May 21, 1996               HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS              Vol. XLIII  No. 11

 


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Before we get to the routine proceedings of the day I would like to welcome forty-six students from Dunne Memorial of St. Mary's accompanied by their teachers Margorie Gibbons and Thelma Stamp.

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.

I am pleased to inform the House that the minimum wage will increase in two stages starting on September l, 1996. At that time, Mr. Speaker, the minimum wage will rise from $4.75 an hour to $5.00 an hour. Subsequently, on April 1, 1997, the minimum wage will again rise from $5.00 an hour to $5.25.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, this two-staged initiative is an important first step in bringing the Province's minimum wage in line with the other Atlantic Provinces. At the present time Newfoundland and Labrador has one of the lowest minimum wage rates of the four Atlantic Provinces, not to mention the rest of the country. The measures we are taking will change our status in that regard and bring us much closer to achieving a harmonization of the minimum wage with the other Atlantic Provinces.

My department made the decision to amend the Labour Relations Act in consultation with the Labour Standards Board, and only after careful consideration an analysis of the impacts of such a decision. The minimum wage has not changed since 1991. This means that in real, 1996, dollars the purchasing power of people earning minimum wage has actually decreased by 30 per cent since 1976. Increasing the minimum wage will have a positive impact on the income and spending powers of people who work in the retail trade, home and child care, accommodation, food and beverage industries.

Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to announce that Cabinet has also approved changes to employment conditions including an expansion to bereavement leave, additional vacation for employees with long-term attachments to an employer, and a clarification of the definition of scheduled work.

The government believes that this amendment to the Labour Standards Act brings with it a renewed sense of optimism for the future and an opportunity for all workers in the Province to enjoy a better quality of life.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

We join with the government and applaud the increase in the minimum wage today and to say that it is timely, not only is it timely, Mr. Speaker, but long overdue. A member on this side of the House, about a year ago, introduced a -

AN HON. MEMBER: Last spring.

MR. E. BYRNE: Last spring I believe, as my colleague has informed me - introduced a Private Member's resolution to debate that very point, so we applaud the initiative in saying that it is timely and long overdue. We also, Mr. Speaker, with respect to the changes announced by the minister to the Labour Standards Act, that while I do not have the specifics, on the face of it, it sounds very good and I look forward to having a look at the specifics of what the changes actually entail, doing a careful study of what impact they will have, and making a further comment on it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi, does he have leave?

AN HON. MEMBER: By leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave, the hon. Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I, of course, would commend any increase in the minimum wage, however I have to say that the amount -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: The amount proposed is grossly inadequate. The figure of $7.85 was used the other day by the CLC in order to bring the minimum wage up to what it was in 1975, as the minister points out by talking about the 30 per cent loss in the purchasing power. Last December, a colleague on this side of the House, who is no longer here, proposed a one-dollar increase which was not debated, so it is grossly inadequate but any increase is better than nothing.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions are for the Premier.

The government's economic forecast in six of the last seven years has missed the mark. The Finance Minister told us last Wednesday and on April 26 that this Budget would accurately reflect revised estimates of the economic decline, job loss, UI reform, the phase- out of TAGS, an increase demand for social assistance and other factors.

I ask the Premier, if he has confidence that the projections in this year's Budget are based on sound analyses that accurately reflect the Province's situation this year and that compensate for past errors?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have great confidence in the presentation of the Budget by the Minister of Finance and by the officials of the Department of Finance and Treasury Board. In fact, I don't think I would go very far astray when I say that there perhaps is no greater and more confident Minister of Finance in Canada today than the gentleman who sits to my right in the House of Assembly.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I have noticed that the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador have issued a statement on the Budget. The statement says the budgetary problems presented to government have accumulated from previous years and previous governments spending habits - that is all governments of all political stripes, I remind the Leader of the Opposition - `Given the resulting accumulating debt and the servicing of it, government is acting in a very responsible manner,' said ICON President Mr. Pelley. That is a pretty good endorsement of the government's expenditure program.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I asked if they have accurately predicted and does he have confidence that they have, he said they did. I ask the Premier, Stats Canada indicated that there were 11,000 jobs lost in the first quarter of this year however your government said it is substantially less, maybe only half that amount. I ask the Premier, what figures did you consider in your projections and economic forecast for government revenues, those of Stats Canada or your government figures?

