December 17, 1992               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS       Vol. XLI  No. 87


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Lush): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier. The Premier is proposing some new conflict of interest legislation, known as Bill 67. I want to ask him today: Would he consider referring this legislation to the appropriate Legislation Review Committee for public hearings before he calls the bill for debate in the House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to consider anything, but I understood that the Government House Leader and the Opposition House Leader were discussing what bills they would wish to proceed with and what bills they would wish to defer until later. I don't know where that stands on the list.

MR. ROBERTS: I was just telling the Premier now I haven't seen him since we talked.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I understand there was a conversation between the two House Leaders but I didn't realise there was an agreement that they do this.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, no - he informed me that the Premier was going to do it tomorrow.

MR. SIMMS: I believe the House Leader from the government side informed our House Leader that this is what you were intending to do in the very near future. In any event, I ask him to consider that, because I think the bill needs some careful public scrutiny.

Now, under the present legislation that we have, all information that members file, is filed with the Auditor General and then is made public, or it becomes available to the public. Members can see it. The press can get copies of it, the press can publish it. In other words, the information filed by MHAs is subject to full public disclosure. Could the Premier tell the House why, in this legislation, the government has decided in Bill 67 to make such information privileged? Why would that be?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: The legislation doesn't quite do what the hon. member says. Such information as is required to be filed now would not be privileged. It would be required to be disclosed. It is the additional information that is not now required to be filed that would in the future require to be filed that would be privileged. But at least it would be on file. How much money does the hon. member have in his bank account? That would be required to be filed. Now that should be privileged. It is not now required to be filed, and that is the difference, you see.

There are additional disclosure requirements, over and above the ones that are there now, of more or less a personal nature. In order to ensure that somebody is acting as a watchdog on all of us, that information is disclosed to the commissioner. The commissioner has the ability then to determine whether or not in voting in this House on a bill affecting the Royal Bank of Canada, members of the House are in a potential conflict of interest in some piece of legislation.

So, it is the additional information that is not now required, but would be required by the new bill. Now, generally speaking, that is it. There may be one piece here or there that may be somewhat different from that, but that is the principle of the bill. And I should tell the hon. member that I believe - the Minister of Justice would know, because he developed it - in that respect, the bill parallels completely the legislation in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and the new legislation that is proposed for the Federal Parliament. So, it requires all of this additional disclosure, but you disclose it to a commissioner who would keep it confidential to the commissioner and would then be in a position to judge whether or not a member would be in conflict in any particular circumstance.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: Can the Premier confirm then, that the information that will be filed by an MHA, will not necessarily be available to the public? In fact, the information - the public will get a disclosure statement from the commissioner and that statement, for example, will not show the amount or the value of a private interest; it will be a laundered statement, in other words. Isn't that really the case under this legislation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the purpose of it is to require total disclosure which is not now required. That is the problem you see, total disclosure is not now required because there are matters of a personal nature, like how much money hon. members have in their bank accounts or their trust accounts or in deposit certificates, instead, what is now required is a listing of investments. For example, you may have a pension fund account or you may have shares in a certain corporation but you don't list the number or value of your investment - you would now have to disclose that to the commissioner. Now, the commissioner would file statements respecting everybody indicating that they had shares, as members do now. My recollection is that the commissioner would have to disclose the things that are now disclosed by members. That is my understanding of it.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, and anything else - I mean -

PREMIER WELLS: And anything else that he felt - well, I haven't read the detail of it, I confess. I understand the principles that were agreed upon and adopted by the other provinces and by the Federal Parliament in this regard. Section 37(2), The public disclosure statement shall identify - 'shall', it is mandatory -

The public disclosure statement shall identify each public interest, other than an excluded private interest.

MR. ROBERTS: Each private interest other than an excluded private interest.

PREMIER WELLS: Each private interest other than an excluded private interest. Now, to the best of my knowledge, I would tell the House, the 'excluded private interest' are those that members do not now report.

MR. ROBERTS: And their spouses - they would all have to report.

PREMIER WELLS: And their spouses, all would have to. So, we can debate the legislation - I am not sure that you would want to do it in Question Period, but if you do it, that is the principle that is behind it. I think the minister tabled in this House, a comparison with the other jurisdictions that have a similar approach and it pretty well tracks other jurisdictions, but if there is any particular thing that hon. members would want changed, I am sure there is no trouble considering that.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier will recall, my initial question was to ask if he would refer to a Legislation Review Committee, perhaps now he can see why. There are a lot of questions that need to be asked and there should be an opportunity for the public to have some input into this legislation before it is rushed through the House.

Now, I also want to ask him this - and let me be very blunt about it; let me ask him, for example: Would he not agree that this proposed legislation, in fact, would block the Opposition party, or any member of the House, for that matter, from raising detailed questions about conflict of interest, such as that that was raised about the Minister of Justice's $10,000-a-month payment from his former law firm? Wouldn't that prevent that kind of a question? Because, under the legislation, it says in many references here that the information is privileged, and wouldn't it then, therefore, be a breach of privilege of the House?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, not at all. The legislation provides for it. You go to the commission and you say: Look, I understand such and such a member is getting this kind of a payment. Is that right, and is he in conflict? And the commissioner has to report to the House and say, yes, or no, as to whether or not the man is in conflict, but he doesn't tell the hon. member how much money the individual has in the bank account or how much the payment is from a particular firm or business interest, if it is not in conflict, if it does not cause a conflict.

Now, hon. members will recall, over the last two or three years, people have been suggesting we should have a commissioner so there will be full disclosure to a commissioner. My initial reaction was to resist that, I didn't think that was the way to go. I felt the way to go was to put in stronger prohibitions. Hon. members, some hon. members opposite, some on this side, and people outside said: You block people from getting involved in politics if you do that. If you prohibit any kind of dealing with the government, if you have certain holdings, or holding a seat in the House if you have certain investment interest, you prevent a large number of people from ever being able to be involved in public life, so that is not the way to do it - use a commissioner.

Okay, against my better judgement at the time, I was persuaded by arguments from everybody that the commissioner route rather than the absolute prohibition route was the way to go. I was persuaded that that was the right thing to do, and I must say I had that advice from others at an early stage, from others outside the members of the House of Assembly. I am prepared to admit, my judgement on it may have been wrong, so rather than absolute prohibition, as I had been advocating, a commissioner is the way to go.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if you do that - if you do not absolutely prohibit - and you use a commissioner, then if it is to be effective you must compel all members to disclose everything - and I mean everything - that could give them a possible conflict of interest.

Now members will say that this is unreasonable, to put political people in that position where they have to tell the world how much money they have in the bank account; how much they have invested in pension fund savings and so on. This is an unreasonable invasion of their privacy. Okay, I can understand that, but disclose it to the commissioner so that the commissioner, who is an officer of this House, can say to this House and to all the world, the member is or is not in conflict by reason of these facts you have disclosed.

Now it is essential that there be full and total disclosure, and the reason why there is this excluded private interest is that kind of thing is what would be excluded; but the commissioner would be required to disclose publicly all of the things, pretty well - I do not know if there would be any exception - that members are now required to disclose.

The commissioner would still be required to disclose all that publicly. It would not be held privileged in any way. He would still be required to disclose it publicly.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I am not so sure that the Premier is correct about that reference to everything being made public. You will see a lot of references in here to privileged information. It is in Clause 36(5); it is in Clause 38(4); disclosure of statements made under this section is privileged. Advice given by the commissioner through a member under this section is privileged. Now the issue is whether or not it should be privileged or whether or not it should be public information. That is what the whole debate is all about.

For example, let me ask him this question. I think it is a worthy question. Would the media, for example, be prevented from accessing the information, making the information public, as they now do, for example? They publish every year what every member has in terms of shares or whatever. Would that information still be available, or would it be that under this legislation, certain sections under this conflict of interest legislation could be prevented from being made public because of the laundered way in which this statement will be made by the commissioner? Could then the press be, for example, called to the Bar before the House for breaching the privileges of the House? Is that not a possibility? Why is it being done this way?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I guess my English language is not very clear, or my ability to explain it cannot be very clear.

There is one of two systems. Either you put in absolute prohibitions against any dealing whatsoever with the government by any member of this House. Now, that was my personal preference at the time and that is what I was recommending. That was the course I felt we should go. We should change our act to require that. I have been persuaded by comments of hon. members opposite, comments of hon. members on this side, and comments of people from outside, that that is not the way to go. If you do that you prevent a lot of people who would otherwise want to be involved from being involved. The way to go is what they are proposing to do in Ottawa, what they have done in Ontario, what they have done in BC, what they have done in Alberta, and require absolute and total disclosure of everything, way beyond what is required now.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

PREMIER WELLS: Okay. So, we chose as between the two systems. We are laying before the House a proposal that involves the second system. Now, let me tell the House, and the minister is hearing what I am saying so if I am saying anything wrong that is not in the legislation, he has responsibility to correct me. My understanding is that the commissioner will be required to disclose, not on request, but will be required to disclose publicly as he has disclosed now, everything that is now contained in the conflict of interest statement, plus some more, Mr. Speaker, that is not now required to be disclosed in the conflict of interest statement. It is no diminution. It is an expansion of what will be disclosed publicly.

Now, Mr. Speaker, instead of using the absolute prohibition alternative, what is proposed is to use the full disclosure alternative. Members are now going to have to disclose how much money their spouses have in their savings account, how much money they themselves have on deposit in deposit certificates, how much they have in their pension funds, all of those personal things, how much money they owe and to whom they owe it. All that will be required that is not now required to be disclosed. There is going to be broad based disclosure.

Are hon. members suggesting that, that private, personal, detailed information should now be made available to the news media for publication in all the news media of the Province? I doubt that is what they are suggesting. I do not think it is. I just regret that there was some misreading of the bill or maybe I have not been explaining it very well in answer to the questions. You chose one system or the other. Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to go back to the other system, absolute prohibition. That is quite acceptable to me. Nobody who sits in this House should have any dealings whatsoever with the government. Now that is quite acceptable to me if that is what the House would prefer, but I am told that rational people elsewhere in the nation, in those three provinces that I named, and at the federal level, and most people who've thought about it here, say: look, Premier, you've taken the wrong approach. You shouldn't have this absolute prohibition. What you require is full disclosure of absolutely everything and the use of a commissioner.

Now this, we believe, is a sensible system. Now we can continue to debate it in Question Period or on second reading of the bill when it comes up, either one, and it doesn't much matter to me, but I believe I've stated everything correctly.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, yes.

PREMIER WELLS: Yes, okay.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, just a final comment on this issue for the moment at least. I don't know who persuaded the Premier to change his mind. If it was his Minister of Justice I would say he's in a very dicey position to do so.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: It wasn't, it was done before.

MR. SIMMS: Done before. Okay. I'll go back to my original question. There are questions that can be raised here. I understand in some jurisdictions in fact the information filed with the commissioner is not in fact privileged information but confidential. Now what the difference is, I don't know, or if there is a difference, or if there's a reason for the difference. I don't know., Maybe the Premier can tell me that. In any event, I guess what we file now is supposed to be confidential to a certain extent.

MR. ROBERTS: No, no, it isn't.

MR. SIMMS: Well. In any event, I want to ask the Premier once again. Because of the fact that there are questions that need to be raised, whether or not he wouldn't consider referring this legislation to the committee for scrutiny, for public input, and passage some time in the New Year? There's no reason to rush it through two or three days before Christmas, no urgency for that.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me deal with the first of his questions. The difference between confidential and privileged. If hon. members are forced by law, in order to take their seats in the House, to disclose to the commissioner their holdings, their monies in their bank account, and the kind and nature of their holdings, if it were not privileged then somebody who had an action, or took an action, for whatever reason, against an hon. member in respect to something and wanted to prove the hon. member's net worth or something, could compel the commissioner to go to court and he would be a competent and compellable witness to give evidence as to this information.

In order to prevent it from being compulsorily disclosed in court at somebody else's action, maybe, against the interest of the member at the time, that's the difference. It's privileged. It's protected against that kind of compulsory disclosure in a court action. Confidential doesn't give it that kind of protection. That's the meaning and significance of the use of the word "privileged." It's a term of art in the law.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the second question, which was also the first question. I'll say again, I don't know what the House Leaders have - but I have no quarrel with it being done, none whatsoever. If this is what the House Leaders work out, in terms of the orderly conduct of the business of the House, I don't quarrel with it. I have no hesitation.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. A question as well to the Premier, carrying forward from yesterday. In response to my question about the Premier's intervention into the dispute between Memorial University and the Auditor General, the Premier said that both parties had, I think he said, registered a complaint with the government, or complained to government.

It concerned me yesterday and it concerns me again today that the Auditor General, an officer of this House, would single out one member of the House who is not, again, a member of the Public Accounts Committee, to intervene in the matter. I want to ask the Premier: when was he contacted by the Auditor General? Did she initiate the contact, or was the action indeed initiated by the Premier?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, I wasn't contacted by the Auditor General, and I haven't contacted the Auditor General, and I haven't spoken to the Auditor General. I saw a letter that the Auditor General wrote... to somebody. I don't know who. And sent - I got a copy of the letter. I also got a copy of a letter that the president of the University wrote to the Minister of Education, I believe, complaining about the circumstances.

So we had the two circumstances. I don't know to whom the Auditor General directed her letter. It may have been to the Minister of Education or it may have been to the Minister of Justice. I don't really know, but I'll get the letter and find out to whom the letter was directed. In any event I was provided with a copy of a letter from the Auditor General complaining about her inability to audit the University.

I was provided with a copy of a letter from the president of the University to the Minister of Education complaining about the request of the Auditor General. I also responded to a request by the president of the University to meet with the president of the University and the Comptroller. I met with the president of the University and the Comptroller, and I believe the Minister of Education was present, and I'm not sure - the Minister of Justice was present as well. So the three of us met with the president of the University in addition, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd just like to remind the Premier that yesterday - and I refer to Hansard, page 3185 - that he said: "The President of the University and the Auditor General both complained to me...." Complained to me. Complained to the government. That's what he said yesterday. Complained to me, specifically, it's in Hansard.

I don't know if the Premier can answer this, because obviously he appears confused on the issue. I'm wondering -

MS. VERGE: He appears uncomfortable on the issue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Very confused on the issue, I say to the Member for Carbonear who in his court jester manner laughs again. What did the Auditor General ask the government to do, I guess, or the Premier to do? What did she ask them to do? Did she herself propose a course of action to the Premier and the government? Or indeed did she only accept an invitation from the Premier to meet with him and the president of the University? Is that really what happened?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education just tells me that there was no request to do anything. She advised us of the circumstance -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible)!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

PREMIER WELLS: No, no. She advised us of the circumstance - I saw a letter from the Auditor General and I'll get it and table it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table it!

PREMIER WELLS: Yes. It's no problem to do that. She advised the Minister of Education of the circumstances, and the president of the University advised and requested a meeting, and we attended the meeting.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what members are so (Inaudible). I wouldn't hesitate to do it all over again. It's the right and responsible thing for the Premier to do. The Premier would be failing in his duty, and, Mr. Speaker, members opposite would be saying: what's the Premier doing sitting idly by and ignoring these complaints? Why hasn't the Premier done something? Mr. Speaker, they can't have their cake and eat it too.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, yes, what a tangled web we weave, and how uncomfortable the Premier looks on this one.

The Auditor General is an officer of this House of Assembly, I remind the Premier - she tabled a report here a couple of weeks ago drawing this matter to the attention of her master, the House of Assembly. Not the Premier. That's the real issue here, Mr. Speaker.

I want to ask the Premier: why did he not inform the president of the University and the Auditor General that he had no right to intervene? The Premier has no right to intervene in this matter. We have a Public Accounts Committee which tabled a special report here a week or so ago. Why didn't the Premier do that and stay out of this matter? Because as I said yesterday, he's setting a very dangerous precedent by intervening in this matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, let me tell the House again. We have reported in detail to the House everything that happened. Because we recognize the position of the Auditor General as an officer of the House. We reported to the House the position when it arose. We reported to the House what we proposed to do in the meeting. We told the House what we proposed to do before we were going to do it.

Mr. Speaker, there is nothing that prevents the Premier from intervening to try and correct this problem, and there is every responsibility on the Premier to do so.

Mr. Speaker, let me ask a question: Why did the former government intervene and appoint Peat, Marwick in March of 1989? Why did they not let the Auditor General audit Memorial? Why? What were they trying to cover up, Mr. Speaker? What was it they were trying to hide? Why did they appoint Peat, Marwick?

Now, Mr. Speaker, here is the reality. The truth bothers them greatly. Here is the reality. The University Act specifically provides - specifically - the University shall be audited by the Auditor General or a firm of chartered accountants to be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

Now why did the hon. members not let the Auditor General audit the University then when he wanted to? Why? I will tell you why - because they acted sensibly and responsibly. They recognized that the University is an independent institution that should not be under arms of government, but at the same time must be required to account because they spend public dollars - a sensible, responsible decision.

So what did they do? They stopped the Auditor General from auditing and appointed Peat, Marwick to do it. I support them in their decision. It was a sensible thing to do because it achieves the two objectives that are desirable.

First, it requires the University to account to the House of Assembly for the expenditure of the funds, though an auditor - a respected auditor to be appointed.

Secondly, it comes closer to preserving the independence of the University from government by not having the Auditor General do it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, when we brought in the new Auditor General's Act we recognized the situation and we made it all-encompassing. We said, ultimately the Auditor General had to have ultimate jurisdiction over every agency that was funded by government where the majority of the members of the board of management was appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council.

That caught the University. It caught the University up in the definition of being an agency of the government, and in a sense that is regrettable because no university wants to be seen to be an agency of the government; but the broad sweeping definition that was employed caught the University as well.

We recognized that it would because we recognize that the University should be responsible to account to this House. So what the legislation - the new Auditor General's Act - provides is: The Auditor General has the right - and this is the first time, I believe, it was that specific. We put the specific provision in there - not trying to cover anything up. We gave the Auditor General the right to supervise the audit done by Peat, Marwick appointed by the hon. members opposite, which is a right the Auditor General did not have before.

The Auditor General had the right to get the books of account, to get the audit and so on, and satisfy herself that the audit was properly done. Furthermore, if the Auditor General was of the opinion that it was not adequately and properly done, the Auditor General has the right to move in and do the audit; but first the Auditor General has to be satisfied that the auditors appointed by the former government did not do an adequate job.

Now that is the way the legislation is drafted. Read it. That is what is there. Read it. We expanded the authority of the Auditor General to make sure that it was accounted for, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, he has gone on that long, I am not sure what I asked. It was a very simple question.

Now the Premier talked about independence of the University. The real question here is the independence of the Auditor General, I say to the Premier. That is what I have been about the last two days. Is the Auditor General, an officer of this Legislature, being independent and removed from the administration? That is the question, and the Premier has intervened in that matter and he should not have done it.

I want to ask the Premier - if he has not already done so; if he has not already had the meeting - will he now do the proper thing and inform the University President and the Auditor General that he acted improperly in setting up the meeting and that he must now call off the meeting and let this House of Assembly, this Legislature, dictate the actions and support the Auditor General in auditing the books of Memorial University of Newfoundland - $130 million expenditure on behalf of the taxpayers, that is what the Premier should be doing, is supporting the Auditor General in auditing the books of the University, Mr.Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the legislation - the Memorial University Act - specifically provides the University shall be audited by the Auditor General, or, a firm of auditors to be appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. It was the members opposite who excluded the Auditor General, not this government. They passed an Order in Council and I will get it and table it, in March of 1989, a month or so before they were turfed out of office, Mr. Speaker.

Now, Mr. Speaker, here is the letter from the Auditor General. The letter from the Auditor General is directed to the Minister of Education, not to this House: I am writing regarding the audit of Memorial University. On May, et cetera, I met with the president. She details her efforts to get it and the refusal of Dr. May: I expressed my concern to Dr. May, over this matter. Section 17 of the Auditor General's Act requires an agency of the Crown to provide me with access to its records and various other information. She is absolutely right, it does too.

Section 20 of the act also provides me with authority to station my employee; she is right, but first she has to get by section 14, which is in her opinion, the audit that was done by the auditor appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, the former government, was unsatisfactory. If she is of that opinion, she has every right to go in there and audit and the University cannot refuse her and we will do everything within our power to empower her to do so. All she has to do is tell this House, the audit done by the auditors appointed by the former government is unsatisfactory. When she does that she will have whatever force government can bring to bear, brought to bear to cause her to audit the University.

She goes on to explain exactly what she did and the refusal. The private sector auditors have refused to make available, she says. The authority to audit Memorial University is derived from the Auditor General's Act which was enacted. Now she quotes section 17, but she does not quote section 14, sub-section (1) unfortunately. She goes on in the final paragraph of the letter, Mr. Speaker: My purpose in writing you at this time is to inform you of the situation. Well, why in Heaven's name was she going to inform the minister of the situation if she did not expect him to do something about it?

MR. ROBERTS: Exactly.

PREMIER WELLS: Of course: and express my extreme concern over the actions of the officials of Memorial University. I would also like to indicate that I have retained legal counsel in an effort to resolve this matter.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we do not want to see a legal dispute in the courts between the Auditor General and the University and if members will refer to my Ministerial statement of two or three days ago, it said precisely that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Answers to Questions

For which Notice has been Given

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Can I now answer the question, just asked: Is the Premier going to table that letter? Yes, Mr. Speaker, here it is, it is tabled. We only have one copy of it, so I would appreciate you taking a copy and giving it back to me.

Orders of the Day

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, at this stage let me tell the House what we propose on this side to ask the House to address today. I would say to my hon. friend the House Leader on the other side, that I have not had a chance to speak to any of my colleagues since he and I met late this morning. So, the issues that were pending ad referendum, are still ad referendum until he and I can meet perhaps behind the Chair in a moment or two, Sir.

I would first ask your honour to call Bill 70 which is the Ticket Act, the Summary Proceedings, Liquor Control, Motorized Snow Vehicles Amendment Act, it is Order 39, my hon. friend adjourned the debate on that, so he will presumably want to take up the debate and carry on with the burden of his remarks. Then we shall go, assuming we get through that at some point, Mr. Speaker, to Bill 74 which is the Elections Act, the Jury Act and the old Election Act, that is Order 40. Then we shall go to Bill 17 and a half, as we call it on this side, which is Bill No. 64, Order 36: An Act To Amend The Public Sector Restraint Act 1992. When we have done that, we will at some point sooner or later, today, tomorrow, Saturday, Sunday, whenever, at some point we will have done it, I shall then ask the House to go into committee and my proposal, Mr. Speaker, is that we deal with the matters standing at committee stage in the order they are listed on the order paper and to that end may I move at this point, Mr. Speaker, the House do not adjourn at 5:00 p.m.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that the Government House Leader and I will meet shortly to talk but there is a matter that he has just raised by moving the motion not to adjourn at 5:00 p.m. My understanding is and I had hoped that we could have had a chance to speak to the Speaker or the Clerk about -

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman and I -

AN HON. MEMBER: Withdraw your motion.

MR. ROBERTS: No, no I do not mind withdrawing the motion, as long as I get back on the floor before 5:00 p.m. that is no problem.

Mr. Speaker, by leave then, if I may have leave of the House I will withdraw the motion until the hon. gentleman and I have had a chance to attend on you and we will bring it back, that is fine, I mean I have no problem with that. I just asked leave of the House if anybody wants to object, he or she has the right to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: So we are not putting the motion now? So I understand that the hon. member has withdrawn the motion, okay. The Bill was Bill 70 it was adjourned.

MR. ROBERTS: My hon. friend adjourned the debate on it.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I had a few words on this Bill, I think it was Tuesday evening I believe if my memory serves me correctly, after the day we had yesterday it is hard to remember what day it is but it was Tuesday evening just before we adjourned around 7:00 p.m. that I had a few words on Bill 70, I think I basically said all I wanted to say on it then. It seems to be a pretty straightforward piece of legislation to expand the ticketing system for violations of provincial statutes to include offenses against the Liquor Control Act, Motorized Snow Vehicle and All-Terrain Vehicles Act. So I think I have said pretty well as much as I want to say, Mr. Speaker, so I will sit down.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to speak in a second reading stage on this legislation which is going to amend the Summary Proceedings Act, Liquor Control Act and Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicle Act. All of these Acts, Mr. Speaker, are being changed to accommodate the enforcement of legislation which is a topic, Mr. Speaker, of great interest to me. It was also of great interest to me when we were dealing with the Child Welfare Act immediately proceeding this Act, the other evening in the House, unfortunately I did not have a chance to speak about the Child Welfare Act amendments, although I had been, one of those members who had been urging upon the House the passage of such legislation and to bringing it forward.

The amendment to the Summary Proceedings Act of course is also something that is done in the Child Welfare Act amendments, Bill 68. In talking about enforcement of legislation it is of course very important that legislation we have on the books be enforceable. That of course was the problem with the Child Welfare Act, the old Section 49 now Section 38 of the Act. Going back many, many years, Mr. Speaker, the government and the previous government were well aware that that piece of legislation, for example, was not enforceable, and that Section 49 of the Child Welfare Act, now Section 38, had never, ever been enforced. At no time was there any successful prosecution under Section 49 of the former Child Welfare Act and Section 38 of the current one.

It came as a great shock to discover that and that was something that was well known in circles in the Department of Justice for many years, and certainly within the Child Welfare Division for many years. In fact some of the more shocking revelations, the most modern scandals having to do with people in high places being involved in sexual assaults of minors came to the attention of the public as a result, I believe, in the first instance of the arrest of Dr. Stephen Collins and him being charged with offenses against minors while employed in a position of authority in a hospital in the Province of Newfoundland, it transpired that this information of what had happened to him was known. What he had been engaged in with minors was known to officials in the employ of the hospital system. The administrator of the hospital I am told, Mr. Speaker, in fact brought Dr. Collins to Port aux Basques to be transported out of the Province, while in place was Section 49 of the Child Welfare Act requiring someone who had knowledge of the information involving the abuse of a child to report that.

When that came to the attention of the public it was a great shock but the difficulty at that point in time was that the Summary Proceedings Act, which is also being amended by the legislation before us, the Summary Proceedings Act required that a charge to be laid against such an individual for failing to report child welfare abuse had to be made within one year of the knowledge of the action that took place. And that one year period of course had expired when it came to the attention of the public and the courts.

So, we see, Mr. Speaker, the importance of having legislation that is enforceable and we see by looking at Bill 70, that when the Justice Department or government decide they want to have a more efficient system of bringing in methods of charging people, bringing them to court, giving tickets, collecting fines, they can do it very quickly. This piece of legislation, Mr. Speaker, I would estimate was probably put together in a matter of a few days by some clever people in the Legislative Council sitting down and figuring out how to do it. Purely technical, Mr. Speaker, the technical amendments to the Summary Proceedings Act, Liquor Control Act, Motorized Snow Vehicles And All-terrain Vehicles Act, just as the amendment to the Child Welfare Act, Bill 68, which was debated for about an hour in the House the other day was a purely technical amendment to the Child Welfare Act, one that could have been done in a couple of days, if that, by a competent member of the Legislative Council. He might have to do a little bit of research, talk to a few people, spend a couple of hours in the Legislative Library examining the statutes in other provinces, and presto, in forty-eight hours we have an amendment to the Child Welfare Act to cure an evil that was well known in this Province for many years.

It was well known at the time of the Hughes Commission, which started in 1989. It was well known at the time of the conviction of Dr. Stephen Collins, which happened some several years before that. It was well known by officials of the Justice Department long ago that there was a defect in that legislation.

So instead of fixing that legislation in forty-eight hours, which is all the time it would take to put together a half-decent draft of an amendment that would make enforceable such legislation, instead of that we had to wait the three and a half years that this government has been in office. Perhaps we can say we had to wait another several years that the previous government was in office when officials of the Justice Department knew that there was a defect in the legislation and that it needed to be fixed.

We can come here on very short notice and fix up the Summary Proceedings Act, fix up the Liquor Control Act and fix up the Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act - to do what? To make it more efficient to collect money. That's what we're doing. That's what we're being asked to do here today. To make it more efficient for the Province to collect money through fines and parking tickets. I'm not against that. But that can be done on very short notice with a technical amendment to the Act; yet we had to wait three years for this government to bring in an amendment to the Child Welfare Act, Bill 68, which was debated - although only for a very short time - in the House a couple of days ago.

So I say that we have a problem here, that the priorities of this government seem to be all wrong. They can act quickly when it comes to fixing up the parking violations system, when there's problems in making sure that we are more efficient in collecting parking tickets or collecting fines from people who are charged with illegal possession of liquor. We can do that in a matter of days. In fact, we had the Bill printed up a couple of days ago, debated in the House today, it'll probably be passed by Christmas. That's how fast these things can be done when there's a political will on the part of the government to fix up some technical defects in legislation that can ensure adequate and efficient prosecution of offenses. That can be done.

So why when it's something as important as the Child Welfare Act, an obvious wrong and crime against young children being allowed to be perpetrated by officials knowing - officials, professionals, neighbours, individuals - knowing that a child is being abused, sexually, physically, or otherwise, having a requirement on paper at least to report such crimes, but being able to relax in the satisfaction of knowing that: number one, not one single person has ever been prosecuted for violating the failure to report, and number two, that even if they did you could probably hire some clever lawyer to get you off because the legislation was unenforceable?

Now that evil was allowed to continue in this Province by this government for in excess of three years. At the time that the Hughes enquiry started, in April of 1989, it was announced by the former Minister of Justice, the Member for Humber East. At that time it was well known within the Justice Department - not necessarily by the minister, I don't know what the minister's knowledge was - but I do know that it was known inside the Justice Department that Section 49 of the Child Welfare Act was there. They knew also that there had never been anybody prosecuted for it.

The Dr. Stephen Collins case was already well known throughout the Province. It was well known that individuals in high administrative places in the Public Service of this Province were aware of what had been going on long before Dr. Stephen Collins was charged and prosecuted for child abuse. They did not carry out their obligations under the Child Welfare Act, and no effort was made to enforce that legislation or to see whether it was enforceable, until we had this legislation brought into the House last week, printed up on a day's notice. Nobody even knew what the amendments were, Mr. Speaker. I had phone calls Monday of this week asking what the amendments to the Child Welfare Act were; well, I said I didn't know, I had no idea. They had given notice in the House to bring them in but they hadn't given us a copy of them. We didn't get a copy until Tuesday, and by 6:30 on Tuesday, it had received second reading - with one speaker from the Opposition.

Mr. Speaker, I don't know what the government is trying to hide - whether they don't want to have debates on these issues because it will give too much knowledge of either their incompetence - and I will give them a choice - either their incompetence in being able to put together a simple, technical amendment to the Child Welfare Act in three-and-a-half years, either incompetence in not being able to do that, Mr. Speaker, or their lack of concern; take your pick. The government can have it either way, either they are incompetent in not being able to put together a simple amendment to a piece of legislation in three-and-a-half years or they don't care - one or the other, Mr. Speaker.

If they cared about the effectiveness of the child welfare legislation, they would have brought the amendment in three years ago, when it was known that this was a problem, and would have also benefitted in bringing in legislation of this nature, legislation such as Bill 70 and Bill 68, in bringing in legislation about the requirements of the law, that there be some extended debate on it, that there be sufficient debate and public discussion about these issues, that the public gets an opportunity to understand exactly what their obligations are when it comes to reporting incidents of child abuse.

The reporting of a crime, Mr. Speaker, I mean, many people think you are obliged to report a crime; well, you are not. You can stand around and watch somebody commit a crime; you can watch somebody steal from a store, and you have no obligation to report that under law. Morally, you may have, but there is no obligation to report such a crime unless the law says so, and Bill 68 -

AN HON. MEMBER: What bill?

MR. HARRIS: Bill 68.

This bill requires that such a reporting be done and that you have three years to prosecute. There is a Summary Proceedings Act in Bill 70, for example, which we are on right now, that is being amended to permit a different form of prosecution to take place for provincial ticket offenses, Liquor Control Act offenses and offenses under The Motorized Snow Vehicles And All-Terrain Vehicles Act under Bill 70. Bill 68 amends The Summary Proceedings Act, amends The Child Welfare Act, but both bills deal with the enforcement of laws and the enforcement of legislation - both of them, Mr. Speaker.

In their different ways they deal with the enforcement of legislation and how can we separate the two, I say to the Member for Port de Grave, who is looking for an opportunity to interrupt my speech. The Child Welfare Act, which we amended and which passed second reading the other day, requires the reporting of an offence. That is unusual, but it is done because it is important to do so. And it is important that when legislation such as that is passed that there be sufficient opportunity to debate the legislation and to make sure that individuals who are affected by it, such as in this case, health care professionals, teachers, school principals, social workers, clergypersons, rabbi, operators and employers of day care centres, all of these people, are required to bring this to the attention of a social worker and initially to the police, so it is very useful legislation.

I didn't hear anybody raise the question of what happens if an individual speaks to a clergyperson in the confidence of the confessional, or whatever the equivalent is in other religions, and advises the clergyperson that that individual has engaged in certain abusive practices with a child, whether that is going to relieve a priest or the confessor of the right to keep the secrets. No one raised that in our debate. I don't know how the legislation intends to deal with that. I guess that is being left to the courts, although our own Evidence Act might have something to say about it.

Mr. Speaker, the legislation that is before us now, which is going to make more efficient the collecting of tickets, that is legislation that I think we can support. But I say to hon. members that if this fairly complex piece of legislation - and in looking at it I see that in it, a great deal of technical changes are being made to a whole series of acts: the enforcement of The Highway Traffic Act, the various municipal acts of the City of St. John's, Corner Brook, Mount Pearl and other municipalities, The Memorial University Act, The Works, Services and Transportation Act, The Dangerous Goods Transportation Act, The Motor Carrier Act, The Liquor Control Act. All of these acts are being amended in a fairly complex, technical amendment that has been put before this House, having been drafted, I would suspect, in the matter of a few days, when the government saw it was important to do this.

Why did we not have an amendment to The Child Welfare Act three years ago, or more, when it was being made obvious that an amendment was needed to be able to prosecute individuals who had failed to report that child abuse was occurring which they were aware of.

MR. HODDER: What bill is this?

MR. HARRIS: The bill that we are debating right now is Bill 70. Bill 68 was the very short debate we had the other day -

MR. HODDER: I heard, yes.

MR. HARRIS: - when the government decided it didn't want to have anybody speak, other than the one speaker from the Opposition; and the minister, of course, in contravention of the long-standing and almost unanimous traditions of the House, failed to allow any other debate to take place after he had risen -

AN HON. MEMBER: Shameful!

MR. HARRIS: - in what the Member for Port au Port says was a shameful display, and I couldn't agree more, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I have taken some of the time of this House on Bill 70 to make some of the remarks that I would have made on Bill 68. I do want to get these remarks on the record, for it is an example, and perhaps it is just as well, at this stage, that we are discussing these two bills together, because when you contrast the one with the other - Bill 70 providing amendments to a whole series of acts to ensure that the prosecution of these acts, the ticket offenses under The Liquor Control Act, under The Highway Traffic Act, under The Motorized Snow Vehicles and All-Terrain Vehicles Act, these prosecutions occur in an efficient manner so that not too much time of the courts is taken up and that people do not have certain kinds of technical defenses that they would otherwise have - I think it is a good thing we cleaned that up.

Mr. Speaker, why did we have to wait three-and-a-half years for this government to bring in other amendments, such as to The Child Welfare Act, on a much more important issue, having to do with the protection of children in this Province?

Mr. Speaker, those are my remarks and, in conclusion, I would say that I support, in principle, the legislation here under Bill 70. Not only did I support, in principle, Bill 68, the legislation of The Child Welfare Act, I had urged the government on numerous occasions to bring in such an amendment and I was desirous of speaking to it when it came before the House at second reading.

Mr. Speaker, I thank hon. members for their rapt attention to my remarks, and I will end my remarks on that point.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice. If he speaks now he will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have heard what the hon. gentleman has said, and all I can say is I don't find his arguments persuasive. So, I simply move that the bill now be read -

MR. HARRIS: I supported it.

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

MR. HARRIS: I said, I supported it.

MR. ROBERTS: In that case, I still don't find it supportive. I wonder what I have done wrong, that the hon. gentleman is supporting it.

Mr. Speaker, I move the bill now be read a second time.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Summary Proceedings Act, The Liquor Control Act And The Motorized Snow Vehicles And All-Terrain Vehicles Act," read a second time, referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 70).

Could we call the next bill, which is Bill 74, Sir? I am not sure of the order, I had it written down, but it is The Elections Act amendment, Mr. Speaker.

(Inaudible) for the Speaker to a) call it, and b) recognise it.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Election Act, The Jury Act, 1991, And The Elections Act, 1991". (Bill No. 74).

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Let me first of all say that while it may be fair to say that some of the legislation that has come into the House this session has not been widely heralded to the hon. members before it came in here, that this one, hon. gentlemen will agree, will not come as any surprise. I can say that with no hesitation and with the knowledge there can be no possible contradiction. Because I met with two or three members of the Opposition, including my friend for Kilbride and one or two of his colleagues, and I met subsequently with my friend -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - my friend from St. John's East when he returned from a private venture which I hope continues to bring him much happiness. At that meeting I told him what would be in this bill.

The bill amends three separate bits of legislation and they are all spelled out in the title to the bill. The first is The Election Act, which is part of the Revised Statutes of Newfoundland, 1990, and that is the Election Act that is still in force. It is essentially the act that has been in force in this Province for at least the twenty-five years that I have been actively involved in the electoral process. It may even be older than that. But that is the bill under which, for example, this House of Assembly was elected, the law under which I was elected in the by-election down in Naskaupi, and my friend for Ferryland was elected in the by-election in Ferryland district in June.

The second is The Jury Act, 1991, which is a new piece of legislation that was adopted, obviously, in 1991. I will in due course come to the connection. The third is The Elections Act, 1991, which is a separate statute from The Election Act, part of the RSNs.

The Elections - plural - Act, 1991 is the statute that was adopted by this House in 1991 that has in it the reforms on which the House, as I understood it, unanimously agreed. I believe there was a committee chaired by my friend from Eagle River that held some hearings, and in due course they came back and made a report, there were some changes made and we carried on. The House, in my understanding, adopted the bill without any dissenting voice.

Mr. Mitchell, the new Chief Electoral Officer, initially under my ministerial direction - and I use the 'ministerial' because I have little to do with this type of activity - but now more and more on his own. Given the resolution adopted by the House earlier in the week, at the Premier's motion, Mr. Mitchell, the Chief Electoral Officer, is hard at work working out the implementation of the new Elections Act, and it is as a consequence of what we have learned as we came to bring the new Elections Act into play that we bring this bill before the House and ask the House to adopt it at second reading and it due course to make it into law.

Mr. Speaker, let me first of all address the reason why the Jury Act is in here. The Jury Act is in here because the new procedure we want to adopt, that has been enshrined in the Jury Act adopted by the House, that new procedure uses the voters list as the basis from which are drawn the panels of jurors. Now, that is a new procedure. Hitherto there was another list, a jurors list from which jurors were drawn. Of course I speak of jurors in criminal trials and I suppose it would be jurors in a civil trial. Our rules of court allow them but they are certainly the exception rather than the rule. It is possible. I am not sure when the last civil jury trial was held here, a year or two ago, in fact, I guess.

Mr. Speaker, the Jury Act uses the Election Act list, the voters list, and that is the connection between the two. I will see if I understand it sufficiently to outline it. The last enumeration was done in 1988 and that is the basis for the voters list on which the 1989 election was conducted and on which all the subsequent by-elections were conducted. The voters list is good for five years so I could say to hon. gentlemen this one is good until November 1993. It was adopted formally by the Cabinet in November 1988. If members want I can get a copy of the Order in Council or a reference to it, but it became law for these purposes in November 1988 and it is good for any election held within five years, in fact any election called within five years of that date. So, if we have an election anytime before next November, eleven months from now, that voters list is a good one. Will we have an election before then? Only the Premier knows. Not even my friend for Baie Verte - White Bay who is temporary acting Premier knows. Although he is in the Premier's Chair, and welcome he is, only the Premier knows because the Constitution reserves that right to the Premier of the Province. That is point one.

Point two, is that the voters list is badly out of date. Hon. gentlemen opposite, I know, work with it the same as we do. In Ferryland district about 20 per cent of the people who voted last June were sworn in. In Naskaupi it was about 40 per cent. Now, that reflects two things. It reflects the fact that new voters come on the list all the time. Some leave the Province or die but younger people grow up, become of age, become eighteen, and go on. In fact anybody who was thirteen or fourteen years of age in 1988 is today eighteen years of age and eligible to vote, so these new voters must be sworn. There is a procedure but nonetheless they must be sworn.

Secondly, and this is particularly true in my district, you have a lot of people coming and going. There may not be quite as much movement in Ferryland but we are a very mobile Province for whatever reason, economic, social, whatever the factors we are a very mobile people. I would think, Mr. Speaker, that if we were to have a general election today on the present list the officials would have to swear in at least 20 per cent of the people who voted. Now, the total vote is 300,000 people in an normal election, that is the size of the vote we get, so you have 60,000 or 70,000 people to be sworn in. If you take fifty-two districts that is 1400 people a district. If you take forty polling booths in the average district, I suppose around the Province, that is forty people in each polling booth. That is a very big administrative job. Even it were not a requirement of the law that we do a new voters' list we should be doing one simply because the old list is outdated. Remember, Mr. Speaker, we use a permanent voters list in this Province and to my knowledge always have. I remember in Ottawa in the federal elections, as we saw in the referendum, every time they have an election they have to take a new voters' list. They did one for the referendum last Fall. That was an election with everything except candidates and they took a full voters' list. That is what drives the cost so high in a federal election. It also means you have to have a much longer period. The minimum federal period is fifty-six days and I think half of that or more goes simply to taking up the voters' list.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we accordingly want to take up a new voters' list. In fact there was provision this year in the estimates of my department to enable us to do so but we have not done it. We have not done it because we were waiting for the new chief electoral officer to come into place because he will carry out the enumeration and we wanted to have him in place to do it. So, we put it off until he got in place, it was late September I think before Mr. Mitchell was appointed, it was in the motion that was in the House, that was the end of September as I recall it, and by that time and by the time we got preparations under way, we are into the Winter weather and the feeling was that we should wait until the weather is a little more clement. So, there will be a voters list taken up some time in February, March, April, whenever the chief electoral officer decides to do it. That's his decision and we will be asking the House in due course to provide enough money in the 1993-94 estimates to cover the cost of taking up an enumeration, it is about $750,000.

Point three, the franchise under the new Elections Act is different than the franchise under the old Elections Act. There are some very substantial differences. The new one I think is an improvement because it widens the list of those eligible to vote. So, that led us to the position where we would have to look possibly at two enumerations - double the cost but not double the fun. We would end up doing one under the old Act and one under the new Act. Now, why not simply proclaim the new Act? The answer is, the new Act is going to require a great deal of administrative machinery, we are just not ready to proclaim it yet. We just have not got all the machinery in place. I will come back to that.

So, the provisions of this Bill, Mr. Speaker, would allow us, if the House adopts it, would allow the chief electoral officer who has just been unanimously approved by every member of the House, the whole House, to conduct an enumeration using the new franchise, the franchise of the 1991 Act, and using the machinery of the 1990 Act, the only machinery that is in place, the same machinery that has been in place for - I can tell twenty-five years of my own knowledge, my friend from Twillingate could speak of thirty years because it is thirty years since he first entered this House as a member, will allow that to be done and will allow the list to be regarded as the permanent voters list under the new Elections Act, the 1991 Act. That is really no more complicated than that.

There are one or two other things that we do. There are some minor consequential amendments that ought to have been picked up, I would have said in the earlier, in the 1991 Act for whatever reason, but were not. For example, we are removing the requirement that the list of electors must be posted on utility poles. There is a different way to do it, that is in Clause 3. We are confirming that if we produce a list by mechanical or electronic means, in this age of the computer, that that is as good as a printed original list. I mean these are just minor technical matters, but they have an importance. There is an amendment that allows us to continue to use forms that have the references to the RSN 1970 on it as if they were printed under the 1990 Act. I mean not terribly important but we would not want somebody going to court in the middle of an election and getting an order from a judge who says: I can only look at the law and apply it and the law says these forms should say RSN 1990, they say RSN 1970, put off your election until you get the printers to do the new forms.

Foolishness, but occasionally these things do happen and we have to deal with them.

The other thing we would do, Mr. Speaker, and this is again a point I had raised with my friend from Kilbride, is we are asking the House to give us authority to proclaim the Act by parts. The Elections Act 1991 by parts and the reason for that is spelled out in here: the new Act has a new scheme to governing all of election finances, all election financing. It governs contributions, requires disclosure, puts limits on them. It governs expenditure, it requires disclosure, puts limits on it. It requires extensive reporting mechanisms. It also allows tax credits for contributions to registered parties and there will be at least three registered parties in this Province because the definition of registered parties was drawn quite deliberately to ensure that all the three parties that are widely represented in the Province can qualify and it is not difficult for any new party to come in. I forget, you have to run what?... fourteen candidates in a general election. There is a definition in the Act. It is rather easy to attain and if a group could not attain it, they should not be a registered party, in our judgement, but it is not difficult to become a registered party in this Province.

The financial requirements apply at two levels. They apply to the Province wide parties. The Liberal Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and I assume it is the Progressive Conservative Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, my membership card seems to have gotten lost in the mail, and the NDP, I think they have a separate association but anyway the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP Party by whatever name it goes.

They also apply the requirements at the district association level, and I think as we began to get into it, and this is what I was hearing from our party people, and my friend, the Leader of the Opposition I think was hearing the same thing from his district party people and I suspect the Leader of the NDP, the Member for St. John's East, was hearing it from their district party people as well, is that, it would be relatively easy to apply it at the Province-wide level, but much more difficult to apply it at the district association level, and we talked to Mr. Mitchell and he acknowledges this, he agrees and indeed we feel there would be a need for an extensive training program and all these things to be done. So the purpose of putting this in here is to allow us to bring in the bill by parts or by sections and that is found in clause 7 of the bill and you will note, Mr. Speaker, the specific reference to the district association, and if you track it back to the original act, that is what section 339, sub-section (2) does, that is the tax credit and the requirement.

So, Mr. Speaker, that is the bill, it is a fairly technical matter but it is of some importance in a matter that is fairly close to home, because there is a reasonably good chance there will be an election I would think within the next couple of weeks -

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. ROBERTS: Couple weeks?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, no.

MR. ROBERTS: We will give them Christmas off, a couple days, maybe.

MR. SMALL: Mr. Speaker, I am thinking about two months.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend who is currently occupying the Premier's chair, I do not know how that is going to look in Hansard, my friend who is currently occupying the Premier's chair at 3:20 p.m. on the afternoon of December 17th, says he is currently thinking of a couple of months. Now historians can make what they want of that at Hansard. My friend from Baie Verte - White Bay, who is currently occupying the Premier's chair is thinking of a couple of months. I have no idea what the other occupant of that chair is thinking; he keeps that very much to himself as he has every right to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Anyway, there will be an election, where it is only an act of christian charity, the spirit of christian goodwill that we have not put hon. gentlemen opposite, we do not want them to be on the unemployment list until after Christmas because they do not get stamps in their present business and if Don Mazankowski has his way, they will not get them ever.

AN HON. MEMBER: Will we get a package?

MR. ROBERTS: Get a package? Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend for Kilbride, I understand he has his package all arranged and my friend for Port au Port as well. I know about the package because until I came back in this House, I was a beneficiary of the package, my own, my very own moratorium package. My friend for Port au Port has announced he will not be seeking re-election, my friend for Kilbride has announced he will not be seeking re-election, they will be getting their own moratorium package in due course. The Minister of Finance will personally deliver the cheque, it may be wrapped around a rock. The Minister of Finance will personally deliver the cheque and it will not even be wrapped around a rock.

But now, Mr. Speaker, that is what the bill seeks to achieve, we do intend to proceed with all speed to proclaim the new act and bring it into play; the chief electoral officer has quite specific directions from the Cabinet, the necessary financial arrangements have been made and I must say Mr. Mitchell has seized on his duties. I want to record a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Collins, who took over when Mr. Whelan left unexpectedly, I think it is fair to say. Mrs. Isabelle Collins became the acting chief electoral officer and she carried on and performed superbly and the government and the House in my view, owe her a debt of gratitude.

Mr. Mitchell has seized hold of his new duties, there is a blizzard of memoranda coming across my desk, he is getting into it; my friend, the Leader of the Opposition, the Member for Grand Falls, would know Mr. Mitchell from a previous incarnation and he is an absolutely superb official who is going to do a very thorough professional job with this.

Mr. Speaker, before I move the bill be read a second time, I have spoken with my friend, the Member for Grand Bank, whom I assume has spoken with his colleague, the Leader of the Opposition. May I move now that the House not rise at five o'clock this afternoon and I will later be moving a motion that the House not rise - well let me move them both now. Well let us dispose of that motion first, then I will have another motion, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: You have heard the motion that the House not rise at five.

All those in favour, 'aye'?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Against?

AN HON. MEMBER: Nay.

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I would move further that the House not rise at ten, and let me say we have no intention at this time of going beyond ten, but we shall have to see how she lays, as the songs says. I move that the House not rise at ten, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: You have heard the motion that the House not rise at ten, all those in favour, 'aye'?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. SPEAKER: Against?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I move the bill be read a second time and other hon. gentlemen speak.

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I know my colleague, the Member for Kilbride has some points to make in this debate and I believe but I am not sure, but I suspect the Member for St. John's East has. I have to leave the House shortly so I wanted to just make a few comments.

I would like to take the opportunity, if I might, to make a comment with respect to the appointment by the House of the chief electoral officer, which was done I believe yesterday. I've been off -

AN HON. MEMBER: Tuesday.

MR. SIMMS: Tuesday, was it? I've been off ill -

AN HON. MEMBER: Yesterday was a productive work day.

MR. SIMMS: The last government day, I guess. Yesterday was nobody's day, as I understand the newscast.

Mr. Speaker, I've been ill for a couple of days so I didn't have an opportunity to be here and to participate. I would have liked to. The Minister of Justice and the Premier both know of my support for the appointment of Mr. Mitchell in that position. The Premier did consult with me some time ago and told me he was considering Mr. Mitchell's name as the chief electoral officer. My recollection of Mr. Mitchell's work habits as a former assistant deputy minister, I believe, at Public Works when I remember him -

MR. R. AYLWARD: Deputy one time.

MS. VERGE: Deputy of Public Works.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Was it Public Works?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes.

MR. SIMMS: Then deputy minister, I guess. Anyway, I know he was also assistant clerk of the Cabinet, if I remember, for social policy, and dealt quite frequently with social policy Cabinet ministers way back when. Back in the 'eighties sometime.

In any event, the point I make is that he is not only a very competent individual but he is, as the Minister of Justice just described him, a very thorough individual. I can assure you, and members of the House - not that they need assurance, I suppose, because they obviously have approved the resolution anyway - but I feel pretty confident that everything that has to be done will be done thoroughly, properly. If there's any criticism of Mr. Mitchell it might be that he follows the book a little bit too much, some people would have said in the past. But I feel confident he'll do a great job and I just wanted to take the opportunity under this debate, even though it's not absolutely pertinent, to pass along those comments for the record.

With respect to this particular piece of legislation I have no great difficulties with what's being attempted here by the government, what the government would like to do with the legislation. In fact I don't intend to even debate it in detail. The changes to the Jury Act and the amendments to provide for the new electors list to be taken, we support. We don't have any difficulties with it. There are other matters that we will want to raise with respect to the reforms of the Elections Act - plural, as the Minister of Justice called it. The legislation that was dealt with by the Committee chaired by the Member for Eagle River, I believe it was. Under this particular Bill there are other matters that I know members on this side would wish to raise and want to raise. Perhaps members over there want to raise as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) special ballot.

MR. SIMMS: The special ballot. I think my friend for Kilbride certainly wants to have a few words about that issue. I just want to talk about the last issue that the Minister of Justice referred to, about delaying proclamation of the aspects of that new Elections Act which was passed in the House in the spring that applied to the district associations.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to confirm for the House that I had some discussions with both the Premier and the Minister of Justice in the past and did indicate to them, on behalf of our Party, that a lot of our district association people, having looked at the legislation, do have a number of concerns with respect to being in a position and to finding people - volunteers - who would be ready to take on the responsibilities that are going to be heaped upon them or would have been heaped upon them, under the legislation that we passed in the Spring of the year.

There are a lot of responsibilities to be applied to volunteers under that legislation and we felt - and we had feedback from our own district associations - we felt that there was going to be a lot of unnecessary responsibility heaped upon them, without having the opportunity to learn more about the legislation because it is very complex, complicated, with a lot of financial restrictions and responsibilities there that you are going to ask volunteers to undertake. We felt that was a bit heavy and a bit too much without having some proper training.

In fact, we talked to the previous Chief Electoral Officer, who had indicated to us that it was his intention that he would like to do some planning - he would like to have some sessions held, maybe, throughout the Province for the people who would be involved with the various political parties, to sit down with them and explain what is in the legislation, what their responsibilities would be under the legislation and so on, some training sessions, which I believe the Minister of Justice has indicated Mr. Mitchell has also said should be done.

So it is really for that reason that that aspect of the legislation that heaps a lot of financial responsibility on volunteers should be perhaps delayed and not implemented prior to the next provincial election.

In terms of fund-raising and so on, I am not sure - I have not had a chance to go through it in any detail. Perhaps the minister can comment on it when he closes the debate. I would assume it also applies to the fund-raising efforts of district associations and that they will not be able to use the tax credit thing; they would not be able to do that at the district level.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Well that is the only point I was going to make. I would assume and presume, and maybe the minister can confirm it when he stands, for the record, that if a member - if the Member for Carbonear has a contributor who wants to make a contribution to his election campaign, presumably he can go through his provincial party and the party can take the contribution, issue the tax credit and then give the money out to -

MR. ROBERTS: As long as they take the responsibility for reporting and receiving it, the party could do that.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, okay, but he would still have to report it as a - the party would have to report it as a -

MR. ROBERTS: A donation to the party.

MR. SIMMS: - a donation to the party, and the member would have to report it in his annual statement at the end of the year as a donation he received.

MR. ROBERTS: But it is separate. It would not apply to members (inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: This legislation - but under the present legislation members have to submit a financial statement at the end of every election - right?

AN HON. MEMBER: Only expenses, not donations.

MR. SIMMS: Only expenditures, so they would not have to report their income.

AN HON. MEMBER: The party would do that.

MR. SIMMS: The party would have to report it but the individual would not.

Nevertheless the point is, of course, that members can still do it if they have contributors and there is not a big concern with respect to that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: Yes.

So, Mr. Speaker, I just want to confirm for the House that we do not have any real difficulty with these specific amendments - these changes. We support them. We agree with them; but there are some other issues, such as a special ballot that I know the Member for Kilbride will speak to on our behalf and with which we still have some difficulties. It is under the old legislation. Therefore, I guess, it is pertinent to raise it now under these proposed amendments.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I just want to be brief, as I usually am, on this piece of legislation and raise a couple of points.

The first point I wish to raise in this matter, and I guess it is more for the present Government House Leader's attention than anyone else in the House. He referred to the original passing of The Elections Act in this House, which went through fairly smoothly after some small debate.

I suggest to the hon. the Government House Leader that the main reason for that is the exact reason why we have requested, over the last week or so, to have other legislation put before the Legislation Review Committees.

This legislation, or that legislation at the time, went before the Privileges and Elections Committee. I had the privilege of serving on that committee with our Chairperson, the Member for Eagle River, the Member for Carbonear, the Member for Port au Port, and the Member for Pleasantville.

Mr. Speaker, that is the place to get your misunderstandings ironed out - is the way I would put it - and it is the place to try to improve a bill, rather than come into this House of Assembly a week before Christmas and try to iron out problems that you, one side or the other, might have with the legislation that is being presented.

If all of this legislation, and particularly the important legislation, were put to the Legislation Review Committees, in time - give them some time to work on it - I think that we would not have nearly as many yesterdays with what happened in this House yesterday, as we would ordinarily have.

Part of the reason for what happened in this House yesterday - and what did happen was nothing for any of us to be proud of - but part of the reason for that is a lack of co-operation. Partly, the blame may be on both sides. But there was no lack of co-operation here before the new Government House Leader took over.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible) that is not nice.

MR. R. AYLWARD: It is not nice. I agree wholeheartedly with the Member for Placentia, that it is not nice. It should never have happened among a bunch of so-called intelligent leaders of our Legislature. But it is happening. Why is it happening? It is happening because of the present Government House Leader. There is no other reason.

The Government House Leader brings in bills like Bill 74, which is a fairly innocuous bill, I suppose. This bill here would not go to the committee now because it had been dealt with. Mr. Speaker, other bills that we have on our agenda here are very important bills, important to members on both sides. One of the reasons why I enjoyed the Legislation Review Committees and enjoyed serving on them - and I also enjoyed the Estimates Committees when they were brought into this House of Assembly by a former administration - especially when I was a backbencher, and now that I am an Opposition member.

Those committees gave me a chance to get in and learn about the bill and get some detail on the bill so that when it came to this House of Assembly I wasn't just forced to read over some legal jargon as presented in a bill and try to deal with it in that manner. I could hear what other people thought about the bill, when it goes to committees, and I could form opinions from a broad variety of views on a certain bill, which is the way that we all should try to do in this House of Assembly.

One of this reasons why this bill - why the original Elections Act, 1991 - went through the House fairly smoothly was because we worked out some of the problems while we were in committee. I recommend that the hon. the Government House Leader speak to the chairpeople of the committees, the people on his side who work on these committees. I am sure if he asked these people, they would agree with me that it would be better to put these acts to the Legislation Review Committees. It would save the taxpayers' money in the long run because there wouldn't be so much trouble getting it through the House of Assembly.

So I just make the recommendation to the Government House Leader, that he give more consideration than he has done, to having all important legislation automatically go the Legislation Review Committees - automatically. If you want to restrict travelling, do it. I can see, if you don't have money for people to travel around the Province, you should restrict travel, but at least allow the committees to do their work. They can certainly make phone calls -they are going to be making phone calls anyway. They can accept presentations from people by mail. They can plan their work.

Another criticism I have of this act is that it is an example of poor planning on behalf of the Government House Leader and the government generally to have passed a bill in the last session of the House of Assembly and we are back amending it already. The planning that the Government House Leader and the government have put into these bills they are bringing before the House of Assembly certainly doesn't inspire anyone's confidence.

When the Government House Leader was introducing his bill, he mentioned that 20 per cent of the people in Ferryland and some 40 per cent of the people in his own district were not on the voters list. I find that strange for Ferryland, but it was so, obviously. I wouldn't expect the district of Ferryland to have a very transient population.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: That could very well be. Probably most of them were from the Goulds area.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Young people coming on, yes, but I wouldn't expect that would be 20 per cent of the whole district - it is possible. I can see it in the hon. member's district because we do have a lot of movement around, and there is the base in Happy Valley - Goose Bay. Unless you do a monthly list up there you would never keep it up to date. But I do find the 20 per cent figure strange. In the St. John's area - in my district, in particular - no matter how often you do the list, quite a few people will have to be sworn in because they are always buying and selling houses, and moving into apartments. So it is very difficult to get a really up-to-date list in the urban areas. The hon. the Government House Leader also suggested why it took so long for a federal election to be called, fifty-eight days or whatever it is. Most of that time is taken to prepare new lists and one of the reasons for having to prepare these lists in the federal process is that if you are in an urban poll - and all of my district is considered to be in an urban poll - in a federal election if you are not on the list you don't vote. If you do not get on the list by a given deadline, usually a week or so before the election, and you happen to be missed, you do not get to vote, Mr. Speaker, which I always found to be very unfortunate. Because we should be bending over backwards to allow people to vote. This is the federal one, now, not ours.

We made every effort in committee, and most of it was passed in this House of Assembly, to make it as easy as possible for anyone who fits the criteria to be able to vote. That is the way I believe legislation should be written, so that it is made as easy as possible with the least possible amount of restrictions on anyone who wants to vote. Voters' list or not you should be allowed to be sworn in as long as you can prove you live in the district on that day, or within a reasonable time.

The hon. the Government House Leader also suggested that the new act increases the number of those who can vote. I do not believe it increases over the old act. I think we have restricted it somewhat because it is no longer permissible for a British subject to be allowed to vote, one must be a Canadian citizen now, under the new act. The new act doesn't increase the number too much but that point was not worth holding up the bill from getting to legislation. I said when we debated this in the beginning and I still believe it - it is being emphasized now - that they are once again putting their hands in the pockets of the taxpayers and it could be perceived as looking after themselves. I said it in second reading, but people who have more wisdom that I do, people who are wiser than I am, have convinced me that this will make it easier and fairer for a greater number of people to run. Mr. Speaker, even though I do not see that and I do not agree with it I will have to yield to those with greater wisdom.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. R. AYLWARD: Strange times. We are getting too close to Christmas, probably, Mr. Speaker, for those things to happen. I still believe they have their hands in the taxpayers' pockets again and it will be an added expense for taxpayers. I am a firm believer in free enterprise and individual initiative, and if I want to run in an election I will go and do the job it takes. I will raise the money it takes and I will spend what I raise. If I cannot raise a great amount of money then I don't spend a great lot of money. That is the way I went for four elections. I know, in my district it is a bit easier but there are districts in the Province where that philosophy might not prevail because it is more difficult to raise money. I do yield to those who have more wisdom than I do and accept that part of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, the main point I would like to talk about here today and that I would like the Government House Leader to address when he gets up is this: When our committee finished its reporting and presented its report to the House of Assembly, and the legislation was presented in the House of Assembly, there was a section on special ballot that was not included in the new legislation, yet we did make a deal. We had a reasonable House Leader at the time and we did make a deal to give the committee a new mandate to find some practical way to bring in a special ballot and include it in our new Elections Act.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that this would be included in our amendment because this special ballot - we have eliminated the special poll. We have included a proxy vote. A proxy vote is good for those who wish it, but it takes away people's privacy in voting, in my mind, and that was always my big objection to it. It does not hurt to have it there for those who wish it.

The special ballot provision, and the special poll that we have in our act now, was always very convenient for large groups of people who are outside of their district and wish to vote. Particularly students at post-secondary institutions had a chance to go to - in St. John's in particular - maybe Memorial University or wherever the special poll was set up, and they could vote for their member in their district, if they wished. Or, if they had an apartment and an address in St. John's they could go and vote for that district in which they lived.

I thought that was fairly reasonable. It could work for post-secondary students. It could work for sites such as Hibernia. You could put a special poll on the Hibernia site and people who were out there working on the day of the election could vote for the people back in their own districts, which I thought to be fair.

Mr. Speaker, I know that was an expensive operation to administer. It was terribly expensive and hard to control. So what we did on the committee was put our heads together and try to come up with a different system that would be less expensive and still provide the opportunity for most people who are outside of their district on election day to be able to vote.

We came up with the special ballot, which is used in New Brunswick and is used, I believe, in Saskatchewan and is used in one other province - I cannot remember it now. That was more or less a blank ballot that the polling station - every polling station in every district could have it. If you went to a polling station and asked to vote - if you were in Corner Brook and asked to vote for the district of St. John's East Extern, they could give you a blank ballot with a list of the candidates for that district and you could go and vote. That would be one way.

The other way would be that you could write in for this special ballot, because you were away, and the special ballot would come to you with a certain amount of envelopes. You would put your vote and double up the envelopes and send them back in.

Mr. Speaker, that seemed to be a reasonable way to solve the problem of eliminating the special polls, and the only reason they were eliminated was because they were expensive. I do not know that is a legitimate reason to eliminate them but that is the reason why they were. They were hard to administer and hard to control, so that might have been another reason.

The special ballot would have looked after all of that and I would request the Government House Leader, when he does conclude the debate, that he make mention of when we might expect to see this special ballot provision being included in the new act; and is it possible that we could amend this act, now Bill No. 74, before it is passed, and have the special ballot included in the upcoming election which will take place within the next day or the next six months? I expect there is only one person who knows when it will take place but it would be good to have that special ballot provision in this amendment.

The report has gone in since September, the report of the committee, the second report of the committee. The government has had time to review this and see if we cannot make the proper provisions.

I know the new electoral officer who we just appointed a couple of days ago would be a very competent person to try to do the proper administration for this special ballot. It would be an ideal time for him to look into this, if we had it passed now, so that as many people as possible could vote.

Mr. Speaker, I guess these are the main reasons, but once again I would like to point out to the Government House Leader that the reason this bill is passing this House - not this one in particular, but the Elections Act that passed last session - passed the House without too much controversy, and other bills. I served on a committee with the Member for St. John's South - some labour legislation - it could have been very controversial in this House of Assembly, that went through fairly well. There might be a minority report here and there presented at the wrong time but those things will happen. Still, the frustrations are gone out of it and the members who are involved in the committee do have a much better understanding of the legislation that they're dealing with. At least they can inform their own caucuses of what the legislation is and what the intention of the committee is in their recommendations.

So I ask the Government House Leader to take special note of the legislative review committee process. When we come back in January or so, if he has any legislation that he wants to put through, give it a bit of time. Give it to the chairpeople of the committee over the Christmas recess. We can have a look at it. We can spend a few days.... I don't mind working during Christmas if necessary. We can have a look at some of this legislation and make recommendations. We don't want to delay the legislation. That's not the intent of the committees, to delay it. If you want to give us time limits to look at it I wouldn't even mind that, as long as we have the chance to look at it ourselves and get a better understanding of it, and to allow the public, the general populace of our Province, who might have an interest in some of this legislation - all of it affects them.

There aren't very many of them who have an interest in it, I know that, but there are some who do have interests in certain pieces of legislation. To allow them the opportunity to have a look at it and review it before it becomes law. Because when you make it into law it's extremely difficult to change it. That's what creates frustrations in people who never heard what was passing through the House of Assembly until a certain regulation planks down on their back and they'll say: what's this all about?

That argument can be taken away from most if our legislative review committees do operate properly. Do the proper advertising, let people know that the legislation is in existence, and with the help of the media in our Province we can get the word out that we're considering certain legislation, and it is available for public comment.

The way we're doing it over the past week or so in this House of Assembly, as we have seen already on two bills - one committee I sat in on was legislation dealing with the Law Society, who came in here one night and said they didn't have enough time to do a proper job of reviewing it. That's very acceptable to me. Because the bill was only printed up a little while ago. The committee of the day - and a good committee I thought, several people filling in, and I was only filling in, but never had a vote on the committee - but the committee of the day said: yes, let's delay it until - the world won't come to an end if we delay it till the spring session. It was recommended by the committee and agreed to by the government.

Then we have our police commission act that was dropped off on the Table of the House here one day and expected to be debated the next day. Then the Government House Leader and the Premier, both of them at the time, suggested that nobody wanted to have a comment on this new police commission act. Nobody wanted a say in that. We've heard from everyone who wanted a say on it. As luck happened, the day they put it on the House of Assembly there was some lawyer came down here from Toronto - I don't even know what his name is now, I just happened to read today in the paper - who was giving a presentation to someone on similar legislation somewhere else, I believe. He made a presentation to the Human Rights Association or somebody, anyway. As luck happened the media got to interview him. He raised some concerns.

Then we have our political commentator in the newspaper, our political science expert, Mr. Boswell, and he had a few comments on it. Then the government did decide to let the committee have a meeting. Everyone who came before the committee, every single presentation before the committee -

AN HON. MEMBER: When?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Two or three days ago, I don't know when it was. One night we sat till 7:00 p.m. and then they continued. The committee never had the gumption that the hon. Member for Port de Grave had, the committee that sat that night. I commend him for sitting in on the first committee and asking for a deferral of legislation because it wasn't properly understood.

Unfortunately he wasn't allowed to sit on the committee the next night. There was the Member for Carbonear. The Member for Carbonear was the fellow who went on the next time. I don't know who else was on it that night. I'm not sure, anyway. But they toed the government line. Ed Roberts whipped them in place and they were afraid to open their mouths, even though everyone who made the request - I think four or five presentations that night - every single one of them said there was not enough time to do a proper job.

The Police Association, who certainly are directly affected by this new legislation, and certainly we should at least give them enough time. I find it passing strange that the law society can come in here, Mr. Speaker, the old buddy system, the old boys system, can come in here and make a request for postponement of legislation and the government agrees to it. I do not know why, I mean it may have something to do with the fact that the Government House Leader and the Premier happen to be members of the law society. That could possibly be, but the old boys association can come in here and ask for delay in legislation and the committee took a bold step in recommending it but the government -

MS. VERGE: I am not part of the old boys club.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - the old boys club and the Bar of the Newfoundland Law Society -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. R. AYLWARD: - which the two opposite are members of, Mr. Speaker, they come in here and ask for a delay in legislation and rightfully so. I do not disagree with it, rightfully so. They asked for a delay because the government was trying to bulldoze it through the House of Assembly again and they got it. The committee took a bold step and recommended that they get the delay and the government agreed to it because it was the Law Society and the Premier's a member and the Government House Leader is a member, Mr. Speaker. But the police association, the rank and file people who do the street work, who do the day to day work in our legal system, Mr. Speaker, they come in here, yes the police association to keep it within the same system, the police association come in here with the very same request, exact same concerns, Mr. Speaker, and they are not even listened to.

Then we have in a group, like the Human Rights Association, who we are all supposed to look up to and respect in this Province, Mr. Speaker, they come and plead with the government to delay it. They point out, each of those people who made presentations at the time, pointed out the flaws that are in the legislation. Important differences of opinion if not necessarily complete flaws but the two groups have very major differences of opinion.

Again if that had to go to a committee and the committee had proper time to get the hearings, to have their hearings and have these presentations made from the interested groups, Mr. Speaker, the committee could have worked out those frustrations and the committee could have made recommendations to government. If government accepts them or not, the committee has nothing to do with that. They cannot control that, government has other reasons to bulldoze legislation through. Well, they are going to do it anyway but at least the public had the opportunity to make the presentation.

Now, Mr. Speaker, one big advantage of that is when legislation is put in place and it is not working, at least someone can come in and say: now, we recommended this in the beginning and you did not do it, so for Pete's sake lets do it now, so we can get the legislation - lets get the legislation working so that it will benefit those people who refer to the legislation.

So, I ask the Government House Leader to take note of the relative ease that the Elections Act went through, compared to the Acts that he is trying to bulldoze through the House of Assembly now, particularly the Law Society Act and the Police Commissioners Act and had they gone to committee's they too would have gone through this House, I would expect, maybe with a minority report but at least people would be more aware of what is happening and the general populous would have had a chance to give us their ideas of improvements to the legislation because supposedly we are here to pass the best legislation possible. Although that is probably a very debatable statement to make. That is almost as debatable to make as a statement which was made here yesterday, that we are supposed to be the most intelligent people. Mr. Speaker, even I disagree with that one because we are definitely not the most intelligent people that are in this Province. There are much more in my district, much more intelligent people than I am, Mr. Speaker. I just happen to be the most electable on a certain day, at a certain time, Mr. Speaker, and that is just like a roll of the dice, as was mentioned in politics a little while ago, Mr. Speaker, and the next time around, or the next day, or the day before, that might never have happened but we are certainly not the most intelligent in this Province.

Mr. Speaker, I recommend to the Government House Leader to use the legislative review committee system because it works. It is a good reform. It is one of the things that this government did that I agree with wholeheartedly. I know they are not going to jump with joy because I agree with it or not but it was a good reform. It is too bad we did not have it when we were there, we had some of it, we did not have it all, we had estimates committees to do the Budget which was a beginning and that worked pretty good. I enjoyed that, that was a good reform too. We had special committee's, like the Flag Committee and other committees at the time but we did not have the legislative review committees and had we done it, I would expect and used it properly, we might still be on that side of the House and not on this side of the House, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Eagle River.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to say a few words on this bill. Having chaired the committee that looked at the bill in the first place, and certainly also the committee looked extensively at the issue of special ballots during the summer recess, and I just want to note for the minister responsible, and to supplement what the Member for Kilbride said respecting the special ballots.

We, as a committee felt strongly that the special ballot would be a good addition to the elections act, bearing in mind that the proxy vote and a proxy ballot has not been a very good success at the federal level. As a matter of fact, the Reform Commission on Electoral Reform has recommended that the proxy ballot be abolished federally, and I would just like to ask the minister responsible if he would address that as I am sure he will because I believe that the proxy vote at the provincial level will be very chaotic.

It may not be at the present time at the federal level because we only have seven seats, and in many cases the students in particular, even if they are attending university or college, they may very well be within the federal riding where they would ordinarily vote, so it would not present such a problem. But by looking at the provincial situation, and we have some forty seats outside of the capital, I can see where the proxy ballot will be very, very cumbersome, very awkward and not the least, Mr. Speaker, does not allow for the confidentiality of the vote that should be paramount wherever possible in our democratic system.

