November 27, 1992             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLI  No. 73


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, last week the Premier met I believe, with the Hibernia partners in Calgary and I was kind of hoping he might have made a statement to the House on that meeting. I know that he made some comments to the press in an interview after the House. From reading the report in the Evening Telegram, he says that he does not know what will happen with Texaco but hopes that they will come aboard. He also said: If Texaco says no then we have to consider the other potential partners that were interested and see where we go from there. At least that is a quote attributed to him. Now that is a fairly cautious statement. I would like to ask him: Is there any reason to think that Texaco may not buy into the Hibernia project as a result of his meetings?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Absolutely none whatsoever, Mr. Speaker, only reason to have continued optimism, but I am not prepared to presume what Texaco will do. They are doing a full due diligent assessment of it and at sometime, I think around mid-December, their board is going to make a decision. I am not prepared to presume what they will do or to create false hopes only to have something dashed if they decided to the contrary. So, I am just being full and frank about the issue at the moment. I have no reason to be the least bit pessimistic about what Texaco will do.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, the Premier made references as I said, considering other potential partners, if something were to happen with Texaco. Now, the impression that was left, at least at the time of the search for a partner to replace Gulf, was that Texaco was really the only viable option. Are there in fact others as the Premier suggested in those comments and if so can he give us some idea who it might be?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I do not know who left the impression that Texaco was the only viable option. That was never left by me and never left by anybody so far as I know. There were other expressions of interest.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, hypothetical as this may be, if a partner were not to be found for some reason for Hibernia, both government's, federal and provincial government's have agreed to reimburse the Hibernia partner's for up to 75 per cent of the money they will have spent, I believe it is since May 15th. Can the Premier give us some indication now of how much the Province would be liable for, at this point in time, if that were to happen? Just to give the taxpayers some indication.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I know it is important for the taxpayers to have information but I say in all honesty to the Leader of the Opposition that all he and I are doing by this interchange, is making it more difficult to cause a resolution to this problem to be put into place without difficulty by speculating as to what it might cost and speculating as to who other partners might be and what this one might do and might not do.

I say to him, in all honesty, one of the things that I did discuss with the three oil company executives in Calgary is the harm that is being done by trying to find a resolution to this problem by this kind of speculation.

Now I do not wish to attribute any blame to the Leader of the Opposition in raising the question. I understand the interest of the people of the Province. I understand the interest of the Leader of the Opposition; but I express to him, in all honesty, that we are really not serving the people of the Province or the overall problem well by these kind of speculative questions, and equally speculative answers on my part.

I assure him that I will give him the best information that I possibly can. I will also sit down with him privately and give him information on a private basis; but I say to him honestly that I really do not think we are doing either the overall project or the Province any good by this kind of speculative questioning and equally speculative answering.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I appreciate the advice of the Premier and I would certainly welcome an opportunity to sit down with him privately to hear what he has to say. I am merely following up on public statements, as he knows, that he has already made to local media; so I think it is important that the taxpayers and the people of the Province have some idea.

I want to ask him two final questions. One could be perceived as speculative. He met with the Prime Minister last week, and I presume Hibernia was a hot topic for discussion. Can he confirm the reports in the Globe and Mail, for example, recently that the federal government has offered Texaco a package of $200 million to try to encourage them to join the consortium?

Secondly, and this is certainly not speculative: Did he request, and did he receive assurances from the Prime Minister, that the financial support for Hibernia, committed by the federal government, would escape the spending reviews that are going on at the federal level at the moment?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There were two questions. The first one: Did the Prime Minister give assurances to Texaco - or did the federal government give assurances - that they would provide an additional $200 million for Texaco?

Mr. Speaker, the basic proposal is that the federal government will provide a tax structure and arrangement, a support system, that would put Texaco in the same position as they would have been in had they been originally a partner on an equitable basis, as Gulf would have been in if Gulf had remained - no more, no less. They are not giving Texaco any more than they would have provided for Gulf, to cause the same effect.

I do not want to mislead anybody. The fact that Texaco may be in a somewhat different position with respect to its operations in Canada and so on, it may take a different kind of response to put Texaco in that position. That is true. But that is the basic principle that is being followed. Beyond that, I would think that it would be inappropriate for me to express any views or thoughts as to what the federal government did or didn't undertake. Because, although we have had representatives at most of the discussions, those discussions have taken place between the federal officials and Texaco directly. So I would be speculating in part, too, on that.

The other question that the leader asked was: Did I get an undertaking from the Prime Minister that whatever was necessary for Hibernia would escape the cuts? I didn't even ask the Prime Minister for that undertaking, because I know of the Prime Minister's personal commitment to Hibernia, and he reaffirmed it to me when we talked. We did talk about Hibernia, the value of the project to Canada, to Newfoundland and to Quebec. Look, bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, that while there are 1500 people working in Newfoundland, 1100 or so in Bull Arm and another 400 or so in St. John's, there are also 750 working In Quebec and there are others working in other parts of Canada, carrying on with this.

AN HON. MEMBER: Paris.

PREMIER WELLS: I am not too concerned about Paris, but from a Canadian point of view, there are 750 people working in -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible) should be there.

PREMIER WELLS: If the member would just stop babbling -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: - I will try and finish the answer to the question.

So I didn't ask the Prime Minister for that undertaking. I have every confidence that there is no intention to cut Hibernia. The news media and others were floating this proposition around with the suggestion that the Auditor General was going to recommend that this be done. All of this is speculation and nonsense, and it really doesn't do any good to the overall project, to be speculating on it in this way.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Premier. On Tuesday I asked the Premier about prospects for the gypsum plant in Corner Brook which has been closed since last Spring and only operated for two weeks this year. I asked the Premier if he could give any hope to people that the gypsum plant will reopen. The Premier replied that he was hopeful a purchase proposal would come into fruition very soon and that he would check on specifics and report to the House the next day, on Wednesday. Yesterday the Premier told me he would report today. Since the Premier didn't make a statement under Ministerial Statements, I am calling on him to report now, will the gypsum plant reopen?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: If the member had had patience, it was a question and I undertook to get the answer. I was going to report on Answers to Questions. It was a question and I would have reported on it, but since she has asked the question, I have no quarrel with doing it right now, Mr. Speaker.

The situation was, Mr. Speaker, that over the course of the last two or three months, a proposal had been developed where a group of employees would put up some money and promote a company that would take over certain assets - the concrete production assets in Corner Brook and St. John's, the gypsum plant in Corner Brook, and together, they felt that could be a viable operation that could be continued.

The government had agreed to put up a guarantee of $3.2 million under the normal terms and conditions. Last week, Mr. Speaker, the government were asked to reconsider the position. The shareholders had put up $1 million equity, I believe, was the figure.

Last week, Mr. Speaker, the financial institution that had agreed to provide for the funding of this came back and said it was hesitant to proceed without two further things, a further equity injection by the participants of another $500,000 and -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

PREMIER WELLS: If the babbling would stop, I will finish.

- a further equity injection of $500,000 and, Mr. Speaker, if the government would address a further concern they had because of a court case in, I believe, Alberta - or Ontario, I have forgotten which. Anyway, a court in one of those provinces had decided that where a receiver moves in to take over and sell the assets of an operation, if, in fact, the environmental cleanup costs greatly exceed the value of the assets, the bank or the receiver responsible has to pay and take over all of those cleanup obligations. So, financial institutions are now gun-shy about doing this. So the bank wanted an undertaking from the government that they would be relieved of any environmental - the bank would be relieved. Well, the government couldn't do that. We couldn't give an undertaking that the bank would be relieved, but we agreed to an alternative that was equally acceptable to the bank and the bank accepted it. The shareholders could not come up with the additional equity, Mr. Speaker, so the government has done its part, it provided the guarantee, it provided for the additional condition that would have enabled it to proceed so, Mr. Speaker, that proposal did not proceed.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there were other bidders and the receiver is at this moment carrying on discussions and negotiations with the other bidders. The other bidders were a combination; one was bidding for only the concrete production assets alone I believe, another was bidding for both of it. I do not know how that will come about. This has only happened in the last few days. I got the information yesterday, and as the hon. member for Humber East knows, I gave it to her personally yesterday afternoon, advised her of the circumstances and that I would fully answer the question this morning. We had not gotten to Answer to Questions as Your Honour knows.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This is very, very disappointing news for the people in western Newfoundland whose livelihood depends on the gypsum plant.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier: is it not true the reason he did not know what was going on on Tuesday, is that all along he has been far removed from the gypsum plant? Is it not true that the Premier and his government have been passive during the past seven months that the gypsum plant has been closed, and their lack of initiative has jeopardised the future operation of the only gypsum wallboard and polybead manufacturing business in the Province, and one of the very few manufacturing businesses of any kind left in this Province?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I do not know how to explain that kind of thing, Mr. Speaker. It is difficult to understand how the hon. member could, with a modicum of intellectual integrity, stand in this House and say that. I mean, it is just incredible, it is beyond words. Mr. Speaker, for the last four to six months there has been a Cabinet committee working on this problem; I have had numerous, numerous meetings and discussions with the proponents of this. I met last week in this building with one of the prime investors of this to discuss it; I have talked to the banks about it; I have talked to others about it; I have had discussions as late as two days ago about it, all with a view to trying to find a solution.

Officials have been working on it; Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador has been working on it; the Cabinet committee has been working on it; the Minister of Finance has been diligently working on it; the Minister of Justice has been working on it; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has been working on it, there is a Cabinet committee. Now, we cannot provide the equity too, unless the member is suggesting that the government take over every failed business in the Province. We cannot do that, the taxpayers of this Province cannot do that and for the member to grandstand in this way, and fabricate those suggestions in this way is utterly despicable, Mr. Speaker. She is not at all interested in what is happening in Corner Brook, not at all interested in what is happening to the gypsum plant, just the political bigotry. It is a sad, sad commentary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

How can the Premier expect people to believe his government could not or should not have done more to secure the future of the gypsum plant, when on Tuesday, he did not even know what was going on, and when his partisan government lending agency, Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, has given so many bad loans to so many less worthy business proposals?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: It is easy to say it, Mr. Speaker, because every word that I have just said is the absolute truth of the matter. It fully explains the matter. Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the vice-president in the Corner Brook office in particular, have been working on this diligently on a regular basis for the last number of weeks, and every problem that has been raised that has been within the government's power to develop, including answering the bank's concern about the environmental situation to the full satisfaction of the bank. They accepted the additional undertaking that the government was prepared to give. It is not now given and it is not necessary to give it because it is not proceeding.

If another proposal comes up from another banking institution, we are prepared to give the same undertaking to see the Atlantic Gypsum Plant proceed. We are also prepared, Mr. Speaker, to do everything within the power of government to cause that plant to continue to operate.

Four months ago I went looking for operators myself. I made personal telephone contacts with a person who I thought was interested in doing it, to try and promote equity interest in doing it, before the employees came forward with their proposal. So every possible effort has been made by the government and by me personally. These silly comments of the member now are despicable.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

What hope can the Premier give to the gypsum plant workers and the others in western Newfoundland whose livelihood depends on the gypsum plant? What is the Premier going to do for the gypsum plant workers - for the many experienced employees whose UI benefits run out very soon?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to give a guarantee to the people who work in the gypsum plant in Corner Brook merely because some of them are my constituents or they are from Corner Brook. I am not prepared to give special treatment to the people in my district or the people in Corner Brook that I will not give to everybody - every other Newfoundlander and Labradorian working in any plant. We run a fair and balanced government, in case the hon. member has forgotten.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: What I am prepared to say to the people of the gypsum plant, Mr. Speaker, is that the government will leave no stone unturned - no reasonable stone unturned - to cause that plant to continue to operate, but I will not pretend that we can upset Gros Morne mountain, and neither should the hon. member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister of Social Services.

In the House on November 4th., after being questioned by me on emergency repairs for two individuals in Bellevue district, the minister said: I will check that out in Bellevue district and see exactly what has happened.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member.

MR. HARRIS: On November 5th. the minister told the House, and I quote: I am happy to report to the House that in fact the case has been looked after, I believe a couple of months ago, of the two disabled individuals who required heat and electricity added to their House. Through the intervention and the hard work of the Member for Bellevue, and my staff, we were able to carry out that work some two months ago.

Can the minister tell the House what investigations he carried out in order to make that statement to the House on November 5th., or did he rely solely on the information provided to him by the Member for Bellevue? Can he tell the House now that that information was wrong?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I will take the question under advisement and report back to the House.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, will the minister not admit that the kind of response that he is giving right now is indicative of a totally irresponsible attitude by him and his government when the House is provided with false information? The work was not done until well after the question was raised in the House, and the minister is not able to provide the information.

Mr. Speaker, can the minister confirm that the information that he was giving to the House regarding the provision of emergency services was in fact wrong; that the standards were lower; that in fact he authorized a memorandum sent from the Director of Social Assistance to say the following: I cannot emphasize too strongly that referrals shall only be made in cases of extreme emergency and where the lack of intervention may lead to the individual or family having to leave the home and possibly be accommodated in a hotel.

