December 4, 1995           HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS            Vol. XLII  No. 68


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform hon. members that I will be making a formal Ministerial Statement to the House outlining how government plans to address the $60 million deterioration in the Province's financial position this year. That statement will be made tomorrow. In the meantime various departments of government will be giving layoff notices to staff beginning today and the details of government's financial measures will be available tomorrow as part of my statement.

Thank you.

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Speaker, there is not a great deal anyone can say about this. We are anxiously awaiting this Ministerial Statement. It is a little disconcerting I suppose that employees today are knowing there are people going to be laid off. They do not know how many are going to be laid off. The minister has not told us so I guess every employee in government today is shaking in his or her shoes waiting to see if that pink slip arrives. We certainly look forward to the minister's statement tomorrow and hope that he has some new and innovative ideas in here, not only to cut the deficit but to create some employment in this Province.

Oral Questions

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to be able to ask the Premier about the federal government's new UI/EI conversion that was announced on Friday but the day after the announcement he went off to Europe for a week. In the Premier's absence I will ask the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. The UI/EI conversion will probably have a greater effect on Newfoundland and Labrador than any other province, and it is imperative that we do a thorough analysis of its impact. Will the minister tell us his estimate of the net loss of federal funds flowing into the Province each year after the transition period as a result of the changes, and will the minister table the calculations the provincial government has done?

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

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

Let me say to the hon. Leader of the Opposition that of course this problem is something that government has been dealing with a long, long time and we decided that we would do it through out Social Policy Committee. I say to the hon. member that the Minister of Education, being the Chairman of that Social Policy Committee, will address on behalf of the government the federal government plan.

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

MR. DECKER: The hon. Leader of the Opposition is quite correct. Government has to do a thorough analysis, and government should indeed do a thorough analysis of the impacts of these reforms. The analysis is being done. One of the difficulties we are having, Mr. Speaker, most of the tools we use for analyzing such an impact are based on the old system where you required weeks but this system is being changed to hours and it is making it a little more difficult. Hopefully in the very near future we will be able to have an impact of what these actions will have on the Province.

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

MS VERGE: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Minister of Finance it is obvious that there is one possibility for saving some money and that is to reduce the Cabinet by at least one minister. The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations seems to be superfluous.

Let me ask a supplementary to the real Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the Minister of Education and Training, has the provincial government yet received the financial and economic analyses the federal government did on which Lloyd Axworthy based his announcements and if so, will the minister make it public by tabling it in the House? Will the minister table in the House the calculations the Premier told us last Thursday the Province did based on a variety of possible scenarios?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, as far as I know we have practically all the information that the federal government has chosen to make available. I am not sure if there is any specific thing she is talking about, we have all of the information and that is one of the problems we are having. For example, the information we have from the feds says that we are in receipt of $725 million a year in unemployment insurance. Now according to our own estimates we are only receiving somewhere in the vicinity of $650 million. So everything that the feds have put out is based on the $725 million unemployment insurance that we are receiving. The problem with the whole program that we are having, Mr. Speaker, there are two aspects to it, one is the unemployment insurance, the income, the insurance part of the program and the other is the income supplementation. Unemployment insurance in this Province has become income supplementation.

AN HON. MEMBER: No (inaudible).

MR. DECKER: And as he says, no, of course we all know that. Now, there does not seem to be any great major disagreement with the insurance aspect of this program. There is a leap of faith required with part two. If the federal minister is correct then the employment generators that he is talking about will work and the need for the unemployment insurance will not be as great but I have to be quite frank with the hon. lady that there is a leap of faith which we have to make and until we have the opportunity to analyze all the figures that are coming down from the federal government and our own estimates, it is difficult for us to say what impact it will have. I can tell the hon. lady that according to the federal minister himself, in the year 2001 we will be losing $138 million, now that is the federal figures. We will be losing $138 million out of the unemployment insurance fund but there will be $85 million reinvested into work stimulation, into trying to get the economy up and going, that is 2001. We don't have the breakdown for '97-'98 for '98-'99, '99-2000 and these sort of things. So we still don't have all the information but we are desperately struggling to get that.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A supplementary to the Minister of Education and Training.

The federal government announced a $300-million transition fund, $120 million of which is earmarked for the Atlantic Provinces. What amount of the transition fund does the minister believe Newfoundland and Labrador is entitled to, and who is going to fight for a fair share for Newfoundland and Labrador? How is this Province going to meet the competition from Premier Frank McKenna who is fighting for his province and the other Maritime premiers, when the Premier of this Province is over in Europe?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the quick answer is how much do I believe that the Province should have? The answer is, we should have the full $120 million, however that's not the way things have been done in the past. If it were based simply on population then we would be receiving about 27 per cent of the $120 million. If it is based on the unemployment in the region, which is the formula that ACOA uses, we would be getting about 30 per cent of the amount.

The hon. member will know that one of the things which Mr. Axworthy said, as a result of this reform, there will be opportunity for each province to negotiate with the federal government to determine how much we should get. We will be going after the maximum that we can get, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the Minister of Education and Training: In making his major announcement about UI on Friday, Lloyd Axworthy said the federal government will no longer purchase training courses, whether from the provinces, public or private institutions. Mr. Axworthy said funding for training could be provided directly to individuals to provinces or third parties depending upon what is negotiated with each province.

Can the minister give us any assurance that the level of federal training funding, coming into Newfoundland and Labrador next year and beyond, will not drop below the approximately $50-million level it is this year?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. lady seems to have some understanding of this, not the full understanding obviously. The established program financing is where the money to post-secondary education use to come into the Province and within that fund the $50 million she is talking about would probably be the total amount, within that fund there was a category which was government to government purchases. This is where the federal government would buy from our public institutions some seats - manpower seats, we used to call them. They, last year, took $2 million out of that $7 million fund. This announcement would give the indication that it would completely disappear next year, but that is not the case. It is going to be phased down over a year or two, depending on the deal that we can make, but the hon. lady is quite correct, that from here on there will have to be negotiations between the Province and the federal government to determine how much will come in. The federal minister is quite adamant when he says there will be no more government to government purchases except for a phase-out. There will be no more government to institution purchases. This is where the fund - that is correct, where the schools used to be funded.

The federal minister is still talking about a voucher system, which will go directly to the student, and then the student will buy a seat into a college. That detail has not been fully worked out, and I am sure the hon. member will be impatient about that, but I can tell you we, too, are impatient; we want to get all the details, but we cannot tell her exactly what it will do because there is going to be some negotiating there.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

So the minister has confirmed that the federal government, through human resources development, will no longer be purchasing seats from public or private training institutions; neither will the federal government be extending UI or EI for students. Will the minister tell us what objectives he and the provincial government have set for themselves in heading into negotiations with the federal government?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I do not intend today to tell the hon. Leader of the Opposition exactly what we are going to negotiate with the federal government. That would be a negotiating exercise that we will have to go through. I can assure her, though, that it will be our intention, it will be in the interest of the people of the Province, that we get the best possible deal that we can, and we will be doing that, but I think it would be highly inappropriate for me today to tell the hon. Leader of the Opposition, or anybody else, exactly what we are going to do in our negotiations. That would be a bit presumptuous; that would be insulting to the people with whom we are going to negotiate. I can assure her, though, that after the negotiations have taken place we will be quite prepared to make available to her, and to the people of this Province, exactly what our position is.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I say to the minister, the people of the Province are entitled to know the principles the Province has adopted to guide its negotiations with the federal government. There is a tremendous amount at stake.

Now, will the minister tell us his timetable for working out the new federal/provincial training arrangement, and will the minister indicate what changes he foresees for the academic year that starts September, 1996?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I already told the hon. member that there is a phase-down for the government to government seat purchase, so that will certainly help us but, no, I cannot give her today all the details. We have to work that out. We've been working on this, I should tell the hon. member, for the last little while, because we were aware that there were going to be some major changes. In last year's Budget it was announced that the government to government seat purchases would disappear. There is some leeway and there is some phase-down, but the actual details of what we are going to put forward, I can assure the hon. member that it will be in the best interests of the people of this Province and the students of this Province. I'm not going to get up today and make some announcement as to something we are going to do until we have thought it fully through.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations regarding the same issue. I'm not sure why the Minister of Education and Training chooses to answer these questions. Probably it is because he has begun the demolition of the health care system, now the education system, and he wants to participate in the demolition of the UI program. I would hope the real Minister of Employment and Labour Relations would respond to my questions.

On Friday the federal minister announced drastic changes to the unemployment insurance program. While the Premier of this Province stated on national radio that this is a marvellous program - and many Newfoundlanders I may say don't share his view that it is indeed a marvellous beginning - I would like to ask the minister to explain how eligibility is determined. I would like for him to take, for example, that if a construction worker works sixty hours a week for ten weeks earning 600 hours, far more than the 420 hours that are required, will this worker be eligible for employment insurance after the ten weeks and the 600 hours? If he is not eligible after these ten weeks, when would he be eligible and how much would he receive a week?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is wondering why I'm answering the question. It is quite logical. These reforms which the federal minister announced last week, or yesterday, on the weekend, apply to the Departments of Education and Training, Social Services, Employment and Labour Relations, Health, and various other departments in government. We have in government as hon. members know a Social Policy Committee of which I happen to be chair. Rather than having all ministers try to address the answers to the questions, we as a government decided that the chairman of social policy would deal with it. That is why.

In his preamble he talks about the Premier calling this a marvellous reform, or something to that effect. Once again the hon. member is taking the Premier out of context. At no time did the Premier say this was a marvellous thing. The Premier talked about the meeting he had with the minister, and he talked -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier made no reference to content. He talked about - it was a good meeting. The federal minister had explained that there will be an opportunity for each province to enter into a bilateral agreement with the Federal Government.

Now, as for the details of this program, I'm not going to get up and defend the Federal Government. It is their program. I will tell the hon. member that because of the change from weeks to hours I can give him a few little illustrations. A normal week will be thirty-five hours. So a construction worker who works for seventy hours in one week actually gets two weeks worth of stamps. When he applies for the unemployment insurance -

AN HON. MEMBER: How many stamps do you have?

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, obviously the Opposition don't take this very seriously. They think it is a big, laughing, joking matter. If they ask serious questions, that is part of their duty as Opposition members. They should ask questions so that the people of the Province can understand what is going on. Then they have to give the people of whom they ask the question the opportunity to get up and give an answer. That is part of their duty and it is part of the parliamentary institution, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to the answer.

MR. DECKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. They won't let me answer.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Burin - Placentia West, on a supplementary.

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, many people in the Province would hope that this was a joke rather than reality, I say to the minister. It was not I who said the Premier stated that it was a marvellous meeting or a marvellous program; it was the CBC radio news. The national news in the morning newscast said that even the Premier of Newfoundland has described it as marvellous, after the meeting with the Federal Minister and the Prime Minister - that is who the Premier said it to.

A second question to the minister. Now that he won't answer if that person can qualify after ten weeks or if he has to wait for sixteen weeks; he won't answer that question, let me ask him this: What is the maximum number of weeks a claimant will be able to receive EI based on the minimum requirements?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, the details of this program are better addressed to the federal minister. The reality is, that will vary again throughout the Province, it is my understanding. A person who finally gets on, it is going to be, I think, in the vicinity of forty-five weeks you can collect for. At the moment you (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Yes. These are details, Mr. Speaker. We have to react to the impact that the whole thing is going to have on the Province. But the details of the program, I don't have them in my head.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to believe that they advocate it as being a marvellous program and yet they don't know the details of what this marvellous program is all about.

Let me ask the minister this question: Out of that fund to which he is referring, how much money from that $300 million they are talking about, will Newfoundland receive per year? Over how many years will they receive this money? What will be the type of work projects that are going to be available and who will administer or sponsor these projects?

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

MR. DECKER: The hon. member will know, when his leader asked the same question, I explained that the formula has not yet been determined as to how much each province will receive. As I said, if we base it on unemployment, we will be entitled to about 30 per cent of the fund. If we base it on population we will be entitled to about 27 per cent of the fund; if we base it on the population of Canada, we will get 2.2 per cent of the fund, so that is a detail that we don't have worked out.

As I pointed out earlier when I was addressing this question, Mr. Speaker, there are two aspects to this. One is the insurance part of the Unemployment Insurance Program or the Employment Insurance Program. The insurance part of it, if a person loses his or her job, there is an insurance there to help that person as he or she is waiting for a new job. For the income supplementation of the program, the federal minister is talking about making available a fund, and this is one aspect of it. Other areas of funding will be made available.

What the Federal Government is saying, and they use one year only as an illustration - in the year 2001-2002, this Province, according to the Federal Government, will lose $138 million in direct unemployment insurance payments. At the same time, the re-investment will be in the vicinity of $85 million for a net loss of 7 per cent, Mr. Speaker. These are the federal figures. We have not been able to verify them or not verify them at this present time, and that is part of the exercise we are going through.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, over the last month when we were asking questions in the House of this government as it relates to the UI changes that this government is going to implement, we were constantly told by the Premier, the minister and others, that they couldn't comment, that they were waiting to see what the Federal Government was going to announce before they could comment.

Mr. Speaker, we have seen, we now have proof of the kick that the Federal Government has given to seasonally-employed people in this Province and, indeed, the whole Province. Let me ask the minister: Is he going to sit idly by now again and wait until the Federal Government announces what portion of this funding we are going to receive for training, of this $300 million, or is he going to stand up and fight for Newfoundlanders and do something that is right and proper for a change?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, there is a difference in fighting and posturing.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. DECKER: I can tell the hon. member that his former leader, the former Premier Peckford, postured as fighting the time he had the big diatribe about `They sold the shop, they sold the shop'; all he did was, he made a fool of himself. All he did, Mr. Speaker, was make a fool of himself in the eyes of the people of this Province and the eyes of the people across the country. We will not be posturing, but I can assure you that just as we have done in the past, we will be putting forward a case on behalf of the people of this Province which will be for the ultimate good. But if the hon. member is asking me if I am going to get out and make a fool of myself saying: `They sold the shop, they sold the shop', no, Mr. Speaker, that's not the way we play. We will represent the Province adequately, as we have always done.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Waterford - Kenmount.

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs.

About twenty homes in the community of Harcourt near Clarenville have experienced well pollution as a consequence of an agricultural operation. It began as a vegetable farm, it became a dairy farm in the last several years. Residents want to know who is responsible for correcting their problems and what remedial actions the minister has taken to address their concerns?

