Of Newfoundland?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader?

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me thank the hon. gentleman for his question and let me say to him that the government is following what we would consider to be normal procedure in what we announced in the Budget Speech and that is, that we would be divesting ourselves of Newfoundland Farm Products; and let me say to him that there are all kinds of rumours floating around as to what is going on, but let me just say to him that on Thursday we will give him a directive by Cabinet, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the Premier and I, and that on Sunday of this week, we met with the unions which we consider to be normal procedure and that we outlined certain options and certain things to them which we felt should be kept confidential at the time, and Mr. David Curtis who is making certain announcements today in the press was not even present, he was informed on Friday but couldn't make it.

On Monday they requested another meeting with us and we met with them and Mr. Curtis came in half-way through that meeting and we again said to them that we would consider certain options in the best interest of the employees of Corner Brook, this is a painful experience for them and in the best interest of trying to protect them until they had a chance to hear it from us, we then agreed that we would take those options today to a meeting of employees. A member of the Department of Finance and the Chairman of the board would take those options to the employees in Corner Brook and discuss them and I am appalled to hear today, in the press for example that, Mr. Curtis has said that we did not even bother to schedule a meeting, when he knew yesterday when he left that meeting that we were going to schedule a meeting and that it was going to occur today and that it is occurring this evening, this late afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the hon. gentleman I welcome his question and his concern but I am not going to stand in this House and talk about any options about the Corner Brook plant. I am not going to follow the lead of the union leaders in this Province and stand in this House and talk about the options that are available to the employees in Corner Brook until people on the board and people concerned with negotiations have had a chance to discuss them with them this afternoon.

We made a decision on Thursday and I say to the Opposition and to Mr. Curtis and to anybody else in this Province -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: - that wants this negotiated in public that we will refuse to do so -

MR. SPEAKER: I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer quickly please.

MR. TULK: - in the interest of the employees in Corner Brook.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I say to the minister the people have a right to know. I ask the minister if he would confirm in this House today that eighty to 100 people presently working in Corner Brook operations will be displaced and have no job within the next two weeks, pending on the sale of this particular facility?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, let me just say to the hon. member that he will see in the fullness of time that there are some very false assumptions in what he is saying. I say to him again, in the interests of the employees of Corner Brook, that they have a right to hear it first from the employer, which in this case happens to be a board and Newfoundland Farm Products, and they will hear it later on this afternoon. That was the only time, the earliest time, that it could be done. I have to question the motivations of other people in this Province who are out making statements in public before we have had a chance to discuss this with the very people affected -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: - and I won't do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question period has expired.


Notices of Motion


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port au Port.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to present the following resolution:

WHEREAS the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, in these challenging times, is making significant efforts to achieve economic renewal and diversification in rural areas of the Province; and

WHEREAS various government initiatives in partnership with communities throughout the Province have realized the creation of significant business development in the Province; and

WHEREAS some of these initiatives such as, Piccadilly Plastics Limited in Piccadilly, Steel Core Industries Limited in Buchans, Superior Glove Works in Point Leamington and the tannery announced this week for Baie Verte are evidence of government's continuing support and encouragement for diverse economic development activity throughout the Province;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly support the government in its continuing efforts to identify new opportunities and in furtherance of its ongoing policy of forming partnerships with communities and the private sector in the process of economic diversification.




MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today to once again present a petition on behalf of people opposed to the privatization of the parks in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, Mr. Speaker, I met some people from Long Harbour, Whitbourne, Mount Arlington Heights, Torbay and different areas who signed this petition and the prayer of the petition is as follows;

We the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador wish to petition the provincial government, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and the Premier to immediately reverse the decision to privatize the provincial parks, as they are the people's resource. We feel that this decision was made in haste without any consultation of the people who own the parks, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this is an ongoing concern of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Of course there are many, many people opposed to the privatization of the parks in Newfoundland and Labrador. We had the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation trying to rationalize the sale of the parks in Newfoundland and Labrador with respect to the fact that she said they had seventy-seven applications for twenty-one parks. Now that is less than three -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Seven sites, okay, whatever.

Twenty-one parks and seven sites and they had less than three signs of interest per park, yet I would assume, Mr. Speaker, that if you looked at the number of people that signed petitions in Newfoundland and Labrador it would far outweigh the number of people who showed interest in the privatization of parks. I suppose if you were going to privatize anything, if you were going to privatize a beach rock you would have some people show an interest in trying to get some kind of a business going. With respect to the situation that is going on in this Province today, many people in this Province, Mr. Speaker, are in a self survival mode and they are looking for anything at all that can help them out through the hard times that are being imposed upon them by this administration.

Now we don't only see that the privatization of the parks is foremost on the mind of the Minister of Tourism but now she is talking about attacking the gravel pit campers in Newfoundland and Labrador. Now that is something that has developed over the years to be a tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador, the people who go to areas they call gravel pits but, Mr. Speaker, that is basically a misnomer, gravel pit campers, because many people who go out and go into these sites are not necessarily into gravel pits.

Now there are some that were gravel pits many, many years ago when the Trans Canada Highway was being built and they have grown over. They have bushes or alders - as we refer to them in Newfoundland and Labrador - but there are other areas in the Province, meadows and clearings that people use. They go and park their trailers there and utilize it for the summer months. Now the red herring being thrown into this, Mr. Speaker, of course is the red herring of the environment, that these people abuse the areas. There is no doubt that you get good and bad in every walk of life or every resource that is being utilized. There may be a few who do abuse the environment but there should be regulations brought in place to deal with those people. We should not penalize everybody for the sake of a few.

The minister has been in the media and there were certain groups in society in the private sector lobbying the minister to basically disband gravel pit camping for their own benefit, mind you, to their own benefit, and they will say, basically, that: We only want certain areas to be off limits to these gravel pit campers for various reasons.

The problem here is this: If they start with one area, then they will move to another area and then to another area where gravel pit camping will be forbidden, and then we have another tradition in Newfoundland and Labrador taken away from the people who live here.

Mr. Speaker, when I say `the people who live here', the number of people in Newfoundland and Labrador, of course, is declining yearly, monthly, weekly. We have had, in our last census to the present month, 17,000 people in total leave this Province. Now that is a net difference. Of course, we have had people coming into the Province - we have people moving back into Newfoundland and Labrador - but we are talking about 17,000 people moving out of the Province. Now we are going to put another restriction on these people, people who really cannot afford to be taking their holidays out of the Province because of the economic environment created by this administration and their cousins in Ottawa. They have been taking money right, left and centre out of the pockets of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am standing to speak to this petition today. I have spoken to this petition and presented many petitions on this particular issue, and I am most happy to support the people who have signed this petition.

We have seventy-seven proposals on the twenty-one parks and seven sites, and yet we have over 15,000 names on petitions of people speaking out against the privatization of provincial parks.

Mr. Speaker, it is quite obvious that the majority of the people in this Province do not want the provincial parks privatized, do not want the provincial park structure tampered with, and do not want experimentation with the privatization of provincial parks, most especially in 1997, our Cabot year, and most especially without consultation with the people who own these parks, those people being the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the government sees fit to make many decisions lately without any consultation with the people who are affected, and this is another example. Some of these provincial parks are the most widely used parks in the Province. Some of the parks that are being privatized have the highest rates of visitors and the highest rates of return on the taxpayers' dollars.

While we all agree these parks are not moneymakers, the parks employees themselves approached the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation shortly after this announcement was made and suggested that they would be able to provide alternative ways to cut back on the expenditure on the parks. Perhaps they would not be able to save the full $1.8 million, but if the government had consulted with the park employees and the people affected by the closures of the parks, most especially the people of our Province, perhaps they would have come up with some alternatives in order to save most of the $1.8 million, as opposed to privatizing these parks.

On that note I will sit down. I just wanted to support this petition and the people who have signed it.

Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of residents of the Province who are concerned about the issue of child poverty, and in particular that of hungry children who are attending our schools.

Mr. Speaker, there were questions earlier today of this government on the issue of seniors' nutrition, and a number of problems were outlined and identified to the government. When finally someone from the ministry discovered that they should respond to this, the response was appalling - appalling that the Minister of Health quite literally appeared to know nothing whatsoever of the state of nutrition of senior citizens in this Province. Nor did he seem to be aware of what, if anything, his department was doing to consider programs to alleviate some of the difficulties that our seniors are facing in the area of nutritional needs which, let's face it, is closely attuned to the health of our citizens.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have children who are hungry every day of their lives, and who are going to school hungry and are not able to learn, and the Minister of Education has, on a couple of occasions in this House, risen to his feet and said that the voluntary sector should look after this.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think that that is good enough. These petitioners have asked the government - and I read the prayer of the petition: We the undersigned petition the House of Assembly to direct the government to establish a universal comprehensive school lunch program for every school in Newfoundland and Labrador to help end child hunger and to give our children a better chance.

There is an awful lot of lip service being given to the issue of child poverty in Canada. It has become the rhetoric of the federal Liberals, and the provincial Liberals jump on the bandwagon every now and then. But when there is an opportunity to take action such as there is here I don't see any action at all. What we see is government making some petty contribution, given the size of the problem, to a voluntary program based on a model which has good points in terms of its delivery of the service. In terms of the delivery of the service, it is a stigma free service that makes available a nutritious meal in the schools where it is able to operate. On that side of it, it is a very good program. On the side of it where it counts in terms of being able to deliver that service throughout the schools of the Province, and particularly some of those that may need it most, it is unable to deliver because it doesn't have the resources, and the communities themselves don't have the resources to deliver that program on a volunteer model.

We need a universal comprehensive school lunch program. Those of you who visit your districts, those of you who talk to people in their homes, those of you who are aware of the needs that your own constituents have, know that the situation is not very good. It is desperate in fact, and it is getting worse because more and more people are coming off the protection of the so-called social safety net. They are being cut off TAGS, they are being declined for unemployment insurance because of the changes in the rules, they are being cut off social assistance, they are being cut off home care, they are being turfed out of programs which provided for social assistance recipients to get student aid to enable them to attend University but didn't have to borrow money to feed their children. Now the Minister of Human Resources and Employment has told single parents who are attending Memorial University that you have to borrow money from the bank on a student loan to feed your children. That is the policy of this government.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Humber East says that his kids have to borrow money for student loans. That is fair enough. But they don't have to borrow money to feed their children when they are trying to get themselves an education to better themselves and better their lot. These are social assistance recipients. If the government wants them to stay on social assistance for the rest of their lives, if that is the incentive that they want to give them, then they are doing a very good job of it. They are going to have people quitting university and staying on social assistance because they can't afford to borrow enough money to feed their children.

That is the policy of this government, Mr. Speaker. Instead of providing support for these families, instead of providing support for children who are going to school hungry, this government is turfing them out on their own and making them worse off. This is a very important petition. The petitioners have asked the government to consider the affects of child hunger on the ability of their children to learn in school -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - and ask the government to institute this program.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise again today to support the petition put forward by my colleague for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

Today in question period I made note of the fact that not only do we have great numbers of our children who are living in poverty, but certainly we also know that great numbers of our seniors have great difficulties with finding good food of great nutritional value as well.

