May 12, 1997               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 23

The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On Thursday last, the hon. member for Waterford Valley rose on a point of order concerning a comment made by the hon. Minister of Education in response to a question from the member for St. John's East. In reply to the question, the hon. minister said: "That is an absolute fabrication by the member opposite."

I refer hon. members to page 151 of Beauchesne, Section 494, in which it states: "It has been formally ruled by Speakers that statements by members respecting themselves and particularly within their own knowledge must be accepted. It is not unparliamentary temperately to criticize statements made by members as being contrary to the facts, but no imputation of intentional falsehood is permissible. On rare occasions this may result in the House having to accept two contradictory accounts of the same incident."

Clearly the hon. member was out of order and I ask him to withdraw his remarks.

The hon. the Minister of Education.

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I most certainly withdraw the remarks.


Statements by Ministers


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Over the weekend, the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet and two members of the House of Assembly, representing the districts of Burgeo and LaPoile and the district of Virginia Waters, heard from health care providers, consumers and administrators from across the Province during the provincial health forum.

Today, on Canada Health Day, I am pleased to report to members of the House of Assembly that this was a very valuable exercise for participants, for government and for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Government is committed to working in partnership with all of our health stakeholders in order to continue to deliver quality health services to the people of this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J.M. AYLWARD: This was a genuine effort by people working with government towards the common goal of providing the best possible health services to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Participants approached the forum with a willingness and a commitment of improving our overall health system. This forum produced candid and open discussion amongst a variety of knowledgeable health providers and consumers on both the strengths, as well as, the weaknesses of our health system.

There was general consensus amongst forum participants that we have a good health care system with many strengths, including our dedicated and knowledgeable staff, our fine facilities and a growing community based health system.

The group did acknowledge and government concurs, that there are stresses and problems in certain sectors and regions of the Province that need to be addressed on a priority basis. Government has heard the concerns and will begin to implement measures as quickly as possible.

Some of the concerns include doctor shortages in rural communities, emergency room doctor shortages, workload stress on front line workers, waiting times for cardiac surgery and other health services, the pace of reform and the need for a more co-ordinated role of various health professionals.

Some of the short and long-term solutions to pressing needs, as identified by the participants include increased emphasis on prevention and public education including more appropriate use of emergency room departments. The establishment of an advisory council to report to government on an ongoing basis was also suggested. Better utilization of health care workers including nurse practitioners, allied health professionals and nursing assistants was one priority area. Participants spoke of the need to restore some stability to an evolving health system.

Mr. Speaker, the health forum also identified strategic directions to guide our health system in the long term. Many spoke of the need for better co-ordination and communication within government to recognize the importance of the factors outside the direct health system which impact on our health, the determination of health such as education levels, employment, income and housing.

We also identified the need for evidence based decision making in health service delivery. In other words, Mr. Speaker, we must implement changes based on sound research which will ensure positive health outcomes. The forum participants recognized that there is limited funding available to deliver health programs and services and we must ensure we make the right choices, sound choices, on where to allocate those resources.

Mr. Speaker, this forum was not intended to address all of the concerns over the course of two days. However, this forum has accomplished what the government set out to do. We heard from a wide range of knowledgeable health professionals and consumers. Together, this group identified priorities and brought suggestions forward. Government is prepared to move as soon as possible in addressing these concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to conclude by publicly thanking the forum participants who devoted their weekend to share with each other, with government, very important, useful information as well as suggestions in priority setting and problem solving. It is a credit to the participants of the forum, Mr. Speaker, who are responsible and productive with their input, putting aside personal agendas for the benefit of the health of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is very interesting to hear the minister today. I certainly hope that the forum was informative and certainly hope that the forum was informative. I certainly hope that the information, whatever it is and whatever comes out of this forum, will not be placed on a shelf to be dusted off again in a few months time.

It is unfortunate, I guess, that the general public, who certainly wished input into this forum, were not present in the numbers they would have liked to have been, and it is very unfortunate that our rural doctors were not represented at this particular forum.

Any time we get one or two or three or four people together to talk about health care in this Province, hopefully it is of benefit; and hopefully the report coming out of this, as I said, will not be placed on a shelf to be dusted off somewhere else down the road.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. Does he have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am glad that the minister was there to listen to the health care providers, at least, or some of them. I know a number of groups were not able to participate, such as the Newfoundland Dietetic Association, who had some very valuable ideas about how scientifically prevention programs can not only provide better health but also save money now and in the future for the health care system.

It was an opportunity for the minister and certain selected invitees to hear the views of the people who were present. It is unfortunate that it was not more open, and open to the public, and that there was not more public participation.

It seems that the government has at least recognized that it has a serious crisis on its hands, and that the number one issue amongst the people of this Province is their fear that our health care situation is going to deteriorate further.

I look forward to seeing some pretty immediate reactions from government as a result of this forum, and some pretty dramatic solutions presented to the people of this Province to address those concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: The former Minister of Health.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Today, I would like to advise this hon. House that government has reached a decision with respect to the future delivery of Air Ambulance Services in the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MATTHEWS: Government has decided to remain with the status quo and not call for tenders from the private sector to provide this service.

Members will recall that last fall government decided to explore the option of privatizing the Air Ambulance Services delivered by Grenfell Regional Health Services and the Department of Works, Services and Transportation on behalf of the Department of Health. The two factors weighing in this direction were the need at that time to replace the King Air, government's air ambulance aircraft, and the possibility of reducing the number of pressurized aircraft required from two to one. Our view was that the private sector could meet our air ambulance needs and help government achieve savings in our operations.

In late winter, government was advised by the manufacturer of the King Air aircraft that our aircraft's flying hours can be extended indefinitely with the appropriate maintenance upgrading program. This service upgrade is being undertaken at present. Secondly, a closer examination of our aircraft requirements concluded that two pressurized aircraft will continue, in fact, to be required. As a result, my department concluded that there would be no advantage to privatizing the existing operations. The local airline industry was kept apprised of our deliberations and recognized the factors that government had to consider before it reached a final decision.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to see that we have been able to resolve this matter in the interests of those of our residents who have to rely on our Air Ambulance Services and our employees who deliver this essential service. At all times, Mr. Speaker, our deliberations kept their interests upmost in our decision-making. I am proud to say that our air ambulance service will continue to be one of the best services that government offers to the public.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am certainly am glad to hear today that the Air Ambulance Service will not be privatized. I did notice in the minister's statement, however, that he did not really say what is going to happen in St. Anthony. I can only assume through this that we will still have the Air Ambulance - the ambulance will be still stationed in St. Anthony and that nothing will change.

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

Does he have leave?


MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I welcome the decision by the minister and government to give up on the idea of privatizing the Air Ambulance Service. It is refreshing to note that the government does not always abide by the desires of the people who advise them to privatize anything they can lay their hands on, and the Air Ambulance Service is a good example of where privatization in fact reaps no benefits, neither for the government, nor for the public.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I wish to inform hon. members that this is Police Week in Canada.

Provincial policing services are carried out in this Province by both the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Today, I ask the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Members of the House of Assembly, to reflect on the outstanding services carried out by both police forces in this Province.

The RCMP provides policing services in this Province under an Agreement with the Solicitor General of Canada, which provides for a 70/30 (provincial/federal) financial arrangement for Provincial Policing Services. In addition, Mr. Speaker, the RCMP operates a federal component in the Province, as in all other provinces, which is paid for 100 per cent by the Federal Government, and deals with Federal Policing matters such as customs and excise, smuggling, and so on.

The RNC, with a 126 year history in this Province, provides full policing services in St. John's, the northeast Avalon, Corner Brook and Labrador West. The RCMP is responsible for all other areas of the Province.

Mr. Speaker, every day, members of the police forces are faced with the need to make critical decisions which affect the safety of all of us. Police Week provides an opportunity for the officers to take additional time out to meet the people in their communities, and for us to see the faces of those who keep us safe every day. The theme this year, "Police and the Community," certainly gives us reason to celebrate among ourselves.

I want to personally commend the approximately 800 members of both the RNC and the RCMP for providing exemplary policing services to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador. Your work to protect and serve the people of this Province does not go unnoticed.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On behalf of members of this side of the House, we join in the celebration of Police Week here in Canada and in our own Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We join in the recognition of the exemplary service by both forces, both the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. They have provided years of exemplary service in our Province and, indeed, both forces have to be both equally respected and commended.

I would ask the hon. minister though, and members opposite, to take time perhaps and to reflect upon the importance of policing in our Province, and to hopefully not repeat the mistake of several months ago, when during pre-Budget deliberations it was necessary, unfortunately, to pit one police force in our Province against the other. To ensure the utmost in policing, to ensure that our citizens are protected at all times, it is essential that both forces work in co-operation with one another. I would suggest that government take a very serious look at ensuring that it not repeat the mistake of the past.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. Does he have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to join with the minister and the official Opposition critic in paying tribute to the police forces, the RCMP and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, for their work and dedication, in often difficult circumstances.

I have had occasion over the years, to have a lot of dealings with police officers in connection with their duty. In 99.9 per cent of the cases they are performing a terrific service on behalf of the community, on behalf of the people in general. I am pleased to say that in this Province we have not had the kind of problems that other provinces have had with incidents that cause serious concern, and I think it is appropriate that we honour their work, their commitment, and their sometimes sacrifices.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, for the last several months I have been working with a company out of Italy, called Teleos Trading Inc., to bring a tannery to the Baie Verte Peninsula, and it is in line with the policy that this government has developed over the last number of months, that any resource harvested in Newfoundland should be processed in Newfoundland wherever possible.

I played a hands-on role on this for several months because I wanted to see this happen. We have had a sealing industry in this Province for 100-plus years. Then it went away for a number of years, but now it is back in full flight and we are very encouraged about it. It is important for the industry as a whole, and it is important for the economy and the creation of jobs in this Province.

We made an announcement just a couple of weeks ago - the Member for Baie Verte and myself, and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - of an intent to sign an agreement with this company. Since that, the Canadian Broadcasting Company did a story here in St. John's last week which left people with the understanding that there was something wrong, or there wasn't a good air of environment, around this company, and that there was a suit going to be launched against the company, Natsiq, by a company in France.

I did an interview in which I stated clearly that I had no knowledge of it, and that I was dealing with Teleos Trading Inc., and they were very credible people, and that I wanted to see this go on in Newfoundland but I had some concerns that this type of news story in Newfoundland might discourage some people, so I have been really concerned about it since. But today I just received a copy of a letter from the Member for Baie Verte denying emphatically any intention of a lawsuit against this company.

Mr. Speaker, for the record, I want to read this because it goes to show you what type of environment and what type of thing goes on with the news media here in this Province. We are trying to create opportunities for people to get to work in this Province and earn a decent living, and always someone is trying to put a negative spin on it.

I am very upset about it, and I am going to ask for an apology from the CBC company to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and to this company.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, this letter reads: I have been informed of a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation with reference to the National Polytechniqué Institute of Toulouse. I want to emphatically state, on behalf of myself and Professor A. Costes, President of this Institute, that this report is totally unfounded. We are committed to dealing with Natsiq Newfoundland on seal oil refining at the Baie Verte site.

I would also like to inform you that I have the sole responsibility to give any official information on behalf of the institute. This information is available to anyone through phone, fax, or e-mail at any time. I regret that any misinformation has been forthcoming. We are in good standing with Natsiq Newfoundland and look forward to future endeavours on our other technology on this most interesting project.

Signed, Michael Delmas. Written to Mr. Shelley, Baie Verte, Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, I think the CBC should apologize to Newfoundland and Labrador, to the people of this Province, but they also should write all people concerned who were affected by this letter, by that statement last week, with a full apology, and to correct any misinformation gone out there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to have just a minute a respond to what the minister just said.

Of course, I have been working also with the minister and government, and we say on this side as the Opposition that any time we look at something positive, we try to follow through with it, and believe me, in rural Newfoundland right now we do need some positives, and we need them badly.

This project has been moving along. It has taken some time, because I believe it is a project that is going to prove fruitful not just to the District of Baie Verte but to this Province when we look at secondary processing and so on. The Teleos Trading group, which I visited also in Italy with the minister, we found to be a reputable company which I think is going to have a long-lasting affect in this Province when it comes to leather tanning.

When I saw the news release on Friday, when I saw the statement by CBC on Friday, I was surprised also, and contacted these people immediately, with the proof in the letter that these people are willing to come here and work together to see something positive in this Province. It is really unfortunate that these types of things have to happen, when we look for something positive that negative spins can be put on this. I hope this puts this to bed, and I hope that within this next month we are going to see that group back in this Province and they are going to put people to work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Does the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi have leave to respond to the statement?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave!

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I didn't see the CBC report, but I understand from second-hand reports that it was quite dramatic in its criticism of certain aspects of the project. It is good to see a quick response from the institute involved. I hope that this letter will put to rest any concerns about the project. Perhaps CBC should look into it a little further and do the right thing. If it turns out that it has gone overboard on this, then I think it is appropriate for it to reverse the damage that it has done and make sure that the public is informed about the true state of the facts.

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 to the Minister of Health. Following the Health Forum this weekend, can the minister tell the House what concerns were raised this weekend that government was not already aware of?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think if my hon. colleague had been listening to the ministerial statement he would have heard the issues and the concerns that were raised in the Health Forum this weekend.

As government said at the very beginning, the purpose of this forum was not to solve all the problems in two days, out of respect for the health care system and the intricacies of an over $900 million system. What we did hope, and what we did receive during the weekend, was a very good forum where people from all the health care providing areas within health care - nurses, doctors, front-line workers, administrators, and consumers - came together in the same room, which is the first time that I can ever remember in my career as a health care professional anything of this nature.

Not only did we identify priorities, and give people a forum to speak - and which, I have to say, unlike my hon. colleague across the way who thought it was the biggest pile of garbage, quite frankly, the participants, all of them, it has been evaluated, have ruled that this forum was a very useful first step and a beginning to setting out some priorities and solutions. Some would be of a short-term nature, and obviously some will have to be of a longer nature. That was the purpose of the forum and that is what was accomplished.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the minister: Could she could tell us what topics or what concerns were raised this weekend that you, as minister, and government were not aware of before?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think I will not minimize the impact of the forum by saying this was said or that was said. We not only heard a list of issues and items but we heard priorities and we were given very good suggestions for solutions. I am not going to stand up in the House today and talk about them because we have given the process that we would follow. We have been honest from day one with the participants in the forum. We told them that we would meet with Cabinet. We would bring our issues, as they have raised them, on their behalf, to Cabinet and we would look at it. We will report and we will get back to them in a timely way. That has not changed. Yes, Mr. Speaker, sure we have listened to a number of various groups who came to Social Policy over the last number of weeks to make presentations. But, I think, to identify the importance of this forum, Mr. Speaker, we had all the participants in the room at the same time. We had everybody participating in the process of priority-setting and solution-making, and that was the benefit, Mr. Speaker, of that forum.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Not one item did she mention that was raised that she was not aware of, not one. She could not answer the question, Mr. Speaker.

Now can the minister tell us whether or not a presentation on behalf of rural physicians was made this weekend? What plan for the recruitment of rural physicians came out of the weekend forum?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to say that the forum was a very positive forum and I think, as I will say again, government achieved what it set out to do by bringing all the forum participants together. I can quote one of the physicians that was there and said: I thought it was a useful exercise and it brought all the stakeholders in the process together. The thing that was very encouraging was to see that most of the Social Policy Committee and MHA representatives were very useful in at least having an ear to listen and being very appreciative of the fact that all the problems were laid out to them and they had a greater appreciation at the end of the exercise.

AN HON. MEMBER: Was that the Chairman?

MR. DECKER: Dr. Misik.

MS J. M. AYLWARD: It was Dr. Karl Misik who said that, Mr. Speaker.

Also, I would like to say, rural physicians, as I mentioned in my Ministerial Statement, was one of the very important issues that was raised, but I can also say, Mr. Speaker, emergency room doctors, workload, stress, prevention, health care promotion and a number of other issues, that is the answer to the question. Mr. Speaker, that was one of many other issues that was addressed. He does not want to hear that it was a good forum, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Two questions - still no answers, no plan, I say to the minister. I asked her: What plan do you have for recruitment of rural physicians and there was no plan. The minister told us there was no plan. Now I ask the minister: Why were not the dieticians, pharmacists and ambulance operators - could you tell us why they were not invited? Do you have a reason for that?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I know it is very disappointing for my hon. colleague to be able to recognize that this was a successful first step in addressing problems.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS J. M. AYLWARD: I know it is rough, Mr. Speaker. What plan do we have, Mr. Speaker? We have a plan to continue to consult, to work with the front-line health care providers. And, Mr. Speaker, we made it clear, unlike the colleagues across the table who thought it was the biggest pile of garbage they have ever heard about and that it was nothing but a publicity scam, we believe, Mr. Speaker, it is the first step to working with the health care providers on the front lines to address the problems of rural physicians, emergency room physicians and changing how we deliver services here. Mr. Speaker, many of the people in that room, including the nurses and doctors, identified the challenges that we face with trying to provide rural physicians to every area of the Province. We all recognize that even with a physician in every area of the Province, that physician being on call every night, can no longer sustain such a lifestyle. Mr. Speaker, the shame involved here is that the people on the other side of the House cannot acknowledge and recognize that this was a very positive forum, bringing all the people together, and we are going to work on solutions that are priority basis.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Once again, people were not invited, stakeholders in health care were excluded, and the minister could not tell us why.

Now Minister, many people have taken their last step not their first step. Many people in this Province waiting for surgery have taken their last step because you and your members in Cabinet did not move to deal with the problem. Now, can the minister tell this House what the overall strategy - if she does not have any specific plans, what was the overall strategy that was recommended by representatives to deal with the numerous health care problems in this Province, many created by the current Premier in transfer payments when he was our minister?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, in our forum this weekend, we had a very sensible group of health care providers who recognized the situation that we are in in this Province. People came in, and realized, putting their agendas aside, that we were there to improve the health care system of the Province. We are not going in with a blank cheque, Mr. Speaker, we were honest with them from the beginning and we will work with them to solve the problems.

The plan, Mr. Speaker, is clear. We will solve the issues on a priority basis, as has been identified, and out of respect to the very intricate system, we will put a longer-term plan in place to deal with the issues that will require more time, more planning to deal with. That is what we are planning to do, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Long-term planning? We need immediate action.

I ask the minister, in light of the current crisis today with the shortage of emergency physicians and in rural areas, what emergency measures are you going to put in place now, until the problem can be fixed on a long-term basis?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, when we met on the weekend with our health care providers, one of the first things that came out was that our system has a number of strengths that we need to build on, and I mentioned those in our Ministerial Statement.

Our system has problems in certain sectors, and yes, Mr. Speaker, in certain regions. Our health care system, Mr. Speaker, is not in crisis. We have some clear problems; we have recognized them; we have acknowledged them and we are willing to work on addressing them but I think it is most unfair and it is a form of fearmongering, Mr. Speaker, to try to instill such a crisis sense amongst the people of the Province. We are not in a health care crisis; we have problems; we have admitted we have had problems and we are going to address them.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to cardiac surgery and the waiting list we said late last week that we would be bringing forward an announcement within the coming days to address that issue and we will do so.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

You try telling the 2,000 people who showed up in Port aux Basques that they are not in crisis, and start telling the people in Corner Brook and other sites in this Province. Minister, it is the same song - you are singing from the same song-book as the previous minister. There are parts of this Province in crisis.

Now, I ask the minister: Is it the intention of this minister, as it was with her predecessor, to send cardiac patients out of the Province, and if so, has she done a cost comparison to sending them out as opposed to doing the surgeries here and making accommodations in this Province that we have called for on many occasions?

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

MS J. M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I guess my hon. colleague will have to wait like everybody else in the House will have to wait for the Ministerial Statement and the information to be released in the coming days. That is what we are finalizing; that is what we will be doing and we will be making our decisions, Mr. Speaker, based on what the health care providers told us this weekend, if we have money available. They do not want us to put money here and money there; they want us to use what we call evidence-based decision-making, knowing that when money is put in, it is put into the right place for the right services at the right time, and we know that the outcomes will improve. And that is our plan, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Almost four years ago, I raised the issue of a waiting list of 110 people for cardiac surgery. Almost four years later, there are over 200 and nothing was done to accommodate the increasing need on an appropriate basis.

I ask the minister: What was recommended by cardiac physicians regarding the serious problems of waiting lists to deal with it now in the short term?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, we have announced the increased funding to address the needs in the long-term. We are expecting that the necessary facility - no in the long-term because we are doing something more important in the short-term.

MR. SULLIVAN: I asked short-term.

MS J.M. AYLWARD: In the long-term, we are putting more money into the facility to make the necessary changes to recovery room and anestethic requirements that are necessary to do the increase cardiac surgery.

In the shorter-term, we will be making an announcement to deal with the backlog of cardiac patients that are waiting, how they are decided and where they will go, it is not a decision for this government, for the members in this room. There is a triage committee in place, there is a cardiac team that makes that decision and that is how those decisions will be made for the cardiac patients that are waiting to have their surgery out of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This government has stated and the former minister has stated, that it will be two years before we are prepared to do cardiac surgeries here in this Province and the corporation intends to borrow money when they do this extension to the Health Sciences. Now, that is what the former minster stated.

Now, I ask can the minister specify exactly when we should expect this government to deal with the health care problems, in particular rural doctors, the emergency waiting list at emergency departments, the cardiac care and the continued reduction of health transfers. When can we expect action from the government on those four very important matters?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the first thing I would like to say is I am very glad my hon. colleague has talked about the problems in health care in his question and not the crisis in health care because there are problems and we have identified them and as I said last week, we will be making an announcement in the coming days about the cardiac surgery.

In our forum this weekend, and we have told the forum participants and the public, that we will be dealing with issues that have been raised on a priority basis. Some of those that have been raised on a priority basis include; dealing with the rural physicians, dealing with the emergency room physicians, dealing with expanded roles, like nurse practitioners, etc. and also dealing with focusing more on prevention and early intervention. That is what we are going to do in the coming weeks, but I think out of fairness, yesterday being Mothers Day, today being our first day back, I think it would be nice to report to our colleagues, to have a chance to review, to reflect and to make some good solid decisions before we go ahead with all the solutions. If we had all of the solutions we would have done them years ago. That is why we are consulting and that is why we are going to take the appropriate time to deal with it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Health.

Minister there are increasing incidents of breast cancer in the Province and given the importance of early detection, can the minister tell us what is being done to reduce the waiting time for women to receive a mammogram?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think, based on some of the indications that we have gotten and clearly the directions in which we would like to go, we would very much like to focus our health in this Province and I say health instead of health care, what I mean by that is focus more on things like prevention. So, it certainly would be an area in which we would like to move in a more clear direction, but as again, I would ask my hon. colleague to have a heart. I have been here for a day and if you want me to give you the specifics on exactly what is done, one, two, three and four, I am not able to that at this point in time. I will take it under advisement, but I will tell you that our government is committed to changing from a health care system to more of a health system with a focus on prevention.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Minister, a lady from the West Coast informed us that she has to wait eleven months to receive this testing. Does the minister consider this to be an acceptable time period and if not then what can she do to see if this time can be improved upon?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think whenever we can endeavour to decrease waiting lists and increase the access to the health care system in any way, we will certainly work towards those means, but I would ask my hon. colleague to put forward the information and follow in the footsteps of my predecessor, if you have specific information, if you have a case that we need to follow up on, by all means me and my officials will be happy to take it and deal with it on a case by case basis.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South, supplementary.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister, the women in Labrador do not have access to this equipment, they must travel to the Island portion of this Province for this service which costs thousands of dollars. Is the minister aware of an unequal access to such service by Labradorians, and what are your plans to solve this problem?

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

MS J.M. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think one of the areas that did come up the weekend was the whole issue of access and expectations. We don't have a CAT scan in Labrador either. We have to do certain changes and we have to look at, I guess, how we are going to reorganize our health system.

Many of the discussions that focused around this morning, for example, was how we can better use clusters of professionals in a group in an area, rather than increase all kinds of equipment and surgery, and having, for example, a brain surgeon in every area of the Province. We know we aren't able to do those things. So we have to very seriously look at how we are going to develop our health system over the coming years. But we recognize we can only do it with the health care providers helping us and consulting with us.

Again, I would say that we will be talking about how we deliver those types of services and recognizing that you have some facilities and services available in some of your tertiary areas which you don't have in other areas, and that is certainly an issue that we have to live with in that respect. But we have to also deal with access so that all people will have the availability to services as they need them.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We are all aware of the oil spills that took place at the oil storage facilities on the Southside Hills earlier this year. While there is no set timetable, the minister has at his discretion legislation to request a pressure testing at any oil storage facility in the Province. Can the minister tell the House the results of the testing that was conducted at the oil storage facility on the Southside Hills earlier this year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, first off I thank the member for the question. On the specifics of the question, we have directed Irving Oil to do a number of tests including pressure testing at the facility. The results will be available shortly. We have also asked it to do a number of other tests examining the site. We have had a number of inspectors up there to look further at the site. We have also asked the Fire Commissioner's office to do a full and thorough review of the safety of the equipment and so on. So we are doing really a thorough overview of the site itself. We have also again announced a prosecution and charges against the company because of laxness, and we are going to deal with that issue in the short term also. So yes, to the specifics of the question, we have asked for that testing and we should have a report very shortly.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The charges and prosecution the minister has made mention of has been deferred through the courts. I wonder if the minister can bring us up to date on where those charges stand at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, our department announced the charges and the Crown is dealing with that, with the company, through the court system. I'm assuming the deliberations should occur very shortly, but that is in the court system. Our charges are there, they speak for themselves, the documents are public. We believe the company did not act properly in this case and it will be dealt with through the court system. We are also doing an intensive review of the site and of the operations at the same time.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When is the minister going to improve legislation that is presently in place to ensure that testing of oil storage facilities is conducted on a regular interval, as opposed to at the discretion of the minister?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, prior to this spill we had an inspection up there about six weeks before at the site. We are doing some preventive work. We are, though, reforming the environment act, and we expect the first draft to be available very shortly, the next few weeks. I would welcome the Opposition member, the Opposition critic, and anybody else who wants to have an input into the legislation. We are going to reform the act to put it specifically in legislation that we deal with companies, and that they be provided requirements on paper. Right now we are doing it through regulation, and we are looking forward to having a new environment act come to the House by the fall, hopefully.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Can the minister inform us when the last pressure testing was done at that facility?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I will undertake to get that detail for the member this afternoon and provide it to him and to the House the next day. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question today is for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, in the last week-and-a-half or so, I have been travelling throughout my district and other places in rural Newfoundland, and I can tell you, some people are very upset when it comes to the infrastructure and the way it was allocated in this Province. And it is no different in my district, Mr. Speaker, just $300,000 for thirty-three rural communities.

I would like to ask the minister first of all - there have been some changes already, the civic centre, of course, in his own district. What other flexibility - will there be a movement of that funding that has already been allocated to some more infrastructure such as water and sewer in rural Newfoundland? Will there be more movement with allocation of that funding?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, I can inform the hon. member and the House that he was not the member receiving the lowest funds for infrastructure. There were other members sitting on this side of the House - I think the Premier was one of them. And yes, the infrastructure program amounted to $31 million, and between the Federal Government and the Provincial Government, certain priorities were stated by the federal MPs and by local MHAs. I can say quite honestly right now that at this particular point in time, the infrastructure funding has come to a halt, because we are up to the $31 million. There will not be any further infrastructure funding announced; if there is any slippage, we will have to wait until after the federal election, which is some time in June, and at that point in time, if there is any slippage, then the federal member will have as much input into making decisions as to where that money will go as I do, or does the Provincial Government. I will say to the hon. member that, because of representation by, I think it is Mr. Byrne, the federal member, I am not sure - Mr. Byrne was successful last week in securing, I think, Mr. Speaker, if I am not mistaken, approximately $200,000 for the Town of Baie Verte for upgrading and paving.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I tell the minister, I am not interested in the federal election right now, today; I am interested because I just had a call - I am not worried about the Premier and his district, because I just had a very disturbing call before I came here today.

The community of Burlington has applied since 1989 for water and sewer. They have paid their debts right up through, as a matter of fact, December of this year. A community of 300 people, they have paid $42,000 and have kept up to it. And of course my recommendation is that they should keep up to it if they are ever to get infrastructure funding.

Mr. Speaker, as of Friday, I say to the minister, this group called me and asked me to ask this question today of the minister. Because, as of Friday, they are locking up the council office in Burlington; they are not resigning on Friday, but they will in a week or so if they do not get any response from the government that they have, somewhere down the line - a community that has been paying their debts - some chance of receiving water and sewer. That is why I ask the minister again, today, about the flexibility - and if Mr. Byrne or anybody else will commit to communities like that, who see sewage coming out of their back yards, when he has talked about civic centres around this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Can the minister respond to that?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: Mr. Speaker, Burlington or any other community or community council in this Province will not hold this Provincial Government at ransom over capital funding or infrastructure money.

AN HON. MEMBER: Vote Liberal the next election (inaudible).

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

MR. SHELLEY: I want to get that on record, Mr. Speaker. The member just said: Vote Liberal next election.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the member that we are on the government side federally, and this is what happened. I remind the minister of that also, and I will say it again where we had a laugh from him before: This is not about a federal election.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: I was out in the real world over the weekend and ran up against these people -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary.

MR. SHELLEY: - on my way to a protest, getting cut off by another protest. It is a bad problem in rural Newfoundland. I will ask the minister again, on behalf of Burlington and other communities like it, about the flexibility for federal funding for the basics in this problem, which are water and sewer.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: If I am allowed, Mr. Speaker, in the Town of Kippens, Office of the Mayor: Dear Mr. Reid: Allow me to extend my sincere thank you for your efforts and support by your department in approving the funding for municipal water supply in Kippens.