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, the hon. the Member for Trinity North who represents Harcourt - and by the way, I want to let the hon. member know Harcourt Monroe is my town as well, that's where my parents came from, so I am well aware of the area, and quite proud of it to be honest about it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) $13,000.

MR. REID: Yes, we provided $13,000 to the community in this round of infrastructure money and they are using it now. As far as I know, they have dug, I think, and tested three different sites for three different wells and they are having problems trying to find water. Now the problem with the water is that some residents are taking the water out of a brook or a stream and they are saying that the water is being polluted by a farm up river further. We addressed the problem, we had our people go out and look at the problem and certain times in the year the faecal content or the contamination content is higher then others and we thought at the time that it was necessary to spend that money. So it is an ongoing investigative type of thing going on out there now. We are trying to find a solution to the water problem that they have and as soon as we do we will have to look for the money I guess, to provide it to the community - to provide adequate drinking water to those people.

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

MR. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I wonder if the minister could confirm as to whether or not the Kitchener Pelley Farm obtained environmental approvals prior to the conversion from vegetables to dairy operations?

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

MR. REID: No, Mr. Speaker, I don't know. I really don't know. It would not come under my department anyway and I guess he will have to direct the question to the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture, I don't know.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, if I could I would like to address that question to the appropriate minister to see if there was an environmental study completed before the Kitchner- Pelley Farm was permitted to switch from root crops to a dairy operation?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture.

DR. HULAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am glad my friends across the way have finally addressed me properly, that is quite good.

I don't know the particular case you are referring to but normally, unless there were something very, very different about the area, I would think that an environmental assessment would not be necessary under normal circumstances. As to whether there was an environmental assessment done, I really cannot tell you but I certainly will look into the specific case and report back.

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

MR. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, my information tells me that the wells that have been drilled thus far have been non-productive in terms of procuring water. It will take about $2.5 million to bring a water supply from the nearest pond or river over about a 2 kilometre distance. Residents want to know again, who will be responsible? They did not create the problem but they are the victims of it. I wonder if I could ask the question to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs?

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

MR. REID: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I was just talking to my colleague from Trinity North. I am sorry, I apologize, I did know. The original question that I referred to my colleague was, did they have a permit to operate? Yes, the permit was granted prior to 1989, I believe it was '88 or '87. So it was the previous government that gave that farm the permit to operate, I think that is clear. The other question is purely hypothetical, $2.5 million for a water and sewage system or a water system for Harcourt, that is what you are asking me about, Mr. Speaker, I am not in any position here today to make any comment about whether or not this government or anyone would provide the funding. Let them continue drilling and if they can find a well suitable, we will look at providing them with the funding necessary to get drilled well water to as many houses as we possibly can. We will look at it. I am not in any position to make any other comment other then that. I am going to do whatever I can to help the people in Harcourt and the Monroe area. Like the hon. member knows, I will try to do as I do with every community in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

It was reported on Friday, December 1, at approximately 8:30 a.m. that a school bus travelling between Purbeck's Cove and West Port on the Baie Verte Peninsula, with eight school children on board encountered some icy road conditions and subsequently skidded off the road. I wonder if the minister could update us on what his officials have reported about that particular incident?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I have had a full report since Friday afternoon about the incident involving the school bus on the Purbeck's Cove Road on Friday. It was not as stated in a press release given by the hon. member, not even closely stated, and I am getting sick and tired, personally, of dealing with inaccuracies in this hon. House of Assembly by hon. members opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay on a supplementary.

Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the Minister that he is going to be more sick and tired of me if he doesn't pay attention to what people are telling him, especially in rural Newfoundland.

Mr. Speaker, I asked the minister for his report from his officials. He did not give it here, but just said that it was inaccurate. I can tell the minister that I spoke with the parents - one of the parents who had three children on that school bus - I spoke to the principal of the school, and I spoke to the bus driver himself; that is where I got my report. That is why I asked the minister what his report was all about. I have also checked with his own officials and found out that there were - the minister keeps repeating that there are no lay-offs -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: - no reductions in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is on a supplementary. I ask him to get to his question.

MR. SHELLEY: - that there were no reductions on the Baie Verte Peninsula. His officials have told me already this morning that there have been nine lay-offs with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation. Can the minister confirm that there were nine lay-offs on the Baie Verte Peninsula with the Department of Works, Services and Transportation, and the man who formerly did the sanding on that particular road where the incident occurred was one of the people who was laid off this year.

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

MR. EFFORD: If I find out that one of the employees of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation is giving out false information, as he is stating in this House of Assembly, there will be more lay-offs on the Peninsula.

I am telling this hon. House of Assembly, the lay-offs under the Department of Works, Services and Transportation were totally restructuring, mechanical and labourers and clerks and, in the case of trucks, I pointed out to this Province thousands of times, we do not need two people driving the one truck.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: What happened on Friday morning is total misinformation in this House of Assembly, and an exaggeration by the member opposite.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is time for one quick supplementary. The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, first of all, there were no two drivers because there was no truck; there was nothing there. Eight o'clock in the bloody morning -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SHELLEY: Eight-thirty in the morning, when children are driving on these icy road conditions -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member has time for one quick supplementary.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the minister: Were there reductions in the Department of Works, Services and Transportation on the Baie Verte Peninsula?

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, there have been reductions in staff all over this Island. What happened there Friday was not, and nor could it even be possibly, closely related to the changes in operational staff of the department. There was a build up of ice on the road. The bus driver went down over it - he went down over it - and picked up the kids after driving over a small spot of ice on the road. It had nothing to do with lay-offs, and the hon. member knows full well what I am saying is correct.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The time for Oral Questions has elapsed.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. MURPHY: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act To Amend The Shops Closing Act.

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

MR. REID: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on tomorrow I will ask leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act To Amend The St. John's Assessment Act.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled An Act To Amend The Mineral Act.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, two notices.

May I give notice that I shall on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following bills, entitled:

An Act Respecting Provincial Offenses; and,

An Act To Remove Anomalies And Errors In The Statute Law.

That is the infamous Attorney General's bill we see each year.

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

MR. TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I give notice I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce the following resolution:

Whereas the federal government has introduces a new employment insurance plan replacing the existing unemployment program;

And whereas this new plan will negatively affect many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn the actions of the federal government for implementing this attack on Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

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

MR. MANNING: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that on tomorrow I will move the following resolution:

Whereas the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has the responsibility to create an atmosphere where there will be an incentive for people to join the workforce;

And whereas the recently announced employment insurance program will be based to some extent on hours of work versus weeks;

And whereas many people in today's society have no alternative but to be employed in part-time work;

And whereas the cost of living has increased in recent years and the collapse of the fishery has had a domino affect on many indirect jobs;

And whereas the minimum wage of Newfoundland and Labrador is at $4.75 per hour, the lowest in Canada along with Prince Edward Island;

Be it therefore resolved that as of April 1, 1996 the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador increase the minimum wage rate in this Province to $5.75 per hour.

Petitions

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

MR. A. SNOW: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise and present a petition in this House on behalf of the undersigned people, the residents of Labrador City and Wabush.

The prayer of the petition is: Whereas because of budgetary restraint new school busing proposals are unrealistic and dangerous, and whereas extreme climatic conditions and local conditions force students to use school buses, therefore your petitioners humbly pray that the government allocate necessary funding to permit the continuing operation of a safe and reliable school busing program in Western Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, the people in Western Labrador have been accustomed to busing for the last twenty-eight to thirty years, a safe reliable school busing system that was designed around the parameters set and paid for by residents of the area. It wasn't as is occurring by this particular government, it wasn't somebody setting down the parameters in St. John's and deciding: This is what has to be done. Because it can work in St. John's, it has to work in Labrador City and Wabush.

That is what is happening now, and that is what is upsetting the people of Labrador City and Wabush. The fact that people think they can pass a silly little regulation in their Cabinet room here in Confederation Building and say: That is the way it has to be done. Not taking into consideration the extreme climatic conditions or the geography of Western Labrador. They don't understand what happens up there, and that is why the people in Western Labrador are visibly upset about it.

We have ministers such as the Minister of Education and Training who expressed his ignorance here in question period today about the unemployment insurance reforms that this government went along with. We saw what he did there. He rolled over, played dead, and said: It is good for Ottawa, it is good for us in Newfoundland. That is the attitude that got us the EI reforms. If it is good for Ottawa it is good for this Province.

That is not the way the residents of Labrador City and Wabush feel. It may be good for St. John's, it may be good for the Minister of Education and Training, for his budget, but it is not good for the children in Labrador City and Wabush to not have the adequate and safe reliable busing that they have become accustomed to, and deserve. The people in Labrador City and Wabush want this minister to change his attitude. The people of Western Labrador want the minister to change his attitude with regard to the delivery of a safe and reliable busing system and to implement the program so that next year the people can count on the busing system to be reliable and safe.

Now, Mr. Speaker, this government thinks they can save $330,000 on the backs of the children of Labrador City and Wabush, and that means triple busing. It means kids will have to eat their lunch in the lockers or in a snowbank, or somewhere inside the school, in a gymnasium, or wherever it is going to be, because the five schools in Western Labrador are not equipped with cafeteria facilities. There will be no lunch period busing in Western Labrador under the proposal set down by this government. It also means that children will be leaving their home at 7:10 in the morning to catch a bus at 7:15 or 7:20 when it is pitch black in April. It is unsafe, there are ten foot snowbanks, and narrow streets because of the extreme climatic conditions, but people in the Cabinet do not recognize that.

They do not understand the geography or the climatic conditions of Labarador City and Wabush, Mr. Speaker, and because they are forcing the triple busing on the people it is going to be unsafe for their children. I mentioned in this House last week that a mother wanted me to ask the minister, and all the ministers, what they felt the value of her child's life was worth. They are going to save $300,00 but she says her child is worth more than $300,000 to her. I do not know what their price on their children is, or her child, but she feels that this Cabinet does not feel that her child is worth the $300,000, and she does not agree with them. She feels that her child's life is a priceless commodity and it should be treated with respect, and more respect than this government has been giving these people.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. A. SNOW: By leave.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes.

MR. A. SNOW: The people of Western Labrador want the government to rethink their busing schedules in Labrador. They want this government to outline a policy that will allow the people of Western Labrador to implement, or continue with the program that is presently offered, one that is safe and reliable. It is not a large consideration considering the amount of contribution that the people of Western Labrador make to the provincial coffers. They contribute more per capita than any other resident in the Province and they feel they have earned and paid for, and have shown this Province that they are willing to contribute to the overall economy but they want to be treated with a little bit of respect and they also want this government, and especially the Minister of Education to start considering that when they offer a plea for their child's safety they do not think it is nonsense, which is what he is recorded as having said with regard to his proposals for the change in busing in Western Labrador.

They do not think it is nonsense. They think this minister should show to them that he is willing to offer their children a safe and reliable bus system so that they can enjoy the privileges of going to school without having to endure the hardships. He knows, yet refuses to do anything to guarantee their safety with regard to attending school in Western Labrador. They want the minister to respond in a responsible manner and not to just utter the word `nonsense' because that should never be said when you are talking about the safety of children. The safety of children is paramount in this and the minister should recognize this, and that is what he should always be considering. Instead of saying it does not matter about the children in Western Labrador he should consider their safety.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, the minister -

MR. TOBIN: A former President of the NTA is making his withdrawal leave.

MR. A. SNOW: The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation and the former President of the NTA concurs with what I am saying, that children's safety should be paramount, we should have a safe and reliable busing system in Labrador City and Wabush, and that the minister should tell his officials now to redraw the parameters around what the busing is going to be designed in Western Labrador so that the children of Labrador City and Wabush will know that next year they will have a safe and reliable busing system.

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 Menihek, representing the concerns and wishes of Labrador City - Wabush, and school busing and safety.

Now, Mr. Speaker, it is a very important matter, very important to the people of Labrador West, but very important to people in all areas of this Province today and communities in this Province. The issue was raised today by the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay about a busing incident in his district over the weekend. Mr. Speaker, it is all over this Province, the concerns for safety on the highways,and particularly with busing safety,I say. And we see how seriously the government treats these kinds of issues today. We saw the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, in essence, issue threats to employees of his department, that if they open their mouths, if they indeed tell the truth about the situations in their areas, they will be fired.

MR. EFFORD: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, on a point of order.

MR. EFFORD: This is the problem that I have with the people opposite - giving out wrong information. I said very clearly, that if I found out or if the hon. member could tell me who is passing out false information, false information -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Grand Bank.

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

Mr. Speaker, let me say that the false information that has been given out in this House has not been coming from the employees of the department, Mr. Speaker. It is not from the employees of the department that the false information is coming, and the minister can try all he likes to defend the indefensible out and about the highways, and what's happening in this Province, he can try all he likes, but once again, we see from this minister an issue of threats, trying to muzzle the people of this Province to not tell the truth of what the highway conditions really are and what particular time of day, Mr. Speaker, the sand trucks are out on the road. That's the problem, Mr. Speaker, and I want to support the Member for Menihek in his petition today. He does have a very legitimate concern for Labrador West, conditions are different down there, weather conditions are harsher. It is darker at different times of day when kids go to school and so on, Mr. Speaker, and they deserve a safe bus system.

Let me just say to the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, it was only Saturday, that I left this city around twelve o'clock to go to the Burin Peninsula, Mr. Speaker. And between Goobies and Terrenceville, I say to the minister, it was absolutely treacherous at 2:00 p.m., absolutely treacherous on that highway. I asked the person who was working in a service station there when they first saw a piece of equipment and it was an hour earlier, at 1:00 p.m. that they had first seen a piece of equipment. And I drove through it myself, snow, four to six inches deep and mild conditions.

If the equipment had been out in the morning as it should have been, there would have been safe driving conditions. Now that's what is going on in this Province, I say to the minister. Equipment is being deployed too late in the day for whatever reason. It is either cutbacks - as the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay has said, it is either cutbacks, Mr. Minister or, it is that the people who should be doing the job are not doing it. Now, it is one of two things, and I say to the minister, it is cutbacks. There are nine people laid off on the Baie Verte Peninsula, all over this Province, in highway depots, there are people laid off, they are kept on in the summertime when the need is not as great and they are laid off now in the Fall, I say to the minister, when they are needed most. Now, that's what is happening, I say to the minister.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. W. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, I stood in my place to support the Member for Menihek's petition; they have a very legitimate concern down there for school busing and bus safety and I just hope the Minister of Education and Training will see fit to make sure that they keep a bus system that's safe for their children in that area.

