The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!


Statements by Ministers


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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, May 11-15 is Police Week in Canada. It is a time to forge stronger relationships between police services and the communities they serve. Police Week began in 1970 with a collaborative effort between the Ministry of the Solicitor General and its provincial counterparts.

On a local level, both the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP are planning activities throughout the week to recognize the significance of this week.

This morning I attended the official opening of the festivities for the RNC. Tomorrow the RCMP will officially launch their activities, and on Wednesday a new detachment of the RCMP will be opened in Nain. I look forward to joining the RCMP in both of these events.

I would also like to say that May 15, Friday, is recognized internationally as Peace Officer Memorial Day.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend our police forces for the work they do every day, but I would also like to highlight the fact that our police forces are extremely active in our communities throughout the Province. They build partnerships in the communities throughout the year, and this week is an opportunity to acknowledge and focus on that good work.

I am pleased today to bring this to the attention of the public and the House of Assembly, and encourage everyone to take part in the activities of Police Week in their own community.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for a copy of his Ministerial Statement and, on behalf of the members on this side of the House, we join with the minister in certainly recognizing and acknowledging the good work of our companion police forces here in this Province. We are fortunate, Mr. Speaker, to have two strong police forces which, as a matter of tradition and practice, have worked very closely with one another.

I only hope we do not see a repetition of what happened last year when unfortunately we had our companion forces competing with one another for solely budgetary reasons. Hopefully we will not return to that and we will continue to have two strong police forces that work in harmony and in conjunction with one another for the benefit of the residents of our Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before we call Oral Questions, the Chair would take this opportunity to welcome to the gallery today Mr. Arthur Lee, of Toronto, who is visiting the Province on an investment mission.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!


Oral Questions


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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

Mr. Speaker, we have seen today another national report which indicates that of all the provinces in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador is the hardest place to find work for students. We have seen the out-migration stats which show that our people, especially our young people, are leaving this Province in record numbers. Students seeking summer jobs, new graduates, countless other young people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, know firsthand the experience that the jobs just are not there.

Mr. Speaker, the question for the Premier is this - in order for us to solve a problem we must first admit that one exists. Will the Premier today admit that in the last twenty-seven months student employment, or the opportunities for young graduates in our Province, has not been there? Will he also admit that government's initiative or initiatives to curb that problem to date have not realized the potential they should have? And, when will he start doing something in a more tangible way for young graduates and young people in this Province, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I really am quite surprised at the question of the Leader of the Opposition, at the tone of his question. I think every single member of this House would say that there are not enough opportunities for young graduates in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I think we would all say there are not enough opportunities for summer jobs for young people generally in the Province of Newfoundland, and I think we would all want to work harder to provide more opportunities. But to suggest, as the Leader of the Opposition just has, that the economy of Newfoundland and Labrador is worse off now than it was twenty-seven months ago, flies right in the face of the evidence that is being produced by Stats Canada. We had a report last week, last Friday, that showed there are 9,000 more jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador this April than last April, a major improvement in the full-time job creation efforts and work of this government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, we know that the number of people who rely upon social services has gone down consecutively month over month for most of the last eight or nine months, so the economy is improving.

If the Leader of the Opposition wants to make representation to the government that we need to do more to assist our young people, Mr. Mr. Speaker, I accept that and we will do everything we can afford to do within our power to ensure there are more jobs this summer for young people looking for work in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. But I do not accept and I cannot accept that Newfoundland and Labrador's economy is not moving in the right direction because, Mr. Speaker, it is moving in the right direction.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, once again the Premier, in a very deliberate way, does not answer the question put forward.

Last year, Mr. Speaker, the entire electrical engineering class at Memorial found permanent work outside this Province. That is a statistic that this Premier or this government cannot ignore. Headline, The Globe and Mail last March: Newfoundlanders leaving Province in record numbers. The Evening Telegram: Residents depart at record rate; Editorial: The exodus of our best and brightest. Story, Here & Now: Trepassey dwindling away to nothing.

Premier, this is the legacy with respect to young people to date of your government. The question for you is: Will you recognize it, and will you admit that the initiatives this government has taken with respect to young graduates and young people in this Province to date simply have not worked?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, there can be nothing more transparent than the Leader of the Opposition standing in his place and saying that the legacy of the last twenty-seven months has been a bad legacy for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, when he refuses to recognize that twenty-seven months ago Newfoundland and Labrador was dead last in terms of GDP growth in Canada and today we are number one in terms of GDP growth in Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the biggest year over year drop in Canada in unemployment, 3 per cent drop, was in Newfoundland and Labrador over the last twelve months.

Mr. Speaker, why does the Leader of the Opposition cling so longingly to bad news and negative growth and bad times when good times are on the way? Because the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, have confidence in themselves and confidence in this Province.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition, a supplementary.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier can shake, rattle and roll all he chooses. The reality is that the economic performance of this government, and the drop in the unemployment rate, is a simple matter of the exodus of people from this Province. So, is the Premier now saying that the unemployment rate has dropped in this Province because of his government's initiatives because more people have left? Is that what the Premier is saying to the people of the Province today?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition -


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, you know, I think that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador might understand the Leader of the Opposition and his party saying that they have a better plan, or they have a way to accelerate the economy faster, or they have other ideas and they would like to put them on the floor of the House. They could understand the Opposition saying - I could understand it. What I cannot understand is the Leader of the Opposition just standing in his place and saying there are not more jobs this year than last year.

In absolute numbers, there are 9,000 more jobs this year than last year in Newfoundland and Labrador, and if the Leader of the Opposition doesn't understand that, he doesn't understand the basics of public policy. Let me ask him this. What the people of Newfoundland and Labrador really want to know, if you are concerned about jobs, is why haven't you yet, months after the fact, said whether or not you support the Churchill River power developments? Because those are jobs for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition has been perched on the fence so long he is like a permanent fixture on a fencepost!


MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

I accept the definition put forward of a framework agreement by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board in your absence last week, where he said that a framework agreement is not the final agreement; that the framework only sets out an area for discussion in terms of any deal.

Let me ask the Premier this, in response to his question: Is he saying today that his negotiating team, the legal advisors associated with it, have worked out the final deal with respect to the Lower Churchill agreement? If they have, is he prepared to place it on the Table today? Because if it is, then we will take a stand very quickly; but if it is not, I will say it once again, this leader is not signing any blank cheque for that leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, if the Leader of the Opposition cannot make up his mind in the House where he stands on the Churchill Falls power developments, maybe he will make up his mind standing before the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in a general election on the Churchill River power developments!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Because I repeat to this House, and I say it again, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to allow the Leader of the Opposition the luxury of not knowing whether he is standing or sitting, whether he is number two, whether he is number one, whether he is onside or offside, whether he knows the details or does not know the details. One way or another, somewhere or sometime, maybe soon, he is going to have to say where he stands for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I will have to ask the Premier again: Is he telling the House and the people of the Province, today, that the final arrangements between the Province of Quebec and the Province of Newfoundland are complete, that the deal that is ready to be signed, is signed and that he is going to drop it before the table? Because if he is, we will make up our minds quickly. But until we see the details, I say to the Premier, we are not signing any blank cheques. Show it to us and we will make up our minds very quickly, I say to the Premier.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I will tell the Leader of the Opposition this: There is very good progress being made on the Letter of Intent and when the Letter of Intent is finished, if he can't make up his mind then, then we might be giving him a twenty-one day deadline to make up his mind on where he stands on this deal.

Mr. Speaker, we have an agreement which has already put, based on the picking up of the extra recall power, an additional $600 million in the hands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians; but the Leader of the Opposition, with the cash already flowing in, is not sure whether or not that task is a good deal. We have a deal which gives us a guaranteed winter availability contract which gives us $1 billion more starting this fall, but he is not sure whether or not that is a good deal. We have an overall agreement that moves us from a $300 million loss on the Churchill River power developments to a $5.2 billion gain, but he is not sure whether or not that is a good deal.

Mr. Speaker, it is a good deal, just as it is a good deal that Newfoundland and Labrador is moving forward. We are moving forward in terms of GDP growth and we have 9,000 more jobs in the Province this year than last year.

I will tell the Leader of the Opposition this: The people of Newfoundland and Labrador expect him to occupy his job, not only in name but in substance; and, sir, you have an obligation to tell the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It has now been months. Where do you stand on these Churchill River power developments? At least the pervious Leader of the Opposition told us where he stood, even when where he was standing was not comfortable.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: You were going to change the contract. Remember that secret document? You were going to change the contract weren't you? Any other secret documents?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, what is abundantly clear and what is transparent to the people of the Province today is that this Premier is looking for any issue to run to the polls as quickly as he can, to do what he wants to do in another life yet to be defined. That is what is abundantly clear, Mr. Speaker!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: Like I said, lay it on the Table and we will make up our minds very quickly. Whether you want to do that in a twenty-one day election call or not is entirely up to you, Premier. Lay it on the Table and we will make up our minds quickly.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, this government, unlike other governments worldwide, have not chosen to invest in the young people of the Province. Young people, since he became Premier, and under his predecessor, have had the burden of more responsibility, more debt, higher tuition fees and higher loans.

The question for the Premier is this: Will the Premier admit seriously, that we have a crisis with respect to young people in the Province, with respect to out-migration, spiralling student debt and less opportunities in the Province? Will he look at other models worldwide that have worked, such as in Ireland, where lower tuition costs provided more accessibility to education, which in turn has driven the economy, which has in turn provided more economic opportunities for young people? Will the Premier admit that there are serious problems with respect to young people that his government has not addressed whatsoever and that it is time to address them in a more serious, tangible and meaningful way?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I will not admit what the member has said because what the member has said is not true. Last year in Newfoundland and Labrador, this government sponsored the largest ever summer student employment program in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, this year there is going to be $7.5 million directed toward summer youth employment in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This year, in our recent Budget, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador announced a scholarship fund or an assistance program for students most in need in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, assistance of up to $1,000 per student as a stopgap between now and the introduction of the Millennium Scholarship Trust Fund put in place by the federal government.

The position, the plight, the circumstance, of the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador has been very much on our minds. That is why we have worked so hard to put our fiscal house in order. That is why we are so delighted, Mr. Speaker, that Newfoundland and Labrador's economy is beginning to show signs of life. That is why we are so proud that we have gone from dead last in terms of GDP growth to number one in Canada; because it demonstrates that if we have a positive attitude, if we believe in ourselves, if we understand that we are responsible for our own success or failure, that we can change our lot in life.

Mr. Speaker, the negativity, the pessimism, the defeatism of the Leader of the Opposition won't change Newfoundland and Labrador. Grabbing ourselves by our bootstraps and pulling them up, that is what will change Newfoundland and Labrador!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are to the Minister of Health and Community Services.

At a community service council in February, 1997 they published a report entitled Shifting the Focus, Community Discussions on Child Sexual Abuse. Now, based on statistics received from the Department of Social Services at the time, the total incidents of abuse that were reported in 1995-1996 were 4,810 of which 898 of these were sexual abuse or 19 per cent of all cases. Of those 898 cases, I say to the minister, 257 of these cases occurred within the immediate family. The report was released fifteen months ago and I am sure the minister is very familiar with it. I ask her, if she shares the same concern as this report indicates on this growing problem here, not only in this Province but across the entire country?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

As any person will admit, whenever there is any incidence of sexual abuse, it is a concern to all of us, government officials, as well as family members, and adults in general. Certainly, as a government, we are very concerned about those issues, and I guess it is one of the reasons why we, as a government, put together our provincial strategy on violation, to look at the issues around violation and in particular, in many cases, sexual abuse. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are concerned about any incidents of sexual abuse in families.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Some of the major findings, two particular things in that report, I say to the minister: That children continue to be at risk of sexual abuse, and when it is reported, they receive intermittent and inconsistent help. Secondly, offenders remain unchallenged in many instances by their families and their communities; and if they acknowledge their problem they usually have a few options for help.

I ask the minister: What plans, if any, does the department have to address these particular matters?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

I think one of the areas this year that this government has taken a firm position on was in early childhood education prevention and early intervention. As a result of some of the initiatives put in our Budget this year, we are hoping to focus on many of the issues around such things as literacy, abuse and mental health needs, particularly through our community youth networks.

Overall, through the community health boards, and through their models of prevention and early intervention, as well as policies through the Department of Health, whereby we have a nursing consultant to deal with mental health issues and children health issues, we would be working together to try to eliminate gaps in the system that we have come to identify. Many of our services we provide are through our children in care services, and I think we can always have room for improvement to try to reach the public at large.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

About five weeks ago, I wrote the minister requesting information on child prevention statistics such as: The case-load of a social worker; such as the high turnover rate among social workers in child protection; training specific to child protection for those social workers and so on. I certainly hope to receive that information shortly.