I believe Kippins can be considered a rural community. Mr. Speaker, there are hundreds of communities in the Province that we try to provide funding to. If I had to divide the funding equally among all communities in the Province, nobody would get anything done. There is a selection process and, Mr. Speaker, you know and this House knows that in selecting capital works and infrastructure money, this government and I, as the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, have been fair to the other side. For four years I have been fair. There are members sitting on the opposite side of the House who came in with their wish list to me and managed to secure 100 per cent funding because their wish list was presented to me.

I apologize to the hon. member that I could not provide funding to every rural community in the Province. But I will say to the Mayor of Burlington: If you have problems, you are better off probably coming to me and sitting down to solve your problems than you are bringing them to the attention of the House through the hon. member so he can get up and make political points by doing so. I say to the hon. House that if - I will repeat what I said in the beginning - if there is any money left over in the infrastructure, it is the federal member who must decide where that money goes. I say publicly that the Mayor of Burlington would be better off speaking to his Liberal member in Ottawa at the present time than through that member speaking to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I am just going to remind the minister that we are in Canada and it is supposed to be a democracy. I was elected by the people of Baie Verte district and I will request for those people what they asked me for today. They are upset by their member on the Federal Government side, Mr. Speaker, that there was no response. Now, Mr. Speaker, I am requesting that meeting today in this House for that mayor and that council who will be here tomorrow. I ask the minister: Will he have a meeting with that council?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. A. REID: No, I am not going to apologize, I am going to do better than that. I will say quite honestly, Mr. Speaker, that this is probably one of the best representatives in this House as it relates to rural constituency work. I have no problem with the gentleman. He knows how I feel about his work and what he is trying to do for his rural communities that he represents in the House of Assembly. But I will say again, Mr. Speaker, he asked a question about infrastructure, and I told him that in order to secure infrastructure, he had to speak to his federal member. Now, it would be better for him and the people of Burlington to go to their federal member, try to convince their federal member that after the election is over and their federal member is re-elected, he will have a better chance of securing funding on the infrastructure than standing in the House asking me. So I say quite honestly, Mr. Speaker, the member should speak to the hon. Mr. Byrne who lives on the West Coast, get his community to speak to Mr. Byrne, and maybe Mr. Byrne will be as successful in securing funding for Burlington as he was for Baie Verte.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.




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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I present a petition today on behalf of 229 people. I will read the prayer of the petition.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland, in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador asks the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer:

We hereby petition the House of Assembly to direct the Department of Works, Services and Transportation to upgrade and pave the road to the north side of Calvert.

Mr. Speaker, many roads in my district, especially roads leading to several communities, are in atrocious shape. I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, I certainly invite him, as I did with a previous minister a few years ago, to take a look. Just drive along the roads in the district, and I can assure you that you will not see worse paved roads in the Province. Some are in deplorable shape.

This particular road to Calvert North is in atrocious shape. There are a large number of people who commute to that area. The community ball field is there, the community swimming area, access to the woods for wood-cutting; people have to access it. The major store in the community is there, and there are numerous other services in that area. People who are driving there, truck drivers and other residents of the community, have been indicating that it is in atrocious shape and is badly in need of repair.

Mr. Speaker, the roads in this Province, in this particular area, are in a state of decline, and if something is not done in the short term we are going to need a considerable infusion of dollars to be able to fix the problem. It has gone beyond the stage - when you drive over a dirt road with, I would say, hundreds and hundreds of potholes, a little bit of asphalt thrown in there in the summertime, it works out after the wintertime, and numerous damage is done to cars, to suspensions and tires and so on. It is atrocious that we are allowing roads like this in rural parts of our Province to decline.

I have had the opportunity to travel just about every single road in this Province, with just some exceptions - not too many exceptions, I might say -

MR. EFFORD: Have you been down to Port de Grave?


MR. EFFORD: It is a good road, is it not it?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I say to the minister, there is a big difference between that road and the roads that some of the people in my district have to drive over. Some of these roads were put down very quickly twenty-six and twenty-seven years ago in the old political style of the snow plough first and the asphalt truck next. They were put down by both governments, by former PC governments and by former Liberal governments, and it does not make the problem any better. It is important to look at a priority list.

In fact, I say to the minister, when the department did their priority list for roads in my district, this road was not on the list. They had inadvertently left it out. It was not even included. So, Mr. Speaker, it is right up near the top of the list. There are four or five roads in the district that are deplorable. You cannot meet a vehicle without going off the edge of the pavement, with drops of a foot or two in some cases. Some are marked where you have to slow down when you meet traffic, even on a paved road that has hundreds of people living there. There are roughly 250 people living there. Many use this road, with the basic services of the community being operated in that part of the community.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister to look at, in his budget of roads and priorities, certainly next year... Also, last year in my district there was, I guess, some extra funding and they allowed one of the roads to be done by at least doing general work. It was not a major restructuring job but at least it served the purpose and it should hold for several years. It is something that could be re-allocated, because I am sure many of those tenders in the competitive age today may come in under budget and there is always some room within the capital budget of the department to be able to do something.

I call upon the minister to look at these, to look at the priorities, and look at the declining state of roads here in the Province because it is going to have very serious repercussions for many tourists visiting those areas. It leaves a very bad impression.

We have failed - in the last while, $12 million last year was spent on infrastructure under Works, Services and Transportation in the Province when we used to be spending $50 million. We are down to 25 per cent of what used to be spent and we cannot expect those roads to be able to be kept up to the same standard. It is very costly for trucks and businesses operating on these roads and incurring extra expense in the process.

So, Mr. Speaker, once again, I ask the minister to take a very serious look and see what can be done to alleviate this very serious problem.

Thank you.

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

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

I rise to support the petition put forward by the Leader of our Party. This particular member, the Member for Ferryland, lives in his district, drives back and forth all the time. He perhaps knows that shore and the highway that leads down to the Southern Shore better than anybody else here in this House. The people from the Southern Shore have to drive back and forth to the capital city on a daily basis for many of their services. They need to drive this highway to get medical services other than those offered by a family practitioner. Therefore, it is a main highway for all the people who live down on the Southern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, the prayer of the petition is that they want the government to recognize that the infrastructure, namely, the highway leading down the Southern Shore, is in deplorable condition and has not been upgraded as it should have been done for many, many years.

Mr. Speaker, they are asking that Works, Services and Transportation upgrade and pave the road on the north side of Calvert, in particular and, of course, we are supporting this petition because it is the kind of petition that is put forward on behalf of the residents. They believe and they know what it is like to drive over very bad roads, and we, on this side, support it enthusiastically and ask the hon. the minister if he would do something about it.

We see petitions coming forward all the time here and the minister probably is going to ignore this petition the same way that he is ignoring it right now and not listening to the voices of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. They sent petitions here on health care and he ignored them, he procrastinated, did not do a thing and eventually we were into a state of absolute chaos because of his indecision, his incompetence.

We are now seeing the minister having the first chance to rise in the House and to respond to the wishes of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and, in particular in this case, a petition from the good people in Calvert. We just hope that the minister does not bring to this office the same level of competency that he brought to his last office. We want him to do a better job - have the people of Calvert to look forward to a better job and have the problem addressed in their district by way of having their roads repaired in a very timely manner.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition on behalf of a number of residents of the Province concerning their desire to have the House of Assembly direct the government to establish a universal comprehensive school lunch program for every school in Newfoundland and Labrador to help end child hunger and give our children a better chance.

Mr. Speaker, these residents are from the towns of Paradise, Portugal Cove, St. John's, I notice a few signatures here from the Burin Peninsula, from Garnish and Lewin's Cove.

Mr. Speaker, this is a petition that is gaining widespread support in the Province from people who have an opportunity to sign the petition. It is one which recognizes that there is an increasing concern in our communities and in our Province and, indeed, throughout the country for the plight of people who have very little money to spend and whose children are suffering from lack of sufficient food and proper nutritious diet. It recognizes that in our school system, where children come to school hungry, they are unable to fully address the opportunities offered by school, to fully participate in the school program, to actually be there to learn, as opposed to being there to survive. The issue has been well-recognized by researchers.

I heard the Minister of Health today, for example, talk about evidence-based policy. This is a new phrase for me. It is a new watchword of the Department of Health. One thing that you do not need much evidence for - and I am sure the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would agree, although there is plenty around, is that children who are hungry are not able to properly learn. You do not need a lot of evidence for that. People can see it with their own eyes, as the minister has had the occasion to do, and many others have as well. Dr. Patricia Canning in her report to the government last fall fully recognized the effects of poverty on the ability to learn, and the nutritional deficiencies of our schoolchildren.

The school lunch program, Mr. Speaker, should be a small part of educational reform. We have, in our education system, a process of reform. There are many reforms going on in the education system. Some of them are probably not that good, and some people question the nature of the activities undertaken in the name of reform, but there is one reform that needs to be undertaken while we are busy transforming the school system in this Province. I know, if the former Minister of Education were in that position, who is now the Minister of Justice, he would be taking a very hard look at this aspect of the reform of the education system.

One way to reform the education system in a positive way that nobody would deny, would be to provide a nutritional school lunch program for each and every student, so that students can participate fully in education. We could probably, over the long term, alleviate the need of some special education programs. We could probably, over the long term, alleviate the need for a number of programs to address the problems that these hungry children are going to face if they do not get a proper education and they do not get part of a chance, at least, to have a decent, nutritious meal and to participate in our society.

It is becoming increasingly of concern to me and many others, the inequities in our society, the fact that so many people are below the poverty line. In this Province, in fact, the number of children below the poverty line from 1989 to 1995 increased by 50 per cent in a Province of Canada, one of the supposedly richest nations of the world, one of the most desirable places to live. I think we have a long way to go in recognizing that the inequality that exists amongst our people must be addressed and has to be changed.

This petition is a very practical, one-step approach to saying that we have a great deal of money being freed up as a result of the changes in our education system. I am not going to debate the pros and cons of those changes. A lot of people are complaining about how they may apply to their particular school or their particular community. But one thing we all do know is that a terrific amount of government money is being saved in the process. Some of that money - I know there were promises made in the past, and I know the former Minister of Education is on record in public, at a public forum, saying that the money would go to (inaudible) education -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: But we are only asking for some of it for looking after the school lunch program.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I, too, noticed today that the Minister of Health talked about evidence-based decision-making. When it comes to child poverty, I hold up to the minister Special Matters: The Report of the Review of Special Education by Dr. Patricia Canning, and I in particular refer to chapter three, called "Poverty and Education."

In this particular report, there are lots of subheads that refer particularly to other studies and other pieces of evidence. On page 37 there is a section called "Poverty, Illiteracy and Educational Achievement in Newfoundland and Labrador." It talks about implications of general underachievement for special education. It talks about the effect of poverty on children and youth, and we could go on and on. This particular report draws a lot of conclusions relative to the high incidence of poverty in our population, particularly poverty as it affects children and their performance in the school system.

Mr. Speaker, I would also just like to read into the record some of the information that is contained in the publication of the government, Volume Two, Investing in People and Communities; A Framework for Social Development. I refer to section 2, page 5 in this report. The minister again referred to evidence-based decision-making. Let me read what it says here. It says: Social assistance benefit rates have not increased since 1992 and are among the lowest in Canada. The level of benefits does not provide a sufficient income for nutritionist food, adequate housing and other necessities. It says: Child poverty is a function of family poverty and is part of a complex array of interrelated problems. Children are dependent on their families and environment to help them succeed.

In particular, referring to research, it says: Research indicates that children who grow up poor show almost three-and-a-half times the number of conduct disorders, almost twice the chronic illnesses, and more than twice the rate of school problems, hyperactivity and emotional disorders as children who are not poor.

Mr. Speaker, there is an evidence base for a program of aggressive action when it comes to helping solve the problems that poor people have in trying to provide for their families, and in particular trying to provide for their children.

Mr. Speaker, we know that these problems that children have are frequently carried over to adulthood and may lead to further cycles of poor parenting - the report says: abusive behaviour and reduced ability to be self-sufficient and productive.

Mr. Speaker, this is the evidence, and I am glad to hear the Minister of Health say today that she is taking an evidence-based pattern of decision-making in her office, because I can tell you that she did not quite do that when she was Minister of Human Resources and Employment, because the evidence is right here. She should have been reading what has been written for her in terms of the Social Policy Advisory Committee Report, because that tells us what the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi has been talking about is very sound and we should be supporting everything we can to make sure the children of the poor in this Province have an equal opportunity as those who are born to people of more means, and who are therefore able to give their children greater opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, I commend the petition to the House and ask the government if they would listen to it and use the multitude of evidence they have - lots of it - from very specific studies and very general studies but all drawing the same conclusion, that we must do something about child poverty in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition put forward by 400 people in the Winter Brook area. The petition reads:

We, the undersigned concerned citizens of Winter Brook and surrounding area, do hereby petition the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to immediately allocate necessary funding for the pavement of the road on Route 234, starting from the community of Jamestown towards and including the community of Winter Brook.

Mr. Speaker, what those 400 signatures are asking for is a road that extends from the last community which was paved, which was Jamestown, or part of that community, on into their community. That particular road was upgraded some three years ago to a condition whereby now it only needs Class A stone and then it would be ready for paving. Those people have waited patiently for years and years and years to see this particular road upgraded and paved. They were under the impression that once the road was upgraded it would be allowed to be worn in, or settled if you would, and then the contractors would come back and they would see pavement go into their community.

Mr. Speaker, this particular community is one of the very few communities in this area that almost has full employment, not in the community itself but just about every resident there that is in the workforce are working outside of the community somewhere else and have chosen to live in Winter Brook. There are two small businesses there, Mr. Speaker. There is one of the biggest saw mill operators in Newfoundland located on this particular road and all the people are asking for is something that most people in this Province take for granted. They are not looking for a stadium, Mr. Speaker, they are not looking for sidewalks, they are not looking for water and sewer. They are asking for a piece of pavement, Mr. Speaker, an extension to the road that is leading to Winter Brook from Jamestown on into their community. It is not a lot to ask for today, Mr. Speaker. It is something that most other people, as I said, take for granted. Those people should be allowed to open their windows in the summertime, paint their houses, Mr. Speaker, allowed to put their clothes on the line and not have it covered with dust and other debris from this particular road. Like I said, these people were expecting this road to be paved. It seems like it is a low priority because of the size of the community I suppose but here again is one of the few communities that is continuing to grow.

I went down there yesterday, Mr. Speaker, and I saw two new houses being started. I saw one house that was moved in, ready to be put on a foundation and I saw the foundations put down for two other houses in this community. So sure it is a small community but it is a growing community and the people who have lived there, Mr. Speaker, have been there for all of their adult lives and they are going to live there. That is their community and it is their home.

Also on this particular road there are a fair number of cabins. The people use the access road down to Chance Harbour and there is a fair size logging operation in this particular area as well. The road is approximately 8 kilometres from where the pavement ends now out to and including both routes through the community.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, but the minister knows full well about the road that I am talking about because he had visited that particular area a few years ago when he was the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. He is probably the minister that was responsible for the upgrading of the road but it needs to be taken one step further and it needs to be paved. Probably, Mr. Speaker, it is a situation where I don't see where a government can afford not to pave this particular road because in this area, other than the 2.6 kilometres of the road through Jamestown, it is the only dirt road in all this area. So it means having to maintain a grader, having to maintain a grader operator, having to use sand instead of salt in the wintertime to maintain this particular road. It must be an astronomical expense to the Department of Works, Services and Transportation.

So I support the people of Winter Brook in trying to get their road paved. It is a very small request considering some of the dollars that have been put out today for projects that are least important, Mr. Speaker, not near as important as this particular project. I commend them for taking the initiative, for bringing their concerns forward in the form of a petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: I ask the minister if he would pay heed to this request and if he would see fit to allocate funds for this particular area? I can assure him that it would certainly be appreciated. Thank you.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, just for a second I would like to rise and support the petition put forward by the Member for Bonavista South. As we said many times in the House, we do have to try to recognize that rural Newfoundland is under seige in many parts of this Province and that we have to try to maintain a certain quality to our infrastructure. If we don't maintain that infrastructure then the future opportunities would become fewer and fewer. So, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the specific requests, I have talked to the member about it. He indicated to me that this is not a very, very expensive proposition and that certainly there is a need for us to support the infrastructure needs in parts of the Province where there is a realistic possibility that people will be able to get back to somewhat full employment in the very near future.

So we should be making sure that we don't let the downturn of the fishery be the excuse by which we start to de-emphasize the validity of the people's request in rural Newfoundland, therefore we cannot say because there is no fishery there now, we are going to let the infrastructure to simply go downhill and downhill and downhill because studies will show - and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs would have them - that is what happened in the United States - and studies on infrastructure will show that if you start neglecting your infrastructure, it is the beginning of the end of your communities. There is lots of information on that so I commend the member and look forward to his being able to get a very positive response from the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the opportunity put forward by my hon. colleague across the way to get up. If he had not presented the petition I would have had to wait for another item on which to speak.

The petition, Mr. Speaker, is a petition in and of itself. It is always really, a welcome thing to have presented in the House because it does a couple of things. It shows that people who live in a given area of the Province have taken the time to pay attention to what some of their needs are and are prepared to put an effort into going out and putting signatures to paper to ensure that, what in their view is a solution to a problem and is put before the people whom they elect to govern the Province and so I always welcome a petition when it comes forward.

Obviously, Mr. Speaker, I am not intimately familiar being only in the job just a day or two, and with all of the roads in the Province I intend to familiarize myself to a much greater degree with our roads network in the Province and to looking at what our needs are in terms of transportation links and the improvements in the area of our highways and that sort of thing, and I will commit to the hon. member to come to that area of the Province within the next several months and hopefully, I will get a chance to look at the eight kilometres of road that is referred to here.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, it is obvious the government cannot address all of the needs of all of the people at the same time. I believe that was amply laid out by my colleague, the hon. Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs today, when he made the point that everybody's needs cannot be addressed at the same time within the existing resources that we have and so, when the people of the Province put forward a request for road improvements like this, they are really doing themselves a great service, not a disservice but a great service in that it puts in front of the politicians who in turn put it in front of the officials the request that has come forward and of course, this type of representation is not lost when we look at how we are going to meet the needs in the future.

So, while I am not able to support specifically the request in the prayer of this petition, I want to say for the record, Mr. Speaker, that I do support the proposition of people bringing forward petitions and I commend the people in the Winterton - Jamestown area of the Burin Peninsula for having this petition prepared and brought forward, and I can assure them that to the best of this government's ability, we will address their need in the context of all of the needs of the Province and on a basis that will be prioritized in a reasonable fashion and within the resources that we have in future years we will do what we can for their situation.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Orders of the Day


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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, Order No. 3, Concurrence Motions and in particular Order 3 (b) Resource Committee, and I understand the Chairman for that is the Member for Labrador West.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CANNING: I hear the hon. gentleman across the way saying he is not happy with me in Labrador West. I would point out that I understand the Conservatives have asked a person from Ottawa to travel to Labrador to try to be the member. Usually we send somebody from Labrador to be the Member in the House of Commons or the Legislature. We rarely send somebody from Ottawa in to become the member. I would say return to sender, Mr. Speaker.

An individual who could not win the nomination in Ottawa, could not win the nomination in Labrador, only that there were no Tories who would stand for election in Labrador on behalf of the party. I would say return to sender. The members across the way know full well what I speak of.

I stand today to acknowledge the Committee that I chaired, the Resource Committee. The Resource Committee of this House reviews the Estimates for several departments, among which we find Fisheries and Aquaculture, Forest Resources and Agrifioods, Tourism, Culture and Recreation, Industry, Trade and Technology, Mines and Energy, Development and Rural Renewal.

I want to acknowledge the work of the Committee members, in particular the co-chair, the Member for Baie Verte; the members for Humber Valley, Humber East, Grand Falls - Buchans, Bonavista South, and St. John's South. Throughout the debate it was I must say very interesting. The ministers brought along their officials, gave a wide-ranging review of that which they have chosen for the mandate for their departments, that which they wish to achieve. Very interesting. There were quite a few questions raised in particular from members of the Committee, and there were some extraordinary answers given.

I want to look at some of the reasons why this particular government has chosen to do the things it has done, and what is it Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition would have preferred the government to do, or would have done itself had it been the government. In the last election, members will recall that there was a document that was named The Right Agenda... for the People, in which they talked about governing involves making choices. That is so very true. It is indeed a matter of making choices, often difficult choices, and those are exactly the words in their document, on page 5: "Often, these choices are difficult."

Fundamentally, this government has moved in a direction to ensure that we have a balanced budget, but at the same time we are able to provide the kinds of needs for our people, and in particular for the Resource Committee it was important that we hear the general view of the ministers of the resource departments, because they will fundamentally drive this Province in the future.

The Conservative Party during the last election talked about several things that it had felt should be done. I would just ask them in terms of - I notice on its page 11, "Fiscal Responsibility," it talked about "set priorities for program delivery and reduce spending on expendable and low-priority programs." It would be very interesting and indeed useful if the Opposition could tell us which programs of government it felt are low-priority programs, and how it is that it would have achieved the balanced budget.

Because in the last election the Opposition did indeed say to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that it too would understand the fiscal difficulties and challenges of the Province, and it committed to a balanced budget in four years. It would be very useful during this debate if it could tell us how it would have balanced the budget, how it would have set growth and spending priorities, and in fact which programs they felt were low-priority programs.

During the whole of the Resource Committee hearings, as I said, the ministers provided very useful information. There were great exchanges of ideas and information as to how we could generate more export opportunities for our forestry, for our mining opportunities, and how we could create more growth in the mines through secondary and tertiary development of our resources, and how it is that we can achieve more benefit from our oil and gas that is on the verge of having a major economic impact on this Province.

I would move Concurrence with the Committee report. I brought forward the Committee report last Thursday, I believe. The members of the Committee passed the expenditures without any change, and I would now move the concurrence of that report.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I certainly would like to rise today and make a few comments on our debates with the Resource Committee, of course referring to mining, forestry, agrifoods, fisheries, energy, tourism, and rural renewal, R2 D2.

Mr. Speaker, we did have some very interesting conversations during those estimates debates. It is good to have the ministers and their officials in front of you to ask them some questions that are pertinent to those particular portfolios. Of course, you ask mostly for information purposes, to try to find out where the information is. You save your better questions for the House of Assembly. You don't ask too many damning questions in those estimates, but it gives you the chance to discuss a little bit informally with the minister and her officials to see where the department's priorities are in spending, how they break down their spending, and so on. That is what the estimates are all about.

There were some interesting comments made throughout and I am going to touch on some of those, but first of all I want to make a comment on the Chairman's opening remarks in talking about the agenda, and the `right agenda', whatever that was during the last election.

I am just going to remind the member, and anybody else in the House today who cares to listen, because I want to make it known from my seat here in this House of Assembly that when I asked the questions that I asked today, that comes from a long time but specifically over the last two weeks of time in my district. I am simply saying to the Member for Labrador West that rural Newfoundland people are hurting right now and they need some answers. They need to see something physical happen.

Mr. Speaker, I am working with the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal on a positive project for my district, and I will continue to do that anytime, if it means one job or if it means 100 jobs, and I will work as hard as I can, and I know the ministers will work as hard as they can to ensure that this project comes through and we put people to work. I have no problem saying that, and I would even go to commend any government or minister who is going to help bring that through, because what we need to see in this Province is something physical. We don't need the rhetoric or anything - we need to see something physical - so I will work with any minister when we are talking about putting jobs out there.

Elections and party politics and all of that stuff has its place. Sometimes it has too much of a place, I think, instead of dealing with the real issues and the real world. It is really tough on rural members, and they are the ones I want to talk to today, who have been out there for the last two, three, or four weeks in the district, and they think you are making up stories when you come in. I actually was stopped on the way to a protest that I was asked to go to, and got caught up in another protest on the way to it, from school closures to bad roads to hospitals and so on.

I was in Port aux Basques. The media had different reports, but there were at least 2,000 people there, if not 2,500. I think the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile can verify those numbers. That is incredible, that 2,000 people would come out to a public meeting to speak on one issue.

Mr. Speaker, I think the member could also tell you that these concerns were legitimate. There were no party lines there that night, I can tell you that. Person after person got up, no matter what political stripe they had. As far as I found out, anyway, there was no political stripe in that crowd because they were just upset with the issue, genuinely upset with the issue.

AN HON. MEMBER: And the member.


In defense of the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile right now, the federal member, the great candidate - you talk about the candidate we got flown in from Ottawa, well I would say, and I wouldn't doubt that the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile would agree with me, that the MP from LaPoile - the current member from Burin - St. George did no favours for the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile. As a matter of fact, I will go so far as to say in this House today that I felt bad for the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile. What the federal member did, and it was as blatant and plain as the nose on your face, was lay all of the blame over on the provincial member. The fact that the health care crisis was in this Province and in his particular riding was all because of the provincial member. It had nothing to do with the federal member. He said: We didn't cut on health care.

The federal member got up on that stage, with some 2,000 people in that auditorium with an election call, and laid full blame on the Member for LaPoile.

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the Member for LaPoile, I am going to tell you that I felt bad for that member that night. I have even said it to his official who was sitting next to me. I could not believe the current federal member got up, he was like, what is his name, that washed his hands of everything?

MR. SULLIVAN: Pontius Pilot.

MR. SHELLEY: Pontius Pilot, he was just like Pontius Pilot, I am washing my hands of it. I am with the federal government in Ottawa, but it was all the doings of the provincial member.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Now, Mr. Speaker, I totally disagree with that federal member. It was not to do with the member from LaPoile. Yes, the member from LaPoile has to stand in this House and of course meet with his colleagues and put forward the situation with health care in his district, but the federal member got up and totally washed his hands of it and laid the blame entirely in the lap of the provincial member, the member from LaPoile.

I am going to tell you that that federal member did himself no favours in Port aux Basque. When he could stand there and say, well Ottawa did not cut, we only cut $9 million, it was not us, he said, we gave the provincial government all they needed. It was the provincial government who left out the South West corner of this Province. That is what he said, Mr. Speaker.

The truth is that the root of the problem, I am certainly not defending the member from LaPoile, he did not need me to defend him, but we all know that the root of the problem of the health care situation, crisis or problem, which ever way you want to state it, lies solely in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker. The drastic cuts in transfer payments in this Province in the last two years, it is a fact, in the last two years the transfer cuts decrease lies in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker. That is where it comes from.

I would like to be able to turn around today and say, it is the Premier and the provincial government on that side, that it is mainly their fault, but the truth is, the root of the problem, where the problem started and with respect to the member from LaPoile who had it all slapped on his lap in Port aux Basque in front of 2000 people in his district. It was not right, Mr. Speaker. I am telling you right now.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Premier was a part of that process.

MR. SHELLEY: Now as far as laying blame or anything, yes we can talk about the Premier was once the federal member and your cousin colleagues in Ottawa, we can use all of that rhetoric, but the truth is, the federal member for Burin-St. George's laid the entire blame back on the provincial member and it was not right, it was not fair to the member.

Having said that, the provincial member, yes and the government of the day here in this Province and so on, should have a lot more to say when the transfer payments are decreased by so much, I can say that, but with a federal election in the air, it seems like everybody wants to use that in this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I do not remember or I do not recall or maybe I just miss to much news, but I do not remember to many federal MP's standing up in the last two years to say, Newfoundland is going to be - I do not know the right word, if I can use it is the House of Assembly, Mr. Speaker. The seven Liberal MP's out of Newfoundland, how much have they said in the last two of three years with the drastic cuts in transfer payments, that is not only devastating health care in this Province, it is exactly what we see in plain truth out in this Province now, roads not being done, infrastructure money decreased. Everything you can name all comes from the root of the problem in Ottawa.

Yes, the blame has to go to the provincial government or the government of the day whoever they might be, there is no doubt about that, but the silence of the lambs was one term used, of the seven members, every now and then the member from Gander-Grand Falls riding, Mr. Baker, every three or four months Mr. Baker takes on issues, jumps up and he is the champion of the people again and he goes away for another three or four months and waits for an issue. Of course, it just happens to be a federal election and we are hearing him quite a bit lately and we also hear a lot from the - just think about it, when was the last time you heard Roger Simmons, the MP from Burin-St. George's? When was the last time you heard him in the news or heard him make a comment about anything? When is the last time you heard him?

MR. TULK: Heard who in the news?

MR. SHELLEY: I say to the Government House Leader today - Roger Simmons, and my comment today and why I started this conversation because I was there in Port aux Basque in that stadium with 2000 to 2500 people and the member from LaPoile sitting on the stage and here was the federal member taking the whole thing and saying wash my hands from it - Pontius Pilot, it was the federal member, he said it right on the stage and got booed, booed from the time he walked in until he walked out and the provincial member from LaPoile, it was all his fault. He said, I do not know what happened to all the funding that came into the Province, I do not know why it did not get to the South West Coast of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, let me give you just a little example of the real world that was out in Port aux Basque when I was out there on Monday. A real example, Mr. Speaker, I spoke with a doctor in that community who had helped organize this particular meeting and that day, from eight o'clock in the morning and right on through the meeting that night, he had seen 147 patients. One hundred and forty seven patients seen by one doctor, in one day, in Port aux Basques.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we get back up now and we have a change in ministers and so on. Of course we are not going to use crisis we are going to use problem. Okay, well let's say it is a big problem. It's a huge problem. One doctor seen 147 patients. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, and the Member for LaPoile knows, that doctor who helped organize this meeting was so busy he did not even make the meeting. My colleague from Conception Bay South can confirm that and I am sure the member could. That is the reality. We are not here dramatizing this today. We sat there with those people and that doctor in his office - I spoke with the girl behind the counter who had 147 appointments for one doctor in a day. They were lined up. They filled his office which seats about forty people. The hallway was full outside past the pharmacy office and there were people actually in the street. There was a lineup like there was a sale on or something. There was a lineup to see the doctor.