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I have sat in this House for the last two weeks listening to the Member from Labrador West posturing, and if you were to listen to the hon. member, you would think that we had cut the guts out of the busing system in Labrador West. It is the same technique used by his colleague, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay who got up and shouted like Matilda that the house is on fire, and when you go and look there is no fire there at all. The problem with this, Mr. Speaker, is when members start doing that over there, after awhile - I mean, how many times can you panic? How many times can people scream fire before you stop listening to them? One of these days I am afraid that something is going to happen because we are not going to believe them when they come forward. How often do you believe people going on with foolishness?

Now, Mr. Speaker, I went and made it my business to see what was really happening in Labrador West. Listening to the hon. member, it was not safe for children to go to school, it was a danger to poke your nose out through the door on any day up in Labrador West. It almost sounded like the whole place was planted with some sort of land mines or something. It frightened the life out of me. So I checked into it and what are we doing? Now, Mr. Speaker, there is a policy on busing in this Province which applies to everyone whether you live in St. John's or Nain, or no matter where you live. However, Mr. Speaker, we make special provisions for Labrador during the cold months of the year, between November and April. The 1.6 rule doesn't qualify, they are different. We recognize that there is a problem with the cold weather; however, there are certain standards which must apply to everybody in the Province.

One of the problems, Mr. Speaker, is the lunch hour run. Now, nowhere in this Province does the government pay for the lunch hour run. We have found, as we looked at the system, that there are cases where boards have been manipulating and they have been paying for it. One was in Englee, up in my own riding, which we picked up last year and advised the board, no, you are not supposed to do lunch hour runs. If the parents want to get together and pay for a lunch hour run, then sobeit, do it, but that is a policy we don't stand for. Another policy which we have, Mr. Speaker, is that a bus will only make four stops in a given area. That is the rule throughout the Province; it is the rule in Happy Valley, it is the rule in Labrador West, Mr. Speaker. So we don't see why we are putting any hardship on the people by doing it. Now, notwithstanding that, buses are driven by human beings who have a fair amount of common sense, and if there is a stormy day, if there are some extenuating circumstances, nobody is going to be fired if you make five stops. Now, Mr. Speaker, all we are tying to do is treat the people of Labrador West fairly as we treat the people of Happy Valley fairly and at this moment no changes have been made. All the boards are doing - they have been directed by the Department of Education to look at their busing and see where we can bring them in line with what we are doing in Happy Valley.

Now, the hon. member gets up and makes a statement that because the people in Labrador West are making more money then the people, say, in Harbour Deep, then they should get special treatment. They should be given a little extra back. Now, Mr. Speaker, that is not the way democracies operate. That is not the way Canada, the United States of America, it is not the way any of the great democracies work. If you were to carry that argument to its logical conclusion, Mr. Speaker, we would have a society very much different from the one that we have and the hon. member would not want to live in such a society. You would end up into a user-pay and those who could afford to pay for a particular level of service would get it and those who could not would have to do without it. So that argument is the argument I am talking about as being utter nonsense, when the hon. member gets up and suggests that because people make more pay they should be treated with more respect. In a democracy, Mr. Speaker, we are all equal under the law, and the person who, through no fault of his own, finds himself or herself without a job is just as valuable to this society as the person who is making a million dollars a month. I am not going to buy into this Tory nonsense that the hon. member is talking about that somehow we have to treat someone special because he happens to make $50,000 or $60,000 a month or something. Mr. Speaker, we are not going to buy into that kind of nonsense. We will treat the people of Labrador West fairly as we treat the people in Happy Valley fairly, as we treat the people in Goose Bay fairly, as we treat the people in Pouch Cove fairly - we will not be getting into the nonsense he is getting on with. He wants some special treatment because they are making more money. We are not going to stand for that.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay on a petition.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have a petition on behalf of the constituents of Baie Verte - White Bay:

We, the residents of the Baie Verte Peninsula, are very concerned with the recent cutbacks to the Department of Transportation. We believe that these cutbacks will seriously affect the safety as well as the overall quality of transportation on the Baie Verte Peninsula. We urge the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to reconsider these reductions in order to ensure that safety and quality in road transportation is retained at an acceptable and safe level.

Mr. Speaker, today during Question Period -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Today, during Question Period, I had the intention of rising in this House to be very serious and sincere with the minister - we did get rushed in the last few minutes because it was the closing of Question Period - to ask some serious questions. And the whole intent of the questions today was for the minister to take the matter seriously, to take this as a wake-up call. There was no fabrication, no false information - and I was asking the minister to seriously have another look at the cutbacks in his department this year, realizing fiscal constraints, realizing the responsibility of government and so on. And, instead of getting a serious answer, what we got from this minister was the lowest that a minister could stoop to, threatening people who gave information.

Mr. Speaker, let me tell the minister where I got my information. First of all, the students, who were scared to death that morning on the bus -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: I am telling the minister where I got my information. Now, he can take appropriate action, like he says.

The eight students on the bus were scared to death when the bus slipped to one side of the road, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DECKER: (Inaudible) passengers.

MR. SHELLEY: Eight passengers. What difference is it, I ask the Minister of Education, if it is one child, or eight children, or fifty?

AN HON. MEMBER: Eight doesn't count.

MR. SHELLEY: Eight doesn't count?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: I will challenge the Minister of Education and Training, like I did with the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation, to tell me what information I am giving here is incorrect.

Eight children on the bus, those were the people who were worried. The parents in that community, and one parent, in particular, who had three children on the bus, was very, very upset - all three of her children were on that bus. She was very upset. She reported to me exactly what happened, the principal at the school reported to me exactly what happened, the bus driver, himself, reported to me what happened and, last but not least, I could not get in touch with this person, but one of the people who had been let go from last year. So the only one that the minister had a chance at, out of the six people I have had information from, was the fellow he already laid off. So, I say to the minister, you can't lay him off the second time, he is already gone.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the information is straightforward and simple, and he can go there; as a matter of fact, the CBC cameras are there today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: That bus skidded on a very icy patch of road. No, it didn't go off the road - the minister is half right. Do you know why it didn't go off the road? Because it hit trees on the side of the road that kept it on. That is what happened, and right next to those trees was a forty-foot drop. Now, I said forty-foot, and I was corrected by the people in Westport this morning; they said it is more like sixty-foot, so I apologize for that misinformation.

The truth and the seriousness of this situation is: that bus skidded on a road that was not sanded at 8:30 a.m. which, last year and the year before, it was confirmed by residents, ever year up to this year, it was sanded in the a.m. so that bus could travel a very dangerous road on the Baie Verte Peninsula, probably the worst one there; and it was confirmed by his own officials that it is probably the worst road on the Baie Verte Peninsula, very hilly, very narrow. So there is no doubt about it that that road is in that type of condition.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, the bus driver is an experienced bus driver with no record of accidents, a very careful bus driver. So what I asked the minister about was a serious, serious situation that could have happened. And I was about to end up with my questions today until he put the kibosh on the whole situation and started to threaten people who were giving information, and talked about laying off people.

I was asking the minister if he would seriously reassess the cutbacks on the Baie Verte Peninsula, but then, in the next breath, the minister is saying, `There are no cutbacks'. Now, unless I am missing something here, when you take nine employees out of the winter maintenance program on the Baie Verte Peninsula, or any other part of this Province, what do you call that? It is a cutback.

Now, the first thing the minister has to do, like anybody who has a problem - if you have a problem with alcoholism, you admit the problem first and then you fix it. Well, the first thing this minister has to do is admit, even to this extent... I ask the minister, in all seriousness, just to reconsider, reassess, if indeed there were cutbacks in any part of this Province, and ask himself this, because I do not want to point the finger at the minister, as he keeps saying. I don't want to point the finger at him and talk about an accident which I think could have been corrected without this, if there wasn't a cutback.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time has elapsed.

MR. SHELLEY: By leave, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. SHELLEY: The Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is withdrawing leave?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I stand to support my colleague's petition today dealing with transportation, and the initiative he put forward, and to see what happened -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the Member for Kilbride, and I notice that there are a number of members who are interfering and interrupting with conversation back and forth across the House. I ask the hon. members to let the hon. Member for Kilbride speak.

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

As I said, I stand to support the member's petition put forward today. It is interesting to hear what the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation said, that he is sick and tired of hearing false information being brought forward in the House.

The reality is very easy - the minister can stand and respond to this petition after I have finished speaking and have taken my seat. Have there been layoffs in that area, yes or no? Our information is that there have been nine layoffs in that area. Was there a sand truck that went over that area prior to school buses going there that morning, yes or no? But the reality is, no, there was not. The Leader of the Opposition indicated that the school bus went off the road and the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation said no, it did not. The only reason it did not go off the road and down a thirty-foot to forty-foot embankment was because it was saved by a cluster of birch trees - that is the reality of it.

When the members on this side of the House stand and present petitions given to them by their constituents and their districts, and to have ministers such as the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation stand up in this House and say that he is sick and tired of false allegations, and then publicly saying: If you will tell me who from my department is giving you false information, there will be more layoffs. The reality is, there was no false information given. It is a clear-cut issue. Either a sand truck sanded the road where there were icy conditions prior to school buses travelling over them, or it did not. In this case, there were not necessarily any layoffs because there weren't any people hired to take care of it. There was no truck. There was no sanding took place on that road during that time.

The minister can spin out information, he can put a particular spin on the situation that probably reflects a point of view that he wants reflected, but it does not change the reality, that a shortage of staff, a claw-back in his department's budget, layoffs that have occurred throughout the Province, will impact upon the ability to maintain safe roads for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. He cannot, in any way, shape or form, Mr. Speaker, dispute that. Thank you very much.

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

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I respect what the hon. member just said there. I understand the point he is making about the responsibility of the Department of Works, Services and Transportation to provide safe driving conditions, not only for school buses but for all trucks. That is the point the hon. member is making and he is quite right.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Ah, boy, shut up now and listen for a second.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

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

MR. EFFORD: If this is as serious as both hon. members said, then the hon. people in the front benches should at least give me an opportunity to explain it. If you don't want it I will sit down.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, we have a responsibility to provide safe conditions. On Friday morning the foreman was on duty, so was the driver. And the sand truck was there on duty. That section of road was not sanded. It was the only icy spot on the whole of that area - there were good weather conditions - because of an ice build-up. But the fact, it was not sanded - and the fact is, we did have employees working that morning, so it has nothing to do with cutbacks.

I am having an investigation made into why it wasn't sanded. That is a different matter. But it certainly wasn't because there wasn't staff there. If I find out that there was a human reason for it, that it should have been sanded and it wasn't, then I will take appropriate action. But it was not because we have laid off people in the area. It is a different situation altogether.

Now, I am being blamed, as minister, for laying off too many people in the department, causing a hazard on our highways. Just listen: In 1983 there were 230,000 vehicles on our highway. We had 103 deaths, with all the snow clearing equipment and staff they had there. In 1994 there were 415,579 vehicles on the road and we were down from 103 fatalities to 35, double the amount of vehicles and one third of the deaths. So far this year, with all the layoffs they said we have, we have twenty, so far as of the end of September, highway fatalities this year, down from 103 back in 1983, with all the massive layoffs and cutbacks that the hon. member and my critic for St. John's East Extern has been espousing in the House of Assembly. You had better get your facts right, and if you are going to make accusations, if you are going to ask questions, get your facts right. Accidents are down 40 per cent with twice as many vehicles on the road, fatalities thirty-five compared to 103, and if that is not enough to make you understand the false information and accusations that are being made opposite, it is misleading information coming into this hon. House of Assembly and to the public of this Province. It is time to have a bit of respect for this House and put the right information out here.

Orders of the Day

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, have we now come to the magic place where we call Orders of the Day?

 

MR. SPEAKER: Orders of the Day, yes.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Your Honour.

Mr. Speaker, the first order of business today will be the bill which I indicated on Friday. That is Order 29, the Executive Council Bill. Should be move beyond that today, the government will propose, that we start with Order 7 which is at committee stage, and I think there was some progress made on Friday. Perhaps all the more so because I was not here for the latter part of the session. We could move on from Order 7 through to however far we may get.

We will not sit beyond 5:00 o'clock, Mr. Speaker, to accommodate certain members who have other engagements, and that's fine. We may have to sit late tomorrow night and possibly Thursday night, but that will be determined after my friend for Grand Bank and I do our consultation process, and if there is no need, I say to him, we shall not sit. We shall sit if necessary but not necessarily sit.

Your Honour before you call the Executive Council Bill there is one motion for leave to introduce a bill which is Motion 4. Would you call that first please, Sir?

On motion, Bill No. 37 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SPEAKER: On motion, Bill No. 44 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 29, Bill No. 32.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier, of course, is away from the Province so it falls to me to have the pleasure of introducing this bill. Although it is a substantial piece of printing with a fair number of pages in it, it is really a very straightforward piece of legislation. It is founded on a recognition of the fact that every Premier since Confederation has organized and reorganized his administration, and every future Premier will do so, too, whether it is his administration or her ministry as may be the case. The voters will decide that if the Opposition caucus has not decided it first. Every Premier since Confederation has organized the ministry as he saw fit, and I suggest every future Premier has the right to organize the ministry as he or she sees fit.

Now, our practice in the Province, and it is in use in some provinces but not all, is to organize the ministry formally by means of departmental statutes, and we now have seventeen or eighteen of these here in the Province and they occupy a fairly substantial portion, the better part of one volume of the revised statutes. In addition to that every time the Premier of the day reorganizes the ministry and moves functions around to create a new department, or to change the function of another department, we follow it in due course with a statute to authorize and bless that.

Now, in a legal sense that is not necessary because there was a bill put on the statute books back in 1965 or 1966, which I refer to with all modesty as the Channing-Roberts Bill because it was drafted on the instructions or the guidance of the late James Channing who was then Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to the Cabinet and also, I believe, Deputy Minister of Provincial Affairs at that time - in those days we regularly did double duty - and I was on the staff of the Premier, either as executive assistant or as his parliamentary assistant, and we together put through the bill which is now known as the Rearrangement And Transfers Of Duties In The Public Service Act, and this has been used by every premier and every cabinet. Mr. Smallwood used it, Mr. Moores used it, Mr. Peckford used it. I don't know if Mr. Rideout ever formally made use of it; he wasn't there long enough. My recollection is that he did, in fact, reorganize his ministry, and that is a right premiers should have, in my view; and, of course, the present Premier has reorganized the ministry on a number of occasions and we have used, in each case, the Rearrangements And Transfers Of Duties In The Public Service Act as the legal authority to do so, so it is all very straightforward, really. It simply carries into effect the scheme that the premier of the day has for delivering the programs and the services, and operating the government during the time for which he has responsibility.