I say to the minister: The community service council report has been out now for fifteen months and obviously statistics only bring it up to 1995-l996. I ask the minister: Would she table in this House, or provide information on the cases that have occurred since that time, so we can get a true indication of what is really happening there, and how effective the measures are, or the lack thereof, occurring within the department?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services.

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

In response to the member's preamble: He wrote me and I returned a letter saying that we were in the process of reviewing the request for the information for which he had asked and would make it available as soon as it was compiled. That will be delivered to him upon compilation.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, there are definitely needs in our system. As I have pointed out earlier, our whole ability to access child abuse - we have to work very clearly and very closely with the courts, but our main focus has been around children in care, and that is where we have our statistics, from that area. Other than that, those statistics would come from the courts. As my colleague, the Minister of Justice, said last week: We are working closely together with our community health boards to try to develop the liaisons we need to make sure all children are covered, and all policies put in place will reflect the needs of all children, not just those children who are in care under the Department of Health and Community Services.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

My questions are for the Minister of Education.

I draw the minister's attention to the fact that disruptions in classes are continuing today in School District No. 2. Parents want meaningful consultation with their MHAs, the minister and the school boards concerning the impacts that the cutbacks in teacher allocations are having on their children's education.

Last week, the minister indicated that this school board may be used as a bit of a test case to determine how far cutbacks will have to go before there are significant compromises to a quality educational program.

I want to ask the minister: What are the main features of a quality educational program, and how far will the school boards have to go in cutbacks to teacher allocations before he is satisfied that the overall quality of education has been compromised beyond what is reasonable?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the question and an opportunity to shed a little bit more information on what is happening on the Northern Peninsula at this point in time.

It is most unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, that parents have again chosen to keep their children out of school at this critical time of the school year. It is most unfortunate at any point in time in a school year, where parents reach a conclusion that the best they can do is take the children out of school and deny them the education that is being offered to them.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the issue, with respect to the general question that the hon. member asks, is really puzzling with respect to the Northern Peninsula because it is in this context: Last year, at this time, the school board had the same number of teachers that they have today. They had planned an organization, Mr. Speaker, to rearrange some schools. Some of them, some of their plans, had to be changed because of the decision and the injunction granted by Justice Barry in the middle of the summer. As a result, Mr. Speaker, some eleven-and-a-half units were provided to the school board to undo the plans that they had in place for this school year.

The only change on the Northern Peninsula, Mr. Speaker, is that those eleven-and-a-half units have been taken back from that school board. So there should be, Mr. Speaker, on the Northern Peninsula, no reduction in programs from last year, there should be no downgrading of the educational opportunity and, Mr. Speaker, at this point in time, the school board has not finalized all of its plans for the next school year.

I have stated publicly and repeatedly, that I believe the parents have been very much premature in their actions because the school board has not finished its deliberations, and it is beyond me as to why we cannot offer the same educational opportunity this year as we did last year, when you have 200 fewer students and the same number of teachers as they planned to operate with this time last year.

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

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

Perhaps, Mr. Minister, they believe that rural reform would mean improvements in classroom atmosphere and more teachers.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister, that School District No. 2 is already the biggest user of distance education. There is not a single school that offers art education, only one high school offers one course in music and most of the physical education classes that occur are being taught by the classroom teachers themselves. There are a total of five units allocated for guidance, with 1.5 units assigned to Labrador Coastal schools, eight of them, and the other 3.5 assigned to the entire Great Northern Peninsula.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary; he ought to get to his question.

MR. H. HODDER: I ask the minister, Mr. Speaker: Are these courses and these programs among the ones the minister considers non-essential, therefore not affecting the quality of education; and, without access to these programs, can the minister say that the children on the Great Northern Peninsula and Coastal Labrador have equal opportunity to reach their full educational potential?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, the students on the Northern Peninsula, in the boundaries of District 2, have as much of an opportunity to reach their educational potential this year as they have ever had in their lives. They will have as much of an opportunity, Mr. Speaker, next year as they have ever had in their lives. The whole issue is: If the members opposite again would like to make part of their platform in an upcoming election, that they will promise every student in every school in Newfoundland and Labrador that they will have access to the same programs that might be in the largest high schools in St. John's, put it in your platform and deliver it.

This government believes in realism, Mr. Speaker. The people on the Northern Peninsula will have, as I say again, this year, the best opportunity they have ever had, Mr. Speaker. Next year, they have an opportunity to have the same educational opportunity. Nowhere in Canada, Mr. Speaker, where we have rural settings with small groups of people in isolated communities, has anybody ever figured out, other than to use things like distance education, how you can have every single curriculum alternative available to every child in Newfoundland and Labrador.

So if the Opposition, Mr. Speaker, wants to suggest that that is a realistic objective, and that is obtainable in Newfoundland and Labrador, maybe they might explain why the seventeen years that they were the government they did not produce as much of an opportunity as is on the Northern Peninsula today. They had seventeen years to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford Valley.

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

We have just seen the case of the successor Premier announcing the election. Just wait a little bit, I say to the minister.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister: Next year over 80 per cent of the schools in District 2 will have double classes. Over 80 per cent of the students will be in double grades. There are many examples of triple and quadruple classes. The present school system does not adequately serve the students of this board. The allocations, albeit they may be equal to last year, will not be able to erode this lack of educational opportunity. I say to the minister: Stop blaming the school board, begin to look at the situation there. The people on the Great Northern Peninsula and Coastal Labrador have made sacrifices. They have combined their schools. Now they are asking the minister to look at the situation.

I ask the minister: What will you do to assure equal access, equal opportunity, as was talked about in the Williams' Royal Commission report, for the students on the Great Northern Peninsula and Coastal Labrador?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We are very serious about what is happening on the Northern Peninsula as we are with everywhere in the Province. The reality of it again is this, Mr. Speaker, and it bears repeating: This year with respect to declining enrollment on the Northern Peninsula, in District 2, the government removed zero teachers from that school board; absolutely zero, Mr. Speaker. With respect to declining enrollments the reduction was zero.

Last year, Mr. Speaker, the school board had planned a school arrangement. There was a court injunction and we provided units to the school board. What we have done is taken back those units because there is no need now and no legal reason for them to be in the system. They have the same opportunity as last year, Mr. Speaker, an opportunity to make improvements. We are working with the school board, Mr. Speaker. The school board - and this is the sad irony of the situation - has not even finished its deliberations as to the organization of schools for next September. We are working with the school board. They need to finalize their decisions. We are not casting any blame, Mr. Speaker. We are just saying that there are duties and responsibilities for the government, there are duties and responsibilities articulated in the schools' act for the school board, we are working with them and we are sure at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, when all of the decisions are made, we will have a quality education opportunity in District 2, as we will elsewhere in the Province.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Minister of Finance as it relates to Newfoundland Hydro dividends.

Mr. Speaker, the 1998-1999 Estimates show that the dividends from this source were estimated to be $46.8 million in 1997-1998. However, only $16.8 million were received. Further estimated dividends for this year appear to be $49 million.

So my question to the minister is: Would the minister inform the House as to the reason for the difference last year and the basis upon which the estimate for this year is arrived at?

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the hon. member; I could not hear the first part of his question. I heard the $49 million at the end. I don't know to what he is referring. Was it Newfoundland Hydro? I am just guessing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The 1998-99 Estimates show that the dividend, Mr. Minister, from this source was estimated to be $46.8 million in 1997-98. However, only $16.8 million were received. An estimated -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: This is with respect to Newfoundland Hydro dividends. Further estimated dividends for the year appear to be $49 million.

So the question is: Could the minister inform the House about last year's difference and the basis upon which the estimate for this year is arrived at?

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I gave a similar answer to the hon. member in our Estimates hearings the other day. I don't have the details before me, but essentially what we have required of Hydro over the last several years is a special dividend of $15 million. What that figure in part represents is the net flow-through from CF(L)Co of the first part of the Churchill Falls agreement; the net from approximately $36 million in gross revenue from the sale of the 133 megawatts that was immediately recalled as a result of this recent deal negotiated by the Premier and Mr. Bouchard on behalf of the Province of Quebec. The net to the Province is in the range of $22 million to $24 million. That comprises a fairly substantial portion of it. There is also another $12 million in regular dividends that come from Hydro as well, and the balance is an increased dividend we expect this year. I can get a more detailed answer, and I believe I may have given it in Estimates hearings the other morning.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder if the minister could indicate, in this House, what is the dividend payment schedule for 1998-1999, and how does Newfoundland Hydro fund the payment of these dividends?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, the Province has an investment in Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. It guarantees approximately $1 billion worth of debt incurred on behalf of Hydro. The dividends that come to the Province are the same as any dividends. They are paid out of profits at Newfoundland Hydro.

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has ended.


Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees


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

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

As chairman of the Government Services Estimates Committee I wish to report that the Committee has considered the matter to it referred, and have passed, without amendment, the following heads of expenditure: Finance, Government Services and Lands, Works, Services and Transportation, Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the Public Service Commission, and the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.


Orders of the Day


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

MR. DECKER: Motion No. 1, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Motion No. 1.

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

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

I think I just have a few minutes left on Budget debate from the last day. To pick up where I left off, on a discussion we ended on Friday - that was about rural renewal. Some of the questions that the Leader of the Opposition posed to the Premier today, Mr. Speaker, on what is really happening out there in rural Newfoundland - yes, it's good to hear the good news and so on, and some of the effects of it.

Then the Minister of Education talks about realism. Well, Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people in this Province asking today, where is the reality in all the announcements we hear day after day, the big announcements. We talk about Hibernia and Voisey's Bay, all these mega-projects that are, at the end of the day, going to show up where it is all to. They are going to be able to go out to people in small-town Newfoundland and Labrador and say: It's all coming, it's just a matter of a few days and it will be here. Mr. Speaker, it is not happening that fast. That is the reality of it.

The strategic economic boards, all put in place some good plans, some good ideas put down by people who were on these boards. I have talked to people as recently as this weekend who sit on those boards and they are starting to say: It's good to have all these plans, all these ideas, but unless we can execute those we aren't going to see jobs at the end of it. That is what everybody in this Province is starting to ask about now. It's good to have a great plan, great to have a good scheme, but where is the reality of jobs? That is where realism has to kick in, Mr. Speaker.

We talk about statistics from Statistics Canada of 9,000 new jobs. Was it also taking into account the number of people who left the Province? Was it also taking into account the number of people who are coming off, not just in May, but have come off the TAGS system and are going back on a line? They are not on the unemployment line. You won't see them in the unemployment statistics because they are in limbo. There is no place on unemployment for them. The last resort is going to be for these people to go to welfare. You won't see them on the unemployment list. That is where we are missing the boat on this, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you, as a member living in rural Newfoundland, back there every weekend when the House is closed, talking to those people over and over, they are wondering where the real tangible jobs are going to be in the next little while.

Mr. Speaker, one of those I will mention today, and we spoke about it on Friday, is the seal industry. If there is one industry that this entire House of Assembly and everybody in this Province better jump on real soon it is that industry. It has to be done right. Can you imagine people in rural parts of Newfoundland seeing seals in the gardens, up on the roads, all around us - killing a resource that we have had there for years. They are eating fish, and we find that we are just at the beginning of that seal industry but it has to be done right.

Then to get a notice - and even the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture agrees with me - we received calls last week from people who have a domestic licence to go out and kill six seals for personal use. They bought their licence at 12:00 noon and by six o'clock that evening - closed.

Imagine now, not like there are not enough seals out there. We find out that they buy a licence for domestic use - as far as I am concerned there should be a lot more than just six - for people in this Province to go out and kill a seal to eat, and to find out, with the swarm still around our shorelines and, like I said, up on roads and in people's gardens... If you think that is an exaggeration, go ask the people who have seen them.

As a matter of fact, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture even told me of an incident last week when we was out walking his dog. His dog started to bark and he thought it was going after another dog. In the middle of the road, in his own district, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture said there was a seal in the middle of the road, barking. That is what is happening, Mr. Speaker.

Then you go to a place like Robert's Arm, and we will lead right into another issue of the fish that are being driven inland. We can talk to all the scientists we want, Mr. Speaker, but a fisherman said to me - and it makes just as much sense as any scientist I have heard - that all the fish you see in the bays and up in the streams, and everything else - like in Robert's Arm - that seals are chasing them there. They are predators. Like any predator when it is chasing its prey, Mr. Speaker, it will go anywhere to get rid of it. That is exactly what happened with this.

That will lead into another issue that I said I would raise today from people in my district who are starting to make the phone calls now, and that is a food fishery; and it is about time people started to talk about it again. I understand there are some meetings taking place real soon on the food fishery, and I want to remind every member in this House of Assembly: Remember the arguments from last year, and start at the very first argument.

