March 28, 1994              HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLII  No. 21


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

Oral Questions

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

MR. SIMMS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have, for the Premier, a question related to the Hydro privatization issue. During the debate on Thursday night past on CBC television dealing with the privatization of Hydro, the Premier said, and I quote: `Government will make sure that before we proceed with a vote in the House of Assembly we have the support of the people of the Province to proceed, otherwise we will not proceed.' I would like to ask him, how is he going to make sure of that support? Did the government have a poll commissioned, and if so, when?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, but we are in the process of looking at that now. A poll is one way to do it. We have occasionally asked a question here or there on a ride on on other polls that have been done but never a poll commission. We have been considering that in the last little while and when the time is appropriate, if that is the best method to make the determination then I have no doubt we will have a formally structured poll to ensure that we get adequate information and not just a simple ride on or something of that nature.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, on a supplementary. Maybe the Premier can help us understand precisely what he is saying here. He hinted at add-ons and things of that nature. Is there some kind of polling being done that the government is aware of and has agreed with to try to give you some indication initially before you do a comprehensive poll? Is that what he is telling us here today? Just so we understand.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, there is no polling being done now.

AN HON. MEMBER: No tag-ons?

PREMIER WELLS: No. Last fall sometime there was one dealing with a merger, and in early February, I think, there was another, but not a formal poll as such.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, back to my original question when the Premier said we will make sure we have the support of the people, otherwise we will not proceed. He has now indicated that polling may be one way, and indeed he may undertake a comprehensive poll. Is there some other way he is considering as well, and if so, what might that be?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: There is a variety of basis on which a government would judge the political acceptability of the policy it is following. For example, my office is literally inundated with calls of support, not calls of opposition, with calls of support, literally inundated with calls of support. Now, I know members opposite don't like to hear that, and they laugh as though they know that isn't so, but the calls keep coming in, day after day, they come into my house as well, and we are literally inundated with calls of support, and very few that I know of are calls of opposition. So there is a variety of ways, and as people are fully informed on the issue, I have no doubt that they will be able to judge it properly, but, Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to have it judged in circumstances of the hysteria that has been created recently, I want to make sure that it is judged fully and fairly.

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

MR. SIMMS: Mr. Speaker, I can understand the feeling that the Premier has because I know exactly what he is talking about, being inundated with telephone calls, I am getting them, too, at my home and in my office morning, noon and night from all parts of the Province but unlike his, they aren't calls of support for the Premier's position, they are calls of opposition. I guess the Premier didn't hear Open Line this morning when they took a pretty good poll and a pretty good gauge of public reaction as well. Let me ask him this since he hasn't really given us any clear indication of what other area he is looking at in terms of gauging public opinion, I can't seem to extract it from him: Is he considering the holding of public hearings at all around the Province, some sort of public hearings to give the public a chance to have some say? Is there a possibility he may withdraw this bill in the next couple of days?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Well, I can answer the last question first. No, Mr. Speaker, there is no possibility that we will withdraw this bill in the next couple of days, that won't happen. The government's position is that privatization of the private businesses carried on by government is in the best interest of the people of this Province, both from a point of view of long-term economic benefit to the Province and immediate and longer-term financial benefit to the Province as well, so we intend to proceed with our policy of privatization. That's the second part of the question; the first part was -

MR. SIMMS: Public hearings.

PREMIER WELLS: No, Mr. Speaker, we have no plans for public hearings. I have been watching these meetings that have been going on around the Province, and while it wouldn't be true to say that it applied to every single one of them, the vast majority of them seem to have the same five or six characters who are making this a cause, a political cause for themselves who seem to be present at most of them to express their views; Mr. Malone, I think, is one of them, Mr. Abery is another, a lady named Susanne Kelland-Dyer is another, Mr. Vetter is another, Mr. Andy Wells is another, and they just seem to go from meeting to meeting to stir up, so we will just matters settle and make sure that people are fully informed and then we will make our determinations as to the course we intend to follow.

MR. SIMMS: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SIMMS: It is too bad the Premier decides to cast some kind of a slur or aspersion upon the people whom he just mentioned himself publicly. There is no need of that in the House of Assembly. I don't know why he would even bother to do it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SIMMS: I mean, what's wrong with those people attending public meetings, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Premier? What is wrong with those people holding public meetings or speaking at public meetings - is there something wrong with that?

Let me ask him this. The Minister of Finance was on the news lines over the weekend saying that the House will close sometime on Thursday, Thursday evening, presumably to take a two-week Easter break. I would like to ask the Premier, does he intend to ensure that the bill, Bill No. 1, I think it is, privatization of Hydro, will be passed before the House adjourns for the Easter break? Is that his intention?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Let me emphasize, Mr. Speaker, I never at any time suggested there was anything wrong with the four or five people I named attending all the public meetings. They can attend a thousand more if they want to. What is wrong is the Opposition representing this as the collective wisdom of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is essentially the views fomented and stirred up by the same half-dozen or so people at most of the meetings.

Mr. Speaker, the second part of the question was - I would expect that we will make a determination as to when we adjourn and for how long, depending on the progress we make during the next two or three days. Normally - and I'm not suggesting we ought to vary it now - we have never sat on Good Friday, as far as I know, and I don't think there is any reason to do otherwise now, so I would expect the House will adjourn on Thursday. For how long it will adjourn will be decided, I assume, between now and Thursday, depending upon what government wants to achieve in terms of its order of business over the next little while.

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

MR. SIMMS: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker. In the past, I have asked the Premier a question about the deadline or if there is a deadline. He has always said no, there is no deadline, no finality to this in terms of when we have to have this passed or this achieved and so on. We have been told by the Minister of Finance that the House will adjourn for two weeks after Thursday for the Easter break. He said it publicly on the airwaves on the weekend.

I want to ask the Premier, in view of the fact that this is now the second week in a row, the second week in succession, that the government hasn't even called the privatization legislation - and today we are told we will be dealing with interim supply - this is the second week in a row. Can we assume that there is no deadline, that in fact if the debate is to carry on for the next two, three or several weeks that it will be permitted to do so or does the government intend to introduce closure once again?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member stood up and said the Premier told us there was no deadline on this?

MR. SIMMS: Yes.

PREMIER WELLS: The answer is still the same. I don't know why you would think it would be any different. I still say there is no absolute deadline on this. It's important that we proceed with the matter expeditiously, that we not hurt the people of this Province by dragging it out and causing a lesser return in the event of sale of this. This would be a dastardly deed to perpetrate on the people of this Province. Maybe the Opposition might have a great deal to answer for in the end because of that, but no, Mr. Speaker, every time I've been asked that question I've given the Leader of the Opposition the same answer. Now, I know he wishes it were another answer so he could attack the answer but the answer is the same now as it was before.

With respect to the fact that the privatization legislation hasn't been called for five or six days? I don't think it's been called since the Budget has it?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: One day only on it, I think.

PREMIER WELLS: Okay. Now remember, Mr. Speaker, we just introduced the Budget ten days ago or less.

AN HON. MEMBER: The seventeenth.

PREMIER WELLS: The seventeenth - ten or eleven days ago we introduced the Budget. We provided an opportunity for the hon. Member for Mount Pearl to give his response and he took his one day to do that and that's fine. Then, Mr. Speaker, we had Supplementary Supply and I believe we've been debating Interim Supply for three days and it still - normally Oppositions provide for a day or two debate on Interim Supply and then recognize that government needs the Interim Supply for the first quarter of the coming year. Now, Mr. Speaker, we've got to get Interim Supply before the end of this month and government is intent on getting Interim Supply before the end of this month so that the normal operations of government can continue, all of the public servants, nurses and teachers can be paid. So we're in the process, as far as I know, of debating Interim Supply.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

PREMIER WELLS: So, we're going to debate Interim Supply and when we have Interim Supply then we'll decide what the remainder of the government's business will be, Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn before Good Friday and at that time we will be able to make a determination of when we need to resume.

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

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Premier.

This morning CBC Radio interviewed Cyril Abery, the former Chairperson of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, about the negotiations with Hydro Quebec that led to a fantastic opportunity two years ago for this Province to achieve three major objectives, number one; to protect our interest in the Upper Churchill and get billions of dollars of additional royalties and rentals, starting right away, number two; to develop the Lower Churchill and sell the power generated at a favourable escalating rate, and number three; to build a transmission line to the Island and acquire 800 megawatts of cheap 3 mils power.

Mr. Abery revealed that when the parties were within very close reach of a final agreement, the Premier ordered the negotiating team to pull back and reverse positions taken on items already settled at the negotiating table.

The question is: Why did the Premier scuttle the deal that met all his government's original stated objectives?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I don't intend to make any comment today on what Mr. Abery said. I heard the radio broadcast this morning, and I have never heard such drivel and tripe in my life. I also can't believe that a person who had the temerity to call himself a senior public servant would behave in that way, against the interest of the people of this Province in the way in which he did. Anyway, I will deal with that, but I will wait to see if he corrects, tomorrow, the mess that he made today, and I will deal with it then.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary to the Premier.

Didn't the Premier scuttle the deal in part because back then he was planning to merge Hydro with Fortis, or sell it on a stand-alone basis, and having Crown owned Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro do the deal with Hydro Quebec would spoil an opportunity for private interests to get the lion's share of benefits out of the Lower Churchill, the same as BRINCO and other private interests did out of the Upper Churchill?

Isn't the Premier's plot to sell Hydro a way of favouring private interests over the public good, a scheme to make the rich richer and the poor poorer?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will just say again that I will deal with Mr. Abery's allegations when I have heard the remainder of them and I can deal with them thoroughly, and I have no intention of being stampeded into doing it now by these kinds of offensive remarks from the Member for Humber East.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Humber East.

MS. VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A supplementary to the Premier.

Wasn't the Premier's egotistical scheme to break the Upper Churchill contract through the Electrical Power Control Act and section 92(a) of the Constitution, the idea he spun out for Newfoundland Light and Power back in 1986, another reason for his thwarting a settlement on the Lower and Upper Churchill? Wouldn't the Premier really rather have another long drawn out expensive court case to test his pet theory rather than get an agreement to gain billions of dollars of extra revenue now, and hundreds of thousands of jobs for unemployed Newfoundlanders and Labradorians now?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, I will deal tomorrow with Mr. Abery's comments and these comments.

I can assure hon. members if they want to they will be given an opportunity to take that proposal to the people of this Province and ask them for their support and we will take our position and see what the people of this Province think.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South has the floor, I believe.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A question to the Minister of Social Services. I would like to ask the minister if he is aware of the fact that prescription drugs are allowed to be dispensed to residents at the Whitbourne Closed Custody Centre by youth care workers?

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, whatever procedures are in place I expect are in place, but I'm not aware of that situation specifically.

MR. SPEAKER: Supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: I would like to ask the minister if he can tell the House what if any training these youth care workers have in this particular field, since such activities are normally performed by a member of the medical profession, such as a nurse or a certified nursing assistant.

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

MR. LUSH: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the hon. gentleman, I'm not aware what the procedure is for the dispensation of drugs, but I expect whatever procedure is in place, I could only hope that the people doing it are qualified to do so.

MR. SPEAKER: Final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm aware of what procedure is in place, and I understand that at the present time the youth custodial workers are allowed to dispense prescription drugs without any training while two nursing assistants are on staff. Since there are two full-time nurses on staff at the Closed Custody Centre - both, I might add, at the present time working day shifts only - I would ask the minister to recognize this possible health problem and immediately assign the duties of dispensing medications to those two trained, registered nursing professionals.

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

MR. LUSH: I will check out what procedures are in place there, Mr. Speaker, and see that things are done correctly. Rest assured that we will have the matter checked into.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, in view of the continued absence from the House of the Minister of Education I would like to address a question to the Minister of Finance. Most people in the Province want the best for our youth. That includes the option of attending a post-secondary institute of learning. Tuition costs are going up, the cost of textbooks is going up, accommodation costs are going up, and real assistance from the government is going down. Mr. Speaker, does the minister not see that the changes to the student aid programs are being counterproductive to the interest of post-secondary students?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all let me indicate that the Minister of Education is out of the country leading a national delegation. He is representing all of the education ministers in Canada at a conference in Spain. That is why he is out of the House. Normally we don't dwell on such matters.

Secondly, no, I know that it is difficult to come up with a solution to provide more money where it is needed in the education system. We believe that this proposal on student aid provides more money to the students where it is needed and makes the necessary changes in the process so that students can access more money. Then there is a partial forgiveness program at the end of it. We believe this puts more money in the hands of the students, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, students now get by on student grants, student loans, help from parents and the occasional summer job. The reality is that there are very few summer jobs and more and more parents are unable to help their children financially, and the government has eliminated student grants. The plain truth is that the government has lost faith with the youth of the Province and the student debt loads are going to double in the future. We can expect debt loads of $25,000, with interest on repayment. We are talking about a $50,000 repayment, and of course the government therefore is transferring the cost of education from its debt load to the sons and daughters of cash strapped, overtaxed, and more often than not, unemployed parents.

Would the minister undertake today to withdraw the changes to the student aid program and do something to encourage our children to stay in school rather than stay at home?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will try to deal with the member's disjointed presentation.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, he makes the case very well that there were problems with the student loan program that, in many cases, it required and insisted on far too much parental contribution, especially in the low and middle income brackets.

Our provincial student loan program takes care of this problem and doesn't insist on as much parental contribution where the parents can't afford it, so it makes that very necessary change. At the same time it makes allowance for the fact that there are not as many summer jobs as there used to be twenty years ago. It makes allowance for that fact and, in fact, puts more money in the hands of the students. So that's what the provincial student loan program does.

I would like to remind hon. members that the taxpayers of this Province already contribute 85 per cent of the cost of a university education. The taxpayers, through government, already pay for 85 per cent of the cost of a university education for every single student attending post-secondary education, and particularly attending Memorial University, so the taxpayers do make a significant contribution.

