November 21, 1991          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLI  No. 75


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Before going on to the routine business of the day, on behalf of hon. members, I welcome to the public galleries today, forty-three Grade X1 students from E. J. Pratt Central High School, Brownsdale, accompanied by their teachers, Jesse Brown and Richard

Knapman. I hope I got that pronunciation right.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, hon. members will recall that Lee Wulff, the noted angler, author, artist, inventor, innovator, hunter, and, most of all, conservationist, was killed in a plane crash last April. Following his tragic death, several suggestions were made that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador should recognize his lifelong commitment to our Province and the responsible development and conservation of our wildlife resources. Those who do not know of his work should take a look at what he did and the contribution that he made over a period of fifty years to the promotion of Newfoundland and Labrador. It was learned that the Federal Government was also considering honouring Mr. Wulff and in subsequent discussions, both Governments concluded that the most appropriate tribute would be to enable the young men and women of our Province to follow his example.

To that end, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of Canada will each contribute $12,000 to an endowment fund to establish the Lee Wulff Scholarship. The scholarship will be tenable at Memorial University of Newfoundland to assist undergraduate students majoring in the biological sciences with an emphasis on the environment and resource conservation. Others wishing to honour Mr. Wulff may do so by contributing to the endowment fund, enabling the university to provide additional scholarship benefits as the fund grows.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Firstly, I would like to thank the Premier for providing us with a copy of his statement prior to the opening of the House this afternoon. I would just like to say that we are very, very pleased with this announcement. It is a positive, and very worthwhile recognition of a very distinguished gentleman, Lee Wulff. The Premier has referred particularly to the tremendous conservationist effort that he has made over the last fifty years or so. It is unfortunate that he was killed in a plane crash just this year.

We would like to associate our thoughts and our remarks with those of the Premier, and say that we think it is very fitting that the Government of the Province and the Government of Canada will be setting up an endowment fund to establish his Memorial Scholarship at the university. As well, of course, there is a function on this evening for further recognition. I just want to say it is a very positive statement, Mr. Speaker, and we certainly commend the Government for making it.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: I ask leave of the House to comment on the Ministerial Statement.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East has, in my view, been granted leave of the House.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

One of the first times that I personally had knowledge of the great importance of wilderness, wildlife and conservation was through the work of Lee Wulff on television, in the early days of television. I think it is quite appropriate that recognition be given to Mr. Wulff's work on behalf of not only conservation in Newfoundland, but also in terms of tourism, and recognition and promotion of Newfoundland as a place for wildlife and hunting and fishing. I think this is quite appropriate action on behalf of the Government, and I commend them for it.

Oral Questions

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have a question today for the Premier. The Premier said in the House this week, I believe, that Government's plans, as outlined in Bill 50, I think it is, to amalgamate municipalities and municipal services and so on, will not place any additional financial burden on the City of St. John's. I believe he said that. Now, when Bill 50 becomes law, I understand at least from reading the bill, that Government will, in fact, transfer all of the property and all of the assets, for example, of the Canada Games Park and the Aquarena, to the City of St. John's. All of the employees at the Canada Games Commission will become employees of the City of St. John's. This year, the Government has budgeted nearly $1 million for the operations of the Canada Games Park, $923,000, in fact, to be exact. My question is this: If the Premier is correct, and no additional burden will be placed on the City of St. John's, can he tell us who will now be responsible for those costs? Will it not be the City?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would have to go back and look at precisely what I said. The comment at the time was made in the context of the discussions that were taking place with the Mayor of St. John's and a radio show host, and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. The discussion that I heard in that context was in terms of

including Kilbride and Wedgewood Park, and so on, and my comment was made in the light of that. Now, obviously, if there is a deficiency in terms of the Canada Games Park or other things that are operated, the City and the area served by it will have to pick up that additional cost, so, to that extent, it may well be an additional expenditure for the City and the municipality served by that facility. Mr. Speaker, it is not at all fair that the good citizens of Grand Falls, who have no access to that facility, and had to provide for their own recreational facilities should have their taxpayers dollars assigned to the maintenance of that facility. It should be basically done by the people who get the direct benefit. Undoubtedly, it will benefit Mount Pearl, St. John's, the areas around, and so on, and it may well be that there may be some additional cost; that, I don't think can be denied.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Premier for the answer. I mean, my point is that he said, we understand this week, that there would not be any financial burden placed on the City of St. John's, and that is what the public understood out there. That question was dealing with the Canada Games Commission and the Aquarena.

Now, let me deal with another topic. The Government, at the moment, charges back some of the costs of the St. John's Fire Department. That is charged back to the City of St. John's, the City of Mount Pearl and other municipal authorities within the Northeast Avalon, but some of the cost is borne directly by the Province. In fact, this year, approximately $1.2 million, just in excess of $1.2 million, is budgeted by the Province. Will the City of St. John's now be responsible for the full cost of the Fire Department, subject, of course, to whatever fees the city collects from the other authorities? This year, they budgeted $1.2 million from provincial coffers. Who is now going to pay for those costs? Will it be the City of St. John's?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I would really prefer to defer to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, who has most of this detail available to him. But I understand, for example, the Province contributes to the operation of the Fire Department in Corner Brook, 15 per cent, to protect government buildings, and we would be doing exactly the same thing here and maybe the portion should be larger here, I do not know. Depending upon the service Government requires in terms of the buildings and the pressure Government itself puts on the system, because of Government facilities and buildings that need to be protected. It is an entirely reasonable and logical approach. So I would assume the Government would continue to take its reasonable and fair share of the responsibility.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, so I think - if I can get it correct - the Premier is now saying that this $1.2 million that was last year budgeted by the Province will now be still paid for by the Province and will not be -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: The Premier is saying no, the Minister is saying yes. Perhaps you should get your acts together.

Mr. Speaker, let me ask the Premier a final supplementary. Doesn't he see Bill 50 then, at this moment, the beginning really of a Government strategy - or is it the beginning of a Government strategy - to down-load responsibility for Provincial facilities and services onto the municipalities? For example, is the Government now planning to transfer to municipalities items like Arts and Culture Centres, other recreation and sports' facilities, libraries, or whatever? Is that the plan?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me answer the first question. The answer to the first question, Mr. Speaker, is that what I said was precisely what is recorded in Hansard, not the Opposition Leader's interpretation of it. I did not say anything about $1.2 million being borne by the Province. I said, whatever is an appropriate portion of it based on a similar principle we are using in Corner Brook. If $1.2 million is the right figure, then $1.2 million it will be. If it is $1.6 million, then it will be $1.6 million. If it is $700,000, it will be $700,000. So I did not say $1.2 million, and I do not want it ever attributed to me.

Now the second question was: does this portend an effort on the part of the Government in the future to down-load to municipalities responsibilities for such things as Arts and Culture Centres, and so on? No, it does not portend that, but maybe that is not such a bad idea after all, and maybe we should certainly take a serious look at it. Because, for example, why should the retail sales taxes of the people of Brigus or Gambo be used to pay for the Arts and Culture Centres in St. John's, Corner Brook, Grand Falls and Gander?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: They use them too!

PREMIER WELLS: So let's make sure that we place the tax burden where it is fair. So we will take a look at it, and if it is fair to leave it where it is, we will leave it where it is. If it is not fair, we are committed to fairness and balance for all taxpayers in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier. It is a question about one of the many Government municipal amalgamation proposals made twenty-eight months ago in July, 1989 which is still outstanding; the proposal to amalgamate Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah.

The City of Corner Brook says, if the amalgamation proceeds there will be a substantial net additional cost to the City of Corner Brook. The Corner Brook council estimates that after collecting taxes at full Corner Brook rates, about the highest in the whole Province, from Massey Drive and Mount Moriah, Corner Brook would be down about $800,000 a year. The Mayor of Corner Brook, Mayor Ray Pollett, indicated to CBC Radio News within the past day that the City of Corner Brook is now having a hard struggle trying to balance its budget for the 1992 budget year, it starts on January 1st. The mayor said that the city is putting together the budget assuming amalgamation with Massey Drive and Mount Moriah will not take place in the next year. Is that a safe assumption?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, if the people of Corner Brook and the City Council of Corner Brook and the people of Massey Drive and the Town Council of Massey Drive and the people of Mount Moriah and the Town Council of Mount Moriah do not want amalgamation, I have no doubt that this House will probably not impose it on them; I do not think the House would do that, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: You will do it this way but you will not do it (inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker; it is clear that the majority of the people in this region want it. People in Mount Pearl might not want it but the majority of people in this region want it. There is no doubt about it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINDSOR: You have not (inaudible) a feasibility study.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I would ask the Member for Mount Pearl, to please try and restrain himself-

MR. WINDSOR: I have gotten in trouble (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: I am talking to the Member and I ask him to do so and of course he must.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now, Mr. Speaker, I will just restate the position. If the people of Corner Brook are concerned with the growth of parallel communities on their borders that siphon off their residences and so on, they will agree with amalgamation. If they are not concerned and they do not want it, the Government is not going to foist it on them. The City Council in Corner Brook have been told that; they know that. Now if the people in the area want it, the majority of the people totally in the area, that is the people of Corner Brook, Mount Moriah and Massey Drive, then this Government would respond to the wishes of the majority of the people and bring a proposal for amalgamation before the House; but if the people of Corner Brook do not want that and the people of Massey Drive and Mount Moriah do not want it, we are not going to bring any such proposal before the House, because, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to allow any municipality, city or otherwise, to sort of force the Government into a position: you pay us and we will agree to amalgamate.