We know that poverty, with all of its attendant problems, with the problems that we have identified here, and numerous times that the member and I have spoken on this issue, we know that that is one of the greatest barriers to achievement that has been identified over and over again. We will continue, or I will continue, to support this particular petition regardless of how many times it is put forward, and I will endeavour to speak to it every single time.

We cannot continue to ignore the children of this Province. We can't continue to say to our children by our actions that we don't care, because the consequences of not caring is to produce a generation that will be lost. We know what happens when children are not properly cared for; they grow up to be adults who will not be able to have fulfilling lives and will not be able to reach their full potential. So we say to all members of the House: What are you going to do about it?

Research has shown conclusively the evidence. Research has shown that we will be less of a nation, less of a Province, less as a society, if we don't handle this problem. So, Mr. Speaker, we say to you today, and through you to all members of this House, that these children who are at risk in this Province - we know that there are 40,000 of them in school this afternoon - nearly 40 per cent of the school-aged population of this Province is in school today and they have not had a good lunch.

While we commend those who are putting forward positive programs, we commend the actions of private business and the volunteer groups in this Province who are doing all they can, they cannot do it alone. They cannot do it alone. We know that we must do something better. We have to do it because the cost of not doing it is so great. We should have an interventionist policy. We should have a policy that says we are going to stand up for children; we are going to stand up for them from the time they are conceived until they get right through their teenage years and through the university years.

We have to be proactive. We have to be good decision makers. We know the consequences of not being proactive. We know, when we look at the school system. Look at the dropout rate. See which group in the population has the highest dropout status; they are the children of the poor. See which group had the highest numbers in special education; they are the children of the poor. See which group will tend to leave school without graduating, even junior high school in some cases; they are the children of the poor. Even look within our centres like the correctional centre at Whitbourne, and do a little study and see what the relationship is between being in poverty and being behaviourial dysfunctional and also a child who is more at risk to end up in some remedial institution.

Mr. Speaker, the consequences of poverty are to continue the cycle of illiteracy, to continue the cycle of dependency. When we hear the government say that they want to break the cycle of dependency, there is one clear way to do it, and that is start with the very young. Start with them before they get in school, and continue to support them all throughout their school-age years. Make sure that every hungry child's needs are met so that they can have an opportunity to be not only good children but to grow up and be good adults, and they themselves will then be committed to breaking the cycle. Break it with the children who are there today, and then you won't have to break it thirty or forty years from now.

Mr. Speaker, we know that the Province does not have -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: We know that the Province does not have great deals of money, but we should establish where our real priorities are. At the moment they are certainly not with the children of this Province.

Thank you very much.


Orders of the Day


AN HON. MEMBER: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion 1. The hon. the Member for Bonavista South, I believe, adjourned the debate.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to speak on the motion put forward by my colleague, the non-confidence motion on the Budget.

We are certainly living today in very, very uncertain times. If you go out and visit rural Newfoundland and Labrador today, and talk to some of the people you will see on the streets, visit some of the people you find out of work, unable to find a job, unable to provide for their families, you will know very quickly what the moratorium, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, has done to rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

I don't know if we ever knew for sure what the fisheries meant until 1992. Everybody took it for granted because it was always there for us. It was always a place where you could go. You could go down on the wharf and you could pick yourself up a couple of hours' work, or you could pick yourself up a summer's job at the local fish plant. You could go there and you could earn enough money in the summertime to go back to university or buy new clothes for high school. It was always there and it was always something that we took for granted. We didn't realize the importance of the fishery to this Province until it disappeared, until it was taken from us, in 1992.

Leading up to 1992, 1989, 1990, 1991, terrible times in the fishery. Most of the fish plant operators realized the valuable contributions their employees were making, and they always managed to transport fish from one plant to another in order to provide at least the minimum amounts of employment that you need in order to qualify for UI. Most people had an income over the winter months. It is only now when we are seeing our TAGS program cut back, funding taken away from this Province, taken out of the pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, people who built this Province, it is only now when we are taking funding away from them and we are sending them to the Department of Human Resources and Employment, that we realize - and do they realize as well, I guess, it works both ways- what the fishery really meant to Newfoundland and Labrador.

It must be an awful thing to find yourself fifty or fifty-five years old without an education and without any prospects of a job.

MR. EFFORD: Do you realize nobody's listening to you?

MR. FITZGERALD: You're listening, I say to the - if you're not you should, because you might be able to learn something. The minister knows very well what I'm talking about. Because even though he gets up and shouts and hollers and talks about the wonderful things he does for his district, there is a lot of people in the minister's district hurting as well. He would be the first to admit that, that they aren't all getting up in the morning and going to work.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think any of us here in this House get any joy out of waking up in the morning and getting dressed and putting on your boots and going outdoors to go to work and look next door and see your neighbour looking out through the window with nowhere to go. No need of him getting dressed. There's no need of him getting up and going outdoors because he has nothing to do. It is a sad way to find yourself.

I remember growing up. The community that I grew up in probably wasn't as badly hit as many of the other rural Newfoundland communities because there was no fishery there. The community where I lived, most people went away to work. They went away and they came back on weekends. It was a common thing to be gone all summer long. It wasn't a fishing community. But most communities in my district now are fishing communities. It is a situation where they could have left school at an early age, jumped in the fishing boat or went in the fish plant, and they could have made very good money. It wasn't uncommon for people in those fishing communities to have the mother and the father and the brother and the sister, the whole family, working in the fish plant. When the siren went at noon they would get aboard their car and the whole family went home for dinner and sat at the kitchen table. At 1:00 p.m. they were back in the plant again, every one of them making in excess of $10.00 an hour.

Very good money, making a good living. Didn't know what it was to be without. Catered to the local businesses in the communities. They didn't have time to drive thirty miles for an outing, or to go off on a Saturday to spend the day shopping. There was lots of work to do in the communities around their house because they were working during the week. As a result, people were working, the communities were flourishing, the local businesses were busy, they were making money, and everybody was happy. Everybody was wearing a smile.

Not so today. In many of those communities where those individuals left school when they were old enough to leave without getting their parents in trouble, they hopped aboard the fishing boat or they went to the fish plant and they did very well. Now, all of a sudden, in 1997 they find themselves without an education and without a job, and where do they go? I say to the Minister of Social Services, it is not an option for some of those people to be told to go to Alberta, or they are hiring up in Yellow Knife or up in the North West Territories. Mr. Speaker, it is a frightening thing for some of those people to be told that they must now pull up stakes at fifty-five or sixty years old, give up everything they always loved, give up something that they worked for all their lives and have to go away to find a job to keep body and soul together. I am not sure that we are doing enough, Mr. Speaker.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture sits in his seat and shouts across the House. I say to him, in his other life he was a champion of the people. In his other life he was a champion of the fishermen and the fish plant workers. Now, he has been silenced, he has been beaten into submission, he is now part of it, very meek, not saying a word. When did you hear the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture speak out on the negative things that are happening to the fishermen and the fish plant workers in Newfoundland and Labrador?

AN HON. MEMBER: He told them the other day in a meeting that he would not march with them.

MR. FITZGERALD: He told them the other day in a meeting, my colleague tells me, that he would not even march with them. You saw him a few months ago down on the water front when he was hopping from boat to boat with the megaphone in his hand and the light on his forehead. I saw him down there one day, he had one of those mining lights on his head, jumping from boat to boat so he could be recognized. Where is he now? Where is he now?

MR. EFFORD: Where were you?

MR. FITZGERALD: I was working, trying to feed my family, I say to the minister, but I was not carrying on a bluff like you were doing. The people knew where I was, but I say to the minister, you do not know where you were. You do not know where you were then, because you were certainly out of your league. You were certainly, Mr. Minister, carrying out a job that you were not qualified to do, number one - and number two, that you were not sincere in doing. I say to the minister - and the Member for Twillingate & Fogo knows what I am talking about, because he confirmed it with me a short time ago. He knows what I am talking about; he is having the same frustrations over there.

MR. EFFORD: Did you hear what I said?

AN HON. MEMBER: What did you say?

MR. EFFORD: He is going to get (inaudible) what is going on.

MR. FITZGERALD: I say to the minister that he had an opportunity to have input into Port Union and Catalina and Melrose and that area the other day, when his cousin up in Ottawa was dishing out shrimp quota. He had his chance to be able to do something for the people there, and for whatever reason, they saw fit to put it all in one particular area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: He has one up there, for sure, and the minister remains silent while all the (inaudible) is brought back here to this Island and put on our people, and that is unfair.

Mr. Speaker, a few years ago when people were leaving this Province, a lot of people were leaving because they wanted to leave. They wanted to see the other life. They heard about Toronto and Boston. It is nothing new for Newfoundlanders to be going away. It is nothing new - it has happened ever since we have been here. You talk to people down in New York and Boston and up in Toronto and they will tell you that Newfoundlanders built their cities, they put up the skyrises, they built the bridges - hard-working people. But what is happening today that was not happening before is a situation where we are losing our young people. We are losing our brightest minds, I say to the minister. That is the sad thing that is happening here today. We are talking about the price of education and how we hold it sacred, and if we do not educate our people we will never get out of the doldrums that we are in today. We are saying that in order to improve the unemployment level, in order to get people working, we need to educate our young people and we need to keep them here in this Province. What is saddening today is seeing the young people leaving this Province, having to go away to find a job, after they go through the school system here, and even though they are paying tuition fees, which many of them cannot afford, and they are coming out owing $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 if they live in rural areas. In spite of all that, they are taking all their wisdom, all their intelligence and enthusiasm to other provinces and to other countries.

I had to smile the other day when I heard the Minister of Finance get up - I think it was the Minister of Finance - and talk about the unemployment levels, how they have gone down. There is a very good reason why the unemployment levels have gone down here in Newfoundland: it is because most of our young people, Mr. Speaker, 17,000 of them, have not been able to find an opportunity to work here, and they are now in Alberta and British Columbia working. And those provinces are receiving the benefits for what we have helped pay for, number one - and number two, it will be our loss for years to come. I do not think you are going to see those young people return to Newfoundland. Most of them, when they go away, they start a new life and you will not see them return here to Newfoundland or Labrador other than to visit, and that is sad. It is a sad situation to find ourselves in.

I think what the Minister of Finance should do or the Minister of Human Resources and Labour - when they put out the next statistic that shows the unemployment levels, I suggest they put out the figures that show the employment levels. I think you will find that in the employment levels, there is probably not a lot of difference from the unemployment levels. I would be very surprised if there is more than 40 per cent of the people in this Province employed. I would be very surprised. The unemployment levels do not take into consideration the people on the TAGS program. The unemployment levels do not take into consideration the people who have given up looking for a job, the seniors or the people who are on social assistance, not actively looking for employment. They do not show any of that. So I would suggest that there is probably not many more than 40 per cent, in this Province, working today. I do not see how the government can improve the economy of this Province by creating lay-offs, by putting people on social assistance and by putting people on unemployment insurance. It cannot be done. Unless you get people back to work and paying into the economy of this Province, Mr. Speaker, it will never, ever improve.