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

MR. DICKS: No, Mr. Speaker, we use our own models which have proven to be progressively more accurate than the federal numbers. The statistics that the hon. Leader of the Opposition is referring to, were statistics that showed in the first three months of this year that there was an accumulative job loss of 11,000 in the Province, that was year over year, from March to March, '96 to '95, a loss of between 15,000 and 17,000 positions. We disagreed with that and said that in our estimate the year over year loss was about 6,000. If the hon. member had been following the news he would have noted that recently, when Stats Canada came out with these April figures, it showed in fact that the year over year losses were 6,000, exactly what this Province predicted.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: So, Mr. Speaker, we have much greater confidence in the ability of our economics people to follow the economy and give accurate projections for Newfoundland. We don't project for Canada. We find our estimates for Newfoundland are much more reliable than the national ones.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Stats Canada said the year to year figures were 15,000 not 11,000 and 11,000 is for the first quarter. They indicated that the April figures are by 5,000. Stats Canada indicated that they are up by 5,000 in April, not in the first quarter as asked the minister. So that is not accurate.

This government this year has asked for permission to borrow up to $30 million as a contingency reserve fund if it deems that borrowing is necessary, an approach that is most extraordinary if not unprecedented here in this Province.

I ask the Premier: Does the government have specific reasons to lack confidence in its budgetary projections by having to put aside a $30 million fund?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I quite frankly am amazed at this line of questioning by the Leader of the Opposition. He began his first question, and the House should note this, by saying that governments - he conveniently said government, in the last six of the last seven years, has missed the forecast, and that is correct; but what he could have said is that governments, almost since Confederation, have spent more in the run of the fiscal year than had been projected, including all of the Conservative governments that were in power in this office.

Now, one of the reasons, I think, that so many groups - business groups, Chambers of Commerce around the Province, indeed, the St. John's Board of Trade, the Mount Pearl Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce in the City of Corner Brook, other business groups, the Canadian Manufacturers Association, the Chartered Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador - have all endorsed the Budget, is that they see a government laying its books, fairly, open, on the table, and a government prepared by providing for a $30 million contingency for the fact that one of two things happens, or has happened traditionally, to governments: One, revenues come in less than had been forecasted; and, two, expenditures are higher than had been forecasted; and the combination of both of those events has led to an adjustment in the Budget late in the year.

Now, the Leader of the Opposition has been quoted as saying these kinds of adjustments are destructive and they should not occur, and we think that if they can be avoided at all they should be avoided. That is why, bearing in mind what the Leader of the Opposition has said, that traditionally, governments of all stripes have not kept strictly to the forecast that has been made, we built in a contingency. That contingency, by the way, will only be borrowed -only be borrowed, and only be spent, if, indeed, revenues are less than expected or expenditures are up.

I ask the Leader of the Opposition to bear in mind that we have 4,500 approximately of the 5,000 employees on the Hibernia site coming off their jobs before the end of the year. We have 2,700 on the TAGS program, coming off that program before the end of the year. So, bearing that in mind, the prudent and responsible thing to do is to acknowledge there is a possibility of costs being higher than is forecast strictly in the model, and to prepare for it, and only to spend those dollars, or to borrow them, if that is required.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is exactly why we need to look closely at our method of forecasting. If you are wrong six out of seven years, it is time to change your method, not put aside a $30 million fund.

Now, if permission is granted, in this Budget, for the government to borrow the up to $30 million that we referred to, I ask the Premier: Will he commit to bring before the House of Assembly for everyone to see, the exact amount of the borrowing and the exact purposes of the expenditure, and to do so prior to the money being borrowed and spent?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, that is part of the Budget process, precisely what the Leader of the Opposition is asking for. But I will go further than that. I will tell the Leader of the Opposition that we will not borrow the money unless it is first demonstrated that we need the money.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I asked the Premier, I ask him again, would he come back to this House - if there is a need to borrow more and there is an overrun on expenditures or shortfall, will he come back to the House and specifically indicate where that money is needed and have it debated here in the House of Assembly?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition again, and ask him to listen carefully to what I am saying: We provided for a $30 million contingency in our budgetary planning. We expect, given the record - by the way, not in the last six of the last seven years, but the Leader of the Opposition, I know, wants to be fair and open with the people of the Province. Governments going back to 1949 have missed budget targets and budget forecasts, and he knows that. Governments in every jurisdiction of Canada, of every political stripe, have missed budget forecasts, and he knows that, and we are putting in place a recognition of that reality by building a contingency.