Certainly, we thought that the idea of a special ballot where people could write in the name of the candidate and respective district, put that in a separate envelope and have it delivered to the chief electoral office would have been a very good amendment to the act, and certainly would have ensured confidentiality of the vote, and it would also I think, do what should be done for the students of the Province in particular, to allow them to vote in the areas of their home riding at little or no cost to the taxpayer.

I would compliment the minister on the bringing in of different sections of the act over the next twelve months or so, because I believe that all hon. members and their respective political organizations would find it unbelievably overwhelming to be confronted with this massive piece of legislation and the demands that it has upon district associations and political parties generally, to be legally documented, their officers at the district association level to be formally organized, and annual reports being submitted which would have to be done by an auditor, who, in many cases may or may not be available to the district associations in many of our ridings, and also the idea of having a chief financial officer.

Every district association having a chief financial officer is something that our volunteer organizations now at the district level do not feel comfortable about taking on these responsibilities, and I think to bring in different sections of this act, as the minister has indicated, is a very prudent measure and I would ask the minister, through the House, to the chief electoral officer, Mr. Speaker, that while all the sections of the act may not be proclaimed on January 1, it is incumbent upon the chief electoral office to see that training courses are brought in immediately and extensively, and apart from the act itself I believe that the chief electoral office must bring in training sessions and pay particular attention to the accessibility for the disabled community in this Province, because there are some things that you cannot legislate. There are some things that you can only educate.

I believe that the area of the disabled community and their accessibility to voting and participating in the election process in this Province - be it as a party worker, a candidate or a member of the election organization that may come under the chief electoral office - all of these things must be taken into consideration. We're just coming off the year of the disabled, a national and international year, where great attention has been given.

Certainly there are strides being made in this legislation for greater accessibility to polling stations. We have made the recommendation, and it was accepted in second reading last session, where the templates that would accompany the ballots would be done in Braille, or the templates would be available so that the people of that aspect of the disabled community would be able to exercise their right without having to give that right over to somebody who could see. They would be given an opportunity to read their candidates in Braille. I believe this would be a very beneficial addition to the democratic process in this Province.

As a matter of fact I think it should be noted that this particular Act is one of the most progressive to come in Canadian politics. It is certainly something that we will be able to go about this Province and tell the people that we have been conscious of the changing political environment and the accountability that is absolutely essential from our politicians, as well as from our district associations, and all of our political organizations, be it at a provincial or district level.

I won't belabour the debate but I do want to ask the minister to make sure that the accessibility of the disabled community is made a prominent part of the training procedures that will accompany the chief electoral officer as he goes about implementing the full contents of this Act. Also, that the chief electoral officer I would hope will be able to respond to this House on an appropriate time on the aspect of the special ballot, and to give the House an accounting of why or why not the special ballot cannot be introduced. So that hon. members will be able to confront that issue as we did as a committee and certainly as the committee unanimously recommended it.

We didn't do it lightly. We did thorough research on the issue. While we can't provide the House with a full understanding of how the aspect has worked its way in the system on a practical level, that's what I understand the chief electoral office may be looking at now. Trying to get a greater documentation on how this issue has been dealt with, or the affects of this issue has been dealt with, in some recent elections in this country. Maybe also to see if the federal chief electoral officer will bring in this aspect of electoral reform as recommended by the Royal Commission on electoral reform.

I think these are two important issues. Bearing them not being participating or being prominent in this particular amendment today to this Act, I believe that the overall Act is one that we can be proud of, and one that will bring greater accountability to the political process in this Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to speak on Bill 74, the proposed amendments to the Election Act. I've listened with interest to some of the comments, particularly of the Member for Kilbride on this. I do say that I concur with a lot of them, particularly on the use of legislative committees.

I was concerned by the statement of the Minister of Justice when he introduced the Bill. I guess I'll get back to it a little later when he takes his chair, so I can talk about the position that the Member for Kilbride has reiterated with respect to the rules of operation of legislative committees. The operation of this committee was one in which there was widespread consultation and a lot of proposals for the changing of the rules. Now, the Minister of Justice said that he thought there was unanimous agreement on the legislation in this House. Well, that of course is not true. There was widespread consultation but there were strong objections taken to certain segments of this legislation. In fact this legislation was passed on the understanding and on the basis, passed last Spring, on the basis that there would be amendments brought in in the Fall to resolve some of the difficulties that people had. Now, that is a practice that the Minister of Justice seems to want to follow in all legislation. This is my legislation, I will pass it through the House and sometime down the road, if it does not work, we will amend it, we will fix it up. That is the kind of approach he suggests that should be taken in this House, Mr. Speaker. Well, the more proper approach is to use the committee process to go through all the public education and consultation efforts that can be made and then come in with amendments. Then have the matter debated and when we have the legislation ready it is ready.

The very situation he is trying to avoid was brought up to the committee when the committee met. It was brought before the House, the objection to the detailed requirements, particularly on district associations was know at the time the committee met because people said it to the committee. It was brought to the attention of the committee by the Accountants Association. It was brought to the attention of the committee by the various political parties. It was brought to the attention of the House by a number of speakers including this hon. member.

Mr. Speaker, the difficulties we are facing today are ones that could and should have been corrected when the legislation was going through the House and not do what we are doing now. I have no difficulty with making sure that we get enumeration done. I want to have an enumeration done so that when the election is called in January, February, or the following January or February, whenever the government intends to call an election, we can have an enumeration done so that a proper election can be held and that individuals who are suppose to be on the voters' list manage to get on the voters' list.

But I have a difficulty, Mr. Speaker, when we are being asked to give the Cabinet the unlimited power to proclaim whatever section of the act they like, whatever part of the act they like, without any indication from the government how they are going to use that power. Are we going to have certain segments, the financial segments proclaimed without notice? Are they going to go out and organize all the fund raising or are they going to get their brown bags full of money? Are they going to be dragged in behind the scenes and the next day proclaim the act so that nobody else can raise money without it being disclosed? Is that the plan? I see a big smile across the face of the minister for 'ITT.'

AN HON. MEMBER: You are too suspicious.

MR. HARRIS: He says I am too suspicious. This is the government that authorized and made famous the brown paper bag delivery of money to be made available to the Premier, and he accuses me of being suspicious while he sits there with his cheshire cat smile on his face. He suggests that I am being suspicious while he sits over there and smiles with a smile of recognition when I talk about plans that the Liberal Party may have to introduce this legislation and proclaim it after they have done their dirty work, after they have shovelled all the money into the back rooms, Mr. Speaker. Then they will proclaim the act and say: oh, well, we have done our dirty work now and all the rest of you have to abide by the rules. Let us hear from government what their plans are. Never mind the smile of recognition when I make these plans public to the House of Assembly.

MR. R. AYLWARD: He is giving his $10,000 a month to the party.

MR. HARRIS: Well, if the Minister of Justice is giving his $10,000 a month to the party well that is certainly -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: Well, that is interesting news.

AN HON. MEMBER: Is it still Williams Harris?

MR. HARRIS: I do not know. There is something in the paper today, I think. I am told that they were very angry at The Evening Telegram because they didn't get the ad in sooner, but it was in today, I believe.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was quite a settlement.

MR. HARRIS: Well, I am glad to hear that the Minster of Justice is no longer getting $10,000 a month. He must be a lot happier today, probably because he has gotten the whole $125,000.

MR. R. AYLWARD: The bank rate went down this morning, so they were there dinner time.

MR. HARRIS: I guess the partners of Halley, Hunt visited the bank and borrowed a substantial sum of money, and now they are going to look after the member for Naskaupi. And that is the proper thing, it is a good way of doing it. It clears the decks.

Mr. Speaker, that is not the point that I rose to speak on. I was concerned here that what we are being asked to do - and I have no problem with what we are being told up front, Mr. Speaker - what we are being told up front is we don't want to have unreasonable administrative impositions placed on the district associations around the Province who don't have the capability of dealing with them. Now, that is not new, Mr. Speaker. That was known to the committee back in February, March and April, and it was known to the House when the matter was raised here. It was suggested that these were unwieldy, unnecessary and overbearing regulations.

So that seems to be the excuse and the rationale, Mr. Speaker. But what power are we being asked to give the Cabinet? Because the Lieutenant-Governor in Council can now proclaim any section of the act that it wants without coming into this House and having the matter debated in the open air, or the closed air anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: Stuffy air.

MR. HARRIS: Well, the closed air, but at least be open to the public forum.

So I would want some statement from the minister on what the plans are with respect to proclamation. The hon. minister wasn't quite listening when I expressed some of the concerns, that when we give the Minister of Justice and his colleagues the power to proclaim various sections of the act as they choose, willy-nilly, they can -

MR. MURPHY: Your starting to get fat, boy. Your wife must be some cook.

MR. HARRIS: I don't know what the member for St. John's South knows about who cooks and who doesn't cook.

MR. MURPHY: I have been cooking all my life.

MR. HARRIS: All right.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you saying she is not a good cook?

MR. MURPHY: Are you saying your wife is not a good cook? Are you inferring that you wife is not a good cook?

MR. ROBERTS: You are only doing it to try to distract him.

MR. HARRIS: And it is working, I say to the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: That is more than the hon. gentleman is.

MR. HARRIS: What I am concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is not the cooking in my household. I am concerned about the cooking that is going to go on in the back rooms of the Liberal Party. That is the cooking I am concerned about. Now that they are going to give themselves the power to proclaim this legislation and various parts of it whenever they like, what kind of little activities are going to go on in the back rooms before they proclaim the financial responsibility side of it? How many brown paper bags are going to be changing hands, Mr. Speaker, before the legislation is proclaimed that prevents other people from having anonymous donations of large amounts of money? That is the concern, Mr. Speaker.

MR. EFFORD: Do what Richard Cashin did to you the last time, (inaudible) $50,000 of government money.

MR. HARRIS: I wish! I wish!

So, Mr. Speaker, that is a concern that I have, that when we are being asked to do this - I don't mind the up-front reasons. I had a meeting with the Minister of Justice and I said: Sure, I have no problem with not imposing stringent regulations on district associations who can't meet them. I have no problem with that. I raised it in the House, Mr. Speaker. It could have been looked after at the committee stage, it could have been looked after in the House and it could have been removed, because it was already recognized as being unnecessary. We had a committee process and these problems were acknowledged. You know, instead of that, we have a different approach being taken now, Mr. Speaker. We are being asked to give the Cabinet the power to pass whatever parts of this legislation that it likes.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the legislation that we have is not satisfactory. I think the Minister of Justice - and I am glad he is listening now because he was busy at a meeting earlier. This legislation hasn't received unanimous consent of the House. There are a number of problems with the legislation. The House passed the legislation on the basis that some of the problems were going to be fixed up, and they are not fixed up. So I do not agree with the minister's approach in saying that all of this is being looked after, and I do not agree with the minister's approach to the legislation saying: Well we will pass the legislation now in other cases and later on we will fix it up if need be, because sometimes we forget, like the Minister of Justice forgot the fact that last Spring, when he was not here - he forgot the fact that last Spring, when someone else was in his seat - that we were told that: this legislation will be passed now. We will just pass this now because everybody is generally in favour of it, and we will fix it up in the Fall. We will fix it up in the Fall, and we are not fixing it up in the Fall.

We are not dealing with the problem that was identified by the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students, who wrote me just this week expressing their concerns that this legislation not be proclaimed unless the students, and until the students, are restored to their right to vote and the protection of their privacy; that they are not being forced to vote by proxy - they claim that the elimination of the special polls and the requirement of the students to vote by proxy raises a serious number of difficulties with students and the students federation.

They include a lack of privacy. A student is only allowed to vote if he tells somebody else how he wants to vote. That is number one. The private, secret ballot is gone for students.

The second thing is the administrative burden that it would place on post-secondary institutes. All of the paper work required by the proxy voting was too onerous and is going to prevent students from voting and is going to place an administrative burden on administration of universities and colleagues and institutions throughout this Province.

The third difficulty, they say, is that there is a lack of a guarantee that the students vote will be cast as desired. There is no way of guaranteeing that. The Speaker could designate someone, by proxy, and ask them to vote a particular way, but there is no guarantee that they will - none whatsoever.

Those three problems have been identified. They were identified on February 4, 1992 before the committee. I was there. The Member for Eagle River was there. Other members were there. That problem has not been fixed. We were told last Spring: Oh, we will fix that up in the Fall.

Well we do not have it fixed up, and yet the government wants us to give them the right to proclaim all legislation without fixing this problem - without having to come back to the House and say: We did not fix the problem.

I would like to have some commitment from the minister - some commitment from the government - as to at what point are they going to proclaim this legislation?

The students say here: With the provincial election seemingly only months away - they do not say how many; it could be two or it could be twenty-two - the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students is deeply concerned that such an amendment will never occur - will never occur. That is what they are concerned about, and I have the same concerns.

Is the Minister of Justice prepared to get up in this House and say that they will not proclaim those sections of the act which force students to vote by this proxy system that they oppose? Is the Minister of Justice prepared to give that commitment?

They are going to have the power, after this legislation is passed, to proclaim any section of the act that they want, willy-nilly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) do it in parts.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, he is going to do it in parts is right. Whatever he feels, whichever part he feels is right to proclaim on a particular day, he will proclaim it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I understand the administrative side of it. We are not talking about the administrative side here. We are talking about matters of substance -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The minister obviously has not been listening. The whole issue of proxy votes that are being forced on students from his riding and every other riding in the Province - that they are being forced on them to choose to operate by proxy votes because the special polls are being wiped out.

So they have asked not to have the legislation proclaimed until after the next provincial election, or to proceed immediately with an amendment to the act that will allow students their right to participate in the process. What we have had happen in this House, for example, with the police complaints legislation, is that the minister says and the government's attitude is, and the Premier has said: we will put the legislation in and if we want to change it we will change it later. Well, Mr. Speaker, we are already five days or six days after we had a mini-debate in the House on the police complaints commission, we have sixteen different amendments, sixteen different amendments to the police complaints act. Sixteen different amendments to Bill 56 have been tabled in the House or passed around the House today. Sixteen proposed amendments to the police complaints act after only five or six days. Now how thoroughly was that legislation considered by government, before it was brought to this House for a debate and attempted to get through this House without even any public discussion.

I would suspect, Mr. Speaker, that the sixteen flaws that have been discovered so far, would still be there if there was not any public attention drawn to the ineptitude of this government in putting together legislation without public discussion and consultation, so I have a concern with the way this government does business. They seem to do things to suit themselves and not to suit the public interest except as they define it narrowly, and students for one group have made a considered and detailed opposition to the approach being taken by the government in the interest of democracy and the interest of students having their right to vote as others do, in privacy. The secret ballot with a guarantee that their vote is going to be recorded as they choose, not as somebody else might, dishonourably, Mr. Speaker, might, dishonourably but not illegally do, and that is a serious problem and I am hoping that the Minister of Justice, because he is going to get this legislation through the House, we might be here until three o'clock tomorrow morning to do it, because we are now on unlimited time. They have given their notice of intention to try and wear down the Opposition -

AN HON. MEMBER: And ram it through.

MR. HARRIS: - no break for supper, no break for sleep, no break for relief for this hon. member, who cannot even, I cannot even leave, Mr. Speaker, because you do not know what they are going to bring up next, I cannot even have a shift, Mr. Speaker, and relieve myself and have somebody else - I have to stay here -

AN HON. MEMBER: I will sit down in your seat for you.

MR. HARRIS: I thank the hon. Member for Harbour Grace for agreeing -

MR. DOYLE: They have the numbers to take shifts.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, they have the numbers, that is alright, they can even have a quorum over there, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you want to go to the bathroom, Jack?

MR. HARRIS: I have to cross my legs, Mr. Speaker. I cannot take turns, Mr. Speaker sitting in this chair, with somebody else, there is nobody else. I welcome hon. members if they want to come and join me, but now we have notice that marathon debates, no supper, no sleep, we are going to stay here until all this legislation is put through; that is what this government has rammed through -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I am glad the Member for Harbour Grace - I thank him for agreeing to take my seat and speak on behalf of the party while I go to have something to eat or -

AN HON. MEMBER: Just leave your script, leave your script, that is all.

MR. HARRIS: I will leave him some speaker's notes and we can do that; I suppose that is an hon. tradition of the House, to assist other members in that way. So, Mr. Speaker, the legislation before us - you know, let us not forget this legislation, part of the design of this legislation is to prevent the New Democratic Party from developing the strength that it has out there, by taking away the right of trade unions to give money to support the party of their choice, Mr. Speaker, part of this legislation is designed to do that, let us not forget that, Mr. Speaker. The brown paper bags, the anonymous brown paper bags can continue. They will bring in all the brown paper bags until the Minister of Justice decides to proclaim legislation sometime in the dark of night. Sometime in the dark of night in the back rooms of the Liberal Party the instructions will go out: We have all the brown paper bags in, Mr. Speaker, and we can now pass this legislation. It is safe to proclaim the legislation now because we have identified the way the New Democratic Party can get support, Mr. Speaker.

We are going to make sure the Federation of Labour, which is the traditional way that trade unionists have supported political parties, we are going to ensure that they do not have the right to contribute to the party of their choice. Now, Mr. Speaker, we are trying to clear out the government benches. The second problem I have with this, and I think it is a problem which students have, too, it is still difficult for students to know where they have the right to vote. Where can they vote?

AN HON. MEMBER: Do not worry, we will make sure -

MR. HARRIS: Who they vote for is a different matter. We will all have our own ways of encouraging students to vote the way we believe they should or could. What I am concerned about, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that students will not know where they can vote because it seems there are two rules. I read the rules and my reading of the rules is that a student cannot vote except in the riding and the district they come from before they went to school. But I am told by the Member for Eagle River that is not true, that they still have a choice and they can vote wherever they are living. That is not what the rules of residency say.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: Now, here is the Member for Port de Grave saying: oh, that is alright, all they have to do is be sworn in. Well, where does it say that, Mr. Speaker? It says that a person who is a student is considered to continue to have the ordinary residence where they came from before they went to school until he or she completes or abandons the course of study. Now, where does it say they can be sworn in? Maybe you can go and swear that you really abandoned your home place when you have not. Maybe that is the kind of being sworn in that the Member for Port de Grave is talking about. The rules say that your ordinary place of residence stay in the community where you came from when you go to university, to the trades school, or to the Fisher Institute in Corner Brook.

Perhaps the member should get a copy of the legislation and look at the rules of residency, Clause 2 Part 5 which says: notwithstanding Rule 4 in the absence of evidence to the contrary a person who has left his or her place of residence in the Province to pursue a course of study at an educational institution either outside or within the Province is considered to be ordinarily resident in the place where he or she was residing immediately before leaving to pursue the course of study, and he or she is considered to continue to have that ordinary residence until he or she completes or abandons the course of study.

I suspect that a student could go into a polling booth and say, I have changed my mind. I do not really want to live in Baie Verte anymore I am living in St. John's. I suppose if there is a by-election back in Baie Verte the next week or a month later he could go back to Baie Verte and say, I changed my mind I am really still living in Baie Verte even through I have been in St. John's for four years. I suppose that individuals can do that if they wish but it should be quite clear then, Mr. Speaker, that if the intention is to give the student a choice of voting either in their home riding or in the riding where they reside, then that is what it should say, that the student has to exercise a choice. It does not say anything about a choice here. It says that in the absence of evidence to the contrary you are still a resident of Baie Verte and you cannot vote in St. John's East even if you happened to live in St. John's East for four years attending university.

I think that is something that has to be clarified but it has not been clarified yet. The point has been brought up many, many times. The Member for Eagle River still seems to think you have a choice but that is not what the legislation says so it has to be clarified. I ask on behalf of the students, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students brought this to my attention, they wrote me a letter dated December ll, 1992 and asked that the legislation not be proclaimed until after the next provincial general election or to proceed immediately with an amendment to the Act that would return to the students their right to participate as equals in the democratic process.

Now, Mr. Speaker, perhaps the answer is to propose an amendment at the committee stage to this piece of legislation. Perhaps the minister will agree to - that he would urge his side to support it, a simple amendment to the rules of residency which would allow a student to choose by being sworn in, as the Member for Port de Grave seems to think by being sworn in, to choose what their ordinary residence would be and if a student has a right to say this is my principle residence, this is my only residence, than that should be spelled out because we do not want, Mr. Speaker, fifty-two different deputy returning officers going around with fifty-two different interpretations of the legislation. That is the problem we had, Mr. Speaker, in the past, that is a problem that we do not want to have continue in the future.

So, perhaps the minister can address that in his reply and if he has not listened to what I have said, I will speak to him privately afterwards and suggest a minor amendment to that rule 5 of the Rules of Residency to try and see if we can have some more consistency with the interpretation of that section and with the application of the rules of ordinary residents as they affect students. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, with those two comments the rules of residence should be amended and secondly there ought to be an amendment to return the rate of privacy of a secret ballot to students who want to vote in their home riding, that should be done too, Mr. Speaker, before those parts of the Act are proclaimed.

I want to ask the minister too, to tell us when, specifically when, he intends to proclaim those parts of the Act that have to do with the financial responsibilities in sections that have to do with the ability of individuals to raise money and provide receipts and also, tell us when the government intends to proclaim those parts of the legislation that will prevent anonymous donors to continue to make donations to the party. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will just take a few moments to address a couple of aspects of this particular piece legislation. First of all I agree with a great deal of what the hon. Member for St. John's East just said. One matter of great concern here is giving the Cabinet the authority to proclaim any sections of the Act that they choose to proclaim, at any time they choose to do that, Mr. Speaker, that is an incredible power. Certainly, in my recollection, I have never seen Cabinet being given such authority. Cabinet has the authority to proclaim a piece of legislation on the date that is appropriate and the original Act gave, of course, the Cabinet that authority. Every Act does, but it does not give Cabinet authority to proclaim part of an Act and that is what we are about here today. This government wants to proclaim only part of the Act.

Now, an Act as a whole is one thing, parts of an Act taken separately and used together with the previous Act, which may still be in place, could be a totally different matter, Mr. Speaker. A particular clause may be appropriate when read in the full context of a new piece of legislation but may be totally contrary to the wishes of this House in passing the Act, if one section is taken out of context and used together with an old Act. So, Mr. Speaker, I think that is a matter of great concern. There is a serious principle here, of giving any government - it does not matter which government it may be but if the legislation giving to any government the right to pick and choose the sections of any Act to proclaim and when to proclaim it. It is this House that passes legislation, not a government, not the Cabinet. Either the Act should be proclaimed in its entirety or it should not be proclaimed at all. It is as simple as that, Mr. Speaker. But by proclaiming part of an Act you are certainly changing the spirit and intent of the Act. You may even be changing the impact, the actual effect of the piece of legislation. You have to take a full Act in its entirety - not only part of it. So it is a matter of objecting on the basic principle of giving any Cabinet such authority.

Mr. Speaker, the second important thing I wanted to talk about here is the section which derives from that. It deals with the Cabinet's stated intention in this amendment of not proclaiming the sections that apply to registered district associations.

First of all, I would wish that it were never proclaimed because I have spoken on the act when we proclaimed the act or when we passed the act originally. I spoke against that particular section, at any rate, because I feel it is an infringement upon the freedoms - the democratic freedom of association - of that political association.

I still feel very strongly that district associations should not come under such legislation, but it is the intent of the act - the House has passed it; the majority have ruled - that district associations will be covered. So it is a little late for me to argue. I could appeal to government to have a second look at it and not proclaim that part of the act.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is going to be tough to get volunteers.

MR. WINDSOR: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: It is going to be tough to get volunteers.

MR. WINDSOR: It is going to be tough to get volunteers - absolutely right. I see I have some support opposite, and I had some when I spoke before.

I say, if for no other reason, that I think it is an undue infringement into the democratic freedom of association given under the Charter - the Charter of Rights.

What right do we, as a House of Assembly, have to regulate a political association? We have every right to regulate the election process. We have every right to regulate the financing of elections. I have no problem with that, and as far as a district association may raise funds to support a candidate, then that association may well have to answer for where those funds came from. Certainly it should be disclosed the same as any other contribution to a candidate's campaign would be disclosed under the new act, and I support that concept; but other activities of the association - throughout a four or five year term of office of any government, or throughout the life of the association, indefinitely - many of the activities, most of the activities, have absolutely nothing to do with the election process. They are all part of the political process, yes, and obviously the objective of the political process is to ensure re-election, so from that point of view yes, they are connected; but most of the activities of a district association are totally independent of the election process.

Indeed, until now it was not necessarily the district association that ran a campaign. It was the candidates who ran a campaign, and in many cases - certainly in my own case - the financing of the district association had nothing to do with the financing of a campaign. There was never five cents spent by my district association on my campaign. I raised my own funds. I had separate people who managed them, an accountant who looked after it, who provided the returns to the chief electoral officer as required under the act. In fact, the person who controlled the accounts was not a member of my district association. He was some time but not all the time. He has handled the funds for my campaign - every campaign since 1975. He does not even live in my district. He lives in the east end of St. John's. He is a lifetime friend of mine who I trust implicitly. He handles the funding.

In fact, many of the people who have done fund-raising for me in the past do not live in the district. They are close friends and associates. So campaign funding had absolutely nothing to do with the district association, and I would like to keep it that way - quite honestly.

My district association has many functions in the district. They are all related to the political process, and to being re-elected, and to furthering the interests of our political party within the district and in the Province, but a lot of the fund-raising efforts are to raise funds to continue the work of the association, to travel to annual conventions and meetings of the association and policy sessions, all kinds of things that political associations do within the district: Attending functions; sending flowers to people who have been deceased; and sending flowers and fruit to people in hospitals - all of those things that district associations do if they are good district associations. But that had nothing to do with the election process itself. So it is separate. I think they have every right to object to all of this business being disclosed. Where is the right, the freedom to associate given under our democratic Charter? I think it is a direct infringement on that basic and inherent right.

As they become involved in the election itself and in the financing of the election, by all means anything that is done by the association, any funds that are contributed through that association or collected by that association for that purpose, must be disclosed as they go into the candidate's campaign. But they may well be two different groups of individuals, and, in fact, they have been in the past. Again to use my own example, my district association has always been involved, have been very, very supportive and have always been out campaigning. But the group that organize and run the campaign are totally different from the district association executive.

What this act is now dictating, basically, is that the election campaign must be run through the district association, and all funding must be raised through them. One part I do like is that the district association now is liable for any deficit, not the candidate. That is a pleasant relief. That is precisely one of the reasons why it was separate before, because the candidate was personally responsible for any expenses incurred, liable for any debts that may be incurred. If the campaign cost more than was raised, then that candidate personally paid the difference. Now, that disappears. But we have volunteers now, who stand to gain nothing, volunteers who are now financially liable, particularly the treasurer who is, under the new act, subject to a very heavy penalty and, if I am not mistaken, possibly even a jail sentence, if there is any misappropriation of the funds that are collected.

As my friends opposite say: How are we going to get volunteers to take that responsibility? I have advised my treasurer to resign. He should resign. He would be crazy to expose himself and his family to that sort of possible difficulty. It may be beyond his own control, but he is still liable for it. I have great concerns about that aspect of it, Mr. Speaker. I have concerns here now that that is there, and again I have said my piece as to why it shouldn't be there. But it is there and now we are saying they have all of that responsibility but we are not going to proclaim this part of the act so they can raise funds. That is what it amounts to now. It is a reprieve so that this portion of the act will not apply for a while. Obviously it will be long after the next election, if ever. Perhaps when we get over on the other side we will change that aspect of it. You can be sure that this government will never go to the polls under that section of the act because they have no intention of proclaiming it. You may rest assured that we are not going to go to the polls for the next two weeks, but you can count it in months.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which section is that?

MR. WINDSOR: Oh, I don't know which section it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: Which section (inaudible)?

MR. WINDSOR: I am talking about the amendment here which does not apply to district associations.

Mr. Speaker, if that part of the act is proclaimed and this part is not, the party, the big bagmen, as the hon. gentlemen opposite referred to them, in the back rooms, the back-room boys, can go to the corporations and collect all their big cheques and issue a receipt for tax purposes. But hon. gentlemen over here and I cannot issue a tax receipt for anything that we might raise for our campaign.

So what this means is that all funding will have to go - you can collect but you can't get the tax break. So who is going to contribute to your campaign now if they are not going to get the tax break on it? They are going to contribute but now they are being forced to contribute to the party, and we have to hope the party will give it back to the people for whom it was intended. That is an internal problem I am sure. I don't know what kinds of problems hon. gentlemen opposite have, but I have seen them in our party, I must confess, in the past. And I don't suspect that they will go away too quickly.

That mechanism, perhaps, could be put in place - more blindfolding the devil in the dark. The point is that we are putting certain responsibilities on the district associations, but we are not now going to give them the tools to work with because they will not now be able to go and collect their own funds. They cannot now organize a function and issue a receipt for the ticket if there is a donation involved. If you have a fund-raising dinner and the cost of the meal is deemed to be ten dollars but the price of the ticket is twenty-five dollars, under the new act, that person could get credit for fifteen dollars, but the district association will not now be able to do that because that portion of the act will not be proclaimed.

So, does it mean that all functions now will be done under the auspices of the party, all the money must flow into the party? That is fine but there are limitations in the act on how much money the party can give to a district association to run a campaign, as I recall. There are limitations there on how much money the party can spend, so, if you were to go and do fund-raising in your district and say: make the cheque payable to the party and we will get it back, you will not, because the party is limited on how much it can give and how much they can spend and it would all be included then.

AN HON. MEMBER: There is a way to do it.

MR. WINDSOR: There is a way to do it. The hon. gentlemen opposite obviously have looked at it in a little more detail than I have then. Maybe I am uncovering the scheme here; maybe the hon. gentleman will tell me how we are going to manage that.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, there is no trouble to do that part, but the hon. gentleman, I think, is missing my point, Mr. Speaker. The point I am making is, the act states how much the party can spend on a campaign, the act also states how much money the party can give to a candidate for that district campaign, so if all of the money that you raised in St. John's South, is going to your party and they turn it back to you, you cannot do it, you will have exceeded the amount that they allow to give to you, plus everything that they give you is deemed to be money spent by the main party, it is coming out of the - well, it is not working, that is the point I am trying to make. It is coming out of the amount of money you are allowed to spend.

MR. ROBERTS: You are wrong on that.

MR. WINDSOR: I am wrong on that? Well, I hope I am wrong and if the hon. gentleman could explain it to me, I would be delighted.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) If the member will yield for a minute.

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, I will happily yield if the hon. gentleman can clarify it.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I think I have the hon. member's leave, if not (inaudible). Well, I am only going to have the floor for a second.

The limits are on what a candidate/district association, independent may spend during the election period, and then there is also another limit on what a party may spend over and above that during the election period, and I have forgotten the totals, I have them somewhere.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, it is stated as so much per voter and there are certain minimum amounts and certain maximum amounts, I believe. You know, a district like Torngat Mountains that has only 1,500, 2,000 voters, has a ceiling more than that, but there is no limit on what a party may transfer to a district, and no limit on what either may spend except during the election period but they must report expenditures in certain instances. Now I do not know if that addresses the hon. gentleman's concern but that is the way the act reads.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Justice for that. Is he telling me then, that monies transferred from the party to a district association is not considered an expenditure under The Election Act, that is what you are saying?

MR. ROBERTS: That is my understanding and if the hon. gentleman, once we finish second reading, will get a copy of the act from the Clerk, we can have a look at it and if that understanding is not correct, then we shall revisit the question.

MR. WINDSOR: Yes. I would like to have a look at it, Mr. Speaker, just to be sure. If that is the case, then that solves that part of the problem. That solves that part of the problem, as long as we are not taking away from the intent of the act, which is to provide a certain amount of money. So that would have to be counted twice because it is accounted by the party and accounted by the member. The intent is the member can spend so much and the party can spend so much. My concern would be, if it flows through the party to the member, they are both considered as spending it. If that is not the case, then I don't have a problem with that.

MR. ROBERTS: I am not going to say that the act doesn't say that, because I don't have the act in front of me, but if it does say that, it will be changed - I will change it this night or tomorrow, whenever we get to it.

MR. WINDSOR: Okay, I accept that, and that is good.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: I think the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology has the act there and he is pouring through it and will give us the answer in a moment, I am sure.

I still have a concern that the district associations are not in a position to do it themselves, but if they can do that - if they can issue a receipt, or if the party can issue a receipt - and if, as my friend from St. John's South says, each party devises whatever kind of mechanism, whatever scheme they choose, to have it flow through the party, then we have done the same thing.

Maybe it might be worth considering never changing it. Rather than having fifty-two district associations of three parties - 156 sets of books - maybe everything should flow through the party. Maybe it would be easier to do it that way, so we would have only three agencies issuing receipts rather than 156 agencies - well, 159, because the three main parties would still be doing it, wouldn't they?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) independents and/or other parties.

MR. WINDSOR: Yes, and others - and independents - that is right.

So there may be some wisdom in retaining it under one person so that receipts are going out from one area and the accounting is being done at a central office. It may be worth looking at. It may be a better mechanism than having 150-odd groups and individuals maintaining records and issuing receipts.

Mr. Speaker, those are the key points. My greatest concern is in giving Cabinet authority to chop and choose and to proclaim whatever parts of the act they want. I think it is an undue amount of power and I think the act itself -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: The Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology cannot find it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: We will have a look at it afterwards, Mr. Speaker. While other hon. gentlemen are speaking we will have an opportunity to come back to it, I am sure.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are due a provincial election in the next year, and this may be the last chance this House of Assembly - this Assembly - has to enact appropriate elections legislation.

We passed a new Elections Act last spring, following the work of a special committee which held hearings. My colleague, the Member for Kilbride, was one of the members on the committee. One of the other speakers this afternoon, the Member for Eagle River, was on the committee. The committee did useful work.

Among the concerns the committee identified, after hearing from post-secondary education students, is that the provisions of the new act do not make proper provisions for post-secondary education students voting.

Mr. Speaker, when the House passed the new act last spring, there was a provision that the act not come into force until a date proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council. Basically, that meant that the act did not come into force right away, which happens when bills are silent on that subject; but instead, power was given to the Cabinet - the Cabinet, which meets in private, in secret, regularly once a week, but which may meet any time at all - to set the date of the coming into force of the new act; but because of the wording, Cabinet's power was restricted to bringing into force all of the new act or nothing - all or nothing.

Mr. Speaker, when the House passed the new act with that delayed proclamation provision, there was an undertaking from the government - from ministers - that before they would proclaim and enforce the act, they would come back to the House of Assembly with amendments to address the concerns of students. Now, members of the committee who were more involved in this than I was may be able to elaborate. I believe there might have been other issues which the government promised to address as well, but specifically when the House promised the new Elections Act last spring, the government made an undertaking before proclaiming the act in force, to come back to the House with a bill to amend the act to address the concerns of students.

Mr. Speaker, here we are, the House reconvened in the dying days of the fall session, the fall sitting, likely the last sitting of the House of Assembly - of this Assembly - before the next election, and we have no government proposal to address the students' concerns. This bill now before us is silent on the question of special polls or special ballots for post-secondary education students at institutions away from their home districts. As previous speakers have pointed out, in clause 2 of the bill the fifth rule of residency says, "Notwithstanding Rule IV, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, a person who has left his or her place of residence in the province to pursue a course of study at an educational institution either outside or within the province is considered to be ordinarily resident in the place where he or she was residing immediately before leaving to pursue the course of study, and he or she is considered to continue to have that ordinary residence until he or she completes or abandons the course of study."

Mr. Speaker, in our Province we have only one university, Memorial University, which has its main campus in St. John's. There is a campus, Grenfell College, in Corner Brook, which offers first and second year arts and science courses and full degree programs in fine arts, but most Corner Brook and Western Newfoundland university students, indeed, most university students from outside the St. John's area, end up attending, at some stage of their university program, the main Memorial campus in St. John's. They have to leave their home riding and go to St. John's to attend university or to complete their university studies. That also applies to many students attending other post-secondary institutions, attending one of the community colleges. We have several community colleges in the Province but only two or three with any number of technology programs, so the absence of adequate provisions for post-secondary education students voting when they are attending an institution away from their home riding is relevant, especially for students from outside St. John's.

I represent Humber East, which takes in part of Corner Brook, a riding in Western Newfoundland and, on behalf of the post-secondary education students from that riding, I have to take strong exception to this bill and I have to call on the government to fulfil the promise they made last spring by making another amendment so that there is satisfactory provision for post-secondary education students voting. Mr. Speaker, until now under the old Election Act we had special polls in the larger centres of the Province and the centres which have post-secondary education institutions. There were special polls where students and others, from any of the fifty-two ridings in the Province, were able to vote. Until now Corner Brook and Pasadena students attending Memorial University in St. John's or the Cabot Institute in St. John's, were able to vote at a special poll in St. John's. They were able to vote for Humber East at a special poll in St. John's. Similarly, students from Corner Brook and Steady Brook attending the Western Community College in Stephenville were able to vote at a special poll in Stephenville for Humber East. There were special polls in work sites employing people from all over the Province, similarly. I remember one election in which I was a candidate, when the Cat Arm Hydro Electric Project was under construction and there was a sizeable population of Cat Arm construction workers at that remote site, remote from main population centres, there was a special poll so that the Humber East workers at the Cat Arm construction site were able to vote in a special poll for Humber East.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is not acceptable for us to allow this bill to go through, the last chance to put in place appropriate and fair elections legislation before the next provincial election without addressing the omission in the new Act for voting for students away from home, for workers away from home.

Mr. Speaker, what we have in the new Act is simply the provision for proxy voting. Mr. Speaker, proxy voting may be appropriate for people who are disabled, who are physically incapacitated and unable to get out of bed, get out of home, get out of an institution and to a polling station in their own community. Proxy voting may have a place. Proxy voting may be appropriate for people who go on vacation, a two week long, a month long, a two month long vacation and who will be away for the election period but who know about the election before they leave.

If people leave Newfoundland and go to Florida for a month but prior to their departure the election has been called, it may very well be appropriate to allow them to give a proxy to a relative or trusted friend who will be remaining home, to vote on their behalf. It is probably not practical to make any other provision for those people. Although some of us have wished that we could have had a special poll on St. Petersburg Beach during April elections of 1989, 1985 and 1982, but that is not very practical.

But, Mr. Speaker, proxy voting is not satisfactory for students or workers. We know that there are large numbers of post-secondary education students, primarily from ridings outside St. John's, who are away from their home riding for the course of their studies, depending on construction projects, mining activity, offshore oil activity, before an election we can say with certainty where there is a significant number of workers away from home. So, prior to the conclusion of this Fall sitting of the House of Assembly, we the members of this Assembly have a duty to improve this Bill by adding amendments to the new elections Act to make provision for special polls or special ballots for the students and the workers in those situations. Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, the government promised to do this when they presented, and with their majority, passed the new Act last Spring.

Mr. Speaker, as many of us have been saying this week, through their recent actions the government have shown how quickly they can generate legislation. Now that we're in the eleventh hour of the Fall sitting of the House of Assembly, now that we're in the week leading up to Christmas, now that we're in the dying days of the Assembly before the next election, the government printing presses are working overtime turning out legislation.

On Monday of this week they gave us the new House of Assembly Bill, Bill 67, the conflict of interest bill. Then they gave us -

AN HON. MEMBER: Friday! Friday!

MS. VERGE: Friday, the minister is saying. It was Monday when it was distributed in this House, and the Member for Harbour Grace is nodding his head. I got it on Friday afternoon through a fluke. I happened to be here late in a meeting with the Member for Harbour Grace. I saw a CBC radio news reporter talking to the minister and I was nosy enough to find out what they were talking about, and that's how I found out the new House of Assembly Bill was printed. Then I made it my business to get a copy. I saw the minister lunchtime and he told me that one of his departmental lawyers who'd done research on it could make available some background material, and I appreciated that. I took the minister up on his offer and I had a very constructive meeting with the solicitor.

But, Mr. Speaker, it was Monday when the Pages distributed Bill 67. I watched them doing it. It was Monday of this week when the House of Assembly Bill, the conflict of interest bill, was passed out in this House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Also on Monday, I say to the Member for Port de Grave - he looks better when he smiles too - they distributed the Child Welfare Act amendments. Tuesday we got Bill 70, the ticketing bill. Within two hours the Minister of Justice, the sponsoring minister, was on his feet introducing it. As my colleague, the Opposition House Leader, said, that one was still warm when it was being introduced.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Now, Mr. Speaker, none of that snark from the Minister of Justice. No, Thursday. This is Thursday. It's hard to keep track this week. Today the Pages brought around Bill 62, An Act To Amend The Electoral Boundaries Act. Then a couple of minutes ago the Pages distributed the utilities tax act. I call that the double devious downloading bill. The DDD bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MS. VERGE: The DDD bill, the double devious downloading. The provincial politicians aren't going to do the extra taxing directly. They're not going to make the municipal volunteers do it. They're going to allow the municipal volunteers to make up the revenue they're losing because of the provincial cuts, by having the utilities do the billing. So the extra tax will be billed by Newfoundland Power and the telephone company.

Of course, there'll be GST on top. So municipalities wanting to make up an extra $100,000 that they're losing through provincial cuts can turn around and exceed the so-called uniform 2.5 per cent rate. Bill higher to make up the $100,000. Charge that to the utilities. Lo and behold, not $100,000 but $107,000 will turn up on the light bills and the phone bills of the rate payers in that municipality.

The feds get a windfall. The blame will go to the locals - the utilities or the volunteer councillors. The PR advisers, Edsel and the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MS. VERGE: - Edsel and the crew, hope that the people won't pin the blame on the Minister of Municipal Affairs and the Premier.

Mr. Speaker, my point is that through the distribution, fast and thick of bills this week, through the work of the printing presses this week, the government have demonstrated that when they're getting close to the wire, when time is running out on them, they are capable of writing up legislative amendments.

So I call on them to crank up the printing presses tonight andimprove this bill by adding provisions for special polls for students and workers who are away from their home ridings for the next election.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: I am glad to see the Member for Port de Grave applauding. I will ask him to smile now too. Perhaps he will get up on his feet and agree, because the students from Bay Roberts have to go away from home to go to university or college, and some of them are working on construction sites away from home. Does the minister honestly expect any number of them to arrange to vote by proxy in the next election?

Mr. Speaker, my friend from Kilbride sounded the call for students last Winter or last Spring. The Member for St. John's East, when he spoke today, quoted from a recent letter from the post-secondary students federation. Students do not want to have to vote by proxy. First of all, it is a hassle, but more to the point, they cannot keep private to themselves their choice.

All the other voters are able to keep confidential. That is one of the hallmarks of our democratic system. Everyone has a vote and it is a secret ballot. I have often said to people: You know, you never know how people vote. People sometimes praise me because I tend to treat everyone in Humber East alike. People have said to me, that is something they approve of in the way I operate. I treat everyone alike. I say to them: Number one, I really do not know how other people vote, and I bet I would be surprised if I really found out how some people voted, because there are people who might put up a sign for one party but if you get them over in a corner at a party some time, you might find out that they did not vote the party whose sign they displayed in their window. Apart from that, no matter who they voted for in the last election, if I am running again and I do a good job, I can always hope that they will change their vote and vote for me in the next election.

At any rate, the point I am trying to make is that we have a secret ballot and nobody but the voter knows, or should know, how a citizen votes. It is dead wrong for us to put in place a system requiring the hundreds and thousands of students we know are going to be away from their home riding at the time of the next election, and the workers we know will be away from their homes at the time of the next election, to have to tell somebody else the candidate they want to vote for, because that is going to deter people from voting.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Well the Member for Harbour Grace agrees too. So let us all get together. Let us have a coup here tonight, and let us unite in the cause of democracy. Let us come together, put aside out party differences and make an amendment to this bill so that there will be provision for special polls for students and workers.

Mr. Speaker, lack of privacy is the biggest problem with the proxy voting. The student federation cited the burden on educational institutions as another problem; and finally - and this is a very important objection - the student federation said, with the proxy system, there really is no guarantee that the voter - the student or the worker giving the proxy - will have his or her choice carried out. Is this system not open to abuse, when you stop and think about it?

From the district of Humber East, in St. John's going to school at any given election, there are probably 300, 400 or 500 students. Now can't you imagine - if you apply your full imagination - some unscrupulous political types going around to those students, getting proxies - getting wholesale proxies.

MR. MURPHY: For favours.

MS. VERGE: For favours.

The Member for St. John's South is down to earth. He is street smart. He knows how tough most students have it nowadays. Most students are barely scrimping along. Most students are very vulnerable. Most of them are voting for the first time, and they are away from home.

MR. CRANE: He knows how important two votes are, too.

MS. VERGE: How true. The Member for Harbour Grace points out that the Member for St. John's South knows how important two votes are. I would suggest that any seasoned politician in this House knows how important two votes are. There but for one vote could go any one of us in the next election. Every vote is as important as every other vote. The potential vote of every student away from home is just as important as the vote of every merchant, every lawyer, every doctor, every wealthy person ensconced at home. Mr. Speaker, I cannot stress too much the need for us now in this late 1992 sitting of the House of Assembly, in our last chance at improving the Elections Act before turning it over to Cabinet to proclaim and enforce any time they like, to expand the new act to make proper provision for special polls for students and workers. I do not know what was wrong with the system we have had all along. In my experience, I have been elected four times, the special polls worked very well. I am told by one of my colleagues who was on the committee last Winter that the former chief electoral officer complained that the system was too expensive. I fine it hard to believe that it was all that expensive.

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Simms went to bed defeated and woke up elected.

MS. VERGE: I remember that very well.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible)

MS. VERGE: The Minister of Justice is talking about 2000 polling stations but we never had special polls in anything like 2000. What we had were special polls in the large centres, the centres where there are post-secondary educational institutions and in those urban centres the polls were located usually in post-secondary institutions and hospitals. Depending on the construction situation, or employment situation at the time, there were special polls in large remote work sites such as Cat Arm.

It seems to me all we would be talking about are a couple of dozen special polls. You would need maybe one or two special polls in St. John's. Maybe even half a dozen in St. John's when you think of Memorial University, Cabot Institute, and then the hospitals, and then the other community college campus towns. There would be Carbonear, there would be the Marystown - Salt Pond area, there would be Clarenville, Bonavista, Gander, Grand Falls, Springdale, perhaps two or three in Corner Brook including the hospital, Stephenville, Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Labrador West, and perhaps one at Hope Brook. We are talking a couple of dozen.

Now, when ballots are printed, the same as any other kind of printing, the cost of getting additional copies is insignificant, so the cost of getting extra ballots printed is really not a consideration. There would be a small extra cost associated with staffing for special polls but there is no need for us to speculate about the cost. It has been done in all recent elections. It was done in 1989 so it would be very easy for any of us here, or our staff, to ask the elections office to give us exact figures, exact numbers. I am speaking from memory off the top of my head. I do not claim to know exactly how many special polls there were in the last election. There were not all that many. Of course, all of the candidates in the last election received in the mail, a few days after voting day, from the chief electoral office, a whole series of brown envelopes with the results from each poll. I am sure members opposite will recall also, each of us, as candidates, a few days after the last election - and after every election - receiving in the mail from the chief electoral officer the count from each poll. I remember getting maybe ten or a dozen counts from special polls. There was a fairly large one from St. John's because that is where many students from western Newfoundland have to go to complete their studies. That is where some people from western Newfoundland have to go for major surgery because the only tertiary care hospital in the Province is in St. John's. Then there might have been one or two from different jails. As I recall the inmates from Humber East in the last election, I think, all voted for the Premier actually. Any who are still in custody, having to face that Plexiglas, may be sorry now.

Mr. Speaker, at any rate -

MR. ROBERTS: Carried.

MS. VERGE: This is not carried, I say to the Minister of Justice, because it is not complete. It is another instance of a broken promise. As the government said last Spring - now, the minister himself wasn't here at the time, but his Premier and his colleagues in the Cabinet told us last Spring that before they would bring into force the new Elections Act they would be back with amendments to fix it up. Now, that seems to be an approach favoured by the new Government House Leader. That is the approach he started out taking with his police public complaints commission legislation. One of his supporters at the committee meeting, the member for Carbonear, said at the end of the meeting: I don't care how bad this police commission is, we can always fix it up later.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who said that?

MS. VERGE: The member for Carbonear said it.

AN HON. MEMBER: So he did, yes.

MS. VERGE: Yes. Now, Mr. Speaker, we went along with that last spring. We might have squawked and protested and maybe even voted against it at the time. I can't quite remember. But we got swallowed up in it all last Spring. We thought the government really were going to come back in the fall sitting with amendments to the Elections Act to address the very legitimate concerns of students. But here we are, the week before Christmas, and we don't see those provisions. Why? Well, maybe there are good excuses. I doubt it. But at any rate it is not here. But considering the legislative output of the last week, five bills cranked out in the last week, five bills that the Pages distributed, two this afternoon, and some of them complicated, lengthy bills. Considering that output, I say to the Government House Leader, he should go back to his drawing board this evening and crank up the presses to turn out further amendments to The Elections Act to provide for special polls for students and workers away from home.

I say to him: If he is under the impression that there would have to be 2,000 special polls, if he thinks that there would have to be a special poll at every poll in the Province, all he has to do is pick up the phone and call the new chief electoral officer, Mr. Mitchell, and ask Mr. Mitchell to show him exactly what happened in the last election in 1989 and the election of 1985. There was a relatively small number of special polls and the cost was modest, the cost was insignificant in the scheme of running the whole election and it would be very easy -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice. If he speaks now, he will close the debate.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there being no other member who wishes to speak, as far as I know, let me - the hon. Member for Kilbride has already enlightened us once. Once is enough I must say.

Mr. Speaker, let me refer to some of the points that have been made. The special ballot one, I can deal with I think, expeditiously. The House Committee, the Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections brought a report in early in November I understand, chaired by my friend for Eagle River and the truth of it is, that we have not, as a government, been able to come to take a position on it yet -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: When I got the report I asked Mr. Mitchell, the chief electoral officer, to look into this and come back with a report, and he has not yet been able to do so. He has made a preliminary report, I do not think I should say what is in it, but he has spoken with the officials I understand in the provinces that use these special ballots, in Ontario and New Brunswick, and we are awaiting the federal government's proposal because the Lortie Commission brought in a proposal with these special ballots. We would like to see what the Canada Elections Act officials will do, so I cannot go beyond that.

I would acknowledge the proxy voting system which we have suggested which is in the 1991 legislation now, is one that experience has shown has some problems but it is a little like Churchill's definition of democracy: You have to find something better before you can replace it. The special ballot suggestion may be better but at this time we are simply waiting for some word from Mr. Mitchell, and I am not trying to place an unfair burden on him. The man has been doing a magnificent job in getting on with the business of getting us to the point where, when the election is called, he will be able to confirm that the fifty-two Liberal candidates have been returned around the Province.

I would like to point out that there were forty-three special polls-

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: There were forty-three special polls in the 1989 election. St. John's had forty electoral districts but there were a whole bunch, there must have been - I do not know, I have not added them up, but there were probably 400 or 500. No, twenty-seven times fifty-one, there were over 1,000 special polls.

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

MR. ROBERTS: Well this is the book we all use. St. John's had forty electoral districts, Stephenville had forty-nine, Gander had fifty-one, Corner Brook had forty-eight, Happy Valley - Goose Bay had fifty-one, in other words, in most districts - this is what there was -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No, no.

MS. VERGE: It was only one (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: You have to have a DRO, I understand for each one -

AN HON. MEMBER: No.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, I am not here to argue, but that is what the law says. Here we are: this is from Mr. Whelan's report on the 1989 election. Regulation 89/89, published in the Gazette on May 19th, '89, provided for the establishing of special polling stations throughout the Province. This is a very significant fact. There were 1,835 regular polls, so the whole Province had 1,835 regular polls. The special poll constituted a parallel election from an administrative point of view and involved 1,715 polls. I am not making it up, I am reading what Mr. Dermot Whalen, then the chief electoral officer, who had been there for two or three elections, put there by my hon. friends Opposite, a man who would know what was going on, involved 1,715 polls, so there were as many special polls as there were general polls and each one had to have a deputy returning officer and ballots and all that stuff, poll books and the whole - I thank my hon. friend - the whole paraphernalia. When you go through them, they do not give the breakdown of special polls but I can recall when I did, my friend for Bonavista South had a recount - he did not, his opponent did, the unsuccessful Tory candidate had a recount in the supreme court and I acted for my hon. friend as counsel -

AN HON. MEMBER: Did he win?

MR. GOVER: I almost lost (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Despite his counsel's efforts, Mr. Justice Halley did confirm him, but I can recall with great glee, when we got to the special polls and it turned out, my hon. friend, I forget what it was - he either won Waterford and lost the penitentiary or the other way around. There were two votes for him at the Waterford and none against and at the penitentiary, there were two for his opponent and none against - whatever it was, but we saw poll after poll where there was zero, zero - I mean, just nobody voted. The thing is just absolutely absurd.

MR. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible) you can't do away with them all!

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. My friend for St. John's South said the two guys at the Penitentiary were former clients of my friend from Bonavista South. I won't say why the two people at the Waterford voted for his opponent.

Anyway, to be a little more serious. There is a massive administrative problem. Mr. Whelan recommended in the report that we do away with them and replace them either with proxy ballots or mail-in ballots. We adopted the proxy proceeding because that was the only one - we took it from the federal act. I gather it's replete with problems, and the House committee in my understanding was asked to look at it and came back and brought in their report. The full truth of the matter - I make no apology for it - is we haven't yet got to it in the Cabinet. We've asked Mr. Mitchell to look at it. He has not completed it. He's given me a preliminary assessment. He has not completed his full assessment.

My friend for Grand Bank is smiling in that carefree, cheerful way of his.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, no. (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We haven't got to it.

MR. MATTHEWS: No, I'm just wondering (Inaudible) we might not have a chance to deal with it.

MR. ROBERTS: That is possible. But we can only do what we can do. If hon. members think that I have been saving up legislation with a view to ramming it - to use their expression - all I'm saying is, bills are coming in as quickly as they can be printed. Believe me, they're coming in as quickly as they can be printed. I can tell my hon. friends, the longer this House stays open the more bills there are going to be.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. ROBERTS: Because they're out there bringing - we dealt with three or four in Cabinet today, didn't we? The departments appear to be insatiable. It's sort of a bill-o-mania. Not bill of the month or bill of the day or bill of the week, but bill of the hour! It's incredible.

What's on the order paper is the end of it, I say to my hon.friend, what's on the order paper. There are those who say to be a draftsman you have to be mad. If you aren't when you start you are when you finish. It's a very special art. We have extraordinarily capable drafters in this Province. They have been pushed in the last two or three months, they have been pushed extraordinarily, but the bills that are on the order paper now, that my friend for Grand Bank and I talked about when we came and had a cup of coffee together before lunch up in my room, that is it. There is nothing more going on the order paper, period. What we have to do is get them off the order paper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Anyway, I'll sit down. I want to make just two other points. The proclamation: My friend for St. John's East, and others, have made reference to this, we shall proclaim the bill as quickly as the Chief Electoral Officer tells us he can implement it. The suggestion is - the plan is to implement it by parts but there are 342 or 343 sections; it may well be necessary, not to be able to implement a section or two, but as soon as the Chief Electoral Officer says proclaim it, it will be proclaimed; and I will go further, anything he says should be proclaimed, will be proclaimed. We are not trying to play any games with this. We are going to win the election - we are going to win it fair and square.

Finally, I would repeat what I said to my hon. friend from Mount Pearl, my understanding of the bill is that you have to count - during the election period which is defined, you have to count all expenditures but you only count them once. In my understanding, and we can check this, he and perhaps my friend from St. Barbe can check it, when the election period is on and the transfer from the party to the district -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: - is only counted once.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, I didn't. I had a lot to do with this bill when I was downtown as a lawyer, I mean, practising law, but my input was on my own time. The government - in fact, the Premier asked me to give some advice to it and he made a point of saying: Do not send a bill.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, at that time there was no thought of a Cabinet position on either the Premier's part or mine, I can assure my hon. friend.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I say to my friend from Mount Pearl that the fear he expresses, in my view, is not founded but we will have a look at it now and if that is there, we will change it in committee. There is a drafter here, in fact, our chief legislative counsel is within sound of my voice - his tough luck, I guess. But we will address that. Other than that, I think I have dealt with the points. They were all made eight and ten times by hon. members. I got them once, I got them the first time, and that is what we have to say. I move the bill to be read a second time, Sir.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Election Act, The Jury Act, 1991 And The Elections Act, 1991", read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 74)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, could we call Bill 64, which I confess, we, on this side, know as Bill 17-And-A-Half, for obvious reasons. My friend, the Minister of Finance, in whose name it stands, is in Ottawa attending ministerial meetings. My friend and colleague, the Minister of Industry, Trade & Technology, will speak for the government on the matter, Sir.

MR. SPEAKER: Is this Order No. 36?

MR. FUREY: Bill 64, Mr. Speaker.

Motion, second reading of a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Sector Restraint Act, 1992". (Bill No. 64)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade & Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, perhaps we can show the House just how easy it is to get a bill through now and how quickly it can be done.

MR. ROBERTS: He can be the next House Leader if he can get this one through now.

MR. FUREY: I will work on not getting it through then. I will do my best, Mr. Speaker, not to get it through. Mr. Speaker, this particular bill, of course, arises directly out of the Ministerial Statement presented by my colleague, the Minister of Finance, a short while ago in the House. I refer members to his statement, and, in particular, pages 9 and 10.

The minister, at that time, said that he indicated government would like to embark on a consultative process with the public sector unions to try to identify mutually acceptable means by which this can be accomplished - this, of course, being how we can live within the structures and the constraints of the budgetary requirements for next year.

He went on to say that he had consulted with public sector unions to respond to a number of issues with respect to the budgetary problems the government had, and that he would introduce legislation to remove restrictions on public sector collective bargaining in the third year, covered by Bill 17. It was his hope, at that time, to facilitate a return to collective bargaining within the public sector unions in the coming weeks.

Mr. Speaker, of course, the initial bill brought forward, which imposed restraint and wage freezes on the Province, was Bill 16. In fact, the House, at the time, passed Bill 16, but then Bill 17 was really a repealing of Bill 16 which provided for thirty-six months of restraint, and this is the way it was laid out. It would be three years of restraint.

Under this particular bill, in year one, the wages would be frozen. In year two, there would also be a similar freeze, and in year three we would look at a total compensation package which would be capped at 3 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is important to point out that in discussions that the Minister of Finance and the President of Treasury Board had with the union leadership, I think one of the arguments they put forward was that in year three, in particular, the cap should be removed so as to restore full collective bargaining; but bear in mind, Mr. Speaker, it was within the context of the total global budget and within the constraints that we were dealing with.

The government was initially reluctant to do this, but after consideration and after a fair bit of discussion -

MR. R. AYLWARD: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

We should have a quorum in the House, Mr. Speaker. (Inaudible) sit here and listen to the hon. member.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: 'Bob', he didn't hear you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Quorum call! Quorum call!

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, would you like to call a quorum or do you want to -

AN HON. MEMBER: A quorum has been called.

MR. FUREY: I don't think he heard him. I don't think the Speaker heard what his request was. He stood up and sat down too quickly.

MR. SPEAKER: We have a quorum.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, with the number of people licking their chops, I know it is not because of this piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: You can wait if you want, but you don't have to. Do we agree?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, this is an important amendment. Essentially, as the explanatory note provides, it reduces the restraint period from thirty-six to twenty-four months which will put the government in a position where we can restore collective bargaining.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is incumbent upon me to say, from my discussions with the Minister of Finance, that the public sector unions, especially the Teachers' Association and the nurses, in considering next year's financial situation, the government decided after consultation with them to repeal the third year of Bill 17. This gives rise, Mr. Speaker, to this new bill before the House today which is essentially an amendment to the original Restraint Act. So it frees up people to collectively bargain and to discuss and negotiate and see how we can deal with this fiscal problem that the government has.

There are a number of key provisions. The key provisions of Bill 64 are very simple, Mr. Speaker, Sections 1 to 4. These sections amend the bill and remove reference to the third year which eliminates the thirty-six months, reduces it to twenty-four, and establishes collective bargaining again.

Section 2 clarifies the restraint period with respect to the judges, Mr. Speaker, the chief judge and judges of the provincial court. That would begin April 1, 1992, forward for a twenty-four month period.

Section 5 of the Bill is a more substantial section in that for any agreements that provided for wage or benefit increases in the third year or subsequent years, these provisions are of no effect and will require the unions and employers to renegotiate these provisions without a 3 per cent cap as previously provided for. In other words, the restoration of discussions in free collective bargaining.

I don't know that there's a whole lot more that can be said about this, Mr. Speaker. I think it's fairly straightforward. As I said, it amends the main act to make this possible, so that governments and the unions can begin discussions again within the context of what we described.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, as the hon. minister said this is a very straightforward piece of legislation. I guess we're not so much concerned about what's in the legislation as what's not in the legislation. We would have liked to have seen the government restore some of the wage increases that had been negotiated previously in collective bargaining that were stripped by Bill 17. We hardly expected the government to do that.

What the government is saying they're doing here is eliminating the restrictions on the third year. That sounds like a very positive move. Restrictions are gone for the third year. So the third year of Bill 17 no longer exists. What the minister hasn't told the House is that the third year provided that negotiations could take place but that the limit was a 3 per cent overall compensation package increase. So it did provide for collective bargaining, but with restrictions.

That part of Bill 17 actually gave public sector the comfort of expecting to receive a 3 per cent overall increase in the third year. What this Bill does is say: that comfort is now gone. You're on your own. Any intents, implied or otherwise, is no longer in place. Instead we'll have free and open collective bargaining.

It's hard to argue against free and open collective bargaining. What you have to listen to are the words of the Premier. He was a little more honest than some hon. gentlemen. He said: I want to make it clear that we will be negotiating reductions. So let us not be under any false impression that by removing the third year, the provisions for the third year under Bill 17, that now suddenly there is going to be great wage increases. In fact as the Premier has told us in the House there will be decreases, maybe not in wages but in the overall benefits package, the overall cost to government.

I have been told by officials of the Department of Finance that government's target is a 5 per cent decrease. It does not necessarily mean that wages are going to be rolled back but it has to be either wages, or benefits, or services. The cost to government has to go back by 5 per cent, so either wages will roll back by 5 per cent or other benefits will be reduced by an equivalent amount, or we will have 5 per cent fewer employees. There will have to be massive layoffs. There has to be massive layoffs unless wages are going to be rolled back. Mr. Speaker, that is not free and open collective bargaining. That is saying come on in and we will negotiate and you can help us decide whether we are going to fire 5 per cent of the public service, whether we are going to roll back their salaries by 5 per cent, or whether we are going to cut other benefits by an equivalent amount, or some combination thereof. That is not collective bargaining. That is negotiating with a gun to your head. This is Russian roulette we are playing here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible) take the paddy wagons out there.

MR. WINDSOR: No, we will not take the paddy wagons but you will see them before it is over though. You may rest assured that if this government thinks they are going to go through a set of negotiations under these terms and conditions, with the condition of negotiation being that we have to cut by 5 per cent then the hon. Member for Port de Grave will see more than Paddy wagons out here. He will see more than one paddy wagon you can rest assured. There is going to be a major uprising in the public service of this Province because there can be no other way of doing it, Mr. Speaker. If you are going to reduce by 5 per cent then it calls for drastic cuts, which means employees will be laid off, services will be reduced, wages rolled back, or some combination thereof, who knows? Maybe they can save 2 or 3 per cent by attrition, by not refilling positions. That will reduce the level of service being provided to the people of the Province. Maybe they can find the balance by wage rollbacks or maybe they can produce some benefits. Who knows?

Maybe some of the leave that is now provided, the vacation benefits, holidays that may be - we've already seen this government move to reduce the number of holidays. We've already seen this government try to reduce the number of holidays under the Shop Closing Act. So the obvious next step for this government, Mr. Speaker, is to come in with a bill that says: those holidays that are provincial holidays, that are not being honoured under the Shop Closing Act, will no longer be provincial holidays. So maybe we're going to lose four or five provincial holidays as a means of reducing costs.

Maybe we're going to see some pension benefits reduced. Maybe government won't contribute as much to pensions any more. Maybe severance packages will be cut. There are two very drastic measures. Taking away from employees what they've worked so many long years for, and that they had planned into their retirement program. Reducing those would be one of the darkest measures that this government could ever consider. I hope they don't even consider it. I honestly hope they're not so foolish as to come into this House - then you'll see the paddy wagons. You may rest assured.

So let us not have any false illusions that this piece of legislation is overly beneficial to the public service. You would think that all of a sudden the 3 per cent restriction is removed and now we can go negotiate 5 per cent or 6 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINDSOR: On the surface, yes, that's what the Bill says, but the impact is exactly as the Premier has pointed out: we are looking for overall reductions. Now if there's going to be a 5 per cent increase in salaries then that means there has to be 10 per cent decrease in the number of people. Because the stated objective is to reduce by 5 per cent.

Cutting holidays will only save money if it is followed with a similar reduction in the number of people. If you have 1,500 people that work four more days a year - okay? - that's 6,000 man days. So you can eliminate 6,000 man days. It follows automatically. If you reduce the holidays - the amount of work that's there theoretically is the same. We all know that the amount of work expands to fill the amount of time available. So in effect it's not there. But theoretically you could say.... In areas where there is shift work, yes.

If you have employees who are doing shift work, and there's a significant number of them, say, perhaps, in the hospitals, say nurses. If, all of a sudden, you do not have all of those nurses who have to have a holiday - you do not have to replace them. In effect, you always have your nurses there anyway, so what you are saving is the time-and-a-half or double time that some nurses may have by being in there anyway.

So there are savings, but not the simple fact of eliminating the holidays. For public servants in this building it just means they work four more days. They do not get less pay. You theoretically can say, we can eliminate that many public servants. In practice I doubt very much if it would happen - theoretically - but it is a measure government might look at; but that is only one measure. There are other benefits which could be taken away - compassionate leave and some of these things.

As it relates to teachers, or somebody who must be replaced by a substitute teacher, for example - we have just seen that the government is cutting back funding for substitute teachers quite drastically - or by eliminating certain holidays such as reducing sick leave holidays, reducing compassionate leave, or something of that nature; yes, sure, you can save money because you are not replacing with substitute teachers, which is a direct cost - a very big cost, too - a very big cost.

Mr. Speaker, let us be very clear what this bill does. It does not open up free and open collective bargaining, except in the sense that the restrictions are no longer legislated. The government has made it clear - and all the restriction said was that the maximum we would get was 3 per cent overall compensation package - a 3 per cent increase.

I questioned the Minister of Finance at the time and he said: Oh, well you can negotiate. We might have fewer employees. We might give a 5 per cent increase. That is what the legislation says. Now that is being removed and the minister is saying: We are going - I do not know why they bothered. It does not matter. They could negotiate a decrease at any rate. It does not matter that the legislation says the maximum is 3 per cent. They have announced: we are going to negotiate a decrease. So there is really no purpose to the bill because the government had no intention of negotiating a 3 per cent increase anyway.

On the surface it sounds great. Bill 17 is being repealed - hallelujah! Bill 17-and-a-half does that. Wait until 17-and-three-quarters comes to light - the bill that will never be introduced here. It will be negotiated at the bargaining table. There is where the paddy wagons will come in, when the union negotiating teams find out what the guidelines are in this free and open collective bargaining process that we are purporting to put forward here.

Let me say, Mr. Speaker, there is no free, open, collective bargaining here. Reassign the deck chairs is what it is.

Rob Peter to pay Paul. That is the only thing that can be done under these negotiations; take from one to give to others. The government has already said, Mr. Speaker, the overall compensation package will be reduced by 5 per cent. If you call that collective bargaining, Mr. Speaker, then your concept of collective bargaining and mine are quite different.

So, Mr. Speaker, we will see. As we have said, there is very little in the bill other than what we have just talked about but the implications are very far-reaching, very far-reaching and the real truth will come to the surface in due course, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


 

December 17, 1992           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS        Vol. XLI  No. 87A


[Continuation of December 17th sitting.]

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to have a few words on Bill 64 - Bill 17-And-A-Half, as they refer to it. As my colleague, the other Windsor from Mount Pearl said, this bill is nothing but a charade, because Bill 17 allows an increase of anywhere up to 3 per cent and this bill will allow reduction of wages by 5 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, the President of Treasury Board, the Minister of Finance has said that in the 1993 year, government must save 5 per cent on the salary budget, the overall compensation package that is paid out to employees in this Province. The only way that can be done is either by rolling back wages or taking away benefits that have already been agreed to. Just a while ago, I think, when the government was introducing its mini-Budget, it sent a number of trial balloons throughout the Province to see how people would react.

One of them was the issue of severance pay to employees who are retiring, and there is no question, this is one of the areas that will be under assault. From anyone who retires from the public service, government is going to strip away that right to severance pay. While they might maintain it for people who are laid off because of redundancy or shortage of work, in the case of people who are retiring, Mr. Speaker, one of the areas that will be under attack in this bill is severance pay.

Another area that will obviously have to be addressed if they are going to save 5 per cent is the issue of sick leave and annual leave, and reduction of the number of days to which people are entitled. It is a huge amount of money that can only be saved by either rolling back wages, cutting into existing agreed-to contract benefits. In many cases, unions throughout this Province have given considerably to the government throughout the years to maintain certain things in their collective agreements.

To recover 5 per cent means they are going to strip away; it is almost like government has done with the hospital workers in this Province who have top-up provision, they have taken away rights that have been negotiated through collective agreements by introducing a bill of this nature. So this bill that we have before us is nothing but a sham, it does nothing. Instead of allowing maximum increases of 3 per cent, it is now going to allow government to roll back by at least 5 per cent. There is nothing in this bill of any substance; it was a sham to make people think they were resorting to free collective bargaining. There is no intent on the part of this government to engage in free collective bargaining for the public servants of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) your teacher friends (inaudible) in Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, my teacher friends in Fogo know quite well what the record of this government has been in free collective bargaining. As a matter of fact, I tell the Member for Carbonear, while last year's restraint bill was ongoing, the President of Treasury Board told a group of employees in this Province that their total compensation bill could not exceed that of the previous year. The group took that proposition to Treasury Board, saying, 'Okay, our total salary bill would not exceed what was paid last year,' and they suggested a number of options that could be pursued so that they would get, I think, up to a 3.5 per cent increase, by changing certain things in their collective agreement. Mr. Speaker, the President of Treasury Board -

MR. REID: All you have to do is (inaudible) for the years of mismanagement.

MR. WINSOR: The years of mismanagement, Mr. Speaker -

MR. REID: (Inaudible) a provincial debt of $4 billion in seventeen years.

MR. WINSOR: What nonsense, Mr. Speaker! Talk about how much the provincial debt as increased in the last two years. Mr. Speaker, talk about mismanagement of an economy - a government that forecasted a $29 million deficit and comes in with $159 million with the books cooked, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Carbonear gets carried away.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, if this Bill doesn't do any more than the previous bill, Bill 17, has done, when employees were entitled -

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, tell the member to go out and get some chicken bones or something. My friend from Grand Bank calls him the court jester, Mr. Speaker, it reminds me of -

MR. MURPHY: Cabinet jester, it is not court because he is not really a king. Court is in reference to a king but, you know, this is a Cabinet jester, the Executive Council jester.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Member for Carbonear - what has happened to the Member for Carbonear, Mr. Speaker, is that recently a number -

MR. REID: Tell the truth.

MR. WINSOR: Yes I will tell the truth. I will tell you what is happening. The Member for Carbonear has suddenly become very vociferous in the House, talks quite a bit, laughs loudly when the Government House Leader or the Premier says something, laughs heartily, because he suspects that a number of people in the backbenches now, are not on the favourite list of the Premier and his chief honcho, Mr. Speaker. When they are up speaking now, he laughs heartily, so that the Premier or someone will think this fellow is really supportive of them - because he is trying to get into Cabinet. He thinks that three or four others have been barred from getting into Cabinet, and that he is next in line. But I want to get back to the Bill because it is more important, Mr. Speaker, than listening to Falstaff or the court jesters from Shakespearean time, because that is all he is doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: Now, Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, a group, specifically the people from Newfoundland Hydro, a Crown corporation that had the wage freeze imposed on them in Bill 17, came to government and said, 'We have found a way that we can effect some savings to not increase the total salary bill for the Crown corporation. Mr. Speaker, they undertook negotiations, started collective bargaining. The President of Treasury Board and the Premier called them and said: 'No, you can't do it.' They prevented the group from continuing with collective bargaining in this Province for a wage increase, Mr. Speaker, despite their having found a way for the department to achieve it. The Minister of ITT looks surprised. He can check with the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance will tell him that the United Electrical Workers came to the minister saying, 'We found a way to save some money - may we now have our raise?' The President of Treasury Board said, 'The deal is off, there is no increase,' and it remained status quo, Mr. Speaker.