Here we go to the stadium that night with that many people there, Mr. Speaker, and the federal member waltzed in as cool as could be, walked up on the stage and said: I can't believe it. I can't believe what is going on in Port aux Basques and South West Newfoundland. Roger Simmons, I can't believe what he said. He said: We gave money to this Province and I am going to be checking out where all the money went to in this Province that we sent down from Ottawa. Imagine! It was almost laughable, Mr. Speaker. It was a joke and the Member for Conception Bay South or the Member for LaPoile, any member of the staff or the member that was there can confirm that what I am telling you is true, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, and the bottom line in this, Mr. Speaker - I am sure this is not an eye opener for anybody or any shock but I can tell you that anybody who was out to their district in the last few days, the last thing they want to see now is another election, Mr. Speaker. They are so sick and fed up with it - not for Tories, Liberals, NDP, Reform or anybody, they are so fed up, Mr. Speaker, and disillusioned. I am still saying in this House today - I am certainly not defending the government, Mr. Speaker, but I will say that the root of this problem in the last three years in this Province with health care, education, roads and everything else lies with the federal government in Ottawa. That is where it started - can I use lies in the House? - lies with the federal government in Ottawa, Mr. Speaker.

MR. FLIGHT: For the next month.

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, for the next month. The Member for Windsor -Springdale knows the political game very well and you are probably right. The rhetoric, the money you use in campaigning and the brainwashing that goes on during a federal election, I would not doubt it. I would not doubt that, I say to the member, but what I am saying to you is that - and I think the member would agree with me - forget who is going to win the election or who is going to win what. I think the member, because he is a rural Newfoundland member like I am, people in rural Newfoundland are disgusted, fed up and sick of it, that's what they are. When you cannot get into a hospital bed - all I am saying, Mr. Speaker, is that the provincial government of the day, whoever they are and whoever wins the federal election on June 2 better start going out and pounding on somebody's door and saying we have had enough. We have had our share of it because the truth is the federal cuts out of Ottawa, they trickle down through, Mr. Speaker. Ontario feels it a little bit, Quebec feels it a little bit, Nova Scotia even feels it a bit more and Newfoundland feels it. In St. John's, Gander and Corner Brook, they feel it a bit but, Mr. Speaker, the people in this Province were hit hardest. There is no doubt in my mind that the people hit hardest is small town Newfoundland. Communities with 300, 400 and 500 people. They are the ones that have been hit the hardest out of these cuts and I don't care which party is in Ottawa. The federal transfer payments are the sole effect on rural Newfoundland. It has gone too far.

This last week-and-a-half, I have to tell you as I go out around the district and meet with this group and that group, they look at you and feel all politicians have lost credibility right across the Province, no matter what party you are with. They are disillusioned and for good reason, Mr. Speaker. They see their homes that they paid for and they see when they have to bring their mother to a hospital instead of driving for twenty minutes to go to Baie Verte, they say: Sorry we are a bit full. You are going to have to drive for two hours to Corner Brook. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is not bad. So they accept that. They said okay, we will go to Corner Brook. So they get into Corner Brook and Corner Brook says: we're full, we can't handle you. I was told by a minister here two years ago: Now listen, yes we are going to cut Baie Verte hospital a little bit. So we sat back, sucked it in and accepted it. Springdale had the same thing there: Okay we will accept that. We have to have some cutbacks. But Corner Brook and Grand Falls, which are two hours away from you: Don't worry, we will upgrade those people so they can take care of the overflow. What happened? They not only downgraded Baie Verte and Springdale, Mr. Speaker, they downgraded Corner Brook and Grand Falls.

So the woman called me the other day - and like the Member for Conception Bay South said today, a woman is waiting for eleven months for a mammogram. February, and she had to wait until next January.

I walked into the hospital in Baie Verte three or four weeks ago and watched the nurse. I stood by the nurse. I was going to say hello to her right away but instead I stopped and just watched her for about five minutes. That nurse, whom I know, had three elderly patients in the room in the chronic care unit. She went from bed to bed giving a mouthful of food to each patient. She would feed a mouthful and go to the next bed, feed a mouthful, go to the next bed and do the same thing.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I do not know how you are going to define `crisis' or `problem' or whatever you want to call it. I do not care what you call it, but it has to be addressed, and it must be addressed by a Provincial Government here that goes to Ottawa and says: We have had enough, we have had our share, we have tightened our belts and so on.

Let me give you a little analogy that I have used in the last couple of days. There are people in this Province who are going through a lot of pain. I do not think anybody would dispute that people are going through a lot of pain in this Province right now. Do you know what people say to me? They say: I do not mind the pain if the problem is going to be solved. The analogy I use is it is like going to a dentist. You do not mind going to a dentist with pain in your tooth, and you do not mind the pain of the tooth being pulled - which is the thing most dreaded by most people, your tooth being pulled. You do not mind your tooth being pulled if you know that the toothache is going to be gone afterwards.

The analogy used by somebody in my district, and I think it was perfect, is that they do not mind the pain, they do not mind tightening the belt, they do not mind the cutbacks in this and that and whatever, as long as they know that the pain is going to be gone afterwards. What they need to see now, and I have said it in the House in the last two days - I do not know how long the House is going to remain open - I am going to tell you, they need to see something concrete.

I hope that the project in Baie Verte goes, I think it will, the tannery, despite some of the media reports and how they tried to damp it down. The last thing I want to do this weekend when I go home again for the third week in a row, is go through protest lines. It is no advantage to me. I do not want them out there. I want them to go home saying: Okay, we are satisfied, we see a commitment coming, we are happy now. I talked to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. I am not excited about going home this weekend and going through a protest line on the road again. I would rather see them say: Go home.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I am going to answer the member. Seeing as he cannot stand on his feet, I will make sure I reiterate it here in Hansard so that he understands what he is saying. The Member for Windsor - Springdale just asked me: Why are you going to protests outside the district? I am looking for protest.

Mr. Speaker, if the member would come up to my office, I will give him transcripts and letters and memos from Port aux Basques, from the Interfaith Home in Mr. Dicks' district, where they have asked me - they said: We heard you speak up and say something on a certain issue. Would you mind coming to our public forums? I said: Well, I am pretty busy; I have some things - as long as I can cover the protests in my own district, I will get there. That was my response.

That is why. I was asked to go there, simple as that. As a matter of fact, to let the Member for Windsor - Springdale know, I have turned down places to go because I have so much going on in my own district. I would like to go tomorrow -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker.


MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: He will have time.

MR. TULK: Yes, he will get back.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to this motion, this Committee report. Before I do, I would like to move that this House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m., and that we would break for supper at 6:00 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. I have an agreement with the Opposition House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the House not adjourn at 5:00 p.m. All those in favour.


MR. SPEAKER: Against.


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker -

MR. FITZGERALD: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Well, 6:00 p.m., I thought you would like the good news, the NTV stuff, 6:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the Concurrence Motion to this Resource Committee report. I would like to start off, first of all, by thanking the members of the Committee for my own Department of Forest Resources and Agrifoods. I noted that the Member for Baie Verte could not make it, but that is understandable. I guess he was out doing his bit for his constituents and his party, as he is supposed to do as a member of this House.

I do want to congratulate the Member for Bonavista South on the types of questions, the very knowledgeable questions, that he asked concerning the Estimates Committee of the Department of Forestry Resource and Agrifoods. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I would go so far as to advise the Leader of the Opposition that I think he should replace his critic and make this gentleman up here from Bonavista South -

AN HON. MEMBER: He is Agrifoods shadow.

MR. TULK: Yes, I know he is Agrifoods, but he should also take over the Forestry portfolio.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Now, you already paid me more than that, so put it back in your pocket.

Mr. Speaker, we talked about the efforts that the department is making in silviculture, and I advised the hon. gentleman in the Estimates Committee that indeed, while we were spending a little less of provincial taxpayers' dollars, we were covering more acreage in the Province as a result of the Premier's intervention with Doug Young last year in drawing up a (inaudible) contract for us.

Mr. Speaker, we look forward to this year - the spray program: as I informed the hon. gentleman, there is going to be a spray program, but it is going to be practically non-existent and that had to do, of course, with the downturn in accounts for the - not with regard to government wanting to expend money, but it had to do with the amount of spraying that was necessary as opposed to what we spent last year, not nearly as much.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with some interest to my critic from Baie Verte, to his dissertation on people who care about rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, I heard him talk about one, Roger Simmons, who is running for the Liberals in a federal district; I heard him talk about a person by the name of, I believe, Mr. Byrne - I believe he did. I remember distinctly hearing him talk about Roger Simmons walking in and not speaking up for Newfoundland and Labrador; not speaking up for this Province. I distinctly heard the Member for Baie Verte -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Well, it is just Mr. Simmons. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is a queer thing; that is kind of a queer thing coming from that Party over there. They are interested in having federal members in this Province who care about rural Newfoundland. Now, I want everybody to know in this Legislature, and I want it to go on the record, that the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador is extremely concerned that the people who go to Ottawa from this Province look after rural Newfoundland and are familiar with rural Newfoundland and know what the ways of rural Newfoundlanders are.

Now, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: What is his name?

MR. TULK: Yes, what is his name? We are usually used in this Province to at least putting forward candidates who come from Newfoundland, who know Newfoundland, who have the interest of Newfoundland at heart, we usually take them from down here and send them upalong. In this case, what the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador - no, that might be wrong -

MR. FITZGERALD: No, you are wrong there.

MR. TULK: I think it might be the federal PC Party because the Opposition House Leader says he has not even been consulted on it, they do not even talk to him. They do not even talk to him up in Ottawa about the candidate who is going up for rural Newfoundland to represent this Province. Across the House just now he said: Who is he? We are talking about the member, the PC candidate in Labrador.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Oh, yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Oh, yes. They have a fellow by the name of - What is his name?

MR. SULLIVAN: General Patten.

MR. TULK: A fellow by the name of Patten, who was the aide to Jean Charést.

AN HON. MEMBER: The aide to whom?

MR. TULK: J.C. - Jean Charést, not Jean Chrétien.

He ran for a federal nomination in Ottawa.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did he win?

MR. TULK: Oh, no. Win? He was rejected by the people in Ottawa, the very place where he was working, the very place in which he was a candidate. They ran him up there like a pair of old, worn out socks. They said: we cannot find anybody to run in Labrador so we will send him off down there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that comes from a Party that says: We want the best candidates for Newfoundland and Labrador. Now, Mr. Speaker, they must be saying, Well, we do not want the best candidates for Labrador, we just want the best candidates for Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is it, anyway, `Beaton'?

MR. TULK: His name is - is it Mike Patten? I have a note here, a real, old Labradorian; he failed to get the Tory nomination in Ottawa. He was parachuted into Labrador as the Party's candidate, Mike Patten, 34 years old, a resident of Napean. And the Leader here in Newfoundland, I say to the Minister of Justice, confessed across the House just now, that he does not even know who they are sending down here.

MR. DECKER: Where is he from?

MR. TULK: From Ottawa, upalong.

MR. DECKER: What is Napean, you said?

MR. TULK: Napean, that is in Ottawa.

MR. DECKER: Is that in Labrador?

MR. TULK: No, not in Labrador. They could not find a candidate in Labrador. They had to go off to Ottawa and bring down one.

Well, as the Member for Labrador West said, I think the people of Labrador are going to send back a little note attached to him, `return to sender' in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, that is the party -

MR. DECKER: `Beaton', that is not a parachute; that is a UFO.

MR. TULK: Yes, you talk about being parachuted in, that is not a parachute; that is a UFO, an unidentified flying object. He is passing over Labrador for a few days on his way back to Ottawa.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is an insult to this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TULK: Let me get to that one.

The hon. gentleman from Baie Verte was concerned about seeing that Newfoundland was represented very well in Ottawa.

Now, Mr. Speaker, one, George Baker, has represented Gander - Grand Falls; Gander - Twillingate; Gander - Bonavista, ever since there was a district, and almost ever since there was a George Baker he has represented that area. They want to take him out, too, so where did they go for their heavyweight candidate for that, to take him out? Where did they go for a heavyweight candidate to take out George Baker?

AN HON. MEMBER: Nova Scotia.

MR. TULK: The Nova Scotia Legislature. I do not know why they do not have one of the Pages in this House run against him. I do not know why they do not have one of the Pages in this House to represent them. Instead of that, no, Sir, they go off to the Nova Scotia Legislature and find a candidate for Gander - Grand Falls.

Mr. Speaker, that is what the hon. gentleman on the other side of the House, when he stands up and talks about caring for rural Newfoundland, is talking about. Parachute in a candidate for Labrador from Ottawa.


MR. TULK: Oh, yes.

I have to repeat the story for you. You will get a great kick out of it. The candidate that they finally decided on to run in Labrador against Lawrence O'Brien is Mike Patten. Now, does Mike Patten come from Port de Grave?

MR. EFFORD: No, Sir.

MR. TULK: No. Does he come from Hermitage? No. Where does the hon. gentleman think he comes from?

MR. EFFORD: Probably somewhere on the mainland.

MR. TULK: Ottawa.

I say to the hon. gentleman, those are the people they have sent... And do you know what else? Is said it to the Leader of the Opposition across the House, and do you know what he replied?


MR. TULK: Who is he?

He did not even know him. They do not even call down here - Jean Charést does not even see fit to call the Leader of the Opposition in Newfoundland to ask: Do you think we should send this fellow down? Do you think we should send down this UFO from Ottawa? Do you think we should send him down there to represent this party? No, not the chance. Jean Charést sends them in first and we have to tell the Leader of the Opposition that they are here.

Mr. Speaker, that is the party, I say to the hon. gentleman, that is the organization that he represents in this House when he stands up and criticizes the seven Liberal members in Ottawa. Those are the kinds of people, those are the candidates, that is the organization that he is representing, and then to take on George Baker. You heard this -


MR. TULK: To take on George Baker -

AN HON. MEMBER: George is going to lose.

MR. TULK: Oh, yes, he is in jeopardy. To take on George Baker. Who do you think he is?


MR. TULK: Newfoundlander? Yes, he is a Newfoundlander.

MR. EFFORD: I thought he was from Nova Scotia.

MR. TULK: He is a Page in the Nova Scotia Legislature.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is from Newfoundland.

MR. EFFORD: You are joking!

MR. TULK: Oh yes, he is from Newfoundland - yes, from Grand Falls. When was the last time, I wonder, he saw Grand Falls. Summer holidays.

MR. EFFORD: Running him against George Baker is the same as running Bob French against me out in my district.

MR. TULK: No, I say to the member. I say to the Member for Port de Grave that even Bob French would do better against you than this fellow is going to do against Baker.

MR. EFFORD: I doubt it.

MR. TULK: Oh yes, no joke about that. Mr. Speaker, I have to say to the hon. member, I like him. I think he is a good young Newfoundlander. I think, in spite of the fact that he looks like a certain character in the cartoons who tells his horse to: `Whoa, pony! Whoa, horsey!' he is a good Newfoundlander.


MR. TULK: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - a good Newfoundlander. But I say to him, before he stands up to criticize people who have been trying to do their best in Ottawa, good Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who have been doing their best in Ottawa, he should clean his own house.

He should look inward and he should say: Has my party done what it should do? Should I perhaps be criticizing my own party? Should I be looking inward? Should I be trying to build my own organization so that we get good candidates to run against the likes of Baker and Simmons? Because, otherwise, I say to him, Mr. Speaker, that George Baker and Roger Simmons and every other Liberal member in this Province, unless they can do better, I say to him that they will be there for years to come, and so they should, because, in my opinion, they are doing a good job. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to speak on behalf of the Resource Committee of which I was a member. I have to concur with the Member for St. John's South, it was a very good committee. It was not a waste of time, I say to members. The questions were asked and when the information was gotten, then the meetings were over, and that is the way it should be. It was not one of those committees where you dragged it out just for the sake of asking questions, and you were looking at the clock.

The ministers were co-operative and provided the answers, I suppose, for the most part, to the questions that were asked. The Chairman of the Committee spent probably too much time praising the ministers. It is obvious he was trying to, I suppose, make an impression, because he wanted to - some day he would like to be in Cabinet, and I guess he figures that those people will put forward a little shot in the arm for him, or give him a boost when they are talking to the Premier. The other Committee members asked questions as well and took part, as everybody should.

The old fat cat of the Liberal Party got up and talked about members in the federal election, and what members had a chance at winning, and what members did not have a chance. I asked him what chance he gave the Member for St. John's East in the last federal election. This is a prime example of what can happen in an election. You do not have to be a big name, you do not have to be a star. Once that tide starts to turn, funny things can happen. Whether the person is running for the PC Party in Labrador is the right person or not, that is up to him to decide. We are living in a democratic country. He has as much right to run as anybody else. The people will go out and they will either vote for him or they will vote against him.

I will tell you one thing right here in this House right now. Roger Simmons will not be going back to Ottawa again unless he pays his own way. I am willing to bet on that. He is one member who will not be sitting in the House of Commons when it reconvenes after this election, and he does not deserve to go back, I say to members opposite, and if they spoke truthfully and if they spoke sincerely they would tell the same story. The member from LaPoile would probably say the same thing and the member from Port au Port, you watch them when they go out to vote, you might be surprised how they vote because I am sure that some of those people know full well the representation that this particular member has given to his district.

You cannot run and hide I say to members opposite. You have to go back and face the electors, you have to go back and face the people that elected you, you have to dance with the crowd that brought you, as the member for Conception Bay South says so often here in this House. Once you stop doing that, you can see what happens. You can see what happened to the member from Eagle River when he stood so often in this legislature and talked about how proud he was to be a Canadian and how proud he was to be a Liberal, but he forgot one thing, he forgot to talk about how proud he was and how proud he should have been and the commitment that he owed to the people that provided him the opportunity to come here and serve. He did not do that, but they remembered and they came out and did something that nobody else would have predicted, if somebody in this House would have predicted that an independent person would have defeated the member from Eagle River in the past election with the tide that was on for the Liberal party, somebody would have told you that you did not know what you were talking about, you were a fool.

That is what happened and that is what can so easily happen in this particular election. Once the tide starts to turn, once people see that their members are not there supporting them and they have not been there to support them over the years, then it is not going to be good enough for somebody like the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to come out and say, now I am going to make the TAGS program labour force attachment, when he had four years to do exactly that. It is not good enough, political jargon and people will not fall for it anymore and you cannot blame them. People are very disappointed out there today. People out there today, you can almost term it as being volatile. The situation in rural Newfoundland today is about ready to explode and it is all about people not listening, Mr. Speaker.

You see the protests that happen here on a regular basis. You see what happened out at Bull Arm on Friday. You see what happens out here -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Shame, shame.

MR. FITZGERALD: Whether it is shame or not, I say to the minister and the people opposite, put yourself in those peoples position sometimes. It is a situation where people ask, simply to have the Prime Minister to speak to them. That is what they wanted, they had some concerns, they wanted to talk to the Prime Minister, but no he would not do that. He did not spare them the time, he wanted to go out and have the big photo opt, Mr. Speaker. Well, that is not good enough I say to the people opposite. The people in rural areas of this Province deserve to be listened to, they have problems that need to be addressed and this is our federal minister, this is the number one minister in all the land and he had every right to spare them half an hour of his time and address their concerns. You cannot run and hide, and I do not blame them, even though it may not have been the right setting, but frustrated people, desperate people, do desperate things and I think this is only the beginning unless people start to come out and listen.

Mr. Mifflin, the only minister that represents the Province here up in Ottawa, unheard of before, to go out and set up a campaign headquarters and have to close it down and go somewhere and hide away, unheard of before. It is not because he is the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Mr. Speaker, not because he is Fred Mifflin, not because he is from Bonavista, it is the situation where he has not stood up and spoke out for the people that sent him to Ottawa. That is what he has to do and people I would suggest, over on that side of the House, who had any thoughts or any dreams about wanting to go to Ottawa to represent the riding of Bonavista-Trinity-Conception are now probably kicking themselves in the rear end for not coming out and offering themselves in nomination.

They thought because he was a federal minister that he was unbeatable, that nobody could go and run against him. It would have been an embarrassment to defeat the federal minister in nomination. Well I can tell you right now, Mr. Speaker, that the people - he may go back to Ottawa, I am not saying he is not, he may go back to Ottawa but the people out there are not very happy with the federal minister who represents this Province today. All he has to do, Mr. Speaker, is come out and address the problems. If you are going to take part and bring about and formulate policy, if you are going to bring in rules and regulations then the least you should be able to do is justify doing that. That is one thing I say about the former leader of your party opposite, Mr. Wells, at least when he brought in legislation, when he brought in policy, Mr. Speaker, whether it was right or whether it was wrong he justified doing it. He believed in what he was doing and he put forward a good argument for bringing about changes in this Province. Whether it was right or wrong is a matter of opinion.

Mr. Speaker, it is not good enough for the people of this Province today out in rural areas not knowing what the future holds for them. They don't know where they are going to get a job, don't know where next week is going to find them. Fifty and fifty-five years old having to leave this Province without an education and go to Alberta or British Columbia. It is a frightening thing for somebody to tell a gentleman who is fifty or fifty-five years old and has never been any further probably than St. John's, has never been out of this Province. That is a frightening thing. What those people are doing in order to protest, is a reflection of the anxiety that they feel and what they are going through. It is not for us to say whether it is right or wrong because it is right. They will fight to the end to be able to maintain their homes, their residences and have their families grow up, Mr. Speaker, right here in this Province. I will support them along the way in doing that.

Mr. Speaker, fisheries is one topic under the Resource Committee heading. I have a letter here, it is three pages long but I think it is one of the most sensible letters and is one of the best letters that I have received since I have been sitting in this House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: Read my lips?

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know what the gentleman's politics are but he is a fisherman from Bonavista. I am going to read this letter because I think it is something that everybody should hear. I am going to read it. It is addressed to Mr. Fred Mifflin, Minister of Fisheries, Ottawa, Ontario. It goes on to say, "Dear Sir: Some time ago, I read with interest an article in The Packet concerning the fishery of the future, whereby you are going to send people to school to teach them how to fish. After sixty years in the inshore fishery, I think we finally got a sick society on our hands. You will never train a man or a woman how to fish by sending him to school; you have to take them in the boat, take him to the fishing grounds and show him marks and show him where to set his trap. Fishermen have learned from experience that two fathoms away from the right place can put you out of a lot of fish during the trapping season. You have to show a fisherman where to fish, not how to fish.

We have many fishermen going around today with their sounder on and you hear them say, "We just ran over a shoal spot of ground back there. We don't know where it was, and we can't find it any more." We hear a lot of this talk when fishermen have their radios on talking back and forth to each other. This is typical when they don't know the mark of the rocks. Train a man to fish in school and that's all you will be able to call him - a Harvester, not a fisherman.

Here is my opinion as a professional fisherman of sixty odd years as to what happened to the fishery here in Bonavista Bay, Trinity Bay and down along the North East Coast. Men fished here for hundreds of years off our Cape and down the East Coast of Newfoundland. In the 1950s, we had two long liners come here to Bonavista experimenting. They baited up 100 lines of trawl, went out 12 to 20 miles off our Cape, set their trawls in the morning and took them back in the afternoon with every hook a fish on it; if not a cod fish, they had a turpot, flounder, pigfish, red fish -dozens of different kinds of species were there on that spawning ground that has been there ever since Newfoundland has been here. That fish was never fished before, not in the history of Newfoundland. When the caplin came in during the spring, these smaller fish rose with the caplin and came to the land, They would fill their bellies with caplin, then go back to the bottom and stay there for two or three weeks until we would start to trap them. However, the mother fish never left the spawning grounds.

During the next few years, fishermen were building long-liners in their yards, gardens and on the beaches. We had three built in Summerville for the fishermen of Bonavista; they then baited up their trawls the next summer and went out where the fish were. Every day they caught 28,000 to 30,000 pounds of fish every day of the week and every fish was six to seven feet long with the spawn from three fish filling a five-gallon bucket. Eight to ten good years of fishing followed with the long-liners, then they introduced the gill-net. The government sent out nets to the long-liner men and they went where the fish were and put out their gill-nets. Every day all those nets pulling in 28,000 to 35,000 pounds of fish.

After fishing with the gill-nets a number of years, these long-liner men started leaving the nets out all year long. One man told me that he had 125 nets out there and he cut the ropes and left them there. All winter long this continued until they left a fence around the northeast coast with gill-nets fishing for twelve months of the year and still fishing out there today in some places. After this, they brought the draggers to Catalina and turned Catalina into an offshore plant. Men from Bonavista who were on gill-net boats were made skippers on these draggers and when they get outside Catalina, they put over their drag-nets and dragged along by Cape Bonavista where the fish were spawning and before they came to the Funk Islands Banks, they had a load of fish and some that they could throw away. They came back into port within two or three days with everything full.

Many times they had to wait their turn outside Catalina to ice down their fish and wash down their boats before they went into the wharf. With such good results as this, it was not long before thirteen draggers were fishing out of Catalina and fifty or sixty more from Grand Bank and Burgeo fishing away at the northern cod. It was not long before they broadcast it to the world of the large amounts of fish they were catching which brought the foreign draggers. Within a few years they had the bottoms torn up and when they tore up seaweed from the bottom, the fish could not live there anymore because they cannot live without kelp.

When these spawning grounds were torn up, the fish moved into the bays. The fish never disappeared or were never all caught; it moved into the bays where the kelp was. This is the reason the fish are in Trinity Bay and yet the scientists cannot figure out where they came from. The same fish that were displaced from the spawning grounds by the destruction of the kelp, have moved to Bonavista Bay and Notre Dame Bay; Bonavista Bay today, is full of fish.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Now sir, you listen to it and you might learn something. Now sir, let us create something this spring that will make Voisey's Bay and Hibernia look like peanuts.

Open up the inshore fishery; open it up to everyone. Open every fish plant on the East Coast and let us put our people to work. Let the students coming from university have a job; let them go fishing. We have a lot of people who were involved with the fishery. We have doctors, lawyers, accountants people in every walk of life. Let us start April 15 with a herring fishery. Years ago, fishermen could make $2,000 to $3,000 in the spring before the start of the cod fishery until they took that away from them and gave the quotas to four or five long-liners to fish in the bays. So open up the herring fishery to nets from April 15 to May 15; then open up the salmon fishery from May 15 to June 15 and give fishermen two nets each for the first couple of years. We have plenty of salmon passing by our shore in the spring that go out to the Atlantic, up off Iceland for the Russians and other countries to catch.

The salmon are so plentiful now that you can see them passing by the rocks. Open up the cod fishery May 15 also, so that if a fisherman gets 100 pounds of fish and they can sell it to the plant and not throw it away; then allow one trap to a boat for the first couple of years. The government can control the fishery. Don't give the schoolteachers or the businessman or the man getting a pension or a man who has a job a licence. He doesn't need it. Don't licence anything over thirty-five foot boats for the inshore fishery.

But the student coming out of school or university, let him fish with his father or brother or friend, or let them work in the fish plant. This is going to be a hard summer for young people who haven't got a job and not a dollar to spend. So let us put our young people to work. Let them pay their taxes and pay their bills and be independent and have money to spend when they go back to school.

Open the fish plants on the northeast coast from May 15 to October 30 and let's put up good fish. We always had a seasonal plant here in Bonavista and put up the best product that was ever put up, and won several awards year after year. Let us use our heads sir, and not make the same mistakes again. Keep the gill nets and the draggers out of the fishery.

Make no mistake, that if the fish come back like it was in the 'thirties and 'forties, and if the draggers and gill nets again go out, in two or three years the same thing will happen. They will clean it all up again. Not only here in Newfoundland did we lose the fish, but in Nova Scotia, wherever the draggers fish, and tear up the bottom. You don't have to go out looking for northern cod for another ten years until the seaweed grows back.

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: Nature will sustain that ground -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - and when the seaweed grows back -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: - the fish will get back there.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a minute to clue up?

MR. EFFORD: No leave!

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a minute to clue up to read into the record a letter that a gentleman took the time to write, and I think makes a lot of sense, if the minister would allow me.

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

By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: You don't have to go out looking for northern cod for another ten years until the seaweed grows back. Nature will sustain that ground, and when the seaweed grows back the fish will get back there. However, don't let unions have too much to say in the future. Let the government control the fishery. The unions have a lot to do with what happened to the fishery this past ten years. I feel that unions got too much to say today. They think they know too much, and when Jack gets as good as his master then our society has broken down and we begin to fail.

I joined my first union in 1945, the United Steelworkers of America, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, and I've been in a lot of unions since, and I have never once seen where they helped me. Let the government set the price for fish no later than the end of March, not let the union wait until the fishermen start fishing and then go on strike. There is nothing in this world as bad as to see a man or a woman around the place they work marked up with signs on them and not wanting to work.

So let's get Newfoundland rolling again sir, let's put everybody to work, and see things getting back to normal. Get rid of TAGS and welfare for good.

It is signed: Yours truly, Wilson Hayward, Bonavista.

Mr. Speaker, there is certainly a lot of good points made by Mr. Hayward, a fellow who knows the fishery very well -

MR. EFFORD: Do you agree with him?

MR. FITZGERALD: - has grown up through the fishery.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Some of the points -

MR. EFFORD: No, leave is withdrawn, Mr. Speaker, (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: - are good points, Mr. Speaker-

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

I say to the hon. member -

MR. FITZGERALD: - and I certainly support many of them.

MR. SPEAKER: - leave has been withdrawn.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise with pleasure to take some time in this hon. House of Assembly to make some comments, reactionary comments, to what my hon. critic and colleague from Bonavista South -


MR. EFFORD: No, not buddy, I can't go that far. I'm going to begin with one of the last statements he made, and I will agree with this part of it. Let's get Newfoundland going. I agree with that. Let's get the fishery reopened in this Province, but if we are going to do it this time, let's do it right. I disagree with a lot of the comments that the hon. member made, and also comments which came out of that letter.

I'm going to first talk about the TAGS protest. Because I remember back in -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: No, no, these are your comments. I remember back in 1990 when I headed up that small group of protestors going across the Province. I told the people - the fishermen at that time, and the plant workers - they will live to regret the day that they accepted this money in the form in which they had accepted the NCARP program and the TAGS.

I told them - that is in the record, in the news media, written in the papers - that they would live to regret the day, and the day is now here that they are regretting the day that this all took place.