The very first argument that I have ever put forward is that if there is going to be a food fishery for any Atlantic Province, or for any part of the Province, then it should be for everyone. If not, stop it for everybody. If it is that bad, stop it for everybody. That is a simple premise that we worked on last year, and that is only the beginning of the argument. Because in the first year, as we remember, we remember seeing the call that Nova Scotia, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, all could go out for a food fishery. Last summer I spoke to people who went to Prince Edward Island - Newfoundlanders on vacation who went over there. It would turn your stomachs, they said, that you could go out in Prince Edward Island and catch ten fish but when you come back to Newfoundland - no way.

This year they thought it had improved a little bit because they gave the South Coast and the West Coast - it was available for them to got and catch ten fish. Now, who could ever justify putting boundaries in the water of the Northern Peninsula, or somewhere on the Avalon Peninsula, and saying that half of the Province can fish and the other half cannot.

Mr. Speaker, some people might think it is a bit early to be talking about it, but I am going to tell you - and I know that any rural members here who are talking to people in their own districts, they are saying to them this year that last year we were pretty civilized and pretty quiet about it all, and we accepted it at the end of the day. But, Mr. Speaker, I can assure you here today that people are not going to accept it this year. They are not going to accept it for a couple of reasons.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, times have gotten tougher. They have not gotten any better; they have not even stayed the same. They have gotten worse in this Province for a lot of people, especially in the rural parts of this Province. And those ten fish, for four, five or six days, whatever it is going to be open for, can mean a lot to a family that has very little income. It is going to mean a lot to a lot of families now who are going to turn to welfare for the first time in this Province.

Let me tell you, you put ten good-size fish, a good cod fillet or a good salt fish in your fridge, that can make a big meal for a lot of people. It might not mean a lot to a lot of people here sitting around in their suits but, I am going to tell you, put a few potatoes with that bit of salt fish and you have a good meal. You can support a lot of people on a good meal with that, I can tell you. I know there are a lot of people in this Province who feel the same way. The warning is already there. The phone calls have started.

The week before last when our committee travelled to Ottawa under the All Party Committee on post-TAGS, I did get a few minutes aside from our TAGS meetings to talk to the Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Anderson, to let him know and to give him forewarning that this year he will not be able to skirt that issue as easy as he did last year, Mr. Speaker. People are not going to accept it this time. Very simply put, the people in this Province are simply saying: This year treat everybody the same and we will not have a problem with it; because it was ludicrous last year to think about what could happen.

In Robert's Arm - the last report, by the way, from the Minister of Fisheries himself, talked about fish in the shallow part of the bay. When the ice went away this year you could see the fish - codfish - piled up in the bay, and nobody was allowed to catch them.

Here we have a seal population that is exploding and they will not give us an extra quota for seals. At the same time we have the cod coming inshore, chased by predators, so we should be able to have a food fishery. Somebody should be able to go out and catch those ten fish which means a lot to a lot of people in this Province. If for nothing else, besides the point that I have used earlier, that besides the fact that a lot of people could use the ten fish in families now with tough economic times in this Province, it also means a lot to the people who have been on the water for years and years.

When this was open a couple of years back, I went out with an old gentleman friend of mine in the community of Pacquet. He took us out to fish. He didn't even bother to fish himself. Just to be able to get in the boat and just to be there is a morale boost. To be able to go out in the boat, know you have the jigger there - or a baited hook, of course, is what it is now, and I certainly can agree with that. I don't have a problem with that. I am going to tell you that this year the rumours and the warnings I am getting are all about the people in this Province being treated equal to everybody else in Atlantic Canada.

Also, one of the most ridiculous arguments we had the year before last was when nobody in Newfoundland was allowed to fish. We could almost handle that P.E.I., Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia could fish for ten fish, but when we found out that St. Pierre-Miquelon, with all due respect to St. Pierre-Miquelon, just miles off our coast... Can you imagine the people on the Burin Peninsula sitting down two years ago, saying: I am sorry, you can't go get ten fish, but we have allowed our foreign friends here, who happen to be around our coast, to go out and do it.

That might have been the straw that broke the camel's back, because people, to me this year, are starting to say with phone calls and letters already: If you are going to shut it down, if the cod stocks are so bad that we can't catch ten fish, it is gone anyway. That is one point.

The second thing they say is: If you think that is going to destroy stocks, yes, close it down, it is bad enough. People are telling us: If you are going to treat everybody the same and close it down for the entire Atlantic region and the entire Province of Newfoundland - which even got more ludicrous after the idea of St. Pierre-Miquelon fishing - now we have to split up our Province. We are going to put chain-link fences in the water so that fish from the West Coast can't swim up around to the North Coast.

We will use some scientific knowledge now. They found out that fish that were tagged off the Port aux Basque area were found off Russia and off Iceland, tagged there. So don't tell us that fish don't swim. They talk about different stocks for P.E.I. and Nova Scotia, a lot of rubbish. A lot of time you can listen to scientists and get some good things from them, there is no doubt about that. At the same time, there are people who are out there in our communities, some fishermen who have been in boats for fifty and sixty years. The two gentlemen last year, I think one gentleman was ninety-five years old and the other one was eighty-one years old, fishing since they were nine and ten years old. Of course, they were arrested for fishing for a few codfish. That is the type of thing that happened in this Province last year, and it is something that people won't stand for this year, I guarantee you. The warnings are there.

The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is not here today but I have certainly talked to him on many occasions. I hope they are going to address that. I hope Mr. Anderson is thinking about it. I hope he realizes what the impact is on this Province, although he lives in British Columbia. We have to let him know, and I hope our own minister is going to let him know, some of the ways people in this Province are feeling.

Besides the economic boost of somebody being able to go out and catch a few fish to eat, if it is four days or six days, that could be up to sixty fish. Sixty fish in your freezer or sixty fish salted and put away, that can mean a few meals for a few desperate families in some hard times in this Province.

Secondly, like I said before, and I will end with that, it is a morale boost. If people this year could have those couple of weekends to go out and go on and get their boat ready, and they could take their family out for a day on the water, that is worth it. I am telling you one thing; in this Province this day and this spring, people are going to need anything they can get hold of to boost their spirits. Because it is not very good in rural Newfoundland and Labrador as we speak today.

It is fine for the Premier to talk about these great mega-projects. We have been talking about Voisey's Bay for years. He was down in Houston, Texas, where he was talking about the oil industry as though if he didn't go to Houston the oil wouldn't flow. He is talking about all those things. People love the big projects. Now he is talking about the Lower Churchill. Like our leader said earlier here today, it is okay for the Premier to stand and say: Come on side and be part of the Lower Churchill deal.

I said it here in this House weeks ago and I will say it again today: I have no problem in developing the Lower Churchill, but there is only thing we are going to make sure of this time, and every member in this House should agree to that, that it has to be done right this time. It is not going to be a deal of the great cohorts of the Premier or anybody else who believes they have the expertise in this, because we have been told before that there was lots of expertise with doing deals like this. We don't believe it this time.

Our leader put it very well today; we are simply saying: You show us the fine print, you let us read through this, and we won't make the historical mistake of all times for this Province of something that happened in the Upper Churchill. We will take our time, we will sit down, we will go through the fine print. We will get our own advice on it as well as look over it ourselves. Then we will make the right decision. We are not going to hold up something with the magnitude of the Lower Churchill if it is going to be an economic benefit for this Province. There is nobody silly enough to do that. You cannot play with that, Mr. Speaker. That is something that is real. Just for the Premier to say to us that he has been in closed-door discussions with the Premier of Quebec, Mr. Bouchard, for ten months, is of no comfort to us. That is all we have so far, that the Premier of this Province and the Premier of Quebec - we all know what his ultimate goal is, to destroy this country - have been sitting in closed-door sessions for ten months.

Now, does the Premier expect us to take that as something that we can bank on? Mr. Speaker, if you ask people around this Province, they are not going to say yes to any of that. They are not going to say: Yes, give us a blank cheque and we will develop the Lower Churchill. I think it has great potential. I think the concept of developing the Lower Churchill is great for economic benefits in this Province, with electricity rates. Of course, one of the things in the agreement we have seen already is the fact that a transmission line to this Province would be very important if we are going to do the Lower Churchill and do it right.

It is easy to talk about mega-projects like Voisey's Bay and Hibernia and the Lower Churchill, but sooner or later, and very soon now, Mr. Speaker, some people in this Province are going to start saying: With all those press conferences and all the announcements by the Premier, where are the jobs? Where is the beef?

AN HON. MEMBER: Where is the beef?

MR. SHELLEY: Where is the beef? That is exactly what they are saying. The Member for Humber Valley knows very well because they are asking him the same thing in his district. I can guarantee you, Mr. Speaker, they are saying: Where are all the realities - the Minister of Education talked about earlier today?

Well, Mr. Speaker, it is time that this government started to focus on people in this Province and where they can help the best. One of those groups of people is the young people who every day come into our offices with great business ideas, only to find out that by the time they get through the bureaucracy and the red tape they give up and leave.

I had an example of it in my district just a little while ago. Two young men came in with a great business idea and by the time they got through permits and regulations - by this time they were discouraged by the government, they said - they decided to pack it up and leave. Those two young, bright people are in Alberta right now, Mr. Speaker. That is what is happening. That is why the focus of this government must get back on the key to the recovery of this Province, which is education. Education will be the key to the recovery of this Province because, simply put, if we keep those young people here with their attitude, their enthusiasm, their ideas, they will develop those. But, Mr. Speaker, if the drain continues at the rate it is today, this Province is in for a tough, tough road, and it has to stop real soon.

Mr. Speaker, even today in the questions put forward to the Premier, the Premier is still not acknowledging the problem. He is still talking about Statistics Canada, and what great statistics we have. He has to acknowledge the problem. With any problem, you have to first of all - if you are an alcoholic or a drug addict - acknowledge the problem and then you deal with it. That is where it comes from, Mr. Speaker. So the first stage the Premier has to get to is acknowledging that while he is doing his travelling all around the country, the Statistics Canada that he phones back and gets every now and then is not enough. He has to have more than statistics to go tell...

You take your statistics and go out to small-town Newfoundland and tell them about the great statistics. Just go and stand in front of a crowd of loggers to whom I spoke in Stephenville a couple of weeks ago and tell them: No, settle down, guys. You do not have to worry about mechanical harvesters. You do not have to worry about any of that. The Premier has some statistics here that say we are doing great. We are on the big road of recovery - all kinds of records of recovery in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, it is not the reality. It is good to be optimistic, but at the same time you have to be realistic. I have always believed that if you are straight up with a Newfoundlander and Labradorian and tell him the truth, he does not mind it. What he does not like is being told he is pie in the sky, mega-projects, everything is going to be okay; trust us, you will be okay. It is not working.

What is happening, Mr. Speaker, is that patience is running out. The patience of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador is running out. They are tired. It is almost like the boy who cried `wolf'. Time after time, another big press conference, another 1,000 jobs here, another big economic plan. The Strategic Economic Plans, they are all going to work. Well, Mr. Speaker, it is a warning to the government.

The Premier threatened today about an election call. Well, Mr. Speaker, what we tell him is: Go ahead, make our day. You just go right ahead, call it. If he has the guts to call it, he will call it today. He should be up in his office now getting a writ ready, heading to the Lieutenant-Governor's house. That is where he should be, because if the Premier thinks that all this big image and prestige is washing off, that his big trip to Houston, Texas, and Calgary last week, and Toronto the week before that, if he thinks that is impressing people, I think he is in for a reality check. Mr. Speaker, we are going to see that real soon, that the Premier is going to get that reality check. You can mark my words. We have talked to people around this Province today, Mr. Speaker.

I just have one minute to clue up, Mr. Speaker. I will finish off by talking -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Two minutes? That is not bad. I am going to get leave though, right? (Inaudible) is not here. Some chance.

The Minister of Justice is going to give me leave. I am making so many good points he is going to give me leave, is that right?

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no justice.

MR. SHELLEY: There is no justice. No, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Chris, John is out of the House today, let it roll.

MR. SHELLEY: The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture is out of the House so we figured the Minister of Justice would let us roll for awhile. I was making so many good points, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Strategic Economic Plans and press conferences, that is all wonderful. It sounds good and gets everybody excited for a couple of minutes. People say, `I hope it is going to work.' But, Mr. Speaker, a warning to the government: Sooner or later you have to see the end result of a plan. I have been involved in all kinds of plans that looked perfect on paper, good statistics and so on, but at the end of the day you have to show the results. You have to show where you are heading, and you have to see something that is tangible, something that is real. Not saying: Hold on for one more year. We were wrong in our Budget last year. Let us go for one more year and guaranteed you will see it next year.