As I said, we have ended up cluttering up the statute books with a whole bunch of statutes, most of which are very duplicative in that there are sections of each which are common. There are very few sections which are unique once you get beyond the name of the department and perhaps a purpose clause saying: Here is the mandate of the department, but even those are cast in such broad terms that they are essentially, almost so broad as to be meaningless. They are nothing, more or less, than sort of an indication of where the cabinet and the premier of the day choose to have the department do its work.

This bill will vest in the cabinet, in the Lieutenant-Governor in Council of the cabinet sitting, in its formal role of the advisor to the Queen - the Queen, of course, being represented by the Lieutenant-Governor in the Province - this bill will give the cabinet the authority to create departments and abolish them by Orders in Council, and that is really laid out very straightforwardly and very concisely and, in my judgement and that of the law officers who drafted the statute, very effectively.

To me, and to the ministry, this is nothing more than a reflection of reality. It does not, in any way, affect the ability and power of the House to control the ministry because, of course, the ministry must come every year to the House of Assembly to ask for supply. That is in the constitution. It is a very basic role of the House to deal with supply, and we are here every year, and if the House should not like the way in which the government have organized the ministry then the remedy lies in the hands of the House, very effectively and very practically, and I suspect could be used - not, I suspect, could be - it would be used very quickly, and I know it could be used very forcefully.

The bill repeals and replaces no less than seventeen other statutes, and these are laid out in section 23 of the act. One of them, I should say to the House, is reenacted, and that is the rearrangements act, which is number 16 on the list in clause 23 of the bill; they become sections when they become acts. The provisions of the Rearrangements And Transfers Of Duties In The Public Service Act show up in clauses 18 and 20, I believe. I haven't checked them through, but I believe 18 and 20 of the bill reproduce the operative parts of the Channing/Roberts act, the rearrangements act.

The members will note that the boiler plate provisions, and that is a lawyer's term which is not entirely a respectful one but not entirely disrespectful, the boiler plate provisions which are found in each of the existing departmental statutes are reproduced, and these are found in sections 8 through to 16. I am sorry; when I spoke earlier of the rearrangements act, it is clauses 17, 18 and 19, but the boiler plate clauses are found in the clauses beginning with 8 and ending at 16, and these are not new. My guess is that these clauses, in almost exactly these words, are found in every one of the existing departmental acts, and they will appear now in every existing departmental act.

Mr. Speaker, there are only two ministers specifically named in the statute, in addition to the Premier, and I will come back to the prerogatives of the Premier, let me deal with those now. The hon. lady from Humber East will no doubt be very interested in this. This bill goes to great length, and properly so, in my judgement and that of the ministry, to preserve the prerogatives of the Premier. Section 3, says: nothing in this act affects a traditional prerogative of the Premier respecting the organization and composition of appointments to and dismissals from the Executive Council, and that is one of the basic principles from which our system of responsible government is based. Responsible government is responsible to the House of Assembly, the Premier has the authority to form a ministry, he has the responsibility to form the ministry and as long as he or she has the confidence of the House, those prerogatives continue unimpaired.

The House may of course, test the confidence at any time and a loss of confidence brings a quick and inevitable result, either a new premier takes office at once if some other premier commands the confidence of the House or, depending on the constitutional situation, the Premier has the right to dissolve - when I say depending on a constitutional situation, the times when a premier is not entitled to a disillusion are very few and far between indeed. One can conceive of them but it is very difficult to conceive of them in real life.

But in any event, the withdrawal of confidence by the House leads to consequences which are well-known and entirely in keeping with our constitutional traditions and with the Constitution of Canada. So these prerogatives are preserved, in fact, again members may notice in clause after clause, the phrase appears 'on the advice of the Premier', and this again reflects the reality and in my view, the proper reality of the constitutional position. The ministry is the Premier's ministry, the Premier's administration and he or she answers for it and in return for that has the authority and the ability to shape and reshape it.

Mr. Speaker, I was speaking of the two ministers who are specifically named. These are set out or their names are found or their positions are described in clause 4 (2) to be precise. They are the Attorney General and the Registrar General. The Attorney General has functions under the Criminal Code of Canada, a very wide range of functions are vested by the Criminal Code of Canada in the Attorney General of a province and that reflects the fact that while the authority that creates the criminal law is vested in the Parliament of Canada, the responsibility for administering the criminal law is placed by the Constitution in the governments of the provinces and exercised in most if not every case, through the Attorney General, so we are providing here in the bill, that the Cabinet may appoint an individual known as the Attorney General.

The Registrar General is not an individual who wears a cap as one might suggest, but the Registrar General is instead the official who is vested with the responsibility for the custodianship of the great seal.

MS VERGE: Who wears the Registrar's hat.

MR. ROBERTS: The Registrar General is my friend, the gentleman from Carbonear who is the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. Members are concerned about caps. Let me remind them now, our Standing Orders say that a member who wishes to speak, must stand uncovered in his place and, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. ROBERTS: You know, when the hon. lady says that, I am reminded of an exchange between Winston Churchill and Lady Astor. Nancy, Lady Astor was the first woman to sit in the House of Commons in England. She sat for one of the Plymouth seats and she was a Langhorne, from Nancy Langhorne, she married the Second Viscount Astor and became Lady Astor, but at one stage, she and Sir Winston Churchill, who was then probably simply Mr. Churchill, were having a go at each other across the House as did the hon. lady just now, the Leader of the Opposition, and Lady Astor looked at Mr. Churchill and said: Mr. Speaker, if I were married to the right hon. gentleman, I would put poison in his tea, and the right hon. gentleman, Mr. Churchill looked back and said: Mr. Speaker, if I were married to the right hon. lady, I would drink it. I know exactly how he felt.

Anyhow, the point I was making is, it is quite in order to wear a cap in the House and I am delighted that my friend from Grand Bank is carrying on the tradition. I will tell him, the last person who did so in this House in my recollection, was the former Member for Bonavista South, the late, great Ross Barbour. Ross would appear in the House once in a while wearing what we used to refer to as `a quiff hat'. Now if one looks in a dictionary of slang, one would find a very different meaning attached to the word `quiff' but when I was growing up here in this Province, forty and fifty years ago, the word quiff or the term `quiff hat', was a very common and acceptable term.

Now my friend from Grand Bank is not wearing a quiff hat today, he is wearing what appears to be a baseball hat which he is wearing frontwards instead of backwards. I have to tell him he is out of step with every other kid I have ever seen in the whole Province because baseballs hats, for some reason, are inevitably worn bass backwards.

MR. SULLIVAN: I know but when you are a kid you play with kid's things and when you grow up you cast them away.

MR. ROBERTS: Ah, the bible says, when I was a child I speak as a child, and so forth.

MR. L. MATTHEWS: I spoke as a child and I acted as a child.

MR. ROBERTS: My friend for Burin - Placentia West is getting used to the back benches.

MR. TOBIN: No, I was just going to say, some people wear hair and some people wear caps.

MR. ROBERTS: I say to my friend for Burin - Placentia West who is very astute that one seldom sees grass grow on a busy street.

MR. J. BYRNE: Right on.

MR. TOBIN: My friend for St. John's East Extern endorses that thought. He is a shinning example of the reason for doing so.

Your Honour, let me come back to the bill. The Registrar General is the custodian of the great seal of the Province, and the gentleman for Carbonear holds the commission at present as the Registrar General. I believe it is necessary in the constitutional structure to have a Registrar General because somebody must hold the great seal as it is necessary to affix the great seal to documents. In fact in the traditional British parlance one became a minister by the process of kissing hands and one left office by surrendering the seal. We have often heard the phrase the seals of office. Well, here in Newfoundland and Labrador the hon. gentleman for Carbonear at present holds the seals while my friend for Port de Grave is responsible for another kind of seal and has a very great interest in them.

Mr. Speaker, the other point I make is to point out to members that the schedule to this bill, which is the last fifty or sixty pages of it, reenacts as stand-alone statutes a number of sections which are substantive enactments in their own right and are found now in departmental statutes. It is inappropriate in my view to have substantive provisions of law standing in a departmental statute so what has been done is to separate them out and these will appear as: Schedule A is the Education Act, Schedule B is the Environment Act, Schedule C is the Fisheries Act, Schedule D, a Municipal Affairs Act, Schedule E a Public Health Act, Schedule F is a Social Services Appeal Board Act, and Schedule G is a Works, Services and Transportation Act. These simply reproduce presently existing sections of the law. I acknowledge that I have not personally checked each of these against the existing sections but I am told by those who do the drafting that there are no substantive changes in them, there are no changes beyond those of the nature which we made in any consolidation or revision of the statutes as we do in this Province from time to time.

Mr. Speaker, with that said I commend the bill to the House. I believe it is a step forward in the sense that, A, it is a recognition of a reality which, I believe, is a proper one and which we all accept, and which both parties have made use of over the years, and I have no doubt will continue to make use of, and, secondly, it will make our statutes a little more accessible, it will reduce the volume of the statutes significantly by taking out seventeen or eighteen acts and replacing them with one, and finally, it will preserve the prerogative of the Premier and the right, responsibility, and authority of the House of Assembly to control the ministry in that it preserves the fundamental principle of our constitution, that the ministry hold office because they have the support of the majority of the elected House of Assembly.

I move the bill be read a second time, Sir.

AN HON. MEMBER: Question.

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

MS VERGE: Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

Let me say briefly that I support the bill. I agree with the Government House Leader in saying that the bill essentially reflects the practice of successive administrations of successive Premiers. The bill also has the advantage, as the Government House Leader indicated, of consolidating several statutes and making them easier for people to find and work with, and the measure will save the House of Assembly some time in the future.

All the bill changes is the mechanism for structuring the Cabinet, for designating departments and structuring the Cabinet. In fact that is now done by the Premier typically with legislation reflecting the arrangement months after the Cabinet has been set up.

MR. ROBERTS: Years in some cases.

MS VERGE: The Government House Leader says years in some cases, and I would agree with him there. Now, members of the House will be spared the drain on our time and energy of debating housekeeping measures to designate departments. From time to time Premiers change the composition of the Cabinet and designate new departments, and combine and divide departments.

One controversial change made by the present Premier was doing away with the separate Department of Fisheries. That was a change that was strenuously opposed by members on this side of the House. In future, a premier will be able to re-establish a separate Department of Fisheries. Mr. Speaker, I look forward to doing that. I look forward to the day when the Government House Leader and others will be able to use the feminine pronoun along with the masculine pronoun in referring to the usage of this legislation by premiers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just a few short comments on talking about different pieces of legislation that come to this Chamber.

I remember back, I don't know if it was the spring of 1989 or 1990 that the minister brought in legislation - I probably can point out the exact date when we had to bring it to the House - to establish the new Department of ITT, a year or so after the election. That encompassed at that time Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, the Economic Recovery Commission and all that. It was a new department. We spent I think two or three days, if I'm not mistaken, or probably longer, talking about the implementation and the formation of a new government department.

I can understand, looking at the politics of it, when they, in that particular department then, were going to include the establishment of Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador and the Economic Recovery Commission. I suppose looking back on it you could say that probably some of the words and some of the comments at that time are probably coming through today or will soon come through. Some of it may be evident after the government announces its mini-Budget in the next couple of weeks. May be able to substantiate and confirm some of the comments I'm making today.

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that we spent two or three days I'm sure, probably longer, discussing the formation of a government department. This is a prime example, as far as I'm concerned - I will have to echo the comments of the Member for Humber East and the Minister of Justice that this is a good piece of legislation. I think it is crazy. The time has to stop when we have to come to the Chamber, come to this House, with a piece of legislation that makes government work easier or makes it easier for a particular government department to work, rather than come here, take three or four days, just wasting the time of the House of Assembly and the people of the Province. There are more important things to discuss than the formation of a government department. That is entirely up to the administration at the time, whether it be PC, Liberal or NDP, whatever they might be at that particular time.

As far as I'm concerned it is a point well taken. It is a good piece of legislation, and it is about time that we in this Chamber started to stand and say: Let's not waste valuable hours on, as far as I'm concerned, just playing politics with something such as this. As far as I'm concerned it should be passed without any further debate.

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

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Speaker, I take it no other member wishes to speak.

I thank both the Leader of the Opposition and the gentleman for Humber Valley. The hon. lady's remarks were well taken, and it is generous of her to offer her successor as leader of the PC Party the chance to use this if she doesn't get the chance. My friend for Humber Valley, I want to thank him, because he has succeeded in getting me more front-page coverage than I've managed to get by my own in a long time. I'm suitably grateful to him.

With that said, I will move the bill be read a second time, Sir.

On motion, a bill, "An Act Respecting The Executive Council," read a second time, ordered referred to a Committee of the Whole House presently, by leave. (Bill No. 32)

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

MR. ROBERTS: I'm not sure we need leave. We are allowed to go two in one day. It is not a stage.

Your Honour, would you be good enough please to put the House into Committee of the Whole and we will deal with the bills on the Order Paper for Committee reading beginning with Order No. 7. Should the Committee be so minded we will go as far as we can up till 5:00 p.m. We will not be dealing today with Order Nos. 18, 19, 20, and 21 because those have been referred to the social services committee. They are not yet back in the House.

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

Committee of the Whole

MR. CHAIRMAN (Barrett): Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, here we are in committee again, together alone at last. Would you please call Order 7, Bill No. 30? My suggestion, Sir, is that as we deal with each bill in committee we carry on with the ones on the Order Paper and we also can deal with the Executive Council bill if we get that far today.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Bill No. 30. Clause 1; the hon. the Member for Humber Valley.

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This particular piece of legislation, when we spoke on it before, was referred to - well, it wasn't exactly referred to a committee, but we did meet after with a gentleman from the Department of Justice, I think Mr. -

MR. ROBERTS: Chris Curran.

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Chris Curran, I think he met with a social policy committee. The Member for St. John's East was there, and I think the Member for Trinity North; anyway, there were three or four members, and it was the same day we met with the sheriff on the jury act.

There were a few concerns expressed at that time by individuals at the Table, and they were addressed by Mr. Curran, I think, to pretty well the satisfaction of everybody who was there. There were a couple of things brought up by a member that he was going to check out. I cannot remember whether he got back to him or not at that particular time, but one of the things - and the minister, when he stands to close debate on this particular piece of legislation can probably answer it for me - I mentioned it in debate before about how come - I think it is some three years; it goes back to January 1, 1993, on that particular part of it - but I would like for the minister to look at section 7.(2), rights of third parties. There was some question there, and in looking at the bill since: TD Trust Company is not liable for a debt, liability or obligation arising out of an act or omission on the part of Central Guarantee Trust Company in respect of a document or trust to which section 4 applies that occurred before January 1, 1993.