The protest that took place last Friday down at the entrance to the Bull Arm site brought shame on everybody in this Province, every man, woman and child, regardless of whether you are in the fishery or outside of the fishery. It was driven only by the fact that the FFAW is under pressure because they have another union breathing down their necks. Otherwise it would not have been done, because if the union, the FFAW, had been a bit concerned in the past about the TAGS program they would have had these problems discussed in Ottawa, with all of the times they have been in Ottawa meeting with the minister and ministers, and here in Newfoundland, but they chose to do it just to bring attention to the fact that he was now the great leader of the FFAW and there was no place for the UFCW.

Shame is brought on this Province. I heard fishermen, I heard people on the street, people in supermarkets, people in restaurants, people in churchyards, everywhere, talking over the past two or three days about what took place down there on Friday. One of the greatest construction jobs ever in the world was completed at the Bull Arm site, and all they were doing was having a ceremony around the launching, the christening, by the Prime Minister and his wife coming down to Bull Arm to do that and to congratulate 7,000 workers - the 7,000 workers out there who worked hard, who were very professional in their jobs, who earned the respect of the companies that came in here from Norway and around the world who engineered that project out there.

The Newfoundland workers came out number one on the list of capable individuals being able to do a very professional job as a result of that Bull Arm construction site, and what took place down there on Friday was shameful. There is nobody in this Province any more than myself who agrees with the right of an individual to protest, or to demonstrate when they have a problem, but there is a right place to do it and there is a wrong place, and Friday was the wrong place to do it.

I don't know if this is correct, but I just heard this afternoon that the Member for Bonavista South was there at that protest. If he was - I don't say; I am not accusing him of being there, but if he was - he should be ashamed of himself, to be there at that protest, agreeing with that and supporting that type of activity on Friday - if he was there. I am not accusing him of being there, but if he was there, I don't think that was a place for a person to be there with a situation like that on Friday morning. And, I tell you, the fishermen are going to suffer for that, all fishermen. They have lost their credibility. They were starting to build credibility among the people of the Province, but now it has changed again. The negative criticism that is going out from all walks of life around the Province - not only that, but gone right across Canada.

I just wanted to state that, that I disagree with it, that it was the wrong place. It should never have taken place, and I have nobody to hold responsible only Earle McCurdy, head of the FFAW. I am not blaming the fishermen, and I am not blaming the plant workers. Earle has to take full responsibility for what happened out there.

Now, in that letter he said that fishermen cannot be trained. That couldn't be further from the truth. If we are going to have a fishery in the future, and we are going to be professional, and we are going to carry out a fishery for the long term to maximize the benefits for the overall best interests of the fishermen and the industry as a whole, they had better be trained. They had better be trained, not only in the type of equipment and electronics they have to use but how to quality control the species of fish which they handle, how to properly harvest the fish, the right type of gear to use, the business aspect of the fishery, and all other programs necessary to carry out a professional fishery.

One of the main problems in the past was that we were not trained. What would we do when we would come into the stage head with a boat load of fish just hauled out of the cod trap or from the gill nets or from the cod trawl? You would take the prong and drive it down through the fish, throw them up on the stage head in the sun, no ice on them, not properly cured and that was the beginning of why we lost the fishery in this Province and that was the reason why we lost the respect in the markets and that was the reason why we are in the mess we are in today. For anybody in this Province to say that we should not be trained in the future is going again in the wrong direction as we did in the last hundred years. Trained we must be, trained how to properly harvest, trained how to properly catch and cure and trained on the techniques of the new electronic equipment and not only in conservation measures, we have to be trained and you are not going to learn that in a fishing boat. There is only one place to learn that and it is in a proper training institute where that type of method is taught, at the Marine Institute or some other school of training.

The type of fishery we should carry out in the future - should every boat in the fishery in the future be a small boat? That is utter nonsense. Just imagine taking a thirty-four foot eleven inch boat and going out 150 miles on the Grand Bank and trying to catch up yellow tail flounder -

MR. TULK: Or go out and catch the shrimp.

MR. EFFORD: - or go out and catch the shrimp. I mean how foolish can anybody get to say that the only boat in the fishery of the future should be small boats.

MR. TULK: Did he say that?

MR. EFFORD: Yes, there is nothing wrong with a small boat fishery, Mr. Speaker. We should have a small boat inshore fishery. We should have a boat that is capable of going out there hook and line and a cod trap. Do I agree with gill nets? No, I do not agree with gill nets, inshore. There is a place to use gill nets on a controlled basis, but it is one of the worst pieces of technology or gear that you could use in the fishery, but small boat, hook and line fishery, is the way the fishery should be inshore around the coastal communities of Newfoundland and Labrador.

There is a step above that. We have to have larger boats, we have to have draggers, we have to have the otter trawlers, we have to have the shrimp trawlers and go out and harvest the fish out there, otherwise foreign ships will be coming over and taking it like they did in the past, but we have to think about conservation. We cannot go out and send out 200, 300, 400 or 500 boats. We have to have seasons that are the right time to fish and the wrong time to fish, we have to have it properly controlled. The biggest mistake we made in the past was not the number of boats that was out there fishing, the biggest mistake we made in the past by the large boats was that we fished during the spawning season. When all of the fish schooled together to spawn, that is when the draggers concentrated on the fish and not only did they destroy the mother fish, the breeding fish, but they destroyed the eggs that they laid, therefore we lost reproduction of the smaller fish and over a number of years consequently what happened, the cod stocks disappeared. Not totally, Mr. Speaker, but certainly to a level where it was not commercially viable to go out there and catch them. So, we have to have a well managed, well controlled fishery in the future.

The other thing that we have to think about is there are more fish in the ocean than cod. We have to stop thinking about cod fish and when the fishery re-opens, we will have a fishery on the South Coast. There has always been a fishery on the South Coast, since 1992 there has been millions of dollars worth of fish harvested off the South Coast, not cod, but many other species and all around the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador there are dozens and dozens of species of fish in the ocean that fishermen can properly harvest and catch and earn a good living from.

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time is getting short and I just want to conclude by saying this, if there is anything that I disagree with the TAGS people is protesting for more money. What they should be doing is protesting for the re-opening of the fish stocks, all different species commercial catching around Newfoundland and if they sent half of their time protesting for that right and protesting to have a major seal harvest around this Province, they would be a lot better off then protesting to try to get a cheque coming without actually going out there and working for it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am not going to talk about fish, Mr. Speaker, however I could. The minister one day in the House last year said, the St. John's member what does he know about fishermen?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, what do you know?

MR. OSBORNE: My district has three communities with fishermen in them, Blackhead, Shea Heights, and Fort Amherst, and very strong fishing ties in those three communities.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, if you can't count on your own colleagues, who can you count on? It is shameful, from my own colleagues, shameful.

Mr. Speaker, in the resource committee we went through a number of topics, and very important topics I say at that. The Minister of Environment and Labour is here in the front rows, and one of the topics I have questioned him on a number of times in the House is Gisborne Lake.

Gisborne Lake right now - he has a couple of proposals -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, I questioned the Minister of Environment and Labour a couple of times on Gisborne Lake, and the fact that he has a couple of proposals right now that he is considering for the export of water, water as a raw resource from our Province, aboard a tanker. While environment is not a part of the resource committee itself, this issue is a vital part of the topic of our resource committee and of the resources of our Province.

Gisborne Lake, as many of the members of the House are aware, those two proposals, one is from a Quebec company who is wishing to send off 13.5 billion litres of water a year out of Gisborne Lake to Quebec to be bottled and labelled and packaged in Quebec, and have the secondary processing done there.

If we are to consider those proposals, and to bring them to fruition, it is not only Gisborne Lake; there are many, many lakes and many freshwater bodies that we have here in our Province that are a valuable resource to our Province, and Gisborne Lake is one of those. The water is considered to be clean, clear, and fresh enough to be exported with very little filtering or cleansing. It is a very pure water supply.

Those 13.5 billion litres of water that are to be exported out of the Province, as I have said, should be bottled and labelled and packaged here to provide the jobs here, to provide the extra revenue here, to provide the transport of the raw resource to the bottling plant and the transport of the secondary processing resource, the retail-ready product then to the purchaser, whoever it is that purchases the product.

Mr. Speaker, if we are to make the mistake of exporting water as a raw resource from our Province, we risk making two mistakes actually: the mistake that we should have learned by now not to make, such as what we have done with Churchill Falls and our fishery by letting our fish go out of here as a raw resource as opposed to secondary processing done on it and a retail-ready resource. The other mistake is that we would set a precedent that we will open up all of our lakes and ponds, our freshwater bodies, to the possibility of having the product shipped out of here, our raw resource shipped out as a raw resource, without any secondary processing.

Mr. Speaker, at this point in our economic history we cannot afford to send any raw resources out of our Province without the secondary processing. We cannot afford to send any product out of Newfoundland and Labrador without having every possible secondary processing - the packaging, labelling - in the matter of fish the processing and cooking and tinning and whatever. We cannot afford to send any product out of our Province as a raw resource without the secondary processing done on it right here in our Province. We have made that mistake several times in the past.

We have the highest unemployment rate in all of Canada. We have probably the most abundant supply of natural resources in all of Canada, most especially per capita, yet we have the highest rate of unemployment.

It is quite simply because we have allowed other provinces, we have allowed other countries, and people from other provinces and countries, and companies outside the Province, to profit and benefit from our resources without considering the fact that we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians could do the secondary processing here. We should tax our resources to the maximum so that we get out of our resources the most possible benefit to our people possible.

Mr. Speaker, it is more than just Gisborne Lake and the fishery and our hydro resources. It is our forestry resources, it is our oil - and I'm glad to see we have the transshipment facility - our mining resources - we have the smelter here for nickel. But we have not yet heard whether or not we are going to get a copper smelter here. The possibility looks very likely that there is sufficient copper resources in Voisey's Bay to support a copper smelter in our Province. Not only in Voisey's Bay, but there are other copper resources throughout the Province. There is the possibility that if we build the copper smelter here in our Province we will attract resources from other areas of the world.

We hear rumours that in Noranda they are refining their copper smelter now to the point that they are expecting fully to get the copper shipped to Noranda and have it smelted there. We can't let that happen, not with the unemployment rate we have here, and not with the number of people who are on social services. Our Province is probably on the brink of collapse economically, and we have the possibility of putting another smelter here in the Province to process the copper, and we should take every advantage of it.

We have the minerals tax act. I notice that the previous Minister of Mines and Energy, Dr. Rex Gibbons, is now out campaigning in St. John's West federally, and in his brochure he takes full credit for setting up the economic base that was responsible for discovering Voisey's Bay. I don't know if Al Chislett or Chris Verbiski read that statement, his brochure, yet, but I found it quite amusing that he would take credit for the discovery of Voisey's Bay when he hadn't even had the foresight, when there were rumours of Voisey's Bay being discovered, when there were rumours of it being the largest nickel find in all the world, he didn't even have the foresight to put in place a proper mineral tax act that would allow Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to reap the benefits that we should reap, that we should be entitled to reap, from the copper resources of Voisey's Bay, from the nickel resources from Voisey's Bay, from the cobalt resources from Voisey's Bay.

That man is taking the credit for finding Voisey's Bay. If he found Voisey's Bay, and if he was so up on what Voisey's Bay contained in the line of resources, he should have had the foresight to put in place a mineral tax act so that we would benefit, we as Newfoundlanders and Labradorians would receive the maximum benefit from the Voisey's Bay resource.

We are being told by members on the other side not to worry about it. Don't worry about it, we are going to get the maximum. If the deal is that great they should table it in the House so that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can rejoice with what a great deal they have come about, what a great deal this government has put forth for the people of our Province. They are probably so embarrassed by the mistakes they have made they are afraid it is going to turn into another Churchill Falls. Unfortunately it is our children and our children's children who are going to have to bear the brunt of whatever deal was put in place on Voisey's Bay, and the lack of a minerals tax act, and the fact that Inco came in here under the presumption that there was no mineral tax act in place and they had a ten year tax holiday.

That gives them an enormous power, Mr. Speaker, an enormous power. They have the cards held tightly to their chests and they have the power now to call the shots on what royalty regimes will come out of Voisey's Bay because they have a ten-year tax holiday and there is no doubt about it, we will get some sort of royalty regime but at what cost? What other benefits will we have to give up, Mr. Speaker? What other benefits and what other royalties will we have to give up on Voisey's Bay in order to allow this government to put a royalty regime in place on Voisey's Bay so that they do not have to go to the public and hang their heads low in embarrassment because they were not able to put a tax regime in place before the deal was signed?

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, it is generations to come who will find out whether or not it is a good deal for Newfoundland and Labrador, as it is this generation and yesterday's generation who found out that the deal on Churchill Falls was a bad deal for our Province. Mr. Speaker, there is no question about it, Inco have the upper hand in whatever royalty regime will be put in place on Voisey's Bay; there is absolutely no doubt about that. Any company that has a ten-year tax holiday and know that up front, have all trumps in their hands. They have the upper hand and there is no doubt about it, they will call the shots when it comes to putting a royalty regime in place and as I have said: we may get a wonderful royalty regime on paper but, we have to look at the costs. What other benefits are we giving up? What benefits could we have had on Voisey's Bay and that is the real question here, Mr. Speaker.

Unfortunately, not only is there no tax or royalty regime, no mineral tax act there to support our resources in Voisey's Bay but, Mr. Speaker, the unfortunate part about it is, it looks as though, from comments that the Premier has made, that it is very likely that we are going to tax the company on their profits when we should be taxing them on the resource that comes out of the ground. Because, Mr. Speaker, we all know that major corporations such as Inco, have the ability to operate their company in such a manner that their books can show whatever profit they want them to show and, Mr. Speaker, they are such a large and diversified company, they have the ability to hide their profits in other companies, in other areas of their company and maybe even out of other provinces.

Unfortunately, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians will not see the full benefit of the resources of Voisey's Bay. If we were we would have been told by now what a great deal we have. Instead we are told by members of government here, `not to worry, everything is going to be okay on Voisey's Bay, not to worry.' We heard that story before, Mr. Speaker. We have all heard that story before and unfortunately that does not cut it. The people of this Province are fully aware that there is no tax in place on the resource at Voisey's Bay. The people of our Province, Mr. Speaker, are all to familiar with, `Don't worry about it. Everything will be just dandy.' They are all too familiar with what that means and we have seen it on so many resources in the past, in so many sectors in the past of our resources.

Mr. Speaker, the people of our Province are not as naive as they were twenty, twenty-five or thirty years ago when they believed that whatever a politician said was gospel. Mr. Speaker, there are people still out there who believe that the first Premier of our Province brought in the baby bonus because he said he did. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, most of us know the difference of that.

Mr. Speaker, we have been told don't worry about it on Voisey's Bay; don't worry about it on Gisborne Lake; don't worry about it on Hibernia. Don't worry about it, we are going to reopen the fishery. Don't worry about it, everything is great. Everything is wonderful. We know we have plenty of resources in Newfoundland and Labrador but it is time that the people of our Province started getting the proper royalties out of our resources, over and above the royalties - it is about time that we started getting jobs out of our resources and creating a climate here where we can provide employment for our people instead of having people out-migrate in numbers that we have never seen the like of in our history. People are leaving the Province in search of employment elsewhere, in search of meaningful employment, in search of a place where they can raise their family and know that their children are able to find employment.

We heard from the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs just last month in this House, Mr. Speaker, that out in Trepassey houses that are worth $60,000 and $70,000 are being sold for $10,000 because there is such an abundance of empty houses out there. There are throngs of people leaving the Trepassey area. There is such an abundance of empty houses that there is absolutely no market there.

The minister told us of a case where somebody had left the Province and owed the municipality $800, and told them to take his house. He couldn't afford to pay it; take the house. He was leaving Newfoundland and Labrador; take the house.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot afford to see that in our Province. We have to stop the out-migration. The only way we are going to do it is if we create employment. We have the resources here that we should have a sufficient employment base to keep every Newfoundlander and Labradorian here in Newfoundland, to do what Clyde Wells said we were going to do and bring every mother's son home.

We have the ability here to create sufficient employment so that not only Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have work, but we can bring people in from the mainland. We can do the same as British Columbia is doing, and Alberta, and bring people in and create employment for other provinces. Our resources are sustainable enough that we have enough employment, we should have enough employment here if we managed our resources properly, and if we took the proper royalties out of our resources and reinvested those royalties into our Province, and reinvested those royalties into helping our economy to prosper and grow, and creating more industry here in our Province.

Mr. Speaker, we should have learned from the past but unfortunately Voisey's Bay is a classic example of us not having a royalty regime put in place for our people, for not having a royalty regime put in place that benefits Newfoundland first.

The Premier of Alberta has the philosophy that the resources belong to Alberta, and if you want to drill for oil in Alberta you play by the government's rules. You do it the way the government wants you to do it, and if you don't there is somebody else going to drill for oil.

Mr. Speaker, we have not yet caught on to the fact that the nickel in Voisey's Bay is our resource, and if you want to mine the nickel in Voisey's Bay you play by our rules, and if you don't want to somebody else will play by our rules. We have not yet caught on to that, and a classic example of the fact that we have not yet caught on to that is the fact that $4.3 billion went to a company that sold the rights to Voisey's Bay to Inco, and what did Newfoundland get from that $4.3 billion? Diddly squat!

MR. EFFORD: Get what? What is `diddly squat'?

MR. OSBORNE: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Speaker, just woke up. I think I spoke the language of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture - diddly squat. He just woke up, came to life, finally realized he was sitting in the House of Assembly, finally realized there was somebody speaking, finally realized, Mr. Speaker, that he should be listening.

MR. EFFORD: To what?

MR. OSBORNE: Finally, somebody spoke his language - diddly squat, and his ears perked up and his eyes brightened and he asked: What was that? Somebody spoke his language.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) line-dancing?

MR. OSBORNE: Was I line-dancing? I did the Macarena - no line-dancing but I did the Macarena.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the Macarena.

MR. OSBORNE: No, `John' did the Macarena as well.

Mr. Speaker, I will say it again that, when the rights to Voisey's Bay were sold, Inco bought them, our Province did not get what we deserved and that was the price that Voisey's Bay sold for, the price that that resource sold for, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the two fellows up in the back row up there remind me of the fellows on the Muppets; the old fellow, the bald fellow with the glasses and the fellow with the big nose, who are always babbling out whenever somebody starts to say something. They remind me of the two muppets, Mr. Speaker - just like them.

AN HON. MEMBER: What are their names?

MR. OSBORNE: I do not know - Fuddle Duddle and Diddly Squat, I think; I cannot remember.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Two Ronnies.

MR. OSBORNE: The Two Ronnies from the Muppets.

Anyway, I am making some good points here, Mr. Speaker. We should have had the rights to Voisey's Bay, I say. We should have taken the same attitude that the Premier of Alberta has taken and we own the resource. That is what I am saying here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I do not know what he is doing with health, but I know that he is getting better resources from his oil than we are. He is getting better royalties from his oil resources than we are getting out of Voisey's Bay, Mr. Speaker.


MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology over there is yelling and shouting and I cannot even hear myself think. Order, Mr. Speaker!


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

The hon. member has asked for the right to be heard in silence.

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Big Bird.


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

The hon. the Member for St. John's South.

MR. OSBORNE: The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is uncontrollable over there. He is getting upset at our House Leader because he is upset at what the House Leader said. He should stand now and -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: I did not do the course, Mr. Speaker. That is right, it is like the Muppets, I have to get the co-ordination in.

AN HON. MEMBER: Like the Muppets. Last week you were a cowboy. This week you are a Muppet.

MR. OSBORNE: No, the Muppets are up there.

MR. FUREY: Do you agree with your buddy, `Harvey' there? Cut, slash and burn (inaudible)?

MR. OSBORNE: I do agree, Mr. Speaker, that we should cut them and slash them and get clear of them, and we will do that in the next election. There will be lots of cutting in the next election. The red will all be cut, it will be blue. The map will be covered in blue, Mr. Speaker. Even in Labrador, there will be blue on the map in Labrador. We have it right here. Where is that book - the book with the blue map? Look - the government even know it. The map is blue. They know, themselves. They have already painted the map blue, Mr. Speaker, because they know it is coming.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is blue? Open it up again.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not blue, boy.

MR. OSBORNE: Look, the muppets are at it again in the peanut gallery up in back.

MR. TULK: Oh, Mr. Speaker, I wish I had not asked to (inaudible) on adjournment. I have to sit here now and listen to the likes of that and if we were to adjourn at 5:00 p.m. I would only have two more minutes.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is saving the best for last.

MR. OSBORNE: Now, now, now, do not get your suspenders in a knot.

MR. TULK: Never mind my suspenders, boy. Worry about my body (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. OSBORNE: Mr. Speaker, he has his Christmas tie on and suspenders to match. It looks like a Christmas tie.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I have been up here now for twenty-seven minutes and I have to sit down and recollect my thoughts so I can say something when I get up again.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

May 12, 1997             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLIII  No. 23A

[Continuation of sitting.]

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): The hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I had to rise today. First off, I want to thank the hon. member who gave a great speech across the way in the last twenty minutes. He gave a speech. The only problem is, when you are giving a speech in the House, even when you are in the Opposition, you should always try to point out a few positives out of your twenty-seven minutes. I don't mind twenty-five minutes of negative, but three or four minutes of maybe there is a chance the place will survive, maybe that wouldn't be so bad. I was thinking I was going to sit and just listen, but I said: He has made a couple of statements that I think do deserve some small rebuttal.

The water export policy that the gentleman was talking about. The policy deals with maximizing value-added employment opportunities, business opportunities, and revenues to the provincial treasury. That is what the policy is. We are maximizing value-added opportunity. Any proposal that comes in for Gisborne Lake, or any lake in the Province that we were going to look at, we will be looking at how we can maximize the employment opportunities. Those are the first words that are in the new policy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Water export. If a proposal comes in, it has to go through environmental assessment, then it has to go through the government in a number of departments, and its number one priority is to create jobs. That is why we brought it in. Where we have had proposals come forward before we have never had a policy, Mr. Speaker, and now we are getting some interest out there, and we are going to do our best. One of the things about it is that it is an opportunity identified amongst a whole range of other opportunities within the government that the government is trying to work on for the creation of new opportunities for the people.

Labrador was mentioned. The opportunities that are going to come out of Labrador now for the people of Labrador and for all the Province are enormous. The new Trans-Labrador Highway that the minister responsible for Labrador and the members responsible for Labrador - the Member for Labrador West in particular, amongst other members, these members here, and the Member for Torngat Mountains, have worked so diligently and hard to ensure that Labrador's voice has been heard in this government. It has been heard in spades. We have the Trans-Labrador Highway going ahead.

We have major upgrading at the I.O.C. operation going ahead. I think $90-odd million in the next year or so of renovations, upgrading. We are looking at a labour mobility policy now between Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador for the protection of our workers in the Labrador area. We are looking at a whole range of investment from Voisey's Bay Nickel and Inco in the Labrador area. We are talking about the range of 1,500 to 2,000 jobs just on that site alone. We are talking about supply contracts. You are talking about an enormous amount of economic activity. You are talking about fisheries policy that the new Minister of Fisheries has just announced, some new licences and so on. A new hospital in Goose Bay.

The list goes on, and it is quite a list for Labrador. That sounds like to me, even if I was a government member or a member of this side of the House, that that is a fairly positive list of initiatives for an area that deserved that positive list. That positive list has arisen because the members in this government and the people of this government and the people who are working here have said to themselves that we should recognize, and we have.

When we look at the opportunities that are going to come about in this Province, that are now on the horizon, you know, I'm a bit of an optimist. I decided to be one. Especially when you are in, politics, you might just as well be, because you have to be if you want to build something instead of tearing it down. I believe that we should build up instead of tear down. There is a lot of building going on, there are a lot of opportunities going on, that are going to arise.

When you look at the transshipment facility going to be starting construction, or it has started construction, it is going to be getting into full-scale construction activity in the next couple of weeks, when you look at the other projects that we are looking at for the Bull Arm site, which are being looked at now by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and attracting new business here in the next few weeks and months and hopefully will see some projects announced in the next little while.

When you see that activity, Mr. Speaker, we also see further plans by PanCanadian on the West Coast of the Province looking at potential expansion of their exploration program off the West Coast which will be off Bay St. George, Port au Port where we would see further drilling programs, Mr. Speaker, being looked at now by PanCanadian for the West Coast looking at oil exploration activity, that is good news for the West Coast and it allows us and gives us some time now to plan for that activity.

When you look at the smelter that will be going in Argentia, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the arranged dollars in the hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent in the Argentia area which is going to create an awful lot of new opportunities for suppliers, the whole value-added side of this opportunity from Voisey's Bay for the Province, Mr. Speaker, we, as a government are very interested in the value-added opportunities to look at the smelters, to look at a potential copper smelter, Mr. Speaker, we are very much interested in pursuing the value-added opportunity that arises out of that, along with value-added that comes out of water export, Mr. Speaker, there are a number of other opportunities that we could be seeking out and we are seeking out, Mr. Speaker, within this government.

We want to work with everybody in the Province, Mr. Speaker, to turn the economy into a positive direction, to create new opportunities, to expand the tax base so that the Province will have more revenue to spend on what we need to spend it on, be it in health care and education in particular, and also in employment services with the new department, so we are working on it, Mr. Speaker. There are some positive stories out there; there are some positive major economic items on the agenda of this government, of the people's government, of the government that was elected by the people to try to ensure that there are opportunities and you know, when we are talking in this House, we should recognize the problems; we should also seek out the opportunities and look at the positives, and we have a lot of positives happening, a lot of positives -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Exactly. - a lot of positives occurring and we are organizing now, Mr. Speaker, to see the economy take off in this Province and it is going to take off in the next number of months and years as we start to organize it in the proper way to ensure that our people get the benefit, Mr. Speaker, that is the big issue and that is the issue that we are most concerned about and I am sure, Mr. Speaker, with the talent around the tables that we have here in our caucus, that we will be able to deal with it, we will be consulting with our people in the Province to ensure that we value-add on these opportunities, that we create every job possible and that we move on and develop an economy that could sustain itself without getting help from Ottawa. We want to be independent with our Budget, we want to make sure that we have our own revenues, Mr. Speaker. You know, Alberta has had their revenue from oil and we are looking forward to it, Mr. Speaker, to have in our revenue also, so that we can do the things that we would like to do as a people and that is going to finally happen.

Mr. Speaker, last week I was out on the GBS platform and had a tour of the platform, Mr. Speaker, and I tell you, it is something to see. I was out there about Friday two weeks ago and there were no protesters -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: No, you cannot be serious.

AN HON. MEMBER: I am serious.

MR. K. AYLWARD: Well, I am not going to listen to that.

I was out on the GBS, Mr. Speaker, and I tell you, I think it is very worthy - Mr. Speaker, it is an accomplishment for our workforce in this Province and we should be proud of it. Our workers, Mr. Speaker. I was out for a ceremony at the Bull Arm site less than a week ago, last Thursday where the workers, the labour unions had a ceremony where they dedicated a monument to the workers of that project and it was quite the ceremony. The Premier was there, Mr. Speaker, and the labour unions were there in full force and it was quite a ceremony and our workers deserve credit.

Mr. Speaker, we have some of the best tradespeople on the planet and they accomplished quite a project at that Bull Arm site; they beat out other workers around the planet; they were competitive and they were efficient, Mr. Speaker, and sometimes that is not said often enough but we are going to start saying it a lot more, Mr. Speaker, because our workers are very competitive and we will be out marketing our workforce along with the other things that we need to market in this Province.

I have already talked with the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology about a marketing brochure and including in the marketing plan is also outlining the skills of our workforce and the dedication of our workforce, Mr. Speaker. We have a very dedicated workforce that wants to work in this Province and we have to greet the opportunities together and in the last few months they have been coming in and sitting down with us to put together the plans to go after together and they deserve credit, Mr. Speaker, the workforce in this Province, our construction trade unions deserve a lot of credit for trying to move ahead and we are looking forward to seeing the work that will come out of that. But the GBS is a testament to our workforce because they were able to do it and they deserve a lot of credit, they deserve a lot of credit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: A credit to our workforce.

Mr. Speaker, we get the bad news all of the time, bad news, there is no problem to find it, you can go looking for it, but there is a lot of good news going on and we have to start, at least, balancing the equation around here instead of always thinking negatively. I am getting awful tired of it, I don't know about anybody else, I do not know about you folks, but I am living here, I am getting really tired of it.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Reform of the education system, we are trying you know, we are working on it, there are problems with anything you do. If you are reforming, any system you reform, in the economy, we are reforming the economy, we are trying to get ready to take on all of these new major projects which thank God for our Premier, has been dedicated to bringing on as quickly as possible.

MR. TULK: Right on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Transshipment would never be here if our Premier had not said: it is going to stay here and it is going to come here. It would never have been here, Mr. Speaker, and of course we hear the other side talking about, well that is not going to happen anyway.

So, all we are saying is, lets balance it off, can we balance it off, I mean really. It is hard to believe, but there is a scattered good thing going on, there is a scattered good thing that may be happening around the Province. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am getting stressed out hearing all of the negatives and I want to move on to the positives.

We are trying to move on to doing positive things, working with our people, working with our workforce, trying to make it happen and it will happen, but you have to believe that it will happen. You have to start believing that you can make it happen, you have to make the economy happen and you know you just cannot go throwing money at the economy, we did that for too long, we cannot keep doing that, Mr. Speaker. The $550 million in interest payments that we are paying out is as much as our education budget. You just cannot throw money at the problem. We have lots of money that is being spent, but we have to create an economy. We have to attract business, we have to make it happen and we have to do it with our workforce which we are saying we are doing and they are agreeing with us, they are working with us to do it and we are looking forward, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, the good news coming off the West Coast, PanCanadian looking at an exploration program is excellent news. The West Coast is going to get a boost in the next few months, that is what should happen, but we are probably going to here, you know that is good positive news.

