December 1, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLII  No. 67


The House met at 9:00 a.m.

MR. SPEAKER (L. Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

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

I would like to take this opportunity to ask hon. members to join me in acknowledging World AIDS Day today. The theme this year is Shared Rights - Shared Responsibilities. Persons living with AIDS have the right to appropriate care and support and the right to be treated with dignity and without discrimination. Each of us has a responsibility to be well-informed about HIV and AIDS so that we may protect ourselves and others from infection, while lending support and understanding to individuals and families coping with the reality of AIDS.

I am very pleased to report today that we have seen a significant decline in the number of new HIV cases reported this year. This is a reflection of the prevention and education initiatives carried out in the community by various partners in the health system.

Today also gives me the opportunity to provide an update on some of the ongoing initiatives with respect to HIV and AIDS in the Province. In December of 1993, government announced a comprehensive HIV/AIDS strategy directed at three key areas: prevention and education, testing and treatment, and care and home support. Since that time the Department of Health, Community Health Boards, other government departments, communities, advocacy groups and health organizations have worked together to implement the recommendations of the provincial strategy.

Various educational resources have been produced and widely distributed. Information sessions have been given to teachers, students, parents, peer educators, community groups as well as in various workplaces. New curriculum has also been implemented in schools. Resources are being developed for use in the home, the school and in the community. Community Health Boards in each region offer HIV testing as well as pre- and post-test counselling. The Community Health Boards are also working very closely with hospitals, health professionals and advocacy groups in each region to ensure that appropriate treatments and community supports are available to persons living with HIV and AIDS and to their families.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all individuals and organizations for their ongoing efforts in implementing the recommendations of the provincial strategy. I ask all hon. members to join with me in acknowledging those efforts and offering continued support to HIV and AIDS awareness initiatives throughout the Province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I certainly rise to indicate that this is important, and Shared Rights - Shared Responsibilities is a very appropriate theme. People with HIV and AIDS have rights the same as the rest of us and we have responsibilities to ensure that they get the proper care and the proper treatment that is needed. Most important areas are prevention and the education process and I think we have made tremendous strides in the past few years in that prevention and education aspect. Back to the mid-1980s when the passing of the virus by improperly screened blood - we all know the implications of what has arisen since that time and I think it is important that we become more cognizant and assist in every effort. I hope that the Department of Health will see the importance of giving Community Health Boards the necessary funds to be able to continue this prevention and promotion so that we can avoid the transmission of HIV, the AIDS virus in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John's East. Does he have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to join with the minister and the health critic in the Opposition in recognizing World AIDS Day. In this Province there is a growing awareness amongst people about the dangers of HIV infection and AIDS. It has come into the forefront and out of the back rooms and the untalked-about areas of society, but we do have still a continuing obligation to redouble our efforts to provide proper support and care to those who are suffering from the disease. The government's cutbacks in home care and home support services are a danger, especially for people suffering from AIDS who have a great need of home support services when the disease becomes serious. So, I ask the government to reconsider its cutbacks in those areas as it affects people seriously.

MR. SPEAKER: Before we move on to Oral Questions, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome to the gallery, on behalf of all members, a group of students from Eugene Vaters Collegiate in St. John's.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Oral Questions

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

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

My question is for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation regarding the Bell Island ferry rate increases.

Considering the demonstration yesterday - the galleries were full -and the demonstration today at the ferry docks, and noting the resolve of the people of Bell Island, upon reflection, has the minister reconsidered these unfair rate hikes?

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

MR. EFFORD: No, Mr. Speaker, I have not, because what I did, as minister, was, I made a recommendation to government and government made a decision based on reasonable fare rates for all the people who live in isolated communities on the Island portion of the Province of Newfoundland, where I have a responsibility as minister, to put a reasonable, fair rate in place. In the case of Bell Island, it seems extremely hard on Bell Island, and I understand that; I understand what the people are saying, because on the basis from which they started to these recent increases, it was a very, very low rate on Bell Island compared to the rates in the rest of the Province.

The minimum rate on Fogo Island was $4.75, the same on St. Brendan's Island, but the minimum rate for a car and a passenger on Bell Island was $1.75. So we used a base rate, based on, from the island to the mainland in all the ferry rates, depending on the distance. But there had to be a base rate and an extra 20 percent for the distance travelled, the nautical miles travelled.

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

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

Mr. Minister, the Premier stated that Cabinet will review the new rates today. Will the minister tell the House, the stand he will be taking at that meeting? Will he be sympathetic to the concerns of Bell Islanders? Does he now understand the impact on Bell Islanders, that these unfair and high rates are the death-knell for Bell Island? Will he fight for a decrease in the rates for the Bell Island ferry, and what is it going to take?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER WELLS: Mr. Speaker, no minister will ever tell the House what stand he is going to take in Cabinet, so I am sure the hon. member didn't really intend that question, because he knows it can't be answered in that way. But what I should tell the House and I have to tell the House, is, I haven't yet had a chance since yesterday afternoon to meet with the minister to discuss it.

I met with a committee to explain to them exactly the basis on which government proceeded, and I did, and I must say there are few meetings that I have had since I have been in this office that have been more direct, more understanding and more pleasant, and I enjoyed the meeting. They also fully understood what government was doing; they told me that they agreed that everybody should be treated equally, everybody in the Province, they are not asking for a privileged position for Bell Island so, one man said -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

PREMIER WELLS: That's right. One man said, treat everybody the same, have a fixed percentage increase across the board. Then, when I explained to him that if you had an excessively low rate first, and others had an excessively high, a percentage increase across the board, simply makes a bad matter worse for the person with the high rate, and continues a privilege for the person with the low rate. They agreed and understood, but what the individual did say to me that caused me to undertake to ask Cabinet to have a look at it - if the members would just be quiet it would be easier for me to explain it, because I think the member asked his question sincerely. What he did say is: Okay, Premier, we understand that, and perhaps we have been spoiled - now I am quoting him; those are his exact words - perhaps we have been spoiled with these low rates but, Premier, if you are going to jump the ferry rates generally by this much, but you jump ours on Bell Island by this much, it is hard to take all at once. You should consider, that is the extent to which you are treating Bell Island differently than others. You are making a massive change all at once, even though you can make a logical argument that the change should be made.

I said to the committee: You have made a point that requires fair consideration. I emphasize that I cannot stop the rates tomorrow morning - I am one person of fourteen in Cabinet; that will go - but I advised the members of the committee that Cabinet would be meeting today and I would be bringing their proposal to Cabinet for consideration, but I also assured them that did not mean that it would necessarily be made, but Cabinet would be made fully aware of the position that they made.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

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

I would say to the Premier that all of the rationalizing in the world does not justify this situation.

For my final supplementary I would like to go to the Minister of Education. Mr. Minister, both Bell Island ferries this morning were tied up at 7:30 a.m. The people are demonstrating there at this time. There are seventy-five students at the Cabot College on Bell Island. Some have exams today. One student in particular told me that he has to put five loonies on his bedpost on Sunday nights for transportation to Bell Island on the ferry. He has a signed rental lease in St. John's. For him the increased rate will cost an extra $450 after Christmas, which he does not have. He waited five years to get into the course. He does not have this money, Mr. Minister, and upwards of thirty-five students at the Cabot College may have to quit. Where do you suggest that these students get the money? Do you realize you are forcing students, with this rate increase, to quit school? That is the reality of the situation.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, when a student applies to any institution in this Province - well, in some cases, in very few cases in this Province a student does have his own money, so that is a different cases, but where students do not have the money, I would assume the hypothetical situation if it is -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Or the real situation that the hon. member is talking about, I don't know the details of it, is a person who doesn't have the money.

The way that works with the system, when a student is going to an institution and you don't have the money, then you apply to one of the best student loan systems in all the world. When you apply for that loan you - I assume -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I thought the hon. member asked a question that he wanted an answer to. I didn't realize he wanted to turn this into a shouting match. If that is the problem then I will meet with the hon. member and give him the answer. If he could control his colleagues I will certainly attempt to explain what (inaudible).

The point I'm making is that when a student applies for a student loan all his expenses are taken into consideration. There is an allowance for his food, for his board, for his books, for all the different things. In this specific case when students applied for their student loan to go Bell Island they allowed, and they were given credit for, the expense of getting back and forth to college. There has been a change. The rates have gone up. The ones who are already in the system, if there are a few weeks left, then they can go back and have their student loan re-assessed because there are legitimate additional expenses.

In the new year, if after Cabinet deals with this issue today and there are some changes made, that will be reflected. If there are no changes made, that too will be reflected. So a student puts in all his expenses, and this would be a perfectly legitimate expense which would be considered under the student loan. So I would tell that student that the hon. member is talking about there is no major problem as far as that goes. The process is there to deal with it, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for St. John's East Extern.

MR. J. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Final supplementary to the Minister of Education and Training. Will the Minister of Education and Training confirm that if thirty-five students out of the seventy-five at the Cabot College on Bell Island quit will that be the death-knell or the end of the Cabot College on Bell Island?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, that is a purely hypothetical question. I don't usually answer hypothetical questions.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Justice. Over the last number of weeks all government departments, as has been made public by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and the Premier and other ministers opposite, have been asked to submit proposals where they can make reductions in their department, especially to try to make up for the $60 million shortfall within the next few months for this fiscal year.

Four of the main areas of the minister's department, correctional facilities in the Province, legal aid, RCMP, for example, $40 million a year, RNC some $16 million, not counting administration - that is just salaries and benefits and so on - could the minister tell the House, in particular, are there any reductions considered in those four specific areas?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I think I have probably already said this publicly but I am delighted to repeat it in response to my hon. friend's question. My instructions to my officials, which I assume were the same instructions given to my colleagues, to each of their officials, were to consider all areas of the expenditures for which I am responsible with a view to seeing whether reductions could be made and, if so, what changes would result in service and, as part of the process of deciding, since reductions must be made, where we could achieve these reductions with the least possible negative impact upon either the service or the quality of the service that is provided by the operations for which I am responsible.

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

MR. WOODFORD: A supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

The minister just said that all areas are being considered within his department. Could he be specific on this particular question, and tell the House if the Highway Patrol Division of the RCMP in the Province is one of the considerations, one of the things he is considering for reduction, because this particular area, highway patrol, is one of the biggest revenue generators for the Province - last year almost $9 million, a little over $9 million projected for this year - one of the biggest revenue generators for the Province, and the minister knows why, I guess, because sometimes it becomes a real drag strip. In any case, would the minister be specific. There is some speculation out there that the Highway Traffic Patrol Division of the RCMP will be reduced or done away with.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman has asked me to address his question directly, and I will, but I want to put it in context. One of the about 168 reduction option items that I have seen, my officials have brought forward, involves change in the highway patrol system, but in saying that I do not want to leave any false impression that it is either agreed or not agreed, or that we have singled it out in any way.

As I said a moment or so ago, I have directed my officials to look at all areas, so we have looked at everything from my own office, a vote for my own office, through the police, through the courts, through the adult correction division, through the Legal Aid system, all aspects of the operations for which I am responsible. The other point I would make is that the $9 million which he took from the estimates would reflect the revenues from all fines, not simply highway fines or fines in connection with that, and let me say that we don't operate highway enforcement or any part of the law enforcement system as a revenue-generating operation. The fines are collected because they are imposed by the courts because these are the penalties decided by this House or by Parliament as being appropriate for a breach of the law.

We would be quite happy if nobody broke the law and as a result we got no revenue, we would be quite happy to have that situation as opposed to having a lot of people breaking the law and getting a lot of revenue. These are not revenue-generating options, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the minister would do much in this Province in regards to convincing the rest of the Province, especially drivers on the highway that that's not a revenue generator, and even some members in the House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other areas being considered and there is some speculation in talking to some RCMP detachments around the Province, is a possible amalgamation of certain RCMP detachments in the Province, and under my second supplementary, with regards to the possibility of doing away with the Highway Patrol, the RCMP division, Mr. Speaker, this would be a very, as far as I am concerned, backward step. Along with the measures brought in last year, by the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, it would lower the safety standards, it would have a free for all on the Trans-Canada; the Trans-Canada would become the longest drag strip in North America, Mr. Speaker, so I would say to the minister, that's one particular area he should not touch.

On the amalgamation of the RCMP detachment in the Province, could the minister be specific on that one.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there have been no decisions taken at all. There are, as I said I think from memory, 168 separate options that I have seen. A possible amalgamation of some of the RCMP detachments is one of them, of course it is, and if the hon. gentleman wants to, I could try to get a list of the 167 others. We were looking literally at everything from changing the way in which the courts operate right through the entire spectrum of the operations.