If that same kind of principle is going to apply with Bill 64, then this is all a sham, a charade, because there is no intent on the part of this government to give anyone a wage increase. In fact, we are going to take 5 per cent from them. They were ready to take 3 per cent in December but the outcry from the public sector unions in this Province suggested to them that it was politically dangerous to do so and the government found other methods to cook the books. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation found $15 million in his budget in capital works that he would not spend this year. He found $15 million in capital expenses that wasn't spent.

As a matter of fact, I have an example in my own district. The minister in the Estimates Committee talked about the great amount of work that was going to be done in my district. They were going to make a causeway safe to drive over and replace culverts on Weir's Pond Brook on the Gander Bay Road. That had nothing to do with my district, it is just as close to the Member for Gander. But, Mr. Speaker, guess what happened? The work didn't get done. Do you know what the lame excuse was? The Department of Fisheries would not give them permission to put the culverts in. That was the reason given by the minister. Do you know why they did not give them permission? Because the year was gone when they invited tenders and it was not up to the tender specifications. What they were going to put in would not meet environmental and fishery regulations. That is why they were able to achieve some savings and not roll back wages, as they are intending to do. They have given the unions fair notice. I will say that for them, Mr. Speaker, they have given them fair notice, that as of the next fiscal year they have to have an overall saving of at least 5 per cent, or else. Now, 'or else' means one of two things: there will be major rollbacks or there will be layoffs. One of the two will occur.

So, on this bill, Bill 64, while it is great to think that we are going to resume fair collective bargaining in this Province, Mr. Speaker - the other day the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations made a statement in this House, talking about basic human rights and how it is a great thing that people throughout the world were given certain rights, freedom of access to buildings and that kind of thing. It was ironic that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations would introduce this bill when he took away one of the most basic human rights there are in the Western world, the right to free collective bargaining. That is what this administration took away in the past two years, Mr. Speaker. It took away the right to free collective bargaining, a basic human right held throughout the world. The ILO, a branch of the United Nations, in a ruling passed down, said that this government was one of the worst offenders in violation of basic human rights.

Mr. Speaker, we are looking forward to seeing in Bill 64 how much free collective bargaining there is, and what is going to take place in An Act To Amend The Public Sector Restraint Act, because we believe there is going to be further restraint. As a matter of fact, the only reason this was introduced was to allow government to roll back wages and not give up to 3 per cent as it was supposed to be in the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Speaker, the Member for St. John's South wags his finger. His colleague, the Member for ITT, was speaking a few minutes ago, and what a rag-tag of people came in with chicken bones sticking out of their mouths, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Justice just about choked on a bone caught in his throat when a quorum call came because he didn't know what was happening out in the House. Mr. Speaker, with these few brief remarks, I will sit down and my colleagues will take up the cudgel.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I am sorry -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: Because of the noise from the other side of the House, Mr. Speaker, I apologize, I could not hear you. Mr. Speaker, if the hon. the Member for St. John's South would like to speak, maybe he could go back to his seat and rise.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, on a point of order.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I have sponsored this amendment and I would really like to hear what the hon. the Member for Menihek has to say. Can you restrain the Member for Port au Port? He just keeps interjecting and shouting and making all kinds of noise and I would like to hear his colleague, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was hoping that the hon. the Member for Port au Port would not restrain himself because I appreciated his applause and his acceptance of the remarks that I was making.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and speak on Bill 64 or, as the hon. Minister of Justice referred to it earlier today, Bill 17-and-a-Half, the bill that is really going to put the shaft to the public sector employees in this Province. That is what it is going to do. You have established -this administration thinks it has fooled the public employees, pulled a sham, pulled the wool over their eyes because of what they have done. Mr. Speaker, they feel that they have pulled the wool over the eyes of the public employees, but let me inform the members on the other side of the House that unions in this Province are not as poorly organized and as poorly informed, as they were back in 1959, Mr. Speaker -

MR. HODDER: Which is where the thinking of this government lies.

MR. A. SNOW: - which is really where the thinking and the roots of this government lie, Mr. Speaker, and it is the road map that was established back during that regime that outlawed the IWA. It is going to set the labour movement back in this Province probably fifteen to twenty years, Mr. Speaker. A good friend of mine, a few months ago, was very actively involved - this friend passed away, Mr. Speaker - he had been very actively involved with labour organizing in the IWA. He used to tell stories about what these workers had to suffer, working in the lumber woods, and how he could never, ever bring himself, from that day onward - this man was working in the lumber woods when he was twelve years of age. He became actively involved with organizing for the IWA and he could never, ever bring himself to vote Liberal again, Mr. Speaker. This friend of mine from Labrador could never ever support it because of what that administration did to the union movement in this Province. Because what was done to the IWA back in 1959 did set the union movement of this Province back probably fifteen to twenty years, and this administration is following in those footsteps.

The public employees of this Province deserve better treatment. I believe that the public employees of this Province are probably the best trained, best educated and the hardest working public employees in this whole country. Whether they are firemen, nurses, policemen, working in the public sector offices, in delivering government services, school teachers, or whatever they are, generally speaking, I think we have a better trained, better educated, more diligent worker than anywhere else in this country with regard to the delivery of services - public employees in general.

This bill, Mr. Speaker, sets the stage for more contract stripping. Bill 64, An Act To Amend The Public Sector Restraint Act, 1992 - Bill 17-and-a-Half, the people on the other side call it. Because, after Bill 16, when they attacked the union movement in this Province, they imposed that through closure, and Bill 17, they had to ram that through the House, now here we find ourselves Christmas coming in with Bill 17 and a half. Just on the eve of Christmas when we are supposed to have peace, goodwill, and be in the spirit of giving. What do we see this administration doing? - setting the stage to start stripping.

MR. HODDER: Scaring the Newfoundlanders to death.

MR. A. SNOW: They are going to start stripping out of the contract. Because they have already imposed - they say they are going to reinstate collective bargaining. Can you imagine reinstating collective bargaining with a shotgun to their heads, Mr. Speaker? Because that is what they have done, effectively. Government said: 'We are going to roll it back, we have to save 5 per cent. We don't care how you do it. What do you want to give up, your pension?

Mr. Speaker, this is not a return to collective bargaining. It is forced stripping of contract, that's what it is. That's what they are doing. Because, I say to them: You have established a stage for it now. You have said: 'We are going to take it back.' What are you going to take back from the public employees of this Province? You have told the nurses that they had to give up their top-up in workers' compensation. You have stripped the nurses of a benefit that they had. You stripped benefits from the nurses in this Province, from the nurses' wages in this Province. Now you are going to attack all the other public employees of this Province by establishing this shotgun-to-the-head approach to collective bargaining, which is not anywhere near a return to collective bargaining, and the unions recognize it.

This government thinks now that they have deceived everybody - because they have been slick. They have been tricky by a half. You have to read the fine print with this group. You have to read the fine print. That is going to catch up to them because this is not 1959; this is 1992.

The unions are not going to be deceived. They are well organized, well educated, well led, and they are going to see this administration for what they truly are - a bunch of neo-conservatives who have more concern for debt than they have for the well-being of people in hospitals or people employed by them. They have no responsibility to delivery of services. All you have to do is look at their approach to how they have looked at managing the economy of this Province. All they can come up with is either cut or tax or, in the case of recent announcements, both - both at the same time - cut and tax. There are no incentives any more. All you have to do is attack everybody this time. As the official Leader of the Opposition, or the Leader of the Opposition, said it was the 'Mother of all rollbacks'.

One of the biggest problems we have with the economy of this Province is the approach that this administration is taking with regard to managing the economy of this Province. They have done absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy. They have to get rid of this idea, the myth, that anybody employed in the public sector does not contribute to the economy. Public sector spending contributes to the economy and accelerates the economy. It does not detract from - it adds to - it contributes to the wealth of the economy of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, we are seeing that type of approach to the management of an economy south of our border, the Canadian border. I speak in reference to the President elect in the United States of America, who has talked about -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, Mr. Speaker, he is not a neo-conservative such as this administration. This administration is so neo-conservative that it is frightening. It is absolutely frightening. They would move to the right of Preston Manning. It was not even far enough right for the hon. Member for Pleasantville - not even far enough right for him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Now, Mr. Speaker, we see that this administration looks at solving the problems of the economy, or whatever it is, by attacking somebody else. Never admit any responsibility. The two, hard, fast rules of this administration carved in stone, I am told, on the end wall of the Cabinet room, where the carpet is up to your ankles and the chairs are $2,000 each, and doorknobs - you could see your face in them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: You can see your face or whatever you wish, Mr. Speaker, in some of the door knobs - solid brass - $600 a pop.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about the oak up there?

MR. A. SNOW: They threw out the oak - not good enough. They said: It is not good enough. I cannot go having that. Sure all the places I have been around this Country, my office is not nearly as good. I have got to spend more money. I mean, I was in Bourassa's office in Quebec City and they only had $250 doorknobs. Phone up somebody with Marco and bring them in. I want better doorknobs than Bourassa.

MS. VERGE: And the wallpaper.

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, they go over to British Columbia -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. SNOW: I can tell you one thing, there is no $70,000 worth of wallpaper on my office. I can guarantee you that. Mr. Speaker, the taxpayers of this Province didn't put $70,000 worth of wallpaper on my office. And I can tell you another thing, there is not $70,000 worth of wallpaper on the Motor Vehicle Registration Office in Wabush either. A matter of fact, the office was closed down to save $30,000. That is what you are going to save. In point of fact, you probably even spent more money. They laid off a public employee, Mr. Speaker. That is what they did, they laid off a public employee. They said: Instead of just rolling back the wages, we will turf them out the door. That is what we will do with them, throw them out, discard them like an expendable tool. Throw them away. It doesn't matter about government services or delivery of services to the people of this Province - the people in western Labrador, by the way, who pay the highest per capita revenue of any other district in this Province, Mr. Speaker. They pay more than anybody else.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, they are all well fed and wined now. They are all primed up and ready to go, are they not? It has nothing to do with my speech. It is all they have been fed out there in the back rooms, Mr. Speaker. The contractors were lining up when I was coming in. They are all out there lined up, bringing in the grub, bringing in the cases of spirit, Mr. Speaker. And it wasn't just Christmas spirit that they were bringing in. They were bringing it all in and pouring it on.

AN HON. MEMBER: Eat your hearts out!

MR. A. SNOW: Too loud, was it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: I don't remember (inaudible)?

MR. A. SNOW: Pardon?

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible). That is the first time that has happened in about fourteen years.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: Now, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice is upset with the media again for not performing as he has wished. He likes his funnies up to date. The comic section, he said, is not what it used to be. It ain't like it used to be, Mr. Speaker.

MS. VERGE: There have been some funnies in the House reports lately.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, and very good ones.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 64, referred to by the hon. the Government House Leader as Bill 17 and 1/2, is not going to deceive the people of this Province. It is not going to deceive the public sector employees. It is not going to deceive the ordinary person out and about this Province, Mr. Speaker. You fooled them once and you thought you had them three weeks ago. You thought: We have them now. We have them. We are really going to con them into it now. We are going to set them up for the big wage rollback, Mr. Speaker, set them up for the big wage rollback and then what we will do is just come in with a new Bill, Bill 17 and a half. They know that they cannot get away with it, they are not getting away with it this time. So, there is a little more apprehension and you can see it.

It was evident here over the last couple of weeks. The knives sticking out of some of the fellows on the front benches, Mr. Speaker, because sometimes they miss you see, the Member representing ITT, sometimes those knives coming out of the backbenches miss and they hit the person that it was not directed for. So, you have to be wary when you are sitting high, but, Mr. Speaker, you can see the disorganization that is occurring in the general management of the affairs of the government, Mr. Speaker. You can see it today when even the Premier himself was like a duck out of water answering questions concerning the conflict of interest. He was, you have to admit it. Even a member on the other side of the House said that he is not exactly up to scratch on this one. He was not up to scratch and I guess it is all the pressure because everybody recognizes, especially in the backbenches, the people that are closer to the people, they are the ones who are recognizing it, Mr. Speaker, people closest to the people. Not the fellows that are up in the top floor, not the fellows that are up in the Cabinet room, they have not seen it yet. They do not get down to meet the ordinary people but the fellows in the back benches meet the ordinary people, like myself, Mr. Speaker, so they get to meet the ordinary people and they know what is happening out there.

Now, the fellows in the Cabinet, have not really felt it yet because it is difficult, I mean when you are living high on the hog, it is difficult to understand that there are places in this Province with 30 per cent unemployment. When you are living up there in the sky, in the ivory tower, Mr. Speaker, with the $600 doorknobs and you are waltzing around with carpet up to your ankles and the imported wallpaper from Spain, Mr. Speaker. So, the oak is from Spain and the wallpaper is from Japan, is it?... How does that work, does anybody really know? Maybe the Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations can tell us how many jobs that created, Mr. Speaker. How many people does it take to put on $70,000 worth of wallpaper, how many jobs did that really create? And he says twenty, twenty people were employed he said, the Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations suggest -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, twenty people - the Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations suggests that there were twenty people employed to put $70,000 worth of wallpaper on the eighth floor, in their meeting room. In their meeting room, Mr. Speaker, now I do not know if that included the marble where the two golden rules are written: do not admit to any mistakes and blame somebody else. They are written down right at the back of the room and, Mr. Speaker, all the Cabinet members have to look at that and listen to the two speakers that are allowed in Cabinet. I am told and I am not going to tell who, I will not divulge who told me, Mr. Speaker, I definitely won't tell on that person.

AN HON. MEMBER: What person (Inaudible)?

MR. A. SNOW: The member of Cabinet who mentioned to me that there are only two people speaking in Cabinet. Only two. It's better, he said, because before we only had a monologue. It was only a monologue before but we have two now. So it's a little more entertaining now, he said, it's a little more entertaining in Cabinet. But, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who's the one besides me?

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. Minister of Health speaks in Cabinet that's the only place he speaks. Because Hansard records that he never has anything to say in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: He takes it under advisement. I'll have to take it under advisement, Mr. Speaker. But now there's no more - it's not just a monologue. They have a duet now, I hear, and they're cheek-to-cheek in the cabinet room, just the two of them, waltzing, dancing, up to their ankles in plush carpet, admiring the scenery of St. John's as they look down upon the fiefdom, looking down on the people, saying: I wonder what they're eating now? I wonder what's happening at the Yacht Club. They worry about the Yacht Club. Can you imagine the stress and the strain of having to worry about the Yacht Club during a December storm, as the people in the Province are unemployed. I wonder how the boats are doing at the Yacht Club.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible). Wondering if they can make their lunch date.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, Mr. Speaker. Then, every now and then, when they're not really concerned about what's happening at the Yacht Club, they turn to their colleagues in Cabinet and say: I suppose we should have a look and see what we can do now to get another couple of hundred thousand dollars for Fortis. What do we do here? How can we do that? How can we look after the utilities of this Province? How can we look after the boys?

MR. EFFORD: Alec! You got any money in Bowaters?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, everybody in this Province has money in Fortis next week. Next week, everybody in the Province will have money in Fortis. Too much money in Fortis! There'll be too much of the people's money in Fortis next week. That's the problem. When you can take the money and give it to a wealthy few.... When you can take the money of the taxpayers, the poorer people of this Province, when you can take their money and give it to the wealthy corporations.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sam? I heard John Efford has money in Fortis too?

MR. WINSOR: John? How much do you have in Fortis, John?

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: In Fortis.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible). He took his shares out of Fortis.

MR. EFFORD: I don't mind saying it. I don't hide behind it!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: He took his shares out of Fortis after Clyde gave up as chairman.

MR. A. SNOW: No, Mr. Speaker, I don't suppose there's a person in the Province who would say that the hon. Member for Port de Grave is hiding behind a Rolls Royce.

MR. EFFORD: No sir.

MR. A. SNOW: No. That's not what he's hiding behind, Mr. Speaker. It's not a Rolls Royce that he's hiding behind.

AN HON. MEMBER: He doesn't know whether he should be against Clyde or for Clyde.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for Menihek. If there are hon. members who would like to carry on a conversation, I suggest that they do so outside the Chamber.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, the hon. Member for Port de Grave, who has been known for years in this Province as being an outspoken individual, was awfully quiet yesterday during some episodes that occurred here in the House of Assembly, I mean he became so mute that the silence was deafening. The silence was deafening. He was mute, Mr. Speaker, but having said that, I look forward to the remarks from the Member for Port de Grave, with regard to what occurred yesterday.

Maybe I just did not hear it correctly, what occurred, maybe I just did not see it properly, maybe the other people who witnessed what occurred did not see it properly and maybe he can explain what did occur, he and the other outspoken rebel, who crawled to the front benches, crawled right up. I could hardly see him, the pile on this carpet here is not like the stuff upstairs, right? I mean it is not up to your knees but they were coming off the back benches yesterday trying to get to the front benches to say I am sorry, but you could not see them until they were right up in front. You could not see them there, they were so low, trying to get up trying to get there, but one of them stood still, stood there, at least he stood his ground, at least he did.

Mr. Speaker, Bill 64, the Act to Amend the Public Sector Restraint Act or Bill 17 and-a-half as it is commonly referred to, is a bill that does not deceive the public sector of this Province, and is not going to deceive the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian. It is a cheap, political ploy and I believe that the people of this Province recognize what it is and what it is set out to do. The people of this Province recognize what this bill was set out to do and I believe that with the union leadership as it is, the education level of the people of this Province, they are going to understand, they do understand and you can feel it in the people of this Province, the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian know what this government is up to, and they are going to see through it. They see through the charade that has been set up and the hon. members on the back benches recognized it but I do not think that they got through to their colleagues in the front benches and that is what has created so much havoc on the other side of the House.

I do not think, I sincerely do not think that the union movement in this Province is going to accept it, they will not accept collective bargaining with a shotgun to their heads because it truly is not collective bargaining and, Mr. Speaker, I think that this government has been very poorly guided in the type of strategy that they have tried. They thought that they could get away with it again. They couldn't do it, and so they come up with this ploy now. It's not going to work. It's not going to deceive the people of this Province any more. The people of this Province are going to see these people for what they truly are. It's a very cheap trick they've been attempting to do. They're absolutely glossy up front with no substance. No meat and potatoes to it, no substance to it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak on this piece of legislation which is designed to amend the Public Sector Restraint Act, 1992.

Bill 64 is - I was going to say it was Bill 16 squared but it's not, it's sixteen divided by two, then squared. So 17 and a half is probably a good one. We were looking forward to 'Bill 18' because we predicted it last year. This may as well have been called 'Bill 18' because it has the same affect as the other two bills.

What does it do except confirm the actions of the government in passing Bills 16 and 17? These actions which were designed consciously, clearly and openly by this government to rip up and destroy collective bargains. The Speaker ruled yesterday that the government had violated its agreement on Private Member's Day. That's what this government is doing with any agreement that it has. Any agreement that you make with this government, beware. We saw it in the Legislature with Bills 16 and 17, we saw it yesterday when the Speaker made the ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Speaker sitting in the House yesterday made a ruling, and the ruling....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Speaker made a ruling yesterday. The Speaker ruled that the government had violated its agreement. Having done that, the Speaker said that: I can't force them to keep their agreements. He was right. Nobody in the Province except the electorate is going to be able to force these people to keep their agreements. Because they can't be trusted. Because they have been proven time and again, once a year through legislation they have reaffirmed it, Bill 16, Bill 17, Bill 64. Violate their agreements on Private Member's Day. No honour. They're asking us to pass this legislation. To try and convince the people of this Province that they've actually done something good, they've changed the restraint period from thirty-six months to twenty-four. They're asking people to rejoice.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Rejoice, Mr. Speaker, for Christmas, the Member for St. John's South said. That's not what The Evening Telegram said in its editorial cartoon. They had Santa Claus offering the Premier - just have a look, members. I ask hon. members to have a look at the editorial cartoon. It has a picture of Clyde Wells and a big list - a Christmas list. The Premier has a Christmas list that says: I want cuts, cuts, cut, cuts, cuts, and keeps it up.

Mr. Speaker, poor old Santa is there saying: Well I guess I will have to give him a director's chair so he can call for cuts any time he wants.

That is the kind of Christmas message the Member for St. John's South is realizing, to his cost, is the message that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are receiving from this government. They have them frightened. They have so many people frightened in the last two months - afraid of their jobs, afraid of their futures, afraid to make purchases, afraid to do the kind of things that would keep the economy going and to stimulate the economy even further, because they have been frightened by this government's approach and attitude.

It is only because of the solidarity and strength of some of the unionized groups in this Province that this government backed down; and the Member for St. John's South was in there bawling to the caucus: Do not do it, Clyde. Do not do it. We know you want to cut back the public service even more. Roll back the wages. Do not do it - because they were afraid to lose the support of some of the people who put them there.

I was not at the meeting of the NTA out in Bay Roberts, but I was at the one in St. John's, attended by the Member for Pleasantville; and there were hundreds of teachers who were adamant about the position -

MR. NOEL: Tell them about the good job I did (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: - well, a lukewarm job by the Member for Pleasantville. He tried to say he did not agree with everything that the Premier did - or said. He tried to say that, but the teachers frightened the other side and some of the other groups who said: 'No way.' The nurses said: 'No way. No way are we going to accept it.'

The government side thinks that the people of Newfoundland do not support public sector workers. They think that. They say it all the time. Look at the polls. The polls do not show any support for public sector workers.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I have news for the government and the government back benches, that the people of Newfoundland understand fundamental fairness - not the kind of devalued phrases such as fairness and balance that the Premier has talked about - but fundamental fairness is well understood by the people of this Province.

I say to the government members that they realized that they had gone too far. They had gone too far. They realized that the people of Newfoundland were not going to put up with that, and now we do not have the Premier talking about an instant election. He said in the House yesterday or the day before: Oh, well it is not four years until May 27th. We all thought it was April 20th, when the election was. But now the Premier is saying: Oh, no, it is not until May 27th. - not until the day we opened the House. We have five years from then.

I guess he is right. We never thought of it that way but he wants to make sure that we cannot say in April: oh your four years are gone. No, no, no, I have until May 27th before my four years are gone. So, we may not have an election in the Spring at all. We may not have an election until the Spring of the next year, the Spring of 1994. You never know, Mr. Speaker, and I am not so sure that the people over on the other side are as anxious to go to the polls as they pretend. I am not so sure that they are convinced the 46 per cent or the 48 per cent of the undecided are going to decide pretty quick, Mr. Speaker, that they do not want four more years of misrule. I think, Mr. Speaker, that they are not so stupid as to believe that the 46 per cent or the 48 per cent are going to fall the way the decided voters say to be. That is what the truth is, Mr. Speaker. They are showing around that poll, they are not showing around the poll that was taken a couple of weeks later, they are not showing around that poll, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Fifty-four, nineteen and eight, that is not bad, I have doubled to nineteen already, that is pretty good. But, Mr. Speaker, these polls are all very interesting and no doubt we will have the most interesting poll of all when the election comes. That is when the truth will be really out, Mr. Speaker, we can poll all we like, we do not know who is going to vote and who is not going to vote. We will find out when the election is called, Mr. Speaker, and the people are given a choice of having four more years of cuts and restraint, cutbacks and having the squeeze put on them by this government or whether they want to look for some hope of an alternative and a rejection of the kind of government that we have had, that sees it quite fair to rip up agreements that they have signed, to make agreements of honour in the House.

Someone gave it to me today, I do not know who, Mr. Speaker, but I had occasion today to read the very words of the Government House Leader in very early days, Mr. Speaker, May 30th, 1989, and I am quoting from Hansard, Mr. Speaker, from Mr. Baker the then Government House Leader and a good one he was. He says: I have had discussions with the Opposition House Leader and we have reached an agreement, and he can comment on it, but first of all we will allow one day to private members to debate on a bill, unless there is some pressing reason to have the two and we can decide by agreement. Members of the Opposition, as well as the government but primarily the Opposition, can choose the order in which the resolutions will appear or will be debated on the Wednesday with the condition that on Monday the House will be notified which resolution will be coming forth on Wednesday. That was the condition, Mr. Speaker, written in Hansard. We have suggested that flexibility be allowed in terms of private members day and the degree of flexibility would be a matter of discussion between myself and the Opposition House Leader. The attempt of course is to make private members day, a day that is more meaningful, especially for the Opposition. Well, Mr. Speaker, yesterday's private members day was pretty meaningful all right. It was a pretty meaningful day, pretty instructive, Mr. Speaker, we had a ruling from the Speaker that the government had broken its agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: We were all here yesterday. There's no need to remind us.

MR. HARRIS: Broken its agreement. Now, Mr. Speaker, that was a pretty meaningful day for the Opposition. To get an impartial ruling from the Chair, who said - and I'd have to find Hansard for his exact words, but I recall him something as follows. He said: the Chair has no control over hon. members. If they want to break their agreements I can't enforce them. I'm at the disposal of hon. members.

I thought that was very right. Because what happened? Chaos occurred. When the government breaks its agreements and order breaks down we end up in chaos because nobody on this side of the House can trust that side of the House. That's what happened yesterday. A very meaningful day for the Opposition, Private Member's Day. That's what the Government House Leader of the day, back on May 30, 1989 - three days into their five year period they made an agreement. Three days into it they made an agreement.

AN HON. MEMBER: Relevance.

MR. HARRIS: Relevance. The hon. Minister of ITT wonders how is it relevant that the government breaks agreements.

MR. R. AYLWARD: They're going to change that. It's going to be Trade, Industry and Technology after (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Is that true? Perhaps the minister can comment on that when he speaks to close debate. Is it true that they're going to change the Ministry to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Technology?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well, perhaps it's correct. The Premier yesterday was complaining about the Opposition and this hon. member playing tit for tat. Perhaps the deputy Government House Leader is going to be the tit. If that's the case, Mr. Speaker, I'm prepared to be the tat.

The Minister of ITT wants to know what the relevance is of the government breaking agreements. What's relevant to Bill 64? I guess I have to read out some of the Bill to him. It's quite clear what the relevance of the government breaking agreements is to Bill 64. Bill 64 confirms the gross violation of collective agreements by the government of this Province. That's the relevance. The government breaks agreements on collective bargaining, formal written agreements that it signs, that according to law are binding on all members of the bargaining unit, on the signatories, on the government. Binding on everybody by law. They break them within days after they sign them.

In the forum which is supposed to have some honour, in the forum of the House of Assembly, on May 30, 1989, they announced an agreement that's been reached. Then they come in yesterday and they break the agreement. The Speaker makes a ruling that the government has broken the agreement and there's not much the Chair can do about it. If the government wants to break agreements then it's up to the people to decide whether they want to have an honourable government or whether they're prepared to re-elect a dishonourable government.

Now that's their choice. Perhaps they will re-elect a dishonourable government. That's their choice. But let's not have the Premier going around talking about 'Mr. Principle,' 'Mr. Man of Principle,' fairness and balance, rightness and principle, when it's quite clear that his government breaks agreements. When there are solemn agreements entered into, as contracts with workers, and then breaks agreements made in this House, let us not have the Premier go around pretending that all of the works of this government are based on principle and based on honour and based on-

MR. MURPHY: Oh, holy night (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, if the Member for St. John's South wants to exercise his singing voice, he may get an opportunity to do so because I am losing mine now. If he wants to exercise his singing voice -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: - and fall down on his knees and do whatever it is he does when he is on his knees, I suppose he prays, he can go ahead and do it. Perhaps he will stand on his hind legs and sing a Christmas carol, because, Mr. Speaker, somebody has to do something to bring some cheer into the hearts of the people in this Province because this government is not doing it by bringing in legislation such as Bill 64. They know full well, Mr. Speaker, they are saying: we are returning to full collective bargaining. Well, I agree with that, but it took two years of restraint, it took the International Labour Organization to tell them that they had gone beyond the standard of decency that is expected, and it took the teachers of this Province and the nurses of this Province and the public sector unions of this Province to tell them: not only have you violated the standard of decency, but you are going to be out on your rear.

AN HON. MEMBER: Take some credit for it.

MR. HARRIS: Take some credit for it? Alright, the Member for Carbonear wants me to take some credit, yes and it took the Opposition continuously pointing out to this government the error of their ways to get them to change their minds, the NDP Opposition with some help from the official Opposition. So, Mr. Speaker, while I am on the details of the Bill, there is a clause here which I think deserves some explanation.

I know the Minister of Trade, Industry and Technology will give it when he rises. That is Clause 5. Why does the government insist that if a collective agreement provides for increases already in existing collective agreement - you see, if an existing collective agreement provides for the continuation beyond the collective agreement period, any new pay scales that apply - supposing that after the end of the restraint period there is an increase in wages laid down; supposing someone had in a collective agreement that after the previously existing restraint period provided for an increase, well they would not get it because it says here: the provisions of this collective agreement or arrangement respecting pay scales are of no effect, no effect, so, Mr. Speaker, if they are saying that there is something pure about this Bill because it returns full collective bargaining, just look at clause 5, I will invite hon. members. Clause 5 says: if there is a collective agreement in existence that has provisions that go beyond the end of the existing restraint period, the pay scales that have been in effect that provide for increases are of no force and effect, so you wipe out those too.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was that?

MR. HARRIS: They wipe out them too.

AN HON. MEMBER: Wipe out what?

MR. HARRIS: For hon. members who were not paying full attention, if a collective agreement that is now in existence and now in force provides for a pay increase during the period commencing at the end of the restraint period.

AN HON. MEMBER: Okay.

MR. HARRIS: If there was a 5 per cent increase already built into a collective agreement that would otherwise come into effect.

Well Bill 64 says: No, that is gone. The pay scale that was in force during the period of the restraint period will continue until new pay scales are agreed to by a public sector employer and the bargaining agent representing public sector employees. Now why is that? Is this going to be retroactive to the end of the restraint period? I do not think so. I do not see how it can be, because this Act says that they have to remain in effect until there is a new agreement reached.

If we go on past the restraint period, and the government wants to stall on a new agreement, I do not see how they can make it retroactive to the end of the restraint period because, according to this, the pay scales which applied during the restraint period to the public sector employees covered by the agreement shall continue to apply until new pay scales are agreed to.

If it is intended that that is allowed to be retroactive to the end of the restraint period, this does not do it. There has to be an amendment to allow any agreement reached to be retroactive to the end of the restraint period because otherwise, whether they know it or not - they will pretend that it is not happening - but whether they know it or not, this is also a Bill that brings about new destruction to existing collective agreements.

So do not sit back and think that well, all we are doing is taking back some of the bad things that we did, or making them less onerous. What they are doing is also, by Clause 5, having a further effect on existing collective agreements.

We know their plans. I have to say that I am pleased to see some letup in the government's approach. They should have wiped it out altogether. They should take away those provisions of the Act that do not allow a negotiated catch-up, because there is going to come a time when the workers of this Province and the rest of Canada are going to say that we have to make up for the fall in real wages that has occurred during the last number of years. There is going to come a time when the workers of this Country - not just this Province - are going to want to make that up, and deservedly so. We cannot have them fall back and fall back and fall back and watch inflation take over. There is going to come a time when that is going to have to be made up.

Maybe we cannot afford to do it now, but why not, while we are at it, take out those provisions which allow the government to wipe out any negotiated changes that will make up for the restraint period, because the provisions contained in the -

MR. MURPHY: Jack, at least they are back at the table.

MR. HARRIS: Well now that is interesting. At least they are back at the table. Well I guess they are at least back at the table.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Oh, I am not suggesting that there is a purity on this side of the House - or on the other part of this side of the House - not for a minute; and yes, at least they are back at the table. In a limited way they are being allowed to bargain and it is going to be very interesting to see how this government approaches that. But if you are going to re-open free collective bargaining, then you have to open it all the way and allow collective agreements to be reached in the future that will have the effect, and that could have the effect of making up for some of the losses during the restraint period, so, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: We have people in the gallery.

MR. HARRIS: We are going to have a lot bigger gallery at three o'clock in the morning, I say to the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, a lot bigger gallery at three o'clock in the morning, and if we keep going until nine o'clock in the morning, I guess the reporters will be back. If we keep it going until nine in the morning, the reporters will be checking in again and we will be able to have the benefit of at least the reporting of what is going on. As long as the House is open the public is allowed in and, Mr. Speaker, Hansard is recording what is going on and we can make copies of it and send it to our constituents to let them know what is going on. Or we can send copies to the St. John's South Member's constituents up on Shea Heights, they would be very interested in knowing what the government is doing; they would want to know, they would be interested in knowing whether the government keeps its agreements or not-

MR. MURPHY: I will send them back to you (inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I welcome any candidate in St. John's East.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is not listening to you.

MR. HARRIS: Ah, the minister is wrong. The Member for St. John's South is listening very carefully to what I am saying. Now I have three minutes left, Mr. Speaker, so I will not be distracted from my appointed task here to point out to hon. members and to the House, that this legislation confirms and affirms the position of the government to continue to take the position that collective bargains made by this government on the honour of a hand shake and on the honour of the printed and legally binding word, are not worth a thing, just as the agreements made across the floor of this House, as the Speaker confirmed yesterday afternoon, are worth nothing when it comes to the honour of this government.

Mr. Speaker, they have demonstrated quite clearly that they are not deserving of the respect. They claim to be a government based on high principle and based on a slogan; and that is all it is, a slogan, not a principle, a slogan of fairness and balance. So I say to hon. members that I am pleased to see that a limited form of collective bargaining is being allowed, but that would be like saying a limited form of freedom, that we have taken off some of the shackles and we ask you to rejoice, that instead of being bound hand and foot, you have only been bound by your feet and have only been bound with one hand behind your back, and you can move the other hand around and you are being asked to rejoice.

Well no, Mr. Speaker, there is no joy in Mudville, Mr. Speaker, there is no joy in St. John's East, Mr. Speaker, and there is no joy in Newfoundland and Labrador because this government has let off some of the restraints. Instead of being bound hand and foot -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. minister, if he speaks now, closes the debate.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, as I was saying two hours ago this Bill would get through pretty quickly. Just a couple of points.

I never ever dreamed in all the time that I've been in the House that I would see a New Democratic leader, Leader of the New Democratic Party, want to leave Bill 17, a restrictive bill that freezes wages and caps.... What we're doing here is repealing Bill 17. The leader of the unions' party is saying he doesn't want it repealed. I never thought I'd ever see the day that would happen.

Now I thank the hon. member for pointing out the cartoon in the Telegram. I'd like to point out a cartoon in the Telegram three weeks ago. He's running away from me.

MR. ROBERTS: He's running away. Can't take the heat.

MR. FUREY: It had the leader, Jack, on a donkey. Now what do you think the hidden meaning in that was?

AN HON. MEMBER: It wasn't a donkey.

AN HON. MEMBER: It was the other part of a horse.

MR. FUREY: I thought it was a donkey. Anyway, Mr. Speaker, there were a number -

AN HON. MEMBER: Which part was the ass?

MR. FUREY: Mr. Speaker, there were a number of interesting speeches made by the Opposition. The Member for Mount Pearl made a speech. It was foolishness. The Member for Menihek made a speech, total foolishness. I don't know what that was that the hon. Member for St. John's East has said.

This Bill will amend the main act. It will repeal Bill 17 and will allow the unions to come back to the table for free and open and collective bargaining. I move second reading.

On motion, a bill, "An Act To Amend The Public Sector Restraint Act, 1992," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House on tomorrow. (Bill No. 64).

MR. ROBERTS: Now, Mr. Speaker, if you would be so kind as to leave the Chair, let's go into Committee. We'll start with Order 1 and we're just going to take her as she comes.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Bill No. 13.

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I think we had a pretty thorough discussion of this Bill the last time -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. GOVER: What? I think we had a pretty thorough discussion of this particular item.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson?

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

MS. VERGE: My supper was cut short when I heard over the speaker that the House was going into Committee of the Whole to examine this Bill. I'm trying to catch my breath now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, this is what happens when we have these marathon sittings.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: The Government House Leader is saying it's not a marathon yet. It's only been five hours and fifteen minutes straight.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MS. VERGE: Have I been eating chicken? Yes, I say to the assistant Government House Leader, who piloted through so smoothly Bill sixteen and a half.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where did you leave the chicken?

MS. VERGE: Where did I leave the chicken, the member wants to know?

Chairperson, as I said in debate on second reading of this Bill I have problems with requiring medical practitioners and optometrists to report -

MR. FUREY: What are you doing?

MS. VERGE: - to report - which one are we doing?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

MS. VERGE: Which one are we doing?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology.

MR. FUREY: So that she knows what we're talking about, it's Order 1, Bill 13, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act. I don't know where an optometrist would fit in there.

MR. MATTHEWS: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair is ready to rule. If the hon. member wants to make a comment on it he can.

MR. MATTHEWS: Point of order. I want to say to the minister that my colleague, the Member for Humber East, she's on the right bill. She's talking about a requirement. The Bill would require medical practitioners and optometrists to report to the registrar of motor vehicles.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Yes. So I think the minister thought she was on another bill, but....

MS. VERGE: No.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

There's no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: I accept the apology of the assistant Government House Leader. I'm reassured to know that I'm on the right bill, for a start. I am commenting on Bill 13, An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act.

As the assistant Government House Leader will see when he takes a minute to read through the Bill, the first clause inserting a new section after 174 puts requirements on both medical practitioners - that's in 174.1(1) - and then over on the next page, in 174.2(1), on optometrists to report to the registrar of motor vehicles people who, quote: in the opinion of the practitioner or in the opinion of the optometrist "is suffering from a condition that may make it dangerous for the person to operate a motor vehicle."

Chairperson, I think this represents an excess of state interference into private matters. I remember when we discussed this Bill on second reading that the Minister of Justice spoke and said that the government has to try to weigh and strike an appropriate balance between competing interests. On the one hand, the interests of individuals to receive in confidence and privacy medical advice and diagnosis and treatment; on the other hand, the interest of the public to have safe public roads and highways and to be protected from drivers who are unfit. I agree with that analysis. We do have those two competing interests.

It seems to me that there are other ways to guard against having unfit individuals driving motor vehicles. I don't know what the exact requirements are now but I understand that elderly drivers have to have doctor's certificates, medical certificates, certificates of fitness, to get their driver's licences renewed. It seems to me that that kind of requirement is a sufficient protection for public safety.

This imposition, it seems to me, is an excessive and inappropriate intrusion into the private affairs of individuals with their doctors and optometrists. I worry about whether this provision will deter people from seeking medical attention or for getting their eyes re-examined. I wonder if there is any good reason for putting this imposition on medical practitioners and optometrists. It seems to me that there is not. I certainly appreciate the need to safeguard public safety and to prevent any accidents that can be anticipated but I do not think it is at all necessary, for the sake of public safety, to pass this kind of intrusive legislation.

I do not recall the minister responsible or any of the other government speakers citing any precedence for this legislation. I am wondering if other provinces of Canada or states of the United States put this requirement on their physicians and optometrists. I have not heard of it. I understand that not only in Newfoundland and Labrador but in other jurisdictions in North America, elderly drivers, to get their drivers licenses renewed, have to satisfy the motor vehicle authorities with doctors certificates that they are medically fit to drive and it seems to me that that type of provision is adequate. I do not recall either that the sponsoring minister, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, pointed to any particular problem in this Province. Is there any reason to believe that people now have driver's licenses who are not medically fit to drive? What prompted this Bill? It seems to me that likely this was triggered by some over zealous civil servant who is out of touch with reality and who really fails to weigh the competing interest, the rights of individuals to privacy, the rights of people to seek and to receive medical advice in privacy and to have that advice kept confidential.

So, Chairperson, I cannot support this. I think we would be better off maintaining, perhaps enhancing, perhaps amending the system that we have, to require either elderly drivers or individuals with particular illnesses or vision problems or other physical ailments to get periodic medical certificates to satisfy the motor vehicle authorities at each licence reissuing occasion of his or her suitability to get another driver's licence but I cannot go along with this kind of legislation, intruding into relationships between individuals with their doctors and optometrists, which I believe should remain confidential.

Thank you, Chairperson.

On motion Clause 1, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall Clause 2 carry?

MS. VERGE: Mr. Chairperson.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

With the understanding that one of my colleagues, who is trying to have his supper, might want to have a few words on this Bill as well and who may be listening to me over the loudspeaker, I thought I would get up again to comment on Clause 2. Actually, everything I have said about Clause 1 would also apply to Clause 2. Clause 2 creates an offence and sets penalties, so what Clause 2 does is say that wherever a medical practitioner or an optometrist is found to have failed to report a suspected condition that may make it dangerous for a patient to operate a motor vehicle, whenever a medical practitioner or an optometrist fails to make such a report to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles, then that physician or optometrist is guilty of an offence and is liable to certain penalties and this Clause sets out penalties. In the case of a first offence to a fine of not less than $300 and not more than $500, and in default of payment to imprisonment for a term of not less than fifteen days and not more than twenty days. In the case of a second and subsequent offence to a fine of not less than $500 and not more than $700, and in default a term of imprisonment between twenty days and twenty-five days, or to both a fine and imprisonment.

MR. HOGAN: Woo - woo.

MS. VERGE: The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs seems to enjoy imitating animals, he seems to get his jollies out of making animal noises.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Mr. Chairperson, I will yield for a few minutes so that the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs can get up and do his animal noises so that Hansard may attempt to capture them so that the radio and television media who are listening to the audio feed can capture his animal impersonations and play them on radio and television. That seems to be the minister's chief contribution to these proceedings. I think it is a shame that he is making his animal impersonations from his seat because possibly Hansard and the electronic media are not getting the full force of his animal noises. Mr. Chairperson, whenever the minister feels inspired to give a full-fledged performance, showing us the full range of his repertoire of animal impersonations I will yield and allow him to do an impersonation.

When we began this Fall sitting of the House of Assembly the new Government House Leader obviously was not prepared and when we were here in the first week of November instead of the government calling such important legislation as amendments to the Child Welfare Act, or amendments to the House of Assembly Act, or new legislation to create a police complaints commission, the government called the Puffin Bill - the act to designate the puffin as the official bird of the Province.

Well perhaps the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs has a puffin impersonation. He was probably doing it at the time from his seat, but some of us did not hear it very well. Those of us who sit down in this end of the House cannot always hear all the animal noises that the minister makes. It is a shame that some people miss out on his performances.

Now some of my colleagues who sit down on the other end of the House have been regularly tuning in to the minister, and they have been telling me. They seem to notice that whenever I am speaking he tends to give a peak performance.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I want to remind the hon. member that we are dealing with Clause 2 of Bill 13 and to keep her comments relevant.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. I certainly appreciate the need for relevance, but when I heard the Member for Pleasantville making his animal noises -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not Pleasantville.

MS. VERGE: Placentia - sorry.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I made a mistake. I was referring to the amiable Member for Placentia, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Incidentally, Chairperson, if I could beg your indulgence for just another minute, the Member for Placentia was awarded a Canada 125 medal today for his contribution to his community, and in the citation his work in his community was mentioned and his work with the Federation of Municipalities. The citation however, did not take account of all his talents and accomplishments and did fail to mention his talent for impersonating animals and making animal noises, and I would not want -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: - the record of the proceedings of this House to fail to mention that -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member is straying now from comments on the Bill.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. So what Clause 2 does is say that when a doctor or an optometrist examines a patient and has reason to believe that the patient may possibly, conceivably, remotely, may, be suffering from a condition which may make it dangerous for that person to operate a motor vehicle and fails to report that to the Director of Motor Vehicles, then that doctor or optometrist may be convicted of an offence and fined or imprisoned or both.

Chairperson, is there any need for this, is this not an excess of state regulation? Is this not carrying to a ridiculous extreme an invasion of people's privacy? Are we not regulating to death our citizens? Chairperson, perhaps the minister can tell us about problems of unsafe, dangerous motorists; people with drivers licences -

MR. HOGAN: Bow, wow.

MS. VERGE: Oh, a dog noise. We now know that the minister can not only do cats but also dogs. Sorry, Chairperson, but I just had to draw that to people's attention. I realize it is not relevant to the debate, but, perhaps Your Honour should point out to the Member for Pleasantville - oh, I am sorry, the Member for Placentia, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, that his animal impersonations do not neatly fit within this Bill. Now when we get to the Puffin Bill and that is coming up; when we get to the Puffin Bill, I would suggest that we have the minister on his feet in the debate doing puffin noises.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, at any rate, my point is that this measure is unwarranted, that it is an unreasonable invasion of patient/doctor, patient/optometrist relations, and it puts an unreasonable imposition on doctors and optometrists. I wonder how it is going to be enforced. I really wonder how courts are going to be able to determine when medical practitioners and optometrists fail to meet the requirement of this legislation, but apart from that, I see this as an unnecessary measure. I have not heard of any particular problem with unfit motorists in this Province. If there is any concern about people driving who should not be driving for health reasons, are there not other and better ways to address the problems?

Thank you, Chairperson.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: I want to address two questions, Mr. Chairman, and these are very practical questions. I think if hon. members listened they would probably agree with me.

Number one, we have some legislation here that requires a medical doctor or an optometrist to send in reports which include the name, address, date of birth and the clinical condition of a person sixteen years of age or older who is suffering from a condition that makes it dangerous to operate a motor vehicle. So what happens if your son or your daughter is seventeen, goes in to get a set of glasses and the optometrist has to, regardless of whether that person is a driver or not a driver or ever saw a car - someone is seventy-eight years old and has never driven in his or her life is being attended by a doctor, an optometrist, but the doctor has nothing to do with vehicles at all, is required to write out a report, send off a medical report to the registrar of motor vehicles. The doctor is called in to someone with a heart condition on a ward in a hospital: well the first thing I have to do here is send off a report to the director of motor vehicles. I mean it is silly. On the other hand, Mr. Chairman, if it said something here about if he was concerned that this person was going to go out and be a danger on the highway, well then that is fine. So, if somebody comes to a doctor and the doctor says: Boy, I do not think you should drive and he says: doctor boy, I have to drive, my work depends on it or I have to bring my wife to work and I have to drive anyway.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I just want to remind the hon. Member for St. John's East that we are now debating Clause 2, Clause 1 has already been carried.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, I understand that. We are seeking to enforce this legislation and you are going to enforce it against an optometrist or a medical doctor and he is going to send a medical report. Who is going to pay for that? Does the Minister of Transportation have funds to pay for the medical reports? Is the Minister of Health going to pay for it or is the patient going to be required to pay for it? Because I know, Mr. Chairman, when you ask a medical doctor for a report, stating their opinions on someone's health and their condition, they are going to charge a fee. Who is going to pay $25, $50 or $100? Is there anything in the budget of the registrar of motor vehicles to pay for these reports? Are we creating a bureaucracy now, Mr. Chairman, so that the registrar of motor vehicles will have a pile of medical reports on his desk about people who never, ever drove in their lives, never, ever intended to drive, do not even have a licence, never, ever had a licence and there will be a pile of medical reports on his desk and there is going to be a pile of bills on the minister's desk to pay $100 a shot or $25 a shot or $50 a shot, about people's lives and health all across this Province. Is that what we are setting up here? Number one, an invasion of the civil liberties of people, as the Member for Humber East has said, but also some useless bureaucracy that costs money, perhaps $50 a shot - I do not know what the doctors charge. They certainly do not hesitate to charge $50 or $100 for providing medical reports. Some charge $300 and $400 providing medical reports to lawyers. So, Mr. Chairman, when we are talking about requiring medical doctors and optometrists to do something that involves giving a professional opinion there is going to be a fee for that and if it is a useless fee, Mr. Chairman, because the person who we are talking about is not even a driver, not interested in driving, never drove before in their lives. Now, Mr. Chairman, are we going to have the doctors who attend the people at the senior citizens homes sending off reports because they are not capable of driving? Is that going to be one of the duties of the doctor?

We are being asked to pass a general rule - not a rule based on some connection with driving; not if a patient of a doctor, or a patient of an optometrist, if the doctor has reason to believe that such a person either has a licence or seeks to continue to have a licence, or intends to drive despite their medical condition - we are not saying that. We are saying anybody who has such a condition.

I think that we ought to be very hesitant, and hon. members on the other side who are being asked to rubber stamp this legislation right now should think for themselves and say: Look, maybe there is something wrong with this. Maybe there is something wrong with having some general rule that says every time somebody has a medical condition there has to be a medical report sent in. Let us change it so that it has some connection with driving; so that if the doctor has reason to believe that a person with such a condition, whether it be an eye condition or a heart condition or some other condition, a propensity for epilepsy, or epileptic seizures, a propensity for heart attack, if someone is in imminent danger of a stroke and has a driver's licence and appears not to be willing to accept medical advice, then that might be a good reason to require this kind of disclosure in breach of a doctor/patient relationship, but not just arbitrary, across the board, so that the motor registration division has a pile of medical reports and the minister has a pile of bills.

I ask the minister to address this question before we finish the committee stage of this Bill. Why are we doing it for everybody? Who is going to pay? How much is it going to cost? Does he know the answers to those questions? These are important, practical questions to have to deal with, with the civil liberties of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and also with efficient and sound administration. So I ask the hon. members to consider that and to consider a change in that legislation or to turn it down.

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

MR. GOVER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Most of this debate we certainly heard on second reading of the Bill. If the hon. Member for Humber East had either listened to the debate on second reading or had read Hansard following debate on second reading, she would find that this was not the product of an over zealous civil servant, but a request from the Newfoundland Medical Association, whose members have determined that there are people coming to see them who they feel their condition would be dangerous to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of this Province. Of course, without this statutory provision, if they reported that to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles they would be in violation of the doctor/patient relationship.

So, as a result of the concerns of the Newfoundland Medical Association, who I do not regard as a silly body who have silly concerns, the legislation was initiated to allow the physicians to report that without violation of the doctor/patient relationship.

Secondly, as to precedence in other jurisdictions, on second reading I pointed out that numerous jurisdictions in Canada, in fact the vast majority of provinces - provinces, I believe, which include NDP governments - have similar reporting requirements. So there is nothing intrusive about this particular legislation. This type of legislation is adopted by governments of all political stripes.

Thirdly, the hon. Member for Humber East said: This is terrible. If a physician does not report, they are liable to these penalties. They are liable to these penalties if they do not report. This is very intrusive.

Now, I find it surprising for a former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of this Province, to say that Clause 2 of this Bill provides for penalties for physicians for failing to report, when Clause 2 of this Bill provides for a penalty for a commercial vehicle that is refusing to be weighed at weight scales.

It has nothing to do with physicians failing to report. The hon. member obviously hasn't read the Bill and certainly she hasn't done her research on it. All these matters were discussed at second reading. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Yes. I wanted to point out to the hon. minister that I also referred to that Clause as having to do with penalties. I had read the Bill but if I had pointed that out I wouldn't have been allowed to say what I said.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No point of order.

Shall Clause 2 carry?

MS. VERGE: Point of order, Chairperson?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber East on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Just to redeem myself. Perhaps if this weren't a marathon sitting, perhaps if we'd had a recess for supper, perhaps if I didn't have to rush back in the middle of eating my chicken I would have had my clauses straight. The sense of what I conveyed remains. My objections still amount to the same thing, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No point of order.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Highway Traffic Act, 1992." (Bill No. 64).

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 10, "An Act To Amend The Farm Products Corporation Act."

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Farm Products Corporation Act." (Bill No. 10).

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill 19, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act."

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I was going to say, there is an amendment to one of the clauses. An amendment to the only clause. Let me just note for the benefit of the Committee that earlier this week we provided - I assume the Opposition House Leader, but certainly somebody on the other side - with copies of all of the amendments. If however any of them have gone astray in the muss, in the rush, or the muss, we certainly have other copies.

I would move, Mr. Chairman, that Clause 1 of the Bill be amended by deleting the words, "in the manner prescribed by the by-laws" from the new subsection 21(1.1). Clause 1 of the Bill is further amended by deleting the words, "by-laws shall specify the", and replacing them with the words, "council shall specify rules of" in the new subsection 21(1.2).

So that the Committee, who are following this intently as I know they are, the purpose of this amendment is to allow the council to appoint a disciplinary committee and to specify the rules of procedure that the committee is to follow in a disciplinary hearing.

I move it, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry, yes.

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

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) hasn't got copies of it I'll ask the Clerk to provide him with copies. There's a bunch of amendments to a bunch of bills.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall the amendment carry?

MR. HARRIS: Point of order, Mr. Chairman. I don't think -

MR. CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: - it's proper to be asked to vote on an amendment when we haven't had a chance to even see it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Please, the Chair hasn't recognised the hon. member yet.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman. We seem to be in a massive rush here that we can call on bills and have them carried without even people having copies of them. I think we should take our time and give people a chance to look at the amendment. This is a new amendment being put forth. I haven't seen it before, and if we can (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) go on to Bill No. 21 and come back to it? We're on the Puffin Bill now. This should....

MR. CHAIRMAN: Do we have agreement?

MR. ROBERTS: Do we have agreement of the Committee to let the Bill stand while the hon. gentleman looks at the amendment?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill number...?

MR. ROBERTS: Bill No. 21.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 21.

A bill, "An Act Respecting An Avian Emblem Of The Province." (Bill No. 21).

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Could we revert to Order 3, Bill 19, please?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill 19, and we are dealing with the amendment.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act." (Bill No. 19)

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion, clause 1 as amended, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill with amendment, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 48.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I would be too ashamed of this bill to get on my feet to address it too, Mr. Chairman. I would be embarrassed because of the shellacking this minister has taken over the past two months because of this legislation. There is not one labour group in this country that would even dare associate with this minister after the way he has dealt with them during the past number of months. This Minister of Employment and Labour Relations has done the least for the labour movement in this Province since we have had a minister, Mr. Chairman. I do not know why we have the portfolio, and today to add insult to injury the minister has authorized Workers' Compensation to go out and assess the employers of this Province another 8 per cent on their premiums. Yesterday they received notification, up as far as 9 per cent. The minister is going to get on his feet in a few minutes if he has the nerve and the audacity to do it, but I doubt if he will, Mr. Chairman, and say that for some employers it is going to be zero. Well, I happen to have had numerous calls today. Mr. Chairman, do you know the people who got zero? They are people who do not have any employees. That is the category, Mr. Chairman. For the first time some of the fish plants did not get levied for their assessments on crew members on boats under thirty-five feet. Do you know why? There is no one fishing. Other than that, Mr. Chairman, they would probably have had 20 per cent accessed to them because that is the way this minister operates. When the minister introduced this Bill some time ago he said that this Bill contained some very tough measures and it does. What this Bill does, more than any other piece of legislation that has come to this House in the past number of years, is launch a vicious attack on the workers of this Province. What it does is it strips them of benefits, takes benefits away reducing them to 75 per cent of their net pay. The reason the minister is doing that, he says, is because the Workers' Compensation fund is in trouble.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the minister went on to say when he introduced the Bill, by my notes here the minister admitted that most of the financial difficulties that Workers' Compensation incurred were in the past two years. Now, Mr. Chairman, there have been two ministers, ultimately responsible for workers' compensation in the past two years, the present minister, the former minister his colleague, the Minister of Environment and Lands. They have been the two ministers, the two friends of labour, the two friends of labour, the two former presidents of one of the largest unions in the Province and they get under the thumb of Clyde, they get under the thumb of Clyde and see how quickly they turn their backs on the workers of this Province.

What the minister did, very craftily, when he did up his little thing to show people that they were not really losing a whole lot of money was, take the average wage of the person in the Province to be $25,000. But, Mr. Chairman, there are numbers out there, thousands, who would only wish that their average wage was $25,000. Mr. Chairman, they would only wish that the average wage of the employee in this Province was $25,000 because when you construct graphs to show it takes up to thirty-nine weeks before it levels off to the point where you have to put it back up to eighty, when you do that kind of thing you fail to take into account the number of people who operate at minimum wages in this Province and get less than 40-hour weeks, so what this minister has done in this particular piece of legislation, is virtually destroy the workers' compensation system as we know it.

He stripped workers of benefits, Mr. Chairman, and I will say it again, instead of attacking one of the real problems that we have with workers' compensation, which is to clean up some of the abuses that occur; there are a number of abuses and we have to clean them up. Secondly, we have to increase the rate at which injured workers are able to get medical attention in this Province. The waiting lists are just too long, it is taking infinitely long to get treated for serious illnesses and once you get surgery or whatever kind of medical treatment is necessary, Mr. Chairman, rehab is almost unheard of. It is virtually impossible to get into clinics anywhere in this Province and that is one of the problems that we have with this piece of legislation.

Mr. Chairman, and we are going to get into some of the clauses later on, but two of the more bothersome sections, and I want the minister to explain why he included Section 20, the top up provision, why would that be included in this piece of legislation, when the minister has said in this House and he said on the public airwave and he has told people that we have problems with the funding, the unfunded viability of Workers' Compensation. Now, Mr. Chairman, what does top up have to do with unfunded liability?

It does not cost Workers' Compensation two cents, not even a nickel! In fact, it is perhaps the one area where they did not even have to have increases because the employer topped it up. In some cases it came from the public treasury, from hospital workers, but what about private employers out there who want to have the top up provision? Why is the minister taking away the right of an employer who wants to give an employee in this Province a little extra benefit? Why is the minister attacking these people with this piece of legislation, because that is what he is doing here.

Section 19, is another very bothersome section because for the first time, for the first time, all Canada Pension earnings must be included as income. Under the old Workers' Compensation bill it may be included. If your earnings from workers' compensation were relatively low, and you were going to be on extended earnings loss, then Canada disability pension benefits did not count against you.

For the first time in Newfoundland's history the friend of labour, the present minister, strips away a benefit from workers. Now that's totally unheard of. The minister has no reason to do so. He has not been able to adequately explain why he's done so. A person's foolish to waste his time now applying for Canada Pension Plan benefits. What purpose is it? It's only going to help this minister here, because he's going to take it away from them. He's got his hand out and putting it in his pocket. That's what he's willing to do. Take it away from the injured worker of this Province. Those who can least afford it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Chairman. Now see, the former, former Minister of Social Services, for the last number of years he doesn't know what it's like to be a poor person in this Province. So he didn't have to read this Bill about little clauses that are there affecting the poor of this Province. He hasn't read the Bill. He doesn't know what the minister is doing. That he's taking benefits away that had previously been given, and he has no reason to do it, because it doesn't cost workers any more.

If this was a benefit that was going to accrue to a worker that was going to cost over and above what previously had been paid out I'd say: yes, Mr. Chairman, have a look at it. In this case it's not costing him one dime. The top up provision doesn't cost workers one cent. Doesn't cost them a dime. It comes from other sources. I don't know why -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. WINSOR: Other sources. Canada Pension Plan, Mr. Chairman. Not funded by workers. If an employer in this Province, some of the car dealerships, and they want to reward their workers for good work, if they're injured on the job, if they have a provision that when you're injured you will receive 100 per cent of net pay, that's up to the employer. Why is this minister legislating taking away that benefit?

There's no explanation for it. There's no reason to do it. The minister has betrayed the workers of this Province. He's become a traitor to the labour movement. In Committee stage it is time that he redress some of the wrongs that this Bill has done and correct the weaker clauses of this Bill so that workers of this Province can get what they justly deserve.

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

MR. MURPHY: Mr. Chairman, just a few comments about what the hon. Member for Fogo is saying and then I'll sit in my place. Because I appreciate his enthusiasm but that's where it ends. Enthusiasm is all the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Now let me remind the hon. member of what happened. In 1985, just prior to the general election, the previous administration found it very convenient to take it from 75 per cent of net at a base of $25,000 per annum, move it up to $45,000 per annum to 90 per cent of net, to put a burden on the employers of this Province that has invariably caused exactly what happened. The administration that the hon. member sits with is the cause of this particular Bill now having to be accepted. Because they broke it! The hon. member doesn't know he's talking about.

I offered to the hon. member before, and I'll do it again, if he wants to come up in my office and sit down for a couple of hours, I'll walk him through workers' compensation. Because he knows nothing about it. All he is doing is his usual getting up and ranting and raving on a political issue. What the member does not know is that when Mr. Maynard got defeated his administration found a place for him to go and set him up as the chairperson. For the last three weeks I have listened to pork barrelling and a lot of junk coming from opposite members and they keep forgetting about the past, conveniently forgetting about the past. They killed the employers of this Province with an assessment that drove them right through the wall.

I say to the hon. member, I can sit only so long and listen to his garbage when he does not have one solid idea what he is talking about. The Workers' Compensation Board, the structure was changed, it was the best Workers' Compensation Board in Canada at that time and there was a political reason for changing it. It was more than this Province could ever afford and now the hon. Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is forced back because Workers' Compensation is now $175 million in the red and the member stands up and gets on with his rhetoric about something that he has absolutely no idea about, none whatsoever. The great protector of the workers and he protects absolutely nothing. All he is doing, Mr. Chairman, is getting on with a lot of gibberish.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, what a pile of malarkey. The member knows the problem with Workers' Compensation, Mr. Chairman. The minister said it occurred in the past two years, we are not talking about 1985, that is seven years ago, Mr. Chairman, this is 1992 if he does not know. The problems the minister said occurred during the past two years and the reason, one of the main reasons, Mr. Chairman, why they have had so many problems in the past two years is because of this provinces dismal employment record. One of the reasons why funds have virtually dried up is that there is no one working in this Province, thanks to Clyde Wells and his administration, Mr. Chairman, that is why we have problems. There is no one paying money into the fund any more because of the direction this administration has taken this Province in, Mr. Chairman, that is what is wrong with workers in this Province. The fund did not have trouble, Mr. Chairman, we did not hear anything in 1989. Why did those problems not come to light in 1989? I do not know what the member had for supper but it made him some stunned.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has ruled in the past that in this House stunned is unparliamentary. I will ask the hon. member to withdraw.

MR. WINSOR: I withdraw, Mr. Chairman, any unparliamentary remarks. I am not sure what the minister had for supper, Mr. Chairman, but it took away his ability to think clearly, that is what the supper did to the minister, Mr. Chairman. The member can say what he wants to but what he fails to realize is that what he says occurred in 1985, why is it that it did not surface until two years ago, Mr. Chairman, in 1990? In 1990, Mr. Chairman, the problems occurred and occurred during the stewardship of the present minister and his colleague, former presidents of the NTA. It is under the leadership of these two that the Workers' Compensation fund has ran amuck, Mr. Chairman, and until we get this Province back working there will be no money going into the fund. It will be even worst if this administration stays in power any longer. It is going to be even worse because there is going to be less people paying into the fund.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: They are getting carried away, Mr. Chairman.

In this Province now the employer rate is the highest in the Country. There is not one province in this Country that has a higher employer rate than this Province. You know the reason? I suspect it is because we have the highest unemployment rate in this Province and there is no one paying into the fund any more. It is just coincidental -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. WINSOR: It is just coincidental that the problems with the fund -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, I was saying that it is just coincidental that the problems with the workers' compensation fund have all arisen in the last two years, during the reign of this administration.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member for Fogo to take his seat, please.

The level of decorum in this House right now leaves a lot to be desired.

AN HON. MEMBER: I agree.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I am having difficulty hearing the hon. Member for Fogo. I ask hon. members to restrain from carrying on private conversations in the House, and also shouting across the floor of the House to each other, so that all hon. members can hear what the hon. Member for Fogo has to say.

The hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In addition to the lack of money that is going into the fund, I alluded earlier to the long delay in getting medical assessments. We alerted the minister to this two years ago. The minister said he was going to take a course of action to fast track - to fast track was his term - those who needed assistance. Well, I am sad to say that has not happened. It still takes inordinately long periods of time for a worker in this Province to get medical attention.

Just this past month, in my own district, I had a case where an individual - an injured worker in this Province - because of difficulties with Workers' Compensation, was forced back to work and he should not have been.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who forced him back to work?

MR. WINSOR: Because he was not getting enough benefits from Workers' Compensation to survive on.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh, oh!

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: Come on now.

MR. WINSOR: Let me finish, now. Let me finish.

He was not getting enough benefits. He had fallen from a scaffold. He had injured himself quite severely. The Workers' Compensation Board deemed that he was capable of working, and he was not.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, you are a doctor now.

MR. WINSOR: No, the doctors had recommended to Workers' that this person should be retired.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well then you should have looked after it.

MR. WINSOR: I did, Mr. Chairman. We appealed it to every level of appeal there was, and they ruled against him. They would not accept the opinion of the medical people.

The individual went back to work. He went to work in Bull Arm last winter.

AN HON. MEMBER: In Bull Arm?

MR. WINSOR: In Bull Arm, as a carpenter.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, if the member would restrain himself. While working from a scaffold, he lost his gloves - his mitts - that he was wearing. If you want to know if he was injured or not, he had no idea, because his hands, well all numb. He froze his hands. He was not even aware that was happening. He was not aware it was happening, and Workers' Compensation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: If you cannot feed your family you have no choice.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Yes, Mr. Chairman, he exhausted all rights. But Workers' Compensation, because of instructions from this administration, said: tighten up on benefits you pay out, penalize the injured worker of this Province, and they're still doing it today.

Anyway, to continue the story. The worker went back to work last month. Last month the same worker drove a piece of steel into his foot. He didn't report it the day it happened. Two days later he went to a doctor. Since then he's had to have an amputation and Workers' Compensation says that: because you returned to work we will not pay you for your previous injury. It's under review again. We're going to have to appeal it to court -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, yes, we're in the process of appealing to the court. That's the kind of problems we're encountering with Workers'.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, it's got all to do with the instructions that are being given. Don't you ever believe otherwise.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. WINSOR: The Member for Port de Grave is completely wrong, Mr. Chairman, if he thinks that there are not instructions being given at the political level to reduce the amount of payments that are being paid out at Workers' Compensation. The minister says it's at arm's length. It's not at arm's length. Directives have gone to Workers' Compensation telling them: you have to reduce the amount of money that's being paid out.

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible)?

MR. WINSOR: They don't even have a CEO, Mr. Chairman. They're advertising for one. I don't think they have one at this point in time.

MS. VERGE: The minister has been calling the shots directly.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, the minister's been calling the shots since Day 1. Since they realised they had a problem two years ago there's been political interference in the running of Workers' Compensation, to the extent that it's virtually impossible to get -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, Mr. Maynard wasn't....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, they don't like what they're hearing because they know it's true. It hurts. Because every individual on that side of the House who's had to try to come to some kind of an agreement with Workers' Compensation goes through a reign of terror down there. They don't return telephone calls. You call all day and the lines are busy.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. HEARN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Just a few points on this Bill which I certainly think should have gone to committee. Because there are a lot of agencies and individuals out there who have a tremendous interest in this Bill. Many more than we'll hear from, simply because they haven't got the opportunity.

When bills like this are introduced at the twenty-third hour and rammed through it makes one wonder why the rush. The member who just spoke, from Fogo, talked about the concerns of what's going on at Workers' Comp. He felt that they're being ordered to do what they're doing. We wonder, in light of the financial situation, if they're not told to try to balance the books.

I want to relate to a couple of incidents that have happened recently that really makes one wonder what is going on at Workers' Compensation. Because you talk to anybody involved with Workers' Compensation and they will raise concerns. Now we all know that in any such agency there are probably those cases that are borderline and people have to make a judgement somewhere along the line. There are cases which don't qualify, they're cut-and-dried, we have no problem with that, and there are some cases that just can't be turned down.

There are a number of cases now, that the board either seems to be rejecting, legitimate cases for compensation that the board seems to be rejecting, or either pussy-footing around for a prolonged period of time, all of which certainly saves Compensation a lot of money.

I am personally aware of one case where a man was injured severely on a fishing dragger, was receiving compensation, and then told, despite the fact that his doctors told him that he cannot work, the fellow is wearing a solid metal brace which if he takes off he falls over sideways and yet he has been told that you are capable of performing duties. He was sent on a job search and any place he went, they said: well, on compensation, I mean you are no good to yourself, you are certainly no good to us, and they would not take him, although he did find some minor employment doing things which they tell him he should not be doing, so they sent him to rehab and he was going to be retrained.

He gave them a list of things he would like to do and they said: oh no, you cannot do this, it involves lifting, it involves physical activity, you cannot do that. So then he tried to suggest a few other things and they said: oh no, you cannot do that but there must be things you can do. The couple of things they suggested he could do. Of course, you cannot get into the courses but they said: well, that is not our problem, that is yours; even though he has no interest and is probably way outside of his abilities. So he then gets a letter from the claims department saying: you know you are rejected because you can do certain things and we feel that you could make x number of dollars, so we are cutting you back by x number of dollars and they are giving him I would say less than $100 a week.

The very things that claims suggest he could do are the very things that rehab has told him he cannot do, so where do you draw the line? If they are not getting their act together within Workers' Compensation, how can an individual hope to get anywhere, whether it is in proper retraining if they are going to assist them there and help them. They are just taking people and throwing them out, saying: sorry, go out and find something to do on your own despite the fact the gentleman can never return to the job he was at or can he do any kind of physical activity. They are saying: sorry, you should be able to find something, we are no longer going to assist you.

Mr. Chairman, let me come back to a case that involves everybody. Every individual member in this House is affected by a ruling that was made last week. In our area we have a number of fire brigades. There is not a member here I would suggest, except I presume St. John's, maybe Corner Brook areas where they have paid -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HEARN: No - paid fire brigades here in these areas. In all outlying areas we have volunteer fire brigades, no compensation at all, period. All these fire fighters who are members of the fire chief's association whatever, were under the impression that as long as they are involved in the actual fire fighting or preparatory activities they are covered by workers' compensation.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not Santa Claus parades.

MR. HEARN: Not Santa Claus parades, not calling bingo, not painting the parish church, fire fighting directly related to fire fighting or the preparation of their equipment. Well let me read a response from the minister to my question a few days ago, and the minister quite clearly and correctly I would say, says: In checking into it and having the regulation under the act checked with the acting chief executive officer at Workers' Compensation, it is clear that the volunteer fire fighters are covered from the time they leave home or place of employment until the time they return, in any duties responding to a fire call and any related duties with respect to equipment or trucks that have to be repaired as a result of the call also covered under that definition. But for other activities such as building fire halls themselves on a volunteer capacity, fund-raising or these type of things they are not covered, and I agree with that. But it says clearly: responding to a fire or any related duties with respect to equipment or trucks that have to be repaired as a result of a fire call.

Now, in most of the outlying areas the volunteer fire brigades work hard to try to get the necessary equipment. We all know what assistance they get from government, very little. Most of the equipment they have, with the exception perhaps of their prime fire truck which they got on the 75/25 cost sharing arrangement, and occasionally some equipment such as fire clothes, etc., and in the last few years because most of the money was used up on the major packages very little has been provided to them for the necessities. Many of them to supplement their equipment put their own pieces of equipment together. In fact many of the pumper-trucks that are around -

MR. FLIGHT: (Inaudible)

MR. HEARN: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if you would ask the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture to keep quiet? The Member for St. John's South cannot hear what I am saying. He has his back turned to the Chair.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEARN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All of us are well aware of how important the backup up supplies that fire brigades have in different areas and used in Winter. Many places do not have fire hydrants and in those areas that have them it is impossible to get near them in Winter. Where they do not have fire hydrants then the local supply, whether it be a pond, a hole they have dug, or whatever, could be frozen over, so many of them rely on the tanker truck. In this specific case the volunteer firemen obtained a cabin chassis and they also obtained a tank from some oil company, which all of them do, and made their own holding unit, their backup supply, their tanker truck. They were putting the cabinets on this truck to hold their hoses or whatever they need and in the course of preparing this fire truck that is used in fighting fires one of the fireman cut his thumb badly and consequently because he was involved in work that was directly involved in preparing the equipment, exactly as the minister said, he filed for compensation. Now, I want to read for you the letter he received.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. HEARN: Now, this is extremely important. Maybe a Member for St. John's would not understand the significance of having a good fire brigade that feels protected. If it happened in St. John's they would not have a problem but it happened in an outlying area where these people are volunteering. That is the key word because this paragraph here is an insult to volunteers. It is not from the minister, by the way, but from a claims adjudicator. It says: your claim for a thumb injury occurring at such a date has been received and we are unable to find entitlement to a temporary earnings lost benefit. You reported your injury occurred while doing - I would like members to listen to this - you reported your injury occurred while you were doing volunteer work with the Colinet fire department. What does a volunteer fireman do if it is not volunteer work? As far as Workers' Compensation is concerned

an injury sustained by a volunteer fireman, while doing volunteer work, is not considered to be part of a volunteer fireman's duties and is therefore not work related.

Just listen to this again: As far as Workers' Compensation is concerned, an injury sustained by a volunteer fireman, while doing volunteer work - what other kind of work does he do? - is not considered to be part of a volunteer fireman's duties and is therefore not work related.

Everything he does is volunteer work, but in this case they were actually creating a fire truck that they cannot get from government because of the funding. They did get their original fire truck. So what this means for every volunteer fire fighter in this Province is that unless you are actually fighting a fire or rolling up the hose afterwards and slip a disk - then you are not going to be considered. All the preparatory work to get your fire brigade ready to fight that next fire, or to have in your town, equipment that is necessary, is not covered by Workers' Compensation.