That is not going to happen.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Humber East, on a supplementary.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier did not answer my question. Is the Mayor of Corner Brook safe in assuming that amalgamation of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah will not proceed in the next year, so that the city can go ahead and finalize its 1992 budget, counting on the Corner Brook municipal boundaries remaining as they are for the 1992 fiscal year?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: That is entirely up to the people of the three municipalities of Corner Brook, Mount Moriah and Massey Drive. The Mayor of Corner Brook is quite safe in making that assumption, if that is what the people of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah want. Whether or not that is what they want and he wants and the council want, is more than I can say. That is something that they can say. If they want the amalgamation in order to provide for the orderly and reasonable growth and future of the City of Corner Brook, as we provided for the Capital City of this Province, we would equally provide for Corner Brook. But we are not going to submit to pressures from Corner Brook: You pay us money and we will amalgamate. That is not going to happen.

So, the Mayor is quite safe in that assumption if that is what the majority of people in the area want. It is no problem, it is very straightforward.

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

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, this has been on the go for twenty-eight months. How much longer is the Premier going to dither and procrastinate, and how is the Premier going to determine the will of the majority of citizens of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah?

The Government had a public hearing at the Legion in Corner Brook in the winter of 1990. There was a large turnout and every single intervenor, every single solitary speaker, opposed amalgamation. What more does the Premier want in the way of proof that the overwhelming majority of people in the area of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah do not want amalgamation?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, we got involved with this interest in amalgamation because of complaints by the City of Corner Brook that the former government gave such unfair and prejudicial treatment in favour of Massey Drive that it devastated Corner Brook, really hurt Corner Brook seriously. The hon. Member opposite knows what I am talking about, because she caused most of it to happen - very unfair to the people of Corner Brook.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

AN HON. MEMBER: She was the Minister.

PREMIER WELLS: She was the Minister.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I am quite prepared to extract from the records all of the correspondence and the full detail and exactly how these

deals were put together so that the Town of Massey Drive came out of it with a profit at the expense of the people in the rest of Newfoundland, and the people of Corner Brook, because that Member pressured it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in response to these concerns expressed by the City Council we addressed the issue, and we said we will not let that kind of unfairness take place, but if the City of Corner Brook is not prepared to take the responsibility, as the City of St. John's was, for amalgamation, then we are not going to force it on the City of Corner Brook. It is entirely up to the City of Corner Brook.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Education.

Is the Minister aware that the school boards of the Avalon north region are requiring for children who are absent from school notes from medical doctors verifying their illness, even for a half day illness or one day illness from school?

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I have not been briefed on any such practice. School boards make their own policies in these areas. I will check it out for the Member and report back to the House on it later.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, the Minister should also be aware that the doctors are being advised that this is a policy of the Department of Education. So I would ask the Minister if he would advise the House whether or not it is a policy, and whether it would be a policy that he would support.

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

DR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I will examine the details of that. I wish the hon. Member had sent me advance notice. If he really wanted an answer to such a very specific question of this nature he would have given me some advance notice.

AN HON. MEMBER: You cannot be in two places at one time.

DR. WARREN: I do not know what the reasons are. I will take it under advisement and report back to the House on the question, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

If the Minister is prepared to tell the House that it is not a policy of his government, then let him do so. One would expect that he would know. Can he tell the House that he does not think it is a good idea for school children to be forced, at a cost to the Medicare system, to get doctors notes for something as simple as a minor illness?

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

DR. WARREN: I will check into the whole issue, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Last December, 1990, the Minister and his department instituted a new grant system for the municipalities in the Province. Since that time, Mr. Speaker, some of the municipalities in the Province have had some very tough times, hardships, severe hardships when it comes to collecting taxes. Adding to this new grant system the department also instituted what they called a rating sheet to determine if municipalities in the Province could get a capital grant or any capital funding for that particular year or not. Would the Minister be using those rating sheets this year as a strict guide to determine whether a municipality will be obtaining any capital funding?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, yes indeed, we are just about through the first year of the change in the municipal grants, and the vast majority of the urban municipalities in the Province with greater fiscal capacity and ability to raise taxes because of the broadened tax base, are seeing a lessening of their grants, whereas the majority of the rural areas and smaller communities which have more need of assistance from the Province than the larger ones with greater capacity, are seeing an increase in their grants. We are starting in that process now to making those changes phased in either up or down in the grants over a three year period. We see that system as being very fair. I have seen no substantial complaints from it. Granted, there are some communities perhaps that have to be looked at on an individual basis. There are always problems where some communities have peculiar problems with a downturn in a particular industry or, in fact, an industry ceasing to operate entirely, that we have to address separately. But in the main, Mr. Speaker, the new grants programme is working very, very well, and indeed has been commented on by ministers in other provinces as being one of the fairer ones in the country.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The favourable comments must be coming from the other provinces. They certainly are not coming from the municipalities in this one.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister: because of this new grants system, and because of municipalities in the Province experiencing such severe hardships, is the Minister considering reviewing the financial implications that this new grant system has had on the municipalities in the Province in the past year?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, just a couple of days ago I asked the Federation of Municipalities to meet with me, and one of the items we are going to be discussing is the new grants system. I have asked them very specifically to address the differences between the various communities, types of communities - the two main sectors of course are the urban communities and the rural, and also to address any peculiarities they see where, as I mentioned, communities for economic reasons mainly have seen a downturn in their economy, a downturn in their taxes, an inability to collect the sort of revenues they had in the past. Yes, the Department and certainly as the Minister, we are willing to address individual circumstances, individual problems of municipalities, as we have been willing to do in the past.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. Would the Minister consider dropping the use of the so-called rating sheets, especially now in those hard times? And also consider abolishing or extending the three year deadline that municipalities had to meet pertaining to the new grants system?

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

MR. GULLAGE: No, Mr. Speaker. Well, first of all, on the rating sheets, some mechanism has to be in place to assess the need in individual communities throughout the Province. So you have to look at environmental problems, health problems, which are the two key factors when looking at water and sewer, just as one main part of the grants programme. We have to keep that in place. We have to look at the fiscal capacity of the municipalities, as we do with grants, and look at the ability of municipalities to repay the debt that is going to be put in place, and to decide what share municipalities can bear vis--vis the Province. So yes, the rating sheets will continue. We have made some improvements this year. Every year we make changes to make improvements. They are very important because that is the only way we are going to have a fair system.

As far as the grants are concerned, we will make improvements in consultation with the Federation of Municipalities, the group that represents the municipalities in the Province. If we see improvements that can be made we will look at those suggestions. If a suggestion is well made and is looked at and is seen to be an improvement that we can make we - any system is not perfect. And granted we had to work with it for a period of time to see whether or not it is good. Three years we saw as a reasonable phase-in period, phasing up and down with the grants, and it seems to be working very well. If indeed that proves not to be adequate, too long or too short, we are willing to look at it. But all that will be done in consultation with the municipalities.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Premier regarding the health care facilities scandal. I would like to ask the Premier if he would confirm that the consultants hired by the Government to evaluate the bids for the three health care facilities recommended that the contract to build and lease the Port Saunders health care facility should be awarded to N. D. Dobbin Limited, the lowest bidder on that project?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the recommendations that I have seen indicated that the three facilities should be built by Trans City.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, let me ask the second question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible). Well let me ask him, did Hanscomb Consultants make recommendations for the awarding of the other contracts for the health care facilities?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, Hanscomb Consultants made no such recommendations about any facilities. They were hired first of all to do an analysis of bed counts, gross floor areas to bed rates, building gross floor areas, building efficiency, building capital costs, and gross building volumes. They did an analysis of the proposals we received and compared them to a typical government-built proposal, and their conclusions were based on that alone. They did not make any recommendations as to which proposals should be accepted, Mr. Speaker, not a single one.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Minister has been rather evasive as he deals with this scandal that is presently under way. Let me ask the Minister then, Mr. Speaker: if he is saying the report does not include the questions I have just asked, will he do the honourable thing and lay the report on the Table of this House for the public of Newfoundland and Labrador to see?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the report which I have just recently got and had a look at, because I had never before gone through the whole report, contains about 340 pages. About 330 of those pages, or close to it, are simply a series of figures analyzing the floor areas and all that kind of thing. However, there is an introduction which describes the purpose of the study, and there are the conclusions which, I suppose, if the hon. Member was interested in, I could let him have. But in the whole report, I have not finished looking at all the numbers, because they are simply numbers, Mr. Speaker. There is not a single conclusion in there - not one single conclusion that fits anything the hon. gentleman opposite has been saying.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition Leader on a supplementary.

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask a supplementary to the Premier.

Will the Premier ensure that the Hanscomb Consultants Report is tabled in the House? Will he do it? (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I have not seen the Hanscomb Report. I know only what the hon. Minister has told me about it. I have not seen any Hanscomb Report, no.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who read it?

PREMIER WELLS: Do not ask me.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: I do not know, but I can find out.

MR. BAKER: (Inaudible.)

PREMIER WELLS: The Minister tells me he has read it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

PREMIER WELLS: Did the Minister read it?

