March 27, 1991             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS               Vol. XLI  No. 17


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Oral Questions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I direct my question to the President of Treasury Board in the absence of the Premier. Last September the Government began a program of massive cuts to health and education, and in the Budget on March 7 announced unprecedented and devastating closures of hospitals and reductions of education programs. Last evening many of us were surprised to see the Minister of Development on television saying that now the Wells Administration is going to turn its sights to Crown Corporations such as the Economic Recovery Commission and Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and cut Crown fat there. How can the President of Treasury Board justify the Government cutting vital health and education programs and services while allowing the Economic Recovery Commission and Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador to get fat? Does this not indicate a reversal of priorities?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: I thank the hon. Member for the question. Obviously we have an obligation to the people of the Province to ensure that not only direct Government services, but also indirect Government services and the Crown Corporations are operated in a manner as efficiently and effectively as possible. That is precisely what we are doing, Mr. Speaker. We are going to make sure that the whole of Government, including the Crown Corporations, are operating in as efficient a manner as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I would like the Minister to explain why the Government began cutting and gutting health and education before even looking at possibilities of inefficiencies in Crown Corporations. Why have they allowed Doug House, under the Premier's direction, to build an empire while they cut education and health?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, in answering a question like that I would have to first of all go back to the original premises mentioned by the hon. Member. First of all we did not start to gut anything. We did not start to destroy anything. We are spending the money the people gave us in the best way possible, to ensure that we provide the best services possible to the people of this Province in the best possible manner. That is precisely what we are doing, and I will repeat to the hon. Member, we are also ensuring that the agencies close to Government, the Crown corporations, are also operating in a manner that is as efficient as possible and in a manner that will save the taxpayers of this Province as much money as possible. I believe we owe it to the people of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. One of the most severe cuts in the 1991 Budget was the reduction of $1.5 million in operating grants for community colleges and institutes - now, I said a reduction of $1.5 million -can the Minister tell the House what effect a Budget cut will have on staffing and programs in the community colleges and institutes?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, the budgets for colleges and institutes were frozen this year and that has created a number of problems for these institutions, as it has created problems for other Government Departments and other agencies. We discussed with the Boards of Governors certain guidelines that they would follow in making their reductions - they are in the process of doing that - some of them have announced their decisions and I have been briefed on some of them.

I do not know the precise number of layoffs but I can assure the hon. Member that before programs were cut in any of the colleges they looked at the headquarter staff, they looked at the management of the colleges, they looked at administrative staffing, they looked at duplication in programs, they looked at low enrollment programs where courses were not filled; they looked at all these things before they cut programs, Mr. Speaker, to minimize the impact on students; very shortly I will have a full report on what all the colleges have done.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I ask the Minister: have the colleges already been told about next year's programs, that is 1992/1993 I am talking about now, on the assumption their operating budget will be frozen at 1991/1992 levels, which, I add again is $1.5 million less than they had last year.

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

DR. WARREN: No, Mr. Speaker, they have not been told to budget for 1992/1993, however, I would suggest to them that they be very cautious about any planned expenditures for that year, this is a difficult year, we are dealing with the Budget year this year, but we have not told them they will not have any additional funding for the next fiscal year, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister should be very, very careful in answering the question. I did not ask that 'he' tell them, I asked were 'they' told? I ask the Minister then: has the Minister or his officials discussed with college officials the closure of several community college campuses this year and next year? Will he confirm that colleges selected for closure are located at Bonavista, Bell Island, Port aux Basques, St. Anthony, Lewisporte, Baie Verte and Springdale?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I must tell the House that during the past year we looked at every possible option. Because of the underutilization of some campuses they have very few full-time students - they have a large part-time population, but very few full-time students. I can provide the numbers involved for the hon. Member. I think there are six campuses with a total number of 420 full-time students this year, and they cost $5 million. So in the process of looking at all the options we did examine the possibility of closing campuses. But, Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to tell this House that not one campus in the post-secondary system will be closed this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The question is, Mr. Minister, which ones are closing next year? He did not answer that question.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the President of Treasury Board some questions. Specifically I asked him to advise the House what the current budgetary projections were for 1992-93 and he responded that if Government had not acted to curb its $200 million deficit -I have already explained to the House in an earlier debate that that is a fictitious figure, from the imaginations of the Government opposite, and has no bearing on fact. But they predicted that they would have a $200 million deficit if they had not taken some action this year, and that it would reach $400 million next year and $600 million the following year if action was not taken this year.

Mr. Speaker, the House knows that the major deficit reduction measures taken this year was freezing public sector wages and eliminating about 3,500 public sector jobs. Now the Minister of Finance confirmed on Monday that unless action is taken very quickly he will not realize all the savings, and we are now seeing, in fact, that it probably will take five months to institute the kinds of savings they had projected, and they probably will not meet their target of $100 million.

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your tolerance. My question to the Minister of Finance: will the Minister confirm that the projected savings from these measures was $100 million and based on the estimate given by the President of Treasury Board yesterday, that means, therefore, that we are now still facing a $300 million deficit for next year?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: The Minister of Finance is a wealth of knowledge, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, if the answer is no, if the Minister is saying no we are not looking at a $300 million deficit, what further measures is the Minister proposing for next year in order to escape from being faced with a $300 million deficit?

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

DR. KITCHEN: At this point, Mr. Speaker, none.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Let me be a little more direct, Mr. Speaker. Is the Government now considering freezing 1992-1993 expenditures at 1991-1992 levels? And have Government Departments and agencies, in fact, already been warned to expect such a freeze?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The answer is no.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, by way of a preamble, a very brief preamble, I say to the Minister of Finance that he is not bound to answer questions, but he will answer to the people if he does not answer to the House.

Mr. Speaker, does Government plan, therefore, to extend the wage rollback proposed by Bill 16 to the 1992-1993 fiscal year in order to reduce this deficit? Or will Government seek to reopen collective agreements to negotiate elimination of wage increases for 1992-1993? Will he bring in more legislation next year, or will he try to renegotiate rollbacks?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, the answer is no, no, no, no - four questions.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. WINDSOR: We got more information from you when you were out of town.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the President of Treasury Board. In 1989, when this Government took over, Newfoundland Information Services was under the Minister of Works, Services, and Transportation and it spent about $168,000, about the same as it spent in 1988. Mr. Speaker, in 1990 the agency was moved to Executive Council, under the Premier's control, and its budget doubled to $335,500. But it actually spent triple that, $513,000. Mr. Speaker, why did the agency spend so much money in 1990? Specifically, why did the salaries increase from $101,500 in 1989 to $314,900 in 1990? And why did transportation and communications increase from $1,800 in 1989 to $79,800 in 1990?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Member for his question. The answer is obvious. During the years previous to our coming to office, NIS was used by Members opposite as their own private publicity agency. And they had on staff in the various Departments - I do not know - thirty, forty or fifty press secretaries who were being paid salaries to go around and promote their political interests and so on, at a cost of millions of dollars.

We have consolidated all functions. NIS is now truly an information service that gives out Government, not political, information, and we have attached to NIS information officers, I believe they are called, who provide information and keep up to date on specific Government programmes - not political programmes, Government programmes - and provide information to the Province concerning Government programmes.

Mr. Speaker, we have saved millions of dollars by this move and we have provided a better service for the people of the Province.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

No wonder our Budget is so out of whack, Mr. Speaker. I think there were twelve or thirteen press secretaries, not fifty or sixty as the hon. Member said.

Mr. Speaker, why will the agencies' budget increase in 1991, a year of massive cutbacks in critical Government services and, in particular, why will salaries increase by 24 per cent over 1990, and why will transportation and communications increase by 11 per cent over 1990 to $86,500?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, he is not correct with the numbers he gives. As a matter of fact, in some departments we found as many as five, six and seven people whose responsibility it was to look out for the Ministers, essentially. So, Mr. Speaker, the numbers he gives are not correct. It may not have been forty, I may have been exaggerating, it might have been twenty-five or thirty, but certainly it was not as few as ten or twelve. As a matter of fact, I would undertake to research the fact and table in this House at the earliest opportunity exactly how many and where they were, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. BAKER: If you want truth you will get truth.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as to the question: it has taken us some time to reorganize this multimillion dollar effort the Members opposite had in place. And the reflection this year is simply the annualization of the cost for last year. There are no new costs, no increases or anything, the annualization, as we set up this new system to provide the people of the Province with Government, not political information.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, if the Newfoundland Information Service got along with approximately $170,000 when this Government came to office, why can it not get along with that amount now? Mr. Speaker, is it not true that the $400,000 increase to Newfoundland Information Services over the past two years would be enough money to keep the hospital services in Placentia?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. Member had his questions all prepared ahead of time so the answers I gave to his first two questions did not matter, he still had to read out what he had prepared previously. Mr. Speaker, the answer has been adequately explained.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I have questions filled out for the next two months, if the hon. Member is interested, questions and information, some of which is from his staff. Is the Government more concerned about it's public relations image than it is about the health care of this Province? And, is it not its priority to hire on the spin doctors and lay off our medical doctors.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Obviously another good line that somebody slaved all last night on and he had to get up and use it, regardless of whether it meant anything. In this Province we are spending close to $900 million on the health care system. We have increased expenditures tremendously every year and for the past two years, and this year, even in an era of restraint, we are still increasing the expenditures over 3 per cent, I believe, in the hospital sector. Mr. Speaker, we are increasing expenditures in health and we are providing, within the limits of the funding we have, the best possible health care system we can provide. Mr. Speaker, I would remind Members of this hon. House that the Minister of Health has explained a number of times, that if somehow we don't plan well in the health care sector we may very well lose the system we have ten years down the road, because of the reduction in monies coming from the Federal Government that is earmarked for health care. Mr. Speaker, this is a well thought out plan that will result in a better health care system, and a more efficient health care system in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a question for the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. It is more of a district question, which I am sure applies to many Members of the Legislature and municipalities around the Province. I have two communities in the district, namely Garnish and Point May, that have partially installed water and sewer systems. In Garnish $2.2 million has already been spent and in Point May $1.1 million. Now, the new municipal grants system impacts negatively on both of these communities. I am wondering what plans the Minister has for those communities so that they will be able to finish those much needed water and sewer systems?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, without knowing the details on those two communities off the top of my head, because I obviously do not have the information on water and sewer applications in front of me, each community has applied, as the House knows, for water and sewer phases as well as roads work for this upcoming calendar year. We are now in the process of examining those phases as they have been recommended in priority order by the regional offices. I have said in the House already that this year we have added a component to the selection process, and to the criteria, to address fiscal capacity. Now, I assume the Member is making the point that these two communities are in such a problem financially that they would have difficulty affording water and sewer, and if that is the case, that could very well be reflected in the application process and in the decision making process, and ultimately would be in their favour in terms of their ranking. I cannot tell you specifically on those two communities right now because we are in the process of examining in detail, and those two communities will be examined as all others will be.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank on a supplementary.

MR. MATTHEWS: Since both communities are willing to incur additional tax increases, but because of the population size and their tax base, even with huge tax increases the amount of additional revenue would be minimal to put towards paying off the water and sewer debt. They do have very high environmental and health problems, there is no doubt about that, and the worst areas of the communities would be the last to get the system because of where the water supply was located. Really what I am asking the Minister is, will he guarantee that, with those factors taken into account - they are willing to increase taxes and there are very high health and environmental considerations here with septic tank systems and wells that they get their drinking water from - can he guarantee that those systems in communities such as this will be completed?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously I can't guarantee that those systems will be completed. In the selection criteria though, work that is already in process does get slightly more favourable consideration than work that has not commenced. So that would be in their favour.

But I will say, getting back to the fiscal capacity question once again, that the property, business, industrial and poll taxes and all the revenues gathered by a community is just one component of deciding whether or not they have reached the limit of their fiscal capacity. The other important component is the amount of water and sewer debt that they have existing on the books of the financing corporation right now. If they have reached the limit of the capacity that they can sustain in that community, given the revenue that you speak of that is available to them, then that will be an important factor in their favour as well, the fact that they have already a large amount of water and sewer and roads debt on the books.

So obviously if that is the case, that will work in their favour and would probably see the Province paying a greater proportion of the water and sewer debt as would otherwise be the case if they had very little water and sewer debt on their books and had room in their revenues to raise taxes.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A final supplementary to the Minister, I am just wondering: since both those communities and many others in the Province like them began these systems under a different arrangement of something like 80-20, where they only had to pay, I think it was 20 per cent of fixed revenues, will the Minister give special consideration to those communities who took on those projects and this programme on a different set of financial guidelines and debt repayment? Will he give special consideration to communities who have partially installed systems, who began the systems under a different financial arrangement?

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

MR. GULLAGE: A good question, Mr. Speaker, and I think it relates back to the answer I gave to the previous question, in that, he is quite right, twenty per cent of fixed revenues was the maximum amount expected under the previous programme. So when a community reached that amount in contribution towards their debt that was all that was expected of them.

Now to address that, in this current year we have asked communities to pay an additional amount towards the existing debt, not a large amount, but we have asked more of the communities than was expected in the past. We have eliminated the 20 per cent of fixed revenues requirement to make it fairer, because that was not fair. We saw communities getting water and sewer systems literally for nothing, and others paying more than their fair share. So I think we have a much fairer system.

But to answer your question more specifically: as I said, the amount of debt that is on the books and the capacity that the community has to pay that debt, then the next consideration will be applications for new debt and whether or not a community can afford to take that on and pay it from their own resources. The split then between the Province contributing and the municipality paying will be decided, whether that be 80-20 or 90-10 or 70-30 or 60-40 or whatever. But clearly, communities with a large amount of debt on the books and at the limit of their fiscal capacity in terms of raising revenue will be given special consideration in the capital works.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, this morning I went back through my bills and dug out my electrical bill for April of 1989, when this Government came to power, and compared it with my last bill, February past, recently. The Minister of Finance, when he was last in opposition, indicated he would like to see a freeze on power rates. My calculations this morning indicate there was a 25 per cent raise in electrical rates since he became Minister of Finance. What does he think of those numbers?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, we have to be very careful about the price of electricity. One of the questions we are examining is broadening the base of the retail sales tax so that we can lower the rate. One of the items we would have to consider if we did that would be whether we were to tax electricity bills, and it is one of the reasons why we have decided not as yet to broaden the base.

MR. HEWLETT: A supplementary Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Green Bay, on a supplementary.

MR. HEWLETT: A different question, I should say. Now that the price of gasoline is on the way down, will the Minister agree to revert to an ad valorem tax system ?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEWLETT: Now that the price of gasoline is on the way down, will the Minister revert to an ad valorem tax system to give consumers a break?

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

DR. KITCHEN: No, Mr. Speaker. The fact that the price of gasoline is going down means that the consumers are getting a break.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not from you, they are not. Not from you. You give yourself a break but not (inaudible).

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Energy. The Minister of Energy will know from the March 22 statistics released by the Newfoundland Statistics Agency that the consumer price index energy component has increased for Newfoundland from February of last year to February of this year by 21 per cent, while the Canadian increase month over month from last year increased by 10.9 per cent. Can the Minister of Energy tell the House why it is the increase in the cost of energy in Newfoundland is double that of the Canadian average?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last year, Mr. Speaker, there were a number of things that happened in the electrical area.

Number one, we continued the phase-out of the PDD subsidy, and also there were, as a result of that, some rate hearings. There was an increase - and I do not remember the exact number - for Hydro that was about 4 per cent; there was a change to the rate stabilization fund last year because of variations in the price of fuel that was been burned at Holyrood and other factors. That, I think, is also in the area of 4 per cent; Last February, Newfoundland Light and Power received an increase, again in the area of about 4 per cent, and on January 1 the GST, 7 per cent, applied to electricity and all these things together over the last year is what totalled up that number.

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

MR. HARRIS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The GST, of course, is not just a Newfoundland issu. In view of the substantial increase for Newfoundland in the past year, can the Minister of Finance now confirm that the Government will not tack another 10 or 12 per cent retail sales tax on to this very high energy cost that Newfoundlanders now pay?

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we announced in the Budget document, the Department of Finance and Government generally is studying the whole question of base broadening on the retail sales tax. What we are studying is whether we can in effect lower this terrible rate of 12 percent down, and the only way we can do that and without getting extra money is to broaden the base. We are not interested in gaining extra money by this exercise. What we are interested in doing is making the tax system fairer - fairer - so that things which are not taxed at the moment - now, you see, people are diverted from things they want to buy to things they may not quite want to buy because there is no tax on them. So we are studying the whole question of whether we can in effect lower the rate by broadening the base.

We are looking at the question of the school tax as well in that context. But one of the problems, as I indicated to the Member for Green Bay, has to do with the largest item, the largest commodity item that is not presently taxed and that is home heat and electricity. And it is clearly a difficult question. It is difficult to tax that on the backs of people who are already paying high rates. So we have not decided not to do it, and we probably will not, but we certainly have to bring in some sort of a tax credit. We are asking for public input from people to get their views on these matters, because there are people who would very much like us to lower the rate of the retail sales tax.

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

MR. HARRIS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister seriously suggesting that people are heating their homes because there is no tax on gasoline and foregoing other purchases? Why will he not confirm now to the House and tell the people of Newfoundland that they do not have to worry, that their home heating fuel and electricity to heat their houses is not going to be taxed by this Government? Tell them now.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Speaker, if we listened to the hon. Member we would have no taxes and we would be spending many more dollars than we are on everything. This Pollyanna, pie-in-the-sky attitude of that particular party is getting them into great trouble all over the country. When the Province of Ontario this coming year will probably have to bring in a Budget with a $10 billion or $15 billion deficit, we have to take no lessons in economics from these people across the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

MR. BAKER: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: I wonder if we could, for one item, revert to Statements by Ministers. There is a statement which should be made today, yet was not quite ready when Statements by Ministers was called by Your Honour. I wonder if we could, by agreement, revert back?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, yes, we agree. The Minister of Justice consulted me earlier and showed me a proposed statement that he would not be able to make until later this afternoon, and we in the official Opposition would be glad to give leave for him to make the statement later this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Is the statement now?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank my hon. colleague from Humber East for her agreeing to do this. There was a difficulty with making it earlier, and we just had to finalize the statement.

Mr. Speaker, the statement reads as follows:

I am rising to inform the House that following discussions with Chief Edward J. Coady of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, the Department of Justice has requested the Ontario Provincial Police to assume responsibility for the investigation of the incident at the Brittany Inn which occurred on March 17th, 1991.

Significant public concern has been expressed about the propriety of a police force being called upon to investigate itself. While this cannot be done in each and every case because of the urgency of immediately proceeding to obtain evidence, in this case it is appropriate to do so. The public has a right to the assurance that justice will not only be done but will be seen to be done. Because of the high degree of public anxiety in the matter, we have felt it necessary to take this unusual step. It is a measure which is sometimes utilized in other jurisdictions in similar circumstance.

I wish to emphasize that the Department has every confidence in the ability and integrity of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to investigate its own members. However, because of the unusual nature of this incident, it is in the best interests of both the force and the public that an independent review be made of the file and that any public concerns be allayed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, first of all I thank the Minister for giving me an advance copy of his statement, and for also, over the past several days, keeping me informed on a confidential basis of procedures in this particular case; it is a very sensitive case and a very important case.

Mr. Speaker, I welcome this announcement that the Minister has taken some action. As he has said quite properly, not only does the public have the right to know that the matter has been thoroughly investigated, but it should also appear to be a very clear, open and clean investigation. Without casting any aspersions on the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, I think it is appropriate, indeed, that some other agency - in this case, the Minister has chosen the Ontario Provincial Police. I would say only that it is unfortunate the Ombudsman is not still here. The Ombudsman could well have been called in in this particular case to do this investigation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: The Ombudsman had the legal and legislative authority to do this, and on the request of the Minister could have been called in. I do not know what the cost of bringing in the Ontario Police will be. We saved only $200,000 by eliminating the total Ombudsman's office, Mr. Speaker, so we obviously have not saved any tremendous amount. I also want to say that this obviously is an investigation only into the actions of the police officers involved in this case. There still remains the question of the incident itself and the death of the gentleman. I would assume that this will in no way slow the Minister down from appointing a full judicial enquiry to seek information, to look at the whole aspect of what took place that night at the Brittany Inn, and I would hope that the Minister would move forward with that with haste.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern, on a point of order?

As the Member for St. John's East, Mr. Speaker, I would ask leave of the House to respond to the Minister's statement on this matter.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed! Agreed!

MR. SPEAKER: Agreed.

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

MR. HARRIS: I understand I have leave, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank the Minister of Justice for providing me with a copy of his Statement before the House, and I want to say this about the Statement and the actions of the Minister of Justice, and, indeed, the Government on this matter. I want to congratulate the Minister of Justice for his prompt action in taking this measure. It does, I think, respond genuinely to the concerns of the public. The activities of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, indeed the police forces of this Province, ought to be seen by the public to have confidence in the actions of the police force. And this action can only re-enforce that confidence by the public. As I say, I congratulate the Government for acting promptly. It is in full keeping with their stated intentions of creating a Police Commission to provide a permanent and ongoing method of investigating matters that are brought to the attention of the police by members of the public, or, indeed, by Government itself when police action is involved, and I congratulate them for it. I hope, as well, they will move equally promptly to resolve the difficulties in terms of alternatives they are considering, and establish the Police Commission in the near future.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Before proceeding to other business, on behalf of hon. Members I would like to welcome to the House of Assembly today nineteen Level III students from Point Leamington School, Point Leamington, accompanied by their two teachers, Miss Martin and Miss Andrews, and their bus driver Mr. Burton.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MS. COWAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have today, as required by the legislation, the Report of the Labour Relations Board for the period of January 1, 1990 to December 31, 1990. I would like to have that tabled.

Petitions

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to present a petition of representatives of municipalities in the Humber Valley region, in four electoral Districts: Bay of Islands, Humber West, Humber East, and Humber Valley. These mayors and councillors signed the petition at a meeting of the Great Humber Joint Council on Saturday passed. The prayer of the petition is as follows: `The petition of the undersigned, the friends of Mun Extension, states that whereas Mun Extension has provided and continues to provide an essential service to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador; and whereas no other agency is capable of providing that service, Mun Extension should be re-instated.

Your petitioners respectfully request that the hon. House take such action as may be necessary to ensure that Memorial University re-instates its Extension Service, and that it be funded and equipped to provide these services it has traditionally provided.'

Mr. Speaker, one of the Deer Lake councillors, Daryl Kelly, circulated this petition at the Great Humber Joint Council meeting. Councillor Kelly spoke to the group about the valuable contribution the Memorial Extension field worker at Deer Lake has made to the development of the Deer Lake and Humber Valley region. The Mun Extension field worker based in Deer Lake over the years has helped in the development of the Humber Valley Development Association. That Development Association is based in Deer Lake but encompasses the District I represent, Humber East, which takes in lower Humber Valley, and one project I know from my own personal involvement the field worker has been quite helpful with, is the Strawberry Festival, one of the main projects of the Humber Valley Development Association.

The field worker has also worked cooperatively with the Pasadena Venture Centre on their Entrepreneurial Spirit Programme. The programme has included the television broadcast, the satellite broadcast that has covered most of North America on one occasion, and on the second occasion has linked with the UK. These community leaders in the Humber Valley region are reflecting the views of the people who live in the communities in that part of the Province. These people valued the contribution of Memorial Extension and they can't see how that role is going to be duplicated in any other agency. We have in the region the Grenfell College campus of Memorial University, and their three Extension employees worked and offered a variety of courses to people in the region. They also, of course, will be going, along with everyone else at MUN Extension, and that is to be regretted as well.

But the councillors on Saturday were focusing on the loss of the field worker stationed at Deer Lake. One of their main concerns, and I am sure this is shared with other municipal leaders in the Province, is the economy. They want the economy to expand, they want businesses to flourish and they are fostering the creation of jobs, and the MUN Extension field worker was involved in those kinds of business development activities.

Now at the same time as this agency of economic development in small communities has been terminated, we see Doug House's empire mushrooming. We see huge swanky expensive offices of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador opened in Corner Brook. The offices opened this winter and I happened to meet Gary Anstey, the friend of the Minister of Development, on a flight after the official opening, he explained that he had flown over from St. John's to preside at that official opening. So people in our area are realizing the economic recession and are seeing the need for governments - plural - to restrain spending, but they believe, as I believe, that this Wells' administration has its priorities reversed and is cutting essential services, services that are needed to boost our economy, while at the same time -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: - they are wasting money.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh my God, what an embarrassment. Nobody supported her petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I had intended to speak to that motion but I saw an hon. Member standing at a microphone, at a table -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: - and I was waiting for Your Honour to acknowledge him -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: -and give him a chance to speak, and Your Honour did not do so, and the Orders of the Day were called. It was certainly my intention to speak but I understand that when petitions are made someone from that side of the House can speak and then someone from this side of the House. But I saw an hon. Member standing at a place in the Chamber.

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

MR. BAKER: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Your Honour advised the hon. Member who was doing the petition that the time was up and the hon. Member sat in her place, and then Your Honour waited for quite some time to see if any other hon. Member wanted to speak -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: -and waited for quite some time, and there was no indication that any hon. Member wanted to speak, so Your Honour called Orders of the Day, and I see nothing wrong with that, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

The Chair did see the person standing, obviously, but the person was not in his place, and this again points to the importance of decorum in the House, with people walking around and wandering around, which I have indicated to people several times, but the Member was not in a position to speak and I waited and looked on both sides and I called Orders of the Day.

The only way we can go back to Petitions now is if we agree to revert to Petitions and give the hon. Member permission, but the Chair called for Orders of the Day, and rightly so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: We in the official Opposition saw the Member for St. George's stand and were expecting him to speak to the petition before somebody else on this side took a turn, but obviously there has been a genuine misunderstanding and we would give our consent to revert to Petitions to allow the Member for St. John's East or the Member for St. George's, or anyone else to speak to the petition.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we have no objections to the hon. Member speaking to the petition so we would not object to reverting, but I would simply like to make the point, Mr Speaker, that the whole process was done properly and if the Member wanted to speak the Member had every opportunity to stand up and speak, and did not. I think that is a lesson to be learned for the future, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Reverting to petitions.

Before recognizing the hon. Member the Chair would also make the point that I made in the past, when there is an intermission between proceedings Members should not walk aimlessly around the House, because we can see the kind of problems that it creates. Again, as I said the Member was not in his place to speak.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Member for St. John's East has the floor.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you. Mr. Speaker.