There is no problem pointing out the problems, you have to clean this up or you have to do this or do that, but lets look at what the opportunities are. Our Minister of Fisheries, what a Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Speaker, I have to say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: I remember, I use to share an office with him about ten years ago, twelve years ago when I was a young fellow, almost as young as Paul Shelley, as a matter of fact. I use to be a young member of the House of Assembly and I remember when the former, former Premier, Peckford was it? He gave us an office, it was one office for the two of us, me and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and we had the buckets of water coming down on us, I think it was the middle of the summer, is was raining. You know, we could have been depressed and we could have been this and we could have been that -

MR. FUREY: We use to tell ourselves, someday the sun will shine on us.

MR. K. AYLWARD: That is exactly what we use to say, some day the sun will shine and the Minister has an eloquent way of saying that and he brought up his buckets in the House of Assembly, as a matter of fact, I do remember that, he did didn't he? We got the roof fixed the next day.

So, I have memories of that and now we are into treating the opposition equally, we try to work with the opposition and all of that, Mr. Speaker.

Can you imagine we were in there, we were in Opposition? The Minister of Justice well remembers, don't you? The House leader we have here, the House leader remembers. So what we are saying is let's go 90 per cent negative and 10 per cent positive. That is what I'm going to ask from the other side, 90 per cent negative, 10 per cent positive.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, I can live with that but you know, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of positive things going on in this Province that are starting to happen. You know we have to start thinking that way a little more instead of this negativity that we keep hearing. The glass is half full or half empty. Well I think it is half full. You have to start thinking and believing that it will happen.

If you go into a high school today and talk to some students, if you go into an engineering school this year, you come out in five years, can you imagine the opportunities that are going to be presented to students in five years time? In four years time when Hibernia is out there going and Terra Nova is started and you have smelters and mines, there is a lot of decent opportunity going to happen. The IT sector, we have software companies in this Province that we never had before. We have business attraction going on to attract more software companies to this Province - fibre optic cables going everywhere, Mr. Speaker. There is decent opportunity creating employment but you know if you are going to go around depressed all the time - that is awful hard to do, Mr. Speaker. So we have to instill this in our business people too and they have it, Mr. Speaker.

Our business leaders, we have some of the young and brightest business people in Canada. Lorne Janes is chairperson of the Exporters and Manufacturers of Canada, the first Newfoundlander. He is the chairperson.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: We have some of the leading people, Mr. Speaker, we have young entrepreneurs. We have, Mr. Paul Antle, who is the national president of the Canadian and Environmental Industries Association.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, I heard about that. I have some details on it as a matter of fact. I have some details on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: Yes, can you imagine? Can somebody explain that to me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. K. AYLWARD: The federal PC Party brought in somebody from Ontario to run in Labrador. That's pretty good. That's very interesting.

AN HON. MEMBER: And the leader didn't even know about it.

MR. K. AYLWARD: The leader didn't know about it? Okay, but anyway, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of positive things going on. All I say to the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, is let us think about some of the things - and be constructive. As a matter of fact, a number of the members are very constructive. I think that a number of the members are doing a very constructive job but the thing is -I know the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture would not say that, I will say that - a number of the members are doing a constructive job on the other side. The thing is, we have to work together, Mr. Speaker, to make it happen.

It is time, Mr. Speaker, that we started thinking more positive, that we started working towards the agenda that is going to see us move ahead and create the opportunity instead of thinking about every problem we have and getting all the problems piled up one by one by one, so high that you cannot see over them. I want to see over the problem. I don't want to be looking at the problems all the time. I want to see some solutions and get inventive and this government is getting inventive. It is going to tackle the issues. It is not going to shy away from the issues. It is going to tackle the issues and it is going to move ahead, Mr. Speaker. All of our members on this side of the House are working really hard on that.

We have a dedicated Caucus, Mr. Speaker, a really dedicated Caucus working hard. We have to seek out opportunity for this Province and work with the Opposition. We will look forward, Mr. Speaker, to seeing the government move ahead to create the opportunity to see it happen. With our Premier leading the charge, Mr. Speaker, I have full confidence as we go forward, Mr. Speaker, an aggressive Premier, very aggressive, making sure that our interests are protected in this government and for the people of this Province.

The gentleman in the Speakers Chair, look at the land of opportunity that he has in his riding now. I mean it is really something else. It is just absolutely amazing. So he understands what I am talking about and I can see him nodding his head. He is nodding his head as a matter of fact.

So, Mr. Speaker, as we talk about the opportunity and we seek it out, we look forward to seeing it happen. We have to get out of this, `it's all over boys, she's gone, she's gone' because she isn't. There are a lot of things happening. There is a lot of investment. There is more investment being made now, Mr. Speaker, than we have seen probably in the last five years. It is starting to happen. Investment by businesses. There is a lot of investment going on. We have supply contracts looking around the Province now. Suppliers are looking to supply the bigger developments. On the West Coast there is some, on the South Coast there is some looking now, so there is a lot of opportunity.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, what a minister, I will tell you. He has worked hard. He is travelling the world trying to attract new business. Our Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has been dealing with the oil companies and making sure in telling them that it is value-added we want here. We want royalties and we want some business here. We want to make sure and create jobs in this Province, and we are looking at and we are working with our companies. The Minister of Development and Rural Renewal is working hard to create opportunities in rural Newfoundland, in Labrador, and that is coming together, but it is going to take a bit of time. It takes a bit of time. We are working on it, and it is coming together quite well.

It has been a pleasure to respond to the member opposite who is a very - normally he is a positive member. I just wanted to say to him, all I ask, is that out of the thirty minutes that he take five to highlight some of the positives. That is all, Mr. Speaker. Other than that, he can do what he wants. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER (Barrett): The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to see I have priority over the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I will tell you what I will do in my first remarks. I'm going to speak for fifteen minutes or so. I will try to give at least 20 per cent - I will break the record, I say to the minister, and be positive on at least 20 per cent of what I'm going to say. We will relate that to reality then.

I just finished on Friday talking to three graduations on Friday night, three in my district, all over the place. So of course, first thing you go see young people in front of you, and then when you turn on your t.v. set you get the negative and doom. We talked about some negatives in the media here today. As a matter of fact, I'm willing to bet that if I used my full fifteen minutes today for positives - I'm just trying to remind the minister what one of the problems is here. Besides being the Opposition and critics and we are supposed to be constructively critical of the government, that is our job, to find out what the flaws are, we have a problem with media.

I'm willing to bet that if I went for fifteen minutes in this House today on all positives it will not be reported. But if I went negative and got something dark and dirty, you will see them come out of the rafters again. That is a legitimate point. Because I've used it. I relate that to the graduations I was to this weekend. I stood at St. Pius X School this weekend. I was supposed to be actually in King's Point. I go to the first one I'm asked to, if they are at the same time. A simple policy. I just go to the first one I get an invitation to. I was supposed to go to King's Point -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: The Member for Windsor - Springdale shouldn't talk about being seen in the district. I will outdo him there any time.

I went to St. Pius. I phoned the people in King's Point to tell them I wouldn't be there because I had to go the St. Pius X graduation because I went to school there for eleven years, and the school just got word on Monday past that it would be closing. They are going to accept it. It has been tough. Actually, there was another meeting last night. But that is really tough. When you look up at a building that has been there for years, all your kids went through there. As a matter of fact, there was a father who spoke at the graduation, he was the first graduate of the school, and his son was graduating, so he was the last graduate of the school. That stuff is hard to stomach for anybody. That is the reality of it.

I stood in that graduation in the school that I graduated from. As I looked out at them, and there was a lot of emotion there and so on from previous speakers, when I stood up I was positive the whole time. It wasn't easy, because it was my school too. I stood and I looked at those people, and I did it for one reason. Because those graduates who are looking up at me are asking: Is there some hope out there? Is there some hope for me? Do I have to follow my brother and my uncle or my father who are in Fort McMurry or Grand (inaudible) and all over the place?

I agree that it is hard to get some positives. I would like to go home this Friday and not run into a protest, not have somebody call my house, not to walk into me at supper time like what happened this weekend past because of media negatives and so on, and be able to just have a peaceful weekend of just doing normal things. Being with your family and so on. But I know it isn't going to happen.

So although I agree with the minister at times that, you know - I would like to go home this weekend and get positive news on the tannery. I worked on positive. You want to talk about positives, the tannery is positive. We worked on that, Mr. Speaker. I will work on anything positive. I will tell you one thing, and I bet I speak for all members on this side, or the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, or the Independent member, or whoever it is, that we would share in any good news where we are going to put people back to work in this Province. I would stand then in the public anywhere, and if there is a minister or the Premier or anybody who is going to help in that matter, actually puts a person in a job where he is going to get paid, we will commend him.

I know the Member for Bonavista South. I'm telling you my district is tough. I know the District of Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune is very similar to Bonavista South. Very rural, very spread out, some tough things happening. The Member for Bonavista South, I know, and the calls - I mean, we were just looking at these, and I was talking to the Member for St. John's South. That is just this morning. That is another twenty calls, twenty-five calls. I will have twenty-five calls, thirty calls more when I go up, maybe forty calls. I had fifty-three calls last Thursday. Rural Newfoundland phone calls.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No sir, I wish it was. I could handle one problem, Mr. Speaker. I say in all seriousness, and the Member for Bonavista South gets as much or more. I'm sure the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune gets it. Then, besides the phone calls, we have to go out there Friday and Saturday and over the long weekend. I will tell you what I did this weekend. I took Saturday from all of this and I went in the woods. I took my kids, we took up a boil up, and we went in the woods. It was on request from my wife who said: We have to get away for a little while. Because people -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No, it is the real world, I say to the member. If you don't understand that, it is too bad about you.

AN HON. MEMBER: I can't believe you're running away from your constituents.

MR. SHELLEY: Should I respond to that or let it go?

MR. H. HODDER: No, let it go.

MR. SHELLEY: It is too low to respond to, so I won't. Mr. Speaker, I'm just trying to get them to understand. For the rural members here - and I talk to my colleagues who are urban members. There is a real hurt out there. Yes, it is nice to get up and talk positive, and I will talk positive when there are positive things to be talked about. But I'm telling you, and I will say it again, and I'm going to say it a thousand times, until rural Newfoundland sees concrete things like a road going through, or it sees concrete things like there is water and sewer, and the sewer isn't running out its back lawn.

I talked to a fellow today in Burlington. His house, because of a ditch around it, is surrounded by sewer. The (inaudible) gone on and his house is surrounded by sewer. Then he hears an announcement of a - well, I won't even use it again as an example. We know what I mean. The priorities in spending has to be very careful over these next few months and next year or so. Because we are in a real critical state in this Province, and right on top of it - we are all going to probably be involved in the federal election to a degree, but I'm going to tell you something. It is tough, and it is tough for Tories, Liberals, NDP, and whatever, right now to go out to people's doors with a pamphlet. The people who I've heard who have been at the doors helping people, all candidates, they have all been getting it, is the nastiest response they have ever had in this Province. People at the door are actually almost ignorant to you, or they are upset and frustrated, at what is going on overall today throughout the country and in the Province.

We can't shy away from that. I can't shy away from it, because when I go out to the district again I see it again. I'm reminded of it. It is nice when we are here in the House of Assembly to debate things. But I will get back to those students and to be positive. I spoke for my time, and it was recorded, on positive. I said: Yes, there are problems, but tomorrow you have to go on. Tomorrow you have to finish your education and you have to get out there, and there is hope. There is a big world out there, there are big challenges, technology and so on.

That is why I spoke to the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal and keep harping - I know it is called harping - on telecentres and what it does for rural Newfoundland. That is just one example of being positive. You want to be positive? Say to a student who calls you - I know you guys get it too - of an eighteen- or nineteen-year old who just finished school, got this great idea. He is enthusiastic, he has vigour and so on, and he comes to me and says he has an idea. The links I've made with telecentres in my district from a young person who came in with an idea - now, nine out of ten might fail. But the point is we have young people believing that there is something possible, and maybe they will come back again.

As far as being positive, I will even continue more on positive. You want to talk about something positive, I will tell you an industry that I believe every member here should be talking more about, something that every member here should be talking more about. It is not Voisey's Bay, not Hibernia, not the transshipment, it the most sensible industry, I think, that we should be harping more on - the sealing industry.

Here we are surrounded by seals, they say eight million but I talked to sealers who just came in from my district who said they cannot believe how many are out there, herds and herds of them; and what sense it makes, Mr. Speaker, that we increase that quota and every member here and every federal member gets up and supports the provincial minister on increasing quotas. We have seals here that could be making us a fortune by just killing them. But the point is, look what that would do to the fishing industry. I do not need any scientist in Ottawa to tell me that those seals are not eating fish; they are. So the most sensible industry we could go after is a progressed sealing industry, an industry where we will put people to work by harvesting those seals. Mr. Speaker, I do not need a scientist to tell me that.

I do not know who made this famous quote but it was famous enough for me. He said: They are certainly not eating cabbage.


MR. SHELLEY: Turnip, is it? Turnip. They are certainly not eating turnip, he said, and that is right. But just think of it. That is what we should be up for. And the federal MPs, whoever goes to Ottawa on June 2 should be up there saying every day in the House of Commons: Increase that quota, get it up to something - imagine, what is it - 250,000?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Two hundred and eighty thousand seals this year as a quota out of a reported 8 million. But it is more like 12 million or 14 million. That is why every member here, every federal member, every lobbyist group, if they want to do the right thing, should go after an increase in quota, Mr. Speaker, at least quadruple what we have there now. And such industries as the tannery they were talking about, will fully utilize the seal, so that we have a professional industry, not the things that the FFAW sent down and set up as far as I am concerned when it comes to the camera; they set that stuff up.

We can have a professional group harvesting seals properly, utilizing the oil, the meat, utilizing everything, Mr. Speaker.

MR. TULK: We would not want to do it (inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: No. We would not want to do it (inaudible). That is what I am saying, Mr. Speaker, if there is one industry - and we talk about Voisey's Bay and Hibernia, this is one we should be pushing to the hilt over the next year or so and lobby whoever the federal minister is going to be in Ottawa and say: If you want to do something sensible, forget the backlash from people in Ontario or wherever, because the sealing industry is still a touchy subject for a lot of those people - stand up and be proud to say it because we can justify it. We can justify it by saying we are surrounded by herds, millions of seals who are eating our fish and decimating our fish stocks, so we are going to save the fish stocks and put people to work saving them. I mean, it is the most logical industry in this Province with thousands of jobs, Mr. Speaker. I support any government member or minister or federal MP who wants to get up and lobby and push for that particular industry, because I think it has a bright future in this Province and we should do more to push for it. so, Mr. Speaker, that is one industry.

As far as graduation and being positive to the students - and I have gone back to being positive at least four or five times now in this - and that is positive, too, Mr. Speaker, the seal industry. So we have to stop the out-migration not only just of people, Mr. Speaker, but of the young people. These eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds who are leaving this Province - I mean, we talk about the resource of Voisey's Bay and the resource of Hibernia, but they are nothing compared to our resource of nineteen- twenty- and twenty-one-year-olds who are just finishing high school and then the twenty-four or twenty-five-year-old group who are just finishing their college degree, just spent $30,000, $40,000 and $50,000 to get a degree and are leaving this Province.

Our biggest resource is not the nickel out of Voisey's Bay, it is the young people of this Province. And you can bring it down to a small scale example: A town like Baie Verte or like any of your towns, when you see twenty young people who have just graduated, leave never to come back, saying, we are gone, that is the death of the town, Mr. Speaker. Because what is going to happen if we do not stop that flow, is that Newfoundland and Labrador will turn into a retirement home and nothing else. That is what it will turn into, because all our young people are leaving. And if there is any focus that the government should be on, it is the out-migration in particular of the young people of this Province, the people who go through Memorial University or Grenfell College or all the colleges that are around, Mr. Speaker, Career Academy, whatever ones you want to talk about. The young people who take the time, spend the money to get themselves educated, whose one last option is to leave the Province, that is the saddest, saddest statistic of all, Mr. Speaker.

This is not drama - we are not dramatizing; we all know, what any government has to focus on is that we have to stop the out-migration of our best resource, our young people. That is why, when you speak at graduations - I know a lot of members here do - you have to be positive, and it is tough, as the minister said. I agree with the Minister of Environment and Labour when he said it is tough. When you turn on your t.v. at 6:00 - this is what happened the other day, I will give you a specific example. I rushed home at 5:30 p.m., to get ready to go to a graduation, was putting on a tie - I looked at the t.v. and here is this negative story on the tannery, something that was positive in the town. Ten minutes later I had to be up addressing a group of students about being positive.

I can agree, the Opposition gets up and are negative and so on; well, that is par for the course, that is what this profession, I guess you say, is all about sometimes. But what is really tough, Mr. Speaker, for Opposition or government, is that we also have to battle the media because that negativity reflects on a lot of the young people and they are negative all the time.

I do agree with this and I have said it, Mr. Speaker, time and time again - there is a little quote I always use at graduation. I tell the graduates: `It is good that I can stand here as your member, and say, We believe in you, your parents believe in you, your teachers believe in you.' `But,' I tell them, `none of that matter unless you say you believe in yourself and you go out and do something about it.' So, hopefully, we will keep those people in the Province. because that is the point, we have to keep these people in the Province so they can encourage us, you know how they psych us up, when you get on a committee and you have two or three young people -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

If I could just interrupt the hon. member for a moment. Have we agreed on a time, or are we on the regular debating rules?

MR. H. HODDER: Ten and ten.

MR. SPEAKER: Ten and ten.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: If I could, Mr. Speaker. If the hon. gentleman wishes to finish his speech, let him. I do not think we have to be exact. If somebody starts getting too dirty with someone, then we will withdraw leave, that is all.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair just wanted to clarify whether we were doing thirty and thirty or ten and ten.

MR. SHELLEY: Is my time up, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: If we going on ten and ten, the hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Do I have leave or -

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Just to clue up, Mr. Speaker, because I have been speaking for fifteen minutes now. If I am not mistaken, I was ninety per cent talking about positives, things that could happen.

So, my message is simple in this small debate for fifteen minutes today, Mr. Speaker. Because sometimes you really get sick of the politics on both sides, and now the federal election is all meshed in there again. But I try to push that aside every now and then when you go out and talk to somebody, a reminder of the message that I am getting over the last few weeks, moreso than even the last few months; the last few weeks - I do not know what it is, maybe it is because an election was called, maybe people are upset with that, that the young people of this Province, we have to keep, every chance we get, we have to keep saying to the young people of this Province there is a chance here, get your education and try to stick around. Because if we can keep a few of you, even, you encourage everybody and so on.

Mr. Speaker, with that in mind, remember that the lay-off of so many teachers in the Province, if you want to see somewhere - because I have been in it, in a staff room where you have all veteran teachers and no new blood coming in. That is a good analogy to what is happening in the Province. If you have the same staff room and the same teachers for twenty year, the same notes - they have paid their dues, they have coached teams, they have taken the kids on trips. But what you need is that young fellow or young lady coming in, new on the staff, and she wanted to coach the basketball team, she wanted to take on the drama, that is when that little bit of enthusiasm sparks the rest of the staff.

So, Mr. Speaker, I use that analogy to describe what is happening in the Province right now. There are a lot of people here, there are old businesses and so on, but we need some young people coming in with some new businesses, some new people who are going to stay and use the skills that they have just acquired through their different training and so, to say, I am going to stay and try this. I said this to the Minster of Development and Rural Renewal before: We cannot put road blocks in their way when they have a good idea. Let us not give them fifteen reasons why they cannot make it first and then one reason after why they can. Let us give it to them up front. Let us knock down those road blocks and sit them down where they do not have to go through fifteen offices and they finally say: I am going to give up because there is no chance for me.

So, Mr. Speaker, I do my part in trying to encourage young people, that is my number one priority, because I really believe if Newfoundland is going to survive, rural Newfoundland has to survive and young people have to stay in rural Newfoundland and hopefully make a living for themselves.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

I thought I would have a few words on the Resource Committee debate that we are having.

Paul said a number of things that obviously applies to a number of districts including mine. I suppose the district that I represent has more aquaculture potential than anywhere else in the Province, I know that it does. In fact, it has been estimated that we have the capacity for 100 million pounds of fish in the Bay d'Espoir and the Connaigre region.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much?

MR. LANGDON: One hundred million pounds.

However, Mr. Speaker, talking about it earlier and probably putting a somewhat different spin on it, a few of the boys over across the way were saying, for example, that if Roger Simmons could bid on it, it would never, ever go back to Ottawa again. But, you know, you cannot always count your chickens before they are hatched. There are a number of things that - to use the expression, you `give the devil his due.'

For example, on the weekend the Government House Leader, myself and Roger were in Harbour Breton where we burned the mortgage on the arena in the town. That community of less than 2,500 people raised approximately $500,000 to pay for that arena. There is no more money owed on it. It is debt-free. Harbour Breton is debt-free. However, Mayor Skinner invited the CBC down, invited NTV, they invited all the media to come, and believe it or not, nobody came. Here is a positive story about rural Newfoundland that should receive some recognition but it did not.

Now, talking about infrastructure, because that arena was paid for but not completely finished, we needed some money to finish upstairs, some waiting rooms for the parents, for their children there and some cafeteria service and whatever. I went to Roger - he had the right to refuse - and I said to him, `I would like to have $150,000 to finish the arena in Harbour Breton.' He did not say no. He said, `I concur with you' and he approved it.

He went down to Belleoram - and those of you who have gone to Belleoram, know it is one of the most depressed communities probably on the South Coast. Yet, these people, through the recreation committee and Simani - the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods was down there with me earlier - they have raised approximately $80,000 in Belleoram, and I asked if he would approve $175,000 to build a community centre, and we got it.


MR. LANGDON: And that community of Belleoram will have a new fire hall, a new council hall, a new library, a room for the court to hold its sessions and, in addition to that, a meeting room for about 200 people. That was not in the community before. Roger approved it for them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Roger Simmons?

MR. LANGDON: Roger Simmons.

AN HON. MEMBER: So that is Harbour Breton -

MR. LANGDON: And Belleoram.

Now, let me give you another good story; this one is worth telling. In Ramea, an example of what people can do, as the minister said, to take their communities in their own hands. What they did was this: Their fish plant was in disarray -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was closed down, was it not?

MR. LANGDON: It was closed down. Do you know what they did, the people who were on TAGS? They went around the community, a committee headed by Jim Marsden, a development officer, and said, `Boys, look, if this plant is ever going to survive, we are going to have to get together as a community and save it.' Do you know what they did? They collected enough money in the community, where people were on TAGS, to buy 500 sacks of cement, and with 500 sacks of cement they poured two new concrete floors in the plant.


MR. LANGDON: They collected enough money to paint the plant through, from one end of her to the other.

AN HON. MEMBER: What colour?


AN HON. MEMBER: Not blue.

MR. LANGDON: And what they did was, they had this plant in immaculate condition.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oliver, was it trimmed with red?

MR. LANGDON: I think it was trimmed with red. But my point is that nobody hears of these stories. And now, well, my point is that they have an investor from out of the Boston area that is going to open the plant but it needs some help from the Federal Government because they are getting involved in the secondary processing in under-utilized species and they are doing it in a big way. For the last three or four months, almost on a daily basis, I have been in contact with Roger's office. Jim Marsden has been in contract with Roger's office and Joanne, and I believe we are that close to putting a deal together to put back 200-plus people to work in Ramea, that close. Who did it? Roger Simmons. He levied -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


MR. LANGDON: Roger Simmons levied the money. Along with the work - I worked with him, I worked with Jim Marsden, but we work as a team to get things done.

I am not saying that there are no problems out there. There are problems out there with EI, for example. One of the problems we have out there - do you remember when the Federal Government decided to use the smaller weeks to meld collectively to make a larger contribution, a larger stamp? They made that effective May 5. The people in Harbour Breton got laid off on April 13. They came under the old rules. We want the new rules change. I believe that can happen. We are working on that to make it happen for them.

Another good story, as I said, and I want to reiterate that, is the aquaculture industry in Bay d'Espoir. A tractor-trailer load of fish feed a day goes into Bay d'Espoir. Mr. Boyd Pack, a member of the industry, and Mr. Kieley, the executive director, went to Ottawa and said to the federal minister, Mr. Mifflin: We believe you should have a commissioner of aquaculture to make sure that this industry goes ahead, and to stay on top of the problems day-in and day-out.

However, Jean Charést says it is a waste of time, a waste of money, to support a commissioner - now, Oliver Langdon did not put it in place, Roger Simmons did not put in place, the industry wanted it. He said, putting money into aquaculture is a waste of money.

AN HON. MEMBER: He did not support it?

MR. LANGDON: He did not support it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are kidding.

AN HON. MEMBER: He did not say, in aquaculture.

MR. LANGDON: Well, I am telling you, he -

AN HON. MEMBER: He did not say, in aquaculture.

MR. LANGDON: In aquaculture. Let me just finish. He did not support having a commissioner. The commissioner was supported by the industry - they wanted a commissioner.

AN HON. MEMBER: He did not say it was a waste of money to put money into aquaculture.

MR. LANGDON: Okay, let me retract. It was a waste of money to put in a commissioner. Alright. So we have that. Now then, to go back to Bay d'Espoir. There are 300 people directly and indirectly employed in aquaculture in Bay d'Espoir. There are four new farms coming on this year. Last year they had 3.8 million pounds of fish processed in Bay d'Espoir. This year, 7.2 million pounds. Next year, an estimated 15 million pounds of fish is be done in Bay d'Espoir. And not to support an industry like this?

MR. TULK: Who did that?

MR. LANGDON: Charést! He does not support the way we are doing it - the aquaculture industry. You see, the thing about it is that you have to be tuned into that.

MR. TULK: Oliver, hold on there, you have to keep something in mind there. That is the reason he is sending down his aides from Ottawa to run in Labrador, to get the fellow in Nova Scotia to run against George Baker.

MR. LANGDON: That is possible, but we will leave that. I want to make the point that involved in all of this aquaculture in Bay d'Espoir has been the federal member, Mr. Simmons. If you go back to these people in Bay d'Espoir, they will tell you that, that he has been working with them continually.

The aquaculture industry in Bay d'Espoir - some of you have been down there - they make their own cages, they do their own nets, they have spin-off industries. And I am telling you one thing, if you did not have the aquaculture industry in Bay d'Espoir, you would have a lot more people on social assistance.

Conne River is another example. You talk about the federal member not doing his work. What happened in Conne River, and the federal member not doing his work? The federal member, in relation to the Premier and myself, working together as a team, we were able to garner $3 million out of Ottawa to put a new road to Conne River and have it paved.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LANGDON: Mr. Simmons, myself and the Premier, $3 million for a new road into Conne River. That is what I am telling you. There are a lot of things that are happening - not bad for a guy who should be booted out.

Talking about the employment out there - we come here every day - I will just give you an example. I think we do not do enough to support each other. In fact, as an individual, and a Member of the House, I was hurt the other day when I heard one of the members on the other side attack the former Minister of Health personally. You do not have to do that. You can attack the policies. The Member for Conception Bay South: Glad to see him gone, this and this and this.

Listen, that was not right. Regardless of what I do, what the Member for Baie Verte would do, or the Member for Waterford Valley, or the Member for Bonavista South, I will never attack them personally. It is a stressful job, and I would not do that.

Just let me give you an example of what happened on the weekend to me. I drove from here to Seal Cove, which is about seven hours by car. Saturday morning at 9:00 I got up, and do you know what time I got back to the house to see my wife? Twelve o'clock on Saturday night.

MR. TULK: Who did?


MR. TULK: What time did you have (inaudible) Gander?

MR. LANGDON: I do not know what time you got to Gander. It was probably 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. But the situation is, everybody is out there to make things happen, and to make things happen for us. We have to be supportive of each other in the things we do. When you get the people in the community on open-lines and so on saying: `This guy does not do anything, we never see him, he does not work' - whether it is the Member for Baie Verte or the Member for St. John's East or the Member for St. John's South - this is a real problem that we have, and we are not really supporting each other.

I think what we have failed to come to grips with sometimes is that every member on both sides of the House is an individual. He has a family. That family, when they hear the media condemning and criticising and so on, they really in a sense go through torture, and we forget about that. That has always been, in the back of my mind, a problem that we have. We do not really, as I said, go ahead and support each other oftentimes.

I went to another community a few days ago; I was in Gaultois, and talking about the Member for St. John's South and creating jobs. There are 800 trawlermen on TAGS in the Province. How many trawlers do we have? A dozen. How many people on each trawler? Twenty. Two hundred and forty people. Where will the other people find jobs? You go to the South Coast, with the fish plants closed in Hermitage, in Gaultois, in Harbour Breton, in Ramea, in Burgeo, in Port Union, in Bonavista.

It does not matter of what particular stripe you are. It is impossible for any government in a short period of time to create all these jobs and put these people back to work. It just cannot happen. The fishery is a labour-intensive industry where you employ people on a large scale to do manual work. To have all of this wiped away and expect everybody to be working within a short period of time, it is not going to happen; it is not even realistic.

However, you have to create a proper climate, and the government is doing that with whatever is at their disposal to create new jobs, to diversify, to get away from the wild fishery, to do aquaculture, to do the high-tech industries and so on. The government is working, the ministers are working day and night to make it happen. But it is not going to be happening enough for some people, I guess, for a lot of people who openly criticize day after day and say that we do nothing.

Another subject to recognize and talk about is education. Education is a problem in the rural areas. There are a number of things happening. There are two major factors in the rural areas -probably not in St. John's, probably not so much in Gander or Grand Falls, or Carbonear, but in the small rural areas you have two major factors, one working against the other, to compound the problem.

You have an unprecedented low birth rate. I was to a church service yesterday afternoon in my home town where the Sunday school had a program. I can remember a few years ago where you had 185 children in Sunday school. How many were there yesterday? About thirty. Now, there has not been a mass exodus of people out of Seal Cove. The children are not there. We had one mother who went to the stage yesterday who had nine children. You go to the community today and you see a family of one, a family of two, some families with no children. How do you expect to maintain the communities?