I would say as well, I have not, lest he has picked up in his conversations with RCMP or whomsoever, a wrong impression, I have heard no suggestion that the Highway Patrol operations would be abandoned which seems to be what the hon. gentleman has heard. I certainly have heard suggestions we make changes in them and in every other activity of RCMP activity. I mean, they have a helicopter based in Corner Brook, do they need that? They have an aircraft based primarily in Labrador, do they need that? They have a very large and elaborate new headquarters building here at the White Hills here in St. John's, can we make changes there? It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that I would be a very imprudent minister and my colleagues would be very imprudent in managing the public finances, if we didn't look at every possible option to see what can be done, and that's what we are doing and it has been done with an amazing amount of detail.

I was involved in a discussion last evening where, one option - not an RCMP one - but an option would produce a savings of $6,300 but then the officials pointed out we would incur an extra $6,700 on the other side of the ledger because extra costs would be incurred if we withdrew that particular service and so I said: Well, don't do it, it makes no sense, so we passed on to the next item but there has been a great deal of analysis done by my officials and all the officials -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: - under the direction of the Treasury Board.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Humber Valley, on a supplementary.

MR. WOODFORD: A final supplementary, Mr. Speaker.

Could the minister tell the House if his department has given any consideration to the introduction of photo-radar in the Province?

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

MR. ROBERTS: I don't know what anybody in the department may or may not have done and what the police may or may not have done, but I can say that nobody has ever brought that suggestion to me, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A question for the Minister of Natural Resources.

Now that the Hibernia project is getting towards a wind-down phase, could the minister indicate what the government sees as the fate of that major fabrication site at Bull Arm?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Bull Arm site is a great state of the art site for industrial applications and we are certainly hoping that it will be used in the future for other activity related to the offshore and otherwise.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have heard comments or rumours I suppose or whatever, to the effect that people are in looking at the site or have been and will be and that there are possibilities of parts of the facility being sold piecemeal. Are there any plans, at this stage of the game, to basically dismantle or sell in pieces the Bull Arm site or is it the government's intention to keep it whole and intact for some considerable time to see if it is of use in, say Terra Nova or other offshore fields?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, my colleague the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology is the particular minister directly responsible for this site, the management of this site and he has a committee in place that includes representatives of a number of other departments, including mine. We are looking at the promotion of this site for continued usage as an industrial site. We have not reached a decision on that yet. We have been promoting it internationally, I am sure the hon. member himself has seen some of the glossy brochures that have been published in news magazines internationally. We are promoting this site as a place to do the quality of work that is presently being done at Bull Arm. We would prefer to see it done that way and I would love to see the Terra Nova facilities done there.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Green Bay.

MR. HEWLETT: So, Mr. Speaker, is the minister saying then that at this stage of the game the government is not firm, has not made a resolve to keep that site intact for industrial development, offshore related or whatever? That it is indeed a possibility that site may be dismantled, sold piecemeal to industrial users here in the Province or elsewhere in the world?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Natural Resources.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I never said any such thing, that we are looking at dismantling. We are promoting this site as a great state of the art industrial site. We would like to see it continued to be used as it is today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Justice this morning. I will give the Minister of Finance a break for a change - as he does his mini-budget.

I would like to ask the Minister of Justice, we are all aware of the fiasco that has taken place over the last few years dealing with the three health care centres, the Trans City affairs, they have become known and the matter was dealt with by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and was appealed by the government. Can the minister tell us the status of that appeal? Has that process now been completed? What was the final outcome of it?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the appeal was argued, the oral argument took place about a month ago, near the end of October. Their Lordships and her Ladyship, I believe Madame Justice Cameron, was one of the panel who heard the appeal, reserved their decision and that is not unusual. The judges of the court will file their decision when they are ready and that is again, the normal procedure. So I have no way to know. I believe one of the lawyers mentioned to me that the court gave some indication they hoped to be able to file a judgement by the end of this calendar year but we are in the hands of the court. So the process is complete, in so far as the lawyers are concerned and the parties, we are simply awaiting a decision of the court now.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The House knows of course that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation was advised by the Department of Justice some time ago not to appear before the Public Accounts Committee when subpoenaed to do so and as a result of that of course, the work of the Public Accounts Committee has been frustrated. Would the minister tell us: now that the matter has gone through the court process and we are simply waiting for a decision from the three justices of the Supreme Court and if the minister sees any impediment now by the Minister of Transportation and his officials, should they not now appear before the Public Accounts Committee when called?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as soon as the decision is rendered - we anticipate that will be in the very near future - the concerns that I raised, which I earlier expressed in correspondence with my hon. friend from Mount Pearl, would be satisfied. That is not a very long time. I assume the committee will not be meeting in the next couple of weeks, given the schedule the House itself will confront.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is very unlikely in fact that even if we did schedule hearings it would be some time well into the new year before we are able to schedule that on the agenda. So I assume from the ministers answer that there is no reason the committee cannot continue with its work. Can the minister tell us, now that that matter has been resolved, can the minister give us a final cost of what this whole affair cost? We know there was a $3.2 million award made. We are not aware of what legal costs may have been awarded to the defendants. Can you give us an estimate of what the Department of Justice may have spent on salaries and other costs of the lawyers who defended it? As well, I believe, an outside lawyer was retained to argue the appeal for government. Can the minister give us a final cost, or will he give us an undertaking to produce that?

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of questions; let me try to answer each.

First of all, members will realize that the Court of Appeal decision is not in itself final. Either side may seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, but the Court of Appeal process has come to the stage, as I have outlined.

Secondly, there has been no award made of damages. The decision of Judge Orsborn, at first instance, was with respect to liability, and the parties were given leave to apply to the court to resolve the damages issues should they not do it by resolution. Again, that is quite a normal way to deal with such issues. There has been no resolution of the issues, and my recollection, subject to being corrected on checking, is that they are on hold pending the Court of Appeal's decision, because if the Court of Appeal's decision goes one way the issue will be academic, if it goes another way it becomes very present.

Thirdly, I cannot give the information because I do not have it. I can try to get it, insofar as it is available, with respect to the costs. At the trial level the matter was argued by lawyers from my civil division. We did retain outside counsel, Mr. Hutchings from Corner Brook, and Mr. Oakley from St. John's, who argued the matter at the appellate level.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Social Services.

On November 23, I asked the minister questions concerning the ratio of management employees versus non-management employees involved in youth corrections in the Province. When the minister got around to answering me on November 27, she stated that there were sixteen managers in comparison to 265 non-management employees at both the Whitbourne and Pleasantville centres. My first question to the minister is: How many of those 265 non-management employees are on the on-call list for the Whitbourne centre at the present time, and how many non-management employees are needed on a regular twelve-hour shift at the centre? A daily or nightly twelve-hour shift, how many non-management people are needed?

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

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am sorry that I cannot have figures available at all times to answer all of the questions that may come forward; however, I can give him some figures that we have. In youth care workers we have forty-five permanent full-time, twenty-five temporary full-time, eighty-three temporary on call. Social workers, we have one permanent full-time, two temporary full-time. With word processing equipment operators, we have three permanent full-time, one is currently on unpaid leave, four temporary full-time, five temporary on call, called as when required. Nurses, two permanent full-time, one temporary on call -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MS YOUNG: Well, I was giving them information.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS YOUNG: You asked for the information, and you will get it.

Food service workers, we have three permanent full-time, one temporary full-time, fourteen on call temporary, call as and when required, and the total for -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS YOUNG: Cooks, we have three permanent full-time. Utility workers, we have three permanent full-time, one temporary full-time. Equipment operators, we have one permanent full-time. Administrative officer, we have one permanent full-time. Laundry workers, we have one permanent full-time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

AN HON. MEMBER: And the list goes on.

MS YOUNG: And the list goes on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MS YOUNG: Would you like more?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the minister to conclude her answer.

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. MANNING: I congratulate the minister on having answers for me, but the problem is that was not the question I asked. You have the answer for the wrong question.

Mr. Speaker, at the Whitbourne Youth Centre there are approximately fifteen managers versus forty to fifty non-management employees on a daily twelve hour shift. That is the question I asked. I had the answer, I say, Mr. Speaker; I wanted the minister to confirm it.

There are fifteen managers versus forty to fifty non-management employees on a twelve-hour shift. This creates approximately a one to three ratio, far from what the minister stated on November 27, one manager to every sixteen point five employees. In our tough economic times I would like to ask the minister: Does she feel having one manager versus three employees at Whitbourne on a daily twelve-hour shift is in line with this government's so-called fiscal responsibility?

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

MS YOUNG: I'm sort of confused over all of this, because one minute -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MS YOUNG: At one point in time the member was advocating that we did not have enough people out there to do a good job. Now he is asking me to lay off people. Mr. Speaker, I just don't know what he wants. What I want out there is a secure custody that I feel can do the job at the best price possible.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, my mind is made up. There is too much top management I say. On November 27 the minister also referred me to the ongoing study by Dr. Linda Inkpen with possible results available next spring dealing with staffing requirements plus other topics. I would like to ask the minister: Are you going to wait till next spring to close hospital beds? Are you going to wait till next spring to reduce social service payments? Are you going to wait till next spring to increase ferry rates? Then why in the hell are you going to wait till next spring to get your house in order in Whitbourne?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess that he is asking me to lay off people so we can look at it. If that is what he is asking us we can review that but I want to make sure that we have a secure custody that we have confidence in that is being run for the best interest of the young people who are in our care. I'm sorry, I can't go along with the member's suggestion that we reduce services. I think the headlines today should be that the PCs call for lay offs in the public service.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question period has expired.

Notices of Motion

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board.

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act To Amend The Pension Benefits Act, Bill No. 44.

Petitions

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

MR. WALSH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I stand today to present a petition on behalf of the residents of Bell Island.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. WALSH: The prayer of the petition, Mr. Speaker, is: With the proposed ferry rate increases to take effect today, December 1, will have such a devastating affect on the community of Bell Island, and whereas the proposed ferry rate increase being imposed on other ferry users in other areas of the Province is approximately 30 per cent above the current rates, be it resolved that the Bell Island ferry service be treated with the same percentage of increase as other provincial ferry services in Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, I attempted yesterday to stand to present this petition but at the Speaker's desire he moved to the opposite side. In the interim the committee asked me to arrange whatever meetings I could, and by the time I had an opportunity to speak we were all invited to - the Premier took the time to meet with the committee and we had a chance to present our case there. I felt personally it was more important to do that than it was to stand to present a petition yesterday when it could have been done today. The meeting was the most important part.

The other night I had an opportunity to attend a meeting on Bell Island where there was some 600 strong. These people are very determined and very concerned about what is happening to them, and what is happening to them with respect to the ferry rates. I believe that when the analysis was done in order to put into effect the new increases, somewhere along the way no one had a chance to sit down and look at what was and what will be the impact on individual people.

One of the individuals yesterday pointed out very strongly that as of today their annual cost, after income tax, from the small amount of disposable income that they have, will go from $250 a year in cost to $1,125 a year in cost. An excessive amount, as far as they are concerned, and I support them fully. Because no one should be asked to pay that kind of money today when they are barely holding down a job that pays much more than $5 an hour. We are also put in a situation where a single mother pointed out to us yesterday as well in one of our meetings that her intention was to bring her children over here tomorrow. The cost originally, or last week, would have been $6.50 to bring them over to a Christmas party. Today it would be $18, and she just can't afford it.

On a daily basis there are some 300 people who travel to and from Bell Island. People who have to be to work at 8:00 a.m. arise at 4:00 a.m. or 5:00 a.m. in order to make that run. Those who work shift work, going to work at 8:00 a.m. and getting off at 8:00 p.m., sit in Portugal Cove for another three hours in order to return to their homes. They do that because they want to contribute to society, contribute to this Province, and contribute to their families.

There is one statistic concerning Bell Island that none of us are proud of, as Bell Islanders or any of us in this Province should be. Stats Canada recently said that Bell Island ranks as the lowest community in Canada, on a per capita basis has the lowest income in Canada of any community except for a reserve. These people are determined to make a contribution to this Province. They are doing everything they possibly can. They are working as hard as they can, but unfortunately for most of them they are doing it on very small wages.

Mr. Speaker, a cloud has moved in over Bell Island this week. As Pat Craig stated publicly the other night and again in the number of meetings that we held the other day, rather then just simply saying there is a cloud moving over Bell Island there is a blanket that has been pulled over Bell Island as of today. There is a darkness moving in that they have said and said publicly very well over the last number of days, a cloud similar to the one that came over Bell Island in 1966.

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the users committee and indeed the council who have tried diligently over this past week to do everything that they possibly can to put forward a case that they believe has the merit of asking government to look and indeed to deal with the residents of Bell Island in a different manner than has been dealt with in other places. The biggest problem the people of Bell Island have is that they look at the increases that they are receiving on their fares as compared to other areas. They are not suggesting that the fares should not go up, indeed they have done just the opposite. They have said that they are willing to accept a fare increase. They look at, as of today or as of yesterday, a person travelling back and forth to Fogo Island made that run for approximately $9.50, 13 kilometres. There is no doubt that a person going to Bell Island was doing it for $3.50 but it was still only 5 kilometres. Today the person goes to Fogo at a cost of $12.00. They have gone up by approximately $1.50 to $2.00. A person to Bell Island now goes to $9.00 and they just cannot afford it. They are the only community on a reasonable basis where the ferry service is an absolute essential for them to meet the requirements of their families and their requirements in work.