I wish to rise in support of the petition so ably presented by the Member for Humber East. It is an issue which I think we will be hearing more of in this House. It is an issue which is of grave concern to very many communities across this Province who need the services that have been provided by MUN Extension, services which this Government seems to feel are no longer relevant to the people of Newfoundland. Mr. Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth when we have the kind of concern and despair in many cases existing in our rural communities about their future, and about what they are going to be able to do about it. I suspect, Mr. Speaker, that part of the concern, and part of the lack of concern by this Government about Extension, has to do with the fact that one of the things that MUN Extension did was to help to give the people a voice. It helped to give the people a voice in their communities to work together to bring about social change, and that working together has often brought embarrassment to the Government - not only this Government but the previous Government. I say that when the group on this side of the House, or when this party was in office, they too were embarrassed by the kinds of things that sometimes came out of the work that MUN Extension did, but they kept them there, perhaps reluctantly, because perhaps Extension Service was a bit of a thorn in the side of Government because people did have a voice that was assisted by the field work of Extension, by the field workers being present and helping community groups to work together, helping community groups to organize, determine their own agenda, make their own decisions, and come to Government, sometimes with a low voice and sometimes with a plan, but sometimes with a little bit of anger, and sometimes with a bit of unruliness. I know the former Premier, Mr. Smallwood, one time castigated MUN Extension in this House for their actions against Government. I understand that is the kind of thing that Governments do because they do not like people at the gates, they do not like people out in the lobby. On many occasions the Premier will not go out and speak to them because he is afraid of the reaction he will get. This is the kind of thing we need in a healthy democracy, Mr. Speaker, and I am a little concerned that Government has taken upon itself some level of arrogance which does not permit, and does not allow them to permit this kind of activity to occur and to encourage democratic development and democratic opposition out in the rural communities of Newfoundland. I am quite concerned, along with the individuals who signed the petition, that this Government do something to reverse that, and do something to assist Memorial University in keeping Extension Service, and change their policy and give them additional extra money to make that possible.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated on several occasions in this House the University is given a global budget. The Board of Regents and the President determine how that money is to be expended. In this case they have had to make some cuts, as many other institutions have had, and we respect their right to do that, Mr. Speaker.

One thing I want to say to the hon. Member for St. John's East: this Government is committed to rural Newfoundland. We are doing hundreds of things for rural Newfoundland. And one of these days I am going to get up and list the number of things we have done in education to promote rural Newfoundland and to promote education in rural Newfoundland, Mr. Speaker. I will do that one of these days.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

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

I have a petition from a number of students at the Port aux Basques Community College requesting the Provincial Government to reconsider proposals to impose any financial constraints on the operating budget at the post-secondary institutions of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Earlier today, Mr. Speaker, I raised some questions with the Minister in relation to his plan for the community colleges and institutes, and let me say that, at best, he was very shaky in his response. In fact, the Minister made it quite clear, in over-emphasizing the fact that none of them will close this year, left everyone with the impression that plans were being made to close some of the institutions next year.

MR. BAKER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am beginning to wonder if this is a petition or if it is a response to answers to questions during Question Period. I wonder if the Member could table a copy so we could examine it and see, if in fact, that is mentioned in the prayer of the petition. And if it is not, I would suggest the hon. Member stick to the prayer of the petition as our Standing Orders dictate.

MR. HEARN: To the point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: The petition was introduced, the prayer of the petition was read, and a Member has five minutes, I understand, to comment on the prayer of the petition - that is exactly what I am doing. This has direct relation to the prayer of the petition, the future of the institute, that is exactly what the students are talking about.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order. The Chair will address again the point that it did yesterday, that Members are going to have to make up their minds in this House as to whether or not we are going to stick to the rules in our Standing Orders with respect to petitions. I have come to the firm conclusion that if we lend any flexibility at all the House is just letting itself in for trouble. I am prepared to stick by the rules, in which case I will make sure that the petitions are in the form that petitions are suppose to be in and, of course, Members are to ensure that as well, because Members are supposed to follow the rules, and no Member is to present a petition that is not in compliance with the House rules.

The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

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

I will certainly be glad to show Your Honour the copy of the petition, which is a petition to the House of Assembly, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

To go on with my comments: the Minister in responding to questions today left in doubt what is going to happen to the various institutions, including the one I am presenting the petition on behalf off, and that is Port aux Basques.

The Minister said today that no colleges will close. While he was saying that in Springdale today, which was one of the names that I mentioned, we had seventeen people laid off, a small community college, seventeen people laid off. I understand the business education courses have been eliminated. There is some talk that the automotive course might be moved to another campus. This is the start of the major plan that Government has in place to eliminate a number of the colleges.

A little over a year ago the Department of Education, through the Minister, introduced a White Paper for Post-Secondary Reorganization. When it was introduced, we said at the time that it was a scam so that the Government could implement its own plan and now we see that what we had said is coming true.

Mr. Speaker, this year the Government cut $1.5 million from the operating grants, the community college and institutes - cut. It is not a freeze. The Minister talks about a freeze to the post-secondary institutions. The Minister cut $1.5 million from the operating budget. When you add on 5.7 inflation rate, one has an idea of how many fewer dollars the various institutes and colleges have to operate this year, institutes and colleges faced with an additional burden each year with the increase in numbers of our students who are coming through, what up until this year or up until last year, was a progressive primary, elementary and secondary education system.

We are gradually narrowing the gap between us and the rest of the country. We are gradually getting closer in the number of students we have participating at the post-secondary level with the rest of the country, but now all of a sudden because of cutbacks we are going to find out that a number of our students are not going to be able to attend such institutions, and we see exactly what the students who signed the petition are asking the Government not to do - to cut back on programs in the various institutes - because if we can eliminate enough programs then the registrations at these colleges would be so small, as the Minister started to point out today, they will be able to say, 'why do we need the institute? It is not worth our while to have it here anyway. There are only so many in attendance. Let's close it up. Let's consolidate.' That is the operable term, the operable phraseology of this Government, let's consolidate. It is to the detriment of education in rural Newfoundland because all these small community colleges and institutes that are named are in rural Newfoundland. So the death knell has been sounded for rural Newfoundland by Government and by taking out MUN Extension, which would be in the forefront in fighting for some of those causes. Government is well on its way to perhaps attaining a victory, but a victory which will mean a sad price will be paid in the future by the young people of this Province.

So, Mr. Speaker, if I could have my petition back I will present it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to speak to this petition so ably presented by my colleague, the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. I did have a look at the names on that petition, as my colleague showed it to me for a couple of minutes, and I see that there was only one MHA who signed it and that was the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. Now I would expect in this House that if I was representing the district from where a petition was presented then I certainly would be one of the ones who would be supporting the students in my district, Mr. Speaker, and I would try my utmost to have my signature attached to that petition to show my support. If that was not possible, because the petition did not get around or the petitioners did not ask me, then the minimum thing I would do, the very least I would do is get on my feet in this House and stand up for my constituents and the education system in my district.

I would hope, Mr. Speaker, that after I sit down the Member, whoever represents the area that houses this community college, the Member for LaPoile, Mr. Speaker, who sits in this House on the Government side, who stood up last week and said that he would not support his hospital administration when they protested the cutbacks in health, the Member who said he would stand with the Government in cutting back the health system will not stand with the Government now, I am sure, in cutting back on the, and possibly closing, the community college in LaPoile or in Port aux Basques in particular. I am sure that Member will stand up and tell this House and the Government the advantages of having the training in the LaPoile area, in the Port aux Basques area as it proved out only a couple of years ago when they were training people to become welders for potential work in the offshore.

That community college down there showed leadership in trying to get people - and I believe they even sent some people over to Norway at the time to get expert training to deal with Hibernia. Now, Mr. Speaker, that was two or three years ago and I do not think this Government was in power at that time, there was a Government in power at that time, who this crowd says did nothing for the area, but, Mr. Speaker, we stood up for the people in LaPoile and we provided them the opportunity to get to Norway to get some training so they could get work on the Hibernia development when it came.

Now, what is this Government deciding to do now, Mr. Speaker: Forget the people in LaPoile, shut down the Trade School in LaPoile, there are lots of workers from all across Canada who can do this work anyway, why would we bother to train Newfoundlanders to do this type of work when there are thousands of people throughout Canada who can do the work; there are thousands of people in Norway just biting at the bit trying to get over here to take the jobs away from Newfoundlanders who will not be trained to do the work, because this Government and this Minister of Education, have begun this year, to close down our training systems.

I know why they are doing it, Mr. Speaker, they say there is lots of fairness and balance, do you know why they are doing it? Because John Diefenbaker built them in the first place and they are a Tory project and they hate everything that was ever associated with Tories, so they are going to close down the Trade Schools now for the very reason - because they were built by Tory money and Federal money.

Mr. Speaker, as a representative in this House, I am sure he is over there contemplating now what he is going to say when he stands up to support the students from his district and to protect the trade school. I mean there are jobs created by the Trade Schools, besides the training for new jobs, there are jobs created in the community of Port aux Basques, which I would say has suffered over the last several years by a lot of job losses and they are desperately trying to be innovative and try to come up with creating new jobs. What this Government is doing is taking jobs out of the health system, Mr. Speaker; they are going to take jobs out of the community college system down there now and completely demoralize the people of the Port aux Basques area and LaPoile, unless the Member gets up on his feet and changes the Government's mind; do not close down his community college, Mr. Speaker.

When he stands up and gives you all the good reasons why you should be supporting that community college in the Port aux Basques area, I am sure you will listen to him, I am sure -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - The Minister of Education is certainly much more reasonable than the Minister of Health -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please! The hon. Member's time is up.

The President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This Province has been faced with a financial crisis. This Province has been faced with a financial crisis like never before; our options were very limited by the fact that for the past seventeen years so much money had been borrowed that we are at the limit of our borrowing. That imposed tremendous restraints on us, Mr. Speaker, tremendous restrictions in the way we responded to the financial problem brought upon by a downturn of the economy, a freezing of transfer payments and, Mr. Speaker, it was more than we could normally cope with, so we had to take certain measures.

We went through an exhaustive consultation process to get opinions and we received input from some sources and not from others. Mr. Speaker, we then took action, and it is Government's responsibility to take action. That action, Mr. Speaker, culminated and resulted in the Budget presented by the hon. the Minister of Finance, very recently. Since that time we have seen the Opposition in the House play their petty political games with this very serious crisis facing the Province, their petty political games, and Mr. Speaker, those of us who have been sitting here listening to it, understand these petty little games.

Many times I have said to the Opposition: where would you have gotten $215 million, and they have come up with some suggestions and they would have done those things I guess, had they been in Government, but the suggestions they came up with amounted to about $15 or $20 million and my only conclusion is, they would go out and borrow the other $200 million and the resulting catastrophe for the Province would have turfed them out of office immediately had they still been here.

That is their solution. They do not talk about solutions. All they do is play petty political games with individuals. Petty little games - in the press and in the House.

Mr. Speaker, there are no solutions over there. There are small minds. They are acting like a bunch of vultures ready to pounce. That is exactly what they are acting like.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: No overview of the problem, no solution to the problem, and their solution is simply to play petty political games. Well, Mr. Speaker, I hope they enjoy themselves, because they are going to be over there for a long time playing their petty political games.

Orders of the Day

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as a result of exhaustive consultations with the acting Opposition House Leader yesterday, very productive consultations that I am sure probably would not have happened had the situation been different, there was agreement that today we would go to Interim Supply. And I would thank the Members opposite, especially the Member for Humber East, and call Motion Number 3.

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

MR. SIMMS: I can hardly let that go by without responding in some way, shape or form, Mr. Speaker, reluctant as I am. But I would suggest to the Government House Leader that the discussion that was held yesterday, the arrangement and the agreement that were reached yesterday, had nothing at all to do with the Government House Leader's cooperation, I can assure you.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to say that I am pleased once again today to rise in debate on this Interim Supply Bill, Bill 12, Granting of Supply to Her Majesty certain sums for different particular things in the Province.

As one peruses the bill one can see that most of the things here are certainly worthy expenditures. I am just wondering perhaps if the Minister of Finance or the President of Treasury Board could really explain to the House in detail really what all the requests are for. There is practically $1 billion, some $993 million, and I see that the Act is deemed to come into force on April 1, and that is in a few days time.

I guess what I am reading into the Bill is that the Government needs this bill passed before April 1.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, I just want to know what the President of Treasury Board and the Minister of Finance's reason is for putting April 1 -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

MR. MATTHEWS: He's not in a very good mood!

He is not in a good mood. I mean I can understand it, I suppose he is feeling sorry for the Premier who is down with a bad case of laryngitis. I can understand that. The Premier had to stay home, could not get a hospital bed, because of Government cuts. Perhaps that is why, because now they are finally realizing that what they have done to the health care system in this Province is impacting, first of all, upon one of their own. It just struck me rather peculiar because I noticed in the office today that most people were paid. I think today was payday at the office so there will not be another pay period until a couple of weeks time, and while just perusing the bill I saw they seemed to want the bill to come in effect on April 1. That is why I wanted the Minister of Finance and the President of Treasury Board to impress upon the House, I guess, the real urgency of having this passed by April l, because I do not fully understand it. If wages have been paid and social assistance cheques have been sent out then what is the real urgency of trying to get this thing passed in a few days time? That is my question to the President of Treasury Board and to the Minister of Finance. I am sure one of them will get up this afternoon and tell me why there is such a sense of urgency to this particular bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: We are overdrawn.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, maybe he can tell me if we are overdrawn but having said that I doubt very much if the cheques would be issued, or if they would be allowed to be signed, or sent, without the money in the bank to cover the cheques. I expect the President of Treasury Board to deal with that later when he rises in his place.

Now, Mr. Chairman, there have been a number of interesting debates and points of view expressed in the Legislature over the last number of days in this wide- ranging debate on Interim Supply, and I want to follow-up on an item of financial concern of mine which I brought to the attention of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs today in Question Period, and that is the change in the municipal grants structure. I am sure Members on both sides of this Legislature have communities in their districts in the same predicament as the two communities, Garnish and Point May, that I made reference to today. In both cases their systems are about half way installed, about half completed, but the sad thing about it is that the areas of both towns that needed the system most were furthest away from the water supply that was identified to provide the water and consequently the sewer system to the town. In both towns the septic tank system has polluted the ground and in some cases has polluted wells. In one town in particular the ground is sloped away and you get it running down and there is a problem with drinking water from those wells. These will be the areas of those two towns who will be the last to get assistance. What really worries me now as their MHA and what worries their councils is with the change in the grant structure there is a real worry and concern that those systems will not be completed. There has been an official from the Minister's Department, the Eastern Director, who I must say I found to be very co-operative. He is doing a good job and the councils are pleased. As a matter of fact they have seen him a number of times over the last few months and he is working long hours doing a lot of consultation, but the real question remains unanswered. He has reviewed the present tax structure of those two communities, he has looked at the cost of what it will take to complete those systems, and looked at the possibility of both communities raising their taxes. In the case of Garnish they have a reasonable tax right now. As a matter of fact their poll tax, before this year, was the second highest in the Province. Their property tax rate is comparable, or certainly in average of that in the Province. In Point May their tax rates are a little less because of the type of community it is. In the community of Point May a lot of people on the tax roll do not make enough money a year to pay the taxes. Most of them are inshore fishermen. I think there are three teachers in the community that teach in Lamaline.

AN HON. MEMBER: They can afford it.

MR. MATTHEWS: You are right, they can afford it. A number of the people work in the fish plant in Fortune and if they make $15,000, $16,000 or $17,000 a year, that is maximum, so if you increase the taxes - the gentleman for Pleasantville said the teachers can afford it - so if you tax that great number of three teachers and hit them with twenty mils on their property tax, you are probably going to get an additional $20 where found. That is the dilemma you are in. And it is not that the councils are not receptive to increasing taxes. The Member for Pleasantville has raised a good point, because those with the best properties, those with the highest value properties will end up basically paying all the tax, and there are so few of them that the bottom line to the council, even if they imposed large tax increases, in property tax and poll tax -

MR. NOEL: It would still be less than St. John's.

MR. MATTHEWS: God in heaven, still be less than St. John's?

MR. NOEL: That is correct.

MR. MATTHEWS: See! You know, you are echoing the problem of you Government. You are echoing the problem of your Government, with the Premier and most of his Cabinet. They do not understand rural Newfoundland. You do not understand Point May or Lamaline or Garnish. And I don't expect you to. How could I expect you to?

MR. MURPHY: Bill, when you have an $80,000 mortgage in St. John's, it is difficult to understand somebody in Point May.

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, I would suggest that you could buy four or five Houses in Point May, perhaps six, for $80,000.

MR. NOEL: Yes, but the average school teacher -

MR. MATTHEWS: And the only way -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: The only way people make ends meet in Point May is if they are lucky enough to get a Federal project, or get on the special fisheries response program and get enough stamps so they draw UI to get them through the winter. And if they are lucky -

MR. NOEL: It is the same in every district.

MR. MATTHEWS: If they are lucky - I don't know if there are too many who get on special fisheries response programs down in Pleasantville. I am not so sure about that.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: And I am not so sure that it is needed down there. That is the problem.

MR. NOEL: You don't understand.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Oh I do understand, very well.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) in Pleasantville.

MR. MATTHEWS: I do understand, very well. What I am trying to do is get this Government to understand rural Newfoundland and the problems, and the problems councillors are having out in rural Newfoundland because of the changes to the grant structure the Minister has brought in.

Now those people in Garnish and Point May had their systems started, as I said today in Question Period, under a different financial arrangement - 20 per cent max of fixed revenues. They had to pay the Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Financing Corporation. They could manage to make ends meet paying 20 per cent of fixed revenues for their system, but there is no way they can come up with the taxes to be able to continue with the system under the new structure. That is the problem. From what I have seen and listened to with the official from Municipal Affairs who has been down with the councils on a couple of occasions, and I have been there with them as I always do -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. MATTHEWS: - we are basically talking about a 60/40 arrangement instead of an 80/20.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Is my time up?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, the hon. Member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Pleasantville.

MR. NOEL: Mr. Chairman, the Member for Grand Bank talks about the difficulty that taxpayers in some of our rural municipalities will have to pay for the services they receive. Well, then, who does he expect to pay for them? I would like him to answer that. What has happened in this Province is the previous administration put services in all sorts of areas of the Province which cannot afford them. They put an albatross around the necks of many of the towns and communities in this Province and they are expecting other people to pay for them. Now that cannot continue. People have to realize that they have to pay in proportion to the services received.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) St. John's, right?

MR. NOEL: Pardon me?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Exactly. Exactly.

MR. NOEL: This problem is particularly applicable to St. John's and to my district, and this is why this Government is pursuing the amalgamation efforts. We have to equalize services and equalize payment for services. That is all that is fair. That is what has to be done if our economy is to remain viable. St. John's, for instance, has a residential tax rate of 11 mils, Mount Pearl has a rate of 8.7 mils, and Wedgewood Park has a rate of 6.5 mils. In other words, if you take a teacher living in my district who has a $100,000 home, he is paying $1100 a year in municipal taxes. Another teacher, living over in Wedgewood Park, is paying $650 a year in municipal taxes.

MR. MURPHY: The same home valued less.

MR. NOEL: That is a difference of some $450 a year, $5,000 over a ten year period. Now Wedgewood Park is a settlement that you people allowed to remain an independent community, and I and some other people are trying to make the argument for bringing it into St. John's.

And the same thing with Mount Pearl. Mount Pearl has, as I said, a residential mil rate of 8.7 compared to St. John's' 11, and Mount Pearl derives just as many regional benefits from this whole area as residents of St. John's. I see Mount Pearl's Mayor Hodder, I think, presented a brief to the Minister yesterday, according to the news media, trying to fight efforts to ensure that Mount Pearl residents make a fair contribution to the cost of running this region. They are not doing that now. Their commercial property tax is 8.7 mils compared to 16.5 mils in St. John's. Now that is almost twice as much in St. John's. That is why you are going to get more commercial development out in Mount Pearl than in St. John's. This Pearlgate Plaza they are talking about, which is estimated to be worth about $75 million when completed, would save about a half million dollars a year in property tax as a result of being located in Mount Pearl rather than St. John's, as the mil rates now stand.

Now what Mount Pearl has to understand is that - how can they expect to be allowed to continue to have this favourable position which, according to their own figures, has enabled Mount Pearl residents to pay $2 million less in taxes in the present year than they would pay if they were taxed at the same rate as St. John's residents.

MR. GOVER: Go on!

MR. NOEL: Two million dollars less. Now they say they pay their own way. They pay for the services they provide in Mount Pearl. They do not pay for the services they use in St. John's, which city taxpayers have to pay for.

MR. GOVER: Exactly. Good point.

MR. NOEL: You take a person working at Confederation Building who is living out in Mount Pearl. He pays for his services in Mount Pearl, but he does not pay for the services to Confederation Building. But a person working in the same office with him is paying for his domestic services in St. John's, but he is also paying his share of the cost of servicing Confederation Building. And this applies to hospitals and schools and all kinds of public buildings in this city. The Federal Government makes a reasonable contribution for its property in the city, but the Provincial Government does not make a reasonable contribution to St. John's tax revenues for its properties, it is the St. John's residents who have to pay for that.

Now I notice that Mount's Pearl Mayor Hodder is quoted in the paper today. This is a case they have been making for some time, that Mount Pearl has a much more efficient operation than St. John's and they have all kinds of mumbo-jumbo figures that they use to make that case. One he uses in the paper today. He says that St. John's has four times the population of Mount Pearl but has eight times the staff. Now what he does not mention is that St. John's has six times the budget of Mount Pearl, and we have that because we have to provide services that Mount Pearl does not provide for its own community, and we have to provide services that are more expensive.

They have put out comparison costs between the two communities. They compare crosswalk markings - how much crosswalk markings are in Mount Pearl compared to St. John's. Now their figures are unfair, because the two cities do their accounting in different ways. St. John's includes an estimate of the capital cost of the amount of work being done in its figures, whereas Mount Pearl apparently does not do that. Mount Pearl does not allow for the extra cost of services in St. John's. They have a lot of wide and flat streets out there which are not very expensive to plow in wintertime, for instance, which are not as expensive to salt.

These are the kinds of costs St. John's have which Mount Pearl does not have.

AN HON. MEMBER: Half of Mount Pearl is provided with city drinking water (inaudible).

MR. NOEL: What do you mean, people already pay for the streets?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Do you think people in St. John's do not pay for their services and the cost of their building lots?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Their cost of services? Well, maybe. But, anyway, there are reasons. The reasons that their cost of services are lower are not because they are more efficient, it is because you are comparing, as the St. John's councillors say, apples and oranges. Now Mount Peal has been very fortunate in having Donovans Industrial Park within its boundaries.

MR. GOVER: Yes. And how did it get that?

MR. NOEL: But Donovans Industrial Park is there because it provides a service to the whole region, not just to Mount Pearl. So the whole region has to benefit from it. Mayor Hodder is fearmongering in saying that if Mount Pearl is combined with St. John's and Conception Bay South and all this, and some other communities, it is going to cost the city of St. John's an extra $58 million, I think is the figure that he uses. An extra $58 million, he is trying to say, is the cost of amalgamation.

Now that figure relates to services that are going to have to be provided out in Conception Bay South in large part, other communities as well if they are all amalgamated, but largely in Conception Bay South. Now everybody who is familiar with municipal infrastructure around here knows that if services in Conception Bay South are to be brought up to standard, a lot of money is going to have to be spent over the next few years. So it is reasonable to expect a whole region to make a contribution to it, because the people of Conception Bay South cannot do it themselves. And if we do not have an enlarged municipality to help share the cost -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. NOEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to get back on the same topic I was on before in reaction, to some degree, to what the Member for Pleasantville has said.

Now you can talk about regional services and amalgamation all you want, and that is basically what the Member has talked about. I have two communities that are basically in the middle of nowhere, miles away from any other community, which have health and environmental concerns, which have needs for a water and sewer system. They have put off the request for water and sewer for years, until the problem had become so bad they had no choice but come to the Department of Municipal Affairs, with back-up support from the Department of Health and others, telling just how serious the situation was and still is.

We were fortunate enough to get a start on both systems under a completely different debt repayment system than the towns are now stuck with, and that is the problem. They have half the systems in the ground under the 80-20 system, if you want to refer to it as that, and basically what they are faced with now is more like a 60-40 problem. It is more like 40 per cent now that is going to be requested and required from the communities to pay for the water and sewer system. And there is no way they can increase their taxes by 100 per cent in those small communities, and there is no way they will come up with enough additional tax revenue to be able to meet the debt repayment requirements. Now that is the problem.

And I want to say to the Member for Pleasantville, who jumped into the debate, that there is no doubt that they must have all forgotten their campaign promises. I mean, doesn't the Member remember the Premier's press conference somewhere in the Province during the election when he talked about the water and sewer corporation? Does he remember what the reason was for the proposed water and sewer corporation? It was to bring services to those communities which could not get them otherwise, which could not afford them. That is what the water and sewer corporation was supposed to do. And how quickly the Member has forgotten that, and Members opposite. How quickly!

`This corporation would take over and continue to operate all existing water and sewer facilities and over a period of years build and expand new ones to areas not now serviced.' That is from the Liberal campaign policy manual of 1989. How quickly he has forgotten that.

And it goes on to say: `Only in this way can people in all parts of the Province expect to have available to them reliable drinking water and sewage disposal services free of health hazards. We can do no less to provide our people with good water and healthy sewage disposal than we will do for medical services, education and electricity.' Now that is from the policy manual. Now you have completely forgotten about that.

MR. NOEL: But they did not say (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: But they said they would put it in areas which do not have it and could not afford it. What you have done is just the opposite of what you promised, again in the election of 1989. You have doubled the cost on communities to get water and sewerage. You have doubled the cost. That is what you have done. You have gone from an 80/20 arrangement to what is now basically 60/40.

MR. NOEL: Those who can pay will have to.

MR. MATTHEWS: That is no problem. I am not talking about people who can pay here today, I am talking about people who, because of the change by the Department and the Minister, can no longer afford to continue with their water and sewer system.

MR. HEWLETT: They cannot finish it.

MR. MATTHEWS: Half in the ground, half functional, both need outfalls. They both need outfalls to make them functional; the worst areas of two towns from a health point of view, where the sewage concentration is greatest because of the way people built their homes, a real health hazard in both towns which will be the part of town which will be the last to get the water and sewerage system, and the problem is, what does the Minister have to tell them? That is the question.

An official from the Department has been down on a couple of occasions, has gone through their tax system and has gone through their debt. But the official, quite naturally, cannot give them an answer. That is why I asked the question of the Minister today, and that is why I am pursuing it in debate, because I want more hon. Members, or most Members opposite, to understand the problem. And I am sure there are Members on that side - I know there are some here on our side - who have the same problem with some of their communities.

Now what are you going to do about this? That is the question. The need is there and it is a legitimate need. You are going to have people's health affected if it is not completed, and you have yet to find a way to complete it and some way for the town to be able to pay for it. Under the old system they could do that; 20 per cent of fixed revenues they could manage. And that was the agreement that was signed between those municipalities and the Department to begin the systems which are now half completed. In the middle of the game the rules changed. And we all know what happens in the middle of a game when the referee changes the rules; there are some very serious problems. And some games in which I have been involved actually turned into riots - literally turned into riots.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: I am talking about sport, of course, I am not talking about water and sewerage and municipal affairs.