Mr. Speaker, you can only go back to the well so often, and the Premier should take notice that his time is just about up. That is why he is talking about an early election. That is why I believe, because nothing is coming out. It is all there, Mr. Speaker, and people are telling. I bet you in all the polls the Premier is doing himself, poll after poll on every issue, the Premier is being told: You had better call an election soon because you are slipping all the time. That is what they are being told. They are saying: Call it now to get it over with. Because, Mr. Speaker, the time is up. The ghost is up, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: The jig is up.

MR. SHELLEY: The jig is up, as he said before.

MR. SPEAKER (Oldford): Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to take a few minutes today to talk about the Budget in this Province, to look at some areas where certainly nothing has been done; something should have been done but we have really done absolutely nothing.

Mr. Speaker, the Budget has been described as one that has something for everybody. Maybe an election Budget, I think some people may have referred to it as, where we try to push all the buttons and hopefully we will hit some areas that are probably necessary and some areas that maybe we can do something with.

It mentions the social sector, like health, education, and social assistance. It mentions the resource sector, like fisheries, forestry, and the mega-projects. It mentions the infrastructure area of roads and ferries. The Budget is so positive and uplifting in its tone that one might be forgiven for overlooking the fact that the social sector is suffering from cuts, the child benefit deducted from social assistance, school closures, less for Memorial, the hospital wish list that, of course, has no target date whatsoever. The resource sector is left floundering, not enough money for silviculture, no concrete new action on fisheries, and nothing on mega-projects. The infrastructure sector is coasting on federal dollars for roads while the municipalities are facing yet another year of downloading. Some Budget, Mr. Speaker, some great news for people around this Province who are trying to survive.

Let's look at some of our cuts in the health care system. Maybe somebody should take some time and talk to people who work in the health care sector of this Province to find out exactly what is going on in some of our hospitals and some of our institutions, talk to people about the way our hospitals are cleaned now, talk to the people who work, about how this is done in hospitals. Do they get the same cleaning they once got? No, they don't. The Minister of Health or whoever can say what they like, but talk to the workers, talk to the people who do the work in these institutions, and you will soon find out what goes on.

I mentioned here a few weeks ago about a seventy-seven year old man from my district who was in hospital, and because of a shortage of staff the nurses told his family it was much easier to put him in a diaper and leave him in bed, rather than help him out of bed to get to the washroom. Just imagine! The Minister of Health should really be proud of that, because, Mr. Speaker, that is really something to be proud off; when you say to a man who has his right mind, that we should leave you in bed in a diaper rather than assist you to get out of bed to go to the bathroom.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. FRENCH: Well, the reason there is no assistance given is not because they don't want to do it, but the fact is, Mr. Speaker, they do not have the staff to do it. So they say to the family that is the best we can do. If that is the best, Mr. Speaker, the best is not good enough. The best is far from good enough when we have to tell people: If you want to make sure your mom or dad gets fed, be there at mealtime because we do not have time anymore to help your mom or dad get their supper. I have seen that, Mr. Speaker, I have seen it firsthand.

Or we say to somebody who needs a sheet of this eggshell styrofoam to be put in the bed for comfort: Well, if you are not dying, this government tells you, you do not need that. If you are dying, you should have it, but if you are not dying, or not ready to die, then you do not need it; you should suffer. Mr. Speaker, I know firsthand about that.

We look at - again, it seems like every time I speak here I go back to homes for special care in this Province. The Member for Topsail knows what I am talking about, he has a few of these homes in his district too. I am sure he has received calls, I know he has received calls, because some of the people who called him have also called me. An industry in this Province that gives excellent health care, excellent care to its residents but is not treated properly by this government, an industry in this Province, Mr. Speaker, that gets less money, an industry that we have studied to death, and I understand that there is probably another study being done now through the Department of Health - I mean, what nonsense.

I spoke to several home-owners in the last week or so. One of them told me that if it continues, and they do not soon get an increase, by this time next year a business that has been in existence for probably thirty to forty years, Mr. Speaker, is gone; because they will no longer be able to afford to stay open. That, Mr. Speaker, is certainly not right.

The last report that I have seen done was called the Kirby Report, that recommended that each resident in the home pay $1,100 per month. It has not happened. Insurance has gone up, food has gone up, maintenance has gone up, labour has gone up, but what they are receiving has not gone up and should certainly go up, so that residents in these homes, and the people who own those homes - after all, they do have the right to make some sort of a living.

I believe, Mr. Speaker, it is time this government opened its eyes. I believe it is time people got out and visited some of these seniors' complexes, some of these homes for special care. I believe it is time the people went into them. I believe it is time they did something for the people in this Province who have invested their life's savings and their futures into operating these types of businesses.

If anybody in this House, Mr. Speaker, thinks that it is easy for these people to survive, then I will gladly take a day and take any member, on either side of this House, on a tour through my district. I will introduce them to home-owners, and I will let them hear firsthand of the problems that are being incurred by home-owners in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. I will take them to homes in my district where they can learn firsthand what is going on in this Province.

What is going on, as I said earlier, is a disgrace, and I think it is time the Government of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, this government, did something about it; because in the last Budget they did absolutely nothing. They have made more presentations to the Minister of Health and Community Services than I can even think about. They have met with people in the department more times than you have fingers and toes. Yet the end result is always the same: We should have another look at this or we should have another look at that. Well, the time for looking is here and gone. The time is here, Mr. Speaker, to have some action.

I believe the Speaker in the Chair today knows what I am talking about. I believe he has some homes in his district, and I believe at one point in time, if I am not sadly mistaken, I had a conversation with him concerning a home in his district. He nods his head, and I'm sure he is nodding his head yes. The time has come, the time is past, that we should do something for the home-owners in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The quicker we do that, Mr. Speaker, the better. The quicker we get out there, the quicker we offer assistance to some of these homes, the better off we are going to be and the better off these home-owners are going to be. It is the cheapest form of health care in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and it is time we did something about it.

Another thing I would like to touch on, Mr. Speaker, is Memorial University. It seems like I always talk about this, as to why the Auditor General in our Province can't go in and do her audit on Memorial University. I don't know, for the life of me, why, but it is time a change was made, so that the Auditor General in this Province can go in to Memorial University and do the type of an audit that needs to be done by the Auditor General in this Province.

Fifty-thousand dollar interest-free loans, driving around in Caprice cars, importing material from out-of-Province so that the grass can grow, or we import the grass: our student debts are going through the roof but we have money for this. Somebody seems to be very defensive of their turf, very, very defensive of their turf and maybe it is time we changed the act. Maybe it is time we allowed our Auditor General to go in there and do the type of audit that needs to be done. It certainly will not interfere with the university on what they choose or choose not to have in courses. That is not the idea of doing this audit, Mr. Speaker. The audit, in actual fact, will have nothing to do with what courses they teach and so on. It would have absolutely nothing to do with doing the proper audit on Memorial University, and it is time that it was done.

We have seen students demonstrate on our steps. We listen to students all the time. We have all had students, certainly within our own districts, who are suffering and who are coming out of university owing thousands and thousands of dollars. Of course, Mr. Speaker, that is wrong. It should not be, but it is and this government has done nothing to stop it.

Mr. Speaker, the Wells Government promised to do something about the economic recovery in this Province, and, of course, he set up an Economic Recovery Commission; a think tank that produced none of the results our Province needed, none of them, absolutely none of them. Of course, our current Premier got rid of that, the Economic Recovery Commission. What did he replace it with? Nothing, absolutely nothing. There is no economic plan, Mr. Speaker, there is no economic plan. We have seen more good sense from Doug House in The Evening Telegram in recent weeks than we have seen from the government in more than two years. The Budget document is an exercise in pushing pennies around in a ledger.

The out-migration in this Province: I don't know about some members, Mr. Speaker, but I hear it every day from young men and young women in my district who have gone to Ontario, who have gone to New Brunswick, who have gone certainly to Alberta and British Columbia looking for work.

I heard the Premier today say 9,000 new jobs. I would love to know where they are and I would love to know if they are full-time jobs or exactly what kind of jobs they are, because the out-migration in this Province is rampant and continues to be rampant for the young people who are coming out of our universities and who are going off to other parts of Canada to work, to make a decent wage to try and survive.

Ireland addressed its out-migration by taking a hard look at education, technology investment and bolstering the traditional industries in that country. Mr. Speaker, what do we do here? We slash education to the bone making it impossible for young people to go to school and for graduates to stay in their home Province. That is what we do here. We do not help, we hinder.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, it is no secret what has happened to our fishery, that the federal government continues today to allow overfishing from the Grand Banks. We have foreigners who can still come in and who can still take the fish off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador while our own Newfoundland people sit home and do nothing. That, to me, is certainly wrong, and it is about time that this government took a stance and did something about it before too many of our towns die and there is little or nothing left; before there is little or nothing left.

Of course, we are all waiting for the Churchill Falls contract. We are waiting to see it laid on the Table to see what is in it. A year or so ago there was a private member's motion here to give the Premier a blank cheque to travel all over Canada to talk about the Churchill Falls project. I hope we did not spend too much money on it. I won't not say spend too much money, I would say waste too much money. Because, Mr. Speaker, that is a proposal, I guess, that is before us all today, as members of this House, and a proposal that would certainly bring, if done and done properly, economic benefit to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I noticed the weekend paper, Mr. Speaker, talking about a clothing manufacturing plant for your own area, and it is very interesting to note that on the front page of today's The Western Star in Corner Brook, the Premier is talking about the same project. So we are going to have one in Clarenville and one somewhere on the West Coast. You know, let's be real! Are we going to get two of these? Who knows. I would certainly like us to get two of them, but I do not think that that is ideal.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, Voisey's Bay seems to have hit a large bump in the road. We still have not seen a tax regime from that particular project and we noticed the company talking about losses and so on. Well, I would agree with the government that if they are not going to have a refinery and a smelter in this Province, to heck with it. Let's leave it where it is because it is time that we did not send everything out of this Province to be done.

We watched the private member's motion the other day which we all supported. Motherhood, that is what it was. We were talking about things for Labrador and we talked about the pelletizing plant, whether it should be in Labrador or somewhere else. Who in their right mind, Mr. Speaker, is going to talk about it going outside of Labrador? To me, it is a very simple matter, that they should be told: You either do it in Labrador or you do not do it. That is what should happen. We do not need to jump up and down or beat our chests. They should be told, and told in the strongest of terms: If you are not going to do this in this Province, then you are going to have trouble with us. If somebody says that is a threat, well, Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what it is. That is exactly what it is and that is exactly what these people should be given. That is exactly what these people should be told: If you don't do it in Newfoundland and Labrador, you don't do it at all, and if you challenge us on this issue, we will throw up so many road blocks that your head will spin. It is time that maybe that is the attitude we should take, Mr. Speaker, to stop these jobs from going out of our Province into Quebec or anywhere else. It is time that it ended. I am not so sure if we need a private member's motion, Mr. Speaker, to end it but it is time that we end it.

I commend the member for his motion, but to me it is a very simply issue and it is a motherhood issue. He is not the only one who has written letters. I have written letters in support of the plant being in Labrador and not going outside our boundaries. It does not always happened from somebody on the other side. It does not mean that some of us on this side of the House do not do those things either. Do not think that we do not do those things, Mr. Speaker, because we certainly do. We believe in the Province we live in. We believe in the Province that we call home. That is why we are here. We should fight to improve what we do for this Province.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, Churchill Falls: One can only hope that it comes to a reality. Again, before we sign blank cheques for the premier to run all over Canada, all over Newfoundland, for fund-raisers, before this member here is willing to do that, I would certainly like to see something laid on that Table that is of a positive nature; and very quickly, I say to the minister. The premier - I won't go there, I will stay away from that. These are things we have to do.

We talk about rural renewal and about projects: I hope, Mr. Speaker, if there is something after TAGS, and there has to be, by the way, if there is a program, and every indication seems to be there is going to be something - in regions of this Province where we have zonal boards, I hope these boards will not be circumvented. I hope these boards will be consulted on projects that are going to happen within their jurisdiction. Because the word out there, Mr. Speaker, is that some of them are going to be bypassed. If that happens, then we will all know exactly why.

If we are going to appoint these boards or work with these boards, then let's use them, let's use the expertise that is on them and let's use the people who are on them, who understand what is going on in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and what is going on in various areas of this Province. I have a feeling, Mr. Speaker, that some of this is not going to happen, and, of course, that, Mr. Speaker, is certainly wrong.

This Budget, Mr. Speaker, is thirty-seven pages long, with numerous appendages and attachments. Surely, somewhere in all of that, there is a strategy to help; a strategy to help students deal with access to post-secondary education and cope with the debt that some of these students are incurring as they get closer to graduation.