There are many solutions to the problems that students had. One of them was to be able to provide an extra $20 million or $30 million or $40 million by way of grants. Mr. Speaker, we could not ask the taxpayers of the Province to do that, and that's why we have decided to go to the loan program to make more money available and then to have a partial forgiveness at the end.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, the current program is the beginning of the end of student aid. Within a year or so we will see the complete privatization of all aspects of student aid. Already the colleges and university in this Province have indicated they are going to be putting up their tuition fees, and students feel abandoned by their government. In fact, the Student Advisory Committee that was set up some years ago met for the first time in eighteen months on Budget day.

Will the minister undertake today to assure that the Student Aid Advisory Committee is brought into discussions with the government in a consultative role, and that the people who are most affected, the students, will become totally involved in changes to the student aid program?

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

MR. BAKER: I would like to remind members opposite that in better times it was a Liberal government that caused tremendous expansion to Memorial University in the post-secondary education in this Province. It was a Liberal government that insisted that more and more students go to university. It was a Liberal government that actually, at one point in time, paid students salaries to go to university. It is a Liberal government that has expanded tremendously the availability of university courses outside St. John's to the rest of the people of this Province.

Mr. Speaker, it is offensive to suggest that this government is going to abandon student aid.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Of course, we all know that's when the government were truly Liberals.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the President of Treasury Board.

AN HON. MEMBER: You were in the NDP then.

MR. A. SNOW: So true.

MR. SULLIVAN: Now you've seen the light, haven't you?

MR. A. SNOW: And now I've seen the light.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the President of Treasury Board, who also used to be a member of the NDP party.

Last year public sector employees were told that stripping employer contributions from the pension plan was a one-shot deal. The minister said at the time that it couldn't be repeated because it would weaken the public sector pension fund. Now, of course, we all know that it is already in difficulty. Can the minister tell us why you are proposing to withhold your contributions again this year?

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

MR. BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The hon. member is totally wrong in his introduction to his question, absolutely, totally, completely wrong.

Number one, Mr. Speaker, I pointed out quite extensively at the time, that what was done with the pension plan last year did not in any way weaken the pension plan, that in fact, there were probably some pluses on an actuarial basis, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the plan. I pointed that out quite clearly, that it did not weaken the plan, that it did not damage the plan. We have all kinds of actuarial studies, Mr. Speaker, to show that, and I would be willing to show it to the hon. gentleman if he so desires; there was no weakening of the plan.

Now, Mr. Speaker, to deal with the substance of his question, which was: Last year we said this is a one-shot deal. Yes, Mr. Speaker, it was a one-shot deal in the sense that it didn't affect any permanent changes. Had we been able to find the $70 million or the $60-odd million last year in a permanent manner, we would not now have a problem this year, Mr. Speaker, we could be negotiating on a totally different basis, so in that sense, it was something that had effect for one year only.

As to his question about what's happening in collective bargaining now and why is government proposing - government, Mr. Speaker, has presented an opening package to the unions of this Province; there has been very little discussion and, in some cases, no collective bargaining to this point and I hope we get back to collective bargaining, so that we can come to a satisfactory conclusion.

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

MR. A. SNOW: Mr. Speaker, for the fourth year in a row, government is stripping monetary benefits from the public sector compensation package. Now, you justify this on the basis that you can't borrow more money to pay the bills, but, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister, why are you, in this round of negotiations, trying to strip away the non-monetary benefits that are in the contracts, such as you are doing with the nurses union? This cannot help your deficit. Are you just out to force a confrontation with the public employees for some political gain?

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me say and let me repeat again, that we have presented an opening package and we hope that collective bargaining will clarify those positions as time goes on; we will see what comes out of the process, Mr. Speaker. These were simply opening positions. Government is not the only involved party here; in terms of the hospitals and so on, there is the Hospital and Nursing Homes Association; in terms of the teacher negotiation, there is also the secondary school, the School Trustees Association that are also party to the negotiations and have particular interest in terms of negotiation as well. So, Mr. Speaker, it is simply an opening package and we will see how things go in the next few weeks in collective bargaining.

MR. SPEAKER: A final supplementary, the hon. the Member for Menihek.

MR. A. SNOW: Public sector employees have been very understanding of the government's plight, the situation that government find themselves in over the past few years. They have been more than accommodating to this particular government, Mr. Speaker. Doesn't the minister realize that his attack on non-monetary benefits, has convinced public employees that the government's real motive is to break public sector unions. Is that what you are really up to then?

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

MR. BAKER: No, Mr. Speaker, and that's the very reason that I can't comment very far beyond what I have today, that we believe in the process and we believe the process will happen, and that we will eventually come to a conclusion, as we did last year. Last year we signed agreements with all of the unions, so it was not legislated, it was not enforced and we hope that we can do the same thing this year.

Mr. Speaker, as to his comment about stripping the contracts for three years in a row, yes. We have gone through some very difficult times and so have the public sector unions and the union membership has gone through some very difficult times, but I would like to remind the hon. member, that as revenues have disappeared and as revenues have fallen, what we have been doing for the last couple of years, is protecting jobs. Rather than be forced to have massive layoffs, we have had to resort to other measures, Mr. Speaker, we have been protecting jobs in this Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I shall on tomorrow move that the following heads of expenditure be referred to the Government Services Committee: Finance, Works, Services and Transportation, Employment and Labour Relations, Municipal and Provincial Affairs, Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation and the Public Service Commission; that the following heads of expenditure be referred to the Social Services Committee: Social Services, Education, Health, Environment and Lands and Justice; and that the following heads of expenditure be referred to the Resource Committee: Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture, Mines and Energy, Tourism and Culture, Industry, Trade and Technology. Members will recognize, this is the normal motion to refer the Estimates through the Standing Committees for detailed consideration in accordance with, I think it is Standing Order 113 of the Standing Orders of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Member for Kilbride.

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

I give notice that I will on tomorrow introduce the following private member's resolution,

WHEREAS post-secondary education must be accessible to all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador; and

WHEREAS it is in the best interest of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and its economic future to have a skilled and educated population; and

WHEREAS changing economic conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador require at least, post-secondary training before the average young person can gain full employment and contribute to our economy;

BE IT RESOLVED that student grants be reinstated at appropriate levels of funding to ensure accessibility to all; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that needs assessment criteria for student grants be updated and, as well, take into account the changing demography of the student population by recognizing the special needs of students with dependents; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that students be involved in decision-making that affects their financial status by ensuring that they are consulted on a regular basis when student aid is being revised.

Petitions

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to present a petition on behalf of thirty-six people from my district regarding the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Mr. Speaker, the prayer of this petition has been read in the House several times in the past and I don't think it is necessary for me to really get into the prayer of the petition again. I can say, Mr. Speaker, that this petition was signed by thirty-six people from the Burin - Marystown area who are very concerned that government may privatize their public utility company.

During the past month or so, Mr. Speaker, the Opposition has been constantly standing up and expressing the views and the wishes of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador who are opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. There was a clear indication today, Mr. Speaker, on the VOCM Open Line program where the people calling in to the poll - over 140 people, I believe - have made their wishes known, and 70 per cent of them called upon government not to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Mr. Speaker, I can say that our own internal polls are showing that the people of this Province as well are - what's that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes, sure, polls are public. It's a public poll - a press release has been done on it. There was one question: Do you agree with the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, yes or no?

AN HON. MEMBER: Here is the question.

MR. TOBIN: `The Provincial Government is considering the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Are you for or against the privatization?' Mr. Speaker, the result was -

AN HON. MEMBER: It was 87.1 of decided voters against.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, 87 per cent were against it and 13 per cent were for it - 87 per cent to 13 per cent, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMMS: Of the decided vote.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, of the people who responded, 87 per cent to 13 per cent, Mr. Speaker, were the results of that poll, I say to members opposite.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The VOCM poll was the same.

MR. TOBIN: The VOCM poll was basically the same if you factor in the undecided, Mr. Speaker. The VOCM poll was exactly the same. So let there be no doubt about it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, you can doctor polls, I say to members opposite, you can doctor polls. There was one doctored in this Province prior to the 1989 election, Mr. Speaker. You can doctor polls and there are masters at doing that - there was one doctored in this Province the week before the vote in the 1989 election campaign and it is clearly spelled out, Mr. Speaker, in the autobiography of the Premier, I say to members opposite. When this party was in Opposition and going into the vote in the 1989 election campaign there was a poll, Mr. Speaker, we all know what happened. It appeared in the Premier's autobiography as to why - the one you did with Mr. Hoy, the one you sat down and wrote with him, I say to the Premier.

MR. SIMMS: Claire Hoy told about it in his biography. What he said was the Premier conspired with senior people in the Liberal Party to concoct a fictitious poll.

MR. TOBIN: Now, Mr. Speaker, that is what is happening. The Premier decided to get somebody to write his autobiography with him, that is what they put into it, I say to members opposite.

There is only one question as relates to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and that is whether they agree with privatizing or disagree with it. Mr. Speaker, people can make up their own minds in this Province as to whether they support or disagree with privatization. The Premier has clearly stated, and I admire the Premier for saying it, government will not proceed unless the people of this Province support it and are behind it. One can only assume that government is going to seek out a way to achieve that. The Premier has not been specific as to how he chooses to do it, whether it will be with a poll -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the petition of the Member for Burin - Placentia West. It is one of the petitions representing some, I think, in excess of 12,000 people who have had their petitions presented to the House of Assembly so far saying the same thing. Now, we know there are other petitions. The Premier has had petitions from 5,500 petitioners delivered to his office in Corner Brook, we hear, and they haven't been presented in the House. The Member for St. John's North is hiding petitions in his desk over there that he had presented to him and they haven't been presented in the House, and I don't know how many others over there have petitions that they have not presented to this House because they don't want the information to get out, that the public is totally opposed to this.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard over the last little while -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise to ask the Member for St. John's East to clarify. I'm not sure I heard him correctly when he said that the Member for St. John's North is hiding a petition in his drawer that he refuses to bring forward to the House and that was presented to him by his constituents. If that is what he said I ask that he clarify it.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, that is a point of interruption, not a point of order. I don't know whether he is hiding it in his drawer or where he is hiding it. All I am told is that he was given a petition to present to this House and we haven't seen it yet.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I still can't believe what I have heard from the Member for St. John's East, but if he stands by his allegation, or statement, that the Member for St. John's North is so closeting a petition from his constituents, then I would have to advise the House that if not lying to the House, he is deliberately misleading the House by giving forward information that is unfactual, unfounded, and unacceptable, and I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to ask the member to so withdraw unless he can otherwise substantiate his claim.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is not allowed to use words such as `lying in the House' and I ask him to withdraw that particular point now.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if I have used unparliamentary language, I withdraw it but I want to reiterate that the hon. the Member for St. John's East is deliberately misleading the House by virtue of his comments.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: You can't say that, boy!

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I understand there are rules of Parliament that have to do with misleading the House, but I don't know of any rules that say that a speaker can't rise on a point of privilege and tell the truth. If there are rules against the truth then I would like to hear them.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess the Member for St. John's North is taking back any unparliamentary language he used in the past and in the future when he made his comments, because he continued to make unparliamentary language.

What I said to the House is that the Premier - it is on public record that the Premier was provided with 5,500 signatures on a petition that has not yet been presented to this House. I've been told that the Member for St. John's North is hiding a petition. I don't know where. Whether it is in his desk or in his drawers or where it is, where he is hiding it. That he hasn't presented a petition to this House opposed to Hydro. I don't know how many other members over there have petitions that they have refused or failed to present to this House. Because they don't want the truth about the opposition to Hydro to be known.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh! Oh, oh!

MR. HARRIS: The Premier himself -

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

MR. HARRIS: The Premier himself today said, he contradicted -

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

The hon. Member for St. John's North.

MR. HARRIS: This must be a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I would ask the direction and advice of the Chair as to how one could deal with unfounded, frivolous, incorrect, inaccurate, false, misleading information that is being spouted, that is being dribbled, from the mouth of the Member for St. John's East. The Member for St. John's East is deliberately misleading this House. If he is not doing it deliberately, he is doing it in great ignorance and he is doing it with great gusto. I would ask him to withdraw in the same spirit of enthusiasm that he has made the false allegations.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members' time has expired.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Member for St. John's East said in his comments that he understood the Member for St. John's North was hiding a petition. It was challenged on a point of order and it is technically not a point of order to have a disagreement over what are alleged facts. The hon. Member for St. John's East then said that he didn't know where he was hiding it but he understood he had one. Members rise on points of order or points of privilege to clarify these situations, but technically they are not points of order or points of privilege. Once a point is made and to some extent clarified I think we should let it go at that.

I caution members that they should as well try to stick as close to the facts as they know and can prove and not push other hon. members with things that really are not - at least, can't be verified publicly. Thank you.

MR. HARRIS: Point of order.

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

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I have what is actually a point of order as opposed to what the Member for St. John's North said. In his last remark before the Speaker stood up the Member for St. John's North said that I had deliberately misled the House. Mr. Speaker, the Government House Leader will advise the Member for St. John's North, as will the Speaker, that that is unparliamentary language and he is required to withdraw that point.

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

MR. ROBERTS: To that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It was very difficult to hear what any hon. member was saying because of the provocative remarks by my friend for St. John's East. I have no doubt, and my friend for St. John's North is here and of course will speak for himself, that if he used in the heat of debate unparliamentary langauge, of course he will withdraw it. Any one of us would. There is no member of the House, I venture to say - and certainly I would be the last to say - no member of the House who has never used unparliamentary language. We all slip into it on occasion in the heat of debate.

MR. SPEAKER: On the point of order. I don't need to hear from the hon. Member for St. John's North. It is unparliamentary to call someone a liar or to accuse someone of deliberately misleading. I understood earlier the hon. Member for St. John's North to have withdrawn those remarks and -

MR. HARRIS: And he made them again!

MR. SPEAKER: I think he might have used the words deliberately misleading again. I just clarify that if it was then I suspect it would be withdrawn.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To the extent that anything I may have said, Your Honour, was unparliamentary, I withdraw it with pleasure, but to the extent that the spirit of his remarks was inaccurate, I stand by the spirit of my having said to him he was misleading. Because I do not have a petition in my drawers.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a new petition.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: I believe - Order, please! Order, please!

