May 15, 1996                  HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS             Vol. XLIII  No. 9

 


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we begin with the routine proceedings, I would like to welcome on behalf of all members to the House of Assembly, eight Skills For Success ABE students along with their instructor, Donna Adams.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House today that the Iron Ore Company of Canada and the United Steelworkers of America have reached a new three-year contract which covers approximately 1,400 unionized employees at the company's mine in Labrador City -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: - and that the strike that started on April 4, 1996 is now over.

The union voted on the new contract on Tuesday, May 14, 1996 and accepted the deal by a majority of 77 per cent. Employees started to return to work as early as Tuesday.

Mr. Speaker, this new deal was arrived at following six days of meetings last week after the parties were called back to the bargaining table by a provincial mediator, Mr. Wayne Fowler, from my department.

Mr. Speaker, this industry and this employer is a major factor in the economic base in Labrador, and my department is pleased that we could contribute to the settlement of this dispute and assist the parties in arriving at the new three-year contract.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the Member for Labrador West, who has helped us out in this matter very much so, and who was very encouraging in making sure that when the decisions were made to attempt to reach a settlement he was very instrumental in helping us do that and I thank him very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

We wish to join, certainly with the minister in congratulating and being thankful that the strike in Labrador has come to a conclusion, and to, I guess, thank any and all of the people involved, including the minister and his department for ensuring that a large employer in this Province and its employees have reached a long-term agreement which is unusual not only in the provincial but federal context, and also to ensure that further economic development and prosperity continue not only for the region of Labrador but for the Province of Newfoundland as a whole.

Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi. The hon. member is asking for leave. Does the hon. member have leave?

By leave.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with the Minister of Environment and Labour and the Opposition critic in congratulations to both parties on a successful conclusion of negotiations leading to the resumption of work. While this was a strike - and strikes and lockouts are also a normal part of labour relations - I think we need to remind ourselves as well that 99 per cent-plus of all collective agreements are signed without the necessity of a strike or lockout but when they come this is part of the normal process of reaching an agreement using the economic forces of the strike or the lockout to achieve the result. I think we are all delighted that people are back to work in the Iron Ore Company in Labrador and that the economic benefits that flow from the iron ore development will continue to flow to the people of Labrador and to the Province.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Premier, they are about the Employment and Insurance Act that was passed by the House of Commons yesterday. Despite revisions the act still means fewer will qualify and those who do will get less. In fact the federal government estimates that this Province will receive $105 million less in benefits than it now receives. The measures begin taking effect this fiscal year and will have implications for the Budget that is being brought down tomorrow. I ask the Premier, has the government done an analysis of the impact of these measures on the Province's economy and our budgetary situation? Will the Premier table that analysis and will he assure us that tomorrow's Budget will adequately reflect those measures?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, we are well aware of what has transpired in terms of the amendments to the new legislation. While we didn't get everything we would have liked to have gotten we are certainly pleased with the amendments that have come forward, in part as a result of the presentations that were made by this administration and the previous administration. We recognize that there will be a reduction and the federal government is projecting a reduction of about $105 million. Mr. Speaker, that is in fact in the total Budget of $675 million that is coming into this Province for U.I. The $105 million is, in fact, a reduction, but $85 million will come back to the Province under the Employment Benefits program which, in fact, will see a reduction of about $20 million, less than 3 per cent in terms of the overall budget for the Province's U.I.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I ask the Minister of Finance now: Has the government done an analysis of the measure of the Province's economy on the changes in the Employment Insurance Act? And, if he has, will it properly be reflected tomorrow in the Budget?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, the Province has done an analysis and, yes, it will be part of the Budget. I should say, it will be reflected in the Budget.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Federal documents indicate that in the recent legislation Ottawa has softened the blow to this Province by some $33 million with the recent amendments to the U.I., the Employment Act, but are we going to be better off? I know the minister just indicated, but this $33 million, I ask the Premier, will this be subtracted from what we were going to get from Ottawa in retraining? In other words, could the Premier tell us exactly how much Newfoundland and Labrador now will be getting each year in retraining funding to make up for the millions that we are losing in U.I. benefits?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate what the minister said a moment ago in assessing the impacts. I know the Leader of the Opposition welcomes the changes that have been made. The Leader of the Opposition knows that the original proposal by the national government would have seen a U.I. system put in place where we would have had zero averaging, zero income, in determining the average income of those who are receiving U.I.; it was called a weekly system. We now have an amendment which says that U.I. will be averaged over twelve weeks in a twenty-six week period. Therefore, the problem that was evident, which he spoke about, which I spoke about, which many people in this Province spoke about, of having those involved in seasonal industries be working for four or five weeks, off for two or three weeks, working again for four or five weeks, and having to average in zero for two or three weeks they were off, that problem has been eliminated; and I know that the Leader of the Opposition joins with members on this side of the House in welcoming that important change.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: The Leader of the Opposition knows as well that the original proposal tabled by the national government would have had a divisor rule in the formula for determining unemployment insurance of twenty weeks. That was the original proposal. The amendment passed yesterday has a divisor rule; it is the insurable weeks required to collect U.I. in any region, in the case of Newfoundland, twelve plus two, so the new divisor rule is fourteen weeks rather than twenty weeks; that is a substantial and positive change insofar as it impacts upon the people of this Province. I know the Leader of the Opposition welcomes that as well.

The third area of concern to the Province was a question called the intensity rule. I know members opposite are interested in the details, because they are interested primarily, and that is why they are in the House, for the welfare of the people of the Province. The intensity rule that was proposed would have seen, for every ten weeks worked a 1 per cent reduction from the maximum insurable earnings of 55 per cent down to a floor of 50 per cent for every ten weeks worked. In the amendments proposed and passed in Parliament yesterday, the intensity rule remains, but it is now a reduction of 1 per cent for every twenty weeks worked versus ten weeks, and there is a $26,000 cutoff against which the intensity rule will not apply.

Now, I know while that does not go as far as I would like, or he would like, that nevertheless is another step in the right direction, and I thank him for his interest and concern about the welfare of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier does not know what he is talking about. The original one said one week lost for twenty. On December 1 your government of which you are a minister indicated that one week for every twenty you would lose 1 per cent and not 10 per cent. That is in the original agreement of December 1st that I have here, and after 100 weeks over three years, it would decline by 1 per cent for every twenty to a maximum of a 50 per cent total reduction on your insurable earnings. That is what was stated in this in December and that has not changed, I say to the Premier. The divisor rule for Newfoundland was fourteen weeks before January 1 and it was sixteen after January 1.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to put some facts on the table in this matter in which the Premier is misleading this House.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: We understand that the Premier told the media yesterday, and made indication today, that the revised Employment Insurance Act before the Commons was somewhat better than the original act proposed last year, and he has indicated that they still do not go far enough.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his question.

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the Premier how he can criticize this act when as the minister responsible he supported even harsher measures in 1995? Has not the Premier of this Province, the Province that is most vulnerable to U.I. changes, been ineffective in lobbying Ottawa to ease up on these cuts precisely because he himself defended deeper cuts to U.I. when he was a minister?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the one thing about the Leader of the Opposition is that he lacks subtly. It is very clear that his interest here is not with the people in seasonal industries in Newfoundland and Labrador, and is not for getting an improvement to the U.I. Act in Ottawa which is a national program. His pure interest, transparent, is to see whether or not he can score political points, by, on the one hand, asking me how can I criticize the Federal Government because I used to be part of it, and on the other hand, asking me why I'm not criticizing it more. Now, only the Leader of the Opposition has perfected the act of swallowing himself whole on the floor of the House of Assembly and trying to look normal in the process of doing it. I won't try to emulate him.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition, the facts are clear. I say we have had an improvement over what was proposed. I say that we would have preferred on this side that the changes had gone farther than they have gone; nevertheless, important changes have been made. I think that is clear - far more clear than the question of whether or not the Leader of the Opposition will support the government on this side in seeking the passage of the amendment on Term 17 before the House of Commons. He says his position is clear. We ask the Leader of the Opposition: What is your position? Because we don't know!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is your position?

MR. SULLIVAN: My position, I say to the Premier, and I will make it clear, is that you were given a mandate by the people on September 5. Get on with it and do what the people told you to do! That is my position and our party's position.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Now, I would like to get back to a question the Premier referred to on intensity rule. The softening of the intensity rule does nothing to help families with incomes below $26,000, total household incomes. In fact, Doug Young has stated he has no respect for the term `seasonal worker', or `repeat offender', as Ottawa calls them, and it is clear that no one in government has changed his mind. In fact, I say to the Premier, that amendments that went through the House of Commons yesterday on the intensity rule will impact only to one-third of 1 per cent of the revenues coming into this Province.

Will the Premier table any documents that he has sent to his federal counterparts to try to convince them of the validity and the importance of seasonal industries in this Province? Will he table any documents arguing that seasonal workers, substitute teachers and other repeat users of U.I. do not deserve to be punished for living in a province that offers few stable year-round employment opportunities?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I think the Leader of the Opposition and I, and indeed I think all members of this place share a similar view that we want policy in Ottawa that does not discriminate against seasonal workers be they in Newfoundland or any other part of Atlantic Canada or any other part of Canada, and we will work as constructively as we can to achieve that end and indeed we have been working hard to achieve that end, and we like to think that a significant reason for the reforms such as they are which have been announced and the changes which have been made, and those are substantial, whether the Leader of the Opposition wants to dismiss them or not, is because of the effective work done by the minister, by her department and by members on this side of the House, including on occasion, the Premier, and to the extent the Leader of the Opposition has contributed to that cause, I welcome, I welcome that assistance from the Leader of the Opposition.

You know, let us be blunt here, let us be clear. Now the Leader of the Opposition says: the government has a mandate, we should get on with it, and I agree with him. The government has a mandate to pursue an efficiency through a constitutional amendment in Ottawa, which will allow us to save the dollars required, to divert money to pure education purposes and I want to know, because the Leader of the Opposition still has not given a clear answer. There was a referendum in the Province and despite the referendum in this House, the Leader of the Opposition voted against the amendment; has he now changed his mind and will he accompany me -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - we will pay for his ticket to Ottawa -

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

PREMIER TOBIN: - to ask the national government to proceed with this reform.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have answered that question on two occasions.

The Premier stated that significant changes on the intensity rule, if one-third of 1 per cent of revenue coming into this Province on UI is a significant change, when the Premier promised us there was going to be a change in intensity, then I beg to differ on how significant that is. One-third of 1 per cent is very insignificant.

Now I ask the Premier, the UI fund has not only been self-supporting, it has produced a surplus estimated at $5 billion this year. Now, does the Premier really think it is right that employer and employee contributions to this independent UI fund should be siphoned off by Ottawa and put into general revenues and used for purposes other than job-loss insurance, training and employment?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition can carry on asking this question, I suppose from now to the end of this term of office.

The reality is, and the Leader of the Opposition knows it and his colleagues who sit on both sides of him know it as well. Every Government of Canada, even Progressive Conservative Governments like the Government of Premier Harris or the Government of Premier Kline in the Province of Alberta or a Conservative Government in the Province of Manitoba; New Democratic Party Governments in the case of the Province of Saskatchewan, Liberal Governments in the case of Atlantic Canada including this one, Separatists Government in the case of Quebec, all governments are faced with the responsibility of trying to put their fiscal houses in order and every government of every political stripe is engaged in that activity, it is no different anywhere in the country and if the Leader of the Opposition were sitting on this side of the House, he would be pursuing such a policy as well. So to stand up and suggest that Ottawa should not seek to find any efficiencies whatsoever in the delivery of its major programs is not being, may I say, Mr. Speaker, in my judgement, realistic, and quite frankly not being fair and not being honest with oneself or with the people of the Province, so I say to the Leader of the Opposition, to the extent he wants to work with the government to try and improve circumstances beyond those measures already introduced, we will work with him. In fact, I would propose we try and arrange a meeting while we are in Ottawa together, to lobby for Term 17's approval, a meeting with Minister Young and we can both put the case for perhaps further changes to assist the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: There is a clear, generous statement on my part. Can we get a -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - clear statement from the Leader of the Opposition, where he stands on Term 17.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I hope it will be a lot more productive than the meeting you had with Minister Doug Young in Stephenville.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: Compounded by deep cuts in federal transfer payments and the phasing out of fisheries compensation, those UI cuts will have a profound impact on the economy at a time when we can't afford to adequately fund basic services like health care and education.

Doesn't the Premier agree that any government of this Province would have an obligation to make a strenuous representation to Ottawa, pointing out the severe impact of this UI reform on this Province, protesting cuts and barriers to benefits and suggesting alternatives? The divisor rule is still there. The intensity rule only, is going to benefit 13 per cent of Canadians with this change and less in Newfoundland, and will the Premier table all the representations that his government has made to Ottawa regarding this employment insurance, and any proposals that the Province may have had to ease the impact that UI reform has on Newfoundland and Labrador? We don't want lip service we want to see the factual representation the Premier has made.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Premier agrees and the government agrees that we have to make the most responsible representations we can make to look for a system that does not discriminate against seasonal workers and that is precisely what this government has done. I say to the Leader of the Opposition in some important areas we have achieved, in consultation with other provincial governments in Atlantic Canada and elsewhere in the country, we have achieved some savings as a consequence.