Now, going over further, looking at section 8.(3), about the proof of accuracy of the recital, and that instrument shall be considered..., they refer to section 5.(1), saying that everything that comes into effect on January 1, they would be liable for; everything that took effect before that, under the real and personal property held in trust by Central Guaranty Trust they would be responsible for, but anything under that section, section 7.(2), I do not know why they would not be - if they are responsible for all the real and personal property held in trust, they are responsible for everything to do with recycles, and they are responsible for pretty well everything else in this act except for that particular section, and the reason why I question that, and there may just be a simple answer to it when the minister gets up, is that most people who are doing business with a bank, or with any financial institution in this Province or the country today, those things usually go on, and usually they change hands without people even knowing of it, in some cases, until they realize that they have been taken over by another company or another financial institution, or whatever. So I was just wondering if there should be some concern there for something that people may bring up in a month's time, or two months' time, or whatever, or since January 1, 1993, that might come under that particular clause.

When I look at: "...not liable for a debt, liability or obligation arising out of an act or omission..." on behalf of a company that they are taking over, but yet they are responsible for everything else, then that just leads to some suspicion, that is all, and maybe the minister, when he gets up to address the closing of this particular piece of legislation he may be able to give me the answers to that particular section.

Other than that, Mr. Chairman, there is nothing else there now that I see with regard to this. It is in effect since January 1, 1993. In any case, I suppose it is retroactive, really. So when the minister - that is the only concern I had with that particular clause.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I thank my hon. friend. I think his question is well taken. Let me try to answer it, if I understand the situation.

The bill takes effect retroactively as of January 1, 1993 because that is when the transaction by which TD, Toronto Dominion Trust Company, bought some of the assets of Central Guaranty Trust. Now, I say `some of' because I am not aware whether they bought them all. And that leads me to the next point which really addresses the concern my hon. friend has raised with respect to 7(2), 8(2) and 8(3). My understanding of the transaction is this: Central Guaranty Trust Company, of course, the body corporate - I am not sure if it got into trouble or if its parent got into trouble, more likely it got into trouble; perhaps its parent did as well. And with the blessing of the federal regulatory authorities - and I suspect that is CDIC, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation. There may also have been involvement from OFSI, the Office of the Federal Superintendent of Institutions, OFSI. With the blessing of the regulatory authorities, the TD Trust Company, which is a subsidiary of the TD Bank, came riding in to the rescue but it didn't buy Central Guaranty Trust. What it did was buy the assets of Central Guaranty Trust and these are spelled out - I am not sure in fact if they are spelled out at all. No, they would not be spelled out, because this is of no concern to the House in that the House has no control over these assets as such. But I might say of the transaction that TD brought some of the assets of Central Guaranty Trust. They may or may not have assumed some of the liabilities. I will come back to that point.

What they did assume and what the bill authorizes retroactively, the bill blesses if one wishes, is the substitution of the Central Guaranty Trust for the TD - I am sorry, I got it wrong, substitution of TD for Central Guarantee as a fiduciary and gives it the powers that one would have in respect of a fiduciary under a trust deed of one sort or another. Now, again, I may be getting ahead of myself. Let's remember what a trust company does. A trust company does several things. One of the things it does is take in deposits and lend money out on mortgages or on secured loans of one sort or another. Secondly, a trust company acts as a trustee. I don't know, under my will I may leave my estate in such a situation that I want a trust company to act as trustee or as executor and there are, of course, different functions. I may convey property in trust, whether it is real property or personal property, and they may appoint the trust company to act as the trustee in respect of that trust.

Often, in debenture issues or bond issues, a trustee is appointed to receive interest and pay it out to those entitled to receive it. A trustee in law is essentially - I will take a run at a very quick definition. This isn't what the law dictionaries will say, but a trustee is one who has the legal title to property owned beneficially by another, and the legal right to deal with that property, but must do so in accordance with the tenets of fiduciary responsibilities. Now, there are three other lawyers at the table here, if I have it wrong, maybe they can tug - but I think that is not a bad definition of what a trustee does. A trustee is held to a very high standard and that is what fiduciary responsibility is all about. Members will remember when we talked about the limitations act we had special onerous burdens laid on trustees.

So what happened was, TD Trust bought some of the assets of Central Guaranty. It did not buy their liabilities and that is what Section 7(2) says. So whatever happened, whatever liabilities Central Guaranty may have had, as of January 1, 1993, remain with Central Guaranty. Now are they good? Is this a case of stripping the assets out of a company and leaving a shell? what we call, in the lawyers parlance, judgement proof. The answer to that, in my understanding, is that the federal regulatory authorities in approving the sale made arrangements to deal with those liabilities. Now, I can't give my hon. friend the details if I don't have them, but if he wants them, I will undertake to get them for him and make them available.

I understood, in fact, this was a point that was being addressed at the committee and that Mr. Curran or another of my officials would have dealt with. But that, in my understanding, is what happened, that TD bought the assets, not the liabilities. The liabilities remain with Central Guaranty Trust and a person who has a claim against Central Guaranty goes against it. The arrangements have been made, to whatever extent and of whatever nature, by the regulator. My friend, I think, has a question.

MR. WOODFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Yes, of course.

MR. WOODFORD: If the minister would look at section - what initiated my concern on this one, and I forgot to mention it when I spoke before, is section 4, substituted fiduciary. They name everything there. They say that: "...Central Guaranty Trust Company is removed and TD Trust Company is appointed as successor trustee...." They outline all the things that come under them.

All those things, to me - or not all, but I would say 50 per cent or 60 per cent of them, would, to me, mean a liability, some liability somewhere down the road or an obligation to those particular people. Because you are talking about wills, you are talking about settlements, assignments, and everything like that. That is where my concern came from with that. In one clause it talks about successor trustee, exactly what was under that Central Guaranty Trust, and on the other hand, it says that they are not responsible for any debt, liability or obligation arising as of January 1. That was my concern.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) I thank my hon. friend. Section 4(1) says at some length and in proper drafting language what I attempted to say when I said that the purpose of this bill is to substitute the TD Trust as the fiduciary. Then, I went on to describe what a trustee does. Fiduciary and trustee are synonymous terms. A trustee is a fiduciary, and a fiduciary is almost always a trustee. It is like saying all Cadillacs are cars. It doesn't mean all cars are Cadillacs.

Let me try to give an example. Here is what section 4(1) does. Supposing my hon. friend's mother had died and had left him, I don't know, 1,000 shares of Newfoundland Telephone company stock. But my hon. friend's mother, for whatever reason, didn't want my hon. friend to have control of that. Maybe she didn't feel he could handle the money wisely, or maybe she wanted to leave him only a life interest, or whatever reason. One has the right to do this without giving a reason, in fact. So she said: Fine, what I shall do is I will leave it for the benefit of my beloved son, Rick, but I leave it to a trustee, and I name as trustee the Central Guaranty Trust Company because I know them, they are good reliable people, and I want them to handle it.

The beneficial ownership to that property, the 1,000 shares of TelCo. stock, rests with my friend, but the legal title to it rests with the trust company. The trust company then becomes a fiduciary. As of January 1, 1993 Central Guaranty Trust Company drops out of the picture and TD Trust Company comes in. So my hon. friend, if he wants to bring an action for something that happened last September, in September 1994, and says: You did me dirty, you didn't act properly as my trustee, and I hold you to this very high standard as the fiduciary, my hon. friend would take his claim against TD Trust, because they had to do with it. But if it was something that happened in 1989, before the sale, then he would go and claim against Central Guaranty Trust, which I assume and hope would have some assets. That is where the federal regulatory - all we are doing here is blessing an arrangement that the federal authorities approved.

Now, that ties in very neatly with section 7(2). Let me read it in its entirety: "TD Trust Company is not liable for a debt, liability or obligation arising out of an act or omission on the part of Central Guarantee Trust Company in respect of a document or trust to which section 4 applies that occurred before January 1, 1993."

So the last phrase, "that occurred before January 1, 1993", applies to the act of remission. I just notice now, the clerks will notice, Guaranty is misspelled in section 7(2). There is a clerical error. It just shows that no matter how often we read these things, the blankety-blank spell check which says Guaranty should be G-U-A-R-A-N-T-Y and it is spelled as G-U-A-R-A-N-T-E-E. That will be corrected when the bill is printed.

Have I answered my hon. friend's question? What it means in simple terms is that if something went wrong before January 1993 you have to sue Central Guaranty. If it goes wrong after that you sue TD Trust.

MR. WOODFORD: My concern is that there is nobody there to sue after the fact.

MR. ROBERTS: Well, Central Guaranty Trust, in my understanding, still exists as a body corporate, but its assets are obviously diminished. I understand the regulator, the federal authority, CDIC, has stepped into the breach, but I don't know the extent or the nature of its obligations. My understanding was, that was going to be dealt with at the Committee stage, but if my friend wishes, I will either make available one of the officials, or get some information for him.

In fact, I had a bunch of correspondence here in the House which I showed to my friend, the Member for Trinity North, one day, who is chair of the Committee, because I had raised exactly that point when the TD Trust solicitors here in St. John's, Stewart McKelvey, first approached me to ask whether we would bring in this bill. They are acting for the TD Trust Company. I said: Yes, but tell me what happens here. Because when I read the draft statute I said: Hold on now, what is going on?

The key to it is that TD Trust bought the assets, not the liabilities, and I can't go beyond that. But, I mean, that is clearly what the bill does and I don't want to mislead the Committee, Mr. Chairman.

A bill, "An Act To Provide For The Transfer Of The Trusteeship And Agency Business Of Central Guaranty Trust Company To TD Trust Company." (Bill No. 30)

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, Order No. 8, Bill No. 12, please.

MR. CHAIRMAN: An Act To Amend The Gasoline Tax Act, Bill No. 12.

The hon. the Member for Mount Pearl.

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. Chairman, when I spoke in second reading on this I asked some questions of the minister related to imposing taxes on marine fuel as a percentage of purchase price, as to what the impact of this might have, and whether it applied on all marine vessels, whether it applied only to commercial or whether it applied to recreational vessels, pleasure vessels, and this sort of thing. I wonder could we get some information on that?

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman?

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

MR. ROBERTS: The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is not in the House and I don't have the information. Maybe let's just let the bill stand. I don't see who is here to tug my garment, but I will undertake to ask the minister to speak to the hon. gentleman, either here in the House or outside, as it may suit their mutual convenience. We will just let the bill stand until we hear.

Could you call Order No. 9 then, Sir, please?

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order No. 9, An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act, Bill No. 17.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

I understand it is a finance bill and therefore greater latitude is given me to -

MR. W. MATTHEWS: What are we on there, `Ed'? What bill are we on?

MR. ROBERTS: We are on the liquor control act amendment.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I will wait for the next bill.

MR. W. MATTHEWS: No, that's good, that's okay, that's next. Go ahead. (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I say to the House that I understand this is a finance bill and there is greater latitude in terms of what we can speak about.

MR. ROBERTS: You can say whatever you want within reason. Finance (inaudible) in Committee of the Whole, resolutions, motions (inaudible) you can say anything you want, pretty well. You are supposed to talk about the bill in Committee.

MR. E. BYRNE: Fair enough. I will refrain, Mr. Chairman.

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, that's fine.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Liquor Control Act." (Bill No. 17)

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Order No. 10, Bill No. 15, Sir.

MR. CHAIRMAN: An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act, Bill No. 15.

On motion, clauses 1 and 2, carried.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. CHAIRMAN: Clause 2 has been carried. We are on the title. Does the hon. the Member for Kilbride wish to speak?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

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

MR. WINDSOR: Mr. , this comes back to the same question that we had about the sinking fund. Obviously, what this does is it allows the government to do what they did last year, which was to take funds from the sinking fund in advance of it reaching its maturity. At the moment, all sinking funds actually can - they build up and gain interest until they mature and then the funds are used and then sinking surpluses can be taken away at the time. What this does is it allows government to go from - at any point in time that it considers if there is a surplus there, to take those funds and transfer it to a consolidated revenue fund. Mr. , we have said many times that we see this as being - not an error, obviously, legally it is there, and from an accounting point of view I understand the Auditor General has supported this concept a lot.

MR. ROBERTS: In fact, she suggested it, I think.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, she has suggested it. But I would have preferred, since this fund was put aside to decrease the overall debt of the Province, if there is a surplus in one sinking fund that it either be transferred to another sinking fund, so that it is still there to retire the debt, or that it actually be paid down on some debt to eliminate some debt somewhere along the way. But it does provide more freedom for government to manage its affairs, and in that regard it is difficult, I guess, to disagree with it. I guess the purpose for which these funds are being used when they are being taken and applied against debt, now they are going back into current account. And we saw the government gain some $70 million over the last two years in its current account, which makes its deficit or lack thereof, in this case, this year, a balanced budget, which the minister himself has confirmed, smoke and mirrors really. You are really taking money that was allocated for debt retirement and now putting it back into current account. So we think it is a short-sighted approach, Mr. Chairman, and that it would have been far more preferable - the flexibility is fine. It provides for good management of one's financial affairs, but I think it would have been preferable if that money had been designated to retire certain debt, which was the purpose for which it was voted in the budget initially, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I say to my friend, the Member for Kilbride, it is back and forth. He will have the opportunity to say whatever he wants, no problem there.

Mr. Chairman, it is difficult to disagree with the points made by my friend, the Member for Mount Pearl. It is not often that I find myself in a position to say that. First of all, this is an act - this section or this change will affect the management of the sinkers. Number two, not only was it approved by the Auditor General, my recollection is that she made the point in one of her reports that it would be better management.

MR. WINDSOR: Several reports, actually.