I recognized the Member for St. John's East on a point of order but I feel it appropriate to go to another member to present another petition. I believe the member for Ferryland was on his feet. I will come back to the hon. member subsequently.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to present a petition from people from the Bay of Islands district, from the district of the Premier, thirty-six members -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, it will probably take me five minutes, so I will condense it.

We, the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador who wish to avail themselves of their right thus to present a grievance common to the House of Assembly in the certain assurance that the House will therefore provide a remedy, we submit - so I will go to the wherefore -

The undersigned, your petitioners, humbly pray and call upon Parliament to demand the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador not privatize and sell Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, and ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro remains a Crown corporation, as is duty bound your petitioners will ever pray.

Now the Premier of this Province has given the wrong impression to the people on the rate of increase on their electric bills.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. According to the figures - if you would listen you would find out in a minute.

First of all he has stated, in his media release, in the closed-door session on the Friday before last, he gave information, and he circulated in this little flyer to households across Newfoundland and Labrador, that -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are shouting.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is necessary in order to be heard.

He stated that people will have an increase in their electric bills of $1.25 per month, which is $15 per year, based upon 700 kilowatt hour's consumption of electricity. He very well knows that is not the average rate of consumption of electricity in this Province, and I took the effort to find out.

There are 173,000 households in this Province served by Newfoundland Power, of which 99,000 are served by electric heat, and 74,000 are served by other than electric heat, with the basic electricity.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I try to keep busy, because the busier you are the more facts you get. Most people are not interested enough to be busy enough to get the facts.

Now the Member for Eagle River wanted to hear it, so I will ask you to listen and let him hear these figures.

The average consumption of electricity by households in this Province served by Newfoundland Power is over 1,300 kilowatts. If you just took the Premier's figure, almost double that, it would be an increase of $30 on each light bill, not considering that the big majority of households in this Province use electric heat.

I said in this House before, I stated in this House last week and the week before, that we are putting an impression out into the public that their lights bills are going to increase by $15 a year. For the average household, even without electric heat, we are looking at almost $30 a year. Those with electric heat, and I've got a copy of my latest bill that has 5,382 kilowatt hours, and when you increase that and multiply it by the figure, you are getting an increase, at the rate that I consume in my household, that is only a very modest size house, you are going to have about $115 increase alone on this bill based on that rate.

Now the Premier has tried to smooth it over. He has tried to put in the rate subsidization to smooth things over for two or three years, beyond the next election, for three years of subsidizing the rate to consumers of electricity of this Province, to try to hoodwink the people in this Province into believing that electricity is not going to increase. When the Premier admits that it will increase 11 per cent, you can be guaranteed, or bet your bottom dollar, it is probably going to increase for the majority of consumers by about 20 per cent in this Province, excluding Labrador where he has admitted it is going to go up 30 per cent, and now we will probably see an increase substantially higher in Labrador in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I don't care what you call it. Most members are not willing to listen to facts, and they are facts that I researched. They can be corroborated, I am sure, by any authorities. I can tell you where to find them, if you want to see me, and get these facts. We are getting misinformation from the government on this issue, a lack of information and I think it is very important that the people in this Province get the facts on the table to make an informed decision. The government has failed to hold public hearings; they have failed to give people an opportunity to hear the facts on these issues, because they are afraid that if people find out the facts, the resistance against the privatization of Hydro will be resounding, it will be almost 100 per cent in this Province.

We have seen over 80 per cent of the people opposed to it without having access to the facts. I have limited time here under this discussion to get into the financial aspects of privatization but it is a burden, financially, on this Province, to privatize, and I will address it in speaking to another petition, when I have the opportunity again, to look at some other financial aspects that I haven't been able to address here in this House in sufficient detail.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave?

MR. SPEAKER: No leave. The hon. the Member for St. John's East - I said I would get back to him.

MR. SULLIVAN: I will be back.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to say that I support the petitioners in their efforts to get this House of Assembly to direct the government to stop the Hydro privatization act. Mr. Speaker, we don't know how many petitions are being hidden over on the opposite side in the desks of various members. We do know, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier's office has received 5,500 signatories that have yet to be presented to this House, and I see the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology tearing up what looks to be petitions, Mr. Speaker, as well, of people who are opposed to the privatization of Hydro. Now, Mr. Speaker, there is a great effort on the part of members opposite to hide the fact that the public is against this deal.

The Premier himself, today, Mr. Speaker - and one has to listen very carefully to the Premier because he wants you to dissect every single word he said. On Friday, we heard the Minister of Finance say: no, no, we haven't done any surveys, we are not doing any surveys, we haven't tested public opinion, but if you listened carefully to the Premier today, what did he say? Oh well, we might have added one or two questions to surveys that somebody else was doing; we might have one or two questions to surveys that other people were doing. The public opinion surveys, polls being done by other people, we might have added one or two questions but we haven't commissioned our own full survey; so now, Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition didn't question him further on it but what the Premier admitted was, that they have found out what the people of this Province think because you only need to ask one question, you can tag it on anybody's survey, and the question is: Are you opposed to the privatization of Hydro?

MR. MURPHY: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Premier knows the answer to that question and the Minister of Finance knows, too, what the people of this Province want, because they already have the survey results, Mr. Speaker, and I challenge the Member for St. John's South to deny it. They already have it, they know the people are opposed and they are trying to figure out what to do next. They are trying to figure out whether it is possible that they can spend more government money to propagandize people and make them believe that something is a good thing which clearly isn't. They don't want people to know, Mr. Speaker, including the Member for St. John's North, who does not want people to know that there are so many people opposed to Hydro because if they did, and if he did, he would find a way to present that petition to the House even though the Premier says no!

AN HON. MEMBER: What?

MR. HARRIS: Even though the Premier tells him not to, he would still find a way to present that petition in the House, if he really wanted - and I would be prepared to defer right now, Mr. Speaker, in the middle of my speech, to allow the Member for St. John's North to present to the House any petitions that he might have over there in his drawer. He is looking very carefully, he might come up with a petition yet, because he has been uncovered, Mr. Speaker, he has been discovered to be failing to present the wishes of his constituency adequately and instead has been bowing to the wishes of the Premier all the way along. I mean, he was one of the backbenchers - with the exception, the notable exception, I would say, of the Member for Pleasantville - who was involved in the conspiracy of silence. He participated fully in that conspiracy of silence, Mr. Speaker, and he is one of those who now refuses to recognize that the people of this Province are overwhelmingly opposed to the privatization of Hydro.

The Member for St. John's North knows - he knows and other members over there know because they have already polled the Province, Mr. Speaker, the Premier admitted it today. He said, well we added maybe one or two questions to existing polls. We didn't do our own poll. We didn't commission a poll separately but, Mr. Speaker, everybody knows that polling firms every week are doing polls across this Province and if you want one question added on to it, you can pay someone to get it added on. In fact, I hear that sometimes they'll add on questions for nothing. Mr. Speaker, what the Premier has admitted here in the House today, without telling us the results, is that the government does actually know. I would say, Mr. Speaker, that they have an obligation to reveal to the people of this Province what they have already discovered because I think they have discovered what other polls have discovered, what the internal PC poll - now I wouldn't ordinarily rely on an internal PC poll and I'm not sure I would rely on this one but it sounds to me like they are only asking one question, they're not trying to smooth over the results, what do they call it? massage the results, as their (inaudible). Their (inaudible) the massage results.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

AN HON. MEMBER: Does he have a petition there - the hon. the Member for St. John's North?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker -

MR. SPEAKER: I had not seen St. John's North. I've recognized the hon. -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know the Member for St. John's North was standing and I thought he was going to stand to present a petition, but that's fair enough.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, yes, I know. Mr. Speaker, I want to present a petition on behalf of seventy-two residents of the district of Grand Bank.

MR. SIMMS: I thought he wasn't allowed to speak.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I don't know, the Speaker didn't recognize him.

MR. SPEAKER: I didn't see the Member for St. John's North standing.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to present this petition on behalf of seventy-two residents of the district of Grand Bank - the towns of Grand Bank, Fortune and one or two others there, Grand Beach, and so on - who are opposed to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. They are calling upon the government to scrap the privatization deal and to ensure that Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro remains a Crown corporation; that's basically the prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker.

I want to take the opportunity this afternoon to present the petition on their behalf and to say, as other speakers before me have said, that the opposition out and about the Province to the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is overwhelming. On a daily basis it is becoming more and more clear that the people are really strongly opposed to it. I guess, over the next two or three days, we will have further indication of that, once the government gets its own polling done and other groups, organizations and agencies get polling done.

Based upon what we have seen so far, Mr. Speaker, with the survey that we did on Friday and based upon the call-in show this morning by Mr. Rowe, both are almost identical, I say to the Member for St. John's South, who sits with a half-grin on his face. The results are almost identical when you take into consideration the decided vote - those who are for, opposed and those undecided - actually the two surveys come out almost identical. I think the call-in's to Open Line this morning was approximately 150 something call-in's - 101 opposed, 43 in favour and a very low `undecided'. In the survey that we did, one of the things we found was that of those - there were more undecided in the survey we did, by the way, than there were in favour of privatization.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, but you didn't just do a phone-in. The `undecideds' (inaudible) phoned in.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, true, but what I'm saying is there were people this morning who called the Open Line and said they were undecided but when we did our 274 calls, the majority - I think there were thirty who said they were undecided, something like that.

MR. SIMMS: No, 29 in favour, 194 against and 51 undecided.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: And most of those indicated that they didn't have enough information to make their decision. I would say that most of those who said they were undecided, said they didn't have enough information to make the proper judgement. But when you look at both surveys, they were very, very similar, almost identical stats, really, which tells me that the mood is sort of set on the issue, but, I guess, that will unravel a bit more over the next two or three days.

MR. SIMMS: Another tomorrow.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Another one tomorrow, and then probably the next day another, and so on.

MR. ROBERTS: It is something to look forward to.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, I am not surprised, I say to the Minister of Justice, and I don't think, in all honesty, the government is either. I don't think the Premier is surprised anymore nor are government surprised. We haven't been surprised since the fall.

MR. SIMMS: Yes, bring back `Baker'.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, the government has already brought in closure on second reading of the bill, I say to the Minister of Justice. I say now, the best thing they could do is withdraw the legislation. And even though the Premier said today he is not going to do that, I would say that over the Easter recess, for the two or two-and-a-half weeks, that hopefully, we will be out of here - hopefully, I say, because I don't like making any commitments.

AN HON. MEMBER: You never know.

MR. ROBERTS: It depends on whether one gets his pay cheque or not.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I think that is what will happen. We will let the dust settle for awhile and then the government will reassess and re-evaluate. Maybe when they come back after Easter they will then say, it is in spades now that the people do not want it and they just may withdraw the bill, which, I think, would be very wise. Certainly we would be satisfied and the majority of people, 75 or 80 per cent of the population, I think, will be most relieved if that happens. There is still hope yet.

I wanted to present this petition on behalf of those seventy-two people of the district of Grand Bank who are opposed to this situation, and I know from the survey that we did from our office that the people in the district of Grand Bank are overwhelmingly opposed to it.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, I say to the Member for Eagle River, very much opposed to it. As a matter of fact, there was only one person on the survey who said they supported it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

I am sorry, the hon. the Member for St. John's North.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I never, ever considered myself to be a Ferryland-type but to be identified so here today really throws me for a loop.

I want to speak to the matter of petitions because I have become interested in petitions this afternoon in a particular way. The Member for St. John's East alleges there is a petition that has been developed out of St. John's North and the suggestion that I am sitting on it and I refuse to present it to the House, is an erroneous and preposterous proposition to put before the House, to say the least. I have listened for the past three weeks and I was particularly interested in the debate on petitions two or three weeks ago when the Opposition were coming up with all of those one, two and three-name petitions. I listened intently to see if, in fact, there was a petition going to be presented from the other side as being representative of something that came out of St. John's North, and to this day, I have not heard anything brought forward from the residents of St. John's North.

Now, I want to say, Mr. Speaker, if there is a petition on the go from St. John's North, one of two things has happened to it - either it has been given to members on the opposite side of the House to bring forward, and I have not been done the favour of being given a copy of it, or else, however it was supposed to have been conveyed to me, it must have gotten lost in courier or in the mail, because I can categorically state that I have not seen, nor have I heard of, nor am I aware of, nor do I have any evidence that there exists a petition from St. John's North with respect to the Hydro issue, whether it is against privatization or for privatization. I can tell hon. members on the other side, however, that I personally did a poll on Thursday evening of this past week, before my newsletter was circulated, but after all of the television commentary has been seen by the residents of the Province, and of those who had an opinion for or against the privatization issue of Hydro, of those who had a stated opinion, yes or no, of those who had their minds made up one way or the other, I can tell you that the residents of St. John's North, by virtue of the mini-poll that I did personally, were two-and-a-half to one in favour of privatization. They answered yes to the question of privatization.

Now, whether or not they were influenced because of the fact that I called, I wouldn't be so immodest as to suggest that. I have great respect for the people in my district. They are independent-minded, they are smart people, they are sharp people, they think clearly, they know the issue, they have analyzed the situation, and they vote with their heads and not their hearts; and if members on the other side would use their heads more than their hearts, and their heads more than their mouths, and their heads more than emotion, and let the people respond to information, not mischievous misinformation, they would get the same results when they do their polling in their regions.

So I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that polling is important when you are polling people who are intelligent and have the thing figured out, and the residents of St. John's North told me on Thursday evening, from 8:30 to 10:30, that they were two-and-a-half to one in favour of privatization.

I will admit to the members on the other side of the House that there is a significant number of undecided out there, and I would also tell them that those who told me they were yes but they weren't sure went down as undecided. So of those who were clearly understanding of the issue, and had an opinion, my poll says, Matthews says on behalf of St. John's North, they are two-and-a-half to one for privatization, and I would suggest that you fellows take that message and tell your -

I would challenge any of you to give the people of your district, give the people of this Province, the facts. Give them the facts. Don't put words in their mouth. Let them put words in your mouth. You are too busy putting words in your constituents' mouths. You need to give them a chance to put words in your mouth, and when they speak to you they will speak common sense. When you speak to them, they don't know what they hear. They hear nonsense. What you want to hear from them is common sense, and I would suggest that you let the people speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Give your constituents a break over Easter.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I compliment my friend on a very effective and well-delivered speech, with considerable more truth and substance in it than some of the others we have heard from other members opposite.