The national government has left $365 million of their targeted savings on the table, put them back in the pot because of the changes they have announced. Now the Leader of the Opposition says we would like the amendments to go even further and I would say to the Leader of the Opposition I would like the amendments to go even further but you cannot refuse to recognize that there have been some changes, there have been some improvements and those improvements have come about because people have made a constructive effort to make the case. Simply standing on the other side of the House, Mr. Speaker, with no constructive suggestion beyond trying to score political points is not going to realistically help the people affected.

I say to the Leader of the Opposition the whole Province now, for the second day, is waiting - you have said you don't want fuzziness in education policy, where do you stand I say to the Leader of the Opposition, on the question of passage of Term 17 and will you come to Ottawa -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

PREMIER TOBIN: - and speak to your Conservative colleagues in the Senate?

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think that every member in this House would agree that anything that negatively affects the economies in our communities negatively affects this Province.

The question I ask to the Minister of Education is, recently in his announced cuts to post-secondary education - in terms of college closures, elimination of first year university courses - what plan did he follow? Was there a long term plan that looked at the long term costs associated with closing down colleges in communities in terms of how it would affect not only communities in the social aspects but how it would affect government revenue in the long term?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

All of the decisions that will be announced in the Budget tomorrow by my colleague the Minister of Finance have been factored into the financial analysis, the projected future in the communities and in the Province generally, with revenues that are expected to flow to the provincial treasury - all of them, all of the decisions that we have made. We understand that the short term decisions to close out particular institutions and in some instances lay off some workers, that there is no question that that has a negative short term impact.

The overall plan that we are looking at, Mr. Speaker, with respect to education - and that has been the driving force behind these decisions now - is to stabilize the education system so that we can go forward into the future with an operational system in terms of a number of campuses, a number of program offerings that we can afford into the longer term future so that we don't have to have our students in the communities put through these kinds of upheavals annually in the Budget. I guess the phrase that I have been using, Mr. Speaker, is we are trying to retrench a little so that we can go forward with a system that we know we can provide on an ongoing continuing basis rather than wondering every year or every six months - based upon fiscal re-projections - whether or not we can continue to offer services to students in the range of locations that are now present in the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

Over the last ten to twelve days - the minister knows full well, he has travelled, he has met with communities, he has met with community college officials, he has met with members on the opposite side who have concerns representing communities that have been affected by his decisions and the government's decisions, is he in a position today to outline clearly what government's intentions are? For example, will or has government reconsidered the closing down of Bell Island campus? Has government reconsidered re-instituting first year university courses in the central region or through all the regions that his earlier decision affected? Will government be reopening some of the community colleges that two weeks ago he announced would be closing?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am delighted that the hon. member asked the question.

With respect to campus closures, and the offering of first year university options at a selected number of sites throughout the Island and in Labrador a couple of weeks ago, the government decisions have been clear. They have been announced; they are part of a Budget which will be totally announced tomorrow, and they are not going to change.

What we have seen, to everybody's, I think, great credit and merit, is the people in the local areas, the college boards, the communities, coming forward with proposals themselves, not asking the government to give them back the money, because they have been told and they understand that the $8 million, the reduction that caused those specific actions to occur, that the government doesn't have any flexibility with respect to that amount of money, and we have proposals from the college board for Eastern Newfoundland, from the college board in Central Newfoundland, and from some of the communities in which the campus closures are occurring, looking at options whereby without any additional money whatsoever, with this new reduced amount, that they believe they have come up with creative new ways to run some programs on a different basis, with some different charges and different fees involved, but not asking the government to reconsider its position at all.

The unfortunate part, I think, is that some of the media have been portraying it as if the government is considering changing its mind. No, the government is not changing its mind at all with respect to the budgetary reduction of $8 million, but the people in the local areas, to their great credit, have come forward with new proposals suggesting that even within this new reduced budget limit, they can creatively offer some version of these programs on an ongoing basis, and we have said that we think we owe it to them to listen to their proposal, since they are not asking for us to change our mind about the Budget.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Well, this is news, Mr. Speaker. Let me be clear. The minister made commitments publicly, at public meetings that he would seriously reconsider and revisit decisions, bring back the Cabinet to revisit decisions that would negatively affect or scale back or close down community colleges and the offering of programs. So the minister is now saying to the House that the extent to which he, as Minister of Education, on behalf of all the government, is willing to revisit the changes or the closures that he announced, depends solely upon the communities affected to pay their own way to keep colleges open, or to offer first year university courses, and the government does not intend to claw back or to put back in first year university courses. In other words, it is up to the people of the Province to come up with their own solutions, and government will not revisit the decisions that they recently made.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Again, I appreciate the continuing line of questioning because it does provide an opportunity to make sure that we all understand each other, and it is clear, the reconsideration and the revisiting language that the hon. member used is not my language. In each of the meetings I have been involved in the people have come forward and said: Will you change your mind? The answer I have given is: No, I don't have any flexibility to change my mind, or go back to the government and ask to forget about the reductions that we have announced and do something else.

What I have indicated each time, and what they have now done, is they have brought forward proposals themselves saying: We know we are not going to get $8 million back from the government, but will you at least let us bring forward a proposal where we are saying to the government - not the government suggesting to them, pay their own way; they are suggesting to us - we know now that if we don't do something different the program is cancelled and the campus is closed. Will you at least let us bring forward a proposal voluntarily ourselves, suggesting to you that without the money from the government, that if we can find a way, and if we are willing to do it ourselves, will you at least consider it?

The answer has been: Yes, we are duty bound to consider it, and then the people will have to decide whether or not that new proposal meets with their approval in the local area, because the proposal now is that the campuses are closed and that first year university is discontinued. They are saying: We think we want it bad enough that we would like to come back and do something different ourselves, despite what the government has done.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a question for the Minister of Mines and Energy. All indications are now that as of May 22, Inco will officially become the developer of Voisey's Bay. Also, according to reports from Inco, construction at that mining site could begin as early as 1997. Less than a year from now we could see development at Voisey's Bay.

Will the minister tell the House if the amendments which were tabled by the previous administration will be brought back to this House in this session, and will there be any changes to those amendments?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I expect, too, that on May 22 we will know for sure who the future owner of Diamond Field Resources will be. The last time that we came close to a date for a vote by a board of directors there suddenly appeared another proposal on the table from a different company, when Falconbridge was about to get approved and Inco came forward. Until May 22 comes I'm not going to prejudge and say there will not be another offer come forward. There may well be another offer come forward.

Inco and others have said they would like to move forward with a rapid development. In my view there will be no development that quickly. This particular development has not been registered with the Department of Environment and Labour yet to get a complete environmental assessment. I cannot see any way in the world that it would get through an assessment and see construction by 1997. I don't think anyone should have that preconception.

In regard to the tax amendments, I gave the answer the last time we sat in this House, that we as a government have not yet dealt with these particular amendments but we do plan to. We are going to have consultation on these particular amendments before we bring them back to the House. We are not going to bring them back in this spring session of the Legislature but we are going to have consultation over the next few months, and when we bring them back it will be as a result of that consultation. So it will be in the future but after some consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to hear the minister say that we are going to use consultation and talk to people in the industry. But also, all indications are that Voisey's Bay will move quickly. Inco has said it would like to move quickly. The Premier has stated they would like to see it move quickly. The verbal rhetoric of saying that we will get our full and fair share is just not enough for people in this Province any more. Many people inside and outside the industry are asking: What is the plan, what is the tax regime that will go in place for Voisey's Bay?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. member to get to his question.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, get away from the verbal rhetoric. When will people of this Province see in black and white what the tax regime will be to develop the Voisey's Bay project?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, the hon. member shouldn't concern himself too much. There is a mining tax regime in place right now. We have said that we plan to make some amendments to that mining tax regime. The industry knows it, the Province knows it, the world knows it, and after appropriate consultation on the amendments that were in place last fall, we will be coming back to the Legislature. There is lots of time. People may have all the urgency in the world in their minds but the reality is that we are going to go through a proper assessment process after it gets registered. We are going to have proper consultation with everybody concerned and in due course that will get done. In my own view, I don't expect to see nickel from Voisey's Bay until the year 2000.

MR. SPEAKER: A supplementary, the hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The minister infers that the world might know. Well, people in this Province don't know what is happening in Voisey's Bay and they don't know what this government intends to do to make sure we get that "full and fair share."

I ask a question of the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board with respect to the harmonization of GST and PST in this Province. Has there been an analysis done by his department of the negative affects, and maybe hundreds of millions of dollars lost, with respect to harmonization in the development of Voisey's Bay?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Capital cost.

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

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, no. There will be a tremendous amount of money pumped into the economy as a result of the developments at Voisey's Bay.

DR. GIBBONS: One hundred and eleven million dollars this year in mineral exploration alone.

MR. DICKS: Yes. The hon. minister says $111 million this year. The whole fact of harmonization will actually result in a loss to the economy or to the government in terms of direct revenues of about $105 million. We expect that money will translate into consumers' pockets.

PREMIER TOBIN: We have just given EDGE status to a mining company in his riding. Does he want us to take it away?

MR. DICKS: (Inaudible).

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Question period has expired.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

MR. A. REID: I would table the annual report of the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation for 1994-1995.

Petitions

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a petition to present today to the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened. The petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador that:

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power has asked the Public Utilities Board to approve an increase in electricity rates; and

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power in passing corporate income tax increases onto consumers would be defying government's intention of ensuring that corporations dip into their own profits to help bear the cost of public fiscal responsibilities; and

WHEREAS Newfoundlanders suffering from the fish resource crisis, the general economic downturn, and deep government spending cuts, can ill afford increases in essential commodities like electricity at this time;

WHEREFORE your petitioners humbly pray that your hon. House may be pleased to request the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to do whatever is required to prevent an increase in Newfoundland Power electricity rates; and as in duty bound, your petitioners will ever pray.

Mr. Speaker, members in this House may become somewhat bored with the continuous petitions that I intend to present on Newfoundland Power as to the requested increase in electricity rates, but it is an important issue. Prior to the House opening yesterday and when the House first opened after the election, what we talked about was Newfoundland Power's suggested rate increase which came from Newfoundland Power itself. They were looking for a 4.9 per cent increase in electricity rates. But since the House has been open, some changes have taken place.

This Provincial Government has entered into a memorandum of understanding, or a memorandum of agreement, that would see the GST, the goods and services federal tax, harmonized with the provincial sales tax, the PST, for a complete tax of 15 per cent. Now, what does that mean to each and every one of us, not only here on the floor but the people sitting in the public gallery? With respect to Newfoundland Power, it means a 7.8 per cent to 8 per cent increase in your electricity bill - it is as simple as that, a 7.8 per cent to 8 per cent increase in consumers' electricity bills. That does not include - and it must be stated clearly - that does not include a rate increase by Newfoundland Power.

If Newfoundland Power were granted right now by the Public Utilities Board a 2.9 per cent increase, which they are requesting, down from 4.9 per cent, say 3 per cent for argument sake, to round it off, and on top of the increased tax that will result in electricity rates as a result of government's harmonizing of the GST and PST, basically what we will be looking at as consumers and taxpayers in this Province is an increase of about 10 per cent to ll per cent in our electricity rates. That is a hefty, hefty increase by anyone's definition.

Now, I am sure that members in this House get many calls on many issues, and I am also sure that many of the calls they received in the past and what they will get over the coming weeks will deal with this specific issue. How will people, for example, in rural areas, who have been negatively affected by the downturn in the economy, who have been negatively affected by the closure in the fishery, who will be negatively affected by huge government spending cuts in order to get our so-called fiscal House in order, where will these people find an extra 10 per cent or 11 per cent to pay on their heat bill?

Now, some of the arguments that have been tossed forward, and what does that really mean, that I have heard on provincial radio from people at Newfoundland Power, well, anybody who has a $100 light bill will now pay about $110. I do not know personally very many people in this Province who have a light bill of $100. I live in a three-bedroom home, an average home, and I pay $240 to $250 a month, on average, if you amortize it out. I am lucky. I am working and providing a living for my family. But there are many people who are not working. There are over 100,000 people in receipt of social assistance, and after tomorrow's Budget, how many?

MS J. M. AYLWARD: There are 72,000.

MR. E. BYRNE: There are only 72,000, not 100,000. I apologize to the minister. There are 72,000 people, and my colleague, the Member for Waterford Valley tells me 39,000 families are receiving social assistance. The reality is, where will these people come up with an additional 10 per cent? There are people on social services who are three or four months behind in their light bill. Every member knows, because they should be getting calls from constituents, that during the peak months, the winter months, the coldest months, that is exactly what happens to people who, through no fault of their own, are receiving social assistance.

MR. SULLIVAN: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave!

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

The hon. the Member for Cape St. Francis.

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

I am certainly pleased to stand today and support the petition presented by the Member for Kilbride. Of course, we have had a number of petitions presented in this House on this very issue in the last sitting of the House, and I expect we will see a number of petitions presented in this sitting of the House on this very issue with respect to the rate increase that Newfoundland Power has applied for. In the last sitting, I presented a petition from Cape St. Francis with 800 names on it, opposing the rate increase. There is a petition going around the Province now, I believe, with maybe thousands of names to be presented in the House.