Mr. Speaker, this message, of course, has to sink in somewhere. When we see, as I said today, two proposal announcements - I hope they are two different proposals, I say to the Speaker today. I hope they say that they are two separate proposals because we can use all the help we can get.

Mr. Speaker, as I do every year when I stand here for the Budget, I would like to spend the last couple of minutes that I have talking about private partner funding. I want, again this year, to talk about my own District of Conception Bay South, where we have major troubles with water and sewer. It's the largest municipality in this Province, and at the rate of $1 million or $2 million or $3 million a year we are going absolutely nowhere, only probably backwards. When you see towels that were white but are now yellow, when you talk to people who can't drink their water, and when you talk to people who have to replace hot water boilers and heaters, then there is a problem. In my area of the Province there is such a problem, a problem that has to be corrected.

I do know that there is a proposal before government. It has been before government for quite some time. I can only ask this government as quickly as they can to deal with private partner funding. Hopefully over the next little while something is going to be done so that areas such as mine can receive the much needed water and sewer services they require. If that is the area or that is the way it has to be done, Mr. Speaker, then that is the way it will have to be done.

Again I have had the opportunity to look at the proposal. I don't think it's such a bad one, by the way. I might need to give it probably a little closer scrutiny, but by and large the concept to me is certainly a good one and should -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FRENCH: It is, yes, it is. I say to the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island, it is a good proposal. I have looked at it. I certainly have a copy of it. It's the only way, Mr. Speaker, that towns such as mine are going to be serviced. Again the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island knows of what I speak. I can say that there are parts of his riding - because I know his riding as well, and it's not too far from mine - where they certainly experience the same problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FRENCH: Just leave for a minute to clue up?

MR. SPEAKER: Does the member have leave?



MR. FRENCH: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to close on the private partner funding end of it, but just to encourage the government to really have a strong look at the proposal that it has before it now from the municipality of Conception Bay South, and to ask the government, as speedily as it can, to really have a good look at this, and see if we can't do something, so that areas such as mine, and those of the Members for Topsail and Conception Bay East & Bell Island, can receive very much needed water and sewer services; in our municipalities and in our ridings.

I thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for the leave and for your time.

MR. SPEAKER (Penney): The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. E. BYRNE: I stand to talk on the Budget debate. I believe I have an hour. I spoke for an hour with respect to the amendment on non-confidence.

Lately, Mr. Speaker, it seems that any time you ask this government a question about anything at all a number of things happen. It causes a bit of a chain reaction. First of all, we are being too negative. Forty-one per cent of the student population who graduated from Memorial last year are living outside the Province, and as leader of a party you stand up and ask a question about it, and you are accused of being negative. Forty-one per cent! I don't know if anybody else is concerned. I'm sure they are. I'm sure a lot of members are concerned.

The time has come for us to have a look at some new approaches The type of people who are leaving the Province are those who are highly skilled. They are graduates, whether it's from Memorial, the College of the North Atlantic, or a variety of other post-secondary options that are available to people.

I talk to a number of employers all the time, but last week we talked to three, in particular, with respect to Grade XII. Upon completion of Grade XII, how many young people will find themselves in a situation of employment or have the necessary wherewithal and skills, coming out of our high school system, to find meaningful work? By meaningful I mean something more than offers five or six dollars an hour. The reality is not many, because the world has changed significantly. The world we live in requires new skills, culture of learning, lifelong learning, and coming out of Grade XII, after Kindergarten to Grade XII, is not enough any more.

Twenty years ago, if you graduated from high school with the skills that were available to you there were opportunities for you within the workplace, with a variety of employers, whereby you could find employment at a decent income - not necessarily the highest income but at a decent income - and work your way into a position. With the ongoing training that probably would have taken place with that employer or a specific employer, you could get new skills and work your way up. But ask students today who graduated two or three years ago and have done nothing else other than graduate from Grade XII, did not pursue other post-secondary options, what sort of opportunities are available for them today? They are severely limited. Most employers will tell you across the country, certainly in this Province, that unless there is a minimum of two to three years post-secondary experience, people are not getting in the doors for an interview.

So when you stand up and ask questions about youth in the Province, which comprise a significant portion of our population, and you are greeted with, you know: You are being too negative, be more positive - I could hide my head in the sand and talk about the wonderful things in the Province because there are many, but there are also challenges that we must overcome. Unless we are able to deal with it in a forthright manner in this public Chamber, acknowledge that we do have challenges and talk about them openly and forthrightly, not in an adversarial or confrontational way, but in a way that brings people together, constructive, talk about the problem, offer some solutions - I mean there is no question in my mind that we should look at adding a number of years, two years possibly, to our secondary system; whereby people who go on to access another two years, that the skills they gain and the courses they take be transferable to any other institution in the Province, whether that be the College of the North Atlantic, Memorial or others. These are the things we need to take advantage of. If nothing else, Mr. Speaker, it is a social partnership that we must get into and we must talk about immediately. It is a serious problem.

Newfoundland and Labrador is no stranger to out-migration. It never has been. In recent reports out of Industry Canada, in some of the reports that have been written for Industry Canada, we should deplete rural communities in Canada, specifically Atlantic Canada. That would be a way to solve the problems of underemployment, transfers, etcetera, etcetera. If that were the case then we would not have an unemployment problem. The number of people who have left this Province in the last fifty years, since Confederation - there have always been peaks and valleys, but there is one thing that is distinctly different about the out-migration problem that has occurred in the last five to seven years: That prior to that time the majority of people who were leaving came back. There was always an exit and an enter, back and forth. The door swung both ways. People left for six or seven months. There were many national projects of infrastructure. Our skilled workers, from plumbers to electricians, to operating engineers, to pipefitters, to drillers, to blasters, etcetera, were in demand across the country. Newfoundlanders have a good reputation: skilled workers, second to none; work ethic, second to none; quality of work, as high as any other group in the country.

One Local in Toronto comprised of about 12,000 members, at least 4,200 of them are Newfoundlanders, a little over 40 per cent of one Local Trade Union in Toronto, of which there are maybe forty or fifty. But one Local alone out of Toronto, out of a 12,000 membership 4,200 are Newfoundlanders. Now many of these people are members of that Local within terms of the international union agreements. They can transfer, whether it is from Toronto into Alberta, from Alberta back to Newfoundland or from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia. Essentially, it is mobility that has been guaranteed, if you have the skills, if you have the experience.

Newfoundlanders, traditionally, have come and gone in a variety of different ways and means to seek employment, to find employment, and have been amongst the first group of people in this country to go and find work where work could be found, where they could make a decent living and where they could support their families. Nothing new about that. That has not changed today. What has changed today, and what has changed dramatically, is that the number of young people who are leaving are not coming back. It is absolutely frightening.

I do not have to tell any member in this House the problem that they are facing within their own individual districts. In Corner Brook, the number of young people who are coming out of the high school system, are they finding positions in Corner Brook to the extent that they are used to? No. In Stephenville, Port aux Basques, Grand Falls, Springdale, Baie Verte, Fleur de Lys, Buchans, Port au Port Peninsula, and the list could on - they are not.

Last week, for example, I know of an individual who graduated from Memorial with a Computer Science Degree. He was recruited by Northern Telecom right off the street. They were down here and recruited him; starting salary, $46,000 - $47,000 a year. He did not have the necessary experience to go to work with IT firms in the Province, but they recruited him.

AN HON. MEMBER: Recruited him.

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, they recruited him.

Many firms were requiring two years experience and I am not about to question that. The firms have their own sort of hiring criteria, they know what their own needs are. But what I am questioning is the need for young people with skills to leave, that those opportunities are not being presented to them.

Northern Telecom, last year, for example: Of all the electrical engineers that graduated in every university across Canada last year, Northern Telecom, one company, hired 25 per cent of them. One company hired 25 per cent of all the electrical engineering graduates in Canada last year.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where are their headquarters?

MR. E. BYRNE: Their headquarters are in Toronto; satellite offices all over the country and the globe.

The industry that is emerging and Northern Telecom or Nortel, how it is restructured and how it is taking advantage is an example of what, in many cases, should be happening to a greater extent in the Province. I also understand the one firm here could hire 50 graduates tomorrow, if they had the necessary skills, but they do not; hire them tomorrow, just like that.

The difference again with out-migration - I could go through a number of my friends. One in particular who graduated in 1989 from Memorial, Bachelor of Arts, Major in Economics, Minor in Political Science, had a chance for summer work with the Workers' Compensation Commission in Ontario. He got married the same summer and both him and his wife went to Toronto for summer employment. They thought that it would be a good experience to go up for four or five months, together, away from everything, to work, possibly gain some skills and some experience and then come on home. That was nine years ago. Today they are living in Ottawa. They have two kids, one is four, the other is two. She teaches in Ottawa and he is a full-time adjudicator with the Workers' Compensation Commission. They will not be coming back - would love to, but can't.

They bought a three bedroom townhouse which would go for about, I would say, $80,000 to $90,000 in this city. They bought it in Toronto for $220,000. That is what they paid for it; a three bedroom townhouse, that in this city, in impeccable condition, you would buy for anywhere from $85,000 to $90,000. That is one example.

They were down this summer for a holiday. I believe it was their parents thirtieth or thirty-fifth anniversary. I am not sure which. Life is different for him today. It is different than he imagined it would be upon graduation from Memorial University. It is different for his wife, as well, who graduated from Memorial University in his Province. But there it is, that is reality. He has skills, he has employment, he has a family, they both have a family. It takes two of them to provide, as it does with most families today. That is one individual who will not be back.

Another individual, a good friend of mine, ended up in Calgary ten years ago, on a work term, in the Engineering Department. It was his last work term. He had to come for his final six courses at Memorial. He ended up with a firm in Calgary. Upon graduation he had a couple of offers outside the Province and decided that he was going to look around a bit more, waited it out here. He was in a position where he could wait it out for several months. At the end of the ninth month in 1991, he had had enough. He is an engineer, graduated with distinction in terms of academic honours and ended up in Calgary.

He went to work with the firm that he had his last work term with. That was seven years ago. Today he is in Calgary and the type of engineering work he is doing is related to Terra Nova, related to our offshore industry. So we have an expatriate Newfoundlander, a son of the Province, born and raised here, educated here, did very well academically here, travelled across Canada on his work terms, who ended up working full-time for an engineering firm in Calgary which has a huge contract with respect to the Terra Nova oil industry. This is an engineer, doing work, trained, educated from here, who would love to be home, married there to a lady from Calgary, and the work he is doing, his income is dependent and directly related to our offshore oil and gas industry.

Let's talk about Terra Nova. In terms of the agreement that this Province signed with Terra Nova, let's look at the engineering work alone. My understanding - and I stand to be corrected - but my understanding is, that as part of that agreement the bulk of the engineering work would be done here. It is just about complete. However, where are the engineers? Where are the 110, the 130 engineers, who are working with that industry or working with respect to Terra Nova? They are located in Britain. Where is the majority of the work is being done? In Seoul, Korea.

Now, I have listened to the Minister of Mines and Energy's responses and the Premier's, upon signing the deal. They have talked about how they have traded off - I don't know if traded off are the right word. Traded off may be the wrong words. Let me put it this way: That their attention was focused on the revenue arrangement, not necessarily the initial working construction of that deal that was supposed to come in place; but it should have been.

Twenty-five years ago, in Norway, a country not unlike our own in many respects, in terms of standard of living, quality of the people, work ethics, et cetera, found themselves in an emerging oil and gas industry, not unlike where we are today. They made a commitment to themselves, that where they did not have the expertise to take advantage of their industry, they would bring it in. But the difference was, that in bringing it in they learned from it, that five years later when that expertise was required again they did not need to bring it in. People in Norway were themselves trained. They took advantage of the skills that did not exist within their country and within their labour market and they created it, because they learned from the best in the business in the world at that time.

Employment-wise, they benefitted significantly. Technology-wise, in terms of the transfer of technology that took place with respect to that industry, they ensured that it did take place so that in future, whether it was within their own society or another that needed expertise - because they knew that it would at some point but did not know necessarily where - that they were able to offer it. If it were not for a Norwegian company and the Norwegian expertise, I am not convinced that the Hibernia site would have worked out as well as it did. Because when they came in, it was their expertise that brought the expenditures on line, it was their expertise that made the GBS project a successful one along with the solid work ethics of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. But the situations that have occurred here with respect to the very early stages of our oil and gas industry, with respect to our skilled labour force and our skilled pool, certainly would not take place in Norway today.

When you look at the number of industrial electricians who were certified, from one end of the country to the other, people, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who would go to work anywhere in this country, but were displaced from that project, forty-five or forty-six of them who had the qualifications, who had the experience, who were not able, were not allowed, were denied access simply because another company came in and brought their own personnel, then there is something wrong.