Mr. Speaker, unless somebody else wants to speak on this petition here -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Alright, I would yield then. I will then give notice, when my friend, the Member for Ferryland finishes, I will move that under Standing Order 21, we go on to debate interim supply, this never-ending debate.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Well, I will tell the Member for St. John's North, if you want to arrange a meeting in the city and debate merits of privatizing Hydro, financial and otherwise, I will be available at any time.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: At any point, and I have a copy -

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I have no problem with merits. I have all (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I didn't interrupt you when you spoke, so if you would give me an opportunity to finish.

I have a copy of the member's letter to the residents of St. John's North, and it puts forward very, very, weak arguments. He talks about two or three little items, and none of the facts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am speaking to the Member for Grand Bank. If you would like for me to present another -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) petition.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am supporting the petition not to privatize Hydro, and the arguments presented for privatizing it by the Member for St. John's North are not valid arguments.

He said they are going to follow a strategy to strengthen the private sector to allow it to produce employment opportunities that we so desperately need. How many people really think that privatizing a monopoly and driving up costs in the process - and I would like to just touch on costs that would not be there if we left Hydro as it is. So just think for a second, I will just point out five or six costs that are there solely because of privatization.

Number one, there is a cost associated with retiring the debt. Now, Hydro has a net debt of $1,028,000,000. They are going to retire $283 million of that debt right away. Immediately, they are going to retire $283 million. It will cost $20 million to retire that debt, in associated costs. By the way, they are figures that the Premier gave in the closed session, so if you don't agree with these figures, you certainly can ask where they came from and I will let you know exactly where they came from.

There are other fees. The fees and commissions and so on that are going to deal with the sale, will be $15 million to $20 million. So we have $20 million by the fees associated with retiring $283 million of that debt, we have the fees and so on associated with retiring the debt. We have $15 million to $20 million that is commission on the sale of shares in the new Hydro. We have to establish the unrecognized foreign currency at the time. That is $90 million to $100 million. These are going on the rate payers, and I will get to that, how they are going to be financed. Ninety million dollars to $100 million - and the Premier used that figure, $90 million. If you want to reference it I will point out exactly where to.

They are also using - and I will tell you why I'm using it now when we get to the defeasance part - also, the new Hydro has accepted part of the unfunded liability that is out in that pension plan now. The government has accepted a portion and it won't even deal with that now under taxpayer costs. They've accepted a liability of $25 million to $30 million, is the portion that new Hydro is accepting.

AN HON. MEMBER: Shouldn't we do that?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh no. I'm just getting to the point now - the point I'm making here is what is going on to the new rate payers here. That is factored into the rate payers.

On top of that they will be responsible, the new Hydro, up to $5 million for any land. Anything beyond that - according to the bill, the government would have to accept responsibility beyond that $5 million. We have also costs of purchasing and so on, servicing and maintaining the agreement involved with defeasance of the remaining debt. I mentioned $283 million. It is going to cost $20 million in costs. The remaining debt, they are going to defease $260 million of that over five years, and they are going to take the remaining $485 million and there is going to be a long-term defeasance on that debt. That is going to cost about $15 million to do that.

Every other cost associated with forming the new company and getting rid of this is going to be added on also. Those costs I just referred to add up to $265 million by the government's figures. However, we are not so naive as to think it is only going to be $165 million. I would say when the final tally counts, depending on where we stand with the Canadian dollar and other associated costs, it could be closer to $200 million. I will get to a few other aspects that affect rates after but these alone, just those items I mentioned alone, would not occur if we didn't privatize.

MR. BAKER: You mean to say we would have no foreign exchange liabilities if we didn't privatize?

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm saying -

MR. BAKER: You are a genius if you can (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm not saying that. Here is what I'm saying. When they become due, these bonds, when they are held, we will be paying that right now. In five years' time -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members' time has expired.

MR. SULLIVAN: - when some bonds come up -

MR. BAKER: It could be worse.

MR. SULLIVAN: - as they come up -

MR. BAKER: It could be worse.

MR. SULLIVAN: The dollar has been at one of its lowest points.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I can't speak to the petition -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: I can't speak to the petition and so I won't, except I will say to my friend for Ferryland, if he would like the full story I will give it to him on the Interim Supply debate which we are about to get to. Because he is filled with nonsense in the stuff he just gave.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) figures!

MR. ROBERTS: The figures are correct, the interpretation is wrong.

I would move, Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 51, that the Orders of the Day be now read.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that the Orders of the Day be now read.

All those in favour of the motion, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: Contrary-minded, `nay'.

Motion carried.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, there is a slight problem we have here. In accordance with the interim report of the Select Committee on the practice of public accountancy tabled by the chairperson on Friday past I would like to move that the resolution as adopted by the House on December 3, 1993, be amended by striking out the words `31st of March, 1994' and substituting the words: June 30th, 1994.

The reason, Mr. Speaker, is that because of some procedural difficulties the Committee will not be ready to report by March 31 and therefore we need to give them a new deadline. By leave of the House I would like to put that motion.

MR. SPEAKER: Is leave given to the hon. minister to put the motion at this time?

I recognize the hon. Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just very briefly to respond. We have no problem with the particular motion. We just want to point out the difficulty is not with the Committee. The Committee has met, but it is a logistical problem with Hansard and getting the transcripts of the meetings. As soon as those are available - which I hope will be some time over the Easter period when Hansard, if we do break for Easter, the Hansard staff will be able to catch up and provide the Committee with the information. My colleague will no doubt call the Committee together and we will proceed with our hearings.

MR. SPEAKER: All those in favour of the motion to delete March 31st and substitute June 30th 1994, `aye'.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Aye!

MR. SPEAKER: Contrary-minded, `nay'.

Motion carried.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the journals of the House, if they would, should record that I took no part in that discussion as I have declared a conflict in that.

Mr. Speaker, could we do Motions 2 and 4 which simply are first readings and then I will ask if Your Honour will be good enough to call Order 2 (a) which is the Interim Supply debate.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce the following bills entitled:

"An Act To Amend The Income Tax Act", (Bill No. 10).

"An Act To Amend The Retail Sales Act", (Bill No. 11).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I am having a little difficulty hearing the Clerk reading the bills.

On motion, Bill Nos. 10 and 11, read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, could you call Order 2 (a) which is the adjourned debate on the Interim Supply, and I have checked with the Clerk at the table, by the clock or the tally being kept by the officials, Your Honour, we have now used three hours and forty-five minutes on the debate. I don't say that in any pejorative sense except simply to remind members of the score sheet as it were, because this time comes out of the seventy-five hours allowed by Standing Order, I think 117, whatever the Standing Order as it applies.

MR. SPEAKER: It is moved and seconded that I do now leave the Chair for the House to resolve itself into Committee of Supply respecting the granting of Interim Supply to Her Majesty.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (P. Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I would like to say just a few words if I could, with respect to some of the points made by my friend from Ferryland in a petition he presented in the House a few moments ago because this is three or four times he has used these numbers - I don't quarrel with him using the numbers; in fact in my understanding, they are correct; the numbers themselves are accurate but his interpretation of them is not, and if he wants to get into an argument, we can. I am here simply to put on the record what I understand to be the facts of the matter, hon. members can make what they wish of it; but I made some notes as my friend from Ferryland spoke and he spoke of $1,028 million being the net debt of Hydro, that's my understanding of

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) million.

MR. ROBERTS: That's right, $1,028 million I said which is $1,028,000,000, the same thing, I say to my friend.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. The net debt, that's the gross debt less the sinkers. I have it as $1,030 million and I don't want to be heard to say: what's a million but I think my friend and I will agree that the figures are essentially the same. Hydro's net debt as of today is about $1,030 million; $1,030,000,000. He went on to say that $283 million of this will be paid off right away should privatization occur and I accept the number, I haven't check the Premiers speech, I think the Premier used the figures here in the House when he introduced the bill at second reading -

MR. SULLIVAN: A net of $283 million.

MR. ROBERTS: A net of $283 million is to be paid off. Now I would say to my hon. friend, that is nothing more or less than the short-term debt of Hydro that is due right away; it has to be paid off at some point or rolled over and there is no difference in one sense if it is paid off by new Hydro or old Hydro, there is a difference in another sense in that if it is paid off now it will not be on the debt of the contingent liabilities of the Province, it will still be a debt of Hydro either way, but that -

MR. SULLIVAN: No, my interpretation of that is that, initially from the sale of shares should realize let's say, $750 million, we will use that as a figure -

MR. ROBERTS: I have no idea what -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Alright.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) $400 million -

MR. ROBERTS: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: That would leave $350 million, they are going to amortize a lot of the costs, which meant out of the sale of shares, the difference, they are going to pay down $283 million out of that $1,028,000,000. Then they are going to take the remaining debt and do two defeasions on the remaining debt.

MR. ROBERTS: Hold on now. My friend will agree, he shouldn't confuse the source of financing with the use to which it's put, and he may be in danger of doing that, so let me see if I can perhaps help.

I don't know what the proceeds of the sale of shares will be. I don't know how many shares there will be, or what the price would likely be; I don't know that, but money will come in.

Hydro has short-term debt, which I believe is defined as being one year or under. I could look up the annual report, but that's the $283 million in my figure. Hydro will pay that off. New Hydro may well choose to use proceeds from the sale of Treasury shares for that. That's up to them, but it's no net cost to anybody. All that happens is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, my hon. friend now agrees with me, but earlier he was saying there was $165 million cost. He took that $283 million and said that's $15 million to $20 million a year every year. That is not correct.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I agree it is not correct. My hon. friend from Ferryland has said in the House repeatedly - I believe he said here in committee as well -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That is not a cost of privatization, as he has said. That is simply a matter of Hydro's debt. Hydro owes the $283 million. It falls due in this twelve months, so if it's paid off by Hydro it is not a cost of privatization. If Hydro chooses to go out and sell shares to pay off that debt, as opposed to continuing to carry at the bank, it doesn't change anything unless the cost of equity is higher than the cost of debt, and I will come back to that.

He then went on to talk about the $15 million to $20 million in fees on privatization. Now I do not know what the amount is, but I will acknowledge that that is a cost that would not be incurred if Hydro is not to be privatized. There is no question at all, that $15 million to $20 million is not to be incurred if Hydro is not privatized.

Now he went on then to talk about the foreign exchange loss, which is of the order, we understand, of $90 million to $100 million. There is an unrecognized foreign exchange loss. It is in Hydro's statements, if one wants to look it up, but as with many of these things it is in an accountant's note. You have to be an Aramaic accountant to understand, and I am not an accountant of any sort, let alone an Aramaic accountant, but that loss, I would say to the committee, and I would say to my friend, has got to be paid sooner or later in any event. That is simply we went overseas, I believe it was in the seventies, the mid-seventies, and borrowed Swiss francs and Japanese yen.

Now when one borrows foreign one takes a chance, unless one hedges, and there were no hedges in those days. The Canadian dollar has gone down against both of those currencies, and the result is that a $50 million or $60 million loan, whatever the amount borrowed in Swiss francs and Japanese yen produced when converting to Canadian dollars back in 1973 or 1974, will now cost $150 million to service, to pay off. In other words, it now takes three Canadian dollars to buy a given quantity of Japanese yen, whereas fifteen or twenty years ago it took one Canadian dollar. Now that's a recognized hazard when one borrows in a foreign currency and incurs an obligation to pay in foreign currency. I am not trying to be penny wise and pound foolish. Governments of all ilks have borrowed in foreign currency in this and in other jurisdictions. The other side of it is, one gets a lower interest rate.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible if it is privatized we will now have to evaluate that at the current value today, or whenever the transaction, whereas the bonds, a lot of them are not due until 2016.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, these loans are not secured by bonds. The foreign exchange loans are all short-term loans, carried as such in the books of Hydro, would have to recognized for that value whenever. In fact, my hon. friend, if he checks into it at all, will find that Hydro has already come forward to the Public Utilities Board in its last rate hearing with this amount, and has asked for some relief to be given for it. That amount properly has to be paid, I think my learned friend will agree, by the rate payers, because they had the benefit of it.

If we had borrowed Canadian - or, in fact, not us - if the government of the day, or Hydro of the day, with the authority of the government of the day, had borrowed Canadian, they would not have had the foreign exchange loss, but they would have had a much higher interest rate, so the rate payers would have the benefit of it. So it follows that the foreign exchange loss, in a discussion of the cost of privatization is a complete red herring. It has no bearing one way or the other. It is no greater, it is no less. It has to be recognized, it has to be dealt with. Hydro may not pay it off. That is up to Hydro. Hydro may choose to hedge.

Those are three of the items he mentioned. Let me go on to the unfunded liability of the pension plan. The Premier has dealt with that, how it is divided into a number of parts. New Hydro will assume the part that properly belongs to Hydro employees. Again, that is not a new cost. It is simply recognizing a cost that is there. In fact, the Province benefits from that, because whatever amount new Hydro assumes, because it is attributable to its employees, comes right off the unfunded portion of the Province's liability for pensions. We have, as my friend the Minister of Finance has made clear, this incredibly large unfunded liability. Part of it is for Hydro, or Hydro's employees. So when Hydro's employees move out the unfunded liability goes with them. The same as when NLCS employees move out, if we carry through with our plan to privatize NLCS. That unfunded liability goes with them. We pay our share of the liability. In the case of Hydro we are assuming it by means of - I think it is a fifteen year debenture. It is dealt with in the privatization act.

Then he talks of $5 million for land. Mr. Chairman, well, no more than $5 million. There is a cap that Hydro has to bear. All that says is that if there are compensation claims brought forward Hydro will have to absorb up to $5 million worth. So be it. Hydro has to absorb that now.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Kilbride, (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: If all we are doing is transferring assets from old Hydro to new Hydro, (inaudible) why is there a need for an expropriation (inaudible)?