Newfoundland Power, as the Member for Kilbride mentioned, requested an increase of 4.9 per cent. It says its studies show that it requires the 4.9 per cent increase to give a proper return on investment to its shareholders. Shortly after the Consumer Advocate was appointed, it dropped that down to 3.9 per cent, and since then, it has dropped it even further. So, basically what it is saying now, Newfoundland Power itself is saying to the people of the Province that it lacks credibility, and it certainly does, Mr. Speaker.

Last year I believe it made a profit of $27.8 million. In a time of cutbacks and hardship that this Province is going through today, and the people out there having a hard time putting bread and butter on the table, as I said a number of times in this House of Assembly, for Newfoundland Power to be requesting an increase is basically I would say, ludicrous, I suppose, to a certain extent, but it is certainly disgusting to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

As I said, the Consumer Advocate has stated that possibly Newfoundland Power now is charging too much to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is actually charging too much and now looking for a rate increase. Again, it gets back to the credibility issue. I believe that if, in the fact the consumer advocate can make a good case to Newfoundland Power and to the Public Utilities Board, maybe the rates should be reduced, and possibly Newfoundland Power may have to pay back some money to people in this Province.

Another point I would like to address, and the Member for Kilbride did address it, is the tax harmonization with respect to Newfoundland Power. In the sales tax harmonization memorandum of understanding, the government has stated that the harmonization would apply to the monthly electric bill and other consumer products within the Province. The tax would increase on some items such as personal services, fuel and electricity, children's clothing and books. If the people in this Province are going to start paying more money for those services and those goods and to slap that on to the electric bills in this Province, it is nothing less than (inaudible) to the people of this Province.

The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board has publicly stated that the tax harmonization will actually put more money in the pockets of the consumer in this Province. I really don't understand that logic. I looked at his report and the information that was sent out, and what it is not applying to is basically some of the items that

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. J. BYRNE: Does the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture have a problem over there, I wonder? He should probably get up and say a few words on this issue and show how he supports the rate increase for Newfoundland Power. I do not see too many on that side of the House presenting petitions or getting up and speaking and supporting the Consumer Advocate and the reduction in Newfoundland Power rates, instead of an increase.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. J. BYRNE: Anyway, Mr. Speaker, as I said before, and I say it again, Newfoundland Power has a monopoly in this Province and it goes to the Public Utilities Board for a rate increase. From what I see, it normally asks for a rate increase more than it really wants or expects to get, and then the same tactics that the government has used over the years is to put out the negative factor and make it seem a lot worse than what it actually is. Then when it manages to get something less that it expects to get and what it wanted in the first place, it gets this sigh of relief from the general public.

I think the people in the Province are starting to get on to that tactic and Newfoundland Power should, when it comes before the Public Utilities Board - and the Member for Kilbride has requested often that the government would step in and make a presentation to the Public Utilities Board on behalf of the public of this Province, as they did with the commission that went around the Province with respect to the electoral boundaries. They decided to make a presentation on that when it was in their benefit to do so, Mr. Speaker, but they will not make a presentation or they seem to refuse to make a presentation to the Public Utilities Board to support the people in this Province in trying to have the Newfoundland Power rate request refused.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you and I will sit down.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Mines and Energy.

DR. GIBBONS: Just a few words, Mr. Speaker, basically in support of a public utilities board process. If we did not have an arms length Public Utilities Board, arms length from politics, arms length from politicians, arms length from government, we would have to invent it. In other parts of this country where they do not exist that is what people are saying, we should have a public utilities board that is arms length from government and operating independently of government and making its decisions independently of government. It does not need to be directed by government and we have said that, as a government, we are not going to go in and direct the PUB -

MR. J. BYRNE: Nobody asked you to direct it.

DR. GIBBONS: Well, that is what the petition said. That is what was read in the petition that we should go in and ensure. We allow the public utilities board process to work. We allow it to work. We put in place a Consumer Advocate, and I have to congratulate the Consumer Advocate for the great job that he is doing this time. I think our Consumer Advocate is doing the best job that we have ever seen from a Consumer Advocate since the Public Utilities Board was put in place. Dennis Browne is doing marvellously.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

DR. GIBBONS: He is representing the public, and I encourage him to continue to represent the public. He is going to ensure that all the facts are on the table. So anybody who has any facts to put on the table, put them on the table at the PUB so that Dennis Browne and the PUB can properly deal with it. But that Consumer Advocate is doing a wonderful job. I think by the time we get through this process we will have what is a fair rate based on the facts of the case in terms of what type of rate of return should this company get, etcetera, etcetera, and all that evidence is put forward.

MR. J. BYRNE: You are a living contradiction.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

DR. GIBBONS: So, as I said, we believe in the public utilities process. We believe in the Consumer Advocate in front of the Public Utilities Board and we believe in having the public have access to that Public Utilities Board, but as a government we are not going to direct and tell, as politicians, the Public Utilities Board what it should do. If we didn't have it we would have to invent it.

A word about harmonization and the harmonization effects. Every salary level of persons in this Province, who pay tax, will pay less tax in the future after harmonization comes into effect. At every salary level you are going to pay less tax. If you make $10,000 a year you are going to pay less tax than you do today even with the broadened base, even when you start paying tax on some of the other items that you don't pay tax on today. At every salary level, whether you are a $10,000-a-year person or a $100,000-a-year person, you will pay less tax. That is the fact of the matter, no matter what the situation.

In terms of the harmonization effect on electricity, the effect that has on the earnings of Light and Power is being considered right now. As a matter of fact, the PUB is requiring a special study on that effect and will consider it in the rates. The light and power company will not get the double benefit. Anything that flows through, as a result of harmonization, will be considered in the rate settings by the PUB, that is a fact of life. The harmonization is a tax break for this Province, the biggest tax break that we have ever had. Mr. Speaker, that is all I have to say on this petition.

MR. J. BYRNE: We shall see.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Bonavista South on a petition.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand today to present a petition to the House. I won't read all the whereas's and therefore's but the petition reads: To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, that

WHEREAS Newfoundland Power has asked the Public Utilities Board to approve an increase in electricity rates;

It goes on to put forward the whereas's and wherefore's, Mr. Speaker, as we have heard in other petitions that have been presented here to the House before.

The minister speaking on the petition that was put forward by my colleague, the Member for Kilbride, there is nobody who will argue with that, Mr. Speaker. There has been no argument on this side as to the need for a Public Utilities Board or the need for the Consumer's Advocate or the job that both are doing. He is certainly doing a good job and there is certainly a need for the Public Utilities Board but, Mr. Speaker, I think we can take the statement about people paying less taxes in this Province with a grain of salt. It depends on how you look at it. Sure, we are going to be paying less taxes as it relates to now 19 per cent, almost 20 per cent, going down to 15 per cent, but when you realize that this tax will be put on a lot more commodities that are essential to everybody in this Province, then you will find, probably, at the end of the year when the total tax is calculated of what it really cost us, it will probably be many dollars more than what we are paying out there today.

Mr. Speaker, this particular utility last year made a profit of $27.8 million, and now they are coming back looking for another 4.9 per cent increase in electricity rates. When you add on the 8 per cent that we are going to be paying on top of the 7 per cent, which will bring our taxes up to 15 per cent, it won't be uncommon for most people's light bills, as we refer to them, most people's utility bills, to have cost them $55 and $60 extra a month. When you look at a lot of the older houses in Newfoundland that are not insulated and not prepared, probably, to have electric heat in the first place, but people were encouraged to put electricity into their homes a few years ago because it was a cheaper rate, you will find those are the people who are going to be penalized much more than anybody else.

I understand that Newfoundland Power today is sending out letters to people, offering them a plan whereby they will wire their houses, install electric heat, install insulation, if they sign a contract over a five-year period; sign a contract to put in electric heat and they will provide them funding. Mind you, there is an interest rate built in there, but this is their way of going out and getting control of the market. This is their way of competing with the oil companies.

I refer again to the thousands of dollars in television ads that Newfoundland Power is putting forward on our local television channels. Every time you turn on the television you see a fellow with a handful of money, throwing it in a furnace and saying, `Here are your fuel dollars going up in smoke'. Who is paying for that? You know who is paying for it, the consumers of electricity, every last one of us in this Province today.

Surely we cannot forget a few years ago, when every time we went to the mail, in every utility bill we got there was a little sticker in it to put on your refrigerator, put it over your light switch, as a reminder to conserve electricity. Now what we find is those same people who listened to Newfoundland Power conserved electricity, and because we are using less, now we are going to be charged more; they are going to penalize us for it. That is about how much sense this whole application makes, and that is the reason why many Newfoundlanders are out there today so upset and so disturbed over this rate increase, and see government once again shrugging off its responsibility of going out and coming forward and speaking on behalf of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, another excuse they use when they come forward looking for their 4.9 per cent is, `We have not had a rate increase since 1992'. How many civil servants out there today haven't seen a wage increase since 1982?

AN HON. MEMBER: Not many.

MR. FITZGERALD: Not many. I beg to differ with the minister, because he knows different from that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a minute to conclude.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: How many people out there today are left without a job? The Minister of Social Services corrected my colleague when he put forward some figures of how many families and how many people - what the caseload was in social services out there today. Well, the minister would also admit, or she can correct me if I am wrong, that in the wintertime now most people on social services, if the need is there, get something like $51 as a fuel adjustment per month to offset the extra costs in using up extra electricity to heat their homes in the wintertime. Well, this particular rate will take the whole lot of that in addition to what they are paying now, and it is not an option anymore for the Department of Social Services to go out and help people with their light bills. They will give you a budget plan but the option is not there to help them out in a `forgive the situation'. With that, Mr. Speaker, I conclude my remarks and I thank the hon. member for granting me leave.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I am just going to take a couple of minutes to, I guess, respond to some of the comments made by the Minister of Mines and Energy with respect to the GST-PST harmonization.

Yes, he is right; it has been a great tax break. Four per cent about 4.5 per cent.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I am supporting his petition, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you speaking to a petition?

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes. I am supporting this member's petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member is speaking to a petition.

MR. E. BYRNE: I am supporting his petition.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

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

The minister talks about a great tax break passed on.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Government House Leader on a point of order.

MR. TULK: While he is perfectly at liberty to stand up and support the petition of the hon. the Member for Bonavista South, he cannot, I think, use the guise of speaking to a petition, to stand up and to reply to something that the Minister of Mines and Energy said. He has to confine himself to the contents of the petition and he should do so.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Had the Government House Leader been listening to the debate on the petition, he would understand that the Minister of Mines and Energy responded to a petition presented to this House related to Newfoundland Power, one that I presented, and I am supporting the Member for Bonavista South's petition, speaking to his petition and outlining some of the concerns that were raised and debated in the House. There is nothing out of order here, I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: No, there is no point of order.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride,

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

The minister indicated that it was a tax break passed on to consumers, a great tax break, 4 per cent. What he neglected to tell people and outline clearly, was that the great tax break that was passed on, the base of it will be broadened and each and every one of us in the Province will get a tax increase in electricity rates.

DR. GIBBONS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Yes we will.

MR. FITZGERALD: Sure, we will.

MR. E. BYRNE: We will be paying 8 per cent -

DR. GIBBONS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: How is it, minister?

DR. GIBBONS: The total tax will be down.

MR. E. BYRNE: Pardon me?

DR. GIBBONS: The total tax will be down.

MR. E. BYRNE: So you and I won't be paying another 7.8 to 8 per cent more on electricity rates, is that what you are telling me?

DR. GIBBONS: No.

MR. J. BYRNE: Pardon me?

DR. GIBBONS: No.

MR. E. BYRNE: We will be, won't we?

DR. GIBBONS: We will pay on the broadened base but our total payments will be less.

MR. E. BYRNE: Our total payments will be less? I wonder, I wonder, Mr. Speaker, if the 72,000 people who are in receipt of social assistance will benefit from that statement by the minister. How ludicrous and ridiculous! It will cost an additional $20 million, the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board told me with respect to this and, if we eliminated the harmonized tax on electricity heat, it will cost government $20 million; if we eliminate it on oil heat, $10 million. It is incredible!

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

It is now, three p.m.; it is Wednesday afternoon and we move to Orders of the Day with, I believe, the hon. the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune.

Orders of the Day

Private Members' Day

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased today to speak on the motion that I brought forth on Aquaculture and basically, just to put it into the record:

BE IT RESOLVED that the House of Assembly support the present and future initiatives of Aquaculture and Fish Farming for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in an attempt to revitalize the once vibrant fishery.

Now, anybody in the rural part of the Province, people whom we represent, all of us know the importance of the fishery to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, since the inception of the Province itself, since John Cabot came here in 1497 and when we had our first colony in 1610, at Cupids, up to a few years ago, the majority of the outlying communities in Newfoundland and along the Labrador Coast depended on the fishery for survival.

However, Mr. Speaker, in the 1990s we have seen tremendous pressure on the natural fisheries, as we would call it, where, about 70 per cent of the world's marine fish stocks are currently in decline, or have already collapsed, and are in the process of slowly recovering. And with that type of dilemma facing us, we have a tremendous problem with employment for the communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. So, to look at it, Mr. Speaker, from the perspective of the natural fishery, the communities of Newfoundland and Labrador have survived primarily, as I said, on fishery in one form or another.