I have no hesitation in talking about the value of a project in Newfoundland and Labrador being a Canadian project. I have no hesitation in terms of ensuring that if it is, where the Canadian government was involved to the extent that they were, that other people should, if the opportunities present themselves, be able to take advantage of it as well. It should not be, as what happened in many cases, at the expense of people in this Province who are primed, ready and skilled to take advantage of those opportunities, but that happened, and it continues to happen today.

If you want to look at other models in the world of places similar to our own, Ireland is a great example. There has been much talk about how Ireland has transformed its economy. There has been much talk about where they were twelve, fifteen, sixteen years ago. The talk is not without substance. The similarities are uncanny, the similarities are scary, the similarities are unbelievable. About fourteen years ago Ireland's percentage of people leaving the Province was about the same as ours; an older population, education costs the highest in Europe. The economy, in terms of where it was going, largely depended upon one or two industries. Agriculture is a major industry in Ireland. In fourteen short years they have turned it around.

If you want to look at the areas that they looked at, they brought people together from labour, from business, from education. They sat down and talked about approaches. Not unlike ourselves today, we are in a very adversarial sort of position when it comes to labour relations. They entered into what they called a social contract. Everybody became a partner in terms of developing society as to where we want it to be. There were guarantees put in place for labour, for business. There was a climate developed, a climate by where one portion of their economy was based upon: If you came here you could count upon certain things. It was a social partnership. People within the economy became social partners, and they continued to be so for the next ten years.

They participated as social partners in what we call strategic planning, outside of government. Government didn't become the be-all and the end-all but it became one aspect, a very important aspect in terms of the legislative aspect, regulatory regime, providing the environment, but with a sound strategic plan, a plan that was over the long term, that looked at the quality of work today, where we could maintain what we had first of all, where we could create it, and where we could attract it.

Their document is one that is still alive. It is a living document. The social partnership was based upon consent. It was a very consensual relationship, one where people came to the table and agreed upon certain things. Politics in the Republic of Ireland is colourful, to say the least, depending on what part of Ireland you go to. Certainly in Southern Ireland, where what we talk about in terms of the Republic of Ireland, it became very much a consultative sort of approach. Government did not move in the face of business or labour, or in the face of creating an economy that was going to work, or that could hopefully work. It consulted widely and broadly, and it continued to do so, and it continues to do so.

Its public sector, once a very bureaucratic sort of public sector approach, was transformed into a very entrepreneurial approach. Entrepreneurial in a sense that from the bureaucracy point of view, or the bureaucracy that obviously is a necessity with government and, depending upon how government chooses to interact with it, can be a very positive interaction, but it created more of an entrepreneurial spirit not only within the bureaucracy but within the school system.

Some of the benefits that are being taught at the very lowest levels in Ireland today, in terms of education, what we would say are Kindergarten through Grade IV, have yet to be realized. Some of those people today are just graduating from their system - what their secondary system is - but they are also into very much related job-entry skills on a variety of topics, whether it be informational technology, value-added, secondary processing, attracting capital investment, to enhance and bring down costs and offer a very solid and second-to-none product and services that they are into. But it was very entrepreneurial based and it was a tenet of how they felt they should turn around their economy.

It is sector focused in terms of its focus on the economy. It did not look at itself as an island, or develop an island mentality. Actually it shook it off, and it was forged as a new and emerging economy; how that new economy could bridge itself with and be added to Ireland's traditional economy based upon resource sectors, how it could enhance that economy, how it could provide better opportunities for it. We have a situation in this Province where the largest industry - it is not the construction industry, not the fishing industry - is the food industry. Last year the food industry was worth $1.6 billion. We in this Province, in terms of our consumption of that industry and the goods and services that we need from it, produce less than ten percent. The Member from Humber Valley knows what I am talking about. He was a participant in it.

In 1985 - you look at the Milk Marketing Board where fresh milk was not offered in this Province to the extent it is today. We were not producing what our needs were, or what our requirements were. But in fourteen short years we have gone from being - we were a market by where skim milk, powdered milk, was being dropped in the marketplaces through a variety of measures, but people in that industry came together themselves. They decided they were going to protect their industry, and they did. They have created employment, they have created wealth, they have created money that was at one time being (inaudible) on a product that was going outside the Province that is now staying here. That industry is self-sufficient today as a result of it.

You talk about the milk quotas, one industry, how far milk quotas have come in the last ten or fourteen years. It really is one of the most successful stories in the last decade in this Province. It is only one aspect of more things that we can do, a lot more things that we can do.

When you talk about the amount of Carnation milk for example, one product. It may sound foolish but one product alone is worth, I think, in this Province, somewhere in the vicinity of $17 million to $18 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) $31 million.

MR. E. BYRNE: How much? Thirty-one million was it, the year before last? So, $31 million on Carnation milk. We do not produce any of it here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes. None of it is processed here. It is all produced in Montreal. We have a $30 million consumer item being purchased by people in this Province - $30 million - in terms of purchasing one product, Carnation milk, and where is it being produced? All of the secondary processing, all of the jobs that go with it, all of the industrial sorts and economic (inaudible) that we could get from that, are being produced in Montreal if I am not mistaken.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Montreal?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Carnation milk. In Montreal I believe. How many people would be employed here in this Province? The reduction of shipping costs, incredible. It is an incredible story.

Root crops: You go out on the West Coast, certainly in parts on the Central and Eastern parts of the Province but on the West Coast in particular, out around the Humber Valley, Codroy Valley area, and the amount of root crops that we do not produce ourselves, that we should be, for our own consumption. It is not as easy as just providing land to do it and letting people go ahead and do it; there is a whole industry standard associated with it. We are competing with large food chains at the moment. We are not providing any incentive by where to do it. If you look at the report on agrifoods, how many of the recommendations were implemented to date in that report? There were some pretty solid arguments made in that report for where we should be moving within the food industry, but we are not at this point. On many of them we have not moved anywhere.

You want to look at the amount of cold storage that is available in this Province for people in that industry. Really, it is nothing worth talking about. Cold storage is an infrastructure or a necessary piece of infrastructure that is required if we are going to move into those areas. So fundamentally we have not moved, in terms of that area, to the extent that we should.

Now look at Fairlee juice, a quality product supposedly, coming out of Ontario. You can go anywhere in this Province and Fairlee juice is what we buy. The fact is, all the water for it comes out of the Great Lakes. It goes through a chemical process that involves about ninety to ninety-five different chemicals to purify the water. The water is mixed with concentrate, bottled and sold down here and everywhere. We have a great local company doing exactly the same thing; but one of our natural advantages is the type of water that we have, crystal clear. Some of the best water in the world is right here, but that is another area where we have not moved in a direction strong enough, long enough, and provided enough incentive for people to get to work.

Those are the areas that we get into value-added, secondary processing, the types of areas that create wealth and jobs meaningful over the long term. We have talked about natural outlets for some of our seasonal industries that would provide for secondary processing but they are not here. The infrastructure is not here. So, Mr. Speaker, these are areas where we need to move in a new way.

Outside investment in Ireland. Mr. Speaker, it was something that was not so actively pursued twelve to fourteen years ago but it is something that is actively pursued today, each and every day.

What does the minister have? It was a welcome back gift was it?

What is it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: From what I hear, when you got off the plane on Friday night you were not carrying a Sobeys bag. That is my understanding.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, the minister should not... From my understanding, it was not a Sobeys bag that was in your hand. When you got off the plane in St. John's Airport on Friday night, it was not a Sobeys bag with a bit of aftershave in it that you were carrying.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am not sure about that. I did not inquire to that level. I did not inquire at all. This stuff was offered to me. I was not going to inquire on it. How was the show? I heard it was one of the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I did not get an offer. Pardon me?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Is that an offer? When are we going?

AN HON. MEMBER: In August.

MR. E. BYRNE: Let the record show that the Minister of Mines and Energy wants the Leader of the Opposition to go to Norway. I am not sure I am going to be able to take you up on your offer, to be honest with you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) a written invitation.

MR. E. BYRNE: A written invitation?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, I will send your old campaigning buddy from the West Coast, from Stephenville, the old -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand. Your old friend, who is now the Member for St. John's East, (inaudible) in Stephenville, bought a couple of good campaigns for the former member, Fred Stagg, is that correct?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, and you did. You did a great job.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, back to - the tone of my comment is that in Ireland it has been actively pursued, outside investment. I spoke to somebody who was in Dublin for five months about two weeks ago, a private sector businessman who took the time and went over and had a look around. He spent five months there. He went over for actually four to six weeks and ended up coming back - he took more time and stayed there.

He said one of the interesting things - he was there ten years ago, and what he saw on his trip, on his jaunt, this time that he did not see ten years ago was the amount of young professional faces, the amount of old buildings that had been restored, the amount of industry that is there now that was not there ten years ago. He compared it in a very small way but in a realistic way to what happened in Trinity.

Anybody who took the time to go down to Trinity or who has been in Trinity say ten to twelve years ago, I would say that 80 per cent of the homes were boarded up, if not more, but today they have been restored. People are interested. It has become very much a hot spot for a period of time during the year, but an area to which people are flocking. They have invested.

In Ireland, he said, what struck him about Dublin was the amount of young professional people under the age of thirty who were driving the Irish economy, who were not there ten years ago. He said it did not happen overnight. It happened a job at a time. It happened a company at a time.

They took advantage of their natural attributes. They combined it with: a partnership that was based upon consent; strategic planning, and a strategic plan that the entire industry bought into, and the economy bought into; a consultative approach with politics; an entrepreneurial public sector and private sector; focus on the new economy in bringing new jobs, but enhancing existing industry; actively pursuing outside investment.

Combined with all of that, in terms of education and training, they invested heavily. They went from the highest per capita cost of post-secondary education in Europe - they were 25 per cent higher than the next highest cost in Europe - and in ten years they are now the lowest. They have provided accessibility to education and made it free to everybody, but it wasn't a free ticket. While it is a laudable goal if we can afford it, to educate people freely in a post-secondary sense, if we want to maintain them in our economy there has to be some conditions attached, and they did attach some.

This all combined with what you would call an integrated approach to developing a society, an economy, developing socially, providing advantages that were not necessarily there before. With that plan, while they had it, people were on board, it wasn't enough.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: It used to be like ours, though. Their equalization system was an exact mirror of ours.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, nothing else. That is exactly right.

Mr. Speaker, with that integrated approach that was just described, you would think that would be enough, but they felt that it was only the beginning. Because implementation of a plan is where the action really is. You can have the best laid plan in the world, but implementation is where it's at, and they combined it with that.

The Minister of Mines and Energy is exactly right with respect to equalization. We have, probably, in the next twelve to eighteen months, the same opportunity. While the federal and provincial governments fiscal arrangements, or what they call Canada's social union, is about to be negotiated, they are a little ways away from designing the framework of what will encompass that discussion with the provinces and the federal government. While it does present some threats and challenges, it also presents some opportunity.

To that extent, I can only hope - because I don't know for sure, but I would assume, and I think it would be a fairly safe and natural assumption to make - that government is planning now for those discussions, that government is putting forward its view of what we have contributed as a province to Canada. Because there is a view that is widely held, but it is wrongly held, that we as a province have taken more from Confederation than we have given to it, and that is simply not true over time. I am not going to get into the details of it, because I think that we have long debated that. The fact of the matter is that we have contributed far more to the country in the last fifty years than we have received.

It is not unlike any other industrial economy, or an economy that is based upon an industrial centre, like Canada has been, where trade has been essentially east-west, not north-south, in terms of between us and America over the last fifty years. The Canadian economy generally has been based upon the industrial heartland in Ontario, and we have contributed significantly to it. Most of our resources, in some way, shape or form, end up there, in terms of our export mentality, if you will. We have exported raw materials, we have exported raw energy, we have exported raw cod block, we have exported raw timber, we have exported raw materials. The list goes on.

But we find ourselves today still living, in some ways - we have not certainly decolonized our minds to the extent that we should have to date, but we find ourselves living today in an economy that is far different, that is not based upon west-east or east-west trade practices. It is not based upon north-south trade practices. It is based upon being in a position in the world as an economy, that we have some natural, geographic and other advantages, and that we are competing globally. And unless we start taking advantage of it, and taking more advantage of it, and changing how we look at certain things, and making the necessary adjustments and investments that we need to make today that will provide some significant outcome in a positive manner ten and fifteen years from now, then ten or fifteen years from now some other Premier, some other Leader of the Opposition, some other member of the Opposition, some other minister, will be standing up and asking and defending, in a very confrontational, adversarial sort of way, the exact same questions that I have asked today, or that other members have asked today, and I would not label that as progress necessarily, not at all.