MR. ROBERTS: We are transferring assets and liabilities from old Hydro to new Hydro, as the act says. That is section 4 of the act, I say to my friend for Kilbride. The concern is that there may be somebody out there with a third-party claim which has not come forward and yet is valid in law. So new Hydro will absorb up to $5 million of that. The payment is to be determined in accordance with the principles of the expropriation act. It is not a new cost. It may come to nothing. It is just a provision. If somebody comes along and says: Hydro's diesel plant is built on my land, and accordingly Hydro owes me some money, because the act deems it to be expropriated, then new Hydro pays that money. It is not a new cost. It is a liability that is there. It may be unrecognized, it may be unquantified, but it is still there. It is not a new liability, and above all it is not a liability that is incurred because of privatization. It is there.

Then he talked about servicing the defeasance agreement. My friend for Ferryland mentioned that in the first five years, I think it is $260 million to be defeased?

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, and then the rest over a longer period. Mr. Chairman, there is no cost to that. That is simply replacing Hydro's mid-term debt - not long-term debt - with other debt. The cost will be the same. There should be no increase one way or the other.

What it comes down to - and I simply say to my hon. friend - the facts of the matter are that there are two costs which privatizing Hydro will generate. The first is whatever fees and commissions may be incurred. One can't question that. One may question the amount of them or the necessity for them, but whatever is incurred has to be paid by somebody and whatever is incurred is the result of privatization.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. ROBERTS: So soon. Well, another time.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Ferryland and the Opposition party Whip.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I made a couple of notes there on what the minister stated. The cost of defeasing, the cost of servicing and managing and so on this defeasance, will be placed with a custodian and they will use the security that is there against it, so the possibility, we will say, where the Province is alleviated from it. There is a cost with that. The minister is setting up a defeasance agreement. There are costs. Probably $10 million to $15 million costs associated with setting up and servicing and maintaining this defeasance agreement. For the minister to say there is no new cost at all for setting up this, that is entirely incorrect. The Premier mentioned there is going to be a custodian; I think is the word he used. I can assure you they are not going to do it free. They all attach with fees. There is a $15 million to $20 million he might make a note of.

I indicated on land that they would have to pay up to $5 million. That is a possibility. Up to $5 million. I said beyond that the government is going to assume, according to the bill we were debating before the House, I said it could be up to $5 million. It could be none, but it would be up to $5 million. Once it goes beyond $5 million the Province accepts it then, and the taxpayers of the Province pay it out. If it's $10 million the taxpayers pay $5 million and $5 million comes under new Hydro which will be paid by the ratepayers in the Province.

It's my understanding too that at the date of transaction your unrecognized foreign currency is deemed to have been valued at the date of sale. If it continues as it is now we do not have to pay these as of today, some will be next year and some the year after and the year after. I've never stated that it will never have to be paid. What I'm saying is we now have an unrecognized foreign currency of $90-$100 million that we're sort of cashing in at a time when the dollar is weakest. If the dollar was on a par - if the dollar was valued higher, much higher, in comparison with the Swiss franc and Japanese yen, we wouldn't have this unrecognized foreign currency but it is there now and we are cashing it in at the weakest time. The dollar, who knows, could get weaker or at least it's been maintaining at a very low level. So that's a real cost that's going to have to be met today, not in 2016 or in 2014.

I've stated in the House before that I didn't knock the government for going out and getting Swiss francs and Japanese yens, I've never made that point. The point I made, I've stated before and you'll read it in Hansard, is that if you go to the market you can get cheaper borrowing somewhere else, more power to you if you can get cheaper borrowing. That's what you try to do is borrow as cheaply as possible -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes and I've indicated that it is unfortunate that it would be transacted now when it has hit its weakest time to have to sell your foreign currency, technically. If you've going to visit the United States, when the dollar is at its weakest point, if it's up over ninety cents or up to a dollar, you're not getting the same - it's going to cost and that's the price we have to pay. That's what I stated before in this House several times and I'll state again. There are fees and commissions that we've looked at, $15-$20 million, who knows they could be underscored. I think $15-$20 million could be the bottom side of what we're going to get out on the market. These are costs - what I'm referring to - all borne by the rate payers. I ran out of time before I got to mention other costs.

We're going to have new equity into this new Hydro. We're going to have to give this new Hydro probably 6-7 per cent more return on their investment then Hydro is receiving on its investment and that's gone out to - probably a rate of return like Newfoundland Power received, at 13.84 per cent over the last five years - we're going to have to pay that extra 6-7 per cent to a new company, a new business. Investors in this new company expect to get a return on their dollar, on their investment, that they would get in a similar type company anywhere else in this country. If not, they're not going to invest in this new company. Its prices are going to fall and it's not going to be a positive place to invest. We're obligated to give that rate of return. If the Utilities Board doesn't do it, we're going to have a new company that's in trouble on the markets and that is going to cost in the vicinity of $20 million a year, those extra costs.

I never said debt premiums and so on related to the retiring of that short-term debt of Hydro are going to be on an ongoing basis, I didn't say that. It is a one time cost associated with it, I never made that point at all. In fact, a lot of those one time costs that we might - like the sale of shares and so on, they're one time costs but they're not going to be paid out this year. They would be amortized in a normal debt of the Province over a period of - let's say, twenty, thirty or forty years. If the company has the cash flow to retire some of that down, fine but I would assume all these costs are going to be amortized over a longer term.

Another point, that is going to cost the rate payers too that I didn't get to, as the company reduces its debt and increases its equity we're going to have to give a further return in the future to these investment people. We are further going to have that added on to the rates that are charged for electricity in this Province, as we convert debt to equity. So there's a whole range of costs. If you took all those costs - whether one time or ongoing costs - and just increased them 6-7 per cent, the extra return is an every year cost from now and forever more on the rate payers of this Province. We have some one time costs that should cost - those one time costs alone - just a one time cost should cost around $15-$20 million a year amortized over, let's say thirty years. That's not counting, as I mentioned, our costs that are going on forever as the debt to equity is reduced, that return, the return that's also going to be found on the higher profits given out to shareholders and so on and the owners of that company.

There is a very clear, distinct, increase in rates to the taxpayers, and the Premier has admitted it is going to go up 4 per cent higher. He said 4 per cent higher than if we did not privatize. He has admitted it is going 4 per cent higher on your light bills. That is stated in his media release, and it is shown on the back of the chart. I do not know if you have a copy. We had to try and get a copy some way. We were not allowed into the meeting, the closed door session. If you want to see it, come over after.

I find there are a lot of things that have not been shown to the public, have not been shown to us, and have not been brought out. We are showing a 700 kilowatt consumption, and things of this nature. It is very misleading information and not getting the true facts out. It is unfortunate when you have people here, elected people in this House of Assembly who are refusing to put a public forum out there, to debate these things in a public forum. One way communication, whether through TV or through a householder does not give the public an opportunity to ask questions. There are maybe merits in some part but I can guarantee you there are a lot of demerits in a lot of other parts of it, and so on. Over all it is going to cost, between the rate payers and taxpayers of this Province, more money than if we never privatized, and that is the bottom line. It will cost us more money.

Yes, we will save $25 million a year in financing that debt as long as that debt is there, whether it is forever or whether it is for thirty or forty years, that is the only financial figure in the plus column of this privatization deal. I have not seen any other positive signs on the positive side of the ledger in this deal, but I have seen a whole ever increasing array of negatives, from the advertising campaign $100,000. How many more $100,000 are they going to blast over the media and on radio and television over the next while? How far more are they going to accelerate to sell something that the public is not willing to accept? How many more dollars are going to be wasted in the process?

AN HON. MEMBER: How much would you like to have?

MR. SULLIVAN: I would like to have none wasted. I would like to face the music and face the truth now, deal with it, and get this privatization bill out of the way. The Premier told us we need both bills, on Tuesday, told us in a plea and confession to the public of this Province. Then he came back Thursday and said we do not need the privatization bill now. How do we know what to believe? Information has been kept from us, kept from the public, and when you do tell it you come back the next day and tell us it was not true.

AN HON. MEMBER: Phone Bas.

MR. SULLIVAN: I phoned Bas twice in my life and Bas phoned me once, and that is as often as I phoned. Anybody will tell you. You do not have to be Bas. You can be Bill, you can be John, Mary or anybody, and they will tell you that if you are naive enough to think that the people in this Province are, number one, in support of Hydro -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I will try to be very brief. I want to continue the point I was making and then deal with one or two comments by my friend for Ferryland so that these matters are on the record and members and people can do as they wish with them.

Let me first, in a preliminary way, say to my friend that there is nothing more public than the House of Assembly, nor should there be. That is why the House is here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: We are in Committee of the Whole now, I say to my friend. There are two costs which are incurred by Hydro's privatization. One is the fees and commissions, and the second is the cost of servicing equity as opposed to the cost of servicing a comparable amount of debt, because the debt equity ratio will increase from the present 18-82 equity to debt to, I think it is 57-43, 43 equity and 57 debt.

MR. A. SNOW: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Menihek is not in his seat, and he is out of order, so in both counts he is acting in the usual way. He is also being rude and that is not unusual, I fear, for him, as well.

Now, let me come back to the gentleman for Ferryland. Those two costs, Mr. Chairman -

MR. A. SNOW: (Inaudible)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, the gentleman for Menihek is not going to shout me down, he is certainly not going to think me down, so he might as well possess his soul in patience and when his turn comes we will hear his contribution, if any.

Now, let me come back to my friend for Ferryland. There are these two costs that would be incurred. One is a one-time cost and the second is a continuing cost, we have acknowledged these quite readily, we have from the start. As against that there is the continuing saving of whatever it may be - we have used the number of $25 million - the annual interest costs - forgetting principal amortization - the annual debt service costs, the annual interest costs on the capital sum that we would get as the net value of our equity.

Mr. Chairman, I just want to put those on the record. My friend may well get up again and use his numbers again, but let me say the record is complete.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The numbers my friend used are correct; it is just the interpretation is wrong, and let him know what the facts are. The facts are there are these two one-time costs.

Now let me talk about the foreign exchange. My friend waxes eloquent about this; it is in the financial statements. I am reading page 31 of Hydro's 1992 Annual Report, and it says: with respect to foreign currencies at each balance sheet date - that is December 31 for Hydro - monetary assets and liabilities, except for long-term debt and its related current portion, are translated using exchange rates at that date. In the case of Hydro, long-term debt, including the current portion, is translated in accordance with rate making practices at exchange rates prevailing when the debt is incurred.

That is what I meant about Aramaic accountancy. You've got to know that means there is a large unrealized foreign exchange loss there. It goes on -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The long-term debt is about $60 million on the foreign exchange, about $150 million in Canadian dollars. It is carried at $60 million and will cost about $150 million to pay it off. That is the unrealized amount, and I am using round figures; I don't have the numbers right to hand, but that is the one we have been talking about as the foreign exchange debt.

The note goes on: Therefore no recognition is given in the accounts to unrealized gains or losses, except that commencing in 1992 the Public Utilities Board requires Hydro to provide $1 million a year provision for an unrealized foreign exchange loss on its Swiss franc denominated debt. This provision is included in interest expense. And my hon. friend will acknowledge that since it is included in interest expenses it is paid for by the rate payers as one of the operating costs of the company.

The point I make very simply is not that the debt is not there. The debt is there. It has not been realized, but it has to be paid by the rate payers and, in my view, is a proper cost. It will not get any larger because of privatization; it will not get any smaller.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: No, the debt will be the same. It will just be transferred from the contingent books of the Province on over into Hydro.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) these factors will also impact on this estimated rate, including - the Premier stated that in his release.

MR. ROBERTS: Yes. Of course it will have an impact on its rates.

MR. SULLIVAN: It will all impact on it also in addition.

MR. ROBERTS: Of course. It's got to be serviced -

MR. SULLIVAN: In addition to that extra (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: That debt has got to be serviced. It is being serviced in part now, except a million dollars is probably an under provision.

Now my friend from Ferryland seems to thing we should go careening around in foreign exchange, we should speculate on what the dollar is likely to do. I acknowledge the dollar is down right now. It may go up, it may go down, but the Province, in my view, ought not to be speculating.

Be that as it may, the point I am making is that the foreign exchange loss is not created by privatization. It is not increased by privatization. It is not decreased by privatization. It is simply there. It has been there all along. In fact, it was there from the moment in 1973 or 1974, or the possibility was there, from the moment in 1973 or 1974, when the Cabinet of the day, of which I was not part, authorized Hydro to borrow the money overseas. It is not long term. I understand these are short-term loans that simply are being rolled over.

Now, Mr. Chairman, one other point, my hon. friend says the cost of servicing the defeasance is $10 million to $15 million a year. I can only say my hon. friend -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: One shot then.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) setting up defeasance and so on are primarily a one-time shot, establishing it. There could be some managing costs ongoing (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: The management costs are inconsequential because Hydro already manages its own debt. My friend and I can agree on that, but the one-time costs, I have no idea where he gets these numbers, because they are not real. There is no cost in acquiring - all the defeasance is going out into the market and buying securities of a certain type, AAA, of a maturity and in an amount sufficient to set off against the debt the government has guaranteed. There is no more mystery to it than that, and as they are matched off -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) cost.

MR. ROBERTS: There is no cost. It is the same cost, the cost of servicing the debt. The cost is there.

MR. SULLIVAN: What about the cost of managing?

MR. ROBERTS: The cost of managing, my friend and I just agreed, is inconsequential. The cost of managing is borne by Hydro already. It is already managing its own debt. All that they do, Mr. Chairman - let's suppose Hydro has an obligation to pay $20 million in the year 2010, to take a number. All its issues are listed in the annual report.

MR. SULLIVAN: You are saying (inaudible) -

MR. ROBERTS: Hydro has a maturity of $150 million coming out in 2017. That is Series X, borrowed in 1992. One hundred and fifty million. Hydro will go out and it will acquire in the market securities adequate to match that $150 million. Instead of paying the interest on the debt the government will simply get the money from Hydro. Hydro is now paying the interest on that debt every year. It is part of its interest expense. Hydro will take the money it earns on the securities, the interest it is getting it now owns, pay it over to the government, the government will use it to pay the interest. At the end of the day, through the combination of sinkers and the balloon payment at the end of the maturity period, the debt will be retired in full. It is really a very simple concept.