MR. BAKER: Yes. I just finished explaining-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: I just heard what the Minister said. He does not have to tell me. He said there is an introductory part, there is a conclusion, and in the middle there is a whole 330 pages of figures.

He said he read the introduction, he read the conclusion, he scanned over the figures, and he has not looked at them in detail. Okay, that is what the Minister said. I did not know that Hanscomb existed until the day before-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

PREMIER WELLS: I did not know Hanscomb existed until the day before yesterday, or two or three days ago, when the Minister told me about it. It was the first I ever heard of the word 'Hanscomb'. We leave these kinds of decisions to the department. The department runs the show, and they did.

The Minister told me that the indications in the Hanscomb Report are that the Government saved some considerable dollars by this approach, and that it is the right kind of an approach for Government to be taking. So I take some encouragement from that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I had a question for the Minister of Fisheries, but in his absence I refer the question to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. It results from a large number of phone calls which I have received in the last couple of days from a lot of fishermen around the Province who are applying for UI benefits. These fishermen are in a desperate, desperate financial situation, Mr. Speaker, and they believe that Ottawa is out to make life miserable. I would like to ask the Minister, is he aware, first of all, that these fishermen are experiencing these circumstances, and if so, could he tell the House why this is happening to the fishermen in this Province?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the Member for the question, and in bringing the matter to the attention of the whole House. In fact, it was brought to my attention earlier today that some fishermen, who have qualified for unemployment insurance benefits, in trying to make their applications, are being advised that they can expect rather lengthy or inordinate delays due to the great number of things being processed through the unemployment insurance offices at this time of the year. Immediately upon being advised of that situation, we are in the process now of making contact, Mr. Speaker, with representatives of the employment and immigration offices here in the Province, and also with the federal ministry, to try and make sure that these delays are eliminated if at all possible. As all members here would know, there has been great difficulty with people, particularly in the fishery, qualifying for unemployment insurance benefits, and we certainly would not want to see that exacerbated in any way by having those who have been fortunate enough to qualify experience unnecessary or unexplainable delays.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Port de Grave on a supplementary.

MR. EFFORD: A very short supplementary, Mr. Speaker. These fishermen who have called me from different areas around the Province, just before I came down here, are now having to go to the Department of Social Services. They have also informed me that they have already made representation to the Federal Minister's office and they got no response back. Will the hon. Minister assure us then that because of the time constraints that are in place he will go above the people here in Newfoundland and talk to the people in Ottawa, because this is where the problem is taking place. It is the attitude of the people in Ottawa towards the Newfoundland fishermen and they cannot afford to suffer any further.

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Speaker. I want to inform all Members of the House again that in fact we have been making approaches to the Federal Minister responsible for the unemployment insurance system as well as to the Provincial Federal Minister, Mr. Crosbie, on this matter, and we hope we will get a successful resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

My question is to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Recently the Minister announced an Emergency Employment Response Programme and on October 28 the Minister sent a letter out to the various sponsors of the particular programmes. Several days ago I asked the Minister if any money has been sent out to those sponsors and as of this morning I received a number of telephone calls again from various sponsors throughout the Province stating that the Minister's letter of October 8, which said you will receive 75 per cent of your funds immediately, four weeks have now passed, people have been working, and some of those people have not received any payments so far. Could the Minister advise this House when he will send out the 75 per cent that he told the people on October 28 he was going to send out immediately?

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, as we know the process was ongoing prior to introduction of the programme into the House by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the Minister of Social Services, Environment and Lands, and myself, the main players, I suppose, involved in the programme. We did, in fact, in advance of coming in this House and advising that there was going to be a programme say to the municipalities, or to the community groups, or development associations, whatever it happened to be, explained to them what the guidelines were. The actual advice of whether or not they were given a project, approved for a project, came after that date. I will certainly look at the problem that the Member has pointed out and see if we cannot speed up the process and have the 75 per cent that he mentioned forwarded as quickly as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the advancing or guaranteeing of certain loans made under the Loan And Guarantee Act of 1957.

Mr. Speaker, also, I give notice that I will on tomorrow move that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole to consider certain resolutions relating to the guaranteeing of certain loans under the Local Authority Guarantee Act of 1957.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday of this week, the hon. the Member for Harbour Main indicated that some hospitals in the Province have overruns; I believe he indicated that the Janeway could be approaching $1 million.

The situation in the current year is very similar to previous years. Hospital Boards operate substantially within their budgets, with most projecting final results within plus or minus 1 per cent per annual budgets, and a hospital whose deficit is projected to be within 1 per cent of their budget is not considered to be in difficulty, as this would be considered well within the capability of the organization to accommodate.

Several organizations have had discussions with departmental officials about concern for expenditure levels. The only hospital board which is currently projecting a year-end deficit beyond 1 per cent of their annual budget is the Janeway Child Health Centre. The department is advised, Mr. Speaker, that the Janeway has a deficit, not of $1 million, but $200,000, as of September 30.

AN HON. MEMBER: Wrong again.

MR. DECKER: By a long shot. The hospital is projecting the deficit could reach $500,000, if they don't take some corrective action.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member should learn that if he is going to bring these matters to the attention of the House, he has an obligation to get his facts correct, because it does cause some concern. Mr. Speaker, also, the hon. member suggested that we have been losing some doctors in neurology, some neuro-surgeons. I don't have the liberty to give the names, but I do have them and I will share them with the hon. member.

One doctor, who is a neurologist, left the Province in July and has been replaced. The doctor left the Province because his wife was doing post-graduate work in another program outside the Province that is not available here in Newfoundland. A second doctor has joined The General Hospital and will be taking over from another doctor, Mr. Speaker, who is retiring. At the Janeway, a doctor resigned this summer and was replaced by another doctor.

Now, Mr. Speaker, according to the information that I have, in general terms there is an adequate number of neurologists in the Province. Again, the hon. member did not have his facts straight, and that is doing a disservice to the people of this Province. I welcome questions about the Health Department, but I want them to be based on concrete facts, I do not want them based on speculation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Since the hon. the Member for St. John's East raised his question, I have been informed by my officials that the Department of Education has not sent out any recent directives with respect to sick leave for students. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, I repeat, school boards are responsible for developing policies in these areas.

Petitions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I am privileged today to present a petition from the District of Bay of Islands, a constituency represented by the hon. the Premier. This petition, Mr. Speaker, is accompanied by a letter addressed to me, Hon. Len Simms, which says: "Dear Sir, enclosed you will find a petition on amalgamation that you are to present in the House of Assembly on behalf of the Town of Mount Moriah."

Mr. Speaker, I want to read the prayer of the petition for this hon. House on behalf of the people of Mount Moriah in the District of Bay of Islands, represented by the Premier. The prayer of the petition is as follows:

"To the Hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador in Legislative Session convened. The petition of the undersigned residents -

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

I am hearing a lot of noise coming from somewhere. I am not able to identify where it is coming from, I only know that I am having great difficulty hearing what the hon. the Leader of the Opposition is saying, and I ask hon. members, please, to refrain from making any excessive noise so that the debate may continue.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is probably the snickering in the press gallery.

Anyway, the petition goes on to read: "The petition of the undersigned residents of the Town of Mount Moriah:

"WHEREAS the Provincial Government's proposal to amalgamate the Town of Mount Moriah and the Town of Massey Drive with the City of Corner Brook would result in poorer municipal services and higher municipal taxes for the residents of all three areas;

"THEREFORE your petitioners urge the Provincial Government to abandon the plan to amalgamate the Town of Mount Moriah with the City of Corner Brook and to maintain the autonomy of the Town of Mount Moriah."

Mr. Speaker, I had a meeting, at the request of the Town of Mount Moriah, several weeks ago when I was over in the Corner Brook area on the West Coast. They said that their member was totally opposed to their views and, therefore, they had to come to us to see if we could express their views for them and on their behalf, in the House of Assembly, which, naturally, I quickly agreed to do, as I would with residents of any constituency, Mr. Speaker, including my own, and I have done it many times before.

There are 283 people - there are 459 voters, by the way, in the Town of Mount Moriah - who signed the petition. The petition was given by a number of people who went around the communities, and they had the choice for or against amalgamation. It was not simply a petition against. The results, Mr. Speaker, were as follows: Of the 283 who signed the petition, 277 were against amalgamation and six agreed with the Premier, in favour of amalgamation.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to say that their request to have this case brought before the House of Assembly is similar to the requests of many other municipalities whom we have heard complain about the issue of amalgamation, some in the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island's district, and some in Your Honour's district. As a matter of fact, the minister, not long ago, said Indian Bay, I believe, was exempt, they were not going to be included, because they didn't want to be. Now, Mr. Speaker, it is too bad that that philosophy didn't apply to all the Province and not just selected areas.

The petition also, Mr. Speaker, expresses the view of these people that coincides with the view of the Federation of Municipalities who recently passed a resolution at their convention against forced amalgamation. These people are opposed to having amalgamation rammed down their throats. Mr. Speaker, since their member was not prepared to present the petition, I guess, on their behalf, then I am happy to be able to do so and put their case forward.