But I want to say to him, that money won't even be borrowed, we won't go to the market and raise it, unless we need it. I can assure him I would be glad to make him, and not only him, the people of the Province, aware when and if that necessity arises. Unless that necessity arises, we won't even borrow the money in the first place.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Premier still has refused to indicate if he will come back to this House for approval if $30 million, if needed, if expenditures are up. It is neither prudent nor fiscally responsible to write a series of blank cheques totalling $30 million without having the details tabled in this House, debated, and voted on. Now, does the Premier not think it would be far more accountable to take the conventional course of action by coming to the House of Assembly later in the year with a detailed supplementary supply bill to seek permission and for the purpose of borrowing this $30 million?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member that there is no Sprung Greenhouse secret planned in the back room that we are going to spring upon the Legislature later in the year. We have no funny ideas about huge development projects. I want to say that all that saved the day at the time was the deft and professional handling by the former minister when he was brought in to clean up the mess created by the previous administration.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER TOBIN: The only member on that side of the House that did not look like he was weaned on a pickle at the time was indeed the Member for Humber Valley. Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question that the Leader of the Opposition asked is quite straightforward, there is a Budget process, and we are in the middle of it now. The Budget has been presented and there will be a Budget debate. All of these matters will be debated and will be discussed. With respect to the contingency fund I say to the Leader of the Opposition that it will not even be activated unless it is clear later in the year that in fact targets have not been met.

I am prepared to undertake here and now in the name of Budget transparency that the Minister of Finance, I say to the Leader of the Opposition, will stand in the House if and when those borrowings become necessary, indicate that the borrowings are necessary and indicate in detail why they are necessary.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is the question I asked a little while ago. I want the Premier to clarify this point for the record. The $30 million contingency reserve as approved in this Budget is the Premier saying that if the budgetary projections this year are off by up to $30 million there will be no further program cuts or layoffs this year but that shortfall will come from the contingency reserve?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is not seriously interested in debating the Budget. As a matter of fact it is strange that in the first day the House is back, after the Budget, the Leader of the Opposition does not want to talk about the Budget. I wonder why? Could it be because the Health Care Association of Newfoundland and Labrador has said: We are relieved that the Minister of Health, his officials, and the government in general, listened to the association, its members, and indeed the public this past fall when we stated that health care should be a priority and that the government has acted in that manner to make it a priority? Could it be because the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association has said: During the election and the pre-Budget consultation process the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association and other health care groups urged government to make health care top priority, and it appears that is exactly what they have done? Could it be because health care critics in Western Newfoundland have lauded the Budget? Could it be because the Chamber of Commerce in Mount Pearl, the Chamber of Commerce in Corner Brook and the Board of Trade have lauded the Budget? Could it be because the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have recognized that with a $290 million deficit this government has brought in a responsible Budget to deal with our problems at this time? Is that why the Leader of the Opposition is nit-picking and doing a poor job of it?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is for the hon. Minister of Justice. The $3.6 million a year cut in the Province's RCMP funding has cost some thirty highway patrol positions and five highway patrol units at Marystown, Clarenville, Gander, Glovertown, and Corner Brook. My question to the minister is, have these changes already come into effect or are they scheduled for a later date, and if so, when?

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, they have not yet come into effect. They will be phased in over the next twelve months.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Is the minister concerned that this future cut in highway patrol service may compromise the safety of the travelling public, especially now as we begin the busy tourist season and the busy traffic season?