To compound that problem, you would have a number of people who, when they get educated, do not want to go back to the small communities to live. That is the problem with it. I talked to a lady not too long ago from my own district who grew up and lived in an isolated community. She has a job here in town. I asked: What about if the fish plant would open in your community tomorrow, would you go back? She said: Not on your life. If there was a job there she would not take it. This is happening to a lot of people.

I understand where `Paul' is coming from. I have had three children myself who have graduated from university. They have been lucky, I guess, to find a job here in the Province - one of them has. One of them is in Nova Scotia right now but hopefully, will be back here some time in the future with her husband. My other son, the youngest fellow is doing his Master's in Engineering and has had two job offers. I think there are some jobs there but not enough for all of these people who are leaving and some of them have to leave and that has been this way for a long, long time.

We saw and we talk about out-migration. There is no doubt that some people are leaving. I can give you an example again in my own town that happened on the weekend. We have some people who are silviculture workers with Abitibi-Price. They get fourteen or fifteen weeks work with Abitibi and are saying that is not enough. So what do they do? They decided to go to New Brunswick where they can work for thirty-eight or forty weeks and you cannot stop that. You cannot stop that from happening. If they want thirty-five or forty weeks work instead of fifteen, then obviously they have to go and do it and that is happening and has been happening all of my lifetime. In fact, the community that I grew up in, my dad himself was a logger, my grandfather before that was a logger and they used to leave the community in March and come back in July, go back in August and come back in December, they knew work and they were prepared to do it.

Now, obviously with technology there is not as much work in the woods as there used to be but these people make their living there and obviously they have to care. Another point that I want to make is, I know the problems with health care. We do not have the same level of problems in health care in my area as we do in some others. The government just approved a new building for us in Harbour Breton, a new hospital, but over the last number of years that I have been here, we have always had a full complement of doctors in Harbour Breton hospital and there is a full complement of doctors in Harbour Breton hospital today.

We had a doctor leave Hermitage, Dr. Parsons, and before the ink was dry on his resignation, we had another guy who wanted to come. In fact, we have two. We are short a doctor down in Mose Ambrose but we are working at that to make it happen, so the health care is not so major of a problem as it is in many of the areas, and I want to commend the Central West Health Institutions Board who I believe has done a tremendous job in the health care under Clayton Locke and the people from my area who are representatives on that board, I want to take off my hat to them. They have done a good job. I am not saying they do not have problems, we have problems but obviously they are working at them and I think that in time, it can be a tremendous benefit.

Central Newfoundland hospital with the renal dialysis being installed there is a big help for us because not everybody would realize that in Harbour Breton or Seal Cove in Hermitage we have to go to Grand Falls for most of our hospital calls and specializing services which is about three hours from the region to go into Grand Falls. I know that, but right now the hospital that we have there has been there since 1933, we are getting a new structure because of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the former Minister of Health and the Premier, made a commitment and recognized that it was needed and we are getting it.

Mr. Speaker, at this time I would adjourn.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would think that most people on both sides of the House would agree that, that was the best speech we heard today because the hon. gentleman almost closed the House.

Mr. Speaker, I think we have agreed that we will break for supper until 6:45 and that we will keep the clock running - as if we could stop it - but in Parliamentary time we will keep the clock running and there will be no adjournment; we will just leave the place and come back at 6:45.

MR. SPEAKER: It is by agreement that I leave the Chair by leave and by agreement until 6:45.




MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to concur on the report of the Resource Estimates Committee?

All those in favour, 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'.


MR. TULK: What was that motion?

MR. SPEAKER: We just passed the resource committee report.

MR. TULK: Well, Mr. Speaker, I think we have three more minutes so we may as well do it, I guess. Is time up?

MR. SPEAKER: Time is up.

MR. TULK: Oh the time is up, I'm sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: We didn't stop the clock so -

MR. TULK: I apologize, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: When I find my Order Paper, I am going to call Order No. 3(a). It is the report of the social policy committee concurrence debate and I think the Member for Labrador West is going to introduce that in the absence of the Member for Humber East. I will ask the hon. member if he will introduce it?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West introducing the debate on the Social Services Committee.

MR. CANNING: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, the Social Services Committee consists of the committee that reviews the estimates for; Human Resources and Employment, Education, Health, Environment and Labour and Justice. Mr. Speaker, this is a very important estimate committee. As a matter of fact, it really reviews some of the most important functions of government. What a government is supposed to do for those they serve. Mr. Speaker, Education, Health, Justice, Environment and Labour, Human Resources, significant important public policy departments, departments that really set the agenda for the government, really determines what we are as a people and what kind of rules that we are prepared and accept to live in.

Mr. Speaker, I want to return to some of the comments I made when I spoke earlier for the resource committee. Government is all about making choices. I want to repeat a comment that I read early on in the document that was the blue book for the Conservatives in the last election. They agreed with us about making choices. As a matter of fact, in quoting directly from their document they say governing involves making choices. Often these choices are difficult. Mr. Speaker, that is so true but during the election they recognize it and since the election they have forgotten it. Mr. Speaker, I would ask hon. members across the way, I know when they put this document together they meant what they said and they said what they meant. Obviously they had a plan for this Province, a plan that they wanted the people to take into account when they went to the polls.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me read what they said at the time that a PC government will do, "balance the budget over four years." Mr. Speaker, precisely what we are trying to do, `balance the budget.' They said, "Deficits designed to protect funding for essential services in the lean years will be offset with planned surpluses in the growth years." Mr. Speaker, let me list to you what they said about priorities, they "set priorities for program delivery and reduce spending on expendable and low-priority programs." Now let me just repeat that, they would set priorities for program delivery and reduce spending on expendable and low-priority programs. Mr. Speaker, obviously my question to the members opposite is, what particular programs of government do they believe are expendable? Which programs are expendable in the whole of government and which are low-priority programs? Mr. Speaker, I ask that because I think it is important. It is important for the people of the Province in trying to recognize and reconcile what it is that the government is trying to achieve through their budgetary process, what the Conservatives would have done if they had been the government of the day. This is their policy document and this is what they have said.

They said something else, they would "use tax policy to stimulate private sector job creation." We agree with that. They said, " that pay taxes, not depend on taxes." I should say that they italicized "depend on." Mr. Speaker, that really is all about cutting the level of the public sector in this Province, but it is written in imprecise words. I would ask the members opposite to take this opportunity in this particular debate to explain to the people of the Province which programs they thought were expendable. That is what they said, "expendable and low-priority programs."

They have also said, during this last campaign, that they would "eliminate the payroll tax." I'm sure that everybody would like to eliminate the payroll tax. We would. Given the appropriate fiscal position, given a time when this Province has enough money to pay for the kind of things we need to deliver through the social services particular departments, we would eliminate it as well. But they said they would do it, and I believe they would do it right away, so I ask the members opposite where they would find the funds to eliminate the payroll tax. Where would they find the funds? Or would they cut deeper? Would they cut other programs? Maybe they would go back to the other page, on page 11, where they said they would "reduce spending on expendable... programs."

I believe these things are all tied together. I believe that the Conservative Party has a responsibility. As the Official Opposition it has to do more than just oppose the government. It has a responsibility to offer public policy alternatives, different ways to pay for services for our people, and different ways to run the government as effectively as it can. It has two responsibilities. The first responsibility is as Her Majesty's Official Opposition, we appreciate that; but the other responsibility is to offer public policy alternatives.

I would like for members opposite to take some time and explain to us, tell us, what they meant when they said they would "set priorities... and reduce spending on expendable... programs." If there were programs that were expendable, obviously you should reduce spending on them. They are always standing up and waving the Red Book. I understand why members opposite wave the Red Book. Because if I had written this I certainly wouldn't be waving this. I would put it to the test at any day what we had said in the Red Book compared to what they had said in this document, called Newfoundland and Labrador: The Right Agenda... for the People.

Reflecting back on what I said when I opened this debate regarding these departments - Human Resources and Employment, Education, Justice, Health, Environment and Labour, very important departments, departments that define us as a people. We are trying to find as best we can ways of funding them to achieve the kind of aims and meet the expectations of the people we serve. How are we going to do that? At the same time, the Conservative Party stands and it has condemned pretty well every decision we have made in the budgetary process, in each of the budgets that I've sat here in the House. Never mind that it opposes what this government has done, it ought to take it upon itself to offer us a policy alternative as to what it would have done had it been given the opportunity to govern. That is what it is to be members of the Opposition. You have two responsibilities.

They had said they were going to balance the budget. While they were going to balance the budget they would have kept the parks. They would have kept everything that we had said we were going to deal with to fiscally position ourselves so we could afford to pay for the kinds of things we receive through the social services group of departments. They said they would get rid of the payroll tax. They want to be all things to all people, it seems to me.

They had presented all these views to the people of the Province in really an ambiguous manner. Because they have never taken their time to explain that which they decided to run upon in their campaign platform. I believe, and I think the members on this side, and I'm sure the members opposite, because I'm sure they would want the opportunity to tell people what they would do if they were faced with the challenge of governing this particular Province at this particular time.

During this time we are challenged as we had said at the beginning, right from the day we entered the campaign. We said the first two years would be difficult. But we know, through some of the great resource opportunities that are coming our way, that indeed this Province has a very bright future, but getting there to that future and being able to take advantage of the benefits of our resources, the benefits of things that are in our ground, our ocean, that grow on our land, is going to take some time.

But, Mr. Speaker, I want to go back again, a PC government will balance the budget over four years. Now, how would they have balanced it? Which programs would they have refined? How would they have raised more revenue? Those are all important questions that they have to ask themselves and give answers to the people of the Province. They recognize that Newfoundland has a small population and a large debt. They recognize that our tax rates, and I am reading verbatim, are among the highest in Canada and they say because of the Provinces precarious, they say, financial position it is important that the government be fiscally responsible.

Mr. Speaker, that is what this government is doing, they are being fiscally responsible, but at the same time we are listening to the needs of our people. As the Minister of Health has just done this weekend with her forum, to listen to front line workers, people who know the system in health best to get advice as to how to make sure that we are able to achieve the best that we can for our people in health care.

Mr. Speaker, that is all about consultation, I know that members opposite find consultation difficult. I know it is difficult to understand that concept of consultation, but it is one that this particular government and this party is tied to.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to say and I was glad that the Member for Baie Verte stood in his place and talked about some positive things -

MR. K. AYLWARD: Good speech.

MR. CANNING: - because I know him to be a good sound member and one who presents his views the best as he can -

MR. K. AYLWARD: Not as good as you though.

MR. CANNING: - and represents his riding in this House of Assembly. Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the Opposition that their job is not to appose success, their job is not to appose opportunity. Each time I sit here and listen to members opposite talking about Voisey's Bay, talking about the Transshipment terminal and the off shore, as if they were negative things, complaining as if these opportunities were not worthwhile rejoicing. Mr. Speaker, we are able now to begin taking advantage of those things that God gave us in this land.

Mr. Speaker, in my closing comments to open and move concurrence with the committee report, I just want to reiterate again. I want to challenge the Opposition, challenge the Leader of the Official Opposition to tell us what they meant in this book when they said they would set priorities for program delivery and reduce spending expendable and low priority programs. Mr. Speaker, this is on page 11, under the title `Fiscal Responsibility' in the document `The Right Agenda For The People.'

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am sure that members are anxious to stand on their feet and tell us which programs they felt were expendable, which programs are low on their priority list and how it is they are going to raise tax somewhere else so they can immediately reduce the payroll tax.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for this opportunity to open the debate on behalf of the member for Humber -

MR. TULK: Thank the House Leader that you got the chance to open this.

MR. CANNING: I want to express my appreciation, I want to put it in Hansard, put on the record that I appreciate the House Leader, as well. So, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the Member for Bonavista South, I think it is by agreement that the opener, that the fifteen minutes and then ten and ten. Is that the agreement?

MR. TULK: In the case we want to withdraw leave, yes it is fifteen and ten.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, the rule is thirty minutes, but I think -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Okay, fifteen for you.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am certainly not going to be looking for leave, I am just going to make a few comments and let the members on our side carry on a debate, those are the members that took part in this particular committee and asked questions and followed it through from the five headings that fall under the Social Services Committee.

Mr. Speaker, I would just like to make a comment on the Government House Leader to tell him I saw him on television tonight. I think it was him I saw hugging the former Member for St. John's West, it was Mrs. Payne. It looked like he was part of the celebrations back there in that other time in that other place in another election, Mr. Speaker, and what a change of events.

It seems like the other member, the Member for Bonavista - Trinity - Conception, is still unable to be found. Government members have stood in their places one by one today and talked about the member that the PC Party has been putting forward down in Labrador. I say to government members, at least he can be found, at least he is available.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who is that?

MR. FITZGERALD: The member who we are having down in Labrador. I suppose people know where to find him and they know where to contact him, which is a little bit different from what the people who are facing problems in the fishery were confronted with again today, I say to the Government House Leader. You wonder why those people are so upset and why they are so frustrated, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune talked about his district and the positive things that were happening down there. I commend him for that. I do have some positive things happening in my district. I've got some money being spent through the infrastructure program. There is a fair amount of money being spent on the Ryan premises. There is a paving project on the go down there, there is some money on the go to clean up an infested pond right in the middle of the town. All money well spent, money needed, and it has to be positive when you see positive things done to resolve a problem and to respond to a need.

I know many parts of the member's district, and it isn't unlike my district, I say to the member. In fact, I worked down in Harbour Breton for two winters and I worked out in Gaultois for four winters, I say to the member. In fact, I know everybody in Gaultois. I can call everybody in Gaultois up until at least 1985 by their first name because I spent a fair amount of time there, and it being an isolated community, you get to know everybody fairly fast. Especially, when you work and what you do there is related to the fishery. Because everybody in Gaultois, except for the chap who used to come over there involved with the rural development association, was involved with the fish plant. They were either fishermen or fish plant workers. There were a couple of ladies there who used to work in the store, and there were another couple of ladies who used to look after the staff house. But it was all related to the fishery. I know exactly what is happening in at least those two communities. As the fishery goes, those two particular communities will go.

I know that Harbour Breton has been fortunate enough to have been included in the F.P.I plans of operations on a rotating basis. At least their skills and their workforces have been maintained, and there have been some positive things happening with the hope that the fishery will return. Especially the redfish industry, or as they know it down there, the (inaudible) industry, and it will create some employment. He should certainly take some pride in that, because I haven't been fortunate enough to have had the main fish plant in my district to be able to experience such hope. F.P.I. hasn't been so fair, I suppose, to that particular plant.

It makes me wonder sometimes if we should allow processors to move in and operate plants and build up hope. I know that they have been responsible, but the profits have been naturally spent and taken other places, and to leave the community and the workforce high and dry. I somehow think, and I suppose because I'm not a business person, that they should owe the community a much stronger, long-term commitment than that, and at least include them in the rotating basis and make them part of the whole operation. Or else, I say to the members opposite, come out and say: There is no place for this particular fish plant in our operations any more. We don't intend to operate it, we don't intend to keep it any more. Look for something else to go there, or else to pursue another industry. That hasn't been done, I say to the member.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture spoke and he talked about some of the things that were happening in the fishery and some of the things that I read into the record from a letter that was sent to me. He said this was wrong and something else was wrong. I agree that the contents of that letter certainly weren't the salvation for the fishing industry.

There were some good points and they came from a very knowledgeable source, a fisherman himself who made a long-term commitment and had a long-term commitment in the industry but, Mr. Speaker, until we address the problem with the sealing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, our cod fishery and the Northern cod fishery on the Northeast Coast especially will never ever provide any more, even close to the economic opportunities that we once enjoyed. That is something that I know the minister has been working on but it seems very difficult to get his federal cousins up in Ottawa to listen.

It is something that needs to be addressed and when you see and you hear, and they tell me in excess of seven or eight million adult seals in this particular herd and we are only culling, Mr. Speaker, something like one-quarter of a million seals per year, we are not even coming close to controlling that herd, and we all know what the seal population eat and it is obvious why the Northern cod especially has disappeared to the extent that it has, and why it is not making a come back I suppose as fast or as quickly or as speedily as we all had hoped. So that is something that needs to be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, health care, health is one topic under this particular heading and the new minister does not want to admit that there is a crisis in health care. She may think that that is too strong a word but when you see hospitals around this Province, when you see the Bonavista Hospital, Mr. Speaker, being without a doctor for two and three days a week then we do have a problem with health care, a big problem, whether it is a crisis or not, I suppose it remains open to interpretation, but it is certainly a crisis when somebody is sick and has to drive, Mr. Speaker, hundreds of miles sometimes to see a doctor because there is no particular doctor in the hospital in that town.

At one time, in fact, just a couple of short years ago, probably less than two years, there were five doctors operating out of the hospital in Bonavista, that was their home base if you would, that was their office. There were two doctors in Catalina, one doctor in King's Cove and another doctor in the District of Trinity North. Today, Mr. Speaker, there is no doctor in King's Cove, there is no doctor in Trinity, there is one doctor in Catalina and Port Union and there are two resident doctors at the hospital in Bonavista.

When somebody takes a holiday or go out of town for something, Mr. Speaker, there is one doctor and if that particular doctor has to be off for any particular reason, then the whole hospital, for all intents and purposes, is shut down. There is no doctor-patient relationship there. There are some locums who are brought out for a couple of days a week; there always is or usually a different person; there is not doctor-patient relationship and as I said, for two or three days a week, there is no doctor there at all.

Social Services, if there is one plea that I would make to the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, is for her to forgive, to be human, number one. Yes, that is the biggest one, to be human, to have a heart but there is one thing, Mr. Speaker, that I would like her to look at immediately and which was not done by the former minister. In fact, the former Minister probably made them tighten up on the rules and regulations and made them stricter and that is: whereby if people were fortunate enough to have had a job and paid income tax and have a tax refund, for God's sake, let them be allowed to keep it and pay for bills or buy clothes or buy food or whatever they use it for in a responsible way without clawing back that particular fifty-dollar bill or $200-bill, Mr. Speaker.

We all know that the people, the unfortunate out there today are not getting enough money to live on and to survive, and for many people, this was an opportunity for them to buy a pair of shoes for their son or daughter or to pay a bill, but Mr. Speaker, the former Department of Social Services very uncaringly, I would call it, reached out and clawed back this particular money and it was almost the situation to say, you are getting enough to survive, as long as you don't starve, we are not going to give you anything extra.

So, if there is one particular thing I would say to the minister is to open up her heart and allow those people, the unfortunate in our society today, the people who are struggling to survive to allow them, if they were fortunate enough to have had a job and pay them a few dollars income tax Mr. Speaker, to allow them to keep it because after all it was money that was paid by them when they were fortunate enough to have a few weeks work and just because they have fallen on bad times does not mean to say that we should make it any harder on them and reach out and take those few paltry dollars back because in the end, Mr. Speaker, I do not know what it means to balancing the budget, but I would suggest that it is not a big amount of money.

I am not the only person who is getting phone calls on this particular topic, I am sure the government members are as well. Sure there are positive things happening and government members are trying. I think it is our duty here, as the Official Opposition, to point out the short comings or to point out the things that we hear. We do not have the privilege like the Member for Labrador West who has the ear of the minister or to have input into some of the decisions that government is going to make. Mr. Speaker, we do not have that here and if you hear us getting up in the House of Assembly every day and being negative, that is to be expected because this is the place, the only place where we get to voice the opinions of our constituents. I do not think what we hear is any different from what members opposite hear, it is just, I guess they use a different forum to do it. They obviously must be speaking out and representing their constituents or they would not get re-elected just by wearing a shade of red or whatever, but it is just done in a different way. We use this forum, I suppose, to voice our opinion when most people are listening and we will continue to do that despite the things that are said from people opposite, Mr. Speaker.

Education is another topic and here again is a situation, it is too bad that the minister is not here. It is sad when you see some of these topics come up for discussion and it is three hours, it is a chance to have concurrence debate back and forth and to talk about some of the concerns and to voice your opinions of what you heard.

The minister does not even show up to play a part or to respond or to answer questions on what is brought forward, but Mr. Speaker, what is happening out in rural Newfoundland, not only rural Newfoundland, right across this Province today in education is certainly regretful. It is regretful by the fact that the government allowed this education reform to take place, there was a referendum held that cost the tax payers of this Province in excess of $2 million and we do not seem to be any further ahead now then we were back them as far as settling this particular issue.

We are seeing community against community, we are seeing pitted school against school and the minister shrugs of the responsibility and puts it right back on the volunteers in this Province which are the school boards and those are not the people who should be taking the blame since it came from the ministers desk and he should be the person who speaks out and justifies the decisions that he has put forward because it is his decision. It is his governments decisions, it is the decision of the Cabinet and of this particular administration and it is wrong to put those concerns or those fears and allow the frustrations to be echoed back to the school board members.

I do not know how we are going to get volunteers to come and offer themselves for school boards. I do not know how we are going to get volunteers to come and offer themselves for town councils if we do not start listening to those particular organizations and associations because there is no joy any more in coming out and running for a council in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. All you become is a tax collector and it appears now that all you have become, as a school board member - and I would suggest that the hospital boards may find themselves in the same situation - is carrying the bad news that government has put forward onto the people that it has affected and that is wrong. If we don't try to treat our volunteers, the people that have the know how and the people that know the health care and know the education needs and know the problems with municipalities, Mr. Speaker, if we don't start treating them a little bit differently and give them a little bit of encouragement to carry on and become part of the bigger picture, to be able to do some good and to do some positive things in their area then they are certainly not going to come out and offer themselves.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will sit and ask some of the other committee members, who were part of this particular committee, to respond. I will rise and take part in debate again.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Topsail.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

It certainly is an honour and -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WISEMAN: It certainly is an honour and a pleasure to rise in my place today and speak to Concurrence Debate. As my colleague had said earlier, it is the most important departments of government; Human Resources and Employment, Education, Health, Environment and Labour and Justice. Now, Mr. Speaker, what a combination of departments to really and truly represent the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, when you come in here to represent people you try, to the best of your ability, to do what is in their best interest and it is always difficult to arrive at a decision that is going to affect the lives of people. This government, Mr. Speaker, has had to make some very, very difficult decisions but nevertheless, they had the ability and the will to do so. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that the people of this Province last year decided that they would put in a Liberal government. They were more equipped to do the job that was needed to be done. When you look around and look at the experience and the ministers that we have on this side of the House and the diligence and determination of our Premier, Premier Tobin, we know that we are on the right track. We know that the people of this Province made the right decision. They looked at the policies put forth by the Liberal Party and they looked at the policies put forth by the PC Party and they voted Liberal. Mr. Speaker, they made the right decision.

I can imagine how they felt, Mr. Speaker, when they looked at the spending policies of the PC Party. They are going to set priorities for program delivery, Mr. Speaker. They were going to reduce spending on expendable and low-priority programs. Now, Mr. Speaker, they have been here now for about a year-and-a-half and not once have they explained to the House how they were going to reduce spending on expendable and low-priority programs. Mr. Speaker, what programs are they talking about? Are they talking about getting rid of those parks that are non-productive, those tent parks that we, as a government, decide to privatize? The Opposition, Mr. Speaker, wants to keep them open. They want the people of this Province to subsidize tent camping to the tune of $1.8 million, Mr. Speaker, the Province is losing on subsidized tent camping.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am wondering: was this one of the programs that the Opposition Party was going to eliminate, that they were going to take away? Was this a reduced spending on expendable low priority programs, or are they going to eliminate, Mr. Speaker, out patients in one of the hospitals because it was a low priority program? They have not yet come forward to say what programs they would cut. It is fine to sit there on the other side of the House and say: We are going to do this and we are going to do that but, Mr. Speaker, they have no money unless they are going to print the money to take care of all the programs.

They want the government to keep in place all the same programs that were in place for years, not cut one program and now, Mr. Speaker, they talk about some mistakes that were made by the previous government, you never hear them talk about the Roads for Rails deal; they never talk about that, Mr. Speaker. Every five years we lose $400 million and I will explain to the Leader of the Opposition how that happened.

MR. SULLIVAN: Tell us.

MR. WISEMAN: I would tell you, Mr. Speaker. We signed a fifteen-year contract with the federal government for $800 million, the railway was generating $80 million a year, so in ten years we would have generated $800 million, that is not hard to figure out. Over fifteen years it would have lost some $400 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) inflation cost.

MR. WISEMAN: I don't want to put on the inflation, Mr. Speaker, because they will really be confused then.

Mr. Speaker, how lucky we were that we came in here in 1989. We had $550 million in interest and as the House Leader said: They spent like drunken sailors. I don't know but they were drunk and unconscious at the same time, Mr. Speaker, to spend that much money. Can you imagine $550 million in interest, $12,000 a minute and suddenly, in 1996, they are going to set priorities; they should have set priorities, Mr. Speaker, in the 1980s. That is when they should have set priorities, Mr. Speaker.

I hear them over there talking about the unemployment rate. Mr. Speaker, in 1985, we had a 24 per cent unemployment rate, and who was the government of the day? The Tories were, Mr. Speaker, the Tories were, in 1985. Can you imagine, twelve years ago we had 24 per cent unemployed in this Province and the Leader of the Opposition does not know anything about that; he was probably teaching or fishing or whatever he was doing but he did not know anything about the 24 per cent unemployment in the Province. Do you agree with 24 per cent unemployed in the Province? We are using the same statistics today that were used in 1985; the only difference is, Mr. Speaker, that in 1992, the fishery collapsed in this Province and the fishery, Mr. Speaker, was its mainstay. It was what kept this Province together.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. WISEMAN: Now, are you saying that the fishermen are not counted? The Leader of the Opposition is over there saying that the fisherpeople are not counted. I am talking about the collapse of the fishery in 1992 and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, is over there saying: they do not count. Can you imagine the Leader of the Opposition saying that they do not count. Hundreds of millions of dollars was generated by the fishery in this Province and they turned around, Mr. Speaker, they put together the long-distance fleet, they put fish plants in every community and where were they going to get the fish? They were going to bring it in and ship it out. Then they told the people in 1985 that everything is perfect, there is nothing wrong. No, there is nothing wrong, Mr. Speaker, only 24 per cent unemployed and not a word was said.

Today I think it is twenty per cent and we have a tremendous amount of people who are not working, Mr. Speaker, not working because of the collapse of the fishery. I remember travelling across the country in 1992, I remember being with a former minister, when we talked about the devastation that the collapse of the fishery was going to have on this Province, but Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are survivors and we are going to make it, but if you listen to the Opposition everything is doom and gloom. As the Premier says: `They haul that dark cloud in over them every time there is a positive announcement, they pick up a dark cloud, they want to hide behind the dark cloud'. But Mr. Speaker, the majority of people in this Province understand the difficulties that we are facing and day in and day out they try to make it. I said before Mr. Speaker: `We are going to get there, it is not going to be easy, it is going to take a lot of hard work, a lot of planning and a lot of cooperation in order for us to be more positive about where we are going'.

Mr. Speaker, the Opposition, I believe has an obligation to, as members of this House, to give the people of this Province hope because without any hope all of us will be lost, but there are a lot of good things out there that are happening. The Hon. the Minister of Fisheries, while he tries to attract business to this Province, the great announcement that he has made for Baie Verte, the secondary processing, the aquaculture, all of these things Mr. Speaker, are positive and productive for this Province.

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Member for Topsail will get plenty of time before tonight is out to speak. He is out making acquisitions on sailors, calling them drunken sailors, trying to impact on them. What is wrong with sailors, I say to the Member for Topsail? Nothing wrong with them at all and statistics on unemployed and employed people in the Province. In 1989, I say to the Member for Topsail, there were 205,000 people working in this Province, 15,000 to 18,000 more than had been working over the last few years. That is what happened to the jobs in this Province.

Now we are in the midst of a federal campaign and you remember 1993 talked about jobs, jobs and jobs. The Premier talked about a better tomorrow and all the jobs that it is going to be creating. We are losing jobs, the unemployment rate has gone up. It is worse them it was, in fact, it is considerable worse then it was in 1989 and then they got elected on a campaign, Pearson Airport, here we had a Pearson Airport deal, we talked about it could cost a billion dollars, the tax payers of Canada and they talked about patronage, there was more Liberals involved in the ownership of that then PC's.

They tried to sell it as a deal during 1993 and the cost to Canadian tax payers. We all know the GST, the impact that has, scrap that. One of the big commitment has not been fulfilled, six per cent of the Canadian population bought into it, ninety-four did not. Where is that gone? Helicopter deals going to be scrapped and now they had to turn around and buy others and we are looking at today in our Province and here in the social service area we are dealing with health care. We have seen health care in the last two years cut under Canada Health and Social Transfer from $427 million which came into this Province two years ago under the Canada Health and Social Transfers. Today $272 million, $155 million less in this year's Budget than there were two years ago. The plan that the Premier delivered when he was federal minister, the plan he gave us, was to cut that $66 million more in the next three years.

When in the middle of an election they announced, because all other parties were going to reinvest in the health care, they said: We won't take the $66 million we were going to take the next three years. They said: We will freeze it at this level. There is not one new cent of dollars under the Canada Health and Social Transfer next year over what is received this year. The part of the plan is to freeze the Canada Health and Social Transfer at $12.5 billion, to freeze it at that level. When other parties even realized the importance of a decimated health care system in the country, a decimated health care system in the Province.

The Premier took some emergency action to try to blame it on the former minister. The former minister may have contributed, who knows? It is a Cabinet which approved the funding that didn't provide the dollars to do the things that need to be done. All that is being paid is lip service. I guess the Premier in the middle of a debate, in the middle of a scrum, said a health care forum. He said the nurses' union suggested a health care forum. The president of the nurses' union said: We didn't suggest a health care forum, that isn't what we said at all. They contradicted the Premier. In other words, they said the Premier basically did not tell the truth. That is basically what the president of the nurses' union said.

He said: We suggested a permanent committee, a standing advisory committee of front-line health care workers so we can advise the government on a continuous basis about concerns in health care in the Province. That is what the president of the nurses' union of Newfoundland and Labrador indicated, not what the Premier indicated. The Premier indicated something completely contrary to what the president of the nurses' union said.