I have to say, Mr. Speaker, having heard the Premier speak today in the House in answer to questions asked by the Member for Humber East, I think - it is so hard to really understand what the Premier is saying. I have never seen a person spend so much time correcting somebody else before he answers a question. But I believe, today, he said Mount Moriah will not have to amalgamate. I believe that is what he said, Mount Moriah will not have to amalgamate. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, this petition has been extremely successful, if that is the view, because if the Premier says it won't happen, then you can rest assured, the Minister of Municipal Affairs will not proceed. You can rest assured of that.

I look forward to the Premier's comments on this petition. I know he will want to commend me for presenting it on behalf of his constituents. I know he will want to commend his own constituents. The petition, by the way, was sent to me by the mayor, Mayor Allen Critch.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We look forward to that. I am happy to present it.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, there are two or three things that I want to say about this. First, let me address the question -

AN HON. MEMBER: 'Correct'.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, 'correct' the hon. member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: The number of times that I correct people in this House is directly proportioned to the number of times that the Opposition need to be corrected. It is not caused by me, it is caused by the misrepresentation that you hear from opposite. I don't have to correct people, I just ask fair-minded, objective people to get Hansard from today and read it, and they will see that what I said was not what the Leader of the Opposition attributed me. I did not say if Mount Moriah does not want to be amalgamated, they will not be amalgamated. I never said any such thing. What I said was if the majority of people in Corner Brook, Mount Moriah, and Massey Drive, together, do not want amalgamation, it will not be, but if the majority of people in Corner Brook, Mount Moriah, and Massey Drive, together, want amalgamation, then whether Mount Moriah wants it or not, we will bring a proposal into this House for amalgamation. Now, I can go back and repeat that again, and I might even spell it out in block letters, it may make it easier for them to understand and accept. Maybe then, they will not misrepresent the position quite so much, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me deal with the petition specifically. Lest anybody have any doubt that the Government's policy operates on a fair and balanced basis, and there is no priority, privilege or exemption, I applied to my own district exactly the same principles the Government applied to the entire Province. I did not seek exemption because Mount Moriah in my own district was opposed to it. We applied the same standard throughout. We are determined, Mr. Speaker, to cut the errors of the past, of the former Government, and govern this Province with fairness and balance, and we will continue to do so despite the Opposition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I did not present that petition to the House because I was not asked to. Had I been asked to present the petition to the House, I most certainly would have presented the petition to the House, and I would have said exactly the same about it as I am saying here today. I would not have spoken in favour of it. I would have presented it and said these are the wishes of the people of Mount Moriah, but I would not have addressed in favour. The petition would have been exactly as it was spelled out here today, and that should be abundantly clear to everybody.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my wholehearted support for the petition of the citizens of Mount Moriah, opposing forced amalgamation.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Speaker, contrary to the Premier's verbal trickery, there is nothing fair about keeping the people of Mount Moriah, Massey Drive, and Corner Brook waiting for twenty-eight months. There is nothing balanced about making them believe that amalgamation will not be forced if it is against the will of the people of any of the communities affected. The people there have been jerked around long enough!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: The people who are volunteering their time and energy to serve on the fire departments of Massey Drive and Mount Moriah, who spend several hours each week training, would like to know now whether their fire departments will continue to exist. The householders of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah would like to be able to plan their budgets for next year; they would like to be able to know that their municipal taxes will be roughly the same as they are now. The councils, the individuals who serve voluntarily on the councils of Massey Drive and Mount Moriah, the people who serve for small remuneration on the council of the City of Corner Brook, would like to be able to put together their budgets for the fiscal year that starts in five or six weeks!

Is it not fair and reasonable after all this time, after a public hearing at which every single presenter opposed amalgamation, for the Premier to give them an answer? How much time does it take for this Government to make a fair and balanced decision? Mr. Speaker, on behalf of these petitioners and people throughout the Corner Brook - Mount Moriah - Massey Drive area, I call on the Premier to do the right thing, to admit that amalgamating those three municipalities is wrong. It will increase the total municipal servicing cost, drive up taxes for residents of all three communities, and lower the standard of services. I call on the Premier to direct his minister to call off the forced amalgamation of Corner Brook, Massey Drive and Mount Moriah, and to resolve all the other as yet unresolved amalgamation proposals. Enough is enough!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have copies of three petitions from the District of Mount Scio, given to me by the Mayor and Councillors of St. Phillips, and by a concerned citizen of the Town of St. Phillips. Before I go ahead with the petitions, there are almost 1,900 signatures from the people of St. Phillips; 93 from the Town of Hogan's Pond; and 111 from Metro Board.

Now, I realize - and I do not want to deceive the House or try to do something devious - that I am not supposed to present a copy of a petition in the House. That is why I am saying it is a copy and I would like to have -

MR. DOYLE: But you can ask to present it.

MR. WOODFORD: I was asked to present the petition because I understand, Mr. Speaker, that these particular petitions were given to the Member for Mount Scio last April and he did not present them in the House on behalf of his own constituents. Those people came to me and asked me yesterday if I would bring this to the attention of the House. As an MHA representing a district in the Province, that would, as the Premier - and I have to give him full marks and credit. He just stated a minute ago, that if he had received a petition from his own constituents he would have presented it in this House. I am sure he would have. But why would an hon. member have petitions and not present them?

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

I just want to know what the - the hon. member is not saying he is on a point of order. If he is asking whether or not he can present the petition, I ask the hon. member to please quickly clue up his point of order, and the Chair is willing and able to make a ruling.

MR. WOODFORD: I would like to ask permission, Mr. Speaker -

MR. DOYLE: Leave of the House.

MR. WOODFORD: - leave of the House, to present the three petitions on behalf of the citizens of those three communities. It is as simple as that. Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To that point of order. The reason that there is a rule against copies being presented as petitions; it is pretty straightforward; we have had this rule in the House for some time and we have made exceptions to that rule, there is no doubt.

The reason is: a copy of a petition being presented by somebody to whom the petition was not addressed originally, may be presenting the petition at the request of two or three or four of the individuals, and the individuals who actually signed the petition do not realize that it was going to be presented by that member. The times that I know of where we have allowed copies of petitions to go ahead, have been in instances where, either the original petition had been lost and copies were available or, the use of a fax machine or whatever, or the people inadvertently had sent a copy to a member to present, and I do not recall any case where a petition that was given to one member to present, a copy of that petition was then presented by a totally different member without the expressed permission of all these individuals or the majority of those who have signed the petition. So, Mr. Speaker, in this instance, I would suggest that we not accept the copies of the petition and that the hon. gentleman speak to the member for the area and perhaps then they can resolve something and the petition can be presented in the House. So, Mr. Speaker, I think this is an instance where the reason for the copies not being allowed, this is an instance which that rule was meant to avoid and so, I would suggest, Your Honour, that it not be accepted.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It seems to be a pretty straightforward case here. We have a case here, where the member, who was given the original petition this past spring, and informed the House that he was not going to present the petition on behalf of those constituents.

MR. SIMMS: He told them that already; in the spring he said that.

MR. MATTHEWS: Now, those -

AN HON. MEMBER: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: You cannot have a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. gentleman is speaking to a point of order.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't you know the rules yet?

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, the petition is to the hon. House of Assembly -

MR. R. AYLWARD: When did you come in here, yesterday?

MR. MATTHEWS: - the petition those people signed is to the hon. House of Assembly, not to the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island or to the Member for Humber Valley, it is to this House, the People's House. Those people did what they thought was right, and we have seen it happen, I do not know how many times, but almost daily, that people in various districts or constituencies around the Province sign petitions and go to their elected representative, the MHA, and ask him to present the petition on their behalf in the Legislature.

Now we have a case here, Mr. Speaker, where, the elected MHA was not prepared to do so. The people have waited since last April or May to have their petition presented in the Legislature; they then consulted and went to see the Member for Humber Valley, who is the Municipal and Provincial Affairs critic in the Opposition -

MR. SIMMS: Why did you not present it?

MR. MATTHEWS: The town councillors representing those people, Mr. Speaker, not one or two individuals, they went on behalf of the people whom they represent, I would suggest the people who initiated the petition in the first place, the councillors, went to the Member for Humber Valley and asked him to present this petition, copies of this petition on their behalf, because the original copies of the petition are with the Member, so I submit, Mr. Speaker, that we have done it before; we have had copies presented in the Legislature before, by leave.

It is obvious that the people who signed the petition feel it is important enough that they wanted this petition presented to the House on their behalf, and I ask the Government House Leader to provide leave to the Member for Humber Valley, so he can present this petition on behalf of the people who so signed.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that last April, the petition in question was presented before the House. Hansard will show that I spoke for the entire five minute allotment and in the last ten seconds, someone asked me - as a matter of fact, after my comments were made and Hansard will show that - if I had signed the petition. At that point in time, I said, no, I had not because I was not in agreement with it, but I did physically present it here and Hansard will show that -

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right, hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WALSH: At that time, Mr. Speaker, I also asked leave of the House to present that petition, unsigned, as the standing rules of that day showed. When I was refused permission, refused leave of the House by the members on the other side, I did the honourable thing here in the House and I presented it personally to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs over his very desk -

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear! That is right!

MR. WALSH: - and I challenge them, Mr. Speaker, to read Hansard for the entire five minutes of my presentation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member is not on a point of order. He is just clarifying what he assumes to be a point of clarification and with the good graces of the Chair, he is being permitted to do it.