MR. SULLIVAN: Did you say the cost to acquire?

MR. ROBERTS: The cost to acquire what -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) purchase of the securities under the defeasance agreement is costing nothing? Is that what you are saying?

MR. ROBERTS: It is inconsequential.

MR. SULLIVAN: Is there a figure? Could you give me the figure?

MR. ROBERTS: I don't have a number but -

MR. SULLIVAN: Could you give me a ball park figure?

MR. ROBERTS: I will see if I can get one. It is no different than when my hon. friend was in business on his own, before he came into politics to manage the public business, he may have owed debt. All that would mean is that he went out and instead of owing a long-term debenture to the bank or some bond holders, he would go out and buy other securities, he would get the interest on the securities, pay it over to the people who held the debt to pay his obligation, and that is all it is.

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) custodian to do this, to manage (inaudible) -

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, there is a custodian between - but there is a custodian there now for Hydro's debt.

MR. SULLIVAN: I know. He has mentioned a custodian as a result of this new debt. So -

MR. ROBERTS: There is a custodian but - there is a trustee.

MR. SULLIVAN: Can you give a figure?

MR. ROBERTS: No I can't.

MR. SULLIVAN: Can you provide a figure?

MR. ROBERTS: I can try to get them but I don't have them.

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm saying it is $10 million. Can you provide a figure? One million dollars, two million dollars?

MR. ROBERTS: I will try to get it, I said to my friend.

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure.

MR. ROBERTS: He can badger me -

MR. SULLIVAN: That is what we would like.

MR. ROBERTS: - but I can't give it to him now. All of our debts, Mr. Chairman, either in Hydro or in the Province, have trustees on them. That is the basic form of the financing -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) defeasance (inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, the hon. gentleman is exposing his lack of knowledge of how these things work. It is a very simple agreement. Just knock the zeros off - a lot of zeros on it, I acknowledge - but knock the zeros off and they make sense. I'm about to run out of time and I don't want to trespass on the Committee.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. ROBERTS: So soon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave!

MR. ROBERTS: If hon. members insist I just want to say one other thing. To come back to the $5 million cap on the land claims. The land claims, we know of none. The Hydro officers have not been able to identify any to my recollection and understanding. There is a possibility there may be some. All that was done was a very sensible arrangement was made that new Hydro would bear anything up to $5 million. The best estimate we have is that these will come to well under $5 million. In fact, if memory serves me from one of the meetings I attended, Hydro has notice from some people. It is going through the legal process. They estimate it may cost $25,000 or $50,000.

There is a possibility that somebody may come along and say: Hydro's building is on my land and I have a claim. In which case they would not be able to pursue the claim. They can't make the building come off the land, but Hydro would have to pay the cost. There has been an arrangement struck that the first $5 million in those costs would be borne by new Hydro. Anything beyond that would be taken up by the Crown, or by old Hydro. That is in the bill and it is very clear.

That is not a new cost. It may be an unrecognized cost at present. If in fact there are costs and are not now unrecognized then there are unrecognized costs. It is not a new cost, it is not an additional cost, it is not the result of privatization. I thank the Committee, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will take a couple of minutes before I sit down. The minister stated - and I find it very difficult to believe - that establishing a defeasance agreement for the remaining debt, the $260 million and the $485 million, very difficult to believe when a custodian is established to acquire, purchase and to manage that there is no fee. That is unrealistic. There is nobody going to establish and set up a defeasance agreement because a defeasance agreement is an agreement that puts money into certain securities established and a custodian for these securities. There is a one-time cost I am saying, a minimum of $10 million needed here and the Government House Leader said: no cost, he said very little cost. He has failed to provide a figure for that cost. He has probably gone to get the figure now but I can assure you there are several million dollars, a minimum maybe of $15 million there and I want to clarify that point, that what the minister stated is incorrect. Nobody is going to set up an agreement, and we keep in mind we don't need to have any agreement if Hydro remains privatized.

If Hydro is sold, we need the defeasance agreement to sort of shift, not legally but shift the debt from this Province on to new Hydro by virtue of having two defeasance agreements, one for five years and one for a long term, that is going to be about $485 million in the long term, and I would hope that the minister will get back and will give us a figure because they have failed to provide it because they know there are many other new costs associated with this agreement that are not there as it currently stands. They might have the same - manage the funds but they are managing a whole separate type of securities now that has to be purchased, that has to be serviced and it has to be managed and there are new costs associated with it, he has failed to address that and I am quite sure that we will find out in due course exactly what the cost of carrying out this agreement is.

Now overall, there are substantial costs to rate payers, others, I didn't even get to touch on in the shifting the $15 million rate subsidization, the shift on to residential consumers of electricity in this Province are going to increase, it's going to be cushioned for three years and then it is going to take quite a jump from year one. We can see they will cushion it, they will try to absorb it so it will be much more politically acceptable, these rate increases during the short term, but he is not going to solve the problem when the Premier stands up and admits in this House, that it is going to go up a minimum of 4 per cent and then the Government House Leader tried to tell us that there are only two costs associated with privatization, that is totally incorrect, it is wrong and time will certainly tell and when he comes back with the figures on these costs again, we will find out what the true figures are.

We have been saying it all along, they have been hiding figures, eventually they get into the public forum and make an admission, so much so that the Premier went into a closed-door session with the media to make sure he provided these figures to them, and he provided figures here and figures I am using and figures here that the Premier has stated to the media, in spite of what the Government House Leader states, he said: Electrical policy changes influencing rates, and here is what is going to influence rates, in addition to what's already mentioned, he said: Rebating the federal corporate tax to the benefits of the customers and so on would certainly have an effect. If you don't rebate it, it will go on to the rate payers of the Province; he says, we are going to phase in municipal property tax; phase in taxes, there is only a very small number of municipalities in this Province that would pay tax to Hydro. It is only $1 million total out of all the municipalities which is very little, practically nothing, except for the communities that are going to have the opportunity and the money will be taken back in another avenue anyway; they said we are going to eliminate over five years of subsidy paid by Hydro's Island, industrial customers in respect of their rural deficit and so on.

In other words, what we are going to do, he is going to add on a price tag that people in rural areas where it is more costly and more sparsely populated are going to pay a burden for living where they are; in other words, they are going to pay a higher cost there, they are doing it now in municipalities through roads and all other aspects, they are being continuously reduced and this is furthering that agenda there, it is going to be detrimental to consumers of electricity from a residential point of view in this Province. The figures that they are indicating here are not real figures and the Government House Leader stated that there is no cost and before closing today I hope he will get back to me with a figure on what the cost of this is going to be.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I rise today to say a few words on the Interim Supply Bill, Bill No. 7. This bill is requesting the approval of basically $1 billion which is almost one-third of the 1994 Provincial Budget Expenditures.

Mr. Chairman, I believe we all understand the importance of this bill, in that it allows government to continue to operate and to pay its bills after March 31. Mr. Chairman, since the government was first elected in 1989, they have pursued a policy of cut, cut, cut to the bare bones, and I believe it is having a counter-productive effect on the economy of this Province. They have reached the point of diminishing returns.

The Premier and his administration are trying to cure in four or five years the debt load that was accumulated over forty-five years.

Now I understand that while it is very important to the tax deficit, it is impossible to rid ourselves of this problem in a few short years. The analogy I make is similar to a person having a mortgage on his home refusing to heat his home, refusing to send his children to school, refusing to feed his family, et cetera, so as to pay off his mortgage in four or five years. It just doesn't make sense to have such a policy.

The hallmark of this administration, Mr. Chairman, is that they always try to move to fast. This government refuses to listen to the people. They create issues, they throw issues out to the public, they say they will implement laws and regulations within months, they create havoc because they simply try to rush things and deal with the consequences later. A few examples of what I am speaking about are; the amalgamation issue, it was to be completed in three months and here we are four years later still not done; the restructuring of the municipal grants caused havoc in mid-year with the municipalities, I don't know if they completely got over it yet; the ATV regulations which are going to be implemented in four short days, poor planning, rushed, as usual; and of course most recently, the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro, there has been a lot of discussion on that over the past while and I'm sure there will be a lot of debate in the future and I'm not going to get into that today.

Mr. Chairman, each year we have had major cuts and salary freezes to the civil service namely; the public service, the teachers, the nurses, the RNC, wardens, fire-fighters and the list goes on. We have had cuts to the hospitals, the educational system and every other government department. Where do the cuts stop? Mr. Chairman, this administration has increased taxes, has brought in the payroll tax, has increased the cost of every fee, license and permit that government issues, some as much as 200 per cent. The municipalities have had their grants cut by as much as 60 per cent and have been required to increase their debt retirement by as much as 100 per cent. The civil service has seen thousands laid-off with hundreds scheduled to go in this year's Budget. Mr. Chairman, we have seen this happen each year since 1989, yet each year the government comes back for more. After all this, I do not see the government making progress, at least no significant progress. Each year we see more money being budgeted for social services. I ask you, is it any wonder? We have a government which campaigned on jobs. I've yet to see any jobs created other than positions created for their political buddies and I have a list -

AN HON. MEMBER: Table it.

MR. E. BYRNE: Do you want to see it? I don't think you'll want to see it. You don't want to make it public yet.

What I've seen is that almost every policy of this government causes people to lose their jobs and the spin-off effect is causing more people to depend on social services.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to say a few words about how the cutbacks are affecting the health care system in this Province and, Mr. Chairman, I'm speaking from first-hand knowledge. I realize that the health care system in our Province consumes 24.5 per cent of our revenues or $788.395 million. A large chunk of money but, Mr. Chairman, what price does one put on human life? That's a question that I cannot answer.

Mr. Chairman, I understand and realize that there is only so much money to go around and that government has to determine where they can get the best bang for the buck, no doubt there. Government has gone beyond monetary issues in negotiations with the nurses this year. Government is attacking the morale of the nurses which is so important to the health care of sick people in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Off and on, yes.

Mr. Chairman, I want to get back to my first-hand knowledge on the effects that cutbacks are having on hospitals and health care workers in this Province. Let me first qualify my statements by saying that I believe the nurses in this Province are very dedicated, professional and a caring group of people who now find themselves being severely overworked, understaffed and who are now under siege in this government's proposals for negotiations.

As you know I had the opportunity recently to be cared for by the nurses on 5 North A - I believe this is where some of you people should start listening - at the Health Science Centre and have nothing but praise and respect for the nurses and doctors who cared for me during my stay there. I believe we are quite fortunate in this country to have the facilities like the Health Science Centre to go to when we become sick especially, when you look around the world and see the turmoil, starvation, war and hardship.

Mr. Chairman, I was at the Health Science Centre in January, 1990 for the exact same procedure, therefore I'm in a position to make a comparison over four years with the health care system in this Province.

When a person is going to hospital for a very serious operation they do not need any extra stress, as you can well imagine. In January 1990 when I went to the hospital to be admitted I was admitted right away, but in February 1994 when I went to the Health Sciences Centre to be admitted, after being told to come in at a specific time, it took one hour to be admitted. After the surgery in January 1994 I was sent to the special care unit for two nights and then un to a private room which was all that was required in that situation. In February 1994 I was sent to a special care unit for four nights, where only two nights were required, but there were no beds available to take me out of special care, no private rooms were available, which I was prepared to pay for myself, and it cost the government extra money to keep me there in special care. This year's Budget is proposing to close down fifty more beds. After this government campaigned on opening beds in hospitals there will be fifty more beds closed, hundreds closed.

AN HON. MEMBER: You were well looked after.

MR. J. BYRNE: I was well looked after.

In February 1994 after major surgery I was put into a special overflow care unit. I would like for people to pay attention to this.

Call order, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: After I came out of surgery I was sent to a special care unit. It was an overflow unit and in that ward there was an individual who had been unfortunate enough to be in a car accident and had a head injury. That person was very violent and he actually had to be strapped in his bed for his own protection, for his own safety. This individual was very loud, aggressive, and abusive to the nurses. I have to be fair to the individual, he could not help himself and he did not realize what he was doing, but he could be heard over the whole floor yelling and screeching. Here I was an individual after coming back from major surgery at 1:30 in the afternoon and I was put in this room with this individual to recover. I was there until 11:00 p.m. that night when the nurses took it upon themselves to take me out of that situation. They juggled around some beds in the regular special care unit, took people out of there, and got me out of that situation. I do not think that was a very conducive situation for a person recovering from major surgery. This is all due to the cutbacks that the health care system is having.

While I was there in hospital I saw equipment that was being used, old thermometers were being used, the electronic type, that took as much as five minutes to get your temperature. There were not enough to go around. Nurses would have to come and borrow one from different rooms. They would have to go from room to room to get regular supplies. The intravenous pumps were old and not operating properly, and there were more required. I believe the staff were definitely understaffed, and I was informed while I was there that sometimes there was one nurse for as many as ten patients. This is very dangerous especially in an acute care situation. I only hope that the nurses can continue under the stress and strain they are working under. I wonder if the Minister of Health can confirm that the food given to the patients is brought in from Nova Scotia, frozen, and then microwaved here to save money? I believe it is suppose to be cheaper.

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

MR. J. BYRNE: By leave.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Go ahead. By leave.

MR. J. BYRNE: I will not take too much longer. I, personally, did not eat the food. Most of the time I could not identify what was on the tray. I could pretty well be sure of the teabags. I was really lucky myself because I had been living around St. John's and could have food brought in. I had Ches's brought in, I had a moose stew brought in, I had a rabbit dinner brought in, but many patients could not, patients from Labrador or patients from all over the Province. I say to some of the members opposite, and maybe some on this side, if you are planning on going on a diet some time that is the place to go. Could we not create some jobs here by having food prepared as they do at the Janeway? Are we losing jobs in this Province because the food is being brought in? I would like for the minister to confirm that. Wouldn't it be better for the patients to know what they were eating?

I could speak about the cleanliness in the hospital, but one point I would like to make - in the hospital rooms themselves, the private rooms or whatever, the carpets on the floor are ridiculous. I wouldn't dare walk on the carpets without wearing my slippers, and that is a fact.