Will he confirm to the House that what in fact has happened to the emergency housing program is that it has become very, very restrictive, and only cases where the department thinks that it is going to have to pay out money for hotels will they do any repairs to houses?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I have had ridiculous questions in the House before, but this one tops them all.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, first of all, very seldom does any minister give an answer in this House about a departmental issue such as this particular one without checking with officials and having a report done on the matter. That was done in this particular case. I said I would report back to the House, and I will, on the details of that particular case in Bellevue.

As to the criteria used to determine whether or not repairs are effected on a particular house, it is an Emergency Repair Program. That is what it is called. But, Mr. Speaker, we don't just restrict it to emergency repairs because we -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the minister may continue. I was referring to the level of noise.

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: We don't just restrict it to emergency repairs. We do have situations, Mr. Speaker, where people with mental or physical handicaps have to be accommodated by way of restructuring a particular dwelling. A room may have to be added or remodelling may have to be done to accommodate individuals because of their circumstances and their disabilities or their health. So it is not just restricted. We don't just do emergency repairs to accommodate our clients. But the program he speaks of is indeed an Emergency Repair Program. We are continuing to approve situations where the necessary repairs have to be effected, because of the conditions and the situation that the clients are living in, particularly this time of the year, Mr. Speaker, where repairs have to be effected to make sure people are living in suitable accommodations.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, what is ridiculous is the minister coming into the House and saying, as he said on November 4, that if there is a need for emergency repairs, furnace repairs or boiler repairs, whatever it happens to be, no case is delayed unnecessarily. As soon as the approvals can be given and the inspection carried out, the work is done. Mr. Speaker, why is the minister coming into the House and making a statement about that when his own officials are sending out memoranda saying: We are not approving hot water tanks, and water and sewer hookups are doubtful?

Now, Mr. Speaker, is the minister prepared to be honest and forthright with this House and admit that his department is taking the position that hot water is not necessary for people to live, that water and sewer hookups are unnecessary for people to live in this Province, and that his department has cut back on the Emergency Repair Program to the extent indicated by the memoranda being sent out by his own department? Now, how can the minister come into this House and tell the people and the members of this House things that are false?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that any repairs that are necessary of an emergency nature - and an emergency nature is where people have undue hardship - if repairs are needed, they are done, Mr. Speaker, and approved. To identify a particular memo that an individual would take literally, that we don't always approve hot water tanks, that is quite true. We don't always approve them. But, Mr. Speaker, if we have a situation where the hot water tank should be approved and it is deemed necessary and the staff recommend it, it is approved.

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

MR. WARREN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. Recently, I understand, there was a piece of equipment sent to the town council of Cartwright. Would the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation confirm that this piece of equipment was checked by the mechanics in his department and, if so, was the piece of equipment suitable to be used on the public roads in the Province?

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, with respect to this situation in the community of Cartwright, where they are experiencing some difficulty with their own equipment and keeping the roads clear, my department was contacted, as I believe the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs was contacted. Really this matter is within the jurisdiction of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs because these roads are local roads within the town boundaries. In an effort to assist the community, however, Mr. Speaker, my department had a look at the equipment that we had on hand and equipment that was surplus or no longer required in the service of the department.

After that review was made, this piece of equipment was offered to the Town of Cartwright in order to alleviate the circumstances in which they found themselves. The Town - as far as I knew, we made no representation that it was a brand new piece of equipment. In fact, Mr. Speaker, as all hon. members will know, once a piece of equipment becomes surplus to the department's needs, it is hardly in ideal shape. So, although the department was under no obligation, none whatsoever, to offer this piece of equipment to the Town of Cartwright, in an effort to relieve their situation, we did offer this piece of equipment to the Town; and it may, in fact, need some repairs, but I would suggest, it is up to the Town, in consultation with Municipal and Provincial Affairs to acquire the funds to effect any repairs that may be required to the equipment.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains, on a supplementary.

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

I understand that when this piece of equipment arrived, it had bad tires, the fuel line was leaking, hydraulic fluid was running all over the place and actually, this piece of equipment is an environmental hazard to the community.

For years, Mr. Speaker, I have been saying that businesspeople in this Province have been sending junk to the Labrador Coast. Now, is it a policy of this minister to be sending useless junk to the people in Cartwright and other places in Labrador?

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

MR. GOVER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the department was under no, no obligation to do anything. In an effort to assist the town in correcting their problems, we offered them this piece of equipment. We did not say the equipment was in excellent shape. As I indicated, once the equipment became surplus to our needs, obviously, it may have required mechanical repairs. The Town, if they find the equipment is not satisfactory, should consult with the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs or use their own funds to effect repairs on the equipment to alleviate their problems.

Mr. Speaker, we did what we could to assist the Town, even though we were under no obligation to do so.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WARREN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Justice.

Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, in Ottawa, at the hearings on the Aboriginal people, Mr. Justice Rejean Paul of the Quebec Superior Court, when he was addressing the Royal Commission, said he thinks the Criminal Code should be amended to allow a council of elders to replace judges who normally preside over court cases in Native communities.

I ask the minister, would he agree that in the Native communities in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, this would probably be a much better working system than we presently have?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman has raised a most interesting and important question. I didn't hear Mr. Justice Rejean Paul's remarks, or have I heard of them. I had hoped to be at that conference, indeed, had planned to be there. Indeed, the Globe and Mail yesterday said I was there, but given the fact the House is so fascinating, I just couldn't tear myself away.

Let me come back to the substance of the question: Firstly, the Criminal Code is federal, as my hon. friend knows - it is within the jurisdiction of Parliament. Secondly, I would want to refrain from any substantive comment until I had a) seen Mr. Justice Paul's comments and b) perhaps had an opportunity to -

PREMIER WELLS: Madame Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Madame Justice, I am sorry; I think my hon. friend said Mr. Justice, but Madame Justice - a judge, either way, a judge is a judge is a judge.

MR. TOBIN: You should have known (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That could be, I was only following my hon. friend from Torngat. I assumed that for once in his life, he had got it right.

Now, if I can come back to the question. It was a serious question and I will deal with it, unlike the blabbermouths over there. I would like to see the comments; I would like to be able to ponder them and deal with them. But I will say to my hon. friend, and I think he would concur, Mr. Speaker, any of us who are trying to become familiar with the issues involved in the Aboriginal justice dossier, to use a very neutral term, will feel that the system presently in effect in Canada has serious deficiencies in it. Now, I am not sure I know how to improve it. I am not sure even that I am aware of the range of suggestions. I share the hon. gentleman's concern. The system isn't working. Now, how we should improve it and who should improve it are matters that will require a great deal of study and effort. I wish I had been at the conference, because I think, and we are all awaiting the Aboriginal Commission Report, it will address this, I understand.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has expired.

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

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

MR. PARSONS: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly not going to question your decisions in any way, but I want to point out to the hon. House that there are seventeen of us on this side of the House, including the hon. Member for St. John's East.

On three successive days, he has been recognized and had the privilege to ask questions. Mr. Speaker, I can see preference being given to the hon. the Leader of the Opposition and that is where I feel, Mr. Speaker, it should end. This morning there were several of us, at least three of us standing and again, the Member for St. John's East was recognized. To me, Mr. Speaker, he is only one member in this House and perhaps, where we are sitting it is harder to see us, but, Mr. Speaker, I think it could be done on a fairer and more equitable basis. Again, Mr. Speaker, I am not questioning but pointing out that some of us over here feel that we should at least have one right in seventeen.

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

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker, I would commend the hon. member for having the courage to say openly what he believes and I give him full marks for that, unlike many of his colleagues who snipe at the Chair without the courage to state their point candidly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, let me come back. There is no point of order. The Speaker, recognizes whomever he thinks best. Let me make the point to my hon. friend for St. John's East Extern, that any member of the House, not a member of the Ministry, is entitled to ask questions; any member including my hon. friends on this side who are not members of the Ministry.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I say, to the point of order, it is entirely up to the Speaker whom he recognizes; the hon. gentleman believes that the Speaker is being unfair which is what he is saying, then he has a remedy, in fact he has two remedies. He can either attend upon Your Honour privately and raise a concern as any member may at any time. The Speaker is our Speaker, elected by the House to run our House and we should all support him in doing that, or, the hon. gentleman has another remedy, he can lay a motion down on the Table of the House in the proper way and we shall deal with it and address it, but, Mr. Speaker, there is no point of order and furthermore, you cannot, it is unparliamentary for one to criticize the Chair in the way in which the hon. gentleman has done, he is entirely out of order.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I think the Member for St. John's East Extern, prefaced his remarks very well; I do not think he was casting aspersions upon Your Honour. I think he had a concern that as a Private Member of this Legislature as an Opposition member that he wanted to express and he did that, but I want to tell the Government House Leader that there could be times when he could rise and express his opinion here without it being totally filled with sarcasm. Everything he said we know; a number of us have been here for a fair length of time, we know that; but the member expressed an opinion and I am sure His Honour will listen to what he had to say and do whatever he sees fit. One thing I want to point out to him is that the Speaker, was not elected.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: I do not see the point where -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: I do not see the point raised as a point of order. I know the Member for St. John's East Extern may feel as the Member for St. John's East does on many occasions that he would like to get recognized when he isn't. I think we all have that situation in the House, I myself, have on many occasions felt, not necessarily when Your Honour was in the Chair, but when I was standing prior to other members and not being recognized, that sometimes I feel that I should have been recognized before that, but that is, I think part of the way things work here in the House. I do not see it as a point of order and I think, from time to time I have been told that I get recognized not as often as I should, so it is a question I suppose of opinion.

I know the Speaker has a duty to be fair to all hon. members and to give an opportunity for all members representing their particular parties in the House an opportunity to have that party's views represented in Question Period and in debate. I do notice however, from time to time that when I am speaking, hon. members like to jab and shout and yell and try to shout me down, but I understand that they have to act that way sometimes when a single member is trying to be heard above the noise of the other parties, as they are doing right now.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: To the point of order, there is no point of order, but for the purposes of the House and all hon. members, I do keep a going account of Question Period. Now my records - and the Chair is not going to debate, I am not permitted to debate, but I think the hon. member did mention that the Member for St. John's East was on three days consecutively. My notes show and I could be wrong but my notes indicate that the - as I said I could be wrong with my tally - but my notes indicate that the Member for St. John's East was not on Question Period yesterday. So, it was not three days in succession. I could go right on through telling when the Member for St. John's East was on and when the Member for St. John's East was not on.

I realize, having been sitting in the place, how difficult it is to get on Question Period and how members sometimes feel they are discriminated against. I felt that way many times in my lifetime and I can appreciate the hon. members feelings. But the Chair will attempt to do it as fairly as possible, as I have done in the past, and I can say to the Member for St. John's East Extern that his words have not fallen on deaf ears. I did want to say to hon. members this morning, because it was rather noisy on both sides of the House and I have said it before, how there seems to be a tendency towards meetings, particularly on this side of the House. Maybe it is because ministers do not get a chance to see members or whatever and when people see them they want to meet and it does make it difficult when we get the noise level building because then as the noise level builds everyone tends to join in and then you are in a situation where you cannot control it.

A couple of things that I have noticed, and I was going to read to hon. members this morning, and I say this because I noticed a lot of members breaking this rule and because I have not wanted to interfere with the speaker, that is the person who is speaking, because again when I was speaking and I was developing a trend of thought and I was in my best eloquence I did not want to be interfered with and I recognize that to. I want to read from our standing orders 11C which I have noticed a couple of people have broken in the past day or so: when a member is speaking, no member shall pass between him and the Chair. I want to also read another, the same standing order, 11D, and I want to read this piece and I want everybody to listen: No member may pass between the Chair and the Table, that is here between the Chair and the Table, nor between the Chair and the Mace, when the Mace has been taken off the Table by the Sergeant at Arms. So I want hon. members to remember that, Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I was not standing to be recognized by the Chair but I was going to seek the consent of the House to do a presentation of a petition but thank you for recognizing me all the same.

MR. SPEAKER: Well the Chair recognizes anybody when they are standing.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, on Wednesday the 25th, the hon. Member for Humber East asked whether any wall coverings for the Premier's office were manufactured in Spain. Earlier in the week or last week somebody had also asked the question as to whether they cost $80,000 and earlier somebody had inquired about the door knobs costing $600, so Mr. Speaker, I undertook to get the answers to these questions. Now, I have answered in the past some general enquiries in relation to the renovations that are going on so I will not need to repeat those. I will just deal with those specific items. I caused a full examination to be made by the Department of Works, Services and Transportation and they checked the local contractor responsible for the supply and installation and there is no evidence whatsoever of any materials being manufactured in Spain. Certainly none were ordered from any Spanish agent or manufacturer. This appears to be the latest in a series of irresponsible fabrication from the opposition on the Confederation Building reconstruction -

AN HON. MEMBER: How about Japan?

PREMIER WELLS: None from Japan either, as far as I know.

For example, the opposition members tried to suggest that some $80,000 worth of wall coverings were being put on my personal office. The estimated cost of the wall coverings in my personal office, estimated by the Department of Public Works and Services, is $1,500.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER WELLS: In fact, Mr. Speaker, all of the wall coverings in the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh floors will not cost $80,000. All of them together will not cost $80,000.