AN HON. MEMBER: In your younger days.

MR. MATTHEWS: In my younger days - my younger days. But the comparison is the same. The rules have been changed in midstream and it is causing difficulties. And I want an answer from the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and I want it fairly soon. And the municipalities out and about this Province want it fairly soon, because this has been ongoing now for a fair bit of time and Members Opposite know that. We are soon to the stage now where ordinarily you would have announcements on water and sewerage capital works, on additional phases. Last year, I believe, they were announced in the fall, which was good for early tendering. This year, no one in this Province knows how much money is going to be expended on water and sewerage in this Province this year.

AN HON. MEMBER: In the Liberal districts?

MR. MATTHEWS: In any district, I suppose. Now perhaps the Minister brought up a good point. Perhaps there is something happening I do not know about. But I doubt that. Knowing the Minister the way I know him and the way he throws his little quips across the Legislature, I would say he is just doing it hoping to get under someone's skin. He knows he cannot get under mine, because I know him too well. But the thing is we should know. And, Mr. Minister, all I am saying to you is that those municipalities need to know. Those two communities have not yet finalized their budgets. There are some municipalities which have had their budgets sent back five times.

MR. EFFORD: When you fellows had a budget it was no trouble to read it: Tories only.

MR. MATTHEWS: Ah, the Minister of Social Services is obsessed. He is obsessed. I would ask him to restrain himself. Because what I am talking about is serious stuff, it is not to be joked about.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: It is not to be joked about. Health is not to be joked about. And that is what we are talking here, health. Health is not a joke. I am concerned about the people in those communities who put off requesting a water and sewer system until they absolutely had to; they did not want to have the burden of putting in water and sewer. If they could have gotten away forever on their septic tank system and their well system, they were happy. But you know what happens with septic systems. When they are properly installed it is bad enough after a number of years, but when improperly installed there are further complications and that is what we have; we have septic tanks polluting wells, and it has to be addressed.

It cannot go on much longer. And I say to the Minister, I would request that he seriously look at communities such as the two I have talked about in my district, Garnish and Point May, and that he make a decision. Personally, I do not know what in the name of God is going to happen to the people in the areas of those towns where the systems have not yet reached. I do not know what is going to happen if there is not some kind of financial arrangement, debt repayment schedule set up that they can live with. Because there is no way with the types of communities they are, particularly the Point May situation, where if the people earn $7,000 or $8,000 a year they are lucky; if you can get two people in a household who get $6,000 or $7,000 each, that is how most of them get through the winter, I say to the Member for Pleasantville. That is the truth of it. I know people who work in the fish plants in Fortune and Grand Bank. If they make $18,000 a year they consider it to be a good year. And they have property tax.

MR. MURPHY: You're talking UI, too.

MR. MATTHEWS: I am talking the works. We do not get twelve months' work any more, I say to the Member for St. John's South. One time we did. We do not any more. This year we are getting twenty weeks, and we got twenty last year. But before that we were lucky to get six! So put it all together, and if they top $15,000 they are doing well.

Now they have in Grand Bank 8 mils, and the poll tax, I think, is $140. Sometimes you think, well, it is not much tax. I would think it was a lot of tax if I were making $15,000 a year. And the only way a lot of them get through is they somehow get some income for their spouse. And most ways they get it, and as much as we do not like it and as much as we are desirous of having long-term employment, most ways they get through the year is by getting a job on the Federal programme, or the Community Development programme or whatever. That is how they make it.

That is rural Newfoundland and you cannot change that, I say to the Member for Pleasantville. You can not change that. They chose to live where they live. And they want to live where they are because as things are now in the Province and the country, it is of no advantage for them to even attempt to go anywhere else. Because things are just as bad. The most they get if they go somewhere else is welfare. And they do not want to go anywhere else. So they have chosen to live where they are, and all they are asking for now is water and sewer because of the health hazards in their community. That is all they are asking.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make some comments on the Member's points about Garnish and Point May. He points out, quite correctly of course, where both communities are in very difficult circumstances. Both of them on the coast, needless to say, as are all the communities in the Province. With the exception of maybe twelve or fifteen, the vast majority are on the coastline. Garnish, and Point May as well, are pretty well isolated from the other communities. Very little worry about being amalgamation candidates, I would think, because they are pretty well on their own. And they are very much alike in the sense that they have no commercial base to speak of. I think, if I recall correctly, Point May has six commercial properties and Garnish has probably three or four.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, it is reversed, Garnish six, Point May (inaudible).

MR. GULLAGE: Okay. So it is pretty well a residential tax base. Garnish's revenue per household is $200, and Point May is $100. The big question is of course whether that is -

MR. MATTHEWS: Point May has not been assessed for property tax.

MR. GULLAGE: I realize that. And the Member makes a valid point, in that we have existing debt on the books and still have a fair amount of services to put in the ground in both communities.

In Garnish, as a matter of fact, we are looking at about a third of the service in place and two-thirds to go, and not too different in Point May. The problem is, of course, the cost to pay the debt is $1,700 in Garnish and $1,958 in Point May per household.

Now I think the main point the Member was making is why would we bring in a new grants program? And the other part of that, because it is separate from the grants program, is the contribution to the debt? The fact of the matter is, we have $411 million in debt on the books and, as I explained last night in the House, or the night before, are faced with a proposition and a possibility that we probably would not get any more water and sewer programs, or certainly a drastically reduced program if we continued on building up the debt in the corporation. As the Minister responsible, I felt I had to propose at least some reasonable repayment on the debt by the municipalities. Because clearly 20 per cent of fixed revenues was a ridiculous equation to have in place. And it just was not working. Because as we know, with communities with very little capacity for revenue, and I suppose these are all in the category - Garnish, for example, $165,000 in revenue. That is their total revenue. Very little capacity. Using the 20 per cent figure, they are very quickly at the maximum they are expected to contribute, and beyond that the expense is on the remainder of the Province.

So under the change in the formula we are now asking communities to pay up to $300 a household, and that is the cap. If they are above that, of course, they have to pay whatever is above it. And certainly all of the urban communities in the Province are at $300 or above, and they are paying more than that now. I think the Member for Pleasantville was making that point. But we are saying to the rural communities in the main which were not paying anywhere near $300, we would expect that you would pay up to $300 per household on a graduated basis on the water and sewer debt that is existing on the books.

Then we have to look at what happens in the future, and this is where the Member is concerned. If we have a community, and I am assuming that Garnish and Point May are considered in such a situation, if that is his point, which has reached the maximum revenues they can bring in from their taxpayers, and that may be true in the case of Garnish, but I am not so sure it is true in the case of Point May - actually, Point May is $300 a household in tax, and Garnish is $200. That still is not a large amount of tax per household. It is nowhere near the Provincial average of $1,000. Believe it or not, the average revenue per household in this Province, including commercial, industrial, poll tax, property tax, is $1,000. Believe it or not, excluding the three cities.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) urban.

MR. GULLAGE: No, I am talking about averages now. If you get into rural Newfoundland, the average is something like $600. So we are not even at half the rural average with those two figures. I am not suggesting that the Member does not have a point, if in fact the economy of the area is such that the incomes of the people are a factor. And certainly if there is no business tax base and the only revenue available is a property tax, it could very well be that the household income which is simply a factor is down because the only opportunity for revenue is the individuals in the town. If that is the case, well we may have a circumstance that would be looked at when we are addressing the approvals for capital works.

But, Mr. Chairman, I have to say that in all fairness to all other rural communities in the Province they all have to be looked at in a similar fashion, that they have to pay their fair share of water and sewer debt. And that is all we are asking. And I talking about existing debt now. Because that is already in place. And remember that the Province is still only picking up an extra $1.8 million against a $411 million problem. That is all that is being contributed towards that problem in the current fiscal year. So we did not gain a lot by asking the communities to pay a little more, not a lot at all. It is a help, and it helps us keep a program in place. Because, obviously, the more dollars going towards the financing corporation from the municipalities eases the burden on the provincial contribution. Consequently, I can go in to Government and ask for a program for this year, a program that will hopefully address some of the problems in the Member's district. Where those communities of Garnish and Point May will rank I obviously cannot tell at this stage, but I can say that for the first time we are able to look at the fiscal capacity of a community and determine whether or not it has reached its capacity as far as revenue is concerned, and I am talking about revenues from all sources, divided by the households.

And we can compare that now very easily, because all that work is done. We can compare one community to another, we can compare it to averages, we can do what we want, because we have the work done. Almost a year and a half of work on every community in the Province has given us a tremendous amount of information. But we have added to what was always in place. The Member has made the point about a serious health and environmental problem being in place. That is not unique, of course, but it is a problem. We have added health and environment as being important factors, and we have added fiscal capacity. There are some other factors, too, that are of lesser importance: is the community growing, or is it diminishing in population and that sort of thing. But the main factors are health and environment factors, and fiscal capacity. We never really had a good strong handle on fiscal capacity because we were never really seriously addressing the existing debt and how that impacted on a community. We have addressed that now and we know exactly how each community is faced off against the debt that is in place for that community. We know the effect on that community per household, and we are able to make a decision as to whether a community can take on more debt per household than is in place right now, and make more payments on that debt, and then make a decision based on all those factors put together of whether or not the Province should pay the greater proportion of the debt that is going to be put in place in a given year.

We are going to find, Mr. Chairman, that there will be communities where the Province, if it is going to proceed with a new water and sewer phase or an additional phase, whichever way, there will be situations where the Province will simply have to say, if we are going to do this, if we are going to proceed and put this system in place, put this debt on the books, the Province will have to pay for it. We will have situations like that, and we will have some other situations where the Province will pay 90 per cent, or 80 per cent. Or on the other extreme, we will have situations where a community has such good fiscal capacity, it has an industrial base, a residential base, it has everything going for it, no health problems, no environment problems, and we may very well say you should pay for it yourselves, or we will only pay 10, 20, or 30 per cent. We will have the two extremes, there is no question about it.

I think for the first time, Mr. Chairman, and this is important, we will have an excellent view of each community and we will know where we are coming from when we are making decisions as to the priorities of the Province and where we should be spending the limited amount of dollars we have. We have a $2.5 billion problem of new water and sewer that has to be put in place, not to mention replacement, which is another $2.5 billion - a $5 billion problem. Mr. Chairman, when you talk about a water and sewer corporation, we have examined it from every which way to Sunday and the cost to the average household in the Province would be such that it would be unthinkable to even try it. Because the expectation would be that everyone would want it at once, as with any utility if you like, if you want to put it in that context, and the cost per household would be exorbitant. And you would have to take everybody into it anyway -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has expired.

MR. GULLAGE: - you would have to buy out all the existing facilities, and it would be very difficult to manage, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you again. Mr. Chairman. I find the Minister's response very interesting and there is some credence in some of the points that the Minister has made. There is no doubt that there have been communities which had capacity or could have had greater fiscal capacity over the past years that have not reached it.

But the Minister is touching on a very fine point here when he talks about fiscal capacity. Because in essence what this Minister and this Government are doing is they want to set the taxation rate for communities in this Province. Now that at present is the decision of the elected councils, there are community councils, town councils or city councils. That is a decision under the Act of those duly elected local governments. Now what I see in what is evolving over the last number of months in essence is that the Government really wants to set a minimum tax rate for the people of the Province. That is basically what we are seeing here. And I say to the Minister there are a number of councils and councillors now that are ticked off about that, and if he pushes it a bit too hard then he is probably going to lose a number of councils in this Province, and that would be an undesirable thing. I would not want to see that.

Now, what I want to say to the Minister to expand the argument a bit further and to talk about my own local situation, which I guess pertains to any number of communities in the Province, is that we have partial systems installed. Half, or greater than half of the residents in the community, do not have any services whatsoever. There are no services to the worst areas of the towns. And yet these people are going to be expected to pay the tax rates that are set by the councils - without services. So this is another predicament that the councils and the councillors find themselves in. Because they are asking people to pay taxes for services that they are not receiving, and in small communities that is a problem. It is big enough in larger but in smaller communities it makes life far more miserable for the poor councillors. So that is another problem we have.

In the case of Point May, which has requested a property assessment for property tax, they have not yet been assessed. And with the backlog in the Province God knows when they will be assessed. So, how is this all going to come about, because they are now stuck with a poll tax situation? Garnish is different. They have property tax and poll tax. Their poll tax last year, by the way, was the second highest in the Province. Their mil rate I think was 5. So if they push that up to 7 or 8, if they doubled their mil rate in Garnish, put it to 10 mils, from 5 to 10, the amount of revenue that will accrue to that council is so minimal. And I do not know, I say to the Minister, how they are ever going to get the figure you are looking for per household of $300 or $400.

I mean, it is virtually impossible for a community like Point May to do it, certainly, I do not know how they will ever do it, because I believe the figure is - and I stand corrected on this - I think there is something like 290 taxpayers, I believe, in Point May, and there are about 110 of them each year who are not sure whether they are going to make enough money to have to pay the tax to the council. There is a limit, I believe. The Minister probably knows the figure. There is a limit that if you make less than a certain amount you do not have to pay, is that correct? The council in Point May has told me that there is - I think it is over 100 people who are on the tax roll of the town that some years it is dubious whether or not they will have to pay taxes.

The other problem you have is the value of the property. The average property value in Point May is very, very low. So if the council was charging 10 mils in Point May on a $20,000 home, they get $200. And a 10 mil property tax rate in a town like Point May is very very high, when you look at the economy of that town and the people. Most of them do not work, only seasonal, and their earnings in the inshore fishery and otherwise are very low as I have already said. So if the council said tomorrow that you have to pay 10 mils property tax, on a $20,000 home it is $200.

So that is the predicament that these councils find themselves in. And it is not only these two towns, but there are any number out and about the Province. So it is a real problem. And my big concern, and I think everyone realizes it now, is that with those extra burdens, particularly on the councillors, I mean those elected people who go through very difficult times, particularly in small communities, there is no doubt that small community politics is worse to live with than any.

That is the problems that they are under, and they are under great stress, and here they are now with those systems half completed and with the areas that need it most, they are not sure if they are going to be able to afford to finish them. Like I said they are willing to increase taxes reasonably. But from what I have seen, I say to the Minister, sitting down with one of his officials, who is a very competent individual. He has been very accessible, has been down and about in my area any way in the Province, in the eastern region, more I would say than anybody else over the years I have been in politics, doing the best he can with the situation. My big worry from what I have seen is that having said all of that and with all of his visits and all of his scrutiny there will not be some provision for those towns to be able to get a decent water and sewer system which is so badly needed.

So having said that, Mr. Chairman, I conclude my remarks, particularly on this point which I thought very, very important to raise here today because of the concern for those two communities and the people in them, and for me as their MHA, and I know that there are other Members on both sides of this Legislature that have similar concerns and maybe we will hear some more expressed as the day goes on.

So thank you.

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Chairman, I have been anxious in the last few days to make a few general comments about education. It is interesting discussing very particular issues and special issues, but I felt, Mr. Chairman, in this very important debate, that I should make some general observations about education in this Province and perhaps in the country.

Over the past two or three decades, Mr. Chairman, there have been two or three major issues in education in Newfoundland and Labrador. If I were to identify two of the major ones, they are issues of quality in education and equality. I would like to speak for a few minutes on each of these, and then add a third one, this question of accountability and efficiency ,and relate that to the estimates and to what we are doing here in this House in this important debate.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

DR. WARREN: Years ago, I would suggest in the 1970s, equality took precedence over quality, and perhaps in the early part of the 1980s we focused more on equality of opportunity than on quality in education. Now I would suggest today we have reversed the emphasis on these two, and the emphasis in this country and perhaps in North American and in this Province is on excellence and quality. It is not enough to educate everybody, we are saying you must provide high standards in education. You must provide the right kind of education. So I would suggest that excellence and quality are the kinds of concepts which are going to permeate education in the 1990s.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

DR. WARREN: Our graduates must compete with the world. They must be able to compete nationally and internationally. They must be qualified. They must be able to take their place in the country. I think we have to, Mr. Chairman, look at the quality of education, school by school. Maybe we should have, in addition to a report card on students, maybe we need a report card on schools to see how schools themselves are providing high standards for students in mathematics and in science and in english and the other subject areas. We need to do that. I mentioned science. Certainly, in science we need some changes. There has been an improvement in the participation rates. Mr. Chairman, there has been an improvement in participation rates in science. More and more people are taking science courses but we must do much more in this area, and I am pleased to say that the Government is considering initiatives in the area of physics, mathematics and other sciences that we will implement over the next year or so. We have to focus on science and technology. We have to focus on rewarding excellence by scholarships. Now I don't want to repeat what this Government has already done with respect to scholarships, but it is very important. We did more in two years than the other Government did in seventeen years in the area of scholarships.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. WARREN: And that is only the beginning. That is only the beginning.

Mr. Chairman, we have to focus on not only providing education for everybody, but for providing the right kind of education and providing quality education for everybody at all levels in the system. Now let me say a few words about equality, and I start from the premise - if the Member from Torngat does not want to listen I am sure the Member for Humber East is interested in what I am going to say about equality, because she and I, and I want to pay tribute to her, she and I share some of the same philosophical views on equality. I am going to say something nice about the Member for Grand Falls later - if I can find something - maybe even the Member for Ferryland eventually. But I believe, Mr. Chairman, and this Government believes that all children in Newfoundland and Labrador, regardless of where they live, regardless of their ability, regardless of the income of their family, that all children have the right to quality education, an education that meets their needs.

Now I could go on for some time saying that there are still gaps between quality of education in large schools and small schools, and we have to rectify that. Perhaps because the large schools happen to be in urban areas, there are some gaps there between urban and rural, but we are rectifying that and we have to work on it, and I think we have discovered some ways and means of improving that.

Gender equity: We have to provide for males and females, we have to provide equal opportunity to sciences, to technology. We have to ensure that more females go on to study at the post-secondary level in the area of science and technology. That is what I talk about when I talk about equality. We have to make sure also, Mr. Chairman, that more women get into administrative positions in education. As a Minister I am committed to that. I don't know how we can do it in tough times, but we are going to find a way. We are going to try and find a way to ensure that more women who are qualified and competent in administration get an opportunity to give leadership in education. We have not done enough of that in the past. I am very concerned about it and I want to find ways of doing it.

Mr. Chairman, we have to provide for not just the disadvantaged - we are doing a lot for disadvantaged students - we have to provide for the gifted. When I talk about equality of opportunity I am talking about helping the gifted and the creative students. We sometimes have left them on their own. We have left them on their own because we know they can survive. We have left them on their own and the good ones have survived - Furey is pointing to himself - I mean they survived, the gifted students, but we have to do more to develop education for all our students.

Christians and non-christians: I know this is a sensitive issue in this Province. We don't have a lot of non-christians or non-religious, but as a Minister and as this Government we have to ensure that all of our people, irrespective of their religious background, have the right to quality education guaranteed by law, not as a matter of just giving them an advantage, Mr. Chairman. In the new Schools Act we are going to provide some protection, maybe not all they want, but more than was there in the past for those who do not adhere to some of the recognized denominations.

Mr. Chairman, native students: This Government is committed to improving the educational program for native students. We are looking at the curriculum. I have met the Sheshatshit. I have been to Sheshatshit, I met the people, and for the first time we are going to face up to the questions that are raised in communities on the coast of Labrador - equality of educational opportunity for single parents and for others, Mr. Chairman. So this whole question of equality is not easy but as a Government we have done a number of things, and I am pleased to see that some of my friends are nodding across the House, we have done a number of things and we are going to do more to guarantee - we are going to change the grant system, for example, over the next year, to provide more funds for areas of the Province that have high costs and high needs. We are going to develop a ten year capital construction program for the Province to ensure that people, irrespective of where they live, have access to quality facilities and the latest in technology, the latest in science, and the latest in instructional materials. These are things which we plan to do, Mr. Chairman. It is not going to be cheap but we intend to do it. We are going to keep after the Federal Government to change the student aid program, and perhaps they will, because they know we have done our share to improve student aid. We are trying to decentralize post-secondary education. We have first year programs in the Province. We have an excellent one in Labrador. My hon. colleague for Labrador West knows that it has been a tremendous success - putting the first year back into Labrador West.

AN HON. MEMBER: Putting it back?

DR. WARREN: Yes, it was taken out and we, as a Government, put it back. I think if you were to go to Labrador West and ask the people, you will find they are very pleased, as my hon. friend knows, with what we have done. It is going to be costly but we want to ensure greater equality of educational opportunities.

Mr. Chairman, I have a few more minutes, but I should get a warning, because I want to talk about efficiency and accountability. I want to talk about that.

We spend a lot of money on education. The educational system is underfunded, and we have to find more. Let me assure you, Mr. Chairman, that we have to convince the public we are getting the best value possible for the monies we are spending. We have to make sure because we have other public services which are very important. We have health and social services. The number of senior citizens is increasing dramatically, and the number of elementary and secondary students is going down, so the competition for the dollar is increasing, and therefore we are going to be asked, as educators, all of us, Departments of Education, Ministers, education teachers, we are going to be asked to justify the money we are spending to ensure that we are getting good quality for education, because we are not going to get those additional funds unless we do. We must do that if we are going to compete successfully with health, social services, and other areas, environment, and so on. Accountability is going to be a big thing in the future and I want to say here now that this Government is going to promote interdenominational sharing. We are going to promote this. We believe that the traditional organization of education in this Province must be changed. Mr. Chairman, some twenty years ago we made some changes in the organization and administration of education at the elementary and secondary level. I think Government believes that now is the time for another series of changes. We have put in place a Royal Commission and I have every indication that they are going to provide models for us to change the organization of education in this Province. I know this is a sensitive issue. I know the denominational system is a very sensitive issue. The question, however, this Government is putting to the people of the Province is not - and I want to stress - the question is not should we keep the denominational system or abolish it, the question we are putting to the people of the Province is: how can we change the system to better meet the needs of the present and the future? How can we get better returns for our dollar? How can we share? I don't think we can continue to provide quality services in every part of this Province using the traditional organization of education. Mr. Chairman, I think the people realize this. The support for sharing has increased. I think the churches realize that we have to find new approaches -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

DR. WARREN: I am just about there. I will have another comment later if you want to.

By leave?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Minister has leave of the House for one minute, if he wants to continue.

DR. WARREN: No, I want a little longer than that, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Now, Mr. Chairman, whilst I do not want to change the subject, or look like I am changing the subject education, I think it is vitally important and very important and I share a lot of the concerns Members on this side have as well as concerns the Minister has, I cannot, Mr. Chairman, go without making some reference - not some reference, but a very strong reference - to some of the comments made by the Member for Pleasantville this evening concerning municipalities in this Province. Now if nobody else, Mr. Chairman, whether in the Province or in this House is going to stand up on behalf of municipalities in the Province, this one Member is. I think, with all due respect to the Member for Pleasantville this evening, that he is handing a lot of municipalities in this Province today a great deal of disrespect. You do not insult the smaller municipalities in this Province. When I say small, I do not mean the Cormacks of the world, I am talking about the Stephenvilles of the world, or the Deer Lakes of the world, too, (inaudible) the comments made by the Member this evening.

And the other thing that baffles me, Mr. Chairman, is this. How can Members opposite, and I know three or four of them personally who served on the Federation of Municipalities and served on councils for years, sit in their seats and agree with the comments of the Member for Pleasnatville this evening? And not only members who served on councils. I know of Members opposite who never served on a council in their lives but, as far as I am concerned, do not agree with the comments made by the Member for Pleasantville this evening.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Well, maybe you should listen more attentively to what he was saying, especially the Member for Carbonear, because I sat with him on a committee for a couple of years and I know exactly what his beliefs are when it comes to municipalities in this Province. They are certainly not the beliefs of the Member for Pleasantville, that is for certain.

Now either the Member for Pleasantville is out of touch with rural Newfoundland or else - and the other thing that got me, Mr. Chairman, was to see the Member for Bonavista South at pretty well every word the Member said, sort of tapping his desk and agreeing with him. How in the name of God can anybody from a rural part of this Province agree with what he said? I just do not understand it.

MR. R. AYLWARD: He must have moved into St. John's.

MR. WOODFORD: The Member for St. Barbe knows exactly what I am talking about, I can guarantee you, with the municipalities down his way. The Northern Peninsula is one of the areas hardest hit in this Province when it comes to unemployment, because of the fishery, especially in the last couple of years. And you go down and ask any of those councils, even after instituting a poll tax and a property tax, how hard it is to collect those taxes. They just cannot do it. They cannot collect the taxes. Whether it is five or twenty-five mils, they cannot collect it - you cannot take blood from a turnip.

And when you talk about municipalities, I will go back to Corner Brook and Stephenville again. The Member for Stephenville knows what I am talking about. Stephenville is a fairly affluent community. It is a fairly up and going big industrial base town on this Island and even they, with this year's Budget, are finding it awfully hard to try to balance their budget. And for a Member to get up and say, who is going to pay for it? If they want it, they have to pay for it. Who else is going to pay for it? Well, I will tell the Member, and the Member for Port de Grave, and any other Member that they are -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: - paying, and they are paying in a very expensive way.

People from other parts of this Province have to come, nine chances out of ten, to St. John's to go to university. That is one way they are paying. A lot more expense than the people sitting around the university steps have. If anyone in Deer Lake or Corner Brook or on the Northern Peninsula has to see a specialist, where do they go? They have to come to St. John's - $500.70 the last flight I paid for out of Deer Lake. And they cannot come by air ambulance unless it is an emergency. Some of then pay out $200. But even at that it is expensive.

AN HON. MEMBER: I agree.

MR. WOODFORD: Will people stop and sit and listen and look and see what it is costing other areas of this Province, some of the smaller municipalities in this Province to try and make a living, to try to get the services other people just take for granted? You just cannot do it in rural Newfoundland. And when I talk about rural Newfoundland, as I said, I am talking about the Stepenvilles and the Deer Lakes of the world, the bigger towns. And out around the Port de Grave area. I mean, those people have an hour and a half or a two hour drive to St. John's, and that in the run of a year is an expensive proposition. I am not talking about just on the West Coast of the Province or the Northern Peninsula, I am talking about all over.

And yes, I will agree that probably there are some municipalities in the Province, and I know some, which could have paid more taxes over the years. I know some. The hon. Member for Carbonear said, yes, but the Tories got it all. The 20 per cent maximum payment on capital debt was a fair proposition. There may not have been enough money available over the years, but at least it gave the smaller municipality in the Province the same chance as the big one to have the same kind of service.

But this is a case, and the Minister in his comments this evening served notice, and it is in Hansard, that the smaller municipalities in this Province might as well forget it. He said, and I quote, `If they do not come up to a minimum of $300 per household, the existing debt has to be covered first so that means no new monies for any other municipalities in this Province this year.' Ministers and Members opposite have said, well, what would you do? Well, I mentioned this some years ago, and maybe other Members can remember it. You can go through areas of the Maritime Provinces, New Brunswick, PEI, and Nova Scotia - I just forget the percentages now - and four or five years ago in Nova Scotia 33 per cent was serviced by water and sewer; I think there were forty-odd septic tank systems. It was up high in New Brunswick - I think 47 per cent. I just forget what PEI was. PEI is fairly high, too, because of the soil. But there is an alternative. I live in a small community on the west coast of the Province. The community is thirteen miles long and four miles wide, and when I was sitting on council I said, do not even apply for monies.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I ask hon. Members to restrain themselves, stop interjecting, and let the hon. Member be heard.