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

MR. DECKER: At the present time there are forty-three RCMP officers engaged in the highway patrol. Now, they are not the only police officers in Newfoundland who will be patrolling traffic. Even up to this time police officers who are stationed in various detachments around the Province do take part from time to time in highway patrol. That is quite evident on long weekends. The hon. member no doubt is aware of the seven casualties which took place on the highway this past weekend and the 24 of May traditionally has been the busiest weekend for traffic in the Province. On this weekend, as every other weekend for the last number of years, members of the highway patrol plus members from the various detachments have been patrolling the highways to try to stop speeding.

Am I concerned about the potential of taking off people from the highway patrol? Of course, I am. I am also concerned that we do not have enough, even before these cuts, to have maybe, one patrol officer for every driver. I suppose that's the only absolute way that you could ensure that there would be no fatalities, no casualties as a result of speeding. What is the right number, Mr. Speaker? The way you deal with this issue is, the force will take the number of patrol officers that it has and will deploy them in various parts of the Province, so a driver never knows from day to day whether there will be a patrol officer at Point X or Point Z or whatever the case might be. It is impossible for us to have enough patrol officers, the secret is in deployment and I have every confidence, Mr. Speaker, that the RCMP is capable of handling the deployment so that they will be used to the maximum benefit to control the speed on the highway.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is again to the hon. Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

The government has replaced mandatory vehicle inspections with roadside checks by police. Our speed limits only work when there are sufficient police to provide the deterrent of fast driving. My question, Mr. Speaker: How can the public feel as safe today, or when the cuts in fact are introduced, when the police presence on our highways is being significantly reduced and when drivers know they have less chance than ever of encountering a police vehicle while on the highway?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I think the public is well aware in this Province that because of the massive debt which has been run up by previous administrations, especially that administration over there for seventeen years, the people are aware that we are spending over $500 million a year in interest, Mr. Speaker, paying off such silly, stupid ideas as Sprung Green Houses and various contributions -

AN HON. MEMBER: Frank Moores (inaudible).

MR. DECKER: Frank Moores' two explosions on each side of the Strait of Belle Island, Mr. Speaker, which cost millions of dollars; we are paying off all those stupid things the previous administration did. If we did not have to pay off all that, Mr. Speaker, we would be able to provide more services to the people of the Province which we would like to have. The reality is, we are in a very difficult situation. We are dealing with very difficult times and the people of the Province can be confident, that, at no other time in our history, did we have a more competent administration to deal with all the issues that the hon. member would want to raise.

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

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

I would like to talk about the Budget as well and my question is for the Minister of Education.

Can he confirm that as a result of the budgetary cutbacks to Memorial University, that what students will face in the University will be increased tuition costs, a possible introduction of differential tuition fees and also less course offerings? Can the minister confirm that?

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

MR. GRIMES: What I can confirm is that we have had discussions with the representatives of the University and they have committed to follow the government's lead in terms of trying to reduce administrative costs to the greatest extent possible, to reduce staffing costs to the greatest extent possible and to also have other related expenses such as travel, telephone, other types of administrative costs reduced to the absolute bare-bones minimum before they look at increasing fees to students.

However, Mr. Speaker, I think everybody understands that even with the maximum administrative type of efficiencies attained at the University, they have put everybody on notice that they do expect that they may have to increase tuition fees. The amount will be decided by the Board of Regents in the Senate at their next meetings.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I can't believe what I have just heard today.

The reality is, because of the budgetary cuts this year and because of the ones we have seen over the last five years, that there will be an increase in tuition fees, that you will see a differential fee increase introduced, and that students who are now, Mr. Speaker, in programs of study in their third and fourth years may not find the courses they need to graduate in the manner and time they thought they would.

Let me ask the minister this: Is he not concerned that the continued assault on Memorial University's budget, and the deterioration of the university, will decrease accessibility to students in this Province, and the only people in this Province who will be able to attain a university degree will be those who can afford it? Is he not concerned that that is what is happening in this Province today?

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That is clearly not what is happening in the Province today. There is no assault on Memorial University, or the college system, or the school system. There is a fair distribution of the resources of the Province and the government through the taxation process of grants and aid to the post-secondary institutions, including Memorial.