Mr. Speaker, the other falsehood that has been perpetrated is the suggestion that somehow there is a $600 brass doorknob. The truth is that there are no $600 doorknobs; there are no $60 doorknobs; there are no $6 doorknobs, that I know of, anywhere else in the entire area. It is a complete figment of somebody's mischievous imagination.

Now if there are any further misrepresentations, Mr. Speaker, I will deal with them as they arise.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Petitions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On behalf of my constituents in the Goulds, and some of the constituents in my colleague's riding, Kilbride, I would like to present a petition signed by 3,134 residents, and signed by forty-nine businesses.

I think the prayer of the petition very aptly describes its intent, and I will read the prayer of the petition:

We, the undersigned residents and taxpayers of Ward 6, hereby publicly express our disgust with the whole way our areas were amalgamated to St. John's. We disdain the undemocratic and calculated way amalgamation was brought about without any say from us, the residents. Russia is moving toward democracy - it appears we are progressing in the opposite direction in this Province.

Initially, Petty Harbour, Mount Pearl, Goulds, and Metro Area were to be included in this amalgamation process. Why were we the only ones amalgamated? Maybe we should have been more vocal last year.

We especially find it hard to accept now that our taxes have virtually doubled and we find that there is no money to upgrade our services to city standards. Businesses have been hit with a crippling blow that they had not anticipated or budgeted for.

Recently we received absolute confirmation that in past amalgamation, taxes were phased in over five years for the residents of Kilbride, Shea Heights, and Airport Heights. Why were we not given the same consideration?

Shortage of money and hard economic times we know exist; however, we will not accept the reasons for your refusal to phase in our taxes, especially after we learned that Grand Falls - Windsor were offered x-number of millions of dollars to amalgamate. Given the other fact that Goulds has received no capital funding from the Province for three straight years, we wonder about government fairness.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not write it. I am only reading it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: A Liberal has been defined by Robert Frost as a person too broad-minded to take his own side in a quarrel.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: May I continue, Mr. Speaker?

So now, after having put up with enough neglect and unfairness, we respectfully submit this petition in support of the St. John's City Council in its recent endeavours to go back to you, our provincial government, for another look at the situation, hoping you will treat us more humanely this time by granting the funds to phase in our taxes too.

We also demand that you offer funding to provide the same basic, humane services like water and sewer that are so badly needed by many residents in our areas.

Our roads are deplorable and hardly fit to drive on. This is a sad commentary to make in 1992 for such a large community sitting on the doorsteps of the capital city, when many smaller outport towns are much better off. We have been paying property taxes for ten years. Mr. Speaker, the residents of the Goulds have been discriminated against by this government, in an area that is not on the doorstep of the capital city but is part of the capital city of this Province. The part that falls within my district, Mr. Speaker, does not have any water and sewer whatsoever, not a single household, 250 households and no water and sewer. In fact, they truck in water to the residents in this area to drink. They also have a very severe sewage problem. There is a high water table in certain areas and it is posing a great degree of hardship on people.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the roads in the area are in very poor condition and far from city standards. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the single biggest problem in my district lies in what is referred to as the Lower Goulds and that part of Ward 6. Now, the members of this government don't treat it too seriously. I consider it very serious that people have sewage problems and have to bail out septic tanks by hand, with the exorbitant costs today assigned to disposal of sewage, and have to truck water in. If the hon. members had to experience that they would know what it is all about and they would be a little more humane and sympathetic.

The residents are not asking for something that other parts of this Province did not receive. They are asking for the same opportunity to be given a phase in that this government gave other municipalities that were incorporated during their term of office.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the member's time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I stand in my place today and congratulate the member for Ferryland in presenting this petition on behalf of the residents of the Goulds, Mr. Speaker, some in his district and some in mine. I want to support the petition wholeheartedly.

Mr. Speaker, if you can remember, when the amalgamation issue was about to be shoved down the throats of the people of the Goulds, we did present several other petitions in this House with the residents of the Goulds pleading with the government not to force them to join the City of St. John's because they could not afford the increase in taxes. Mr. Speaker, the tax rate in the Goulds went from 6.5 to 11 mils. So one would expect that because of this increase in taxes we would get almost a doubling of the services in the Goulds.

Mr. Speaker, the argument that the former minister made for amalgamation was to increase the efficiency of this region, to make things more efficient. Now, what happened in the Goulds, before amalgamation, was that we had a contract for garbage collection which was ten times more efficient than in the City of St. John's, and we also have a contract for snow clearing which is much less expensive than in the City of St. John's. So the efficiencies that we brought into the Goulds by amalgamating with St. John's was to increase the cost of snow clearing and to increase the cost of garbage collection, if the city had followed through with the same services that the Goulds are paying for. What we have today, two years after amalgamation, Mr. Speaker, is the same contractor collecting the garbage in the Goulds because it is more efficient than the City of St. John's. We have the same contract for snow clearing in the Goulds because it is more efficient and cost effective than the City of St. John's. Now, Mr. Speaker, if there is ever any argument that could be made for the people of the Goulds to have a tax phase in, that in itself would be an argument.

Mr. Speaker, in the Goulds today they have no greater services except fifty or sixty council trucks driving around all day looking down into the sewer lines and running cameras through the sewer lines, which was only done six or seven years ago. The sewer lines haven't changed. All that was done before, Mr. Speaker, when the former town council was in there and they had some trouble with their sanitary and storm sewers. All these camera tests were done, and all the video tapes are still available. Yet the City of St. John's has to go in and do them again. That is the increased efficiency that we got with amalgamation in the Goulds, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, we have a precedent in this Province, only since 1985, when there was an amalgamation - there was an amalgamation of Airport Heights in 1982 and there was an amalgamation of Kilbride and Shea Heights around 1985. On both occasions it was deemed necessary to phase in the taxes over a five-year period, 20 per cent each year until people got up to the full tax limit. Mr. Speaker, this was done to ease the burden on the City of St. John's and to help the people arrange their mortgages and their personal finances so that they could stand this 100 per cent - well, 85 per cent it happened to be in the Goulds - 85 per cent increase in their taxes.

Now they are not finished with that in the Goulds yet. The Goulds still has to be assessed to get up to the city standard of assessment. Whatever the date is in the city, of eighty-eight or eighty-nine, the Goulds is four years behind that. So the Goulds again will have to get another fairly major - probably another 20 per cent at least - tax increase in the next year or so when the assessments are finished in that way.

Mr. Speaker, that is the efficient amalgamation that the former Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs inflicted on the people of the Goulds. They have one simple request. They know amalgamation is not going to be reversed. They are aware of that. They would like that, but they know that is not going to happen.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Listen to the Member for Shea Heights who drives through the Goulds every day on his way to Tors Cove to spend $25,000 of taxpayers money, when he should be living in his district and spending $6,000 a year like I do. He knows what is true and what is not true.

The people in the Goulds would like to see amalgamation reversed, and if you want to put out a plebiscite today with it, I am sure you would get 85 per cent support for it, and down in Wedgewood Park you would get more.

The Member for St. John's South might think he knows a lot, but he does not know the Goulds.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I just say once more, Mr. Speaker, that I plead on behalf of the residents of the Goulds to have this government take another look at the phase in of taxes for those people, because they deserve it, the same as people in other areas that were amalgamated since 1982.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MR. GULLAGE: Mr. Speaker, when the amalgamation was complete, and included the area of the Goulds which the member speaks of in his petition presented to the House, prior to that time the Goulds was in a financial situation and a management situation which was amongst the worst in the Province - if not the worst in the Province.

Probably technically it would have been bankrupt several years earlier had action been taken, and could have easily, at many times, been taken over by the government and run by a commission or a commissioner or whatever. So it had serious, serious problems. We do have to acknowledge that the Goulds does have conditions which need to be addressed.

The City of St. John's has the power within their jurisdiction, within their act, to phase in taxes if they so wish. They also have the jurisdiction to decide how soon services can be brought to a particular area and how soon they would be brought. It was never, ever thought that services would be put into the Goulds or any other amalgamated area overnight. That was never, ever thought. Nobody ever said that the Goulds would get services immediately - as indeed we cannot provide services immediately throughout this Province in many, many communities that have a similar circumstance.

Mr. Speaker, it is within the power of the City of St. John's to take action to start completion of water and sewer, or roads problems, or whatever it happens to be, on a priority basis if they so wish, or to delay it and do it very slowly if they so wish. It is their prerogative.

They also have the ability to vary the taxes for people who have services versus people who do not. We have provision for tax rates that are different for people throughout the Province, and many communities charge a separate assessment for water and/or sewer. It is very common.

Mr. Speaker, before I forget, I want to correct an error that was made by the member when he presented his petition about Grand Falls - Windsor, because I was the minister at the time who put that together and certainly completed the period of time, and completed the process where Grand Falls - Windsor came together as one community. There were no special deals made. I am not blaming the hon. member. I realize he was just reading what was given him to read in the prayer of the petition, but no special deals were made. All we did was honour commitments that were put in place by the previous government to complete certain roads work and certain commitments to bring Windsor up to a standard that had been recognized before we took office. We simply agreed to complete those works as they were agreed to.

One thing we did do is that we said, with the phase in of the new grants program, we will acknowledge the fact that this arrangement has been made prior to that and we will give you the better of the two arrangements, the new grants versus the old grants.

Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the member, when he talks about water and sewer and the need for water and sewer in St. John's, that in my district, for example, which borders on Mount Scio - Bell Island, we have some 120 families and businesses, actually more than that, but let us call it 120 families and businesses on the Kenmount Road who have wells and septic tanks, wells that dry up in the summertime and they have to have water delivered to them by water trucks, they have night soil pick up at night. On Shea Heights, we have people without any water and sewer, granted a very costly venture to put it there, but it is costly practically everywhere, we are living on a rock after all and that is in the city.

Now those people have been without those services a lot longer in terms of St. John's - Kenmount Road and Shea Heights, and I am just picking those two out, they are not the only ones. I can pick other people in St. John's districts who still do not have - a lot of people do not believe it when I tell them, it is hard to believe that in St. John's we have hundreds of houses without water and sewer services, now that is hard to believe but it is true, so, Mr. Speaker, the Goulds is not unique and I am not trying to downplay the importance of servicing for the Goulds, but I do not want anybody to think that the Goulds is the only part of St. John's that has a need for servicing. I have had constituents of mine call me and say that they want emphasis put on their water and sewer in terms of a priority, so if we are going to consider a priority at City Hall, we have to look at those people who have been part of St. John's, in many cases for a century or more, certainly.

Yes, we have added areas to the city, the Goulds is probably - well certainly Wedgwood Park is not in need of any servicing and water and sewer, it has modern services, it is as good as any part of St. John's as far as services and facilities and amenities are concerned, but I do not want to say that I do not acknowledge the fact that the Goulds needs to have emphasis put on it, to be looked at, but, Mr. Speaker, it is not unique, it is not the only part of the city and the City of St. John's has the power as I said earlier, to deal with the Goulds, to decide upon a phase in of taxes if they so wish.

If they think a tax break is warranted, if they so wish and they want to reflect a tax break because of the fact that they do not see services as up-to-date and as modern if you like, pipe services in the ground vis--vis other homes in the city, well they can have a differential in taxes if they so wish, that is in their power, but, Mr. Speaker, it is not in our power - well I suppose it is if we want to take the power -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up, sorry.

MR. GULLAGE: - but we should not impose our authority upon a municipality that has a mandate to do these jobs and this work themselves.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wish to present a petition on behalf of nearly 600 people, 594 actually, whose prayer is addressed to the government, through the House of Assembly of course, and it says:

WHEREAS the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has some of the most unspoiled, natural beauty in Canada; and

WHEREAS we the undersigned wish to both preserve and conserve this natural heritage, we petition and urge the Government of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to immediately enact legislation which will prevent the importing and incinerating of garbage at the proposed site at Long Harbour, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.

Now, Mr. Speaker, less people think that most of the opposition to this project is coming from people here in the St. John's area, this particular petition was initiated by the Provincial Wildlife Federation, and what is interesting about it is that the 600 names as far as I can tell, they are all from the district of the Strait of Belle Isle up in the Northern Peninsula, the former Minister of Justice's old district. People -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: What did I say?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Okay. Well he is a former minister but not a former Minister of Justice. In any event, Mr. Speaker, that is not the important issue, what is important is that 600 people from the Strait of Belle Isle, from Roddickton, Englee, Croque, Main Brook all these places have signed this particular petition.

Now it is basically a follow-up to the petition I presented yesterday with 6,200 names or thereabouts and I understand the Member for St. John's East has a petition with a sizable number of names on it, and I know yesterday the Member for Humber West presented a petition with 300 or 400 names on it, from Corner Brook, so it is pretty obvious and clear or at least it should be to the Minister of Environment and Lands by now, despite her comments, or the comments attributed to her, at least, where she didn't think there was much of a fuss about this anymore. It is pretty obvious these days that the people of this Province are certainly not in favour and they have spoken out loudly and clearly in many ways, so that there shouldn't be any measure of doubt on the part of the minister and the government that the people of this Province do not want and will not accept economic development projects that involve the importation of garbage from other jurisdictions into this Province, for the purpose of incineration, in particular.