The hon. the Member Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Now, where was I? I was on septic systems, Mr. Chairman. I live in a community thirteen miles long and four miles wide. What is the point in applying for a water and sewer system? You have to be realistic. I said to the people at that time, forget it. You will be debt-ridden for the rest of your lives. Go with the septic system and the drilled wells. We have a system there; it is a workable system; it is an excellent system, and I would say Cormack will never be looking for a water and sewer system in this Province. Why should you burden the people? There are other areas in the Province which -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. CHAIRMAN: By leave.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. But there are other areas in the Province which could be accommodated in this way. The only thing about it, three of the components in the rating sheets by Municipal Affairs to help environment, especially the fiscal criteria, that would have to be taken into consideration. But in this case, where the municipality should take advantage of a septic system or a drilled well system or what have you, the health and environmental concerns would have to be addressed. Now they can be addressed realistically because we did that also. We went from 15,000 square feet per household for a septic system to 20,000 square feet. I don't know if it has changed now. I don't think it has. I think it is still 20,000 square feet per household for a septic system.

Now there are a lot of areas in this Province which can be accommodated. It would be a very inexpensive thing. But again it comes back to education. A lot of Newfoundlanders think that because their buddy next door can go turn the tap on and he has chlorine and he has the big pump system, that he or she has to have it, that the septic system is a thing that is not good, is a thing of the past. The septic system is a thing of the future. We are coming to it. Every community on this island has a problem with their sewer systems. Every year the Minister is trying to come up with a system that will accommodate the outflow and everything with regard to sewerage treatment plants, for instance. They thought that was a great thing. Now, the Member for Conception Bay South, two years ago the community of Conception Bay South spent something like $230,000 on a purification cap to put on top their treatment plant to stop the smell. Now just imagine! And in one year. The town of Deer Lake has been struggling for years to try to get a sewer treatment plant. The town of Pasadena had one. Where are they today? They had to go with the lagoon system. The lagoon system is coming in. And what is a lagoon system? What is it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Right back to where we were. Right back to where we were when Cabot landed. The only thing about it, he did not have a hole in the ground. I don't suppose he did. Maybe he did. But in any case, it is a prime example of what can be done. I don't want to take any other Member's time, I will get a chance later on. But I want to expand on it because I don't think we should be getting up here and jumping on the smaller municipalities in this Province. And when we say small in this Province we don't mean 600; we don't mean 200; we are talking about the 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 and 5,000s of the world. We do not have many. Most of the municipalities in this Province have 5,000 or less. I was on the Federation of Municipalities for two years, and I know what I am talking about.

MR. HOGAN: About 90 per cent of the (inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: About 90 per cent, is right, if not higher. So, I mean, it is easy to get to them, it is easy to talk to them. And I am sure the Minister of Municipal Affairs in consultation with the Minister of Environment and the Minister of Health can sure as hell come up with something. And I am sure, if they sat down and talked in a rational way, a lot of municipalities in this Province could be accommodated very inexpensively. Even if the Government has to go up and say to a community, Look, rather than putting $3 million into your municipality to give you a first-class cadillac system which we can't afford it, we have too many people spread over too big an area, the trick is we can still go in with $1 million or $2 million and look after probably twenty municipalities. Because the drill fellow will come into Cormack today, he will drill a well, set your pump down in it and be gone, for $3,000. Now the Minister is talking about an average of $1,000 per household in rural Newfoundland. That is three years taxes, he is gone, and you have water for a lifetime.

Now I know it can't be done everywhere. I know that as well, because in Cormack we ran into salt, a very high salt content per well. And a lot of them made a fortune there. But where there is salt there is oil, but I don't know how far down it is. It might be cod liver oil, I don't know. But in any case, Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to make a point on that. Now I made the point, and I don't want to sit down without saying again, reiterating the fact that I am sick and tired of Members from larger municipalities in this Province, to put it bluntly, putting down the smaller ones because they are not paying their share. That to me is wrong, we are only just casting blame again, a lot of those municipalities have absolutely no infra-structure, nothing. Now, if this Administration wants to fix that, if they want to fix it, just take what they said in their campaign manual of April 1989 and institute it, and the big word, the big word that can fix probably it all for most of rural Newfoundland is the word called decentralization.

The biggest employer in this Province, Mr. Chairman is the Newfoundland Government, the biggest employer in all Atlantic Canada are the Provincial Governments, and we must get that Government out into rural Newfoundland and get some of the infra-structure out into rural Newfoundland. When a person in Cormac has to go to St. John's or send to St. John's for a birth certificate and wait three months for it, there is nobody around Confederation Building who has to wait three months for a birth certificate; there is nobody around Confederation Building and around St. John's who has to wait probably six months for a passport. They can't go to Crown Lands without going to Corner Brook, and if it gets any worse, they have to go to St. John's or contact the Minister.

If someone gets sick and they want to see a certain specialist they have to go to St. John's. I had a situation the other day where a constituent went to Corner Brook and had a mammogram done and found out that the next step had to be done in St. John's right away; those people had no money, they could not drive, but they had a few close friends who chipped in with the $500.70 and sent the lady off to St. John's to get her test done, but thanks be to God, it showed up good and she was okay, she went back the next day with nothing wrong, but that is the type of thing I am talking about.

Those people are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, they want to pay their way - they cannot pay their way. We have some who can pay their way and will not pay their way, we have that as well. I am not going to bury my head in the sand and say that is not out there either, that is there, but most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians out there and in the Labrador part of the Province have to come here, and some of the things that I just said now - you can imagine what they are going to pay from Labrador. So, Mr. Chairman, I would just like to leave some thoughts, especially with the Cabinet Ministers and the backbenchers to speak up on their behalf, because we represent pretty well all of rural Newfoundland and they do not want anything for nothing, they just want a fair chance and that can be -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Chairman, what they would like to have is put forward in two words of the campaign manual of 1989 and the two words are fairness and balance. That is all they want, to be listened to. I said yesterday that the Federation of Municipalities in the Province did not stand up for rural Newfoundland when the new grants system came in and I say the same thing this evening. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Chairman, I will ask the hon. Member who preceded me to forgive me if I do not follow on his excellent presentation, but I will continue my comments on education.

Mr. Chairman, at the end of my comments earlier on I said that interdenominational sharing in education in this Province is an idea whose time has come. I think the time has come to look at it seriously in all parts of the Province, involving all denominations, Mr. Chairman, with the demands for more and better educational programs that we hear; there are demands for more and better programs; we know that there are fiscal restraints, we know we have declining enrollments all over the Province, we have gone down from 162,000 students in 1971-1972 to about 127,000 this year, we are going down to 100,000 at the turn of the century; about 3000 a year are going down, Mr. Chairman.

With declining enrollments, the Government must promote, I believe, interdenominational sharing at all levels in education, particularly at the high school levels. Sharing of school board services, sharing of consultants, sharing of instructional materials and libraries, sharing of schools, and I can assure the House that I am looking forward to the report of the Royal Commission on Education which has been asked - for the first time we have asked a major commission of inquiry to look at this whole question of the organization of education in the Province. I think another thing we can do to improve accountability and efficiency, is to look at the use of technology. We have to look at computers and this Government, this year, began to put into the lighthouse schools a bank of computers. We have to look at the importance of computers and I have a Department that is very supportive in the use of computers. We have to look at teleconferencing. We have to look at distance education, look at satellites, all of these things as a means of providing for all of our students, adults as well as students in the regular school system, quality education - and particulary the Member for Humber Valley - particularly for rural Newfoundland. I keep coming back to the importance of providing quality education for all of our students irrespective of where they live, irrespective of how much income their parents have, irrespective of their ability, and some people do have more academic ability. They have the right to quality education and we have to find a way to provide it. There are a couple of other things for efficiency and accountability. I think we should open up our schools to the community. Some years ago the hon. Members opposite, I am going to try to ignore them, but some years ago I wrote a report on community use of schools. I am going to dig that report out in the next few days because I think the time has come to build schools as community centres so that they are used Saturdays and Sundays, used at night and on the weekend, used in the Summer for all kinds of recreational and cultural activities. I know I am ahead of my time but one of these days I am going to pull out that report because I think the time has come to sit with the boards and the DECs and find out how we can build schools as community centres. Perhaps we can add a recreational centre to a school in the future. Perhaps we can add a swimming pool that can be used in the day by the school and in the night by the community. Another suggestion I have for improving accountability is to bring the community into the schools, to use business and industry, to have students work with business and industry. We do not have a lot of major corporations who are going to donate thousands of dollars, although industry in Labrador West and in Central Newfoundland - the paper mills - have all made contributions. I think we need to look to business and industry to make contributions to education and to take our students into co-operative educational ventures. That is the kind of thing we have to do.

Mr. Chairman, I want to try and conclude because I have talked about elementary and secondary today, and perhaps tomorrow or Friday, or whenever I get a chance, I will talk about post-secondary for ten or fifteen minutes, but I want to conclude by saying that good education is an investment. The right kind of education is an investment. You can waste money on the wrong kind of education. You can train people for jobs that do not exist. You can train them to be outdated, but we have to make sure that we provide the right kind of education, quality education, and that is a good investment. I think the Member for Harbour Main the other day said something about - I had that quotation here and I was not suppose to display it, but if anyone wants a copy I can give it to them: if you think education is expensive try ignorance. Now, I believe that. A society is very shortsighted if it does not invest in education. It is important. If you are going to compete internationally you have to have a first class work force. If you are going to have a first class work force you have to have a first class education system. I believe that, Mr. Chairman. But let me add one other thing about education. It is more than Math and Science. It is more than English and Social Studies. A good school teaches creativity. A good school teaches compassion, caring. We need to turn out young people who care about others in society, who care about the elderly, who care about the environment. My friend for Labrador, my friend the Minister of Environment and Lands, we have to turn out people who care, not to just educate people with facts. That is important, but you have to create in our people a caring. A good school has Art, Music, and all of these things, and a good religious education. I saw a report a few days ago about religious education. As I travelled the schools last year, and I did last year get into an average of about one a week, not as many this year, I talked to students about what they were enjoying in school.

They enjoy issue-oriented courses. They want in religious education to talk about the issues of society: racism, discrimination, environment. All of those social justice issues. These are the kinds of issues that they want to talk about. And I am pleased to say that there are courses out there that do that. That is the kind of courses we need.

Our young people are responsible. I hate the pessimism that I hear about our young people today. They are responsible, they want to talk about moral and cultural issues. They want to contribute to society. So a good education must be broadly based, it must focus on more than the narrow academics, it must teach people to think, and teach creativity.

I used to quote somebody who said - you can train an educated person but you cannot always educate a trained one. And I think you can train a broadly educated person over and over, you have got to go on teaching people to go on learning.

Mr. Chairman, that is a real challenge for all of us. I know we can put our head in the sand and talk about what is wrong. And I get very pessimistic when I hear people saying about what is wrong with education. I think there is a lot right with education, I am optimistic as the Minister that we are moving in the right direction. We need more funding. We need a lot of things, but I think education is vital to our future. I believe instead of focusing on the negatives, on the few cuts that we hear, we should focus on all the exciting things that are happening in the school system, and the potential of our young people, and the excitement that I sense in the schools as I travel. And believe -

AN HON. MEMBER: You must have been out to Ascension.

DR. WARREN: I was out to Ascension, a great school, and over to Bell Island the other day for discussions. I have gone up into Shea Heights, and I have sensed the excitement of our young people, and the optimism. You know, we can get down on ourselves in this Province. We can think: let's all be negative. But this Province has great potential as a Province. And our young people I think believe it. Some of them may have to go abroad to get a job for a period of time, but they want to come back. And they should be encouraged to come back to contribute to the future of this Province. We have a great Province. We must educate our people to believe in themselves and in this Province. To do great things.

One other quotation here, Mr. Chairman. I am sure my friend, the hon. Minister of Finance would love this one: To do great things you must not only plan but also act - not only dream but also believe. Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I have heard hypocritical speeches in this House but I have never heard a more hypocritical speech than the one I just heard. There is also another well known quotation and it is: there are none so blind as those who will not see. And the Minister and his colleagues certainly cannot see what is going on around them.

Last week we had a document circulated in the House by the friends of MUN Extension. They said: Dr. Warren says, MUN Extension was relevant thirty years ago. Friends of MUN Extension say, so were you, Dr. Warren. And the good Doctor has just proved the truth of that statement, because he is talking about the past. Now there are a few good points in what he said towards the end and I will come to that. But what he is trying to do now is to change the focus that has been created by his friend and colleague, and former colleague at University, the Minister of Finance.

The Minister of Education is now trying to forget about all the negative things that are happening and he is trying to zero in on the positives in education. Let me say to him, there are positives in education, yes lots of them, but none of them created by him or his administration. They were created by the hard work and endurance of the parents, teachers and students in the field who have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: - and the policies, exactly, of the previous administration which helped close the gap between ourselves and the rest of Canada, which helped improve our facilities around the Province, which helped improve the pupil/teacher ratio, which helped improve the overall education of our teachers as well as the students, which narrowed that gap which is now starting to widen again thanks to the policies of the present administration.

The Minister talks about community use of schools, and one of those days he is going to come in and talk about the community use of schools. Let me tell the Minister: I started teaching back in the early 60s, I guess, and I took over a junior high school, the high school operated seven days a week morning, noon and night. It was used by every community group. It was used for recreation throughout Saturdays, Sundays, weekends, Friday night, and during the school nights it was used by the adults in the community for their sports, their cooking classes or whatever else they wanted to have. The use of community schools is nothing new. It is the people who are involved who determine whether or not schools are used. There is no Government policy which says you cannot use a school. Schools in communities should be used. There is no need for community groups to try to raise money to build a gym when they have a big one in the school. That should be the community gym, it is in areas where there is leadership around. So the Minister is not coming up with anything new when he talks about the use of schools. Schools should be community buildings. They are paid for by the taxpayer and they should be used by everyone concerned.

The Minister decides to focus on saving a lot of money now in education by coming down on denominational sharing, or by coming down on the denominational system and by talking about denominational sharing. Let me say to the Minister also, I don't know where he has been, but there has been a tremendous amount of denominational sharing over these last few years, from the coming together of the integrated groups some years ago where we had tremendous changes, to the closing down of schools, individual denominational schools, the integration, the combining of such schools, from over 1,300 schools back in the early 70s down to fewer than 600 schools in the Province today. To the sharing of expertise, to the sharing of professionals, to the top example; the building of Venture Academy on Fogo Island, which eliminated nine schools on the island, to sharing throughout. And he talks about encouraging or promoting sharing. The Minister is not trying to promote denominational sharing now, the Minister is trying to force denominational sharing. And there is quite a difference. Denominational sharing over the last few years has been promoted and encouraged and the results have been extremely positive. The gap is closing. Denominational groups as well as parents, students and everybody else, know that with our declining enrollment and with few dollars, we can improve our system by making better use of what we have.

They are not stupid people out there. They are extremely co-operative, intelligent people who are doing the right things. And when they are promoted and encouraged to do so, they do them even more quickly than they did in the past. But when you decide you are going to force them to do it, then I am afraid the heels will dig in and people will back off.

The Minister talks about the type of schools we should have with caring, compassionate students. Yes! But, I might ask him, what kind of schools do we have that teach students above and beyond the three R's - and add on history and geography - about working with their neighbour, about respect for their fellow man, about compassion, about caring? The answer is denominational schools. Where right across the country every other Province is starting to see the positive side of denominational education, the Minister here, and his Government, are trying to throw what we have had for years out the window.

So let me say to the Minister, if he thinks he is going to save a lot of money by closing down the denominational system, he is wrong. He will not save enough to buy Brylcreem. There is very little money to be saved by eliminating the denominational system, because there is a tremendous amount of financial factors that are not included at all when we talk about our system of education.

Let's make sure if we are going to change the system of education we do it for the right reasons. Let's not just procrastinate about all the money that is wasted on denominational education, and that is going to be the salvation of the educational system in the future. That is untrue. It cannot be proved; the facts are there in the table. We can improve our educational system by going in the direction of the former government: by increasing our funding; by promoting proper programming; by having a good liaison between the Department of Education and the field, so everyone knows what everyone else is doing and they work in a co-operative spirit.

The Minister talks about his supportive Department. The Minister has very little left in his Department to support him. The various headings - if we look at the Department, the salary vote in almost all the divisions, in primary, elementary and secondary education, have been gutted. We have directors over there now with no one working under them but a secretary. Because they have been told that if you do not say anything, you will keep your job. We will eliminate your Department. The people out in the field have no one to turn to. There is absolutely, positively no consultation. The educational system is on the rocks in this Province.

But why is the Minister all of a sudden talking about the positive side? Number one, he should talk about the positive side; we all should talk about the positive side. Because there are a lot of good things happening. And we do not give credit to the teachers, parents, and students who are doing exceptionally well

in this Province of ours. We do not have to put our heads down or be ashamed at all. We can stand shoulder to shoulder and eye to eye with anybody across the country in relation to the system of education we have in the Province. And I am saying that in Opposition, very much unlike what the hon. gentlemen said when they were in Opposition, especially the former President of the NTA, when she talked about the terrible system of education we have in this Province. We have a fine system of education and we should be proud of it. But we cannot let it become downgraded.

But the Minister is now trying to change the focus to our primary, elementary and secondary system to get away from the heat he is taking on post-secondary. Today we hear of areas like Springdale laying off people, Baie Verte laying off people, the elimination of programs, and the downgrading of the post-secondary institutions in that area. The Minister says, but there are not many full-time students in those areas. No, there are not. But there is a tremendous number of part-time students, hundreds and hundreds of students who have obtained courses which helped them improve their lot in life, which helped them obtain jobs, which helped turn around the economies in those rural areas. There are many of them adult students who could not leave their home areas to come to places like Grand Falls, Gander, St. John's, and Corner Brook, but when given the opportunity to become educated at the local level, they could take advantage of that. But now the Minister is whipping that out from underneath them. We are seeing a direct attack on education in rural Newfoundland from a funding perspective, and now, actually, from the elimination of programs and facilities. This is what the Minister should not be allowed to forget.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will get back to it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. There are times when I feel like a preacher reading from the bible. I have renamed the campaign manual, `For real ruthlessness, vote Liberal.' Now, Mr. Chairman, I decided to change the title to fit reality. I had a constituent call me today, and it related to what happened in Springdale during the last few days with regard to the community college. Seventeen people were laid off. The husband of the woman concerned does not work in that particular system, but does work in one of the Government service departments in that town. The tremendous uncertainty that exists in people's lives and family's lives is what really bothers her. Will my husband have a job next year? Nobody knows. Will the community college at Springdale be open next year? Nobody knows. The front page story in the last edition of the paper came out last Wednesday, I guess there will be another story this Wednesday, this evening, `Springdale campus on the chopping block along with Baie Verte and several others'. The Principal, Mr. Smith, a well-known columnist here in this Province who thought wondrous things of the Premier during the Meech Lake debate is now saying, I do not know. Nobody tells me anything any more. Nothing would surprise me any more.

And the lady concerned said first when they moved to Springdale, she could not really figure what made Springdale tick because she did not see any smoke stacks, there were no factories, there were no fish plants and so on and so forth, and after being in town for a few months or a couple of years, it finally dawned on her that Springdale is a service centre. Springdale is a Government town; Government is the main industry in Springdale and this particular Administration has decided to shrink, to downsize Government. In effect, it is deliberately, slowly, callously, ruthlessly eliminating the existing industry in Springdale.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is that?

MR. HEWLETT: Last night in this House, Mr. Chairman, hon. Members opposite were absolutely boasting about the fact - boasting about the fact! - that they had the necessary ruthlessness to do what needed to be done. Well, I am saying they are being far more ruthless than they need be. They started in the health care system way back in the fall; people had to go through Christmas wondering what was going to happen to them, and some people still do not know.

Now we are getting into the community college system, the education system, it will be months of uncertainty for other families. When is this Government going to come clean with the people and tell them up front what they are doing? To boast about the fact that you have the necessary ruthlessness to do what needs to be done is a far cry from the kinds of lovely words that are in this Liberal Campaign Manual, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HEWLETT: Another matter that came up earlier this afternoon was with regard to water and sewer. A little while ago, I had a call from the council in Pilley's Island. They had done their budget numbers under the new municipal grants system - absolute panic! You have to come out and talk to us. You have to come out and talk to us. So I went out on a Tuesday night, I think it was, to attend the meeting at Pilley's Island community council. I walked into the room and I thought the fire department was having a drill. I was struck in the face with a wall of smoke; I walked into a room full of adults smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee like mad, pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to balance a budget. They were going to sell their municipal dump truck, sell their municipal loader, lay off their municipal worker and they were still $3,000 short. That is the progress in Municipal Government in this Province. They have a water and sewer system in the ground they attained under a certain set of rules a number of years ago. Now they have it in the ground, they can't afford to pay for it and run the municipality. Someone changed the rules in the middle of the game and they were not told. Now that is not fair, Mr. Chairman, not fair at all. And that was one of the main complaints they had that night. What do we do now? Do we call on the Minister of Municipal Affairs to send out a digger to go through the entire community, tear up the pipes and bring them back to the factory they came from, fill in the trenches and we will have no water and sewer and then we will have no debt? You can't go back that way.

MR. MATTHEWS: Tell them to vote Liberal.

MR. HEWLETT: Tell them to vote Liberal? Oh, yes. Vote Liberal for real ruthlessness. Wonderful stuff. Wonderful stuff.

We have a community like Port Anson, for instance, the town I was born in. This year it got a phase on its water system. So now they have water coming into town, but it is not chlorinated. It needs to be boiled to be drank.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell them to vote Liberal.

MR. HEWLETT: It needs to be filtrated and so on and so forth. But there is no way on earth that particular little community can come up with a taxation regime that would be so pleasing to the hon. Minister of Municipal Affairs that it would allow them to qualify for another phase to complete their water and sewer system. The litany of woe goes on. We have tonight to continue it. As I indicated, for real ruthlessness vote Liberal. I move the committee rise.

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

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to give notice at this time that I intend to raise a point of privilege concerning the comments of the hon. Member for St. John's South in debate last evening. I don't have a copy of Hansard, Mr. Speaker. The Hansard has not been published. I have asked for a copy of the remarks, and upon receiving them I would like to raise that point. But I don't feel able to do so without the Hansard being available to me.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred and 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: It has been moved and seconded that this House do now adjourn. All those in favour please say `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: All those against please say `nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: I ask hon. Members to join me at 7:00 p.m.


 

March 27, 1991 (Night)      HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS      Vol. XLI  No. 17A


The House resumed at 7:00 p.m.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I would just like to continue with a few words on this Interim Supply Bill, and would like to speak tonight about an issue that was brought to my attention probably late this afternoon, it has to do with the Bell Island ferry, Mr. Chairman. I notice that the Member representing the Mount Scio - Bell Island District is here tonight, and I just want to inform him that his constituents have been calling me all day today to see if I could raise, in this House of Assembly, some of their concerns regarding the service between Portugal Cove and Bell Island.

They say they would not ask their Member to raise it because they know he would not bring it up in the House of Assembly, Mr. Chairman, because he certainly would not want to embarrass a Minister of this Government. If he has any hope at all, Mr. Chairman, of getting in Cabinet he is obviously not going to publicly embarrass his own Government.

MR. WALSH: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, on a point of order.

MR. WALSH: I think the hon. Member should retract his statement. In this Chamber last night I spoke of the activities that we carried out in order to increase the service to Bell Island, the fact that we had meetings set up with the Minister and the fact that we actually sent the ferry from Bell Island to Long Pond, Manuels, the first time it has ever been done in fifty years, so that the people could get service. I think he is misleading the House.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

If I say anything that is unparliamentary I certainly will not be taking directions from the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island as to whether I will withdraw anything in this House. If the Chairman asked me to withdraw something, I would gladly do it. But certainly because the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is not doing the job that he was elected to do, it is my duty, as transportation critic in this Province, to raise the issues as given to me by a resident of Bell Island who happens to work here in the City of St. John's.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is his name?

MR. R. AYLWARD: I actually would tell his name, but the hon. Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is so vindictive I am afraid he might have him fired. That is the reason I will not say his name, Mr. Chairman, because the Member for Bell Island and the Minister of Social Services are vindictive people, Mr. Chairman, and they would probably have this person taken out of his job, along with the 3,000 people they have already fired this year, Mr. Chairman. So, I will not tell his name but I will tell you what his concerns were.

Mr. Chairman, he was very upset, first of all, that this Government cancelled the new ferry they were supposed to get. That was one of his concerns, that was his long range concern. He said there was a ray of hope when we were in Government that the services would be improved somewhat, Mr. Chairman, when the ice breaker ferry for the Fogo run would have been built in Marystown and put on the Fogo run where it should be, and the ferry that presently exists on the Fogo run would be brought to Bell Island, and they would have two fairly modern ferries to service Bell Island. But he says that since this Government has gotten in they have reduced the rates on ferry services. He was not sure by what percentage, but they reduced them twice. He said they reduced the rates twice and they reduced the service twenty times, Mr. Speaker. The service is worse now than it ever has been.

One of the reasons the service is so bad, and this is the responsibility of The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, one of the reasons the service is not keeping up is - the two boats which are there now, should be adequate. The Flanders and The Catherine should be able to service that Portugal Cove - Bell Island run fairly reasonably, I would say. But, Mr. Speaker, what is happening is, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is skimping on his maintenance money, he is not having the proper maintenance done on these ships and they are breaking down every day.

Mr. Speaker, the Catherine came off a two-week refit last week in an emergency and now they have to take it off in a hurry. What happened to it? Since it came off, one of the engines has gone again, and there was a fire on it yesterday when it was going back and forth. It has stopped again today, it is closed today, it will not run. There are people down at Portugal Cove today who are extremely upset, and I asked them, `If I could convince the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to come down today and have a look at the service, do you think it would be a good idea?' They said, `No, do not bring the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation down and do not bring our Member down, because we are not responsible for what we might do with them today.'

One thing that they asked, and maybe the Member would work on this for them, they were telling me that occasionally there is an emergency helicopter service put in place when the ferry is not working for the five-minute return run, I guess it is, for the five minutes back and forth, and the people are charged thirty dollars. Now, if you put six people into that helicopter at thirty dollars a shot, you will get $180 a run. Yet, on other systems, when they have trouble with ice or when the ferry is broken down - St. Brendan's is one I understand - they will put a helicopter in place for twenty-five dollars a run.