Today because of the collapse of the natural fishery, primarily the groundfish, cod and haddock stocks, we have a large number of our people unemployed, and they will continue to be unemployed if we have to wait for the natural fishery itself, the groundfish, to recover so that we can once again employ large numbers of people. The government must, and industry no doubt will, capitalize on the underutilized species, and that is being done in a number of instances across the Province. Only recently, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture announced an experimental fishery, primarily along the South Coast, of the king crab. Other species will be announced in a short time.

To supplement the natural fishery, the Province - the government, the previous administration to this, and it has been enhanced by this particular government - initiated a plan to produce more aquaculture fish in the Province. I am very pleased, I guess, to represent an area in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, primarily in the Bay d'Espoir area, where aquaculture has really begun to thrive. It is because of this that I believe the Bay d'Espoir part of the Province and the whole Southwest Coast will benefit tremendously because of the aquaculture industry.

In particular, I look at one of the areas that probably a lot of people do not recognize the community of Belleoram. Belleoram is one of the probably poorest communities in my district when it comes to economics but it has a tremendous potential there in the scallop hatchery. It is only in its infancy but I have a clipping here from the paper which basically reads thus: `Newfoundland may be behind the rest of the world generally in aquaculture development but the Province is not without its triumphs in certain aquaculture technologies. Newfoundland is the first place in the world to successfully culture giant scallop.'

I must say, it is under the leadership of Dr. Pat Dabinett, a former employee of Memorial University, who has been seconded by the Provincial Government to go to Belleoram to work on this particular hatchery. It is really worthwhile to go in and see what has happened there. It is really a work of art and the latest in technology. In fact, in the hatchery in Belleoram -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. LANGDON: It is. There are five people currently employed there. In 1995 they produced 1 million to 2 million seeds, and they generated $25,000 in revenue. Because, remember, the Provincial Government put up half-a-million dollars to refurbish this. But expected production this year could reach 20 million seed with half-a-million dollars generated in revenue. And fanning out from this particular hatchery in Belleoram is a farm that was owned by local people in the area but it is now being bought out by a firm in Nova Scotia. They are hoping to produce 3 million scallops in the next two to three years, 2 million to 3 million. That firm will generate in excess of $1 million of revenue and will employ twenty people from that particular area in the scallop hatchery.

That, Mr. Speaker, is a sign of progress and I believe that is the direction that we have to go and find ourselves in. Aquaculture products around the world - we are just starting to catch up. We are way behind what is happening in Norway and we are way behind what is happening in Chile, and probably, to some extent, what is happening in New Brunswick or probably even the rest of Canada. However, we do have the potential. And really, up to now, I suppose, some people could argue that for every step forward we took in the aquaculture industry in the Bay d'Espoir area for the salmon and the steelhead, we probably went back two steps because of the different problems associated with it and the industry in its infancy. However, the Premier announced before the election that the Bay d'Espoir area would receive the aquaculture scientific centre for the Province, and that is where it should be built. It should be built where the industry is, and that what is happening in New Brunswick. They built it where the industry is. The Bay d'Espoir area and the Belleoram area is where we have the greatest potential for aquaculture for shell fish in the whole of the Province, and I am excited about what is happening in that particular area.

In fact about three weeks ago I was in St. Alban's on a Saturday when there was a tractor trailer loaded with steelhead fillets on its ways to the Boston market. If you talk to some of the people who are associated with SCB fisheries they are very excited about what is happening here. They have orders from Chicago that they cannot fill; they have orders from Israel they cannot fill. In fact Loblaws in Ontario cannot find enough of the product to satisfy consumer needs. In fact it rates number four in order of preference by the consumer in Ontario, so what they are trying to do really, I guess, is a little bit of drib there and a little bit of drab there.

The whole idea is that we will double production in 1996 over 1995 and we are looking to double production in 1997 from 1996. I think there are eight new farms for steelhead being put in the area this year, and the people who are involved, like the man and his son and a friend of theirs from the Hermitage area, were long-liner fishermen and put up practically everything they owned so they could become engaged in the aquaculture industry. That is where, in my opinion, we have to work to supplement the groundfish industry.

On the South Coast itself the natural ground fishery shows promising signs of returning. In the exploratory fishery done earlier this year, after only one day of having nets in the water, the fishermen had to take them out because the cod by catch was so large. So I think we do have a future there, and with the aquaculture industry helping then I believe it is really one of the ways we can find work for the people we represent.

In the rural part of the Province, and it is no different in Newfoundland and Labrador than it is in other provinces, like Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and I can use the area that I represent for all people in rural areas, we once, in Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest birth rate in all of Canada but we now have the lowest birth rate in all of Canada.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. LANGDON: Now, let me explain that a little further.

In the community that I know best, Seal Cove, Fortune Bay, there are about 500 people and there have probably been ten, fifteen, or twenty houses built there in the last five or ten years, however there is nobody in the community who have families of nine, ten, or twelve anymore. They are having one child, and two is maximum, so therefore we have fewer children being born in the rural areas.

Again, for people in the rural areas, if you go and talk to the people who are there, especially the younger people, even if some jobs were provided for them in the small rural areas, the students, the younger people tend to gravitate one step higher to an urban area. They want some of the amenities that you can get in the larger area, therefore with those two strikes against us we have to make sure that we have to have some employment for them, whether it is in aquaculture or in the fishery. Now, whether they do or not, if we provide the opportunity then they could stay, but if the opportunity is not there for them then there is no reason for them to stay to begin with.

I think we do have a major battle on our hands for the rural areas. It is a phenomenon that we go through. I remember back in 1962 when I was in school in my own community there were approximately 130 kids in school but today from kindergarten to six there are thirty-four, but there is not a lot of out-migration as such.

AN HON. MEMBER: There were 9000 students who graduated this year in the Province but four years ago it would only be about 1500.

MR. LANGDON: That is right. In fact at the meeting with the people of Grand Falls on Saturday, the NLFM seminar we had there, the mayor of Grand Falls - Windsor said that even with the closing of the Springdale hospital, the Buchans hospital, and with all the paediatrics being done in the Grand Falls region, in the year 1994, two years ago, for all of the central region and all the South Coast area, there were only 324 children born in the whole central region, out of that hospital, so basically, with these numbers we are going to have a hard job to be able to support many of the outlying areas.

That is where we find ourselves, but I believe that the people who are in these areas, some of the younger people who are staying in the Bay d'Espoir area that I know, are employing in excess of 150 people in aquaculture in Bay d'Espoir. Last year there were twenty plus houses built in the area, so there is some hope for the people who live in the rural area.

In 1995 there were 1,000 tons of salmon and steelhead trout from the SCB fisheries farm and hatchery in Bay d'Espoir for in excess of over $2 million. In fact, only recently the SCB fisheries people are saying that the hatchery that they have in Bay d'Espoir now has reached its capacity. They are in the process of putting another hatchery into the Bay d'Espoir area this year so that they can keep up with the demand. In fact, talking to some of the people in the industry in Bay d'Espoir, right now they are having problems with bringing in feed in the tractor trailers along the Bay d'Espoir highway. In fact, if the industry grows much larger, probably by next year they will have to bring the feed in by boat because the land capacity, like the tractor trailers, would not be able to supply the demand in the area, so that in itself is a plus as well.

Also, we are in the process with development in scientific research to use the by-products of the fish and so on in the Bay d'Espoir area to develop into feed for the aquaculture industry itself. If we can do that, then that is going to be a tremendous plus for keeping the cost down in production of the aquaculture fish in the area.

The South Coast itself, talking about the aquaculture industry is, because it is strategically located, why the farming itself is taking off so well. In fact, the Fortune Harbour Mussel Grower's Association have developed, as you would know, a big farm in the Fortune Harbour area. Only two years ago they did some research in the Fortune Bay Area, in the Harbour Mill area, which is the hon. Deputy Speaker's district, the district of Bellevue, and what they found was that the mussels growing in Harbour Mill in Fortune Harbour grow three times as fast as they do in Fortune Bay, or in Notre Dame Bay, because of the warmth of the water, water temperature, and serenity and so on.

So there is tremendous potential in the aquaculture industry in this Province, and I have not even scratched the surface of what we are doing, but I am sure that the other members, in speaking today in the motion, will be able to relay some of the things that are happening and to, in a sense, support the government in its efforts to develop aquaculture products in the industry in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

In fact today there are people from my area meeting with the Premier, who are working diligently to bring a halibut hatchery to the Province and to develop halibut for the world market. In fact, the halibut prices now on the world market are in excess of $12 a kilogram, roughly $6 a pound, and it is being done by people who have ingenuity, and people who care about their communities. In fact, before my time is up in the opening of this, I would like to, by the way of illustration, tell you briefly what is happening in the community of Ramea.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. LANGDON: Just one second to illustrate this point.

In Ramea this past winter the people in the community donated in excess of 400 sacks of cement to pour the floors in their fish plant, and they did it all free labour. They painted the walls of their plant to put it in tip-top shape. So people out there do have the initiative, people out there do have the entrepreneurial spirit, and I believe that when government puts into place programs to support the aquaculture and the fishing industry in this particular Province then I see nothing but good, and I see nothing but employment and job opportunities for our younger people and for the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to rise today to speak on behalf of the private member's resolution as put forward by the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you support it?

MR. FITZGERALD: Do I support it? Well, I don't see how I can't support it, but still when you look at the be it resolved I don't see how I can support it.

The first part of it, Mr. Speaker: "Whereas the fisheries is in a state of transition in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador," no problem with that, we all know that. "And whereas the economic condition of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a strong correlation to the state of the fishery," we all know that. "And whereas the future of the Province's fisheries lies in careful management, cultivation, and preservation of the fisheries resource," we all know that, or we should know it. If we don't then it is time that we got to know it and realized that is where our problems have started.

But then it comes. "Be it resolved that the House of Assembly support the present and future initiatives...." I ask the member, what are the future initiatives? It is almost like signing a blank cheque. His private member's resolution can almost be compared to that silly little clip that they have on the radio which is the silliest thing that I've ever heard, and most people - or I should say some people - here in the House of Assembly participate in it. "I believe in Newfoundland and Labrador."

Do you love your mother? It goes without saying. This resolution is almost similar to that. It is certainly vague, that is for sure. I know that the spirit of the resolution came from the member who represents an area where aquaculture is certainly very important, and it is going to be important to all of Newfoundland and Labrador. I compliment the member for taking the initiative to bring it forward. What the future initiatives are is kind of vague because we don't know. But I suppose as it goes on it says: "...in an attempt to revitalize the once vibrant fishery." That certainly I suppose justifies us not knowing what the future of it all means.

A couple of days ago the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture announced a new fishery for Newfoundland and Labrador. He talked about a new shrimp fishery and a new crab fishery, and he talked about the Atlantic king crab. It will happen in a time where it will include a lot of the small boat fishermen and it will happen in a time when there is not a lot of activity taking place right now. That is exciting. If you are going to have a fishery I think that it is the small boats and it is the inshore fishermen who should be included. It is nice to have it happen at a time when there is not another fishery taking place. Especially when you look at the months between September and April as it relates to the Southwest Coast of this Province.

Then he talked about the shrimp fishery, another very important fishery that has a lot of potential, and here again can operate with small boat fishermen using pots, which is very important. I think it is time that we got away from a fishery that continues to pull nets and other apparatus over the ocean floor destroying habitats of shellfish and other fin fish in order to prosecute a fishery.

First when the moratorium was announced back in 1992 in this Province many of us didn't realize what the impact was going to be on rural Newfoundland. We looked at it and some of us shrugged our shoulders and said: It is only 5.5 per cent of our gross domestic product. No big thing. They figured that once it was announced we would be able to shrug our shoulders, shake off the dust, and go on and take part in life as we had done up until that time. Such was not the case.

The fishery of this Province as we see today is the most important and the most vital sign, I suppose, that we have of being able to maintain a livelihood and live in our respective towns in the rural areas of this Province. Not only the rural areas of the Province. Because I think if you go into some of the urban areas, you go into places like Grand Falls or Gander, a place where a government wharf is an unknown thing, and talk to the business people in there, they will tell you that they are feeling the affects of the fishery as well. They will tell you, Mr. Speaker, that as the fishery goes on the Burin Peninsula, the Bonavista Peninsula and the Southwest Coast then so goes St. John's, Gander, Clarenville and other areas of this Province. The Member for Grand Bank nods her head because she knows full well, representing a fishing district as I do, exactly what I am talking about, Mr. Speaker. What we are seeing out there today is devastation in its worse kind of way and unless we create new hope and generate new activities then I fear what is going to happen. I fear what is going to happen in some of those areas.