Mr. Speaker, we heard yesterday from SNAGG in Placentia, SNAGG in St. John's, the Coalition Against Incineration, Action Environment. Today, we have heard from the Provincial Federation of Wildlife. Yesterday, there were people from the Corner Brook area, private citizens who presented their petitions. And on Sunday of this week, at 2:00 p.m., in front of Confederation Building, there will be a public demonstration by whoever wishes to participate, to show their displeasure with this particular project.

Now, there are only two or three points, really, that need to be harped on and need to be repeated. I noticed yesterday, in defence, or in response to the petitions, the Minister of Justice talked and made a great to-do about the fact that the Federal Government have provided a grant of $1 million to do this study.

The question that we can never seem to get answered by the government is whether this government objected to those funds being provided. Surely, the Minister of Environment and Lands and the officials in the Department of Environment and Lands had some consultations with the other agencies before this matter proceeded, and if they did not agree with it, Mr. Speaker, then it was perfectly appropriate for them at that time to indicate that they were not satisfied to allow this to continue, and that is all they had to say. Because the jurisdiction and the responsibility for this particular project lies with this Government of the Province of Newfoundland, not the Federal Government. All they had to do was indicate that they weren't prepared to see this kind of project proceed and I am sure that would have put an end to the funding.

The other thing that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology kept shouting across the House yesterday, and interrupting, was: Did you get an application? Well, Mr. Speaker, the question that has to be asked is, what difference does it make if you have the application? The question that is being asked is: Does this government have a policy at all, to address the issue of whether or not you agree with the importation of garbage into this Province for economic development projects? That is the question: Does this government have a policy at all? Do they agree with importation of large bargeloads of garbage coming into this Province from New York for the purpose of incineration? That is the question. That is the issue.

Now, if the government had a policy to address that particular issue, and if they were to say up front to the people of this Province: Yes, we have a policy, we do not agree with the importation of garbage from other jurisdictions into this Province for the purpose of development projects, then that would be the end of it, that is all they have to say. But, instead, they have been wishy-washy; one or two backbenchers have stood and tried to say that they are against it. The Premier says he is personally opposed to it, but, you know, at the same time, we have to listen to what goes on in terms of the studies and all the rest of it.

Well, the point of the argument by all the people in the Province is that it is time for this government to put an end to this issue. That is what the people want. It is pretty loud and clear. And all the government has to do is respond, saying: We do not agree. This is our policy: We do not agree with the importation of garbage from other jurisdictions into this Province. Because, aside from the health and safety issues, there is the whole notion of self-esteem, Mr. Speaker, and that is what has a lot of people's blood boiling on this particular issue.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. COWAN: Talk about a Don Quixote, Mr. Speaker! - chasing phantom windmills while I - poor old me - am left to clean up the mess that they never tried to deal with in this Province. I have been focusing my attention, Mr. Speaker, on issues related to the cleanup of Long Harbour, which were left unaddressed by them, Come by Chance, which were left unaddressed by them. I have been trying to deal with how we are going to do something about the litter problem in the Province, the 80 million pop tins that are found in the ditches. I am trying to deal with some real issues that are present and on my table at this time. I do not have, as I said the other day, this crystal ball. When you tell the truth, Mr. Speaker, to quote Churchill, you make them howl, and I notice a lot of howling lately. Furthermore, I have never in my lifetime as a citizen of this Province or as a member of this House, heard of ACOA ever coming to ask us if we approved of something they were doing. I mean, that is about - that almost made me laugh.

AN HON. MEMBER: They never asked.

MS. COWAN: My goodness, I mean, how far are we going to go. The issue of my - what I said in The Evening Telegram was totally taken out of context. I suppose it was a great pleasure for the Opposition, that it was taken out of context, because it gives them the opportunity to tie up the business of this House with petitions for hours and hours and hours and keep us from getting to legislation that has to deal with car wrecks, for example, another thing they never had the guts to deal with.

My job is to wait until an application comes. As I said, I have too much to do, looking after what they left behind, to sit here waiting and waiting and waiting and doing nothing but thinking: Oh my, oh my, what am I going to do? When is it going to come? Oh no, oh no. I have to be addressing what was left to me to address by this last crowd who seem to have some sort of thing about the environment, that it wasn't publicly acceptable to do anything about the environment. So, Mr. Speaker, I will, as a person, who has been given the responsibility to look after this environment in the Province, continue to do my job as legislated. If and when this phantom appears on my desk, I will act as is required of me by the law of this land.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which they put in place.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I find it hard not to make some comments about what the minister said, but I am going to try my best to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Now, Mr. Speaker, there is an example of why I cannot do it. Mr. Speaker, we have the Minister of Health, the Minister of Development and the Minister of Transportation of this Province laughing at this issue. Mr. Speaker, it is not funny. This is not a funny issue, this is very serious, Mr. Speaker. I want to congratulate the member for St. John's South on the stand he has taken on this.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: I commend him for doing that, Mr. Speaker, because he went against everyone on his side of the House to do that. I congratulate the member for Humber West. I am proud of him for standing up and presenting the petition yesterday against this, and speaking against it. Some people will get up in this House to present a petition for political reasons and try to skate around the issue, but the member for Humber West yesterday said that he was against it and he spoke against it. I commend him for that because he knows his government is trying desperately to get this incinerator in this Province, Mr. Speaker.

I also condemn the Federal Government for spending almost $1 million on a feasibility study. I, personally, condemn them for doing it. It should never have been done, it should never have been considered, and I told Mr. Crosbie that, personally, Mr. Speaker. It should never have been done in the first place and it is a disgrace that that money has been spent. A million dollars in this Province could go a long way to create jobs, not to create a dump. Mr. Speaker, I cannot let it pass by not pointing out what the Minister of Environment said in this House only a week or so ago, when somebody - it might have been the Member for St. John's East, I am not sure - brought up the issue of the dump in Long Harbour.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: It was the Member for Harbour Main. They brought up the issue of the dump in Long Harbour, whether we should consider it or not, and the Member for Harbour Main pointed out that thousands and thousands of Newfoundlanders have indicated that they do not wish to have this imported garbage brought into our Province.

Now, we didn't have the petitions at that time, but it was quite clear, from the meetings that the groups have had throughout the Province, it was quite clear from the media coverage, from the Letters to the Editor, that there were thousands of Newfoundlanders who wished not to have it. But our Minister of Environment, the person who is supposed to be protecting our environment, says she is not so sure - she said it in this House of Assembly and it is in our Hansard that she is not so sure that there are thousands of people against this garbage coming to Newfoundland. Now, I don't know where she has been.

AN HON. MEMBER: She said there was only one.

MR. R. AYLWARD: She had one letter, I believe. She said she had one letter. I find that very hard to believe. I know she wasn't trying to misinform this House, but she probably didn't read her mail. If she read The Evening Telegram she would find more than that. In any given week, you would find more than that. Mr. Speaker, I don't know why our Minister of Environment is trying to hide away from this issue.

It is a simple issue: Do we want, in this Province, to import garbage from other jurisdictions and burn it? That is all, it is a very simple issue. And the answer should be, as SNAGG and the Coalition and other groups signing petitions, have requested. They request that our Govenment today establish a policy that says we will not do this. Now, that is fairly simple. The Minister of Environment could do that in a Ministerial Statement in this House of Assembly on Monday morning. The Premier could do it in this House of Assembly any day - most quickly, on Monday morning - and that would put an end to the question of whether we are going to import garbage from other jurisdictions into our Province. Whether we burn it or make compost heaps of it or whatever we do with it is another issue. We can stop this proposal immediately. We can stop this study, we can stop the idea. Let them send it somewhere else.

The Member for Harbour Main was telling me today of an instance when he was in New York only recently, on Statten Island, he said. He can't understand why they won't build an incinerator there. There was a mountain of garbage on Statten Island. They could build an incinerator right next to it if it was such a good deal, such a great project, and they wouldn't have to move the garbage anywhere. They don't have to put it on barges, they don't have to bring it to Long Harbour. If they won't do it where the garbage is, why would we want to do it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I just want to say that the government should issue a policy statement on Monday morning saying they will not consider such a project if it is brought before them.

MR. DOYLE: Hear, hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of presenting a petition this morning on behalf of 14,620 residents of the Province of Newfoundland, on the issue of the incineration of garbage at Long Harbour.

Now, the petitioners say, Mr. Speaker, that the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has some of the most unspoiled natural beauty in Canada.

'We, the undersigned, wish to preserve and to conserve this natural heritage. We petition and urge the Government of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador to immediately enact legislation which will prevent the importing of garbage at the proposed site at Long Harbour, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.'

Mr. Speaker, that is a very simple and straightforward request to prevent the importing of garbage to Newfoundland and Labrador for incineration at Long Harbour, Placentia Bay.

I listened to the Minister of Environment and Lands this morning complaining that the people on this side of the House were trying to tie up the business of the House by presenting petitions. Now, Mr. Speaker, the 14,620 people from all over this Province who signed this petition - I will outline some of the places for the House in a moment - would be appalled to hear that the Minister of Environment and Lands is complaining that the business of the House is being tied up in presenting their views to this House.

Mr. Speaker, this is the work of two individuals who organized the petition, and co-ordinated it with a number of different individuals and groups across the Province. We are dealing with the Mount Pearl Senior High Environment Club, the Bishop's College Environment Club, and environment clubs all over the Province.

We have, in this petition, 476 signatures from Trepassey, St. Shotts, Portugal Cove South, and Biscay Bay. We have signatures from St. Anthony, Fermeuse, Aquaforte, Ferryland, Cape Broyle, from Labrador, Mr. Speaker, from Williams Harbour. We have signatures from Burgeo, Bird Cove, Black Duck Cove, Forresters Point, Bartletts Harbour, Brig Bay, King's Cove, Keels in Bonavista Bay, Catalina, Stock Cove, in Labrador, Postville. We have signatures from Williams Harbour, Long Cove, Norman's Cove, Trinity Bay, Random Island, Sweet Bay, Charleston, Little Catalina - more signatures from Keels. We have hundreds and hundreds of signatures from Foxtrap, Manuels, Conception Bay South area. We have signatures from Corner Brook, Centreville, Trinity, Indian Bay, Wareham, Wesleyville. There are signatures here from Point Leamington, Hermitage, Port au Port, Musgrave Harbour, Churchill Falls, Labrador, Stephenville, Pasadena, Gambo, Gander, Nain, Labrador - more from Carmanville - Comfort Cove, St. George's, Pool's Island, Wesleyville, Twillingate, Bell Island, Grand Le Pierre, Stephenville Crossing, King's Cove, Stock Cove, Lewisporte, Comfort Cove, Little Bay Islands, Baie Verte, Trout River, Woody Point, Raleigh, St. Anthony, Rocky Harbour, Pollards Point, Sop's Arm, Jackson's Arm, Cupids, Bonavista, Daniel's Harbour, Summerville, King's Cove, Stock Cove, as I mentioned before, New Chelsea, Harbour Grace, Flat Bay - St. George's District, Robert's Arm, Pilley's Island, Triton, Briton - all over the Province of Newfoundland.

I know that the Minister of Environment and Lands has said that we are taking up hours and hours of this House, but these are communities all over the Province. Many are from St. John's, of course, and Mount Pearl, Flatrock, and Conception Bay South - all the areas around here - but every community represented here -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: - has people who are opposing this, and it is not right.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. WARREN: Hey, hey, sit down!

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

Is the hon. minister yielding to the hon. the Member for St. John's South? The hon. the Member for St. John's South is the only one standing at the moment.

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

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

I want to compliment the Member for St. John's East for being the messenger, because that is all he has been in this whole thing - the messenger.

MR. DOYLE: Don't shoot the messenger, 'Tom'.

MR. MURPHY: That is right. I agree with the hon. the Member for Harbour Main; however, when we stand in our place we should try to understand the reason why this particular project is not viable - why it has to be a concern for every citizen of this Province. We need to know that if we are going to make a solid decision. It isn't good enough - when you talk to the people in Long Harbour, the people in Placentia and Jerseyside, who have an opportunity for employment, they need more than that type of rhetoric that the Member for St. John's East just got on with, they need a little more than that -

MR. GOVER: What rhetoric? It was only a geography lesson.

MR. MURPHY: - a geography lesson or whatever it was because they have lost - and I know the Member for St. John's East Extern, who is very concerned about people; they have lost their livelihood out in the Placentia area; they have seen their industry dry up on them.

Now the industry that was there was not environmentally friendly. It is not today, it is closed down and the water table that runs under that slide pit, is a great concern to all the people out there as that pollutant constantly and constantly runs out in the Long Harbour and disperses with the tide all over Placentia Bay.

Now, the same people with the same money, in order to look at the situation of their responsibility to clean up the phosphorus problem, have come up with a new solution, and simply, I say to the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern, it is a money situation on the backs of the people of Placentia which is really sad because they are people with desperate problems. But how desperate do we need to be when we are asked to take into our Province the waste of one of the largest cities in North America, uncontrolled waste, no way in the ways of the world, Mr. Speaker, of controlling what goes in those containers. Now, when you burn aluminum, when you burn different metals, when you have a chemical action such as that which would take place at Long Harbour, there is no possible way to contain all the toxic materials, carcinogenic materials that will get into the atmosphere.