Now, the Premier of another government, who sat opposite there, Mr. Wells, is on record for saying that this Province could not support any more than 260,000 people. Mr. Wells is on record for saying that, that this Province cannot support a population greater than 260,000 people. So we know where the government is heading. We know what their projections are. We know what their goals are, Mr. Speaker. I always thought the more people that you had, the greater the population, the greater the opportunity. The greater the chance of going into business and having a population to be able to buy, produce and be there to consume, but not according to this government.

Government, then, in their wisdom, on April 1, introduced the HST. I have not heard one squeak from one member opposite about the negative impact that the HST will have on those who are less fortunate. All we heard them talking about was the great savings you would have if you bought a fur coat or if you bought a new automobile -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) or a boat.

MR. FITZGERALD: - or a new boat. If you bought a boat, like the Companion, Mr. Speaker, you would save some money - a big, new fibreglass trawler that is cruising the waters of Newfoundland and Labrador, owned by the minister - buying some fuel here and there but he does not know what he is doing, does not know how to operate it, how to read the compass, how to read the radar. Mr. Speaker, there is a calamity waiting to happen. You watch and see. No wonder the Coast Guard is going to start charging people for going out and getting them and pulling them into harbours. No wonder, Mr. Speaker, that people like these are costing the government of the day hundreds of thousands of dollars when they go out, break down and do not know how to fix their motors, do not know how to fix their rudders. The people in King's Cove could tell them all about that.

I had a phone call yesterday from an individual in my district. In fact, he wrote a letter to the local paper and he talked about government not taking part in the `Now You Are Cooking' program. That is a picture, that is exactly what it is. It is a situation where, and everybody knows, I suppose, the greatest cause of fires in this Province today is the old chip fryer, the old boiling pot of fat on the stove, is probably the greatest cause of injury and death in fire-related injuries today, this old chip fat fryer. The children especially come home and put on the stove and turn up the heat and the next thing you know, you have the fat frying and you have the chips in and somebody falls asleep or somebody gets carried away to do something else, and boom, you have an explosion, and most of the time, Mr. Speaker, you read about the tragedies in the paper or you hear it on the news the next day.

Newfoundland Light and Power came forward with a program whereby they offered a sixty-dollar reduction for anybody who would go out and buy a CSA approved deep fat fryer, sixty dollars from a corporation right here in this Province. They had an agreement with Canadian Tire, they identified a suitable deep fryer, the cost was something like $129, they would provide sixty dollars, the consumer would go and pay - well, he would get it for half-price.

People called the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board asking him if government would take part in this particular program and take the taxes off the deep fryers. You had a corporation putting forward sixty dollars, you had people going out, people who probably could not afford to buy it but they saw an opportunity and were willing to dip into their pockets and take out another sixty-nine dollars and go out and buy a deep fryer so that their children might be able to enjoy a meal of french fries and do it in safety. So they called the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and asked him if government would now take part in this program, a very worthwhile program - I don't think anybody here will doubt that - and asked if him if they would do away with the taxes on that particular purchase. `No', Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. In fact, do you know what they did? Instead of taking this particular and coupon and getting a reduction of sixty dollars and paying taxes on the sixty-nine dollars, government said you must pay taxes on the $129 which is the list price of that deep fryer, and that is terrible.

That is terrible, I say to members opposite. Is that going to break the government? Is that, Mr. Speaker, going to cause the government to revisit this Budget or dip into the contingency fund? Is that going to make them have to dip into their $30 million? That is unbelievable, Mr. Speaker. All they were asking for was a reduction in sales tax for the purchase of a deep fryer that would probably save them hundreds of thousands of dollars anyway, but the government of the day, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, who is walking into the room now, Mr. Speaker, would have nothing to do with it.

MR. E. BYRNE: Tell him again, ask him why.

MR. FITZGERALD: No, he is well aware of the requests that were brought forward. In fact, it was raised in one of the local paper at the time as well.

It is terrible ,I say to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, it is terrible that you are so cold-hearted. When you are home sipping your wine, when he is home, Mr. Speaker, being a connoisseur of wine, you have a possibility happening out there today where younger children are going home, taking a pot out of the cupboard, throwing in the fat, putting it on the stove and a chance that the whole house will go up like a bomb, all for the uncaring attitude of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and this particular government.

The second year for this program was 1996, and to show you how popular it was for the two years... It was only for two months. I think Fireman's Week - what is the proper name for it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Fire Safety Week.

MR. FITZGERALD: Fire Safety Week starts about the first week in October of each year, so Newfoundland Power and Canadian Tire had this program going from October 1 until the end of the year. They took it further than the week that was set aside for Fire Safety Week. They had it going for three months, October, November and December, and during that time frame there were 2,336 deep fryers sold in 1995, which was the year that the program and the thought was implemented - 2,336 - and in 1996 there were 6,155 deep fryers sold. That is how popular this particular program was, over 8,000 deep fryers sold in six months, but it was once again a situation where government could have stepped in, responded to a problem, helped with the concerns that are out there and, I suppose if you would, reached out a hand to those who were less fortunate.

Many of us did not want the $60. Many of us probably could have afforded to go out and pay the $129, but the option was still there for us to use the $60 coupon. It was still there, but it is another situation where this government reached out with an uncaring hand and took something away from those who are the least fortunate in this Province today, the poor, the people who are at the lowest income, and tried to solve the problems of the country once again on the backs of the working poor, another example of how uncaring this particular government is today.

Before I got up to speak, I had to go and borrow the Departmental Salary Details. When you talk about deep fryers, I suppose you have to jump right into one of the biggest wastes of money in which this government and other governments before us have taken part, something that should be stopped immediately, should never, ever be allowed to have happened in the first place, and it should certainly not be allowed to continue now, and that is the cost of running Government House. This year it will cost us, again, $500,000 to hire a private secretary to the Lieutenant-Governor, secretary to the Lieutenant-Governor, a gardener, a secretary to the assistant deputy, a chef, a gardener II, a housekeeper, a chauffeur, a seamstress, and four domestic workers.

What a waste of money, I say to members opposite, and I think if you talk to most of them privately the people over there would agree with you. I have nothing against the Lieutenant-Governor, nothing against the Lieutenant-Governor prior to now. There is nothing wrong with them, good people performing a function which maybe is very important -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Absolutely not, I say to the minister. He is a Bonavista bayman; he has to be a good man. The shame of it is putting the Lieutenant-Governor up in this big mansion and the taxpayers of this Province having to pay for it.

Look at what Alberta is doing, look at what Ontario is doing, provinces much, much richer who can afford the pomp and pageantry much more than we can right here in this Province. What does their Lieutenant-Governor do, I ask the Government House Leader? Where is their Lieutenant-Governor housed? In his own place, in his own house. The Premier does not have a big mansion. If he does, he is paying for it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes he did, but that is not to say that we should go back to those days, those dark days. No, we have to move ahead from that. That is why there is nobody over here who was part of those days. Not one over here, Mr. Speaker, was part of those dark days. The only people, Mr. Speaker, from that age, the only people from those days are all on the opposite side.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: They are all on the opposite side now, Mr. Speaker, those are the people who remember all those things. I don't know what happened in the past and I don't want to know. I don't want to be blinded by it. We have to move ahead and we have to learn from those mistakes and go on.

Mr. Speaker, there is no reason whatsoever why the Lieutenant-Governor in this Province today cannot have a suite of offices here in Confederation Building, the people's building, Mr. Speaker, and have his own home. There is no reason why we should be paying for the upkeep and all the pomp and pageantry, all the gardener I's, gardener II's and the seamstresses down at Government House. It's terrible. Let's move ahead and let's get on with it.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible)?

MR. FITZGERALD: Let's get on with it, Mr. Speaker, and let's take an example from the Province of Ontario. Let's take an example from Alberta. Let's get on with it and if we do need a Lieutenant-Governor then let's do it in the most economical way possible.

I say to the Government House Leader, that his mentor, Mr. Speaker, who used to sit to his left there at one time, he did not believe, I don't think deep down inside, that we should be putting out those kinds either. The former Premier, your idol the former Premier did not believe we should be doing that. In fact, when I brought it up here one day - for those of us who were here before they would know that Mr. Wells and Mr. Roberts almost wanted this House to be operated and ran like a courtroom. They didn't stand for any shouting or hollering. It was always kept pretty low key but I remember up speaking about the Lieutenant-Governor's residence and Mr. Wells looked across and said: Not a bad idea. He said, we can't get rid of the Lieutenant-Governor because that has to be done by so many provinces together. That is a federal thing but there is no reason why we can't do away with the Lieutenant-Governor's residence. I don't think, Mr. Speaker, if we did that we would leave him homeless or anything. I am sure we would not. I am sure that we still would not have any problem in attracting good people to want to be - distinguished people like we have now -who would still show a great interest in being the Lieutenant-Governor of this Province and be able to put him in his own home -

MR. FRENCH: Jack said, turn it into a bed and breakfast.

MR. FITZGERALD: It might be a good idea. The Leader of the New Democratic Party says that part of his election platform is to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Turn Government House into a bed and breakfast. It's not a bad idea. The people's house and let everybody have access to it. If you want a place to put your paintings, if you want a place to put your art, put it down there. If you want a museum, put it down there. We don't have to go and pay out millions of dollars to Mr. Frank Ryan because you people thought he was a Tory and you were Liberal. We can get away from all that, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - and we can put our paintings and the artwork of Newfoundland and Labrador in the people's house.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. TULK: I believe I heard the hon. gentleman say that he would turn it into a bed and breakfast and I say to him, according to the figures that he read out there, you probably could not make a profit off it and that shows the Tory mentality when it comes to running business. Surely he would like to withdraw that you can make it into a bed and breakfast.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

I recognize the hon. the Member for Bonavista South but I remind him that his time is up.

Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I have lots of things here I can say on the Budget. I have lots of things I can say here about what is happening in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I say to the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, who is trying very hard to be a good minister, he is trying.


MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, I have to give him credit. He sat over there in one of the back seats here the last term, if he got up fast he would have hit his head off the wall, a forgotten soul, stayed out of the House for one session, if I recall, and when he came in, Mr. Speaker, he would come in for the Budget and he would come in for the Throne speech and he would sit like this. He would be looking through his fingers, Mr. Speaker. He was a forgotten soul. He was mad at the people in opposition, he was mad at the Leader of the New Democratic Party, he was mad at his leader, he was mad at Eddie Escobar, he was mad at everybody opposite. He was a mad man, but then along came Brian - I cannot prase you Graham, you were the worst minister that was ever hear, I cannot praise you. You are in your rightful place. You should have occupied the seat that that gentlemen vacated.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I recognize the hon. the member for Windsor-Springdale, I would also like to remind hon. members in the House that when a member stands on a point of order procedure is that the member who is speaking takes his seat.

The hon. the Member for Windsor-Springdale.