The news that everyone should continue to understand is that at the present time tuition fees at Memorial University, for example, are the lowest in Atlantic Canada, lower than anywhere in Ontario. There are some universities in Quebec that charge a lower fee for other reasons unique to the Province of Quebec, and they are still lower than in Western Canada, and lower than almost everywhere in the country except a few universities in British Columbia of which everybody understands. The British Columbia Government, in a completely different financial circumstance from that of this Province, has decided to put some additional resources into post-secondary education in some of the universities.

So the tuition fees stay the lowest in the country, and the only thing that restricts students and potential students from registering at Memorial University is if they do not meet the 70 per cent average that is required to be considered as a candidate for courses of study at the university.

We do understand that the tuition fees likely may increase, and if there is an increase it will be decided by the university at their next meeting and will be announced in time for students to try to make adjustments to it, but it would be incorrect to describe any of the actions of the government as an assault on the university. There has been no assault; we will still have the lowest priced tuition in Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland, and in Corner Brook, and in Labrador West, in the first university courses of anywhere in the country, with a couple of understandable and notable exceptions.

Differential fees that the hon. member asked about are an issue that has nothing to do with the Budget but are being debated across the country generally as to whether or not you should charge the same tuition for the programs and the courses in an arts degree as are charged in an engineering degree or in medical school and so on. That has nothing to do with the Budget; it is an ongoing debate in the country with respect to tuition fees and differential rates, and has nothing at all to do with this Budget.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what province the Minister of Education has been living in, or where he has been, but in the last five years tuition has increased in this Province to post-secondary students by 140 per cent; the debt load on students has almost doubled, and in some cases tripled, and yet he can stand up calmly in the House and say that there is no assault on post-secondary education or the university. It is downright shameful.

Let me ask the minister this: Will he commit to the House today that he will, with me and a delegation from this House, sit down with Memorial University, hear their concerns, and bring back to Cabinet a plan that will see the proposed cuts to the university axed, and levels of funding that were previously in last year's Budget be reintroduced so that all people who wish to go to university, accessibility will be wide open? Will he commit to that today, Mr. Speaker?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

We have had the discussion with the university and the good news from Memorial, despite the fact that their grant and aid is being reduced, is that they asked for and received consideration from this government for a three-year planning cycle so that they would not have to take drastic impacts with respect to students and/or course offerings and programming in any one year.

What we have now is the fact that we still maintain, after this Budget and throughout the next couple of years, the best educational value in the country at Memorial University. We will continue to have the lowest - the lowest - tuition fees, 15 per cent lower on average than anywhere else in Atlantic Canada, where many of our students go voluntarily and agree to pay 15 per cent more, 5 per cent lower than the universities in Ontario where some of our students go voluntarily, 8.5 per cent lower on average than the whole country, and it will continue to be lower even after any increases that Memorial University intends to apply as a result of the latest budgetary reduction.

So, Memorial University have indicated to us that while they would like to have no decrease in grant and aid, they appreciate the fact that they have been given a three-year planning cycle, and that they will, through administrative efficiencies and by following the lead of the government, make all kinds of administrative reductions first, and to leave any kind of programming and tuition increases until a last resort. That is the commitment they have given the government, Mr. Speaker, that is the commitment they have given the students of the Province, and that will leave us with the lowest tuition in the country.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. Exactly 27,959 Newfoundlanders qualified for income support through the TAGS program and were guaranteed to remain on that program for two years. On May 11, the federal Liberal Government kicked 1,684 Newfoundlanders off this program. Will the minister inform the House if his government has a plan to help those thousands of fishermen and fish plant workers as they continue to be dropped off the income support program from now until 1999 or until the moratorium is lifted?

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

MR. K. AYLWARD: Mr. Speaker, I am going to defer the question to the Minister of Development and Rural Renewal who is responsible for the employment section of the portfolio. Thank you.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS FOOTE: Thank you.

Mr. Speaker, this government is well aware of the numbers that are coming off TAGS, and yes, it is a concern for us just as it is for anyone on the other side of the House. Sixty per cent of those exiting off the TAGS program in May of 1996, in this month in fact, had some earned income in 1995, thereby mitigating the effects of coming off TAGS. I do know that altogether we have about 2,700 coming off in this month. Yes we are concerned, but it is not only people coming off TAGS who are having difficult times in this Province. We are going to have to have a look closely at what is happening with anybody who is being impacted by unemployment, and particularly those coming off TAGS.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Would the minister inform the House as to how many displaced fishermen and plant workers have received mobility assistance and have moved out of this Province to other provinces within the past year?