MR. WARREN: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Now if the Member for Torngat Mountains will listen he might learn something but it is very difficult - perhaps he should go and have a coffee; go and have a coffee and do the House a favour. When these emissions get into the air, you can only contain and scrub out or take out in the fly ash, so much, you can only hold on to so much. That is the concern, and even in the material that they can contain, as I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker, you have to do something with it.

You take now a condensed problem, put it in drums, seal it up, put it in silos, you do something with it - you have to do something with it. If it stays in this Province, eventually it will find itself into our environment, whether it be in the landfill and/or the watertable or in the atmosphere, it will impact without question on our people's health; it will impact on the wildlife and wildlife health; it will impact on the vegetation, and if anybody doesn't believe the devastation that the phosphorus emission has caused over the years, go out and walk around Long Harbour. One of my favourite places to go trouting is devastated. We see rabbits up there that look like they came from another planet.

MR. WARREN: That is not true.

MR. MURPHY: The hon. the Member for Torngat Mountains would not recognize the truth if it hit him right between the eyes.

MR. WARREN: That is not true.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave, by leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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

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

I have only one thought in my mind pertaining to this issue. I don't care about the technical side of it. I don't care about the monetary side of it, if it brings in $10 million a day, if it employs 200 people, I think it is wrong, teetotally wrong; and when I listened yesterday to the Minister of Justice, as he got up and tried to defend the government's policy of not bringing in some kind of legislation to say that this thing was not going to be allowed, period, and he got up yesterday and said: we do not have an application, we will deal with it then. Deal with it now, stand on your feet and deal with it now and say you are going to bring in legislation where something like this will never be allowed to happen again. That people will not have to sign petitions, that this government and this Minister of Justice - your talking about being slip-shoddish, glory be to goodness, Mr. Speaker, I thought he would be an asset to the House, he is a minus to it. He is a minus to it every time he gets up and yesterday in particular. I was amazed at a Newfoundlander, to get up yesterday and try to hide behind his Minister of Justice portfolio, that is all he did. Get up and be counted and say: look this will never happen in Newfoundland and I will be the one that will instigate legislation and bring it into the House. Then, Mr. Speaker, this morning the minister of minister's, Madame Minister, she rose in her place and she started in talking about all she had to do as far as tin cans were concerned, about garbage, bottles being strewn over the highways and whatever. Well, Mr. Speaker, what a farce. That minister should resign, she should resign.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. PARSONS: She should resign. Have the principle to get up and say yes, yes I am no good in the position that I hold and resign. Imagine, that minister said this morning that people should not petition this hon. House. People should not have any say in this hon. House, have nothing to say as far as this type of thing is concerned. That minister was disgusted that people were jamming her air ways, were jamming her offices -

AN HON. MEMBER: She only got one call.

MR. PARSONS: - with this type of thing. That was irrelevant - had no bearing, had no bearing on what? It has a bearing on the health and safety and every other thing that affects every human being that lives in Newfoundland. I am not saying Labrador because perhaps that toxic waste or toxic smell or toxic whatever that gets into the environment, or whatever else, we stand on principle. I for one here will never, never accept American garbage being dumped into Newfoundland. That is what they think we are, a dump site, a dump site without any principle on that side over there to get up -the hon. member for St. John's South I admire. I admire him. At least he got up on his feet and he said what he thought. Again, I admire him in a couple of ways. I sent out a letter to all the St. John's members, that hon. member and the Minister of Mines were the only two answers which I received from that side of the House.

That will tell you that you do have the guts of your conviction. At least I commend you for that but as far as the technical aspect of this is concerned it does not matter. It is just that we are being dumped on - are we going to sit idly by and let a bunch of nincompoops, fools, tell us that we - did she say to Mr. Crosbie, you are talking about ACOA, I do not know how that transpired. Did the Premier say to them do not waste the money, we are not having it, we are bringing in legislation? Did the Minister of Justice -

MR. WARREN: The Premier told them.

MR. PARSONS: I did not tell Mr. Crosbie no, I did not tell him. You are the governing body over there, you are the government, not us. If we were here as the government we would have told him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. PARSONS: Oh, glory be - afraid. The only people afraid around here are you people on that side. You are all afraid of the Premier, including the Minister of Justice. The only one that stands on their feet here are a couple of the backbenchers and the member also from Humber West. The member from Humber West I must say that he will hold his seat because the people out there will see that he comes up with some good suggestions. That he stands on his own two feet.

MR. WARREN: No, on one foot.

MR. PARSONS: On one foot now but in the meantime, Mr. Speaker, I have been wondering about the member from Bellevue -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I will ask hon. member's please for cooperation - does the hon. member have leave? Did the hon. member ask for Leave? Does the hon. member have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: Does he have to have unanimous consent, I would say no.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member does not have leave.

Just before moving on to other matters or other petitions, whatever the case might be, I have said this several times and it is probably a poor time to say it because a lot of hon. members are absent - and sometimes I wonder whether hon. members know the rules or whether we disregard them. I tell hon. members again about petitions. A petition is not a time for debate. Although in this House we have had many debates on petitions and the Speaker rises many times to say that there is to be no debate, which seems to me to be an exercise in futility, and I hardly like standing up every day to say that a petition is not a time for debate, then sit down, and the member carries on debating the same as if the Speaker didn't stand.

I tell hon. members, there are three headings in the House under which debate does not take place: 1) Ministerial Statements; 2) Question Period; 3) Petitions. And debate does not take place, because, in order for debate to take place, there must be a question before the House, and, in all three, there is no question before the House. When a question is before the House, then we debate it. Hon. members on both sides then get up and espouse the question. And when there is no debate, the hon. member knows what he should do. The Chair, as I said, didn't make the rules, the Chair tries to enforce them and, as well, tries to be tolerant.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Order 12, the adjourned debate on Bill No. 38, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Adjourned debate on Bill 38. The minister is speaking.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, now that the ranting and roaring is over, we will get down to some sweetness and light. I would like to compliment members opposite for some of the points they raised in the debate on this Bill 38, which deals with the establishment of regional community health boards.

A number of questions were raised by members opposite. I will attempt to answer them as best I can. One of the questions had to do with the boards, themselves, and their composition. They will be somewhat similar to hospital boards, as far as the members are concerned. There will be a number of members appointed to these boards. We anticipate five boards. The five boards will, at the outset, have the boundaries that are assigned to the medical officers of health. Right now, there is a medical officer of health in the St. John's area, one in the eastern region, one in the central region, one in the western region and the Grenfell area. That would be four. So we are thinking that we will go with the boundaries for the present, at least, of these areas.

I don't know if these boundaries will persist over time because, as you may know, the government have asked a consultant to look at the configuration of hospital boards, to see if they can be reduced to as few as five, or something like that. We don't have that report yet; it is being worked on, and we hope to have it early in the new year. At that time, we will be able to see if the boundaries will be coterminous, the same boundaries for the boards, the hospital boards-nursing home boards area as for these community health boards. But that is not what we are going to do in the short term. Shortly, we will be establishing these boards, and the boundaries we anticipate will be pretty well the boundaries that are served by the medical officers of health.

What will they do? - was another question that was raised. What will the community health boards do? What will be their function? One of their main functions is to serve - I should say, one of the additional functions will be the enforcement of a single point of entry into nursing homes and personal care homes, at least, as far as the subsidized portion of personal care homes are concerned, or the assignment of nurses and others to people who need care in their own homes. So, for a person who would apply for care to the board and say: I need to get into a nursing home, the single point of entry people will assess the case and say: Yes, your need is greater than the other person's need, so you will have first chance for that home. That will be done on an area basis, or the same thing is true with respect to a personal care home as far as the subsidized places are concerned. Or if a person thinks that they would like to have a nurse come to visit the home, or an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist, the assignment of these people to people in their own homes or in nursing homes or other will be done by the regional community health care boards. Now, that is basically what we are trying to do.

I might add that most hospitals have people there who are medically discharged but are in the hospitals waiting to leave. Sometimes these people are there for a considerable period of time. Sometimes the numbers approach 10 per cent which is a pretty high rate for someone that the hospital feels they have done their work by, and they just want to use the bed for somebody else. But the person is there with no place to go. It is quite expensive, because it is more expensive to keep a person in a hospital than in any other health care institution. So what we want to do is to put these community health care boards in place so that they can help relieve the pressure on hospitals, by approaching things in an organized way.

There is a feeling abroad that some people in nursing homes are there and they may not be the top priority in an area. Some people feel that. Whether it is true or not, I am not in a position to say. But as I visit nursing homes I see quite a number of people there who don't seem to be very sick, and we wonder if government should be paying $37,000 a year, on the average, plus the $10,000 that the person pays there. Perhaps some people who are not particularly ill but are in those homes could better be accommodated somewhere else, and make the places more available to people who really need the care.

What we are trying to do is to use community health care boards to more appropriately provide medical care, by taking the pressure off hospitals, by sorting the people out more appropriately into nursing homes and personal care homes and by providing more home services to individuals in their own homes, both nursing and health services and other services, so that the pressure on the institutional side becomes less. Now, that is one of the main reasons for it.

In addition to that, we are planning to roll in the present functions of the public health units, so that the health inspection function will be part of that unit and the infectious diseases part will be there. The public health nurses will be rolled into that area as well and health education disease prevention. The Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission will be part of that as well, and mental health will be there. In other words, the functions that are presently assigned to the public health units will be subsumed by the regional community health care boards, as well as these new functions of single point of entry. We believe that that will help us financially and, also, it will be a fairer way, we think, of providing the care that people need.

I think the hon. Member for Humber East wanted some more details about the bill, and I will admit that the amendment is very short. We are developing the regulations to go with that now. Whether this should be brought into legislation at some point in time, I am not sure. Perhaps it should. What I would like to do now, though, is work with it for a while and, when it is more firmly established - because there are certain things we are not absolutely certain about with respect to the boundaries, for example. We want to be fairly flexible on the boundaries so we can move rather quickly. There are certain other things, too, that we would like to try out for a little while and then, perhaps, we will firm it up as to just want should happen. I have some concerns about what might go wrong if we don't do it appropriately.

A couple of members opposite, the hon. Member for St. John's East and the hon. Member for Humber East, and I attended a conference about AIDS some time ago held at Holy Heart of Mary. One of the concerns that was raised there was that people with AIDS or HIV, and particularly people where the HIV had developed into full-blown AIDS, they had problems with respect to home care and things of that nature. I believe that it would be appropriate, once we had these boards in place, that that would be one of the things they would address, because this is a very serious disease and it looks like it may very well - we do not want to be alarmists - but it may very well need more attention than it has gotten in the past.

The hon. Member for Fogo raised a question of political appointments, and I believe the hon. Member for Burin - Placentia West was also concerned about that. When he was Minister of Social Services, they tell me - whether it is true or not I do not know, and I would like the member to respond, at some point, to this - that everyone down on the Burin Peninsula was frightened to death of him. They were paralysed with him because if they crossed him they would never get any government favours. Did you ever hear that? I would like for him to address that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: Oh, they were frightened to death of him. If they crossed him they would not get anything at all.

Now we are not going to operate that way, Mr. Speaker. I do not care whether a person is a Liberal or a Progressive Conservative, or if the odd one is the NDP, or whatever they are -

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

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West on a point of order.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister asked me to respond to what he had to say, and I cannot let that go unchallenged because he is misleading the House.

The answer is a straight 'no' and I am surprised that this minister would construe and make such a statement to this House.

Regarding whether or not he would support a Conservative or a Liberal, the man has been both; why should he feel any other way?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

DR. KITCHEN: (Inaudible) telling me that, so I thought I would clarify it with him. Anyway, I appreciate the point that he made.

We will not be making appointments on the basis of political affiliation. The problem is, though, we do not get very many suggestions from hon. members opposite as to who should be appointed on various boards. I would love to get their suggestions so I could appoint them, perhaps, or avoid them.

What we want on hospital boards and nursing care home boards - whatever boards - we want good people on them. Now most of the people I know happen to be of one political party, and if I do appoint someone who will turn out to be that way, it is not a matter of bias on my part. It is probably because I know they will do a good job; but there are other people who will do a good job too. I have no intention of turning this into a political pork barrel, and I will look into it.

The other point is, the hon. Member for Kilbride raised a few points. He talked about the fact that he went up to one of the hospitals here and was in an outpatients lineup for hours and hours and hours, and eventually had to leave without having his procedure, or whatever it was he was going through, carried out.

What I would like from the hon. member, or from any hon. members opposite, if they do have complaints about the health care system, I would really appreciate their coming to me and telling me about those things and I will address those concerns. I will address any concern that any member of the public or any hon. member here has about the health care system, any complaints.

I would like to have it so we can talk about the specifics, because I do not know whether the hon. Member for Kilbride was talking about something that happened ten years ago, or twenty years ago, or yesterday. It is hard to address something unless you really know. If there are complaints, we would like to know about them so we can go to work on them.