AN HON. MEMBER: I would say that is an error.

MR. HEARN: I think it is an error. I think the minister is right in what he says, and if it is not, what it means is that you are going to see an exodus of volunteer fire fighters in this Province. So I will be following up on this to the minister. Hopefully he will take it up with his officials and clarify this case because right now every volunteer fire brigade in this Province is wondering what is going to happen here, because all of them are directly affected.

The gentleman who wrote this - the claims adjudicator - should be called in and given a course in what volunteer fire fighters do, and that everything they do is volunteer. They do not get paid when they go out to fight a fire. They do it on a volunteer basis.

They are so strapped for equipment and materials that they have to make do with what they can create on their own, using their own efforts and in doing so they are preparing for fire fighting.

Consequently, I certainly think they should be covered and hopefully the minister, in his wisdom, will see that justice is done in this case.

Mr. Chairman, that is only one of the many things going on at Workers' Compensation, and I certainly think that a Bill like this should be well scrutinized before anybody agrees to pass it through this House and make it law.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to have a few remarks on this Bill 48, as it concerns a lot of people in my district, which includes Labrador City and Wabush - the heavy, industrial industries of this Province where quite often people get injured on the job. There have been, over the years, quite a few injuries in the workplace in Labrador City and Wabush. Albeit they are still the safest mines that are operating in this Country today.

Mr. Chairman, the fact that this government is doing this type of thing to an injured worker, I find repulsive. The people in my district are very concerned. They are concerned about the fact of what this Bill is doing to them. People who had voted, supported, campaigned, for the Liberal candidate in the previous election, the last election, have actually come up to me and said how upset they are over this particular Bill because of what it does to them, and a person who is employed in a heavy industry, such as the mining industry. One person in particular who actively campaigned - went door to door - campaigned for the Liberal candidate in the last election, said that if this Bill goes through in its present form he could never ever bring himself to vote Liberal, let alone work for them, again. He was visibly shaken by what this government has done to him in two aspects.

One, the fact that the government refused to have a consultation process to allow him to have input into this particular Bill because of how he felt it was directly affecting him. A person, Mr. Chairman, who has never had a loss time accident in twenty years working. Yet he sees this as a threat to him and his family because of the cutbacks proposed in this Bill. He sees it as a threat because it takes away income that he would have if he were to get injured. Now remember, this is a man who has never had a lost day's work in twenty years due to an on the job accident. Yet he's incensed over what this government is proposing to do.

He knows that if he's off work that's when he's most vulnerable. Both he and his family. He feels that it's fundamentally wrong for anybody to attack anybody else who's vulnerable. Indeed, an injured worker is the most vulnerable person in our society. What do we see this administration doing? We see them attacking that worker. That's what we've seen them doing. Attacking the worker.

The benefits that used to be 90 per cent of net are going to be rolled back to 75 per cent. That concerns people in my district. I want to make the minister very much aware of this. One of the previous speaks, the hon. Member for St. John's South, suggested that it was all because of the negligence or the mismanagement of the previous administration that's making the government, the present administration, do what they're doing. Do you remember the two golden rules that this government uses? The two golden rules - remember what they are now - that apply to every piece of legislation or every policy that they have, or new policy that they have: never admit you're wrong, and blame somebody else. The two rules.

So in this case we're not making a mistake. We didn't make a mistake. We haven't done any damage to the economy, which is really what occurred to the finances of Workers' Compensation, is because of what's occurring in the economy. This is really what it is. It's not what occurred in the previous administration. The minister honestly admitted it when he stood up and spoke and suggested that the reason why they're proposing these amendments is over what has occurred over the last two years. That's what he says. It's recorded in Hansard. So in applying their two rules they've come up with blaming somebody else and never admitting a mistake.

Another thing that bothers me is the idea - and I would like for the minister to pay attention, if he would, and I would like for him to comment. I still do not understand the principle, and the people of my district are concerned, about what's behind the principle of not allowing, making it illegal, for an employer to top up an employee's earnings, or Workers' Compensation benefits. They don't understand why it's illegal for an employer to do this. Now would the minister explain, if I were to sit down, the hon. Minister responsible for Employment and Labour Relations, would he answer a question for me? I would like to know what the rationale is for not allowing an employer to do this, number one, and number two, if an employee contributes to a personal or to a type of group insurance program that allows - that this insurance program would allow a top up, is that permitted? I want to know if that will be permitted? If employees contribute to a private plan, if they purchased their own plan so to speak, contributed to a plan, would this be permitted to top up the benefits of an injured worker? Now, I will sit down and allow the minister to answer.

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, if I could just address that for a second. The intention, clearly, as I spelled out when we did the debate on the Bill in second reading, with respect to paying in excess of what you are entitled to on compensation, commonly referred to as topping up, the intention of Clause 20 in this Bill is to clearly prohibit, in both the public and private sector, any type of arrangement that has as its clearly stated intent the notion of giving somebody who is off work and in receipt of compensation monetary benefits above and beyond what they are entitled to under the Act. Whether they want to pay for that themselves or not - if they find some creative arrangements where they will do it and call it something else, and I am sure people will because they always do, but if it is clearly stated that this is to be an additional compensation to top up your wage loss as a result of the injury, it will be declared illegal under the Act and that is the clear intention of this section that is in this Bill.

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

MR. A. SNOW: So, Mr. Chairman, if an employee contributes to a personal insurance plan - if that employee is off work, if he had an auto accident he would get this personal insurance program paid to him in benefits while he was off work because he could not work, he was injured due to an auto accident, he would be allowed to get that, correct?... it is an off the job injury. But if he was receiving benefits from Workers' Compensation and he had an on the job injury that same program that he contributed to could not pay him the benefits, it would be illegal for him to get those benefits, is that correct?

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

MR. GRIMES: No, Mr. Chairman, in the sense that there are offset provisions here as well. If you carry insurances to give yourself protection, whether the injury occurs on the job or not, which is what most people do, most people who are carrying extra personal insurances are doing so because there is the eventuality that they may get injured away from the workplace and therefore not be entitled to compensation, we looked at the issue of whether or not we would offset those coverages and the answer was no. The only offset will be from the other public insurance that they may access which is Canada pension plan disability benefits, that will be offset, if an individual person is paying into any other kind of plan that entitles them to a benefit, that is not disallowed by this provision.

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

MR. A. SNOW: An individual paying into a personal plan would be able to receive benefits -

AN HON. MEMBER: Or a group plan.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes. He or she would be able to receive benefits if he were to pay for this personally. If he or she were to pay for a personal plan, through some arrangements, they would be permitted to receive the benefits to top up their workers' compensation payments if they were injured on the job. Now that is what the minister is saying, is it?

Mr. Chairman, if that be the case, why would you make it illegal for an employer to negotiate with an employee, because the employee had to sell part of his collective - in a collective bargaining process he or she gave up, through collective bargaining, a part of a wage increase to get this so-called additional insurance. Why would you differentiate? I don't understand why anybody would differentiate between a personal purchase or the group purchase. I don't understand the rationale behind it, and the minister still has not explained that.

If I could do it as part of a group plan that I didn't do with my employer, you say it is okay. On the other hand, if I do it through my employer, it is illegal. It doesn't make sense to me.

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman?

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

MR. GRIMES: The point we are making and the distinction we are making is this: As most hon. members here who have purchased any personal insurance will understand, most of them are restricted at a rate of somewhere around 60 per cent, 66 per cent, or 70 per cent of your salary - if you lose your salary. Those kinds of insurances usually run at 70 per cent or less.

The reality of a personal insurance which somebody may carry is, in fact, that they - and most, if not all of those, as members, would check in their own experiences, and we did this check when we were looking at the provision - they offset, those personally purchased insurances, offset other sources of income. So even though you are buying an insurance yourself that might entitle you to 70 per cent of your wages if you are off the job, you would get nothing from your insurance anyway because you are already getting 75 per cent from workers' compensation. So you would have purchased an insurance that gave you no benefit except for the fact that it gives you coverage when you are off the job. So that is why people decide to purchase it.

In this sense, we know that will not kick in, because the insurance policies don't allow for provisions above 70 per cent, and we are saying that one of the basic tenets - when I spoke to Clause 20 of the bill, in the original debate when I spoke for an hour - was that by having less than 100 per cent available to the injured worker when he is at home, he is at no loss because of the fact that they do not have employment expenses, and we are trying to get back to the original intent of the bill, which has been added to in years since.

It has been in Newfoundland since the fifties. Top-ups became prevalent in the 1970s, and they are one of the things that have corrupted the workers' compensation system to make it significantly different today from what it was when it was introduced in the Province and in the country, and we are trying to make as many moves as we can in this act to take it back to its original intent, its original scope of coverage, so that we can continue to fund it and afford it to protect injured workers in the Province into the foreseeable future. Because, if we leave all of these add-ons and these changes and these corruptions, as I described them, in the system, the experience has shown that we will not have workers' compensation. It will be bankrupt in four years, or ten years at the outside.

We are convinced - and this is why we have presented the bill, and I discussed it in debate - we must make these types of changes, including this one, eliminating the possibility of people getting 100 per cent by topping up the provisions here, when they are at home injured. One of the basic tenets of the system is that there should not be any kind of disincentive to return to work, and that is in all the literature that you read about workers' compensation. There should be no disincentive to return to work and it is clearly stated and understood in every jurisdiction in the country and in North America that if it is possible for the person to earn exactly the same money at home injured, without the expenses of employment, that that is a disincentive to go back to work. We are not accusing anybody of malingering or anything else but it is clear in all the literature and study that that is a distinctive disincentive and has been proven in studies, in the United States in particular, to add to the duration of time that the person spends on claim, and therefore, add to the cost of workers' compensation.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I still have a lot of concern and my constituents have a lot of concern, over that particular aspect of the bill because they can see themselves, where they contribute - in my area, they contribute to a fund, which is a private purchase they are making, and, in this case, the minister is telling me, that will be disallowed. Because what he is saying is, now, if they purchase this, which is just a block amount of money - it is not percentage, it is a block amount of money that they purchased - that if they are off work they will get a fixed amount of dollars. When you add that to the 75 per cent, that will put them up to 100 per cent of their salary if they were working. So, in other words, he is telling me, that would be wrong in there. Now, is it illegal for them to do that?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, I thought I answered that question before. Again, if that is an arrangement between an employer and the employees, clearly stated to provide a top-up to their lost wages, that will be declared illegal in the Province under clause 20 of this bill. The clear intent of it is to make sure no one misunderstands that.

MR. A. SNOW: (Inaudible) employees and other agencies, I want to know - not employer, the third party.

MR. GRIMES: Again, I have indicated that if there is an arrangement on an individual employee basis, and as I have indicated, I am sure, and we have discussed this ourselves in Cabinet, it won't be long before employee groups and employers and so on will find creative ways to - if they are clearly intended to do so and they do not have the same concern about the workers' compensation fund that the government does and that the board of the commission does and if they do not buy into the argument that by giving them 100 per cent of salary through one means or another when they are off injured that that is not a disincentive to return to work, and if they end up calling it something else other than top-up, then it is likely to occur, but we are saying, and this bill points out clearly, that if there is additional compensation paid for in an arrangement with an employer and employees, that is illegal. Now, individual purchase and those types of things are not covered in clause 20 of this bill that is before the House.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, clause 20 which adds 81.1 to the Act, is, I hope, on its face clear but let me say what it is intended to do in my understanding, and that is, in the words, 'After January 1, 1993, an employer and a worker shall not in an agreement provide that the employer shall pay an amount in excess of the amount that the worker...' Now, if an employee, 'a worker' in this terminology, made an arrangement, or even a group of workers made an arrangement, by my understanding of that section, if I follow the debate, that would not be banned as long as the employer did not pay for it - in other words, the employees of their own volition. If the hon. gentleman were an employee of - I don't know, Lo Lo Foods, and chose to go out and buy his own insurance, that is not banned and if he and his colleagues chose to do it. Where the problem comes in - and I ask my colleague to correct me if I am wrong - the policy problem is where an employer agrees to provide that sort of funding; that is a top-up. That intention of the section is to ban the top up end of it. Does that answer the hon. gentleman's question?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Yes, Mr. Chairman, I recognize that is what clause 20 does. What I am attempting to get from the minister is the rationale for having that clause. He explained, the rationale is that he recognizes - and you recognize, according to him, you being in Cabinet - that having a top-up or bringing the earnings of an individual who is off work injured, up to 100 per cent of his earnings, is a disincentive to work, so you are going to make that, too, illegal. You think that is fundamentally wrong in a workers' compensation tenets if you will, as I think you referred to it. What I am suggesting to you is that if two employees of ABC Company, were to get together, form their own little group of funding and go to purchase a private plan of a fixed amount of remuneration for when they are off work, whether it is on-the-job or off the job - in this case, we are referring to an on-the-job injury - if they were to get $200 and that would bring them up to more than 75 per cent of their earnings, it is illegal in his mind but it is not covered yet in a regulation. Is that right?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: That is what you said.

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

MR. GRIMES: Again, Mr. Chairman, the issue indicated clearly in section 20, and the words are clear, is, what would be declared illegal is an arrangement agreed to between an employer and an employee. If the employees singly or in groups, decide to go out and spend their money - and all I am saying and admitting to the whole world is we understand that probably, in a round of negotiations in the future, the employees will go out and spend their money but at the bargaining table, the employers would probably agree to give it back to them. We know those kinds of things happen, they happen all the time. People have done the - things progress over the years, but in any stated instance, where there is a provision now existing, where the employer and employees have agreed to a formalized topping-up arrangement, there is a provision here where it will end on a certain date, and it says that in contracts coming into effect after January 1, 1993, that type of formalized arrangement between an employer and employee, is declared illegal in this Province.

Now, if we find out when we do a review of workers' compensation again, statutorily in five years time or earlier than that if it is deemed necessary, because we have indicated we will review all these things in one year to see whether we are headed in the right direction, and if we find that there is another problem that has been created, then we will address it, but what is addressed here clearly is that, formalized employer-employee arrangements are illegal and must cease. Current ones must cease, new ones are prohibited.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Okay. What you say, is what I understand to be correct and what I explained to the Minister of Justice, but he does not agree with that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. A. SNOW: So two employees in ABC Company, if they were to go out tomorrow morning and purchase from a third, not through their employer, but collectively, they go to an insurance program that would buy a specific dollar amount, say, per week if they were off work, and if the benefits that they were receiving in total combined to more than 75 per cent, you would make that illegal within a year or thereabouts.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, the opposite.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, it is my understanding of what the minister says because that is going to be contrary to the intent of what section 20 is.

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

MR. ROBERTS: The section says what it says but perhaps we are losing sight of something: There is no insurance carrier who will provide insurance beyond 75 per cent of one's income. It just can't be bought.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Hold on now, please, if I may. I mean, there is no law against it, and maybe some insurer out there will see an opening in the market and say, 'Here is a chance to make a dollar,' and come in and do it; and we don't propose to ban that, as long as the employer doesn't pay. Now, if, as my friend, the minister says - it is what he said, is it not? Yes, it is what I heard him say.

If, at the end of the day, the employer says: Look, it is costing you five bucks a month for this coverage. I will give you the five bucks a month and we will bury it in the wage bill, there is no way that can be (inaudible). They could take the five bucks a month and use it to buy oranges or vodka. That is up to the man or woman who gets the payment.

What the section seeks to do is to ban an arrangement where the employer pays - where you get a joint shared cost arrangement. Now, what works out at the bargaining table remains to be seen.

All I heard the minister say - I was following him attentively and he was, as always, speaking with great clarity - is that we will have a look at this in a year or so and see where it is. The idea is clear. If people have found a (inaudible).

I will come back and say, in my understanding of the private insurance market - and I am not an expert on insurance, I know a little bit about liability insurance in a legal sense perhaps - but in my understanding of insurance, nobody will sell any individual income protection insurance - and this is what we are talking about here - beyond 66 or 70 per cent of one's insurable earnings. That is just the way the insurance market ran, and the reason for it is very simple - the incentive. Now, that is my understanding of it.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I will go back to my original scenario of the ABC Company, two employees. If they do not purchase - the insurance program that I am talking about them purchasing is not a percentage of lost income. It is a fixed amount that they buy. They buy a straight $200 a week if they are off sick - if they are off the job because they have been injured on the job. So they will get $200 a week from this particular program.

Now, the Minister of Justice is at opposite ends to what the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is saying. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations says that - this is my understanding of what the minister is saying - if he finds that the two employees in ABC Company purchased a fund or a program from an agency that is a block amount of funding, puts them above the 75 per cent over the next year or so, he sees that occurring, that they will have to review it and disallow that because it goes against a basic tenet of workers' compensation of not having - or it is a disincentive for employees to return to work. That is his argument for Section 20.

So if you use the same argument in this, what I am saying is that is what is going to occur. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations says that is what will occur. The Minister of Justice says that is what will not occur.

Mr. Chairman, I think I understand what the Minister said. The Minister of Justice has completely misunderstood it because, again, it is not a percentage that they are buying. The Minister of Justice -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) wrong, then either I am right or he is right.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, you see, the problem is that -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That may be the case, too, we could both be wrong, but I can only give him my understanding of it, and that is what I have done.

Apparently, the minister and I are saying the same thing.

MR. GRIMES: Exactly - word for word.

MR. A. SNOW: Well, I have to disagree with you. You are not both saying the same thing, or at least I didn't hear it.

What you said is what I am saying is going to occur - that within a year you are going to be reviewing this, and if somebody does purchase a program like that, you are saying that it will be disallowed because it goes contrary to the intent of what you are doing in Section 20.

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, again, I don't mean to belabour this - I was hesitant to start answering the questions in the first place because we do go through the bill in Committee, clause by clause and these questions could have been answered when we got to clause 20, since they are specific to clause 20.

What I had said in trying to be honest and direct, as I always try to be with the Legislature, is that in the provision in clause 20 right now, the personal purchase of these additional things, as the hon. the Member for Menihek described, is not addressed. We had looked at the issue of whether or not we should try to offset any additional monies going to people by virtue of personal insurances. We decided that we couldn't deal with the issue. It is a matter where the individual has made a conscious choice to purchase some additional protection for himself, at no cost to the employer who is paying the total cost of workers' compensation through assessments that the worker doesn't contribute to at all. It is the question, as a matter of fact, that the nurses are asking us to give them time to do, in light of their situation, that injured nurses are at least given a bit of notice, could go out and purchase some personal insurance - themselves, all by themselves and not have the employer pay for it, and clause 20 allows for that to happen.

What I have also said in trying to be direct and straightforward, is that we have committed that in a years time we will review all of the aspects of these changes to see whether or not the workers' compensation system is headed in the right direction financially. If we find that this issue of offset has not been appropriately or adequately addressed, then we have told the world - it was in the press statement of July 2nd - that we will review it within a year and if there are other adjustments that we felt needed to be made we would bring forward those types of changes at that time. What will happen with offset of personal or other insurance, I have no idea. I have not said we are going to do anything about it except review that along with the other provisions that are in this bill within a year to make sure we are headed in the right direction.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you and I want to thank the minister for being frank with me. It took quite a while to get the information from him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) an hour ago.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: Maybe other members don't have the same concern for the constituents in their districts that I have for mine. If it takes me ten hours in this House to clarify what affects the people who live in my district, my constituents, I will stay here and I will ask the questions to get the right answers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: It may take several days, I would suspect, because it is probably going to take until at least after the next election for people to understand what a lot of this legislation is doing, so we are talking about over the next couple of days. And this is only just one little loophole that is there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) change it back (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Bring back the school tax.

MR. A. SNOW: Yes, I want to assure the former infamous Minister of Finance that the people in my district would rather have the previous school tax than this payroll tax that he foisted upon them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the school tax, you can be sure of that.

MR. A. SNOW: They wish you would; up in Menihek you might have a chance of winning a seat if you did.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. A. SNOW: - Mr. Chairman, again I want to thank the minister for answering the question. Mr. Chairman, the people in my district, a heavy industrial area, are very concerned about this bill, and this is just one aspect of it. I do not want to continue repeating myself but I want again to thank the minister for answering my question. We are very concerned about this Bill and this is just one aspect of it. I do not want to continue repeating myself but I want to again thank the minister for answering the question because they have been asking me about it. As I suggested earlier, people who have never, ever had an on the job injury or lost time accident on the job for twenty years have come up and talked to me about the proposed changes in workers' compensation and how they see it affecting their income if they were indeed unfortunate enough to have an accident. I said I would raise it and I'm glad that I did, because I got the answer that the people in Labrador West wanted to have. I have to admit though that my worst fears have been realized. Thank you.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I just want to have a few more words on this legislation. We pointed out some major flaws in this legislation during second reading in debate.

The one issue that bothers me quite a bit with workers' compensation, and always has, is the fact that we have people working out in the labour force right now who consider that they are pretty well covered if they have a job related accident. They figure if they are hurt on the job they will be able to maintain the standard of life that they have achieved at this time, if not progress any more. They feel that if they do get a serious injury and are unable to work any more that they will not have to sell their car, they will not have to lose their home, they will not have to take their children out of university. They will not have to take any of these major steps that they would not have taken if they had continued to work.

If you're permanently injured and you cannot work any more you certainly miss the opportunity of acquiring any overtime that might exist in the company that you work for. You certainly miss out on any advancements that you might get. So I guess the least thing that you could hope for if you are injured at work, the least possible damage that could happen to your family and yourself, was that at least you can maintain your present lifestyle. Now, this will not happen under this Bill. You cannot possibly maintain the same lifestyle that you have achieved to this day when you get injured in this Bill.

When we did second reading on this I read out the example that was in The Evening Telegram from an injured nurse's point of view. I read that example out and after the debate was reported - there were some reports in the paper, not necessarily what I said but the reports that we were doing it, I had a call from a constituent of mine. The worst fear I brought up in second reading was that of the person who called me: a single parent, an injured worker, two teenage daughters, one in high school and one starting university. That person would ordinarily be making around $1000 every two weeks. That was what this person would ordinarily get with workers' compensation top up and everything.

That person could generally on the $23,000 a year maintain her home. Her spouse was gone so she couldn't depend on that. She was injured. She could maintain the home that she had. She lived in Sesame Park area, which is a fairly medium-type housing in the St. John's area. She had a car that she could manage to keep on the road. No frills. No extras. She couldn't work overtime if a shift came up as other nurses could do because she was injured on the job. She could not get a promotion to supervisor or head nurse in the hospital because she could not go back to work anymore. All she said was: I was willing to exist on what I have and get my children through university so that they could go to a job which hopefully they would not be injured on. Mr. Chairman, that nurse was making approximately $1,000 every two weeks, and just getting along on it. I could not live on that, I do not know how she does it. I do not think I could possibly exist on $23,000 or $24,000 a year, not with my home and not with my two children, one in university and one not, Mr. Chairman. But that person has to now, because of the changes that you are making, you members over there.

It is okay to stand here talking about Bill 48 and the change to this clause and the change to that clause until you put a name and a face to what you are doing. Mr. Chairman, I have a name, a face and a letter from several people in my district concerning what you are doing to them, one happens to be a nurse. That person who should be getting $1,000 every two weeks and could probably survive on that, will have her benefits reduced now to $682. Well the way it was made up, the $682 was workers' compensation and $314 was coming from the employer as a top up. Under this proposal this person will lose the $314 every two weeks.

Now, Mr. Chairman, this person just cannot survive and what is going to happen, the person will get -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Minister of Employment and Labour Relations on a point of order.

MR. GRIMES: Not to interrupt the hon. member, but the statement that he just made according to what is provided for in this Bill cannot possibly be true. It is absolutely impossible for that statement to be true and I know for a fact that the hon. member knows the difference. I do not know how this contributes positively to this debate in any way shape or form, to present something to the House when he knows himself that the provision in the Bill being debated cannot possibly allow for that to happen.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, there is no point of order and if the minister would pay as much attention to his Bill as the president of the nurses union and the injured nurses of this Province, there probably would not be such a reduction, and, Mr. Chairman, these are not my figures, these are not my words, I am reporting to you what the nurses' union, who investigated this Act, who did some research on this Act, say will happen to an injured nurse in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Why would they have to say anything else? What have they against this government that they would try to lie?

MR. MATTHEWS: Nothing.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Why would the nurses' union want to lie about it? Has not this government done everything in the world for the nurses in this Province? Has not this government been more than generous to the nurses of this Province so they would not lie? Mr. Chairman, I would never accuse the president of the nurses' union of lying like the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, who has slurred every nurse in this Province by just accusing the president of their union of lying. He came out in this House of Assembly and said: they are lying.

Now, Nr. Chairman, I do not think they are lying; I do not think there is any need for them to lie. It is a pretty straightforward clause in this Bill: you are going to lose your top up. You are going to lose the top up. Now for someone working today who is injured when this Bill is passed, if they get injured tomorrow, there is going to be $314 less on their cheque. They will never get the top up. They never did get it and they never will, so they are going to lose $314, no matter how many times the minister wants to stand up here and say it is not true. It is true, they will lose $314 a month, Mr. Chairman, if they are injured after this Bill is passed.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

On a point of order, The hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations.

MR. GRIMES: Obviously the member has not maybe read the Bill but in clause 20 on page 13 of the Bill, it indicates clearly that these provisions in an existing agreement, which is the case with the nurses and which he knows to be true, continues until the operation of the agreement ceases but in any event shall not continue after January 1st of 1995 and shall not be greater than it was prior to the commencement of this section. So, there is no way in the world on January 1st of 1993 that anything can change because everybody here knows that the nurses will not sign an agreement between now and then and until they agree to some other provision, that in fact that will stay in place at the current dollar value until January 1st of 1995.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order. The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Now, Mr. Chairman, again my worst fears have been realized. The minister has just confirmed what I have been saying in this House of Assembly for the last twenty minutes, Mr. Chairman, or fifteen minutes. The minister has just confirmed that the nurses will lose their $314 top up. He just said it flat out in this House. I did not say they will lose it tomorrow or they will lose it yesterday or today, they will lose it and that is what I said they will lose, Mr. Chairman, and the person who should be making almost $1000 every two weeks will not be making that $1000 every two weeks if they go on workers' compensation. Now, Mr. Chairman, that $314 -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I made initial comments when it was debated in second reading, I just have a few brief comments. I think to cut someone's income back to 80 per cent of net, an income that they could not live on initially or just existed on, and to cut it back to 80 per cent of what you could barely exist on before I think is not an incentive for anybody to wish to work and I guess it is being used as a means to drive somebody off of compensation which brings me to another particular issue.

I think WCC should probably soon be renamed the rehab centre because basically almost everybody there are now being pushed off on rehabilitation, they are being told you can do lighter work. How does a person do this who for twenty years worked heavy industrial work out on trawler's and in other types of industries - I have cases, numerous cases. For example one person spent years at twenty-five to thirty-five, forty weeks a year, out working on a trawler, who happened to get injured in 1990 after working twenty-six weeks that year, who recently had his income reduced to $94.44 per week and told he is capable of doing some other work. Every single person who worked at a heavy working job, industrial or fishing job, are being told now that you can be retrained for lighter work. Where are all the jobs? The social services is increased by 50 per cent, everybody is getting laid off by this government and there are cutbacks, where are all the light working jobs available? If the jobs were there there would be some reason behind it but there is a cutback in the work force.

In fact, one worker who worked for twenty years, another worker, was injured and spent three years receiving workers' compensation, was told that he is capable now of working repairing nets. He went out and spent ten or twelve weeks repairing nets and the doctor then said he could not continue to do that work, he had to give it up. They told him he could be a truck driver, after months they said you cannot be a truck driver you can be a dispatcher. They told him he could not be a dispatcher he could do something else. He has tried every single thing there. In fact just this past week a person on workers' compensation was told: you are on rehabilitation, you have ten weeks to get a job. You must have three job requests, you have to have three letters a day, five days a week for ten weeks, and after 150 letters go out to companies we are going to drop you from workers' compensation after ten weeks and 150 requests for work.

Every single person there almost is being put out on what is called extended earnings loss. What they are saying under extended earnings loss is: if you can make $25,000 a year on the job, well, we think you can be a truck driver now. You never drove a truck in your live before but you can be a truck driver because a truck driver would earn $25,000, and under extended earnings loss you get nothing. If you worked at a job that paid $20,000 a year and they figure you can do a job now that could make $22,000 or $20,000, you get nothing and they terminate your compensation; that is happening with dozens and dozens of cases.

I have run into at least twelve or fifteen cases just over the past month where people are living on $94.44 and less. Some people have been discontinued since June and basically not only expected to live on compensation of 80 per cent of net earnings, a net earnings figure that has not increased in a number of years, but salaries have been frozen and we have rollbacks, and then try to live on 80 per cent of something that was not even livable in the beginning.

So I think we are looking here at trying to use legitimate people to cut benefits to reduce the unfunded liability of $160 million in workers' compensation. Basically now, people who have been on compensation for injuries while working in fish plants and injured fishermen and fisherwomen are now being told that if you receive benefits under the moratorium, that your benefits on workers' compensation are going to be eliminated as a result. Well, actually anybody on June 29th who was on workers' compensation cannot qualify for benefits under the program because they were not available for work, so they are being pushed off a program where they cannot get workers' compensation and they cannot qualify for benefits under the moratorium package, so they have been out there without income for the past five and six months, very legitimate cases, there are letters from the Workers' Compensation Commission to that effect, one letter I received yesterday.

So I think what we are doing is, Workers' Compensation is trying to reduce their liabilities. There is nothing wrong with reducing liabilities but it is unfortunate to have to do it on the backs of people who are seriously injured and being driven onto social services, or out trying to support a family and going to great pain and at lengths to do it. I think it is unfair and there are provisions here that have been addressed previously so I will not spend too much time to belabour the points again. I noted on second reading that I think they are doing a grave injustice to people who were injured in pursuing their line of work.

People who worked in some high-paying jobs have to try to exist now or subsist on very meagre incomes, so I think it is about time we looked at implementing certain legislation that is going to protect people who rightfully deserve to have protection. We are not advocating to protect people who do not deserve it, so basically what they are doing is, they are trying to limit every single person who is on compensation because of what may be a few abuses in the system. Also, their intent is to prevent a certain topping up because they figure there is a bigger incentive to go back to work and therefore they are admitting, if that is the case, that there is abuse in the system and they are not willing to do anything about it. The recourse to that is, increase your investigation of people on compensation.

There are numerous calls to your office, endless calls and the people cannot get to answer them; they cannot get out to investigate people who are out there on these claims. So I think they're using the wrong approach to reduce their unfunded liability. They should be focusing on the real particular area in order to reduce this deficit and not on people who legitimately were injured on the job and people who have gone through great distress in their families because of it. Now we're getting in some type of legislation here that is going to increase the burden even more.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. To continue with the example that I was using of a single mother, single person, single parent in my district, with two teenage children, who will not be going back to work, who first of all will be losing the $314 top up pay. Automatic loss on that. Now that would be bad enough, that would be a terrible upset to the family income, especially if there's nobody else to go to work to take up the slack. Not only will that person lose the $314 top up pay, according to this article, the amendments would also mean that effective on January 1, 1994, that person's $682 bi-weekly benefit will drop by 2.5 per cent a year until it reaches $606.

If any of the members over there know people who are on workers' compensation through legitimate injuries and who happen to be lucky enough to be able to exist on it I can tell you, you can expect many calls when this legislation comes into force. Because there's nobody listening to our debate. There's nobody reporting our debate - there never is. There are several people here in our galleries tonight who will know when the time comes and people have to kick and scream because of the injustices of this legislation, but nobody will know. You don't get the calls until the legislation will come into force. The Member for Pleasantville will get calls because I'm sure there are several injured workers in his area. I would imagine that he's aware of some of them.

Because I know I have been here fourteen years and I have never had so much difficulty and so much problem with workers' compensation than I've had this past two years. It has been the toughest time to try and reason with the people who are working at Workers' Compensation. I don't know what directions they're getting. I don't know who's giving them their directions or setting the policies. But they're told not to give out a nickel unless there's 1,000 per cent.... I guess if you brought someone in there on a stretcher with a doctor on each side of him and a nurse holding up their intravenous, and three of them testified that this person will never get out of the stretcher, you'd probably get your compensation then.

In September of this year I attended a meeting with one person in my district who was injured. One person who was obviously injured. The person couldn't stand any straighter than a stoop. The person couldn't sit down for ten minutes without having to get up and move around a bit and then sit down for another while. That person for the last five years has never slept a full night, eight hours sleep, in her bed. Workers' Compensation, although her doctor says she should not go back to work, she has a permanent injury in her spine, one of the Workers' Compensation doctors said the same thing, and the third doctor who assessed this person said she's probably capable for light work. Probably capable for light work. So when you get all this information together Workers' Compensation goes through their information to do the assessments.

You'd think they'd give some weight to one or the other. If two doctors said one thing, that would probably have more weight than what one doctor will say. But they will side every single time with someone who says that there should not be any workers' compensation.

I got a copy of that person's file, and to tell you how bad it is down there now, and I believe this to be illegal - not only in poor taste, but I believe this to be illegal - in this woman's file was a note, as plain as day, suggesting that her husband was also a claimant at one time and her husband was a trouble maker - in that file.

Now whatever her husband did or did not do had no bearing whatsoever on this person's case. I advised her to take it and go see a lawyer. I do not know what happened.

There is no reason for anyone at Workers' Compensation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, the Minister of Health might find this jovial, but - no, he does not. I will not say that. He does not. I know he does not.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, okay. I know that. He does not find it funny.

Mr. Chairman, I just reported to the members of this House of Assembly one thing that I saw was going on down there. In this person's file - which should have been confidential to that person only, and some of the people who work in Workers' Compensation obviously would see it - the file of her spouse, which is his file and, by the way, his claim had run out some six years ago, or he was no longer on the claim, but that file should have been private to her spouse and whoever works with them.

When this person went down to get copies of her file and paid whatever you have to pay - twenty-five cents a copy or so - and got a file about as thick as this, and she and I were going through it, this is one comment I saw in there. It mentioned her husband's name, his claim number, and the fact that he had given some trouble to people working at Workers' Compensation.

Mr. Chairman, I think that is illegal. I do not know. I am not a lawyer. I believe that to be illegal. Now I am not sure, but I believe it to be illegal, and hopefully she went to the lawyer and got some advice and found out if it was or not.

If it is not illegal, it is definitely immoral, because that judgement, that statement that was in her file, affected the people who were working on her case, and she was the most reasonable person that I ever met in my life. Yet they were looking at this statement about her spouse and making judgements on her. I believe that is part of the reason why she did not get any workers' compensation, because that statement was in the file.

We appealed it anyway. I went to the appeal and we had a person, one person, come down and do a report on it, and it was refused again. I don't know but I might have a copy of the report here. But the person who did the report, one single person - no chance of explaining it to a group of people and have a couple assess it - he was an employee of the board, the one we appealed to. He did not give me any great confidence that we were going to get a fair hearing, but I have to assume that the person was fair and honest. There is nothing else I can do about it. He came back with pretty well the same reading as the first board who assessed this person's case and said: No, she should go back to light work.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, this person wants to go back to work. This person does not want to be on workers' compensation. She would like to go back to work. She tried retraining. She tried rehabilitation. She tried everything that was possible to go back to work, and she wishes today that she could go back to work today, but she cannot. She cannot stand up straight.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, this person worked for the Department of Social Services on a make-work project - one of those jobs. Well, I do not know if it is a make-work project even. It was looking after adult, physically impaired people. Young adults, they were, they were sixteen to eighteen, or something like that. What happened to her was one of the young people who she was looking after fell. This woman was ninety-eight pounds, five foot four, small person. She was a small person. When this handicapped person, or physically impaired person, or mentally impaired, I'm not sure what it was, started to fall, she made a lunge to grab the person and two of them went down in a heap on the road. Her back has been gone ever since. She can't stand up.

Yet she's home, absolutely no payment from Workers' Compensation, no retraining from Workers' Compensation, no chance of going back to the job. Mr. Chairman, as bad off as the nurses are going to have it when the minister takes away their top up pay, and when they start reducing the benefits by 2.5 per cent a year to get it down to $606, as bad off as these people are they're not nearly as bad off as that person, that other case that I saw. Because at least the other person still has a spouse and still has her family to support her. It is not fair.

Workers' Compensation is not treating the people who they are supposed to be looking after fairly. Workers' Compensation in my mind, when I was in there, and it's why I wish the Member for St. John's South had to stay in here. It's probably better he didn't. Because we might lose a bit of control of this place again. I wish he had to stay here when he got up and -

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Member for St. John's South. When he got up and said what a bad job we did when we increased the benefits to 90 per cent. Mr. Chairman, my philosophy when I was in there on Workers' Compensation is that Workers' Compensation is there to look after the injured worker at whatever cost is takes. That was my philosophy on Workers' Compensation. Because that injured worker is not to blame for receiving a work-related injury. It is not the blame of the injured worker -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: - to get injured so they should be able to be looked after, Mr. Chairman.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, my colleague the Member for Kilbride said that in his fourteen years in this Assembly he's never seen the problems constituents are experiencing with workers' compensation as he's seen over the past couple of years. I have to concur. I've been here the same length of time as the Member for Kilbride and I've had more calls from constituents with workers' compensation concerns and problems and frustrations this past year or two than at any time earlier in my years as an MHA.

I've been struck particularly by the number of complaints I've had from nurses who've been injured on the job. Several nurses who live in Corner Brook, who have been working at Western Memorial Regional Hospital there, have been seriously injured on the job. In each of the cases I'm aware of there were back injuries. Injuries which should have been and could have been prevented. Three or four of the workplace accidents occurred a few years ago. In one case the nurse was hurt because she was assisting a patient in a bed on which the brakes failed. That was one instance where there was negligence on the part of the employer.

I know of two or three cases where the injured nurses have attempted through surgery to have their back injuries corrected but in which the surgery was unsuccessful. These nurses at a relatively young age are now physically incapable of returning to their former nursing duties. One of the nurses who came to me tried to go back to work but that activity aggravated her original injury and she's now in a very bad state at the age of forty-one or forty-two. She has to wear a body brace most of the time. She has very little endurance or strength. After just a couple of hours of light activity around her own home she has to have a rest.

Chairperson, while some attempts have been made to improve accident prevention we still have a long way to go in this Province to improve occupational health and safety. The government is directly responsible for some of the most unsafe workplaces, namely hospitals and nursing homes. We've had a dramatic increase in workers' compensation claims from nurses and other health care workers. When I spoke on second reading of this Bill I asked the minister to provide the House with statistics on health employee workers' compensation claims. We still don't have those statistics. The last time I checked with a representative of the provincial nurses union I was told that the nurses union had been trying to get the figures but had been denied them.

I would ask the minister when he rises to speak in this debate, or perhaps he might answer my question now - I'll certainly yield to him, if he's willing to get up now and tell us the statistics for workers' compensation claims from nurses and other health care workers. I'd like to know the number for the current year as well as each of the past years for the last five or eight or ten years. While the minister is looking through his notes I'll just continue to elaborate on the point.

It appears as though now nursing is one of the most dangerous occupations. That is a difficult thought to accept. That's quite startling at first. Because most of us have been used to thinking of heavy industry - mining, fishing, logging - the types of jobs that men have traditionally done, as being the most risky, the most dangerous. It seems now with improvements in those resource industries and with a deterioration of conditions in health care institutions, the most dangerous work sites are actually health institutions. The most hazardous jobs are actually nursing, nursing assistant, and other health care jobs, jobs that are mostly done by women.

The types of injuries that health care workers are suffering are typically severe back injuries. Chronic injuries, injuries that take a great length of time to heal or that in some cases do not heal. Now, one of the concerns I have, Chairperson, is that we have not found effective ways of dealing with back injuries. First of all, we have not effectively minimized the occurrence of work place back injuries. There is much room for improving occupational health and safety but once back injuries occur we have not employed effective means of treatment.

A couple of years ago I was a member of the House Legislation Review Committee that looked at the governments proposed Chiropractors Act, a bill which later became law. Actually that was one of the early instances of effective legislation review committee work. While I served on the committee as we held hearings and listened to members of the public make presentations, I was struck by the number of presenters who spoke about the need for provision of chiropractors at public expense to attend to back injuries. We were told about studies done in other jurisdictions, specifically the United Kingdom and New Zealand, where governments have found - I cannot quote specifics - but generally governments have found that chiropractic services for hospital and nursing home back injuries have had very good results, have shortened the recovery time. I believe the reports mentioned successful cases where health care institutions actually employed on site chiropractors. These would have been relatively large health care institutions but in those cases the institutions had on the payroll, on site, on the premises, a chiropractor to attend speedily to health care workers back injuries. With better prevention and speedier and more effective response to injuries we could cut down on the need for workers' compensation.

MR. CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Yes, Chairperson, I will yield to the minister if he has those numbers.

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, thank you, Mr. Chairman. There is one other set of numbers as well I have back at the office that I can provide to the hon. member which relates to the notion of how many longer term injured nurses are still on claim, dating back to 1987, how many people who were injured in 1987 who are still on claim, how many in 1988 who are still on claim. I do not have those with me but I can give her the other numbers and provide a copy of these documents if she would like.

Nurses in particular, at this point in time, looking at 1989-90-91-92 and the last numbers - I had these numbers as a result of a question that was asked - was up to November 20th. They are the most recent numbers, than there is a projection for the rest of the year. The number of lost time claims in 1989 for nurses provincially 332, for 1990 it increased to 389, for 1991 it started to decrease again back to 355 but it was still higher than 1989 and up to November 20th of 1992, and these are calender years so there were then just about six weeks left in the year, for this year it is down from 355 to 256 but based on the monthly experiences, they expect it to end at about 286 this year. So there's been a significant decline this year with the nurses in total lost time injuries.

The other statistic that we felt was important that we track were the sprains and strains. Because these were the back injuries, where the back injury prevention program is targeted. In the calendar year to date - it was compared then to 1991 and 1990 - for strains and sprains in 1990 there were a total - this is lost time accidents in all the sectors, and the service industry where the nurses are broken out separately - but the total is 3,588 in 1990, to that point in time in the year. 1991, it was 3,470. This year at that same point to date, 2,661. So the numbers have been declining.

There is another set of numbers that the member would be interested in, showing that the number of longer-term injured nurses in particular who are still on claim - there are still two or three who are on claim and have been since 1987. So these are very seriously injured nurses who are likely to be on claim maybe even for the rest of their lives. Then there's five or six from 1988. The number goes up to double digits I think in 1989. When we get into this year there are something in the range of forty-two or forty-three who were on claim sometime in 1992 and are still on claim to this date.

So the numbers continue now. It shows that as we go into the future the numbers drop off. Most of them do return to work of some sort but there are still those - and we tracked it back as far as 1987 - who are still on claim as a result of injuries suffered at their health care institution.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I assume the figures that he gave for nursing injuries were figures for claims started in each of those years. Three thirty two started in 1989. I'd be interested in knowing in the cumulative totals the number of nurses who were on workers' compensation regardless of when the claim was started.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The workers' compensation legislation before the House has a number of very serious flaws in principle, but a lot of particular flaws in that it purports to deal with the problem of the unfunded liabilities of the workers' compensation legislation. It attempts to deal with another series of administrative problems. It results in starting to treat workers' compensation as if it were some sort of program that is not in fact an entitlement but rather something that's being done as a part of the social engineering of this government. We want to put our hands in and disturb and stir up the operation and the relations between workers and employers. A long-standing system, workers' compensation, now being turned into a clawback program.

I would want to hear what the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations thinks of some of the things that are going on under the name of workers' compensation at the Commission under his care. When the minister returns - I guess I'll have to speak till he comes back.

There's a number of very serious problems, Mr. Chairman, at the Workers' Compensation Commission. Maybe some other hon. members have heard of these problems. You have an injured worker who is receiving compensation benefits and has these benefits taken back when the person is in receipt of Canada Pension Plan benefits.

Mr. Chairman, I am not quarrelling overmuch about that at the moment. In principle one can see that you are not going to get double benefits. You are not going to get workers' compensation benefits plus Canada Pension Plan benefits for the same disability.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) portion?

MR. HARRIS: The top up portion?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, the child portion.

MR. HARRIS: The child portion is what I want to take about.

We have a situation now, and I am after getting two or three calls on it just even today, where individuals are being notified - and let us take, for example, individuals in my constituency with two children at university - a person in receipt of workers' compensation benefits, also in receipt of Canada Pension Plan benefits for himself - for the parents. In addition to that, the Canada Pension Plan provides benefits for dependents, and the cheques are made out to the dependents. The cheques are made out to dependents - directly to the dependents - university students who are over eighteen or nineteen, and they receive the cheques in their own names.

What is happening is that income is being treated on the one hand by the Department of Education as income in the hands of the student, and affecting their ability to get student aid and grants. The Workers' Compensation Commission is now demanding, by letter sent out in the last couple of days, that copies of the cheque stubs be presented to Workers' Compensation, and they plan to deduct, dollar for dollar, the amounts of money received by these young people, as if that were income in the hands of the parents. That is a form of clawback that is unconscionable in the extreme.

This is the kind of thing that is going on. They are looking for every possible way of depriving injured workers and their families of the benefits that they can receive under other programs. They are going to take it out of their workers' compensation cheques. They are going to try and keep people down, and it has nothing to do with whether a person goes back to work.

We hear the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations in this House saying that we cannot have 100 per cent compensation because it is going to keep people from going back to work. If you are on the broad of your back in a hospital, you cannot move, whether you are getting 100 per cent compensation, 125 per cent compensation, or 50 per cent compensation, there is no incentive except good health that can send you back to work.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Now the Member for LaPoile may have a solution.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well I hope all hon. members are working on it, and I hope all hon. members, especially those opposite, are working on the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, because he is the one who can solve the problem by directing the Workers' Compensation crowd to stop ripping off the beneficiaries of workers' compensation, if that is what is happening. It appears that this is a gross injustice that is occurring, when the beneficiaries under the Canada Pension Plan benefits are having their benefits treated as income to the parents at the cost of workers' compensation benefits, Mr. Chairman. Now, that is something that the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations can do.

MR. RAMSAY: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: What the Member for La Poile is adding, and I thank him for it, is that the child benefit that is paid directly to the child is not a taxable benefit. So it is not even treated by the federal income tax system, which is not known, Mr. Chairman, to excuse very much income as non-taxable income, but the child benefit payable under the Canada Pension Plan is not a taxable benefit. It ought not to be treated as income to the parents of the individual and I cannot see, Mr. Chairman, why the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations can allow this to be clawed back from the workers' compensation benefit. It is having the effect of creating tremendous and enormous hardship for students, for their families, for parents, for dependents of disabled workers and Mr. Chairman, there is no amount of incentive that can make the lame walk, or the blind see, short of a miracle.

If a worker is genuinely disabled and unable to work then you are not providing an incentive for someone to return to work, who cannot, by depriving them of income. And I do not care what studies have been done by think tanks or right wing task forces or somebody who has a theoretical belief that injured workers can go back to work, if only you will starve them a little. If only you would take away some of their benefits. It might affect one or two cases, Mr. Chairman, it might affect 1 or 2 per cent, it might even affect 5 per cent. I will give you 5 per cent, maybe I will give you 10 per cent but is that a reason, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy, is that a reason to deprive the other 90 per cent of the benefits?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mines and Energy again, I am glad to hear that. The Minister of Mines and Energy has advised us that there are nine mines paying payroll tax, I hope that they are busy employing workers. According to the Minister of Mines and Energy he is no longer the Minister of Mine and Energy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: He says nine. So, Mr. Chairman, what they are doing with injured workers, Mr. Chairman, they are assuming for some theoretical - on some basis they have themselves convinced that there is a percentage of workers who would go back to work if you deprived everybody of an additional 10 or 15 or 20 per cent of their income, that some of those people would go back to work faster. That is all they are saying, Mr. Chairman, some of those people would go back to work sooner if you deprived all of them of their income and that is the kind of policy -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

I was saying earlier that among the problems that have contributed to the Workers' Compensation Commission financial crisis, are the absence of an effective occupational health and safety program, particularly in the case of government run health care institutions. Health care institution injuries have contributed substantially to the demands on the workers' compensation fund, both because of the numbers of those injuries and the severity and the duration of the injuries.

Secondly, Chairperson, there has not been an efficient response to injuries. This is so for a variety of reasons. Health care professionals, physicians and others, once they diagnose and treat, taking an inordinate amount of time to effectively treat many injured workers. Third, the Workers' Compensation Commission is inefficient. Chairperson, the same as the Member for Kilbride and others who have spoken in the debate, in the last couple of years I have had an unusual number of complaints from constituents about the way they have been dealt with by the Workers' Compensation Commission, about delays, run around.

Just six or seven weeks ago, I had a call from a constituent who was injured on the job and who had been to see two or three physicians, a family doctor and two specialists, one specialist in the Corner Brook area and another specialist in St. John's. Each of the physicians concluded that this individual was unable to return to work because of the injury he had suffered, but much to his surprise, after several weeks had elapsed from when he filed for workers' compensation, the commission turned him down. The reason is that the commission's medical evidence indicated that the worker was not entitled to compensation. Their medical evidence evidently was contradictory to the individual's medical opinions, the diagnoses that he had been given by three separate physicians.

The worker, quite reasonably asked the commission to show him their medical evidence. He wanted to see with his own eyes the documentation for the medical opinions being used by the commission to deny his claim and he was refused; the commission would not show him their own medical evidence. At that point he came to me, his MHA. I contacted the commission and as usual they asked for a letter from the claimant, a letter authorizing the commission to give me copies of material in his file. I promptly had that done up and faxed in. More than six weeks have gone by and the commission still has not responded.

The individual, shortly after seeing me, consulted a personal friend of his who is in private law practice in Corner Brook. That friend was out of town the day he contacted me in the first place. The practising lawyer contacted the Workers' Compensation Commission and requested the commission's medical evidence. More time went by.

The worker contacted NAPE, his union, and spoke to the NAPE representative in Corner Brook. NAPE phoned the review officer at the Workers' Compensation Commission and asked for the commission's medical evidence. The reply was that the commission would only give the medical evidence to one representative of the worker - one representative. The commission officer said that the MHA and a practising lawyer already had requests in, and they would not give the evidence to NAPE.

At that point, the NAPE officer contacted me. I phoned the commission and said: What is going on? The worker is entitled to see the material in his file. Why have you not released it? The commission employee, in a rather arrogant way, said: But there have been three requests. We cannot give this material to three. Do you realize there have been three requests? This claimant has been a busy man. I said: You have not given it to anyone. Just give it to one of us. In Corner Brook we will share it among ourselves. Then the reply was: Oh, we cannot release it until there has been an internal review.

Chairperson, I just finished representing another constituent on a workers' compensation review and appeal. That process took more than two years. More than two years went by from when he contacted me initially. Through an internal review, and then an appeal to the workers' compensation appeal tribunal, we got the decision last month. The decision was in favour of the worker. It took two years.

When you look at the bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the medical system, we have two bureaucracies to contend with - the workers' compensation bureaucracy and the medical bureaucracy - by the time workers get their due, what possibility is there for effective treatment? What reasonable chance is there for rehabilitation? Sometimes there are possibilities, but they are jeopardized by the inordinate delays, by the inefficiencies.

Chairperson, the system isn't serving the interests of deserving workers. Deserving workers who have been injured on the job, many times because of the negligence of employers or the carelessness of employers, many times because of the shortcomings of government as an employer. In the case of health care, because the government hasn't put enough effort into preventing accidents, and because the government has been cutting staff. Physically there is more burden on nurses and health care workers now than ever before.

The system is not serving the legitimate interests of injured workers but neither is it serving the interests of employers. Employers are having to pay more and more premiums. Of course the premiums are levied on employers in the Province on the basis of their workforce. The number of people in the workforce in this Province has been shrinking. The number of employers in this Province has been shrinking.

Thank you, Chairperson.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh my God, no!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

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

MS. VERGE: This is 1960s style.

AN HON. MEMBER: This is a filibuster! This is a filibuster!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman -

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

The Chair has recognised the hon. Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In my second ten minutes to speak on this Bill I want to ask the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations to tell us if he will - he's given the justification for taking away benefits from all injured workers because somebody told him that it decreases statistically the length of workers' claims.

MR. REID: Just think about all the money you're going to make now representing all of those people.

MR. HARRIS: Now that might be, Mr. Chairman. That might be, it might be, and I want the minister to tell us if he can what percentage....

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: If you were the minister, Mr. -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: If the Member for St. John's South were the minister he wouldn't know the time, let alone be able to tell the time.

I ask the minister to tell us what studies he's talking about. Does he have any of these studies? Tell us what percentage of workers would actually return to work if you reduced the benefits for all. As I said before, I'll give him 5 per cent, maybe 10 per cent, who might go back to work earlier if they had benefits of less than 100 per cent.

It's not going to affect the person, Mr. Chairman, who can't go back to work. You can't make someone go back to work if they're incapable of working, if they don't have the ability to work because of a disability. You have examples, such as were related by the Member for Fogo, of individuals being forced to go back to work by the workers' compensation system itself, who ended up losing their arms, losing their health as a result of being forced back to do work that they can't already do.

I don't see how depriving 100 per cent of injured workers of money is fair and reasonable, if it only results in 5 per cent or 10 per cent of the people going back to work earlier who otherwise would not work.

Mr. Chairman, the report of the committee, and I am not talking about the majority report here now, they identified half-a-dozen reasons why the claims were lengthened and they had to do with the inefficiencies of the system, the inability of the system to respond to the claimants, the inability to get rehabilitation programs going, the inability to get proper medical reports and medical assessments done; all of these were factors which dealt with the increase in the length of the claims.

Now, why does not the government just deal with those inefficiencies and see what results that has on the claims experience? No, Mr. Chairman, they are not satisfied to do that; they want to take away benefits because of some cockeyed theory that you can influence 5 per cent or 10 per cent of the people by destroying the benefits of all of the injured workers and that is the kind of hard-hearted approach to social engineering that the Liberal government has undertaken with respect to this Bill.

I suppose that when we get to the clause by clause analysis we can look at the individual section, but there is a particular section that may be coming up at ten to six tomorrow morning and when it comes up I will speak to it then, perhaps -

AN HON. MEMBER: No, you will not.

MR. HARRIS: It does not make any difference to me, Mr. Chairman.

The Workers' Compensation Act is supposed to protect injured workers and it has another feature which is part of the scheme of workers' compensation from the time it began, and that is, that if you have a workers' compensation claim you cannot sue your employer or fellow-worker or, in our scheme you cannot sue somebody else who is covered by workers' compensation. But there is an issue having to do with third party claims, and third party claims involving potential lawsuits against somebody else, the manufacturer of equipment for example; the driver of a vehicle insured which runs into you as a worker when you are in the course of your employment but the other individual is covered by private liability insurance.

These third party claims have always been permitted but there were changes made to the legislation which allowed an individual to collect workers' compensation while they were pursuing the third party claim -

MR. REID: Who is that good-looking man near to you, Rick?

MR. HARRIS: - while an injured worker was pursuing a third party claim, they could collect compensation. Even while they were thinking about whether they would pursue this third party claim or not, they could collect compensation. The Member for Eagle River will know of an incident involving -

AN HON. MEMBER: Jack, what are you talking about?

MR. HARRIS: - the Member for Eagle River would know of a claim involving a number of workers employed by the Labrador Shrimp Company or working from the Labrador Shrimp Company who were killed in a plane crash.

AN HON. MEMBER: What does that have to do with the Bill?

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Carbonear may know nothing about it, but it was a very tragic accident involving workers - injured workers - workers who were killed, in fact, and their dependents.

Now the member says: What does that have to do with the Bill? What do injured workers and fatally injured workers and tragedies such as that have to do with workers' compensation? If the Member for Carbonear knows nothing about that, then he should not be here.

MR. REID: And you claim you do? You never worked in your life.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I ask the hon. Member for Carbonear to restrain himself. The hon. member is not in his seat.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It has been suggested, Mr. Chairman, that the Member for Carbonear is drunk with power. That is an unfortunate thing that happens when you have members with a majority. As the Government House Leader said on the radio in the House the other day: We have a majority and we intend to use it to get our legislation passed.

We are here at 10:07 tonight. We have been here since 2:00 this afternoon. We will perhaps be here until 10:07 tomorrow morning, dealing with this legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) hobnailed boots.

MR. HARRIS: With the hobnailed boots.

The members opposite have a majority, but when somebody wants to talk in this House about the effect of this legislation on injured workers and the families of workers who are killed in the course of their employment, and is trying to debate this matter, they should be given the chance to do that.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

This is a very important piece of legislation, and had the government referred it to a legislation review committee last Summer, or early in the Fall, and had a committee of seven members of the House - members from all parties - had a chance to look at it carefully, had the Member for Menihek had an opportunity to ask the questions and get the information he pried out of the minister here tonight, had public service unions, other unions, private sector unions, workers, the Association of Injured Nurses, employers, the employers council and others concerned about workers' compensation, had a chance to look at the contents of this Bill and have their say, we would not have to be here tonight spending the time that we are in clause by clause analysis. But, Chairperson, because the legislation was not given to a committee for analysis and public hearings we would be irresponsible if we let the government push this through, of course that is the tactic of the new Government House Leader. He is counting on wearing down opposition members. He is planning to use the power, the tyranny of the majority to shove through his legislative program, a legislative program which includes about six bills that were only printed and distributed this week but, Chairperson, he has another think coming for him, we do not wear down that easily. What he is doing, of course, is reverting to the practices of the 70's and the 60's when he began his political career.

I have been a member of this House now for fourteen years, this is my fourth term and I have never sat through an all night sitting of the House of Assembly. I can remember a couple of times during the Peckford administration sitting until one, two or three a.m. in the morning and that was bad. What the Government House Leader is planning to do is return to the bad days of the 70's and the 60's. We have been here now over eight hours straight, no break for supper, no break whatsoever. Now, the Member for Placentia may have had a break for supper and other refreshments but most of the rest of us have not had a decent break. I did not even get to finish my chicken, the take-out chicken out in the caucus room. I had to rush back to speak on the amendments to the Highway Traffic Act. Chairperson, if the Government House Leader thinks that he is going to wear us down, if he thinks he is going to bully us, if he thinks he is going to accomplish more by forcing us into a marathon session, expecting us to get tired and give up and go home, he has another think coming for him. I have a lot of endurance, Chairperson, and when I see somebody trying to take advantage - when I see someone trying to use his power unfairly then that is when I dig in.

Chairperson, the Government House Leader is asking for this by the way he has behaved over the last few weeks. He started this sitting of the House of Assembly on November 2nd unprepared. Members can cast their minds back to the first couple of weeks in November when the most the government could come up with was the Puffin Bill. The House had been closed since the Spring and when they finally got us back here what did they have ready for us to debate? An Act to make the puffin the official bird, the avian symbol of Newfoundland and Labrador. That is what they had ready. They talked about this Bill - amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act - but that Bill was not ready. That Bill was not printed when we got back here on November 2nd. They had the shops closing amendments printed, and that had gone to a legislation review committee but, apart from the Puffin Bill, that was about it. We had to wait until the end of November or early December when the mini-Budget was brought down before we saw bills of any substance.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) the furniture you bought in Carbonear.

MS. VERGE: The furniture I bought in Carbonear the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is asking about. I never bought any furniture in Carbonear. I do not know what he is imagining.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes you did.

AN HON. MEMBER: Wicker furniture.

MS. VERGE: I do not own any wicker furniture. I have no idea what the minister is asking about.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MS. VERGE: The Chairperson is quite correctly calling us to order because the minister, once again, has strayed from the topic of the Bill. Earlier he got into his animal noises and now he is into wicker furniture.

Chairperson, as I said before, if the government had put this Bill out to committee; if members of the House, sitting on a committee, could have gone through it carefully and consulted the public, we could have had full discussions. We could have had a forum to make our comments; but we were denied that opportunity because this Bill was not even printed until a month or so ago. So the only opportunity that we have had to debate the Bill, to talk about the Bill, to get clarification about the government's intentions, has been debate on second reading and now Committee of the Whole, clause by clause.

Chairperson, this is a major change to the workers' compensation program. There is a problem with our workers' compensation program, but this is not the solution. This is imposing hardships on injured workers with legitimate claims. It is going to be taking away benefits that they have been used to receiving, that they have every right to continue to get, that they and their families have made plans, counting on, that they and their families have bought houses and entered into mortgage arrangements depending on. This is going to make life very, very difficult for some of the injured workers who have come to see me - injured nurses in the Corner Brook area in particular.

Now, contrary to what the minister is trying to hoodwink people into believing, the nurses' compensation benefits are going to diminish.

AN HON. MEMBER: When?

MS. VERGE: When, he asks. He and his colleagues probably will not get a chance to implement their devious plans because the nurses and other voters will see to that; but what they have in mind is treating nurses the same as other workers, and that is cutting them considerably from the level of compensation benefits they have been getting.

Chairperson, at the same time as they are setting about cutting injured workers benefits, they have not brought in an effective occupational health and safety program - not even for their own employees - not even for public sector employees. They have not improved the service of the Workers' Compensation Commission.

My impression, from listening to constituents who have come to me over the last couple of years, is that the level of service has deteriorated. The commission seems to be slower and less efficient and more cumbersome than ever. The commission has layer upon layer of bureaucracy. Claimants have to be extremely persistent to succeed.

I talked earlier about a case involving a constituent of mine, a resident of Humber East, who came to see me two years ago after he had been turned down for benefits. It took almost exactly two years before we succeeded in getting a ruling, a decision, from the Workers' Compensation appeal tribunal in his favour. First we had to write letters. It took about six months to get an internal review scheduled. They wouldn't allow us to go straight to the external appeal.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I was saying, the provisions of the Workers' Compensation Act have always permitted third party actions. That means actions against people who aren't a part of the workers' compensation. It could be the driver or owner of an automobile who's in a situation where the person is not covered by workers' comp. being the cause of an action where a worker is covered by the Workers' Compensation Act and a lawsuit is commenced, and can be commenced, against a third party.

It can be a situation such as the one I was referring to where a number of fishermen from the Labrador coast were killed in a plane crash on the way back from Greenland. The possibility existed for an action against the manufacturer of the aircraft, the charter airline -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: They're trawlermen. They were working on the shrimp boats, Mr. Chairman. They were flying back from Greenland and the charter plane crashed. In fact, it crashed in Greenland.

There was an action possible against the charter airline, against the pilot, against the navigation people, against the manufacturer of the aircraft. These are third party actions. Fairly typical in these situations, tragic though they are. Sometimes the choice that a family may have to make very quickly is whether or not they want to claim workers' compensation benefits so they can feed their family, look after the family needs, and immediately replace the source of income that they had.

Now under the existing legislation before the amendments the worker can immediately collect workers' compensation benefits and then go ahead and decide whether or not, with proper legal advice, it's worth pursuing a legal action against the persons who might be responsible for the action. Whether it's the manufacturer of the plane - sometimes the manufacturer of equipment in a factory that can be sued. Under the existing legislation the worker can do both. You can collect and then you can pursue the action. If you are successful in pursuing the action you have of course to reimburse Workers' Compensation for what they've paid you in benefits. During that period of time you or your family are able to collect the benefits along the way, so that you have a source of regular income.

What the current legislation is doing is saying instead of having the right to sue and collect compensation, you must elect whether to sue or collect compensation. An application for compensation is considered an election not to sue. Once you collect your first cent of compensation, you cannot sue. You do not have the right to sue anymore because it is taken away by the Workers' Compensation Act. Under existing legislation you can sue third parties.

Let us say for example if a worker is out delivering something on behalf of his employer and the worker is injured as a result of a car accident with somebody who is not covered by compensation and that car owner is covered by insurance, the worker can go and collect workers' compensation because that worker was in the course of his employment doing deliveries but they also have a right of action against the third party. Section 45 of the Workers' Compensation Act says: where a worker sustains an injury in the course of his employment etc... the worker or his or her dependents, where they are entitled to compensation may claim compensation and may bring an action. The minister is bringing in legislation which changes that 'and' to 'or'. So you have a choice, either you bring an action or you claim compensation.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well there may not be a third party action against the Workers' Compensation Commission, you cannot sue the Workers' Compensation Commission.

MR. HOGAN: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well, I think that is being changed now. The minister may explain that. There is a second section there which specifically says that you can sue anybody who has a personal liability insurance policy and perhaps the minister can explain that. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs is referring to some -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Well that is a different point but the minister says that you cannot sue third parties. I do not think the minister is right. Perhaps the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations can elaborate on that but I do not think that is right. I think there is a right to sue, it is written into the Act and there may be some technical point involving a particular car owner or something like that that may be as the result of the court action. But what is happening here now, the minister is saying you have to choose right away, you have to either collect compensation or sue.

Now, the minister's rationale for this, and he has told me this privately, is that the Workers' Compensation Commission is subrogated to these rights. Once you choose compensation, the Workers' Compensation Commission could go ahead and sue the third parties. If the Workers' Compensation Commission gets more money than the compensation they give it to the injured worker and if they get less than sobeit. The minister says that the reason for changing this is so that the Workers' Compensation Commission can go ahead and sue to recover what they have paid out. Now, Mr. Chairman, I think what he is doing here is very wrong. You could, Mr. Chairman, easily do what is done under the Department of Health Act and insist that if people start an action they also include the claim for workers' compensation benefits, you could do that. You could also pass legislation that gave a right, a direct and separate right to sue, for workers' compensation to sue for its own recovery of benefits. But what they are doing here, Mr. Chairman, is using the wrong tool. The government is saying: well our answer to this problem is remove the right to sue against third parties. It is removing the right to sue without creating a responsibility on the other side of Workers' Compensation Commission actually starting a suit.

So, a person who may be desperate to receive compensation goes ahead and takes it because of the short-term need and then they find out that some lawyer hired by the Workers' Compensation Commission, whether it is an in-house lawyer or an out-house lawyer, somebody has decided that they do not think it is worthwhile suing, or somebody for some other reason fails to take an action and the individual who has been forced into accepting the workers' compensation benefits along the way is then prevented from suing a third party, which may give far more in benefits, because, Mr. Chairman, let us look at what is happening here now.

If you yourself were in a car accident and you were in the course of your employment covered by workers' compensation, if you had the right to sue an insurance company representing the driver and you lose your income, you can get 100 per cent of your income recovered. You can get money for pain and suffering, you can get money for rehabilitation, you can get money for loss of enjoyment of life. You can get all of those things from a lawsuit against a third party automobile insurer. This is far more benefits than you can get from Workers' Compensation, far greater benefits than you can get from Workers' Compensation if you are still maintaining the right to sue.

If you sued the driver of an automobile you can get your full 100 per cent loss of wages, you can get pain and suffering, you can get loss of future income, you can get rehabilitation expenses, you can get household expenses, you can get all of that. Now the Member for Baie Verte says the Workers' Compensation cannot afford that. We are being told that but we are also being told that if an individual makes a claim for compensation he cannot go and sue the driver of an automobile if they elect to collect compensation in the meantime because they need the income on a day to day basis.

What I am suggesting to the Member for Baie Verte, is to let them go ahead and sue the automobile driver and collect what they can from them and pay back the workers' compensation, they have to do it anyway. But, Mr. Chairman, I do not profess to have all the answers, but I do have some experience in suing people as a result of automobile accidents and I know what you can sue someone for under an insurance policy, and I know that the kinds of things you can get back are far greater than the workers' compensation benefits, and we all know why that is; that is because there is a trade off that exists with Workers' Compensation, but the concern here is not the difference between Workers' Compensation and what you can get if you sue a third party. The concern here is what happens when somebody is forced to take workers' compensation in the short-term and loses the right to sue and the Workers' Compensation Commission does not take it up. What control does the individual have then, Mr. Chairman? It is gone. It is gone and the injured worker has no control over the action and the dependents of a person who is killed in a workplace accident have no control over what happens after they elect to accept compensation because they may be required to do so for financial reasons.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Carbonear asked if I ever worked at Long Harbour. No, Mr. Chairman, I never worked at Long Harbour.

MR. REID: (Inaudible) Churchill Falls?

MR. HARRIS: Never worked in Churchill Falls.

MR. REID: Labrador City?

MR. HARRIS: No, I didn't work in Labrador City. I worked in the City of Toronto. I spent some time working on the long shore in the city of Toronto. Digging ditches, as a matter of fact. With a pick and shovel digging ditches in the City of Toronto, Mr. Chairman. So I have some idea what work is all about. I've had many different jobs in my lifetime before I took up the practice of law. So I have an understanding of the kind of dangers that people are subjected to.

One of the most dangerous jobs is digging ditches. Because down in those ditches you have no control over the walls and whether they're going to collapse. Many a construction worker has been killed by the walls of a ditch collapsing and crushing those who are down in it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. HARRIS: That's how it happens, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: New regulations are designed to prevent it from happening.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Okay. The fact that a company was fined $8,000 means that it's still happening today and it can still happen tomorrow, Mr. Chairman. Somebody can be injured or killed as a result of that kind of thing happening this very day.

So it's important that we recognise that when something like that happens that a person or a person's family has to be able to proceed to collect compensation and not be denied other rights because they're forced to accept compensation along the way.

I'd like the minister to address that. I've offered him an alternative solution. The alternative solution is to give the Workers' Compensation Commission its own direct right of action to collect benefits. That can be done by the statutes of this Province, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: By leave!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MR. CHAIRMAN: No leave.

On motion, clauses 1 through 8, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall Clause 9 carry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

MR. ROBERTS: I'm sorry. Back to Clause 8?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible) 9.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh. Well, let me move an amendment first and then (Inaudible). There is an amendment to Clause 9 which hon. gentlemen on all sides -

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I propose the following amendment, that:

Subclause 9(1) be deleted and the following substituted:

"9.(1) Subsection 45(1) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

45.(1) Where a worker sustains an injury in the course of his or her employment in circumstances which entitle him or her or his or her dependents to an action

(a) against some persons other than an employer or worker;

(b) against an employer or against a worker of that employer where the injury occurred otherwise than in the conduct of the operations usual in or incidental to the industry carried on by the employer; or

(c) where Section 44.1 applies,

the worker or his or her dependents, where they are entitled to compensation, may claim compensation or may bring an action..."

The explanatory note is this: "This amendment to the Bill would amend the existing section of the Act by adding paragraph (c) which would permit workers who could take an action under Section 44.1 to choose between compensation or bringing an action.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, just clarification. This means then that a person who's injured on the job, have a choice. Assuming they went and claimed an action, initiated one, but that takes an unusual period of time, initially. In fact, I have a constituent who is in the process now, and it has happened since last January and he has failed to get a settlement at this point in time. It means that Workers' will pay them up until a settlement is made. It is then the intention of workers' to take back any money that would accrue to that person, in that ten, eleven, or twelve month period from that settlement, is that what the intent is?

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

MR. GRIMES: Mr. Chairman, the whole notion here is to tie in Section 45 and 44 which is where the amendment is in 'C' and the change from 'and' to 'or' is clearly pointed out, that the injured worker would make an election within six months as to whether or not they want to claim compensation or initiate an action. The necessity for 'C' is also in the case of liability insurance that we have now allowed them to take. There is no statutory barrier where they can take an action against the liability insurance if they think that is in their best interest rather than take compensation. The combination of the two changes in Section 44 and 45 than subrogates the commission to take the action to try to recover the money through the third party action. They will get the money if they are successful in their challenge. What will happen then is that, if there is any additional money secured through the action, above and beyond what the injured worker is entitled to under compensation, the provision spells out clearly that the additional money will also be paid to the injured worker.

The very least that the worker can do under this election, if they choose to claim compensation and then subrogate in the action taken by the commission, is to get what they would be entitled to under compensation. If there is any additional monies available as a result of the third party action taken by the commission on behalf of the injured worker, the additional benefit, spelled out in these changes, also accrues to the worker.

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

MR. WINSOR: If the third party action was initiated and was successful, than Workers' will take back any benefits they had paid out to that person in that period of time, is that what the minister is saying?

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

MR. GRIMES: The injured worker cannot avail of workers' compensation and anything that is achieved through a suit. There is no taking it back. They would have received the money and than from the settlement, if the settlement only allows for what was there in compensation, than there will be no additional payment to the injured worker. They will lose nothing, they will get what they are entitled to under workers' compensation. If there is additional monies it will be paid to the worker once the settlement takes out the expenses related to the proceeding with the suit.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, let us put it in figures, dollars and cents, maybe the minister will tell us then. We will assume that from Workers', from the time an injury occurred until the third party action was completed, someone had received $10,000 from Workers' Compensation and then through the third party action they received $25,000 because of an action that had been taken, will they get $25,000 or will they get $15,000?

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

MR. GRIMES: Clearly, the intent, Mr. Chairman, and I understand that the hon. Member for Fogo would have read that as he went through the Bill because he did go through it in some detail, with those kinds of numbers, since the injured worker had already received $10,000 from Workers' Compensation and if there is a total settlement of $25,000, they will receive an additional $15,000 as a result of the settlement.