Mr. Speaker, collectively the council, the users committee and myself have made a commitment to the people of Bell Island that we will do everything in our power to effect change in these rates and that indeed, Mr. Speaker, we will take it, if we have to, all the way to the wall. I made that commitment to the people the other night on Bell Island and will do it again today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TOBIN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to have a few words and obviously support the petition, as indeed all of my colleagues would, on behalf of the people of Bell Island.

Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the Member for Mount Scio -Bell Island just recently introduced a resolution, a private members bill in this House, that sought for the approval of this House to have consideration given to have the gulf ferry service between Port aux Basques and North Sydney an extension of the Trans Canada Highway. Mr. Speaker, I eagerly await, with the same anticipation, for the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island to bring forth a private members resolution to have something done with that brutal attack that has been imposed upon these people by this government in the past few days.

MR. FLIGHT: Stop playing politics with it.

MR. TOBIN: No, I am not playing politics with it. There is no politics when a family on Bell Island cannot afford to bring their children over to a Santa Claus parade. That is not playing politics, that is a brutal cruel attack upon the people of Bell Island, that is what it is, I say to the Member for Windsor - Buchans.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. TOBIN: Last year the member just stated, it cost $6.50 for a lady to bring her family over to the Santa Claus parade and this year she cannot do it because it will cost $18.00. If that is not the Scrooge who stole Christmas, I don't know what it is, I say to the Member for Windsor - Buchans. Mr. Speaker, don't you worry about my blood pressure either. I hope it doesn't get too high with the mess you have the hospitals in.

Mr. Speaker, I too have a district that represents ferry workers in this Province - have a ferry running in this Province from South East Bight to Petit Forte. I know what it is to have increases but when I hear students this morning and yesterday evening standing in this gallery accusing government, Mr. Speaker, because they are concerned with what has been inflicted upon them. Their education is being stolen from them, being robbed, being denied because this government has no compassion, no conscience, Mr. Speaker. They profess nothing except brutal attacks on everyone who gets in the way in this Province and it is time that sober, second thought, drain into this Cabinet and into this government.

Why should the people of Bell Island be crucified by this government? Why should they not be allowed to continue their education? A young man here, Mr. Speaker, yesterday, was visibly upset because of what was happening; he was being denied his right to an education because this government, in the middle of his year, brought in extra expenses that that gentleman could not afford.

I don't care what anyone says, what anyone in the government states, you will never convince me, Mr. Speaker, that this is not the beginning of the end of Bell Island, and I would suspect one of the first institutions in this Province that we are going to see close as a result of a resettlement program, may very well be the vocational school that is on Bell Island, because people who now go there from this side to make up enough people to attend, will not be able to afford to go, will not, Mr. Speaker, be able to afford to go, that's what's taking place in this Province. The people of Bell Island, Mr. Speaker - and I spoke to a gentleman yesterday, probably the same one the member made reference to, the Deputy Mayor I am not sure, but I think it probably was - who told me that the feeling on Bell Island that has hit the people is similar to when the mines closed.

Mr. Speaker, renewable resource is one thing or a non-renewable resource is another. What we have, are people who live on Bell Island, who chose to live on Bell Island as they do on Fogo Island, as they do on St. Brendan's or Long Island or South East Bight, they are Newfoundlanders with rights and nobody, nobody, Mr. Speaker, should be allowed to steal that right; nobody should be allowed to keep the people of Bell Island from their right to have an education, from a right to live on the ground that their fathers -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: - their forefathers, Mr. Speaker, slaved to develop.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, in conclusion -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: - I would ask the minister to immediately change that and do something decent for a change.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, what would be the beginning of the end of Bell Island and the end of Newfoundland and Labrador-

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: What would be the beginning of the end of Bell Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, is if this government made the same type of decisions as the former administration. That would be the beginning of the end of Bell Island. We are faced with a very difficult decision-making time considering our financial situation.

Each and every minister in this government has the same thing facing him.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: I would like, as a minister, to be able to provide free transportation for every citizen living in every isolated community in this Province; unfortunately, it is financially impossible. We spend an excess of $12 million annually in operating the ferry systems; we take in even less than 7 per cent return and even with the increases we will still subsidize it around 80 per cent, 82 per cent or 83 per cent of the cost of operation.

We understand the feelings and we understand the financial situation of all the people living in isolated communities; we don't do it by choice, the same as when the Minister of Health will have to make some major financial decisions and the Minister of Education and the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, it is not something we want to make, but we have to make some hard decisions for the best interest of the people living in Newfoundland and Labrador, otherwise, Mr. Speaker, we will be continually making decisions that will put the Province further in debt and there would be no future for anybody living in this Province of ours.

So I have a responsibility to try to make the right decisions for the best interest of all people, putting the least amount of burden on the people using the services that are being provided to them.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: I do not know. I don't have any magic answers, and if somebody has another answer... The member opposite just gave me his enthusiastic speech. If he can make one suggestion where we would find that money to answer all the questions to our financial problems, I am willing to listen.

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

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased again today to stand in my place and present a petition, the same petition that I presented yesterday, the same petition the member -

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, he cannot present the same petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Not the same petition, the same type of petition.

This petition is here, the one I presented yesterday - it is the same type. Don't try to be smart, I say to the -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. HEWLETT: One hundred and sixteen extra names.

MR. J. BYRNE: One hundred and sixteen names on it; the one yesterday had ninety-nine names, the same type of petition, the same petition as the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island presented this morning.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier stood in his place this morning and answered a question that I addressed to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, trying to muzzle the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation again. And he was trying to rationalize the ferry rate increases on Bell Island, those drastic increases to the people of Bell Island. He could not justify it. All the rationalizing in the world cannot make something like that right.

He mentioned that the committee from Bell Island met with him yesterday - after he was forced to meet with them - and that the committee was quite reasonable; the words he used were `quite reasonable'. The only problem here is that the government is not being reasonable. The committee was expecting an increase of possibly 30 per cent. That is not too bad, I suppose. In a time of cutbacks, a time of salary freezes, a time of people being laid off, a 30 per cent increase, I think, is more than reasonable, but what this government is coming up with is anywhere from 150 per cent to 400 per cent, rate increases, different rates in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The public yesterday, there was a group of people out here yesterday, maybe 300 to 400 people, and they were here from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 6:00 p.m. There were a few people who came out -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: It is right here.

There were a few people yesterday, at 4:25 p.m. -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: If you want to speak, take your time and get up and speak to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. J. BYRNE: Can you muzzle that man over there, Mr. Speaker?

At 4:25 p.m. yesterday, people left this lobby, went outside to have a smoke, and they had orders from on high not to re-admit those people in here - the doors locked again to the public of this Province, just the same as the doors were locked to the people with disabilities a few weeks ago. Is that, or is it not, intimidation? That is the tactic of this government, downright intimidation.

The Premier yesterday left here, went out, and ignored the public out there who wanted to speak with him. He went out and passed right by them, ignored them, but worse than that - I will tell you now the contempt that man has for his own caucus members. The Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island asked that man, asked the Premier of this Province, to come and speak to the people from Bell Island yesterday. Did he? No, he did not. He refused the request of the Member for Mount Scio - Bell Island and passed right by the public and went on the elevator and up to the eighth floor - that is the contempt.

MR. REID: When did they meet earlier?

MR. J. BYRNE: He met the committee, but the public were out there. There were 200 or 300 people. If he were on the campaign trail, he wouldn't turn down the opportunity to meet 200 or 300 people, I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: That, to me, demonstrates the arrogance of that Premier and the arrogance of this government. They are not listening to the public. The people of Bell Island cannot afford those increases. When is that going to sink in?

We have students here in the gallery again this morning, and -

MR. SHELLEY: They should be in school.

MR. J. BYRNE: They should be in school. They were here yesterday and they probably should have been in school. I agree with the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay. They are here trying to support themselves and help support the people of Bell Island.

I have to say something here now that just popped into my mind when we talk about the students. The Premier yesterday met, from what I can gather, with a Democracy class when all of this was going on and the public were out there. Now, what a joke, Mr. Speaker! If there were anyone to meet with the Premier, whose tactics are: My way or no way, do as I say, nothing else - nothing else matters to the Premier of this Province. He says now, he is going to bring it up in Cabinet today and he is going to try to be reasonable. The only reasonable thing that can come out of that meeting today is if these rates are rolled back to no more than a 30 per cent increase, that some of the other islands are receiving.

The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation talks about other islands in this Province, but he didn't mention the number of daily commuters, Mr. Speaker, who travel on the ferry back and forth to Bell Island versus those other islands, the numbers of people who come back and forth to go to schools, to go and do their grocery shopping, to go to work every day. We have people coming over here from that island, who are probably making the minimum wage, and if you are going to take anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 from someone who is earning probably $10,000 or $15,000 a year, that is just not right. It is way out of whack, and there is nothing the Premier can say -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. J. BYRNE: - there is nothing the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation can say to rationalize that, or to justify it. In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would again request them to reduce that rate increase to no more than 30 per cent.

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

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, I stand in support of the petition presented this morning by my hon. colleague, the Member for St. John's East Extern. I reiterate what I said in my earlier comments. The devastation that is going to hit Bell Island effective this morning is more than the people of Bell Island can handle and more than they deserve. I repeat again, that a cloud has been hauled over Bell Island this morning, no different from what was hauled over Bell Island in 1966.

There was a reference here this morning in terms of the fact that there are students in the gallery. My heart goes out to those students who yesterday paid $5 a week in order to complete their education, and today face $25-plus per week. They can't afford it. In mid-stream to get caught with that kind of a hit is more than they can handle.

Mr. Speaker, also when we talk in terms of students, the number of students who come from Bell Island on a regular basis in terms of using the buses to come over to take advantage of the things that are here, whether it is the Arts and Culture Centre, or skating, or to participate and view the museums and everything here - the schools can no longer afford to pay the rates that they will now have to face.

The people of Bell Island are having the most difficulty with the fact that no matter how you equate the increases, no matter how you look at the way the increases were calculated, the bottom line is, at the end of the day, the other people living on other islands in Newfoundland went up on an average of 30 per cent. The people of Bell Island have seen increases from 157 per cent to over 400 per cent. They just can't afford it. In support of the petition and in support of the people of Bell Island, we collectively have to do what we can to ensure that those rates are brought back to within a reasonable rate that the people themselves can agree with and can live with. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I want to support the petition presented by my colleague, the Member for St. John's East Extern. It is a very serious matter, as was demonstrated yesterday and again today by the people of Bell Island. They are very determined in their resolve and their spirit to have government reverse its decision with the increase in ferry rates.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't know if members or ministers realize that what we are talking about here is really the lifeline to Bell Island when we are talking about its ferry service. That is what we are talking about. Every day, people commute - as the Member for St. John's East Extern and other members have said this morning - to work, for education, for health care, for sports and recreation. That is what we are talking about here. We are talking about the demise of a community, a community that has been in existence for decades, and worked hard and contributed to the economy of this Province when other communities in this Province were not as fortunate to have a resource and to contribute to the provincial economy as Bell Island was capable of doing because of its resource and because of the hard work of its people. Now, that is what we are talking about here.

Times have changed. Bell Island is not quite as fortunate today, but so what? Bell Islanders have paid their dues throughout the years in contributing to the provincial economy and they are not asking for anything special here, Mr. Speaker, they are asking to be treated fairly. They are asking to be treated fairly by this government, by this Premier, by this Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

Do the ministers of this government realize what they are doing to that community today? Do they realize they are affecting their educational system their schools? Do they realize that it is going to impact on their arena and their sports programs and minor hockey, that their teams won't be able to afford to come over here for competition and other teams will not be able to afford to go back, Mr. Speaker? Do they realize what the impact of that is going to mean on their arena? Do they realize what it is going to mean to the business community, what's left of it on Bell Island, or do they realize anything?

The real question that the people of Bell Island and other people in this Province are asking today is: Does this government realize or do they care about people? That's what they are asking, Mr. Speaker, they are not asking for anything special. They are asking to be treated fairly so that they can pursue education, so that they can maintain their employment and as a speaker said yesterday and today, many of those people who commute daily to go to work are not making ministers' salaries, they are not making MHAs' salaries, they are not making doctors' salaries, they are making just enough to stay alive and to keep food on the table, Mr. Speaker, and if they are going to be expected to pay this increase, they are not going to be able to afford to commute to go to work, that's the problem.

Many of them are not going to be able to afford to commute to go to work if they are going to be in a net loss situation, so what's that going to do to the government's bottom line, Mr. Speaker? It is going to increase the financial burden on this very Province. How can you attack people who want to be productive, who want to go to work? And then you will hear people saying one of these days, that half the problem with Newfoundlanders is they don't want to go to work anyway, when you have a government that's willing today to take a decision and impose hardship on those people that will deter them from coming to work, Mr. Speaker. That's what we are facing here. We are talking about really cutting the umbilical cord of the people of Bell Island, it's their only lifeline, the ferry. And to hear the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and other ministers compare them to other services, we are not talking apples and apples, Mr. Speaker, we are talking two different situations.