Mr. Speaker, the fishery as we knew it prior to 1992 was a labour extensive fishery. There was in excess of 30,000 people employed in the fishing industry. I worked in a fish plant myself and many, many times I would stand and look out over the production floor and see all the production workers there. You would only be able to see their heads or their caps that they wore because they had their heads down and very, very busy working and I often wondered what would ever take the place of such an industry should it be allowed to disappear. Many of those fisherpeople, many of the fishermen and plant workers, Mr. Speaker, made good money. It was not uncommon for people to make $12 and $14 an hour in some of those fish plants. Their sons and daughters were working there with them making $10 and $12 an hour and go home for dinner every day. Now a lot of those opportunities have been taken away. We are looking for new initiatives and new ideas where we can allow our people to go back and take pride in what they have done, to take part in another fishery and continue to feed and support their families and live in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of pressure being put on the crab fishery as we know it today because I suppose of the amount of money that was brought forward by this particular fishery last year. Fishermen got paid in excess of $2.50 a pound. Some people on the government side wanted to bring in a resource tax and tax the fishermen. They thought it was unfair that they should be making so much money but I didn't hear many people say that we should come out and write off their loans, pay for their boats and supply them with fishing gear free of charge when they had the dozens of bad years, Mr. Speaker. In fact, I think the crab fishery, in what we saw last year, was almost a fluke. The reason why fishermen were being paid big dollars for their fish was not because the markets are a steady market or is going to be there year after year, it was because of the total collapse of the Alaskan market as it relates to crab. When we have to go to the market and compete with the Alaskan crab, which everybody tells me is superior in quality, superior in taste to the snow crab that we catch off our coasts, Mr. Speaker, I can only believe them because I don't think I have ever tasted Alaskan crab. I know that what we catch here, snow crab, is certainly very tasty and demands a fair price on the market today although I understand that there are very high inventories in warehouses, in cold storage around this Province and in the Eastern Seaboard of the United States today.

Mr. Speaker, before I move away from the crab fishery, the other thing that concerns me is the way that we allow our crab fish to be shipped out of this Province and on to the Japanese market. Today we are letting this crab leave this Province in a very, very raw state. Pardon the pun but, Mr. Speaker, we are letting it go out in sections, we are letting it go out as whole crab not being processed because we are saying that this is what the market demands. I don't know if I can believe that or not, Mr. Speaker. I fear the reason it is leaving this Province in such a state is because it is the wish of the processors and it is a way for the processors to once again make a quick dollar but you know who is suffering once again, it is the people out there who are looking for work and unable, in most cases, to get enough contributions to qualify for unemployment insurance to tide them over until they go back in the crab fishery again.

A prime example of that is our lump roe, Mr. Speaker. When you see our lump roe going out in 250-pound barrels, the lumps are caught there, the roe is taken from them, carried back and put in barrels, there is a brine solution added and is shipped out in barrels to a Japanese and Chinese market, then it comes back. It goes the full circle and comes back to our stores again; we see it on the store shelves, Mr. Speaker, as sturgeon roe and it is in a little bottle, about a gram I suppose, for $4.50 and $5.00 so then we flock out to buy it. So I think, if we are going to be sincere about our aquaculture industry and if we are going to look at it creating some new opportunities and some new employment levels, then we also have to look at value-added products and we have to make sure that we get every hour's work for every pound of fish that we catch in the waters off Newfoundland and Labrador because that is the only way we are going to survive here.

The minister went on to talk about a shrimp fishery. A shrimp fishery which is new, in the fact that we are using pots instead of- I think the right pronunciation is the Nordmore net or the Nordmore apparatus that they drag over the floor - this is a recent invention with a smaller kind of mesh that would allow the by-catch, small cod, small halibut, small turbot not to be caught up in this particular drag net but roll over the sides and away to go.

MR. A. REID: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well he should be here because he might learn something I say to the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and the minister knows what I am talking about; he is coming in here now and he is very familiar with what I am talking about. I will have to throw a bouquet to the minister since he walked in because only a few days ago the minister was invited down to my district to talk to, I would suggest, about 500 people gathered at the school there, and on very short notice the minister agreed to travel to Bonavista on a not very pleasant night, and I don't say that with the feeling of the people but because of the weather, travelled all the way to Bonavista and took part in a public meeting and did a good job. He put the position of the Province forward, the position of his government and spoke very concernedly about the people's future in that particular area and I commend the minister for that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where should the crab licence go?

MR. FITZGERALD: Where should the crab licence go?

If you will allow me to put it where I want to put it, then I will make the decision, but if you want me to make the decision as to where I stand, and not have any input as to where it should go, then I will leave it with the minister, but the minister knows, it is not a laughing matter I say to the Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods, it is not a laughing matter. The minister knows what I am talking about.

It is a situation where you have one town that had a fishery, probably one of the first fish plants in Newfoundland and Labrador, and now, because the plant does not look nice on the outside, because it does not have a lot of cosmetics that we are saying that it shouldn't be there, but I say to the member that the plant there in Bonavista is in very good shape, it passes all its inspections, but a little bit of paint or a little bit of siding would do wonders for it, and then we have another plant just a short distance away but it goes much farther than the ten-minute drive as the minister knows. It means much more than that, it means much more than a ten-minute drive; it means the livelihood of that particular community and I commend the people from Bonavista and I comment the people from Port Union and Catalina for fighting for their communities, and I will stick with them and I will fight with them all the way, I can guarantee you that.

When the time comes, you will not have to look upon the fence for me, you will be able to look down, I will be on one side or the other, you won't have to look up.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Yes, don't forget that now. So, Mr. Speaker, going back to the shrimp fishery again. Right now, up of the Northeast Coast of Labrador there is a shrimp fishery taking place and I understand - the minister can correct me if I am wrong - that the amount of wastage that is happening with that particular shrimp fishery, using the Nordmore net or the Nordmore drag is absolutely ridiculous. For every shrimp that is caught, there are another ten either codfish, or there are another ten turbot, or there are another ten halibut, that roll over and are killed, or taken up on the boat and shovelled off the deck, and here we are waiting for our fisheries to regenerate and come back to the conditions that we once found, where we would be able to go out again and earn a livelihood from the sea. If this is going to be allowed to continue -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Just a few minutes to finish up?

AN HON. MEMBER: You have one minute.

MR. FITZGERALD: One minute.

I call upon the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune again to continue to work and promote this promotion of our aquaculture industry, and I call upon the member as well to hold his Premier to the promise he made, the election promise of creating a new research and development facility down in Bay d'Espoir. Like he said, that is the place to have it, right where the activity is happening now. The Premier of the Province announced $20 million over a five-year period, and he should be held to that. I understand that in order to build this particular facility it will cost between $10 million and $15 million. Now, there is still a lot of planning and still a lot of other things that have to go into that, so we might find that $20 million may not be able to do the things that we want, but at least it will give us a facility.

I plead with the minister also to make use of the expertise that we have in the building up on the hill here, up at the Marine Institute. Use the expertise that we have. We don't have to go to Norway, we don't have to go to Chile; we can use our own people right here, and I think that we can bring forward an industry that will never, ever replace our inshore fishery - it will never create our cod fishery, our Northern cod fishery as we know them - but it can create some opportunities, and if we create twenty jobs, or 300 jobs, they are jobs that we never had. I, for one, believe that our fishing industry will return, and if it returns with some other activity, doing other things that we never did before, then it has to be positive.

I call upon the member to work with his government, and to put pressure on the Premier to make sure that this money is spent wisely, and the people of his own particular district, and of all rural Newfoundland and Labrador, will be able to take part in this new industry, and be able to live and support their families in the towns and communities where they choose to live.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. G. REID: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to speak to the motion put forward by the hon. Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune, and before I get into talking about the aquaculture I would like to first talk a bit about what has happened in the fishery in the Province over the past seven years, probably the worst time in the fishery - well, it was the worst time in the fishery - in the history of our Province.

Mr. Speaker, I have had more of a first-hand look at what is happening, or what has happened in the fishery since that time because of the position that I held, or the job that I have had in the past seven years. Almost seven years to the day, May 29, 1989, I left a teaching position on New World Island, an area that was based solely on the fishery, and took up a job with the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Took a cut in salary.

MR. G. REID: Took a big cut in salary, $8,000 a year to be exact, and took up a job as the executive assistant to the Minister of Fisheries for the Province. That was on May 29, 1989. Within a month, the biggest problem that the Department of Fisheries in the Province had to deal with was a cod glut. Seven years ago the biggest problem we had to deal with in the Department of Fisheries was a glut in the cod fishery, and we had people all over the Province, fishermen all over the Province, dumping their catches. We had CBC camera crews standing on the wharf down in St. John's showing fishermen dump fish. We set up what we called a glut desk in the Department of Fisheries, twenty-four hour a day phone line, where fishermen could phone in from around the Province, tell us if they couldn't sell their fish, and we would point them in the direction where they could sell it. Mr. Speaker, at that time we also chartered the Polar Storm, a factory-freezer trawler, tied up down at the St. John's Harbour, that bought fish from the fishermen, subsidized by the Newfoundland government.

In 1990 there was a glut of fish in Black Tickle I think that was never seen the likes of before. You could practically walk across the harbour on the decks of boats. Again the Department of Fisheries helped with that problem, sending collector boats up from Newfoundland. The unfortunate thing about it is that the Government of Quebec was also sending collector boats up from Quebec. I remember the premier of the day having to go down on the wharf in Black Tickle and stand between the fishermen and RCMP officers who were about to kill each other down there.

Even though there was a glut on in 1989 and 1990 the officials in the Department of Fisheries knew that the fishery was in trouble. The stocks were declining. It wasn't just the officials in the department, the fishermen knew it. We made numerous representations to Ottawa and they made no move, they didn't listen to us. They were saying that they were listening to their scientists but in actual fact they weren't listening to their scientists, because their scientists knew. They didn't have the political will to cut the quotas at the time.

In 1991 they reduced the total allowable catch of cod from 233,000 metric tons to 190,000 metric tons. In 1991 they cut the TAC to 190,000 metric tons. In 1992 they closed the northern cod fishery totally on the East Coast of Newfoundland. Reduced from 191,000 metric tons to zero overnight. I can remember going to Ottawa with the Minister of Fisheries of the day to talk to Bernard Valcourt, the Tory minister at the time, who would look at us and say: I am not the minister of fish, I am the minister of people. Where are the people today? Gone like the fish. They are out of the fishery. We fought with the federal ministers. By the way, by the time I left the Department of Fisheries in January of this year I had seen six new Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans come through the federal parliament. Six in seven years. Not even seven years.

After the federal minister closed the fishery in 1992 the foreigners continued to fish on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks, up to as many as 100 boats a year. On numerous occasions again we went to the federal minister and asked him to stop the foreigners from fishing on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and we were laughed at. John Crosbie used to look at Walter Carter and say: Wallie, you're crazy. He said: You're crazy, and actually laughed hysterically when we asked him to send the gunboats out to protect our fish stocks on the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks. He laughed. But I will tell you one who didn't laugh, was today's Premier. When we told him to send the gunboats out, he did it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. G. REID: Anyway, you know where we have gone from here, Mr. Speaker. I have over 4,000 people on TAGS in my district right now in thirty-seven communities on the Northeast Coast of Newfoundland. If the federal minister had listened to the scientists and provincial people at the time maybe we would still have a fishery, maybe a reduced one, but at least we wouldn't be sitting around today complaining because our TAGS are going to be cut off.

Anyway, to get to aquaculture. In the job that I've had for seven years I've had the opportunity to travel to a fair number of places with the two Ministers of Fisheries I've worked with. I've been to Iceland where they have looked at aquaculture sites, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and I've seen the displays of aquaculture products in Boston seafood shows. I haven't seen anything in any of these countries or provinces that we can't do here.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. G. REID: Mr. Speaker, I didn't see anything that we couldn't produce here in the Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: What point are you trying to make?

MR. G. REID: The point that I'm trying to make is - Norway and Chile. Norway produced I think somewhere in the area of 700,000 metric tons of salmon last year. Just think about it, 700,000 tons of salmon. At the peak we only caught 260,000 tons of cod in the Province. Chile is going to surpass Norway in a couple of years and take a bigger share of the market.

In New Brunswick, next door to us, they have a $150 million aquaculture industry, $100 million in actual sales of fish and a $50 million fish food industry and what do we have in the Province? We have a $4 million or $5 million industry. Mr. Speaker, it is not because the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has not tried to do something about that. We realize the potential of aquaculture in this Province. In fact, Bay d'Espoir alone has the potential in aquaculture to do nine times what they are doing in all of New Brunswick. Nine times, Mr. Speaker. That is a billion dollar industry that we could have in Bay d'Espoir. We have helped the people in Bay d'Espoir to get the industry going. We have helped a number of other aquaculture industries.

The scallop hatchery; last year the minister at the time, Bud Hulan, officially opened a scallop hatchery in Bay d'Espoir at the cost of $500,000. There is an additional approximately $500,000 spent by the provincial government along with Dr. Pat Dabinett of Memorial University to develop a giant sea scallop unlike anything else that we have in the Province or in North America. The market is good for it. We are producing lots of sprat that can be grown out around the Province. There is an aquaculture industry in Port au Port, there is a fishermen's co-op over there who are growing scallops for the market.

Mussels; I talked to a gentleman today from my district who has a mussel farm and doing quite well. The only problem he has is that he does not have the capital to increase his product. He has no problem whatsoever selling it. We have mussel sites around the Province, Mr. Speaker, and we need, I would say, hundreds more because the market can handle it.

Sea Cucumber; I don't know if any of you characters have ever seen a sea cucumber, you probably would not want to eat it but -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. G. REID: Sea urchins; I am not talking about growing sea urchins. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I am talking about ranching them. We have lots of sea urchins out there and the theory out there now is that you can take these sea urchins, feed them kelp, let them grow and harvest them when you need to harvest them.