Now, I do not know, but the one in St. Brendan's has to be at least a fifteen-minute turn around, and the one at Bell Island is a five- minute turn around. It is the same helicopter company, so why the difference in fares for the people who go back and forth to Bell Island on the helicopter? It is a good service, it is an emergency service and they do not mind paying.

The person who told me that the rates were reduced twice since this Government came in, said he would rather pay for the service and have a service there that he could depend on. If they are skimping on maintenance fees, up the rates a little bit so that they can do better maintenance on them, so the ferries running between Portugal Cove and Bell Island can provide a reasonable service.

It is not only the constituents of the Member for Mount Scio who are affected by this, by the way. The Member for Waterford - Kenmount has one of his constituents affected by it, because he is a teacher on Bell Island and goes back and forth every day. There is another Member, and I believe it is St. John's North, but I am not sure, who also has a person who goes from St. John's to Bell Island to work every day and who is just as much inconvenienced as the person on Bell Island who has to get to St. John's to work.

So, Mr. Speaker, university students or Cabot Institute students who have to go back and forth, have their education placed in jeopardy because they cannot get back and forth. I mean, if the ice is too bad, you can understand not being able to get back and forth. If there is no ice breaker and the helicopters are too expensive for some of the people to afford, or if they are not available, you can understand that. But when it is because of maintenance problems, regular maintenance that anyone should be able to assess and foresee, that is unpardonable. If there was preventative maintenance, if there was enough money for that, you would not have to do a lot of the major maintenance that is being done. We can see what is happening when we look at the exemptions to tenders, as I read out the other night. Mr. Chairman, they do not do preventative maintenance when they can call contacts and get a reasonable price. They have to do it by emergency only and that is costing extra money, and they are doing rush jobs every time they do it.

So, Mr. Chairman, I ask the hon. Member for Bell Island to make the case in this House publicly, so that his constituents can know that he is working on their behalf to try to get a reasonable ferry service. They are not asking for a limousine service. I mean the passenger and vehicle rate usage on the Bell Island ferry is actually greater than the passenger use on the CN ferry back and forth from Port aux Basques to North Sidney. There is more use on the Bell Island ferry, more passengers and more vehicles, than there is on the ferry going from North Sidney to Port aux Basques, and I ask the hon. Member for St. John's South to have a look at the helicopter charges that are brought in. I know it was only in an emergency and it would not be used very often, but ask why his constituents have to pay a total of probably -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. R. AYLWARD: By leave, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: Mr. Chairman, I suppose I should thank the Opposition critic for getting the first volley off with respect to the ferry service and from the one friend he still has left on Bell Island to call him. I am pretty proud of the ten phone calls that I got today who were sympathising not just with their own situation but with the things that I have tried to do for them in the last two years. For example, Mr. Chairman, if you were to examine the contract for the Flanders, the ferry that was built in Marystown, you will find it is my signature that is a witness on that and nobody from that side. I will also go on to say, Mr. Chairman, that the Bell Island ferry users committee has a commitment and the community has a commitment from this Government that by 1992 the second ferry will be in place, and it will only be in place because we have been trying to help out somebody else on that side of the House with a $25 million ferry, and hopefully that will happen soon too.

Mr. Chairman, we might be in better shape to pay for the helicopter services ourselves if he had not been blowing $400,000 a year on personal expenses as the critic for the other side did when in government. If we had the $400 a day that he was using on personal entertainment today, Mr. Chairman, we might be in much better shape to handle the helicopter service. It is really interesting to see him stand up and present an eloquent case about the cost of the helicopter service. Mr. Chairman, allow me to assure you that it is not very much, but when that crowd was in power the helicopter service was $35 a trip; at least I got it down to $30.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WALSH: I retract the statement saying that crowd - that hon. crowd.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I have heard countless horror stories about problems with ice in the past and they never had as much imagination to try to deal with the problem. For the first time in fifty years a vessel or a ferry actually left Bell Island and went to Long Pond Manuals because we cared about the people and tried to get them back and forth. We did everything we could.

We actually gambled and the users committee knew we were gambling on taking the Catherine back into service early. We were having problems, there is no question about that.

But it is so good to hear that there was never a problem with a ferry anywhere in Newfoundland when the hon. Members on the opposite side were in power.

AN HON. MEMBER: What did they do for Bell Island?

MR. WALSH: They never did anything for Bell Island, that is the problem. They never did anything for my entire district. One point five million dollars is what those hon. Members committed to the district of Mount Scio - Bell Island in the five years prior to this Government taking over, $1.5 million. Now they stand up with their pious platitudes about what they would do or would not do. Thank heavens that the hon. Member has at least one friend left over there.

But let me say this also. That last Friday when we were in the thick of the problem more people down in Portugal Cove said to me: Mr. Walsh, it is a pleasure to see you down here dealing with the problem. We could never get in touch with the Member who represented us before.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WALSH: No, the reference is to the dark days when it was known as Harbour Main - Bell Island.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. WALSH: So, Mr. Chairman -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. WALSH: I will not make any reference because he is not available to answer so if he was here I would refer to the fact that the people on Bell Island would have loved to have seen him up in Wabana coming a little further than the beach. And I am not even sure if he made it that far.

So, Mr. Chairman, allow me to say to you yes, we are having problems and I readily admit that. But I will say to the hon. Member that the people of Bell Island know bloody well that I am trying to solve those problems any way I possibly can and that is exactly what we are doing. At least at this point in time, because of our fairness and balance approach, the people of my district have a chance of breaking even. They had no chance when those hon. Members were in power.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. POWER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I had not intended to speak in this debate but when I listened to the silliness, the almost fantasy world that the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island must be living in, I have to get up and say a few words. I cannot believe that he can say what he says with any degree of sincerity to believe, that what he says is even close to the truth. I mean, the criticism - probably one of the best Members that Bell Island ever had to represent them was Leo Barry who became Leader of the Liberal Party. And for the Member to get up to criticize one of his former colleagues who had done such an excellent job, he probably coattailed Mr. Barry in order to get elected -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: Go and beat your drums instead of your (Inaudible)!

MR. POWER: Mr. Chairman -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. POWER: Mr. Chairman, as the Member for Humber Valley said, he should beat the drums instead of his lungs. Because I suspect he would be a lot better off if he did. I have seen the Member for Bell Island get up on the silliest, most spurious points of order. He does not understand the rules of the Legislature. And the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island does not understand yet what he is supposed to do in the Legislature.

He is supposed to represent -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the Rules Committee (Inaudible)?

MR. POWER: The Rules Committee? Well, he definitely should read his own report, or rewrite it. Mr. Chairman, I have to say that the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is totally out of touch with reality, is totally out of touch with all of the residents of Bell Island.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. POWER: The Member will have lots of opportunity to get up and make his little foolish comments later on. The Member does not realize that he was elected to represent the people of his district and not the Liberal Party. I see the little old resolution that we had on the Order Paper in Private Members last week and I see the Member for Bell Island voting in favour of deferring any hospital closures, and voting in favour of making sure there is an independent review of hospital closures. I see in the paper today where St. Clare's Hospital is making some recommendations about the hospital on Bell Island, one of the few things they have on Bell Island that gives them reasonable access to service. What does someone do on Bell Island next week when the ferry is down because of electrical problems or ice problems and the helicopter cannot fly? What happens when that takes place on Bell Island, an isolated area of Newfoundland? The Member opposite is supporting a system to make sure that somebody on Bell Island does not get decent, adequate service. He wants the people of Bell Island to be treated worse than the people in St. John's. I would love the answer from the Member for Bell Island, if he would only get up for once and speak on behalf of the people he was elected to represent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. POWER: You can speak as soon as I sit down. Six or seven minutes from now you can speak all you want. The reality is that the Member is not doing what he was elected to do. He was not elected to support the Liberal Party. He was not elected to downgrade services. He was elected to represent people, to do a job, and the Member is not doing that, and he seems to have no intention to do it. All he wants to do is get up and pretend that the Liberal Government in Newfoundland is the only Government in the world with a deficit. The Liberal Government has a deficit only because of Sprung. That is what the Members opposite say, or because the Ministers travel, but Members opposite had better go back and check their Budget documents. Last night the Minister of Development got up and gave a great speech about where the deficit came from, the numbers that went from $2.3 billion to $2.5 billion, to $2.7 billion. Somewhere in all those escalating dollars in the mid-seventies there was better hospital care, there was a better school system, there were better roads, there was better water and sewer. That is where the deficit came from.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. POWER: We built the hospitals.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, that is what Members opposite are so fundamentally dishonest about. They get up in their sanctimonious and pious way and say, all the deficit came from the last two years of Sprung, or it came from Ministers travelling. If you asked all the Ministers on the opposite side to cut down on their travel budget by 20 per cent, or by 50 per cent, every Minister knows you are not going to affect the deficit in any material way. If you took Sprung, all the Ministers travels, all the Ministers luncheons, and all the Ministers entertainment for the last forty years it is only a very, very tiny fragment of a $5.7 or $5.8 billion deficit. The real deficit came from trying to supply services to a Province that could never pay its own way, and still cannot pay its own way. In this Province we still cannot supply reasonable services with the revenue we generate. With the exception of the money that comes in here from the Federal Government this Province would be a basket case worse than it is. Members opposite might as well realize that as long as we have an economy that is based on a few very small resource industries, forestry, fishing, mining, and tourism recently, we are never going to be able to have the standards - if somebody could only analyze what the Premier says sometimes - He said in this House one day that it is going to take him four, five, or six terms of office, twenty to twenty-four years to get even close to the Canadian average in per capita earned income, in our hospital system and in our education system. The reality of what the Premier fails to tell people is that at the same time we are catching up the rest of Canada is going ahead at maybe a more rapid rate. The real problem with this Budget and this Interim Supply, which we will fight as much as we can, as long as we can, because this Interim Supply, which is part of a Budget document which does nothing for Newfoundland. It gives no faith, it gives no hope, it has no vision. All it has is a bunch of fellows opposite who are willing to support the Liberal Party at all costs, because they are so delighted to be back in Government after seventeen years. In the twenty-three years the other person had, when he was part of the Government, he at least tried to improve rural Newfoundland. This Government is going to spend the next term of office trying to destroy the last four years the Government put in place. The Minister of Finance would love to get up and explain his long-term view of Newfoundland. I hope it is the same view that he purported in some of the classes which I heard at university, which was a very pessimistic, negative view, that Newfoundland is not going anywhere, cannot go anywhere, we have too many people and we do not have enough resources. That is what the Minister of Finance believes. I heard him at the university, and I know what he believes. His philosophy about Newfoundland is that we are going nowhere, and, with him at the helm in Finance, we are certainly going nowhere very quickly.

The other thing I would like to say about the deficit and where we are, Mr. Chairman, is that, when this wonderful Premier, this honest, sanctimonious benefactor of the Nation, got elected in 1989 there was a deficit on the books. It was there, and it was for the record. When that Premier, and his ministers, and his candidates went out and campaigned, on more hospital beds, more nurses hired, a better public service, better labour relations, better education, that Premier and those ministers and candidates knew the money was not there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. POWER: Now, either they lied or they were stupid. I cannot begin, for a moment, to think that our present Premier is stupid. God forbid, that he should be stupid! But I tell you, he either lied or he was stupid.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I remind hon. members to consider the terms they are using here when referring to other hon. members of this House. I ask hon. members if they would keep this in mind.

MR. POWER: Mr. Chairman, I gladly withdraw the word `lied'. I will not withdraw the word `stupid', because maybe that is what it was. I will certainly say the same thing to the Premier whether he is in the House or out, which is opposite to what the members opposite do. There are different behaviour patterns when he is here than when he is not here.

Mr. Chairman, I can only say that the Leader of the Liberal Party, who promised an abolishment of school taxes, who promised better water and sewer services, who promised better education, who promised better health in an election campaign in 1989, and all of a sudden realized somewhere in 1990 that we had a deficit, then the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island better realize that he was taken, that this is a bit of a con job. The Premier certainly knew what was happening. He knew he could not deliver what he promised, and now he has got to kid the people in Newfoundland by saying, `We have this tremendous deficit which I just realized. I did not know it was there before.'

All I can say to the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is, when he loses his ferry service, when he sees he is losing his hospital, if he continues to support the Government, he is going to find it very, very difficult in years hence to get re-elected as a Liberal, because the people of Newfoundland are not stupid enough to believe what he is trying to make us believe.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Before I recognize the hon. minister, I am asking hon. members of the House for their co-operation in maintaining order and decorum in the Committee. What we have seen in the last twenty minutes is not an acceptable level of decorum in this House, and I, again, ask the hon. members for their co-operation, please.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, we have been here to discuss the Supply Bill, and there has not been a word about it. There are $213 million that we are asking for in this Supply Bill for my Department, and nobody has asked a question about that yet.

Anyway, the thing about it is, I came in tonight and heard the $400-a-day man get up and attack my friend from Mount Scio - Bell Island, who has worked so hard and lost so much sleep over the last few days over something that there was really very little he could do about. We had a situation, an act of God, I suppose, where the ice came in and blocked off the service and then we had a situation where there was a fire on the vessel when it went back. Then I hear the attack that was launched by the gentleman for Kilbride but, of course, I am not surprised because it had nothing to do with the people from Bell Island or their concern for the people from Bell Island, the only thing they are concerned about is raising their political points and their mud raking.

Then, of course, I come in and I hear the Member for Ferryland. It seems to me I can remember when I was the transportation critic in Opposition and I used to raise concern when we heard about the wilderness paving program the then Minister of Transportation had, I used to raise concerns with the Member for Ferryland about the driveway paving program that he had on the Southern Shore. Maybe if we had some of that money that was used in his driveway paving program we would have more money to put into the ferries and the other services that we are supposed to be providing after we took over from a government that damn near bankrupted the Province. Now we are trying to put some semblance of order -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Ferryland on a point of order.

MR. POWER: Mr. Speaker, you just gave a brief lecture that obviously was not listened to by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that says in this House you are supposed to have a certain level of decorum. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is now accusing myself or some Minister of Works, Services and Transportation of paving driveways, a driveway being private property. Either the Minister knows of details where private property was paved or he happens to know of a Member in this Legislature who happened to do a great job of achieving benefits for his constituents. It is one or the other. It cannot be both. Was there private property paved by public purse? If there was then the Minister should tell us.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Chairman, I was talking about the gentleman's program that was referred to when he was over here. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation had a program that was referred to as the wilderness paving program. When I used to question the Member for Ferryland when I was in Opposition, in the questions I asked him I would refer to the driving pavement program on the Southern Shore. Now, whether it is private property or the property of the Crown, the places that were paved along the Southern Shore were pretty near to driveways. So, I am saying the driving pavement program the same as I called it before.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Pardon? The wilderness paving program, if we had some of that money now the Province would not be in the condition it is in.

I would like to get back to this Bell Island ferry problem that the Member for Kilbride raised, and then the driving pavement gentleman from Ferryland got up and talked about there being no concern for the people of Bell Island. This is just to get up and mud rake and try to take advantage. The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island spent last weekend over on Bell Island and I might say that he made the suggestion to the Captain of the boat, take it into Long Pond and relieve the pressure here. He was responsible for getting 200 people off the Island and it was the idea the Member came up with himself who was there (inaudible) on a day-to-day basis. A man who is dedicated to his constituents and works to do it, then he has to come in this House and take this mud that those people are throwing across the floor. So, I say to them, they have no concern for the people of Bell Island.

I would like to remind the hon. gentleman that we are living on an island and it was only last week that I heard the ferry that goes from Port aux Basques to Sydney got stuck in the ice. This is a situation that we have to live with. Then you get those people up blaming us for the fact that the weather has turned bad and there are easterly winds and the ice came in, or that God intervened and there was a fire on the Catharine, so we are held responsible for this tonight. The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island spent the last week and a half, day and night, spending his time trying to provide this service. Then, I heard the $400-a-day man from Kilbride talking about the fares, how we reduced the fares. Now, those people are just jealous that they did not reduce the fares when they were there, the fact that we took a very positive step and said to the people who live on those islands: We are going to reduce the fares and make it easier for you to get there. We are not going to try and put it on the backs of the people.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GILBERT: Of course, their policy is the same one that we have been fighting with the Feds in Ottawa about, ever since we came in, user pay. I do not pay much attention to them. No doubt, the member will stand up and say something about our reduced fares. Of course, I will have a few more words to say to him before the night is over.

Well, if you really want to get talking about it - I hate to get involved in this, you know. The previous Government, those gentlemen over there and that lady, took over a ferry operation from the Federal Government. They let the Feds off the hook for $2 million a year, and now are stuck with $15 million for providing this service. I am going to remind the gentlemen now about something that happened back a few years ago - and some of them will remember about it, no doubt - when they were getting into the ferry business. Some of them will remember. I am going to bring up the name, The Green Bay Transport I. Anyone over there remember that one?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: What?

MR. GILBERT: The motor vessel, The Green Bay Transport I.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about it.

MR. GILBERT: That happens to be an interesting little story. It started off in 1978. There was a gentleman from Premier Peckford's district, who went over to Europe and bought a ferry to come back and put on the run in Green Bay. My friend from Green Bay is not here today. They bought that without any consultation with the Government, came back and told the Premier, who was his member: Listen, I have a ferry for up here in Green Bay right now. We want to put it on. I just paid $800,000 for it. All right, the Government guaranteed it. They put it on. The only thing about it was, he had bought a side-loading vessel when there were no facilities for off-loading. Anyway, we had $800,000 put into this vessel by this time, and it never worked. They spent another $500,000 or $600,000 on it trying to make it fit for service. Then it ended up in Green Bay and it would not work. It was an embarrassment to the Government.

Now, there are a couple of things that happened to that ferry which we should point out. If we had some of this money, we might be able to provide a better service now. But, when we are discussing an Interim Supply Bill, and we talk about the mismanagement that went on, there is $1.5 million of it right now. It gets better, Mr. Chairman, because do you know where that boat is now, because it was an embarrassment? Do you know what happened to it? They cut the top off of it and put it up in Marystown for one dollar, and it is a scow in Marystown now. That is where that went. That was some money that was wasted. Now, that disappeared, and everybody thought that the people had forgotten about that, Mr. Chairman. So there is the situation. It is gone, but it is not forgotten.

I tell you right now, we can stand here now and defend what we are doing, and we can stand here and say: Listen, we took over after seventeen years of misrule and mismanagement, and then I hear the members here talking about this ferry service we are operating now. There is $1.5 million that was transferred to Marystown for one dollar in hopes that people would forget about it.

There is a more interesting story about that too, that someone should ask some questions about. I think I am going to start now and see where it is. Here is the situation that we have with that: There was an awful lot of equipment on that. Now, when it ended up in Marystown, where did the equipment go? Now, this is a question that people started to ask before and then it was sort of hushed up seven or eight years ago.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, it is very interesting to hear the Minister add up $1.2 million, I believe, $1.3 million. He remembers last summer that he lost $1.6 on one contract I would imagine.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: One contract. Two days late he signed it and he leaves close to $1.6 million and he is worried about seventeen years of mismanagement. Mr. Chairman, if he goes through another three summers like he did last summer there will not be a cent left in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, I want to get back - the Member for Mount Scio is gone out.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Member for Mount Scio is gone out. He did mention that it was very difficult to get hold of the former Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, and obviously there was a good reason for that, Mr. Chairman, because the former Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island before Mr. Leo Barry who is a judge now, but the former Member was so worried and had to be looking over his shoulder so much watching for knives in the back that he did not have time to answer the telephone calls coming from Bell Island because his own caucus were always at his heels. But I just want to let Members know now in case they are not familiar, but Mr. Dornan is in the House tonight, the Premier's executive assistant, I think his name is Dornan, and he is still continuing the Premier's report card. I mean you are still being watched, you know that, and the Premier is still doing the report card so you still have to be careful on your performances. Just because the Premier is not here tonight does not mean that your report cards are not being continued, and I am sure that most people will get fairly good marks. The Minister of Transportation is at least trying to defend what his department is doing. He is doing a fairly good job at it; he is not doing too bad. If I upset the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island, if I insulted him, that was not my intention. All I was doing when I raised this matter was bringing a concern of his constituent, a person who asked me - I mean I don't be down at the Bell Island ferry so I do not know very much about it, I don't be down there. I only relay the message that his constituent gave me today. Now I am certainly sure that he is doing the best that he can, and he cannot do very much when he is working with a Government that will not listen to him.

Mr. Chairman, he did a great deal. He got the ferry to go into Long Pond for one trip. One trip going into Long Pond is not going to do the people who are down at the terminal in Portugal Cove any good because they cannot get up to Long Pond when they are down at the terminal in Portugal Cove waiting to go across to Bell Island. So you can get a few loads off in Long Pond every now and then, Mr. Chairman, and that is good. You should do that, but that is not going to solve the problem of not spending enough money on the maintenance of the ferry system in this Province. And the Minister was out when I said it before, but the person who called me congratulated the Minister on reducing the fares on the ferries. He said: yes they have, I have to recognize that they have reduced the cost of ferries twice since they came into power on two different occasions. But he said to me that they have reduced the service by twenty times. Now, Mr. Chairman, that is what the Minister got through. That is the statistic the Minister has to look out for. You can give a free service if there is not going to be any service. It does not matter. If they cannot get back and forth to Bell Island it does not matter if it is free or if there is user pay or what. The most ironic thing is, when the Minister mentioned the fire on the boat yesterday - now we are talking about a Government that tries to blame everything on everyone except themselves: the Federal Government gets blamed for seventeen years of mismanagement. The Minister of Transportation is actually now blaming God for the fire on the boat last week. That is going a bit too far with it.

Mr. Chairman, I do want to bring up a serious concern of the Minister again. He talks about nobody asking questions on his department, and maybe that is legitimate. There is quite a bit in his supplementary about the Interim Supply Bill related to his department and probably some of this $200 million, I believe that is what it is, I do not have the Bill in front of me now, but probably some of this $200 million is going to build a board room in the tower of the provincial building on the fourth floor in Grand Falls. I wonder, is any of the money going to build a board room, a building that already has two board rooms now; I wonder what the purpose would be to build a third board room in the provincial building on the fourth floor in Grand Falls; is that where some of the $200 million is going, Mr. Speaker, that we are going to approve for Interim Supply?

Well, Mr. Speaker, if it is, I request the Minister to take that money, do not build your board room but give it to the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island to fix up his ferry so that they can get the people back and forth to Bell Island. I do not know what the cost of building a board room in the provincial building in Grand Falls would be; I suppose we could get a low range of $100,000, somewhere in that vicinity, and I am sure $100,000 would go a long way in doing some maintenance on the ferry which operates for Bell Island - and it might even allow the Minister, to not take one of them away for six months; maybe he could extend the service of the two ferries between Bell Island and Portugal Cove, if he decides not to build another board room in the provincial building in Grand Falls.

Now, I do not know if the contract has been let yet; I mean the Minister is notorious for doing work without letting contracts; he might call this a pressing emergency and, Mr. Speaker, just have the contract done and hide it away in four or five months time in the Exemptions to Tenders book, because, maybe the Minister of Finance needed a board room to hide away last night when all the people out there were giving him a hard time, maybe that is what they want to build a board room for so he could go out there and hide away, like the Premier hides away in this building when people come in here and demonstrate out in the building, when he refuses to go out and at least speak to them or recognize their presence -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Who?

MS. VERGE: Friends of MUN.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. the Friends of MUN Extension are having luncheon invitations for the last little while; they had lunch with Art last week I believe, Art May was the guest at lunch with Friends of MUN Extension and tomorrow is the Premier's day, is it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no.

MR. HEARN: It is the Minister of Education.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Oh, oh, I see. The Minister of Education has been invited out to lunch tomorrow with the Friends of MUN Extension. I am sure he will be there and then we will have another expense to build a board room out in the Arts and Culture Centre so that the Minister of Education can hide away in that board room. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation will decide to build another board room in the Arts and Culture Centre, the same as he is building one in the building in Grand Falls, so maybe when he gets up, he might want to explain why there is a need for a third board room in the provincial building in Grand Falls and is that in any way related to the couple of hundred million dollars we are going to approve within the next seven or eight days in the Interim Supply Bill which we are discussing now.

I see him going through his book, I guess he did not find that one there yet; it is not obvious and I guess he did not realize that a little transportation critic from Kilbride would be getting any of these calls from the Minister's Department because he is doing such a great job; he would not expect that people would be calling-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: It could be an office for the Member. If that is the case and that is what it is for, I am sure he would gladly give up that office space and the expenditures so that the Member for Placentia can keep a few hospital beds open; I am positive he would gladly do that, but you would have a hard time to convince the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to take any of his money to spend it on something as menial as health care. I mean, I am sure he is not the type who wants to go around improving health in the Province. He might like to go around and pave a few roads and he might like to talk about wilderness paving projects every now and then but I am sure he would not dare take any of his money and give it to the Member for Placentia to keep hospital beds open or to improve the health care in this Province, Mr. Chairman.

But once again I say to the Member - and he can get up with all the sarcasm he wishes, and all of us are guilty of that, probably more than we should be - but legitimately I request the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to pay a greater heed to the maintenance problems that are being created with the ferry system in this Province. From what I can understand, if there was more preventative maintenance done on these ships we would have a better service. Even if there was a standing contract let for services to do the maintenance on these boats we would get it a bit cheaper. And rather than rushing out in an emergency three or four times a month to try to get emergency services on the ferry systems as they break down - which costs more, and if the Minister is serious about saving money -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

MR. R. AYLWARD: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No leave.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Chairman, it is always interesting to hear the gentleman who was the junior cucumber minister from the Peckford era-

MR. R. AYLWARD: I was the senior one! I brought it here!

MR. GILBERT: - when he gets up and makes a statement. When I hear him talk about wasting money, and he presided over a $20 million colossal waste, which everyone knew, and he still kept on defending it. So I do not worry too much when he talks about spending money, and I have some doubts about him.

But seeing he is one of the first who referred to the spending, I have here public building, Grand Falls and the heading is 3003. Interior renovations, phase 4, $200,000 and interior renovations, phase 5 - I would assume (Inaudible) we are continuing on with the renovations that had been started before. And I have not got the details of it but I will (Inaudible) so I would assume it is an ongoing thing. Maybe it was started when the previous Members were there. But I will get the (Inaudible) phase 4 and phase 5 in the book.

MR. R. AYLWARD: What is the good of asking you questions if you do not know the answers? That is why you are not answering questions.

MR. GILBERT: Oh, I have no problems with the answers. It is getting the questions. It is the first decent question that he has asked. But let me tell you now.

He has raised concerns about the maintenance on the ferries that we have operating in the Province. And as I was just touching on it the last time I was up, I was pointing out to him that we had taken over a service from the Federal Government and let the Federal Government off the hook. Now it is one of the things that we have said since we have been in Opposition, or since I have been in Opposition, (Inaudible) that I have pointed out to the Members, that they got a miserable deal when they took this over from the Federal Government. They let the Federal Government off the hook. They agreed to assume this service. Someone over there must have wanted to be an admiral. They were paid $2.4 million to assume this service. And then with a five year contract tagged to the consumer price index in St. John's, and when it was all over you were getting $4 million a year for a service that was costing us $12 million then to operate.