What we are dealing with here is that the Member for Humber Valley asked for leave of the House to present a petition that is not meeting the requirements, and in those circumstances, of course, the Chair can only rely on the House, and the distinct impression that the Chair has is that the leave of the House has not been granted.

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

MR. WOODFORD: I am not up on a petition, Mr. Speaker, I am up on a point of privilege.

My point, Mr. Speaker, is this. It is going to be very brief but to the point. We as MHAs were elected in each and every one of our districts in this Province and when we were elected we were given the right to speak on behalf of each and every constituent in our district, regardless of what I might think as a Member, or anybody else in this House. The question I ask, Mr. Speaker, is what other avenue does a constituent in this Province have if he cannot depend on his one and only voice in this House, and that is his or her MHA? If he cannot depend on that, someone else should be able to take up the cause and speak on behalf of those constituents.

They are frustrated. The Member was to the meeting and he should have presented the petition. The point I am making is that they have a right, and as a Member of any district in this Province we have a right to speak on behalf of our constituents. As far as I am concerned if they cannot have that voice in the House then someone else within the Chamber should be able to do it for them, and if I cannot do it then someone else should. It is as simple as that.

MR. SPEAKER: I will entertain one submission from the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, let me say that it is obviously not a point of privilege and cannot possibly be construed as being so. To follow the rules of the House cannot possibly be construed as being a point of privilege. What we are seeing here is a very mischievous attempt by Members opposite to circumvent the rules of the House. The original petition, as the Member for Mount Scio explained, was presented to the House, and the Member in his submission keeps insisting that it was not. It was presented to the House. He spoke for the five minutes on it, and asked for permission to table it, because his signature was not on it. Obviously, Members opposite refused permission, but the petition was presented to the House. The hon. Member spoke to it and he presented it to the appropriate department at that time, so the voice of these people has been heard, Mr. Speaker. But, that is not an issue at all, the only issue here is: is following normal rules of the House grounds for a point of privilege? Mr. Speaker, obviously it is not.

MR. SPEAKER: (recording failure) privilege raised by the hon. Member. A point of privilege deals with a Member's point of privilege to do his or her work properly in the House and obviously we are not dealing with that. The Member is not restricted from doing his work in the House. The matter is whether there is an avenue for the presentation of a petition which will not be presented by somebody else which is a different matter entirely. Since the Member is dealing with a petition that does not meet the requirements of the House, quite obviously, all the Chair can do is rule that it is neither a point of order in this case, nor a point of privilege, because the petition does not meet the requirements. The hon. Member just has a copy of the petition and not the original. I do not know what would happen if the hon. Member had the original copy. I suppose the hon. Member could present it, so from that perspective then the people would be heard so there is a way.

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day.

A petition? Permission to go back to Petitions?

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

MR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition from the community of Postville on the Labrador Coast. Basically what the petition is asking for is more health care, more visits from the doctor. The petition is signed by forty-two people in the small community of Postville which is roughly 55 per cent of the voters in that community. During the past year or so the Department of Health throughout Newfoundland and Labrador has seen fit to make some drastic cuts in health and services given to people in our Province. Mr. Speaker, one of the areas that is most affected is the coast of Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, it is now, November 21, and speaking with the local health representative in Postville today, I have been advised that the last time a doctor visited that community was back in July. Mr. Speaker, about two and one-half years ago there was a doctor stationed on the north coast of Labrador who would travel between Nain and Makkovik. He would make regular visits, and the people were cared for. Since this Government came to power two and one-half years ago, which is really ironic, Mr. Speaker, there is no doctor stationed on the coast of Labrador. The doctor is stationed in Happy Valley - Goose Bay, and can travel only when the weather is good, at the same time knowing that he has other people to serve in the Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Northwest River area, and does find it difficult to service those people.

I have correspondence, Mr. Speaker, from doctors in the area. In fact, I am sure that the Minister of Health will respond to this particular petition, because the Minister has correspondence from doctors in Lake Melville who have expressed concern about health care along the Labrador coast.

Mr. Speaker, the people in Postville are saying loud and clear, above everything else: try to do the best you can to look after our health, and we need visits from a doctor or some other medical professionals more often than we have presently travelling the Labrador coast.

Mr. Speaker, I present this petition in the hope that the Minister, when he responds, will get up and not be negative. Mr. Speaker, this petition is asking for a positive answer, a positive reply from this Government. Let us not talk about the past. Let us talk about how we can improve the services in the future. I ask that the petition be placed to the ministers to which it refers.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. BAKER: Order 14, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

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

The reason I am rising on a point of order is pertaining to Bill 50. I would like to ask for Your Honour's indulgence and consideration under Beauchesne, page 153, paragraph 505, under The Sub Judice Convention, and I would like to-

MR. SPEAKER: Would the hon. Member repeat that again, please?

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes, page 153, paragraph 505, under The Sub Judice Convention, and I would like to read in part for Your Honour: "Members are expected to refrain from discussing matters that are before the courts or tribunals which are courts of record. The purpose of this sub judice convention is to protect the parties in a case awaiting or undergoing trial and persons who stand to be affected by the outcome of a judicial inquiry."

As well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer Your Honour to Erskine May, 21st. edition, page 377, and draw Your Honour's attention to the sub-head 'Matters Awaiting Judicial Decision' and read again in part for Your Honour: "Matters awaiting the adjudication of a court of law should not be brought forward in debate." Further on, Mr. Speaker, there was a report of a Select Committee on Procedure from the British Parliament in 1962-63, and a resolution was consequently passed on 23 July 1963. The first reference was dealing with criminal jurisdiction, but I would like to refer Your Honour to page 378, second paragraph, and read again for Your Honour: "The resolution of 23 July 1963 also applies to the civil courts, and in general bars reference to matters awaiting or under adjudication in a civil court from the time that the case has been set down for trial or otherwise brought before the court." So this indicates, Mr. Speaker, that indeed we do have a reference here that matters of this nature should not be debated in the Legislature when it is before the courts.

As well, I would like to refer Your Honour again, further on in paragraph 3, and read in part: " That in exercising its discretion the Chair should not allow reference to such matters if it appears that there is a real and substantial danger of prejudice to the proceedings."

I think, Mr. Speaker, it goes without saying that with the attention and the publicity that will be drawn towards this debate, if in Your Honour's discretion you allow it to proceed with this Bill 50, I think there is no doubt that it will indeed very possibly prejudice the case that is now before the courts.

So, in saying that, Mr. Speaker, I would ask Your Honour to consider and perhaps take some time to deliberate and review, because in my humble opinion, there are certainly adequate references here that, I think, we should see Your Honour deliberate on and consider. I do not think there is any doubt that if this debate and this Bill is permitted to proceed here, we are talking about a lot of people and we are talking public rights. We all know the issue, we all know that the case is now before the courts, and I ask for Your Honour's indulgence.

MR. TOBIN: Good point.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Member gets up and talks about the sub judice convention and tries to make a case, Mr. Speaker, that when a bill is before the Legislature of the Province or the Legislature of the Country, that any bill that is before the Legislature, if somebody files notice that they are going to do something in court, that they could stop that bill from proceeding. In which case, Mr. Speaker, there would never be a single bill passed in any parliament in this country, because any crank or anybody who had a problem with it, could simply file notice in a court and, Mr. Speaker, there would never be one single item ever get through any legislature in this country. Mr. Speaker, obviously that is incorrect.

This particular convention that the hon. gentleman refers to - I can see where in some cases in a criminal action that this may have some relevance. The House voluntarily does this in criminal matters where this may affect criminal charges against an individual. Mr. Speaker, the sub judice convention he refers to: "Members are expected to refrain from discussing matters that are before the courts or tribunals, which are courts of record. The purpose of this is to protect the parties in a case awaiting or undergoing trial and persons who stand to be affected and so on." It is a voluntary restraint imposed by the House upon itself.

Mr. Speaker, the next section that he neglected to read goes on to say that this convention has been applied consistently in criminal cases. And then it goes on to say, Mr. Speaker, that no settled practice has been developed in relation to civil cases. So, Mr. Speaker, obviously this convention has no impact in this particular case.

As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, they go on to say that in terms of the precedents and so on, in civil cases, the convention does not apply until the matter has reached its trial stage anyway. Mr. Speaker, on a number of counts they are dead wrong: Number one, only notice has been given, I understand; number two, it has not reached the trial stage; and number three, there is nothing in civil cases to bind the House in these instances. If there were, Mr. Speaker, the whole parliament of this country would collapse.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader shouts a good case, but he does not make a good case. First of all, if what he said were accurate, then how come we do not have more happening. It just does not happen that way. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, to suggest that you would have this happening left, right and center. Perhaps he could explain to us why, then, all these references are here for Your Honour to consider? Why all these parliamentary references in Beauchesne and Erskine May and all the other parliamentary references throughout the British system of parliament? Why are they there?

They are there, Mr. Speaker, because occasionally, something like this might develop. Now, let me just counter his argument about civil law. Let me argue about civil law. The Minister of Development, who doesn't yet know how to move a motion to call for a standing vote, is now an expert on criminal law. Erskine May says, page 378 -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: If hon. members would stop interrupting.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: If the hon. minister could stop interrupting, restrain himself. Page 378 of Erskine May says: 'The resolution of 23 July 1963' - that is the earlier reference that my colleague referred to - 'also applies to the civil courts'. It does not just say criminal law, it also applies to the civil courts - 'and in general bars reference to matters awaiting or under adjudication in a civil court from the time that the case has been set down for trial or otherwise brought before the court, as for example by notice of motion for injunction'.