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

MR. WINSOR: So, Mr. Chairman, the minister has confirmed that it is not only Clawback Clyde, it is Clawback Roger too. Now, Mr. Chairman, he is going to take back the little bit of money that accrued to an injured worker. I want to ask the minister another question then. Because that is not money that comes from Workers', that third party settlement, how is that different if Johnson Insurance, that is the underwriter for a particular vehicle, how is that different when you pay in that amount of money, or he's got a private insurance that he pays into, under the workers' compensation regulations as they presently exist? If an individual has a private insurance that they pay into then workers' benefits will not be affected. Am I right in saying that? Will the minister confirm that?

Where you're paying into a private insurance, workers' benefits are not affected. Why will they now be affected when it is not costing Workers', it's coming from that outside insurance? Very similar to the personal insurance company. Not costing Workers' anything. Why are you clawing back from the injured worker?

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

MR. GRIMES: Yes, Mr. Chairman. The characterization of this change as a clawback, I don't understand why anyone would portray it as such. Because in fact what the injured worker is entitled to is their maximum benefit under workers' compensation. Which will not only accrue for the period of time while the action is being taken but continue on as long as they, under the workers' compensation system, are entitled to a benefit. It doesn't cease with the action. They'll continue on because they are a claimant. If there is additional money they continue to receive their benefits from workers' compensation for the period of time that they would be entitled to it whether an action was taken or not.

If there is additional money above and beyond what they are entitled to in workers' compensation secured through the agreement there is in fact a windfall, extra money for the injured worker, who doesn't have to go through any of the time, effort or expense of pursuing a suit. But in fact, if they take the option they're doubly protected, is what I would portray this particular one, as directly opposed to the characterization given to it by the hon. member opposite.

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

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, I have to go back to the minister again. I want to ask the minister how the insurance policy on a vehicle paid for by an insurance company, underwritten by Lloyds, Prudential, I don't care who underwrote it, how is that different than the insurance policy that an individual purchased from the fellow who's going around door to door selling insurance, and you bought an insurance program in the event of death or accident or disability? You're going to take that money that he got from the vehicle and if you bought a personal insurance you're not going to include it. Why are you making chalk of one and cheese of the other?

The fact of the matter is that what you're doing is you're being slippery, you're being conniving again, and taking from the injured worker of this Province what is due to him. What you're doing again is attacking the worker. The Minister of Labour Relations is devious in this. He won't come clean and tell what he's doing, and that is he's clawing back money that an injured worker would receive. More particularly, what he's doing in this is he's going to force a worker to take this to court, to go through all this trouble of trying to collect. Then at the end, after he gets his settlement, he's going to take every cent from him. Mr. Chairman, that's the intent of what the minister has done in this. It's a wrong amendment and the minister should be ashamed of himself.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

Now are you going to respond to that?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: If the hon. members opposite will listen I will tell you how stunned you are.

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

It's been ruled in this House before that "stunned" and "stupid" are unparliamentary and I....

MR. HARRIS: I recall the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs saying in Question Period the other day that he was not as stunned as he looked. I did not recall him being asked to withdraw those remarks. I am not so sure they are unparliamentary, but if they are unparliamentary I will withdraw them, Mr. Chairman.

I think you can refer to all hon. members as being stunned, as long as it is not directed at a particular member. I believe that is probably alright.

In any event, what I just heard the minister say, he referred to the extra benefits over and above workers' compensation as being a windfall for the injured worker. That is exactly the attitude that the Workers' Compensation Commission might be likely and tempted to take about all of this.

I refer you to the problem that you might see. What happens if the Workers' Compensation Commission does not want to bother? Well I refer hon. members to Clause 9.(2) (9). It says, as follows: The commission has exclusive discretion to determine whether it shall take an action, release its claim for an action or compromise the right of action, and its decision is final.

Final, Mr. Chairman - no appeal, no rights, no nothing. If the attitude of the minister that anything over and above workers' compensation is a windfall - if that is his attitude - I am frightened to death to hear what the attitude might be of somebody down at the Workers' Compensation Commission who decides: Oh, I do not think we will bother suing in this case, or there is not enough in it for the Workers' Compensation Commission. There might be a lot in it for the claimant, but there may well come a situation where the interests of the Workers' Compensation Commission and the interests of the injured worker are very, very different indeed.

Mark my words on this one: There are going to be a very large number of tremendous hardship cases come out of this section of the act. They are going to come out of this section of the act because when you take away an individual's right to sue - third parties now - we are not talking about people covered by the system at all; but you are taking away an individual's right to sue somebody else who is already paying a big, fat premium to an insurance company. Some third party who has been forced by law, and by good sense, to have to pay a big premium to some insurance company to cover the damages that that person could inflict on someone else, they are being let off the hook, and it can be coming out of the fund; and if the minister regards anything over and above workers' compensation as a windfall, then he is only -

AN HON. MEMBER: Come on. It was just a word, boy. He did not mean anything by that.

MR. HARRIS: He did not mean anything by it. Well, let me tell you, if a worker is being deprived of the top up, deprived of full compensation, being deprived of the right to pain and suffering loss, which he does not get from workers' compensation - and that is rightly so - but he is being deprived of all of that from a third party, deprived of actual loss of income, deprived of pain and suffering compensation -

AN HON. MEMBER: So what do you want?

MR. HARRIS: What I want Mr. Chairman, and I move, is that Subclause 9.(1) be amended by deleting the word 'or' from the second last line and substituting the word 'and'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: That is what I want, Mr. Chairman, to amend Subclause -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has difficulty if people are shouting. I am trying to hear the hon. member.

MR. HARRIS: I move, Mr. Chairman, that subclause 9.1 be amended by deleting the word 'or' from the second last line and substituting the word 'and'. Now this is an amendment to an amendment, Mr. Chairman. An amendment has already been introduced by the minister.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Could the Chair see the amendment?

Okay, the amendment to the amendment is in order.

MR. MURPHY: We will bring in the fault system.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Now, the Member for St. John's South says, bring back the fault system.

MR. MURPHY: No, I did not say bring it back - it has never been.

MR. FUREY: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, on a point of order.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, I wonder could we have a copy of the amendment to the amendment to the original bill, because we are now debating the amendment to the amendment, correct?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is correct.

MR. FUREY: Okay, I would like to have a look at it.

MR. ROBERTS: Do you want the question or do you want to debate it?

MR. HARRIS: Debate it.

MR. ROBERTS: Carry on, no problem, no problem at all. It will be defeated, but debate it at whatever length we want.

MR. MATTHEWS: We don't need your permission.

MR. HARRIS: I thought, Mr. Chairman, that this was a democratic House, and that, sitting in Committee, each person had a right to vote but perhaps the minister is just predicting what might happen, instead of telling us how he is going to tell his members to vote.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), question to the amendment to the amendment?

MR. HARRIS: No, I want to debate it.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I would like to debate it a little.

MR. HARRIS: What the amendment to the amendment does, Mr. Chairman, is, it permits an individual to both claim compensation and sue.

MR. MURPHY: And sue?

MR. HARRIS: - and sue. And the result of that was, that if you collect -

MR. MURPHY: All these guys over here are going to have to sue.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) there is support.

MR. MURPHY: Alright, turn on them and they will support you.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I know you know a lot about it, now!

MR. MURPHY: I know a lot more about it than you do.

MR. HARRIS: What I do know, Mr. Chairman, is, once you take away an individual's right to sue and give all those rights to the Workers' Compensation Commission and give the exclusive right to the Workers' Compensation Commission to do what it likes with those lawsuits, there are going to be problems. So, in fact, what the amendment to the amendment does is keep the current system. It keeps the current system that allows the individuals to carry on a court action and if it is successful, to pay the Workers' Compensation Commission, and if they are unsuccessful, to take their lumps. That is what it does. But what we have here, is the Workers' Compensation Commission saying: We are not going to let you sue the third party if you come and collect one dollar from us.

If you come and collect one dollar from us we are letting the insurance company off the hook unless we see fit to sue and to carry the action. Now, Mr. Chairman, we are not here to debate the fault system versus the workers' compensation system. I stand fully behind the workers' compensation system and it protects all those who are covered by it. We are talking about third parties here now, I say to the Member for St. John's South, third parties, people who are covered by liability insurance, people with car insurance, people like the hon. member, who pays a hefty premium for car insurance, and so he should. That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about third parties who are already paying insurance, but the question is whether or not the individual, the injured worker, or his family is going to be able to take that action against the insurance company and get the greater benefits that are associated with it, because you can get 100 per cent compensation. You can't get it from Workers' Compensation after you guys have ripped out the guts of the workers' compensation benefits for injured workers. You can't let people take those benefits and go after the full amount from the insurance company.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: I think the Member for St. John's South had best stay in his seat tonight because he is going to get himself in trouble.

MR. MURPHY: A point of order.

I just want to know if the Member for St. John's East is threatening the Member for St. John's South. Why should the Member for St. John's South stay in his seat?

MR. ROBERTS: Nobody else is.

MR. MURPHY: That is right. I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that the Member for St. John's East stay in his seat, because I feel that what the Member for St. John's East is addressing now is in total conflict.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for St. John's East. There is no point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. What we are talking about here is individual rights and whether or not we are going to change this legislation to take away the rights that people have right now. I do not know whether or not the Member for St. John's South has some kind of lobby from insurance companies to save him a few bucks. I do not know whether or not the insurance companies are lobbying to save him some money. You go ahead and you pay them a big premium and when the insured goes and has an accident -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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

MR. MURPHY: I have just a few remarks, because what is happening here right now with this amendment is that, for my money, somebody is setting something up. I see somebody setting something up here right now.

Now, let me tell this hon. House about fault and no fault situations. The amendment that is proposed by the Member for St. John's East is saying simply this, Mr. Chairman: Workers' compensation shall be paid to an injured worker at the rate of 75 per cent of net; however, it would give the worker the third party right to sue.

MR. HARRIS: Take nothing in the meantime.

MR. MURPHY: Ah, nothing in the meantime. Now, what the hon. member is saying is: Let me address - let the legal field say: Don't take anything, I will get you 30 per cent of the settlement. That is what the hon. member is saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No. The hon. member is saying he wants both worlds and he can't have both worlds. He cannot have a fault system and a no fault system. If he wants to protect his profession what he should do is write a letter on behalf of his firm to the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations suggesting that we have a no fault system. The United States of America have that system in place, where you have a fault and a no fault system.

Now, let me suggest to this hon. House, Mr. Chairman, that it has cost the insurance companies, and moreso those who pay the premiums, an amount of money that is unbelievable, and the claims are unbelievable, and the dockets in the courts -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No. The Member for St. John's East knows only too well that the dockets in the United States in the courts are two and three years away. Now, let me be more realistic, Mr. Chairman; in Great Britain where Mother Parliament exists, where this Parliament comes from, they have what they call a fault system. In other words, there is no workers' compensation. The employee has an opportunity to sue his employer for an unsafe condition.

MR. HARRIS: That is not true.

MR. MURPHY: That is true. The hon. member knows it is true.

MR. HARRIS: Not true.

MR. MURPHY: I am fed up with the hon. member protecting his fraternity. That's what I am fed up with.

MR. HARRIS: Not true.

MR. MURPHY: It is true. The day will come when the hon. member will know too well - and let me give this hon. House the experience of - I only know too well that in Great Britain, when a worker is injured on the job, he has to have a lawyer to represent him and go and sue his employer.

Now, let me give you the experience, Mr. Chairman, and let me give this hon. House the experience - of all the workers in Great Britain who are injured on the job, who take their employers to court, it happens to be 10 per cent of the injured workers. Ten per cent of those who are injured on the job take their employer to court, and of the 10 per cent, 10 per cent win their case. So the reality is that 1 per cent of the injured workers in Great Britain, where we have accepted the parliamentary system, end up receiving from the employer, or the employer's broker who has taken the insurance on his behalf.

Now, what the hon. member is doing - and I smell a rat here.

AN HON. MEMBER: A rat!

MR. MURPHY: A rat. I smell a rat. Not tit for tat, a rat. That's what I smell, Mr. Chairman. I smell a rat in what the hon. member is saying. I think the hon. member should come clean and tell this hon. House what he is up to. I will tell you what he is up to: he wants it both ways, and you can't have it both ways. If you have a fault system, then you have a fault system; if you have a no fault system, then you have a no fault system. The hon. member, somewhere, is trying to stickhandle in between.

MR. HARRIS: Sit down! Sit down!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MURPHY: Now, I get a charge out of my socialist friend, alright. He only responds when you tell him the truth. When he throws barbs, when he comes back at you with: 'Sit down, boy! Sit down, boy!' the reality is, he is now hearing the truth. He doesn't like that. He stands up every day on these social issues and my hon. colleagues from Eagle River and from Port de Grave have not given the hon. member access to the floor. He can't respond on statements from ministers. So he has a little barb - he is sitting on a barb. As a matter of fact, I think he is sitting on a whole wire fence.

What the hon. member is doing tonight is badgering on a piece of legislation.

AN HON. MEMBER: 'Harrising'.

MR. MURPHY: Yes, the hon. member is 'Harrising' a piece of legislation that is forced on this government. As I said earlier in response to the Member for Fogo -

MR. R. AYLWARD: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Kilbride, on a point of order.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I don't have a copy of our Standing Orders in front of me, but I seem to remember, from the days when I was in the Chair, that according to our Standing Orders we are supposed to adjourn debate at 11:00 p.m. I can't find it right here now, but if I can get -

MR. MATTHEWS: It starts at 6:00 p.m.

MR. R. AYLWARD: At 6 p.m., Mr. Chairman, except on Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. Speaker leaves the Chair until 8:00 p.m.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't be making a fool of yourself now.

MR. R. AYLWARD: It's not the first time and it won't be the last time I ever did, Mr. Chairman. But I ask -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: It is a hard job to make a fool of yourself in here, Mr. Chairman. I just would like the Chairman's ruling on our Standing Order which says that the House should be automatically adjourned at 11:00 p.m. when we sit after 6:00 p.m.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The motion has already been put earlier in the day, that the House not adjourn at 10:00 p.m. We have been into the Late Show since 6:00 p.m., and the motion having been put that we not adjourn at 10:00 p.m., my understanding is that we will go on until sometime tomorrow.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for a very honest ruling.

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

MR. MURPHY: Now, if the hon. the Member for St. John's East is against my speaking against him or some other folks, and I should not say him, I suppose, because I don't know; I saw an ad in the paper today that said he was disassociating - but there is a fraternity in this city and other cities throughout this Province that are going to line their pockets from what the hon. member is saying, they are going to line their pockets.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: I do not care about who - the hon. member knows what I am talking about and he is standing protecting his fraternity, that is what he is doing.

There are three kinds of bars in this city, Mr. Chairman, there is the Bar of the House, the Bar, and the other down on George Street and I am not sure where the hon. member is because as I told him the other day and I will tell the Member for Fertilizer over there, that he is making no more sense than the Member for St. John's East. What the Member for St. John's East is trying to do tonight is, he is trying to set up a system of fault and no fault, and that is extremely dangerous to the workers of this Province. I commend the minister for his legislation. It wasn't easy - I commend him.

The Member for Humber East sits over there, smugly, after being gone because she knows the Member for St. John's East will carry the torch. She goes out and he comes in, and we have watched this all night. She smugly sits in her seat and agrees with the Member for St. John's East because she also knows that the words of the Member for St. John's East will protect her and her fraternity.

MS. VERGE: My fraternity? I don't have a fraternity.

MR. NOEL: A fraternal alliance, you have.

MR. MURPHY: That's what it is, a fraternal alliance. The Member for Pleasantville is totally right.

MR. WINSOR: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: Now, there is nothing in this for school teachers, I remind the Member for Fogo, nothing in this for school teachers. What is going on here this evening, Mr. Chairman, is a fraternity trying to build on the legislation of this House. And we can't have it. We cannot have a fraternity picking up in this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to have a few moments on the amendment, but first of all, I can't believe what I just heard from the mawmouth from the South. I know now where the Member for Port de Grave got his legal advice when he went to court. There is no wonder he never had a hope in hell of helping his brother out, not a chance in the world.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I missed that. I didn't hear that, I was deep in thought.

Mr. Chairman, what I think we should be doing here tonight - regarding the amendment that the Member for St. John's East moved, what I believe he is trying to do is what I believe Workers' Compensation should be trying to do. Workers' Compensation are established to protect injured workers. They are not established to protect the people who pay the rates. They are not established for any other reason to be turning people down. They are established to protect the injured workers so that the injured workers of this Province should have a reasonable shot at sustaining their life style after they have been injured.

The Member for St. John's South has stood twice this day in this House to speak on this legislation, and both times he has shown his complete ignorance to workers' compensation legislation in this Province. He has no understanding whatsoever. He accepts, without question, what his brother-in-law tells him about this legislation. He does not ask any questions when he is in caucus, when he is around the caucus table, where he should be getting the information so that he can come here in this House of Assembly and make some reasonable, intelligent comments on the legislation.

There is one member in this House of Assembly who should know the importance of workers' compensation, and that member there should know - should know - the importance of workers' compensation in protecting the injured worker - not protecting the companies, or not protecting the people who pay the bills.

I happen to be an employer in this Province and I happen to pay workers' compensation from that firm, and the rates in the survey firm that I belong to are fairly high.

MR. MURPHY: Why?

MR. R. AYLWARD: They are fairly high because it is a dangerous profession that I am in.

MR. MURPHY: What - setting up a transit (inaudible)?

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, setting up a transit -

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, we are here talking about Workers' Compensation and benefits and so on. I don't know if the minister has provision in here for hearing loss for members of the House of Assembly, but if the Member for St. John's South is not toned down we are all going to have hearing damage here and all be subjected to hearing aids or something. I think you should control him because his voice is booming so loudly over there, I thought it was a fog horn from the Brow. You will have to control him, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: I don't mind the hon. member getting up and saying - I get excited about this, and I apologize to the hon. House for being loud; but it really upsets me when I hear the hon. Member for St. John's East who, in my mind, has an alternative motive. But I want to remind the Member for Grand Bank that the Brow is not an acceptable word.

The people of Shea Heights would be very, very upset - very upset. I will, without question - and the hon. the Member for Kilbride knows - send a copy of Hansard to Shea Heights, because they really are trying their best to change their image, and the Brow is not an acceptable word. That is all I remind the hon. member.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

To the point of order, the Chair would like to remind all hon. members that it is certainly unparliamentary, as our Standing Orders indicate, to interject - to interrupt - any member when he is speaking. So I ask for the co-operation of all hon. members in that respect.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, the last time I heard bellowing like I hear from the Member for St. John's South - I remember some years ago I took my two kids down to Fort Amherst to see Fort Amherst and the lighthouse that is there. I did not realize that there was an automatic foghorn there, and when I passed by the foghorn the thing let blast and it sounded just like the Member for St. John's South. It was so loud that the two hairs on my head stood completely on end. That is what the hon. member reminds me of tonight, with his huffing and puffing over there.

He has no understanding of the workers' compensation legislation. He has no understanding of the reason why the Member for St. John's East wished to amend the clause, to try to make the legislation more answerable to injured working people in this Province.

Now, I was trying to tell the hon. member why the rates - he asked me why the rates were so high in the workers' compensation for the survey industry. He shows as much ignorance of the survey industry as he does for pretty well everything else that he speaks on in this House. There is very good reason why the rates for the survey industry are very high. Because it is a dangerous profession, unless great care is taken with chain saws which are used daily. You're working on construction sites continuously with risk of injury, and that's why the rates are so high. I don't know why the hon. Member for St. John's South might think the rates are so high.

They are very high in the fishing industry that he was involved in at one time. One of the reasons why they were so high in the fishing industry that he was involved in was because he was the safety officer and he didn't do his job properly.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: I just want to remind the hon. member I was not the safety officer, I was the corporate safety director.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Well, congratulations to the hon. member. Because next year he can go to the Yacht Club now with the Minister of Justice and have lunch with Angus Bruneau and his wife. If he was corporate safety director he'll be able to go to the Yacht Club now, I'm sure he will, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: And I'll see him up there while I'm at the Yacht Club, Mr. Chairman, in the basement having lunch with the people who are cleaning up the place. Down in the basement we'll have lunch -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. R. AYLWARD: - a bit of fish and chips, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has called order!

Shall the sub-amendment carry?

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thought the Member for St. John's South was up before me and I'll defer to him if he wishes to speak next.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you. I want to thank the Member for St. John's East for his courtesy, just saying, Mr. Chairman, I'll let him get up. I just want to say that everything the Member for Kilbride said was utter fertilizer.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I can see that when you give courtesy to the other side of the House they are obviously so shocked that they are speechless. They are not used to it.

I know the Member for St. John's South likes to get up and bluster and attack lawyers or attack professionals of any sort - attack surveyors, school teachers, anybody who holds a profession. I don't think that every member of the legal profession is of sterling character. I don't go around defending the legal profession as a group. I do look around the House and I see a number of members of the legal profession. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation happens to be a lawyer. The Premier is a lawyer. The Minister of Justice is a lawyer. The Member for Humber East is a lawyer. Some clerks at the Table - the Clerk of the House is a lawyer. The Clerks of the Legislative Counsel are lawyers.

I don't think they all deserve to be pilloried by the Member for St. John's South because they happen to take upon themselves the task of learning the law. Learning the law does not seem to me to be a particularly despicable sort of thing, Mr. Chairman. We are sitting around here trying to make some laws. It does not seem to me that to have a bit of knowledge about the law is a detriment to sitting in this House of Assembly and making a contribution to the making of laws.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. HARRIS: It would be like criticizing somebody for being a carpenter when they went about building a house. We cannot have trained carpenters building houses. We cannot have that. That is a detriment according to the approach being taken by the Member for St. John's South. He thinks that his knowledge of the law is sufficient. He seems to have enough confidence in his knowledge of the law to have convinced the Member for Port de Grave to go and represent people in the courts.

Leaving all that aside I want to seriously address the amendment because it is an important one. What it will do is retain the ability for an injured worker or the family of a worker who is killed to pursue a third party claim against somebody else who is insured. Now, I do not know why the Member for St. John's South seems to be so interested in keeping the insurance companies protected. He defeated an insurance agent in St. John's South and now he seems to be picking up for the insurance companies. The insurance companies are liable to pay far more to injured workers than is received under the workers' compensation system and all this amendment does is allow workers to pursue that action while they are continuing to collect claims. Mr. Chairman, all I am suggesting is that they be allowed to collect their workers' compensation while they are pursuing the claim and then pay back workers' compensation, the way it is being done right now, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: The Ocean Ranger.

MR. HARRIS: The Ocean Ranger amendment, I suppose, could be one example of it. Let me say to the hon. member that the Workers' Compensation Commission probably would not have pursued the Ocean Ranger claim against the United States government, against ODECO in the US, and all these other people.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is unusual.

MR. HARRIS: I agree with the hon. member, it is unusual, and that is what I said to the minister in my private discussion with him earlier, that if you leave it solely to the Workers' Compensation Commission - and I do not know who their lawyers are, they have a couple of in-house lawyers. I see they have some out-house lawyers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. HARRIS: The minister says, were. They may be again. Not Williams, Harris, it would be Williams, Roebothan, it may well be, but with that aside whether they are in-house lawyers or out-house lawyers what would happen to the injured worker is that that person would lose any control over whether an action is brought.

MR. MURPHY: You cannot have it both ways.

MR. HARRIS: The Member for St. John's South says you cannot have it both ways. Well, you can have it both ways. We have it both ways now and there is nothing wrong with it, except that there may be cases where the individual worker does not bother to sue because they are satisfied to collect workers' compensation. I agree with the minister that the Workers' Compensation Commission should have the right to go after that insurer and pick up the dollars they paid out.

AN HON. MEMBER: Those are third parties now.

MR. HARRIS: It is third parties we are talking about. This is all about third parties and the Member for St. John's South does not understand what he is talking about or what we are talking about here. What the minister wants to be able to do is have the Workers' Compensation Commission be able to sue the third parties to pick up what has been paid out in workers' compensation and anything that they get over and above that, which they are entitled to get because the claims against insurance companies include pain and suffering, plus 100 per cent loss of wages, plus other heads of damages, is what they are called, that are not provided for under workers' compensation. So whatever extra is collected from the insurance company by Workers' Compensation will be turned over to the injured worker, if the Workers' Compensation Commission sues, if they do.

So the question here is, from the Workers' Compensation Commission's point of view, is yes, we want to make sure the Workers' Compensation has the right to go after the third parties but we do not have to take the right away from the worker to allow that to happen. In fact, this legislation being proposed by the minister says that you can have it one way or the other, you can either sue or you can collect workers' compensation. Third parties, you can either sue or you can collect workers' compensation. What I am saying is you should be able to sue and collect workers' compensation which you are doing now and then when you get your settlement pay back workers' compensation and keep the difference. That is the only difference between the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations and myself on this issue.

Now, you are out in right field somewhere or left field or middle field, I do not know where you are. I do not where the Member for St. John's South is on this issue. I am not sure he knows himself but what we have here is an opportunity to allow the system to work and to work better and to allow the individual to have some control over it, if they want to. If they do not want to bother, Mr. Chairman, what the minister is saying is right. Let Workers' Compensation take it over, commence the action, do the legal work. Perhaps there are people who do not want to bother, who do not have access to legal counsel, do not know how the system works, well and good. Let workers' compensation take it over, go ahead, commence the action, look after all the legal side, do all the negotiations and hire their own lawyers to do it and then when they are successful, if they are, pay back themselves and give the worker the difference.

I think that that is fair but why do you have to take that right away from a worker who has to collect workers' compensation because he needs the money to live on from day to day, or a family, where a worker is killed or a family who needs that money as a source of income in the meantime. Why do you have to give away the carriage of the case, as the Minister of Justice would have it, in anther situation, why give that away to Workers' Compensation when that could rightly stay with the worker. It is not necessary, Mr. Chairman, I have suggested to the minister another way of doing it. Give the Workers' Compensation Commission the right to sue on its own account for an injured worker for money it has paid out. That can be done, Mr. Chairman, or there could be some other system to ensure that injured workers have a subrogated right, goes to the Workers' Compensation at some period in time that allows them to commence an action. It does not seem to me that it is necessary to do this, it is heavy handed, it is unnecessary, it is going to cause problems and we are going to see some cases in a couple of years time that point that problem out.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, just a few points because I want to say to the Member for St. John's East, what he has done in reality with his amendment, is really mixed up this whole system. Now, I want to remind the Member for St. John's East about the Pearcey case. Let me give the Member for St. John's East, who is so bright and so outstanding and so know it all -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, no, let me finish now, I let the hon. member finish.

AN HON. MEMBER: No you did not.

MR. MURPHY: Yes I did, yes I did. Let me say to the hon. Member for St. John's East that the Workers' Compensation Commission right now, in a third party situation - let me give the hon. members opposite a realistic example.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: The Pearcey case, Mr. Chairman, had nothing to do with third party action.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

If, for instance, tonight - and let me give you a third party situation where the Workers' Compensation Commission has every right in the world to go back and recover the money plus the administration cost.

If tonight a doorman at the Blarney Stone was injured by some individual -

MR. HEARN: Don't have any doormen.

MR. MURPHY: Well, whatever - let me say then, some other establishment. If he was injured by a patron, he would be compensable. He would be compensable if he ended up in a hospital and lost time, he would be compensable; but the law states clearly and emphatically that the Workers' Compensation Commission has the right to go back to the person who injured that employee and recover the compensation that was paid to the employee, plus the administration cost. That is the only third party situation that exists under the law of this Province today.

Now what the hon. Member for St. John's East is trying to do is to open it up and say that an injured worker on a no fault system who, after this evening, with the legislation that will go before this House, is entitled to 75 per cent of their net salary with only two deductions - their UIC and their Canada Pension. Now what the hon. member is saying is that that injured worker would receive that 75 per cent, but he or she would have a right, under his amendment, to sue the employer who is paying the total assessment - who is paying the total premium; and the Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, who is an employer, and the Member for Ferryland, who is an employer, would be paying an assessment to cover a worker, and still be subject to the courts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: That is exactly what the Member for St. John's - do not be misled. I remind the hon. Opposition House Leader not to be misled. This is exactly what the Member for St. John's East is saying - that workers' compensation would pay 75 per cent of net, and sue the employer. Now that is what the member is saying, and the member knows I am right. That will cause chaos and the member knows it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: He can get on with 'read it' and he can get on with whatever, and he can protect the table and he can protect everybody else; but what the member is saying is hogwash. What the Member for St. John's East is saying is total and utter hogwash. He wants it both ways. He wants the American system where we have all of these tremendous amounts of monies that are destroying the employers in the states.

What I am saying is that you cannot have it both ways, and I want the House to understand it. If you have a fault system, it is a fault system. If you have a no fault system, which this Province has now, and every other Province in Canada has a no fault system, which means if an employee -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: It does not bother me. I remind the Member for St. John's East that it does not bother me who is here. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, and I say to the Member for St. John's East, he is trying to have his cake and he is trying to eat it too, and he cannot do that, and his amendment is as crazy as - well, whatever, but I say to the hon. member -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible) because we did not have a supper break.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Typical socialist.

MR. MURPHY: Well, I cannot help it if the Member for Humber East did not have a supper break, that is not my problem -

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, she did, she had chicken.

MR. MURPHY: She looks very healthy to me and she looks as if she could do without a couple of suppers, as I do. I just say that to the hon. Member for St. John's East, she looks charming as she always does but if she lost a couple of pounds it would not hurt her, it would not hurt her at all. It would not hurt me, it would not hurt the Premier, it certainly would not hurt the Minister for Municipal and Provincial Affairs. He is not here in his place and I do not want to use him as an example.

But the Member for Harbour Grace also, who is sitting next to the hon. member could do without a few suppers, but I say to the Member for St. John's - Now Jack, give me a chance, I did not point of order you.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: I was not sure I heard the hon. Member for St. John's South. Do I understand him to say that he thought that I was charming?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: Yes, I will confirm that the hon. Member for St. John's East is a lot more charming since he got married. A lot more charming, he is more understanding, more compatible and he also is a lot fatter.

AN HON. MEMBER: He dresses better too.

MR. MURPHY: He dresses better and I can see his waistline so he should watch himself, the Christmas season is coming on and what have you so he should watch himself.

In conclusion, I remind the Member for St. John's East, you may be able to run your amendment by certain members of this House and they may not recognize it but you are not running it by the Member for St. John's South because I know the difference and you know the difference. This Province cannot afford it and the employers cannot afford it. What the Member for St. John's East is doing in essence, is really impacting on the employers and we talked about it for days and days here, the generation of employment and what he is doing is hurting, really hurting and the hon. Member for Ferryland, the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes, know what I am talking about. They do not need any more bills, they know that because they are employers -

AN HON. MEMBER: Not any more.

MR. MURPHY: Yes. Well he may not be an employer as such but we will find out when the Conflict of Interest papers go through. We will find out, and I sympathize with the Member for Ferryland because I know how he feels about the horrendous assessment that he has to pay.

Mr. Chairman, with those few words I want to say that the Member for St. John's East has not, has not bluffed anybody; he has not bluffed anybody.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I had not intended to speak any further on this but I have just listened to the Member for St. John's South really mislead the House as to what the intention of the amendment is, let alone the amendment to the amendment. I do not think the member has really read the amendment or the amendment to the amendment, because the amendment does not talk about suing employers at all; it talks about suing third persons, 45.1A, an employer of a worker where they are not covered by workers' compensation let us say, or section C where section 44.1 applies basically a person who is already covered by a public liability carrier, the third party that we are talking about.

Now, what the Member for St. John's South is talking about is the American system where you can sue your employer if you want and you can collect compensation too, but we are not talking about that, that is the American system which I do not agree with.

The Canadian system which says you cannot sue your employer, you cannot sue your fellow worker, you cannot sue the employer of another worker covered by the Act. So, they are all in the circle of protection from lawsuits. I am not suggesting that we should change that, not for a minute. The Member for St. John's South seems to be trying to suggest that that is what I am talking about. We are talking here about people outside the circle, the third party, the person driving a car who has an insurance policy with hefty premiums, paid for to cover accidents with individuals. These are the people that we are talking about. We are talking about the manufacturer of equipment in the United States, a charter air craft company which might be bringing workers back from a workplace in a remote area, these are the kind of people that we are talking about.

When we are talking about actions against those people, can we not continue the system that we have right now which allows a person to go to Workers' Compensation or a family and dependents of a deceased worker to go to Workers' Compensation and get their daily bread, Mr. Chairman, while at the same time they can pursue an action which will get them full compensation? Not just the limited benefits that are available under workers' compensation, and this government are making it even more limited, where they can get the full compensation from the third party, the insurer, and at the same time collect their daily bread while that is happening. Then, if they are successful, pass back and compensate Workers' Compensation for what they have paid out. That is all I am suggesting, Mr. Chairman, it is essentially the status quo.

If the minister wants to solve the problem of having the employers or the Workers' Compensation Commission not being able to collect on claims than it should be addressed directly and not by taking away the opportunities for an individual to pursue an action and taking away without any recourse, without any appeal, without any rights. Not even to go to the law society, I suppose, and complain that the Workers' Compensation has not been pursuing an action because that is taken away too, Mr. Chairman. Subclause 9, says that the commission has the exclusive discretion to determine whether it will take an action, release its claim for an action or compromise the right of action and its decision is final.

So, once you go and collect your first dollar from Workers' Compensation, Mr. Chairman, you are finished, unless Workers' Compensation goes and vigorously pursues the claim and ensures that the extra money goes into your pocket. That is what I think is wrong, Mr. Chairman, because that will see that certain claims go unpursued, that an individual may in fact have pursued with his individual right of action, continued, they may in fact have had an opportunity to do that. I think we are going to see some hardship cases come out of this, Mr. Chairman. We are going to see some mistakes made by Workers' Compensation and someone is going to take it to court down the road and the judge in the court is going to say: tough luck. The legislation gives the Workers' Compensation the absolute discretion.

Now, I just heard the Member for Carbonear say the same thing he said in committee the other night: well, so what we will be around for twenty years, if that happens we will change the legislation. Well, that is not good enough: Let's just pass whatever the government brings in because they will change it some other time down the road. That is what he is saying essentially.

When he was in the House the other night -

AN HON. MEMBER: Trust us.

MR. HARRIS: Trust us, he says. Aha, here we are. Trust us. The Speaker told us yesterday whether we could trust them or not. The Speaker said they broke their agreement. The Speaker said that yesterday in his ruling. Trust us, he says. He is the member who, in the committee on Monday night about the public complaints legislation - I do not care how bad the legislation is; we will pass it anyway. I do not care how bad it is.

Well, Mr. Chairman, I care how bad legislation is, and if there is bad legislation coming before this House I intend to speak out about it.

When they are taking away these kinds of rights and giving the absolute right to the Workers' Compensation Commission to compromise the claim, then that is wrong. It is wrong to do that. If they want to give the Workers' Compensation Commission the right to sue to collect what it has paid out, sobeit. Let's do that; but you do not have to destroy other people's rights in that process.

Those are all my comments, but I had to take my place once again because the Member for St. John's South was distorting the amendment brought in by the Minister of Justice, and distorting the sub-amendment, and distorting my remarks, and they had to be corrected for the record.

I urge all hon. members to retain the individual right to sue third parties because it is a beneficial right and will ensure that individuals can have a real choice in deciding whether to actually undertake a third party action or abandon it.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall the amendment to the amendment carry?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I declare the amendment to the amendment defeated.

Shall the amendment carry?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I declare the amendment carried.

On motion, Clause 9, as amended, carried.

On motion, Clause 10 carried.

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

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, when you asked whether the amendment to the amendments carried, I heard all hon. members say 'carried'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I did not hear the Speaker call for the 'ayes' and 'nays'. I heard everyone say 'carried' and the amendment was carried. I did not hear the Speaker call for the 'ayes' and 'nays'.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair can go back and call for the vote on the amendment to the amendment.

All those in favour of the amendment to the amendment please say 'nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I declare the amendment to the amendment defeated.

On motion, Clauses 11 through to 19, carried.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Clause 20?

The hon. the Member for St. John's East - Clause 20.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I am not going to speak at length on this but, while hon. members are rushing through this legislation here at this late hour, this is the clause that is taking away the benefits to injured workers, and is taking them away based on some notion we have been told, that if you penalize all injured workers by taking away their benefits, some of them might go back to work earlier.

Now, that is a pretty flimsy excuse that we have been given here tonight for clawing back benefits to injured workers that have been fought for and worked for over the years and that has resulted in workers taking these benefits as part of their rights as workers in this Province. We have had some debate on this, Mr. Chairman, but it was not really until tonight that it became clear to me that the rationale here is if we punish them all some of them may go back to work earlier and we may save some money based on some theory of somebody down in the States somewhere who have told them that research shows that might happen. Now, that is not a good enough excuse to penalize the injured workers in this Province and if hon. members opposite want to pass that legislation, well then let it be on record that is what they are doing, they are basing this on some theory that if you punish everybody and you take away the benefits to all injured workers some of them might go back to work a little bit earlier and we might save some money in the system. That is what we were told here tonight and that is what hon. members opposite are voting for.

On motion, clauses 20 through to 25, carried.

On motion, amendment carried.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Workers' Compensation Act." (Bill No. 48)

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill with amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order, 6 Bill No. 20.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Waste Material Disposal Act." (Bill No. 20)

On motion, clause 1, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill without amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 7 Bill No. 30.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act." (Bill No. 30)

Shall Clause 1 carry?

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. WINSOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to have a few words, Mr. Chairman.

The former mayor of Carboner should listen to this one because it certainly has an impact on his community.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: I recognized the hon. the Member for Fogo.

MR. WINSOR: Mr. Chairman, I do not know if you have muzzles around or not but it would not hurt to have some to use tonight. I want to have a few words on this one. This is just retroactively introducing a bill that has been in effect since 1991. Obviously there are some problems with it and for the most part there has been a major concern expressed by municipalities in the Province particularly as it pertains to the capping of municipal grants. This originally started at $47 or $48 million and it is now down to $41 million which basically means that the road component has disappeared and between the second reading of this Bill and its going to committee stage we found that the roads component has now been reduced to $80.47 for 1993 subject to review. If history is to be used as a guideline in this it started of at (inaudible) in 1991 then we can rest assured that by the time they get the revised figures this year this will have disappeared completely, and be below zero. The question that has to be asked, Mr. Chairman, is, if it is capped at $41 million and the money is all used in the first two, and a part of the third one, what's the next one to be decreased? Is it the household component at eighty-five dollars, or is it in one of the earlier ones up top, the equalization, or local tax revenue?

It's time for someone to explain to municipalities what's going to happen when the $41 million is used up. Prior to getting to the road component what's the next one that's going to be attacked? If this cap is not lifted then municipalities will not be able to survive the next two or three years. It's imperative that they started taking a look at the amount of money that's being allocated in MOGs and revise that figure upward. Establish an amount per kilometre for each municipality for every kilometre of road you have. If that's not done then municipalities will never be able to budget properly and will have great difficulty in maintaining any semblance of a balanced budget because of this ill conceived and ill placed municipal grant that this administration has put in place.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Unfortunately the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs had to go, probably on government business, and he won't be here today. I just want to make one more plea, probably a final plea, on behalf of the residents of the Goulds.

Seeing that this Bill is retroactive to January 1, 1991, when the town of the Goulds was wiped off the face of the Newfoundland map, I would ask the government to reconsider their harsh policy of increasing the taxes on the people of the Goulds by 85 per cent, and if there's a reassessment this year it'll be increased by 105 per cent. They went, while operating in the town of the Goulds, from six mils to eleven mils. I just ask the government to reconsider the request made by the town of the Goulds at the time - the City of St. John's more recently - to allow the people in there to be able to phase in their taxes.

If you take a drive around the Goulds now, particularly in the subdivisions, you'll notice a considerable number of 'For Sale' signs on a lot of the houses over the past year. One of the reasons why people have to move out or people have to get rid of their houses is the increased tax burden that's been placed on them by this government. I hope to bring to the minister's attention the brief presented to the Liberal caucus by the City of St. John's on Friday, November 13, 1992. I would like to have the minister here to ask him what representations the St. John's members did make on behalf of the City to try to get the Minister of Municipal Affairs to go along with some of the recommendations that are in this report or presentation.

Some very good presentations in it. Anyone who even just thumbs through the report will see what a burden this government has placed on the City of St. John's to try to upgrade the facilities in the Goulds to get them up to the standards of the rest of the City. In just one component alone, Goulds civic improvement costs, urban classified streets will cost the City of St. John's more than $11.5 million. In other sections the rural streets, upgrading of the rural streets in the Goulds, to keep them at rural standards at that, not to upgrade them to City standards, will cost another $2.2 million. The costs go on.

They have a lot of infrastructure to put in the Goulds to try to get it to a reasonable standard. Now that the City is in there, obviously, now that this government forced the City upon the taxpayers of the Goulds, the people are paying a higher tax rate and they expect better services. The reason that the Goulds was put into the City was because of efficiencies. I believe the former minister said it would be more efficient to have it under the one larger operation, but, Mr. Chairman, the only efficiency that I see is extra cost to the City of St. John's, because the same snow clearing contract is in the Goulds as it was when it was the Town of the Goulds. The City of St. John's saw the wisdom of the town councillors in the Goulds in private contracting the snowclearing and it is probably going to cost them a strike in the rest of the City sometime this winter, but it is more efficient. I think a study done by the City of St. John's says that by contracting out in the Goulds, snowclearing and garbage collection, saves the taxpayers about half-a-million dollars or saves the City about a half-a-million dollars, and if this is the efficiency the minister is talking about it shows that he did no studies, no consideration to efficiencies whatsoever when he brought in this amalgamation; it is just another way to get rid of another town council.

The purpose of this Bill again, Mr. Chairman, is the downloading of the tax burden from the provincial government to the taxpayers in the municipalities and it is the same issue that the Premier keeps complaining about the federal government's downloading or keeping back some transfer payments and not giving as many transfer payments to the Province, it is the exact same complaint that the Premier has with the federal government about downloading their responsibilities to the Province, so that the Province has to charge more taxes. The Premier does the exact same thing to the towns such as the Goulds or St. John's or all municipalities around this Province.

He has been, in the three years that he been elected, continuously downloading the tax burden on the municipalities and getting away from the responsibilities of the provincial government in this area. We pay the highest provincial taxes in Canada, and one of the reasons why we are paying the highest provincial taxes in Canada is because our municipal taxes were not as high as other areas. I understand this and I know it and I know the reason for it.

Almost all of the other provinces, the counties and cities look after education costs and look after some social service costs which our municipalities do not, but, if you are going to transfer the tax burden to the municipalities, when the municipal taxpayer has to pay extra taxes, you should take it off at the other end where we were paying it up front in our high income tax and our high retail sales tax, we were paying those taxes so that some of that money could be given to the municipalities to cover the other costs. That is one of the reasons why we had higher taxes in this Province, higher provincial taxes and lower municipal taxes.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: Sorry pal, sorry.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I am almost finished, I just have another couple of minutes and I am just waiting for some more time. Mr. Chairman, I just want to waste a little more time, people can shout back and forth all night if they wish, it does not bother me. I will be awake at five o'clock tomorrow morning; I would have been awake anyway about six o'clock so it does matter to me if I do not get four or five hours sleep. I would stay here tonight and I would be awake tomorrow at five o'clock in the afternoon and I would be awake Saturday morning by three o'clock in the morning, so it does not really matter to me how long we stay here; I have enjoyed this.

It is going to rain tomorrow. You see, Mr. Chairman, if it was a fine day tomorrow, I would have a different outlook because I have some land to clear in Kilbride but it is going to be (inaudible) down rain all day tomorrow so it is just as well for me to be in here, as it is I cannot go out in the woods anyway. I cannot get up in the woods so I will stay here and keep this going for three days as long as the rain starts but once the rain stops, Mr. Chairman, I will be out of here as fast as I can, so if anyone wants to talk back and forth while I am talking I do not really mind.

Mr. Chairman, I just want to make the final point again that this provincial government, in its three years of operation has continuously down-loaded its tax burden on municipalities. It is not fair because they are not giving the municipalities any type of tax credits and we have been paying the higher taxes. One of the specific reasons why we pay higher provincial taxes is because we collect the taxes provincially so that the municipalities can benefit by them. That is one of the reasons why we pay higher taxes compared to Nova Scotia where the county system pays some of the education costs and where the county system pays some of the social services cost. In Toronto or Calgary and those areas they pay a lot of their own social services cost, not all of them.

Mr. Chairman, every time I hear the Premier complaining about the federal government down-loading on the provinces, Mr. Chairman, it almost turns my stomach because I see the same thing happening here day in and day out. Every Budget and mini-Budget that came across the table of this House, Mr. Chairman, since the Premier got elected, was doing just this exact same thing that he complains about continuously. Thank you very much.

MR. MATTHEWS: He supports it he said.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, I cannot imagine that the hon. member really believes what he said so I will just assume that he is doing it to try and needle me but it nevertheless makes it necessary for me to explain that if he believes it he is totally wrong. We have not been doing any down-loading. I have not been complaining about what the federal government is doing. I have been using it to simply explain why this Province or this government has so much less money, even than the former government had, because over the last three years the cumulative reduction is $800 million less than we would have had if things had not changed, if they had gone on at the same rate of increase as the prior years.

Now, what I have said is, that is a fact, this year alone it is over $200 million, that is a fact, but I do not complain about it, as the hon. member says. I do not complain about it. I understand what the federal government has to do to bring Canada's desperate financial situation in order. They cannot do otherwise. We are going to have a deficit this year of another $35 billion, our debt has more than doubled since 1984. We are using 30 odd per cent of our national revenue just to pay the interest on it. We have got to stop the growth in the national debt. Quiet apart from my concern as a Canadian taxpayer, which I share with all other Canadian's in the Country, from a selfish point of view as a Newfoundlander and as the Premier of this Province, I have to be concerned about the federal government maintaining its ability even to make a minimum level of transfer payments. We are so dependent on federal transfers, God help us if the federal government really does get in trouble and cannot make even those minimal ones.

So, we have to be understanding of what they are trying to do. So, I do not complain about it. I use it to explain why we have less money but I say okay, I accept what they do. Now that has been my consistent position for three years and I do not think anybody in this House can point to one single occasion when I have said otherwise or complained about the down-loading. I do not complain about it. I understand that this is the position and I use it simply to explain it.

Now, Mr. Chairman, if there is $800 million that has been taken out of our cash flow, we have to find it somewhere, the alternative is to increase taxes. That gave hon. members opposite apoplexy a few days ago when we increased taxes. They thought it was desperate. We should not have done it but do not cut anybody either, do not have a deficit either, pick the money off the trees. The money trees grow out there in Pippy Park, go out and pick money off the trees seems to be the solution, when they have a sensible solution to this problem, a reasonably acceptable alternative, then, Mr. Chairman, we can deal with it. In the meantime we've got to restrain our expenditures and that applies in all areas where we can - health, education, municipal services, transportation. Everywhere we can we've got to restrain as much as we possibly can in these difficult circumstances in order to keep the Province reasonably afloat. That's our responsibility.

Now I know it's easy, it gives the members opposite an easy opportunity to make unjustified criticisms of the government. To say: you can't, you're doing this and you're doing that. You're doing everything wrong. When they provide the sensible alternatives, when they supply the sensible alternatives, then, Mr. Chairman, we'll be impressed.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: The only man who listened to every word, the only man.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you. I'd like to thank the hon. Member for Carbonear. He's right again. Actually I think this Bill here is doing an injustice to certain municipalities. The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs indicated here in the House that any municipalities that are adversely affected and in financial straits because of legislation and because of the cutbacks in MOGs, they would take a look at it and they would assist those municipalities. I think just about all municipalities in my district have written the minister. They got a very prompt response indicating that they wouldn't be getting any funding. He changed his initial support from financially or morally, and then he changed it after to moral support.

In fact, the same municipalities that he indicated on June 21 he'll provide assistance, they did send people out to do an audit and check their standings. They didn't do a complete audit. They checked bank accounts and didn't check payables. It wasn't a thorough accounting system. One of the key things here in this legislation, especially in item (d), is that it is not treating rural, sparsely populated areas on a fair basis, to down load costs and do it in a manner that's going to be most palatable to communities that fall on extremes of that continuum.

I have one particular community that has 508 people spread over eighteen kilometres. That had 20 per cent of their MOGs the roads component. Now with $81.40 down from $2,000 per kilometre it has become almost nonexistent. They have no business tax base in their community. They have a community of a lot of elderly people living in houses by themselves. Just a lot of widowers and widows. It's a community that is very adversely affected, that met with the minister on June 22, had correspondence with the department since, asked for some assistance to help them in their financial situation. The assessment was done. They didn't even look at the payables of that community, and said: you have $10,000 in the bank at the time, in September, when it was done. Have responded and said: no more financial support is forthcoming.

There are councillors - and I've met with every council in my district - they are getting disillusioned. Why are being incorporated? Why don't we act like local service districts? Let them do the roads, $2,000 per kilometre. The department is doing transfers, I think, of $1,000 per kilometre to Transportation from Municipal and Provincial Affairs to cover snow clearing in local service districts and to the transfer of $1,000 per kilometre they think is adequate. And still they're only giving municipalities $81.40 to maintain summer and winter maintenance in the communities, when the same communities are paying out to Works, Services and Transportation $1,000 per kilometre to do the snow clearing.

It is unfair to down load without looking at extreme cases. If you're going to do an assessment and try to do it in a manner that's fair we should look at those on the extreme end of the continuum that are in extreme hardship. It was stated in this House by the minister and recorded in Hansard, that they will provide assistance. I asked the municipalities who are in dire straits to comply and do that. I copied Hansard. They wrote and they did not get any response. It is falling on deaf ears. Not only is the community being eliminated on the basis of the transportation component or the roads component, but municipalities that have only one or two people in each house, that is an elderly type community, are also going to be hit when the household component is going to disappear. We are only going to have two components in two years left in this municipal grant under this act being proposed here today, there are only two components left. If you do not have a tax base to develop and operate your community - the people are putting in tremendous hours of volunteer time, unbelievable. One mayor told me, a mayor in Bay Bulls, that he spends thirty-three hours per week on local business. It is rather frustrating to see a downloading without any compassion or any individual case being considered.

I am not aware of one individual case that Municipal and Provincial Affairs has looked at and given some assistance to a community that was in dire needs. I do not know of one case, if there is I would certainly like to know. There has not been one to my knowledge, and I have attempted to find out, and there certainly has been none in my district. We have a couple of municipalities in my district that are in fairly good financial shape, too, and these are not so adversely affected by the roads component that has disappeared now. A $2.5 million reduction now will eliminate basically the roads component. I think it is down now to $40.5 million capped from $43 million.

I think the legislation itself is prohibitive in recruiting people to serve on councils. I think a municipal government, if they are to take a greater responsibility in administering their affairs, have to be entitled also to be able to generate a source of revenue to keep the needs of that community going. People in my district are starting to feel that the local service districts are faring far better than them. They have better roads and their snow ploughing and the maintenance of those roads is on a better level because it is being funded by the taxpayers of this Province and not by the taxpayers of a municipality. A municipality has to bear the cost when local service districts are being shared by this Province. I think it is only fair that areas of this Province which are in bad financial shape should be using funds out of the provincial treasury generally from Municipal and Provincial Affairs to enable a reasonable fairness and balance in communities that experience those hardships. With the cap on it there is no tolerance whatsoever being given and I think that is an inequity in this legislation here that is going to turn local people from offering themselves. It is starting to snowball and people are just becoming disillusioned. It is a downloading. If the federal government are down loading costs on the basis that the economy equalization payments are reduced that is a product of the Canadian economy equalization. We have increased established program financing this year to the tune of about $17 or $18 million extra. I think it was originally forecast at $16.2 so we have a downloading again further on the municipalities without any particular recourse for the individual municipalities. The Province has the capability to be able to look at these revenues and make cuts all over these departments in a manner they see fit. Municipalities that are tied into a specific budget for that municipality do not have the opportunity to use funds on a general basis to be able to balance the ones that are experiencing hardships. It is being done on a provincial basis from department to department but it is not being done within it, from one community to another. There are discrepancies in tax bases across the Province. All businesses are not distributed equally across the Province, and the opportunity to generate revenues is not there, so you have to tax and increase the property and mil rates to exorbitant levels if you are going to be able to recover the funds to be able to operate these communities.

That is an inequity that is here in this legislation and I think it is very prohibitive, not only in getting people there but in the normal running of communities that people put so many hours of their time and effort and doing excellent jobs, I must say, with the limited resources that they have. I think they should seriously look at making changes or at least, if they are not going to make changes, which is highly unlikely, they should at least use some discretion in assisting communities that are in dire straits because of this, and they are putting forth a great effort in managing their affairs.

I would like to just close with making reference to the Minister of Social Services who indicated, in the Goulds area that my colleague referred to, had one of the worst managed and mismanaged towns in this Province. I circulated a copy to householders and they took great offence to it. They submitted to me an auditor's report, done by a chartered accountant firm, where their bills were all paid on time and they carried out, in fact, a very close watch on finances and they did an excellent job, the last council there, in the Goulds. For a minister to stand in this House and tell them that they mismanaged the funds in the Goulds, and did a terrible job, and it was right to be taken over and amalgamated - I think that is an insult to the people there and to the excellent job that they did.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall Clause 1 carry?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Carried.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Carried.

Clause 2?

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I was on my feet before you called -

MR. CHAIRMAN: We are on Clause 2, so you can still debate.

MS. VERGE: I stood on Clause 1, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we will revert back to Clause 1.

MS. VERGE: This Bill is a sham, first of all, because it purports to bring in a new municipal operating grant system retroactive to two years ago.

Now two years ago the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs - the current Minister of Social Services - announced, during Christmas week, that the government had decided on a new municipal operating grant system. He said that the new system would be more fair than the previous arrangement.

What he said sounded good. He said that the government was going to basically provide an incentive - perhaps a bit more than an incentive; perhaps a prod - to municipalities with below average tax rates, to try to bring about more evenness in municipal taxation. Well that is an objective I support.

I represent a district, Humber East, which comprises a large part of the City of Corner Brook, as well as some smaller municipalities. I know that Corner Brook and Massey Drive, two of the municipalities I represent, have among the highest municipal tax rates in the Province. There are many other municipalities which have much, much lower tax rates, and there appeared to be unevenness. So when I heard the announcement, I thought to myself, that sounds like a worthy reform.

Now I was concerned when the announcement came so close to the beginning of the municipal fiscal year, since just about all municipalities by then had prepared their budgets for the 1991 year.

Chairperson, it obviously was quite an imposition on councillors - most of whom are voluntary; most of whom serve on a voluntary basis - to be told by the provincial government so late in the going that the arrangement for municipal operating grants was due to change within a matter of days. That was wrong but, Chairperson, the theory sounded good. Now lo and behold, when I got some figures for what the government was actually implementing for the 1991 municipal budget year, I discovered that they were not doing anything right, what the minister announced. They were not rewarding municipalities with high tax rates, they were cutting everyone.

The City of Corner Brook which had then, and had for many years previous, the highest local tax rates in the whole Province, was cut. The City of Corner Brook that year had to delay, by close to two months, finalizing its municipal budget and in the end it only made do because of a special ad hoc arrangement partly from the Province and partly from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper. Chairperson, the true government agenda was cutting right across the board. Now, two years later they try to legitimize what they have actually done over the past two years by bringing before the House of Assembly this Bill. Now, all this Bill does is empower the Cabinet through regulation, basically juggle figures in the guise of a formula with three components, to fit a shrinking total to come under a cap. The Member for Fogo mentioned that when he spoke earlier.

The Member for Humber Valley has exposed the government for their secret agenda. By now all municipalities in the Province are wise to the governments game plan. This Bill simply authorizes the Cabinet, meeting in secret, meeting any time at all, to juggle the figures. To set a figure for equalization component, ban a number for local revenue incentive components - four components, Chairperson, I said three earlier, there are actually four - a household component and a road component but there is a pre-determined cap and that cap has been getting progressively smaller. It is less in 1992 than it was in 1991, and next year in 1993 it will be less again.

So, as I said in the beginning this is a sham. The fact that it is being brought in two years after the start of implementation of the new grants system, of course, is indicative of the whole government approach to municipal affairs. It has been unplanned, it has been erratic, changes here and there, announcements, backtracking, changes in midstream, it has been very confusing and most unfair.

Chairperson, in this Province just about all our municipalities are run by volunteers. Council's are made up of citizens who serve as mayor's and councillors for no pay. Fire protection is given by volunteers, people who train, people who build fire halls, who equip fire trucks, including the volunteer in Colinet who injured his thumb and got turned down for workers' compensation because he was doing volunteer work with the volunteer fire department.

Most of our municipalities are run by volunteers, and what the government is doing is making it very, very unattractive for citizens to volunteer to be councillors or fire fighters, because they are downloading to those municipal councillors the dirty work of raising taxes - and the Member for St. John's South agrees with me on this one.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: No, I have to note that it is after midnight and perhaps I have not turned into a pumpkin, but I did hear what he said about the need for me to lose a couple of pounds. I did hear that.

Chairperson, all this does is set up the Cabinet, who meet privately - usually every Thursday morning, but they can meet any time at all - they meet in secret way up on the top of this building. They meet in very plush surroundings.

AN HON. MEMBER: Over in the other building.

MS. VERGE: Over in the other building, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology says. I presume that is while the Cabinet room in the penthouse of this building is being redecorated. The 1985 decor did not suit the Premier and his ministers, so he had to have it completely redone.

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

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

I did not get a chance to finish the remarks the last time about the presentation that was made to the Liberal caucus by the City of St. John's.

I understand that not one of the caucus members from St. John's have made further representation to staff and the Minister of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to try to implement some of the recommendations and some of the requests that the City of St. John's pleaded with the caucus members - those that showed up at the time - to go to the minister and make representation on their behalf - on the City's behalf - so that they could get some kind of relief on the extra capital cost and the extra burden that this government imposed upon them when they amalgamated the Goulds and Wedgewood Park.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: The hon. Member for St. John's South has a very short memory because when I spoke here one time before and pointed out how the taxpayers in Shea Heights, and the taxpayers on Elizabeth Avenue, and the taxpayers in the rest of the City will be paying the tax bill for the government's move, he agreed with me that the taxpayers and the rest of the City will be paying an extra tax burden, an extra large tax burden, because of the amalgamation moves by this provincial government - by his government actually. So the people of Shea Heights will have to pay extra taxes to pay for some of the costs of downloading the fire department on the City, without any help at all.

It is passing strange that we can have amalgamation of Grand Falls - Windsor with a transitional grant, quite a sizeable transition grant and capital monies, to complete that amalgamation. I congratulate the Member for Windsor and the Member for Grand Falls for getting the money for their towns for that, but the weak St. John's members that we have on that side of the House were unable to get one nickel for the City of St. John's, when the City of St. John's were burdened ten times as much as Windsor - Grand Falls when they amalgamated. We do not have one member for St. John's on that side of the House and yet we have several Cabinet ministers in Cabinet from the City, who would not give one cent of money for the City of St. John's to help them with the tax phase in, to help them get some of the capital monies. The loudest ones over there are the weakest ones.

They are the only ones who can come into this House of Assembly when the Premier goes out, they come in here and yell and scream, and when he hears them yelling and screaming, in a minute now he will open that door again and a hush will fall over this place just like it was Christmas Eve waiting for Santa Claus to come. They will quieten down and eventually the king will give them a glance over his shoulder and you will see the Member for Port de Grave go out through that door and the Member for St. John's South go out through that door and things will be nice and quiet again for a little while when the king gives them a glance over his shoulder.

They slide off their chairs underneath their desks, frightened to death to say no. The two whitest people, I could not tell them from their shirts the other day when the Premier looked back, were the Member for Port de Grave and the Member for St. John's South; the colour went completely out of their heads and they were white as the hair on top of their heads, the only one with a bit of gumption over there was the Member for Eagle River, who stood his ground against the Premier who was trying to whip him in place but could not do it but he whipped the two big ones in place. It is strange the two bigger ones over there were the two wimps and the little fellow, the little baby duck stood up to him and said no.

I do not agree with what he did because the Member for St. John's East should be allowed to speak on those statements, I admire him for doing it but I do not agree with what he did; it was very interesting to see that the two loud - well, the one loud mouth and the one lawyer to be, maw mouth, maw mouth and Matlock. The two of them went quiet, they must be expecting a Christmas gift from the Premier, I do not know what they could be expecting but the Premier -

MR. MATTHEWS: Bob, they have had a couple of quiet days since (inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, they have been very quiet since, yes, they have been kept down. Even the Minister of Justice is doing his best today to be nice; he has to work hard at it but I give him credit, all day today he has done his best to be nice, but it is not in his nature. I noticed him slipping a couple of times, he has to try to ignore what is going on and turn off his ears to what is going on here, or he will revert to his regular old nasty self, but the problem with it for the Minister of Justice is that he cannot turn off; he hears everything coming from this side and he hears the knives coming out of the sheaths at the back of him he has such good ears and he knows when the members are waving behind his back, or waving to me when I might be trying to antagonize the Minister of Justice but his ears are so sensitive he can hear the hands moving and he can almost see the delight in the members eyes when the Minister of Justice is being tortured by the members on this side.

Mr. Chairman, the bill I am on is the bill where the government - and the Premier got up to speak - I only want to stand up for a minute to make a comment about what the Premier said, that he is not criticizing the federal government for downloading the taxes. Well, Mr. Chairman, if that is not the biggest whopper that was ever said in this House of Assembly, I do not know what is. Every time he is on the public media, every time he is on an open line show, every time he makes a speech in this Province, he is whining about the federal government downloading their tax burden on this provincial government.

Mr. Chairman, the former Minister of Finance is pretty good at it but I mean he can take his -

MR. MATTHEWS: Tell the Member for Port de Grave that the Premier supports it he said, he supports it.

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Premier tried to say here tonight because he knows there is nobody listening; he said - the only thing is, it is going to be in Hansard . Now I don't expect there are too many who are going to read Hansard. But he supports what the federal government is doing. Mr. Chairman, if he supports the federal government I expect to see him out campaigning for John Crosbie and Brian Mulroney during the next election. I hope he campaigns a little harder than he did on the Yes vote. Because he did very poorly on that.

What I want to say, the Premier has been whining about the federal government transferring their tax burden to the provinces. What he has continuously been doing, and this Bill will continue it, is downloading the tax burden on the municipalities, and these are the ones who can least afford to pay the Bill. They had the least possibility, the least tax base, that they can manage or tax so that they can pay the bills. That is unfortunate. By the federal government downloading on us puts us in a bind. I realise it puts our government in a bind. I don't support that, I never did. I never will support it. If they have a tax rate set where they have to collect a certain amount of taxes and they collect a certain amount of taxes from all provinces, including Newfoundland, they should pass back to Newfoundland that which is due to them in the formulas that are set up.

What this government is doing is changing their formulas, their grant system and their tax system so that the municipalities are receiving the brunt of the tax burden. Mr. Chairman, that's fine for me.

On motion, Clause 1 carried.

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

MR. HEARN: Yes, I was standing, Mr. Chairman, before you called Clause 2. Just a few brief comments on this Bill, inspired mainly by a statement from the Member for St., John's South when he said that the Mayor of St. John's wasn't unhappy about the Bill. Perhaps that should be a word of warning to every member here who serves a rural area. In fact, members opposite in particular who serve small rural areas should be extremely concerned about what this is going to do to your small municipalities throughout the Province.

We've seen two or three things happen very recently. The new utility tax legislation that's going to be brought in that's going to affect a number of municipalities, affect their income considerably. We've seen because of the downturn in the economy municipalities receiving less revenue anyway, bottom line. Yet we see the expenses that municipalities have - whether it be labour or power, the utility costs, et cetera - have been increasing. So it comes down to the point where municipalities are having one tremendous job to survive.

Now because of the cap on the municipal grants we're going to see that many of them in the smaller, more remote areas are going to be hit once again. Just a few short years ago back in the days when municipalities were treated fairly, prior to 1989, we saw small communities receive $2,000 a kilometre to maintain the roads. Now we see that reduced to about eighty-one dollars. Government over the last few years has pressured municipalities into taking over what we call local roads, anything except the major highway that passes through a town.

On the other hand, protected roads division of the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, is refusing to let people build on the fringes of communities. They are forcing people to build within the established boundaries. If anybody puts in an application to build a house on the outskirts of the community they are turned down by protected roads. They are told to build within the communities. The communities themselves should develop lots within the towns. They should develop roads upon which houses can be built so that all housing can be within the now boundaries of any community. That is impractical in many areas because of the way land is owned and used and water and sewer systems but in many areas small communities are forced to put in new roads. Now what is happening, instead of receiving some incentive to build, to maintain these roads, to help with their snow clearing during winter, the road component is now being taken away.

The next component to go will undoubtedly be the housing component. In the smaller more remote areas many of the homes right now are inhabited by older people. I drove through a community just a few days ago, sizing up the houses that were around and noticed that within a few years many of these houses will be vacant. Many houses will be vacant because in many of our rural areas the younger people have moved out because of the lack of opportunities in the smaller areas. Others are being forced to centralize by the centralization policies of this government, a carryover from the former Liberal government. But we have many homes in the smaller communities that are inhabited by older people. In a few years, we will have fewer houses, which once again means fewer dollars to the community. The community still will have the same amount of money to pay out to maintain the infrastructure of that community. So, what it is going to mean is the few people who are left in the rural areas are going to be paying through their teeth.

Now, I know it is the policy of the Premier that everybody in this Province should pay alike and I have no argument with that as long as we are talking about a level playing field. When you talk about people in St. John's paying a certain tax, why should the people in St. John's or Corner Brook pay x number of bills resulting in x number of hundreds of dollars each year, when other people are paying very little? Well, let me say that the people in St. John's who are paying a fairly high rate of taxation are getting -

MS. VERGE: Not as high as Corner Brook.

MR. HEARN: - not as high as Corner Brook, the member mentions - are getting something for their dollar. Look at the services that are in St. John's compared to the services that are in most outports.

Now, there are a lot of things, let me say to the Member for St. John's South, there are a lot of things we have in the outports that you will never have in St. John's but these are not things that we are paying for with our tax dollars. So, if you are going to have to pay the money then you should get some value. Where you are not getting services you should not be expected to pay for them.

Consequently, what is going to happen, in the smaller rural areas because of our geography, because of our decline in population, we are going to see the few people who are left, they are going to have to pay an extremely high cost for the few meagre services that they have. Somebody mentioned earlier tonight that we are going to see fewer and fewer people want to get involved in running for municipal government, local municipal government because it is not worth the hassle anymore, the way they have been sent right to the wall by this present government.

So certainly members who represent rural areas: I cannot see how you can sit there and say absolutely nothing when your own little communities are on the chopping block, because if this program that the government is trying to ram through is brought in by the Department of Municipal and Provincial Affairs then, within the next very few years, many small, rural communities in this Province will be faced with either increasing taxes beyond that which the residents are able to pay, or they will just throw up their arms in complete and utter frustration and go back to being an unincorporated area where the government comes in, maintains the roads, plows the roads and everything else. So the incentive is to abolish the councils that are out in the area and once again go back to thoroughly disorganized areas, and we all know where that is going to lead.

Mr. Chairman, I suggest that this piece of legislation is one which is going to take us backwards rather than forwards, and before we carry it we should certainly look very, very seriously and carefully at it.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I cannot let the opportunity go without saying a few words on this bill because I think it is a piece of legislation that is part of the government's scheme. It is having the result of making municipalities in this Province fear for their own future, and municipal governments finding it harder and harder to get people to be willing to take on the responsibility.

Mr. Chairman, it is just another measure that this government is taking. We have seen a few others on the Order Paper now - some actions of this government that are having the effect of putting the budgets of municipalities way out of whack.

I spoke to a mayor today who told me that he and his council - of a council of eight he had six resignations, all in writing, handed out, ready to go, not taking place yet because they are still trying to figure out what is going on; but they are concerned that they are going to be in a situation of having to double their taxes in order to be able to pay and meet the budgets that they had laid down.

A number of actions of this government - the municipal operating grant system has changed horses in midstream. We have the changes to the utilities tax that are being brought in at the late date, while members of councils have been struggling with their budgets, causing massive disruption to budgets of municipalities around this Province.

It seems every time they turn around they cannot shoot straight because they don't know where their next dollar is coming from. They don't know, and they certainly know they don't have the sympathy of the government when it comes to instituting measures that are going to have massive effects on the budgets of their municipalities, on their ability to deliver services, on the opportunity for the residents of these communities to participate meaningfully in the running of their own communities because, when they are not given the wherewithal to operate, when the government is dictating to them at every turn, when they get a handle on something and they have some control over their finances, the government turns around and changes everything, changes the rules of the game, without the kind of consultation that is needed, and with such devastating effects on those communities that have been described by other hon. members here tonight.

We have seen, in situations coming up now, Conception Bay South is facing a drastic circumstance with their budget as a result of the measures of this government. A shortfall of some quarter of a million dollars is being anticipated, and an impossible situation being they have to force on their own residents, having a two-tiered approach to the servicing of Conception Bay South where the group of people who already have their servicing done, that has been incorporated into the tax structure. It has been paid for by the municipal grant system that was in effect at the time.

Now, we have another situation coming on top of that where the residents of the community of Conception Bay South, or the town of Conception Bay South, now the largest town in Newfoundland, is having forced on itself the unhappy circumstance where, now, any new residents of Conception Bay South who have their water and sewer hooked up, and the water and sewer installed, are required to pay the total cost of that - the cost recovery system, I think it is called - unlike all other residents of the town who so far have gotten their water and sewer installed as part of the municipal services; they did not have to pay anything over and above their regular tax, Mr. Chairman, which was part of a fund to pay the full cost of these services being installed.

New people coming on stream who have been asked, not only to pay the full taxes up until now, but now when water and sewer is being brought to the new subdivisions and the new areas, and not only just subdivisions but also areas that have been part of the community or that make up the community of Conception Bay South for many years, they are having to endure a cost recovery tax system to pay for municipal services that are being made available.

So it is a system that is creating enormous problems for municipalities. It makes it very, very difficult for those individuals who have taken on the responsibility for their communities to do the work required, the long hours to try to sort out the problems and, Mr. Chairman, municipalities have a lot of problems. They have a lot of responsibilities and it takes very dedicated people at the local level, to be willing to put up with the kinds of problems that we put upon our politicians. They don't get very well compensated for their efforts. Most of them are operating on a purely volunteer basis to try to make some sense out of their own communities, to try to ensure that their local communities get some services. That has been done in many respects by law being with government and getting government to provide much of the money and that is the system that has grown up. We have not had a long history of municipal government in this Province. It is unfortunate that what this government is doing to the municipal politicians, is discouraging them from taking an active part in trying to have some control over their communities, because once they get going, the rules are changed and the rug is pulled out from underneath them. Now, they are being forced into a system where they have to place on their own citizens, a far, far too heavy burden, Mr. Chairman, a burden they cannot endure because they don't have the jobs, they don't have the money, they don't have the wherewithal, to pay for the services that are being required by their citizens.

Now, Mr. Chairman, we do have to have some order. We do have to have some sense in the municipal world but it cannot be done by forcing it down their throats and by making them unwilling to carry on the responsibilities. It is just not being fair to them, Mr. Chairman. It is not being fair to them because they don't have any control over the situation. Yes, it is fine to say we have to have a rational policy but we also have to have a policy, Mr. Chairman, that people can operate under and that people can continue to be able to provide services at the local level, have some confidence that they can go to a council meeting, they can make decisions, they can plan a budget and not know that they are going to have the money that they have planned to get, taken away from them because the rules of the game are changed.

We see legislation before the House now about the utilities tax that, past the time when the municipalities are required to have their budgets submitted and their decisions made about taxation for the coming year, now there are the policies of this government, and legislation is coming down the pipe, coming down very fast, Mr. Chairman, some of it just tabled in the House today.

We have Bill 73, for example, coming down the pipe very, very fast, changing the rules after commitments have been made. In terms of expectations, budget decisions have been made and now many municipalities are floundering, Mr. Chairman, because of the actions of this government. So, I think we have an unfortunate situation, when we see the government day after day doing things that are causing pain and suffering and decreasing the confidence that people have in government at all levels, decreasing the confidence in government at the municipal level because the people involved in municipal government do not have the confidence of their own citizens because they are being required to turn back on them and take back some of the services that they promised, or charge more for municipal service than they ever anticipated they would have to do, or face the reality that there are going to be no new services. When communities close to St. John's are looking at having to double their taxes and charge more taxes than the citizens in St. John's have to pay, then, there is something wrong there, because the citizens of St. John's pay high taxes and they get better services.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) St. John's rate.