Most of these people commute daily; they don't commute once a week or every two weeks or once a month, or once every three months, they have to commute daily, and it is a tremendous expense on them. And put it to any of us in this House, I say to members, if you look at the situation, if our benefits and wages weren't increased as much as their ferry rates are increased, we would be screeching blue murder in this House of Assembly. We would screech blue murder, we wouldn't tolerate it, and it is the same effect, Mr. Speaker, and the sooner this government realizes it the better.

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend those who have presented the petitions, commend those who have supported the petitions, commend the people of Bell Island, I say, for standing up for what is yours - your rights. I tell you, we need to see more of it in this Province. Because that's what has happened to Newfoundlanders and Labradorians today, their backs have been broken, because they have been continuously put down by this Administration, pushed into the ground. But I think what we saw yesterday and today is going to be a spark, a trigger point for the people of this Province, that they are not going to take any more from this Administration when they try to ram things down their throats. They are going to stand up for what's theirs and what's their rights, Mr. Speaker.

Before I conclude, Mr. Speaker, I would just like to say what I observed here this morning between the behaviour of the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation and the Premier. In my view -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: - today, the Premier came very close to announcing a staggered rate increase. He would stagger it over a period of time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: In concluding, Mr. Speaker, in the final analysis, these people will pay the increase they have been asked to pay today, but it will be stretched over a period of time, it will be staggered. And my other prediction, Mr. Speaker - if I could be inside the Cabinet room this morning, I would find that the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is very strongly going to oppose that, because what he has done, he feels is right, and he is not willing to exercise any flexibility whatsoever.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, as we announced yesterday, we will be asking the House to resolve itself into Committee of the Whole. Before I do, since I won't be here at noon when we adjourn, I anticipate, let me say that on Monday, we shall do two things. If we haven't finished the Committee stages that are here today, we will carry on with them. By my count, there are sixteen or seventeen Committee stages to be looked at today. If we don't finish those today we will go back on them on Monday, and if we should get through them today or Monday, we will do with Order 29, the Executive Council Act. That will be the next substantive second reading.

The other point I will make is that the House will not be asked to sit on Monday evening. I understand some members have a commitment for Monday evening. Well, we will do what we can to accommodate them. The House will not sit beyond 5:00 p.m. on Monday evening. But given the fact that we have only three weeks left before Christmas, members would be well-advised, I think, to anticipate we may have to sit a few late evenings. It depends on how members approach it. I don't want to sit late evenings. If can do our work without late sittings, then we shall not have late sittings, but if we do need late sittings, we shall have to do them. As Mr. Mackenzie King once said, if I may paraphrase, `late sittings if necessary but not necessarily late sittings.'

With that said, Mr. Speaker, would you please move the House into Committee?

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (Penney): Order, please!

Is it the understanding of the Chair that we are now going to Bill No. 9?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, we will start, please, with Order No. 3 and let's take her as she comes.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order No. 3, Bill No. 9, "An Act To Amend The Hospital And Nursing Home Association Act."

The hon. the Member for Ferryland.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The bill is dealing basically with a name change but I think a lot of other implications and important things need to be addressed in terms of health care in this Province. We have an ailing health care system in the Province.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, if nothing were ailing and there were no sick, we wouldn't need a health care system, would we? So it must be ailing. Isn't that the reason for a health care system because something ails people? What ails the minister today? Does he think we have Utopia out there in the Province? We have people waiting for months and months trying to get appointments. We have people on stretchers in the emergency departments, we have closing down and laying off of hospital front-line employees and the minister thinks we have a grandiose health care system in the Province. What world is the minister living in? You could go and come back in an hours time and I still could be talking about the problems in our health care system.

We have a minister whose department announced back in June a consolidation of hospitals here in the city by 1998. Now, we have a change in agenda again. The financial stress we are in - we are asked to come up with $27 million out of $60 million in health care cuts. I don't think that is appropriate. That is almost 50 per cent of the cuts that are coming out of the Department of Health, 50 per cent almost. Forty-five percent of the cuts are being asked to come out of the Department of Health in the $60 million smoke and mirrors Budget that we were given last Spring. And just to get to that, we took money on the ferry service - the South Coast, we gobbled it up and used that, it is not there anymore. They haven't done a very good job of managing it. The government goes out and spends $26 million in Special Warrants and then comes back and looks for $27 million from health care. Well, that $27 million and the $26 million in Special Warrants would take care of what they are looking for in health care.

We have been told, and I am looking forward to hearing this month, in the very near future - the minister stated back earlier this year, and in the House, I believe, in October - if not certainly in the public record, I do have information in my office regarding it - he said that by the end of this year, by this Fall, we should have the plan. I think the minister said, we should have the plan in December for the reorganization of health care here in St. John's. The minister indicated that we were going to consolidate the Janeway Hospital - he made reference - he said we are going to share operating room space, we are going to share diagnostic equipment, we are going to throw kids in with adults in health care, and I don't think that is acceptable, because this Province was a signatory, along with the Federal Government, and agreed with the United Nations, the principle of first call, that kids shall have the first call or the rights on resources and so on used in health care. I think it was very important.

We have waiting lists. Take cardiac surgery, for example. I have spoken with a dozen people in the last month who are waiting for up to a year, in some instances, for elective cardiac surgery, and in this Province you will never obtain elective cardiac surgery until you become urgent. When you become urgent, or an emergency case, it is then you get the surgery. Then it is too late. In fact, cardiologists will tell you, and people in the particular specialty area, that once a person waits for six months to get cardiac surgery, his chance of returning to work again is almost nil. Nobody gets back to work after waiting six months. His problem has deteriorated so much that he can never go back and lead a productive working life again.

I think we have to start looking at, and putting more emphasis on, prevention and promotion. It is very important that we have prevention and promotion take the lead. We will never be able to deal with every single problem in our health care system. We cannot get enough dollars to deal with every health problem the way we would like to, but we can get enough dollars for prevention, and it is the prevention and promotion and education aspects that are very important. That is why I hope that in the minister's next year's budget, we will see a substantial increase in Community Health Boards allocation in the budget, one that will enable these boards to go out and promote the most important and cost-efficient thing within our health care system, and that is prevention.

We need intervention processes. We have seen it in children's mental health - and I asked the minister here in the House with reference to the number of child psychiatrists, with 500 people on a waiting list to be assessed, and other people waiting for treatment processes for mental health. If we had better intervention systems, education within the school system, better structures within our social services system or the health system generally, we wouldn't be having all those problems with emotionally disturbed kids who need the attention of specialists in the field today. So I think it is important that we look at the most cost-efficient methods of dealing with our problems, and the most cost-efficient method in dealing with any problem, whatever department we are dealing with, is prevention, whether it be dealing with highway accidents, or dealing with problems of sickness, illness. In any specific department, whether it be Works, Services and Transportation, road maintenance or whatever, the most effective method in any area is the prevention aspect, and it applies no more appropriately than it would in health care. The old adage is, `An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure', and that is what we need to do today. That is why I am looking forward, I say to the minister, when the Budget comes down in March, to seeing those Community Health Boards out there being given some monies to work with so we can accelerate the prevention and promotion programs.

What we have seen in the past few years is reductions. I have outlined it personally, myself, a rare occasion, and I think it is important, and that is part of what Community Health Boards do. Their job is to get out and encourage proper lifestyles, proper nutrition, they have health fairs promoting public awareness, to have them better informed. I know today many people are better informed about health care and what they should be doing, and there has been a tremendous increase over the past ten or fifteen years, but as I said before - the minister probably wasn't paying attention - we will never get enough dollars in our system to look after every single illness that is out there when we want to. There is not enough money possible to do it. So what do we do? We allocate resources to prevent it so we don't have as many problems out there.

As with machinery, it works the same way. The human body in our system is a machine that needs to be maintained and looked after.

AN HON. MEMBER: My knees.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations' knees, for instance. I said to him, I'm not sure he is going to get another term out of those knees. I'm not sure whether he can do the door-knocking for another few weeks. I don't think so. He will need to have a different strategy in his next campaign. He will have to go to a more centralized location and get on the telephone. He is pretty good at that. That might be more effective. I'm not sure if that is going to be good for his mental health either. He might need some medical attention. Maybe he might just quit and use the prevention process which might be more effective and it might get the result.

But I say to the minister again before I conclude, that in the allocation of the Budget when it comes down in March, 1996, we want to see more money in the community health budgets. We have set up Community Health Boards around this Province. Some are in full mode, others are in the transitional stage, but we must have the transfer of funds. Because if we keep pumping every single dollar into acute care and more efficient acute care, or taking dollars out of health care, as we did this year, we are never going to get the prevention-promotion aspect.

By the way, we took money out of health care this year. There is $13 million less in this Province this year being spent on health in the Health budget than there was last year. The Budget shows an increase of about $13 million, but they took the Enriched Needs Program from Social Services and put it into Health, and there is $20 million being used there. We are spending fewer dollars allocated to health care in this Province than we did last year when other budgets have increased and expenditures in this Province have gone up.

We have not given the proportionate amount. Health care has become a smaller chunk of the Budget, not by a big margin, but it is reduced, which means there are shifting priorities in the government. They put less dollars into health. So let's see next year that we come back and put more into the Community Health Boards where we can carry out that prevention and promotion aspect on a more efficient basis.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: The Chair has recognized the Minister of Health.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Does somebody else want to speak? Because I was going to -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: If the Chair could ask for guidance before - if the minister would take his seat for one moment. Is there an agreement by all hon. members that we speak for a maximum of ten minutes in debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Per clause? Members can speak as often as they wish anyway at this stage, but for a maximum of ten minutes?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: It must be pointed out as well, that when some hon. member asked whether if the minister speaks he closes the debate, that doesn't happen at this stage.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) clause 1 (inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: We are at clause 1, yes.

The hon. the Minister of Education and Training.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure what agreement the hon. member worked out with our House Leader so I'm prepared to accept the hon. member's word that you did agree on ten and ten. If there is a misunderstanding we will deal with it when the House Leader gets back. But I have no reason to question the hon. member's word, so, if the deal is made we will stick by it.

MR. CHAIRMAN: It is the understanding of the Chair that during this stage of debate it will be ten and ten.

The Chair has recognized the hon. the Minister of Health.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, I was intending to close debate, but if somebody else wants to speak on the bill, then I am prepared to defer.

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

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Chairman, I understood that the minister was rising to speak to clause 1.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. W. MATTHEWS: I know that, but I'm just trying to get the situation cleared up now so we can make some progress. If no one rises on a particular clause, then it will be carried and we will go to the next clause.

MR. CHAIRMAN: That is correct.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Hospital And Nursing Home Association Act." (Bill No. 9)

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order 4, Bill No. 2, "An Act To Amend The Social Workers Association Act." That is the understanding of the Chair that we are going down in the order that is listed on the Order Paper. Very well.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I know that the minister is not here but I will have a few words on it.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that this bill is an act whereby government employees who have been practising social work for at least two years and have paid the required fee for registration of social workers and to practice social work in the Province - It is my understanding what that means, what it does, is that it gives the right to social workers who are in that situation but who are not government employees to be able to buy into the registered social work program, that is my understanding of it. That being the case, Mr. Chairman, we have stated our position to say that practising social work in this Province these days is not very easy and it is becoming more and more difficult as the days go on. Social workers in this Province, Mr. Chairman, are operating today under a tremendous amount of stress and stress has been applied even more because of the proposed cutbacks that this government is trying to implement.

There are many positions in the public service today - social workers in the public service today that are of a temporary nature, that are temporary positions. Mr. Chairman, I only hope that if government decides to put the axe to temporary positions in this Province that the social workers in this Province are not included. It is also difficult today to realize the thinking and the logic of government in terms of the closing out of various social work offices in this Province. I am convinced, whenever the Minister of Finance makes his announcement in this House that we are going to see drastic changes in how social services are delivered. I would be surprised if we don't see offices in this Province close. The Minister of Social Services is coming now, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: Better for John to speak to us, he doesn't know what he is talking about.

MR. TOBIN: I would say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation that I probably do know more about it but what I recognized here this morning, in what my friend from Grand Bank said when he spoke to the resolution, is that the Premier thought he knew more about the situation on Bell Island then the minister did as well because he certainly has jumped over the minister's head, no doubt about that. He went to the wall yesterday, the minister did, and this morning, Mr. Chairman, the Premier told the House before he told the minister.