I think if we are going to adopt an approach that is consultative, that is based less upon being adversaries but based upon being people in a Province - there are only 500,000 of us. You could take all of us and one day deposit the works of us in this Province in Etobicoke and Toronto and they would not know we are there. They would not know that 500,000 people, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, were there until Friday night came or any other night came.

AN HON. MEMBER: If 500,000 Newfoundlanders showed up, they would know.

MR. E. BYRNE: What I am talking about is in terms of population. We are blessed with some significant advantages, but we have to rethink how we are doing things, simply put, and they would know -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) thinking.

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, I mean, certainly if four or five got together in this Legislature and ended up in Toronto for one night they would know they were there, but we cannot get into that.

Mr. Speaker, that is the Republic of Ireland's story. What has been ours? When it comes to social partnership, we have established and talked about how they have re-engineered and redesigned what social partnership meant, and it was based upon a process of consensus and consensus building. Ours today is still based upon very much an adversarial model. Their strategic plan, as we have talked about, is a living document: monitored, implemented, changed, developed where it sees fit. Nonetheless, it is a plan that is alive and is working through what is happening.

Where is our strategic plan? My assertion is that it is a dead document today, that this government has moved swiftly away from the strategic plan. The concept of a strategic economic plan and a strategic social plan are goals and objectives that we should be working towards on a daily basis; and once having an approach outlined that people can buy into, that is based upon consent, that we are moving forward, that is where we should be with it.

Their politics, more so now than it was fourteen years ago, is more consultative. There is more work going on by members in the House, irrespective of what side of the government they sit, with industry. These are the people who are out pursuing investment, members of the House or members of their Parliament or House of Representatives. Where is ours?

We have seen some movement in that with respect to an All Party Committee on fisheries. We have adopted an approach that left partisan politics at the door, where it should be on specific issues. Maybe there is a lesson in that. I believe that the electorate are more open today to legislative reform than they have ever been before, and I think it is a topic that we, as elected representatives in this House, should pursue; or, it is an idea worthy of pursuit. Where it ends up, who knows? But I think it is an idea worthy of pursuit and I believe the people of the Province ultimately will benefit from it.

Public Sector: Now, while our public sector has moved greatly in terms of entrepreneurial sorts of thinking, we need to move even further, I would say, Mr. Speaker. Their sector focus on a new economy has been successful, but it has been successful for a number of reasons. Have we been? Are we being successful today in terms of taking advantage of situations that present themselves, or our focus on resource management to the extent that we should?

Let's talk about water export. This is a legitimate, fundamental concern. The opportunities that lie in this Province for the export of crystal clear, second-to-none water in this Province are immense. In the next twenty-five to thirty years, water in this world will become an ever increasing valuable commodity. Some people, in some of the information that I have read, have predicted that thirty years from now water will be as much a commodity as a valuable - because of the exploding world's population, or a continuous erosion of the world's water systems to the extent where they have been polluted and beyond repair to some extent, it will become a commodity as valuable as oil. Some economists and some people who are forward-looking have said that. It is an advantage that we have. Are we actively pursuing outside investment? Maybe the Minister of Mines and Energy who is a former Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, can answer me. Have we actively pursued outside investment to the extent that we should have? Honestly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, no, just generally speaking. I just concluded water. How do we get around it? Are we our own worst enemies in some ways?

I heard a story recently by where a former Premier was somewhere in Ontario, some time back, dealing with a major bank for a call centre. We satisfied all of the conditions put forward, and then some, but what it came down to was their image of us. Is that correct?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is what I understand, that it was the best. That is what I heard, that when push came to shove, when all things were equal, we were - I heard it was in the top three but we were the best, the minister says. Well being in the top three is - well we were the best; that is even better.

MR. FUREY: They acknowledged that.

MR. E. BYRNE: They acknowledged that. This was at a call centre, at a bank with a major call centre, and what it came down to was their image -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, and that it came down as number one. It came down that their image of us: accent, our belief in ourselves -

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly, yes. If we could only tell that to Marine Atlantic. People who have the reservation systems in Port aux Basques are not allowed to accept calls outside the island.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, go ahead. I am interested because last week I heard this and this really struck me.

MR. FUREY: That was their only complaint (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, and as a result we did not get it. Where did it go?

AN HON. MEMBER: Nova Scotia.

MR. E. BYRNE: Nova Scotia.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Are they? So there may be another opportunity.

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, I notice, even on the legislative agenda, you talk about that, in terms of attitude, a bill respecting credit unions and a bill respecting the regulatory regime associated with it. Look, if there is anything we should rethink about banking in the Province maybe that is it, in terms of providing more incentive. Government's major bank, for example, the CIBC, when you think about what has been done over the past five years with banks, it has less to do with service and more to do with profit. In a time where barriers should be tumbling we pay, individually, as people who use the service. We pay more in service charges than we have ever paid before. CIBC, I think it was in 1995 or 1996, just on customers of CIBC using Interac, made $355 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: And laid off 20,000 people.

MR. E. BYRNE: I was just going to say that.

In terms of charging customers to get at their own money, that was their profit margin on service fees. At the same time, as you said, they laid off 20,000 people and are continuing to do so.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, I can tell you. I deal with the Credit Union. I don't mind saying it publicly. I did not always, but I am now. It is a completely different atmosphere in walking in the front door of the Credit Union.

Number one: You are a member which means you have say. Number two: The services that I saw in the early 1980s in other banks still exist there. Number three: The amounts of money that go into it, that are made and created, are examples of where it stays here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: All the time. They will go out of their way. If you are a customer and a member of the Credit Union, they go out of their way to serve you. I am not saying other banks don't, but the stress levels and the amount of productivity required from individuals, where they actually lay off more people and download more people, the same level of personal service is not there. I must say too, in all fairness, that some local branches at other banks that I have dealt with are pretty good as well.

It is an example of where government, while it cannot move to make things better, but where government does business - can't it do business elsewhere that would enhance the types of services that socially it thinks should be enhanced.

In terms of educational training compared to Ireland, Mr. Speaker, if there was a road-map - if we were unsure of where we should go a decade ago, we should not be today. If there was a road-map defined and laid out for us in terms of similarities of culture,

similarities in terms of the economy, similarities in terms of the same structural problems that we face, then the road-map in terms of educational training is the Irish experience.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. E. BYRNE: You talk to any person who has been a public servant for years, who is now retired, or former ministers of the House, they will tell you that the attitude is unbelievable. You have seen it. You have experienced it firsthand.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, no doubt about it.

We have come a long way in twenty years, as a people. We have a long way in twenty years, as a people, in terms of our own view of ourselves.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, we cannot let it stop us.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, what part of it? All of it, you mean, generally?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, that is something we all face as public people. We have and will again.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: It is unfair, but we are all losers, I guess, in the end result, when it comes down to it. If at some point, as public people, we need to be taken a task then so be it, we need to be taken a task.

If there is a road-map with respect to educational training, that we should look at, start embracing some of the models that they have used. It is the exactly the Irish experience as it comes to educational training.

In that area, I think we are improving somewhat, but we have a long ways to do. It was the topic for Question Period today, in terms of: Are we doing enough for people in terms of the post-secondary educational system, young graduates that are coming out of the system with skills and training? Are we doing enough to enhance their experience, to provide opportunities? I do not think anybody naturally expects government to provide a job for every graduate who comes out of Memorial or the College of the North Atlantic. That is not the approach that I am advocating or saying that we should take. What I am saying is that we have to create an environment that does not exist today whereby people have an opportunity to stay, whereby every young person should be in training, some form of community service, in terms of apprenticeship programs.

A good example is the recent co-operative program that was just cancelled by HRD. It was cancelled for Atlantic Canada. It was not cancelled for anywhere else. The Minister of Human Resources and Employment would have a more specific handle on it. It was an example of a program that worked, that, more importantly, showed people, young people especially, what real work life and work placement is all about. It is unfortunate that program was cancelled.

Mr. Speaker, I think if there is anything we need to think about - it is find to say that we are moving in that direction, our approach is this, and we have a plan to take advantage of that, but implementation is where it is at. It is find to say we are at point A today, and that when we get to point B, C, D or E, we are going to have X number of jobs or X number of investments. But if we do not watch what is happening, from that point where we are today until we get there, then that is where we are going to experience, what I would call, implementation failure; failure to provide opportunities, missed chances that we can not get back again.

The people of the Province are expecting nothing less from people in this House. If we move forward in trying to create an environment where people can have a sense of dignity, a sense of independence, a sense that opportunities are there, whereby they can raise a family, move forward, provide for a family, I believe that is all that anybody is truly asking for. To expect anything different, or to not have our days', weeks', months' and years' activities driven by that single focus, to provide an opportunity whereby people can live, can prosper to some extent and have a sense of independence, can pass on a sense of value to their children and provide opportunities, at least on par, then we have not done our job.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I will conclude my remarks and sit down.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Is the House ready for the question?

All in favour of the Motion.


MR. SPEAKER: Opposed.


MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Division

MR. SPEAKER: Bring in the members.



MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask all hon. members to take their seats.

All in favour of the motion, please signify by standing?

CLERK (Mr. J. Noel): The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy; the hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General; Mr. Walsh; Mr. Lush; Mr. Oldford; the hon. the Minister of Health and Community Services; Mr. Barrett; the hon. the Minister of Human Resources and Employment; the hon. the Minister of Environment and Labour; the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology; the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation; the hon. the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation; Mr. Wiseman; Mr. Andersen; Mr. Canning; Mr. Smith; Mr. Ramsay; Ms Hodder; Mr. Woodford; Mr. Mercer; Mr. Reid; Ms Thistle; Mr. Sparrow; the hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. SPEAKER: All members opposed to the motion, please signify by standing.

CLERK: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition; Mr. Sullivan; Mr. Shelley; Mr. Jack Byrne; Mr. Hodder; Mr. Fitzgerald; Mr. Osborne; Mr. Ottenheimer; Mr. French.

Mr. Speaker, twenty-four yeas and nine nays.

MR. SPEAKER: I declare the motion carried.

The motion is that this House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means to consider the raising of Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means. Mr. Speaker left the Chair.


Committee of the Whole


CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee of Ways and Means rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again. Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I am calling motion 2, that the House Resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply to Consider Certain Resolutions for the Granting of Supply to Her Majesty.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Supply. Mr. Speaker left the Chair.


Committee of the Whole


CHAIR (Oldford): Order, please!

MR. DECKER: I call the Executive Council.

CHAIR: We are debating motion 2, that the House Resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Supply to Consider Certain Resolutions for the Granting of Supply to Her Majesty. The hon. minister has called Executive Council.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just question the Minister of Justice. Is the Minister of Finance available for Executive Council?

MR. FUREY: The minister has just gone upstairs for a few minutes with the Premier to host a meeting from outside investors. He should be back down, but if he is not we will just make some notes of the questions or we will try to answer them.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I stand today -


CHAIR: Order, please!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I stand today to make a few comments and raise a few questions with respect to the Executive Council as it relates to this year's Budget.

We see, Mr. Chairman, that under Executive Council we are talking about primarily the Premier's office and the overall operations of the Public Service Commission, the Public Service of the Province, decision making, planning, formulation of policy and general development of the Province and all its resources. When we look at the actual breakdown, Mr. Chairman, we see total funding for the fiscal year of 1998-1999 of some $26,927,300. This is shown of course at the beginning of the Estimates under the Heading, Executive Council. That is broken down, Mr. Chairman, in primarily three separate Headings: The Lieutenant-Governor's Establishment; the Office of the Executive Council and the Treasury Board Secretariat.

The question, I guess, which has to be asked is: When we look at page 1 of the Estimates as it relates to Executive Council, we see that the Office of the Executive Council has an expenditure, Mr. Chairman, of close to $9 million, and when we look at last year's figures, we see that this is an increase of some 37 per cent. In fact, the actual increase shows $2,416,600. Of course, the question that has to be asked and the question that I will have for the minister upon his return is: What explanation does he have, as President of Treasury Board and as Finance Minister of this Province, to justify an increase of almost $2.5 million or, as I have indicated, some 37 per cent.

Mr. Chairman, upon close scrutiny of this year's estimates, when we compare with last year's, it is certainly not evident why there is a sudden increase of this amount and it is an increase of, I say, not small proportions. It is an increase which is quite significant in dollar figures, showing some $2.5 million.

The Lieutenant-Governor's Establishment $488,000, Office of the Executive Council, $8.9 million and the Treasury Board Secretariat, of $17.5 million for a total program estimates of some $26,900,000; a significant increase in funding I say to members opposite, and of course, we would like some clarification from the minister as to exactly why this particular increase is showing.