After this weekend the Minister of Health could not stand in her place today and tell us one concern in health care that came up this weekend that she didn't know about before. She couldn't stand and tell us one concern. There wasn't a concern.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I am. You said you couldn't hear yourself the other day. I said that you aren't missing much. At least I'm hearing myself. I mightn't be missing much, but at least I'm hearing myself.

The Minister of Health could not stand and tell us one problem that was brought to her attention the weekend that she didn't know about before. That to me tells us that government has known all along what the concerns are in health care but it hasn't been prepared to do something about it. It said: We will get rid of the minister to give a perception now that we are going to improve things. That isn't going to fix the problems. The former minister knows full well that that isn't going to fix the problem. If that could fix the problem, he probably would have volunteered to resign, I'm sure he is so concerned with the problems in the Province. He is well aware of them, and so are the rest of the Cabinet, that it isn't going to solve the problem.

(Inaudible) a commitment by Cabinet to realize, number one, there is a crisis. Now the whole health care system is not in crisis, but there are sectors of it in crisis. When you are dying on waiting lists for heart surgery, it is a crisis. When you have the second largest city in this Province can't get somebody to serve in emergency, and you can't deal with them, that is a crisis in my mind. When you have 2,200 people show up at a meeting because there is no doctor to serve in an emergency department, that to me is a crisis. A crisis where a person from the Baie Verte Peninsula with appendicitis was kept overnight writhing in pain because there is no doctor, and they had to take a doctor I think out of his office the next day to do the surgery, to me that is a crisis.

That is a crisis to the families and the people who are affected by it. Anybody who says any different is wrong. That is right, I will say they aren't telling the truth if anybody says any different. Because there are -

MR. CANNING: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West on a point of order.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, as a point of information, on page 10 of their document in the last election they said of health that: "Making appropriate changes will require input from all of the stakeholders in the system." That is exactly what the Minister of Health did this weekend, got information from the stakeholder in the system.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) point of order!

MR. CANNING: My point of order is a point of clarification. Would the Leader of the Opposition explain to me what they meant on page 10 of their document about getting information from the stakeholders in the system?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The hon. member took advantage of the opportunity to elaborate further on the point under debate.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm glad the Member for Labrador West read that statement. He said all the stakeholder will be consulted. What about dietitians, what about pharmacists, what about rural doctors, what about ambulance operators? You didn't even consult. So you are admitting you didn't live up to the consultation. Where have you been for the last fourteen months? Waiting fourteen months. Forced into admitting in the middle of a scrum that we are going to have an open forum, all the stakeholder?

There are people crying out. The interns, young people studying to be doctors in the Province. Young Trevor Stone, I heard him, didn't get invited. They had to make it public to get an invitation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

AN HON. MEMBER: He was there! You don't know what you're talking (inaudible)!

MR. SULLIVAN: I said! The minister doesn't listen well either. I said he had to go public to get an invitation, I said to the minister.

MR. CANNING: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is what he indicated. He had to go public.

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

The hon. the Member for Labrador West on a point of order.

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say, I watched the news tonight. I saw leaders of the unions of this Province say how informative and appropriate this Health Forum was. I would just revert to the comments on page 10 of their own document about making changes but appropriate changes with input from stakeholders. That is exactly what the Minister of Health did, will make appropriate changes after having discussions with stakeholders, much the same as he said in his own document.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order. Hon. members can engage in the debate. We have an agreement -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We have an agreement that hon. members can speak for ten minutes. I believe that the understanding is that members can speak more than once, provided there is an intervening speaker. This will afford opportunities for all members of the House to engage in the debate.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Sure, it may be an informative forum. Who doubts whether it is an informative forum, I'm sure. Any time you can get people dealing with health care and discussing it, all the more power to them. But it isn't an informative forum we want. We want results in health care, results that the current minister who was a member of Cabinet would not agree with. A different statement than she gave just a year ago, I would say. A little over a year ago she had a different tune, I can assure you, when she represented the nurses' union of Newfoundland and Labrador. You only need to go back and look at those statements, I say to the minister. Go back and look at what you said then and you will find out it is a different tune you are singing now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Tremendous. I wish we could say the same - minister, I wish you could say the same, that she was a great minister. He said she is a great union leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: So was the Minister of Education, I say. He was a tremendous union leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: He was so great he wept on the steps of Confederation Building because Brian Peckford was sticking it to teachers in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.


MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me pleasure to rise in the debate on an area of government policy which affects us all. It is an area, of course, that the hon. Leader of the Opposition, who being indisposed, of course, was unable to attend the meeting we had in Port aux Basques a while ago. I do acknowledge the fact that two of his colleagues from the Opposition caucus were able to attend.

Just outside of that now, let's go to the most recent course of events that have happened here in the Province. This past weekend I had the distinct privilege of, on behalf of the caucus of the government, to attend the Health Care Forum to which he referred a little earlier, the Health Care Forum which brought together people from all walks of life in the medical system. It brought consumers. It brought -

AN HON. MEMBER: No pharmacists.

MR. RAMSAY: There was so from the pharmacists there, to the hon. member. The president of the Newfoundland pharmaceutical association was in attendance, who is a pharmacist, who has practised as a pharmacist. The doctors who were there are doctors who have practised in a rural setting, doctors who practised in a city setting, doctors who practised in operating theatres, and doctors who have practised at the administrative levels. There were nurses there who have practised in operating rooms, nurses who have practised in rural communities.

Mr. Speaker, the people who were attending that Forum - we had heart patients at the Forum. The Port aux Basques issue was discussed very thoroughly. The thing is, the difficulty that is occurring now in Port aux Basques - some of the people in the Port aux Basques area refer to it as a crisis. Some people in the area do refer to it as that. I know it is an anomaly right now because in general throughout the whole Province that situation does not exist. A key amount of time was spent discussing the problem of recruiting and retention of rural physicians, maintaining.

There are a number of things that can be done. The discussion went very detailed into the kind of model that you want to have in a rural community that will allow the physician to practice and have a good lifestyle in a community, to allow the nursing support services that are necessary for rural communities, not just Port aux Basques, but throughout the rest of the Province.

Do you know what it comes back to? It is an element of our health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador that has been very well developed, probably beyond any other place on the globe. That is, looking to the International Grenfell Association for a model which it had developed long ago, and a model that will continue to work very well into the future, and a model that can be copied, and a model that can be developed even better throughout this Province. That would be the model of using nurse practitioners to the ultimate end that they are trained.

The nurse practitioner of course, by himself or herself, is not an answer to our problem. But the nurse practitioner can be a very good addition to the community health care model, and can assist us in making sure that we offer quality health services to people in a given area, and keep the doctors interested in staying out in rural Newfoundland. It is a higher quality model. It can be a lower cost model. These are the things that were discussed.

The other thing I might add that was discussed at length is the perceived crisis that the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Opposition have perpetrated upon the people of the Province. A lot of the participants were very clear on the fact that in this Province ninety-nine out of 100 medical things go right, and about one out of every 100 goes wrong. For every person who enters the health care system to use it either through their family doctor, through the emergency room -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: 99 per cent good is not good enough for the Leader of the Opposition. Maybe in some cases it isn't good enough for any of us. We always have to strive to kill that 1 per cent that is not working well. Will the Leader of the Opposition admit that the health care system is 99 per cent healthy and 1 per cent in crisis?

MR. SULLIVAN: Zero zero one per cent, will you admit?

MR. RAMSAY: No, I said is that what you would say. Would you admit that? It is only 1 per cent in crisis. I think we got him to agree that it is only - because the health care providers at this Forum said ninety-nine out of 100 things are done right, one thing is done wrong. So we are 99 per cent healthy and 1 per cent in crisis. We can accept 1 per cent in crisis. We have accepted the fact that there are areas of the Province where health care is in crisis. I shouldn't even say areas of the Province, but parts of the system need help, parts of the system need addressing. The minister has agreed that she is going to address those parts of the system. The Cabinet I'm sure will deliberate.

I only wish maybe if the hon. Leader of the Opposition was over here - I don't know if that is a bad wish, because -


MR. RAMSAY: But if only the hon. Leader of the Opposition was a member of the government, maybe he too would have an opportunity to participate. But maybe we don't want him!


MR. RAMSAY: I have disturbed my colleagues on the government side by even suggesting such a thing, because of all of the positive that is going on over here. The 99 per cent positive health care system that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition has agreed to, 99 per cent positive.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) he said Port aux Basques.

MR. RAMSAY: Well, it is a difficulty that we faced. But we go out to the people in our communities, like you say: `Dance with the one that brung you,' as was said by the hon. member opposite.

I led the parade with a placard, I say to the hon. member opposite. My children use the Charles LeGrow Health Centre in Port aux Basques the same as all of the residents of my own home community. I am no different from anyone else out there, and their concern is my concern. And for the hon. the Leader of the Opposition and members of the Opposition to suggest otherwise is a total fallacy, as is the fallacy of the total health care system being in crisis. So now that we have finally gotten the Leader of the Opposition to believe and to understand that we are 99 per cent there, and that one out of 100 things - that one out of the 100 problems in the health care system is something that you have to take note of, to amplify it beyond that, is doing us as a government, in trying to fix the problem, and the people of the Province, a total disservice because people then start to worry when they need not worry.

There are worries, people have some concerns, but they need to be addressed. This minister is doing what she can to assist in addressing the situation with the Southwest Coast. They dispatched extra doctors to the area, we are working at coming up with solutions, Mr. Speaker, solutions to the problem in the immediate term, in the medium term and in the long term; and these are the things that we will continue to do, that I will do as a member for the people in the area.

The minister is doing an extremely good job - and I might add, and I need not even tell the hon. members here, the previous Minister of Health, the hon. the Member for St. John's North, did an admirable job. He came out and met with the council and he sat down and explained the recruiting efforts that were ongoing. This was an important aspect of it and, Mr. Speaker, it is very, very important that the people out there know that the hon. member did an extremely good job in the Department of Health, guiding it through a time when it was very difficult to do so and he deserves the recognition of all of those who have dealt with him in the past and that they know he did a very competent job in that department.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the other point that I want to make - and it was referred to in the social area: the hon. Roger Simmons, the hon. the Member for Burin - St. George's, that gentleman has done an excellent job as the MP for Burin - St. George's. The gentleman has provided funding for many, many things for the community. He has assisted us in getting funding for the arena recently, through the Federal and Provincial Governments combined, in excess of $1 million of funding going into the arena.


MR. RAMSAY: The hon. Roger Simmons, the MP for Burin - St. George's. And to suggest otherwise, to suggest that the member and I are at odds is totally ludicrous.

I might add that there are a couple of tourism-related projects - of course, they are not on the social side, but in speaking about financial matters we can wander off - and say that these are providing employment in the area. We have the Railway Heritage project in Port aux Basques, and the Rose Blanche Lighthouse restoration project, one that I have championed myself in doing some of the research, has identified the family of Robert Louis Stevenson having designed the original lighthouse in Rose Blanche, and this is something that ties together elements on the literary side with the tourism side and the marine side.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. RAMSAY: Looking at that, Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I tell the member: he said 99 per cent of the health care system is not in crisis, 1 per cent is in crisis; basically, that is what he said, 1 per cent. How many operations do you have a year? Tens of thousands of operations a year, so if for every 10,000, there are 100 people where a mistake is made and they die in surgery - there is far more than that, it would be 1,000 people in this Province who could die in surgery if 1 per cent of things go wrong. And I would say: yes, it is in crisis, certain parts of our system - not all of it, some of it is working fine; but when you cannot get a doctor to keep an emergency department open in the second largest city in the Province - not in a remote rural area - the system is in crisis. When people die while on a waiting list for heart surgery - and I raised this three, almost four years ago; there were 110 people on the list when I raised the matter in August of 1993, today there are over 200. Several people have died while waiting for cardiac surgery - several people. I heard a lady from St. Lawrence on - she talked about her family at Port au Port; just a couple of cases come to mind quickly, who have died while waiting for heart surgery. I know dozens and dozens of others. There are about twenty in hospital now. People have called me, who were fifty-five days waiting, they have been prepped and ready for surgery six times and it was cancelled. Their families were stressed over it, they could not get any results, and they called us to complain about what they were going through.

When you have someone clinging on to life, a forty-five-year-old, a fifty-year-old, waiting, when the doctor told them it would be a three-month wait for the surgery to be done and six months later it is not done, that, to me, puts undue stress and strain on people. It is life-threatening, it is serious, it is a crisis, and if anyone does not want to call it that, they are dreaming.

Now, there are good things happening in health care, I say to the Member for Burgeo & LaPoile, who talked about a concept like in Grenfell; I am very much aware, there is, in my district, a pilot project going ahead. They are looking at the community health centres, CLSCs like they have in Quebec. I am quite familiar with how they work and operate, and I am sure the minister is, too.

We have looked at avenues in the past - I had an opportunity to be associated with a primary health care project, a nursing model, and I am a strong believer in utilizing nurse practitioners in the field, and so on, to alleviate the problem.

There are good things happening in health care, sure there are, but the situation in health care in this Province now, in certain aspects, is worse than it ever was - worse than it ever was since I was born. And I lived in an area, a one-hour drive from St. John's, that never was without a physician, long before I was born. A year ago, it was without a physician. People could not get to a physician.

It is happening in Labrador. People have to fly in here, and pay the cost of flying - here or on the West Coast - to get a mammogram; eleven months, one lady called in February and her doctor told her she cannot get one before next January. I mean, the situation in the Province is serious, very serious. We have an increasing and aging population. Changing lifestyles are bringing on extra risk potential, more than years ago. With a lot of the young people gone out of the Province, a higher percentage of our population today are seniors, and when you look at the percentage of doctors to serve people in the Province you have to look at the total demographics, you have to look at the age group of the people and so on who need that assistance, not taking a general sampling of the population.

There are numerous areas of concern out there today, people are aware of them, and I am very surprised that the minister is not aware of them, if she heard anything on the weekend. If she did not know before about our health care system, I would be very, very surprised.

So, discussion is good. I made a comment last Friday to the media. I said: To have a forum where people can get together and polarize concerns, is fine, there is nothing wrong with it. If it is going to put more pressure on government to do something, sobeit. But what we want in health care today is not more discussion, we want more action. We want more response, and I cannot wait for the minister's announcement that will tell us how they are going to address it, because it is important that we do it now. There is $10 million that we can use out of the contingency reserve fund without borrowing. Ten million can be used without incurring borrowing, and I am asking: What is more important today than health care, when 2000 people show up in the LaPoile District, in Port aux Basque, and there is only one doctor available in an area of 12,000 people?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Three doctors - they indicated one available at the hospital.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: There are three now?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Three, but there was one. Yes it went down to one, at one time, and that is unacceptable.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I hope it is back to where it was. I think you had nine or so at one time and hopefully it will get there. I certainly hope it will for the benefit of the people. But if the people did not cry out - we have been saying all along there is a problem. I am delighted that a few weeks ago the medical association spoke out, the nurses' union, other stakeholders, doctors working there spoke out, they shut down Port Saunders and they started to get the attention of government. Now people started to - government at least gave the perception of listening, there was a forum held on the weekend - I certainly hope that will get results. So, if you need to be told, you are being told often enough. What these people are waiting for now, and they are cautiously optimistic - I heard some of the comments. And it is important, you are not going into a forum negatively and saying: oh, it does not mean anything, it is positive to have discussion. I have always indicated that it is positive to have discussion, but we want more than discussion, we want some results.

We need a strategy, and I say to the minister, you are well aware that in cardiac surgery, for example, what they have been looking for, I am sure Dr. Stone and many others can indicate, is, a separate unit dedicated to cardiac care whereby you can have your operating room and ICU that is dedicated, not having to put it aside. One week last month, three people had bypass operations when normally they were doing up to ten; they averaged nine last year. We need a separate unit because when other emergencies come in, the heart patients waiting for bypasses are pushed aside and you have to deal with pressing emergencies. That is important, you have to deal with them when they arise, so you need a separate unit and a separate team that you have in there, and what is happening, I say to the minister, is that there are inefficiencies in the system.

Three people there in one week last month were done, and what happened? They called in the staff, they were all working, there was no one having bypasses done on certain days so, as the workers were still there, they re-assigned them to other areas, then when the weekend came, they all had to be called back in to work, on overtime; inefficiencies because there was not a regular surgery each day. That is what is happening in the system and I am sure the minister knows that. I know what is happening in the system. I have talked to people in the system.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right. We have talked to people in the system - we know what is happening. Everybody has friends and family either working in the system or they have people as patients in the hospitals and you hear those things. It is important not to turn a deaf ear to what is happening out there; admit it; it took months for this government to admit that there is a concern. Oh we are a little pressed there, a bit of stress on front-line workers; we have some serious problems, pockets of problems, they kept admitting it inch by inch that there is a problem instead of getting up and saying: We have a major problem, we cannot let it go any longer, let us sit down and figure out how to get a solution to the problems. And there are solutions. People state here in the House that we do not offer solutions - I did.

I said to the Minister of Health here in this House, over a year ago, that you spend $5.50 a day for locums, you are paying transportation costs for one part of the Province to go to Marystown, transportation costs, food in their refrigerators, accommodations, $5.50 a day, and you will not give salaried-doctors enough increase so we can have enough to spread. A few months ago, the former minister said there is enough money in the system now to increase the salaries because we are using too much in locums and it is counter-productive because there are travel and other costs with that.

I said that over a year ago in this House and I am glad that he finally decided to do something about it. I said, more than two years ago, with regard to heart surgery, that we all know how to fix the problem. Everybody knows how to fix the problem; I said it is money-related and there has to be extra operating space for cardiac patients; there has to be extra ICU beds. They have cancelled heart surgery this year and last year because there were no ICU beds, not because there were no physicians or no people to work there, the team was ready but there were no ICU beds for when the operation occurs. That is why they cancelled it. They cancelled in other areas - an anaesthetist was not available, they could not get an anaesthetist and had to cancel it, and they had to cancel it for numerous other reasons. These are some of the reasons why cancellations have occurred.

These are simple problems, a simple process: expend capital dollars to have an increased, dedicated space, which they have been crying out for and government has not been listening. Now, what are we going to do? What are they going to announce now? They are probably going to announce now that because we have not moved in the past three years to rectify the problem, we dug the hole so deep, we cannot get the space in place fast enough, so we are going to put patients on an airplane now and ship them off to some other part of the country and we are going to export health care jobs out of this Province to other parts of the country. An exportation of health care jobs when, if they had the foresight, or had the commitment, I should say - I think they had the foresight but did not have the commitment to do it to solve the problem.

The former minister said here, in response to the media: We will fix the problem but it will take two years, when we build on to the Health Sciences Centre. I have not seen a sod turned yet. Hopefully, it is going to happen this summer and we are going to build an extra space. And they are going to borrow –

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave to finish up?


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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What the Health Care Corporation is going to do, they said -

MR. WISEMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Here is what they said they are going to do, I say to the Member for Topsail. They said they are going to borrow the money - that is right, borrow the money, to accommodate this extra cardiac care. They are going to borrow it when they borrow the $100 million to build on to the Health Sciences Centre. They have what, up to a $7 million operating deficit now already? So government is not going to do the borrowing anymore, it is the Corporation that is going to borrow, and we are going to run up debts in the Corporation.

We saw what happened with school boards - they had to put a chunk of money, what was it? $25 million, I think, to pay off school board debt, and now they are running up Health Care Corporation debt. They are going to borrow that when they build on this extension, and then we are going to have it ready, and the minister said two years. Since that I have seen some indication of some backtracking that it might be within several months, six months or so, but two years, the former minister stated, before we can solve the problem.

Now, two years is too long. I said today, and it was carried in the media, that I would reluctantly agree to sending people out of the Province if there is no other avenue feasible whatsoever in order to get the heart surgeries done. It is exporting jobs for doctors, for nurses, for support staff, every surgery that is done, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars when you look at the numbers involved, going out of this Province, exportation of dollars out of this Province for health care, when the expansion should be done internally to accommodate this specific area now.

There are empty rooms in hospitals here, there are empty spaces there. They have shut down large sections of hospitals here, and we have not moved in fast enough with doing the restructuring. The reason they have not moved is because the commitment is not there, the dollars are not being utilized to do that, and I have concerns.

That is the real reason. There are people out in the industry - I am optimistic this year that something will start. I hear that some start will be made this year. The plans are getting under way and they are pretty well ready. They are supposed to turn the sod sometime this summer, I think. I am sure the minister would have the specifics on that. But we have waited around. We had an announcement two years ago. We have had announcements but nothing has happened. I have concerns as to whether they are going to be able to solve the problem - when you have coming to the emergency department and outpatients 60,000-some-odd people, and you are going to compress them into a smaller place, you will find that there are going to be longer waiting lists in emergency departments, you are going to have longer waiting lists for medical procedures and services, because they are moving spaces out of the system - unless they are prepared to move others back in.

I am sure the minister knows quite well, you cannot compare the ratio of patients to front-line workers like you could five, ten, years ago. Because the cases in hospitals today are of a higher acuity level than they were fifteen - when I worked at the hospital, the acuity level - you might have twelve or fifteen people on a unit. There might be half of them walking around. They were waiting days for surgery. They were in for a week or two after surgery. Today, you are ready for surgery almost the same day, and you are in and out of there as fast as possible. You are dealing with a high acuity level of people during their short stay in hospital. There is a lot of stress on front-line workers because you cannot survive with the same stresses, the same ratio of patients to nurses and other staff, as you could ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago.

That is a problem. That is why we have a high absentee rate, we have a high sick leave, we have -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you the Energizer?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I do not use Energizers. We have 25 per cent of the workers out there - nurses are casual. People get called in on a whim. They get in the hospital a while and they say; Go home, we do not need you now. You come in for three and four hours and you are sent home again. That is what is happening. People today in the health care system - we need more permanent jobs. They cannot get a loan from a bank, people who are working on casual. They might be getting their thirty-seven-and-a-half hours a week, or whatever the regular work week is, in that ball park. They cannot borrow, they cannot build a house, they can't buy a house, because they have no security.

The minister was very much aware of those issues and concerns when she was in her previous capacity. We have been hearing them from people all over the Province. It is a very basic concern of people out there today. The stresses and strains are not only on the job, but in the family situation, the inability to be able to move out of a rented house into a house they can start to call their own and start to plan some type of future here in the Province.

We have seen too many people leave this Province to go to Texas, Louisiana and everywhere else. I know them by name, former students of mine, people I see when they come back home. I hear about the opportunities elsewhere, and here in this Province, they are not holding high hopes.

We dug ourselves into a hole with doctors here in the Province. We allowed the problems in this Province to get so serious and we dug such a deep hole that we cannot get enough dirt under our feet to get out of that hole now because raising the salaries to a level with Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island alone is not going to solve the problem in the short-term. We have gone down to such a level now that it is difficult to bring us back to an average level. That is going to take a while. It is going to cost more money now to fix the problem, just like preventive maintenance, you let it go on so long you have to replace the whole part. Now we have let it go on too long, so long that it does not matter, whatever the recruitment efforts now, there is only a certain level that we are going to be able to put in there in the short term.

The minister is looking at making announcements and setting up the concept of community health centres which the nurses union promoted. When she was president, they released her book that I read, that entertained a concept similar to Quebec, and it is a good concept I say. We need it. It is a last resort in some cases now, having some type of medical health. So those concerns, I do not have to tell the minister about. I do not have to tell anybody about those concerns. People are aware of a lot of those concerns.

MR. EFFORD: They should be - you have said it often enough.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure they should be.

MR. EFFORD: You are brainwashing them.

MR. SULLIVAN: They should be. I say to the minister, I kept repeating it because I was half afraid the first five or six times it would not sink into you. I wanted to keep repeating it, an opportunity to be aware of it. Seriously, it is not a matter of knowing the problem, it is a matter of doing something about it, Mr. Speaker, and that is what we are waiting to see, waiting to hear and I hope it is going to happen. Because there are too many people out there today who are sick, too many people concerned in families.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, to have to hear elderly people who spent all their lives working in this Province, with their families moved out of this Province. And they have to go through and suffer and so on, on waiting lists. The calls we get on this matter are unbelievable. And I am sure some government members are getting those calls, too, they must because some of them, I tell you, are disheartening, to have to put people through situations that some of these seniors and other more disadvantaged people in our Province are going through today.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take another occasion to talk about what the alternative plan is to this Province with respect to the finances of this Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to just take us back and look through the document called: `Newfoundland and Labrador P.C. - The Right Agenda for the People. Now, Mr. Speaker, under financial responsibility, what did the Conservative Party say about financial responsibility? They said that Newfoundland and Labrador has a small population and a large debt. They said that our tax rates are among the highest in Canada. Because of the Province's vicarious financial position it is important that the government be fiscally responsible. They said that a PC government would balance the budget over four years. They said that the next two years will be difficult ones for the Province. They said that governing involves making choices.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that 1997-1998?

MR. CANNING: That is 1996-1997. Often, they said, these choices are difficult.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to give the Leader of the Opposition a chance to respond to the issues that this particular document raises because, as I said earlier, being members of the Official Opposition, it is just not good enough to oppose government policy, you must at the same time, offer policy alternatives.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the Leader of the Opposition what they meant on page 11, when they said that they were going to set priorities for program delivery and reduce spending on expendable and low-priority programs? That is what they said. Mr. Speaker, I would like the Leader of the Opposition or perhaps any member of the party opposite, because I know they are all honourable and loyal Newfoundlanders who spend worthy time trying to find opportunities for this Province to move ahead as much as we do. Mr. Speaker, it is very important because we are talking about some of the key departments of government; Education, Health and Justice, really departments that define us as a people but, Mr. Speaker, it is very important that the Opposition spend some time talking about how they would have balanced the budget in four years. That is what they said they were going to do. They were going to balance the budget in four years. How are they going to do it? They said to every one of our budgetary measures that, `you're wrong, each one of those choices you made you are wrong.' Well if we are so wrong tell us where we could have been right. Tell us what you would have done.

When you stood up and you said in the last election that you are going to balance the budget over four years, tell us which programs you would have set priorities for. You said that some priorities in this Province are expendable programs, are programs that we don't need and you are going to reduce spending on those expendable and low-priority programs. Mr. Speaker, I think it is incumbent on hon. members opposite to stand before the people of the Province and tell us how they would have balanced the budget in four years. What choices would they have made? What programs would you have eliminated? Mr. Speaker, it is obvious to me that you would have eliminated a lot of jobs because you say that you use the tax policy to stimulate private sector job creation. We believe in that but you said that jobs that pay taxes, not jobs that depend on taxes. I italicize depend on taxes to make sure people in the private sector understood what you were saying but it was coated language because if you go back to the opening letter they say they wanted to make the public sector feel better about themselves.

AN HON. MEMBER: You must be pretty bored.

MR. CANNING: Yes, reading material sometimes is difficult to find and I can tell you good reading material is real hard to find. But, Mr. Speaker, I think this is a great opportunity for members of the Opposition to tell us what they meant when they talked about health care and said, `making appropriate changes will require input from the stakeholders of the system.' Now, Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Health wanted to have a forum to talk to stakeholders of the Province with respect to health care, just as you suggested in your own document, you said that it was garbage. That is what members of the Opposition said, that it was a pile of garbage, it was not worth talking about. Well, Mr. Speaker, now there has been some transition of thought because the Leader of the Opposition talks about he is glad to do something about it. At least he is glad to see that something is going to be done. He even acknowledged some of the comments, some of the positive comments -

AN HON. MEMBER: Even if they are not listening, we're listening.

MR. CANNING: They are listening - some of the positive comments that was said on the news. As difficult as it was to listen to, indeed, Mr. Speaker, it penetrated their ears and they now know that this forum was a good idea. The fact of the matter is, they are going to see results flow from that particular forum.

Well, Mr. Speaker, getting back to their own document, they talk about how difficult the first two years will be. The next two years, they said, will be difficult ones for this Province, however, there is a lot to be optimistic about for the future because they knew that the Liberals would win the government. I am sure that is what they meant by that particular statement.

Mr. Speaker, you know, they talk on both sides. On one hand they say that the Province is in a vicarious financial position, on the other hand they say that you can afford to pay for the world. You can keep the parks open. Everything that this government has said during the last two budgets this Opposition has denied and said it is the wrong thing to do. Well, Mr. Speaker, I am always willing to be educated. I am always willing to see these things and understand what is happening but when it comes down to it, Mr. Speaker, why does not the Opposition give us their firm public policy alternatives to what the government has said should be the right public policy? I can tell the hon. member that has the red book, I would rather be covered with that book than this one any day of the week and that's why you always carry it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CANNING: The fact of the matter is, Mr. Speaker, they talk about eliminating the payroll tax. There is not a member of this House that would not want to eliminate the payroll tax but, Mr. Speaker, they said they would do it right away and that would take about $80 million away from the public finances of this Province. Where would you cut the programs to get rid of the payroll tax? Mr. Speaker, it is important that Her Majesty's Opposition should not be opposing opportunity. But it has not only opposed every budgetary measure of this government, it has opposed every single development opportunity that has come along. Whether it was at Whiffen Head, or whether it was at Voisey's Bay or Argentia. Wherever it was, the Opposition has opposed it. It hasn't stood up and said one positive word about new opportunities in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CANNING: On one hand it condemns the government for its budgetary measures - Mr. Speaker, I tell my district the truth each and every day. I'm not ashamed at all to talk about the opportunities in this Province. Whether they are with the IT sector, whether they are with stringing fibre optics around this Province, or whether they are stringing fibre optics through Labrador, whatever it is I can tell you that I'm very pleased to see opportunity flow to this Province.

You can't be humdrum about all things. You can't say that the government has no options and then - if I had the money, I would send this to every single citizen in the Province, because they ought to know what members opposite are suggesting. On one hand they talk about how bad things are -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the Labrador candidate, tell us about that.

MR. CANNING: The Labrador candidate. Mr. Speaker, you know, if you receive a letter that has no stamp they return it to sender. They have just sent a candidate from Ottawa who has no stamp of having lived in the Labrador region. The individual chosen to be their candidate - and this speaks really to how well informed who they are. They talk about Voisey's Bay and how great it is for this Province, but yet they can't look about the 30,000 people in Labrador and find a candidate willing to stand for their policies. This is like a piece of Swiss cheese, it has so many holes in it.