So when we talk about maintenance and what those people did, there are some interesting stories about how they went and bought some of the ferries and things like that which we will get into as we go along. So they bought boats that were half worn out when they bought them. They did not buy new ones, they bought vessels that were pretty well to the end of their term, you know, and they bought some - it shows again the type of planning that those people had. So no wonder we are in a situation right now where we have to bring in a Budget to try and put some sanity back into Newfoundland again.

They went to the Federal Government and said: yes, Federal Government, we will relieve you of providing this service which was guaranteed us under the Terms of Union. We took it over - no, another sell-out, another kind of selling our birthright for a mess of pottage. We took it over and then we had to go and buy vessels. We bought vessels that were half worn out and now we are spending a lot of money in keeping them going. But there is no problem about it, we are spending the money and they are keeping them going.

But I notice that the Member for Kilbride there must have been reading some of the local papers. Because they have been going through the exemptions to the Public Tendering Act and pointing out that a lot of the repairs are repairs to the vessels when they break down. The reason they break down, Mr. Chairman, is the fact that it was junk when they bought it, it is junk now, and we have to try to keep it going. And we are in a situation right now that there is not much we can do about it.

Now what I say to the Member for Kilbride, as I look at a headline that was in the paper back in December of 1987, maybe if Aylward's trip had not cost the taxpayers $4,000 when he went to Nevada some place and he said that the reason he went to the convention was because it was the first time we were ever to one of them. According to Mr. Aylward he says the main reason for going was to assess the impact of free trade on Newfoundland agriculture.

By God, what a noble cause that he went and spent $4,000 going to Nevada. And he says the first time we ever attended one of them, and the main reason was I wanted to go was I wanted to get some impression of what the American ministers, what their impression of free trade deals was and how it affected agriculture. I probably would not have gone but it was all an issue at the time. That is the rationalization that Mr. Aylward had for spending $4,000 of the taxpayers money in December of 1987.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Another reason he gives for staying six days was to hope to view the low level training base in the Arizona desert. That was another reason that the Minister... that is the fellow who is up there tonight talking about spending money. He said: I had planned while I was in Arizona to try and get a look at one of those low-level bases but I could not make any connections on it. And I could not make any connections on it so I just did not bother with it.

This is the sort of fellow that we have. Mr. Aylward says the primary reason for the one day stopover in Las Vegas on his way down to Reno was that that Reno hotel he wanted to stay in, at the Valley Reno, was fully booked the day he wanted to arrive. So he just happened to go in to Las Vegas on his way to Reno for a day because the hotel was booked. So it cost us $4,000 to send the gentleman to Nevada to look at agriculture and how Newfoundland agriculture was going to be affected by free trade. A noble cause, I can assure you. And then, he wanted to see the affect of the low-flying aircraft in the Nevada desert.

Now I have heard some weak excuses for spending money in this House. And the Member has the nerve to stand up and accuse someone of spending money. And he talks about the fact that a civil servant in my Department made a mistake on a contract. I can forgive that but by God, Aylward's trip cost taxpayers $4,000. Now that is the same Member that I talked about last night who spent $8,000 a month, every month he was a Minister. For the three years he was a Minister he spent $8,000 a month in travel and entertainment. The Member for Kilbride when he was the Minister of Rural Development -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: That is right, the high flyer.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is not true.

MR. GILBERT: The high flyer, and that is the true figure. You can dig them out and they are there for everybody to see. This one right here, look, is $4,000 on a trip to Reno. So do not tell me that -

AN HON. MEMBER: There is Onassis coming in there now.

MR. GILBERT: So there is Onassis just coming in now, the high flyer to Peckford. He was well hid away over there I will tell you right now, Colonel Cucumber, he looked after himself, let me tell you.

AN HON. MEMBER: He was out (inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: So this is the sort of stuff that we expected from him. Here is a man who gets up to try and say that he shows concern for someone. Mr. Chairman, the man has got the heart of a fish culler.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. GILBERT: The heart of a fish culler, that is what he has. To go and spend the tax payers money like that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: A fish culler. You know a fish culler; this man over there has the heart to take the tax payer's money and spend it the way he did. That is right, that is what he has. The hypocritical gentleman who stands up and makes those statements about this government spending money, the same fellow who went to Reno and spent $4,000 of the tax payer's money to check on how the Newfoundland agriculture is going to be affected by free trade, and then to find out about the low flying aircraft on the desert of Arizona. Mr. Chairman, I think that speaks for itself. When we get that sort of a situation, when we get a Member who can stand up and then have the hypocrisy to be able to stand up and make statements -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member's time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I did not hear all of what the Minister had to say, but it is too bad I missed it. I do want to comment on the trip to Reno, Nevada, that was a fairly good trip actually.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Actually yes, I did, I enjoyed the trip. It certainly was my first time in that part of the world. But, Mr. Chairman, as I said last night no matter what the Minister says or what he wants to report on my expenses, they have all been in the Sunday Express at least three times before so it is really old news. But, Mr. Chairman, the only good press I ever got out of the Sunday Express was for that trip. Mr. Chairman, that was the only good press I got because the person who wrote the article put his little editorial comment in the bottom, and he said, `we have scrutinized this trip by the Minister. All nine provinces, I believe, were represented at that meeting. I do not think P.E.I. was there but I am not sure, and he said Newfoundland had the lowest expenditure of all of them, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I was the Minister there and if the Minister wants to say something about me as a Minister of Agriculture being worried about free trade, the biggest industry in Canada that was going to be affected by free trade, Mr. Chairman, and Newfoundland had to be affected by it also was the agricultural industry. And, Mr. Speaker, I will not say that anyone had to twist my arm to go. I will not be as facetious as to say that, Mr. Chairman. I was delighted to go to that meeting to see what happened, and you know one thing I learned down there, that the farmers down in the United States were more scared of free trade than the farmers in Canada were. So, Mr. Chairman, that meeting provided me with some information, and when I came back to Newfoundland I had a meeting only a little while after with the Federation of Agriculture, representatives from the agricultural industry in the Province, and I told them of some of the fears of the farming industry in the United States and they were delighted to see that the free trade agreement was not going to be as detrimental as the doom sayers in Canada happened to be saying at the time to the agricultural industry. As we can now see, with free trade being in place for a couple of years, it has not had a negative effect on Newfoundland agriculture. The biggest problem Newfoundland has ever had from an agricultural point of view, and from a free trade point of view, was in 1949 when we joined Canada. That was our biggest problem with free trade and if our Agricultural Minister could survive that union and still be in existence then free trade with the United States was only chicken feed to that. Actually, since free trade came in the agricultural industry in Newfoundland has increased in production, has gone from a $20 million industry to a $60 million industry over the last seven or eight years. Now, I am not sure what is going to happen to it in the next couple of years and until the Minister of Agriculture decides to release the Agri-Foods Task Force Report all the agricultural industry is in limbo right now because decisions are being made, and were made during the Budget. When the Minister had the Agri-Foods Task Force Report he made decisions that were contrary, completely contrary, to what the report recommended. I do not know why we would spend so much money on a task force that was recommended in Doug House's Commission. It was set up by the hon. Minister when he got in there, and I give him credit for that, and I give him credit for being very supportive of that task force as it was going, the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture. What I do not understand, and I would imagine the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture had very little choice, but what I do not understand is a Government bringing in a Budget that made recommendations concerning agriculture which were completely contradictory to the report they have in their hands now. That does not make sense in my mind, Mr. Chairman.

The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island is back here now and I do want to say that my remarks earlier tonight were not a personal attack on him. I did not mean to insult him. I was relaying a message from a constituent of his. I was doing him a favour by telling him about his constituent, at least one, and I only heard from one. There are 5000 people on Bell Island and this one person, who happens to be a representative of a committee on Bell Island, a fairly important Committee, Mr. Chairman. Maybe he was speaking for more than himself, but I know he was speaking for himself.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: Is there one over there?

AN HON. MEMBER: Not any more.

MR. R. AYLWARD: So you are wrong again. It was not the President of the PC Association. Mr. Chairman, he did express a lot of concern to me about the fact that it is no good cutting the ferry rate if you are going to cut the service ten times as much as you are cutting the rates. The rates on the ferry service are important but the most important and the objective of having a ferry service is to get people back and forth between Bell Island and Portugal Cove. And if that is not going to happen it does not matter if you give them free service, if the boat is not going to run between Bell Island and Portugal Cove, Mr. Chairman, it does not matter how much they charge for it.

But, Mr. Chairman, I am glad to see the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has done some homework and researched my expenses because every time he gets up in this House he has so much to answer for by not looking after the shop. I am not going to say he is an incompetent Minister because, actually, I happen to admire the Minister, not as a Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, but I admire the man because of the stand he was willing to take on Meech Lake. Now I am saying that flat out, I cannot deny what the Minister was going to do and it took a lot of courage for him to do that; but I must say I cannot give him the same credit as Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, maybe the Department is too big for him and he cannot handle it, that could be a reason. Maybe it is just too much to look after, but it seems to me since the Minister took over there is no captain at the wheel. There is nobody commanding the rank and file, Mr. Chairman, and when we see flagrant abuse of the exemptions to the Public Tendering Act, that raises questions in my mind as to who is looking after the shop in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation.

But as I said, I do have some admiration for the Minister as a man, and I think he was very courageous in the stand that he took when he assessed what the implications were for a vote against Meech Lake, I believe he came to the right conclusion and I feel badly for him that his Premier pulled the rug out from under him by not allowing him to have a vote after he committed himself with his speech and I felt badly for him. I felt badly that we all did not get a chance to vote on it, but, certainly the Minister did show, and a couple of others did show their courage during the debate, and I know a couple of others who were willing to show their courage when the vote came, but unfortunately we were not allowed to vote; so just so that the Minister will realize that whatever I say in this House, is not an attack on him as a person, but it is just an attack on him as Minister of a Department that is rather large, that is rather cumbersome and takes a lot of time to look after, but, Mr. Chairman, if he takes on the job, the same as I would, if I took on the job, I would have to take on the responsibilities and also, I would have to shoulder the blame for mistakes that were made.

I have shouldered the blame for several mistakes that I might have made while I was Minister, but I did not try to squirm out from under them by attacking a Member Opposite, who was questioning me on some misleading information or facts and figures which were already public documents. However, if the Minister is missing any of my expense sheets by the way, if he cannot find some of them, I would be willing to take him down to Pleasantville with me some night because that is where most of my files are stored, somewhere down in the building in Pleasantville, if they are not all flooded and full of water now because I know there is no maintenance in those buildings either and in a lot of them there are no security guards and I know the roofs of the buildings are leaking, so maybe the files are not very good any more-

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: - yes, maybe the Minister of Social Services does have them, but that is okay, if he wants them he can have them because I will not have any use for them for a couple of years yet, as long as he puts them back in about two years time, I will be quite satisfied -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. R. AYLWARD: - to go down and reclaim them -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MR. GILBERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am always a bit leery when I hear anyone on the other side say anything good or complimentary about me. I would not take that as a compliment. I am afraid now that I must have made a mistake. If they think I am right I obviously made a mistake, Mr. Chairman. So it is time, I suppose, to apologize for the stand I took. If they think it is a good idea, I was obviously wrong.

As I said last night, when you are here in the House and you hear the Member for Kilbride going on like he has for the last two years in the House - he is always rolling in the mud and dirt and I have tried to keep above it, but now I find that I have to get down there with him. As I said last night, if you lie down with dogs you are going to get fleas. And, I mean, that is it. If he keeps it up enough you have to get like him. I do not want to be but he is forcing me to get involved in this and I really did not want to be. I wanted to keep this - have him ask nice questions and give him nice answers, but he does not do that. He gets dirt into it, he is trying to impugn motives. And when he does that, I mean, you have to answer fire with fire.

Well, he talks about the exceptions to the Public Tendering Act. Every time he gets up -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Chairman, I cannot -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. GILBERT: Mr. Chairman, every time the hon. the Member for Kilbride gets up he is talking about the exceptions to the Public Tendering Act. And, as I pointed out to him last night, the interest he has in that is born of the fact that those people discovered a way to beat the Public Tendering Act -

AN HON. MEMBER: You did.

MR. GILBERT: - under Section 3-2. And what it boiled down to is that they started to buy their ministerial cars under exceptions to the Public Tendering Act. And now the Member gets hold of it over there.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. GILBERT: They decided that they did not have to go to public tender anymore. They had (inaudible) that they could go and pick out the car they wanted up to $30,000, no problem at all. So this is why the member always gets into the Public Tendering Act. Our Public Tendering Act is under scrutiny. We will have no problem. We were tried in the balance and it was found we were there and did everything perfect and right. And it is always open to the Public Accounts Committee to come and have a look at any exception to the Public Tendering Act. That is why there is a Public Tendering Act, and it was tabled in this House, so that the people of this Province have every chance in the world to have a look at it.

MR. POWER: How much of (inaudible) is going into the Liberal cause? Tell us.

MR. GILBERT: Now, we will have to talk about - what is that? The only fellow in Newfoundland who ever refused a helicopter run out of the wilderness - the only fellow! - the only fellow, by God, I ever knew, that did that - he is saying a few words over there -

the only fellow who has an aversion to helicopters. He refused to take a ride out of the woods.

To get back to my friend from Kilbride, you know, it is interesting - yesterday, in a statement I made in the House, I talked about how we were trying to even it out and make it fair for everybody and take the inequities out of the system. I announced we were going to have the fee charged in equal lots. And what it meant was that there were certain taxpayers in this Province - everyone licensed there are 5,500 vehicles in the category up to 2,500 kilos, registered. So the Member for Kilbride decided he was going to announce that everybody was saving $19. However, of the 5,500 vehicles, only (inaudible) of them are going to qualify under that, the rest of them are going to get $1. But that is the mentality of the people over there. That is the way they would have given that statement yesterday: `We are going to save you $18 on a license fee,' instead of which, in actual fact, out of the 5,500 vehicles registered in that time, (inaudible) of them will get $18, the rest of them will get $1. But that is the sort of statement that would come from over there. That is the minds of those people over there to try to mislead the people of Newfoundland, which they did for seventeen years.

I hear the Member, then, talking about the maintenance to those ferries again, where, when they took over the system, they had to go and buy worn-out vessels and, now, we are paying the price, in a time when things are extremely difficult. There is no problem with keeping those ferries going but it is costing money. He forgets, in talking about the Bell Island ferry tonight, that no matter what we had going to Bell Island today, there is no way it could operate, because the place was blocked off with ice. That is the first thing, plus the fact that the engine caught fire yesterday on the Katharine when it was going in there. There is no way we could have operated that service today because of ice. We can say maybe that is an act of God. The fact that the engine caught fire, I do not know who we can blame for that. But the engine caught fire and the boat is out of service because of that. We surely cannot blame the Flanders breaking down on the lack of maintenance because she was a new boat that went into service in August, that cost us $15 million in the Marystown Shipyard. Do not talk about maintenance when you come to that. That, again, was a problem that could develop with anything mechanical.

MR. POWER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: The next time, you will take a run out of the wilderness, will you `Charlie'?

MR. POWER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: No, he will not go, he will stay; he will not take a run. He is the only fellow that has an aversion to helicopters. And paving driveways, that is his job.

MR. POWER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: That is where you were baby, that is where you were, that is where you refused to ride. That is right, that is where they caught you.

But I tell you, Mr. Chairman, when we talk about the system that we inherited in coming into this, the ferry system, and I hear the men talk about their maintenance problems, the maintenance is their problem. The boats are not running to Bell Island this week because of the ice and because that new vessel had some sort of mechanical malfunction.

If you want to talk about something that is really interesting let us go back and talk about the Green Bay Transport again. The member in the back row was around when the Green Bay Transport was there. He would possibly know what happened to the top part of that when they took it apart. Where did that go, I wonder? Where did the millions of dollars of equipment go?

Maybe the Member for Ferryland would possibly know something about where the equipment for the Green Bay Transport went? You should be able to tell us now. When you get up, tell us what happened.

MR. POWER: (Inaudible).

MR. GILBERT: No, no, there is no problem with the bridge. The bridge will stand to any scrutiny. Only for the fact the civil servants were trained with your people, we would not have had any problems. In the seventeen years of training they had with you, the sloppiness that was allowed to get into the service was what caused that.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: I listened, with a lot of interest, to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Listening, amazed.

MR. A. SNOW: I listened in utter amazement. The man has wreaked more damage, more terror, on Labrador since he has been in office than a Scud missile would wreak on Israel. He made some reference that the level of debate has been very low. I think if you would go back to Hansard when it is finally printed up and have a look at some of the remarks the hon. Minister made, you would see that the part of the highway that he walks is not down the center on the curvature of the highroad. He is on a different part of the road when he is up there speaking for the last half hour.

I have some questions on behalf of my constituents, who are concerned with the amount of $213,895,200, appropriated from Interim Supply, for Works, Services and Transportation. Directly pertaining to his department, people in my area, in Menihek, wonder if some of that $213 million will go to reopening the Motor Vehicle Registration Office. Now, I wonder how much they are going to spend to reopen that office? I wonder how much they are going to spend to ensure that there is going to be a ferry across the Ossok River this summer to facilitate better transportation across Labrador? Because of the foul-up he created in his department, we are going to be a year late in the construction of the Ossok Bridge. Not only are we going to be a year late, of course, but there is going to be $1.5 million more spent of the taxpayers' money in this poor Province. They have been talking about wastage of money, and this Minister has been up here for the last half hour talking about money that has been spent over the last seventeen years. He talked about somebody spending $400 a day on an expense account, and he blew $1.5 million on one contract. Can you imagine the damage he will wreak on this Province if he is there for seventeen years? I wonder how much of that $213 million will be spent to plough snow from the Trans-Labrador Highway to facilitate vehicles that move over the highway, rather than Skidoos that use it during the winter now, so that tourist operators in the area can get an extra couple of weeks of season to operate? Because there is more snow in that area of Labrador, and they will be able to take tourists down there. There is a demand for it. Also, of course, it will provide a tremendous amount of recreational area for residents of Labrador City and Wabush.

I also wonder how much of that $213 million will be used to reinstate the Labrador Air Passenger Subsidy Program? I wonder how much of the $213 million is going back into that? Are they going to increase it? Are they going to reinstate that program that the former Liberal Administration saw fit to put in place twenty or twenty-five years ago? Are they going to reinstate that program? I hope they are, because one of the reasons why that program was put in place twenty years ago by the former Liberal Administration was that there was a recognition of the geography of this Province and a recognition of the needs of people living in different parts of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Liberal.

MR. A. SNOW: No, I was never Liberal. That Liberal Government had a recognition of the needs of the people of this Province. And the former Premier, Joey Smallwood, saw fit to encourage more travel between the Island portion of the Province and Labrador, and vice versa.

The hon. Member for Placentia can fully remember, I am sure, arguing and lobbying on behalf of the residents of Labrador West, as we were called then, to have that programme instituted. I talked it over with him several times then, and since we have both been elected to this House. He understands, but unfortunately he is not in Cabinet to be able to articulate to our good friend, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, the importance of this to Labrador. Because of that lack of recognition of the hugh gap between the Island portion of this Province and the Labrador portion of this Province, we have serious problems developing within Labrador and the Island. There is a deepening feeling of alienation developing.

Now, I have said it before, and I said when they cut this programme, that this was going to happen, and now you are seeing students - I want to quote from a letter, about how students feel. The younger people of Labrador are writing letters to the editor. A lot of the younger people today are accused of not taking an active interest in the day-to-day affairs of the operation of a government or a community or a province.

MR. NOEL: It is only the P.C. Party they are not taking an interest in.

MR. WARREN: Is that true?

MR. NOEL: Yes.

MR. WARREN: You know as much about Labrador, now, as you know about St. John's East or Pleasantville.

MR. NOEL: I do not know anything.

MR. WARREN: That is right. Exactly. I know that by looking at you.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: The hon. the Member for Pleasantville will be able to get up and speak afterwards. He can take his ten minutes and say whatever he wishes about the people on Water Street or Wedgewood Park. That is rural Newfoundland to him. I want to talk about what my constituents are saying to his colleagues, who are operating this Government and this Province. My constituents have a deepening feeling of alienation.

This individual, who wrote a letter to the editor, in a recent newspaper in Labrador City - I will not quote it all - says, "Within this country today, these are elements which call for a disintegration of our nation, a division which, once initiated, I believe, will lead to the breakup of this nation along regional and economic lines." Then he goes on to talk about how that feeling is becoming rooted in this Province. He talks about how Newfoundlanders, as opposed to Labradorians, do not see us a unique society. He talks about the Government employing programmes which recognize us as members of a full-fledged partnership, integrated and dependent on one another.

"The Government uses the phrase, `as Newfoundlanders', or, `the Province of Newfoundland'. While I do not disagree or take issue with parts of the population being largely from the Island, I do take issue with these who have a very stereotypical and biased attitude towards Labrador. My experience with people of my own age, whose parents are from Newfoundland, but who are born in Labrador, bears out the fact that they are much more inclined to describe themselves as Labradorians, as opposed to the parents' view of themselves as Newfoundlanders. Moreover, since coming to the capital, I have met many other Labradorians, from communities such as Goose Bay, Nain and Red Bay, who believe in the same concerns as I do.

"While I am not a proponent of dividing nations, I do see a division of this Province occurring in the not-too-distant future. There are too many gaps within our economies, social structures and values, which are further aggravated by uncaring and blatantly ignorant Government policies in the capital, which do nothing but encourage these divisions. Contrary to what some people may think, I believe that a separate Province of Labrador would be an effective, strong, and influential element within this country, as a whole."

AN HON. MEMBER: You should be ashamed of yourself.

MR. WARREN: (Inaudible) that could ever happen. (Inaudible) the way it is.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: "Newfoundland would no longer be burdened with us, nor us with them. We would be free to follow our own course, our own aspirations, and while other parts of Canada are trying to divide, we, along the basis of economic and social well-being, will form a strong, united region with the willpower and determination to make it work."

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

Does the hon. Member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. A. SNOW: "While some of this may sound familiar, it is by no means intentional. I do not, for an instance, propose Labrador become a separate sovereign nation, instead, an example to the rest of the country that you can built on your strengths; you can work to achieve your visions constructively and not destructively while, at the same time, acknowledging your position within the framework of a sovereign nation. Unless, drastic policy changes by the present and any future Government leaders in St. John's are drafted to better understand, acknowledge, and most of all, listen to what Labradorians have to say, I fear that this split is inevitable."

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: That was signed by a resident of Labrador and I just wanted to read it into the record so that my colleagues in this House do understand that this deepening feeling of alienation and split within this Province is getting greater.

Thank you very much.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Pleasantville.

MR. NOEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland was talking about the state of the Province, earlier, and about our inability to afford the standard of living that we want. It is unfortunate that he has only apparently developed his capacity for economic analysis since his Government left office. We would not be in the state we are in today, Mr. Speaker, if they had not spent so much money buying votes throughout the Province, leading people to believe they can have more services than the Province can afford. They went everywhere throughout this Province telling people they could have water and sewer services, roads, buildings, everything they wanted without having a proper financing plan in place.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not true.

MR. NOEL: Well, then, how come we cannot afford to maintain this infrastructure today, if it is not true?

AN HON. MEMBER: Because of your incompetence.

MR. NOEL: It was not our incompetence that raised the deficit from $800 million since 1973 to what it is really today about $8 billion in this Province. If you take account of the unfunded liability in the pension plan. This is why we have to deal properly with municipal services in the Province and the amalgamation concept.

MR. MATTHEWS: My sonny boy!

MR. NOEL: I am surprised that the Member for Grand Bank is not a more enthusiastic supporter of our amalgamation efforts.

MR. MATTHEWS: There is nobody to amalgamate with. (Inaudible) anybody, boy! Don't be so foolish!

MR. NOEL: If he wants to ensure that his constituents in the smaller communities around the Province are properly looked after, then we have to, as we have been saying so long here, rationalize our municipal system. And rationalize means that you have to make it financially viable. Now, we are never going to make it financially viable until we properly share the costs and the benefits, and people have to realize they have to pay the same level of expenses for a comparable level of services wherever they live.

I think the Member for Grand Bank talks about people in his district who have trouble getting jobs. Many of them earn maybe under $20,000 a year. He seems to assume that is not the case in my District of Pleasantville and in the other districts in St. John's. There are many areas in St. John's where the unemployment rate is higher than it might be in some of the rural districts in the Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: Six per cent (inaudible).

MR. NOEL: I did not say all of them, I said `many' - many particular places. We have many unemployed people in Pleasantville.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Yes, they have to be laid off because of the mess you people made of our financial situation. We have many unemployed people. We have many people who have very low incomes and they have much higher expenses. The cost of living in St. John's is much higher than in many other parts of the Province, and many of our St. John's residents are not able to do other things to augment their income as some people in other areas are able to do. Many people who have low-paying jobs do not have the time to do that sort of thing.

So, we cannot assume that St. John's is going to be the source of financing for the albatross you have tied around the necks of Newfoundlanders to try to get yourselves elected over the years, and that is the price we have to pay now. That is why we have to rationalize the municipal system; and one way in which we have to do that is to consolidate the communities in the St. John's area.

Now, the hon. members on the other side are always in favour of amalgamation: anytime we talk about amalgamation, `Yes, we are all for amalgamation but do not do it here, do not do it there, do not do it for this reason.' Tell us what you are in favour of in the St. John's region, for instance.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about Mount Pearl?

MR. NOEL: What amalgamation would you support?

One of the problems we have in St. John's is that Mount Pearl has an unfair share of tax revenues in this whole region.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now!

MR. NOEL: As a proportion of household income, St. John's residents pay 2.39 per cent of their household income in municipal taxes and residents in Mount Pearl pay 1.39 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: Now!

MR. NOEL: The average St. John's municipal taxpayer pays 70 per cent more of his household income in municipal taxes than the average Mount Pearl taxpayer. Of course, Wedgwood Park is crazier still, with 1.18 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. NOEL: One point one eight per cent. I said they are crazier still than you people who set it up and maintained it, and now, will not take a position for straightening it out. That is what I cannot understand about you. We have this community of Mount Pearl in there that has a mil rate on residential properties of 8.7 and it has a business occupancy rate of 8.7, compared to 16.5 in St. John's. Now, that means a lot of business owners in Mount Pearl, as well as residents of Mount Pearl, are not contributing a fair share to the cost of operating this entire region.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are talking about the whole Province.

MR. NOEL: I am talking right now about this particular region.

MR. MATTHEWS: It is the whole Province you are talking about.