One or two more points I would like to respond to, the problem was raised with respect to overgovernment, and I think it is a very fair question. I believe it was the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes who raised this point. Is this just another government bureaucracy that is being established? To tell you the truth, I have fears there. We do not want to be overgoverned. If we want to have single point of entry -

AN HON. MEMBER: We do not want to be like we were.

DR. KITCHEN: No, we do not want to be overgoverned.

If we want single point of entry, let's do it in a very efficient and small way. We do not have to appoint many, many public servants to handle this roll. We do what we must do, but we do not do any more.

So I do not look upon this - and I will do what I can to keep this from becoming a large unit of government. Government has the tendency to become bigger and bigger and bigger and that means costlier and costlier and costlier and that means that of a given dollar, less gets out to where it should be because a lot of it gets spent on the bureaucracy. That is the problem we had with the School Tax Authorities, 12 per cent of the money that was raised was going to support the authority and relatively too small an amount was actually getting out to the people who needed it, so what I want to do now -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. KITCHEN: Just hold on to your wool, here now.

The Member for Torngat Mountains raised the question of the Grenfell Hospital. Because the northern area, it appears now, will be looked after by the Grenfell Regional Hospital Board which also look after hospitals, he wondered if that could be split so that north of Black Tickle and Goose Bay and the other part of the Labrador area could be looked after by a board separately from that, and I think that is a question that we should consider, but I do not think we will move in that direction in the immediate future.

Mr. Speaker, that concludes my remarks on this bill and I move second reading.

On motion, second reading of a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Department Of Health Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 38).

MR. ROBERTS: Order 17, please Sir, Bill No. 46.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act Respecting The Licensing And Inspection Of Health And Social Agencies". (Bill No. 46).

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 46 which, as you mentioned, deals with the Licensing and Inspection of Health and Social Agencies, is a complete act to replace an act which was there before known as - this is the act that replaces the act which was called the Welfare Institutions Act. Previously, we had a Welfare Institutions Act which at one time was administered by the Department of Social Services. In 1985, this became part of the Ministry of Health which we formally ratified in this House the other day or is in second reading I believe, and now we are bringing in a totally new act that has been written from the health perspective.

I guess it is not a totally new act because most of the provisions in it were also in the previous act, but there are certain noteworthy things that are in this act and one of the smaller points is that, what used to be called licensed boarding home is now called a personal care home; that is not a very major change and we probably would not need to bring in a new act just to make that change in terminology which is what is used, but there are certain other things which we could mention.

The definition of health and social agencies has been expanded to encompass a wider range of facilities. The role of the board and the director have been clarified more specifically with appropriate responsibilities assigned to each body; there will be a directorate and a board. The directorate will be responsible to the board which will make certain decisions but it will also be a directorate which will carry out the day to day work, and that is really what is there now and all we are really doing is putting in the act what has been going on.

The board will have the power to issue a licence and to attach conditions to the licence and that has been more clearly defined. There is an appeal procedure provided in the act and the provision for a hearing to be held so that if someone loses his licence or does not get a license, there is an appeal procedure which is important I think and there are certain other points there.

I think what we might do, Mr. Speaker, is, I will stop talking now and let the members Opposite have a few words about this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Opposition Party Whip, the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 46 is a good bill. I have read it in detail, as a matter of fact, over the last couple of days and tried to decipher what some of it means. It is a little bit complicated in some areas, but I couldn't miss the opportunity to have a few words to say about the personal care homes in my own area, in my own district. I don't believe, as a matter of fact, that there is a district in Newfoundland which has a larger collection of personal care homes than my district and the district of Conception Bay South, which is represented by the Minister of Environment and Lands. I guess, between the two of us, we have the largest collection of personal care homes, previously known as licensed boarding homes, of any other district in Newfoundland and Labrador.

As a matter of fact, it is the largest employer in my district and the district of Conception Bay South and that area. There are actually about 500 people working out of licensed boarding homes or personal care homes, would you believe, between Topsail and my own district which goes right on back to Marysvale. That is quite a sizeable number of people working in these personal care homes.

As a matter of fact, I visit these personal care homes very, very frequently, sometimes on a weekly basis, and I am well aware of the problems that some of these homes are experiencing. There is probably no better service, no better supervised or better run homes for seniors anywhere in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador than what you will find in my area: In Holyrood; Kelligrews; Upper Gullies; and the Foxtrap area. There is no better run service anywhere in Newfoundland and Labrador than what you will find in that particular area.

As I said, I visit these homes on a very regular basis and, lately, I would say to the minister, I am getting some complaints from quite a number of these people who run these personal care homes. Quite a number of complaints that, quite naturally, would have to do with the rate that these homes presently receive. Now, the impression has always been - and I remember when I was sitting in government - that the people who run the personal care homes are the elite, they are on the pig's back, they are doing quite well out of the rates that they receive for running these personal care homes. But I would say to the minister, that I don't believe there is any service that could be given to a senior as cheaply as what is being provided by these operators. They provide that service for approximately twenty, twenty-one or twenty-two dollars a day. I believe the rate the government is giving them - I am not sure now what it is - but it was somewhere up around the $610 - $620 range. This is what they are receiving per patient, roughly around twenty or twenty-one dollars a day. I don't believe there is any service anywhere in the Province that could be given to a senior as cheaply as what these people are required to give it. They, for the most part, give very good service, very good food and very good entertainment. They provide recreational services for these people as well, and a lot of very personal care.

You know, when you consider that right now they seem to be regulated to death, the rate really should be a whole lot more than what it presently is. Now, I realize that the government's fiscal capacity to respond to every request is quite limited at the moment. But I remember back in April of 1989, I believe, we made a commitment - and when I say we, I mean we were government at the time - to these licensed boarding home operators or personal care home operators, that their rate was going to be increased, and increased quite substantially. I think it was somewhere in the area of 30 or 35 per cent of an increase that they were going to receive, and when the government came to power, that was completely cancelled. I don't know if they have had a rate increase since; I believe if they have, it has been a very small one.

So, I would ask the government to be a little bit more cognizant of what these people have to provide in the way of service and that they are providing it at a very cheap rate right now. And, as I said, they are being regulated to death. The rates have not, over the last number of years, kept pace with some of the services that they have to provide. It certainly hasn't kept pace with the cost of living. Just recently, as a matter of fact, I visited one of the personal care homes and the operator told me that the cost of workers' compensation has increased so much over the years, especially over the last couple of years, that it was becoming almost impossible to meet that bill alone. Mr. Speaker, there are new regulations, as well, that have come in, for dealing with the dietary aspect of it. It is costing the home operator a whole lot more than what it previously did. So, it is a very cheap way of government getting a very good service. If you were to put some of these people who are presently in personal care homes - and the government is only paying twenty-odd dollars a day for it, if these people had to be transferred to Agnes Pratt or St. Luke's or any of these homes, you would not be able to get that service for under $3,000, and the government is paying quite heavily for that type of service. So I can't see why the government can't raise the rate a little bit for these people who operate personal care homes and I would ask the minister to give some consideration to that.

The act also says that home owners should provide social activities and leisure time, as well, for these people. And that is a very good thing, no one could argue with that, but sometimes, especially when you are living in an outport area, these people have to be transported great distances to take advantage of social activities around various areas because they may not have those social activities in the community.

I remember back a couple of years ago the problems that some of the personal care home operators had up in Conception Bay South in having a vehicle paid for and approved by government. So, it is fine and dandy in the act to say that the individual, the personal care home operator has to supply all of these things so that people can take advantage of leisure activities but, at the same time, you don't address how they are going to be able to do that and how they are going to be able to transport these people. I think government should come to grips with these types of problems and help out the personal care home operator in these ways. Again, I say how can a licensed home operator provide all of these services outlined in the act on such a meagre rate. The act further states, and I don't know, maybe the minister can tell us when he stands to close debate on it, the act states that the owner cannot raise funds to help out in its operation. Now, I cannot see, for the life of me, why the owner of a personal care home would not be allowed to raise funds to help out in its operation. Maybe the minister can give us some reasons for that. But, for the most part, Mr. Speaker, I have read the act in detail. It is a very good act but again I would ask the minister, I know he is not paying any attention to me anyway, but I would ask him to give a little bit more consideration to the personal home operators' rate, because their rate is not as high as it should be. The government is receiving a very good service for a very small amount of money - $20-odd dollars a day. I am personally aware of some of these homes, like Woodford's in Holyrood, and Quinlan's, and Kennedy's, who have just immaculate homes - who have beautiful, beautiful homes.

I visit all of these on an individual basis, and the care that some of these seniors are receiving there is just absolutely wonderful. It is phenomenal that these people are able to provide that type of service for such a meagre rate.

So, I would ask the minister, when Budget time rolls around again - when he is sitting around the Cabinet table - and the personal care homes come up for discussion, that he would convince his colleagues, if he can, to honour the commitment that the previous government gave, back in April of 1989, I believe, that their rate would be increased - I believe it was up around 30 per cent.

I think, if the minister investigates these personal care homes and sees the type of a service they are trying to provide on a small amount of money, he will agree that they should be given substantial increases.

MR. SPEAKER: If the hon. minister speaks now he will close the debate.

The hon. the Minister of Health.

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In answering some of the points that were raised by the hon. the Member for Harbour Main, I, too, would like to endorse what he has said about the personal care homes.

I visited a number of them. I have not visited nearly as many personal care homes as I have the nursing homes and the hospitals. I don't believe I visited any in his district. I visited quite a number in Conception Bay South. I also visited one, I think, in Goose Bay, one in Musgrave Harbour and one on Fogo Island when I was there. I visited some in the Lewisporte area, and I will be visiting all of the others, too, but I must say that I agree with the Member for Harbour Main in that I was very much impressed with the caring attitude that the owners have toward the people, the residents, of personal care homes. I am also aware of the pressure that is on the owners of personal care homes to stay solvent.

The government has made some moves to assist. We have allowed some of the personal care homes to be somewhat larger in order to take advantage of some economies of scale. I don't know what the future of personal care homes might be. I don't know if we should encourage a lot more to be built or not. I know there are more people who are getting older. The population is aging, and we can expect that segment of the population to increase in numbers, but whether they should all be institutionalized in nursing homes and personal care homes is a question.

It is true that nursing homes are quite expensive. An average cost, per resident, is about $47,000 gross, whereas a personal care home is much, much cheaper. So the more people who can be accommodated in personal care homes as opposed to nursing homes would be a good point.

The other point is: Can some people be assisted to stay in their own homes more? Some certainly can. I believe there used to be an attitude around that as soon as you reached the magic number of 65 or 70, you would try to sell off, and not shovel any more snow, or cook any more meals; move in with somebody and let someone else and the government, partly, look after it, or somebody else look after it.

I believe that attitude is disappearing - not disappearing, but it is winding down a bit. The thought now is that this could impose an intolerable burden on the health care system, and maybe we should look at people residing more in their own homes and giving them a bit of help to shovel the snow or whatever they can't do for themselves or provide the nursing care that they need. So we are working at that.

The member suggests that perhaps the homes are overregulated. I believe a lot of that goes back to that fire some years ago, in a nursing home, where people died, and there has been a fear on the part of officials and others that we have to be very careful about the regulations. As a result of that I believe government put in paid security, and the average nursing home gets $26,000 now from the government to have night security, so that there will always be two people on hand, the owner or whatever, plus another person always there in the home to look after that. So we have helped a little bit. But I appreciate the problem of over - now, there may be some - I don't want to go on too long on this, but I just want to point out that there are also seniors apartments in this city and elsewhere which are not regulated by the Department of Health, they are not regulated by the Department of Social Services, in fact, they can be regulated by municipalities as far as certain building codes and things like that are concerned. But sometimes in these senior citizens apartments, a person can be quite sick, chronically ill and occupying a room in an apartment, and often they are called upon for home care services to go in. In one apartment complex that I am aware of, maybe twenty-five or thirty home care workers work in that apartment complex. But it is not totally unregulated by government with respect to health care. I am not suggesting that we move in there, but I am suggesting, in response to what the hon. the Member for Harbour Main said, that the personal care homes, most of whose residents are not particularly sick, some are, but not a high level of sickness needing much nursing care or anything like that. But they are quite well regulated, heavily regulated, whereas these other institutions are not at all regulated. I am not suggesting they should be. But it is a matter of something to be looked at. I don't want to overregulate anybody because once you start overregulating you put the power in the hands of public servants who impose a certain standard right across and then maybe that is not totally appropriate and it is also quite costly.

So we have to be fairly careful here with what we are doing. There has to be a reasonable balance. But I appreciate the hon. member's comments about the cost. I cannot make any commitments about addressing them but we, too, are aware of the problems that they have. One of the problems they have in a personal care home is people who need to have things like occupational therapy or physiotherapy or even some organized recreation and the cost of providing the organized recreation, the transportation to some facility, or whatever, is often pretty heavy on the personal care home operator. And that causes sometimes a bit of a problem. But, in any event, I thank the hon. member for his comments and I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Licensing And Inspection Of Health And Social Agencies," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 46).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, let us try to make it two in a row for the Minister of Health. Order 18, Bill No. 40.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Medical Act". (Bill No. 40).