MR. FLIGHT: Mr. Speaker, the point of order is simple, for a member to continue pass his allotted time, he has to have leave. He no longer has leave Mr. Speaker, I withdrawal leave.

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order, but leave has been withdrawn.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I did not know that the member for Windsor-Springdale was so eager to get me on my feet today.

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today on a motion of non-confidence in this government, it is a very easy thing to do. It is a very easy thing to do. Yes, that is what it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, they do not have non-confidence motions in certain states, I say to the minister, certain ones do not have them, so he has got to get a little familiar with the laws of Newfoundland and Labrador. The laws of the Commonwealth.

MR. TULK: This is the best non-confidence motion ever I saw in my life.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a tremendous one, tremendous.

MR. TULK: I know the time as well.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, 1989.

MR. TULK: 1988.

MR. SULLIVAN: 1988, that is it, 1988.

I guess one point you can make, when something is precedent setting it certainly helps in getting consistence in decisions whether it is in order or not.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, if it is, it is the first thing that the minister said that was conscious, I can assure him. Usually his verbiage compares to the Minister of Education.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak for a few minutes on why we lack confidence in this government on health care. We have seen the health care system in this Province being decimated over the last number of years. We have seen our Premier, when he was our federal minister, approve the Canada Health and Social Transfer that last year took $87 million, $87 million it took out of our provincial transfers. In 1995-96 there was $427 million given to this Province under established program financing and the Canada Assistance Plan, $427 million. In 1996-97 both programs combined, we received $340 million, an $87 million reduction. This year we are receiving under both of these $272 million, another $68 million reduction on top of the $87 million we had, $155 million less money coming into this Province on an annual basis for health and post-secondary education and social assistance than there were two years ago.

Now that is something that the Premier of this Province as a fellow minister delivered to us here in this Province on health care and has caused very serious problems in our health care system and anybody in this Province, who wants to admit that there are no problems in health care, is turning a blind eye to the situation and is not being realistic. We have seen it in Port aux Basques where it is happening right now. We have seen the Codroy Valley in the Stephenville area, we are seeing it in Corner Brook, the centre of Newfoundland, all over the Province. Here in the city we have a very serious problem with health care because we have seen $155 million taken out in the last two years and then the minister yesterday had the audacity to stand up in this House and tell us -and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board did so too - to tell us that over the next three years after this year, we will be getting $66 million more in the health care. That is simply untrue.

You have indicated that the money, the $66 million we are going to take in the next three years, we are not going to take that now, we are going to leave it at the same amount you are getting this year and I ask the minister, it does not make it new money because we are not into that fiscal year and it is money you never had and there are other factors that affect the Canada Health and Social Transfer, as the minister I am sure is very well aware of; it is now moving as he is well aware from a needs basis when it is lumped together more into a population base, and because of our declining population and job opportunities, it is going to be compounded and I will predict - we will know next year when the Budget is released - I will predict that there will be less than $272 million in the Canada Health and Social Transfer next year for this Province, less money that there is this year; we will see next year and if I am wrong I will be delighted and if I am right, I will indicate that it is the same basic statement now in line with what the plan was over the last several years.

I am sure the minister is well aware that the plan was to go down to $230 million, that would be the floor for this Province, $230 million from $427. Instead of going down to a floor of 230, we certainly hope that the floor they have set on a national level, and if we look at on a national level the money that is being put into health care we have $19 billion on a national level were given for health, post-secondary education and social assistance in 1995-96, that is, $19 billion. Today, this year, we have $12.5 billion, $5.5 billion less and they were supposed to go the next three years, down another $3.8 billion. We would have been down to $11 billion from $19 billion; I mean, that is almost 50 per cent cut, almost down to half of what it was and that is having a tremendous impact on front-line workers here in our Province; it is having a tremendous impact on people being hired within our health care system; and I am glad the minister is back here to hear this because it is factual. I took it from information that the Prime Minister stated and I am sure the Prime Minister always tells the truth, we know that; cancel free trade, scrap the GST, create jobs, those are evidence that the Prime Minister is very factual in what he is doing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I would go along with that if he gives leave to do it out of some of my time, I don't mind that at all, I will be delighted and I am sure the hon. member would if we wants to get leave of the House, I will do that.

MR. TULK: Who said that, (inaudible) I don't know about anybody else but I will certainly give leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. I would like to get -

MR. FITZGERALD: Would you give me leave to get another half-an-hour?

MR. TULK: No, no.

MR. SULLIVAN: So, if the Government House Leader wants to get unanimous approval for that, I can certainly conclude shortly and have him use the remainder of my time; I can certainly do that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Okay. The Member for Windsor - Springdale has to be in his seat to be recognized I am sure and he can't withdraw leave from his position now, kneeling begging mercy.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen the transfers to this Province being reduced by the largest amount in our history. Traditionally we have had increases because of the growing need in Newfoundland and Labrador to have extra funding for social assistance. We have had a caseload, a caseload now, including all family members who are recipients, pushing the high 70,000s, I say to my colleague there, almost 80,000 people I think in this Province today depending on social assistance.

There were about 30,000 people, I believe, when this government took office. Now we have $155 million less than we had two years ago? The Premier as minister allowed us to change from a system on need to a system per capita that is going to further decimate this Province. We have 17,000 less people here in this Province. Many of the people who left weren't necessarily people on social assistance or seniors. In fact, quite the contrary. Many people left weren't in those categories. They were people whose unemployment was ready to run out, who got laid off. People who had been working and had commitments and couldn't continue to stay here and meet their financial responsibilities. They had to go to other provinces.

We are finding today a tremendous amount of stress and strain because there is nobody to stand up and fight for our share here in this Province. I can't see how the Premier of this Province would allow $200 million to be taken out of this Province when he was a member of Cabinet without a squeak, without a word. All we saw him doing was political grandstanding, hanging fish nets from cranes in New York harbour. While he was there I'm sure he should have paid heed to the Statue of Liberty, what it stands for, and constitutional rights and freedoms instead of challenging -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, but I would, Mr. Speaker, like the hon. Government House Leader to allow me to continue there without interruption, as is the parliamentary rule.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition has asked for the right to engage in the debate without interruption.

AN HON. MEMBER: To be heard in silence.

MR. SPEAKER: To be heard in silence.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. We have seen the Premier of our Province preside over $200 million in cuts, and was talking about rights when he went to New York harbour with his fish net and his little political ploy. He should have paid heed to the Statue of Liberty and the rights and freedoms under the Charter that he is now taking from women in this Province. Women haven't been given the pay equity and now he is going to challenge it because legal advisors told him to do so.

I asked before, are they the same legal advisors who advised him on Trans City? If they are the same advisors who advised you on Trans City, I will say fire the legal advisors. Get new legal advisors. Are they the same ones who advised you on - represented on the arbitration? Oh, I'm not so sure. I would advise the Premier, regardless of what your advice is, it is wrong to pay a different wage to women for work than you would pay to men. Why don't you admit it and do what is just and right and in line with our Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Province? Don't try to hide it off as some other legal delays and meandering around the issue to buy some time, to try to tie it up in the courts at millions of more dollars.

We have seen what it has cost us on some of these fiascos already. Being sued on Atlantic Leasing and a decision being appealed. How many more hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to be spent in the process? Trans City, guilty from the start. Ministers in Cabinet circumvented the Public Tender Act and the highest court in the land ruled they did so. Why didn't you pay the price early and stop dragging the taxpayers through millions of dollars in legal fees? Get it over with. Cut your losses when you're wrong. Don't bring the taxpayers of the Province deeper into debt. That is what you need to do.

When you break the laws of the Province you expect to pay the price, and government should be no different than anybody else when that happens, and it should have to deal with it, and I agree with it entirely. You or me or anybody else should be treated equally in the eyes of the law. Just because governments are spending taxpayers dollars - they aren't their own dollars. If it was its own dollars it would be running out getting a settlement in a hurry and trying to negotiate a settlement out of court.

The Justice Minister had the audacity to stand up here in this House, and when our Justice critic asked questions on Mount Cashel - I believe it was on a Thursday or Friday, and a settlement was announced on Monday - said: You don't discuss public settlements on the eve of it going into court.

That is when most settlements are realized. That is the time most settlements are reached, when it is ready in the court, rather than drag it through a long and lengthy process. I guess there is justice in the long term. You can only avoid dealing with something that is just for so long. Eventually it comes home to roost. I say you admit it, get it dealt with early, take your knocks on it and move on; admit it. That is the right way to go, the appropriate way to go.

I can see why the same ministers who sat around tinkering, trying to manoeuvre around the Public Tender Act, do not want to admit it, because the same people are there, the same people making decisions here, and that is wrong.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he should very well yawn about it, I say to him. He should yawn about it. He should feel guilty about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: When are you going to apologize (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not going to apologize for ever speaking the truth and giving facts in my life. That I will never do, and I will never, I say to the minister, in this House make a statement that I do not know and have information to indicate it is true. I will reveal information that I know to be true, I can assure you, and I ask the minister...

Not only that, Minister, I will go a step further and tell you that there is treatment given in other elective surgeries because they can afford to pay it. Look at the House of Commons in Ottawa. Members of Parliament can go in and get access to specialists. Members of the forces and the RCMP are covered, Workers Comp, St. Pierre. All those people can get shorter periods of time waiting for tests in this Province than others because the system pays for the rest. Ask any medical practitioner out there today. They will tell you those things. You look at the waiting time. It has a lot to do with non-confidence in you and the rest of the ministers here in government. It has everything to do with it, I say to the member. It has everything to do with it.

MR. GRIMES: I will tell you one thing, there is no confidence in Newfoundland and Labrador (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, Minister, don't you worry.

AN HON. MEMBER: Listen to Pontius Pilate (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the man who stood up on the steps of Confederation Building and wept because Brian Peckford was crucifying teachers and it was unjust, the same person got elected and went out and crucified these people, the same guy who sharpened up his skates before they went to Central Newfoundland so he could skate around the issues out there again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: When he decides to face them, when he decides to show up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He has a little more intelligence than others, or maybe none at all. At least he went out to face the music. I give the minister some credit. He went out to face the music. Most run away from it. Most hide from it. Most don't admit it.

The Minister of Health said: We don't have a problem with health care. We have more dollars in the health care than ever before. What do we have in the health care? We have $11 million less in acute care and long-term care institutions than we had last year. Along with the inflationary costs, that equates in the tens of millions of dollars less for health care than we had last year - tens of millions, I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: What? What was that?

MR. SULLIVAN: You should be listening. He hasn't changed since he was a student in school. He still does not listen very well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, you probably were.

AN HON. MEMBER: All you have to do is ask the students.