Another thing that we are into is cod farming. Sea Forest Plantation owned by a prominent merchant or a prominent business person here in St. John's is doing quite well and making great strides in cod farming.

The Province has done its share, Mr. Speaker, to encourage aquaculture in this Province. We have an excellent staff in the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Sometimes we don't speak favourably of bureaucrats but I believe that the aquaculturalists in the Department of Fisheries are fine people and that they do their best to help the people around the Province with aquaculture. I don't think it is the government's problem, Mr. Speaker, that aquaculture is not growing in this Province. We have done a fair share and we are going to continue to do a fair share. I understand we have $20 million in the fund from Ottawa that we are going to put into the aquaculture fishery in the next three or four years. We need to do it but what sort of irritates me about it all, Mr. Speaker - like the gentleman from Herring Neck who called me this morning and said his biggest problem is capital. He worked in the fish plant down in Herring Neck and over the years he has built up a small mussel farm. He is doing quite well but he cannot raise the capital to continue on. If you look at it though, Mr. Speaker, the majority of people who are into that industry now are small business people.

The problem - like I was going to talk about earlier - that I have about it is that for years, Mr. Speaker, we let big fish companies go out and reap the benefit of the fish stocks in Newfoundland and Labrador, stocks that basically are a public resource. Not one of them that I know of in the Province, have contributed one cent or reinvested one cent into aquaculture. I have talked to them over the past seven years, the large ones and the small ones, of why they have not put any money into aquaculture. There is no money in it they say. There is no money in it. Now tell that to the Connors Brothers, that fish company in New Brunswick, when they have a $150 million industry in New Brunswick. Tell that to the Norwegians. Tell that to the people in BC who are selling millions of dollars of fish every year. Mr. Speaker, I don't know but it seems to me that these people in the industry that we had out there, the large fish processors, didn't ever think the day would come that there would be no fish to catch, so they had no need to put money into aquaculture. Right now I guess it is almost too late for them to put it in there.

A year or so ago the hon. Member for Pleasantville put forward a resolution or something, or suggested, that we charge a tax on crab sales. Maybe that is what we should have done fifteen years ago when we were selling in the average of $400 million to $500 million worth of cod being exported from this Province every year. If we had said to these producers: Take 1 per cent of your net sales and put it back into aquaculture, that would have been $4 million a year that we could have been putting into aquaculture. We wouldn't be in the state we are in today. There isn't enough room in there to take care of the thirty odd thousand people who have been displaced by the (inaudible) fishery but it certainly could have contributed to the employment we have today.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to clue up by saying that I certainly urge all members of the hon. House to support the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune in his resolution that the Newfoundland government continue to fund the aquaculture ventures in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

AN HON. MEMBER: There is a man from a good old fishing district, Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Actually, I'm from Harbour Grace originally, from Riverhead. That is where I came from originally.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand today to pass a few remarks on the resolution presented by the member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune to say that I support wholeheartedly the private member's resolution put forward today for many sound reasons, I believe.

I recall ten years ago when I was a university student the Minister of Mines and Energy at that time wasn't in politics, he was a civil servant within the bureaucracy. He came into a class that we had for about a week, three or four classes. It was a class dealing with the economic development of Newfoundland and Labrador. Economics 3020, I believe it was, I'm not sure.

One of the things that we talked about in that class was aquaculture. I guess with many students at the time the belief was that in 1984-1985, why should this Province be even concerned about aquaculture? We believed, or many people believed at the time, that we stood and lived on the doorstep of one of the greatest fishery resources the world has ever seen or known, and less than ten years later it collapsed.

Had we begun to invest in aquaculture at that time then I doubt very much today that we would be supporting this resolution, because there would be no need to support it. What we would be discussing would be future initiatives in detail. How would we improve our markets abroad, how would we improve value-added products abroad, how many people would be employed in the aquaculture industry today? That is what we would be discussing in the House of Assembly today.

One of the hugest difficulties - I have some friends who are into the aquaculture industry - that people have in getting into aquaculture, and the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture knows it as well, is the capital investment, the time it takes to not only invest and start your aquaculture industry, but the time it takes to reap its benefits and the time it takes to get the product to market once established. That is where the Province has to come in.

Every dollar that we invest in aquaculture today five to ten years from now will reap benefits; will pay off in huge dividends, by about $10 for every dollar we invest. Not a bad investment. Some people have made huge investments and huge dollars off another resource, Voisey's Bay, through investment in Diamond Fields, Cartaway Containers, Castle Rock and others. But this is a sound investment and one that pays dividends, and there are many examples throughout the world. Some have been mentioned here today: Norway and Chile, where they have done exactly that.

The opportunity that aquaculture presents for this Province really is endless. What we choose to invest in, how much we want to invest, the product that we can deliver at the end of the day, is very, very important and can provide many economic opportunities and many jobs for people in this Province, and it is only limited by our own scope of investment and our own imaginations. Having produced a product on one hand, our ability then to market it, our ability to sell it abroad, to get it into the world outlets, becomes the challenge, but we must invest today, immediately, and continue to invest, because twenty years from now, if the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture today can take an industry that is in its embryonic stage, really, in this Province, and over the next four years, or however long he is there, and create an industry that will provide thousands of jobs, then twenty years from now, wherever the minister goes, he will be hailed and remembered for that, and so will the government.

And any aquaculture initiative that government is willing to invest in now, I certainly can say, will have my support, and any future initiative that is going to create jobs for the people in this Province, in rural Newfoundland especially, because that is where the opportunities are, to create a quality product, to guarantee a supply of product, and to guarantee that it will be priced competitively, because that is the challenge in the marketplace, quality, guarantee of supply, and ensure that we are priced competitively, if we can do that as a Province, and we can foster initiatives, encourage initiatives, and, most importantly, for people who want to get in the aquaculture industry, who have a high degree of knowledge, a high degree of experience, but need help financially, then we must begin to help them financially right now.

The Senate Committee, I believe, on banking, referred to - that ACOA should not be investing in initiatives like aquaculture. Now that is a typical centralist view of what this nation is all about. What we need here in this Province, and particularly in Atlantic Canada, is a venture capital fund. That is what we need, home grown, home spun, that can support industries, growing industries like aquaculture, growing industries that in the long run will provide revenue, will generate revenue, will provide a tax base for the government, will create jobs, and will enable people to live and maintain services that we have become accustomed to. It is not a magic stick; there is nothing complex about it. The reality is, that is what we require and that is what we need.

I am not going to belabour the point because there are other people, I know, who want to speak on this resolution, but I will say to the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune that this Private Member's resolution has my support, and any present or future initiatives that are going to realize benefits in terms of aquaculture for this Province will have my support as well.

Thank you very much.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Burgeo and LaPoile.

MR. RAMSAY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. RAMSAY: As opposed to being, I suppose, a fisherman, I am a fisherman's grandson; but looking at the fishery, and growing up in Port aux Basques, and the way that the fishery affected the economy of that community, and the outlying communities that were supported by Port aux Basques, the timeliness of this kind of resolution is certainly without debate, and it makes you wonder. The effort that we are now putting into aquaculture is really good, it makes a lot of sense, but if you go back to, say, over the last ten years, we have obviously nodded off when we have allowed others to take this aquaculture industry and run with it when we, as a Province, have fallen behind, when we have the country of Norway, and other parts of Canada, doing so well in aquaculture and we are far from a leader in that field. We have a lot of catching up to do, and I think that this kind of attention to be paid to it is certainly what we have to do, as a House of Assembly, in urging the government and the people of the Province to continue to support aquaculture, and also to go from here and support these initiatives that are being made under the transitional jobs fund and other areas of government policy.

Now, the resolution speaks about the fishery being in a state of transition, which is very true. We have gone through the shutdown of the groundfish fishery. We have seen the problems associated with that and how it has affected the total socio-economic fabric of the Province. We are now dealing with what kinds of opportunities will be there for the people of this Province, in the future, employed in the fishery, and we have to look at all the possibilities. If we had to wait for, say, all of the livestock in a given province to grow naturally without the attempt at farming or what have you, we would not have an agriculture industry of any kind, if you look at the harvesting of any other livestock, or any other animal that is used for human food consumption. So really all we are doing in the area of fishing is to do proper management through the farming method, the aquaculture method, of being able to feed it and control it.

Some of the problems associated with it, a lot of the members may not be aware of. It is a very capital-intensive area, a very high-risk area. I have a lot of interest in my own district, individuals who have gone out and started their own small scallop operations, who have ideas on what they want to do in a variety of different aquaculture ventures, and the capital that is required is very high. As the hon. member opposite just put it, the requirement for venture capital is there, but you need someone with deep pockets to do aquaculture in the right way.

Looking at Norway - and I have spoken to some of the Norwegian operators of cod farms over there. A gentleman named Pierre Gunnar Anderson, who operates the largest cod farm in Norway visited the Province and has been down into my district and looked around. He suggested that if he had any idea of the amount of money he had to put up to get involved in the first place, he may not have gone into it. But once he was into it, he was committed to it, and it cost a lot more to get up and running. He has had the occasional loss of the stock due to disease and the various things that can happen when the fish is penned into cages and this sort of thing, and you need to be able to absorb these losses as a normal part of the overall process.

He has said now, with the amount he produces, he is the largest cod producer in Norway, and looking at the commitment, it has been over the course of about seven years, that it has taken to go from a very small operation to a very large operation, that is in cod. There are so many species that we can get involved in properly in the right areas of the Province. It is not something that is open to every location throughout the Province. There are certain areas that have been identified with problems associated with the high fecal coliform counts in some harbours and bays, and along certain areas of coastline, that would contaminate the seafood. You have certain locations where it is possible and others where it is not possible and certain conditions that will provide a really good opportunity for aquaculture.

The hon. member's district is one of those areas and there are a couple of locations in my district, also on the South Coast of the Province, where you do not have as big an ice problem and you do have the water and shelter that is required to facilitate the proper farming - I know, Bay d'Espoir, and there are some others, such as Belleoram, I say to the hon. member. And these will, of course, grow with the right kind of support from government.

If you look at the idea of fish farming, the hon. the Member for Humber Valley tells a fine story sometimes about his start as a farmer here in the Province. I have heard him say that he had to do it in spite of government and not because of any help from government at the time. And really, I think, those who are out there, the small operators in aquaculture now, once they get through the regulatory process, they really have to go on and do a lot of it on their own. Planning is only so much, the biggest part of the equation is doing, and these people are eager and willing to try to do the things that are necessary to provide the economic benefit for their business plans, to the enterprise they have begun.

Hopefully, as we focus more and more on aquaculture and seeing the minister's interest in diversifying the fishery of this Province, and the interest that we have in committing resources to this, it is an area in which we have to invest, commit money, as necessary, and leverage other monies from the private sector through the venture capital programs, through the variety of different mechanisms possible, to assistance in marketing the product, through the overall professionalization and commitment to development of the technologies that are required, these are the things that we have to do as a government in supporting the aquaculture industry. And eventually, if we do it right, if we plan it properly and we develop it in the right way, that would be an industry to reckon with and it would equate with any other industry in this Province, I would think, in the total dollars added to the economy in keeping people working. Depending on how we go about it, it could be a very valuable export commodity for many different things that are not even done here now.

If you look in the back of some of the magazines that you read, you can buy smoked salmon right from the midwestern United States, where the salmon is brought in, packaged, vacuum-wrapped and everything and shipped to you air mail. Now, you know, if they can do that in the midwest of the United States, I am sure we can do it here in this Province and ship it to all points throughout the world in order to guarantee those markets for the benefit of the people here. So getting the value-added processing in there is a key aspect of not just producing the raw material.

It is nice to be able to farm it but the raw material, the fish that we have, putting that forward in such a way as to just replace the cod fishery of the past where we were producing raw product, I don't think that is going to benefit the people of the Province. We have to see what we can do to take these products and again, add the value to them and get more employment out of that process and keep more of that money that flows back into our economy for the benefit of more people and not just for the less people at the top of these organizations and companies.

Generally in the fishery, looking at the things that are worthy of note, lately the announcement on the spiny and the king crab, spiny king crab, it will be called now, king as opposed to spiny crab, and there was some talk of the toad crab also, but I don't know if that one has gone ahead yet, and the small shrimp pots that are going to be placed throughout the Province. There are other efforts ongoing with Newfoundland companies involved in silver hake. The Barry Seafoods of the Bay of Islands are very interested in the silver hake market, and recent meetings we had with the Deputy Minister of Fisheries from Ottawa, was very pleased at the progress on the Burgeo fish plant and a number of the different species that will be required there for that particular operation to reopen. So we are working hard to try to make sure all of these things happen.

When an individual entrepreneur comes forward with an interest in starting an aquaculture operation, we have to do what we can to back him, support him and put him in touch with the right people, because a small operator without deep pockets is not going to get very far. He is going to need some support somehow or other, either from government or from private industry that is involved in that area or that particular species, and that is where we need to make sure that the ball doesn't get dropped on aquaculture again in the future. It has been dropped for too long; we have to pick it up again and regain the potential market share that could be ours. Because Newfoundland and Labrador can be, I would say without a doubt, the largest producer of farmed fish of any location in the world, partly because of the fact that we know what we are doing with fish, but also because, if you look at the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and how they go about in a very determined way any project they undertake, I think that will speak well for the potential and future success of aquaculture here in the Province.