The fact of the matter is, they can't find anybody in Labrador who will represent their views. They found the guy, a young guy, and he may be a great Canadian for that matter, but he isn't from Labrador. You know, usually the people of Labrador like to take an individual and send him to Ottawa to represent them. But the federal Tory Party has it backwards. They want to send somebody from Ottawa to Labrador to meet the people. We will have none of it, and I can tell you, the polls will show it. They will show how generous we are to people being sent from Ottawa to stand amongst us and say that they will represent us.

The fact of the matter is that I would like the Leader of the Opposition to stand on his feet in this House and explain page 11 of Fiscal Responsibility, the page they have dedicated to tell the Province what it is they would achieve if he was the premier of the Province, or in fact they would become the government. I would just like to know for the record. I would like for the people of Labrador, of the people of the Northern Peninsula, the Baie Verte Peninsula, the Port au Port Peninsula -

MR. SULLIVAN: Perry, he wrote it, the fellow next to you.

AN HON. MEMBER: The fellow next to you wrote it!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. CANNING: But he saw the light, Mr. Speaker, he saw the light! I would like for the members of the Opposition to stand and tell us which jobs they would have eliminated in the public sector. I would like for them to tell us which programs they would have eliminated. Because they say they would have eliminated -

MR. SULLIVAN: We would have eliminated you and another eight members with you!

MR. CANNING: I can tell the hon. member that as long as I sit here in the House I will fight with every inch of my being and every part of my soul to make sure that Labrador maintains four seats. Whoever represents Labrador in the future, there will be four seats left there, and you will not be taking a seat out of Labrador West, and you won't be taking it out of Torngat Mountains, and you won't be taking it out of Lake Melville, and you certainly won't be taking it out of Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CANNING: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is the Conservative Party stood amongst us the other night and talked about reducing this House to forty seats, and it knows full well, with respect to the Supreme Court judgement in Saskatchewan, what that would have meant. It would have meant less seats for rural Labrador, it would have meant less seats for rural Newfoundland. You know full well what that would have meant. What this means is less representation for the rural part of this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. CANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. For the Member for Labrador West, I just want to indicate my proposal. When this was debated in the House of Assembly - I know the hon. member wasn't there, and I will tell you what I indicated in the House of Assembly at the time. It is that instead - the changes they made in legislation only allowed a ten per cent deviation from the main, we will say, from any seat and I indicated they should have retained a twenty-five per cent, plus or minus twenty-five per cent, so that rural areas of the Province, like Burgeo & LaPoile or Fortune - Cape la Hune and other geographical areas like that and Labrador, I say to the member, I will use an average, even if you took forty seats in the Province and divided in our population, you are getting about 14,000 members per seat, if you divide forty in 560.

MR. TULK: Sure, in your case you would have to bring them down from Ottawa (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I will explain that in a moment, I will get to that in due course, I say to the member.

According to proposal, and I am on record in the House when this was debated, I will use the population of the Province and the forty seats, there would be an average of 40,000 in a seat, an urban area could have twenty-five per cent more, which is 17,500, a rural area could have 3500 less, which would be twenty-five per cent of 40,000 about 10,500, so there could be a variance from 10,500 up to 17,500 from an urban to rural and areas like Labrador, in areas of the Province there should be some special consideration because of the geography of Labrador to accommodate -

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Labrador West on a point of order.

MR. CANNING: Point of clarification, Mr. Speaker.

The fact of the matter is, I tell the hon. member opposite that the Supreme Court of Canada has said that it must be plus or minus ten per cent and whatever you say or whatever the rest of us may dream up, it must stand in line with that which the Supreme Court of Canada has said and your plan, because you had not thought it through, would have eliminated seats in Labrador.

MR. SPEAKER: No point of order.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I told the hon. member he could have had extra time when he is speaking, this is the third or forth time getting up on points of order and clarification and so on, only delaying the process. I will give him all the time he wants to speak if that is a concern there.

No, it would not have -

AN HON. MEMBER: What has that got to do with (inaudible).

MR. CANNING: You do not make the rules, (inaudible) responsibility.

MR. SULLIVAN: What it would have done? Well we on our side give leave if he wants to speak and I can speak for this side and I am sure the Government House Leader speaks for your side over there here in the House, we have been generous in giving leave when necessary, we feel it and what I indicated was fair.

Saskatchewan, there is a ruling made in the courts that say the amendment to Saskatchewan -, there are variations that exist in other parts of the country and he would not, I would say and I would stand on a point that it would not have been ruled unconstitutional because right now there are 2984 people listed in Torngat. Who is ruling that out? Why is ruling that out on grounds?

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is right, exactly and there should be other considerations -

MR. DECKER: It would not stand two seconds in the Supreme Court.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it stood in this Province for many years. And here for the same basic reason we are finding, Prince Edward Island with 125,000 people, an average of 30,000 or so a seat federally in Prince Edward Island and here in this Province you have roughly what?... you have around 80,000 people per riding -

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible), they were guaranteed their (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: So what, they were guaranteed in union in 1949 with certain education rights and the constitution got amended, we just seen that, I mean nothing is etched in stone. Any time the will of the people is willing to change the basis it can be changed, sure it can. Anything can happen if the political will is there to do it.

So, the minister, it is only nonsense what they are getting on with, we operated here in this Province, we had no challenges in this Province. The people of the Province should be able to control the destiny of how they want to carve up their electorial boundaries here in the Province, sure it is only nonsense in getting on with it.

We looked at, there has to be a tolerance of rural Newfoundland versus urban, there are extra levels of government in many urban areas they are fairly well represented, I think there should be, in urban area, a lot of people here, St. John's and Mount Pearl areas deal with their city council on many matters and other areas with their town councils. People who represent rural ridings in the Province understand the concerns, the many diverse aspects of dealing in rural Newfoundland and there should be some restructuring to allow a latitude within certain means, ten per cent is acceptable. Who says it is ten? Why wouldn't it be eleven or twelve or fifteen or eighteen? Why does it have to be ten? There are differences here in this Province, we are excepted here in this Province with different amount, Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair is one example; Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair is different, Torngat Mountains is different and we can have other areas of the Province different just the same and it is not such a thing otherwise and it is the will of the people to have something within the confines of their Province, they should be permitted to have. So, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?


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

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

I just want to take a few minutes before the Vice-Chair gets a chance to have a few comments.

Mr. Speaker, I want to turn to education because there are a couple of things in the education Budget on which I would like to comment and, Mr. Speaker, the critic for Education, the Member for St. John's East, has been talking a long time about all of the very positive changes that have occurred in the school system.

Now the Member for Labrador West, wants to talk about the positive changes so I am sure he wants to get up and talk about the sixty schools that are going to be closed. The Minister of Education, in the Estimates Committee, told us that there would be sixty to seventy schools closed this year, and that there would probably be another great number changing next year and be further closures taking place in the next year or so. So, Mr. Speaker, when the Member for Labrador West wants to talk about positive things, we just want to ask him how he can relate to that.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to comment on one part of the estimates. I find it very disconcerting in the Education Budget - and I had it found here just a while ago - to find that we are still supporting the Denominational Educational Councils to the tune of $350,000. Now, Mr. Speaker, if we are talking about making choices, we have to ask ourselves a basic question: How can we justify in 1997, still giving $350,000 to the Denominational Educational Councils? Mr. Speaker, my opinion on the involvement of churches in the school system is well-known. If I had my way, the churches will be totally out of governance whatsoever, completely, absolutely, 100 per cent so, Mr. Speaker, if I had my way, the amendment to Term 17 would have gone a whole distance, not half-way but would have gone the whole distance -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: Yes, I am out of the closet alright.

Mr. Speaker, let me talk about Denominational Educational Councils just for a little bit.

Members may not know that Denominational Educational Councils still have several millions of dollars in their accounts that have been saved over the years and in the Estimates Committee, the minister admitted that there are still $2 million to $3 million that is sitting in the Denominational Educational Councils' accounts and we have schools out there where the air quality is so bad - in fact there was a listing made and I understand there is something like fifty or sixty schools that have been graded by the personnel in Works, Services and Transportation, on a scale, to see which ones should be repaired and in what priority, but today, this very day, there are still several millions of dollars sitting in the Denominational Educational Councils' accounts out there; it was up to - and the former Minister of Education knows - about $6 million and because of the work that is being done, it has gradually been brought down but there is still approximately $3 million sitting in the account and we have to say to the members of this House: Is it reasonable to have $3 million sitting in Denominational Educational Councils account and have all the needs out there in this Province?

Mr. Speaker, what that $3 million couldn't do for some of the schools in this Province in the next three of four months getting ready for September and I would say to the Member for Labrador West that, what he should be doing is, going to his Minister of Education in whose seat he is now seated. He isn't quite elevated to that particular position yet. He gets a chance to sneak down to the front row every once in a while. He is on his way. He will be in the front row one of those times, but he is going to change his colours. I'm glad to see he is reading the Blue Book rather attentively, because not all of us on this side have ever read the Blue Book. I would say that I probably read the Red Book more attentively than I read the Blue Book, but that is for a particular reason. The reason is I want to know what you people were committed to.

Mr. Speaker, back to the denominational education councils again. It is ludicrous, when we stand here and we talk about the needs in education, we talk about child poverty, we talk about schools that need their air quality fixed, and we permit the church authorities to sit on up to $3 million, and it just sits there. It just sits there! We cannot accept that. I think that is an absolute disgrace. When we talk about commitments to education I would call upon the church authorities to release that money and get it out where it belongs, which is out to the school boards and to the construction council where it can do some good.

That is one of the areas I wanted to comment on, because obviously that is an area where I happen to believe, as I said in the Estimates Committee, if I had my way the churches would get $1 each per year, and I would only give it to them then if they agreed to match the funding.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. H. HODDER: The Government House Leader looks over and he is holding up zeros, so I assume what he is saying is if he had his way he would give them zero.

I just wanted to say that, because I understand that my good colleague from St. John's East is anxious to get up and make some very poignant comments on the Education Estimates. I will come back and have a few more comments on some other social policy issues in a few moments.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand now as vice-chair of the Social Services Committee to make a few comments with respect to the Estimates in a variety of departments, particularly Education, Justice, Health, Human Resources and Employment, and Environment and Labour. My colleague the Opposition House Leader referred to some aspects of the Education Estimates which were discussed and brought forward during the meetings. In fact, in particular I think my colleague raised questions on that particular point concerning denominational education committees.

Perhaps the one statistic that came out of the Estimate meetings which I found to be most alarming, and goes a long way to show us the quite somewhat drastic fact with respect to either a low birth rate in this Province, combined with out-migration, is the fact that since the mid-1950s - or we have a school population now in 1997 equivalent to the same population of the mid-1950s. When one considers the drop-out rate and the fact that many students, for example, would not attend school, or were forced to leave school for work purposes, it is quite an alarming statistic when we see the total student population from the middle of the 1950s to the present date. It is an alarming statistic when we look at the total student population today.

One interesting note as well - and this was information which was revealed by the Minister of Education during the estimates - that in the mid-1950s there were approximately 3,300 teachers teaching the same number of students in the 1950s compared to what we have today. So I think any discussion, Mr. Speaker, with respect to education and where it is going in this Province, has to be discussed and reviewed in the context obviously of a lower pupil enrollment. However, the question that has to be asked, to what extent, Mr. Speaker? To what extent are changes made to the point that we have communities in this Province who simply will not accept, as a fact, that their particular schools must close? To what extent, Mr. Speaker, is the rationale that we now have a lower student population? To what extent is that rationale used so that schools are being closed? Students are being bused in for greater distances, communities are crying out because they feel there is no representation and in fact the boards, which are appointed boards, Mr. Speaker, are not even responding to the concerns that have been addressed by these communities and by those people who are directly affected by school closure.

Mr. Speaker, it was interesting last week and I received a copy of the script of an individual, Dr. Frank Peters, who apparently is an expert on school restructuring. He noted before a panel of delegates in education that the provincial government is ultimately responsible for changes in our school system. The school boards and he used the words, `are creatures' of the provincial government. If the school boards are not responsive and are not in a position to ably respond to the concerns that are being made it is ultimately the Province which is responsible and therefore legally liable. So we have a relatively well known educator, a legal educator, a person who has some expertise, one would think in this area, who is saying that it is the Province, Mr. Speaker, which is ultimately responsible and accountable to the people of this Province but of course that sort of pronouncement goes on deaf ears. That sort of illustration, made by a legal educator, is not being listened to in any way or certainly adhered to, with any seriousness, by the members opposite.

Mr. Speaker, I referred to, a number of days ago while on debate on education, the importance of the role of school councils. I indicated as well that this is indeed a growing role within education in Newfoundland. We are going to see the growth of school councils and we are going to see the involvement of school councils more and more. Why? Simply because, Mr. Speaker, apart from the fact that they are now created by Statute under the new Schools Act, apart from that, communities and school administrators, students and their parents feel that there is no recourse and by going to school boards, school boards do not have a history of listening to what the people want. So therefore, an alternative that the people will resort to is the creation and the following through of these school councils.

It indicates in the legislation as well, Mr. Speaker, that the functions of a school council are to represent the educational interest of the school. So when these parent committees are being formed throughout rural Newfoundland - in particular Port au Port, Jacques Fontaine, Brigus and Brownsdale, just to mention a few communities - when these committees are being formed they are resorting to the establishment and the creation of school councils because at least a school council is a legal body. It is created by the Statute and it is being perceived as a body which will have clout, ultimately, in dealing with the concerns of the parents and of the various citizens of a given community in making their representations known to school boards, and quite possibly even to government.

The act states as well that a function of a school council is to advise on the quality of teaching and the learning in the schools. These are very broad, almost global and general definitions, which certainly give some direction to school council in determining how a particular school and how these particular concerns are to be addressed.

I made the prediction a while ago, and I stand by the prediction, Mr. Speaker, that it is certainly a matter of time before we will see real political influence and clout by these school boards simply as a last resort by communities and by parents and by various stakeholders in education who feel their voices are simply not being heard.

On the issue of education as well, there was an NLTA information bulletin which was released approximately ten days ago, and it was somewhat troubling to read what the release had to say. Because it was essentially the NLTA saying to its membership: Speaking publicly against school closures or designations could ultimately be problematic to that particular teacher. The news bulletin raises the term insubordination and defines the term insubordination as being: An employee has somehow undermined the authority of the employer.

Of course, what the bulletin is saying to its membership is beware. If school boards are making certain decisions which are unpopular, and which are not in accordance with the wishes of the majority of communities or schools under their jurisdiction, teachers are being warned: Do not speak out. Teachers are being warned: Do not voluntarily have your say, because if you do, that could ultimately result in being insubordinate to your employer, being insubordinate to the school board.

This is what this whole education debate, quite sadly, has come to. It is an issuance by the professional association, namely the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, to its membership to simply keep quiet. That is the message. That is what education reform sadly has come to in many regions of this Province. It is the professional association saying to teachers: Do not get involved, do not speak out. Reform is also saying to communities throughout this Province: The government will not listen to you, the Minister of Education will not be an active participant. Go to your school boards. School boards in response are saying: We are appointed, we are not elected, we don't have to be accountable. Therefore the public is stuck, nowhere to turn, and that is why.

We may not have the crisis situation that we have in health, as was discussed earlier, but we certainly have critical situations which are not going to go away. We have threatened court cases, we have litigation which is pending, we have communities in Newfoundland which are simply not going to take this lying down. All we have to do is speak to people in the community of Brigus, for example, or Brownsdale, or Jacques Fontaine, or Port au Port. They will say quite clearly and openly that this issue will not go away until boards, or preferably the government through the Minister of Education, take an active role so that their concerns are at least listened to and hopefully respected.

Mr. Speaker, there are a few other areas, but I believe my colleague the Opposition House Leader wants to make some comments with respect to a couple of the other departments.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to rise to make a few comments relative to some of the social policy that this government has been bringing in relative to the former Department of Social Services.

I want to say up front that I support the initiatives of integrating the Department of Human Resources and Employment with the Department of Health. In fact, I believe that is a very positive step. It is progressive. I like the general direction in that regard that the former minister was (inaudible) her department. I believe we should be trying to have a more cohesive system that will let us go and look at the clientele that we are trying to support. When I hear the minister say we are going to be approaching in the next little while a restructuring of the department to bring us more client-focused so we can integrate Health and Human Resources and Development and Justice - certain issues in Justice would be included as well and I think that is a step in the right direction and I support that.

However, many of the people that I hear from everyday tell of great stress. Today, for example, my colleague for St. John's South had a young couple in his office and I joined him to talk about the difficulties that particular family are encountering. In this particular case the husband had a job that was paying him $7 an hour, but because he had to travel a little bit out of town, not very far, about fifteen or twenty kilometres, he needed to have a car and when he looked at car payments that he, or the gas for the car, it was certainly not a new car, looked at the fact that at $7 an hour he would loose his drug card and look at all of the other things, then it became quite clear that this particular individual would be better off financially if he were to stay on social services.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is tragic when someone can have a job that is going to pay them $7 an hour and they can look and say well, because there are not supports in place and because the family has certain medical difficulties requiring them to spend almost $200 a month in drug bills, but once you go and you say to this young man, here is a job, but if you take this job we are going to take away your drug care. So, he finds himself having analyzed it all that with absolutely no incentive to be able to go and say, I am better by going to work and so we have to look at ways in which we can make it more attractive, so that poor people with very low incomes, we have to get to the point where we can go and have some new initiatives.

The former minister talked about those new initiatives and I think they are steps in the right direction again, but it is a case where it is very difficult to go and to be faced with a young couple who has certain problems and now find out that if they take a job which is paying such a low wage and given the family circumstances, that it is not worth their while to take that particular job.

Mr. Speaker, we know as well that last year there was cut backs of special allowances, $61 last year cut back in special assistance and this government has not been all that kind to the very poorest of people. We know that home support payments were cut by ten per cent last year right across the board, then there were ceilings placed on it, the $3000 a month maximum amount that would be allocated to someone who needed help. We know that the transportation subsidies for medical appointments for persons who are in receipt of social services funding that that amount has not been cut out altogether, but only available in, basically, times of emergency.

Mr. Speaker, we know the minster as well has been clawing back on things like, for example, income tax rebates that people would get back or refunds and many people have great difficulty today. I met a young man who had all kinds of bills that he had to pay and he got $400 back on his income tax, but he was not able to pay the bills because he had to show that as income under his social assistance payments.

So, Mr. Speaker, there are some fairly good initiatives. The federal government is going in the right direction to some extent. We know that we are trying to attack child poverty, but child poverty attacks have been basically too few dollars and most of it tend to be in terms of next year or whatever.

Now, I say today in the House that the Minister of Health, when she spoke today talked about getting evidence-based assessments but where can we find more evidence than on the issue of child poverty. There are all kinds of reports but what is the government doing with child poverty while they are waiting for the federal government to show its hand? From all of the reports we have, they are still saying if the poorest people when they get the child tax credit coming in next year, sure, the people who are not going to work will not get fewer dollars but they will not get more dollars either, and what we are going to do is, take some of the child tax credit from the very poorest of people and use that money to be able to fund some of the back-to-work initiatives that the minister will be outlining the details of in the next short while.

Mr. Speaker, we know that if we look at the data which is contained in the booklet put out by the department, Investing In People A Framework For Social Development, it will tell you some of the sad statistics on social assistance in Newfoundland and the data is only up to date for 1995. In 1995, 53 per cent of new cases on social assistance were people under twenty-five years old, and it also says that in 1995, 32 per cent of children under five years of age lived in households relying on social assistance; 16 per cent, in 1995 of all social assistance recipients were between the ages of sixteen or eighteen and twenty years of age, and 24 per cent of all youth in the Province received social assistance at some point during the year and there were 52,550 differing cases flowing through the social assistance division in 1995; and in any one month 35,000 people collected benefits in this Province.

So, Mr. Speaker, when we look at these various stats, we know that for many people in this Province, a better tomorrow would mean that they would have a job; a better tomorrow would mean that we would have programs to encourage people who have low-paying jobs to go back to work. A better tomorrow would mean this government would live up to its commitment and start being more inclined to make sure that employment opportunities for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are made available because it is fine to say to people that you should get a job, but we know the reality is that many of our young people are moving out of the Province because the jobs are not here and with all the stats available, 17,000 gone in the last five years, so, Mr. Speaker, we have some idea as to what all of these things mean, and while the former minister made mention on several occasions about the Social Policy Advisory Committee and its report, they have not done anything about it in the last little while.

We assume that the Social Policy Advisory Committee to Cabinet is meeting to draw upon what is called the Newfoundland and Labrador, I guess, the social policy program which will be a detailed report is the Strategic Social Plan that has been talked about since 1990 thereabouts, and it is a desirable goal to have a Strategic Social Plan for the Province. That, you know, is to be commended however, Mr. Speaker, what we have to look at as well, is that for many people in this Province, the reforms and the changes and the hope for a better future is not something that they can see any evidence of in their lives today, and while this government was elected on a promise of A Brighter Tomorrow, you know, a happier future, they sold a whole package of hope, but for many of them, there has not been that hope. In fact, their hope has been changed into a sense of betrayal, a sense that they have been left out of the picture, a sense that they themselves are not going to be able to share in the wealth of this country. In fact, many of them feel that even the wealth of Voisey's Bay and the wealth of the offshore oil will mean nothing to them, because they can't participate in it because they either don't have the educational level, or they don't have the skills, or for some of these people they feel that they have lost all hope of being able to get ahead in the world.

Mr. Speaker, we know the root causes of social problems are many and complex. There is nobody going to say they have a handle on all of the issues, and there is no magic solution. There is no panacea we can just grab on to. We have to be aggressive. While the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board talked about bold steps in his Budget speech, certainly we want to say to the government we haven't seen much evidence of bold approaches, none at all.

In fact, the only bold approach we have seen thus far is to tell all of the student parents of the Province that their level of help and their level of assistance to get them out of the positions they are in, that that is going to be cut back from them. We saw in the Budget the cutting back of upwards of $2 million from these people, and the minister last week said: We are going to give you back $300,000. That doesn't make a great deal of sense, or doesn't give anybody a great deal of comfort. It is a case of where if that is the kind of boldness they are talking about, then we are going to go backwards rather than forwards.

There are some things that are happening that are positive, but the Premier in the election last year when he did his, I guess you would call it, leader's debate, used the expression: We can't cut, cut, cut our way to prosperity. However, since the election we have seen a great deal of change. In fact, this government today is known for its cuts, in spite of the fact that the Leader of the party said that no, they wouldn't cut, cut, cut their way to prosperity. They were going to find alternate ways.

The people of the Province, in spite of what the Member for Labrador West said earlier in the evening, his Leader said that he wasn't going to cut, cut, cut, but what has happened? Now they are saying: We have to do that. Therefore the rhetoric that they used last year prior to the vote on February 22, and the reality of what is happening today, are at divergent ends of things.

Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleague the Member for St. John's East wants a few concluding comments as far as the speakers on this side are concerned. Certainly we want to listen to the words of wisdom flowing from the hon. Member for St. John's East.

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): The hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a few concluding comments with respect to the Social Services Committee and the Estimates in the various departments.

With respect to the Department of Justice, I guess if there was one disappointing feature of the Estimates with respect to the Justice Estimates, it had to deal with the Estimates for 1997-1998 in Youth Corrections. The Youth Centre in Whitbourne is of course an integral part of the youth correction system in our Province. It plays an important role, as I'm sure the minister will agree. It unfortunately is the home for many young people who find themselves in a situation where the law has been violated. As a last resort, the judges of our Provincial Court, and here in St. John's, youth court judges, see no alternative but to incarcerate young people in our corrections centre.

What is unfortunate is that the allocations for Youth Corrections this year have been reduced from over $7 million to $6,222,000, a reduction of over $750,000. Mr. Speaker, what is unfortunate about that particular statistic is that when it is clear in our society that there is a need for improved reforms with respect to youth corrections, we see a decrease in expenditure by this government of approximately three-quarters of a million dollars.

We see all to often situations when young people are being incarcerated and ones being incarcerated are not receiving the care and the treatment in terms of rehabilitation which is required. As a part of probation orders, all to often young people pursuant to that court order, are required to seek counselling and to seek professional help. What happens in mid-stream when this counselling is ongoing, young people are being incarcerated again as a last resort very often by youth court judges, and then unfortunately the counselling which was started pursuant to a court order is not addressed immediately upon that young person being incarcerated.

So, we see young people who's so called rehabilitation is being aborted, the problems are not being addressed and this very high quality institution, an institution which ought to provide professional services to young people unfortunately is not providing the services which is required of it and that sadly is perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses that we discovered during the estimate committees. We have an institution such as the Whitbourne Youth Centre which does not have the resources or does not appear to be applying the resources in the right direction to cater to the needs of young people at a time when the needs of young people must be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, as vice-chair of the Social Services Committee there are many features of what we had heard during five nights and days of debate, a lot of information, there are features of what was discussed which obviously we as an opposition have serious concerns with. My learned friend alluded to social service and education, I refer to education and justice. There are a number of concerns which we as an opposition have questioned, issues which we have raised during the estimate committee meetings and we will remind members opposite that throughout debate on the budget in general we will continue to raise these issues which are obviously important to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians alike.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I understand we will adjust the parliamentary clock to show that we have used the three hours on this head. I understand we have agreement for that. Having said that Mr. Speaker, put the question.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it the pleasure of the House to concur with the report of the Social Services Committee. All those in favour, 'aye'.


MR. SPEAKER: Those against, 'nay'.


The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of other items I think we can do rather quickly. I want later to speak to the suggestion that was put forward this fall by the Member for Bonavista South, we will do that in a few minutes. I understand we are ready to do second reading on "An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act" (Bill No. 8) and I will call that Mr. Speaker, order No. 6.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act." (Bill No. 8).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, there is only a little bit of housekeeping in this bill. I would refer members to the explanatory notes which are attached to the bill. I am certainly not going to go through all of them, the opposition justice critic is very much aware of this, he knows that his half brother started this bill a good many years ago and it finally reached the House last spring -

MR. TULK: Gerry Ottenheimer did.

MR. DECKER: Yes, Gerry Ottenheimer started this many many years ago when he was the Minister of Justice. It is a very technical, detailed bill, much over my head and over the heads of a good many people. I would certainly be pleased to suggest hon. members just deal with these few minor matters.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I agree generally with the comments of the Minister of Justice in terms of it being housekeeping primarily. Of course the minister will recall it was only a short while ago that a very well developed judgement enforcement act, one which was scrutinised significantly by members and officials of his department, including the High Sheriff of the Province, one which certainly was passed in this House. I believe it was the fall session, Mr. House Leader, you indicated?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: There is one question I have though, and perhaps it is more for clarification only. I will refer the minister to section 2 of Bill 8. It is on page 5, Mr. Minister.

It states: "`(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) and the Proceedings Against the Crown Act, the sheriff or an employee or agent of the sheriff is not personally liable for an error or omission in respect of the discharge or purported discharge of a duty or function under this Act.'"

I guess the only perhaps question or concern that has to be raised, Mr. Speaker, are the words "purported discharge." Because clearly what this section is trying to do is ensure that the sheriff or his representative is not personally liable. That has been the general understanding from the sheriff's office throughout. Whenever, for example, a sheriff's certificate is granted to a solicitor or a member of the public, there was always this proviso that the sheriff is not personally liable.

However, the words "purported discharge" I find somewhat unusual, because it tends to give an impression that we are not only dealing with the sheriff in the discharging of his or her responsibility in the commission of his act, but it suggests the word purported. That raises a question as to exactly what is being anticipated as the conduct of the sheriff or his or her responsibilities, or the discharge of those responsibilities.

I find that somewhat curious wording. I don't know if maybe the minister either tonight or at some future date would want to make some comment with respect to that somewhat convoluted wording, in my view.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. the Minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I will take the question under advisement from the hon. member and we will deal with it in the Committee stage of this bill. I would move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Judgement Enforcement Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 8)

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, members will recall that earlier on this fall the Member for Bonavista South introduced a concern in this House about certain foodstuffs in the Province and so on. We did agree to send his concerns on the bill to committee. We introduced the bill in the House, and we then decided to send that bill to the Committee. There are a few little technicalities which we have to take care of. The Committee was supposed to report before March 31, but I'm going to ask that we do two things now.

First of all, I would give the necessary notice of motion on a bill, and I would ask leave to introduce the bill, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution of Food," to give notice and to have first reading done at this particular time.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We on this side agree that we can introduce that bill now for the first reading and follow the procedures outlined by the Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: All in favour of the motion?


MR. SPEAKER: Opposed?


MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I would also move, by leave, and ask an agreement move that the House deem the Report of the Standing Committee on Social Services to have been referred and received by the House as of now, and that the contents be made available to the House on second reading and that the bill should appear on the Order Paper tomorrow as being in second reading.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of my caucus members, we agree that the report now be deemed to have been presented and that the said bill would appear tomorrow on the Order Paper as ready for second reading.

Motion, the Hon. the Minister of Forestry Resources And Agrifoods, to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act Respecting The Good Faith Donation And Distribution Of Food", carried. (Bill No. 12).

MR. TULK: First reading.

On motion, Bill No. 12, read a first time, ordered read a second time, tomorrow.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, there is another motion (inaudible) -

Motion, that the House deem the report of the Standing Committee to have been referred and received by the House and that the contents be made available to the House on second reading, carried.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the Parliamentary clock, having been adjusted accordingly, this House do now adjourn until tomorrow at two o'clock, at which time we will do Committee of Supply on the Consolidated Funds Services, Executive Council and Contingency Reserve. We will follow through in that order and I understand that there are approximately ten hours and something that are left -

MR. H. HODDER: Ten hours and forty-six minutes.

MR. TULK: - ten hours and forty-six minutes that are left in the Estimates debate and I would assume that the Opposition will use its time under those three heads.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn until tomorrow at two o'clock.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Tuesday, at two o'clock in the afternoon.