MR. SULLIVAN: You probably were. Ask the students.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right. My prime role was teaching, and I will stand on my record. I say, ask my students too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not going to reflect at all on the teaching ability of the Member for Twillingate and Fogo. That is not for me to judge. That is for other people to judge. I wasn't a witness to it. He could be the greatest one in the Province, or he could be the worst.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Minister of Health, his answer, he gave a chronology of the growth of Newfoundland and Labrador in answer to a question. I've only seen one minister who could give a longer nonsensical answer than him and that is the Minister of Education. In fact, I heard he is now giving briefing sessions to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation because she almost outdid him in answers to questions yesterday. Took thirty seconds to ask and had to be stopped after five minutes. He must be offering seminars. Was that a part of the seminar, I say to the minister, when the consultants came down from Toronto back a couple of months ago to teach you how to manufacture news? Did they teach you how long -

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't know, I never saw them.

MR. SULLIVAN: Did they also - oh, that's right, you were on vacation, you missed it. You said it. In fact, I listened to - last week as I was driving back to my house I heard comparing suntans that people have here in the House. I heard on the news -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I don't know who won it. It did state, without a doubt, the Minister of Health clearly is the winner. In fact, I might add, he is so tanned you can easily tell when he is down a quart. Now that's how good....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, certainly. It is unfortunate, though, that the rest of the people in Newfoundland and Labrador don't get to look the part. When you are forty, fifty and sixty days in hospital waiting for bypass surgery and waiting to get medical treatment it is very difficult to do anything for your suntan, I can tell you. We have seen -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: How did you manage? We had a healthier generation of people, I say. They were employed, they were working. They went to work in the morning, they came home in the evening. Their mental health was better, their physical health was better. There were over 200,000 jobs in 1989 in this Province. Now there are only 180,000-some. The jobs, the premier that got elected to bring the people back home, every mother's son, sent them away,. Then along came the next premier and he sent thousands away in this past year. There was never a greater exodus of people out of this Province than in the last couple of years. That is what is wrong. People can't stay as healthy, mentally or physically, when they haven't a job to go to, when unemployment -

A very sensible question today by the critic for employment and training. He asked the Minister of Education: What is this government doing to compare the jobs that are out in the offshore with the skills that are there? If there is a shortage of skills, it is our Province's responsibility to see that the training programs are available, and encourage them for our people here in our Province to have those skills so they can get jobs. It is fortunate in some areas, and I'm delighted, that many young people obtained some skills in Western Canada recently and they are now landing jobs here in the offshore. That is good to see opportunities here, but we need more opportunities. We need to be prepared. We weren't with Hibernia. We lost too many skilled jobs to other people. We need to have the job skills here in this Province. It hasn't happened here. Government hasn't taken it seriously and it hasn't done its utmost to look out for the people here in this Province, and that is very unfortunate.

Particularly in health, the longer waiting lists of people trying to see specialists are unbelievable. The minister tells us we have the best in Canada. That is simply not true. We do not have the best in Canada. We have very long waiting lists. We have physicians and people stressed out from overwork. There aren't sufficient dollars put into health care, and a certain percentage of what is in there is not used efficiently.

I asked the minister over a year ago in this House, and two weeks ago he came up with the solution, there is enough money in the system, he said. I asked: What are you going to do? He said: We are spending so much on locals we could reallocate this and use it. Over a year ago in this House, on the public record of this House, I asked the minister: Why are you spending $550 a day plus transportation costs plus food plus hotel costs and all other costs for locum physicians when you should be paying the ones you have, a higher salary. You should be paying a higher income to the ones you have instead of down to sixty.

I understand now, it could be up an extra $15,000 - $20,000, the base level for physicians. That is a step that could keep people here. That is positive and I applaud that. I say to the minister, I do agree with that. I said to you in the House over a year ago, I asked you in Question Period, why are you paying - if you remember the question - $5.50 a day, transportation, put food in their fridge and accommodations when we could be paying the ones in the area more? We would have a larger number. We would have more support there, specialists and it is a big factor for physicians today. They feel they are out there alone and they don't have the support and the specialists back up there. That is frustrating to a doctor, not to be able to get a patient to a specialist and to have an early intervention. That could save us a lot of dollars in the long term. Granted, I don't know the exact number that could be utilized in the system locally but I do know it was significant. I did raise it and I am delighted there was a response. It's a year late but it happened. It is still better than two years late but it is not as good as happening early. The minister and his department should be monitoring those things. They should know what is happening there.

The minister made a statement today. He said: I am not aware of what services are out there for seniors. Well I would say, as Minister of Health, you should know. You said I don't know all the groups -

MR. MATTHEWS: I didn't say that. I said I can't (inaudible) remembering all the programs that are in place.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I say you should know all the programs that are in place to help seniors in this Province. As the Minister of Health you should know.

MR. MATTHEWS: I am only a genius, I am not perfect.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I know. A genius would be a good start. If you were a genius our health care system would be in a lot better shape than it is today, I say to the minister. Did you say a genie or a genius?

MR. MATTHEWS: No, I am married to a genie, Jeanie.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, God help Jeanie, I say. I will say a prayer for her, that is what I would say. I will say a prayer. Yes, I hope she gets better treatment than the people in our health care system in this Province. If not, you will need a good divorce lawyer soon.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That's it, I have an idea.

MR. TULK: On a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader, on a point of order.

MR. TULK: I just spoke to the Opposition House Leader and this afternoon I was supposed to table the annual report of Newfoundland Farm Products for 1995-96. It was distributed to the press and I wonder if I could revert back to Presenting Reports?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: No, I will just table it right now if you want me to. I would like to table the annual report for 1995 of Newfoundland Farm Products Corporation.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there any objections to us reverting back to the area on the Order Paper for tabling of reports?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. TULK: Done.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure I appreciate the Government House Leader for those two minutes. I know it is important that we get every possible suggestion and advice to this government on the record because they certainly need every couple of minutes they can get.

I took a look at the federal budget on health care and it is interesting to note that the federal government released a budget -can you imagine - released a budget two months ago in which they said - and I have it here in front of me - there were $19 billion spent just two years ago in Canada Health and Social Transfers. Today, $12.5 billion and they projected for 1998-99, that that figure is going to drop down to $11.8 billion and then down to $11.1 billion in the Year 2000. That is under the Canada Health and Social Transfer, I say to the Minister of Health. Now that is the federal budget. An announcement by Mr. Chrétien, our Prime Minister, was that we are not going to take those other billions - in other words, what we are getting in Canada today is $12.5 billion for Canada Health and Social Transfer. This Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Wait until I am finished and then I will answer. You listen and in two minutes I will answer.

We are getting $12.5 billion today in Canada under the CHST. This Province gets $272 million of that. Next year, the country would get less, it would get down to $11.8 billion and then down to $11.1 billion by the year 2000. We were supposed to go from $272 million down to $230 million and that would be the floor, so instead of telling us now, over the next three years, we are going to go down there, the minister talks about the new $66 million - in other words, the announcement stated - I read it carefully and read it from the national perspective - that we are not going to take another $66 million over three years, we are still going to take the $155 million we took for the last two years, we are going to keep taking that each of the following years. So we are $155 million less today in Canada Health and Social Transfer than we were two years ago and next year, it would have gone from $427 million to $230 million, $197 million we would be down so we said we are not going to take that extra little bit now, that extra,little, that small bit that is there, we won't take it, and that is basically what they are saying.

The minister stood in this House and told us - and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board - that we have $66 million extra in health care, we will be able to do things with this when there is no money. It is the same amount we have this year. You are not doing it now, you were going to have $66 million less, what would you do with that? Now, you are going to have the same amount next year and I will predict - and I said it to the Minister of Education, that this time next year, the Canada Health and Social Transfer, under a federal Liberal government would be less because the Premier, when he was a federal minister, allowed it to move from the system that is based on need, 50-50 cap used to be funded, it was based on need to one that is now population based to a greater extent, and since our population has been declining, I am predicting the $272 million - there will be less in health care when this minister or whomever is the finance minister tables a Budget here next spring, and we will see, the future will indicate that. I hope it is more, that the federal government is not going to do any more downloading on this Province and the minister knows full-well the brunt - what we could do with $155 million more dollars in health, post-secondary education and social services. We could do a lot.

Right now, with a social service workload not projected to decrease and this very government has produced a document here that they are telling us that employment is going to decline by 3,600 jobs in this Province over this fiscal year, that we are going to have an unemployment rate that will go up by 1.1 per cent in this document he filed on Budget Day, The Economy. That tells me that social assistance caseloads will increase, that there will be greater demands on our population because there is an aging population in this Province.

There was a very interesting point today. My colleague, the Opposition House Leader mentioned a very interesting point, that we are spending a very large per cent of our dollars in health care on the upper end of the population. I say to the minister, it is the upper end of the population that has put a lot of dollars into health care. In the last twenty years of someone's life, there is a huge chunk -

AN HON. MEMBER: Two-and-a-half time (inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is right and down at the early years you spend more than in the middle years - and what he asked today is an avenue that a healthier population, especially seniors in their mobility, their proper dietary habits, cut down on the onset of disease and it is not as prolonged, their recovery is quicker and saves tremendous dollars in our health care system by ensuring that people have proper nutrition. We know what it is like with young people, young kids, malnutrition, people in families who do not have the same incomes have a higher level of illness and a higher cost to the system and we need to address this critical concern that one-quarter of the seniors in our Province today are suffering problems from lack of nutrition that is going to equate into very significant medical costs, on top of what would be a normal medical cost. That is because their incomes have not increased in line with inflation and other clawbacks in our system, we have less disposable income in our Province today and that is what is happening.

We have a tremendous amount of concerns and problems in the Province and we need solutions. I have said to the minister on many occasions and have offered suggestions and solutions in lots of areas. If I stand up and criticize, I should be able to have a solution or something that would work, and I have said it. I will deal with the cardiac surgery one for a moment, and what I have said.

MR. MATTHEWS: You would not admit that you are wrong, though.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I am waiting for the admission. I have not been wrong yet, I say to the minister.

Three-and-a-half years ago, I raised the issue. In the summer of 1993, as health critic, I raised this issue on waiting lists in cardiac surgery and it was raised in a public statement. People do not get their facts from the subordinates, I can tell you.

MR. MATTHEWS: We are not talking about subordinates, we are talking about (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: There are things being kept from people at the top in the system, and do not worry, people's cages will get rattled when the time comes. Let me tell you, people will know.

MR. MATTHEWS: People will (inaudible) because you are not big enough to admit that you were wrong.

MR. SULLIVAN: I can tell you, I would rattle the minister's cage if I gave him some of my sources, and rattle Sister Davis' and so on.

There are a lot of people in the system suffering a lot of stress and I say to the minister, what we need to do is have a separate cardiac unit there, one that is devoted solely to cardiac care. The minister realizes that.

Minister, last year, we averaged nine procedures under cardiac surgery a week, last year, the Province, I speak about us, the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: You said `we'.

MR. SULLIVAN: `We' - yes, I feel a part of the Province.