I commend the hon. member for bringing this forward. I think it is timely, and it is one of the key areas that we have to invest our monies in over the next little while as we have to retract from certain areas of government spending. There are certain key areas we have to invest in. This is one of them. I support the hon. member's resolution. I would certainly seek to see if we can't get some of these aquaculture-intensive industries established in the District of Burgeo & LaPoile to go along with those already established throughout the Province.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Baie Verte.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I would like to just make a few comments about this today and keep it brief, I hope, because I intend to return to talk to some students who came in from the district today. I will make it brief because I think I can get to the point very quickly. That is what I say about this resolution.

Of course, it is no problem to get up and throw accolades to the member for bringing it forward and so on. I have no problem either in saying that I support aquaculture and the initiatives by any government to move on aquaculture. But the timing of this resolution is something I am going to question. I am going to question why there is not a resolution from the government side of the House on the U.I. changes that are going on right now in Ottawa. I want to ask why there is not a resolution from the other side of the House on the education cutbacks in the House while we have people outside this House with emotions out there today that I haven't seen in the two-and-a-half years I have been here.

That is what we should be debating in a private member's resolution today, not aquaculture, not something as vague as this motion. What does this mean? "Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly support the present and future initiatives of Aquaculture and Fish Farming for the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in an attempt to revitalize the once vibrant fishery." We say that every single day. Every member in this House says that every day. What is specific about that? Of course, we support it. Now let us say that and get on with it.

What we should be doing is bringing in specific priority timing to this House of issues that are out in this Province right now that are at a crisis proportion, I would say to the members of this House. The emotions expressed by people today in this Province haven't been seen in years in this Province. That is why I question this motion and the timing in which it is brought to the House, not the concept of the motion. Because we can run around all day long, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, talking about how we support aquaculture and the initiatives and so on. Where are they? What are the specifics of this?

MR. EFFORD: What should we be talking about?

MR. SHELLEY: We should be talking about the changes to U.I., we should be talking to the education cuts to people you see out here in this lobby today, we should be talking about the changes to the social safety net in this Province. That is what we should be doing and not this particular motion, Mr. Speaker. Foolishness is what it is. Bring forward today a -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

AN HON. MEMBER: What a difference in attitude (inaudible). I mean what a difference!

MR. SHELLEY: I guess what you find, Mr. Speaker, is when you walk out in the middle of people, and when we forget about this Chamber for a little while and we get out there. I support the concept of the aquaculture initiatives, but all I say is that two hours in this Legislature - we were open for six hours, so far, we are going to close again tomorrow, we are going to be closed again on Friday, we are going to bring down a Budget the like of which was never seen before in this Province, and we are spending two hours today in this Legislature to talk about aquaculture initiatives. What a load of foolishness and malarkey!

If anybody had backbone over there they would have brought forward a resolution to deal with the college closures and the U.I. system that this Premier sat around the table and initiated a year, two years ago. That is what we should be debating. Imagine! Three days in this House of Assembly, one day for the Budget and we are going to spend two hours - is it two hours or more? - two hours debating the possible initiatives of aquaculture. Imagine what priorities!

Does that not sum up really what the priorities of the government members are? Does that not tell you where the priorities are? The aquaculture initiatives, all the jobs that are going to be created from the aquaculture initiatives - I guess this is part of the better tomorrow that we keep talking about. This is for the better tomorrow. The aquaculture initiatives that we are talking about here, which we don't really know what the initiatives are, we are going to talk about that in a better tomorrow. What a load of foolishness.

MR. EFFORD: What?

MR. SHELLEY: What a load of foolishness. Do you want me to repeat that again for the minister? What a load of foolishness.

AN HON. MEMBER: What is?

MR. SHELLEY: That we are not debating in this House today the priority issues that concern this Province. Now, do you want me to repeat that again?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: What a shame, Mr. Speaker, that the minister in this Cabinet of this government does not know what the priorities are in this Province. What a shame that the minister in the Cabinet of this government does not know what the priorities are for this Province.

Let me tell you, health is a priority, education is a priority, and it is really strange to hear the backbenchers have a little squeak out of the back bench every now and then, because they are certainly not saying it to the people; I can tell you that - priorities. Three days in this House and we are going to spend two hours and debate possible initiatives for aquaculture - the better tomorrow. If there was a backbone over there at all, a backbencher would have taken the opportunity, would have taken advantage - a back bench Liberal would have taken advantage - of the priorities and the crisis in this Province as related to education, health care, social services, and would have put forward a motion to debate what the priorities should be. That is all I am saying.

I support initiatives to aquaculture. I unequivocally state that; I support initiatives to aquaculture, and will be recorded in Hansard as saying so. My point is that what we should be debating in two hours of this House of Assembly, we are into a brand new government, we have only been open for six days, there are thousands of questions that people of this Province want answered, and we are spending two hours talking about possible potential for aquaculture initiatives in this Province. Where are the priorities? That is where the problem lies.

There are a lot of people out around this Province, when you talk about aquaculture, who make a suggestion to the Premier, to the minister responsible, that we cut out some of the red tape, and some of the problems that people have in trying to get into aquaculture in this Province, people who are interested keep running into brick walls and closed doors when they try to develop aquaculture in this Province. If you want to talk about something specific in aquaculture, then talk about that, about the problems that people run into, the people who were involved in the fishery for years and tried to get involved in aquaculture in this Province, and find that they go through red tape and they go through problems with government closing doors in their faces. That is what happens with this initiative.

Yes, I support aquaculture initiatives in this Province, and no member on either side of the House has a problem saying that, the point being that we should have a priority to discuss things that are happening in this Province that are of crisis proportion. It is about time we woke up, all of us in this Legislature, and put the priorities on the Table in this House to be discussed, and get some forthright answers, not the answers that - this Premier is going to go down in history as the best skater that ever hit this House of Assembly. It is unbelievable how he won't directly answer a question, and in such a short time of taking office he has trained all of his other ministers to do the same thing. How very quickly you see the clones of the Premier, who won't answer the questions, who won't directly answer the questions.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I say to the Minister of Health, there have been lots of questions. The last session was six days into the Legislature, ninety-six questions. How many were answered? Eight; eight questions out of ninety-six. How many were answered in the last few days? How many were answered in the last two days?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: Instead, they are going to ask for questions on aquaculture initiatives, when we should be talking about college cutbacks and so on in this Province, and health care cutbacks, and people on social services.

You talk about priorities, when a young girl calls me to tell me that she is getting $22.25 a week from social services, and because she got $200 back in income tax - she thought she had won the 649 - she went out and bought a pair of shoes and some clothes for herself. I spoke to the minister about this - it is not a fabricated story, as the minister knows - and her answer was: We have to find the cuts everywhere, and that is part of the plan, and that is the policy that the government will adhere to; and she said she doesn't have any decisions.

I think we do have decisions. I think there are decisions, but when you look at priority cuts in this Province, priorities are not in line. And the indication today, I say, to this motion, is that it should not be debated today. A Private Member's motion from this Liberal government should have brought forward one, two or three resolutions - we could name a dozen, Mr. Speaker, which they could have spoken on today. Lots of them; health care, social services, the UI/EI cuts or even the food fishery. So maybe the minister sooner or later is going to give us his straightforward stand on the food fishery. Shouldn't Newfoundlanders be allowed to catch a fish? As long as their Atlantic buddies - unless we got a barrier - maybe there is a net between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Why a Newfoundlander cannot jig a fish to eat - but they can in New Brunswick, they can in Nova Scotia, they can in PEI and in Quebec but Newfoundland is under a different fish. They don't cross the border. We have a border in the Atlantic Ocean that the fish don't cross. What a load of foolishness, Mr. Speaker, and then we get into debate something like this when there are so many issues that should be debated.

We see in the House today that not half of the members are in their seats. Issues like never before that need to be debated and what are we standing here talking about? A vague motion from a Liberal backbencher who says we are going to support the present and future initiatives of aquaculture. Well to save us some time, Mr. Speaker, the member should have came out to all of us and we would have wrote him a letter stating that we do and we will put out a press release.

MR. WISEMAN: Are you against it?

MR. SHELLEY: Am I against it? Is that a silly question? I should answer the member - where's the member from? Where is he from?

AN HON. MEMBER: Topsail.

MR. SHELLEY: The Member for Topsail, Mr. Speaker, asked if I was against it. I don't know if he does it yet but you can take the Hansard every day and read it. At least six times, maybe seven, since I started this debate I said I support aquaculture initiatives in Newfoundland and Labrador. I will write a letter, I will put out press releases; I will do anything with it. You have missed the point, I say to the Member for Topsail. Mr. Speaker, he has missed the point. The priorities of the government, if this is what was brought forward in a day when we see this type of thing happening and tomorrow a Budget coming down and we are talking about initiatives of aquaculture. So I support the motion for initiatives in aquaculture but what I am saying and I will say it again - you can read it four times now -

MR. MATTHEWS: That's enough Paul, you sit down now, you said before you supported it.

MR. SHELLEY: I support aquaculture initiatives. The Minister of Health again, I will repeat it for him, I support the aquaculture initiatives. I will write, I will sit -

MR. EFFORD: (Inaudible).

MR. SHELLEY: I certainly do, Mr. Speaker. I do, I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture and I am saying unequivocally that I support aquaculture initiatives. Is there any other member who would like me to repeat that again? What I am saying is that we should have debated some of the recent, current problems that we are facing which are huge, which are the UI/EI changes. We could have had a motion to the floor today on that. I have talked to some of the Liberal members who have said that they have some grave concerns with the UI/EI changes. We could have debated that today.

We could have debated the closure of the colleges and given everybody their chance in debate here in the House of Assembly, including the members who debated before - is that we could have had a chance to stand in our place and talk about those. We could have talked of course about the social assistance and so on. I am just saying that we should have used this two hours today and maybe in two weeks from now or three weeks from now we could have used this debate. Maybe even three weeks. Well we would have raised it on this side of the House because we support it, we like it and we hope that it grows in the Province and we support it. I am just saying that today, with only two weeks into the Legislature, we should have picked a more timely topic. That is as simply put as I can put it, Mr. Speaker, and yes I support the motion for initiatives in aquaculture. I am just saying the message has to be out to everybody in this Province that this government and this entire House of Assembly are aware of the priorities and what should be debated. All we have had is a Question Period, tomorrow we go into the Budget, we are out on Friday, we are out on Monday and, Mr. Speaker, there are so many issues that we could be talking about, that's all I am saying.

AN HON. MEMBER: They are already wondering when the House is going to close in June.

MR. SHELLEY: So because it was brought to the floor of the House of Assembly today I support the member and his motion. What I don't support is the timing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Mr. Speaker, I am going to take my time allotted to me this afternoon to speak to the motion put forth by my hon. friend. A very significant motion, a very important motion to put through to this House of Assembly today because we do have a crisis in this Province. We do have a crisis existing in this Province where people living all over Newfoundland and Labrador are desperately looking for employment.

Before I do I want to make mention of my hon. colleague over there who just sat in his seat, and I ask that somebody on this side of the House send a note up to Hansard and ask for a copy of the speech just given, the debate just given by the Member for Baie Verte on this motion. I ask then that we send it out, if we can read it and understand it, or pick it apart, that we send it out to his district, send it to all the communities around this Province, and ask them to read what is in that debate, that fifteen or twenty minutes, and ask them, just try to get them to understand - I should not say get them to understand, but agree with what they are saying out there, what little respect they have for the House of Assembly and the type of debate that goes on here in the House, that we are elected to represent people of this Province and to try to give them some level of confidence that the debate that goes on in this House is for the best interest of the people of this Province and the future of this Province.

For a member to stand in this House this afternoon and say that the motion put forward by the member on the future industry of this Province, one of the main future industries, aquaculture, was not important and that we should be debating other motions. One of the things he said we should be debating is UI. I ask the Member for Baie Verte one question, how do people get on UI? Do you automatically go to the UI office? How do you get on UI? You first of all must go to work. The second question I ask you, and I encourage you to go talk to the people in your district and ask them what they would rather be doing, working or on UI? I suspect that 99.9 per cent of the people in your district, and in everybody else's district, would say they would rather be working any day than taking handouts from any level of government.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: People want an opportunity to work, people want respect, people want dignity, people have pride, and that is what this motion is all about. The hon. member should send up to Hansard himself and sit down and read what he just said in the last fifteen minutes. Six times he said we should be debating another motion, six times he said that this motion is not important, six times he said we should go out and talk about the colleges closing. If we had the majority of people working in this Province we would not have to cancel any classes, we would not have to cancel any first year university classes; we would not have to worry about Budgets.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: The problem is there are not enough people working and not enough people paying taxes, therefore you have to balance and adjust your expenditures according to your income. The hon. member may not know that but I wish he would take five minutes and consult with one of his colleagues there in the next seat and they will advise him. People need to be working, people need to be paying taxes, and when people pay taxes more things happen in the Province, so this is one of the most important and urgent motions that we could be discussing in this House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, before I get to where I want to talk about aquaculture, I want to say one more thing. The more I sit in my seat and the more I listen to the hon. members opposite speak, the more I understand why there is a majority on this side of the House of Assembly, the only thing I do not understand is how come there is not 100 per cent elected over here and none over there? The more I hear the more I understand what is happening, Mr. Speaker.