I notice that up on the fourth floor here, there are going to be a lot of new carpets going down. Maybe we should move over some of the new carpet that is being taken up and put back some of the newer carpet.

Mr. Chairman, I am not complaining about my stay in the hospital because I thank god for the success of my stay in the Health Sciences Centre, and the care I received from the doctors and nurses and staff there. I speak about this today to inform the members opposite, and in particular, the Premier and the Minister of Health, of one person's views on the effect the cutbacks are having on the health care system in this Province.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

You can't hear a word the member is saying - not a word - and somebody might be interested in it, so keep it down a little bit.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I sincerely hope that none of the members opposite will have to go to hospital for anything of a serious nature. I would suggest that they contact people in the health care system and get the real story of what is going on.

I have heard the Minister of Health saying that the health care system in this Province is definitely improving. Well, I have another story for the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: What should we do with the food situation?

MR. J. BYRNE: What can we do with the food situation? Well, first of all, to bring food in from another province, that has been prepared, frozen and brought in here and microwaved, I think - I mean, we are talking about jobs being created here in the Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: Is that a fact?

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Well I would like the minister to confirm that. I heard that while I was in hospital, from the different staff there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: What did he say?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) hospital when you're half asleep.

MR. J. BYRNE: At least, when I was in hospital, I might have had reason to be half asleep. When I am sitting in the House of Assembly I don't be half asleep, though.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, health care is definitely not improving in this Province, and I repeat that.

While I am on my feet, I would like to say a few words about the government's proposal to the nurses this year. I believe government's proposal to the nurses' union was designed expressly to make a deal impossible to reach. Government's opening package seeks a reduction in nurses' pensions, elimination of severance, reduction in sick leave benefits, and reduction in benefits paid to injured nurses. Government wants to be able to lay off permanent employees and replace them with temporary staff.

Government is attacking the existing agreement on some non-monetary issues as well, such as a casual employee who gets sick could lose her or his job. Nurses who run for President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses Union could actually be forced to resign. By doing this they are certainly weakening the union, and fewer people would be available to run for that position.

The government is proposing drastic cuts in vacation entitlement. Government is proposing changes to shift work from eight-hour and twelve-hour down to four and ten-hour shifts. Government wants to order nurses back from summer vacation, and government wants to extend vacation period over an entire year, maybe causing nurses to take their summer vacation in mid-winter - not good stuff.

This government has been slashing health care services for five years and in so doing, I believe, undermining the morale and effectiveness of our health care professionals. It is time for a new approach to public sector bargaining that respects nurses for the tremendous good they do, and other civil servants for the good work that they do also.

Mr. Chairman, all 600,000 of us living in Newfoundland have benefitted in some way from the debt this Province owes. We have benefitted in many ways from visiting the doctor, visiting the hospital, driving over our roads, to turning on the tap water. That is how we all have benefitted. Therefore, Mr. Chairman, I believe this administration has gone to the well too often, namely, the teachers, the nurses, NAPE, CUPE, and what have you. If government is hell-bent on eliminating this debt in a few short years, they must find ways to evenly distribute the burden to all Newfoundlanders who are in a position to carry that burden.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: Should we contract out food services?

MR. J. BYRNE: Should we contract out food services? Well, first of all, I would like to know the facts and figures on the difference, but I know one thing, the food that is being received is ridiculous, and even if it does cost a few extra bucks in this Province to provide food to patients in hospital, maybe - just maybe - the patients themselves will get out of hospital a little bit sooner, therefore reducing the cost on the other end.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a few comments. This afternoon I would like to direct my comments in particular to the Minister of Health. The minister has had some knowledge for a while that I have a particular interest in bicycle helmets and safety and that I wanted to direct some comments to the minister to encourage him to adopt a program that will encourage all bicyclists to wear helmets, and that in his budget there should be some provision made for increased expenditures in the area of a healthy public policy.

Mr. Chairman, all departments of government are interested in creating a healthy public policy. I'm sure that all of the ministers are aware that money that is spent to create policies that are pro-active and that keep people out of hospital or away from the need for medical services, these policies are to be encouraged.

I wanted to particularly talk about the bicyclists and the need for children, in particular, to wear helmets. In my research on that I've had contact with the Canadian Medical Association, the British Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the Janeway Hospital, and most of the provinces. In fact, I have quite a lot of background literature. I want to draw the attention of the minister to what is happening in this Province in the Janeway Hospital.

For example, at the Janeway in 1992-1993, there were forty-five admissions, children who were severely injured, resulting from bicycle accidents. Twenty-three of these admissions were with head injuries, and the rest, of course, were from injuries to other parts of their bodies.

Mr. Chairman, in the Janeway, between 1990 and 1992, there were 616 people treated at the emergency department for non-motor vehicle injuries. One-third of these were head injuries. In the Province, between 1986 and 1991, there were 886 admissions for motor vehicle-related injuries that would have been injuries resulting from bicycles - that would have been people age nineteen and under.

There are some facts we should note about the need for a public education program with a focus on children and bicycle helmets. Bicycle helmets have proven to be 88 per cent effective in reducing the severity of head injuries, yet head injuries continue to be the primary cause of death in 70 per cent to 80 per cent of all bicycle fatalities. One-third of all victims of bicycle accidents treated in emergency rooms have head injuries. Two-thirds of all victims of bicycle accidents admitted to hospital have head injuries. The risk of bicycle-related injuries is highest among children, and bicycle injuries are a major cause of trauma in children. A study done says that of the eighteen industrialized nations, the highest rate of bicycle accident in children ages five to fourteen years occurs in Canada. I will repeat that. Of eighteen industrialized nations, the highest rate of bicycle accidents to children ages five to fourteen years occurs in Canada.

In Canada, in the last number of years, in 1991 there were 130 bicycle fatalities in this country. In 1988, 124. In 1987, 113 bicycle fatalities. Now, Mr. Chairman, what we are seeing here is that we have a tremendous need in this Province and in the country in general for someone to take an initiative to try to do what they can to reduce the risk that children face simply by riding a bicycle. It can be shown that bicycle safety and the promotion of bicycle safety can be a tremendous cost saving measure to the Department of Health. For example, a good public education policy by the Minister of Health, directed at children and parents can certainly result in the probability of fewer children being injured. One only has to look at the medical cost of having a child in the Janeway Hospital in St. John's here for a matter of weeks or months, then look at that and say, well, maybe if we had been a little pro-active in encouraging children to wear helmets we might have been able to prevent some of these injuries.

Mr. Chairman, in a study done by Dr. Robert Cushman and Dr. Jonathan Down, in Ontario, in a paper presented in 1989 at the Canadian Paediatric Society meetings in Halifax, they said that to assess the magnitude of the problem and to identify the contributing factors they used a questionnaire and they came up with some very alarming data. Their primary focus was at the children's hospital of Eastern Ontario, that's in Ottawa, and they did their data collection between May 1 and September 1, 1988. It was completed for 517 of the 568 children that were treated. In other words, a 91 per cent participation. Seven per cent of those who were treated were boys and the mean age was 9.5 years. Only 2 per cent of the children with head injuries who were treated were wearing helmets; 13 per cent, however, of the children claimed to have ownership of a bicycle helmet.

Now, Mr. Chairman, we should do all we can to encourage children to wear helmets. I am calling upon the minister today to include in his departmental budget some greater measures to adopt a safety program so that we can be pro-active. I know the minister is very much aware of the fact that we should, as a government and as a society, become a lot more active in encouraging people to adopt measures that will, in the end, promote their own safety.

AN HON. MEMBER: You're reading that.

MR. HODDER: No, Sir, I'm not reading it, because it takes up about an inch of files here and I'm trying to put into a speech of ten minutes what has taken months to gather.

Mr. Chairman, in this country, in the last years, we're averaging 100 children dying every year because of bicycle accidents. Now, I don't know what we should be doing in particular but I think one thing we can do is encourage all parents to have their children wear helmets at all times. In fact, the minister over there - this is an issue for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation because bicycles are listed under the highway traffic act and therefore he should be interested in their governance. So, this is an issue for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation as well. Mr. Chairman, I will read from the pamphlet here -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The member's time has elapsed.

MR. HODDER: I will continue at another time, Mr. Chairman.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I say to the hon. member that I don't have to stand up here and read; I think if I can recite a few things that I know in the short, little time I have been in politics. I have seen lots of concerns out there and I don't have any problem at all addressing the people here and letting them know some of the concerns that are out there and maybe the hon. member instead of sitting in the House shouting back and forth, might be able to check on the snowploughs and his sanders to make sure that we are not going to be involved in some accidents here today.

However, Mr. Chairman, I rise to speak on the Interim Supply Bill, and I find it discouraging when I see so many people get up to speak and talk about other issues and not address the unemployment problems that we are finding in rural Newfoundland today, and I know that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation's district is no different from mine or any other rural Newfoundland district, when we talk about people who have been displaced and are out there today without hope of finding a job, and a lot of times it seems that their concerns are not being addressed here in this House. At one time, Mr. Chairman, many of our people were working, especially in the summer months. They were going to work in the fish plants and they were getting on board their fishing boats and earning a very good living and when they would get off work or come ashore, whatever the case might be, we would find them going out and catering to the local businesses in the area, especially the local grocery stores.

I found it very disturbing when I was in my district on Saturday night attending a function and this gentleman approached me and stated that his family had been in business for twenty-seven years, Mr. Chairman, twenty-seven years in the grocery store business, and now they find themselves out of business altogether, and they are kind of putting it on not only the local economy, but also a situation where so many people are out there today unemployed and with so much time on their hands that they are taking their business and are making an outing and going to other areas to spend their money.

Not only that, Mr. Chairman, just a few short years ago or a few short months ago if I am correct, that those local businesses also had the opportunity to tender on groceries provided to the local health care complex. At one time the list went out and everybody in the town had an opportunity to put in a tender and many, many times he would get his fair share of it. Now, he found, Mr. Chairman, that he doesn't have the opportunity to do that anymore, that most of the business that is carried out by the local health care complex and the hospital is done without having a chance to tender on it whatsoever, and it is brought in by a big transport truck. I suppose it saves us money in the long run, that we probably can purchase the goods a little cheaper but I am not so sure what it is doing to our local Newfoundland economy.

Also, at one time, Mr. Chairman, when our people were looking for work and it was unable to be found here in the Province, we could go and access work in other provinces and if we had a confirmation that that job was available, and we had the skills to fill that job, then we could take our concerns to the local UI office or the local Canada Manpower Centre known today as a Human Resource Development Office, and they would issue us mobility allowance to go and access that job and many Newfoundlanders would go and they would work and work diligently until the job was finished and then they would return home again. That today is also taken from us, Mr. Chairman.

I had an occasion the other day to find out the frustrations of a constituent of mine who had a job up in Alberta, didn't have enough contributions to get UI, his parents couldn't afford to let him go up and access the job, so I decided I would check in and see if the mobility allowance was still in existence, only to find that it wasn't, it had disappeared and here was a situation where this young gentleman was being deprived of a chance to leave this Province and go out and take part in meaningful work, get off the rolls of unemployment and social assistance, and still, there is nothing there to get him from point A to point B. I think that was a good plan, Mr. Chairman, and I would urge anybody in the power process, especially on the government side of the House who may be able to convince their federal counterparts to make sure that this is included again, to allow our young people to come and -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I know, Mr. Chairman, that it sounds so good coming from me that the hon. member must feel that I had taken all night to put it together, but those are the facts and I am sure the hon. member has been faced with them as well.

Mr. Chairman, one of the most regressive taxes in the world, that the hon. member on the other side supports, the payroll tax, I would urge every member on the other side to lobby whoever they can in the Cabinet making process, in the Cabinet process, in the decision-making process, to make sure that this payroll tax is eliminated. It is a tax on jobs. It is the most regressive tax that we could ever, ever hope to have in this Province.

I don't think we have the luxury of going out and putting a tax on jobs, when we find our unemployment levels that are put forward today at about 20 per cent, but in essence I am sure that we all know that they are much, much higher than that.

Severance pay, another issue of contention for many civil servants that are out there today. School teachers, as well as hospital workers and other people who have gone out and worked, and did a good job in what they were doing, looked forward to a retirement when they could retire and have severance pay as part of their retirement, now they find that has been taken from them. It has been taken from them and they have been forced to retire without any dignity, and to leave their employer, after thirty years, without being part of the retirement process and have all the good things that would happen during retirement there for them.

In the case of the school teachers it is a situation where students are suffering as well, especially when you find some of those teachers who are teaching advanced math and other subjects where school educators are not readily found today.

Mr. Chairman, I suppose probably one of the most frustrating things a person can find when they go out and try to access government funding in order to help them create jobs, or get into private enterprise, is the run around they get from having to go from one department to another.

AN HON. MEMBER: Too many bureaucrats.

MR. FITZGERALD: Too many bureaucrats, the hon. member is 100 per cent right. What you will find is that it is a continuation that you go from community futures to rural development to Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador to the fisheries alternative program, and the list goes on.

I don't know why we would have to have all those government departments all there doing the same thing, and giving us the same answers, when we could have one stop shopping. If we are entitled to a government grant or a government loan, then let's do that.

Right now if somebody was going to go out and access government money to start an enterprise in order to create some employment, the first thing he would have to do is to be unemployed or on the NCARP funding package in order to have the time to put into accessing government loans.

I think the people on the other side, if there is one thing the government of the day is guilty of more than anything other, is the fact of not consulting people. We look for all kinds of ways to save money, and there are all kinds of ways out there. We all realize where we are finding ourselves today, in a cash-strapped economy, and we can continue to place blame on other governments and other people, but that doesn't get us anywhere. I think it is about time we got away from placing blame, and looking at some of the positive things that we can do to try to create a more vibrant economy and get our people back to work.

We have to consult people. If we are going to save money in the educational department, or in the Department of Health, let's go out and talk with people. Let's go out and talk with people who work in the hospitals. Let's go out and talk with the educators in our schools.

Mr. Chairman, those people, I am sure, can show us all kinds of ways where we can save money without laying people off, but it seems like the government of today is happy to sit in an office in St. John's and decide that they are going to lay off ten people here, and twenty people somewhere else, and roll back people's wages. They will not, and I don't know for what reason, but they will not go out and consult people and talk with people.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman.