MR. ROBERTS: Okay, I thank my friend. And number three, it is better management of our debt. Number four, I agree it would be preferable if we could use this to pay down the debt but it is all we could do and we are not there yet. We will see what tomorrow's statement brings, but it is all we can do to balance the budget but balance means on capital and current account. So at least we are not incurring further debt. What happened was this, and my hon. friend will acknowledge this, we have sinkers on most, if not all, of our longer term debts. The sinker, of course, earns money and because of the higher interest rates in the last period of years - they are down right now but they have been up in the previous years - the sinkers earn more than was projected. So the fund would end up, at maturity, instead of having $100 million to pay off - the $100 million to take an example, would end up with $103 million or $104 million. So rather than borrow money to put the sinkers in place or to pay the interest on them beyond that was needed, we simply - again with the full concurrence of the Auditor General and I think with the auditing of our own financial people - said it makes better management to take them in now and deal with them. But nobody should be fooled, we are not trying to fool anybody and my hon. friend is quite right when he says this doesn't solve anything, but it is better management of the debt. It doesn't reduce the debt. We would like to come to the day where any surpluses can be used. In fact, we would like to come to the day where we could generate a surplus not simply on current account but on current and capital account together and use it to pay down the debt. With good management, we think we will get to balance this year, but certainly, as we go into month seven, similar to what my friend the Minister of Finance says tomorrow, we aren't there yet. We thought we were there but we aren't there yet.

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

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

Not to reiterate what my colleague, the Member for Mount Pearl discussed here in the House or just put forward, but when you are talking about proper financial administration of debt as the Minister of Justice put forward, not only on current account but on capital account, is very important. We would not be in the situation, talking about debt, of having to deal with a $60 million debt today if this government had proposed the Budget they proposed and stuck to their plan. The reality is that, you know, the amounts of money that government issued through Special Warrants to purchase water bombers, to assist with Marble Mountain development which may, in fact now be privatized or about to be privatized I understand or there were some initial discussions about privatization underway, that we wouldn't be looking at massive layoffs today, and I am sure that the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board is going to, as he said today, lay all that out tomorrow, but, proper financial administration is something that we must look at here as legislators, that if we bring in a Budget and predict a balanced Budget, that through no fault of our own, must we add to that burden, and that means passing legislation in this House that a Budget must be followed or that a balanced Budget is something that the government of the day must do, then we should do it and that any Special Warrants - I mean the Special Warrants for the issue of water bombers, not necessarily in my mind, the reason why Special Warrants were put in place.

The majority of those water bombers, for example, they are twenty years old, I know that our fleet is older but it is something -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes, I understand that, but all those water bombers, were they all ready and on the ground to respond to a situation in this Province for the entire summer or were some of them rented to other provinces or another province?

MR. ROBERTS: That's (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

MR. ROBERTS: That was an interprovincial agreement whereby one province rents to the other as the need arises.

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand that, so that's an ongoing agreement, Minister? I wasn't aware of that. That's an ongoing agreement -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) year-to-year.

MR. E. BYRNE: Okay, fair enough. But the reality is, did we have to purchase those water bombers and add several million dollars to the debt? I ask the Minister of Justice, how much did we spend, how much was given to Marble Mountain Corporation? Was it nine or ten?

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible) and Cabot were $9 million under that Warrant.

MR. E. BYRNE: Under that Warrant alone, so you are looking at another $9 million that were spent beyond - we are looking at $16 million there now that really did not need to be spent in my mind. If we are looking at maintenance of a debt, sticking to what was predicted to be a balanced Budget, but it is my contention, Mr. Chairman, that government knew that at the end of the day that this would not be a balanced Budget and that come this year, at this point in time in 1995, we would be in the situation we are in today. I don't think they predicted it; their own predictions would have set us at $60 million, I think their own predictions would have put us at about $25, but things got out of control, and this is not the first time that this House has been asked by this government to deal with such a crisis at this time each and every year.

We have had two Budgets from this government each year. One is the Budget that is smoke and mirrors, that is brought down on March 31 for the upcoming year, and the next one is the crisis that the people of this Province have been asked to deal with and their projections as a government have never been on and what has happened as a result? We will see tomorrow what will happen as a result of this year, layoffs -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon?

MR. WINDSOR: They knew they needed money for Marble Mountain they were asked for a year-and-a-half to put funding into capital (inaudible) -

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly.

AN HON. MEMBER: - and then two months later they cancelled it.

MR. E. BYRNE: Exactly, a good point by the Member for Mount Pearl. They knew they needed new water bombers, they knew they had to put money into Marble Mountain and they knew they needed money to finance The Cabot Corporation and then, they cancelled the Cabot Corporation. I mean, if that is proper financial administration, then we should be discussing here - I mean, that's not proper financial administration. We should be discussing in a more detailed way as legislators of this House, how we can better control the finances put forward in each and every Budget by each and every finance minister on behalf of the government, and how do we do that? Do we set up special Legislative Committees that can become more watchdogs on government spending and put more decision-making power into the hands of legislatures? That's a possibility, one that I would be in favour of. It would I suppose, give members a greater latitude in dealing with the problems that this government faces and that governments of Newfoundland and Labrador have traditionally faced, and what governments of the future of this Province are going to face, and probably make each and every one of us somewhat more accountable.

But it is hard to sit up and swallow the pill that is going to be put forward by the Minister of Finance and President of Treasury Board tomorrow, when members of this House know that that pill didn't have to be so sour if only government had followed what it said it was going to follow. It talked about less money coming in from transfer payments. The former Minister of Finance and Treasury Board predicted exactly how much less was going to come in transfer payments. Special warrants, less revenues than projected, have added to a crisis that many people in this Province and many people in the public service are going to have to respond to.

What would have happened last year if it wasn't for the sale of the southwest coast ferry? What kind of financial shape would we be in? If we didn't have to sell - or just make an announcement on selling the Holiday Inns. My God, what, would we be talking about a $60 million deficit today on current account?

AN HON. MEMBER: But we are running out of things to sell.

MR. E. BYRNE: That is right.

AN HON. MEMBER: When is Confederation Building going on the block?

MR. E. BYRNE: There are more, under this government -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) leasing back is a different matter (inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: That is right, leasing back is a different matter. This government knows all about lease-back options when it comes to Trans City and proper financial administration. There is a game of snakes and ladders that you have to go through to get good lease-back options with this government. There is no question about that.

What kind of shape would we have been in if we hadn't sold some of the assets that we've had? The day will come when we have no more assets to sell. What do we do then? These are serious questions that we must deal with. Next year a projected $200 million to $250 million less coming in in transfer payments. Government hasn't articulated what the plan will be other than that it will be a straight 9 per cent cut across the board. What does that mean in real terms? What does it mean to the constituents that we represent, and what does it mean to the future of the Province?

What about UI cuts? What will be the impact upon the financial administration of this government in terms of revenue received either directly or indirectly from small business, corporate income tax, personal income tax? What is the impact on that? These sorts of financial clouds that are hanging over our head, directly and indirectly, I mean the impact on government coffers, the impact upon a population in terms of morale and attitude, will be significant. To the point where what we are talking about is a philosophy of throw up your arms, do nothing, and all of us can become bean counters and say: From this department here is what we have to do. What do we become? All account managers? We've got to start to look at some different ways of how we approach things.

Does government have to say to itself and to the people it represents that the way that we govern ourselves - if the UI system is out of date and the way in which that has been processed and continued to be processed since 1941, maybe the way we govern ourselves is out of date. Maybe it is time to have a sincere look at the structure of governing in this Province and respond in a greater way to the needs of the people out there.

You take mortgage holders, for example, in this Province. People who own mortgages, who are paying on mortgages on a $100,000 home over a twenty-year period will end up paying back in the vicinity of $260,000 to $270,000. Over a twenty-year period; if they pay bi-weekly they will get it back to fifteen-and-a-half, sixteen. At a, say, general rate of 10 per cent. Mortgage rates are a little bit better now, but for the most part people who own mortgages now borrowed when the rate was between 10 per cent to 12 per cent. Except for new home-buyers in the last eighteen months.

Is there a role for government to step in and say: We can provide better mortgage rates. Is there a role for government to say, from a corporate entity - in on Cashin Avenue right now there is a mortgage shop full of brokers. If you went to see a broker on a mortgage, his job is to find you the best current mortgage rate available today in North America. It could be with First Line Trust out of Toronto, it could be with any number of mortgage companies out of Toronto. But the best rate that most people can get today is about 8.14 per cent, guaranteed, locked in for five to seven years. The amount of money that is made, the accumulation of wealth from that enterprise alone, is something that we have to start to look at.

We don't have many choices any more as a government or as legislators in the House of Assembly. Is there a role for government to get involved in the mortgage business? You talk about a new business initiative. Is there a role for us to get into? Is there a role for us to say that as government we will set up a separate entity that will deal with mortgages, that will look at providing better rates than the banks currently are, much better rates, because it can be done.

My contention is that government could get into a corporate entity situation whereby mortgage rates could be provided at a 4 per cent to 5 per cent interest level and still make money, good money, and lots of it, that could directly go back to coffers, to the provincial government coffers, and not money that leaves the Province and ends up on Bay Street or New York City, or other places for that matter. I would see that as possibly better financial administration.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Chairman?

AN HON. MEMBER: Will you be long?

MR. E. BYRNE: A few more minutes; I can go longer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) go on.

MR. E. BYRNE: I can get back up if somebody else wants to -

MR. ROBERTS: I will only be a minute.

MR. E. BYRNE: Okay.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, all I want to say is, I am not raising a point of order - I am speaking in my turn - but the hon. gentleman's speech is a pretty one and I don't disagree with him, but I must say it is somewhat beyond dealing with a bill. We were supposed to be dealing with the clauses of the bill. Now, I am not trying to cause a fuss, because if he wants to he can go on, but really his speech, which is a very pretty one, would be better, I suggest, in the Budget or the Throne Speech. We are dealing here with an amendment to the Financial Administration Act. Now, I am not raising a point of order. In a sense, go on and say what you want, I say to my friend, because it is probably better to get it off your chest. Obviously you have built up to this, I say to my friend.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: I am glad he has more on his chest. Some of us, I say to my friend from Ferryland, have let it slip lower than our chest.

I must say, with respect, I am not going to engage in a debate with him because I think the debate should take place on any number of other heads, the budget debate, the interim supply debate, the supplementary supply, that is where this belongs. Really what he is making is a Budget speech, and that is not saying there is not merit; there is some merit. Once he gets beyond the partisan clap-trap there is some merit in what he is saying.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much.

The Minister of Justice alluded to the fact that obviously I have revved myself up to make such a speech, and have prepared, and all that sort of stuff. I was asked by the House Leader to get up and say a few words, so I have; it is as simple as that.

When we talk about proper financial administration, "An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act", maybe I have gone somewhat beyond the latitude of it, but I still think it is very appropriate. Let's look at ENL, for example. ENL costs about $15 million or $16 million to administer; is that correct?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: About $8 million, is it? And how much, in terms of loans, do they have in terms of

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) have Cabinet approval up to $24 million per year.

MR. E. BYRNE: Per year?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, it is substantial, I understand, but we can debate the merits of what it costs to administer, and that sort of thing, but the reality is that as a corporation, as a corporate entity, the administration of ENL is significantly higher than the administration of most entities of the like. You are running at about 30-35 per cent administratively, costs in terms of administrating just Enterprise Newfoundland and Labrador, when you should be looking at somewhere in the vicinity of 15 to 16, to certainly not any higher than 20 per cent to administer.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, we are talking about today. I do not have the magic glass in Cabinet, nor do I know what is going to be announced tomorrow, but I am sure that is an area that can be cut, that should be cut.

Earlier this year I sent a letter to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology requesting, under the freedom of information, all the loans that ENL had made since May.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Oh, yes, I have it. It was responded to in time; I have no problem with that. Since 1993, those loans that were outstanding, those loans that were made to any group or individual, and I must say I did get the information - I will say that to the minister - his staff responded expeditiously in that matter, but how they presented it was very unique in terms of - it was just straight computer printout, very little explanation who got it. There was one company I saw that got three different loans, for example, and the way that the company was registered was under one owner's name, and then another owner's name, and then the owner of the company, so it did not look like - but anyway -

MR. FUREY: Can I explain something?

MR. E. BYRNE: Sure, go ahead.

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

MR. FUREY: Mr. Chairman, I don't want to take too much from the hon. gentleman's time, but the fastest way to do it was to provide the hon. member -

MR. ROBERTS: In Chinese, in Mandarin or Cantonese.

MR. FUREY: The fastest way, I say to the Member for Kilbride, to present the information was directly from the computer printout, but as I recall the note, I think, the President said he would be happy to sit down with you and explain any of the companies any detail, and that is still available.

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

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

I was not trying to be cute or anything because the President, Mr. Wall, did reply quickly and expeditiously, as I said, and made the offer, that at any time to come over and go over any part of ENL, and as the minister knows, I haven't as his critic delved into ENL in detail in terms of asking questions. I do have some problems as to how it is administered and those sort of things, but as an entity I support the concept that ENL presents as an entity of government generally speaking. I know some of them don't.

The reality, Mr. Chairman, is that presently ENL does not have the success rate that it should have, I say to the minister. In many ways it is more difficult today to seek and get help, most importantly to get help from ENL, as it is to get help from a private bank, in some areas.

AN HON. MEMBER: And at a better rate.

MR. E. BYRNE: Therein lies the point, at a better rate, so that is wrong, Mr. Chairman, that is wrong. How a government owned agency which is, I guess, in terms of high risk loans to developing initiatives, private entrepreneurs, new businesses that can support new businesses, they are being asked to pay back monies at a higher rate than what commercial private lending institutions offer, is very serious. As the minister said to me earlier, we will see what tomorrow brings ENL and we will go from there.

The Economic Recovery Commission, if we want to look at proper financial administration of government - I have asked this question before and I will continue to ask it, and I ask this legitimately without getting into partisan politics, I say to the minister, really what has the Economic Recovery Commission provided? What are the initiatives that they have taken on behalf of the Province, have led the Province in, and have carved out new ways of doing things? If somebody can point tangibly to one of the initiatives and say where it has created jobs and where it has the potential to create jobs, then I will sit down and will not speak for the rest of the week, honestly.

Really, what has it done and what has it failed to do? From my point of view as a private member in the House it seems to me that the Economic Recovery Commission is a think tank in line with what we could call Fraser Forum, but they do not release their documents and their analysis, and their studies on what is happening in government or in the Province, federally, nationally, what are the trends, and those are provided to the Premier's office and Cabinet alone. They seem to be a commission that was set up under the auspices of economic recovery in the early going of this government which had great hope and a great sense that they would be able to fulfil something, that they would be able to take Newfoundland on the course it has been on for the last seventeen to twenty years and move it to another direction and push it to where they felt economic recovery could best be served.