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the rapidity with which these bills are going through second reading sort of caught me with my paper mixed up.

MR. GOVER: What a good minister! An excellent minister! No criticism at all. He really designed those well.

DR. KITCHEN: What we are about to do here is to make some amendments to The Medical Act of 1974, and I will just read briefly from the explanatory notes and we can go a bit further from that.

We changed the definition of medical practitioner slightly, it now means a person who is registered in the medical register or holds or has held a licence. You wonder why that has been changed and they tell me that is part of a disciplinary procedure to enable the medical association to more carefully regulate the practise of medicine so that people cannot just stop practising and not be subject to discipline.

If you are on the register, you are able to be approached by the board and Section 6 of the new act which deals with section 24 of the old act spells out more clearly what can be done in the area of discipline. So this is one of the main purposes of this, to tidy up some of the disciplinary points here, to allow the Newfoundland Medical Board to make a disciplinary ruling against a practitioner who has held a licence but does not at the time of the disciplinary procedures, so he may have given up his licence but he is still subject to the disciplinary procedures of the medical board; and then, Section 14 is the other one which I should call attention to, section 14 of the act, amendment of section 14 -

It is actually 13, somebody had given me the wrong reference here. The paragraph in Section 4 of the act to amend, you will see Paragraph 13 (d) of the old Act is repealed and the following substituted; and then under paragraph 4 (2), (o) and (p) are repealed and the following substituted; we are putting in conflict of interest which was not there before; internship and residency training and specifying a few other odds and ends. These things have been requested by the Newfoundland Medical Association and we are now presenting them for amendment.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Opposition Party Whip, the Member for Harbour Main.

MR. DOYLE: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we do not have any great comment to make on this bill. I will say to the minister that I went over the old act along with the new act and I found it has barely changed; it is only a re-organization of the language, just housekeeping.

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

DR. KITCHEN: I move second reading, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, a Bill, "An Act To Amend The Medical Act," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow, (Bill No. 40).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I was consulting with my friend for Grand Bank as to whether we would do order 10 or order 11 next, we are largely in the hands of the Opposition. Order 11 is a very routine matter unless the Opposition want to have a long debate. Order 11, Mr. Speaker, is the bill that substitutes the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations as the minister to whom the Human Rights Commission reports instead of the Minister of Justice for obvious and proper reasons.

My friend for Grand Bank is returning to the Chamber, do we do order 10 or 11? Do we do the Human Rights thing or -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: Well then, Mr. Speaker, we are always eager to oblige. Could we have order 10 which is Bill 22, "An Act To Amend The Shops Closing Act".

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Shops Closing Act", (Bill No. 22).

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

By way of introduction, I would like to point out three issues that are of concern here in this bill to amend the Shops Closing Act. The issue has been around for some time from two or three different perspectives that are dealt with here.

One item that brought the matter to the fore a couple of years ago, was the fact that the businesses in the Province had been making decisions and had even gotten to the point of publicly advertising that they were making decisions to open for business in contravention of the existing act. They were doing that largely because of the fact that the respect for the holiday that was being observed, and was spelled out in the act for shops closing, was not great, in the estimation of the shop owners, and also in concert with that, that the fines that were to be levied, if they were to be convicted and found guilty, were insignificant to the point that with very minimal sales in an early part of a day the shop owner could pay for any fine that was imposed and continue on and have a good day of business.

The general principle that was to be addressed in the amendments was the notion that if we are going to have an act indicating that certain shops should be closed, then either we have to be serious about that and enforce that, and be serious about the penalties that apply if there is a violation of that act, or look at the issue of discarding the act altogether, which was one of the options.

So on balance we looked at the whole issue and this bill will not change anything with respect to whether or not there will be open shopping on Sunday. It, by lack of any action, confirms the view that there will be a common day of rest observed in the Province - that day happening to be Sunday - and that as in the past, certain shops, by the nature of the service that they offer, need to be opened even on that day - pharmacies, gasoline stations and so on, restaurants, convenience stores.

With that issue, one of the things that arises that is addressed in the bill, is that the statement in the act as to which shops were exempt from the closing, and therefore could remain open, was a very dated statement. It had not been changed since back in the seventies and did not reflect the realities of the day. For example, it was silent on the issue of whether or not a laundromat was to remain opened or closed on a Sunday. It was silent on the issue of whether or not a video store, where you rented videos, should be opened or closed, because when the act was drafted, video shops did not exist. So there was a need to bring that part of the act into the 1990's and to clearly state, in some way, shape or form, which shops would be exempt from the closing regulations and which shops would not.

The other thing, in dealing with that, is that we decided that since that is a matter that is in some state of flux anyway, and will change from time to time, rather than have to go through a legislative procedure to determine which shops should be exempt and which should not, we felt it was in the best interest of everybody involved to have that designation done through regulation.

The regulation that will be proposed at the end of this will basically parallel the current exemptions but also specify the new types of shops that have sprung up since then, that are generally accepted by the public as being ones that should be open and available on Sundays and other shops closing days anyway - such as video stores. Such as specifying that theatres, for example, can be opened on Sundays and other shop closing days, and those types of things. So the regulation will deal with that.

If, at any point in time, members of the House of Assembly, the general public, or businesses, feel aggrieved, or feel there should be some change, then they can have that change effected by having the regulation changed by Cabinet, rather than having to wait for the House of Assembly to go through a legislative procedure and change the legislation.

That is a significant change in terms of taking the definition of an exempt shop out of the act, updating it to reflect what is happening in the 1990's in our Province, and hopefully to predict what will happen for the years ahead; but in cases where we fail to predict, to allow for speedy change by changing a regulation rather than changing legislation.

The other issue that I mentioned on the way through there was the fact that we looked at the offenses. If, with this new arrangement, people still violate, rather than have token offenses that are in the present act, which people disregard and are willing to pay, and therefore the penalty does not fit the crime or suit the crime in any way, shape or form, if you use that language, because it is certainly not seen to be criminal, although it violates an act. We would not put it in that category, but if someone is going to disregard, then what is the penalty?

In broad consultation with representatives of workers in shops, and also shop owners, it was felt to be fair to have the penalty in some way connected to the revenues that could be attained in that shop on that day. That is spelled out in this bill to be set at one-and-a-half times the revenues that are taken in - the proceeds taken in - by doing business in contravention of the act.

Where that is not a number that can be readily identified, to be double the average daily take for a store or shop that opens in contravention of this Act.

Then as well, Mr. Speaker, we looked at another concern where we are out of sync with the rest of Canada which is: how many days are shops designated to be closed other than the general day of rest which is Sunday? In this Province we had some thirteen other days designated and we were completely out of whack with the rest of the country in a sense. In most provinces it would equate to seven, eight, or nine days. We looked at them, we reviewed it with representatives of workers, again lots of public consultation, lots of consultation with the stakeholders in terms of people in the business community who run shops, and it was agreed that it makes sense at this point in time that for the purposes of shops closing - not that anything will happen to the holidays being designated, the holidays are holidays and holidays are observed in relation to collective agreements and so on - that the number of days would reflect again the kinds of things that should be observed in the 1990's versus something that may have been more appropriate in the 1940's or 50's.

There is a statement as outlined in Clause 2, Mr. Speaker, to suggest that the number of shop's closing days other than Sunday, be reduced and that they now include New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Memorial Day or Canada Day as it is called on July 1st, Labour Day, Remembrance Day on November 11th, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

In respect to the public consultation that occurred in the work of the legislative review committee, I give notice as well that the House Leader will in committee stage move an amendment to reinstate Thanksgiving Day to that list because Thanksgiving Day is a holiday that is observed across the country and a national holiday which would keep us in step with the rest of the country rather than take us out of step and that that will be added in the appropriate places in the Bill by amendment in the committee stage.

The other point that I want to point out as well, Mr. Speaker, in the opening remarks, is that through the Legislative Review Committee and other consultation, it is also viewed that the notion put forward in Clause 2 to amend the Act by allowing a non-christian owner of a shop to open on a Sunday provided he or she closes on another day of the week, will also be deleted by amendment during the committee stage due to the fact that in the original proposals of this draft which started some year or so ago it was the view of justice officials that if we left in the Sunday closings that it could in all probably be challenged under the Charter and it therefore was in the best interest to avoid a potential challenge to put in this clause. On balance and in looking at the issue and in having gone through the public consultation and the Legislative Review Committee, looking at it, it is felt that that is not a major issue in this Province and if in fact somebody wishes to challenge then so be it. The current provision will apply, Sunday is a common day of rest, if that is offensive to somebody or they find that to be a problem which they want to challenge than by all means they will challenge. Whether or not we will defend vigorously will be decided at the time. We do not have any particular objection. There are court cases pending in other provinces that indicate that that is a losing proposition for any government if there is a challenge but we have decided on balance to take the position to maintain the current provision, remove the section that is outlined in Clause 2 by amendment at committee stage so that clause 2(5) at the bottom of page 4 in the Bill is proposed for deletion in committee stage.

One other change as well, Mr. Speaker, that will be moved by my colleague, the hon. House Leader, at committee stage, is that in Clause 2 as well, while we are deleting Discovery Day as one of the holiday's from the Act for general observance, we have decided to put in a statement now so it is clear to everybody that Discovery Day will be a shop's closing day in 1997 when we observe the 500th anniversary. So that will be stated clearly in the Act now. That day, by the way for information of all hon. members is also the day that the City of St. John's has been using in recent years as St. John's Day. In all likelihood they will continue to declare that day to be St. John's Day but the Discovery Day as a Discovery Day shop's closing day will be declared by amendment for the year 1997 only because that is part of the work that the 500th anniversary committee is already continuing on with and they would like to have and they need to have that date designated for special attention and mentioned during that year of celebration.

So I will use those as my opening comments and remarks, Mr. Speaker, and look forward to making notes as to comments that will arise during the debate which I will then deal with as I close debate.

Thank you, very much.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to have a few comments on the bill.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I have identified the hon. Member for Fogo. I know that everybody is anxious to take part in the debate, but only one person can speak at a time.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, this bill, as the minister said, went to Legislative Review Committee meetings throughout the Province, and I think the committee basically confirmed what -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am sorry to interrupt the hon. member, but I am having difficulty hearing the hon. Member for Fogo. I would ask that hon. members restrain themselves.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I said earlier, this bill went to Legislative Review Committees -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair just brought attention to the noise level in the House, and the Chair will not tolerate the shouting that is going across the House.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I said earlier, for the third time, this bill time went to a Legislative Review Committee. I understand there was a report prepared by the committee. I do not think the report, if it was tabled, was the report of the consensus of the people that they certainly saw in the hearings across the Province. I am delighted to see that the minister finally had a little sense and he put Thanksgiving Day back into the shop closing days.

I told him some time ago that there would be a hue and cry throughout the Province because Thanksgiving was generally recognized as a day throughout this Province when people celebrated - family and friends together. I see that the minister is now going to include it.

One of the problems that I see with this bill is, I think what we are looking at here is a bill right now that looks at the Shop Closing Act, but the intention is to extend it - to extend this on to statutory holidays in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: The minister said what, Mr. Speaker? This is the thin edge of a wedge that we see here; that what the focus, the attempt, will be is to reduce the number of days as statutory holidays in this Province.

The minister tried to say that the reason, the explanation, for having to bring in this bill was because stores were flagrantly abusing the previous Shop Closing Act, so we are bringing this bill in to tidy up the loopholes that presently exist, that we find (inaudible). If that was the intent of the bill, all he had to do was to increase the amount of fine and not change anything else.

I know that there are areas of the Province where St. Patrick's Day is very, very important. It is an important civic holiday.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINSOR: In parts of the Province it is just as important as any of the other holidays that we have there, in looking through, Labour Day or Victoria Day. There are portions of this Province with Irish background, Irish ancestry.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the greens?

MR. WINSOR: Now, Mr. Speaker, I was going to get to that. The former minister is slightly confused this morning. St. Paddy's Day was the Irish, and like my friend from St. Mary's - The Capes, and Ferryland, it is an important civil holiday.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Now my friend from Harbour Grace who was, I think at one time, the worthy master, I think he was called, or the worshipful master of the Orange Lodge?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Port de Grave on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: I have to stand up for the hon. Member for Harbour Grace and make sure he has the right title - The Grand Sovereign Master of Canada.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I stand corrected and I thank the minister for his intervention, but I know that for him Orangemen's Day was a very important occasion in that part of the community.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when I grew up, St. Patrick's Day or St. Paddy's Day as it is known, was certainly not a holiday that we celebrated but certainly Orangeman's Day, I can remember as a child, where people paraded through the town dressed up in -

AN HON. MEMBER: In Joe Batt's Arm.

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is the home that I adopted. In the home where I grew up, there was Orangeman's Day, and St. Patrick's Day was not very important. The adopted home, parts of it, yes, Mr. Speaker, St. Patrick's Day is very important in part, I tell the Member for St. John's South, in part of Joe Batt's Arm, and the Minister of Education would know that one part of Joe Batt's Arm and Tilting would be very concerned about it, but the other part would be much more concerned about Orangeman's Day.