Now, Mr. Speaker, that clearly indicates that the Government House Leader's argument is totally wet. It has nothing at all to do with the argument that the Opposition House Leader presented for Your Honour's consideration. We all know the matter is before the court. Whether it is before the court in the form of a notice or whatever, the reference is there for Your Honour to consider. But I think the most important issue that has to be considered is the issue that my colleague, the Opposition House Leader, referred to in his presentation. That is the issue of whether or not there is a real and substantial danger of prejudice to the proceedings before the court. That is the question.

It is a very delicate issue for Your Honour to determine, a very dicey problem that we have here. But I am sure Your Honour, with the great advice that he often gets from the Clerks at the Table, will reach an appropriate decision. I have no doubt. It is a matter that needs to be carefully considered and researched. I won't go on any longer. We have had two from this side, we have had two, I think, from that side, or one from that side.

MR. MATTHEWS: One. The second is going to get up now.

MR. SIMMS: Maybe Your Honour might wish to consider the matter in due course.

MR. SPEAKER: I will accept one further submission. I wanted to tell members I am not going to permit debate to carry on on this very much longer. The Chair is ready to make a decision. I have entertained two submissions from this side. Now I will take a further submission from the Government House Leader.

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just very briefly. I have quoted from sections 505, 506 and 507 of Beauchesne, 6th edition, page 153, I think, which deals with this issue. It is obvious from that that this is not a case where we can stop the proceedings of the House because there has been notice of something filed in the court. So it is fairly obvious.

The final point I would like to make that I had neglected to make earlier, Mr. Speaker, is that if Mount Pearl is appealing a law, something that this House has dealt with, it is kind of beyond me -obviously, in order for their case to proceed, and in order for them to challenge something, it has to be something that has been passed by this House. So, in order for something to be challenged in court -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: It works the other way around. In order for something to be challenged in court, it first of all has to be passed by this House before it can be challenged. Because, as of this point in time, it has no bearing, no stature, and, Mr. Speaker, therefore I believe it is not possible to stop this. Because, in fact, this process would help the other processes in place.

MR. SPEAKER: I indicated that I would not take any further submissions. Since it is, I think, affecting the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl, I will permit him to make a submission.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is a very wise decision you have made, because I think I can shed some light of great importance on this particular issue.

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly hope so.

MR. WINDSOR: It relates directly to what the hon. the President of Treasury Board just said. The injunction, or the action in the court, does not relate to Bill 50. It relates to the resolution passed last May. It is on that resolution as outlined in Bill 50, it is to give effect to that resolution, that we are being asked to debate. So the act has, indeed, taken place. The resolution has, indeed, been passed by this House. The City of Mount Pearl and their legal counsel have put forward a very lengthy case arguing that that resolution was an illegal resolution, and I, for one, firmly believe that it, indeed, was an illegal resolution, will be found by the courts to be illegal, and will be struck down.

The point the Opposition Leader makes, Mr. Speaker, is that if this House were to debate Bill 50, which is based on that resolution, and, in fact, gives effect to that resolution, this House would then be prejudging whether or not the act passed and the resolution passed last May was, indeed, legal. That is not our role, Mr. Speaker, that is a role for the courts, and I think we have clearly shown that to continue with this debate would prejudice that action in the courts, and therefore this debate, Mr. Speaker, should not be allowed to continue until the courts have passed a ruling on that issue.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Just to relate to the comments of the hon. gentleman from Mount Pearl. I am happy to see Your Honour recognize him because it does have a particular bearing on his district.

I would like to refer once again, Mr. Speaker, that "no settled practice has been developed" - and I am reading from Beauchesne again -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. BAKER: "in relation to civil cases," and, "in civil cases the convention does not apply until the matter has reached the trial stage." That is the second point. The third point is that even in criminal cases this is a voluntary restraint that the House imposes upon itself. So we are talking about something voluntary here in any case, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair will recess the House for I do not know how long, but if I need to be longer, then I will come back and ask hon. members to get into something else.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER (L. Snow): It is four o'clock and while we are waiting for His Honour to return, I will announce the questions for the Late Show:

Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied with the Premier's response to my question about Kruger and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Limited. I would like to debate the question on the Late Show; that is the hon. the Member for Humber East.

Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied with the answer to my question on school tax to the Minister of Education, and I would like to debate it on the Late Show; that is the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes.

Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied with the answer I received from the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, with respect to the Emergency Response Program; that is the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

We will recess awaiting the Speaker, who should be here shortly.

Recess

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

With respect to the matter raised by the Opposition House Leader, the Member for Grand Bank, with respect to the sub judice convention preventing Bill 50 from being debated today, we have done extensive research on the matter. Just let me read a couple of excerpts for hon. members.

(1) The sub judice convention exists to protect from prejudice parties in a case awaiting trial and is a voluntary restraint by the House upon itself. While it has been applied consistently in criminal cases, there is no settled practice in relation to civil cases. However, in civil cases, the convention does not apply until the matter has reached the trial stage.

The question was summarised succinctly by Speaker, Solomon Lloyd, who appeared before the British Select Committee in 1971-1972, when they were discussing a similar matter and Speaker Solomon Lloyd said: I think it is quite clear that there ought to be a sub judice rule or convention certainly with regard to criminal cases. I think there are several types of civil cases, like action for defamation of character where one can see the same sort of thing applying, and I would think there that the rule or the convention ought to exist. And he says: The general proposition ought to be that matters of general interest are discussable. The presumption should be for discussion rather than against it. Furthermore, in Canada, the convention does not apply to bills.

I refer hon. members to Beauchesne, page 153, 508 (3). It says, "The convention applies to motions, references in debates, questions and supplementary questions, but does not apply to bills." I read also for hon. members a ruling by the Speaker in October, 1971 when the House of Commons was in a similar circumstance with respect to the sub-judice applying to a bill. After extensive debate when members had presented their cases, the Speaker of that time says, 'It seems to me logical, as hon. members taking part in the discussion have indicated, that we should take this view, otherwise the whole legislative process - that is to take the view that debate should continue - 'otherwise the whole legislative process might be stopped simply by the initiation of a writ or legal proceedings in one or other of the courts of Canada,' so he made substantially the same ruling.

I could carry on for hon. members, quoting from page 153, 509, which says, "The Special Committee on the Rights and Immunities of Members recommended that the responsibility of the Speaker during the question period should be minimal as regards the sub judice convention, and that the responsibility should principally rest upon the Member who asks the question and the Minister to whom it is addressed. However, the Speaker should remain the final arbiter in the matter but should exercise discretion only in exceptional cases. In doubtful cases the Speaker should rule in favour of debate and against the convention." Then 510 says, "The Speaker has pointed out "that the House has never allowed the sub judice convention to stand in the way of its consideration of a matter vital to the public interest or to the effective operation of the House." The last one, "The freedom of speech accorded to Members of Parliament is a fundamental right without which they would be hampered in the performance of their duties. The Speaker should interfere with that freedom of speech only in exceptional cases where it is clear that to do otherwise could be harmful to specific individuals." Having Beauchesne's reference and examples in the House of Assembly where bills cannot be subjected to the sub judice convention, I rule, therefore, that the sub judice convention does not apply in this particular case with respect to a bill.

The Government House Leader called for second reading, so I now call upon the minister to give second reading.

The hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure I rise to speak on this particular bill which, of course, has already gone through the resolution stage in the spring, with considerable debate at the time, and now, of course, we are looking at second reading.

Bill 50 deals with an act to facilitate the amalgamation of certain municipal services in relation to the Northeast Avalon region. This is a wide-ranging bill, Mr. Speaker, which deals with a lot of issues. The Northeast Avalon is a relatively large area in Newfoundland and Labrador terms, not that large, of course, in the context of similar urban areas across Canada, but it is, indeed, in Newfoundland terms, approximately 30 to 35 per cent of the population of the Province. It is a very important location in the Province and a very important area of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we have some seventeen cities or towns in the Northeast Avalon, all staffed with city councillors and administrative staff, various fire departments, volunteer, and, in the case of St. John's, a paid fire department. St. John's, of course, is presently a regional fire service in every sense of the word because it serves more than the immediate City of St. John's, it also services Mount Pearl, Paradise, St. Thomas's, St. Philip's, Portugal Cove and Wedgewood Park. So it is, indeed, regional in every sense of the word, and has been for a long number of years with the jurisdiction, of course, of that fire department incorporated overall and encompassing all of those areas that I just mentioned, all of those municipalities. In addition to that, of course, Metro Board, which is interspersed in between, is comprised of communities such as Topsail Pond, Three Island Pond, Evergreen Village, Windsor Heights, Elizabeth Park, some 5,000 or 6,000 people who up to this point in time, Mr. Speaker, until we proceeded with the amalgamation feasibility process, until we started that over two years ago now, all these people were represented by the Metropolitan Area Board comprised of representation from the councils of the area, and appointed people from the Province. So for the first time, Mr. Speaker, when we complete the amalgamation of the various communities involved and the Metro Board, all of these 5,000 to 6,000 people will be residing in one newly formed community or another and will have elected direct representation for the first time, elected by the people themselves.