MR. HARRIS: They are going to have to double their own rates and they are already at 7.5 mils. But in order to balance their budget, they are going to have to double their rates of taxes, and they are going to have higher taxes than the City of St. John's itself. And that is what we see coming down the pipe in order to balance the budgets of some communities near St. John's. It is an unfortunate circumstance that this government is forcing on the people of the Province in the communities and the municipalities. The people who are serving on a volunteer basis as town councillors around this Province are now looking at resigning, Mr. Chairman, and throwing up their hands and saying: We have tried democracy and it doesn't work.

MR. ROBERTS: Carried!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Carried!

MR. ROBERTS: The filibuster carries on.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly respect the opinion of the hon. the Member for St. John's East and his right to express his opinion. I just want the record to show that I totally disagree with everything he said.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. We have been sitting now for just about eleven hours straight and from reviewing the record we have dealt with nine bills. We are on our tenth bill. We debated on second reading three bills at the start of the afternoon. We have done in detail clause by clause analysis in Committee of the Whole six bills and we are on our seventh. The Government House Leader has informed us that he is keeping us here no matter how long it takes until we finish page 2 of the Order Paper, until he gets his police public complaints commission bill through Committee of the Whole.

Well, Chairperson, I have news for him. If he thinks that by threatening to keep us here, the few members of the Opposition, all night and into tomorrow, counting on us getting tired and worn down and giving up, so he can ram through the House his police public complaints commission, he has another think coming. I, for one, and I know, my colleagues here, are not going to give him his police public complaints commission.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: So members opposite who may not have been privy to their own House Leader's game plan can now settle in for a long night. Chairperson, if the Government House Leader is going to keep us here until he gets his police public complaints commission, flawed as it is, without an opportunity for more public consultation, then we'll be here all night. We'll be here all morning, we'll be here all afternoon, we'll be here into tomorrow night. There's absolutely no incentive for us to go fast in dispensing with the bills further up on the Order Paper.

Now, what we are examining in Committee of the Whole is the tenth bill we have done today in the eleven hours we have been sitting. It is a bill to set up a new municipal operating grants system retroactive to two years ago. This is typical of the government's shoddy approach to municipal affairs policy and funding. Just after taking office they launched their first initiative, their first miscalculated, misguided initiative, and that was wholesale amalgamation. The first Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs announced in July of 1989 that they were going to amalgamate some 150 municipalities across the Province, combine them into various permutations, reducing the number of municipalities in the Province. It was going to be done and over with in a matter of weeks - no time for consultation. It had to be in place for the municipal elections in November of 1989.

Well, Chairperson, we are still waiting for some of those amalgamation proposals to be resolved. The government changed their plans as they went along. They had some municipalities under the gun delay their municipal elections. They put in place commissions with their own assistant deputy ministers and DMs with their own executive officials holding their jobs at the pleasure of the Premier to conduct feasibility studies. That was another sham.

That process took months and months. When the reports came in gradually, over time, some concurred with the government's position - of course, what would you expect? - a few pointed out that the amalgamation proposals didn't make sense. So municipalities have had to live with the uncertainty generated from that initiative. The volunteers who make up those councils and those fire departments haven't known from 1989 to 1990 to 1991 to 1992 whether the government was going to allow their municipalities to continue.

I represent the municipalities of Corner Brook and Massey Drive. The Premier represents the municipalities of Corner Brook and Mount Moriah. On the minister's list in July of 1989 was the combination of those three municipalities, Massey Drive, Mount Moriah and Corner Brook. The commissioners, the government official, and a second commissioner chosen by the municipalities held hearings the following winter, the winter of 1990. Everyone who turned up and made a submission opposed amalgamation. Even the City of Corner Brook expressed concern about increased costs resulting.

The years went by. Finally, the new Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, last spring, agreed to pay for a study the City of Corner Brook wanted done. Corner Brook's consultants, Doane Raymond, did a study of the financial implications of the amalgamation proposal. That report, which the minister got in August, proved what those of us who had been opposing amalgamation had said all along. The report showed that amalgamation would result in a substantial increase in the net overall municipal operating cost and would likely require an overall municipal tax increase of 1.4 mils. Chairperson, as I have said earlier tonight, Corner Brook has the highest municipal tax rates in the Province.

MR. REID: How much?

MS. VERGE: How much? the Member for Carbonear asks. Twelve mils plus $150 a household.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, ask people in Corner Brook. So volunteers who make up many of our municipalities and our fire departments have had to live with forced amalgamation in some cases, with the threat of forced amalgamation in other cases, for three years, three-and-a-half years. Many are still waiting.

So, misguided initiative number one was wholesale amalgamation. Misguided initiative number two, announced Christmas week two years ago, was a new grants system. In the announcement was the commitment to fairness, evenness in municipal taxation, an indication of rewarding municipalities with reasonably high tax rates, an incentive or a prod for municipalities with lower rates to increase their rates, in practice, cuts across the board - cuts to Corner Brook, cuts to Massey Drive, cuts right across the board.

AN HON. MEMBER: Okay, we give up, we'll withdraw the Bill.

MS. VERGE: Misguided initiative number three was downloading of costly responsibilities. To the City of St. John's, the Aquarena. We're waiting for the other shoe to drop. The new Minister of Tourism and Culture is setting about downloading arts and culture centres to municipalities.

So the burden on municipalities has become greater and greater. What the government has failed to take into consideration at all is the reality of life in most of this Province. Most of this Province is rural. We have a higher percentage of rural population than any other province in Canada. My colleagues, the members for Ferryland and St. Mary's - The Capes, in their speeches tonight showed a real understanding of what goes into running small municipalities, the municipalities in their districts.

They've said that with the changes this government has brought about and with the direction in which they're tending it's increasingly unattractive for communities to be incorporated or remain incorporated. It's very unappealing for citizens to serve on a council. After all, why should people without any pay have to continually increase taxes and impose hardships on their neighbours? Why should any citizen take that responsibility and put up with the complaints and abuse that go along with that kind of responsibility and that kind of exercise of power? If we don't have qualified energetic citizens continuing to volunteer for municipalities, what hope is there for the rural areas of our Province?

Now it seems to me in the current economic climate this government should devise policies to boost volunteers, to reward volunteers. To make it easier, not harder, for people to donate their time and energy to run their communities.

MR. REID: (Inaudible) volunteer council?

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, the Member for Carbonear is a former president of the provincial federation of mayors and municipalities, and he knows very well what goes in to running municipalities in this Province. If the member was true to -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Premier.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, I can't help but intervene to make some comment on the last two performances that I've just witnessed here. I just listened to the hon. member talk about: if you think we're going to sit by and let you rush things through and beat things through this House we're not going to do it. They've sat now for six weeks and prevented any reasonable, orderly passage of legislation. They've done the same thing year after year after year. Under this administration the House has sat 50 per cent more than it did under the first administration. I've got the figures. Year after year. I'll let people know.

So people should know just what kind of a charade they're performing. If they think the public is being fooled by this they'd better think again. In last year, Mr. Chairman -

MR. R. AYLWARD: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Kilbride on a point of order.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I believe we're discussing Bill No. 30, An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act. I would like to know what relevance the Premier is going to put into our debate now as to how many days the House was open in the past?

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Premier on that point of order.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Chairman, I am addressing the question raised by the Member for Humber East. I am responding to the questions raised by the Member for Humber East with the suggestion that the government is forcing this legislation through against the will of the House, trying to force them into it against the will of the House. I was demonstrating in responding to the issues raised by the Member for Humber East that, for example, we have already sat in this -

MS. VERGE: Mr. Chairperson, did you call a point of order?

PREMIER WELLS: I am speaking on the point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay.

PREMIER WELLS: I was demonstrating, and this is the relevance of it, I was demonstrating that already we sat 1100 hours in this session, quite apart from the Legislative Committee sittings, another 200 or 300 hours, and in all of the last term of the former government, all of the period they were there, they sat a whole total of 864 hours. Now, here are those big brutal Liberals, Mr. Chairman. This is the point I was making. Here are those big brutal Liberals rushing things through and not giving an opportunity to speak. The marvel is they do not choke on their words, Mr. Chairman. It really shocks me that they could get it out. In response to that point of order, that is what I was doing, I was addressing this issue.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: To the Member for St. John's East I would say that if he thinks this has the appearance of intelligent debate on municipal issues, affecting municipal issues, if he thinks he is conveying to the people of this Province that that is responsible leadership, holding this House up in this way, these two members back and forth in this way to the point where they even have their own Opposition House Leader so fed up he has gone home because he cannot take it anymore.

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

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

MR. HARRIS: The Premier is suggesting that there is going back and forth and speaking to this Bill but I spoke only once to this Bill. You can exaggerate all you like but it does not change the facts.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: I was out of the City speaking in Gambo this evening and I did not get back until about 11 o'clock but in the couple of hours I have been here I have just watched it go back and forth like a yo-yo. If that is an intelligent discussion of the municipal grants Bill or the bill that was debated before that, if they think this is intelligent, responsible treatment, if they think this is responsible usage of the taxpayer's dollars -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber East on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Mr. Chairperson, the Premier's remarks are not relevant to the Bill now under consideration. The Bill now before the committee is Bill No. 30, "An Act To Amend The Municipal Grants Act," so I would like to draw to Your Honour's attention the fact that the Premier has not yet referred to the Bill which is before the committee and I would expect the Chairperson to require the Premier to confine his remarks to ones which are relevant to the Bill.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Premier to that point of order.

PREMIER WELLS: On that point of order, Mr. Chairman.

Again, I was addressing the issue of municipal grants and I was talking about the comments being made by the Member for St. John's East and demonstrating how totally inappropriate, how unintelligent they were. How irresponsible it is for any member under the guise of addressing a serious issue to be abusing and wasting the time of the House, and holding up the order of business in this way.

If they think they're demonstrating responsibility to the people of this Province we can see just how improper their actions are, Mr. Chairman, by the fact that as soon as you start to address this issue and point this out they're up on points of order to prevent it from being said.

The purpose of the comments, and they're quite relevant to the Bill, there's nothing that's been said that's really relevant to the issue, it's just repeat, repeat, repeat, time and time again. It's just repetition of the same thing, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER WELLS: So in addressing that, in pointing out how inappropriate it was, how totally useless it was to addressing the issues that should be at stake in this municipal operating grants, nobody was dealing with the issue in that clause. They're just beating their gums about the basic purpose of the Bill and complaining about what the government did about amalgamation. The same member who rose on this point of order is complaining about the amalgamation process to try and find something to say that has... a brief appearance of intelligence, which he hasn't succeeded in doing. There's no demonstration of intelligence in anything that I've seen applied here.

Mr. Chairman, that was the point I was making.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: To that point of order. The Chair during the night has been lenient. There were times I guess when the Chair should have called hon. members to order, in that we are discussing a bill, municipal grants bill. Members should keep their debate to the topic that's being discussed. So I advise hon. members from now on to stick to the relevancy of the Bill.

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Thank you. Now, Mr. Chairman, if anybody looks at this Bill they can see very clearly that the points being made by the Members for Humber East and St. John's East are just to drag out the time. It doesn't deal with the issue. I haven't heard them mention any of the specifics. The issue, the principle of the Bill, was debated. I was listening.

I haven't heard them mention the provisions of subclause (1): "The minister shall annually, out of funds provided by the Legislature for that purpose, grant to each municipality an amount of money to be known as the municipal operating grant, and composed of...", and then it defines the amounts that it ought to be composed of.

Then subclause (2): "Where the amount of municipal operating grant payable under this section for 1991 is less than or exceeds the total of the general municipal assistance grant and the tax incentive grant payable under the Act for 1990, the municipal operating grant shall be increased or decreased...."

There was no dealing with the specifics of the words. They were simply grandstanding to try and hold up the order of business. The comments they were making have no merit. Everybody can see what they were doing. Do they think we're all dummies? Do they think the 575,000 people in this Province are so stupid that they're going to be taken in by that kind of behaviour? It's time for the members of this House who are drawing very substantial salaries to recognise their responsibility to the people of this Province and behave like reasonable members of the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. The hon. Premier might get away with that in his caucus meetings with little lectures here and there about what people should be doing and what people should not be doing. When he gives these lectures in his caucus I know there's nobody going to stand up and talk back to him. They'll sit there like sheep and nod their heads and bow down to him and say: yes, sir, yes, sir, three bags full. But, Mr. Chairman, the issue -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, that was my mistake, if there was a mistake on Sprung. It wasn't Brian's mistake, actually, it was mine. I accept full responsibility for it. I always have. If there was any fault to be had, Mr. Chairman, it was mine for not giving proper advice at the time.

AN HON. MEMBER: You offered the taxpayers (Inaudible)?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. If I ever had $25 million I'd buy my own Sprung and I'd set it up, Mr. Chairman. Particulary because there are two operating in BC now and one in Ontario shipping those same types of materials to the northeastern, northwestern and central northern states down in the United States. They're making money at it too.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, Mr. Chairman, I had poor management in there when we were doing it, and gave some poor advice -

AN HON. MEMBER: You hired them!

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, I know. I accept the responsibility. I don't shirk away from it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Because your caucus sits down and nods their head and bows down and says nothing to the Premier when he gives you the little lectures like he gave us here tonight. Yes. Particularly the hon. Member for St. John' South. When the Premier looked back at him yesterday and his face turned as white as the hair on his head, Mr. Chairman. He nearly slipped off his seat trying to get down under the desk.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. R. AYLWARD: My face will never turn as white, my face will always be the same colour as the top of my head, Mr. Chairman, no matter what colour it turns.

The hon. member's face turned that white and he nearly slipped off his seat underneath his chair there. The only one who stood up to the Premier was the hon. Member for Eagle River. As I said earlier tonight I don't agree with what he did, I don't agree with not letting the member speak, but I do admire him standing up for what he believes in. That's what we should all be doing in this house of Assembly.

To get back to the debate on Bill....

AN HON. MEMBER: To get back?

MR. R. AYLWARD: To begin with, if that's what the hon. member would like to call it, on Bill 30, on the municipal grants. Mr. Chairman, I want to show some of the consequences of what the Premier and the government are doing by cutting back on the municipal grants and downloading the tax burdens on the different municipalities in the region.

In particular I'll take some figures from a presentation made to the Liberal caucus on Friday, November 13. A bad day to present it I would say, Friday the 13th. Because it got no action since that day, it was put away. This presentation was made to the Liberal caucus hoping that at least one of them would have enough gumption and would stand up for the City of St. John's. At least one of them would go to the Department of Municipal Affairs and try to convince the Minister of Municipal Affairs to help out with some of the costs of the burden of the blunder that this government has put on the City of St. John's by forcing the amalgamation of the town of the Goulds.

I would like to give you some of the figures of what this amalgamation will cost the City of St. John's. Just a few capital improvements that are necessary would be a reduction of the sanitary system infiltration. That's just to try to upgrade what they have in the ground now that's not working properly. That will cost almost $1.8 million immediately. Over the next three years it will cost another $1.3 million. I don't know where Bill 30 is going to provide any of that money to try to alleviate the problem of the sanitary system infiltration.

One of the other items that is immediate is other sanitary system deficiencies over the short term, the next three years. They'll need another $375,000 to try to fix some of the problems that they have in what is installed in the ground already. Some of the storm sewer deficiencies will cost immediately another $140,000. Over the next three years to try to fix them up it will cost another $238,000 for a total on the short-term capital requirement - to try to upgrade what is in the Goulds, in place now, that is not working properly, it is going to cost $3.8 million and change to try to keep that in place.

I notice the Member for St. John's South keeps asking: How much? How much? I guess he wasn't in on the meeting when this was presented to him. I know he never went to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs on behalf of the City to try to get some of the money for this, but I would have expected him to at least have listened to the City when they made their presentation, and know some of the figures in the cost to the City of St. John's taxpayers, plus most of the cost in his district of St. John's South.

Mr. Chairman, the long-term problems in the Goulds - some of the other figures: to upgrade the rural, classified streets; this is a very costly operation in the Goulds. It has to be done, there is no way around it, to get their systems up to scratch. It gives a list of the different roads and it gives an itemized cost of what they will -

AN HON. MEMBER: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: I don't want the hon. member to mislead the House. Just as a point of interest, or a point of clarification, Mr. Chairman, the residents of Shea Heights who became part of the city, as did Airport Heights, and as will the Goulds and the residents of the Goulds, it is just not a point of whatever that the residents of Shea Heights in the next three phases on Shea Heights from this government will receive $2.1 million. So that is not a government uncaring.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: That is 354 times that the member has been ruled to have no point of order, since he came into this House of Assembly.

There is a list of roads here and a description of the necessary work that will have to be undertaken by the City of St. John's, and some of them for water main only on some of these roads, the roads on this page, will cost over half a million dollars.

For sanitary/sewer only, it will cost $1.5 million to try to get some of these basic services, actually - the basic services. This is 1992 and people in there are getting water delivered by truck, in parts of the Goulds and in parts of Kilbride.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) while you were minister?

MR. R. AYLWARD: The improvements were progressing year after year after year while I was the member for that area. Over the ten or eleven years that I was there, the average expenditure in the Town of the Goulds was something like $750,000 a year. That is what started the improvements, and since this government took over there has not been one nickel spent in the Goulds from the Municipal Grants Act for the last three-and-a-half years.

We have to do some storm sewer only improvements on the rural roads, which will cost another $3 million. We have to do some water and sanitary storm. Water, sanitary and storm together will cost some $18 million on the rural roads in the Goulds.

Now, where is the City of St. John's going to get this $18 million to upgrade these roads when the Provincial Government is downloading their tax burden on the municipalities? They are cutting back on the grant system, cutting out the road components under these grants, eliminating the road components. They have a cap on their municipal grants of some $41 million, I believe, this year, which will cause the road component to disappear in 1993. Then it will start eroding on other parts of the grants.

Sewer services only, on several of the roads will cost another $75,000 plus change.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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

MR. HEARN: Basically, I rise because I don't believe the Premier was in the House when we spoke earlier tonight. Certainly, listening to his remarks about nothing being said about the clauses. The bill itself was brought in by a new minister, a minister who inherited this mess from the previous minister whose legislation this included, was tailored to his experience as a member of the city council. Certainly, as I said earlier when I spoke, anybody representing the smaller rural areas of this Province not only would be concerned with keeping this bill alive tonight but certainly would make sure that it never passed in this House, because once it does it means that the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. If you look at the municipal grant structure and how funds are going to be allocated to various components you will see that the more houses you have the richer the area, the more revenues you have the more you are going to get from government.

The Member for Carbonear has in his area a number of smaller municipalities, many of whom are going to be hurting tremendously if this piece of legislation goes through, and the member will try to tell them then that he couldn't do anything about it, he had nothing to do with it. Not one member over there tonight has stood to complain about this piece of legislation. A number of them serve in small rural areas that are going to be hurt financially, hurt badly, if this legislation goes through.

As I mentioned, the funding under the new grant structure will go to those who have the most. The larger richer areas, the more houses you have the greater the revenue you have, the greater the income you will have. Many of the smaller areas depend heavily upon the final component, the local roads component, which has practically been wiped out and which will be wiped out entirely. Maybe somebody could explain to the Member for Carbonear what this bill is all about because he doesn't seem to understand it. The local roads component has just about been wiped out already, will be wiped out in the very near future, and then you will see that the other component has been cut into. Many of the small rural communities that were forced into amalgamation or pressured into amalgamation have, between communities, quite some distance, have within communities several kilometres of local road. I am familiar with one municipality that is comprised of three small communities that have seven miles, we are looking at roughly twelve kilometres of road in that area. Up until now they were getting $24,000 a year to maintain that road and to pay for the snow clearing during the winter. Now, this community will receive practically nothing to maintain twelve kilometres of local road, some of it paved and some of it not paved. The maintenance alone - in many rural areas you have a lot of local roads that are on hillsides where, after the heavy rainfalls we have at certain times of the year, you have severe washouts and the roads have to be repaired by having dump trucks come in and haul clay and whatever. In winter, half of that money always went to the Department of Highways. In many of the rural areas where you don't have local equipment available or they can't afford to hire them to clear the local roads, the Department of Works, Services and Transportation will clear the local road for half of the grant. So where they got $2,000 a kilometre the Department of Works, Services and Transportation now charge $1,000 a kilometre.

Now the communities will not get that money to pay. But where Works, Services and Transportation still clear the roads for them, because they have no choice, the money will now be taken directly out of other sections of the grant that they'll be receiving from the department. So it means that small, rural communities are going to have again a heavy loss after already being hit this past year in two or three other directions by this present government.

So for the Premier to come into the House here in his sanctimonious way tonight and stand up and say that the only reason we are delaying the bill is just to be obstructionist, that is entirely unfair. The reason that we have been speaking out on this bill is because it is going to decimate a number of the smaller communities in the Province to the point where we are going to find, as I said earlier, a lot of people not wanting to volunteer to go on councils because they can no longer take the hassle.

I don't know whether members who are from the larger areas have any idea of what it is like to deal with smaller communities. I don't know whether they know what it is like to serve on smaller communities. In my own district we have about sixteen municipalities, all of them extremely small, all of them depending heavily on the local roads component, all of them depending heavily upon the type of funding that government had in place for them, all of them now being hurt by the new legislation being brought in by this present government. So how any rural member can stand and support such legislation is beyond me.

The people who represent larger areas, people who have always lived with their heads in the clouds and in silver towers and glass houses don't understand perhaps what it's going to mean to them. But people like the Minister of ITT certainly should know what it is like to represent a small rural area. He should also know, coming from an area where there are a lot of local roads, what these municipalities are going to have to go through. The only recourse in order to keep going at all is to increase taxes. Increasing taxes where you have poor economic areas, where you have no services, where you have an aging population, where you have fewer pieces of real property to tax year after year, means that the few who stay and survive, to try to keep alive the rural areas of our Province, are going to pay such an amount of money that they might as well pack up like everybody else and do what the Premier wants them to do anyway: move into the large central areas.

So, really, what we are doing is gradually whittling away at the fibre of Newfoundland - whether it be our municipal act as we see here, in this very one we are discussing right now; whether it be in our educational system as we see in what they want to do, especially as it relates to the Royal Commission report, once they get through an election and start coming in with the acts to implement that; they are gradually wiping out rural Newfoundland.

MS. VERGE: The people are going to thwart that plan.

MR. HEARN: Mr. Chairman, it will be the people, hopefully, who will thwart that plan if they have a chance, as they should have. If these bills had gone to Committee, then the people would have had a chance to thwart a lot of these also.

Mr. Chairman, it is not our duty to be obstructionist, it is our duty to make sure that the rights and privileges of our people are protected. They certainly aren't being done so by the government. Once again the heavy axe is coming down by uncaring people who don't understand what it is all about outside the overpass. A lot of people, as I say, who just don't care. It is amazing that members can sit by and see their own local areas decimated by legislation being brought in by the government they support. We are not going to do it, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will continue to show some of the detrimental effects of Bill 30, what the government is doing to the municipalities in the Province as a whole but, in particular, I will point out some of the problems it is causing the City of St. John's, both amalgamation and the capping of municipal grants in this Province.

With respect to the rural classified streets in the Goulds alone, Mr. Chairman, it will cost some $45 million to upgrade them to an urban standard, to the standard of the City of St. John's. Now, I personally think that is not practical to consider for a long time. It would probably be more practical to upgrade these as good rural streets so that the City can maintain them and look after them from then on, and even that, Mr. Chairman, will cost some $2.3 million just to get them up to a rural standard. That is one part of the Goulds that could cost up to $45 million just to get the roads urbanized, but I would suggest that it is more practical to probably spend the $2 or $3 million to make them into good rural roads so that the City can do the proper snow clearing and proper cleaning.

Mr. Chairman, the urban classified streets that are in the Goulds, that were amalgamated into the City of St. John's when the City took them over, and some of the roads there - most of these would be in my district. Most of the other streets would be in the district of Ferryland, the rural roads. Most of these streets here have a lot of the infrastructure and municipal services to qualify as urbanized streets. Some of them have sidewalks, most of them have water and sewer, sanitary sewer, some of them have storm sewer.

Now, Mr. Chairman, to get them up to the city standards, equal to the rest of the City of St. John's, I guess, is our total aim. There is only one road in that area, Bonnie Cresent, which will require a water main, Mr. Chairman, and that will cost only $18,800. Certainly, we can find that small amount of money to do that. If we do these areas for sanitary sewer only it will cost some $330,000 which is not a great a lot of money. If we put in the storm sewers - and that is one of the problems in the Goulds that when the Goulds was being developed, storm sewers were not installed, it was only sanitary sewer and the water mains.

So, there is a great need for a storm sewer systems in there and they have a lot of problems with flooding. That would cost, for the storm sewers only, some $2.1 million to try to get them up to city standards. If we have the municipal grants capped, Mr. Chairman, there is no way the City of St. John's can get this type of money to do it. For water, sanitary and storm sewer, Mr. Chairman, it will cost $2.2 million to try to get some of these roads up to the city standards. For sewer services on some of these roads, to upgrade them and fix them, it will cost some $700,000. The urban cost of these roads would be probably two-thirds of the Goulds, to get them up to the standards of the rest of the City of St. John's, like Circular Road maybe or Elizabeth Avenue or some of these - get them up to some of these standards.

The hon. the Minister of ITT asked me what I was reading from. I am reading from a presentation that was given to the Liberal caucus by the City of St. John's on Friday the 13th, in November of 1992. The reason I'm reading it out here is because I understand that none of the St. John's members took it upon themselves to go to the Department of Municipal Affairs and see if they could lever some money out of the Department of Municipal Affairs to -

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: Mr. Chairman, that is totally incorrect. Now what the hon. member just - he made a statement and it's extremely false, and though it may not be -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: How false?

AN HON. MEMBER: How false was it?

MR. MURPHY: It's like about half past one false. Let me say to the hon. member that the caucus from St. John's made several representations to government and we did not ignore the document the hon. member has. We addressed the document. When the hon. member is finished I will update him.

MR. CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible). The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Another ruling against the Member for St. John's South. I forgot to write down the last one. We are up to 350 or something like that now.

Mr. Chairman, to get these streets that have generally the basic services in them, upgraded to the - is the Minister of ITT satisfied now that he knows what I am reading from, or would he like me to go over it again?

MR. FUREY: No.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Okay. The reason I am reading it here is because the information I get is that none of the members for the City of St. John's who sit in the Liberal caucus have taken strong enough initiative with the Department of Municipal Affairs to try to lever some money out of the department to see if they can address some of these problems.

Now, this is only one area of the city of St. John's, the latest amalgamated area in the city, that we are dealing with. To get these streets - most of them have water and sewer services, sanitary sewer - to get them up to an urban standard like the rest of the City of St. John's is going to cost $11.4 million.

Now, if we are going to cap the municipal grants as stated in this Act, or change The Municipal Grants Act as we are trying to do in this Act here, there is no way the City of St. John's can get the required amount of money, or a share of the required amount of money, to be able to do some of these repairs on the - I didn't count the streets, but there is a full page of streets on this. And just from those two pages alone, if you wanted to urbanize the whole of the town of the Goulds, if you wanted to get it all up to city standards, it is going to cost you some $56 million. I don't think it is necessary immediately to try to get it all up to city standards. There are rural areas in the Goulds that it would be prefer to stay with larger lots and remain rural areas.

Some of the rural areas have sewer problems now and are going to need to have the basic services put in there. Many of the areas could stay with the rural setting and I don't think it would be too bad for them. If you want to keep those areas in a rural setting but get their standards up to scratch, to standards that would be acceptable, I guess, to the city, it is going to cost $13.5 million. That is only one issue that the member from the City of St. John's would not raise with the Department of Municipal Affairs and try to get money for it.

There are another issues in this report that relate directly to this Municipal Grants Act. One other of the issues would be the transfer of the fire fighting services to the City of St. John's, transfer them without grants to try to help alleviate the problems not only for the City of St. John's. We have already seen the problems that it caused when the mayor of the City of St. John's who is the chairperson of the northeast Avalon fire board, or whatever it is called, holds a meeting and the mayors from Paradise, Portugal Cove, St. Phillips, Petty Harbour/Maddox Cove Outer Cove, Middle Cove and Logy Bay do not attend the meetings.

Now, Mr. Chairman, if the City of St. John's and the northeast Avalon are responsible for the fire fighting services and they cannot get together for a meeting, well there is a problem there and the problem has to be addressed, but when the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs was asked to address this problem and intervene to try to help out he said: no, he is not going to do anything about it, he is just going to sit back and relax and let them work out their own problems, he will not interfere.

Now what capping the municipal grants in the northeast Avalon has caused just in fire fighting services alone in the Town of Paradise, they used to pay in 1991 about thirty dollars per unit, per home in -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

On motion, Clauses 3 and 4 without amendment, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the Bill without amendments, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 8, Bill 33, please, Mr. Chairman.

"An Act To Amend The Welfare Institutions Act", (Bill 33).

Clause 1.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, this is a kind of a confusing act to me. It only has one clause in there - there are two clauses but what it does is, retroactively make the Minister of Health responsible for some of the welfare institutions, whatever that is supposed to mean, but what I understand it was, is that the Minister of Social Services was responsible for this welfare institutions act and now it is going to be transferred to the Minister of Health -

AN HON. MEMBER: Seven years ago.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, since 1985, but what I do not understand is why this act here, when we have another act on our Order Paper, Bill No. 46 I believe it was, which will repeal this act, completely repeal the act and there will be no need of the Department of Health or the Department of Social Services having their name on it, so, Mr. Chairman, this is another sign to me of certainly a lack of planning. There is no need of having this act in the House of Assembly tonight, we are sitting at 1:30 in the evening and we have dealt with such grave bills as a provincial bird for our Province, we have another very important piece of legislation which says that we are going to change the welfare institutions act from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health and when we get down a bit further, we will have no welfare institutions act at all to have either the Minister of Health or the Minister of Social Services looking after it. It shows me a complete and utter lack of planning on behalf of the Government House Leader and the government of this Province, to bring in such trivial legislation and waste the time of this House.

Now we just had a ten or fifteen-minute lecture from the Premier a little while ago about wasting time, and what the Opposition in this House is doing in wasting the time of the House. Now, if he is going to give us a lecture about wasting the time of the House, it certainly does not make sense to me for him to be bringing in this type of a piece of legislation which means nothing because we are going to repeal the whole act in about another five or six hours, by the time we get down to another two or three pieces of legislation here. In Bill No. 46, "An Act Respecting The Licensing And Inspection Of Health And Social Agencies", and in that act, I do not have it right on top here now, but in that act when it was pointed out to me that one clause, I believe the last clause in that act will repeal the Welfare Institutions Act completely.

Now, I do not understand the Premier of this Province lecturing me about wasting the time of this House of Assembly, when he is bringing in such important pieces of legislation like the Welfare Institutions Act. To change the name, minister will mean the Minister of Health. In a couple of hours from this the Minister of Health or the Minister of Social Services will not have it. Now, I only ask these questions so that the Minister of Health will get up and give me a very sound explanation of why this is going to happen. I do not say he will get up and give me a lecture like the Premier did about wasting the time of the House of Assembly.

So, the Premier will get up or the Minister of Health will get up now in a minute with a diatribe and say that they are going to repeal this act to get rid of the illegal acts by the former administration.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. R. AYLWARD: It is easy to anticipate in debate in this House of Assembly when you hear over and over and over again about - everyone gets the blame except our precious government and our precious Premier who is untouchable and infallible. We argued a little while ago about him blaming the federal government for everything and the municipal in the down-loading of taxes. Mr. Chairman, now he will blame in this, him or his ministers will blame a past administration on changing the name of the Department of Social Services to the Department of Health. I will say to him, if he gets up and wants to blame someone else, we had more important things to do than to bring legislation into this House to change the Minister of Social Services to the Minister of Health.

We had Atlantic Accord legislation to bring into this House of Assembly which probably is the best legislation that was ever brought into this House of Assembly. We had environment legislation, Mr. Chairman, to bring in here which was important legislation to our House of Assembly and for him to get up and just blame another administration, which is what he will do and continue to waste the time of the House of Assembly, Mr. Chairman. He is anxious to get up so I suppose I had better sit down before he bursts his belt open or something, get up and blame us, come on get up.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, there is not much to be said about this Bill to add to what the Member for Kilbride already said. It is hard to understand why the government is even bothering with this measure when they have another bill before the House which will repeal the whole Act.

Chairperson, of course the other bill is the more substantial one and that will require a considerable amount of discussion when we get to that. Chairperson, apparently the Minister of Health was chomping at the bit to get up and have a few words on this Bill, even though the Premier might be asking him to stay in his seat, I think several of us would like to know what is on his mind. He looks extremely eager so I would say that he has something very interesting to say on this subject and I would encourage him to get up and let us know what it is.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

DR. KITCHEN: Mr. Chairman, unaccustomed as I am to public speaking, I would like to say that the Member for Kilbride had it pretty well right. What they did was change the act by Order in Council and forgot to put it through the House. We eventually caught it, and now we are making all your activities, right back to 1985, legitimate. So you should thank us now and let us pass this thing.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

That is not what I wanted to know. What I wanted to know was: What happened to the welfare institutions licensing and inspection authority for the seven years when all of this was going on?

When I look at Section 14 of the act it says that - this is the act that we are about to repeal now in a few hours time - it says: The authority shall make a report to the minister annually. I wonder which minister he made the report to - on a date to be prescribed by the minister - and I wonder which minister prescribed the date - concerning the work of the authority during the previous year, and the report shall be laid before the Legislature within fifteen days after it is submitted to the minister.

So I suppose that for six or seven or eight years while these hon. members were sitting over here, or up there, they were seeing these reports come in and studying them assiduously like they would, checking the legislation. Which minister is bringing this in? My gosh, this must be in under the wrong act; and they were raising questions about it, of course, and wondering what was going on.

I wonder how they discovered it? Maybe the minister can tell us how it took them seven years to discover, in opposition, that this crowd had been making such a mistake. How did they discover it? Did they discover it when they were about to repeal it? Perhaps that was when they discovered it.

Can someone tell us whether this does make legal all the things that were done illegally - all of the licences that were given out; all the regulations that were passed; all the inspections that were carried out, and licences revoked and granted? Does that really have that effect? Maybe the minister can tell us that.

On motion, Clauses 1 and 2, without amendments, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill, without amendments, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Order 9, Mr. Chairman, Bill No. 38.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 38. The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: I have an immensely important amendment to move to this.

Clause 1 of the bill, which the committee will note is the only clause in the bill, is amended by adding, immediately after the words, "delivery of health", the words, "and continuing" in the new Subsection 22(2).

The purpose of the amendment is to make it clear that the board shall have responsibility for continuing care.

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

MS. VERGE: I would like to have a copy of the minister's proposed amendment. Thank you.

Chairperson, this proposed health legislation is potentially very important. It authorizes the Cabinet to established regional community health boards, the purpose for which shall be to deliver preventive programs to prevent illnesses, educational programs to stimulate positive and healthy lifestyles.

The amendment just proposed by the Government House Leader would enlarge the mandate of the boards to have responsibility for continuing care.

Chairperson, the phrase "continuing care" to me is not clear. I don't know if it has a specialized meaning within health care circles. It may mean nursing care for the chronically ill. The Minister of Health is nodding his head. I'd like him to explain why the term "continuing care" appears here. Why not be more precise? Why not specify nursing care or care for the chronically ill?

AN HON. MEMBER: There is such a thing as continuing care.

MS. VERGE: I'll yield to the minister if he'd care to comment on that choice of words in the amendment.

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

DR. KITCHEN: Thank you. The member is quite right. What we're trying to do here in this whole section is to get the authority to set up continuing regional community health boards which will provide care outside a hospital setting. That would include providing people to go in people's homes, individuals to go in people's homes, to help out with the sick while they're there. Not sick enough to go to hospital, not sick enough to go to a nursing home, but someone who's been out of hospital and needs a bit of care before they can get back to looking after themselves. Or someone who's sick for a long period of time in their home or somewhere like that.

That's the main reason why we added "and continuing." The other reason why we have "and continuing" in there is we want the federal government to help share the cost of this. Continuing care is the word that they use. So that we feel that when we have that that our continuing health care board, these employees, at least part of the cost will be picked up by the federal government. Whereas if we just did it with the hospitals they probably wouldn't.

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

MS. VERGE: I thank the minister for his explanation. Actually in the original Bill what's stated is that the boards "...shall be considered to be corporations," and their purpose is "to direct the delivery of health care services, other than hospital services,...."

That's very vague. Health care services other than hospital services I've taken to mean educational programs to promote healthy lifestyles and to prevent illnesses. I think the legislation would be strengthened if that were spelled out. The minister in a couple of speeches I've heard him make both inside and outside this House has acknowledged the need for a much greater effort in community health to have people eating more sensibly; to have people lowering their consumption of fats and unhealthy foods; to promote more fitness; to prevent illnesses. Statistics and research show that among our most serious illnesses nowadays and those which are most costly to treat are those which are basically caused by unhealthy lifestyles which can be substantially reduced if we have less smoking, if we have more nutritious diets, if we have -

MR. REID: More sleep!

MS. VERGE: More sleep, the Member for Carbonear says. If we cut out all night sittings of the House of Assembly. If we generally promote among people from early childhood on more positive habits. The current provincial annual expenditure on health is something in the order of $700 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: Nearly $900 million.

MS. VERGE: Eight hundred and eighty million dollars, the minister corrects me, $880 million. Chairperson, if you look at where that goes you'll see that just about all of it goes into treating illnesses. A big chunk of it goes into health care institutions: to hospitals for acute care, for institutions for chronic care, to senior citizens' homes, nursing homes. That's a huge amount of the health care budget. Then we have another large component of it going through MCP to physicians. Quite a bit of what physicians do is treat people who are ill, who have symptoms. Then we have a large outlay going for drugs. So the vast bulk of our spending on health is actually on illness, treatment, intervention, through institutional services, through physician services and for drugs.

A minuscule part of health care spending is going on education programs to promote preventive measures, to promote the positive healthy habits - diets, exercise, sleep. These regional health boards appeal to me because I see them as a vehicle for improving our effort in education, to stimulate better habits, so that we cut down the incidence of illness which has to be treated through institutions, physicians and drugs.

The legislation is too vague. First of all because the mandate given to the boards is so uncertain.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MS. VERGE: Ah hah! The Premier is going.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MS. VERGE: Now we can let loose. He and our House Leader will match up in the morning.

Chairperson, this is a measure which I think is very good in theory. I think it's a well intentioned measure but it's much too uncertain. First of all because the terms of reference for the regional public health boards are too vague. Services other than hospital services. What does that mean? Health care services other than hospital services. Then with the amendment. What does it mean by continuing care?

Those phrases may belong in the Bill. After all they can mean all or nothing. They cover a huge range. I call on the minister to amplify those terms by specifying public health education, positive lifestyle promotion, and other specifics. Secondly, Chairperson, the Bill falls short of the mark because all it does is empower the Cabinet, at some unknown, unspecified time, to establish an uncertain number of regional community health boards which may or may not cover the whole Province. Too often in this Province we have seen examples of new government programs which are introduced in St. John's announced as pilot projects. I think of the Anderson Centre, the young people's mental health service as an example, programs which are initiated as pilot projects with a pledge of expansion for comparable services to be added in the other parts of the Province but the expansion never happens so all we get is a St. John's service. The other parts of the Province never get the service. Chairperson, I think the Bill should specify that the government set up boards to cover every region of the Province.

Now, when the previous Minister of Health talked about this idea last Spring, had a circular flow chart that he proudly displayed when asked about these boards, and he explained that government was going to establish five regional community health boards. There was going to be a St. John's regional health board, an Eastern board, a Central board, a Western board and a Labrador board. Now, members will recall that in the Throne Speech the government also announced that they were going to establish five merged amalgamated hospital and nursing home boards, so I assume that the intention for both community health boards and hospital boards, the same as community college boards and Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador offices, is to have five regional offices and five growth centres and various other government polices, including municipal operating grants, which my friend for St. Mary's - The Capes spoke of earlier, are calculated to force people out of the small communities, out of rural Newfoundland, and to shift into the growth centres.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I believe the hon. Member for Humber East will probably need another ten minutes to finish what she wants to say in the first part of her remarks. I want to speak on this Bill at this stage in committee because it did not really get much discussion at second reading. It is an important piece of legislation because it relates to an aspect of health care which is probably the most promising of all in terms of helping to look after the general health of the population and at the same time provide a way for all of us to reduce the health care costs that are so important a part of government budgets, Mr. Chairman. It is an awful lot of potential packed up in one little half page bill with just one clause.

It is disappointing that what we are doing here - what we are being asked to do here; we are not doing it yet - what we are being asked to do here is once again put all kinds of power in the hands of the Cabinet, without any direction or control over that power; without any parameters being set as to what the nature of these boards are; what their mandate is going to be; what powers these boards themselves will have; how they will be composed; whether there is going to be any attempt to ensure that they are properly balanced for the population; that they are gender balanced, for example; that they include a proportionate number of women representing the population to be served by these boards. We do not have anything here to ensure what kind of services are going to be delivered here, except to say other than hospital services.

Now the hospitals of this Province deliver all sorts of services that I might not think are hospital services. They deliver counselling services on an outpatient basis. They deliver homemaker services to the hospital for patients who are going home. They deliver services that are probably more appropriately being delivered by community health boards in the community. What we have here is just some sort of enabling legislation that lets the Cabinet do what it likes.

AN HON. MEMBER: What do you find wrong with this?

MR. HARRIS: What it does is let the Cabinet do what it likes, and I find a lot wrong with a government that comes here and says, two or three years ago, that it has a plan, and has yet to tell us what the plan is.

AN HON. MEMBER: What plan are you talking about?

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Kilbride says that the Cabinet is a bit more reliable now that the Member for Port de Grave is removed from it. I am not sure I agree, but perhaps in the area of appointing people to boards there may be more to rely on in terms of impartiality. I do not know. I only know the kind of people who have been appointed to the boards when the former Minister of Social Services was there, and I know he has had some problems with that. Some of the people who have been appointed have caused problems for him in one way or another - but that is his own fault. It is his own fault. He appointed them. He asked for the trouble that he got, and eventually he got it.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have the responsibility for it.

MR. HARRIS: I had no responsibility for it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes you did. You caused it.

MR. HARRIS: I had no responsibility for it. The former minister, unfortunately, was the author of his own misfortune.

In this case here the Lieutenant-Governor in Council is allowed to establish these boards by order to create corporations, by order to decide what power these corporations are going to have, to lay down the law as to how they are going to operate, how the boards are going to form, how often they are going to meet - all of these things - all by regulation, with no idea being given to the House, except what the former Minister of Health said one day last year when he was showing off a chart, at which point he said that he thought that they might have five boards. They may decide to have six tomorrow or seven next week or eight the week after that. All being done, Mr. Chairman, without the House having any say whatsoever in the nature of these boards, in the composition of the boards, the appointments, the length of the appointments and how they are going to do all of this. That is all, Mr. Chairman, a part of what is being now given to the Cabinet to do all of this without any need to consult with this House. Without any requirement that these boards prepare annual reports, to identify the difficulties that they may be having, to identify the kind of services that are going to be actually delivering. All we are talking about here, Mr. Chairman, is a shell, a hollow shell that is going to be given to Cabinet to allow the Cabinet to have all the power in the world to do whatever it likes with these boards. I think it is unfortunate, Mr. Chairman, because members of this House may contribute some ideas and approaches to be taken to this aspect of government delivery of health care.

We would like to see, Mr. Chairman, a very strong preventive program, perhaps public health services could be delivered through these boards. I do not know if it is the plan of the Department of Health to include the public health services. The public health services, Mr. Chairman, the public health nurses who played a tremendous role in this Province, even before the cottage hospital system was in full operation, and I have some personal experience in my family of an aunt who spent many years during the 1930's serving on the south coast of this Province as a public health nurse. I have some knowledge of that from her and from writings about that time, the service that was provided by the public health nurses and the Public Health Department, many years ago.

Is it the intention, I ask the Minister of Health, that the public health services offered by public health nurses be delivered through these health care boards, is that the intention? What about homemaker services, is that something that these boards will deliver? And does the minister plan to allocate sufficient resources to this aspect of health care so as to have an impact?..... because, Mr. Chairman, it is a situation where the more money is pumped into this kind of service, the less money will have to be spent on the institutional care which costs so much money. That is the difficulty that we have, you have to spend money in this area to provide home care services so that an individual can maintain themselves in their home at a cost that is a fraction of the cost of providing the health care service in the hospitals, some $400-$500-$600 or $700 per day, is the cost. That is just for the institution alone, Mr. Chairman, that does not count the dollars that are spent under the medical care provisions and payments being made to medical doctors. That is ever so expensive, Mr. Chairman, particularly in the hospitals. We can, through this system, Mr. Chairman, deliver health care, probably better health care in many respects and more compassionate health care to the -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: I see the Premier is gone but the whip has been brought in to replace him. I would like to welcome the Member for Lewisporte back to the House and I hope you are as able to control the behaviour of hon. members opposite has the Premier was for his short visit this evening.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I was referring to the whip but if the Member for Port de Grave wants to talk about himself, the wimp, as he performed yesterday in the House, when he wimped out at an appropriate moment in the House. If he wants to change the topic from the whip to the wimp than I would be quite happy to accommodate him, but I want to talk about the Health Care Act because I think it is an important act. It has not been given enough discussion in the House so unfortunately it has to be discussed again in the dead of the night, Mr. Chairman, but if that is the only opportunity that the government is prepared to give the Opposition to speak, well I will stay here and speak -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, we have good reason to be suspicious and leery of legislation giving carte blanche power to the Lieutenant-Governor in Council to the Cabinet which meets in secret up top here. Chairperson, some of our health care institution boards for many years have been constituted in part by public elections. The Western Memorial Regional Hospital Board, as an example, for many years now, I suspect from the beginning, that hospital board has had some members elected by the public. For the regional community health boards constituted by this legislation, there should be provision for members to be elected by the public.

In education we have progressed from the re-organization in the late 60s, when regional school boards were set up, regional along denominational lines, to having a minimum of one-third of the school board members elected, to requiring that at least two-thirds of school board members be elected, and I do not know if the Member for St. John's North ever actually introduced and had passed in his term in office an amendment to require that all school board members be elected but I know he made that commitment. So in the case of education, Chairperson, with our school boards, over the past twenty odd years we have progressed from having boards pretty well totally appointed and controlled by the clergy, by the churches and a few elite, to a situation where we have public elections for the majority of school board members.

In the case of health for some of our institutions, for years and years we have had some members elected, but it is time, Chairperson, to take a leap forward in this legislation which is forward looking, which makes provision for boards to take a leadership role in improving our public health services, to be composed of people chosen by the citizens. So instead of providing that the Cabinet pick and choose the members, instead we should be passing legislation setting up boards which are elected. By having them elected, Chairperson, the boards would have more credibility, they would have moral authority to make decisions on behalf of their fellow citizens. After all, if these boards are to do worthwhile work they are going to have to have a substantial amount of public funding.

By having the board members elected, they would have a greater authority to manage those taxpayers dollars and to decide which services should be provided; to set priorities, to take initiatives, to make significant improvements in some areas. So one major improvement that we in the official Opposition are advocating for this Bill is that the regional public health boards be elected and not appointed by the Cabinet.

Chairperson, secondly the legislation should require that regional boards be established for the whole Province. Now the former minister with his circular flow chart talked about five regional boards. That makes sense to me. I haven't looked at it carefully. I can't say for sure whether five is the ideal number, but five strikes me as reasonable for the five regions that the former Minister of Health talked about - St. John's, Eastern, Central, Western and Labrador. At any rate the Bill should make clear that the government has to set up boards covering the whole Province.

Next, as I said when I spoke earlier, the Bill should not leave in such vague and ambiguous terms the mandate of the regional community health boards. All this says is that they're to deliver health care services other than hospital services. What I would hope these boards would do would assume responsibility for public health programs and services, the responsibilities now carried out by the personnel of the Department of Health who come under what is called public health. The public health nurses who are based in many places in the Province, who provide services in people's homes, who provide maternal care, who see that newborns and very young children get their needles, their immunization shots. The public health nurses who carry out sexuality education programs, who provide birth control information and counselling. So that should be spelled out.

Additionally, these community health boards should be empowered to do the work of the former Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission, the ADDC. Members will recall that when the government disbanded the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission they said that work would be combined with public health and administered by regional community health boards. Why isn't that spelled out in this Bill? One of the reasons for the success of the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission is that it was a corporation with a board of volunteer citizens, and that board with their volunteer service gave leadership to the Alcohol and Drug Dependency Commission.

One of the initiatives they took when I was a member of the Cabinet was to set up the Province's first alcohol and drug treatment program, the Humberwood Centre, which is in Corner Brook.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: The Member for Carbonear may not be interested in this. I say to the Member for Carbonear, why doesn't he just go home and go to sleep? He's not contributing to this debate.

MR. REID: What are you contributing to the debate? A pile of horse manure.

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Chairman!

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, this is all being recorded, I would remind the Member for Carbonear.

MR. REID: (Inaudible) horse manure.

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

The hon. Member for Carbonear has not been recognised by the Chair. He knows the rules of the House, that he's not to interject when another member is speaking. So I ask him to restrain himself, please.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, what I'm saying is that these regional community health boards, potentially will be very, very valuable. There is no question that we need a reorientation of our health system. We can no longer afford, in terms of public expenditure or in terms of illness, disease and chronic conditions to continue with our present system. We can no longer afford to spend out of the $880 million annual budget, $875 million on institutions for the sick, on doctors and drugs.

Now, Chairperson, I am missing what the Member for Port de Grave is - oh the cucumber recipe book. I think this may be relevant to these subjects of public health because as I was saying earlier the mandate of the board should spell out responsibility for carrying out education programs to promote healthy lifestyles, to promote good health and prevent illness. Of course, part of that is promoting healthy diets, part of that is eating -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The Department of Health backed amendments, that are before us, are establishing a regional community health board but they are not being given any responsibility. We know that there are many, many services that can be provided and ought to be provided, through these regional health care boards. We are talking about homemaker services, counselling services, mental health services, all sorts of services that the community needs on a day to day basis, public health services and adolescent health care counselling services, that are lacking, Mr. Chairman, that are sadly lacking across this Province. Every day I hear of problems that people have in not being able to get access to the kind of counselling they need for very serious -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair cannot tolerate the interruptions that are now taking place, so I ask hon. members for their co-operation. All hon. members should know the Standing Orders and the rules of this House and I ask them please, for their co-operation so we can maintain some order and decorum here.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, a very wise ruling.

I have to say, Mr. Chairman, that there are many, many needed health care services across this Province. When there comes a time for individuals to be looking for health care services, where do they look? They look around their communities and they find them lacking. When they are looking for mental health counselling, where do they look? They look around their communities and they find them lacking. Can they look to a regional health care board for these non-hospital services? We do not know, Mr. Chairman, we do not know because it does not say in this act that the mandate of these regional health care boards will be to provide a certain level of services, a certain standard of care. Even the components are not set out in this act and we just do not know what kind of services that they are providing. Who is going to be on these boards? Are we going to have representatives of the patients who may use these boards, are we going to have consumers of health care? Now, in a manner of speaking we are all consumers of health care. That is true but are we going to have some of the chronic care patients represented here? Are we going to have some of the people who may be ex-patients from a psychiatric institute, are they going to be represented somehow, Mr. Chairman? We do have organizations such as CHANNAL, Consumers Health Awareness Network of Newfoundland and Labrador, that are attempting to play a significant role in influencing health care policy by standing up for their own rights as consumers of health care services on an ongoing basis. Where are they going to be represented? What about the patients who are discharged from hospitals and do not have access to the kind of care they need, are they going to be able to look to these boards and say: oh, I hear there is legislation, I know that this board has a service because the legislation that we have dictates that the kind of services that are going to be provided are as follows?

We have nothing to look to except the vain hope in many respects that there is going to be some health care available, so what I would like the minister to address is: what is the real plan here? Are these boards going to take over the kind of service that is being provided in the experiment now and being carried out in Trepassey with the community nursing, the frontline nursing care project? Is that going to be operated through these community health boards, are we going to have the continuation of a program to develop the possibility of using trained and professional midwives as part of the program?

Unique in this country, Mr. Chairman, we have legislation known as the Midwifery Act and that legislation allows for the licensing and the registration of professional midwives, but that legislation is not operative at the moment because this government has not seen fit to put into place a proper licensing board. We do not have that yet, but we do have trained midwives, we do have people who are capable of performing these services but we do not have a program.

This is something that the health care boards could organize in the communities through regional health care; develop programs recognizing the valuable contribution that can be made by nurse/midwives in the communities in prenatal care, in saving health care costs, because they can provide a closer community level of care that has proven to provide better health care than leaving everything to the institution of the hospital, and has shown that it can provide great benefits to the health care system and to women who are going through pregnancy and giving birth.These are the kind of forward-looking things that can be developed.

I know the former Minister of Health had to be educated about even the existence of midwives because he thought that was something we were trying to get rid of. He thought we were trying to get rid of that and yet his own department was travelling across the country and to Europe looking for nurses with midwife's training so they could go up to Labrador - and he was trying to get rid of them. He thought we were trying to get rid of midwives assisting at birth and yet his own department has constantly had difficulties having to go to England for nurses who had midwife's training to serve in Labrador.

Now, we do have at the School of Nursing, competent and trained professionals who could provide this service, but we do not have anybody entering the programs or not enough because there is nowhere for them to play a significant role in the health care system and it has not been developed by this government because they do not have the foresight or they seem to be dominated perhaps by the medical profession and are not using all the resources at their disposal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I commend the former Speaker's ruling. When confronted with the kind of noise that we're now hearing from the other side he took pains to ask the hon. members to be quiet and to give the proper level of decorum to the House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The cooks on the other side should retire. They can retire to the kitchen to consider their recipes, or perhaps they can have a little tea party to discuss them. They shouldn't have any trouble cooking up something between the lot of them.

Meanwhile those of us who want to discuss this legislation before the House can sit here and discuss it, because it's important legislation and we're looking for some leadership from the government on this. Not just empty shell legislation giving the Cabinet the power to do exactly what they like. A total carte blanche for the members of the Cabinet and the two people who speak at these Cabinet meetings. To have carte blanche to do exactly what they want from here on in.

Because that's what we're being asked to do, to give carte blanche to the members of the Cabinet and its two speakers. I guess the Minister of Finance, and I don't know who the other one is. The Minister of Finance and the other one, the only two who speak at Cabinet meetings, will now have the power if this legislation is passed, to do exactly what they like about health care in the Province and not answer the questions.

If we come in here next year and start asking questions about the community health care boards -

MR. REID: You won't be here.

AN HON. MEMBER: With the latest poll results, Jack, you mightn't be here next year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Three percent.

MR. HARRIS: Don't worry. The whole 3 per cent is in St. John's East. So don't worry. I'll be here. Don't you worry about that, the Member for Carbonear.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's what you said in Ottawa too, Jack.

MR. HARRIS: I say there's a better chance of me being here, Mr. Chairman, than the Member for Carbonear.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to have a few words on this Bill. I know when we were doing second reading I asked some questions of the minister about this new Act. I got some answers. Not very many satisfactory ones, but I did get some answers. I'd be almost willing to support this type of a bill if I could believe in my heart that this will be an improvement to the system that we already have in place in our Province.

Anytime I get a bill with one section and two subclauses -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)!

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

I've recognised the hon. Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. At 2:30 a.m. I'm not going to try to out yell or out shout people on the other side. I have some legitimate questions that I'd like to ask the minister, and I'm sure he'd be willing to give me the answers to them when he gets a turn to get up and speak. When I see a bill brought before this House of Assembly with one section and a couple of subsections, I am nervous about placing to much power in one place, whether it be in the hands of the Cabinet or anywhere else. I find it kind of hard to support legislation that does not explain the function of these boards.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: It was a month before Christmas and up in the House/ Clyde Wells was speaking, the miserable louse/ The workers were working all doing their jobs but they can only complain about papers and knobs.

Mr. Chairman, the first part of that poem reminds me of what hon. members are doing here tonight, they are ignoring the business of the Province and trying to make a joke of what important legislation like this would mean to the health care system in our Province. I am almost convinced that this may be an improvement to the health care system in our Province. I have more confidence now, that it may be an improvement with the present minister in place than the minister whose name appears on the Bill. I did not have the confidence in the other minister who used to just usurp his power and jump, skip lines in the hospitals when he needed some tests done, when other people had to get in line-ups and wait for their health care services. The former minister did not do that, he just phoned up an administrator here and there and got special treatment and went through the health care system. I know this minister, that we have now, will not do that.

But, Mr. Chairman, in this legislation we get very little explanation of what the functions of these boards are going to be, what powers these boards will have. Most importantly, what we would like to know, if there are boards going to be set up, how many boards will we have around the Province? Where will they be situated? Is this going to be a large central health organization or is it going to be able to service the smaller communities around the Province? Some of these questions, I would like to have answered, and one example I would like to bring to the ministers attention - the Member for St. John's South may want to listen to the ministers answer when he gets up on this example to.

There is a health care clinic and system in place in Shea Heights. It used to be part of my district one time and now it is a part of the district of St. John's South and it is a good health care system. It provides community services and community education on health care. They have a board of directors in place now, who run that health care system. Local residents, mostly from Shea Heights, with some expertise brought in from Memorial University occasionally, to sit on the boards. Some help from some social workers on occasion to get the programs organized and deliver some programs that they have in that area.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I would like to know, when the minister stands up, how this legislation will affect the board of directors in the Shea Heights health care clinic. Will this new legislation eliminate the board of directors and just swallow up the community health care services that are now being provided by a board such as the Shea Heights board? Will the members of the Shea Heights board automatically be allowed to serve on the new regional board or will they operate independently of the new regional health care services board? I would expect that these questions will be very important to the people at the Shea Heights health care clinic. Questions that should have been asked by the member for the district but he tends to ignore that. I don't think he cares very much if the board is in existence after these regional health care boards are set up. I don't think he's worried too much if the Shea Heights board can operate independently as they do now and provide a good service, I might add, to the Shea Heights area on health care and general community health care issues.

I know one project they were starting when I was up there was to green Shea Heights - that is what they called it. That was the project. They were going to get some lawns planted around, they were going to plant some trees in the area. A good long-term community improvement project that they undertook some years ago and I notice is making some progress in the Shea Heights area.

I wonder - when the minister gets up to finish the debate or to answer some of the questions on this - how will these new boards affect a facility such as the Shea Heights health care clinic? I don't know of any more of these types of clinics in the St. John's area. I'm not sure of any other independent clinics that we have around here. There are no others in my district, I know. The Shea Heights board would operate on Shea Heights, Blackhead and maybe Petty Harbour - Maddox Cove, if they want. There were people from Blackhead on the board at one time. I'm not sure if there are still members of the Blackhead community - or St. John's now, as it is - but the Blackhead community who would still be on this board.

It would be important to the board of directors of the Shea Heights clinic to see how these new regional health care boards will affect the operation on Shea Heights in particular. Because they do have some programs, some home service programs. They do have many community based programs in existence now. They were used as an experiment, I understand, when it started, between Memorial University and Shea Heights. There was an experiment carried out to see how a community based health care group would operate and would help communities. Certainly it has been very successful to date in carrying out its mandate.

One very important item of the Shea Heights health care board that I don't see in this legislation - I see just the opposite in this legislation - is that the board on Shea Heights is an elected board. They have an annual meeting and they elect the members to their board to run the operations of the clinic. I think a great improvement of this legislation would be to have these boards, however many we will have, elected from the regions. Then, no matter what affect this would have on the Shea Heights health care clinic, or other clinics like that - there are some other clinics in.... There's one in Hopedale which I saw. I think there's one in Nain. There are some along the coast in Labrador. I don't think that they're exactly the same type as Shea Heights but they have some health care services in those boards. I don't know how this new legislation will affect -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I listened with great -

MR. EFFORD: Enthusiasm?

AN HON. MEMBER: Pleasure?

MR. MURPHY: No. I know where the Member for Kilbride is coming from. When he represented Shea Heights nothing, absolutely nothing, happened on Shea Heights. Let me tell the hon. member about the clinic on Shea Heights. The last administration that put a clinic on Shea Heights was through the foresight of the Smallwood administration. Premier Smallwood at that time put a clinic on Shea Heights and that clinic is still on Shea Heights.

But let me publicly thank the Minister of Health. The Member for Kilbride well knows that there will be a new clinic on Shea Heights next year - and the Member for St. John's East knows this because he was up there trying to catch on to everything he could for years - trying to catch on but he did not, obviously.

However, what needs to be said about the clinic on Shea Heights is this, that the clinic on Shea Heights provides to the people of the community a very well structured clinic to train doctors, young doctors for rural Newfoundland, so not only does it serve the people of Shea Heights but it serves all of rural Newfoundland, and I am glad to say to the Minister of Health, a very sincere 'thank you' for what is going on at Shea Heights and in rural Newfoundland.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MURPHY: Is there something wrong, Mr. Chairman, with the hon. Member for St. John's East?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. MURPHY: Mr. Chairman, it is late and we have all heard the story about Jack in the Box. You open the lid and up he comes! Well now, Mr. Chairman, nobody opened the lid but up he came, so Jack in the Box or Jack out of the Box, will have to sit in his place until this hon. member is finished.

Now let me say this in sincerity. I know the hon. Member for Kilbride tried hard; he tried hard but he could not convince Dr. John Collins to do anything on Shea Heights. He could not convince -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, no. The hon. Member for Kilbride knows that Dr. John Collins was extremely busy at other ventures. He was looking after some properties and what have you, so he was busy. But as a member, he could not convince the Member for St. John's South at that time, to do anything. It was the Smallwood administration that put the clinic on Shea Heights and it is this administration that would put a new clinic on Shea Heights. That is what the member needs to know and that is what needs to be said and the member knows in his own heart and soul - he is very fortunate I might add, Mr. Chairman, he is very fortunate that he does not represent Shea Heights today because this hon. member would whip his tail, I would blow him away on Shea Heights and he knows it and he stands in his place and has little picks at this member.

Seniors complex, community centre, a brand new clinic, thanks to my friend and colleague for St. John's Centre, whom I have known a long time; I supported him when he was in the Tory party! He is such a good man, such a good member, I had to support him, I worked for him. My father chastised me for working for him because he is a great Liberal however, because of his tremendous concern for people, he is just a people person, and has been criticized in this hon. House for not standing up and getting on, you know why?... because the Minister of Health has worked like a demon and he does not need to stand in this House -

AN HON. MEMBER: He is a demon.

MR. MURPHY: No. He has more concern - I want to tell this hon. House that the Minister of Health, the hon. the Member for St. John's Centre, has more concern for people than anybody who may be retiring from City Hall, and time will tell.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. MURPHY: Now, let me get to the hon. the Member for Kilbride, the Member for Strawberries.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MURPHY: No, no, I have a lot of respect for a man who gets down in the soil, gets down in the dirt. Somebody said to me that the hon. member looks like a slug, early in the morning. He is that far down in the dirt, all they can see is his head. But, I must say in all honesty, I admire - and I have eaten the hon. member's strawberries; they are beautiful.

Now, back to the Member for St. John's East who went up to Shea Heights in his younger days and left the impression that he was helping the residents of St. John Bosco and Shea Heights. Today the hon. member is afraid, almost, though I should not say he is afraid, almost afraid to go up there. He is almost afraid to go up there. He has three compatriots on Shea Heights, the water tower, the microwave tower and Linda Hyde and I am not sure about the latter.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) just quit there.

MR. MURPHY: Is that a fact? Now, the minister for ITT just told me - and I have nothing but respect for this hon. minister. And what the hon. the Member for Kilbride said is basically right, that the people of Shea Heights were without, and the only time that the people of Shea Heights were without, was for seventeen years of Tory administration. They were without, and the hon. member knows full well - at 2:49 a.m., he is sitting in his place, and I admire him; he knows that the people of Shea Heights because of this government, the hon. the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, the hon. the Minister of Tourism and Culture, the hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade & Technology, the hon. the Minister of Forestry - because he helped us really clean up all those car wrecks about which we debated the other day. The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, all of the hon. ministers in this government, have done more for the residents of Shea Heights, in three years than has been done in the previous forty-odd and I want to thank them all publicly this evening. So, I say to the hon. member - and he knows it because he represented them - how difficult it was to convince the upper echelons, the snobs of St. John's, the snobs, the Doctor John Collins, the snobs who didn't care about Shea Heights, never spent one five minutes up there. Somebody said to me, 'You know, Tom, we know for the first time in a long time, who our member is - Tom Murphy, one of us, one of the common guys off Pleasant Street.' And I asked, 'Who was the member before Tom Murphy?' and they didn't know. They didn't know.

Now, the problem with the clinic - there is only one problem with the clinic, one problem, and I will openly admit this, and I keep thanking the Minister of Health, there is only one problem, in that there is a little bit of a granola pack up there, a little bit of the Mary Jane environment, a little bit of support for the left, a little bit of hammer and sickle, a little tiny bit of yesterday. The hon. the Member for St. John's East knows. Who represents, from the legal aspect - oh, but the hon. the Member for St. John's East, that's who represents the healthy community clinic on Shea Heights.

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. MURPHY: Don't "what" me. The hon. member knows. I never brought it up in this House, nor did I say it to the hon. member, but he represents them and takes from that board that the hon. member talked about, that board on Shea Heights, a fee! The hon. Member for St. John's East takes a fee.

MR. EFFORD: Well, blessed God!

MR. MURPHY: Now, if I am wrong I will sit down and let the hon. Member for St. John's East tell me the difference. Did he ever take a fee from the healthy community board on Shea Heights? With that, Mr. Chairman, I will sit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MS. VERGE: It will be a long night, 'Tom', don't worry. There will be lots of time.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you get a shave (inaudible)?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. As smooth as a baby's.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have more on top than you have on the sides.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I find the hon. the Member for St. John's South to be entertaining at times. He has a fairly good sense of humour. He shouts and bawls every now and then, a bit more than he should, probably, but some of what he said about the Member for St. John's Centre, I agree with. I agree the Member for St. John's Centre does care about people. I agree that if he can do it these health care boards will probably be an improvement to our health care system. But of all the ten minutes that the Member for St. John's South took shouting and bawling and yelling and [TECHNICAL MALFUNCTION].

AN HON. MEMBER: Ah hah!

MR. R. AYLWARD: 'Clyde' paid the bill yesterday. Sheshatshiu paid theirs two days ago and 'Clyde' paid yesterday. Mr. Chairman, of all the huffing and puffing that the Member for St. John's South did, he never did answer the question as to how these regional health care boards, these new boards, will help or hinder the elected board that is on Shea Heights now. The question that I wanted to put to the minister, which the member for Shea Heights has never put to the minister, never thought of it before, actually, didn't want to think of it, probably, is what these new health care boards will do to the elected board that is now on Shea Heights, and their new clinic and everything else.

And it is good. I am glad the minister and the member got a new clinic for Shea Heights. They needed a clinic and they have shown their responsibility in being able to operate the clinic. The fact that the clinic was started in the Smallwood era and built by federal money at the time, and most of the improvements in Shea Heights in the last three years have been done with federal money -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. R. AYLWARD: The Member for Port de Grave tonight seems to have a lot to say when he's sitting down. He would add a lot more to the debate if he would stand up and give us his thoughts on these regional health boards, how they are going to affect his district and how they will affect districts in and around the Bay Roberts - Conception Bay North area. He would do a lot better if he would get up and add something to the debate.

I don't know what the Member for St. John's South - I never could understand in this House why the Member for St. John's South is so afraid of the Member for St. John's East. I cannot understand why he continuously attacks the Member for St. John's East. Probably he told us tonight; he is very nervous of the NDP vote on Shea Heights, so that could be the reason, Mr. Chairman, why he mentioned it here tonight and why he continues to attack the Member for St. John's East.

I can see why the Member for Port de Grave might have a dislike for the Member for St. John's East when he got caught out in trying to rig a job for somebody along the line. I can't understand why the Member for St. John's South would have a dislike unless he is afraid that a candidate representing that gentleman might win the election the next time, might get more votes on Shea Heights than he will.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I don't know that, Mr. Chairman. I haven't been up there for a while. I might do a little investigating in the near future as to what the political climate is like in Shea Heights. I might have a little look into that area to see whether the people up in that area, and generally, in the St. John's South district, might consider having other representation in their district. A member with a two vote majority the last time, I know he would be insecure. (Inaudible) insecure.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Hansard (inaudible) take a little break.

MR. R. AYLWARD: We talked ourselves out of tape.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

Recess

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, even while we a have a recess, the hon. the Member for St. John's South goes on showing his nervousness with the Member for St. John's East, and I still don't understand it. He seems on occasion to have some confidence that he has some support in the district, and then when he starts attacking the Member for St. John's East again and again, over and over, I guess he knows something that I certainly don't know. Because there was never great support for NDP candidates on Shea Heights when I represented them, I know that. Now, it has been quite a while since I did represent them, so I am not sure. The hon. member probably doesn't know who represented it before him, anyway.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Very few. It was 25 per cent, I think. I used to get about 80 per cent support on Shea Heights when I was there - which is very good and I appreciated it - maybe because they didn't know me very well. I don't know what the reason was, but it was a very supportive area and I worked as hard as I could for it.

Mr. Chairman, to get back to the bill on these regional health care boards. The only reason I brought up Shea Heights was because it is the only health care clinic that I know in this area and I wonder how the regional boards would affect what is going to happen on Shea Heights and what is going to happen to their elected board. Will this regional health board be appointed to oversee boards like the Shea Heights health care board or other boards that are elected throughout the Province?

An improvement the minister could make to this legislation, one that would probably get my wholehearted support for the legislation, is if he would just tell us how many boards he has planned for the Province. Give us some figure, some definite number of boards that would exist in the Province. I don't think you need fifty or sixty of them. You could probably get away with five to ten boards, most likely, if they work efficiently.

What all boards most importantly need to have, is the democratic process of being elected. That would be a major improvement to any legislation on appointing boards. Those boards then would feel independent and free to speak on behalf of the regions they represent, the same as the school boards we have now; it is not a big problem to elect school boards. Some think we have too many but that is only a detail; most importantly, we have elected school boards with the freedom to speak up for what they need in their region.

If we have appointed boards and they fall out with a government - and I don't care if it is the government in place now or the one in place after the next election - it is only a matter of Cabinet sitting down some day and wiping out the whole board and putting in place a completely different board. So, to get my full support for this action of the government, even though it is a very sparsely worded bill - and we don't know very much of what these boards are supposed to do, what responsibilities they will have or how they will be funded. Will they be funded with a separate tax system?

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I, too, have a great interest in the operation of community health clinics because they are an important part of the communities having some say in their own affairs, and the Shea Heights Community Health Clinic has been an important link for the residents of Shea Heights to have a meeting place, a community board which has had some control over the operations of the clinic.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) $15,000 a day before the election (inaudible). Don't tell me about it, I can say a lot more about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: Say it, say it, I don't care.

MR. MURPHY: Well, I know, but (inaudible) I have nothing against you, but, I mean, you know the truth.

MR. R. AYLWARD: He has something against everyone over here.

MR. MURPHY: No, but that is the truth.

MR. HARRIS: So, Mr. Chairman, the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) thousand dollars it takes to do an engineering study for a new building, they would have to see it.

MR. R. AYLWARD: That is why they are up there.

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

If the hon. the Member for St. John's South and the hon. the Member for Kilbride want to have a conversation they could go outside the House.

MR. MURPHY: I apologise, Mr. Chairman, I apologize.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I recognize the hon. the Member for St. John's East.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have a great interest in the success of the community health operations on Shea Heights and elsewhere and also the regional health boards that this legislation is all about, but I, along with the Member for Kilbride, would have liked to hear the Member for St. John's South talk about the operations of the board, itself. Is it an elected board now?

MR. MURPHY: No.

MR. HARRIS: Is it an elected board? To what extent can the residents participate in it? These are the important things about this board, Mr. Chairman, because this is, as I understand this board - and I did work with the members on the board. Some of the members who are on the board now, were on the board twenty years ago when I worked up on Shea Heights as a community organizer. I worked with some of these people, and one of the subjects we talked about a lot, was, how the community was going to have a say in its own health care; that is what is important.

The buildings are important and I have a great regard for the efforts that the Member for St. John's South undoubtedly has made in support of the people of Shea Heights, so he deserves some credit. He shouldn't be getting up in the House and brown-nosing the Cabinet ministers in front of him. He doesn't need to do that, he doesn't need to grovel; I hope he doesn't need to grovel in order to get some respect from the Cabinet ministers. He is certainly not getting any respect from anybody else by grovelling the way he does.

MR. MURPHY: You have a lot of respect on Shea Heights!