I have just a few remarks in the Interim Supply debate which is pretty wide-ranging, I must say, listening to members.

AN HON. MEMBER: Too wide-ranging.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to the Chairman, that I listened with great interest to the Member for St. John's East Extern talking about his own situation, about health care, and about how we can create some jobs in the Province. Then to the Member for Bonavista South who has some very legitimate concerns about things out and about the Province, concerns of employment, and people who have potential jobs and have not been able to access mobility allowance to get to the site of the job and so on. It is pretty wide-ranging, Mr. Chairman. Then some people as well are concerned about the state of our highways today. I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that our highways are in a terrible state again today, Mr. Chairman. Police are issuing alerts about the conditions of the highway.

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I say to the minister that he should be more active, Mr. Chairman. Instead of being in here casting slurs and so on at members speaking, suggesting they are reading their speeches, and telling them they do not know what they are talking about, the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation with only a few days left in the fiscal year -

MR. TOBIN: Do they only clear the snow in Liberal districts?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, that is what he said. He said they only do salting and sanding in Liberal districts. Now, maybe the alerts that the police have issued are for districts other than Liberal districts, I say to the minister. I do not know. But, pardon the pun, but if he was worth his salt he would find out. I say if you were worth your salt, if the minister was worth his salt, since he is not going to spread his salt, then he should find out where the problems are in the Province and immediately get onto his officials to call the highway depots that are effected by this snow and ice out there, these freezing conditions, and tell them to get the equipment out on the roads and make the highways safe for the people of the Province.

MR. EFFORD: I have done that.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well, I say to the minister he should not be flippant. This is a serious concern.

MR. EFFORD: I am serious.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, I know you are serious but anytime we have a situation in this Province where the highway conditions deteriorate to such a point that the police -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: But I say to the minister that he was going to change all that.

MR. EFFORD: I did.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: The minister is just shallow, hollow, promises again. He changed nothing. That minister has made it worse.

Mr. Chairman, I listened with great interest to the Member for St. John's North who is not in his seat right now. He is talking to my colleague for Burin - Placentia West saying that we should deal with him factually. Well, I tell the member now that I will deal with him factually.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You go right ahead. The member made a nice remark this afternoon, that an overwhelming majority of the people in St. John's North are in favour of the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Based on my polls.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You called them personally, I say to the Member for St. John's North. He took twenty-five people on seventeen streets in St. John's North and he called them himself. It is like the Premier calling the people on the petition and saying: did you sign the petition? It is the same principle. The Premier called up people on the petition and said: did you sign that petition? Oh, no, Premier it is a mistake, I did not sign it. Who thought the Premier of the Province would be calling them up and asking if they signed a petition, I say to the member, anymore than anyone in his district would expect him to call them up, hello, I am Lloyd Matthews, your MHA, do you agree with the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro? Oh, no, Mr. Matthews, I do not agree with that.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I told them all I was Bill.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: You did not tell them you were Bill or they would have all said yes. They are opposed to it, I say to the member. I will tell you what happened now, Mr. Chairman, with part of the polling ongoing in the District of St. John's North. As of a few minutes ago, Mr. Chairman, they are 62 per cent against in the District of St. John's North. There are 62 per cent against. Of a random sample of forty-two people contacted, 62 per cent are against, 11 per cent are for, and 26 per cent say they are undecided for various reasons, including they don't have enough information, I say to the Member for St. John's North.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: We are talking St. John's North now, I say to the Government House Leader, where, just a few minutes ago, the member said there was such overwhelming support for privatization. So I wanted to -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Anyway, I just want to say to the member now, since he made such a revelation, I just want to correct and tell him the truth. Twenty-six out of forty-two against, five out of forty-two for privatization, and eleven out of forty-two undecided, I say to the member.

MR. TOBIN: How many were for it?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Five - 11 per cent for the privatization of Hydro, in the member's district.

A very simple question. You couldn't be confused about the question. The question was: Hello, I am doing a poll on the issue of the privatization of Newfoundland Hydro, and I have only one question for you. Do you think Hydro should be privatized? Agree? Disagree?

You can't mix that up. It is a very straightforward question, I say to the member. Sixty-two per cent - five people out of forty-two said they were in favour.

Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to let the member know that you can't get up in this House and make statements that are unfounded. You have to be level and honest with members of this House. If not, you will be revealed in due course, like the line `due course'. You will be revealed in due course, I say to members opposite.

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

MR. L. MATTHEWS: With the greatest of respect for the name you carry, sir, I have to challenge the validity of the information you are now dispersing.

Let me challenge the Member for Grand Bank to produce the names, the phone numbers, of the forty-two people, and I will give you the twenty-five that I have.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. L. MATTHEWS: My poll is valid. The `G' in between Lloyd and Matthews in my name stands for Gallop. You should know that, and the poll is valid, it is factual, and I would challenge the member to provide me with names and numbers and I will give him mine, and we will see who is telling the truth on the issue.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please! There is no point of order.

The hon. the Opposition House Leader.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for ruling there is no point of order. I say to the Member for St. John's North that the `G', I would suggest, in his name, stands for goofy, like his poll, goofy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to the member, I don't rise to give false information. This is accurate, right off the press, I say to the member, because it is continuing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say to the Government House Leader, the polling is continuing today, which we started Friday, and there is not much change in it all, I must say. It is holding true to fact. There is over 80 per cent, 87.1 per cent, as of this morning, of the decided voters were opposed to it. When you factor in the undecided and everything else in the poll, it is pretty much in line with the VOCM poll which was done this morning and which, I am sure, will be substantiated tonight when the authority of authorities on polling takes to the airwaves about 10:30, the friend of my friend for St. John's South -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, I say it will be another indication, and if hon. members are naive enough not to listen, to pay heed, to pay attention -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Oh, I'm not. I tell them, I am not naive. I listen to the people. I have always listened to the people, I say to the member. I have always listened to the people, and I can tell them that in my district, on the sample that was done, there was only one person who was found in favour of privatization on the sample that was done in the District of Grand Bank, one person.

AN HON. MEMBER: One?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: One. Four were undecided.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Well that could very well be, I say to the member but -

AN HON. MEMBER: What about all the other people?

MR. W. MATTHEWS: One smart person down there. So what are you saying the rest who said they were opposed are not smart?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I can identify with what the member is saying because when 62 per cent of his district are against and he thinks he's the only smart one because he's for it, then I can sort of tie his logic into why he's thinking the one in my district, who is in favour of Hydro, is the smart one and all the others who are opposed to it are not so smart, I say to him. That's kind of reverse logic, I say to the member. They always say that two heads are better than one and thirty heads are certainly better than one, I say to the member. So that doesn't surprise me, the Member for St. John's North thinks he's smarter then all the rest of the people -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: By leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I was hoping they would have given leave to my colleague but now that you didn't, I just want to continue from where he left off, Mr. Chairman, and that is when you've got members coming into this House and talking about polls that were being done in their districts - what we're saying is that we've done internal polls where we do it from our office, make no mistake about that, Mr. Chairman, but the Member for St. John's North talked about a poll that he had done - John?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: And I say to the Minister of Justice the results are very large.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Overwhelming, Mr. Chairman - no, Mr. Chairman, there's no more leave.

Now, Mr. Chairman, the results are overwhelming, I say to the member but in any case the Member for St. John's North talked about a poll. He got up and did a poll, Mr. Chairman, and now we find out that the poll is: hello, this is your MHA for St. John's North, I do support the privatization of Hydro, do you agree? Now that's the poll he did, Mr. Chairman, then he came in here and said that he had this scientific poll done. There is such a thing, I'd say to the Member for St. John's North, of being a little bit honest. So he should try to be at least a little bit honest. The fact of the matter is there were forty-two calls made at random to your district this afternoon and five out of the forty-two supported the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.

Now how can the Member for St. John's North sit in his seat and say two-and-a-half to one support the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Now if that's the way that you think you're going to represent your constituents - that's about the equivalent of the Member for St. George's, that's about the same as the Member for St. George's, Mr. Chairman. We'll tell him, Mr. Chairman, what's going on in his district too, I'd say to the Member for St. George's, because the two of them are over there plotting every day not to - I can't say not to tell the truth in this House but they're over there and they're not being totally honest. The Member for St. John's North is probably the leader in that regard in this legislature of not being totally honest, I say to him.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Not true, not true.

MR. TOBIN: It is true. If there's anyone in this House, Mr. Chairman, that is not totally honest is the Member for St. John's North.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You said today that you had a scientific poll and it's leading two-and-a-half to one. Now out of forty-two calls, five in your district supported the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. Mr. Chairman, that's the type of information we're getting -

AN HON. MEMBER: Interim Supply.

MR. TOBIN: Interim Supply, and then you get the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation standing up in the House this afternoon and saying that he is only going to put salt and sand on Liberal roads. Mr. Chairman, the Premier talks about fairness and balance, what about the roads that are not Liberal, are they going to get salt and sand? Just a second -

MR. SULLIVAN: The Liberal roads are slippery, Nick said.

MR. TOBIN: No, Mr. Chairman, but there is one thing I will say, if the member - no, I can't say that, that is not nice, I can't say that. Now, Mr. Chairman, I am not sure if something had happened this afternoon that the Premier would have to resign or not, but I see the Member for Gander has taken his seat.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: We realize that the Premier said if Hydro is not privatized he is going to resign -

MR. SIMMS: He had better say it now, the way things are.

MR. TOBIN: Oh, he most certainly did say that. Look, this is what the Premier said: If I have caused this process to be destroyed because of the manner in which I have handled or mishandled it, depending on whose judgement you accept on the matter, then I would not stay on as Premier of this Province. I would feel honour bound to resign and I would do so.

Well, Mr. Chairman, if there is anyone in this Province who thinks that the Premier handled this mess properly, well then, I would like to meet him or her, because - The Member for St. John's South thinks he handled it properly. But I would not be surprised that the Member for Gander, Mr. Chairman, is behind some kind of a coup; but, Mr. Chairman, Interim Supply is something the Minister of Finance wants, there is no doubt about that, but he hasn't answered any of the questions that we have been asking.

We have been asking time -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) question.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I will ask the question now then. I will ask the question now: How much money has the advertising campaign, to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro cost the rate payers or the taxpayers of this Province? That's an answer we want before we vote on Interim Supply. Every time you turn on the radio, Mr. Chairman, the reason for privatization - how much money is it costing the taxpayers?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SIMMS: The Upper Churchill is a thousand Sprungs, by the way.

MR. TOBIN: Oh no, I am not going to make any excuses for Sprung, but I can tell you one thing, I would suspect there are a lot of you over there who like cucumbers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: That is the question I want the Minister of Finance to answer, or the Minister of Mines and Energy - to stand up and tell us how much money the promotional campaign is costing, the ad campaign to privatize Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. I think that is a fair question.

The Minister of Mines and Energy, Mr. Chairman, if I could get the Minister of Mines and Energy's attention for a moment. Or is he doing crossword puzzles, too? I would ask the minister -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: No, the Minister of Mines and Energy, I would suspect, is reading something, it is a press statement of something that was said. Anyway, I would like for the minister to tell me -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I wish they would all leave except yourself, myself and the Minister of Mines and Energy.

I want the Minister of Mines and Energy - now that I have his attention and he can hear what I'm saying, and that he is not being drowned out, I would like for the minister to tell me how much money Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is spending on ad campaigns regarding the privatization of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. I would also like the Minister of Mines and Energy to tell me how much money Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro paid to all of the people who gave them advice - the lawyers, the legal profession, all of the financial institutions that were involved in giving advice. I would like for him to give me that information. I would like for the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Mines and Energy to tell me how much money the government has spent on privatization.

Mr. Chairman, I tell members opposite that I am not prepared to see - and we are not prepared to see -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are not the boss over there.

MR. TOBIN: I tell you, I can speak for our Leader on this one; we are not prepared to approve interim supply until such time as these questions are answered. Is that right?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is right.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, we are not prepared to -

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I say to the Member for Eagle River, I hope I'm not as transparent as he is. The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation told us a few minutes ago there were seventy-nine foreign trawlers on the Grand Banks today. If that was six months ago, the Member for Eagle River would be on it like a blabbermouth, but he hasn't opened his mouth since.

MR. SIMMS: Him and George Baker.

MR. TOBIN: Him and George Baker - seventy-nine trawlers on the Grand Banks, Mr. Chairman.

MR. DUMARESQUE: (Inaudible), too.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, in ninety days, Brian Tobin said.

I say to the Member for Eagle River, there could be 2,000 on the Grand Banks and you, Sir, will not open your mouth because you sold yourself, you sold your constituents, and you sold your Province, to be able to go up and talk to Brian Tobin. That is what you have done.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Good. It will do him well.

MR. CAREEN: He spent more time out in Placentia than he did in his own district.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, and I have to tell the House this: I met the Member for Eagle River one day during the by-election in Placentia. We were going to a Public Accounts Committee Meeting, and he said: I can't be there too long because I have to go out and campaign in Placentia. I asked: `Danny', who is paying your way, the Liberals or `Nick'?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I think `NIck' paid his way. There is no doubt about that.

MR. EFFORD: Why don't you sit down?

MR. TOBIN: Yes, Mr. Chairman, in another minute or so I will do what I am supposed to do, I say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, and I hope he will do what he is supposed to do, go out and get his people working so that the RCMP won't be issuing alerts today.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Yes, highway warnings.

MR. TOBIN: I think you heard the warning. They've got truck out there, have they? I thought they were all chasing - the only one I know from Port de Grave, and he drives a car - he is after spending more time off the road than he has on it - that's the minister.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Move that the Committee rise.

MR. TOBIN: Yes, I think I will.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. ROBERTS: All I want to say is that, overwhelmed by the exuberance by my friend, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, I move that the Committee rise, report a great deal of progress, and ask leave to sit again.

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

MR. SPEAKER (Dicks): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee on Supply have considered the matters to them referred, wish to report some progress, and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, we were, of course, glad to see you as always. With that said, may I move that the House at its rising adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m., and that the House do now adjourn.

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