So, Mr. Speaker, we are accomplishing a lot with this Bill. Not only are we taking the number of communities down from seventeen, if you want to include the Metro Board communities, of course, it is probably down from something like twenty-three or seventeen down to seven or eight. It is quite a rationalization of jurisdiction, quite a change in terms of rationalization of services. A great savings, Mr. Speaker, to the people of this region. The fact that we are able to combine all of the various services into larger areas, larger cities or towns, is going to be a tremendous savings to the people, Mr. Speaker. Duplication of staff, duplication of facilities, duplication of equipment - and the list goes on, Mr. Speaker - is maybe tolerable to some degree in a very large urban area. I could point out some on the mainland where we could tolerate it in communities side by side where you have 200,000 to 400,000 people, but when you look at 130,000 or 140,000 people in this area it is not good planning, and that is, of course, why we started in this process in the first place. It is not good planning to have so many municipalities side by side with elected councils, with duplication of staff and so on. It is just not good planning and not good economic sense from an industrial, commercial standpoint, as well, because all of these communities, Mr. Speaker, up to this point are all competing with one another.

I do not think there is a community on the northeast Avalon that would not like to have an industrial park, and would not like to have a commercial base, would not like to have a shopping centre. Of course, you bring that to its extreme and we would have seventeen, eighteen or nineteen communities that all have a large major regional shopping centre, they would all have an industrial park, and that makes absolutely no sense, Mr. Speaker. It is mainly an urban area surrounded by a group of rural communities, and the rural communities, Mr. Speaker, are being proposed to stay much like they are. We did not feel that it was necessary at this time to proceed with joining a lot of the rural communities that really had not grown together to the extent that the urban core had. In the urban core, Mr. Speaker, we have these communities side by side with adjacent boundaries and literally one house next to another, with two communities side by side representing those people, and no way to distinguish really between the two communities.

But in the rural context that is not the case. We still have in most cases in the rural communities - from Conception Bay South right along the coast up to Middle Cove, Outer Cover, Logy Bay - a fair separation land-wise and people-wise, and we have left those communities essentially alone. But we are proposing to do some amalgamation in the rural areas. We are proposing to put together St. Thomas', Paradise, Three Island Pond, Topsail Pond, Evergreen Village and Elizabeth Park into one community. We are also proposing to put together St. Phillips and Portugal Cove into one community, and Windsor Heights of course, which is now in Metro Board, and Hogan's Pond.

Other than that the rural communities surrounding St. John's will remain essentially the same. In the St. John's area we are proposing to join the Goulds and Wedgewood Park to St. John's, enlarging the City to now become approximately 108,000, 107,000 to 108,000 people. And to give the City of St. John's jurisdiction over regional services that were mainly previously either under their jurisdiction anyway - for example, the fire department - or under the jurisdiction of -

AN HON. MEMBER: The fire department is not under their jurisdiction.

MR. GULLAGE: Well, under the jurisdiction in the sense that they were the main players, certainly. The Member is quite right. It was under the Province up to this point, with the sharing of the expenses being shared out to the various municipalities, and 15 per cent of the costs being paid by the Province. That formula has to be looked at, as was raised in the House today. We have to look at the formula to see whether or not it is a still a good formula. Whether it should be 15 per cent or 14 per cent or 17 per cent or whatever. That has to be looked at. But certainly the Province will continue to pay its share of the firefighting services, recognizing the fact that we have a large presence in this region with Provincial buildings. That has to be recognized of course, as it has in the past.

But, Mr. Speaker, we do propose that the regional services that will be delivered will be administered by the City of St. John's. The alternative was to create another level of bureaucracy, a regional services authority or board or government or whatever you want to say, and the municipalities perceived that as being another level of government above them. We saw fit to make a decision to give the responsibility and the administration to the City of St. John's to deliver, and to cost share with the member municipalities in those cost sharing arrangements.

If a given municipality accesses a particular service, such as a water supply, a waste disposal site or a fire department, whatever it happens to be, then usually on a per capita basis - although there are other formulas - but a formula agreed to, they would be cost shared, they would pay their share of whatever service they happened to access. Not all the municipalities will access every service. We have some communities that have their own water supply right now, just as an example, and we would not expect them to tie into Bay Bulls, Big Pond or Windsor Lake and access and use those water services, but would continue to use the existing water service. If a community is accessing a regional service they would be expected to be part of the region as far as paying their share of that particular service.

We believe also that rationalizing and enlarging the communities that we have identified will bring better planning to the area. A greater focus and a greater ability by the communities to plan for future development whether it be residential growth or whether it be industrial or business growth. This has been a problem, Mr. Speaker, in the past, as they have identified, where we have great competition going on, a competition that has been very difficult to stop, where all communities all want similar services, all want to grow in competition to one another. That is unhealthy, Mr. Speaker, and creates an unhealthy competition which is totally unnecessary with the numbers of people we have in this particular region.

Mr. Speaker, I might say, in answer to some criticism about having proceeded with the northeast Avalon, I know there are other amalgamations throughout the Province, but indeed amalgamation, contrary to comments I have heard, is going very, very well. Mr. Speaker, we are now more than halfway through. Just Tuesday past, the results of the nomination procedures were completed in the Badger's Quay area, in the Centerville area and in the Twillingate area, where we see nine communities being amalgamated down to three larger communities.

Mr. Speaker, prior to that, of course, I had announced amalgamations in Grand Falls-Windsor and in several other groupings throughout the Province. We still have to deal with three major groupings that have not been announced: Stephenville and Kippens; Corner Brook, Mount Moriah and Massey Drive; and Deer Lake and the surrounding communities. Those are the three largest groupings that remain.

Mr. Speaker, as in St. John's, amalgamation in the northeast Avalon area is very, very important. Too often the positive benefits are downplayed and the negative aspects, or so-perceived negative aspects, are concentrated on. Mr. Speaker, that is, I suppose, natural because any great change - and this is great change - is going to be controversial, it is not going to be easy. As I said in the previous debate in the spring, Mr. Speaker, we could have sat back and relaxed and done nothing and not caused any change to take place in municipalities, but that would have been wrong. It was obvious, and has been obvious for years - nine commission reports on the northeast Avalon, prior to our taking over as Government, nine commission reports, all in one way or another identifying the need for amalgamation and rationalization of services. And finally, Mr. Speaker, a Government that has the courage to take action and to make changes. Mr. Speaker, we think that these changes are going to be, in the long-term and the short-term, a benefit to the people of this region.

Mr. Speaker, to suggest that we have not had input, I find amusing. We have had over two years now, almost two and a half years, of the feasibility process, if you want to include the months beyond the Commissioner's report, where we have had hearings, we have had briefs presented by the municipalities, we have had oral presentation, and we have had discussions with councils. Mr. Speaker, I do not think we have ever seen - well I know we have not, at least from what I have been able to investigate and find out - an amalgamation scenario in the country, in Canada, in any other Province that has given as much time and as much study and as much opportunity for dialogue as the procedure that we have carried out, Mr. Speaker, on the northeast Avalon and in the rest of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It being four-thirty, there is a motion before the House to adjourn. I am going to have to ask the Minister to adjourn this portion of the debate right now.

MR. GULLAGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I think I have covered the main, the salient, important points to this, and I will have the opportunity later to carry on with this most important and crucial Bill, Mr. Speaker, for the northeast Avalon.

MR. SPEAKER: Maybe the Minister should say the right words, that he adjourns the debate.

MR. GULLAGE: I adjourn the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you very much.

I have two question for the Late Show. I am not sure that I have them in the right order, but I believe it is the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes who has expressed his dissatisfaction with answers to his question on school tax given by the Minister of Education.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, I expressed my dissatisfaction with the answers, but that is nothing new because I have always expressed dissatisfaction, as everybody else has. In the two and a half years I have been asking the Minister questions, I have not yet received a satisfactory answer. I am beginning to wonder whether the Minister knows the answers or whether he is just being evasive.

In this case I discovered that the Minister did not know very much about it because the Premier had gone out as he usually does, on his own, and made a statement as to what he was going to do. Then the Minister found out about it when he read it in the paper.

Mr. question to the Minister was about school tax authorities. What is really happening? We are getting all kinds of conflicting stories on the radio and in the press. We read headlines and hear headlines which state 'school tax authorities have been abolished, or will be abolished.' The Premier says, 'No, I did not say it. I was misunderstood.' How many times have we heard the Premier say, 'I was misunderstood.' I think if we added up the number of questions we had to the Premier in the House since it opened, in each one of them if we mentioned a quote, the Premier would say he is misunderstood.

The fact is, the Premier did say at the Board of Trade meeting that school tax authorities would be abolished. The Minister did not know anything about it. He is talking about reforming that. Around the island we have a number of people employed by school tax authorities. We have a tremendous number of people who sit on school tax authorities in a voluntary way in order to collect money to put into schools, to provide for the needs of children at the local level, which is something that Government should be doing and is not doing.

The Minister and Premier, in commenting on this, talk about the unfair way the school tax is collected and distributed, and the inequalities in the system. I say yes, and that always has been recognized.