Mr. Chairman, I would say to the Minister of Social Services that she be very careful in terms of what the Minister of Finance is going to do to her department, that she be very cautious, that she not be allowed to bulldoze social work offices in this Province to the ground, that temporary social workers in this Province, if they are not going to be made permanent, then for heaven's sake don't lay them off, I would say to the minister. Because the people of this Province, and with this marvellous, as the Premier said, UI program that is about to be announced, with this marvellous program that we are going to see, as the Premier said on CBC radio yesterday morning, I would say that what we are going to see is a marvellous group of people having to line up at social services' offices that never lined up there before.

Marvellous, he said. I would say to the Minister of Social Services that she should be very careful when she is participating around the Cabinet table in these Budget cuts that she look to the future, that she look to what Mr. Axworthy is going to do to this Province this afternoon. The people of this Province I would suspect will not consider the UI system as marvellous. They will not share the Premier's vision, they will not share his dreams and aspirations, to see the UI system in this Province gutted. It will not be marvellous.

Every Newfoundlander should become aware of what the Premier of this Province said regarding the slashing and chopping and cutting and poisoning of the UI program in this Province by his federal Liberal buddies, as only Liberals could do it. Do everything they sat for in the red book, and then gut it afterwards. I don't know. The senior Minister of Employment and Labour Relations is leaving, is going through the door.

AN HON. MEMBER: I will be (inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: You will. The Premier doesn't send the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations anywhere without having the senior minister with him.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Yes he is.

AN HON. MEMBER: He certainly is.

MR. TOBIN: Very senior minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What's that? Mr. Chairman, I would suspect that if you were to judge him with the Minister of Justice he would be considered good. But if you were to judge him with the Minister of Social Services you wouldn't consider him good.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) member.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I would say to the Minister of Justice that I will retract my statement.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, for a moment I thought I was back in my district.

I would say to the Minister of Social Services that she should be very careful as to this Axworthy vision for Canadians, and in particular Newfoundlanders. Because everything that I've heard, and everything that I've seen - and I know that yesterday evening all of the head human resources people were brought in and programmed, or briefed, on what the cuts were. I know that. I have a fair idea of what is coming. If what I've been told is coming down there it is going to have very serious implications for her department. Really serious.

Because there are people today who are working on the minimum wage in this Province and who get very small UI. They are talking about a $300 million job creation program that the human resources officers are now going around this Province going to councils and other groups and asking: Can you come up with some ideas that we can create jobs? But you will have absolutely nothing to do with approving them. That will be done by the federal member of parliament. If the federal member of parliament has the same amount and shares the same fairness and balance in allocating this funding as he did in his input into the infrastructure program, then we are in for big trouble.

There are going to be a lot of people in this Province having to line up at the welfare office one of these days, having to line up for social assistance which is not what they have ever dreamed of. Do you go in and feel, Mr. Chairman, betrayed by a Liberal Party, by a party that's supposed to be moderate, considerate, a party that is supposed to be the centre of the road but I would suggest that what we have in Ottawa today, is the most Conservative Party, the most righteous party that we have ever seen in the history of this Province.

I also had the opportunity last night to watch Faceoff. I don't know if any members opposite watched Faceoff last night but George Baker was on and another Liberal member from Mississauga, and if anybody in this Province, if anybody in this country watched that last night, they would have to ask today: What is the philosophy of the Liberal Party? What do they stand for?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: What's that?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, I stand for fair and just treatment of all citizens in this Province, that's what I stand for, I say to the Member for St. John's West, fair and just -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. TOBIN: Centre, St. John's Centre, yes Mr. Chairman. Well, yes, I was going to say the Member for St. John's West but he doesn't know much about fares but at that stage in the game, I was going to refer to the Member for St. John's South, so I apologize to the Member for St. John's West.

Mr. Chairman, the Member for St. John's South, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, who, every day knows nothing; well I am going to tell you what I think is a sad reflection, when he has to sit down with his caucus and be briefed on what's in this program, not being briefed before, when he got to be a member of the caucus that is briefed in total, Mr. Chairman, there is something serious happening here. We see the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation today being undermined by the Premier and the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations was briefed about what's coming down tomorrow in front of the entire caucus by the Premier of this Province, Mr. Chairman, asking questions, didn't know what was going on. That's my understanding of it, but I would say to the Minister of Social Services, that she not close any offices in this Province and that she not lay off any social workers in this Province, because when that comes home to roost, it is going to hit and hit in a big way.

It is going to take a competent minister to be able to deal with these cutbacks. She is going to have to answer questions in this House as it relates to how it is going to affect her department and she is not going to be able to do that by standing up and saying that I will take the situation under advisement. She is going to have to do it by being able to demonstrate her authority as a Minister of Social Services and as a member of Cabinet. She is going to have to do it, Mr. Chairman, by being able to stand up in Cabinet to the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and to others and make sure that the social workers in this Province receive more support not less, and there is only one way to do that and that is to tell the Premier and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board that you are not going to have cuts to your staff in this Province because if you do, if you do, the people who depend on the Department of Social Services are going to be in big, big trouble.

It will not, I emphasize again, Mr. Chairman, it will not be a marvellous program and I don't know how the Member for Port au Port or how the Member for St. George's or the Member for Port de Grave or any other member can go out and tell the people that this program -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. TOBIN: - that Axworthy (inaudible) is a marvellous program.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. TOBIN: By leave, Mr. Chairman?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, I would say to the minister that if this -

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. member has not received leave.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to speak briefly on this bill in Committee stage. The changes that are being made are acceptable, Mr. Chairman, because they grandfather in people who worked in non-governmental agencies as social workers, similar, and treating them the same as people who worked for government as social workers, giving them an opportunity to be a member of the Social Work Association and to be, from the public's point of view, regulated by them for purposes of discipline, continuing education, and the other requirements of being a member of a professional association, so I support the changes.

I had some concerns the last time about the wording of the amendment, and how it would come into effect in terms of timing because of the retroactive nature of it, but I have been satisfied, through discussions with the Clerk, with legal officers of the House, that the interpretation of the legislation would be satisfactory. So I do support the change and the amendment to the Social Workers Act. What it will do is, for the first time, it will place all social workers in this Province in an association, a professional association controlled by themselves, one of the self-governing professions. I think it is a very significant step for the professionalization of social work in this Province, and it is one that is long overdue, I say to hon. members and to the minister.

We see continuously problems arising as a result of a practice of social work that has been, in the past, haphazard, perhaps a lack of vigilance in some cases, a lack of proper procedures in others, a lack of follow-up on problems that are raised with the Department of Social Services, with the minister, with officials of the department on some occasions, and not only in this Province, but in other provinces throughout Canada. There has been a growing awareness of the devastation that can be caused to individuals and to families, and to children in particular, by a social work system that doesn't address their needs.

The Province of British Columbia, in a recent report in the last number of days, has only underlined the fact that this is not a problem solely in this Province, it is a problem of which throughout the country inadequacies in a social services field give rise to serious and often tragic consequences for individuals. The case in British Columbia of a young boy who was killed by a parent, and the concerns that the government agencies did not put the child first, arising out of a whole history of what happened in British Columbia, it is not a -

This is one thing I say to the minister: When we raise problems about social services, and about the adequacy of the social services system, it is not necessarily a criticism of the minister or of the government. Sometimes these problems are systemic and they are endemic to the system. When we criticize the government, though, we criticize the government for the response when these problems are raised, and what do they do, and what do they not do. That is when the government is criticized, not because the problems exist, because sometimes they were there long before the current minister was in power. But we do have very serious circumstances, and the further professionalization of social work and social work practice in this Province by this bill is a very welcome move.

We have seen only in the last twenty years a degree in social work at this University. In the early 1970s, the Bachelor of Social Work was brought in. Prior to that, the training was at the BA level with a major in social work. We now have a Ph.D. program in social work at Memorial University, so we have gone, in twenty years, or twenty-five years, I guess, from having a BSW program, and we had an MSW program, and now we have a doctoral program in social work at Memorial University. So, there have been great strides in the last twenty-five years in the professionalization of social work.

MR. CRANE: (Inaudible).

MR. HARRIS: The Member for Harbour Grace is glad to see it, and so am I.

We see in this legislation that all people who have been in the practice of social work in permanent positions are now brought under the umbrella of the Newfoundland Association of Social Workers who, in addition to having them recognized as registered social workers, would also have control in the sense of professional discipline procedures, complaints procedures, continuing education procedures, and other factors that give the professional - and ethical standards are being developed, standards of practice, and various other professional development activities that can only improve the quality of social work service in this Province.

As the previous speaker has said, we have a great need in this Province, and we are going to have a greater need, with the impact of the UI changes which are going to impact on this Province in a tremendous and devastating way. The minister is going to have her hands full when the increases in social assistance caseload is going to increase. When the social problems that result from lower income families starts to have an impact on families and children, the minister is going to have her hands full.

I would be a lot happier, Mr. Chairman, if this government, instead of welcoming these changes, were fighting against them and insisting that the problem must not be downloaded to the Province, downloaded to the individual families, downloaded to the Minister of Social Services, and instead, they should be fighting for an economic system that recognizes the need and the right of every family and every person to have a job and have an opportunity in this very wealthy country.

I would rather see that than have to be saying that the Minister of Social Services is going to have her hands full. Because the problems that are being created are problems that are not necessary, any more than it is necessary for this government to be further pushing down the people of Bell Island by forcing up their costs of getting to work, of getting to school, of getting an education, of improving their lot. That is the kind of country we need to have, with something that is building people up, not shoving them down and pushing them into the ground.

Mr. Chairman, in the meantime, this legislation is positive. I support it, I support the changes, and I would commend its passage.

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

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I am pleased today to stand and say a few words on Bill No. 2, "An Act To Amend The Social Workers Association Act".

We agree with what is coming forward in this act which gives the right to social workers who are not within government, and who are employed for at least two years as social workers in the Province, and who pay the necessary fees, to be part of the Social Workers Association. We don't see any problem with the piece of legislation that is being brought forward. It creates equitable standards for all social workers throughout the Province and gives everybody a fair chance at being employed.

As the Member for St. John's East and the Member for Burin - Placentia West touched on a few moments ago, and I would like to just reiterate some of their statements but make my own comments on them, what is going to happen in this Province over the next couple of years in relation to social services, I think, demands that we look at social services maybe in a different light.

Because with the downturn in our fishery and the economic problems throughout our Province now, one can see an increase in the number of people who are turning to social assistance. I have several cases in my own district in which people are turning to social assistance for the first time in their lives. It is very unsettling to go into a home where a gentleman who has been involved with the fishing industry, or some other industry in the Province, to see that the opportunities for work, the opportunities for employment to make a living for himself and his family are not there in a lot of cases any more, and that, through no fault of his own, he has to turn and try to get some assistance from social services.

I say to the minister, when she is reviewing the offices throughout the Province, as she talked about earlier here in the House, she should take the advice of a former Minister of Social Services, my colleague, the Member for Burin - Placentia West, and not close offices in this Province and cause further hardship and pain to the people who are turning to social assistance now. I think, if ever there was a necessity to increase the level of social assistance in this Province, the time is now, due to the fact of the massive changes that are evolving because of the economic strife in which we find ourselves.

Some time later today there are going to be some major changes to the UI system in this Province and in this country. Some time around 1:00 p.m. today, I believe, the announcement is going to be made by Minister Axworthy in Ottawa that I believe will send shock waves across this Province, not only in my district of St. Mary's -The Capes, but indeed, throughout the Province. The changes that are forthcoming to the UI system will not only send shock waves, Mr. Chairman, but will cause immense hardship and immense suffering to many, many people who are finding themselves, in this Province now, on the brink.

We have found that the increases that are forthcoming in UI are going to increase the number of weeks that a person will need to be able to qualify for UI and it will decrease the amount of time a person can draw. Therefore, the end result will be, Mr. Chairman, that a lot of people who are not on social services assistance will have to turn to Social Services, in a lot of cases, for the first time in their lives, due to the lack of employment opportunities that they are seeking, Mr. Chairman - not only due to the closedown of the fishery or the problems that we face in the fishery, but indeed that we face in the whole economy as it relates to work. I believe that these people will go to social assistance to find that we have a lower level of what has been available in the past and that this government is not taking the problems that we have and the people who are turning to social assistance as seriously as I think they should be doing.

We are in tough economic times, and as many ministers stand in their places and say, we have some tough decisions to make. I agree 100 per cent that there are problems with some overspending in different parts of government that can be brought under control. Indeed, there is a problem when a man and wife with two children are finding that their fridge is empty, Christmas is coming on and they don't have things for Christmas to give to their children. These people, through no fault of their own, have no opportunity to find work in this Province. I say, the responsibility for that rests, not completely with the members opposite, but indeed, the members opposite and the Government of Newfoundland who now play a major role in the economic crisis in which many families and many individuals are finding themselves in this Province.