AN HON. MEMBER: What's your point?

MR. WINSOR: The old dollars and cents man, perhaps the fellow who initiated this bill because he wants to take from the statutes of Newfoundland the holidays that have been granted to public servant employees, Mr. Speaker, that is what is going on here. This is the thin edge of the wedge. We are going to start at stores and we are going to measure the reaction and if it is not too volatile, if people do not care too much about what has happened, then we will start stripping away - because this government has been known to strip collective agreements before, that has happened on one or two occasions, and what we will see happening here down the road, unquestionably, will be the statutory holidays as they presently exist, they will be starting to erode the numbers, slowly but surely we will see it happening and that is why the President of Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance became really testy. We know he is under a lot of pressure those days and he is really testy, you mention anything on the subject of finances now and he gets hot under the collar and cannot handle it.

AN HON. MEMBER: This is not about holidays.

MR. WINSOR: Now, Mr. Speaker, he says it is nothing about holidays. The minister said the intent of the bill was to tidy up, to clear up the confusion that existed about shop closing and fines and everything else, of the flagrant abuse that was taking place because the fines were so punitive that someone could open in the morning, they could do enough sales if they were the only one open in the morning, they would make enough money during that morning to pay the fine that was going to be levied on them, but this bill went much further than that, because it starts to take away a number of holidays that storekeepers had previously been given.

The committee that took this bill across the Province, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure if it was across the Province, hearings were held in St. John's, hearing were held in - I think Gander had one, I do not know if they reached the West Coast or not. Did they reach the West Coast? They reached Corner Brook and I know that one scheduled for the Labrador City area was cancelled.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the President of Treasury Board, he should learn to restrain himself. I do not know what has happened to him, normally he was very quiet and co-operative but in the past two or three days, since the pressure from the unions who have been at his door step day and night is starting to get to him. He is crumbling under the pressure and is becoming very, very defensive and questions the motives of everything and everybody. He will have to learn to restrain himself and if he cannot, he can go out and have a coffee - no, don't drink coffee because that will even be worse for him, something to relax him.

Now, as it is the fear, and I will tell the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, there is a real fear in the community of what the minister is intending to do with this bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The minister says there is not but he heard it, in presentations that were done by the various labour groups throughout this Province. They told the committee that they were greatly concerned that this was the beginning of the end for a number of statutory holidays and in fact, it is. Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to note that Discovery Day is only going to be an important holiday on one occasion, in 1997, I suppose, Mr. Speaker, and after that it is going to disappear again.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So, the committee's report, Mr. Speaker, is, I don't think, indicative of what people in this Province feel. Certainly there is a concern in the business community that a number of these holidays should be eliminated, but there is also a greater concern that this is the beginning of the end. The minister, in reinstating Thanksgiving Day, is certainly doing what most people wanted. Mr. Speaker, I would ask him to check the feelings of people throughout the Province.

The Member for Port de Grave is very concerned that Orangeman's Day has been taken out. He wants it to be retained as a holiday, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Port de Grave is very concerned, he has been voicing concerns all morning. My colleagues, especially my colleagues who represent districts that have an Irish background, I am sure are going to want to address this most pressing concern about the elimination of St. Patrick's Day as an holiday.

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

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

I want to have a few brief words on this bill, Mr. Speaker. Most of what I will say on it is not the policy of the PC Party. It is not the policy of anyone on this side, except one person. It would be my policy, Mr. Speaker, if I had the ability to do it.

First of all, before I get into that, Mr. Speaker, I wonder who wrote the report on this bill when it went to the committee. Because I am sure the report didn't represent what the committee was saying. The report didn't represent what the people of the Province think about this bill, generally. I would say the people of the Province were fairly happy with the way it was in the past, Mr. Speaker, but obviously it wasn't working. I know something had to be done, there had to be some changes made, certainly in the fines.

Mr. Speaker, we see what planning this government does when they want to introduce something in this House. We have a bill that is not finished second reading, that was just brought before this House today and, in the minister's introduction, he has four amendments to it already. Mr. Speaker, that shows the complete, absolute lack of planning and thought that has gone into this bill. The same as most bills, Mr. Speaker, that come before this House, there is no thought, no planning, no consideration, no foresight gone into it. It is something the same as $70,000 or $80,000 worth of wallpaper, something the same as $600 doorknobs, something the same as spending three-quarters of a million dollars on two floors that were only renovated a couple of years ago. This act again, Mr. Speaker, shows the same type of planning that this government does. There is no planning. That planning is nothing, zero, zilch, no planning whatsoever.

I would be embarrassed if I were Minister of Labour today, to stand in this House of Assembly and bring in a Shop Closing Act, which has been on the go for months and months - I heard about it before the summer, I guess. The committee was given this bill before the summer. The minister comes into this House and gets up on his feet and announces, in his introduction, that there will be four amendments. Do you know how many clauses are in this act? Do you know how many pages this act takes up, the whole act? Three-and-a-half pages and four clauses, four different clauses. One of them is a definition, so you could hardly consider that to be a clause, Mr. Speaker. Then Clause 2 of the act has to be amended in two or three places already to make the corrections that the minister - I mean, obviously he didn't read it, he didn't give it any consideration at all, before he brought it into this House, as to what he was going to do, Mr. Speaker. And the reasoning behind whatever the amendment he wanted to make just wasn't there.

Mr. Speaker, apart from the lack of consideration that the minister gave this, I will make a suggestion to the minister and the government that I would like to see. My suggestion on the Shop Closing Act is to throw it in the garbage. You should be allowed to open a business in this Province twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, Mr. Speaker. That is what I would like to see. People have to work in this Province, not sit around having holidays. You should be out working. If you have to work from daylight to dark to survive you should be able to do it!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, it is the opposite to what you want, and it is the opposite to what some people on this side would like to see, but if we are going to turn the economy of this Province around, a person who wants to work, who wants to open his business to provide services and make a living for his family, he should be allowed to do it - anytime. That is my feeling on it. It might be a bit of my background from my family when they were in farming, because you don't close down the farm for Christmas Day, or you don't close the farm down at five o'clock in the afternoon. You have to go and do the work. The work has to be done or you do not get any product out of it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Now, Mr. Speaker, that is no different from someone who has a grocery store.

AN HON. MEMBER: Strawberries still grow on Sunday.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Weeds grow on Sunday, and you have to pick them when they are growing or they will get ahead of you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Now, if a person in this Province has a grocery store, particularly in a small community, and they want to open that on Sundays to provide service for people who want to get their groceries, so what? Let them do it. The employees are only going to work their eight hour shift. They will have a day off on Monday or Tuesday or whatever day it is going to be, if the employees are going to do it, but even moreso, if the proprietors of that business want to open the business themselves to provide a service, why should they not? They should be allowed to open their business when they want, if there is a business there and they - eight hour shifts - you just cannot do that in private business. You don't just sit down, open a store at nine o'clock and close it up at five and go home and put your feet up. It doesn't work. And if someone wanted to do that, if it is their own business and there is a need for that service, why should they not be allowed to do it?

Mr. Speaker, my recommendation for the Shop Closing Act is to throw this in the garbage and let people operate their businesses, and let them create jobs, and let them work in this Province twenty-four hours a day if they wish, 365 days a year.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

There are a number of things about this bill that we don't like. First of all, I must say that the report from the committee, Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned on a point of order when the report was presented it was really not what the committee agreed to. Certainly not the summation at the end. The different sections of the Bill, Mr. Speaker - the easiest thing to do might be to go through them, the first part: repealing the definition of exempt shops, Clause 1. I agree with the minister when he said: since the original Bill was introduced a number of new types of stores have now come on the scene, such as the video stores and what have you, a lot of fast food chains and all these. Ten years ago or fifteen years ago that was not a problem here in Newfoundland. You did not worry about going out and picking up a movie to watch during the night. You did not have electricity in certain parts of the Province, not to say video machines, but the only concern there is by having it done by regulation - I hesitate to approve anything that gives Cabinet power to make changes behind closed doors.

If we take it out of legislation and put it into regulation then they can easily come up with approval of any kind of business that suits anyone who may happen to be a fan or a colleague of government. So, consequently I think that that should be left in legislation, because as you come up with new stores or whatever, it might be a worthy thing to discuss here in the legislature rather than go away behind closed doors and make changes.

Secondly, and I will leave Clause 2 because that is the controversial one, the one whereby we allow a non-christian to open, now I can understand the concern of people who perhaps do not follow the christian religion and consequently may not recognize Sunday as the holy day in their specific religions, however has the minister said, again I think he is right there, that if there are examples of this then maybe we should have a test case made because it may not be a problem within Newfoundland.

An associated problem with allowing the clause to stay in, will be whereby the owner may be non-christian and may want to open on Sunday, close on Saturday, Friday or whatever but then you have all the employees affected so perhaps the best thing to do is omit the clause and if it is a concern have a full and open hearing on the matter and an agreement could be reached there so I agree with that clause being taken out of the Act. The section to increase fines, once again is a very sensible one because those stores that have in the past been found guilty of opening on Sunday or holiday'sand were fined, especially the larger stores, these fines could be raised in an hour if it happened to be a busy day, and it meant nothing to them at all, of course. All they were giving away was a small part of their profits. If all the profits and more besides were taken away, then it does not pay them to open and consequently I think the law will have some teeth.

However, the main concern in the bill is the stripping away of holidays from the workers. Now the report is neatly doctored - the report that was presented by the Chairman of the legislative review committee. Maybe I should say here that at least this Legislative Review Committee did give the opportunity to anyone who wanted to express concerns. Many of the other legislative review committees have not done the same thing. Now this, as it relates to this one bill - of course there are several other bills that come before the House that the committees do not see at all - and perhaps this is the only example of the good workings of the committee process, because other than this one bill that got a full and open hearing around the Province, I am not sure whether or not the committee system has been a success. In fact, I think it has been a sham in most cases.

The report, as presented to the House, is doctored in a way that will lead people to think that it would be okay to go ahead with the bill as it exists, with the exemptions that we mentioned - the elimination of the clause pertaining to a non-Christian opening his store, and the insertion of Thanksgiving Day as a holiday. However, if we go back over the meetings that were held, we will find that the majority of the views were solidly against tampering with the holidays, when I am talking about numbers being represented.

If we look at the report, it says that there was a lot of support for it on Cross Talk. Now what does Cross Talk have to do with the bill, or the committee work? We were not monitoring Cross Talk. Why did we not talk about open line shows and call ins to late night shows and whatever? It had absolutely nothing to do with the bill.

The people who appeared before us, business people, some of them were in favour of the elimination of the days as holidays for the workers, and agreed with the stores being open on those days. But the unions representing all the workers were dead set against it. And they were dead set against it for two reasons; (1) because if we allow stores to open on these days then all the people who work in these stores - well look at St. John's, I mean all the retail area made up of stores that will be affected, you know, all the stores in malls etc. Look at the numbers of employees who will now be losing four holidays. And if you look at the way they are spread out over the year they come at times when it would be great for the family because of school holidays and so on to get that long weekend off, the break time. And now these people will have no other choice except to go to work, and you can easily understand why unions are upset. But the main reason they are upset is because they don't trust this government. And they realize that this is only the thin edge of the wedge.

All of a sudden the holidays that we have known for years are wiped out for people who work in stores, and that is a large sector of our population. Then we find out: well, if all these people are going to work, if the people at Woolco are working and the people at Sobey's are working, and the people at Sears are working well then why shouldn't the public service in Confederation Building be working? The days mean nothing any more, the significance is gone. They have thrown that out. So consequently the next little cut that the President of Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance will make will be to eliminate the holidays from the public service. And that is the concern of those people in this Province and the major concern of unions.

But, Mr. Speaker, it is approaching twelve, and I just want to say we are a long way from closing debate on this bill, I will guarantee you that. Because we are looking at a government that is, number one, trying to wipe out denominational education, and now tampering with the holidays that have religious and historic significance for the people all over this Province. I don't think you are going to see people sitting there and seeing holidays that have meant a tremendous amount to them, besides a day off, historical and religious significance being wiped out by the government of this Province, and with that I adjourn debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

The hon. the Government House Leader and the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow Monday at 2:00 o'clock. Before I make the actual motion we shall carry on with this debate, and we will see where we get. I understand the hon. Member for Humber East, who has a particular interest in the Bill we hope to deal with next, Bill No. 25, will not be here Monday because she has a commitment that will take her somewhere else without spreading the bloody red torch of rebellion or something, but if we can accommodate her, we will.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We intend then to carry on with my friend Santa Claus, the Minister of Finance, and the list I have given my hon. friend for Grand Bank. So I move the adjournment, Sir.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Before we conclude for the week I want to thank the Government House Leader for his co-operation, because my colleague does have a commitment, she can't be here. And I take the opportunity to wish all hon. members a good weekend, particularly my good friend the former House Leader, the President of Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance, because I have noticed this morning, Mr. Speaker, that he is balled up tighter than a ball of yarn. His nerves are bad, his (inaudible) are starting to break down. So I want to say to him, besides the valium and the sleeping pills this weekend to relax, try Dr. Chases nerve food, it is suppose to be really good.

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