A few years ago a former government decided to do something about that. They brought in what they called a tax equalization programme, which gave areas which could not collect large amounts of money, larger sums than the more lucrative areas, to the point where it would balance out in the five year plan that was put in place. At the end of the five years, which should have been this past year, it would have balanced out across the Province where each area, each child in each school, would have the same number of dollars spent on him or her as in any other part of the Province. This Government sat on that new innovative plan that had been brought in by the previous administration, and have balked on bringing to fruition full equalization. Consequently, the Premier and his Cabinet found themselves caught in a bind because during the last election campaign ministers were going around the Province, or candidates who became ministers, and candidates who are still backbenchers, promising that the first thing they would do was get rid of the school tax. Well they found out that they cannot really get rid of school tax, because money has to go into the educational system, one way or another.

The Premier seems now to want to be sloughing it off to municipalities. We have to remember that there are areas in this Province where we do not have municipalities. We have areas where we have municipalities that are having a job trying to keep their heads above water doing what work they have to do already, and certainly do not want to be burdened with extra duties like collecting school tax.

The Premier just wants to abdicate himself from the responsibility so that he can say, 'I fulfilled a promise.' Who is paying the price is what I would like the Minister to tell us. The answer of course, because I know he will not give it, is the children of the Province. It is also the people who are working at the school tax authorities who, this last year and one-half, do not know from one day to the next whether they are going to have a job or not. They are being treated just like the public service, where last year they were just being axed without any notice.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Education is on his way to a speaking engagement. He is unavailable at the present time, so I will attempt to answer the question for the hon. Member.

First of all, I am very surprised that he is dissatisfied with the answer because I thought the answer given was absolutely superb. The Minister did not hedge; he did not try to obfuscate; he gave a very direct answer and a very full answer to the Member's question.

Some time ago, when the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes was the Minister of Education, all of a sudden there was an awakening, and the awakening was this, that there was something wrong, something unfair about the school tax system. So the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, I suppose, was jolted awake by somebody and was told that there was something that was unfair in the educational system in terms of the school tax. So he and his government, after recognizing that there was great inequity, then decided to really not correct the inequity, and they tried to throw a few bucks out there to keep the school boards quiet, which is in essence what they did. So instead of equalizing, and instead of providing the same opportunity for the students on the Great Northern Peninsula as is provided in St. John's, they threw them a little bit of money, a few crumbs to try and keep them happy.

MR. HEARN: (Inaudible).

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, that is exactly what happened. They did not equalize. They did not even equalize 80 per cent. They did not even equalize 50 per cent. They did not equalize the educational funding in this Province. Now, Mr. Speaker, you look at the school tax authorities and the way they were administered. Just look at it. The students all over this Province get provided money by the Provincial Government - 94 per cent of their funding comes directly from the Provincial Government in some way or another. They get funding to provide them with teachers, to provide them with schools, school construction, and money for the running of the schools. Those are the basis amounts that are provided all across this Province. Some allowances are made for school boards that have a little more difficulty than others and have more small schools than others in terms of their teacher allocation. But basically the same general service level is provided by the Government to students all over this Province. Then along comes the school tax authorities, and we all know why they came into existence in the first place, but along come the school tax authorities, Mr. Speaker. So the School Tax Authority on the great northern peninsula provides it's schools with $80 per student. Now that is great. That is wonderful. Eighty dollars extra over and above what the Government has provided. Mr. Speaker, look at the other side of it. The school tax authorities in St. John's because this is where the business is, this is where the activity is, this is where the salaries are being paid, the school tax authorities in St. John's provide the schools with $400 per student extra; $400 per student over and above the basic amount. Mr. Speaker, this inequity is all across this Province, and that is what the school tax authority does, it perpetuates, it perpetuates inequity. Now this Government is committed one way or another to eliminate the inequity in educational funding. Something the previous government - they say they recognized it was there, but refused to do anything about it. So, Mr. Speaker, we are going to do it one way or the other. Either the school tax authorities will be reformed, in which case they will not exist as they are now, or they will be eliminated, in which case they will not exist as they are now. This is precisely what the Premier said. That is exactly what the Premier said in his speech. That is exactly what the Minister of Education told this House, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The second item to be debated is the hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains stating his dissatisfaction with an answer given by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs regarding the Emergency Response Programme.

The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains.

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

I find it most interesting to note that the Minister is not even in his seat for such a particular concern that I have. In fact, I think what is most interesting today - and I notice the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is listening - was the question that was asked by the Member for Port de Grave. It was a very important question.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is your opinion, (inaudible).

MR. WARREN: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I say to my hon. colleague, the Minister of Social Services, it was a very important question because the Member asked the Minister of Employment about the delay with the federal projects.

Now, Mr. Speaker, my question concerned Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Let me just say, Mr. Speaker, about unemployment insurance while we are waiting. I have, in fact, in my colleague's district from Eagle River where this particular call came from, we have people now who have been working for five weeks and the association has not received one penny from this Government, and, Mr. Speaker, let me say to my hon. colleague, in another community in the Eagle River district, there are people who have been working for two weeks. They have approved the project but there is no money there at all, so the Minister writes a letter, of which I have a copy here, should the minister want it, and said: 75 per cent of the money would be released immediately. Now, October 18th, Mr. Speaker, the money is not there and now we are talking about November 20th. What does the word 'immediately' mean in Webster's dictionary?

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you say October 8th or (inaudible).

MR. WARREN: October 18th, and let me say the Minister announced the programme on October 4th, but October 18th is when he wrote the letter, and I believe that we have to be fair to the people who need these particular projects. Those projects have been approved by the Minister - and I say to the Minister, yes, Mr. Minister, the White Bear Development Association has gone to the bank to get money to pay those workers. In fact tomorrow the White Bear Development Association will not have enough money to pay those workers.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. WARREN: They will not have enough money tomorrow to pay them for their last week's work, and this Minister told me four or five days ago, he would check it out, so, Mr. Speaker, the Minister, again is showing contempt for the people. He said in his letter on October 18th, that: I will immediately release funds to you, 75 per cent of the funds. Now, 75 per cent of $15,000 is, I think $12,500 that should have been in the hands of the Development Association.

Mr. Speaker, it is not only in Charlottetown or Williams Harbour, in Pinsent Arm, Norman Bay, it is also in Makkovik; it is in Hopedale, it is in Nain. The Nain council has now paid something like $100 in interest to the banks to draw money out in order to pay the workers - the Minister is going to get up with directions from my hon. colleague for Eagle River, who has a copy of the letter that was sent to the Development Association, a copy to him and a copy to Mr. Price, who is the recreation director for the area.

But what surprised me - the Minister can say what he would like to say now, but four or five days ago when I brought it to his attention, he thought they had the money. Mr. Speaker, I say to my hon. colleague - and I must say I met a worker from the social services who had very positive comments about the Minister; I am sure my hon. colleague knows who the particular person is but I do not want to get side-tracked by rabbits now when I am talking about elephants, so, we were talking about concerns on the Labrador Coast. We are talking about concerns of people who are working there and, in Norman Bay, there are people who have been working two weeks who have not been paid and it is the obligation of the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to make sure that cheques are released to all those groups whom he had promised in his letter of October 18; so I say to the Minister, let us not procrastinate any longer, let us get the letters and the money out to the people who need it. Thank you very much.

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

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I find it hard to believe sometimes the sort of questions you get in this House. The question from the hon. Member dealing with projects in Labrador that we saw fit to announce early, as quickly as we could get our programme in place, we saw Labrador as a priority and the twenty odd projects that were announced were the first ones announced in this Province.

They are being well received in Labrador. They are in areas where they are very necessary. He mentioned the date of October 18. If I recollect correctly I think that was at a time when we were simply advising what procedures should be followed in advance if communities were successful, so that there would not be any delay in receiving payment.

Mr. Speaker, it is not unusual for municipalities, or any others receiving Government assistance, whether it be loans or grants, or whatever, to use their co-operative or bank on an interim basis to get projects started. I would guess, Mr. Speaker, without much fear of being contradicted, that the vast majority of the twenty-odd projects, the twenty communities have already done that and have already got money in place to see that the projects are not delayed, because of all places to have projects delayed, in Labrador at this time of the year we have to get started as quickly as possible. I would suggest that they have already accessed the necessary funding. Mr. Speaker, they have signed contracts, they know the procedures and I can assure the hon. Member that, as the Minister, I will see that we see that these projects are paid 75 per cent, or whatever the cost-sharing formula, is paid as soon as we can, Mr. Speaker. I am confident that no project is delayed and that money is made available. In all of the twenty-odd areas of Labrador work is proceeding and funds are in place. Mr. Speaker, I will check out the Member's question on the funding from the Province but I am quite confident that there has been no undue delay and the projects are on time.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want first of all to say we re-arranged the Late Show at the request of the Government House Leader, because the Premier wanted a little more time to be here, which we respect and appreciate because of his schedule. I apologize to the Premier for having him come down here but the Member for Humber East had put in the question for the Late Show and is now at the Constitutional Committee Meeting. I am sorry for the inconvenience but I think it happened probably without her having too much advance notice. So I apologize on her behalf and on our behalf for bringing the Premier down from his office when there was no need to do so.

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

MR. BAKER: I just want to advise hon. Members, tomorrow we are continuing on with the same Bill that we dealt with today.

On motion, the House at its rising adjourned until tomorrow, Friday, at 9:00 a.m.