MR. HARRIS: You should get respect on Shea Heights for the help you are giving them, not for coming into this House and grovelling and bowing and scraping, and that sort of stuff.

MR. MURPHY: Table your stubs!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I am interested in the operation of the Shea Heights medical clinic because it is that aspect of it that is important to the community health. They have had programs up there that the residents, themselves decided they wanted for their own community health, for their own programs designed by them, with the support of a lot of people from outside the community as well, from the medical school at Memorial, from the community medicine branch and from other dedicated volunteers who have joined in helping them create a community-controlled health clinic.

That's what is important here. I understand that the Member for Humber East has certain amendments to this legislation which would make the community health boards, themselves more responsive to the community needs, and allowing the community to play a role in helping decide the priorities and what programs the community health boards might be able to undertake.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I wonder can we get a chemical analysis, Mr. Chairman, of what the hon. the Member for Port de Grave has in his glass.

AN HON. MEMBER: Insulin!

MR. EFFORD: Are you making fun of my medical problem?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, the Member for St. John's South quite often gets up in his place and abuses the House by making up stories. He comes in and he makes up stories. He talks about: Did the Member for St. John's East represent somebody in the distant past and did he charge any fees for service?

MR. EFFORD: Did you?

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, the member should know that it is not -

MR. MURPHY: Come on! Come on! Answer the question!

MR. EFFORD: Answer the question!

MR. HARRIS: The member should know - perhaps the Minister of Justice can have a little chat with the Member for St. John's South, that even if what the member said were true -

MR. EFFORD: Is it true?

MR. HARRIS: If it were.

MR. EFFORD: Is it? Is it true?

MR. HARRIS: Whether it's true or not, I said the member can't come into this House and make things up. There is a certain thing called ethics.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. EFFORD: And you should know! You should know about ethics!

MR. HARRIS: I know it is a long, long way from the grass that the Member for Port de Grave is used to grazing on, but there is a thing called ethics, Mr. Chairman. In the profession of which I am a member there is a thing called legal ethics, and one of the things you are not supposed to go around talking about in public is whether certain people are your clients, or whether they are not your clients. And even if they were my clients, it wouldn't be open for me to say to the hon. members that these people used to be my clients or I did work for so-and-so and I charged him so much money.

That is not - even if it were true. I say, the hon. member is coming in here and making things up. I don't mind saying to him now that he is coming in here and making things up. He should know that it is unethical for lawyers to be talking in public or to other people about who their clients are, who they represent, whether they charge them money or whether they don't. Now, I tell the hon member that as a favour to him.

I also say to him that he came here into the House tonight and what he said, he made up.

MR. MURPHY: What?

MR. HARRIS: What he said, he made up.

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for St. John's South, on a point of order.

AN HON. MEMBER: He is saying you are a liar.

MR. MURPHY: That's right. A point of order, Mr. Chairman. A rogue by any other name is still a rogue. I used an analogy. What the member for St. John's East has said is that I have lied to the House. That is what he said.

MR. HARRIS: You said.

MR. MURPHY: No, no, that is what you said. In camouflage, Mr. Chairman, the hon. member has implied that this member has lied to this House. I have not lied to this House. The hon. the Member for St. John's East knows in his own heart and soul, he knows in his own pocket, that I have not lied, and I ask the Chair to ask him, under the camouflage of what he said, to withdraw his statement.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No point of order.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As I was saying, as a favour to the hon. the Member for St. John's South, talk to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation. He will tell you. Talk to the Minister of Justice, he will tell you. Talk to the Member for Humber East, she will tell you.

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible) sorry.

MR. HARRIS: Talk to the Clerk at the Table, on a friendly basis. I just say to the hon. member that it is not a proper thing for lawyers to be talking about. Even if it were true, Mr. Chairman, and I say -

MR. MURPHY: I don't make up anything and don't you accuse me of making it up.

MR. HARRIS: I say that the hon. member made that up, Mr. Chairman. he made it up. He invented it out of nothing. If he wants to come in and make things up I suppose he can do it. He can come in and do it if he wants to.

MR. MURPHY: I would bring along a statement and table it in this House!

MR. HARRIS: I suppose he can make up whatever he likes, Mr. Chairman.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson?

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. It may be 3:11 a.m., and the Member for St. John's South may think that nobody is listening, but actually, everything that we are saying is being recorded by Hansard. It is being picked up by radio and television. It may be broadcast on the radio in the morning.

MR. MURPHY: So it may be.

MS. VERGE: Now, all the member is doing is embarrassing himself.

MR. MURPHY: Am I? That is your interpretation.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I would like to talk about this bill. I think it is an important bill. It can be an important legislative measure.

MR. MURPHY: Well, get on with it!

MS. VERGE: I think the object of the bill is good, was a good intention, but the bill falls far short of the mark. Because all it does is give the Cabinet the discretion to set up regional community health boards. We may pass the bill as it is now written and the Cabinet may never act. The Cabinet may never, in fact, establish a regional community health board.

The Cabinet, in exercising its discretion, could set up one regional board or a small number, but may not provide boards covering and serving the whole Province. As I mentioned before, we have seen too many examples where there is an announcement of a provincial program, but the whole Province is never actually served. There may be a pilot project in one area but services never follow in other parts of the Province. There is no number of regional community health boards specified. The mandate is very vague, all health care services other than hospital services and with the amendment, what is a continuing care. So, Chairman, those words may be fine but there should be some specifics added because the phrases now there may mean all or nothing. The indication in the Bill is that if Cabinet exercises its discretion and establishes boards, the Cabinet will choose the members. So, all the power is being left to Cabinet, the group who make their decisions, meeting in private, without involving the public, there is no timetable.

Now, Chairperson, when the former Minister of Health announced the governments plan to establish regional community health boards last Spring, when he displayed his circular flow chart, he and his officials, answering my questions at a health budget estimates committee meeting, said that they planned to set up five regional boards and they expected to have the first board set up and functioning by Fall. The first one they had in mind was a western regional community health board. Of course, representing a western Newfoundland district, I was quiet interested in that information. I was quiet supportive of that news but the Fall has come and gone and there is no sign of a regional community health board in western Newfoundland. I do not know if the Member for St. Barbe has any idea of anything afoot but in the Corner Brook area there has been no sign of a regional community health board taking shape. That is disappointing, Chairperson. The former minister talked about having five regions and that seemed reasonable to me. It may be preferable to have more than five but five seems to be a good number, at least to start.

So, Chairperson, I have amendments to propose to this Bill. I have just one copy here and I am not in a position to leave and make additional copies but I can read them into the record and then perhaps one of the staff of the House may make copies to provide to the Government House Leader or the Minister of Health and the Member for St. John's East. The amendment I am proposing -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Is the member making a subamendment? We are already on an amendment, as I understand it.

MS. VERGE: Yes, Chairperson, it would be a subamendment.

Chairperson, the subamendment would be after the introductory words of clause 1, after the words; by adding the following, immediately after subsection 1: the following, subclause 2: there shall be at least five regional community health boards for the whole Province which shall be considered to be corporations, to direct the delivery of health care services other than hospital services and continuing care. Then sub-clause 3: each regional community health board shall be composed of a minimum of seven and a maximum of fifteen members elected by popular vote every four years on the same day as general elections in municipalities take place, under Section 506 of the Municipalities Act.

Sub-clause 4: The health care services to be directed by the regional community health boards, shall include public health services, education programs to promote good health and to prevent illness, sexuality education programs and birth control services, prenatal care programs, mental health services, substance abuse prevention treatment and rehabilitation programs, homemaker services and home support programs.

Chairperson, the amendment would go on to delete subclause 2 as it now appears and to renumber the current subclause 3, so my amendments make it mandatory -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair would like to have a copy of amendments so that the table can look at it and see if the amendment is in order before we -

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. As I mentioned, I only have one copy -

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, we are at Committee stage and the principle of the Bill was very straightforward. The amendment I suggest goes well beyond the principle of the Bill and therefore is not in order.

MS. VERGE: The amendments -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Is the hon. member speaking on the amendment or speaking to the point raised by the hon. Minister of Justice?

MS. VERGE: I am speaking to the point made by the Government House Leader.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, okay.

MS. VERGE: The Government House Leader suggested that somehow my amendments are not relevant to the principle of the Bill and I submit that they are spot on. They deal precisely with regional community health boards by bringing about some certainty, by ensuring that the whole Province is covered, by providing for public election of board members and by enumerating some of the health care services which must be provided; the health care services other than hospital services.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Could the Chair have a copy of the amendment?

MS. VERGE: Yes, Chairperson.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MS. VERGE: Chairperson -

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

MS. VERGE: - I am pausing now while the Chair examines my proposed amendments to the amendment.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

Could we just recess for a bit and have a look at it?

AN HON. MEMBER: Okay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair is going to recess for a minute and have a look at the amendment.

Recess

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair rules that the amendment is in order.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. Good ruling!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: They are all good rulings (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Yes, they are all good rulings but I am particularly pleased about this one because I am offering it in a constructive way because, as I have told the minister from the beginning, I applaud his initiative in putting forward legislation to create regional community health boards, but I want it to be effective legislation.

I honestly believe that our whole health care system has to be re-oriented. We have to put much more emphasis on promoting good health and preventing disease, we cannot continue to have the imbalance that we have had. Out of an $880 million Budget this year, there is what? The minister can tell me exactly... about $2.5 million being spent on community health, public health.

Now, public health programs and services pay dividends, not only because they lead to better health, better quality lives, longer lives but because they lessen dependence on doctors, drugs and hospitals. They lessen the need for medication and for surgery.

Chairperson, I have other ideas for improving the health care system for which I have had occasion to talk about, including having MCP cover services by health care professionals other than physicians, for example; nurses, mid-wives, phycologists, nutritionists. Chairperson, the idea of setting up the regional boards to direct public health services and home care services is a good one and therefore it is important that we act quickly, that we get boards in place to cover every part of the Province, that we mandate the boards to offer all the basic services. We should specify the substance abuse prevention treatment and rehabilitation programs, the former mandate of the alcohol and drug dependency commission which this government disbanded. We should specify mental health services because they are so badly lacking in most parts of the Province and where they do exist they are not meeting the needs. They are not keeping pace with the case loads. Chairperson, to have them as effective as possible, we need to involve the public, we need to give the public ownership of the boards.

Now, the Member for St. John's South, in all of his ranting and raving, talked about the Shea Heights community health centre. I was interested in hearing about that from him and the Member for Kilbride, as well as the Member for St. John's East. I do not know all that much about the Shea Heights community health centre, coming from Corner Brook and representing Humber East, but what I have heard has been positive and I learned more here tonight.

I was struck by the fact that according to the members, that board which has been working well for many years, is elected. The community is involved in the operation of that centre and that is why, in my amendment, I am calling for these regional public health boards, these regional community health boards, to be elected by the community, to be elected every four years when municipal elections take place and school board elections take place. When I was Minister of Education, one of the reforms that I brought in was legislation requiring the election of a majority of school board members, a minimum of two-thirds, to occur simultaneously with municipal elections. Under this amendment, the elections to the regional community health boards would overlap and be held in conjunction with the municipal elections and the school board elections. That way citizens on the same day, in the same polling station, using three ballots, will be able to vote for their municipal council, their school board and their regional community health board.

Now, Chairperson, it is important for many reasons to involve the public and to give the public ownership of these community health boards because the boards will have such an important responsibility, because they will be managing a significant amount of public funding. The key to their success will be changing and improving peoples habits, their lifestyles, their patterns of eating and exercise.

So, Chairperson, the first part of my amendment is to immediately establish boards to cover the whole Province, to specify at least five regions. The second part requires that the board members be elected by popular vote every four years with the municipal elections and the school board elections. The third part specifies some of the health care services to be directed by the boards.

Now, there is a catchall phrase which has been copied from the present bill, it is 'all health care services other than hospital services' but my amendment specifies some of those services. It specifies public health services. Now, Chairperson, these would be the services which are now and for many years have been provided by the public health nurses and the other public health officials who are based in several centres around the Province. There are public health nurses and there are also public health inspectors, inspectors who check restaurants, and who check water and sewer systems and carry out other such responsibilities. Than there would be a responsibility for carrying out education programs to promote good health and to prevent illness, that is very general. That would obviously include diet and exercise, discouraging people from smoking. It would encourage sleep, that was brought up earlier by the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, sleep. One initiative of the regional community health boards might be to ban all night sittings of the House of Assembly or might be to recommend that there be regulations or breaks for nutrition and exercise. In future the House of Assembly might be limited in its hours and we, the members and the staff of the House -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. Member for La Poile.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Chairman, I hate to give the hon. member a break because the more she speaks, one would think the less likely she would want to continue. But this hon. member is a little bit different from others, Mr. Chairman.

My point of order is to the effect that it would appear that she's been speaking rather long without note of the time. I don't know if it's because of the said amendment or.... I just want some clarification on that and also to assist in keeping the Table from falling asleep as well, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. member is speaking on the amendment and she has ten minutes.

MR. RAMSAY: I was just wondering what amount of time is she allotted for this amendment?

MR. CHAIRMAN: (Inaudible).

MR. RAMSAY: Ten minutes in introducing it? Gee, it seemed like an awful long time.

MS. VERGE: I appreciate the intervention of the Member for LaPoile but I assure him that the more I talk, the more I get into this, the more I enjoy it, the more invigorated I get. As I go along I gain strength. I got my second wind quite a while ago.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member has one minute left.

MS. VERGE: One minute. Thank you, Chairperson.

As I was saying, the final part of my amendment, which specifies some of the health care services which the regional boards would have to provide, would be sexuality education programs and birth control services.

Sexuality education programs would promote knowledge and healthy attitudes about sexuality and reproduction, would promote knowledge about HIV and AIDS, would promote and disseminate knowledge about other sexually-transmitted diseases, would provide prevention information, prevention of these diseases. Birth control services - obviously birth control information, birth control devices. Pre-natal care programs, Chairperson, so -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. To this point - the amendment is out of order? I might add that the hon. member may not be aware that boards throughout the Province are working to alleviate the alleged difficulties as proposed by the hon. member. I feel the hon. member should probably open her eyes and check throughout the Province to see just what is going on. If so, she will find out that there is not a lot of support for the idea of elected boards. In comparison to the situation with school boards, one would know that the turnout for school board elections is almost a total nonentity. Mr. Chairman, with that I would move that we now vote on the subamendment.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair has to rule that the hon. member's motion is not in order.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm pleased to have an opportunity to speak to the amendments. I want to congratulate the Member for Humber East in putting together these amendments because they do provide some substance to the Bill before the House.

So far we've been dealing with an empty shell of a bill, a piece of legislation basically giving carte blanche to the Cabinet to do exactly what they want in terms of how many boards there are going to be, whether they were going to have elected boards or not, what types of services were these boards going to provide. Those are the three important issues. I think that the amendment addresses all of them.

I think it also has room for the kind of board that exists on Shea Heights, even though it's not just one community. I imagine Shea Heights - and the community of Blackhead is also served by the Shea Heights community health board and they have an elected board, it is elected on a community-wide basis - I do not know what the Member for La Poile thinks about these sort of things, maybe he is against elections but I say, Mr. Chairman, when the people have a say -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible) control of the list, he does not mind it.

MR. HARRIS: If they give him the list. You are talking about nomination elections now, are you, for the party, when he is the only one with the list? Maybe that kind of election is a more interesting one for the Member for La Poile, but we are talking here about open elections and I suspect that there may not well be a lot of interest in elections first until members of the communities realize that they can have a say in how their health care is going to be governed and perhaps setting the priorities for their own area, and being in a position to have access to some of the information that now is being kept to themselves by the officials of the Department of Health or by the Minister of Health and they will know the kinds of needs that exist and the kind of demands that there would be for health services outside of institutions.

I think there is a growing knowledge of the need for non-hospital health care and the outline of some of the services that these boards will be able to direct, will be the public health services. Now that is not a new service, that is already being provided in the Province by the Public Health Department of the Department of Health, and it is a real, important question. It is a serious question whether or not the minister and the Department of Health intend to allow these community regional health boards to have the direction and the control over the public health services being provided now and perhaps others that could be provided in certain areas of the Province.

The education programs provide good health and prevent illnesses or general prevention programs, some of them are being done centrally now, the Department of Health produces a number of brochures and makes them available, sometime through the public health nurses or the public health services, sometimes, through the schools but, once again, Mr. Chairman, is this something that the public health boards or that the health care boards intended to cover or is that something that they intend to keep for themselves?

The sexuality education programs and birth control services, these are some things that are now only provided in a very limited way in some schools, in some school programs in certain grades and through the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) Williams report.

MR. HARRIS: - and through the activities of planned parenthood and other community groups, Mr. Chairman, the prenatal care programs referred to in the amendment, and I would expand on that slightly, that would include some of the things that are going on right now through public health, the so called - well the well baby clinics are for after that, but the prenatal clinics that exist are part of the public health services but they could be expanded to include organized availability of midwife programs to assist in the prenatal activity up to and including the birthing experience.

Mr. Chairman, mental health services which are in great demand in this Province, in very great demand, there is a tremendous number of people in this Province who do not have access, particularly outside of St. John's, to counselling services. There are a number of large, an unfortunately large number of people who are suffering the results as adults of sexual trauma while they were young people and they do not have access to community counselling services in their region and they want those services. Perhaps the community health boards will be the ones to identify that need and be in a position to provide the umbrella administration to make these things possible.

That could be and should be part of the health care service to be provided by these boards. The rehabilitation programs again, they exist here and there but not in any coordinated fashion. The homemaker service and home support programs are very important, Mr. Chairman, probably the single most important part of these programs in terms of the direct relationship between the non-hospital services and the extremely expensive institutional care that has to be provided as an alternative when this type of program is not available.

So, I see the amendments as being a significant improvement to the legislation. People looking at the legislation, people in the communities can have a notion of what these health care boards are expected to do or what they could do. Perhaps the reason they do not want them is because when people see all the lists of services that could be provided, they may be going to the government and looking for money to provide these services. Well, that is well and good. That is what they should do because these services are badly needed all over this Province.

Right now, health care services are concentrated in certain areas and unavailable in others and this needs to be expanded. It needs to be done in an orderly fashion. We have not yet been told, other than a flash look at the chart that the former Minister of Health showed off in the House one day, a few circles on a piece of paper passing for a plan that he had to come up with when the thousands of people from the Placentia area were on the doorsteps of Confederation building, when the thousands of people from Placentia were there as well, demanding the return of their health care services. They had to come up with something that looked like a plan, so he retreated to a chart in the House, with four or five circles on it and saying here is what we are going to do.

That, Mr. Chairman, is what we had a year ago. Now, we have this piece of legislation, two sections, no substance, a shell of a bill. We have with these amendments, some substance to it that can give it some meaning and some relevancy with community participation in the elections. We can see and look forward to the local community residents playing an important part in defining the priorities for their regions. Defining the necessary services and then insisting that the government provide those services and find the resources so that the communities can benefit from the health care services which can be made available.

Mr. Chairman, I commend these amendments them to all hon. members, I know it is late in the evening but since this is the only time that has been made available to discuss these important issues, we have to make use of that time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I wonder could we have a quorum call?

Quorum

MR. R. AYLWARD: Do you want me to read that poem out for you?

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes. Read that poem.

MR. R. AYLWARD: It was a month before Christmas and up in the House -

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

AN HON. MEMBER: You are seeing elephants.

MR. R. AYLWARD: What elephants? I do not see any.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Don't hurry.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's four o'clock in the morning.

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, I said no hurry.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Member for Kilbride.

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

Mr. Chairman, when I spoke on this act a few minutes ago, it seems like hours ago now, I had three concerns with the act - well I had a couple of more concerns but the major ones that I raised in the debate earlier were: how many boards we may have for the Province and what I asked was: how many boards we might have throughout the Province, what would be the responsibilities of these boards and, if the boards would be elected or appointed by Cabinet as this legislation approved them.

Mr. Chairman, I think we have three very good amendments and I would wholeheartedly support this legislation if these subamendments were included in the act. I am sure the act would be passed immediately without debate if hon. members on the other side would suggest that we could have agreement on these amendments, which are fairly simple amendments, but they mean quite a bit to the operation of these health boards and the regional health boards that will be appointed by our Minister of Health.

The amendment, the first one: there shall be at least five regional community boards.... which is no big deal, it just gives us a number, at least five, if you wanted to have ten or if you wanted to have twelve, if it seemed that that many were necessary, you could do that under this amendment.

The health care boards: by moving this amendment we have an idea of at least five boards around the Province and we know that they would be spread probably central, eastern, western, northern at least, and maybe you would need two boards in the eastern region, one in St. John's and one just outside the St. John's area, would be the minimum boards which you could probably get away with. But if the Minister of Health thought there would be a need for more boards with this amendment, he could certainly have more boards established and then we could get on with it.

Mr. Chairman, the second part of this amendment is that each regional community health board shall be comprised of a minimum of seven and a maximum of fifteen people.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are reading that again?

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. It is braille, I can read it with my hands. Mr. Chairman, this is a fairly sensible amendment, as I see it, we have some idea now of how many people we would have on the boards. We have a range between seven and fifteen which could be a good starting point, and it also suggests that the boards be elected every four years the same as we do with our school boards now, as it would be under section 506 of the Municipalities Act, and we could elect our boards at the same time we have our municipal elections and our school board elections. I do not think this would be a great cost, it would not be any great additional cost to the election process, as we would have electoral lists made up in all the communities so we would know who can vote and who should not be able to vote.

The third amendment would give us some idea of what the boards would be responsible for. Now I'm sure if the minister needed to put a couple of more - if he had other responsibilities that he thinks would be necessary for these boards I'm sure that the person who moved this amendment would be glad to add on to the responsibilities that have been proposed in this subamendment. We could add on any more responsibilities that the minister might see necessary to make for an efficient and effective operation of our boards.

Mr. Chairman, with these three subamendments placed in this Act and approved by this House of Assembly I'd have no problem in supporting the Act and having it approved and passed immediately, so the minister can get on with his job and set up the boards that he thinks are necessary in this Province and let them get on with their work. If we could get at least one speaker on the other side of the House, preferably the minister, because I know if the minister gave me his word that these amendments would be passed I certainly would have no hesitation in accepting the minister's word that this House of Assembly would accept these amendments and pass them.

There are three members in the back of the row over there that I couldn't put all that much faith in. I'm sure even without their three votes there will be enough support in this Legislature to agree with these subamendments and have them passed. It will be interesting to hear from some of the members. Say, the Member for LaPoile, how he would see these boards operating in his area. Would he not agree that the boards should be elected? Would he not agree that at least five boards in the Province would be a reasonable amount from which to start so that we could get our boards in place and get them lined up? It would be interesting to hear from the Member for Eagle River to see how he would (Inaudible) -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I just had a chat with the Minister of Health about my amendments. He hadn't actually seen them at that point. The impression I have from our conversation is that the minister is not opposed to the ideas set out in the amendments. He talked about wanting some flexibility to implement the regional community health boards. I'd be interested in hearing what he might say as part of this discussion of the amendments to the amendments.

The minister might propose some variation to the amendments. What I have laid out is faithful to the minister's idea of having regional community health boards to be responsible for all health services other than hospital services and continuing care. It just provides some certainty. Since I believe that he really means to proceed with this initiative I would think that he'd welcome certainty in his legislation. If these amendments to the amendments are passed then his hand is strengthened. As minister he has an advantage, he doesn't have to depend on the whims of his Cabinet colleagues. He doesn't have to wait for Cabinet approval for the establishment of every board, for the appointment of every member and for the assignment of every responsibility. He can get on with it, because the Legislature will be establishing the boards, prescribing a minimum of five. The Legislature will be requiring that the members, ranging from seven to fifteen, in each case be elected every four years with the municipal elections and the school board elections. As my friend for Kilbride pointed out, that doubling up, that combining of elections, will lead to little or no extra cost. Because of course all the election apparatus - the voters list and the people to administer the elections - will already be provided for the municipal elections and the school board elections.

So what I'm trying to do is to enhance the minister's idea and to give him an advantage as the Minister of Health wanting to actually launch this initiative. His predecessor talked about getting it off the ground this Fall. Last Spring he and his officials - the ADM responsible - told me that the western regional community health board would be in place and operating by the Fall. It's now December, it's almost Christmas, and we still don't have that western board. There's no talk of the setting up of the board.

Chairperson, I'll gladly yield to the minister and hear his comments. I might be quite agreeable with some variation on my amendments that he might propose. I'd very much like to hear what he has to say in this debate.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I would have been happy to see the Minister of Health rise to speak on this. In fact, if he did rise to speak and spoke for ten minutes and told us what his views were it might even end the debate on this Bill. Because I guess over on this side we are proposing this discussion and have offered a number of suggestions. These amendments that are now before the House seem to now have the support of this side of the House for the government's legislation with these improvements. We're looking for some indications from government members that they are prepared to consider these amendments as a salutary improvement to the Bill and to provide those things that the Bill had missing from it when it was first proposed.

We've moved from a shell of an idea of having health care boards to the fleshing out of that idea by the amendments proposed by the Member for Humber East. I think it does, as the Member for Kilbride said, resolve some of the uncertainties that are in the minds of members on this side of the House and no doubt in the minds of members of the public when considering this legislation and considering the need for the wide variety of health care services that are provided outside of hospitals and are very necessary to members of the public all over this Province. That's the key too.

This legislation doesn't by itself do anything to improve the health care services in this Province. It only allows the Cabinet to do what it likes from here on in. I don't think that as the legislation exists right now it can be supported without the improvements that are made. With the election of members to the health care boards we can be assured that the priorities that are given to the development of health care services in the communities around the Province will be determined by the people themselves who are going to be relying on those services.

They will be able to elect members from their own communities to serve on these boards. They will determine the priorities and they will be able to say to government: in our community the first priority is the establishment of, say, a mental health unit, a mental health counselling service to deal with the needs of the communities that are at present unmet. Another board may choose to start a preventive health program as its first priority. All boards I would suspect would get involved in a homemaker service and home care board to keep down the cost of institutional care for people who are ill or for people who are not ill but may have a deteriorating ability to look after themselves because of advanced age and not illness at all. They may not be able to care for a home, they may not be able to get up and down stairs, they may have to have some special provisions made in their own home to be able to maintain their independence. I think, as all hon. members who have some experience in this area would know, a senior citizen can live a much -

MR. CHAIRMAN: On a point of order, The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade & Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, the rules are very clear on members who persist in irrelevance and repetition. Now, my hon. friend is just repeating himself, he is like a broken record. It is the same thing over and over and over. My hon. colleague from Humber East, the same thing, except the record is worst, just over and over and over.

If you look at the rules, particularly 51(b), Mr. Chairman, it is very clear. It says; the Speaker or the Chairman after having called the attention of the House or of the committee to the conduct of a member who persists in irrelevance or needless repetition may direct him to discontinue his speech or her speech and if the member continues to speak, Mr. Speaker or Chairman, may name him and throw him out of the House.

So, Mr. Chairman, I will ask you to take that under advisement. You have heard the Member for Humber East whining and going on and on and on. It is hopeless, a hopeless case, needless repetition and total irrelevance. She has made her points clearly on her subamendment, it is ruled in order, she spoke on it three or four times and we have lost track. So it goes from the Member for Humber East over to St. John's East. It goes from one part of the Island back to the other part of the Island, with the occasional knobs jumping up in between.

So, Mr. Chairman, I would like you to rule on the point of order of 51(b): relevance and needless repetition.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Do you want to speak to that point of order?

MR. R. AYLWARD: The hon. member may want to close the House down and take it on his back and just get out of here when he likes. It is easy to know that the Government House Leader came back and pointed out a rule to the hon. member, got him up to do his dirty work and tried to cut off debate on this important legislation. Mr. Chairman, actually what I have done in this Legislature is - I got a chance to speak once on the legislation itself, I got a chance to speak twice on the legislation itself and I got a chance to speak part of the time on the amendments that were presented by the Member for Humber East. I do not think that debate should be cut off on those amendments until we hear from some of the members opposite, for what reasons they may support the subamendments that were presented by the Member for Humber East, to give us some reasons why they support or do not support the subamendments to this legislation. They are improvements, they are definitely improvements to the legislation. They give some meat to the legislation, they give us some idea of what the boards are supposed to do. With that I say there is no point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Industry, Trade & Technology.

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, it is not the wish of the government to cut off debate. That is not the issue that we raised under the point of order. We are rather enjoying this debate, we are going to stay here until Christmas eve -

MR. ROBERTS: We may get a half-day at Christmas.

MR. FUREY: - that argument is irrelevant. Now, come back to the point that we make, 51(B). 51(B) clearly articulates and defines for us under our rules of order that you must be relevant, that is number one. Number two: you must not repeat.

Now, I would be glad to hear some more submissions from the hon. Member for Kilbride, he is quite right, but the Member for Humber East, as we have heard three or four or five times - my God, I mean, you know it is getting to the point of idiocy and my friend for St. John's East, he just gets up and parrots what my friend for Humber East says, so I mean, you know, you are just parroting what she is saying; she is parroting what you are saying, you are parroting each other, mirroring each other so, Mr. Chairman-

AN HON. MEMBER: Monkey see, monkey do.

MR. FUREY: I am not going to be so unkind to the monkeys, certainly. But, Mr. Chairman, 51(B) is quite clear and I would ask Your Honour to look at 51(B) in context with the submission that we made, not to cut off debate as my unlearned friend over there suggests, but what I am saying is: let them debate and he can have a couple of more submissions but let us deal with relevance and repetition as defined in the rules, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I will hear one more submission.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, you will recall, being in the seat through most of this debate, as I understand it the Member for Humber East spoke once when she moved these amendments and we recessed for awhile until the Chairperson of the Committee ruled them in order. Then she expounded on them somewhat; but she certainly can speak to these amendments several more times to give the minister some idea as to what reasoning she has for moving these amendments because the minister has not attempted to get up and debate with the mover of these subamendments and to tell us why he thinks they are not good amendments. Maybe he will convince members on this side that they are not substantive or not good subamendments to the legislation that we are now discussing.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Eagle River, I will hear him one more time.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to say a few words on this point of order to compliment the minister on this, because I think it is highly irrelevant the point of order that has been raised. The point that the minister has been making about undue repetition and the undue flagrant abuse of the rules by hon. members opposite, I think has to be duly noted and I would like to submit that there are thirty-four other bills on the order paper. We are not about to stifle debate over here, we are not saying that there should be no other debate on any other government business, we are putting forward thirty-four other bills where they can talk and talk and talk on matters of substance in their respective areas, but what has been happening here now for the last thirty-five or forty minutes is a total abuse of the rules. I think that the Chair may very well want to recess to check this point of order, because, Mr. Chairman, it cannot be so important that we would spend thirty-five, forty minutes on a subamendment, total repetition on a point that, Mr. Chairman, we must acknowledge is really wasting the time of the House.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MURPHY: The people's time.

MR. R. AYLWARD: On that point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, the hon. -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

I recognized the hon. Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As the Chairman knows, and obviously the members opposite are unaware, when we discuss this Bill in second reading we discuss the principle and we make general comment on the bills. When we get into Committee stage it's the time for, and it's the reason the debate is ten minutes and ten minutes. It's a time for asking the questions and trying to get some answers to flesh out what this legislation means. We haven't had an answer, we haven't had any submissions from the other side, except a blow off every now and then from the Member for St. John's South when the pressure builds up too much and he has to pop up every now and then and let the pressure off. That's good. I'm glad he did.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes, I'm glad he did. I congratulate the hon. member for standing up here and explaining the health care system on Shea Heights. Because that was beneficial to this debate, Mr. Chairman. We haven't had any answers of what's going to happen to your board. We don't have any answers yet on what's going to happen to your board. If you're interested in what's going to happen to your board member, you'll encourage the minister to get up and tell me that board is not going to be affected detrimentally by setting up regional health care boards.

I congratulate the Member for St. John's South for standing up and contributing to this debate as he did, as I wish other members on that side would do the same, rather than sit in their place and shout and yell back and forth in this House of Assembly. We have a member here for Fortune - Hermitage who hasn't stood up once since the House opened, as far as I know.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. R. AYLWARD: He must have some -

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: - he must have some information to offer, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. R. AYLWARD: He must have some information to offer on the health care systems in the -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. R. AYLWARD: - Fortune - Hermitage area, Mr. Chairman. He's got to have some ideas about that. That's what he's elected for, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

The Standing Orders do indicate that the debate should be relevant and there shouldn't be repetition. I must admit after sitting here today for... fourteen hours -

MS. VERGE: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Twelve hours. That there's been a lot of repetition -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

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

There's been a lot of repetition. The same ideas keep appearing time after time, particularly in the Committee stage. Clause by clause study of bills is restricted to the discussion of the particular clauses. Of course, relevancy and repetition is difficult for the Chair to enforce. Speakers over the years have difficulty trying to enforce relevancy and repetition. So I request that hon. members stick to the discussions of the bills and make their comments relevant to the clauses or to the amendments, and that they restrain from repetitious speeches.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: His time must be up, Mr. Chairman.

MR. HARRIS: I thought my time was up but I guess I can speak again. I did want to speak to some of the aspects of the -

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

Shall the subamendment carry?

MS. VERGE: Chairperson? I was on my feet but Your Honour wasn't looking at me.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I'll be very brief. I've said everything that I want to say on this Bill. Everything that I've said has been recorded and will appear in Hansard. I stand by everything I've said. I think I've made a constructive contribution to the consideration of the Bill. I supported the principle of the Bill. I proposed an amendment to an amendment, or a subamendment, which gave the Bill some substance. It put flesh on the bones. I made the amendments, which are detailed, when I was speaking in one of my ten minute sets. I had a second full ten minute set explaining the amendments to the amendments. Then the last time I rose, Chairperson, if you will recall, was to make a conciliatory gesture to the Minister of Health. Because I'd had a private conversation with him in which he indicated to me that he is favourably disposed to the provisions of the amendments I proposed.

I invited him to indicate in debate whether he would like some refinements to the subamendments, because perhaps by cooperating here tonight we can put together a good bill to bring about regional community health boards in the Province, to launch the boards with some certainly - certainly in terms of coverage of the whole Province, certainty in terms of responsibilities - and take the progressive step of providing that the members be elected by popular vote.

I've said everything I want to say. Once again I invite the minister to respond. Let's see if we can't cooperate to reach some middle ground, perhaps, to put some flesh on the bones of the Bill. Because all the Bill is is the bare bones and doesn't provide any certainty that we'll ever have the regional community health boards or that the whole Province will be served. Thank you, Chairperson.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak further to the subamendments because my last opportunity to speak was used up by the rather dilatory actions of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology in basically wasting all my speaking time, because he didn't want to hear about the subamendments -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I suggest the hon. member get to the -

MR. HARRIS: He didn't want to hear about the subamendments, Mr. Chairman, which is what I want to talk about.

AN HON. MEMBER: Well, start talking about it. Start talking about it.

MR. HARRIS: Do I have the floor, Mr. Chairman?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, the hon. member has the floor, but I suggest that he stick to the clauses.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The subamendments is what we're talking about here -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Subamendments.

MR. HARRIS: - and the addition of some substance in the kind of services that need to be provided. For example -

AN HON. MEMBER: You said that before.

MR. HARRIS: For example -

AN HON. MEMBER: The same garbage you said before.

MR. HARRIS: For example, to the area that's represented by the Member for Eagle River. I'm surprised he hasn't -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: Totally irrelevant.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, we have a broken record on the other side. They seem to think that if you use the word "the" four times you're being repetitious. The Member for Eagle River represents an area of this Province which is fairly compact, although it's compact regionally, it's regionally defined.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. HARRIS: In the area of Eagle River -

MR. DUMARESQUE: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Eagle River on a point of order.

MR. DUMARESQUE: Mr. Chairman, the only compact thing that comes from this hon. member is obviously on his shoulders. Because anybody who would think that the district of Eagle River is a compact district is just absolutely ignorant of anything that goes on in this Province. Obviously he's been looking at those little road maps. Does he think it's half the size of St. John's East or what? What does he think? It's about the same length as Duckworth Street? Is that the kind of space that he thinks is in Eagle River? We have over 250 miles of coastline and we have a district the size of the total of the northern peninsula and the Baie Verte peninsula combined. So I just can't let this go on without informing the hon. member. So if he wants to make further points about my riding, please be accurate, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No point of order. That was a geography lesson.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I used the word "compact" in the sense of well defined. A well defined area of the Labrador coast. A region which would be capable of having a regional community health board. Perhaps a region that needs to have a regional community health board. Because these communities in Eagle River, in this compact, well defined part of Labrador, could have - and I'm wondering, I'm very curious, that the only opportunity that the Member for Eagle River seems to take advantage of in this debate is to speak on points of order. Why doesn't he speak to the substance of the issues and talk about the kinds of -

AN HON. MEMBER: He supported it yesterday. You read. Talk about yesterday and points of order.

MR. HARRIS: The kinds of services that need to be provided in southern Labrador, Mr. Chairman, that could be provided through a regional health board, where the people - and there are examples in southern Labrador in Eagle River of these communities working together in a manner with a democratically elected board and body. There's experience in southern Labrador for that, in the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company. That body has had a great deal of experience in having the communities work together through an elected body.

AN HON. MEMBER: Relevance.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I guess the word "relevance" doesn't seem to have the meaning for the Member for St. Barbe and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology as it does in the dictionary.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're repeating yourself.

MR. HARRIS: Did I use the word "dictionary" before, Mr. Chairman? Is this the kind of baby talk that we've been reduced to? I realise it's 4:22 a.m. and that the member's powers of concentration might be getting lost -

MR. WALSH: (Inaudible) on the early morning news.

MR. HARRIS: But, Mr. Chairman, when -

MR. WALSH: You even sound like him, and that's the sad part.

MR. HARRIS: At least I make the morning news, unlike the minister, who's been ever so anxious to get questions asked in the House. Please ask me a question, can you....

AN HON. MEMBER: What is his biggest accomplishment so far in the House?

MR. HARRIS: His biggest accomplishment was having -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. WALSH: My biggest accomplishment was sitting here for twelve hours and listening to you (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: So, Mr. Chairman, when we look at an area such as the southern Labrador coast it's a very -

MR. MURPHY: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. MURPHY: Mr. Chairman, the hon. Member for St. John's East got up the other day on a petition related to garbage and he gave us his great rhetoric because he knew nothing about what he was talking about. He had no technical background. So he gave everybody in this House a geography lesson, and he happened to pronounce twelve Newfoundland names out of twenty-one. The rest of them he fried. He fooled them up. Again we're here tonight listening - you talk about the hon. minister up front talking about relevancy, and the Member for St. John's East is now into a geography lesson again. He did it the other day because of his incompetence to address the real problem out in Long Harbour and he is doing the same thing again. The hon. House Leader has talked about the repetition and that is all the member is getting on with. He is adding nothing to this Bill, he is adding nothing to this debate and I am saying simply to you, Mr. Chairman, that 51(b) is exactly what is going on. Thank you.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Subamendment (2) refers to the requirement that the community health boards cover the whole Province. It says at least five but I would submit that there may be a need for more than five because I would not want to see one regional community health board for all of Labrador.

MR. CHAIRMAN: On a point of order, The hon. the Member for La Poile.

MR. RAMSAY: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

As it seems we have reached the point where hon. members Opposite are doing little but flap their gums in constant repetition and what have you, I think that where we will soon be getting close to your calling of the point of the subamendment and the sub-sub-amendment, I feel that in so doing, Mr. Chairman, I would ask that the Chair be very clear in so doing, so as not to confuse members of the House in the call of said subamendments, so that we can see as to whether we should support or vote against, as opposed to the often said 'carry' by accident being given over to the Bill. So, where we are very close to that, Mr. Chairman, I would ask that we -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member for La Poile has a good point and the Chair is conscious of the fact of the amendments and the subamendments and will ensure that the proper votes are carried forward.

The hon. the Member for St. John's East, whose time is up.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I appreciate the break being given to me by - I appreciate the Member for La Poile -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for St. John's East your time is up.

Shall the subamendment carry?

MR. R. AYLWARD: No, Mr. Chairman, it does not carry.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I do not know what your hurry is - we have not heard from very many members of this House of Assembly. We have a member here from Baie Verte who definitely has something -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, some of the reason for the repetition here is because there are so many interruptions from across the way. I am sure the minister is not getting a full grasp of what we are trying to say with these subamendments that we have presented but I would like to hear personally, as a Member of this House of Assembly, I would like to hear what the Member for Baie Verte has to say about the health care, how these regional health care boards will affect his district. Does he know if these regional health care boards will have any representation from up around his district or are they going to be centered in an area such as Gander or Springdale and all of the -

MR. CHAIRMAN: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for La Poile.

MR. RAMSAY: Mr. Chairman, just to clarify to the hon. member something that I mentioned to him before and he is obviously not paying attention to. What it concerns is prior to this he mentioned something about the health care boards. I told him, as I told the other hon. member, that - and it relates to order in this way - that the health care boards, as they're speaking about the subamendments, would not constitute themselves properly. Because one has to look at it from this point. The boards themselves will decide, I think in concert with the minister and the department, how they should proceed. So if the subamendment were allowed to carry as the hon. members opposite are purporting then the work between the Minister of Health and the boards as they now exist in trying to accommodate the new regional board concept would go down the drain. So I wanted to make sure that the hon. member was aware of that point that was made earlier.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. That was a good down payment on a reasonable speech on the health care boards. That was a reasonable attempt at trying to explain what the hon. member has in his mind about the health care boards, how they will affect his area. I encourage him to get up now when I'm finished in the next couple of minutes or so and give us a full explanation of how he sees these regional health care boards work.

The way people on this side would like to see them work would be more or less along the lines of the subamendments that have been moved by the Member for Humber East. I'm sure the Member for LaPoile has more wisdom to offer this House of Assembly the next time he gets up on a point of order or gets up for his share of this debate.

MR. MURPHY: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. MURPHY: Mr. Chairman, if I can refer you to 51(b) of our Standing Orders, and I quote: "Mr. Speaker or the Chairman, after having called the attention of the House, or of the Committee, to the conduct of a member who persists in irrelevance or needless repetition, may direct him to discontinue his speech, and if the member continues to speak, Mr. Speaker may name him, or, if in Committee, the Chairman shall report him to the House."

Now, Mr. Chairman, I hate to resort to our Standing Orders. The last one in the world, and hon. members opposite know, and the Chair knows, that I would - the last thing in the world I would do was try to suppress debate. But this is a total and utter abuse of the House of Assembly, because when we do that we abuse the rights of every single solitary Newfoundlander. What this House at 4:32 a.m. has to take into consideration - and I offer this for your wise decision - is to consider those Newfoundlanders who tonight, who are in their beds sleeping, and dreaming of sugar plums, who are dreaming of better things to come, and knowing that this Liberal government will do that, I ask you to consider 51(b).

Because what we have heard here this evening is constant, continuous rhetoric, and total repetition. I ask the Chair, before this hon. member has to go into a state of seizure, to help this hon. member who's here on behalf of 13,000 residents in St. John's South, to help me hold my sanity. Because if I lose my sanity I have to resign my seat! I ask the Chair to help me and to protect me. Please, Mr. Chairman, help me!

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, to that point of order.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber East to that point of order.

MS. VERGE: I say to the Member for St. John's South that I sympathize with him in his plight. If the Government House Leader would only have a sensible plan for their legislative program we could all go home and get a few hours sleep and come back at 9:00 a.m. refreshed. Chairperson, the reason that we're here at 4:33 Friday morning, the week before Christmas, is that the government opened the Fall sitting of the House of Assembly on November 2 with little or no legislation prepared. We were here for the first half of November dealing with such inconsequential bills as the Puffin Bill. It wasn't till towards the end of November that the government started printing and distributing bills of any substance. This week alone five meaty bills were printed and distributed -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I don't know what the hon. member has to contribute to the point of order.

The hon. Member for St. John's South has a good point. As I said before, relevance is not easy to define and repetition is very difficult to define. I'll remind hon. members to stick to the clauses of the Bill, and if they persist then the Chair is going to have to enforce the rules of the House.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will take pity on them. I hope the people are not home dreaming about sugar plums as the hon. member says - I like to prefer to think that they're dreaming about strawberries. But maybe they don't all the time.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I'll bring you in some frozen ones tomorrow. If I get a chance to get home by supper time tomorrow I might be able to find some.

Mr. Chairman, I'm not sure what the point of order was because I hadn't referred in this House of Assembly to the Baie Verte - White Bay area, to that district, and how the hon. member representing that area would be able to add to this debate and tell us how these regional health care boards are going to operate in his district. It would be important to him to know if this regional health care board is going to be centred in Gander, Lewisporte or Grand Falls, and have no representation from up in his area. Have no representation from that whole northeast part of the Province and just centred in the larger communities or maybe in the Corner Brook - Deer Lake area where it might be centred. It would be very important. It would be even more important I guess to the Member for LaPoile to have a regional service board somewhere centred around the Port aux Basques area. We might have one in Stephenville or Corner Brook to service the whole west and southwest coasts.

The Member for Lewisporte might want to get some information on how this board would affect the Lewisporte area, and where the board will be centred and how many boards we will have around the Province. All of these issues should be important to each of those members.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

Shall the subamendment carry?

I guess not.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm going to try once again to make my last speech on this subamendment. As the Member for Humber East has said, this legislation would have been over quite some time ago if there hadn't been so many interruptions and unnecessary points of order.

I wanted to talk about the first of the subamendments having to do with the fact that there must be at least five community health boards and that it must cover the whole Province so that would mean for example, in an area such as southern Labrador, principally the district of Eagle River, where you have a well defined area of communities which are used to working together, and I was mentioning the example of the Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company which has representatives from all of the communities along the Labrador coast, who work together on a board.

The members of the organization who reside in each of the communities select members to attend and be on the board, they participate in regular meetings and policy making conventions and they determine their agenda, they determine their priorities, they determine their activities and they run a very efficient administration, so it seems that if we leave it all up in the air and say we will only have legislation that says we will have health boards, we cannot be sure that there will be a health board that would cover the area of southern Labrador and to that extent, I am surprised that the Member for Eagle River has not participated in the substance of the debate and concerned himself with some of these issues.

The numbers on the board defining them as being a minimum of seven and a maximum of fifteen, these are important to ensure that we do not have just a board composed of two or three or four individuals who are hand-picked by the Minister of Health or hand-picked by the Premier or hand-picked by the regional minister. We cannot have that going on, we have to have a broader based board, and saying that it is a minimum of seven and a maximum of fifteen gives a workable size to a board so that it is big enough so that it can be representative of the communities that it would serve. Having it elected is a good way to ensure that it is the priorities of the community that get attention and not the priorities of those who appoint them and that is important.

The subamendment for the health care services being outlined in the boards mandate is an important addition as well to the Bill, and I think hon. members would have to agree that to have the kind of substantial amendments that we have here, would give residents of this Province the knowledge that they were supporting a plan that was outlined for them, that had a direction and a mandate and that would create a certain expectation in people's minds, that there was something to flow from this legislation other than just an act being passed to give the ministers more power to control the operations of this Province and the operations of government.

I am not even going to use my full ten minutes because I think hon. members have been reasonable this time around; they have not been making interjections and dilatory motions such as the Member for St. Barbe, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology had the last time using up the entire ten minutes that I had allocated to me, just as the time before the entire ten minutes were used up by a series of useless amendments, suggesting that every word that was being said on this side was repetitious and really ignoring the substantial debate that has been going on here as all members opposite have done.

I see the Minister of Health listening attentively to the debate and rousing himself occasionally. Hopefully, he will rouse himself sufficiently to get on his feet and address some of these points before we vote on these subamendments. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The sub-amendment proposed by the Member for Humber East. All those in favour, 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Those against, 'nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I declare the subamendment defeated.

All those in favour of the amendment proposed by the Government House Leader, say 'aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Those against, 'nay'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Nay.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I declare the amendment carried.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Department Of Health Act." (Bill No. 38).

On motion, amendment carried.

On motion, Clause 1 as amended, carried.

Motion, that the Committee report having passed the bill with amendment, carried.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, let us get into something of substantial substance, let us call the Police Act number 17, Bill No. 56 and let us have some substance.

MR. CHAIRMAN: "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary". (Bill No. 56)

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

MR. ROBERTS: I am informed by the clerk's, there are a substantial number of amendments to this Bill -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I have recognized the Member for Humber East.

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, I am sorry.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I will yield to the minister for him to present his proposal.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: All I want to say, Mr. Chairman, is that there are a substantial number of amendments to this Bill which my friend and colleague the Member for St. Barbe, the Minister of Industry, Trade & Technology, will move. Rather than speak to them now, and hon. members opposite were given them some time ago, I am not sure just when but at some point during the day copies were provided. My suggestion would be that we deal with each one as the clause comes, if that were acceptable. I think Your Honour must have sets of them there. Some of them are cleaning up one or two spelling errors and correcting that kind of typographical error, others are substantial. So, if that would be acceptable, let us do it that way, Mr. Chairman, and get on with it. My friend for St. Barbe will move each one as it comes, he does not need to move each one individually. I take it, Your Honour has them there and will call them as they come.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Shall Clause 1 carry?

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I will speak for a few minutes. Actually, my file is on the fifth floor so after I speak to indicate an overview of my objections to this Bill, I will get my files so that later I will be able to elaborate on my introductory remarks.

Chairperson, first of all the government has been quiet wrong in its approach to bringing in this legislative reform, this Bill to amend the Constabulary Act.

Part three of the Bill, which creates a public complaints commission for the constabulary, is the new and contentious part of the Bill and that is what I will be concentrating on. Chairperson, I intend to deal with the whole design of the police public complaints commission. I may get into some provisions of other parts of the Act later but for now I will concentrate on part three.

Chairperson, the governments approach to this has been quite wrong and that's the main reason why we're here tonight. While the need for an independent complaints commission for the constabulary, for the police, has been known and widely understood since the time of the Mount Cashel revelations almost four years ago, since the Hughes Royal Commission called for the establishment of a police complaints commission some year and a half ago, the government long before now should have introduced an appropriate bill. The government should have given that bill to the Social Legislation Review Committee to scrutinize and to consult the public.

Instead the government waited until two and a half weeks ago to print a bill. The government in preparing the Bill evidently didn't consult groups with an obvious interest. The first requests by me and other members of the Opposition for the Bill to be referred to the Legislation Review Committee were denied. The first requests were made informally. Then formally in debate on second reading of the Bill I moved an amendment that the Bill be taken off the order paper and referred to the Review Committee. All the members opposite - the Minister of Justice, the Government House Leader - voted against that motion.

A day after that the Minister of Justice on CBC radio said the Bill was not being rushed, that it was being handled in the usual way. That the reason it hadn't been referred to the Committee is that nobody had asked for it to go to Committee. The Constabulary Association heard that interview, knew the minister was not telling the truth, because they had asked for a hearing -

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. lady knows better than that. (Inaudible) not telling the truth. I was telling the truth to the CBC interviewer, and I'm telling the truth now (Inaudible).

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, it's my understanding that the Police Association believed that the minister was -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Is the hon. member withdrawing her remark?

MS. VERGE: I certainly withdraw anything that's unparliamentary, Chairperson. All I was trying to convey is that people listening to the minister on the radio had a different understanding of what had transpired than the minister was conveying in his interview. The Police Association had asked, perhaps not the minister, but had certainly asked the Department of Justice, the officials to whom the constabulary report, for an opportunity to be heard at some kind of a hearing on the subject of the proposed new legislation. The Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights Association, according to what members of that group said at a public forum a week or so ago on December 10, International Human Rights Day, said that they had asked to be heard about the Bill at a public hearing.

At any rate whatever happened the morning of the interview the Constabulary Association contacted the Department of Justice, underlining the fact that they had requested and still wanted to be heard on the subject of the Bill. The minister then asked the Chairperson of the Committee, the Member for Harbour Grace, to look at having a hearing. The Member for Harbour Grace convened members of the Committee and then and there we set a meeting for Monday night. Now that was Monday of this week. Last Friday noon the Committee, having been activated by the minister just that morning, set the meeting for Monday night. The Committee had one public hearing. There was a very good turnout considering the short notice, the short notice that undoubtedly failed to reach any number of people. There were at least five presenters at the hearing. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association made a comprehensive presentation.

Now even though that Association is intimately familiar with the issues and even though they have the benefit of legal counsel they told the Committee that they have not had time to properly consider the Bill, particularly Part III establishing the public complaints commission. Through their lawyer they told the Committee that they require more time to do some research, but with the little bit of time they've had they put forward in a preliminary way several objections to the Bill. Serious objections to the Bill. Most of all though, Chairperson, they asked the Committee for more time. They asked us to delay proceeding with the Bill until they and others could have more time to look at and think about the affects of the complaints commission outlined in the Bill and an opportunity to suggest improvements.

Then the Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights Association made a presentation. Now that's an organization which has been considering the issue of police commissions and complaints commissions for quite some time, for a period of months. They have done some research. They sponsored the public forum to which I referred. They planned that quite some time back. They decided that for International Human Rights Day this year that they would have a program on the subject of police complaints commissions or police commissions. So the Human Rights Association made quite a good presentation, although I must add that the executive director of the Association only learned of the public hearing the morning of the meeting. A couple of us on the Committee did try to reach the Association on Friday afternoon but the message didn't actually get to them until Monday morning, the day of the hearing.

After that we heard from an individual citizen of Harbour Grace South, a man who spoke without notes but very fluently and knowledgeably. He spoke of his own personal experience, a bad experience, with the RCMP complaints tribunal. He offered some common sense advice to the Committee. He said it's just not right for something as important to citizens as a police complaints commission to be set up without people having any knowledge of the legislation or any chance to have a say about its design.

He said it is amazing to think that this is the first provincial administration headed by a lawyer, yet the government is taking such an arrogant, high-handed approach to passing legislation to set up a police complaints commission. So, that individual added his voice to the call for more time.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

Before recognizing the hon. the Member for Kilbride, I just want to draw the attention of all members to the fact that we are now in the Committee stage of the bill. We are dealing with the matter clause-by-clause, the substance of the bill. We debated the principles of the bill in second reading. So, I ask all hon. members to keep their comments relevant to the bill, please.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I would like to address clause 1 of this act which may be cited as The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1972. Mr. Chairman, being the title of the act, it would allow me some leeway to discuss most of the sections in the act. When we move on to clause 2 and clause 3 it gets a bit more restrictive as we go along.

In dealing with clause 1 of this act, I would like to make a couple of points. One, in particular, is that this bill is the reason that we are here at 4:57 on Friday morning debating in this Legislature, when none of us should be here, including the staff, and including the security people who are outside. None of us should be here in this House of Assembly today, had the Government House Leader moved appropriately with this act, got it through this House of Assembly in a reasonable time, given us reasonable notice and sent it to the Social Legislation Review Committee in time for them to hold hearings on it.

If we follow the debate through second reading on this legislation we would see that the Government House Leader tried to ram this through the House of Assembly. He thought he would do it without obstruction, with no problem, and with no Committee hearings he would just pass his bill. The Opposition would debate it for a little while and then roll over and let it go by. But, Mr. Chairman, as the hon. the Government House Leader is learning, that is not the way to bring legislation into this House of Assembly. It has not been the way for the past three years that most legislation has gone through this House of Assembly, particularly, important legislation such as this, to have a police commission, which is a brand new idea and a brand new step for this Province.

If we are going to have a police commission in this Province, let us do it properly. Let us hear from people from the general public who are interested in it. Let's give them some time to give it proper consideration; don't drop it on their desks on Monday morning and say we are going to have public hearings Monday evening after the House closes and ask them to come in and give us presentations.

MR. MURPHY: It is only a step in the right direction, 'Bob'.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, with the attitude of the Member for St. John's South, that is why legislation is going through this House of Assembly one day and is being amended the next day. What we should be doing is trying to get the best legislation possible through this House of Assembly so it won't be back here next week to be amended. We did it on several occasions, and I say both of us had a good shot at doing it. The Member for Eagle River and members on this side did it on several occasions and in other committees - I am not just saying some committees last year, we did it in this House of Assembly. It can be done. It is not impossible to do it. So, it being new legislation, a new concept for Newfoundland - not a new concept for other provinces in Canada, but a new concept here - why do we have to rush this one through the House of Assembly? And some of the things that the Premier said I agree with: we have a relatively small force to police or to have under this commission, I agree with that, but let us hear what interested people have to say about it, people who have given this some thought for some time; certainly the Human Rights Association have discussed this on many occasions.

I have seen releases in the paper on some of their comments concerning a police commission, about what they would like to have and - the fellow whistling past the graveyard, from Pleasantville, if we had his mouth taped up we might get on with this and get out of here.

Mr. Chairman, if we had some of the information that the Human Rights Association might have, some of the thoughts that they have given to us as members of a committee in this Legislature, maybe we could do a better job, maybe we couldn't. I don't know whether we could or not.

The problem with it is the Legislation Review Committee hearing we had was held on too short notice, and every single person in the three or four or five groups who made presentations to that Committee on that night, with one day's notice, Mr. Chairman, pleaded for time to properly prepare their case. That is all they did, they pleaded for time to properly prepare their case, and I cannot find that to be unreasonable. Even if we had to give them five days or a week or a month, some period of time, to prepare their case and give us the benefit of their study and their wisdom on this matter, that is not an unreasonable thing to ask for people who took time to come to the Committee, for one thing.

I will be interested to see the Member for St. John's South get up and speak in this debate when I sit down, because we have lots of time - we will be going back and forth on this one for a while. I would like to see the Member for St. John's South get up and give me his explanation of how he feels a police commission for Newfoundland should operate, because he might have some experience in this. He might have some knowledge of this that I don't have.

Unlike a lot of members in this House of Assembly, I listened to the second reading debate, and I found the Premier's comments fairly interesting. They gave me a different perspective from what I thought the police commission would be, his logic was sound, I don't disagree with that. But, Mr. Chairman, not only the Premier - he has obviously studied this matter, done some research into it or thought about it for some time and he has come up with some conclusions that were certainly logical, but they were not logical compared to those of the people who came before the Committee. They had a different set of logic as to why we should have a police commission in this Province, and different views as to the structure and the operations of the police commission.

We had the Police Association come before us and plead for more time to study the proposal, and I think they had with them their lawyer, who went on in quite a bit of detail. If he had been given another week or so, I guess maybe, the Committee might still be sitting. There was a fairly detailed presentation made, but the bottom line was, the Police Association said they had a chance to skim through it and put their thoughts down in a hurry. And I would say that the Police Association, if not others, would have thought that this would go before a Legislation Review Committee because they had the opportunity at one time before, to come before a Legislation Review Committee chaired by the Member for St. John's South, so they were not unfamiliar with our system.

They came in on one of our pieces of pension legislation or some such - I can't remember exactly which one now. But they had a good hearing and we made some suggestions to the government, based on what we heard from them, to improve the legislation that came before us.

As to this legislation, unfortunately, we are going to debate it now and it will pass, no doubt, in the next little while. But if the Government House Leader would reconsider - and we will come back - I don't mind coming back here January 2 or January 3 for a day or so to complete it. If you need this within a month, I do not mind coming back here to go to work and do just this piece of legislation, if you wish, just come back for one day or two days and discuss it, after we have heard from people with differing views on what the police commission should be for our Province.

Mr. Chairman, if I had the benefit of some more information on it -some views from the Police Association and the Human Rights Association and others - if I had heard them and I compared what they said to what the Premier says, maybe I would agree with this legislation and say it is the only one that is practical for our Province. I know it is not the only one that we can bring in this Province, but we have to be practical - I don't disagree with that. Maybe that is the conclusion I would come to, and I would be here supporting the bill today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have just a few comments - because we are going to continue to beat this around, I suppose, and there is nothing I am going to say that will change the minds of the hon. members opposite; but let me say this.

MS. VERGE: There are a lot of you who (inaudible) be changed.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. MURPHY: Let me say this: The people of this Province for forty-plus years have never had anybody to go to - nobody - and now, the Minister of Justice -

MS. VERGE: A point of order, Chairperson.

MR. MURPHY: Now, don't bring up that Ombudsman foolishness!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East, on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

The Member for St. John's South is quite inaccurate when he says that people, for our forty years as a Province, have never had anywhere to go with complaints about the police.

In the case of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, in a formal sense, under the provisions of the Parliamentary Commissioner Act, the public could go with complaints about the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary - the police force within the jurisdiction of this Legislature - to the Ombudsman, the Parliamentary Commissioner.

That explicit provision was in the legislation of the Province for the past ten years or so until this administration had the House of Assembly, using their majority, repeal the legislation and abolish the Ombudsman's office altogether.

Thank you, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member did not establish any point of order.

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

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Chairperson.

In reality, what we are seeing here is a bill to give opportunity to every single, solitary, Newfoundlander under the jurisdiction of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, to have a forum to go to.

Now, if the hon. the Member for Kilbride - and I appreciate what he is saying about legislation review. if you let this bill pass, in the Spring session of this House of Assembly we can sit down and listen, because not only can we sit down and listen but we will have three or four months experience with this bill, which will give us all kinds of opportunity to have a better evaluation, because now we are crossing bridges that are not there.

I ask hon. members opposite to give in to this in a sense of fair play for the citizens of this Province. The citizens of this Province, under the jurisdiction of the Member for Humber East, had no one, only a political hack, to go to. That is all they had - a $700,000 a year hack - and she knows it only too well!

I have seen some of the reports from the Ombudsman, and they looked like a Grade IV essay. So let's stop being foolish about this and let's be candid. A commissioner - a sound, solid commissioner appointed by government -

MS. VERGE: A point of order, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East, on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, the Member for St. John's South is making inaccurate and inflammatory comments about the Ombudsman. The Ombudsman. The Ombudsman was an officer of this House of Assembly who served for over fifteen years. He was reappointed for a second term of ten years on the unanimous recommendation of the House of Assembly with at least three Liberal Opposition members speaking in support of the reappointment. The present Speaker gave glowing praise of the work of Mr. Peddle as the Ombudsman. The Minister of Fisheries -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to her point of order.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, my point is that the Member for St. John's South has made inaccurate and insulting remarks.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

That is not a point of order.

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

MR. MURPHY: Mr. Chairman, I don't mind apologizing to anybody - I am not apologizing - I don't mind, in the rational sense, but I say to hon. members opposite, it is time to stop this.

If we put a commissioner in place now to hear complaints from the public - the Minister of Justice talked the other day about the number of complaints over the last four or five years, eighty-two, eighty-seven, fifty-nine, etc. Let's not take this thing out of context.

Now, the Legislation Review Committee can sit in this hon. House and listen to these submissions, but we will have - if hon. members opposite would stop their silliness, making silly stupid brownie points at five o'clock in the morning and let this bill move we would do, not this House good, but we would do the people of the Province good, who live and function under the RNC, a very creditable police force, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and that has not been designated on a whole lot of police forces throughout this world.

I ask hon. members opposite to please try to consider what this government is trying to do. We are introducing a first step to see how we find it. The Minister of Justice has explained the Ontario situation. We have addressed all the rhetoric that has come at us, and we have talked sensibly and logically about what we can afford at this particular point in time.

Hon. members opposite have to realize that they are wasting the taxpayers' time and the taxpayers' money. It is time for them to be conciliatory on this, and we will listen in the Spring. I know the Justice Minister will give the Committee of this House an opportunity to hear from interest groups. They are being totally, totally unreasonable. I ask them, in all sincerity, to stop playing partisan politics with this issue and give it its fair chance. We can always improve on legislation. This is not constitution, this is legislation and we can improve on it. I ask hon. members sincerely to stop playing partisan politics with this bill and give its assent. Let the royal assent from this House go forward and let us stop this nonsense because that is all it is.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This is a very important piece of legislation because it does have an important role to play in governing the relationship between the police and the citizens of this Province. Now, I agree with what the Member for St. John's South said, that the important thing here is fair play for the citizens of this Province. There are two things at stake here. First of all, Mr. Chairman, is the substance of the bill itself, what the bill represents, and what it is supposed to do, but a more important one for the moment, at least, is the process whereby this bill is coming into place. The process whereby this bill comes into place, Mr. Chairman, is really all about the relationship between government and its citizens as well.

I have to say, Mr. Chairman, I was shocked to see how events unfolded in the presentation of this bill. I can't say I was terribly shocked when the debate in this House at second reading led to a motion by the Member for Humber East, seconded by me, to refer the legislation to the Legislation Review Committee. That was to be expected, because the public and citizens' groups were very interested in legislation of this sort, and it was a bill that demanded that kind of public discussion.

I'll tell you when I was really shocked - that was the next morning, Friday morning, when I heard the Minister of Justice. I have to say to him, I have considered him a person I could rely on in terms of talking to him and hearing what he had to say. But, on Friday morning, when I heard the minister say on the radio - and I appreciate that he may have been mistaken and I give him an opportunity to correct himself - but when I heard him say that not one single person, not even the Member for Humber East or the Member for St. John's East, had attempted to refer this matter to the Social Legislation Review Committee, I was shocked. I have to say to the minister, personally, that I lost the respect I had for him when I heard that.

I was outraged that the Minister of Justice could mislead the public of this Province in that way. I say that in all sincerity. Because I have had a number of private conversations with the minister and public conversations here in this House, and I have always felt that I could rely on what the minister had to say. When I heard that on Friday morning I felt that there was something beyond the normal going on in this particular piece of legislation. Because the minister knew full well, or he should have known; the very debate that was played on the CBC radio program was from the debate on the referral of the matter to the Social Legislation Review Committee.

I can't imagine any way that the minister could say what he was saying about the intentions of the Member for Humber East and of myself in terms of seeing that this bill be given some public airing through the Social Legislation Review Committee set up to do that - unless it was partisan politics. Because it certainly wasn't partisan politics on my part, in wanting to see the matter brought to the Legislation Review Committee.

AN HON. MEMBER: No!

MR. HARRIS: No, Mr. Chairman, it was something that I believed in, because it was of great importance to the citizens of this Province, something that many people want to see done right.

I want to share with hon. members a portion of a letter. The Chair of the Social Legislation Review Committee has a copy of it. It was written to him but I was given a copy of it. It was written by one of the people who attended the meeting of the Social Legislation Review Committee on Monday night. The minister might find some of this interesting as well, because the writer reflects on some of the minister's comments. Where he talked about the bill, he said: 'The importance of this bill in relation to the governing of its citizens cannot be overstated. Such a law must flow from good intent, simple language that is easily understood, and just, fair and legal regulations and standards, as well as enforcement process and penalties. This should be the makeup of a good law from a good government. This burden falls heavily on the Minister of Justice and his officials but not without input from Opposition political parties and, more importantly, concerned, informed - underlined - citizens.'

He says: 'At this time, there are charges from Opposition members that this bill is being rammed through the Legislature, yet I have heard the minister say that he is receiving no new suggestions for improvement to the bill. The few comments received at a public hearing on December 14, he criticised by making an analogy to the story of three blind men who couldn't sense they were in contact with an elephant because each felt a different part and arrived at a different conclusion. To this observation, my legally blind wife whispered: Perhaps I should ask him to apologize.'

'But to be fair, the analogy was perhaps appropriate because of the bizarre situation where one could not simultaneously read and comment on a proposed thirty-six page law, while two intelligent politicians simultaneously debated the bill, thereby enlightening no one, or while two lawyers debated whether a single clause had circular language, leading one to wonder whether the hearing was on the subject of geometry.'

'I consider the analogy may have been appropriate in that the proposed bill, in the minister's view, was supposed to be an elephant, an animal of immense power, yet moulded to beneficially serve man. The first blind man was represented by the past Minister of Justice who, sure of her own conception of justice, was blind to the views of the minister. The second blind man was represented by the police Association advocate, a lawyer, who was blinded by the complexities of the minister's legal language. The third blind man was represented by a few concerned citizens, one of whom was almost blind, the others blindfolded, as the contents of the bill had been kept from them. In addition, their hearing had likewise, in part, been denied. The sense of smell and that of perception only remained.'

'And so it was, the intended elephant was not understood to be an elephant. By the sense of smell and perception, one thought the bill to be a rat, another a weasel, while the other perceived a skunk, all the while the Minister of Justice insisted it was an elephant, a good bill. But the concerned citizens wondered why they were blindfolded in the first place. Shouldn't they have been permitted to observe with open eyes and assess the elephant with all their senses to assure themselves that it was, indeed, a good elephant and not a Trojan horse, or something almost as bad, a useless elephant?"

Mr. Chairman, I find these words very eloquent, very compelling, and not overly critical of the minister, but critical of the process that has led us to be here at 5:00 a.m., being the only opportunity to debate this bill in a serious way outside of the politics of the House. I think we are treating it seriously. Not as a political stalking-horse but as a opportunity to get a good bill that is going to respond to the community concerns, to the private citizen's concern, and to the needs of government. We have a number of suggestions.

The mere fact - and I am not criticizing the minister for this, he is interested in getting this bill passed through the Legislature. But when we have a piece of legislation come to this House, of which the ink is hardly dry on the legislation itself, and we have sixteen amendments; now, some of them are minor, just misspellings and things like that, and some of them are of substance but that is itself a symbol of the somewhat rushed nature and I am being kind, I am not trying to be rhetorical but the somewhat rushed nature of this Bill through the House. It is something that has been under consideration for quite some time. I know when the minister said to the people who went to the committee the other day: I have heard nothing new here today, I have thought of all this, we have discussed that ourselves.... that may well be but the public has not been involved in that discussion and the public or a committee of this House has not had sufficient time to deal with the complexities -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Gentlemen, we have had one round of speeches, let me just say a few words.

First of all, I want to say to my learned and hon. friend for St. John's East, I do not have the transcript here of what I said on the CBC in that interview. I have seen the transcript over the last few days, I have seen the transcript. I did not say that nobody had asked that this matter be referred to a committee because he and the lady for Humber East had made that request here in the House. The House had heard it and the House, in accordance with the rules, had dealt with it and had turned it down and that is that. What I did say is that nobody, I forget the exact words, but nobody outside the House - I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The only place they have ever been made was here in the House. I had said that nobody outside the House had made the request and that was true at the time I made it. Within, I do not know, an hour after that I was told that the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, with whom I had met and with whom my deputy minister and other officials had been having a series of meetings with, wanted to appear before the committee and I immediately passed that news to the Chair, the hon. gentleman from Harbour Grace, and the meeting was arranged as soon as could be done conveniently for all concerned and that was that. I have heard to this day, nothing further from anybody who said he, she or they wished to be heard, beyond what has already been said. The debate here in the House is public, dealt with.

Now, let me come back to the substance of the Bill, because I take the hon. gentleman at his word, as dealing with this seriously and I take the hon. lady at her word. We can do one of two things here this morning, we can carry on with a filibuster type thing, we are in a committee process where the rules of the House in effect allow any two members to carry on almost indefinitely, subject to the rules, standing order 51(b) which says what it says and means what it means. Or we can approach this Bill rationally and sensibly, realize the House has accepted the principle of the Bill, realize that the government are committed to moving the Bill forward in a proper way, in an appropriate way, and the moving forward to bring this new institution, the public complaints commission for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary into being. Now the amendments that I have proposed or that will be proposed by one of my colleagues, addressed all of the outstanding points that have been brought to me with two exceptions, and my suggestion would be that we should debate those when we come to the appropriate clause. But it is irrelevant to me, whenever Your Honour says the debates in order, let us deal with them.

One is the suggestion, which I heard put forward laterally by Mr. Vink from the Human Rights Association, and I have heard it put forward by others before, that the adjudication process should be done not by one person as we suggest in the Bill but by a three member panel. One of whom will be nominated by the police association, one by some vague unnamed group of groups, there were some suggestions made, I think municipalities, human rights - I am not trying to put words in Mr. Vink's mouth, he had a written brief and again it said what it said, and the third would be a neutral Chair. Now, I just find as a lawyer and as a person who is responsible for the introduction and administration of policy, I find that to be a wrong idea. These men and women sit in judgement, they are judges. It is not a matter of a debate, it is not an arbitration, it is not a conciliation board, it is a judgement. That is the practice that has worked on the Human Rights Commission. I do not even remember whether it wasthis administration that set up that practice or the previous administration. It came in two, three, or four years ago. I could look it up, I suppose, but I have not looked it up and do not know the answer so I will not hazard a guess. There is nothing new about it, nothing radical. We have a situation where if a complaint is referred through to an adjudication process it will be dealt with by a single commissioner.