One week last month there were three done. I mean, because there is no separate unit - and the minister told us, we have to wait two years, that is what he said, on public record, two years, before we can solve it. I visited four people in the hospital yesterday, three rooms next to each other, from my own area. Three people had to wait -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) your hands (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is better than the minister who has his hands in everybody's pocket in the Province, that is what he is doing. His hands are in everybody else's pocket - his foot in his mouth and his hands in everybody else's pocket. That is what is wrong with the minister. He should put his feet on the ground and he should put his hands on his head, because he is daydreaming. That is what I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and there is nothing that looks as bad as a person sitting down with his foot in his mouth, I say to the minister. I do not know whether it is a small foot or a big mouth, I am not sure. I have not come to that determination yet, but maybe we will. I ask the minister, I will have to investigate, because I am sure there is a cure. I hope there is a cure, I say to the minister, I am not sure, but I hope. Some diseases are terminal. Thank God, most of them can be cured or treated, at least.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the minister is a symptom of a major disease we have here in this Province - a lack of listening, a lack of consultation, a lack of concern for the people of the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, well, I just happen to be different from the minister, just happen to be a little bit different.

I have not even got away from health care. I want to talk about education, out-migration. I want to talk about the economy of the Province and so on. But the Minister of Health has done such a tremendous job of letting the health care system of our Province deteriorate, I had to devote my entire comments here to the Minister of Health.

There are 17,000 fewer people that the minister has to look after now than there were in 1991 - 17,000 fewer on health care. But actually they are the people that less a percentage of our money goes on health care. It is the upper and lower end of the scale, tremendous. We have had this exodus of people from our Province. And the Premier stated: Oh, my, 17,000. What impact is it going to have on our budget? And he was asked by my colleague, the Member for Kilbride, and he said: Well, we factored that in, we made allowance for declining population. And then, in public, he said: It is going to have an impact. He said the next day: We allowed for it in the House. And out in public, he said: We did not allow for this impact. Who is he trying to kid? Does the minister know what he does in his budget or does he not know? He does not even know. Then, all of a sudden, he tries to put a spin on an announcement yesterday that tells us: We are not going to take the extra $66 million we were going to take in the next three years, we are only going to take the $155 million we took in the last two years. Then they stand up - not only the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board stood up and talked about the great news, but the Minister of Health got up after him and talked about the same thing, $66 million.

Then he tried to tell us in his statement: Oh, we never said that. But he certainly did. I have it here somewhere, I say to the minister. He stated: There is an extra $66 million that we now have to be able to spend and decide how we are going to use it. But first of all, it is not just for health care, it is for post-secondary education and social services.

Here is what he stated: "The extra $66 million" - now, how many can read this to say that it is to keep up from getting cut, that it is extra money? He said, and here I will read it, and there is only one way you can interpret this: "The extra $66 million it will mean for this Province from 1998-1999 to 2000-2001 is significant and is evidence of the Federal Government's understanding of the need for more funding in the areas of health, education and social services." They understand the need for more funding? When they are still going to take the $155 million next year that they have taken the last two. Understanding of a need. Who in this Province is not aware that the nurses and the front-line workers are being stressed to the maximum? Sick leave has increased because of the stress and strain. There is more productivity lost because of the extra pressures and strain put on people.

A few years ago in our hospitals when you had twenty people in hospital, maybe only half of them might have had a fairly acute illness. The nature of the disease was not as acute as it is now. People today are sick when they are in hospital, or they need medication. They need service or they need surgery. That has not been the case in the past, where often people came into hospital a week before surgery and remained for weeks after. Today, you are in and you are out, almost a revolving door, so each case is more acute, more serious, and needs more intensive care than they did years ago, and you are only given the same number of front-line people or fewer, to deal with all these cases.

Anybody who visits, anybody who has family, anybody who talks to people around the Province, knows that that is the case, and the only ones who do not seem to know it are the Premier and the minister. They do not seem to know there is a problem out there today. It needs to be addressed before it gets too serious. My greatest concern with physicians in this Province is that we have dug such a big hole now and we have got so far behind the other Atlantic Provinces that it is very difficult to get enough dirt under our feet to be able to rise out of that hole. Because that is what has happened now. We have dug a hole that is going to be difficult now to catch up. Because other provinces are moving forward, too. We need a quick solution.

We do not need weeks of forums to tell us. The minister should know today what the concerns in health care are. He should know where dollars need to be spent. The Premier has met with nurses. I know they met with medical associations. They have met with other professionals. They have heard it from people in numerous areas through department contact. Anybody who does not know where the problems are now, is not listening. Because people do know where they are. There were submissions made to the pre-Budget consultation process by heads of health care organizations here in the Province. They told them: Do not take any more funding, we need it. They just do not listen.

After an election is called, they jump up and try to tell us they are giving you more money, when all they are doing is not taking another $66 million. Still, the $155 million a year that is gone now is still gone. It is going to be gone next year and the year after under the current proposal, under the current announcement by the Prime Minister yesterday. Now, that is not acceptable, I say. It is not acceptable here in this Province when there are too many people hurting and in need.

Education is an area where people have been abandoned on appointed boards accountable to the minister. They are accountable to the Minister of Education and Training, appointed by the minister, and they are not accountable to the people who are served in these areas. I feel, if you are going to make drastic changes that are going to affect designations and schools in communities, it should be done by people who have a chance to have input into what is happening, people who are elected by the people, who are accountable to the people and will make the best decisions.

Many of the decisions they make could be good decisions. Maybe some decisions are bad. We all make mistakes, but when there is an opportunity for public input, to put all sides of the argument forth, to lay it on the people who are elected to represent the people, the best decisions can be made. Maybe it is part of government's strategy to have their own appointees rather than elect them, so they can control or have it agree, what they call arm's length, but more manipulation of the system because this government created a lot of those problems in the beginning. They did not see the need to allow us, as members of the Legislature, to debate the question that was put to the people. They shut down this House; then they closed schools in June; then they announced the wording; then they voted before it was open. Nobody was allowed... They had the right wording. It was perfect.

We said from day one that we had concerns that it could deliver what the people thought they were going to get. Now we are seeing in the system today people who are unhappy all over the Province, and it is not denominational in many of these areas. It is not a matter of designation in many of these schools at all. A lot of these people do not care whether it is uni-denominational or interdenominational. They feel if the numbers warrant and justify it, there should be schools in their area. There are many areas in this Province today, from the Port aux Basques - Cape Ray area right up through. We are seeing Codroy Valley into Stephenville there are problems. I think, in Port au Port, Central Newfoundland we have seen it. In Grand Falls - Windsor, the Northern Peninsula, Englee, the same situation, Brownsdale, Brigus, you name it, all over the place in this Province there are concerns, many legitimate concerns, that need to be studied. They need someone to listen to them, to be able to present their suggestions that would justify having schools in their areas without affecting the viability of other schools and could end up saving dollars in the long term, and better facilities, in many cases that are not going to need the same capital expenditure in the future to be able to maintain those and make them functional and continue to be functional for years to come.

Those are the types of decisions and the kind of input on which the public deserves to have a chance, and they have not had that opportunity in many instances. Some have let them voice their concerns in many areas, just like any committee and organization in the Province. School boards are no different. Many people get appointed. Some take a very active interest and get heavily involved. Others are just casual members of the board who do not really desire to get heavily involved in the decision-making process; just like any organization or group that happens there, and people do not see the same obligation. If you are elected by the people to do a job, you have a responsibility and a commitment and accountability. When you are appointed by the minister, you are only accountable to the minister or the person who appoints you. No reflection on individuals who serve; there are some tremendous individuals on those boards who make decisions that they think are best. Others have not had access to the information to make appropriate decisions, in many instances, and it is incumbent upon the minister to ensure that the best decisions are made in the interest of the students of the Province.

It is not down, I can tell you, to a matter of whether it is uni-denominational or interdenominational in many, many cases. Many people in parts of this Province could not care less. There was not a very high vote even in my area, that is 98 per cent... It was not a very extraordinarily high vote at all for a uni-denominational school. In fact, it was rather low considering the percentage there, and they are concerned. Obviously, it will not affect - their concern is that they want the best educational opportunity for their children, the best chance, the best variety of programs. They want, as close as possible, not having to get on a bus for too long periods. They want the things that normal people want to do in the course of their lives, to be able to have equal opportunity to an education in an environment that is going to be conducive to better learning.

We have seen instances of young kids put on buses for long periods of time when who, really, had produced the expert opinions that says a school of 1,000 is better than 500? Clear-cut; the Minister of Education could not find enough ways to condemn the education system of this Province when he wanted to get Term 17 through, and before the ink dried on passing through the Legislature, he was up praising up the great system and the academic achievement of our people here in this House and out in the public. Oh my, how things can change over a week or two. We got scholars in a week. Earlier we were dunces and a week later we are scholars. How they try to sell something in there and put a twist on it and tell many untruths when they want to sell something. So the minister and the Premier - I went to Ottawa - were not allowed to meet with his Caucus. We went up to try to convince - they were the Caucus who opposed it. Forty-some people in the Liberal Caucus were the ones who voted against Term 17. Almost 80 per cent of those who voted against it were Liberal Caucus. He could not meet with them and he tried to tell it on the basis: we are going to put the money into education and we are going to improve the educational opportunities there by reinvesting.

Ladies and gentlemen, that is not what people were told. That is not the bill of goods they were sold. They feel hoodwinked in the process and I don't blame them. I have three kids in school. I would want to make a decision that would be the best opportunity in education for them whether you and I (inaudible) whatever the provision is there. That is what I would vote for personally and I would encourage anybody else to do that too, to put their kids future, number one, and then put the denominational issue number two, if they so desire. That is what people want to see. They want these opportunities and they have not been given them. They have been sold a bill of goods on consultation, on education and now all over the Province people are unhappy and they have reason to be unhappy because they have been betrayed. That is what has happened, they were betrayed and hoodwinked into thinking they were getting one thing and given something else. Now, in certain instances, they are not prepared to listen. They are prepared to turn a blind eye to it and run away and hide. That is the approach that is being used. Who can stay in hiding the longest? Which minister can hide the longest from facing up to the issues? And that's a fact.

I thought I heard a noise about 5 o'clock this morning, there was a blur and a noise in the sky. I looked up, I thought it was Santa Claus but it was the Premier scooting across from Vancouver to Bristol.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were you dreaming or what?

MR. SULLIVAN: I probably was. I probably was dreaming. I should have known better that he would fly over this Province. He probably took the long route around so he would not have to fly back over Newfoundland soil here and see what the problems and concerns are here because he is not intended for a long stay. He is just a little (inaudible) to stop over to say hello, to inflict some of the punishment and to deliver some of the goods that Prime Minister Chrétien wants to deliver here in our Province to do the work for him. That is what is happening and you will see. You mark it down, at the end of his political day there will be a nice appointment and he will go off with his $100,000 job. You will see it. He is here for a purpose. He is given a mission. He didn't live here in Newfoundland and Labrador. He didn't grow up and send his kids to school here. You and me and people who stayed here want to be a part of this Province and want their kids to grow up here in the future. You have to have a commitment to the Province and a commitment for children and opportunities for everybody.