Mr. Chairman, I was out in my district just a few short weeks ago and I was talking to some people out there, teachers, as a matter of fact. I attended a graduation there, during which time I had the opportunity to discuss some problems with the teachers. A major concern that the teachers brought to my attention at that graduation was the fact that there seems to be some social problems and some problems that are being brought forward into the classroom by students. I think, according to what the teachers are saying, the problems that they see with some students in the classroom now are based on the economic problems that their parents are finding themselves in back at home. I think that this goes - as we have heard time and time again, the stress that is being placed on parents in the Province, the financial stress, is now affecting the children who are going to school every day and looking across at a desk in the next aisle, where another student has a new pair of sneakers, another student has a new coat or another student has something that that child knows in his own heart and soul, he may never have. And this, Mr. Chairman, has to play on a child's mind as much as it plays on the parent's mind. It must be causing some irreparable damage, I say to members opposite, and indeed, to members on my own side.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: I am talking about social services, Mr. Chairman. I am talking about the problems that we are facing in this Province due to the cold, callous attitude of this government with respect to social services and the problems that they are causing to the people of this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) is irrelevant.

MR. MANNING: I say, what is relevant, Mr. Chairman, is definitely not the Minister of Education when it comes to debates on problems that we are facing in this Province. I would say that if the minister were paying attention, he would answer his calls from Roddickton, calls that I am receiving from his district.

Mr. Chairman, I bring forward the concerns of people of, not only my district, but indeed, the people of the Province, as it relates to the many people in this Province who, through no fault of their own, have to turn to Social Services. Many are finding the door shut, Mr. Chairman, because of the problems that we are facing with fiscal restraint. Many are finding that their needs are not being satisfied as it relates to social services, and I believe that we have an important role here, we have a role to play, this government has a role to play, in providing more social workers at this present time. More social workers should be going into the field to address the concerns that we have, not as they relate only to social assistance, as we talk about here in the bill, increasing the opportunity for social workers to find employment. I say that we need more social workers in this Province, and we need more social workers out in the field, dealing with not only financial situations, but indeed dealing with the problems that people are finding within their lives.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MANNING: I say to the Minister of Employment, shouting out `we need more money', don't mumble under your breath. Talk out loud if you are going to make a comment. Yes, we need more money. We could have used the $10 million that you wasted on trying to privatize Newfoundland Hydro, I say to the minister. We could have put that in there. We could have used the $21 million or $22 million that you gave away on a Trans-City deal, and the Minister of Education was well part of that clique that gave away the $20 million to $30 million on the Trans-City deal, I say to the minister. There is money available for the people who are turning to social assistance in this Province, but this government refuses to put it in that bag. They intend to spread it around to their buddies and friends everywhere else.

I fully admit, I say to the Minister of Education, that there was waste on this side also, but the time has come when I think all of us should start to realize that the time for waste and the time for throwing around millions of dollars to unnecessary causes such as the Trans-City deal, such as Hydro, such as Sprung, I say to the Minister of Education - such as Sprung - I have no problem admitting that, but the time has come in this Province now, if there ever was a time before, for people to start realizing that people are turning to social assistance for the first time in their lives, and they are getting a cold, callous, uncaring attitude from this government. That is the problem that we have in this Province.

I say that the UI changes that are going to be announced in the next few hours in this country are going to cause major problems in this Province, and the Premier gets up and says he cannot do anything about it. I realize that the Premier may not be able to do anything about it, but he certainly can fight it, and he can certainly get up and let himself be heard, and the effect that the UI changes are going to have on this Province. Do you know what the UI changes are going to do? They are going to put more people on social services. They are going to have more people going to the social services offices in this Province. They are going to have more people looking for social assistance to get through these tough time.

DR. KITCHEN: A point of order, Mr. Chairman.

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

DR. KITCHEN: I was under the impression that we were dealing with Bill 2, "An Act To Amend The Social Workers Association Act". Now, the member opposite has been talking about unemployment insurance and everything in the world. Is there some way that he can be made to speak in a relevant manner on this bill?

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

MR. SULLIVAN: To the point of order, Mr. Chairman, I think it is quite relevant. The number of social workers in this Province, I think, is very relevant to the unemployment rate and how many people are out there unemployed and need assistance. It is very relevant, I say to the Member for St. John's Centre, and we need -

AN HON. MEMBER: You are talking about a bill.

MR. SULLIVAN: It is a bill, and it is giving the right to people who practice social work in this Province to become registered. If they practice social work, it does not have to be under the authority of this government. So we need social workers, and at the rate government is going, and UI rates, we are going to need more. I think it is very relevant.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

To that point of order, I have listened to the comments and the debate by the hon. Member for St. Mary's - The Capes. My understanding of the situation, is that he is tying his comments into the social services network within the Province, and we are debating a bill on the registration of social workers, which is sort of a general application of social services in this Province, so there is no point of order. If the member is irrelevant, I will remind him so.

MR. MANNING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I certainly do not want to be wasting the time of the House. I stand here to present a very serious situation that is evolving in this Province. I stand here to bring to this House the facts. I say, with all sincerity to the Member for St. John's Centre, there is a serious issue evolving. He may not see it, he may not realize it, but I do. I deal with it every day in my district. I deal with a problem of social services; I deal with a problem of lack of social workers. That is in my district, but I also realize it is not only in my district that there is a lack of social workers. There is a lack of social workers in every district in this Province, and we stand up and in all sincerity we ask the minister to look at increasing the number of social workers in this Province, and the first thing they come back and say is that they have no dollars. There is a problem here, because there are plenty of dollars for everything else, I say in all sincerity.

We support Bill No. 2 in giving the opportunity for people who are outside government to partake in the Social Workers Association. At the same time we put forward the concerns of people that have been raised not only to me but I'm sure to other members in this House on both sides about the lack of social workers that we have in this Province. The lack of social workers is something that should be addressed by this minister. It is something that should be addressed by this government. Because the tough economic times that we are facing in the our Province now -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. MANNING: - are causing major problems, and I say in all sincerity that the minister should look at increasing the amount of social workers. Find the money. There is money everywhere else. In conclusion I say, Mr. Chairman, that the fate of the people who are turning to social assistance in this Province rests with the Minister of Social Services and -

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

MR. MANNING: - this cold, callous government.

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

The hon. the Minister of Social Services.

MS YOUNG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: No, we are in Committee.

MS YOUNG: I've listened to a lot of the comments made by hon. members and I certainly appreciate some of the concerns that have been raised. Some of the questions were very relevant to the amendment we are passing on the Social Workers Association Act. However, others I sort of wonder if they would have been better put to another time period in the House.

I'm very pleased with the cooperation that we've been receiving from the School of Social Work at the University. We have a very good working relationship with that facility. We have quite a number of social workers who come out of that degree program who work within our Province and I'm very pleased with the calibre of the work that they are performing in my department.

I've had the opportunity to travel to some parts of the Island and indeed to Labrador to meet with people in the district offices. I'm very impressed with the work that I see going on and the valuable contribution that social workers make to our Province. They are the people I guess who see people in various degrees of dependability on our social programs. They are indeed well capable of handling these concerns and issues that have been raised.

I was in Hopedale last winter and met with a young social worker there. He was very much involved with all of the activities within the community, not just during working hours, but he interacted very well with the community. In conjunction with the RCMP and the Department of Health they were able to help the woman from the Torngat Mountains Inuit Association organize to the point where they opened a women's crisis centre. That indeed was very impressive. Because this was work that had gone on, a lot of it, outside of the hours. So not only do social workers work with government or with the employer, but they contribute a lot to the well-being of our communities in Newfoundland.

There were comments made from members opposite about the high number of people who will be seeking assistance from my department due to the numbers coming off the TAGS program. I noted last year when we had about 1,300 people come off that program it was about one-fifth of the whole group who did come to the Department of Social Services. So the numbers that we were getting were highly inflated. Therefore I'm sort of concerned that we are placing too much emphasis on the numbers that will come over again. I am very optimistic that some of these people will have obtained training and skills that they will be able to seek employment in other fields. Some of them indeed may even be creating their own businesses.

With regard to closing district offices, we have looked at three offices in the past year or so and it worked very well. In my own district, the office in Glovertown had two people working at two FAOs. These people moved then a short distance up the highway and down into Gambo office. I understand that that has not created a considerable amount of inconvenience to people.

We feel that by consolidating that office with the Gambo office it provided an opportunity to provide better service to the number of clients because there were times when the office was actually closed out. If one person was sick and the other person happened to be on the road, there was nobody open, the office would have to be closed. So there were issues like that. As well, it was an opportunity for people to draw strength from each other with regard to some of the issues that they are facing and I have to agree with you, that being a social worker is not an easy task. It is not an easy task in the best of times. While we do go through some turbulent times in this Province I think that over the years, not just in the situation we find ourselves today but over the years, the work of the social workers has been under-rated. I don't think we have ever put the kind of emphasis on the contribution that they have given to the Province.

I want to say as well that there has been good cooperation between the RNC and the RCMP with my department when we are investigating child sexual abuse cases. So that was a major step forward. The RCMP, RNC and social workers and child welfare are all trained at the same time when they are investigating the child sexual abuse cases to cause the least amount of stress to the child and the family.

People talk about, on the other side, regarding the cold, callous attitude of this government toward the people who are availing of social services and doors being shut to them and so forth and so on. I take exception to that. I am a rural member and when I go to the post office in my community I meet with people who are availing of social services. I meet people from all walks of life. In a rural community when there is a social event you meet with all classes of people; you meet with the professionals, you meet with the unemployed, you meet with the people who are availing of social services, you meet people who have no income, you meet with the seniors, you meet with the disabled and you meet with the youth. Through these interactions in my community I am able to have a better feel for what these people are experiencing. When I have to make decisions for my department I am able to put a face to the people who would be affected by any changes that we make and I am able to make sound judgements.

We are living in a time when we have to be accountable. We have to be accountable for the dollars that we spend. The time has past when we can bow to political pressure to do this program or to do that in the Province. We cannot do that any more. The money is not there. We realize that we just cannot go out and borrow. I will put it simplistically for anybody who wants to talk about it and I say look, if you are managing a household budget you cannot spend what you don't have. If you have to borrow you cannot borrow only what you can pay back and that is how we are with our government today.

AN HON. MEMBER: Speaking of borrowing, that is where I have to go now.

MS YOUNG: I have borrowed my friend to death, he has to leave.

I just want to say that I do indeed appreciate all of the work and the contribution that social workers make to our Province -

MS COWAN: And they sure do.

MS YOUNG: - and they certainly do. My friend from Conception Bay South has covered a large part of the island, heard a lot of presentations and she too can attest to the valuable contribution they make.

So I am very pleased that our government has decided to amend the Social Workers Association Act to include these people who are outside of government and that they will enjoy the same privileges as social workers who are employed by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Again, I thank all members for their contribution and I think our friend from the district of Ferryland is also going to add a few words.

Thank you.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

If the minister really wants me to say it, I will just drag myself to say a few words on this.

I do agree that a person who is not just a government employee, a person who is practising social work here in this Province and who pays registration should be able to be a member and practice here in the Province. I think that is important. I think there is a great need for social workers in this Province and we just look at our Province and the progression over the past several years to see an increased need and if government is not going to put people out in the field and employ them, they shouldn't be limited by their process so, I have to support this piece of legislation here and when we look back as some of the ministers said and I will address that first of all.

The minister indicated that information that was mentioned earlier wasn't accurate actually. She said about 20 per cent of people, let's say, who dropped off NCARP programs or TAGS program and so on or, other programs go on social assistance. Well, I say to the minister, the projections now, the projections and this is with Stats Canada, HRD and Labour actually, just to look at the impact. In fact, what she is saying is higher than the projection that came out last spring, and I just say to the minister, a few of these points.

When the increase, the qualifying period for UI this past year, and when they reduced the duration periods if you remember with the formula based on unemployment area up to a maximum really in a city of thirty-two weeks, twenty-four plus eight weeks if you are in a low unemployment area, based on each per cent increase, it affected the weeks you can draw. Now, these were based on case assumptions that 10 per cent of those who are unable to establish a UI claim, go on social assistance, 10 per cent. It was also based on 10 per cent of UI claim exhaustees who go on social assistance.

If 20 per cent of the people have to avail of social assistance out of the 6,000 or 7,000 who are going to be dropped from a TAGS program in May, that's alarming. That's double beyond what the estimates would have been before and when you just look at the progression in this Province over the past while, if we look back

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: 20 per cent, that's what the minister said, Hansard would show that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That's correct, one-fifth, and I would say those figures are upwards of a 100 per cent increase from the projections through HRD and Labour, from the figures that I have, that I obtained last spring on a projection of impacts.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, no. The impacts by the latest UI changes how they were going to affect, in other words, a person who would have gone on UI or whose claim is going to run out now, within that fifty-two week period -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. Well, I will tell you why you don't have as many, I will give some reasons. If 20 per cent is doubled the projections - and you can go back to the Department of Labour and HRD and get their projections from last spring which I did obtain and look at, and if we are going to have 20 per cent of 7,000 who are going to be dropped off the TAGS program because in May of this year, says the minister and in budgeting purposes, in May of this year, we are going to have the largest number of people being dropped off this program at any one point in the five years of that program, except that after five years they all finish and there will not be as many left as those who are going to drop off in May I say to the minister. There is going to be roughly 6,000 or 7,000 because many people who didn't get the benefits for two years, like the duration that they could stay on was less than two years, everybody had been given a two-year period even if your credits only came up to 100 weeks or 80 weeks or 70 weeks, we are going to have a massive drop off in May.