MR. NOEL: But that is the problem I am trying to deal with, I say to the Member for Grand Bank and my friend across the way there. Today, we are talking about the need to ensure the financing of smaller municipalities in the Province. Now, how are we going to do that if we do not ensure that those who have the capacity to pay are paying their fair share? If the Member for Grand Bank is going to get the money to look after his communities, people elsewhere in the Province who have the capacity to pay have to be persuaded or required to pay their fair share. If he wants to put more water and sewer on the Burin Peninsula, let him help us straighten out this amalgamation question in St. John's and let him have the courage to say what he would support. How are we ever going to get this whole situation straightened out in this Province if you people will not take a reasonable position? All you have been doing since we have been talking about amalgamation is going around the Province trying to undermine the efforts, saying that, in principle, you are in favour of amalgamation but you will do everything you can to prevent it from happening. Now, if you are serious about looking after your own constituents, then you have to be serious about dealing with the problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) before you do any more damage, boy.

MR. NOEL: What do you fear that I am damaging?

AN HON. MEMBER: Your reputation and your Government's.

MR. NOEL: The only thing I am damaging is your chance of getting re-elected in your own district.

AN HON. MEMBER: Me?

MR. NOEL: Yes! Because your people are sensible, you see. People know that they have to pay reasonable rates for a level of services. People in one part of the Province cannot expect to pay lower amounts of taxes for the same level of services as people in another part of the Province. You talk about higher mil rates in some rural areas of the Province, but, on what assessed value is that higher mil rate put?

You are talking about teachers, today, in your community, who would be able to pay. But a teacher who lives in your community, in a house of the same value as a teacher in my district, probably has a property that is assessed at 60 per cent of the value. And he is probably paying a smaller - he might be paying a mil rate of 6 or 7 or something on that. But he is paying it on a smaller assessed value, so the amount of municipal taxes he is paying in the run of a year might be $400 or $500.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. NOEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, the hon. the Member for Pleasantville has been running off at the mouth for a number of months, now, about the amalgamation issue, which is a concept that he does not understand. First of all, let me say to the hon. member that he is not talking about amalgamation. He is talking about annexation. Amalgamation is the union of two groups who wilfully wish to be joined together for a common good, not a forced annexation of a community for the benefit of the larger community, which is nothing but a power struggle.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINDSOR: That is precisely what we are talking about here. A power struggle and a tax grab. The City of St. John's, if it were to be given control of Mount Pearl under their super city concept, would automatically, based on their present tax structure, assess $2.1 million more to the taxpayers of Mount Pearl than presently assessed by the City of Mount Pearl. Now, for what, Mr. Chairman?

AN HON. MEMBER: For the same service.

MR. WINDSOR: For the same service. In other words, the whole objective here is to steal from the people of Mount Pearl $2.1 million!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: On top of the $500,000 a year, they are now being forced to pay for fire service from the City of St. John's when they have their own fire department sitting there, built and paid for by the people of Mount Pearl, and not allowed to operate! Now, where is the justice in that, Mr. Chairman? Where is the justice in that?

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) having their own fire department.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: What sense does that make, Mr. Chairman?

MR. WARREN: The lives of people, Mr. Chairman, the lives of people!

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! Order, please! Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I ask the hon. the Member for Pleasantville to refrain from interjecting and let the debate continue, please.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman made the comment that Mount Pearl has an unfair share of tax revenue. Now, hon. gentlemen can stand in this House and make statements, but they should try to substantiate them; they should not make statements that are absolutely untrue.

The fact of the matter is, Mr. Chairman, if the hon. gentleman would look at the City of St. John's, he would find that the City of St. John's collects 80 per cent of all commercial taxes collected on the Northeast Avalon and they service 57 per cent of the population. Now, I ask you, Mr. Chairman, who has the unfair share of the commercial tax revenue generated by the Northeast Avalon?

AN HON. MEMBER: St. John's!

MR. WINDSOR: St. John's, indeed they do. They do have the unfair share.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: How much does the City of St. John's receive by way of per capita grant from the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs? One hundred and forty-three dollars per capita, Mr. Chairman. How much does Mount Pearl receive? One hundred and forty dollars - three dollars per capita less than the City of St. John's. So where was this unfairness we are talking about here? The hon. gentleman says St. John's - I do not know if he said it tonight but he said it in the past, that in the City of Mount Pearl, costs are lower. Indeed they are, indeed they are, Mr. Chairman.

The operating cost per capita in Mount Pearl is $409, in the City of St. John's, $573 per capita on operating cost. The total debt charges, Mr. Chairman - the hon. gentleman would have us believe that Mount Pearl has been financed by the Province, that they have been given everything, and therefore, they do not have any debt to pay off. The City of St. John's, Mr. Chairman, pays $144 per capita on debt charges per year; $144 per capita; the City of Mount Pearl, $171 per capita.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is too much.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Because we are paying our own way, we are not getting the grants; we are not getting as much municipal grants as the City of St. John's is getting. We do not pick up $12 million a year or $14 million a year, I think it is, from that area. The last thing we should remember, Mr. Chairman, is that this great amalgamation process brings with it a price tag of $60 million over the next five years, that the City of St. John's says it will need to upgrade standards in some of the peripheral areas.

The hon. gentleman has forgotten that a few years ago, the City of St. John's wanted to take Shea Heights and a few other areas such as that, and it is all there but do not force that on us, we will take it but you have to give us $12 million - which we did - a $12 million special grant to the City of St. John's, to take in these areas that needed a higher level of service.

AN HON. MEMBER: You could not put water and sewer in Airport Heights for that.

MR. WINDSOR: I beg your pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: You could not put water and sewer in Airport Heights for that amount of money.

MR. WINDSOR: At the same time, Mr. Chairman, the City of Mount Pearl was asked to take Topsail Road, an area known as Walton's Mountain, which we did take, and we spent nearly $10 million in providing water and sewer services on Topsail Road, since that area was taken into the City of Mount Pearl. And what was the grant, the special grant, to take that? Not one cent, Mr. Chairman, not one cent. The people of Mount Pearl have paid their way, they are continuing to pay their way; we are paying a higher per capita cost, at the moment, for debt servicing, than the City of St. John's. Now, that hon. gentleman standing in his place and saying that Mount Pearl has been given everything, is absolute nonsense.

I heard the Mayor of St. John's say a while ago, Mount Pearl would not exist if the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation was not funded and subsidized and given all kinds of assistance to build the expansion area in Mount Pearl. Well, who builds Cowan Heights? What is the difference?

AN HON. MEMBER: There is no big difference.

MR. WINDSOR: Absolutely none, Mr. Chairman. Who is developing these centres in St. John's? Who is down in O'Leary Avenue Industrial Park?

MR. SIMMS: A good point.

MR. WINDSOR: I am sick and tired, Mr. Chairman, of hearing members opposite say: `Ah, but you have Donovans'. We have nothing. Donavans was always a planned industrial area for the City of Mount Pearl. Anybody who would try to say anything different is being dishonest, or just does not know. The fact of the matter is, as I have said before, the City of St. John's gets more tax revenue from the Village Mall than Mount Pearl gets from Donovans.

There is another statistic you might be interested in. The people of Mount Pearl spend 82 per cent of their income in the City of St. John's, 82 per cent. If we stopped providing that kind of a market, the City of St. John's would miss it, sorely, I can say to you.

We are talking here about the cost of regional services. As I have said to the Minister, we already have regional services in this region. The regional fire department is being operated at the moment by the Province, by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, for which the City of Mount Pearl pays $1.85 million this year. While a report recently completed by Doane Raymond, an independent report, indicates that the City could save in the range of $500,000 a year by operating its own fire department, a fire department they had been given authority to build, filled with three trucks there now that it had authority to purchase. The only thing we have not had authority to do, even though the Municipalities Act clearly gives us not only the authority but the responsibility to provide fire protection services, we have not been allowed to staff it.

And that building has sat there for more than a year and a half non-utilized, unstaffed, when reports in the Minister's office - the Minister knows full well - over the last six or seven years from fire commissioners and fire chiefs point out very clearly that the Brookfield Fire Station is now servicing a larger area that it should be servicing. Yes, it can provide a measure of service. It may be acceptable to some people but it is not up to standard. And the area that it is now required to service is far in excess of what it should be allowed to service. There is nobody in the fire protection service who disagrees or would even suggest that the City of Mount Pearl should not have its own fire station. And I would say that there is nobody over there who would suggest that the City of Mount Pearl should not have its own fire station.

The injustice here is that the people of Mount Pearl have been very clearly discriminated against. Being forced to spend $500,000 a year more than they need to have a lesser standard of service than operating their own fire department would give them. A higher level of protection could be provided by opening a fire station that is sitting there on the ground. It is an absolute disgrace. That building is sitting there with snow around it and not one man inside the building.

So for the hon. gentleman to talk about amalgamation as if it is the end-all and the save-all is just incredible for the hon. gentleman, just incredible!

Mr. Chairman, we have in this region a regional water supply system, built, owned and operated by the Province, which services the City of St. John as well as it serves Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South, Paradise, Petty Harbour and all the other areas in the region, for which we all pay a share and a fair share. And so we should, and nobody has a problem with it, and a regional trunk sewer system just the same. All in all, Mr. Chairman, the City of Mount Pearl pays $3.2 million a year for regional services; 23 per cent of its total budget of $13.9 million, $3.2 million, goes to regional services, I say to the Minister. We have no problem with that whatsoever. We are pleased to participate in regional services wherever there is a mutual benefit.

Now, I ask the hon. member - he is probably going to jump to his feet again in a moment.

AN HON. MEMBER: We hope so.

MR. WINDSOR: My time is just about up. I ask him to be honest with himself and this House for one moment. I ask him to list me some of the benefits to the people and the City of Mount Pearl of amalgamation with the City of St. John's. List me some of the benefits. It is easy to sit there and say from his narrow St. John's perspective that this is a good thing. I ask him to look on the other side of the coin. Tell me how he would say to the people of Mount Pearl, `You should join St. John's. It will cost you $2.1 million a year more. You will have higher taxes. You will be forgotten. You will lose your council that is servicing you now, a council that is servicing 21,000 people. You will be part of a city of 125,000.' Give me one benefit to somebody in Mount Pearl of joining the City of St. John's? One benefit. I challenge the hon. gentleman, I say he cannot do it.

Mr. Chairman, the other point I will make - I had no intention of speaking on this issue tonight, as the Minister knows. The Minister and I recently discussed this issue and I said I would not be bringing it up in the House this week. I warn hon. gentlemen and lady opposite that the proposed amalgamation would create a city of over 150,000 people, nearly one-third of the population of the Province would be served by fourteen members of this honourable House. I say to you, Mr. Chairman, and to all hon. gentlemen, in honesty, that is too great, too powerful a city, too powerful a municipality in this Province. I warn the Government, from their own point of view, that a political force of that nature is not good for any government, regardless of which party is in power. Think of the political consequences of having a city council that represents one-third of the Province.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave, five seconds.

MR. WINDSOR: I say to municipalities all across the Province, think of the implications of having one municipality that is so strong, that has so much influence on the Provincial Government, you know, a municipality that is five or six times the size of the City of Corner Brook, think of the implications, Mr. Chairman, for every municipality in this Province.

I will have another opportunity, I am sure.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Pleasantville.

MR. NOEL: I do not see why Mount Pearl is making that argument about the fourteen representatives in this House and the 25 per cent of the Province.

The same area and the same number of people is represented by fourteen people in this House, today; that is not going to change. They are all working to get benefits for their constituencies, even if we are not talking about one municipal entity.

Now, the hon. member asks what benefit would be in it for Mount Pearl? Well, the first benefit is, Mount Pearlers would then realize they are paying a fair share of the cost of having municipal services in this Province.

MR. WINDSOR: I just showed you, they were, more than their fair share.

MR. NOEL: If they are paying a fair share, how come they are paying 1.33 per cent of their household income in municipal taxes and St. John's residents are paying 2.3 per cent - 1.39 in Mount Pearl and 2.33?

MR. WINDSOR: We have a more efficient council in there.

MR. NOEL: More efficient - you think that if you save a few dollars on street painting it is going to make that difference?

MR. WINDSOR: I do not believe your numbers.

MR. NOEL: Well, I will provide the basis for them, if you want, but St. John's residents are paying 70 per cent more for household income. The mil rate in Mount Pearl, as I said, is 8.7 for residential and 8.7 for commercial. Why will they not increase their commercial mil rate so there is more money in the whole municipal pot for this Province?

MR. MURPHY A good point.

MR. NOEL: I mean, the hon. member's position is undermining the interests of the constituents of all of his colleagues over there; because if you want to have your own municipality straightened out, then we have to have a sensible system throughout the Province. And how can we persuade any communities to re-organize our municipal system when they can point to Mount Pearl and the deal that Mount Pearl residents get, when they can point to Wedgewood Park, who pay 1.18 per cent of household income from municipal taxes? How can we sell amalgamation? I mean, my premise is that we are not going to have a sensible municipal financial system in this Province until we rationalize it, and amalgamation is the way to rationalize it. How can we sell amalgamation to the rest of the Province when we have such an incongruity as we have in Wedgewood Park -

MR. MURPHY Exactly.

MR. NOEL: - and such an incongruity as we have in Mount Pearl? The hon. member talks about all of the people who come in from Mount Pearl to St. John's, but they use St. John's roads.

MR. WINDSOR: Oh, wearing out your pavement!

MR. NOEL: That is right, wearing out the pavement that we pay for so they can come from their residence to their place of work. How many St. John's people go to work out in Mount Pearl? Eighty-six per cent of all the people who work in Mount Pearl work outside of their community - 86 per cent!

MR. WINSOR: Most of them probably work in Government offices, do they?

MR. NOEL: Most of them probably work in Government offices.

MR. WINSOR: Owned by the Province, not the City of St. John's.

MR. NOEL: Yes, but who pays for the cost of servicing those offices? - not the Province. The City of St. John's pays to clean the roads, to maintain the roads.

MR. WINSOR: Most of the municipalities in Newfoundland would be glad to get the Government offices.

MR. NOEL: Who pays for the cost of the servicing of the schools in St. John's, the hospitals in St. John's?

AN HON. MEMBER: The school boards.

MR. NOEL: The school boards do not pay. They do not pay a cent in municipal taxes, not a cent. And, as the hon. member said, Mount Pearl paid over $2 million less taxes. Now, if we had $2 million more in the municipal pot in this Province in the past year, who could the Minister provide services for?

MR. MURPHY Our friend in Garnish.

AN HON. MEMBER: Fogo.

MR. NOEL: Our friend in Garnish?

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. NOEL: If we had another $2 million, if Mount Pearl was paying a comparable rate of taxes. If the residents of Mount Pearl were paying a level of taxes comparable with residents of St. John's, we would have $2 million more per year in the municipal finance pot. Now, that is money that could be used to help provide services to rural parts of the Province.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. NOEL: Pardon me?

MR. MATTHEWS: You do not give $2 million a year to Mount Pearl.

MR. NOEL: No, but listen, can you not follow logic?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, very much so.

MR. NOEL: Your friend to your left there said a few moments ago that in this year Mount Pearl residents are paying $2.1 million less in municipal taxes than they would pay if they were taxed at the same rate as St. John's residents. Now, they are getting the same services. Everybody living in Mount Pearl is enjoying the same level of services as people in St. John's and people in Wedgewood Park but they are paying so much less for it. So they are not contributing their proper share to the cost of running this Province.

MR. MURPHY Exactly!

MR. NOEL: Mount Pearl is benefitting from the revenues they receive from regional facilities in this area.

MR. WINDSOR: What benefits? Name me one.

MR. NOEL: Like Donovans Industrial Park.

MR. WINDSOR: It is not a regional facility.

MR. NOEL: Donovans Industrial Park would not be there if it were just for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Garbage! Mount Pearl would have it, boy!

MR. NOEL: You mean you would require all of those warehouses and things out there just to service Mount Pearl? Why do you not do a study on where the goods are delivered from those businesses out there and you will find that out.

MR. WINDSOR: (Inaudible) O'Leary Avenue for St. John's? Do you think we are not servicing the whole Province?

MR. NOEL: How many facilities are in Mount Pearl that they do not collect taxes from, how many provincial facilities?

MR. WINDSOR: One.

MR. NOEL: One. The one you put there is the only one.

MR. WINDSOR: The one you keep complaining about, yes. How many jobs are created in St. John's by Provincial Government money? If you do not like them here send them in to Mount Pearl, we will take every one of your jobs - gladly! I will take every job you have. Bring Confederation Building in there. You will not put the hospital in there even though the board is recommending it. You are too parochial!

MR. NOEL: Mr. Chairman, I think we should ask for order on both sides of the House. The hon. member is too paranoid. I said the building was in there because of him, but I was not derogatory about it. He could treat that as a compliment if he wished. But the fact of the matter is that Mount Pearl is collecting taxes from every piece of property located in there. They are not servicing Provincial Government properties, aside from the monument to the Member for Mount Pearl. They are not servicing Provincial Government properties at which people work. They are not paying taxes to provide jobs for people from outside their own community.

MR. MURPHY What percentage of people who live in Mount Pearl work in Mount Pearl?

MR. NOEL: The percentage of people who live in Mount Pearl and work outside is 86 per cent. Eighty-six per cent drive every day over the roads of St. John's in order to earn their living.

AN HON. MEMBER: Bedroom community.

MR. NOEL: A bedroom community it is. And the hon. member talks about the cost of services being provided in Mount Pearl. Now, the City of St. John's has done a preliminary study on that and they are doing a more detailed study. But the fact of the matter is, Mount Pearl is not providing services more efficiently, the services they are providing cost less to provide.

MR. WINDSOR: Oh, garbage!

MR. NOEL: Garbage services are much easier to provide in Mount Pearl. You do not have the narrow streets, you do not have the hills. Mount Pearl does not have to look after the cost of infrastructure, 100 and more years old, that St. John's does in order to keep this region going.

MR. HEWLETT: The infrastructure lived off the rest of us for 400 years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. NOEL: How do you figure it lives - I mean, what do you want to do? Do you want to put the capital out in Springdale? A capital has to be somewhere.

MR. HEWLETT: (Inaudible) if you had it in Springdale.

MR. NOEL: Well, if that is what you wanted to do, why did you not do it? You had seventeen years to do it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS. VERGE: `Clyde' called St. John's Parasite City.

MR. NOEL: But why do you call it Parasite City? This is where you get your employment. Are you a parasite?

MS. VERGE: `Clyde' called it a parasite.

AN HON. MEMBER: Your Premier called it that.

MR. NOEL: Nobody calls it. I do not believe the Premier called it Parasite City. He said there are some parasitic types like lawyers who live in it, but he never said it was a parasite city. And it is not a parasite city. St. John's earns its way in the Province just like the Province earns its way in Canada. And it is not easy. This is what I think, and where I take extreme issue with my friend from Grand Bank. It is not easy to have a decent standard of living in St. John's. There are people in St. John's who make a lot of money every year, but there are people who have a very low standard of living and cannot afford to pay the municipal taxes they are required to pay here. And people cannot seem to understand that. If you come from communities where the municipal tax rate is a couple of hundred dollars a year - you know, a couple of hundred dollars a year in some communities is regarded as a lot of municipal taxes.

AN HON. MEMBER: So it is!

MR. NOEL: But it is not in St. John's. Nobody pays that little in St. John's.

MR. MURPHY: `Walter', I have thirty-five houses in Shea Heights not serviced, no water.

MR. NOEL: Now, my wealthy friend here has thirty-five houses in Shea Heights that are not serviced - not serviced, in Shea Heights.

MR. MURPHY In the city.

MR. NOEL: And I would be surprised if the average income in his area is that much higher than the average income in my friend's area. But we can talk about these details forever. What we are dealing with here is the principle of how municipal governments should be organized and financed in this Province. And this Government is trying to do something substantial about improving it. And you people on that side encourage us in what we are doing but you will not be specific about what you will support, and you will be very specific about what you will undermine. Now you have to stop allowing your friend from Mount Pearl to continue his efforts to undermine our straightening out the municipal structure in this Province, so that we can properly organize to service your constituents.

You people are in the habit of sending leaflets around to people in your districts quoting what is said in this House.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. NOEL: I think I will consider reproducing what the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl is saying in this House tonight, send it around to the constituents in all of your districts, and tell them that you people support what he is saying, and we will see what you think of that.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am not going to take a lot of time to respond. I know when I am wasting my time speaking to those who will not hear, and I see no point in continuing at length. But the hon. gentleman made a couple of points that need to be responded to. One, he talked about the efficiency of Mount Pearl and the fact that our cost of servicing is lower. Are we to be penalized because we can provide a better level of service at a lower cost? Is that the hon. gentleman's philosophy? He complained because the commercial tax rate in Mount Pearl is lower than in St. John's, and he suggests we should raise them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes!

MR. WINDSOR: Just to have them higher!

AN HON. MEMBER: No!

MR. WINDSOR: Business people in this Province will be delighted to hear that concept: Raise your taxes because they are too low. It does not matter if you need it, it has nothing to do with the level of service you are providing or the cost of service you are providing to those commercial establishment, increase your taxes anyway, because the guy next-door does not like you. What a foolish concept, Mr. Chairman! What foolishness! This is a socialist attitude.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: No, we are not only competing with St. John's, we are competing with Halifax and Dartmouth, and if the City of St. John's had the kind of progressive approach to taxation that the council in Mount Pearl had, maybe the City of St, John's would be better developed than it is today. Maybe if they provided some kind of a tax incentive for industry to come to the city, they might do alright. The Minister nods his head; he knows what I am talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is nodding to (inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: The Minister is not nodding to what I say. I accept that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Repeat it, now.

MR. WINDSOR: Well, I simply said that if the City of St. John's would provide the kind of progressive tax system and tax incentives to businesses to establish in St. John's, they would be further ahead. We would be more competitive with Halifax and Dartmouth, which is our real competition. The City of Mount Pearl has done it on a number of occasions. Now, before the hon. gentleman jumps up and says, `Oh, yes, trying to steal from St. John's,' they were businesses that had no intention of establishing in St. John's, but we were competing with Halifax or Dartmouth, and tax incentives were offered over a five-year period, to phase in taxes over five years or whatever system might have been put in place in a particular case, to attract business and industry here, not only to Mount Pearl but to Newfoundland and Labrador, to bring business here, not to steal it from St. John's, but to bring it here. The City of St. John's will get its fair share of commercial establishments simply because it is the capital city, because it has support, because it is the City of St. John's, and because some industries, some businesses, must establish in St. John's; they are better off in St. John's, they do not want to be out in Mount Pearl. But certain industries are better off in Mount Pearl than in St. John's.

MR. NOEL: Name one.

MR. WINDSOR: Lots of them, lots of the transportation companies that do not have to haul tractor trailers through downtown St. John's, because they are operating on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Harbour Arterial; that is why Donovans Industrial Park is where it is.

MR. NOEL: More than St. John's has a downtown.

MR. WINDSOR: That is why we put the Motor Registration building where it is, so that those people who had to get tested on tractor trailers do not have to drive down Kenmount Road and up around Crosbie Road, where they did before, to be tested. They can come in the four-lane Harbour Arterial, directly into the Motor Registration Building, to a state-of-the-art testing facility that was built there when that building was established. That makes a certain amount of sense. So, there are reasons why business want to be in Mount Pearl, and other reasons why businesses want to be, or must be in St. John's or must be out in Argentia, or must be out in Lewisporte, or must be out in Corner Brook. So we are not always competing with St. John's, and St. John's is not always competing with us. We are competing to bring business into Newfoundland and Labrador and to create jobs here. What a foolish thing to say, that your taxes are too low, raise them; you do not need the money, but raise them, anyway, because other taxes are higher! What nonsense, Mr. Chairman!

Now, Mr. Chairman, the hon. member talked about provincial buildings and says the City of Mount Pearl is not servicing provincial buildings. Well, we have one that we are providing services for and are delighted to do so. I wish we had more. We will take every Provincial Government establishment that this Government would care to put into our city, that creates employment, delighted to have it, Mr. Chairman. I would also like to have the $4.5 million grant in lieu in taxes that the City of St. John's gets because it is servicing provincial buildings. The hon. gentleman forgot to mention the $4.5-million-a-year grant in lieu of taxes.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: No, it is not, that is over and above the fire service. The Province pays 15 per cent of the cost of the Provincial Fire Department, which has nothing to do with the $4.5 million that is grant in lieu of taxes to the City of St. John's because there are provincial buildings in the city.

AN HON. MEMBER: What do they get in Mount Pearl?

MR. WINDSOR: Not a cent.

MR. NOEL: Now, that is not right. Show it to me.

MR. WINDSOR: I can show it to you. I have it here in a report. I mean, all it says is, there is the fact. This is a letter from the Mayor of St. John's, and it says, "St. John's also receives substantial funding from both levels of governments grants in lieu of taxes. In 1989, it amounted to over $4.5 million."

MR. NOEL: Yes, that is the police and fire grants.

MR. WINDSOR: No, over and above the fire grant.

MR. NOEL: No, it is not over and above.

Well, Mr. Chairman, I am not going to argue with the hon. gentleman; he does not know what he is talking about, and that is a fact.

So, Mr. Chairman, it is nonsense for the hon. gentleman to say that therefore the City of St. John's is bearing a tremendous burden. It is just not right. It cannot be substantiated. The hon. gentleman said we get $3 per capita less than the City of St. John's.

MR. MURPHY: Okay, well, if you are paying a little more (inaudible) grants (inaudible) information. That is very fair.

MR. WINDSOR: Oh, that is fair. We should pay for the hon. gentleman, in essence, yes -

MR. MURPHY Why not?

MR. WINDSOR: - who is already getting grants under the same grants system? Do not be so silly! The grant system treats everybody equally.

MR. MATTHEWS: It used to.

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, it used to. Now we have a couple unknown (inaudible) at the discretion of the Minister and we do not know how they are going to impact. The Minister took $1.6 million or something away from the City of Mount Pearl with the new Municipal Grants Act.

MR. MURPHY The City of Mount Pearl!

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, what is wrong with that? Isn't that something, now! The City of Mount Pearl! Listen to the buffoon from St. John's South, Mr. Chairman!

MR. MATTHEWS: He has put his foot in his mouth two nights in a row.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. WINDSOR: The Government House Leader should take control of his backbenchers over the supper hour, Mr. Chairman, and keep them under control; they seem to lose control.

The hon. gentleman says, you can come up with all kinds of reasons as to why you do not like amalgamation; you will not be specific on what you want to do. Obviously therefore, Mr. Chairman, the hon. member has not read the brief from the City of Mount Pearl; he has not listened to any of the representations I have made.

MR. NOEL: I am not talking about what Mount Pearl (inaudible) can do, I am talking about you guys.

AN HON. MEMBER: You guys?