Under Government House, Mr. Chairman, which is always an interesting topic for discussion, we see that the estimates for 1998/99 again show an increase in Salaries of $37,000; Employee Benefits up this year where there were none last year; also we see in Purchased Services $24,600 compared with $22,000 the previous year. Again the question has to be asked, Mr. Chairman: Why is there an increase? Who were the people who, in fact, sold these services to government? What were these particular Purchased Services for and how did it enhance, in any way, the Lieutenant-Governor's residence?

Also, with respect to Property, Furnishings and Equipment, Mr. Chairman, we see an increase of approximately $1,000. Again the question that is asked to the minister is for him to give some justification or explanation as to why we see an increase in this year's estimates compared to the revised figures of 1997/98.

Really, the larger question as I see it, Mr. Chairman, is: With respect to this increase of some 37 per cent in the Office of the Executive Council, what conceivably would have, in fact, resulted in such a large increase? Of course, we can go through the various headings. For example, Premier's Office is under the Office of the Executive Council, and we see an increase under the 1998/99 Estimates compared to the revised figures of 1997/98.

We see an increase in Salaries and an increase in Employee Benefits. Questions of interest which come to my mind are: Who are these employees; what is their role; how many employees, in fact, are now employed in the Premier's Office; and specifically what is their role as it relates to the day-to-day functions of the Premier's office? Has there been an increase, Mr. Chairman, in the numbers of individuals? My guess is, the answer to that question is yes, but of interest would be to know exactly what the increase is. How has the role of these particular employees in the Premier's Office changed since the revised figure of 1997/98?

Also, we have Transportation and Communications. Who, in fact, did the travelling, Mr. Chairman? What was the destination? What was the purpose of this travel? How many people accompanied the Premier? Exactly where did these trips lead the Premier, and for what purpose?

These are the kinds of details and the kinds of specifics which are essential, to have a clear understanding, to members of the opposition, in questioning the Office of the Executive Council as it relates to the Premier's office.

Property, Furnishings and Equipment: We see an expenditure of some $5,000. Allowances and Assistance, some, $20,000. So the figures which are just shown us in the Estimates give members on this side of the House, Mr. Chairman, exactly no indication of what justification there may or may not be, as it relates to these particular expenses.

Then we look at Executive Support, under the Cabinet Secretariat: A significant expenditure of some $975,400. Under the Estimates, it indicates that Executive Support provides for Executive Support for the effective and efficient operation of the cabinet process. I would say it would have to be efficient and effective, or one would think, Mr. Chairman, when we look at the expenditure which is provided by Executive Support. "Provides support to Cabinet and its Committees and includes the senior planning and direction of the Cabinet Secretariat, including the establishment and valuation of policies and objectives."

Salaries show an increase, I say Mr. Chairman, of $702,000. Again, employee benefits are up from the $3,000 revised figure of 1997/98 to the present Estimates of 1998/99.

Transportation and Communications: The same types of questions, Mr. Chairman, have to be asked. What is the purpose of the travel, who in fact travelled, who accompanied the Premier or the Cabinet Minister as it relates to this travel, and what were the benefits accruing to this Province as a result of the significant expenditure, as it relates to Executive Support?

Supplies, Mr. Chairman, Supplies of $57,600: Are we talking about staples, I ask Mr. Chairman? Are we talking about binders, are we talking about stationary? What is the nature of this particular cost, and what is nature of this expense as it relates to the benefit to the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador?

Professional Services, $32,700: Is this the well-known French lessons that are being taken on a regular basis? Again, we do not have the answers to these questions. Of course, it is incumbent upon the minister, in due course - I understand he is unavoidably absent - to answer in detail the specifics of the breakdown as is shown in the section under Heading 2.2.01, Executive Support under the Heading, Cabinet Secretariat.

Purchase Services: Almost $51,000, Mr. Chairman, in Purchase Services. Again the question: What is the nature of these Services? Who provided them? Again the ultimate question, in terms of this being a very public issue: Of what benefit to the people of this Province did $51,000 worth of Purchased Services have. I am looking forward with great interest to finding out the answer to these Purchased Services. Were they consulting fees? Were they Legal Fees? Was it advise given by professionals of one form or another?

Again, these are the kinds of details which remain unanswered, when we just look very superficially at the Estimates, as shown on page 16 under Executive Council.

The Property, Furnishings and Equipment: Another interesting question for the Minister of Finance. Some $27,000; again up $5000 from the revised figure of 1997/98. Property, Furnishings and Equipment: I mean, this seems to be a significant amount, I say to the Minister of Finance, as it relates to the Executive Support. What type of property? Are we looking at simply the decorating of one's office? Are we looking at new furnishings? What attempts were made by members opposite, or by Executive Support, to ensure that the best possible buy was, in fact, taken into account and that the public purse was taken into account in terms of having minimal impact upon the people of this Province.

Grants and Subsidies: We need clarification from the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board as well as to exactly what is meant by Grants and Subsidies, the grand total of which shows almost $1 million, $975,400 under the heading of Executive Support. It is essential in these headings in particular, because this is the type of heading which generally gets very little attention, I would say.

We have public hearings in terms of the Estimates as it relates to the Resource Committee, the Social Services Committee, and Government Services Committee. Very often we wait for debate in the House of Assembly so that we can be given, as members of the Opposition, great detail, exactness as it relates to these expenses under the heading of Executive Council.

Continuing on, I would ask the minister: Can he indicate, under Economic Policy Analysis, the total expenditure showing $226,400, an actual breakdown? Again we see an increase in Salaries for the Estimates of 1998-1999. Employee Benefits, once again. The question I would be asking the minister is: Why is it Employee Benefits only show in this particular year, and are completely absent in the revised figures of 1997-1998? It is budgeted for last year, doesn't appear in the revised figures, but suddenly re-appears in the Estimates for this present year. If in fact the revised figure indicated there was no need for new employee benefits, what is the reason and the rationale for it appearing in the Estimates for this particular Budget year?

Transportation and Communications: Again, we require specific analysis and explanation as to: What was the purpose of the travel? Who travelled? What was the destination? And again, what was the public good? How did the people of this Province benefit in terms of Transportation and Communications expenses?

We see Supplies increasing this year, up some $1,500. Again, we are talking about Supplies for Economic Policy Analysis, which comes under Cabinet Secretariat, which comes under Office of the Executive Council. All of the main categories of government, and the various sub-branches or suboffices of government, have their own individual expenses. The question is, why? And what is the explanation for that amount? So we have Total, under Economic Policy Analysis, of $226,400, up almost $50,000 from the revised figures of 1997-1998.

Let's now turn to Social Policy Analysis. I ask the minister again - we see an increase in Salaries, we see Employee Benefits - the same question as before. In the revised figures of 1997-1998 there was absolutely no mention whatsoever of any benefits afforded to employees.

Transportation and Communications under Social Policy Analysis, what is Social Policy Analysis? If we read what is in the Estimates book, "Appropriations provide for the support of the Social Policy Committee of Cabinet through policy analysis and coordination of social policy issues."

The question that has to be asked is: What is it in Social Policy Analysis which is not a part of Economic Policy Analysis, which is not a part of Executive Support? Why are there additional expenses being afforded to the people of this Province when we see, for example, Transportation and Communications, $12,000, a $5,000 increase? I am curious of the minister as to how he can justify an increase in Transportation and Communications, and why was it not part of Economic Policy Analysis? Why was it not part of the Executive Support or, for that matter, Mr. Chairman, the Premier's Office itself?

Supplies: In the scheme of things one may say a very minimal amount but nevertheless an increase. What is the purpose of this increase? Why, in the first place, is there an increase? Total, under Social Policy Analysis, $174,300, up approximately $65,000 from the previous year.

The Offshore Fund - Administration: Again, if we read directly from the Estimates, "Appropriations provide for the monitoring of projects funded under the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Development Fund."

So my question for the minister would be specifically: What projects, in fact, were funded under the Canada-Newfoundland Offshore Development Fund? What specifically are the projects? What was the purpose of this expenditure? Again, we see an increase in Salaries, in Employee Benefits. We see a Transportation and Communications cost of $4,000. Specifically, what jumps out on this page, Mr. Chairman, is the Professional Services which have increased by some $22,000 or, in fact, in excess of $22,000 under Professional Services. Purchased Services, $7,500. Again, what were these services? What was the nature of them? What was the purpose of them? And who, in fact, provided the services to government?

Continuing on under the Office of the Executive Council, under Cabinet Secretariat, now we are at heading 2.2.05, Economic Renewal Agreement Administration. Total Salaries, $124,300; Employee Benefits, $1,800 - again not in last year's revised figures; Transportation and Communications down from -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


We see for the first time since we have gone through the Estimates of the Executive Council, a reduction in Transportation and Communication from $22,000, which was the revised figure of last year, and this year's Estimates showing $10,000. But the question has to asked: The purpose of the travel and, again, how the public will benefit?

Professional Services: What is it the minister envisages in Professional Services for the Estimates for 1998-1999, showing a difference of $16,500. Total under Economical Renewal Agreement Administration, $157,500.

My question to the minister as well would be: What is the purpose of this particular subheading? What role does it play? And how are the people of this Province, in fact, benefiting from it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: It does not account for the whole amount, though; it is just a portion of it.

I would ask the same question to the Member for Conception Bay East & Bell Island in terms of the overall office, the purpose of it, and again the benefit -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Yes, I agree.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The offshore fund?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: That is up by some $20,000.

On page 19 of the Estimates, Mr. Chairman, under Cabinet Secretariat (Cont'd), we have heading 2.2.07, Advisory Councils on Economic and Social Policy. Again we see, on page 17, the Economic Policy Analysis, $226,400; Social Policy Analysis, $174,300. Now we go to, on page 19, Advisory Councils on Economic and Social Policy. I would be interested in asking the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Yes, but my comment to the minister would be: Why is it not covered under Executive Support? Why, for example, in Social Policy Analysis, do we have two offices? We have the heading 2.2.03, Social Policy Analysis, and 2.2.07, Advisory Councils on Economic and Social Policy?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).


AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Yes, but I say to the member, both are under the heading Cabinet Secretariat. The heading on both pages is Cabinet Secretariat. Again, I would just make the point, we see Economic Policy Analysis, Social Policy Analysis, and under heading 2.2.07 the Advisory Councils for both Economic and Social Policy.

Mr. Chairman, again, the same kinds of questions can be asked under these headings in the Estimates. Advisory Councils on Economic and Social Policy: "Appropriations provide for independent advice to Government on major economic and social issues."

Perhaps, I say to the member, maybe the word `independent' is the critical word here, and that one is an outside agency completely and the other may be internal. That may be the explanation.

Nevertheless, let's look at the cost. We see an increase in Salaries, an increase in Employee Benefits; we see a significant increase in Transportation and Communications of $53,500 to be -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: So is this all a part of the consultation process?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Not at all, but nevertheless government, and I am sure the member will agree, has to be able to at least offer a detailed explanation as to the purpose of these costs.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: We are looking now specifically on page 19, under Section 2.2.07, Advisory Councils On Economic And Social Policy. The question I have for the minister is, the Transportation and Communications cost of $78,500?

Under Protocol: "Appropriations provide for the coordination of major Government sponsored events, and the arrangements for visiting dignitaries."

My question to the minister is: What major government sponsored events specifically is the minister referring to? What visiting dignitaries is the minister expecting during the fiscal year of 1998-1999?

We see under Transportation and Communications, again a significant increase of $135,000 to $170,000 from $35,200. I would be interested in the minister explaining in detail the reason for such an increase. Again, we have this word, `Supplies'. What is meant by Supplies? It increases by $38,000, Mr. Chairman. So again the minister will be called upon to explain in detail the purpose of these supplies and, in fact, who offered the supplies to the department.

Purchased Services of $140,000, down from the previous year but still a significant cost, I say, Mr. Chairman, and the minister will be called upon to speak to that as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I say to the member, that is possible but unlikely because in all the other Estimates we see Information Technology and Information Technology, which is a significant expenditure in virtually all other departments, includes software.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Yes, that could be, but my thought is that if that were the case it would be under Information Technology.

Mr. Chairman, I know we are almost at adjournment time and the minister has many questions that we certainly will be expecting answers to as we continue our debate on the Executive Council as it relates to Treasury Board, as it relates to the Office of the Lieutenant-Governor and the Cabinet Secretariat, Premier's Office and so on.

Mr. Chairman, at this point I will adjourn debate until continuation tomorrow afternoon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

CHAIR: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again, Mr. Speaker returned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): The hon. the Member for Trinity North.

MR. OLDFORD: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have made some progress and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow we will be calling Motion No. 2 again. Hopefully after about ten or fifteen minutes we should clue up the Executive Council, at the rate we are going now. Then we will call the Consolidated Services Fund. We should clue that up pretty quickly, not much problem there. Then we will be calling the Legislature.

I move that the House would now adjourn until tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

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