Now, some six and a half years later, the first quarter is over, the Economic Recovery Commission said in the early going, and I remember reading the press release and getting some of the documents, that it's role would be to set Newfoundland on a course so that fifteen to twenty years from now we would begin to start seeing some prosperity, but we have not seen much from the Economic Recovery Commission and that is the contention I have. It is not that people expect so much but the lack of information they have provided to members, and to all of us, at a cost of $3 or $4 million which has been escalating. The amount given to them has been escalating year after year. Essentially this group is unaccountable to individual members and to this House. They are accountable to the Premier's office only.

Those are some of the concerns I have, and to get back to proper financial administration we had better be prepared. If we are presenting budgets and finance bills in here on April 1, and we present a budget with all its subheads, then we had better be prepared as a House of Assembly to live by that budget and stop going outside of it, in the middle of the summer, sometime in August when the House is not open, Cabinet sits down and decides that they want seven new water bombers. The need is there yes, but did we have to do it? I do not think so.

If you go through these estimates, Mr. Chairman, you talk about proper financial administration, in every department, in every head and in every sub-head, if you add up the costs of what is in this budget for travel and communications it would stagger you. Fifty million dollars was budgeted in 1995-96 by this government for travel and communications. The question is, who are we travelling to see and who are we communicating with when we get there? My God, $50 million is a tremendous amount of money for a Province this size to spend on travel and communications. Where was it spent? You can pick up any - let's flip open to this one particular page, ferry operations, under Marine Operations, sub-head ferry operations, Department of Works, Services and Transportation, transportation and communications for that department, $57,000; under ferry terminals, transportation and communication, $10,000; under ferry vessels, administration hanger facilities, transportation and communication, $52,000; government operated aircraft, transportation and communication, well you could understand that a little more I guess, $1,771,000. Maybe that is an area within the budget that government could have looked at more seriously that T and C allocation, transportation and communications.

So when it comes to proper financial administration, Mr. Chairman, I will sit down on this particular bill and reiterate, without saying the remarks by my colleague from Mount Pearl but the point that - they had one more point, that we have to be more creative in how we handle finances and we have to be more creative in how we raise revenues and finances. There are many things we can do but they require non-traditional approaches to governance and non-traditional approaches to how we govern ourselves. Thank you very much.

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

MR. HEWLETT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like a few words on this matter of financial administration as well. This is one of the bills which gives effect to the budget brought down some time ago.

Mr. Chairman, the new Minister of Finance, just after he was recently appointed, referred to the budget and the balancing thereof as so much smoke and mirrors. What we are dealing with here in this particular bill - and the new minister will deal with I suppose tomorrow I think in a ministerial statement or a mini-budget - is the reality coming home to roost from the smoke and mirrors budget of the former Finance Minister, Mr. Baker. Mr. Chairman, when I saw the budget earlier this spring and the spin that government put on it, that this was the first balanced budget ever in Newfoundland since we joined Confederation, one had the impression that the government was possibly going to the people in a general election or the Minister of Finance having undergone a religious conversion was somehow going to be sent to Rome and be proposed for sainthood.

The essence of the balanced budget that we are dealing with was that the books, after a fashion, were balanced. Some assets were sold, some money for the ferries on the south coast, which were supposed to protect the service in perpetuity were dumped into this years estimates. The financial legal stuff, I suppose for want of a better phrase, was done with regard to the sinking fund. We sold Holiday Inns and this sort of stuff. Basically, an all out attempt on the part of government to create the perception of a balanced budget. I sat here in this Assembly, Mr. Chairman, and saw the former Minister of Finance get a resounding round of applause from the government opposite as it he had achieved something miraculous. At the time, we in Opposition were extremely doubtful as to whether or not the budget had indeed been balanced. We made the usual political parliamentary references to cooking the books and achieving the appearance of a balanced Budget. Three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year, Mr. Chairman, we are faced with the fact that the so-called balanced Budget is $60 million off the mark. The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, tomorrow is going to bring in a statement which presumably will address that $60 million shortfall for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Insofar as there are anticipated to be significant layoffs in the Minister's Statement, one would assume that what he does tomorrow will have an impact on the projected Budget problem for the upcoming fiscal year as well. But, Mr. Chairman, there is one basic failure on the part of this government in addition to its management of the finances of the Province. Its management appears to be based on either public relations or dealing with crises as they come along. The other thing, Mr. Chairman, relating to the finances that the government has to manage, has to deal with the state of the economy in general and how that impacts on the government's ability to govern.

Mr. Chairman, simply put, there is no work out there. Yesterday evening, in stopping in at a local bakery to pick up a loaf of bread, I happened to meet with a young woman who recently graduated from Memorial, an honour student from my district, whom I guess is working probably at minimum wage or somewhere close to it, in a bakery serving the public on a counter, fresh out of university, not wanting to leave the Province and seeing very little hope for a future. She had something in the order of $28,000 in student loans racked up for her education, and her mother basically told her, whatever you do, don't come home to Green Bay, there is no work there. She is working in a bakery here in the capital city and I suppose she will do that for a while until such time as her patience or her nerves give out in which case then, it's off to the mainland I suppose if she wants to earn some sort of a gainful living which will allow her a reasonable lifestyle for a university-educated person and which will also allow her to pay back a $28,000 student loan.

Mr. Chairman, when I graduated from Memorial in '74, with two degrees and a five-year program, I had a total accumulated student loan of some $5,000. My parents had no money to contribute to my education, I am not from a rich family, I availed of the usual student aid grants and loans available to me and I had two degrees from Memorial for $5,000 in student loans. We have students today, as I say, coming out with $20-odd, $30,000 in loans and they are working on the counter in a local bakery for want of a decent job commensurate with their qualifications and commensurate with the obligation to pay back on their student loan; and this is where this government has failed, Mr. Chairman, because if this government had managed to generate the economic atmosphere that it talks so much about so that there would be real economic growth out there, real jobs not recycled government jobs but real jobs, Mr. Chairman, there would be taxes coming in to the Treasury so that we wouldn't be $60 million off half-way through the fiscal year and there would be hope out there in the minds and the hearts of our citizens.

The capital of my district, Springdale, Mr. Chairman, the biggest industry in that town right now, as a rural, service centre, is retirement. Some years ago, when Frank Moores was Premier, he came out on a visit and more on a whim than anything else, he promised the good citizens of Springdale and Green Bay in general, a senior citizens complex. It came as a surprise to me, the Executive Assistant to Brian Peckford, the local minister at the time, a welcome surprise to the local citizens committee that had set up a committee to lobby for a seniors complex. Out of that, out of the blue, came one of the most ultra modern, state of the art seniors complexes in Eastern Canada, Mr. Chairman, a model, which many people tour from all over when learning how to do things with regard to seniors complexes.

That, right now, Mr. Chairman, along with the few remaining jobs in social services and the few remaining jobs at what used to be a hospital, is the essence of the economy in Springdale. A lot of the big time shopping is done at the regional service centre in Grand Falls - Windsor and, for the most part, retirement is the biggest industry in Springdale.

When I was a boy there were three copper mines being serviced out of that town, several hundred loggers operating out of that town. There was a real economy, a real buoyancy. The town grew from, when I moved there, a town of 1,500 or 1,600 people in 1960 until, when I graduated from high school in '69 there were 3,500 people there. The town grew in leaps and bounds in response to real economic development, most of which did occur during the years of the Smallwood administration.

Today there is nothing left except welfare for a lot of people, retirement, very little substantive mineral development. There is great promise in the area, much exploration under way, but somehow to date the right incentives have not been put in place to really give that extra little kick to turn some really good shows into some really active operating mineral properties. So we have, in that area, as in many areas of rural Newfoundland, a real depression on the go, with very little guidance or hope from the government, and here we stand today debating a bill which presumed to help balance a budget, which we found is $60 million now off balance, and one has to wonder what the Minister of Finance is going to do tomorrow.

The Economic Recovery Commission, I guess its budgetary requirements are $2 billion or $3 billion a year. One has to wonder if Dr. House and his little gang of theoreticians are probably going to fall beneath the budget axe. There has been very little practicality come out of that group. I understand Premier Peckford setting an academic out on the trail to study a socio-economic problem, but appointing an academic to implement the findings of a report has proven somewhat less than inspiring, to put it mildly.

The Premier no longer talks in glowing terms about his Economic Recovery Commission because there is no recovery. The economy continues to slide. Most of the Province is in recession, if not outright depression, so one has to wonder just what this government has to offer except further cuts, retrenchment. They can get rid of some of their flag ships which have done nothing but basically help sink the government, but what hope are they offering for the future?

Some time ago, when the current Government House Leader came back into this Assembly, and watching him operate, and also reflecting on the way the Premier had operated, I said that the best shingle they could hang outside this building was `Wells & Roberts Chartered Accountants', and that is about all we have gotten out of this government, trim, trim, trim, cut, cut, lay off, retrench, but there has been no expansion of anything significant for the public. Certain aspects of the bureaucracy have expanded, often with Liberal appointees on temporary assignment, but there has been no real growth, either in attitude, in hope, or in actual real economic development and real jobs. The people of this Province are very dissatisfied with the performance of the Wells' administration. Nothing has come out of six years of government except one litany after the other, a litany of grief and despair, I suppose, for want of a better word.

We saw the people from Bell Island in here the other day kicking up a fuss about their ferry rate increases, and that is the first sign of life I have seen from the Newfoundland population under the heel of the Wells' administration in a long, long time. The population is beaten down. There is no hope out there, there is no life out there, there is no fight out there, and this government, I will give it credit for doing one thing right, and doing it very well, and that is its approach to public relations. Somehow they have managed to make a lump of coal in your stocking every Christmas sound like a box of chocolates, Mr. Chairman, and sooner or later the people are going to wise up to that as well.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Financial Administration Act." (Bill No. 15)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Order ll, Mr. Chairman, please!

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Children's Law Act." (Bill No. 34)

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

MR. ROBERTS: Order 12, and there are some amendments, Mr. Chairman.

A bill, "An Act Respecting The Revision And Consolidation Of Subordinate Legislation." (Bill No. 7)

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, there are amendments which I cannot move, so I ask my friend, the Minister of Natural Resources, to move them. I believe we have provided copies to the gentlemen on the other side and I have them here. There are amendments to clauses 3 and 4, and a new clause 9.

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

DR. GIBBONS: I move these amendments in "An Act Respecting The Revision And Consolidation Of Subordinate Legislation," as per copy.

MR. CHAIRMAN: Okay, we have the copy.

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, perhaps I could speak to them briefly and then hon. members can address them.

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

MR. ROBERTS: The amendments, Mr. Chairman, reflect the fact that our schedule as set out in this bill, the schedule for bringing these revisions into effect, was a little too ambitious. Clause 3 we want to change by striking out the words, `on the coming into force of this act', and put in `March 31, 1995', and if accepted, that amendment will provide that - `The purpose of this act is to provide for the expiry on December 31, 1995', the end of this month, `of all subordinate legislation enforced in the Province on March 31, 1995', so that simply provides a start date for the exercise.

Secondly, we seek to amend clause 4 to provide that any subordinate legislation in effect on March 31, 1995 ceases to have effect after June 30, 1996. In other words, we have slipped back the drop dead date from the end of this year, the end of this month, the end of the calendar year, by a six-month period. Then, finally, we want to add a new clause 9, which will give the Legislative Council the duty to revise and consolidate the regulations enacted between April 1, 1995 and December 1, 1996. The purpose and the effect of that is to put us in a position where once we publish the new consolidated regulations we will have them right up to date. In other words, they will be consolidated as of the end of this calendar year and we expect to have them ready by about the middle of 1996. The six-month period simply reflects the time that the legislative council's office needs to do the physical work of completing the process and then getting them down to the printers. With that said, I wait for other members to make their comments.

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

MR. WOODFORD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

When I spoke on this piece of legislation earlier, I stated that although we do not have a copy of the regulations - that is one of the big things I see in this. I mean, we have no - everything is supposed to end at, really, the end of June now. It is moved ahead to June 30, 1996. In the original bill, I think it was January 1, 1996 that - or December 31, 1995, all the other so-called regulations would die. That is one of the drawbacks with this, Mr. Chairman, we don't know what the regulations are. We don't know what is going to come in place. We don't what what effect it will have on people in the Province. We don't know what effect it will have on different municipalities in the Province. Pretty well every regulation is covered under - all regulations are covered under this.

The Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs, when he spoke, I think he made reference to it, about the offices. The new - I don't know what they call them now - satellite offices or something around the Province. I think it really comes under his jurisdiction.

MR. ROBERTS: Only government services.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, government services, different government services divisions around the Province. One of the reasons for establishing that particular government services division was to cut down on regulations, cut down on the bureaucratic so-called red tape and cut down on the waiting time that people had with regard to different - regardless of whether it was Crown land, whether it was development control, highways, no matter what it was supposed to cut down on the waiting time and the hold-up and hold back of both individuals and businesses in the Province with regard to starting anything. But I don't know what it is going to do.

As far as I am concerned, the government services that they have set up, those government services offices, they are going to do absolutely nothing. You have one person in Crown land working in a government services office, he or she has to go back to Crown land, if the application comes in there, no matter what it is for, whether it is for a piece of agricultural land or if it comes under development control or something in from the Town of Deer Lake or the City of St. John's, no matter where it is, that particular individual has to go back to his mother department and find out and try to get the thing through which, as far as I'm concerned, it is just as well to leave them there. It is just as well to leave them in the department and then have him act as liason between, say, for instance, Crown land or municipal affairs, development control or what have you, Department of Works, Services and Transportation and the councils or the individuals involved. We are here talking about regulations. The same regulations that would be applicable to anybody in the Province or any business in the Province, would come under this particular act.

The Lieutenant-Governor in Council now will have complete jurisdiction: `may under the powers conferred by Section 5, re-enact subordinate legislation in force in the Province on the coming into force of this act.' So they will have complete jurisdiction, complete control over what the regulations are, what is contained in the regulations and hopefully, before next Spring, we will be able to see a copy of all regulations here in the Chamber. And as the minister has stated and there is no doubt -

MR. HARRIS: You want the report.