I think we have a responsibility to provide some of those opportunities and it is unfortunate that our education system is in chaos here. A lot of this chaos has been engineered by this government. They have engineered it. They tried to put it on a course - they put it on a course that was not a very good course and then they deserted it. Then they put it on automatic pilot. That is what they did and then they ran away. Now it is going in a direction that nobody knows, decisions don't get made. It is the same situation we are finding in health care and all over. There are a lot of growing concerns.

Then we have a budget to deal with and the minister stands up and says: no new taxes in our budget, no new taxes. Last year fees and licenses, $40 million, $40 million-extra in revenue and they called it no new taxes. Then they came out and tried to sell us a program, HRD. A person told me this week - the person was on UI and wanted to go into a training program and they told him that they can only pay for a small amount of the course. He said: if you let your UI run out and go on social assistance we will be able to look after you. We cannot do anything for you, the counsellor said, you are not on social assistance. Is that the benefit of having a human resource department here? The money that is coming federally in the programs can be used and other people are going to be pushed off the unemployment line. They don't even become a statistic. When you are so long without looking for a job you aren't even a statistic. The unemployment rate is a lot higher in Canada today than statistics show because many people have stopped looking for work. They are left out of it. They aren't even counted as a statistic. The job situation in this country and this Province is no better than it was almost four years ago. For a government federally that wanted to get elected on jobs, it failed dismally.

For a government here in this Province, we haven't done our best to create jobs. We haven't prepared our people for Hibernia. We lost jobs to other provinces and countries. The same thing is happening now again. The department should be proactive in identifying the jobs, identifying the skills we have, and in matching and ensuring we have the training and the necessary skills to take those jobs. You cannot prepare four years' time for a job in four years' time, you have to start now, today. You have to start now and be prepared for it.

If the jobs are not here when the people are ready, they have to work for a couple of years outside of the Province. That has happened. People are coming home now to take up jobs in the offshore here on the gravity-based, on the platform that is going to extract the oil from the Hibernia field. It is fortunate, and I hope all of the jobs will be done by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. Obviously some won't be. That happens. But we should strive to have every single one. That should be our goal.

Hopefully the more Newfoundlanders can get in on the ground level it will make them qualified and an opportunity to be able to get jobs elsewhere. When you have a high unemployment rate of 20 per cent - it isn't even the real figure when people have stopped looking for work, people out on TAGS and other incomes that are not reflected in the rate here. We should be devoting all our energies and efforts in ensuring that people here in this Province are prepared for the future job market. That is a role of the Minister of Education. That is not a role of Terra Nova or Petro Canada or anybody else. Their job is to have people for positions with skills and to be able to make a profit for the shareholders who own those companies. That is their role, that is the way it should be. If they were any different than that they wouldn't be doing their job.

We here as protectors over the people's interest in this Province wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't maximize those opportunities. It is important that we do it. We have failed this Province. We have failed miserably in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, there is a whole array of indirect taxation, I say, that wasn't included, that wasn't mentioned. They were mentioned as no new taxes, no fees, and now we have seen -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: One hundred and four minutes, I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. One hundred and four more minutes of enlightening facts about the real things that are happening in Newfoundland and Labrador today, I say to the minister. A good (inaudible) and suggestions. Even the Minister of Health will tell you I've given him several good suggestions. If the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology wants any advice we have people here just at his asking to give any particular advice.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Good. Yes, and I must compliment the Member for Baie Verte for his efforts in ensuring that we have hopefully this fall seventy-five people starting work, and then up to 200, and who knows from there, as an industry grows and helps penetrate into it. He worked at it incessantly. He became obsessed with getting it there, and he was very cooperative I understand in the process too. I must say the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, gave credit where credit is due, he even said some good things about me up at the colony of Avalon, and I invite the minister to go back up and see the place now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell me about it.

MR. SULLIVAN: You wouldn't believe it. The building they put there now, over $1 million to do the building. It is a beautiful building. The lab is upstairs, an elevator installed, a huge showroom, interpretation there. They had people last year dressed in the costumes of the day, and that is all in the complex that they have built, all done with a shingle outside.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: There are still some I think ongoing but I think they are moving along in that area. Last year there were fifty-five people, fifty-six people. Several of these people, even local people, along with people from other parts of the Province, took an interest in archaeology. They went on to Memorial, some working on their degrees in archaeology, and they are back getting work. I say to the minister too there is a very interesting proposal on now, and hopefully it will be announced shortly -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many tourists?

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't have the number but it is in the tens of thousands and it is increasing exponentially in this last few years.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you building an industry (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. What we are trying to do now and that is why I said to the minister, we applied under infrastructure but we are optimistic that under SRDA there could be an announcement we hope. The Southern Shore Folk Arts Council, there is a field there they have built it up and are going to make a permanent entertainment area there where the Southern Shore Shamrock festival is held, that is the three-leaf ones, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the three-leaf ones. We are looking forward to the SRDA funding and they are going to do the field this year and then they will have a closed-in stage area in phase II, then there is phase III over the next three years so you will have a whole tourism site there. You will have a whole site where you can put of concerts with several thousand people as we saw last year. So many came last year to the site that they had to put a shuttle service on one end of Ferryland to bring people up by shuttle bus up to the site where there were thousands of people.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well what is happening is, there are beds and breakfasts developing in the community now. There are three in that community right now actually; one is about a thirty-second walk from the building and the others are about a four or five-minute walk from that site there and with the lighthouse, the Isle la Bois, where the French and English battled, there are cannons still there and there is a whole area that can be developed here and the (inaudible) rise out and retrace and interpret and explain to the people the history of that area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, well I guess, certainly private enterprise will have to drive that but there is a museum that for years and years some interested people kept the history going and there is a museum there that they run and show some of the things. In the old doctor's house in Ferryland, there traditionally, there was a doctor in Ferryland years and years before I was born, it was the only period I think in our history that we never had a doctor in Ferryland, was about a year ago, since before I was born. Now you know, it gives an example of the decline in the medical aspect and health care there. It was the only time in our history -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you saying you never had one?

MR. SULLIVAN: We have always had one way before I was born but there was a period last year where the doctor moved away and they could not get anybody -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is the two minutes you owe me I say to the Government House Leader, 4:30 I will finish.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have two minutes.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, by leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It says four minutes here but I won't take that long, I will only take two or three just to finish up. I was explaining to -

MR. TULK: I will tell you what you should do.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I won't do that. I would not dare do that.

Mr. Speaker, I won't be able to sleep tonight if I did that; I just won't be able to go home and rest my head. I would have to say -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I have said, since way back in the 1900s there was always a doctor in Ferryland to serve that area. The only time that there was never one was about a year ago. We are only fifty miles from St. John's which is not far away and ever since that it has gone from the fee for service into a salaried practice now and there are two physicians now who moved in from other parts of the Province. I think one came in from Carmanville area and one from the South Coast of the Province but there are two there now for the past year and at least now there is a doctor to whom people can go to; there is a nurse station there but there are no other clinics.

Take Trepassey for example, they have a doctor but no other medical services. If somebody gets sick and has to be brought in there you are looking at over a two-hour ride by ambulance to get into the nearest medical facility and that is a fair distance to get in under good conditions, from here to Trepassey. You take winter conditions and that, who knows, you might never reach there because of some of the worst areas for navigating in the winter time in this Province, down in that area. Anybody who drove there between Portugal Cove South, Trepassey right down to Cappahayden knows what it is like in the winter time, it is impossible really.

I said to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, there is tremendous future development, it is moving I must say we have had cooperation in funding. The minister has cooperated and this year we have some funding under infrastructure of the stone masonry church in Ferryland, a breakwater now to maintain the colony of Avalon so it does not wash out, that is approved under infrastructure this year.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon. Well, he has been cooperative there - you can only move so fast. That is like, if you have $10 million to spend and you can only spend five this year, well why not give five this year and five next year.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not what I asked. I asked could he have done more?

MR. SULLIVAN: I suppose everybody could have done more. I could have done more. I am sure the member for Topsail could have done a hell of a lot more, I say, but some other people could have done a little more.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I must say that is an ongoing project. It has been going on for the last number of years and I tell you the project sells itself. There have been people coming from every part of the world on an ongoing basis there and it has tremendous potential and I just hope that the project itself sells - not just having to try to bend political ears to get it - that it sells on its merit because that is the sustainability somebody is going to have when it can sell on its merit and that selling on its merit is one of the oldest parts of this Province. It is the only district actually, in the entire Province since we began right back prior to `49, that still carries the same name in the district. It has not changed over the years, some have changed and come back. It is the only one that has remained unchanged because it is historic and that alone, tourists look for back in the 1600's, 1500's, the seal of Lord Baltimore which was discovered even, a little seal from the 1500's and all these things have a lot of significance to people that study archaeology and to tourists, they look for these things.

So, they are going to see a lot more ahead and hopefully we will have a good little tourism industry that could sustain some employment there and have an attraction there for the future.

With that Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks here, I would love to carry on for another hour, I am fifteen minutes pass my meeting.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to speak on the non-confidence motion. I thought the previous member had unlimited time and was threatening to use it, but it appeared he only had sixty minutes and does not have the right to go on in an unlimited manner.

Mr. Speaker, the motion before the House, it that the House condemn the government for its failure to accurately represent the true state of the economy of the Province and the governments consequential failure to take appropriate budgetary action to deal with the real problems.

Mr. Speaker, this is a typical non-confidence motion in the government for its handling of the economy and handling of the budgetary measures of the House and it may come as no surprise to you, Mr. Speaker, that I support the motion of no confidence in this government. In fact, I am surprised that we have not had people from the government back benches join in condemning the government for its failure to take a handle on the economy. I know some of them do privately condemn the government that they are required to support in this House, but publicly they are keeping their mouths closed for the moment.

But there is throughout this Province a great deal of anxiety, a great deal of desperation and a great deal of consternation about how this government and the Government of Canada are dealing with the real problems that the people of this Province face in trying to meet the basic needs of their own families and trying to achieve the dignity that comes from work and being able to support your family when you have a willingness and a desire and a passion to do so, Mr. Speaker, one that is eroded and eaten away. It is gnawed at by bad news after bad news, by the erosion of the social safety net that has been deteriorating week after week, month after month, by one policy after another, by two government's, national and provincial that see their only real object in life, their only real public policy, is that of attacking something they call the deficit; and when they attack the deficit, do they attack that which caused the deficit? Do they look at and examine the factors that gave rise to the deficit at the national and provincial level, and reduce and change them?

They were identified by a researcher at Statistics Canada in 1992 who analyzed the development of the deficit in Canada from the early seventies on and looked at what the factors were that contributed to that deficit. He determined, after an extensive study - the government economist reviewed all the figures, reviewed government expenditures, reviewed the tax expenditures and tax concessions, reviewed the grants, tax exemptions and other aspects of government, and concluded that some forty-odd per cent of the deficit was due to high interest rates. When I say high interest rates, higher than they needed to be to maintain an adequate relationship between the role of the Bank of Canada in controlling inflation and providing jobs. The second most significant factor, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the deficit, was tax concessions given to corporations and wealthy Canadians.