Now looking at social services budgets in the past, we have grossly underscored the amount of money that is needed in the social service department. Twenty million dollars more, you are budgeting this year than last year. Last year there was a net cost of about $179 million if I remember correctly, and about $198-something $199 this year, so we are looking at a $20 million difference and just look at the progression and the tie-in between unemployment, employment and social assistance.

Back in 1988, we had 195,000 people in the workforce, it went up to 202,000 employed I should say not in the workforce, employed in 1989. Several thousand less are employed today. There were 36,000 unemployed registered people seeking work - that is actively seeking, that show up in the stats. As of October of this year, there are 44,000, and a labour force of 241,000.

What we have seen, if we look at the Social Services budgets - and all you have to do is go back in the past several years and look at the sequence - there has been underscoring of budgets since I came into this House. I didn' go too far back; I just went back and looked at numbers earlier, but I didn't do a year-by-year analysis, there is underscoring and there is $20 million more you are budgeting this year. As we get a declining workforce, higher unemployment rates, it equates directly to a Social Services budget in this Province. And one of the reasons why it is not as pronounced as it would normally be, is because we had an out-migration in this Province this past year like never before, and I am seeing it in my district. A tremendous number of people in my district, in the hundreds, have left recently to go to Alberta - most often to Alberta - Calgary, Edmonton mostly, northern Alberta, into Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, into B.C., some Ontario, and a scattering right across the country.

This is going to alleviate the Social Services budget to a certain extent. In spite of that, we are having dramatic increases there, so we are going to have more serious problems under the Canada health and social transfer, and the impact it is going to have, and the demand for social workers here, and the need if we don't get a 50/50 funding matched by the Federal Government. It is going to be more severe. If we have to lump the whole health and social transfer into the one pot, is this Province then going to set a lower level that they can deem they are going to give out in social assistance? How can you give out any less to a family now? I think for a family, or a person maintaining his own household, it is $392 a month - a single person who is head of a household. How can you possibly live on less? I don't think it is possible.

So, I think certainly this legislation, while it is not going to alleviate that problem, is going to highlight the need to have social workers in this Province, and if government resources are not going to do it, somebody has to do it, and we have a growing problem in this Province. Maybe the strategy is to have it so severe - and those new announcements coming out today are going to be devastating. We only need to look at the figures.

Back in 1992, there was $1,096,000,000 into UI and associated programs in this Province. Today, the estimate for 1995 was $645 million, a reduction of over $400 million into the economy of this Province based on changes in the UI program that are only minute compared to what we are going to hear over the next while. Their only hope government is going to do is, as this phases in to reach its peak, whether it is two years or seven years, they are hoping the out-migration is going to be, in comparison, inversely proportioned to that so we can have fewer people in the Province. That affects transfer payments in the Province on population, and the overall impact. On several occasions in this House, we have asked for information to show projections of the impact this is going to have on our provincial Budget, the impact of reduced population on transfers, the impact it is going to have by increasing the amount of UI qualifying periods, reducing the periods you can draw. This has a devastating impact, even in the hundreds of millions we have just had recently in this past year. If we look back on regular UI benefits now, independent of any other packages, TAGS, and NCARP and all those programs, almost $1 billion in 1991-'92 came into this Province on UI. Today, this year, 1994-'95, $654.8 million came in when the fiscal year ended, March 31 of this year. What is going to happen after this? We are going -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, just to finish up? I won't have to get up any more, then, just a couple of seconds.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We are going to be down to about $400 million within the next three or four years, and down to $300 million in this Province, in a fund that is paying for itself through employees and employers in this Province. We are going to inflict irreparable damage to this Province that is going to cost us in the Social Services budget, in the Health budget and everywhere else, in a program which is now sharing the benefits of living in wealthier parts of this country whether it is a UI program - and is not a social program; a UI program is funded by employees and employers, and I don't call it a social program. If it is subsidized by the taxpayers of Canada, I then call it a social program. It is not a social program. In the future if we left it the same, it would be less and less of a social program. There is going to be a surplus of $6.5 million in another two years in the program and we should not be tampering because it is going to affect, when we get group funding -

AN HON. MEMBER: What is he speaking about?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am talking about the impact - and I showed the relevance to it in terms of social workers and UI, I say to the minister, Johnny-come-lately, and then he is interjecting.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I am finishing right now. I am sitting down right now, because the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation - well, leave out recreation, he has decimated that and culture, he is in the process of decimating that. He might like to withdraw some leave there. So, I will stop at this and I am sure I will get an opportunity to address these points at a more appropriate time. Thank you.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Social Workers Association Act." (Bill No. 2)

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 16, "An Act To Amend The Evidence Act."

Shall clause 1 carry?

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Chairman, I just want to make a few short comments at this time, because when we were in second reading we had time to be put on the record for my comments as it pertains to this piece of legislation. When you are between second reading and by the time it comes back to the House for Committee, there is always something else that you would like to comment on. As I said to the minister on previous occasions here when he spoke on certain pieces of legislation, there is always - probably just a short year after or two years, we will be back making amendments to the legislation. So I guess that is nothing new.

However, one of the comments that I would like to make, Mr. Chairman, about this piece of legislation, is the age of a child. I asked the minister about the definition of a `child' and the age and so on. I think the minister stated - correct me if I am wrong - that it was nineteen. He used the age of nineteen. And you talk about things happening, take a year for something to happen, to bring back something for amendment, but just since we spoke on second reading, we brought in the bill, the one we had yesterday on limitations. I just forget what number it is now - Bill No. 38, "An Act To Revise The Law Respecting Limitations." And in that we lowered the legal age for contracts from nineteen to sixteen. Someone sixteen years old now - I believe you could be sued - they could sue but they couldn't be sued in return or anything like that. So there may not be - the Minister of Justice here or the legal experts at the table can probably tell me afterwards - that if this is in the limitations, I know that lawyers will find a way, probably, around that, if it were ever challenged in a court of law. But if it is applicable under an act to revise the law respecting limitations, whereby a sixteen-year-old can be sued, can enter into a contract, can enter into an agreement, can enter into a lease and, at the same time, be sued and counter-sued and so on, what about in the case of an evidence act? If a sixteen-year-old enters into a contract under the Limitations Act, and he has to go to court and the legal age there for giving evidence is nineteen, how does he give evidence or, is there a difference?

To me it looks like the left hand does not know what the right is doing or else, like I said, if it is legal under one particular act for a sixteen-year-old to enter into a contract, if he is challenged, how can he or she give evidence in a court of law, if he is supposed to be nineteen in order to do so? There seems to be some inconsistencies there however, in this particular act, some of the other research that I have done on it that, I mean a child can give evidence at any age but that depends on the circumstances of the court case and so on. I know that if there are any problems with it, we can always come back and make some amendments and it is just a concern there because the Limitations Act was only done yesterday and it's fresh in my mind.

Mr. Chairman, over the years, things done with regards to children giving evidence in court and so on, there have been all kinds of comments made about interviewing facilities and so on. I was talking to my colleague here, the Member for Waterford - Kenmount, earlier today about certain things that have happened over the last few months, and their deliberations with regard to a committee. There is all kind of dialogue among individual groups in the Province and other groups as it pertains to children services not only to do with an evidence act, that's a last thing in people's minds, the thought that a child would have to give evidence, that's the last thing, that don't enter into, I would say, unless you are affected and until the day you are affected, it is not very often you would think about a child giving evidence and you would certainly not think about it until it happens, the strain and the stress and the psychological terror that it would have on an individual child.

However, Mr. Chairman, I alluded to the fact that in commenting on this in second reading, the changes that the federal government made in 1988 as it pertains to the Criminal Code of Canada and a Canada Evidence Act. It was known then as Bill C-15. It expanded opportunities for courts to receive children's testimony and to utilize courtroom procedures that are child focused particularly for young children; but some of the procedures include - I won't read them all but I will just read some - screens to block the child's view of the alleged offender, often refused in our courtrooms. Allowing the child to bring a toy and so on; holding a child on the knee of an adult while the child is testifying. Adult to accompany child to the stand; support person in the courtroom like for instance a social worker or whomever, child turned away from the alleged offender; very intimidating, Mr. Chairman, for some adults in this Province or in this country to go to court and have to face the accused or whatever in any court of law, it is intimidating most time, Mr. Chairman, for adults let alone a small child and in some cases they are small children.

I remember the case in Saskatchewan just the other day. What was the name of that one in Saskatchewan that case that was thrown out of court, a sexual assault case? Anyway -

AN HON. MEMBER: Martinsville.

MR. WOODFORD: Martinsville, the Martinsville case, that one in particular, I did some reading on that and that one in particular, most of them were acquitted -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, one charge and the other day he filed for an appeal -

AN HON. MEMBER: One conviction.

MR. WOODFORD: One conviction and apparently he was denied access. But anyway, that's one of the examples as of late, use of expert testimony and so on, however, in our Province, some of these procedures have been used but others, it is our experience and experienced by people associated with this, that it is not used frequently or routinely. Now, if those amendments were made to the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code of Canada, as far as I am concerned, they should be used routinely in a court of law here, in this Province.

Now to me, I know that's not a legislator's fault but it is a court system somewhere along the line that is after breaking down and more specifically I would say, that the onus is on the judge or the magistrate or whatever at the time to make sure that those particular items are followed, this particular routine is followed.

Because the child or the parent at the time doesn't know about this. They don't know what is in the Evidence Act. They have no reason to look at what is in it. Their sole purpose is to go in there and give evidence so that the individual will be convicted, hopefully. They are not thinking about the routine to follow, what is legal, what is illegal, what they can do in a courtroom, what the magistrate should tell them or whatever. It is up to their lawyer, and in most cases this is overlooked.

Like I said, it may be due to a lack of understanding by the court, because some of the courts today, regardless of how many lawyers or how many judges are around, they can slip as well. They've known. You look and you pick up The Globe and Mail today, and pick up publications in Canada today, about a lawyer in Ontario charged the other day with breach of trust. You pick it up all the time. There are different situations. Not all lawyers are the same. You get in a court of law, and some are very well up on their particular line of thinking, if they are an expert in criminal law, if they are an expert in constitutional law. But especially when it comes to children I think that more attention is going to have to be given to that.

Too often the decisions are based on the tradition of the legal system and not on an understanding of the best ways to obtain information from children. Those are some of the things that as far as I'm concerned should be addressed. Those are some of the things that I think the Minister of Justice - this is a good piece of legislation, no question. But at the same time, I think it is incumbent upon all of us to take this a little further and make sure that whenever we get the opportunity to talk to our learned friends, our lawyers around the Province, and magistrates or whatever, to make it quite clear that those procedures should be followed routinely, not just in an ad hoc way, or every now and again when it suits someone's wishes. Whatever the rules and regulations are should be followed.

Mr. Chairman, that is all I have. I know what I said sort of blankets and is in a general sense as it does to what -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. WOODFORD: Just a second, Mr. Chairman, just to clue up. It is to say that I won't be speaking on any other clauses. I sort of generalized the whole thing. Where we can continue on with the next one, I guess I will have a few words on that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would rise to say a few words on this, An Act To Amend The Evidence Act, with respect to the evidence of a child. In doing so I want to refer to my rapidly becoming more learned friend from Humber Valley, and say to him that - I don't know if the Minister of Justice ever explained why he calls certain people his learned friends and other people not.

The practice before the courts is that while one lawyer is skewering the other lawyer's arguments he or she refers to their opponent as their learned friends. It means learned in the law. They say: With great respect to my learned friend. The more you praise them, if you think that your opponent is very stupid about what he is saying, it is: My very learned friend, or my most learned friend. The more you praise them, obviously the more you are actually in fact taking away from your respect for them.

But I do say in praise of my learned friend for Humber Valley, since he has taken on this justice portfolio as his critic area, he has in fact indeed become learned in the law, and is becoming more learned in the law as time goes on. It has been suggested by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs that the Member for Humber Valley, when he was promoting the cause of paralegals, that he had mixed motives because when he retires from this august House perhaps he might go into the practice himself.

That aside, Mr. Chairman, I want to make a couple of comments on the bill itself. Of course, a child is capable of giving an oath, and this provision - if I can perhaps clear up one point of confusion. The Member for Humber Valley was expressing concerns about a sixteen-year-old or a seventeen-year-old who enters into a contract which is now going to be made not only enforceable by him or her, but is now going to be made enforceable against him or her according to the new limitations act. The individual, the sixteen or seventeen-year-old, can now, and always has been able to, give evidence in a court by taking an oath. This legislation, though, is designed for circumstances where the judge is not satisfied that the child understands the meaning of an oath, and what an oath is. So this is reserved for those circumstances under the common law. Under the common law, if you can't testify under oath, you can't testify. We can't take your evidence if it is not under oath, because that is the way in which the court had to satisfy itself that only when someone was prepared to swear their oath that what they were saying was true, if you were not prepared to do that, the courts would say: Well, we don't want to hear from you. We are not prepared to listen to what you have to say. We are not prepared to consider it, even, as being true unless you are prepared to put yourself upon your oath and swear that it is true.