Now, that is one of the two points. The other one is the question of who should do the investigation. It either has to be one of the two existing police forces in the Province, the RNC or the RCMP, or a new police force, call it what you want, an investigations office has to be created but we are not prepared to do that for two or three reasons. First of all across Canada, I am told by my officials who have made checks, the universal experience is that the initial investigation of public complaints against police forces is made in the same way internal complaints are investigated, by a special division of the police department. That is, I am told, universal across the country. Secondly, there is the fact of cost, one would have to start another police force. It could be attached to the commissioner's office. Sure, the commissioner could hire investigators and what have you but we do not think that is practical and we do not think it is necessary. What this proposal will do, for the first time in history, is move the investigation process out of only an internal process, which is where it now is and which by its very nature is unsatisfactory, into a public forum, to a commissioner who will have the right under the amendments we propose to report directly to the House instead of the initial draft sent to me and I as minister lay it on the table of the House. That is not difficult, there is no problem there, and with the commissioner having the power to send that forward to a hearing by an adjudicator which would be a trial by whatever name. It is not a Section 96 trial, it is not a Section 96 judge. We have no power to create such judges but a person empowered to hear evidence, deal with the matter according to the proper rules of national justice, and take it forward.

Mr. Chairman, the Bill for all its length comes down to a fairly simple plan. I do not intend to go over that as it has been dealt with in second reading. We are here to deal with clause by clause stage and not to have another second reading debate. The House has disposed of the question at second reading. It has accepted. Whether hon. members voted for it or not the fact remains that the House has moved forward. We have our rules and the rules allow business to move forward in an appropriate way and at an appropriate time. We would not be here at 5:30 in the morning had it not been for the determination of hon. members opposite simply to dig in. I do not fault them. I was over there for years and I can tell them how to do it. I invented some of the tactics they are using. There is nothing new about this. Any two members in committee can play this game. It does not take any particular parliamentary skill or any particular parliamentary expertise. All it takes is the willingness to try to impose the will of two upon the will of more than two. That is not debate. It is not an intelligent approach to the public policy. It is just blind, blunt, obtuseness, but it is within the rules. There has been no complaint from me or my colleagues and there will not be any, but we have no choice except to carry this forward in this way or abandon the Bill. We believe the public interest requires the Bill so we are going to bring it forward.

Now, what I would suggest to hon. members, and they are at liberty to debate subject to the chair at whatever length they want, we can either carry on with simply going over the second reading debate again and again, and again and again, or we can move forward and deal with each clause and when we come to the clause that addresses certain points we can deal with those points. If there is an amendment that one of my colleagues moves, or somebody else moves, fine we deal with that, what we do not need, I suggest, as it does not help the process, it does not help the House, it does not help the Bill, it doesn't help the people whom we're all here to serve, and whom in our own way we all believe we are serving, if we simply go on with this - it hasn't happened in debate on this Bill but it happened on some of the other bills tonight. We're all here. We know what's going on, with this inane, insensate, just simply dumb repetition.

Sure we can do it. Three hon. members opposite. The rest have given up and gone home. For whatever reason. There are only three members opposite now, but they can do it. They have every legal right to do it under the rules of this House. We're not trying to change the rules, we're prepared to live with them. But we're there, they're there, they have every right to do it.

It's really irrelevant to me. I'll live gladly within the procedures of the rules of this House. We believe this Bill is a good one. We've never said it's perfect. We believe it's a good one, we believe it's in the public interest to move it forward, and we are going to move it forward. At the end of the day the majority who sit here, because by the rules of this democracy they are the majority, we shall have our way because we're entitled to have our way - within the rules. We're not going to try to cut anybody off. We're not going to try to foreclose debate. I am prepared to debate these issues on their merits at whatever stage is appropriate and whatever measures are appropriate, according to the rulings of the Chair.

So I suggest that we move on or we carry it, as hon. members want. It's all the same to me. My suggestion would be that we move on through the various clauses and when we come to each one if there are questions I shall try to answer them; if there are arguments to be made against the clause I shall hear them, as will my colleagues, and I shall try to respond to them, and we can deal with it. There are a number of amendments. Some of them, as my friend for St. John's East said, are substantial, some are simply spelling mistakes and that kind of error that should be corrected, because otherwise they will be in the anomalies and statutes correction bill for another year.

So with that said, Mr. Chairman, that's my ten minutes I guess, or nigh on it. I'll resume my seat and wait for the next member to go on. I do suggest we should move this Bill forward. All we're doing otherwise is demeaning ourselves, demeaning the whole process, and not serving any public interest of any sort whatsoever.

MR. CHAIRMAN: So we're dealing with the -

MS. VERGE: Chairperson?

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Just one second. Are we dealing now with the amendment to Clause 1?

AN HON. MEMBER: There's no amendment to Clause 1.

MR. CHAIRMAN: No amendment to Clause 1.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, my understanding is that we're at the beginning of the Bill.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, we're debating Clause 1.

MS. VERGE: Clause 1.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) no amendment (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: No amendment to Clause 1.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I find it very difficult to understand the Government House Leader's plan. He hasn't said this himself, in fairness to him, but two of his colleagues over there - most recently the Member for St. John's South, Monday night at the Committee meeting, the Member for Carbonear - both said: pass this legislation now, it's bad, it's flawed -

MR. MURPHY: I never said that.

MS. VERGE: The Member for Carbonear said it's bad -

MR. MURPHY: Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

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

MR. MURPHY: I just, I just want -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for St. John's South on a point of order.

MR. MURPHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I did not say it was flawed. Don't say that. I want the Member for St.... I'm so mixed up between St. John's East and Humber East I don't know which East is the least. Don't misquote me, please.

MR. CHAIRMAN: There is no point of order.

MS. VERGE: No point of order. I apologize to the hon. Member for St. John's South -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: - if he had heard me out, I would have clarified what I started to say. Two of the minister's colleagues, the two I named, the two whose districts I mentioned have both said: pass this legislation now and we will fix it up in the Spring.

I will clarify. The Member for Carbonear, at the committee meeting Monday night said: I do not care how bad this police commission is, we will pass it now and fix it up later; we can bring in amendments in the Spring. Now the Member for St. John's South did not say that, the Member for St. John's South just said: let us pass this now and give it a try and if we do not like what we see or if there are some details, when we come back to the House in the Spring he said, we can amend it -

MR. MURPHY: I said: come back in February and listen to the groups and if they make sense, then when the House sits again, we can amend it.

MS. VERGE: - but, Chairperson, all we in the Opposition are asking for is that the House delay proceeding with this Bill and passing it, that we respond to the requests of so many of the public, the people who came to the meeting on Monday night, the news media who have been commenting on it, for more time. This is an important measure and the Bill was not even printed until two-and-a-half weeks ago, very few people have had a chance to find out about it. So what we are asking is simply for that bit of additional time, halt our consideration of the Bill now, give it back to the Social Legislation Review Committee, allow the committee to work on it after Christmas during the month of January, and over that month the committee will be able to analyze it very carefully and hold more public meetings to hear from the people who appeared on Monday night past and requested more time, as well as others, and then, Chairperson, we can come back in February and have a sensible debate with the benefit of public input, with the benefit of more time ourselves to do some research.

Chairperson, I fail to understand why the Government House Leader is putting us all through this misery and this ridiculous exercise of having a marathon sitting of the House of Assembly, when all he has to do is to respond to requests from the public for that bit of additional time. Give the Bill back to the committee, allow the committee the month of January to work on it and then come back in February and have a sensible debate and pass it then. Now what difference does it make to the members opposite whether they continue this marathon sitting, rush the legislation through, ignore the request of the public for more time, shut out the advice for improvements, or wait until the end of January, allow the time people have requested, get the benefit of their thoughts and their views, hear from more people and come back in February?

From what I understand, the minister may correct me, but from what I understand, the minister is not intending to appoint the commissioner and have the commission running, operating until the new fiscal year -

MR. ROBERTS: No (inaudible).

MS. VERGE: - oh, the minister is saying no -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I thank the hon. member, Mr. Chairman. We intend to appoint the commissioner as soon as possible. I had originally hoped for the first of January but I suspect that is not going to be possible. It will obviously be a little after that - and there is money in the current year's estimates of my department to cover this.

We believe the need is real and demonstrated. We will move as quickly as we can once the Bill is passed, but we can do nothing until the Bill is passed.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, the minister says he probably will not be able to have a commissioner by the first of January. We have waited a long time for this, and many of us can say it should have been put in place sooner.

The Hughes Commission recommended it a year-and-a-half ago in their final report; but nevertheless it would be far better to pass a good bill and launch a police commission in which the public will have confidence from the beginning by waiting an extra month-and-a-half than it would be to proceed to pass this legislation, which already lacks public confidence both because of the approach of the government and because of some of the specific provisions of the Bill.

The Member for St. John's South was talking about giving it a try and in the Spring session of the House bringing in amendments. The Member for Carbonear said he does not care how bad it is; he just wants to get it through and then come back and fix it up later.

Chairperson, one of the hallmarks of a successful police complaints commission is public confidence. Police forces need the faith of the public they are serving if they are to do an adequate job of policing, and I believe the two police forces we have have earned the respect of the citizens of the Province; but people want a satisfactory public complaints commission for the constabulary.

We might, at another time, get into a discussion of enlarging a provincial commission to include the RCMP. That was one of the recommendations made by the Human Rights Association. The minister objects that we do not have jurisdiction. The Human Rights Association, of course, pointed out that the RCMP operate in this Province under a contract with the Province.

At any rate, Chairperson -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

In my first comments I want to talk about the process leading to where we find ourselves today on this Bill. We have to try to do what is here, that has been rejected already, the process of having the committee hear it, although I am hearing the Member for Humber East valiantly proceed with the argument that this could still be referred to a committee. I think it is a valid argument. I think it is an argument that at this point has been lost however, so I am not going to pursue that.

I guess we are left, and the people of Newfoundland are left, with the two or three of us here who are seeking to bring about some changes in the Bill at 5:00 a.m. or 5:45 a.m. now in the morning, when most of Newfoundland and Labrador is asleep, trying to seek some reasonable amendments to the Bill that would address some of the problems that were raised - and they were raised quite often and quite frequently by those who had an opportunity to have a look at the Bill by people who had read the Bill carefully, Mr. Chairman, despite some of the public comments of the Minister of Justice.

The individual who was here from Toronto, Sher Singh - I don't know if from Toronto, I think he's from Hamilton or some place outside of Toronto - he had had a great deal of experience with the Ontario Police Commission. He was very familiar with the operations of the police commission in Manitoba and in other provinces, and he's been active in attending seminars and conferences on human rights and similar types of legislation. He's a member of the Ontario Police Commission. He's a lawyer. He's a person who is not given to hyperbole when it comes to discussing legislation. He had a number of important observations to make, and some of them were strict comments.

We had also the unusual - and I say that because often you see the Human Rights Association and the police or other official bodies on the opposite side of questions. What we found on a couple of questions in relation to this Bill was that the Human Rights Association and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association were in agreement. They were in agreement on a number of points that I think deserve further attention because of that.

One of those points, and this has to do with the method of adjudication, and the police said - the method of investigation is perhaps first, rather - the police said that they had no problem with the chief doing the investigation, themselves. They believed in the chief, they believed in the force, they believed in the hierarchy of the force as police officers. They had confidence that the police chief at the initial stage of investigation should and could do a very good job. However, they also agreed with the Human Rights Association that what was more important in this circumstance was not whether or not the chief would do a proper job, but whether or not the public would be satisfied that a proper job had been done and therefore could accept the results of an investigation without having to go to the next stage, to the commission or adjudication stage.

That comment was echoed by the visiting individual, the visiting lawyer, Mr. Singh, who said that it was very important that members of the public - even if they're told within forty-eight hours by someone who they trust and they accept, that: we've looked into your complaint, we've done a thorough investigation, and we're satisfied that there's no basis for your complaint. We understand that you may be upset by what happened but there's no basis for your complaint.

It was felt by the Human Rights Association, by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officials who were present at the Committee hearing, that that would be a good and positive thing. That if an individual, a member of the public, could be told even in a very short period of time he had no basis of a complaint and he could accept that, then that would be a salutary way to deal with the problem, and an efficient and I suppose cheap - we don't like to use that word - but less expensive, not burdensome to the public purse, way to deal with a complaint.

You do not have to have adjudications, you do not have to have lawyers, you do not have to have expensive processes at work to deal with complaints. The experience has been, as the minister will know from the previous complaints that were handled already by the chief of police, but the experience has been in other provinces that in the first little while when you have an official public complaints commission that you may have a lot of complaints. You may have 100 in the first year or 150 because people say; oh, I have access to the complaints procedure.

Now what is found is that there are lots of complaints initially, but the amazing thing is it does not come as any surprise to the police officers, it does not come as any surprise to people who understand what goes on, but that virtually ever single complaint is not rejected, it is dealt with but is found to be - it is not upheld, the complaint is not upheld. In other words, the police officer is found to have acted properly, after an investigation. So if we have 100 complaints in the first year, and we may not, it would be unlikely that we did, but we can predict that ninety-five or ninety-eight of these 100 complaints are going to be unfounded or they are going to be found to be without a basis that would give rise to a discipline or a change of procedure or something like that.

If that is the experience of other provinces than why don't we consider we would probably have less complaints here because we only have one police force. It has a very good reputation but if the perception is that we have to have a process that is open, that is independent and does not involve the initial level, being at the police stage, well than why not? Why not have the commissioner do his own investigations? Why not have a commissioner who has investigative skills? Why not appoint somebody who, if they do not have those skills, can learn them very quickly? We are not necessarily talking about a major investigation, commercial crime involving a tremendous amount of experience being required, we need somebody who can go about collecting whatever evidence there is, taking statements from witnesses, considering the issues, having a bit of experience perhaps or knowledge of how the legal system interacts with the public, how police officers interact with citizens when they are conducting arrests or motor vehicle stops or searches, some familiarity with those sorts of things but also able to learn some investigative skills.

That first step could be a very efficient step and could result, if the commissioner doing the investigation is considered to be impartial - we do not need a four or five person board but if it is someone who is acceptable to the RNC Association, someone who is acceptable to the government and to the community, someone who is going to report to this House as the amendments that the minister proposing have is possible, than why do we follow the precedent that seems to be followed elsewhere that we go the police route? If we could predict upfront that the route of having an independent investigator who could also be the commissioner, because the commissioner has that power, under section 19, clause 19 of the Bill, 19 (1) the commissioner may investigate a complaint. So, if that is the route to go than why send everything to the police chief right away, if it is agreed by the two - not the two parties, but the parties involved - the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, who are there to protect their members. They are there to ensure that their members are not put through processes that are cumbersome and unreasonable and unduly threatening to them. If they are satisfied that the public interest will be better served by having an independent investigation, and if the Human Rights Association, which prides itself on standing up for the civil liberties of citizens throughout this Province - if they are expressing the view that the citizenry would prefer to investigate a separate complaint from someone outside the police force, then that should be listened to.

The others who were here on Monday night, I am not certain whether they expressed an opinion on that particular aspect of the matter or not, but it is an important one because it is what gives the public the initial perception of what is going on. But what happens to this complaint?

Suppose the chief of police does an investigation and he or she makes a recommendation - or the chief, rather, is allowed to dismiss the complaint, or fine the complaint and discipline the police officer. That is a new power, and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association had some problems with that.

It is unfortunate that we cannot necessarily deal with all these problems because when -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, when I spoke last I tried to get the government to bring some sense to this debate.

The minister is talking about aiming to have a commissioner in place some time early in the new year. He does not think he will be able to do it by the first of January. The Member for St. John's South is talking about passing this now, trying it, and amending it in the Spring. The time in the difference is very little.

Considering the importance of the subject, thinking about the number of requests for more time for people to become informed and to have input into the design, would it not be sensible to halt this debate, allow members to go home and get two hours sleep before we have to come back at 9:00 a.m.; refer the Bill to a committee, back to the Social Legislation Review Committee, and tell the committee to spend the month of January hearing the people who want to be heard, and then bring back to the House, when we reconvene in February or March, a report, and then incorporate ideas from the public.

Perhaps much of what the minister is now proposing with his amendments will ultimately meet with the approval of the public and the House of Assembly. Perhaps the minister will see that other people have better ideas. Perhaps he will agree to make some further amendments; but, at any rate, the process would be a democratic one. People would have more confidence in it, and when the commission is set up in March, two months after the earliest time the minister can get it in place now, it will get off to a good start.

It just does not make any sense, Chairperson, for the minister to be ramming this through the way he is. It seems to me it has nothing to do with his concern for putting in place a good public complaints commission for the constabulary. It simply has to do now with a power struggle.

He seems to be striving simply to prove to his Cabinet and caucus colleagues that he can get his way - that despite the complaints of the public, despite the calls of the Constabulary Association, The Human Rights Association and the other interveners at the meeting on Monday night for more time, despite the request of the Opposition for more time, he was right from the beginning, it is his way or no way, it just does not make any sense, Chairperson.

Why have a petty, partisan power struggle over something as important as a police complaints commission? We are not being unreasonable, we certainly agree with having a public complaints commission for the constabulary, we support that principle. I would say that some of what is in this Bill is worthwhile, it is a good start but I have serious concerns about the design of this public complaints commission, and I know it is not right to rush it through the way we are doing it. I know it is wrong to deny the people, the organizations and the individuals who have asked for a hearing, who volunteered to do research and contribute their ideas, just shut them out of the process, that is wrong, I know that.

Now, Chairperson, if the government would agree to a two-month delay and allow the month of January for committee hearings, to give people the chance they have requested for more input, we can be back here in February and pass the legislation. The minister's commission can then be in place by the 1st of March, so why go through this ridiculous process, torturing ourselves, shutting out the public, undermining confidence in any commission that results, for the sake of two months, when we have been waiting so many months for this initiative.

Now if the minister is so bound and determine to get this through, why did he wait until two-and-a-half weeks ago to have the Bill printed? He became minister almost a year ago last February, his appointment was announced in November. Now his predecessor, the Member for Humber West, told me the other day that draft legislation to set up a police complaints commission was prepared when he was minister. Now the Member for Humber West resigned from the office of Minister of Justice at the beginning of November last year, more than a year ago, so the new minister, on moving into the office in February inherited a draft bill, why then, if it is so important to him, did it take him until the end of November to produce a bill for the examination of members of this House of Assembly and for the viewing of the people of the Province?

Of course, in the short time we have had, very few people outside the Chamber have had a look at the Bill and that is why The Human Rights Association was here Monday night asking for more time. That is why the man from Harbour Grace South, quoted earlier by my friend from St. John's East, asked for more time. That is why Cheryl Hebert, a social worker who has done a considerable amount of work with victims of family violence and sexual abuse, and who did work for the Winter Commission, appointed by the Roman Catholic Church, was here asking for more time and expressing displeasure in the process. That is why a representative of the Provincial Association Against Family Violence was here on Monday night asking for more time. These people are very upset with the process.

The Constabulary Association, a group better equipped than any perhaps to react to this Bill, since it deals with their profession, their everyday work, and who have the advantage of legal counsel, who got the Bill as soon as it was distributed in the House, even they pleaded for more time. So Chairperson, it just does not make any sense for us to be here now, at 6:04 on Friday morning, a week before Christmas - exactly a week before Christmas - trying to ram this through.

Chairperson, honestly, I am not being unreasonable. I would be quite happy to go home if the government would agree to provide that little bit of extra time for this Bill to be considered properly, for this Bill to be seen by people of the Province who are interested - and there are many who are interested - to give people a chance to suggest improvements to the Bill.

Now the minister seems to think that he knows it all. He said to the committee the other night that the presenters did not make any new points. He had heard all of those points before. He had considered all of those points. He had made decisions on all of them. He did not need any more input. Well I doubt that, Chairperson. There are very few people who cannot learn something new.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, let me just say a few words.

The hon. lady speaks of a power struggle. The only power struggle in this is that she and her colleagues, as is their right, have decided to make this an issue. They are going to try to beat up on me, and we have a great big mano a mano confrontation. I did not seek that, and I do not particularly relish it, but I am certainly not going to back away from it.

The hon. lady has to accept, whether she likes it or not, that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador elected this government to be the government. She and her colleagues were turfed -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The people of Newfoundland and Labrador elected the lady and the gentlemen on this side to be the government. She and her colleagues do not have the right to be the government. They have the right to be here in the House. The House has decided, at the request of the government, that we are going to move forward with this, so the delay is not on. Now let me just deal with a couple of more points.

She says I know it all. Well even I know I do not know it all. In fact, the older I get, and the more grey hair and scars I get, the more I realize how little I do know. What I do know though, on this Bill, is that the arguments that have been put forward are ones that Cabinet dealt with and considered. We have given our position on them - right or wrong is for people to judge at the appropriate time and the appropriate place. We will answer for it.

There were no new arguments brought forward the other evening. There were some good points which we are prepared to respond to with amendments. The only point Ms Hebert made, and she made a good point, was about when the limitation periods start to run. Now, the draft that was done was legally adequate but in an effort to try to address a concern, which I understand to be a real one, we have proposed some words, and we will come to them at the appropriate time, which will make it crystal clear. They simply expand in a little more detail what the law is. The Constabulary Association made a number of points, some of which we accept as a matter of policy and some of which we do not, delay is not going to change that. Government have an obligation to govern, to govern is to choose. We have made our choices and we must accept the consequences, and we do quite gladly.

We think this is a good Bill. Of course it can be improved. There is no law ever written that cannot be improved. I have not looked up what the hon. lady may have sponsored by way of legislation during her term in office, although I must say nothing springs to mind during her years except the family law act which I believe was really done by Mr. Peckford - no, Senator Ottenheimer was the minister who brought it in. I am hard pressed to think of any major legislative reform with which the hon. lady's name is associated but let us assume there are some, and I am quite prepared to believe there are, and they have no doubt been changed from time to time and improved. We think we have a good model here. Now, let me just say a word about myself. I do not seek any sympathy from the hon. lady or from any member of the House. I accepted the Premier's invitation to join -

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: I would not want it. I do not accept any. I stand here, I will take what is coming and give back what is going.

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: That is fine. The hon. Member for Kilbride and I see eye to eye on that kind of thing and that is part of it. I have no problem with that. I did not want to be here at six (inaudible) this ridiculous thing but if the opposition are going to dig in and have the kind of filibustering tactics we have seen it is the only response the government have. Now, let me come back just so the hon. lady knows and it is on the record. I became Minister of Justice in mid February and the constitutional discussion took over. I did not start the constitution nor did the Premier, but once the Prime Minister decided to start it we did. I spent seventy-six days at meetings, including some travel time. I also had an election. I was not a member of the House and that is hardly a secret, but as soon as a seat became vacant, and the hon. lady was hectoring me and the Premier, I sought election in Naskaupi and I got elected. That took another thirty days because we do not believe in the twenty-one day business. I think we give twenty-eight or twenty-nine days. You will have to look it up but it is more than the twenty-one required by law.

The constitution then carried on until the end of August so I came into my office in September, and in between I am trying to run a department with extraordinary capable officials who carried on perhaps better without me than they would have with me. The hon. lady knows a little bit about running Justice as she was there for a number of years. Whatever she accomplished is there on her record and whatever she did not accomplish is there. I am learning about some of the things she did and did not do, just as in due course people will learn what I have done and what I have not done.

I have a mandate from Cabinet to carry through the Police Act which has been around for three or four years. It really has gone through thirty-six, thirty-seven, thirty eight or forty-one drafts. My friend for Humber West had done a great deal of work on it but it had not come to Cabinet in anything like a finished form. I have a mandate to do a conflict of interest act which is something we have been wanting to do for three or four years. It is in the House. The law society act, the legal technology proposals. For the first time in history we are not going to repeat the $3.5 million to an Alberta firm, a good firm doing good work but no benefit for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. Calling proposals for legal work, the first time in history. We have had hundreds of proposals, I am told, but I have not seen any of them. The officials are handling it. One of my ADMs, Mr. Cummings on the civil side, Mr. McCarthy the senior civil counsel, and Mr. Flynn, the director of public prosecutions. These are the officials handling it, there are hundreds of proposals, so I do not make any apology to the hon. lady or anybody else for what I have done or not done. The Bill is a good Bill and we are going to move it forward. We will move it forward within the rules of the House but I can say to the hon. lady, the government are not going to delay it. I do not know when she gets into needless repetition, that is not for me to judge.

I have always had trouble with that rule, Mr.Chairman, it was put in years ago by Mr. Bill Marshall, when he was the Government House Leader, to try to stop me among others, from doing what the hon. lady is doing, not half as well as we did it, not have as well. She is not a patch on the likes of Mr. Steve Neary, when he sat on the Opposition, she is not a patch, she is not even a patch on him -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The only patch on the hon. gentleman, as he himself says is the one he needs on the top of his head, he pokes fun at himself. The hon. Member for Kilbride has the ability, which all of us I hope have from time to time, not to lose his sense of humour and to be able to poke fun at himself. That is one of the reasons why we on this side love him as dearly as we do, and we do, the House will not be the same when he is no longer with us, but you know, there is no reason to send this to a committee -

AN HON. MEMBER: When you put manure on strawberries, they grow good.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Neary would say the mushrooms do. Steve Neary would say put it on the mushrooms and they would do it, the same thing. You know, we can go over this point as often as the hon. lady wants. I can stay here as long as she can; she is considerably younger than I am -

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. ROBERTS: Oh, much younger than I am. She is but a child compared to the wizened old man that I have become. But I mean, I can sit here as long as she can and I could listen to her, the same as my friend for St. John's East, but I tell them now, the government are moving this forward. Now they have a choice, they can carry on with the charade, they have every right to do it, I do not quarrel, until the Chairman says that is needless repetition, no problem, or we can move forward with the Bill and if there are weaknesses in it that we have not yet identified that the hon. members can bring forward, let them bring them forward, I will address them on the merits, they cannot say that I have not been receptive to suggestions. I have authority from my colleagues in Cabinet to accept any other good suggestions but we are not going to have another police force. We are not going to have three-member adjudication panels with one selected by each side and then a Chair in the middle. We are not going to make the police complaints commission into a police policy commission.

Now, the hon. lady and the hon. gentleman can comment on it as much as they want but we have taken our decision and will answer for it. We are here in the House of Assembly as publicly as we can be speaking of it, so we are not going to change them. If they want to place their case on the record for history, fine; when somebody does a PhD. thesis in eighty-seven years on Lynn Verge, Ed. Roberts and Jack Harris and the police commission, they will dig it out, they will brush off the dust and they will see it, and they will say what kind of madness were all three of them up to.

But when the hon. lady talks of power, she and her colleagues are somehow trying to force this through and I know the political game they are playing, I was over there. Jeez, I did it better than they did it, you know. We came close after '72 to beating the government, and if Mr. Smallwood of late fame had stayed out of it we would have beaten the government; this crowd is not even close to beating us after their first term in the Opposition.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I believe we would have, if Mr. Smallwood had stayed out. If it had been Liberals against Tories, we would have won the election after one term in opposition. The hon. lady and gentlemen are good for another term there but that is neither here nor there; let us come back to the Bill.

We will sit here as long as we need to. The House will continue sitting within the rules as long as we need to, we will adjourn at some appropriate time and carry on, that is no problem, but we are not going to delay the Bill. The bills that have had second reading we are going to move forward, we have four more bills we are going to ask the House to address.

Now, hon. members can make up their own minds. All of them are in the House, everything that is going to be done is in the House. The Electoral Boundaries Bill, The Utilities Taxation Bill and the Tobacco Tax and the Gasoline Tax Act Bills; there is no question, we are going to ask the House to deal with these.

Now hon. members, we are our own masters. This is the only psychiatric institution in the world, Mr. Chairman, run by its own inmates and we are our own masters in this House, but all I ask of the Committee is that we move forward this Bill - if they want to try a filibuster, I can last as long as anyone and my colleagues have made up their minds, we have talked about it, we are prepared to -

MR. R. AYLWARD: (Inaudible) quorum (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Call a quorum. We will go wake him up if you want. The hon. gentleman's colleagues have shown him what they think of it, they all went home and left him, but you know, if you want to do a filibuster, I say to my friends carry it on, you are able to do it, there is no sweat, carry it on but if you want to make this Bill a better Bill, then let us get into the meat of it, we have some amendments; if hon. members have any, I am prepared to look at them with an open mind and even adopt them. Mr. Chairman, again I have about used up my ten minutes, so with that said I will sit down and await hon. members - I hope they will respond in a positive way to what I mean to be a positive invitation but it is up to them what they do and for our part we can only respond to whatever they do.

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

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

Mr. Chairman, I would gladly respond in a positive way to the hon. minister in his suggestions and I appreciate the suggestions which he made. There is one suggestion that I would like to make to the minister, if he would respond to it we would be all out of here, and that suggestion is to take the next couple of weeks, just take two weeks and put this before the committee - it may never change one iota of it. It may never change one bit of the Bill but what we would be doing - and the hon. minister, I remember hearing him say before when he was in the House that you must not only do right but perceive to be doing right or some such language, it was not exactly that but if we allowed the public to have a good hearing on this and then we came back to this House of Assembly and had a proper debate on it, when we are all prepared, then we could vote on the legislation and whatever the government wanted to put in that legislation would be what is approved. To the surprise, maybe to the surprise of the government, as happened before in this House of Assembly when the committee's have their hearings and have the suggestions from people who want to make suggestions on this Bill, maybe there is some other thing that would improve it. Maybe there is something that we are all missing, maybe there is something that we are not thinking about that we could recommend to government to make them realize that if they change it in this small way or maybe in a major way that it would be a better piece of legislation. I do not see any purpose whatsoever in trying to rush this through the House of Assembly tonight or tomorrow evening or whenever we get through it. Mr. Chairman, there is no -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: I thought that is what you were doing since you came in here.

Mr. Chairman, it does not obstruct government's business any, to have a week or so delay in this so that we may be able to get a better piece of legislation. Most of the research I have done on this I do not understand. I do not understand police commissions, I have never had any experience with police commissions before. I have tried to - I have read over some of the act and the details. I have read some of the articles which appeared in the news media and listened to the news reports on people who are commenting on this and I have not found anyone, except the minister, Government House Leader and the Premier who say this is a great piece of legislation. As a matter of fact, I have heard just the opposite from everyone who bothered to comment on it and who took time to look at it. Everyone of them, if they did not criticize it as not the proper way to go, they asked for some time so that they could give it proper consideration and see if there are alternatives. That is what I heard on this legislation. That is the only bit of information that I received.

Now, if we had public hearings, if we did have some time to have some hearings and the Member for Harbour Grace, who is having a great nap there now, had time to have his proper hearings - there is a good thing there are no flies in here, I tell you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, if the Member for Harbour Grace did have the proper amount of time to have the hearings, I am sure he would conduct, as quickly as possible, as quickly as the government would want him to, and we may get all kinds of presentations when people have time to do it, to come in and support the minister and the government on this legislation and say: this is the only way to go in Newfoundland. There is no sense to go any other way. This is the most practical way because of arguments that the Premier or the Minister of Justice have given us already. Maybe we'll get 100 people to come into our Committee and say: these are great people, these are two great lawyers, and they know exactly what to do, Mr. Chairman. But I haven't heard them yet.

That's what we could get if we have public hearings. A week or so is not going to make a big lot of difference. As I said before, and without being accused of being overly repetitive, I would come back for a day or so after the public hearings in this House of Assembly. We don't need everyone back if they don't want to. You can come in with your fourteen and we three will be here, no doubt. If nobody else wants to come in, well that's up to them. We don't mind that. They are back in their districts doing their district work, and that's acceptable to us, the three who are here tonight. We don't mind that.

We'll come back for a couple of days after the New Year and do the legislation. If I'm found to be wrong and the hundreds of people do come into our Committee hearing and support the minister and the Premier and say what great fellows they are - I must be talking too loud. I'm after waking up the Member for Port de Grave too. I didn't mean to wake him up now because he's awful crooked at 6:30 a.m. This is the time he usually gets up in the morning so there's no big problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible) good morning, Lynn.

MS. VERGE: Good morning. Good to see you.

MR. R. AYLWARD: He's a hard worker. Mr. Chairman, if it does happen that the Committee has its hearings and hundreds of people come in supporting the Bill, I'll apologise for keeping him up all night in this House of Assembly, and I'll try to arrange a nice comfortable bed for him to get an extra couple of hours sleep after we have the next session in January some time, when we come back.

I'll agree, and I'll even support it when we have the public hearings and we hear from people whether they support it or not support it. The only public comment I've heard on the legislation came out of the Committee hearings that the Member for Harbour Grace chaired. Everyone, the four or six people who appeared before that Committee, all had criticisms of the Bill. The criticisms of the Bill that they had were secondary in my mind. The plea for some time to give it some more consideration was more prominent in what I heard from the comment from the Committee hearings.

Mr. Boswell, the economist at The Evening Telegram, political science professor, I believe, at Memorial University, and a former instructor of the Member for Eagle River, wherever he's gone to sleep tonight, he -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) a speech.

MR. R. AYLWARD: He might be writing a speech, yes, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Boswell's comments, and as a lay person not totally familiar with police commissions, I can only read from people who I think might have some idea of what the legislation will mean. Certainly he has criticised harshly this legislation. Maybe he didn't have the right information that the minister would like him to have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Yes. I would say he made good comments, but -

AN HON. MEMBER: A fairly strong-minded (Inaudible). There's nothing wrong with that.

MR. R. AYLWARD: No. Mr. Chairman, what I would like to see, I would like to be able to get Mr. Boswell before a committee of this House so I could question him. So I could ask him: the Premier tells us this, or the minister tells us this, and you're saying that. What do you think would be most practical for Newfoundland? Maybe again Mr. Boswell here is looking at a police commission for Ontario or a police commission for Quebec which certainly I don't believe, not in a hundred years, is what we need in Newfoundland.

We have to have the best that we can possibly have for our Province so that we won't be coming back here like the Member for St. John's South and Carbonear want to do. Pass it and get rid of it. It's the most irresponsible attitude that I've ever heard from a person speaking in this House of Assembly on legislation that is so important. Let's pass it and get it out of the way.

Mr. Chairman, I'm surprised the Member for St. John's South would have that irresponsible attitude because I've known him for a while. He gets kind of cranky when he has to stay up at night. Maybe we could write it off to lack of sleep or something like that. But I can't.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Already?

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, what's happening here now at 6:27 on a Friday morning a week before Christmas is very hard to understand. I'm sure the people of Newfoundland and Labrador as they're waking up and listening to the radio are quite perplexed at what the government is doing.

Now after having the final report of the Hughes Commission calling for the government to set up a police complaints commission since May of 1991, more than a year and a half ago; since hearing widespread agreement that there should be a complaints commission for the Constabulary; after reporting to the minister and the Member for Humber West; preparing draft legislation as early as the fall of 1991, the government waited until two and a half weeks ago to print a bill and bring it to this House of Assembly. They've now -

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

I don't want to interrupt the hon. member but I've been sitting in this Chair for the last forty-five minutes. I've yet to hear anybody from either side of the House refer to any one of the clauses in the Bill. I'm asking hon. members to stick to the detailed study of the Bill. We are in Committee of the Whole House which is studying the Bill. The Bill has already been discussed at great length in principle in second reading, and the rules of the House are clear, in that in Committee we're supposed to be looking at the clause by clause study of the Bill. So I'm asking hon. members to stop their needless repetition and get on with the debate.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I'm following the long established practices of this House. Even the Government House Leader said that what we are doing is quite within the rules and practices of this House. He bragged of having done exactly this when he was in the opposition -

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

The hon. member is just engaging in refuting statements made by another hon. member. I suggest she get to studying the clauses of the Bill.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, what we're doing now is discussing the Bill. We're on Clause 1, which is the name of the Bill. Clause 1 says: "This Act may be cited as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992."

In examining that clause which gives the name of the Bill, under the rules of the House we have wide latitude to talk about the contents of the Bill, all the provisions of the Bill. There are many aspects of the design of the constabulary public complaints commission set out in Part III of this Bill, from Clauses 18 to 43 inclusive, that the people of the Province are unhappy about.

MR. EFFORD: Why?

MS. VERGE: "Why?", the Member for Port de Grave asks. People don't like what they've heard about the provisions in this Bill for a constabulary public complaints commission, first of all because they have not had a chance to learn enough about it. The Bill, after all, was only printed two-and-a-half weeks ago, so hardly any people outside the members of this Assembly -

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, a point of order.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, Your Honour has drawn the attention of us all to the rule, and you have made the point that we have all been a little out of order. That is fine. You have made the ruling and sobeit. There has been latitude. There has been a fair back and forth on this. The hon. lady is now simply going on with this same old thing again.

Your Honour has made the ruling now. Before this you had not made it. You have made a ruling. In fact, it was not even in response to a member making a submission to you. Your Honour simply took it upon yourself, as is entirely proper, to make a ruling and to carry on with the rules.

Now the hon. lady is going over the same ground again and again and again. If it is in order for her to do it, I have no objection; but I submit that it is not in order. That is precisely the point that Your Honour made in the ruling that you just made and drew our attention to 51(b).

AN HON. MEMBER: To that point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman we are, as you know, and as all members of this House of Assembly know, discussing the short title of the Bill, which is Clause 1.

Traditionally in this House of Assembly when we discuss the short title in Clause 1 we have a fairly wide-ranging debate. It certainly has to focus on the intent of the Bill and the contents of this Bill. We cannot be discussing other items or other bills. But traditionally in this House of Assembly we will discuss Clause 1 for some considerable time until we make all of our points, and then we will get on with the carrying of the clauses up to Clause 64, I believe this is, usually rather quickly after we have made our points on Clause 1. I would imagine that is what will happen in this debate also.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair was not talking about the relevancy, and realizes that while we are discussing the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, there are a lot of things that can be included under the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Why the Chair intervened is the fact that sitting here for the last five or six hours, and particularly since the debate stated on this Bill, I hear the same arguments being made over, and continuous repetition of the same phrases and the same arguments. I think it is time for the Chair to intervene to get things back on track.

MR. R. AYLWARD: I believe I only spoke once on it. You cannot repeat too much in one ten minute go.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I have heard what you said and I have no intention of needlessly repeating myself. I have simply pressed important points about the process the government is using in ramming this legislation through the House of Assembly and shutting out the public - denying citizens of the Province the time they requested to find out more about the Bill and have some input into it.

Chairperson, what is most contentious is Part III, the clauses I referred to earlier, which outline a public complaints process for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Now there are many aspects of this Bill - this design of a complaints process - which are problematic. There are many features that people have complained about - have asked questions about - that other members of the opposition are unhappy with.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, can we go to Part III?

MS. VERGE: No, Chairperson, we are still on the short title, Clause 1. This Bill deals with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in a comprehensive way and there may well be aspects of Parts I and II, as well as Parts IV and the later parts which I may want to comment on but for now on the short title, allowing me latitude to deal with all or any parts of the Bill, I am focusing on Part III. The part which is new, the part which is controversial, the part which is important, the part that sets up the public complaints process.

Chairperson, the first feature of the process is that there is to be a commissioner, a commissioner appointed by the Cabinet. Chairperson, this commissioner should be at arms length from the justice system, from the police which is to be the subject of complaints which the commissioner is going to have to investigate and comment upon. The commissioner should not be appointed by the minister responsible for the police, responsible for the criminal justice system or by the Cabinet of which the minister is a member. The commissioner should be both independent and seen to be independent, therefore I would submit it would be much preferable to have the commissioner appointed by the House of Assembly.

Until a couple of years ago, for ten years or so, we had a parliamentary commissioner of the House of Assembly, the ombudsman, who was charged with the responsibility of dealing with public complaints against the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Now, Chairperson, the model of the ombudsman is far superior to the model proposed in this Bill. The ombudsman was appointed by the Cabinet on the recommendation of the House of Assembly but, Chairperson, better than that I believe we should provide that the police commissioner be appointed by the House of Assembly.

The government's new Bill that was distributed on Monday, on House of Assembly members and conflict of interest, makes provision for the House of Assembly appointing a conflict commissioner. You would think the government would be consistent. In each case the public interest should be paramount in the case of members conflict of interest. The concern is having the public informed and maintaining public confidence in their politicians, in their members of the House of Assembly. In the case of the police complaints commission, again, the public interest should be paramount. The public should have confidence in the police complaints commission and to assure that confidence, for a start the police commissioner, the same as the conflict commissioner, should be appointed by the House of Assembly.

Chairperson, the commissioners remuneration should not be provided by the minister. After all he is the same minister who is responsible for the police. The remuneration should be prescribed by the House of Assembly, the same as other officers and staff of the House of Assembly. Perhaps there should be a House of Assembly committee, a committee comprising members from both sides designated to oversee the functioning of the police commissioner.

Another major concern of mine as well as many people who've spoken out about the Bill is that the scope of -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. At this point, in talking about the details of the Bill, it's interesting to note that the minister has indicated that he's ready at this point, he's now ready to listen, at 6:40 a.m., after seventeen hours of the House being open - I think that's right. The minister is now ready to listen to reasoned debate and reasoned suggestions from the Opposition.

I don't know how much reason there is left after seventeen hours of the House sitting constantly without any break whatsoever except the three minutes when there was a quorum call some time, about 3:00 a.m. So this is the time that we're going to be allotted to try and convince the minister that certain of the provisions that he has here in this legislation ought to be changed because they don't meet with the needs of the people.

What about the provision - and I suppose it's open to us to persuade him - he says he has the authority of his colleagues. So let's have a go at it. What about the provision that has to do with a complainant whose complaint is unfounded?

We know from the experience of other police commissions that 98 per cent of the complaints that are made are going to be unfounded, because that's the nature of a police complaints commission. Once you open up the system and you allow individuals to have open access to an independent system that's going to have a look at the complaints that people have about how the police behave they're going to come forth in large numbers. They're going to come forth with complaints that eventually will be found to be not grounded in reality, because ordinary persons don't know. They want someone else to have a look at it, someone who's independent, and who's going to come around to the point of accepting the fact that they don't know what's going on. They have an independent investigator look at it and that person, the commission, makes a conclusion that the complaint is not upheld, is therefore unfounded.

The public are already appalled at this. Not only are they appalled, they're frightened by it. The ordinary citizen out there doesn't have the knowledge, doesn't have the experience. Perhaps most lawyers wouldn't have the knowledge or the experience of knowing when some adjudicator might make a decision to make the complainant pay.

If you hear the minister in the House say it, no lawyer would know the difference. Because he would say: it's the adversary system. Some of the speakers on the government side of the debate say that's the way it is in a legal case. The Member for Port de Grave would know all about that.

MR. EFFORD: Yes, I would, actually.

MR. HARRIS: That's the way it is in a legal case. That the losing side -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The legal side of the case in a civil case, Mr. Chairman, the losing side pays the cost of the winning side. If that's the model then well might the public be concerned about bringing a complaint. Because if that's the model then the individual has to be worried about the costs.

I heard someone who attended the forum held by the Human Rights Association, and this wasn't an unsophisticated person. This was a person who was there quite clearly capable of handling herself in an argument or discussion. She was very concerned about the fact that it was there in the legislation at all. Why is it there? We've been given no real explanation for that. If the Member for Eagle River wanted to complain to the law society about the behaviour of a lawyer who represented him, and the law society discipline committee decided that his complaint was unfounded, without merit, and that no discipline was going to be imposed on the member, nobody could go to the Member for Eagle River and say: we're going to make you pay.

So why should we treat complainants about the police any differently than complainants about lawyers? Why should complainants against lawyers be given a free ride - if we want to call it that - and complainants against police officers be subject to the possibility they might have to pay? I'm going to try to use this opportunity at 6:45 a.m. - perhaps the minister's resolve on this point might be sufficiently open to persuasion.

MR. ROBERTS: Want to wait till we get to Section 32, (Inaudible)? (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: We're trying to soften you up a bit with some of these arguments.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Trying to soften up the minister so that when we get to Section 33 he'll be ready for an amendment, or maybe he'll have one of his own by then.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) Section 32, which is the only place it applies (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Yes, I know that. In fact, I'll go further, Mr. Chairman. Not only do I not think that the complainants should have to pay costs, I don't think that the police officers should be required to pay costs either.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) pay for it.

MR. HARRIS: The police officers.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: So I think that section, those parts of Section 33, these are some of the things that the public have fastened on, Mr. Chairman. Because it's fairly obvious that when members of the public want to have confidence in a police complaints commission, they want to be able to know that they can use that process without endangering their pocketbook. They want to know that they have access to it, that they are not going to be intimidated by the process, that they are not going to be overpowered by the process, that they are not going to have to fear the process. The individual who came to the House the other night and was talking about the RCMP complaints commission came to see me today and he told me that the RCMP turned the complaint that was made about what happened to him into an investigation against him, and all sorts of allegations were made against him by the police who were supposed to be doing the investigation about the police -

AN HON. MEMBER: Sounds complicated.

MR. HARRIS: It became very complicated, Mr. Chairman.

A complaint was made to the RCMP about the RCMP's behaviour and the RCMP started an investigation of it and they ended up making all kinds of allegations and accusations against him -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson.

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

MS. VERGE: The Bill's provision for the police public complaints commission is flawed in several manners as I mentioned before. The commission lacks the degree of independence that it should have to earn public confidence. That can be corrected by providing that the commissioner be appointed by the House of Assembly, that the commissioner's remuneration, pay or per diem fee, be set by the House of Assembly. Chairperson, the functions of the commissioner are too limited; this Bill casts the commissioner in a passive role, relegates the commissioner to re-acting to complaints from the public. The commissioner should have the authority to initiate complaints, if the commissioner knows of or has reason to believe that there is inappropriate or improper police conduct or behaviour, the commissioner should have the power to initiate a complaint.

The scope of complaints is confined in subclause 22(1) to a complaint concerning the conduct of a police officer. Now clearly that is too narrow a scope. It should be possible for people to make complaints not only about the conduct of particular police officers or particular incidents, but complaints about police conduct in a broader sense, police practices and police procedures. The time limit within which complaints are permitted is unreasonably short, and some of the various criticism that has been levelled by the public about this Bill, has been about the three-month time limit.

Now, although the minister explained that legally the three months run from the complainant's discovery of the conduct complained about - even though he points out that if the complainant is a child when the alleged misconduct occurs, the time limit does not run until the child becomes an adult - three months is still too short a time.

Over the past few years, with all the revelations about sexual abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence in this Province, we should appreciate the fact that victims of crime who make complaints to the police, and who may have occasion to complain about the police response to their complaints, who may have reason to complain about the handling by the police of their investigations, people who may have occasion to allege that the police themselves behaved in a way that was improper because of sexual impropriety - these types of complainants need much more than three months. It takes much longer than three months for most people subjected to such mistreatment and abuse to deal with their feelings, to gain the courage to disclose to a relative or friend, let alone to make a formal complaint to a public figure - to a police complaints commission.

Chairperson, the Human Rights Association suggested that the time limit be lengthened to six months for most complaints, but that there be no time limit for complaints of serious impropriety. Those certainly would include complaints involving sexual misconduct. It seems to me reasonable to adopt this approach.

Next, Chairperson, the Bill makes it possible for the police commission to refuse to deal with a complaint if the person who is alleged to have been subjected to the misconduct does not consent. Well there are instances where that person may be unknown or may be unavailable and, as I said, there are situations where it should be permissible for complaints to be lodged about police behaviour that is not confined to a single incident or police procedures or police practices.

I would suggest that this Bill would be strengthened by deleting Subclause 22.5 altogether.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I will be proposing amendments at a later stage.

Then there is the possibility of complaints being made initially to either the police or the commissioner. In my opinion, as well as the view of others who have commented - the few others who have been in a position to comment, given the fact that the Bill was only printed two-and-a-half weeks ago and relatively few people in the Province have had a chance to find out about it or speak out - I did hear people say that instead of allowing complaints to be made with the police force - the same force being complained against - complaints should be directed in all cases initially to the commissioner. The commissioner, who is independent from the police force.

The question arises as to who should do the initial investigation. This Bill provides for the first response, the first investigation, being done by the chief of police. Now the minister justifies this provision saying that other commissions operate this way and it would be costly to provide an alternative. Presenters at the committee meeting on Monday night said that there are alternatives available, there is the RCMP. Apart from the two police forces there are individuals in the Province who have investigative ability. There are for example former members of other police forces, or private investigators. People who've learned investigative skills in other ways.

Concern has been expressed that an initial investigation by the chief may compromise complaints. This is a provision on which I would like to hear more discussion. I would like more information about what in fact happens with other police commissions, what works well, what's problematic. I'd like to know more about the relative cost of having the first stage investigation done by the chief of police or having it done by the commissioner with the commissioner's staff separate from the constabulary.

In any case, Chairperson, there should be a time limit put on the initial investigation. This Bill doesn't put any limit on the amount of time the chief may take -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. In dealing with this legislation there's a number of problems that arise having to do with some of the internal activities of the internal discipline within the police force. It's now under the hands of a specialized tribunal and the enforcement of the regulations under the police act.

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

The Chair must remind the hon. member that we are dealing with Clause 1 of the Act, and his comments should be dealing basically with that Act, and not in general terms, that particular part of the Act. We are now into debate in Committee and we must deal with the clause by clause aspects of the debate and not speak in general terms about the principles of the Bill. That's what we did in second reading. Again, the Chair has been fairly lenient up to this point in time and I think that we have to start dealing now with the clauses here.

MR. HARRIS: I'm a little confused then, Chairperson, because what I was talking about was the relationship between the internal discipline that's already existed in the force and the provisions of this legislation, which are going to interfere with that and cause problems.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Yes, well, when we get to that particular provision I guess then we could deal with that.

MR. ROBERTS: If the hon. gentlemen will permit me to deal with that -

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

MR. ROBERTS: There is a clause which deals with that precise point. Just as the hon. lady's comments about limitation periods and about response time by the chief to the initial investigation, there are clauses to deal with that. All I am suggesting to the committee, and I suggest with respect it is in accord with Your Honour's ruling, the one you just made, is that we should address these issues. Each clause will be called and there will be ample opportunity to deal with them. We will consider the amendments one way or the other and dispose of them. All we are doing now is really going over the ground needlessly and it is not going to help anybody including the House.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, in referring to some of the matters that were raised by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association before the committee, the Social Legislative Review Committee, they presented a written brief but the point is this, they presented a brief and I do not know how many pages it was, I did not get a copy of it, the minister got a copy of it -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. HARRIS: The Minister had a copy with some number of pages but the representative presenting these remarks referred to them as preliminary comments and the reason they did that was because they felt they had not had sufficient time, despite the fact that they were using a lawyer to review the matter on their behalf and doing some research, that they had not had sufficient time to be able to fully appreciate how the interaction between the internal existing discipline procedure which was operating and the act here was going to impact. Now the minister had some comments on that to them but I have to say that my viewing of what was going on was that the preliminary comments that were being made on behalf of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary were just raising issues that were problems and that had occurred to them to be problems that could cause difficulties for individual constabulary officers and would lead to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary being forced to take an adversarial position. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association being forced to take an adversarial position in relation to complainants before the complaints commission.

They expressed the opinion that without these problems being resolved, and all they did was identify them, they did not have all the solutions, but without these problems being resolved they were going to be forced into an adversarial position on the interpretation of all of the provisions that they felt they had a problem with and that they felt the whole existing police discipline tribunal system was being jeopardized by having an overlay here with the chief being given some power. We can deal with all of it when we come to clause by clause.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

That is precisely what the Chair has asked the hon. member to do, to keep his remarks basically to Clause 1 of this particular act so that we can get on and debate clause by clause, which is what we are suppose to be doing in the committee stage.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, that is what I have been speaking about, Clause 1. The title of the act, The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, under which heading you could talk about the entire act, the whole act.

AN HON. MEMBER: (inaudible)

MR. HARRIS: That has been the ruling. That has been the debate on the points of order that were raised earlier.

MR. CHAIRMAN: I am asking the hon. member to confine his remarks to Clause 1 of this Bill which is just the title of the act which is the Newfoundland Constabulary Act.

MR. HARRIS: That is what we have been talking about for the last hour and a half.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair has agreed that the Chair has been somewhat lenient in the discussion here but I think we should stick to the agenda and that is to deal with the clause by clause, which is what we should be doing within committee. I ask the hon. member to keep his remarks confined to this particular part so that we can call each clause, clause by clause, then we can deal with each clause as it is called. If there are some amendments to be made then we will deal with them as well.

Shall Clause 1 carry?

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I have the floor, I have not been told to sit down, I understand -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Well, okay, is the hon. member confining his remarks to Clause 1?

MR. HARRIS: Yes, I am confining my remarks to Clause 1.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair does not feel that the remarks, up to this point in time, have been relevant to that, in this part of the debate.

MR. R. AYLWARD: On a point of order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, Clause 1 as you read it, starts off with this act, this act may be cited, as a start, and that means this entire act, that is Clause 1, this act. Not just one line of it, it says this act, Mr. Chairman, and if that is this act, well we are discussing this act. If we move on to the second part, it says; in this act, then you are doing some definitions and then we would do it clause by clause. When we are doing the short title, Mr. Chairman, that title refers to the whole act, not to a clause in the act or not to a sub-section in the act, it refers to the whole act. The title of this Act is the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act. So, Mr. Chairman, you could speak to any clause in this act, it is the tradition of this House. It has been done for the fourteen years that I have been here. When we discuss Clause 1, we discuss this act, the total of this act.

MR. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, I will not take the advice of the Member for Carbonear, who is a rookie member in here and has no idea of what has been going on here for the last three years, not to say the last fourteen years.

Mr. Chairman, that is the way it has always been interpreted. It has been interpreted when I was in the Chair in that way and certainly precedence can be found for rulings in that favour.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I have been in the House for twenty years, with a brief interruption which was of my own choosing, I would remind ladies and gentlemen opposite.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, if the hon. gentleman ran again it would not be of his own choosing, but he is not intending to run again.

The short title says it all. One says this act may be cited as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992, it is a short title. Now, there has grown a practice of some brief introductory remarks, but hon. gentleman and lady have been given considerable latitude by the Chair. Your Honour has made a ruling and that really is that. Now all we are doing again is delaying debate, it is now 7:10 a.m., they have kept us sitting all night, they will keep us sitting all day, that is up to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, the hon. gentleman's colleagues all went home. The hon. gentleman's colleagues all went home. The NDP Caucus, the holy trinity are all here, I agree.

But, Mr. Chairman, the point is that Clause 1 is simply Clause 1 and all it gives is a short title and that is what we talked about. Now, I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that your honour having made a ruling, that the hon. gentleman is simply indirectly challenging it. If he wants to, challenge the ruling as a procedure, if not, I suggest we should get on with it, accept your ruling and abide by it.

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

MR. R. AYLWARD: Mr. Chairman, if the hon. House Leader was referring to me as challenging your ruling, I wish to correct him because I would not challenge your ruling. What I would request is that we check some precedents in this House of Assembly and see what the rulings were, what the tradition in this House is. If there is some doubt than we go back to our standing order's, if we have no standing orders, we go to Beauchesne, if we have no Beauchesne, we go back to rulings by previous speakers for the tradition and precedent in this House, that is simple.

MR. CHAIRMAN: On a point of order, The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: I would like to speak to the point of order by supporting what the Member for Kilbride just said. I have been here for fourteen years as well. I have sat through many committee meetings examining bills, examining legislation clause by clause. We always spend a considerable amount of time at the outset of Committee meetings on Clause 1, the short title, discussing the whole bill, without restricting our remarks to any one clause or subclause. Then after we exhaust a comprehensive discussion of the bill, which might involve particular analysis of clauses, we proceed to Clause 2, Clause 3, pausing for further comments and for proposed amendments.

So the Member for St. John's East is simply following long established practices of this Assembly. In speaking on the procedure set out in Part III of the Bill for adjudicating complaints and making comparison to the internal disciplinary procedure that already exists he is making a constructive contribution to the debate. Thank you, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: To that point of order - is the hon. member rising on the point of order raised?

To that point of order the hon. Member for Kilbride raised I draw your attention to Standing Order 44(b) which says that: "Speeches in Committee of the Whole House must be strictly relevant to the item or clause under consideration."

So there's no point of order.

Shall Clause 1 carry?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Carried!

CLERK: Clause 2.

AN HON. MEMBER: Carried!

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for St. John's East on Clause 2.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, I was on my feet for Clause 1, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Clause 1 has been carried.

MS. VERGE: Point of order, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber East on a point of order.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. The Member for St. John's East was on his feet when Your Honour said "Clause 1." From my seat I could view both Your Honour and the Member for St. John's East. He was definitely on his feet when Your Honour called Clause 1.

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

MR. ROBERTS: I don't know whether the hon. gentleman was on his feet or not. I wasn't watching at that stage, I was looking at my notes. I have no objection at all - my colleagues and I - to reverting to Clause 1 if that is the wish of the House and the Chair. Your Honour has made a ruling but we can -

All I would say is he's got to abide, as we all have to - I'm no different than anybody else, obviously - we have to abide by the rules of the House. It doesn't matter to me where we get the debate. I want to get on to the clauses so we can deal with these things on their merits. Here we are in some kind of marathon. I'm just getting my second wind, our new shift is coming on, it'll be fine.

But all hon. members now are getting very tired. The hon. gentlemen and the hon. lady opposite have been carrying this filibuster on all night. So I suggest that if you want to go back to Clause 1, let us. But let's be relevant to Clause 1, remembering what Clause 1 says. You've already told us that.

MR. CHAIRMAN: So it's agreed that we revert to Clause 1?

AN HON. MEMBER: Agreed.

MR. CHAIRMAN: By leave.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, Clause 1 refers to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992. That's the short title. The long title is An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Now the question before us is whether or not we want to revise the law respecting the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary in the manner that's being proposed, and have a new act called the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992.

In doing that we're being asked to take a procedure that's been put in place and that under the old Act provides for an internal discipline procedure which has been operating for many years under the old Act, Mr. Chairman, and we are being asked to change it to a new act - to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act 1992 - and incorporate into that act measures which are regarded by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association as endangering their existing discipline procedure. That is what we are being asked to do here, and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association - not the 1992 one, but the old one - which has, as its job to protect the interest of its members, has had representation made to a committee of this House which says, basically, that we have a lot of problems, and here are some of them: But these are only our preliminary comments. We have not really had an opportunity to study them and come up with some solutions.

They have said, along with many others: Do not put in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992, until we have had time to consider it and have a look at it and make further representations.

I say that before we get into the actual clause by clause, or the next Clause 2, 3 and 4. When we are going through this act right now we are going through without the benefit of the considered opinion of people such as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association who said that they needed time to provide that opinion to this House; and we are doing it without the benefit of the considered opinion of the Human Rights Association who said that they needed more time to provide that considered opinion; and they are doing it at this hour of the morning without the benefit of the sharp minds, or the sharper minds that we supposedly would have if we were not forced to be put through this procedure in order to get an opportunity to debate this legislation at all.

So I say that there are a number of problems with Clause 1, and I wonder whether we should have a Clause 1 at all. Having heard the debate all night, and having listened to the attitude of the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, I am not so sure we should have a Clause 1 at all.

I was convinced a little earlier tonight that perhaps we had lost the debate on Clause 1 and that we were going to have to go through it clause by clause, but now I have been convinced by what has happened here tonight, and by the Member for Humber East, that perhaps what -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: I think the Member for Humber East said a little earlier -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. - was the hon. member -

MR. HARRIS: I thought he was rising on a point of order.

MR. CHAIRMAN: So did the Chair.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have been listening to the debate, and I have been listening to the contribution of the Member for Humber East.

If you remember, very early in my intervention I said that I thought that we had lost the debate on whether this would go to the committee or not. Well I am coming to change my mind now and I think maybe we should reengage that debate because we are here at 7:20 a.m. trying to persuade the Minister of Justice that he should accept some new changes in this legislation.

I am not so sure, at this stage of the game, because we have engaged in some sort of power struggle and he is losing his patience with the opposition. I am not so sure we can carry on with a proper clause by clause and actually be able to persuade him. I'd thought I'd softened him up, Mr. Chairman, for a clause by clause, but it appears no. He wants to get into the clause by clause so he can run right through the rest of the Bill and not be persuaded and stop along the way and think about the issues and consider the arguments that are being made.

So perhaps the Member for Humber East is right. That despite the fact that we're into this lengthy debate here, and that there's an opportunity to debate the issues one by one, perhaps the Member for Humber East is right and we should stop. We should stop at Clause 1, close the Committee and refer the matter to the Legislation Review Committee. Give these other people a chance to consider their views over Christmas and come and make presentations to the Committee. Not to this Committee, to the Social Legislation Review Committee. Give them a chance to do that and report back to the House at the end of January. It seems to me to be a reasonable period of time. Nothing is going to be done with this Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act between now and the end of January. Why don't we wait till then?

I would suggest that's what we should do now. It's 7:20 a.m. Let's go home and have a little nap and come back for Question Period at 9:00 a.m. Have a twenty minute nap, a walk around the lake and a cup of coffee, and come back at 9:00 a.m. for Question Period. Put this back to the Social Legislation Review Committee and let them come back the end of January with a proper report, with the considered views, a few recommendations. Maybe, as the Member for Kilbride has said a number of times this evening, after the considered opinions that everybody will say: gee, we were wrong to raise these concerns. The Minister of Justice really does have it figured out.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Oh, I don't know. Are we going to sit all weekend?

AN HON. MEMBER: The next Question Period we have is the next election.

MR. HARRIS: That could be too. So I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that's what we do now. It's 7:22 a.m. We're on Clause 1 -

MR. BARRETT: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: Cle might be in as the Member for Bellevue. The present Member for Bellevue will be....

MR. BARRETT: President of Cabot.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, I've heard that rumour.

MR. BARRETT: President of Cabot College (Inaudible). (Inaudible) by the NDP government.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, I think we are digressing from the purpose of Clause 1 and I know that the members opposite want to engage in other debate. I don't want to do that. I want to get back to Clause 1 and whether or not we should have a Clause 1, and whether we should have a Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992, at this time, or whether we should wait till the end of January. let the Committee have another go at it, and do that. I think it would be more productive than going into the clause by clause right now.

Because I'm not sure that the minister is in a mood to be persuaded by anything. He wants to just carry on and show his colleagues that he's won the battle of wills with the Opposition. That he's able to get legislation through despite the snafu of Tuesday and the disaster and chaos of Wednesday. That's he's come through on Thursday and Friday morning and managed to get legislation through the House.

I think that's what's really going on here. I had hoped that the minister would indicate that he would be persuaded by some of the arguments that were made but he said: no, no, no, we'll deal with that when we get to Clause 33 or Clause 22 or whatever. He didn't say he's prepared to consider that. Maybe he's changed his view. So I'm not persuaded that we're accomplishing anything here. So perhaps the Member for Humber East is right, that we should send it on to a committee.

We'll have to wake up the Member for Harbour Grace and get the Social Legislation Review Committee on the go. Let the ads go in the paper and hear from people as to what they think of the Bill, with their considered opinions. Let the public have some confidence that what we're doing here is going to be done right and is going to meet the needs of the public, and meet the needs of those significant persons in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary who are going to be affected by this. Hear from the public, hear from the Human Rights Association, and come up with a good bill.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson.

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

MS. VERGE: Yes, Chairperson. Speaking on Clause 1, the short title - "This Act may be cited as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992" - I'd like to say that we support establishing a public complaints commission for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. We've indicated that from the beginning of this debate. In fact we called for the legislation long before it appeared two and a half short weeks ago.

The Hughes Royal Commission report recommended in May of 1991 that the government set up a police commission. After waiting all that time why then is the government so bound and determined to rush through the Assembly this Bill with all its flaws, without the benefit of advice from the public, since the people of the Province haven't had adequate time to even find out about it?

The Minister of Justice, the Government House Leader, who's dictating this ridiculous exercise, refused to refer the Bill to a Review Committee until he was shamed into doing it after the Constabulary Association heard him on the radio claiming that nobody had asked for a public hearing. They then activated the minister to activate the Committee, the Committee with a majority of government members.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman.

MS. VERGE: Last Friday -

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

The hon. the Minister of Justice.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour has made repeated rulings about the needless repetition rule. Well, the hon. lady is now making a speech which she has made at least six times this evening; I can tell her that she could make it sixty-six times. What I am hearing from my colleagues here is, 'Keep her going', and that is not per the Member for Humber East, it is 'keep the House going' and we shall have to do that. But my point of order is simply that all she is doing is breaching Your Honour's repeated rulings; she is simply needlessly repeating a speech she has made six times before, which may or may not have been in order. And if she wants to do it, if Your Honour accepts it as an order, she can do it. But I suggest with respect, Sir, it is not an order and that she should be asked to desist from it and either get on with a new speech or move on with the bill. She is deliberately trying to frustrate the will of the majority of the House and she thinks she is right; fine, but whether she is right or not, she has no right to do what she is doing.

MS. VERGE: To that point of order, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Humber East, to the point of order.

MS. VERGE: What I am simply trying to do is to respect the will of the people of the Province.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) the people of the Province?

MS. VERGE: The people of the Province we are elected to represent, the people of the Province who are entitled to participate in putting together legislation for a public complaints commission for the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Thank you, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

To the point of order. Again, the Chair has to remind hon. members that we must follow the rules and the Standing Orders set down for the operation and procedures of this House, and our Standing Orders indicate that we cannot have repeated statements and repeated speeches in this Committee, and that we must confine our remarks in the Committee stage to the particular clause we are dealing with. The Chair has already cited the applicable part of our Standing Orders and I ask hon. member to conform to the procedures established here for this House.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Chairperson. I am speaking on clause 1 of this bill, Bill No. 56, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary". Clause 1 says: "This Act may be cited as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992. The clause begins with the words, 'This Act'. I am talking about 'this Act', which, in part III, creates a public complaints system, this Act, which is of great concern to many people in the Province, particularly the people in the Northeast Avalon area, the City of Corner Brook and the Towns of Labrador City and Wabush, who are policed by the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.

Chairperson, people have been waiting for at least a couple of years for this initiative on the part of the government, but it wasn't until two-and-a-half weeks ago that the bill appeared in this House of Assembly. Many of us, having heard criticisms of the bill from people with experience in other jurisdictions with police complaints processes, having some knowledge of policing in our own Province, feel that this bill has flaws. After one public meeting of the Legislation Review Committee on Monday night of this week, which was planned only Friday of last week, every single intervener asked for more time.

Now, Chairperson, the difference between the plan of the Government House Leader and the Minister of Justice, and my position, is simply two months to provide the public with the time many have asked for, two months to learn more about police public complaints processes, two months to listen to advice from the public. That difference is the difference between the minister's getting his way - using his government majority and setting up a commission early in the new year which lacks public respect from the outset because of the shoddy way in which it was set up, because of flaws in its design; or, having the public hearing - giving people the chance to learn and comment, and then returning, reconvening the House at the end of January, to take into account the new information and the advice from the public, and passing in a civilised way, during regular daylight working hours, an improved bill, following which, a commission with public respect and confidence is launched.

Chairperson, among the flaws in the design of the public complaints commission in this bill is the lack of independence of the commission from the minister. The commissioner, under this proposal, is to be appointed by the Cabinet. The commissioner is to be paid at rates set by the minister. The commissioner is to use staff and resources provided by the minister. Chairperson, this is the same minister as the one responsible for the Constabulary, for the police force that the commission is to investigate.

That deficiency can be corrected by providing for the House of Assembly -

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, on a point of order.

MR. GOVER: I understand, Mr. Chairman, the ruling was that remarks with respect to clause 1 were to be confined to the title of the Act. The hon. member is now speaking about another clause in the bill which deals with the appointment of the commissioner and the powers of the commissioner. Those remarks would be more appropriately addressed at that particular stage. I would be interested to know if the hon. member has any objections to the title of the Act. Those remarks concerning the powers and duties of the commissioner would be best made when those particular sections arise.

MS. VERGE: To that point of order, Chairperson.

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

MS. VERGE: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation might have been napping or might have been outside the Chamber when we had this discussion sometime earlier. For many years in this House of Assembly, Committees of the Whole, in dealing with clause 1 of bills, the short title of bills, have allowed wide-ranging discussion of the contents of the whole bill. The short title begins, "This Act". Chairperson, Your Honour, other Chairs, have consistently over the years allowed discussion and debate about all provisions of a bill under the heading of clause 1. So we have already had this debate, Chairperson.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation has a point. If I were teaching a democracy course this morning and not chairing the proceedings of this House, I would say to my students, in looking at clause 1, "This Act may be cited as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992," that debate should be confined to the fact of whether you want the name of the Act changed to a different title. Then, each clause of the Act would be a detailed technical study and the debate should be on the technicalities of each clause of the Act. There may be some difficulties with our rules but I would ask hon. members to keep to the actual technical details of the bill.

The Chairman of Committees and myself have continuously ruled throughout the night that the second reading of a bill is a debate in principle, which is a wide-ranging debate. I think parliamentarians and people who wrote the rule books leave the understanding that in Committee we would get into the details of the bills and a clause-by-clause study to make amendments to different clauses. If hon. members don't agree with what is in the bill, they have an opportunity to make amendments to the different clauses. So I ask hon. members to keep themselves to remarks of a technical nature.

The hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, I respect your ruling. I have been commenting on technical aspects of this bill. When the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation interrupted a few minutes ago, I was commenting on the technical provisions of the constitution of the police public complaints commission laid out in Part III of the bill.

On the subject of the short title, Chairperson, the short title set out in clause 1 is the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992. Now, one of my points in this debate is that this bill should not be rushed through this House of Assembly in a short two-and-a-half weeks -

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

The hon. member is now not getting into relevancy, but into repetition. I have heard the comment quite a number of times, that the bill is being rushed through the House. So, I mean, can we get down to the actual discussion of the bill and not the fact that the bill is being rushed through the House? This comment has been made many, many times during the night.

AN HON. MEMBER: Seventy-three times.

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

MS. VERGE: Chairperson, perhaps Your Honour doesn't see the relevance, but the short title in clause 1, which we are discussing - we are now focusing, as we are required to do, on clause 1 - the short title is the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992. Your Honour, if it weren't for the rush, if it weren't for the unreasonable bullying approach of the Government House Leader, this Act would be cited as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1993!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS. VERGE: Because, Chairperson, we would give the people who have been asking for it, a chance to find out about the bill, to comment upon it and to participate in public hearings, the people who were here on Monday night, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, the members of the police force who are to be the subject of the police complaints commission, who are the subject of this entire Act, this Act called now, in clause 1, if we allow it to pass, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992 - people who have asked for more time. The Newfoundland-Labrador Human Rights Association have asked for more time, they don't want an Act called 1992, they want an Act called 1993.

Now, not only those two organizations, but a social worker who was here on her own, Monday night, a representative of the Association Against Family Violence, an individual from Harbour Grace South who had a bad personal experience with the RCMP public complaints commission, all of those interveners, Monday night, who appeared before the Review Committee, some with just a few hours notice, and the Constabulary Association, who learned about it first, with three days notice, asked for more time.

Chairperson, they weren't being unreasonable, we aren't being unreasonable. We want to have just a bit more time early in 1993 -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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

MR. GOVER: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a few comments with respect to clause 1. With all the sincerity and conviction of the hon. the Member for Humber East, and all her knowledge of this particular subject matter, what amazes me is that the Act is not titled 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, if the hon. members opposite had been on the ball, it might have been named 1989 or 1990 or 1991 instead of 1992. It is only because of the fact that it hasn't been introduced until the dying days of 1992 that it is desirable to change it to 1993. So it is a debate, I suppose, that we could play a lot of games with, if that is what hon. members opposite want. If we want to play games with the title of the bill, we can play those kinds of games, too.

What is important here is that the legislation before us hasn't responded to what one of the first speakers in this debate this morning, the Member for St. John's South, said, which was that the key element was to be fair play for the citizens of this Province. That is what the Member for St. John's South said. I immediately got to my feet and agreed with him that was the approach that needs to be taken in dealing with the police complaints commission. Because that is what a police complaints commission is all about, providing for fair play for the citizens of this Province.

In providing that legislation we also have to be mindful of the process by which that is done. We have, in this case, a process which has led to the call by all of the groups and individuals who had anything to do with the hearing held on Monday night saying that there needed to be more time for the public to become informed.

The only other public comment that I have seen has been from The Evening Telegram. I think both the editorial page and the column by Peter Boswell, who can't be accused, I don't think, of being a partisan critic of the government. I think he has been very favourable to the government over the past number of years and the government has been pretty favourable to him.

So, I don't see how opposition to this legislation can be seen as partisan ploys. Dr. Boswell was thought so highly of by this government that they appointed him to the Constitution committee because of his interest in -

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

I would like for the hon. member to restrict his comments to clause 1 of the bill.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Chairman, not only was it the members of this House, the hon. the Member for Humber East and myself, who are not satisfied with the title of this bill, that it should be a review of this nature, that it should be, let's say, a new Act (inaudible) "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, the revisions that are proposed to be called by the short title, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act, 1992.

AN HON. MEMBER: We got them, 'Jack', look.

MR. HARRIS: This Act -

AN HON. MEMBER: We got them, they are all gone.

MR. HARRIS: I get to be the Leader of the Opposition. I am the Leader of the Opposition right now.

Mr. Chairman, I am not the only person who believes that bringing this Act in as a revision to the law respecting the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Act is not an appropriate thing to do. Dr. Boswell, in his comment, outlined the reasons why he didn't feel that this re