Together, these two factors accounted for 92 per cent of the deficit. Eight per cent of the deficit was related to the cost of social programs. And when the Government of Canada and other governments in Canada, including this government, decided to attack the deficit, what did they attack? Did they make a change in the interest rate policy of the Bank of Canada? Did they direct the Bank of Canada to change that? Did they go through their books and find ways to close the corporate loopholes and make the Canadian corporations and banks pay their fair share of taxes? No, they went to the expenditure side and said: We must attack the people who are benefitting from social programs and cut back in the amount that is being paid out to support the social safety net that is needed by Canadians across the country and, more importantly, by the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and perhaps in a greater proportion because of our desperate economic circumstances and our very high unemployment rate.

When, a couple of days ago, it was announced by the Government of Canada that there was going to be a brand new policy, yesterday in the House the President of Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance, sang the praises of the Government of Canada because they had decided to reduce the amount of money available for the Canada Health and Social Transfer. They decided to reduce the amount by $1.5 billion less than they had planned. That was the cause of celebration - celebration - that the Government of Canada had reduced by $1.5 billion the amount of money they were going to take from the provinces.

Mr. Speaker, we have to put this into context. In 1995-1996 there was $29.1 billion spent by the federal government in health and post-secondary education, the established programs financing, and the Canada Assistance Plan, in transfer payments to the various provinces, $29.1 billion. Well, the plan of the government in 1998-'99 was to reduce that from $29.1 billion to $11 billion. An $18 billion reduction was planned and now instead of an $18 billion reduction in 1998-99 it is only going to be a $6.5 billion reduction. Big deal! This is a cause for celebration in this House by members opposite. Mr. Speaker, they may think that they can fool most of the people all of the time, they know they can fool some of the people all of the time and I suppose there are enough Liberals out there to fool every time but some of the Liberals can be fooled every time.

I think what is going to happen, Mr. Speaker, is that there is an election coming about and we will find out how many people in this Province are buying this ballyhoo from the government about how we are saving your social programs because we are not going to cut them back as much as we said we were last week. I mean that is basically what the government said yesterday, that we are not going to cut them back as much as we were so therefore you should rejoice. Well, Mr. Speaker, there is not much jubilation in the land because of Mr. Martin's and Mr. Chrétien's announcement on Monday. Not much jubilation (inaudible) and it is not going to buy them a lot of votes, Mr. Speaker, because the people in this Province who are doing the voting are the ones who are hurting. They are the ones, Mr. Speaker, who are suffering from the economic consequences of the policies of the Government of Canada and the Government of this Province.

I want to talk about some of the problems that this government has caused as the result of its handling of the economy and of its general lack of concern about the real consequences to the people of this Province. There was a very interesting comment on the radio this morning - and the Member for Cape St. Francis will be interested in this - when they replayed the tape of the debate in Question Period between the Member for Cape St. Francis and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and housing, where the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs was loudly proclaiming that he was not going to lose any sleep over in Carbonear over the complaints of the member for Torbay and what was going on. Well, Mr. Speaker, somebody called in later on this morning -

MR. J. BYRNE: Yes, so they did. What did he say?

MR. HARRIS: - someone called in later on this morning, after the tape was played - and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture should be interested in this - and he said: No, I heard the minister saying he was not going to lose any sleep. I am not surprised he's not going to lose any sleep because he has to have a conscience to lose sleep. He said: the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has no conscience. So, Mr. Speaker, I was reminded of that today -

AN HON. MEMBER: Did he say anything about (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Oh yes, he said a few words about the member who is sitting next to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. He said he overheard them. He was in the gallery and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture was sitting next to him, he said he was saying loudly: Don't give them nothing because they never voted Liberal! Don't give them anything!

AN HON. MEMBER: That's right.

MR. HARRIS: And he said he would not say it into the mike because he did not want it recorded in Hansard. Well it might not be recorded in Hansard, Mr. Speaker, but it was over the airwaves of the CBC this morning for all to hear: Don't give them nothing.'

AN HON. MEMBER: He didn't say that.

MR. HARRIS: No, he didn't say it. Not much he didn't say it. And I dare say that that minister sleeps very well at night too and for the same reason but I was reminded of it today, Mr. Speaker, when the Opposition House Leader asked a question to the Government on the issue of nutrition and there was a dead silence. They didn't know who it was who was supposed to know something about it. They couldn't figure out who was supposed to answer this question: It can't be me; I don't know anything about nutrition. I don't know anything about the nutritional needs of seniors.

Mr. Speaker, that is very funny because I understand that the people who know all about this issue, the dieticians of Newfoundland and Labrador, had a meeting with the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet. They had a meeting with the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet, and I suspect that the Minister of Health is on the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet. I suspect he is. Let him deny it if he is not on the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Minister of Social Services.

MR. HARRIS: I would suspect that the Minister of Social Services is on the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet. But when asked a question about the dietary state, the nutritional state of the diet of seniors in this Province, the minister plays dumb - a Schultz, is it? Remember there used to be a show on TV, was it Staalag 13 or something? I don't know what it was.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hogan's Heroes.

MR. HARRIS: Hogan's Heroes, and there was a man named Schultz on it. The Minister of Health, the new Schultz. I know nothing, I see nothing, I hear nothing.

The nutritional state of seniors in this Province - when questioned, the Minister of Health, after he was shamed into standing up and responding on a health issue after a dead silence for about a minute, says he doesn't know anything about it.

We are talking about seniors' health, but we are also talking about social policy, about government policy, about managing the budgets of the health care system, about looking after our people, when it has been demonstratively shown to government that the health of seniors can be dramatically improved by nutritional counselling alone, that by nutritional counselling alone they could improve the health of seniors and save ten to one in terms of what they spend - if they spend $100 they can save $1,000 in health care on nutritional counselling alone for seniors - and the Minister of Health knows nothing about it.

I would have expected, if the minister was doing his job, that he would say: Yes, we had a wonderful presentation from the dieticians and we are looking avidly into their proposals and getting ready to implement them, that we have a plan in place.

AN HON. MEMBER: Were you surprised?

MR. HARRIS: I wasn't surprised. In fact, as I said, I was reminded of the comment on the radio this morning about the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that he is not losing any sleep. The Minister of Health is not losing any sleep. He comes in here freshly tanned, well rested everyday - well rested, freshly tanned, I know nothing, I do not lose any sleep. I do not have to worry about the needs of seniors because I obviously do not pay attention to what is going on.

Mr. Speaker, the same organization which talked to the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet also pointed out the extensive savings that could be reached in the area of health care; and not only in the area of health care, but in the area of giving a life to children whose life would otherwise be less complete, in the area of neonatal care.

Mr. Speaker, what I am talking about is low birth weight infants in this Province. We have a high incidence of it, and for a number of reasons. We have a high incidence of low birth weight children because the parents of those children are not property fed during pregnancy.

We have a terrible problem of teenagers with nutritional difficulties. We have people on social assistance who do not have adequate incomes to have a proper diet. And this same group, Mr. Speaker - and I understand the difficulties of families with children, some with teenagers who are having children. You do not have to be a teenager to be poor and have a low birth weight child, Mr. Speaker, that comes from that source. I am the very proud father of two children, one the other day, as members know, and I was very, very pleased that my child was born with a good healthy weight, giving her a good start on life, a better start than, unfortunately, for some others, where we have very low birth weight infants. In this Province we have had a number of low birth weight children and, in addition to being low birth weight children, they have two sets of implications, one immediate one for the health care system, and one longer term problem because of developmental handicaps that low birth weight children are more prone to.

I will give you an example. It appears from research presented to Cabinet that 50 per cent of all handicaps of perinatal origin can be prevented by good prenatal care. Low birth weight infants are three times more likely to have neuro-developmental handicaps such as learning disabilities, vision and hearing impairment, mental retardation, cerebral palsy. They are much more susceptible to paediatric illnesses like respiratory infections. And, Mr. Speaker, it appears that the cost of care over the lifetime of a handicapped low birth weight child can be in excess of $1.5 million. This can be changed by good prenatal care, by counselling, by eating appropriate and sufficient foods to feed the mother and the baby, rest, exercise, non-smoking, reduced alcohol consumption, and coping with stress.

It is very clear from this study that by a very minor expenditure, approximately half of the cost of low birth weight children can be eliminated. It is a simple case of a direct relationship between an expenditure now and an immediate saving within the next year, over $6 million. That $6 million in immediate health care cost could have been prevented by proper pre-birth counselling and by making available appropriate food to the mothers in these circumstances.

There is, Mr. Speaker, a very obvious place for government to start spending some money now to do two things: to save immediate health-care dollars - and that is important from a budgetary and economic point of view; but what is more important, Mr. Speaker, is that government, while saving health-care dollars, would be giving a better life to those children, giving those children a fairer opportunity, a better opportunity to live normal, healthy, productive, satisfying lives. And that is more important than the dollars, Mr. Speaker, but it is important, nonetheless, that the dollars be saved, too.

So, in the area of seniors and in the area of children we can, by spending a few dollars now, save as much as ten or eleven times more in reduction of costs of our health care system and provide those seniors and those children healthier, more satisfying and happier lives. And if government can do that, Mr. Speaker, and save money, too, the real question is: How come the Minister of Health does not know anything about it? How come the Minister of Health is not even aware of this study? How come the Minister of Health cannot tell us that a presentation that was made to the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet two months ago is not under active consideration - under active consideration with a view to early implementation? That is what I would have expected him to say. I thought it was a silly question. I thought that the Opposition House Leader was wasting the time of the House, was just lobbing a question to the Minister of Health, an easy lob from the Opposition House Leader - just lobbing him a question that he was going to bat out of the field.

The Minister of Health could have gotten up and said: yes, Mr. Speaker, I am fully aware of what the Newfoundland Dietetic Association had to say about this. They made a presentation to the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet, we have it under active consideration, we are going to be making an announcement in the next few weeks about the implementation of these programs. I thought he was just throwing him an underhand ball, Mr. Speaker, that he would be able to lob out of the park. But no, Mr. Speaker, dead silence from the government front benches, and eventually the minister got up and did his Shultz routine about: I know nothing and I want to talk about something else.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that is one of the reasons why I lack confidence in this government, because they are too busy trying to deflect, hoodwink, confuse and complain about the media and otherwise ignore the problems of people in this Province who are hurting.

Mr. Speaker, there is a level of arrogance over there and a level of incompetence, and when you put the two of them together - arrogance you can handle. You can kind of deflect it, laugh at it and make fun of it. Incompetence is a bigger problem, but when you are both arrogant and competent, Mr. Speaker, then it is time that the government got a bit of a comeuppance.

Mr. Speaker, in the Budget, itself, we had the same kind of hoodwinking going on, and that has to do with the national child benefit. That is a little longer discussion.

I see that the hour is getting late and that there will be opportunities on Thursday to continue this debate. So, at this point, Mr. Speaker, I adjourn debate, to continue on Thursday.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m., and tomorrow being Private Members' Day, we will be discussing the resolution put forward by the Member for Port au Port.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m.