MR. WOODFORD: Yes, that is a very interesting comment that the member just brought up now, something else that came to mind. I think it was Judge Noel who did the report on regulations of the Province. Where is the report? I haven't seen it. I don't think - a document, nothing made public, a report from Cabinet but at the same time there must be something in the report recommending something like this. We see this legislation here - what is it? Does he say, Why don't we have some public hearings on it? Why don't we - what is in it? Will we see it after the regulations come in place? I doubt it.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. WOODFORD: Mr. Chairman, I am sure that some of the regulations - I don't know if members opposite, the backbenchers especially, did they ask their Cabinet colleagues to see a copy of Judge Noel's report on subordinate legislation? Some members are winking at me - I won't say where from, or who they are - but I doubt that any of those members have seen the report on this subordinate legislation. It is very interesting, just the same, now. We will all be cognizant of what is going to happen next Spring when they bring in the regulations. If we see them; we will be asking for a copy of the regulations next Spring, no doubt, so we can have a look at them. But, having said that, if the regulations are taken, say, for instance, that thick and brought down there, even half way, it will be doing everybody in the Province a service, because there is nothing in this world as bad or as frustrating - I think my colleague, the Member for Mount Pearl, put it all in context a couple of weeks ago when he spoke on it, I will guarantee you that, and that is a prime -

I think about 90 per cent of the people of the Province who ever did anything with regard to government, anything with regard to municipalities, anything to have to do with the start of a small business in this Province, encountered the same frustrations and the same inconsistencies and deficiencies as the Member for Mount Pearl, and I am sure that if you canvass this Chamber, everybody here had the same experience over the years; it is just terrible. So if the minister can accomplish that under this particular piece of legislation and, at the same time, every minister over there has to take the bull by the horns and make sure that his staff, down the line, will make sure that people are not held up to ransom by those regulations, because that is what happens. In those jurisdictions you see it day after day, people trying to justify their existence, really.

You walk into a government office, you walk into a Crown lands office or development control office, or Department of Transportation office, and they whip out this act, or piece of legislation or something and show it to you and say: Look, you did not abide by this particular piece of legislation. Now, take it back, fill out the application properly and bring it back to me, another week, another two weeks, another three weeks gone, just total, total frustration. I have experienced it myself, I have experienced it in working with a council in this Province and, as I said before, there are a lot of people in this Chamber who have experienced it.

It is one thing to do away with regulations; it is another thing to bring in regulations that will make the regulations in this Province, and the administration of government departments in this Province, less cumbersome, and make it so that the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian will be able to read it, so that the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian will be able to go out and make an application, or go in somewhere and know full well what it is all about before he goes in there. Never mind being stymied by some bureaucrat in some government office about a particular piece of legislation or a regulation. Most Newfoundlanders don't know but that is fit to eat, and rightly so. They have enough to do to try to earn a living and try to put bread and butter on the table, so to speak.

One of the concerns that I have with this particular bill, I said from the outset that as far as I am concerned there is going to have to be a very concerted effort on behalf of ministers opposite in order to make any regulation work so it will be helpful to the people of the Province, and in this particular case, where we are doing away with regulations - we are doing away with all regulations under this particular legislation - and yet we have nothing to replace it. Now, there is a certain danger to that as well.

I don't see anything, and I don't think the minister can table anything to show me the regulations that will be in place after this is taken away. Whether they are going to come from, say, 20,000 regulations down to 5,000, there is nothing like that, so there is a real mystery about this particular piece of legislation. It is a real mystery, and it is sort of hard, really, to go along with it, to a certain extent when you can't see it, but you know that there is definitely going to be a reduction in the regulations, so I suppose, to a certain extent, we will have to look at it as a positive piece of legislation. But there are other - as I said to the minister earlier, we will be looking forward now to the Spring session of the House, when we see the new legislation, the new regulations, I should say. Everything should be Gazetted by then and hopefully, ready to go by June 30, and I am sure the people of the Province will be looking forward to a less cumbersome government system than what we have today.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

This piece of legislation now before us, Bill No. 7, is a piece of legislation that might, under certain circumstances, be welcome. But what we have here is not a simple, straightforward act or legislation that is designed, with certain principles in mind, to change certain acts in a certain way, to change regulations or reform them in a positive way, what it is, Mr. Chairman, is a blank cheque, a blank cheque for the government -

MR. ROBERTS: (Inaudible) nobody is listening to you, boy.

MR. HARRIS: Well, whether they are listening or not, I say to the Government House Leader, every act that you have, every act has a clause in it that allows the government or the minister or somebody to make regulations. Bill 28 - back to Committee - Bill 28, the one we passed before, in second reading and sent to Committee, section 243: `The minister may make regulations', and it goes on for one, two, three, four pages, they ran out of the alphabet, Mr. Chairman, they go from `a' to `z' and they have `double a' to `double t', set up to sixty different types of things that the minister may make regulations on, and that's a bill that is being passed in this session of the House, right now.

I just went over and picked up at random a volume of the statutes and I happened to open it up at random and I ended up with the mineral act, "An Act Respecting The Acquisition Of Rights To Minerals In The Province", and section 41, `The Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations', and it goes on for one, two, three pages of regulations on different topics, going from `a' to `r', setting out all the various topics on which the Lieutenant-Governor in Council may make regulations.

Now we have an act that says we are going to wipe out all regulations, all subordinate legislation, except that which we pass in the next six months or - they've now changed it. This is the third time I think it has been changed. It is now next March.

All this is being based on a report, a report that took a commissioner and three or four lawyers hired by the government six or eight months or more. They had to extend the time limit to write the report and look at every single regulation. Two thousand and forty-nine, I think the Premier said in his opening address on this bill. What is in those regulations, the ones that we are getting rid of?

It took Judge Noel and his three or four staff six or eight months to review them all and to make recommendations. What are the recommendations of Judge Noel? Not allowed to know. Cabinet document, says the Government House Leader. That is not what the Premier said in the House there a couple of weeks ago. He said: It seems like a good idea, I will have a look at it, maybe we will release some of it, or maybe release all of it. I guess they had a look at it and they decided they don't want the public to know what recommendations were made by Judge Noel. I guess we will have to ask.

I asked the other day, when the particular regulation which was the subject of a court action was brought to the attention of the Minister of Social Services, where the Department of Social Services was, contrary to its own regulations, deducting overpayments from social assistance recipients, was that one of the ones that they intended to change and bury? Well, the Premier waited a couple of days, checked it out, came back in the House and said: No, that is not one of the ones we intended to bury. That is not one of the ones that is going to be wiped off the legislative slate and be gotten rid of. We don't intend to do that one. Do we have to ask 2,048 more questions to find out which ones are going and which ones aren't?

Is there going to be any public debate about this, or do we wait until it is a fait accompli and the Government House Leader is prepared to come in here and say: Here we are, how proud we are, here are the ones that are left. Now, if you want to find out the ones that are gone, go back and hire yourself three or four lawyers, spend six or eight or ten months, and go through each and every one of the 2,000-and-some-odd regulations passed since Confederation, or whenever they started passing them, and then you can find out what we've done. Because you are not going to find out. There is no road map available to you. Here is what we have left. We aren't going to tell you what we got rid of. We aren't going to let you know what the arguments even are. We aren't going to tell you what the recommendations were to government as to which ones to get rid of and which ones to keep and why. I am not going to tell you whether we accepted the recommendations or whether we didn't, and that's what we are being asked to do here today, is to give the government a blank cheque to go ahead without any public debate, without any public discussion, without any knowledge even of what has been recommended to government as to what regulation should be changed and shouldn't, and this is what we are being subjected to here and under the guise of some kind of nouveau '90s government, we are going to be deregulated, we are going to get rid of regulations.

Well, some of these regulations are good, some of these regulations are actually good, some of these regulations are the ones that determine health and safety in the workplace, occupational health and safety. These regulations are good regulations. What ones of those are they going to get rid of? How do we know? We don't even know what the judge recommended and what he didn't. If there were something in those recommendations that were unacceptable to the Opposition or to the government backbenchers, would they ever know about it? Not unless they are made available to the House. That's the kind of government that we are having under this act, Mr. Chairman, a refusal to make public a very expensive -

MR. CHAIRMAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. HARRIS: - report that ought to be tabled in this House, Mr. Chairman, and it is impossible for us to sensibly debate this legislation without that report.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, what I am wondering is whether the House is minded. I know I said we would adjourn at five and I am prepared to, but if it is only the hon. gentleman, and I would make a remark or two in closing -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. CHAIRMAN: Mr. Chairman, there are a lot of things in a lot of things, that's not what I am saying, but what I say to my friend from Ferryland, if the House is minded, we are adjourning today at the request of the Opposition, I am quite happy to do it, I have no problem but I am wondering whether we might be prepared to sit a few minutes beyond five o'clock with a view to cluing this up. I don't know how long my friend from Kilbride needs and I will gladly listen to what he has to say, but if we are minded, perhaps we could simply stop the clock at five. If we don't address it, we either adjourn at five and come back at seven or we adjourn for the day and nobody wants to come back at seven, we are not going to, so maybe, if could just stop the clock at five for say ten or fifteen minutes in the hope that we would finish up this bill?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) back.

MR. ROBERTS: Alright. Well, Mr. Chairman, if we are going to be back here tomorrow, let me say a word or two then in response because my friend from St. John's East is either intentionally or accidentally completely misstating the whole situation.

Government has the power to make regulations and that is not new. It is in just about every act and it has been there just as long as there has been legislation. One could say we do not need this bill because we could simply bring in, amend, and repeal every existing regulations, but that is not the way we chose to do it. What we have chosen to do is ask Judge Noel to do an internal process and that is what he has done and he has produced about 350 separate Cabinet papers and they are his report. Every single regulation or group of regulations has been examined by Judge Noel, been defended by the department, or otherwise disposed of by the department, and Judge Noel has then made a recommendation to Cabinet. The Judge cannot repeal, amend, or make regulations. That power is vested by this House in the Cabinet, so he has made these reports which are Cabinet papers.

Now, most of them have come through a special committee of Cabinet called the Standing Committee that I happen to chair and we have dealt with about 350 of them. A number that raise major policy issues have gone to the full Cabinet. In almost every case we have accepted Judge Noel's advice, but not in every case. There are instances where we have differed with him and that's fine, that happens. The members who have been in the Executive Council on the government side and who not sit on the Opposition side will agree that happened in their time as well. That is quite normal.

Judge Noel has also done a summary report which has been made available to members of the Cabinet - it is, I do not know, twenty pages. In due course we will make public a list of all the regulations that have been reenacted, all that have been consolidated, and all that have been repealed, and I think that is the point my friend for Humber Valley was making. Members and the public will know that in addition we will be able to make public consolidated regulations, one book or maybe two, however many pages physically there are, all the regulations, and instead of having several hundred regulations on municipal water supplies we will have one regulation that simply lists them all. Up until now every water supply has a regulation, so forth and so on.

Now, all this talk about tabling reports and so on is really balderdash, nonsense, and piffle amounting to nothing. The hon. gentleman is spitting into the northeast wind and that is not a very smart thing to do. We are not up to anything unusual here except trying to clean up the statute book of the Province. We acknowledge there are too many regulations and we are trying to bring them down. Judge Noel has specific standards and the Premier spoke of them in detail when he spoke in second reading.

I am prepared, obviously, to deal with this bill in committee as long as we wish to, so with that said I will sit and listen to my friend for Kilbride, bearing in mind, I say to him, that he has to get off his feet about 4:59 or we are here by Standing Orders at 7:00 o'clock and that is not something we want tonight.

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

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

I want to take a few moments to respond to some of the things the Government House Leader said. From what I understand, and if my information is correct, there are 441 acts within government there are 2,358 sets of regulations. What has been said in the House is that about 49 per cent are to be kept as is, which represents about 1,152 sets of regulations. About 5 per cent are necessary, but changes have to be made to them, which represents about 118, which bring it up to 1,270. About 1,088 sets of regulations are going to be thrown out the window.

That may be standard for how government operates in terms of how it can regulate and deregulate, but what we are being asked to do, without any debate, is to throw out 1,088 sets of regulations without any knowledge. We don't even know what they are.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I understand that fully. But what is the problem? That is the point, that we haven't seen them and the House Leader indicates that we aren't going to see them. Therein lies the problem. Because none of us know what the impact of those regulations will be, or throwing them out. Not to say, Mr. Chairman, that I as a member don't support deregulating government, but I would like to know what we are walking into. It is fine for the ministers in Cabinet to know and to judge because they have the information at their hands, but they aren't willing to share it. So there it is.

With that, Mr. Chairman, I will adjourn debate until tomorrow.

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

MR. ROBERTS: Mr. Chairman, I move that the Committee rise, report progress and ask leave to sit again. I assume members will agree the clock won't go past 5:00 p.m.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bellevue.

MR. BARRETT: Mr. Speaker, the Committee of the Whole have considered the matters to them referred, have directed me to report having passed Bill Nos. 30, 17, 15 and 34 without amendments, and ask leave to sit again.

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

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

MR. ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Before I move the adjournment, tomorrow my suggestion will be that we shall carry on with the adjourned debate at committee stage on Bill 7, where we are now, and then go on to do - and I am reading from today's Order Paper - Orders 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, all of which are committee stages on relatively straightforward bills, one of which is a substantial piece of work, that is the credit union, but that has been to a committee which, I understand, has brought back a clear report.

We then, I think, do committee stage on the Executive Council bill, which appeared to win support from both sides of the House - not appeared - did. Then I am going to suggest we address the Election Act amendments, Bill No. 23, Order 25, and I do not know what members will say but I will say to the House that these represent consensus among the three parties as represented in this advisory committee of the Chief Electoral Officer. Now members may or may not be impressed by that. I think the fact that the three of them agreed on anything tells us something, but I am not sure what it does.

When we finish those tomorrow we will be able to go home. I would hope that will not be later than 5:00 p.m., but I would say to members, we have three more government days this week, we have four the week after, and four the week after that. That brings us up to the 22nd. of December. There are substantial amendments to come, I will say to my friends. The Mineral Tax Act amendments and the Minerals Act amendments are substantial pieces of legislation. They will be here. There are other substantial bills on the Order Paper.

AN HON. MEMBER: Like what?

MR. ROBERTS: I am sorry?

AN HON. MEMBER: Like what?

MR. ROBERTS: The Workers Compensation Act, the Hydro act. I am not sure whether these will all be in the House -

MR. TOBIN: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: If my friend from Burin - Placentia West doesn't want to know I won't bother telling him, but I think my friend from Grand Bank wants to know. These will all be in the House, I would hope, within the next couple of days.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. ROBERTS: Because we were listening to my friend from Ferryland in May and June on the Budget, and that was interminable, so we terminated it.

Your Honour -

MR. SULLIVAN: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: The hon. gentleman from Ferryland is neither the terminator nor the terminatee. He is just interminable.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. ROBERTS: Your Honour, that is what we will ask the House to deal with tomorrow. We may have to sit a little beyond 5:00 p.m. I hope we won't.

With that said, Your Honour, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 2:00 p.m.

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