MR. WINDSOR: I can assure the hon. member, Mr. Chairman, that the Minister knows full well, what I would do. The hon. gentleman laughs; I hope the Minister will not mind my breaking a confidence, but, very recently, I sat down with the Minister; the Minister was gracious enough to give me an hour of his time, and I told him exactly what my thoughts were on amalgamation. I said: `Here they are, Mr. Minister, this is what I would do.' The Minister knows full well my position on amalgamation on the boundaries of the north east Avalon, how I would approach it and what my thoughts were on it, and he is much more gracious than the hon. member. He gave me an hour of his time, more, probably an hour and a half of his time. And, Mr. Chairman, he has a vested interest, he also represents the great City of Mount Pearl; he shares my concerns, and I say to the hon. the Member for Pleasantville that he is far more sympathetic, far more open-minded, far more sensible in his approach to the issue than the hon. the Member for Pleasantville; but then, we would not expect any less.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Placentia.

MR. HOGAN: Mr. Chairman, I hesitate to stand and get involved in this debate on municipal councils, since I do not know all that much about it, not having been involved very much, particularly in the urban areas. But it certainly amazes me how little understanding there is in the urban areas and amongst people who discuss rural Newfoundland, and I have to agree with my colleague from Grand Bank, who spoke today about Point May and some other community, and the difficulties encountered by small communities in handling, particularly, their debt charges. Now, I think I have to correct him, though, in one area, and that is the new grant structure, at least in the areas that I have examined and studied, the communities have come out on the plus side. And I would think, from the information and figures that have been available to me, there are rare communities, smaller communities that have not come out on the plus side when you speak strictly of the grant structure.

But now, when you get into debt retirement, that is another area altogether, another argument.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who runs the municipality? It is not just the (inaudible).

MR. HOGAN: Oh yes, I realize that, but if you will bear with me for the few minutes I have, the grant retirement of the debts that have been incurred by municipalities over the years - and a good point was raised today on, particularly, projects that are now in progress. Most of these projects had been entered into, as one was in Dunville, with which I am familiar, on the basis that there would be 20 per cent paid by the municipality to debt retirement. At that particular time, the community of Dunville, with which I am familiar and which I will use as an example, were paying 92 per cent of their debt charges, and the Provincial Government was picking up 8 per cent. Consequently, the municipal council, I suppose, taking advantage of the system and looking after a municipality, talked for some years with the administration, and it took, I think, about eight or nine years to convince the administration that we did have a water problem in our town. It had to do with the type of water pipe that was there, an asbestos water pipe, and the acetic reaction of the water to that pipe. Consequently, we did not have a good water supply. It cost approximately $1 million or more to correct that, and, at the same time, we were installing a new purifying system that was going to be used as a pilot project throughout the Province, because most other municipalities also encountered the same problem. Hence, we entered into, I guess, a debt procurement on the basis that we would have to pay 20 per cent.

Today, they cannot afford that system, which is 80 per cent installed. To continue on installing that, the cost of debt retirement is going to be above and beyond their capabilities, unless you charge the taxpayers a high mil rate, and the high mil rate cannot be afforded in small towns like Dunville, where there is seasonal employment. It is not even involved in the fishing industry. It is a commuter, almost like the City of Mount Pearl. They are working elsewhere and seasonally.

Hence, you have a town where eventually they are going to have to pay up to $300 per household for debt retirement, and the Province is going to pick up that which is above the $300.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HOGAN: Up to $750, is it? I do not think those who designed that particular debt retirement also had to take into consideration that for the operation of that same system it was probably going to cost them $312. So, just for water supply in the Town of Dunville, at some point in time, a year from now, by the time all the debts get rolled over and into the Municipal Financing Corporation, it is going to cost $612 for every household. You put your fire services, your garbage collection, your recreation, your snow clearing, your street repairs and everything else, on top of that and you are not going to be able to afford to have the municipal services that are desired in that town, and these are only the basics.

Now, there is a lot of discussion here tonight on who should be paying and who should not be paying. Some years ago I attended a convention in Gander, and I was trying to remember who the guest speaker was, but the guest speaker said, at that particular time, that the Province - and I do not differentiate between administrations - had created a system that they can now ill-afford, but they are stuck with it. I think the people who are administering that now, Municipal Affairs and the Minister - I have talked to him about it, and hope to continue to talk to him about it. There has to be a realization that these services are needed in these communities, that the people in those communities are entitled to them, and that there are other ways - I point out to the Member for Mount Pearl and the other Members for St. John's, that the water and sewer services that are installed in these communities today are not really installed by the councils. To a great extent, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing, for example, contributes greatly. They have put in Donovans and all the services in the new neighbourhoods in Mount Pearl and other large urban areas.

We do not, in smaller communities, such as, I will not say Deer Lake, but certainly Cormack or Grand Bank or Point May, have such agencies installing water and sewer.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is cost recoverable.

MR. HOGAN: I know it is cost recoverable, but the people who are making the cost recovery are people who can afford it. That is not the case -

MR. WINDSOR: If there were a market in Dunville for (inaudible), there would be no problem to find a private developer to go down there and develop it, put in the same services and recover the cost.

MR. HOGAN: Yes, okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right, exactly right. I have to agree with you tonight.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HOGAN: I am talking about both of them, really. The Member for Mount Pearl has a point, but the market is not there, as you are well aware. You went through it and you understand it. Unfortunately, other members from other urban areas do not understand it. The Member for St. John's East is also correct, that most communities now are getting water and sewer for the first time. That is where the cost recovery is not possible. That is where the people with the money and the financial resources, in this case the Provincial Government, are the ones who have to carry most of the debt, and they also have to have the greatest financial input within their means. I think I felt some leadership on the council for a good many years where we always charged the maximum taxes that we thought the people could afford. I think former members over there who are in municipal affairs can ratify that, and that, between what the Government and other people are saying in this House now about low taxes being charged in rural communities and where others are saying the charge for the services that are being rendered, somewhere there is a happy medium. We reach the level where the residents of that particular community can afford to pay and you should go no higher. After that, it is up to someone else to pick up the expenses or tell the people in that particular community as we did in our community, they cannot have the service because they cannot afford it. It is as simple as that. One thing the Member for Pleasantville is saying that I agree with is that we just cannot throw that debt on top of the taxpayer and neither can we, obviously, now-a-days, afford to throw it on top of the Province. The services should be provided for the communities where there is a need, particularly when it comes to health and environment, for the citizens, and the Province has to accept some responsibility in providing those services; and whether there is an overpayment to a town like Point May compared to what would be done in Mount Pearl or St. John's or Grand Falls or Corner Brook; sobeit, that is the price we have to pay if we are going to provide services to those particular communities. The glaring gap that I see here today - and I agree with my friend from Humber Valley - is the lack of understanding of the way of life and the needs of the Point Mays of the Province. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend the Member for Placentia on a very fine speech. If there is one thing we have had today as a result of what started this afternoon, it is some good discussion and debate on this very important issue to many rural communities, particularly; not that it is not important to urban communities, but the members made a lot of sense. The Member for Humber Valley has made a lot of sense, the Member for Mount Pearl is very, very knowledgeable about what the situation is in Mount Pearl, and the only one who seems to be a little bit out of whack is the Member for Pleasantville, not that he should not express his point of view and opinions, but it is obvious from what has happened here today that he has at least understanding of rural Newfoundland and the needs of the communities -

AN HON. MEMBER: Or urban Newfoundland.

MR. MATTHEWS: Well, I am not going to debate him on urban Newfoundland, that is up to him. I have no desire to debate that.

MR. NOEL: Tell me what it is I do not understand.

MR. MATTHEWS: You do not understand anything.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Open mouth and insert foot!

MR. MATTHEWS: That is all I can say about it.

MR. NOEL: I thought you were getting serious there for a while.

MR. MATTHEWS: I certainly am serious, let me tell the member. I really am serious. The most serious statement I made all day was the last sentence I made.

Now, I want to say to the Member for Placentia that he is correct in what he said about the grant structure, but in my district there are three communities that would be worse off.

MR. MURPHY (Inaudible) all the seats next time you (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: What seats are you talking about now?

MR. SIMMS: Old brown nose Murphy is at it again. He will never get into Cabinet that way.

MR. MATTHEWS: There were three communities worse off, and when you look at communities the size of the ones I have talked about in my district, that have very small budgets - I believe the budget in Point May is something like $33,000, and we are going to be $26,000 or $27,000 worse off over a two-or-three-year period. Members opposite laugh about that because they cannot understand that, but that is the situation you are dealing with. I mean, that is devastating to a community with a $33,000, $34,000, or $35,000 budget. It is devastating, and, as I said today, if you increased your taxes by 100 per cent, you talking about a budget of what? -$50,000 plus, and if you look at what the Government is going to ask them to pay to retire their debt charges, it is impossible. That is the predicament we are in. Their needs are very great. They have health problems because of septic tanks that were not properly installed because at the time they did it, I guess it is like everything else, we have water and sewer systems in this Province that were put in twenty-plus years ago that were not properly done and are now causing councils all kinds of problems. I am sure, again, all members have it.

In the towns of Grand Bank, Fortune and St. Lawrence, particularly, where systems were put in twenty-plus years ago, they are now encountering all kinds of problems. The first problem they have is finding where the lines are when they get leaks in their systems, and so on. So, that is the problem we have, it was not done properly. Today, thank God, Governments have progressed and the thinking has progressed, engineering has progressed and now you have consultants and engineering firms that do that kind of thing for you. But when the septic tanks and the wells were put into the Point Mays and Garnishes of Newfoundland and Labrador -

AN HON. MEMBER: Peterview.

MR. MATTHEWS: - wherever, Peterview and others, they were not installed properly and, consequently, the build-up of sewer over those years is now causing severe health problems. This is what you have, people contaminating themselves.

As I said today, the people in those communities put off and put off a request for a water and sewer system until they could put it off no more. They were encouraged by officials of the Department of Health to get a request in to Municipal and Provincial Affairs with support documentation from health officials that said you had to have a water and sewer system or else you are all going to be infected. Well, that is the truth of it. And when these towns entered into that agreement with the Government of the day, the maximum they would have to pay is 20 per cent of fixed revenues, which they could afford. Now, with the change, they cannot afford it. That is the problem.

Now, I want to go back to the Member for Pleasantville. He made a few comments this evening. He talked about municipal taxes and one thing and another, and he tried to say that if Mount Pearl was paying higher taxes then we would be better off in Garnish, Frenchman's Cove and Point May. That is what he was saying. But, if the City of Mount Pearl collects higher taxes then the City of Mount Pearl expends the taxes. Where the Garnishes and Frenchman's Coves have to get their money is from the Provincial coffers and they pay their personal income taxes, and they pay their retail sales taxes -

MR. MURPHY The grant to Mount Pearl should not have anything to do with (inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: All I am saying is that the people in Garnish and Point May have to look to the Provincial Government, they cannot look to Mount Pearl for help for a water and sewer system.

MR. NOEL: Mount Pearl has to pay its share.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mount Pearl is paying its share, let me tell the Member. Mount Pearl is paying its share, the same as the people in Grand Bank, Fortune and St. Lawrence are paying their share, and they are not costing this Government anything for water and sewer and road work. They are paying their way. They are the more affluent communities in my district. They pay their way. The Town of Grand Bank has paid its way ever since it has been a town. It is always in the top three towns in this Province in paying its way. It is a well-managed town.

MR. NOEL: (Inaudible) Mount Pearl).

MR. MATTHEWS: Mount Pearl is a well-managed city.

MR. NOEL: It is not paying its way.

MR. MATTHEWS: All the council in Grand Bank does, Mr. Chairman, is it devises a budget each year, it establishes what amount of taxation it has to impose on its taxpayers in order to balance its budget. That is what it does. If, in that expenditure it has to send x number of thousands of dollars to the Provincial Government, that is part of the expenditures. They have to get enough revenue to do all that, so they set their tax rate accordingly. They do not say, `Now, we had better charge another three or four mils in Grand Bank and send a few thousand dollars in to Mount Pearl.'

MR. NOEL: You will have to talk to Mr. Hewlett about the micro and the macro view.

MR. HEWLETT: You are talking about equalization among municipalities.

MR. MATTHEWS: It would be nice to live in that world, it would be nice to live in the Province that the member somehow thinks we live in. The Member for Fortune - Hermitage stood here last night, or yesterday afternoon, it does not matter when - it was yesterday, was it not? - and he talked about the water and sewer money that he has gotten in the last two years for his district. That is great. He has got a start on systems, I suppose, that were not started before. The big question now is: Will they continue? That is the question. It is nice that they got started, the same with the two I am talking about in my district, but will we be able to finish them now? They were not started because the need was not there, they were started because the need was there, very legitimate needs. But those people cannot afford to pay the same amount of tax. If you are paying twelve mils and the people in Point May are paying twelve mils, it is like I said today, I do not say there is a house in Point May that is assessed at $20,000. The most expensive house in the community is probably assessed at $20,000. Those are assessors from Municipal Affairs, who go down and assess the properties.

So, if you charge them twenty mils on $20,000 you are getting $400 a year from them.

AN HON. MEMBER: How much can they afford to pay?

MR. MATTHEWS: How much can they afford to pay? Not very much, Sir.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is $100 too much?

MR. MATTHEWS: I think they can afford to pay a bit more than that. You will get arguments that they cannot, but as I said today they have not been assessed for property tax yet. They have requested it, but there have not been enough assessors to get it done. So, once that happens, the amount of taxation will automatically go up. But, having said what I said this afternoon, most of those people make $7,000 and $8,000 a year, and if they are lucky enough to get two people in the family with income, through federal projects and so on, they can get through the winter. That is how they do it. So, it is not much money, but that is the brutal reality of it. That is it! They would love to make $50,000 a year, like we are making here. It is not their choice that they are not. They would love to have $100,000 houses. It is not their choice that they do not. If they choose to go elsewhere, as I said today, what would they be faced with? Welfare. There are no opportunities in this Province for them, or outside this Province, anymore. None! Most of them can only do what they are doing now. I have gone through that debate in this House many times over the past two years. We talked about fish plants closing. They are doing what they have done all their lives, and what they want to do.

Now, you suggest that they go somewhere else and do something else. First of all, you have to give them the capability to do something else, and that is not easy.

AN HON. MEMBER: Find them a place to go.

MR. MATTHEWS: Find them a place to go. That is what we are dealing with, and that is the whole reason for what happened this afternoon. I appreciate the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs participating in the debate today. We had some good exchanges, and some other members participated very well.

I think, as our House Leader said a few minutes ago, we would all be a lot better off if we had more of this kind of exchange in this Legislature. I have to agree with him, because that is what we are here for. That is what I am here for. I am here to stand up and try to find a way for the Point Mays and the Garnishes of my district, a way to get water and sewer, a service that most of us have had all our lives. I do not guess there are too many of us in this Legislature - there are some - who had to use the bucket. I think it is pretty crude really, when we stand in this Legislature in 1991 -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MATTHEWS: - and there are some amongst us who think that we probably still should be using that in some of our communities because they should be paying their way even though they cannot.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time is up.

MR. MATTHEWS: I am sorry, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GULLAGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am just going to take a few minutes to comment on the essence of the problem, I guess, which is the amount of debt on the books right now, $411 million, which I spoke about today. The future problem of supplying water and sewer - and that is the main problem I guess, obviously, in priority order, it ranks ahead of roads - we are looking at another $2.5 billion.

Now, we have done some work - we have had to do it - to examine the possibilities of financing this enormous amount of debt in some other way. So we have done some work - I should not say some work - an awful lot of work. We are looking at $1,000 per house to put that $2.5 billion worth of water and sewer in the ground; now, that is including the existing debt of $4.5 million, $1,000 a house; it is not even addressing replacement of existing infrastructure.

You spoke about some communities like Grand Bank. There are many, many more like that, St. John's for example, that are going to need to have their water and sewer lines replaced. They need to have them replaced right now because they are constantly repairing and replacing them, so, if you want to take the total problem, you are looking at $2,000 a house.

Anyway, let us just stick with basic new water and sewer lines that are needed and the existing debt of $4.5 million. At $1,000 per house, Province-wide, urban and rural, every community, the whole works -

AN HON. MEMBER: $1,000 a house?

MR. GULLAGE: - $1,000 a house. Now, if we were to set up a water and sewer corporation - let us just take that alternative - it would operate obviously, as an utility, I would think, to be fair. The first thing we would have to do -

AN HON. MEMBER: What is $1,000 a house?

MR. GULLAGE: To provide water and sewer.

AN HON. MEMBER: To install it?

MR. GULLAGE: To install it; that is the kind of cost we are talking about.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are talking per annum?

MR. GULLAGE: Per year - I should qualify that, I am sorry - per year, per household. The cost is running currently at $30,000 per household, on an average; in Labrador, we are talking $40,000.

When I said $1,000 a house, I meant $1,000 in successive years, every year, that is the amount it costs, and it would take forty years to pay off that debt, to eliminate that $5 million debt and the $411 million on the books; but, certainly, $1,000 per house would be the cost per household to each community in the Province, and $2,000 per house if we wanted to take replacement into the picture, as well.

No matter what you do, then, in terms of trying to address the problem and supply water and sewer to this Province in every community, one answer is certainly not a water and sewer corporation; I mean, we have exhaustively examined that. It just cannot be done, because the expectation would be, if you set up the corporation, everybody would expect, it being a public utility, that their services would be provided right away. So we would have to go out and borrow $5 billion, and then we would have to purchase, I would suggest, all of the existing water and sewer assets in St. John's, Corner Brook, Gander, Grand Bank and every- where else in the Province and have all of those assets owned and controlled by the corporation. There would be no other fair way to do it because, obviously, everybody would have to pay their share into the corporation of $1,000 or $2,000 per house. So, obviously, the assets would have to be controlled, I would think, Province-wide, by the corporation.

No matter how you look at it and how you cut it, we have a tremendous problem, per capita, by far, the most serious problem in Canada. There is not another province that even comes close to us in having a water and sewer problem with such great difficulty. And everybody knows why; I mean, the Member for Grand Bank talked about it in the two communities he mentioned. Point May and Garnish are an excellent example of what we are dealing with in Newfoundland with isolation - you know, 800 communities if we want to count them all, of any size, scattered over a coastline on the Island and in Labrador, everywhere possible. I do not need to talk about it because you all know. It is the most difficult province in Canada to supply with basic water and sewer services.

Quite frankly, we have to address this thing in a sensible, reasonable manner, and I think we are doing that, I think we have made some very positive steps. I do not think anybody would argue - well, yes, they would, because you have been arguing - that our grant system is fair. If anybody would argue that it is not fair they are being totally unreasonable. We have done, I think, more with the grant structure, I think we have gone farther than any other province, to be quite frank with you. Of the other Ministers I have talked to, nobody else has brought in a system that has created fairness between the municipalities the way we have.

And it is fair. We have caused a shift of dollars away from the urban areas that are more affluent and have greater potential to raise revenue. I talked this afternoon about fiscal capacity. They have greater fiscal capacity so they can do more for their people. We have caused a shift in those dollars away from those more affluent areas to the rural areas. Now there are very few exceptions to the rule where rural communities have not gained by the grant structure. The exceptions are those communities that were being totally unreasonable with their revenues. Mil rates of 2 and 3 and 2 - 1/2 and 4 and that sort of thing, on very low assessments, as most members have said. Because, if you have an assessment of $20,000 or $25,000, and a mil rate of 2 or 3, you are less than $100 a year in taxes.

Now, we never intended, when we looked at the grant structure, to bring in a system that would reward communities like that. So, certainly, communities like that are expected to come up to a reasonable level before they even kick in to the grant structure, before they can even access it. And I think that is fair. So, there are some communities that, yes, did not gain by the grant structure, but the moment they bring their revenues up to a reasonable level - and I think the beginning, I am sure it is, in the grant structure is $250 a household - as soon as they bring themselves to that level, then they qualify for the various components of the grant structure. I think that is totally fair. Two hundred and fifty dollars a household is not an unreasonable amount of money.

So, in the main, when I look at the grant structure across the Province, I think it is very, very fair compared to what was in place before. And the problem with the implementation of this programme, or the phase-out/phase-in, whatever you want to say, has been the fact that we brought in a very fair grants programme, then we also said, we expect communities that have not been paying a fair share of their water and sewer debt to pay a fair share, pay something, not very much. All we asked for was a pittance compared to the problem of $4.5 million on the books. And that created some problems for communities, but even that was totally fair. We did not ask for an exorbitant amount of money. We have very few communities that have been impacted to a great degree.

AN HON. MEMBER: The total debt for the Municipal Finance Corporation is $450 million, not $4.5 million, is it not?

MR. GULLAGE: Four hundred and eleven million dollars, what did I say?

AN HON. MEMBER: You said $4.5 million.

MR. GULLAGE: I am sorry, an existing debt of $411 million, I should say.

So, we have very few communities where I would say the amount of additional debt has really been detrimental to them, where they cannot handle it. A good few of them have said, look, you have given us extra dollars - these are rural communities - on the grant side but now you are asking us to pay more on the debt side and the net effect is negative. But that is fair, as well, because they were paying very little or nothing on the debt side before. It takes an adjustment, Mr. Chairman, but, I think, once we get beyond 1991, and we have the grant structure fully implemented with two more years to go, of course, but we also have a portion of the debt being paid.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave. By leave.

MR. GULLAGE: Could I have two or three minutes, Mr. Chairman?

MR. WOODFORD: If he wants a couple of minutes to clue up, I am agreed.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

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

MR. GULLAGE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Just to conclude, Mr. Chairman, over the next few years, as the system is implemented, as we complete the second two years of the three-year phase-in with the grants programme, and given the fact that we do not have a great expectation in terms of dollars on the existing debt, I think we will see that with our new capital works programme, we will bring fairness and balance into the system that was not there before, by addressing fiscal capacity and by giving special consideration to those communities that are already doing as much as they can for themselves. We will, in fact, address that, and the Province will continue to subsidize, I would suggest, to a large degree, those communities that were pointed out today, like Point May and Garnish and others exactly like them. If they are doing the best for themselves that they can, the Province will, I would suggest, provide a greater share of the services vis--vis their share, as we have been doing in the past.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would just like to make a few more comments on the new grant structure and municipalities in general, I guess. It has been a topic ever since the latter part of the early sitting today and carried on into the night sitting, and I cannot help but have a few more comments on it.

One of the things I have noticed tonight in the debate between the members of the so-called urban centers of the Province, the Member for Pleasantville and the Member for Mount Pearl - I will leave them to themselves. They are in the right area here, directly in front of each other, and I will leave them alone and let them debate that on their own. I could probably spend a couple of hours at it but I will just forget that and let them do their own thing. I will talk to the majority of the members here tonight who are representing rural areas of the Province, and, at the same time, it more or less overlaps into the urban centers.

Before I forget it, before I go on, Mr. Chairman, I would like to go back to this - as far as I am concerned, this is one of the ministers who understands the situation and his heart is in the right place. There is no doubt about that. But I think the officials, as they did in the Department of Health, are finally getting the better of the minister. Because there is no way that this minister, who has been involved in municipal life, albeit in urban centers and in the city council, including all the councils that he talked about - I must say he has gotten around. He is one of the ministers who has been accessible to the Humber Joint Council meetings, a lot more than some other ministers in the House. He has attended the meetings and he took it on the chin when it came to any negativity or anything else when it came to the grant system. I have to say that about him.

But, having said that, I cannot understand how he can still get up and say - now when you look strictly at the grant system, the equalization payments, the household grants and things like that, yes, there is a certain degree of fairness there. But looking at it now, with regard to what has happened in rural Newfoundland though, the people going out, that could hurt. The social assistance component, I cannot agree with that one. That one, especially, as far as I am concerned, moreso now in every session with the type of fiscal arrangement we have, should be left there or some accommodation made for it. But, when we get into debt recovery and the repayment on capital debt, the unfair thing I see, Mr. Chairman - I think the House Leader should get control over the backbenches there - is that there is no way you can bring in a new grant system and have municipalities who have been paying 20 per cent - just stop and think about it for a second - of their capital debt on debt recovery, and all of the sudden, not one month before-

AN HON. MEMBER: Twenty per cent of their revenue.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, 20 per cent of their revenue on capital debt, I am sorry, local revenues on capital debt.

- and all of the sudden, not one, not two, not three, not four, not six months, but pretty well the last couple of weeks, say to a municipality in this Province, `As of January 1, 1991 you come in with a balanced budget that is addressing the new grant system that means retirement of capital debt and our new formula for all debt incurred up to the end of December, 1990.' Now, that is what it said.

How about any individual or any member in this House? If a banker calls him on December 22 and says to him, `I am sorry, you have been a good customer, you have been an excellent customer, but as of January 1st, you pay your full mortgage, not your regular monthly payment but pay your full mortgage as of January 1st, and if you cannot do it then, we will take pity on you and, whether you have a job or not, we will give you three years.' Now, that is exactly what happened with the new grant system when it comes to the retirement of capital debt on municipalities. It is identical. We have three years. They said, `In 1991, you come up with x number of dollars, the next portion will be paid in 1992 and in 1993 will be the top part of the formula and then that is it, you will pay more. Now, I do not mean the same in 1992 and 1993. You pay more in 1991, you pay more in 1992 and you pay more in 1993. That is on debt incurred up until the end of December, 1990. It has nothing to do with anything put in the ground after December 31, 1990, absolutely nothing.

Now, the question I ask is this: What happens - and I think the minister answered it this evening, although I hope he does not take that into consideration. When he addressed it yesterday evening he said he would not, that if the criteria for health, environment and fiscal requirements for municipalities are met in all honesty and sincerity, that he would take that into consideration and the Government provide full financing. That may be so but there are a lot of municipalities in the Province that cannot do that, will not meet it because of difference circumstances.

As far as I am concerned, instead of going to 1991, 1992 and 1993 on the total payment and on the increase in the third year, we should do the opposite and say to municipalities, `Look, you have incurred a debt. We are bringing in a new grant system, now try to arrange your fiscal responsibilities and your fiscal requirements over the next three years to meet what I am bringing in today.' Now, if the banker did that to his -

MR. GULLAGE: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, on a point of order.

MR. GULLAGE: The hon. member has been repeating the same point over and over again, and it is an error so I want to correct it.

The three-year period is the grants. The phase-in of the new grants programme is over a three-year period, but the actual repayment of debt, which is separate entirely from the grants - existing debt, you are quite right - is 40 per cent of the first $750 per household of debt, which is a cap of $300. That is not capped at three years. Only the grant is capped.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Well, now I have heard it all! Mr. Chairman, this takes the cake! We, finally, after debate in the last day or two, have come to the climax, and it is rather ironic. It is only a few minutes before ten o'clock. Now, if that does not take the cake!

I say to the minister in all sincerity, he had better get out and talk to the regional managers in the districts of this Province, and he had better do it quickly. If you are saying - and you had better have another seminar like the one you had in Gander a few weeks - that that is different from what those people are saying, then we have a really serious problem. Make no wonder we have municipalities in this Province who do not understand the grant system and the retirement of capital debt.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: 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: The hon. the Member for Trinity - Bay de Verde.

MR. L. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole on Supply 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 President of Treasury Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would just like to advise hon. members that I intend to continue on with Interim Supply with this particular Bill 12 tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The House now stands adjourned until tomorrow, Thursday, at 2:00 p.m.