There is a very simple answer to the future of this Province, get people back to work, invest in this Province, and that is what this government intends to do. It has taken us six years to straighten out the mess the Tories created for seventeen years. That is the reason why we are in the mess we are in today. We had a fishery in this Province that made this Province viable for 500 years, but what we did not do was to have interest in managing the resource so that the resource would be around for another 500 years.

What we should do now, Mr. Speaker, is, not to look back at the past except to look at how the resource was managed, the mistakes that were made, learn from them and develop a plan in the future that we can properly manage the stocks that are in our ocean, and in conjunction with managing the resource that is in the ocean, to refurbish the commercial value, do what this motion says, develop the aquaculture industry. That is all we have to do, Mr. Speaker, use good, common sense that we are all supposed to have in looking out for the best interests of this Province.

If any other country in the world had the number of resources that we have here in this small Province of 550,000 people, there would not be a `have not', it would be `have, have, have over' and the former Minister of Finance, back in 1988 would not be afraid to create a few jobs, he was afraid he was going to - what was it - kick start the economy of this Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: Overheat.

MR. EFFORD: Overheat the economy; that is the type of attitude that the former government on the other side had, afraid to create a job, afraid to overheat the economy. That is the reason why there is no aquaculture, that is the reason why there is no development in this Province, they were afraid to burn the Province, $110 million worth of flour shipped across the Straits, boom, gone up in smoke.

Mr. Speaker, we are now on the threshold of a whole new future in the fishing industry in this Province. Aquaculture will grow side by side with the natural resources in the future industry of Newfoundland and Labrador. Already, it is proven here in this Province. The one thing the Member for Twillingate & Fogo said: One of the problems is that private industry is not investing in the Province. The people who have taken the resource out of the ocean and made their money on it, made their millions on it with a lot of government support have not reinvested.

Can government afford to invest in aquaculture in the future to the extend it should be? No, it cannot. What we have to do with the aquaculture industry is the same as any other industry. It has to be a partnership. Government's responsibility is to create an environment where it won't be obstructing businesses but encouraging businesses. There has to be a partnership between our technology, our research, our science; between government agencies with the industry, but private industry must have confidence in the future of this Province, they must invest in the future in this Province and aquaculture must be a number one priority.

We are very fortunate now that we have just signed a $20-million agreement, part of the economic development agreement between the Province and Ottawa where we are going to invest millions of dollars in research and development in the aquaculture industry. We are light years behind the rest of the world. We have places like Norway; we have companies belonging here in Newfoundland with aquaculture in its base down in the United States, down in Mississippi, major aquaculture developments, employing hundreds of people in primary and secondary processing of aquaculture farm fish in the United States from money taken out of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador and here we are, just on the step, just on the doorstep of developing aquaculture.

Where do we need to go from here? We need more research; we need closer working relationship between the research and technology and as I said, with the government agencies, the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, but especially working in co-operation with private industry; we have to encourage private industry to invest their capital. Now the hon. member is quite right. There is a risk there, no doubt about it. Can we convince the banks to do it? The banks will participate if they find out and if they have the confidence that government is involved, and as I am saying, we are going to be and that private industry, they themselves will invest some of their money.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Well, that is something that I am sure the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology and the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board will discuss in the future, but certainly we have to create an atmosphere where there can be venture capital available to industry and to people who are willing to invest in this Province but the fact remains, Mr. Speaker, that it is not a new thing. Aquaculture is not new. Aquaculture is here and is all over the world; it is developed where it is employing thousands and tens of thousands of people, multi-species of fish being grown on a day to day basis. We live in a climate that is suitable to the growing of the fish that we are used to here: arctic char, steelhead trout, salmon, cod. In fact we are now witnessing just very close to here, out in Placentia and Argentia, a cod hatchery and cod farming that is going to provide gainful employment for fishermen in the future.

One of the things that I see working in the future in fish farming is a fisherman who would go out and haul his cod traps in the spring of the year, and instead of destroying the smaller cod and the smaller fish that we did in the past, take those fish out of the cod trap. Instead of throwing them over the side as they did for many years and destroy them, take those codfish, the small fish that aren't marketable, put them in cages, feed them with the caplin and with the herring that they can catch at no expense to themselves, and later on that year, as fish will grow over a period of four to five months to marketable size, increase their average yearly income as much as 25 per cent, 30 per cent or 40 per cent.

It doesn't require any science. It just requires some initial training of fishermen. He doesn't need to hire on any extra people, he doesn't need to invest any major amount of money except to get his cage. He already has his boat, he has his nets, he has his ability to catch the bait, the food that would feed the fish. All he needs to do is get basic initial training to tell him how to take the fish out of the trap, put them in the cages, and feed them for four or five months. It is a proven technology in other parts of the world. We have not yet begun to do it here in Newfoundland. We would have but the cod moratorium came in place. Now there has been enough research and enough work done on it that now when the cod comes back in the next couple of years that will be a part of the earned average income for a fisherman and his crew on an annual basis.

No more will the fisheries be allowed to go on in the future like it did in the past where a fisherman or a group of fishermen will earn a large amount of money like they did in the past on crab, cod or caplin in four or five weeks. It has to be a seasonally employed industry. It has to begin in the spring of the year, it has to be able to have the aquaculture and the harvesting of the natural resources in the wild, the different species in the wild, to be developed side by side, that a crew of fishermen will begin fishing as the winter season ends right up until the winter season begins the following year.

That is the type of employment that we have to get out of the fisheries of the future. That will work as long as we are making the technologies available to the people of this Province who have the expertise in the industry in harvesting the wild fish. The research and the development is going on at Memorial University, the Marine Institute, and the Ocean Science Centre out in Torbay. The information and the technology are being developed. They went from salmon to arctic char to steelhead trout to yellow-tailed flounder to halibut and many other species. There are major advancements being made in research and development. We will continue to support the research and the development as long as the agreement and the funding lasts which we just secured from the economic development plan. This is where the government's responsibility must lie in the future.

Along with that, educate and train our fishermen to be a part of the aquaculture, encourage it no matter where we go, Mr. Speaker, and take into consideration one of the major responsibilities, the major jobs that we have to do, is to build a confidence in the private investor. I see that as one of the most difficult challenges that we have facing us in developing our aquaculture industry of the future. Encouraging the private investor, the people who are involved in the industry, to re-invest here in this Province. Not down in Mississippi, not in Norway, not in Boston, Massachusetts, but in places like Belleoram, Harbour Breton, Twillingate, wherever there is an opportunity to grow any species of fish that they wish to invest in, invest in here in their home Province. They have reaped the benefits and it is their responsibility now to re-invest back in the Province.

If we do that, my friend for Baie Verte won't have the problem of standing up and arguing: Is there enough UI to go around? Because the people of this Province will get back to doing what they do best, working for a living, and the benefits they realize from it will benefit all in this Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune. If he speaks now he closes the debate.

The hon. the Member for Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune.

MR. LANGDON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to thank those people on both sides of the House who have stood and taken part in this particular motion as has been presented today. In fact, I want to thank particularly the Member for Kilbride, who spoke earlier, and the Member for Bonavista South, for their support of the particular motion that has been presented, and it does them some merit; however, I find it hard to comprehend where the Member for Baie Verte comes from. I really do. I say that in all honesty because, really, when we look at whatever public service sector we are going to look at, whether it is hospitals, whether it is social services, whether it is U.I., whether it is education, we have to find the dollars to be able to put into the system to make it work. It is as simple as that. Money does not grow on trees. If we are to look at the private sector in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the private sector plays a very little part in the economy; so therefore, we want to try to generate new jobs through the private sector.

The number of jobs that we have with government employees is not new money; it is money that is in circulation. If we do not have people like Abitibi-Price, if we do not have people like Kruger, if we do not have people like IOC, then our education system, our health system, our social services system, cannot support itself; we need that. To me, personally, I thought this was very timely, and I believe it is.

I understand the situation of the people from my area who have to come to university in St. John's or Corner Brook, or from any other particular area. One thing we have to come to grips with, before I get back to this particular motion here, is the fact of the declining population itself, the number of people - I spoke about that earlier - and there is no way that you can put a secondary institution into every community; it is beyond our means. Therefore, we tried to rationalize, to make sure that we have the quality of education, wherever it is offered, for our young people, whether it is going to be in St. John's or Corner Brook, or the technical institute in Grand Falls; give them the best opportunity so that they can compete with other people in the job market not only in Newfoundland but across Canada and in the world.

In fact, I was talking to a young fellow who had just come back from doing a Masters program in aquaculture in British Columbia, who was coming back here to work; the potential was great. I know another young guy who just finished a Masters program from the Marine Institute, who found a job for himself in British Columbia. Let us hope that we can get him back here, too; the potential is here. Therefore, what we have to find is ways in which we can employ people in our areas through aquaculture and through fisheries, and it is very, very timely. It could not be any more timely. Because I would rather that the people in my district of Fortune Bay - Cape la Hune, worked for twelve months around rather than have to draw one cheque of U.I., or to be able to draw social services. That is the ultimate; that is what we are here for, to see if we can find ways to do that for the people we represent.

In fact, the people I represent in the area of Harbour Breton and Ramea, and people from Burgeo - LaPoile, these people are used to working twelve months around. In fact, they did not have the opportunity even to take holidays, and had complained because they had to work twelve months around. How things have changed! They were not concerned about U.I. then. But we have seen the collapse of the fishery and we have to rejuvenate the economy. Therefore, to me, nothing that we could debate in this particular House today, whether it is U.I., education reform, no matter what, could be any more timely than to get people back to work and to create confidence within the private sector of the economy.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. LANGDON: If that is not what we are about, then we should not be here.

I represent people, as I said, from Bay d'Espoir, and when I go there it is pleasurable. When I went there three weekends ago, to see people putting the steelhead fillets aboard the tractor trailer on its way to Boston, full, it is the only plant in my area that was able to do that at that time. I would like to be able to see it in Harbour Breton; I would like to be able to see it in Gaultois; I would like to be able to see it in Hermitage, Ramea, Burgeo, and Port aux Basques - no matter where it is - to put people back to work. We do not want to put people on E.I. We do not want people on social services. We want people to be gainfully employed and, in fact, I believe that we are on the threshold of doing it. This is a beginning. It is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. In fact, one of the bankers was in Bay d'Espoir two weeks ago, and they took him on a tour right from the hatchery right out to the farms to see where the fish were, and the people asked him to describe what he had seen, and do you know what he said? `Awesome; I didn't even know it was here.' Therefore, in that sense we have to educate these people, too, to put their dollars in.

Like Gerry said earlier, the private sector has to come through to help us in all of this. The government, in itself, does not have all the dollars. We have 35,000 people on social services or families, nobody wants that. I certainly do not want it and I am sure the Member for Kilbride, or the Member for Waterford Valley, or the Member for Bonavista South do not want it, nobody does. Well, we are in a dilemma. We have seen the collapse of the world fishery, and therefore we try to bridge that gap in the transition with aquaculture and with other projects that we have, whether it is the hydroelectric plant in Grand Falls Abitibi Price where there is going to be all private dollars to generate that, to make that particular company more profitable to give more people jobs. That is the end result. In fact, if I can find a job for five, ten, or twenty people in my area it is five, ten, twenty or fifty less who need E.I. That is the goal we have to work for and that is why I thought it was very, very meaningful to put on the particular agenda for today. It shows where we are going. There is $20 million - I am hoping that the government can talk to their federal counterparts and spend the $20 million in one year. I would like nothing less than to do it, or in two years, not five.

So I really take issue with that and not very often do I do that. I just sit back and listen to what people say. But I have to take issue with that one because, in my opinion, it is out of kilter completely. Because, really, the whole purpose is to try to find jobs for people, to put people back to work, and we do have the people here. Our young people are educated. Some of them are leaving, lots of them probably, but our aim is to bring them back. Hopefully, through aquaculture and through marine-related activities we can bring them back and do things to create jobs. If we can create one job in the aquaculture industry, it will spread off to another job within the community. I look forward to having that happen within the area that I represent, and not only my area but other areas as well, whether it is cod, scallop, mussel, halibut, monkfish, skate or whatever the case might be, whatever we can do then, there are opportunities for the people we represent.

So, Mr. Speaker, I will not go on any more. It could be a motherhood issue, but I believe it is important. Government is going in the right direction. It is putting money into it, it is putting money into research but we have to research - it is not going to be an isolated situation in Bay d'Espoir whether it is not connected to the Marine Institute - the two of them are going to be related to each other, and therefore, in that way, I believe we have a particular opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to members on both sides of the House supporting this resolution unanimously and I want to thank them for their support.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

Motion carried.

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, now that we have accomplished what we have set out to do today, which was to pass a very admirable, very well written, very well spoken to motion by the Member for Fortune Bay -Cape La Hune, I move that the House adjourn.

Tomorrow is Budget day, as everybody knows, and that means we will have to be in our seats by 2:00 p.m. There are no private sessions, and I believe the Minister of Finance might even get his face on television.

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