Of course, in former times, the fear of the wrath of God or the pains of hell was considered to be sufficient, and perhaps it was, at one time, sufficient to ensure that most people, at least, would be inclined to tell the truth if they swore an oath. I suppose, the passage of time and the changes in outlook and beliefs, obviously, has made that a very different matter, and now the pain of a charge of perjury, or either an oath, or a declaration under the Canada Evidence Act is considered sufficient warning to people not to swear false evidence. In fact, I think recently a young woman was given a six-month jail term for making false allegations against her boyfriend.

I don't know why they reserve these heavy sentences for women in these circumstances. It seems to me, I have heard of sentences of two and three months for perjury, where people have actually gone to court and testified under oath, not simply made an allegation, but went to court and testified under oath, and told lies in court, were proven wrong, and they get two or three month sentences. I think the sentence of six months for this woman is obviously a very serious sentence, and a recognition that the courts take very seriously issues of telling lies, or not telling the truth, when it comes to dealing with matters either before the courts or in terms of making allegations to the police. So, the importance of an oath, the oath part of it, the religious aspect of it, the fear of the wrath of God or the pains of hell, is no longer what the court relies on. They rely, indeed, on the powers of the court to put people in jail for perjury if they were to give false evidence. It doesn't always stop them, I say to hon. members. There are people who are quite prepared to tell lies in court, and stretch the truth. We even have RCMP officers in Ontario admitting that is a regular practice, and those of us who have practised criminal law, representing defendants, have experience of police officers inclined to give evidence that is designed to convict the person who they think is guilty rather than designed to tell the truth in courtrooms. And I think that is a common experience of people who practice before the courts, and it is one to be suppressed and stamped out wherever possible.

Here, we are talking about whether or not the evidence of children can be accepted where the child is not capable of giving an oath, doesn't understand the nature of an oath. A three or four-year-old doesn't have any idea what an oath is, really. Very few children of such an age would know what an oath is. I suppose, they might have an idea about the father or the uncle always swearing oaths.

MR. WOODFORD: Or eating them in the morning for cereal.

MR. HARRIS: Or, as the Member for Humber Valley says, eating them in the morning for cereal. That is the kind of understanding that a three, four, five, six or even sometimes a ten-year-old might have of what an oath is. So, these are issues that arise in the court, and the question is: How does a court satisfy itself that it should hear evidence from a child who doesn't understand the nature of an oath? This act will clarify that. There must be a promise to tell the truth and the courts must be satisfied that the child understands what it means to tell the truth and to be able to communicate the evidence. There are circumstances - I will give an example, I suppose, where it was very difficult for a child to give evidence.

I remember one time I was on Bell Island defending an individual who was charged with sexual assault of a child - a very serious charge, and my client was, in fact, in custody for a period of time even before the charge came to court. We went over for the trial, the matter was coming to trial and it was a summary conviction proceeding. The child, a six-year-old, was brought forward to give evidence. The child was still living in the same house with the family, and my client was there, because he denied the offense. The child was brought forward to give evidence, and came in, was brought in front of the courtroom; and on Bell Island, the court - I don't know if that is still the truth today, I have not been over there for a number of years practising court. But in those days the appearance of the court every second Thursday was an occasion for an audience and the courtroom was filled with people. The judge was holding court, this was just one of many cases, and the child was brought forward to give evidence and be examined. The child was so frightened that he couldn't really convince the judge that he could say anything. It was very difficult for him, in fact, to give evidence in those circumstances, because the child was intimidated, clearly, by the proceedings. As a result, the child was unable to give evidence and my client was acquitted.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. HARRIS: By leave? I just want to finish this story.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. CHAIRMAN: The hon. member, by leave.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I thank hon. members for leave.

My client was acquitted of the charge but the reality was that in fact no evidence was able to be called. I am not saying in this case, that justice wasn't done. My client was maintaining his innocence throughout, nevertheless, the evidence that had been given to the police satisfied them to lay a charge but it was not able to be presented to a court because the child was not, in those circumstances, capable of giving evidence. I have to say that my client was very pleased with the outcome, but it wasn't due to the brilliance of his counsel, I will assure hon. members. It was due to the fact - it was to the great relief of his counsel, because it wasn't my idea of a good time to have to cross-examine a six-year-old in an open court about what he was saying that my client had done to him. So, it is a situation that calls out for special intervention by the system.

My learned friend, the Member for Humber Valley has outlined a number of procedures that the federal act has encouraged in courts to allow children to be able to testify in circumstances where the system would otherwise be intimidating. So, in addition to having an act such as this, to amend the evidence act, there is an awful lot of procedural matters that judges should be encouraged to allow and recognize that a court - the judge runs the court. If you are going to be in my court, you are going to be testifying up here like everybody else. Well, that is not right if what we really want is the courts to get at the truth and to provide an opportunity for, in this case, a child who is intimidated by the proceedings, to be able to tell the truth. After all, when children come before a court, in these circumstances, it is not because they are out to get someone. They are there because something has happened, they want to be able to tell the story to the judge and to the court, in the hope that justice can be done and that further actions of this kind can be prevented or, indeed, a perpetrator be taken out of society if that perpetrator is causing that particular child and has the potential of causing other children great harm.

So I think there is great need for improvement in this area. The amendment to the evidence act will certainly clarify it in civil cases and I welcome the bill and commend it to hon. members.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I want to have a few comments to support the comments made by my colleagues who have just spoken.

What we really are trying to address here is the need to make our courts child-friendly, and also the need to have the courts recognize the nature of the child, and the nature of the child's development. Several weeks ago, I listened as Inspector Craig Kenny was speaking on television. He was giving some commentary on the nature of the child and on the court system, and how the two relate. In that particular interview, Inspector Kenny made note of section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada where, of course, that particular section basically gives schoolteachers, parents and persons standing in the place of a parent the authorization to inflict corporal punishment on a child.

Now, Mr. Chairman, that, in simple language means that from time to time, as Inspector Kenny said, when children report child abuse and physical abuse that is inflicted by people who have responsibility for their care - when it does get reported it is often just filed away. Because when the interview is done, the question comes up as to whether that force was reasonable in the circumstances. So we have to be very concerned that section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada is doing absolutely nothing to protect the child. Rather, section 43 gives the offender a defence, and that is not the intent of our laws. In essence, what section 43 does, is it gives a defence to the offender and does nothing to protect the interest of the child. Likewise in Newfoundland, I remind the Minister of Education and Training, there was a commitment by his government to look at the schools act. We are looking for amendments to that, and there is still a section there that deals with corporal punishment.

My colleagues, when they spoke, talked about developing a protocol to deal with the court preparation that is needed for children. I should remind members, or inform members, that in Manitoba, Ontario and British Columbia they do have such protocol procedures in place. In Newfoundland, we do not have a well-defined protocol agreement that outlines the interest of the child in terms of the child getting ready for court. We have to try to address that.

Also, I should note that the Supreme Court of Canada in 1993 upheld the validity of section 715.1 which deals with the use of videotaping. It has been challenged and with regards to the Supreme Court of Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the validity of videotaping evidence from a child, however, in Newfoundland today, we do not have that implemented so, Mr. Chairman, I am saying to the House that if the videotaping of a child's evidence has been proven to be constitutionally sound and as admissible evidence, we have to ask ourselves the question: why isn't it happening?

In that particular case, the judge in the Supreme Court of Canada said and I quote: It is less stressful and traumatic for the child and the adolescents and it aids, and I quote again: in the preservation of evidence and the discovery of the truth. Now, Mr. Chairman, when we have children going to court, we are trying to discover truth and so some of the suggestions made by my colleague from Humber Valley today, should be noted. We have this amendment to the Evidence Act, all I would ask is that we take notes, try to make it possible for the children to be heard and the children should be heard in an atmosphere where they are not being intimidated; when the offender is not permitted to be coughing or tapping his fingers or her fingers so that we can have intimidation occurring.

We know that in Newfoundland - I spoke before about the Supreme Court Judge in Grand Falls who was making some positive changes in his courtroom to facilitate the admission of evidence from children, we commend that and lastly, Mr. Chairman, I note in my comments, keep in mind a child's sense of time. Evidence will show that the majority of cases take a minimum of one year to go through the court system; Mr. Chairman, that's not good enough. A child's sense of time is such that a one-year span is a lifetime, so we should be saying to our courts: when we have children in court, we should say that we should have these prioritized so that a child is not held in limbo and go through that stress and anxiety over such a long period of time, so we should do the things that we commit ourselves to, and we shouldn't have children waiting that length of time, we should expedite the proceedings. We shouldn't have children in the same category of giving evidence, in the same forums, that we have for thirty-five years olds. We are saying: Look at the nature of the child, look at the child's development level, recognize the whole child development processes

Also, in our schools, whether it is professional schools, whether it is social work, whether it is medicine, whether it is the training for lawyers, we have to make sure that we have programs in place. For example, right now at Memorial University for social workers we have been told that there is a very minor part of the school's program dealing with child abuse. If fact, it is a very minor part of the program. Yet when social workers graduate, where is their first assignment? It often is in child protection. They are ill-equipped.

The training that they receive at Memorial University in social work ill equips a social worker to start the role of child protection. We ask the Minister of Education and Training if he would take note of that, because that has been said to us by the schools, been said to us by the professionals. They want more training and they want more commitment on the part of the government to make that training possible. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Evidence Act." (Bill No. 16)

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

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 33, An Act To Amend The Jury Act.

On motion, clause 1, carried.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Chairman, (inaudible).

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

MR. WOODFORD: Yes. Very little on this particular piece of legislation, Mr. Chairman, except for the fact that I can't remember, but I think he did, the Minister of Justice confirmed when I was speaking in second reading, and I think my colleague for St. John's East can probably confirm this for me, that section 8(2): a person who is not in receipt of income from wages of self-employment, unemployment insurance, social assistance, or pension... I think that the unemployment insurance and social services used to be considered as income. Now I think that a person can serve on a jury, and I think they are exempt, are they not, from UI -

MR. HARRIS: The problem was that UI cut them off if they were not available for work.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, if they were not available for work, but now it is okay, so that has been taken care of. That was the concern that I had there. I could not remember, I never looked in - because people, especially with -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

MR. WOODFORD: This is especially -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The Chair is having some difficulty hearing the hon. member.

MR. WOODFORD: This was especially true, especially with respect to our high unemployment rate. For seasonal workers in the Province and so on they would be off work for probably five, six, seven, eight or nine months, really, in some cases, so this would cut down on the number of people who could serve or else, worse still, they would be out of funding.

That is the only question that I had there. I think I asked it in second reading but I could not remember for sure whether it was... That was dealt with before, I think, it came to this one, so without anything further on that one, that is all I have to say on it.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I know that the Minister of Education is anxious to report to the Government House Leader how well he handled the morning, and he wants to get two or three bills passed. Maybe he will. We will watch the clock carefully. I don't have a lot to say on this bill at third reading. We had a number of questions at second reading in the House, but I will report to the House that at the Legislative Committee stage the Sheriff, the former Member for Grand Bank, the now High Sheriff of Newfoundland, showed up at the Legislative Committee and was able to answer a lot of the queries that had been raised in the House at second reading and provide satisfactory answers to them. So it is not necessary to move amendments at this stage as a result of those queries that were raised.

There was some discussion at the legislation committee, I should tell hon. members about - about the list of exemptions that is there. Members of this House are exempt, and so are the spouses of members of the House. I don't know why that needs to continue. There are a lot of jury exemptions there that make it, in some places, difficult to get juries. Some of them arise from historical reasons. At one time, all public servants - not just Department of Justice officials - but everybody who was in the public service and their spouses were exempt from jury duty. At one time it was thought that having people on a jury, if you were a public servant, that you would be inclined to go for the government case. Or perhaps it was there to prevent interference with public government activities. Nevertheless, it was there. That has been removed. Now, only Department of Justice workers are exempted.

Given the hour, unless there are other speakers who want to speak on this, I will just conclude my remarks and support the bill, and perhaps there will be time to have this reach third reading before the House adjourns.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act, 1991." (Bill No. 33)

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

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

MR. SPEAKER (L. Snow): Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Lewisporte.

MR. PENNEY: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report having passed Bill Nos. 9, 2, 16 and 33 without amendment, and ask leave to sit again.

On motion, report received and adopted, bills ordered read a third time on tomorrow. Committee ordered to sit again on tomorrow.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now adjourn until tomorrow, Monday at 2:00 p.m.

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