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

MS FOOTE: Mr. Speaker, that is not a number that I have, but I will take it under advisement to get that information for the member.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is common knowledge that the TAGS program is in big financial trouble, and it comes as no surprise since this particular program was underfunded right from the beginning. I am certain the minister is monitoring this program very carefully with her cousin in Ottawa, Mr. Young. Can the minister assure the fishermen and fish plant workers of this Province that they will continue to receive moratorium funding, and for the full amount, and for the full period specified as projected in their notice of qualification?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Premier.

PREMIER TOBIN: Mr. Speaker, in fact, the minister and I were in Ottawa as recently as last week, and together we met with the Minister of Human Resources Development to raise these very points and to press upon the minister our belief that the Government of Canada needs to continue to sustain the level of financial assistance now being made available to people on TAGS. In other words, we believe that the Government of Canada should not reduce the income level of those who are receiving TAGS in this Province, as was planned through to the end, even if it means making other adjustments.

I want to say to the member that we on this side of the House have - and I should point out, not just in the last few weeks, but members on this side of the House have for years fought very hard to ensure that assistance is continued for fishermen and for plant workers who have been displaced from their way of life and from their work because of the mismanagement by the Federal Government of the fishery. The Federal Government has the exclusive jurisdiction for the fishery. The Federal Government and the Federal Government alone, sets the harvest quotas, TACS, the Federal Government and the Federal Government alone, licenses fishermen, and the Federal Government and the Federal Government alone, insofar as harvest is concerned, has to take responsibility.

That is why the current Federal Government brought in a program called TAGS which the members opposite will recall replaced a program called NCARP. When the NCARP funding ran out, the previous government - you will recall this very well I know - refused to give a commitment of an extension of NCARP or the introduction of a new program. It was the previous Liberal government that said if they were elected they would bring in a new five year program and indeed they did at a cost of $2 billion and I know the member opposite wants to recognize that as well with his questions today.

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period has ended.

Order, please!

Question Period has ended.

Presenting Reports by

Standing and Special Committees

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to table the annual report for 1995 for the Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Group of Companies. In tabling this report I would like to note a couple of points of interest; (1) In 1995 a new record was set in total energy sales on the total interconnected systems that is in Newfoundland and Labrador of 6,420 gigawatt hours of electricity. On the island interconnected system the gross energy production for all of Hydros generating stations was 6,036 gigawatt hours. This was an increase of 2.3 per cent above 1994. Just to make clear to those who believe otherwise, that there was an increase in production and sale of electricity last year.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Government Services and Lands.

MR. McLEAN: Mr. Speaker, as directed by Section 56.1 of the Automobile Insurance Act, I table the annual report of the Board of Commissioners of Public Utilities on the operations carried out under the Automobile Insurance Act for the period April 1, 1995 to March 31, 1996.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today that on tomorrow I will ask leave to introduce the following Private Members' Resolution;

WHEREAS ensuring ready access to high quality post-secondary education is crucial in developing a productive workforce and building a vibrant economy; and

WHEREAS the provincial government after having reduced Memorial Universities operating budget in real terms by substantial amounts in recent years as announced in this years Budget that the universities total grant will be reduced by a further $8.1 million in 1996-97 by a further $3 million in '97-'98 and another $3 million in '98-'99; and

WHEREAS these deep cuts, coupled with rising costs, will oblige the University to consider such significant measures as further tuition fee increases, program cuts and course offering reductions; and

WHEREAS the elimination of first year university courses, in most centres, will decrease the accessibility of a university education for many perspective students, especially those living in rural areas; and

WHEREAS higher tuition fees will further discourage and in many cases prevent perspective students from attending university unless they are otherwise wealthy; and

WHEREAS a decrease in university programs and course offerings could place new obstacles before students seeking to graduate, could force some to endure the extra costs and other difficulties associated with going to institutions outside this province and could undermine the quality of university programs and its good reputation.

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED that this House urge the provincial government to guarantee the operating grant for Memorial University will not be less than its 1995-96 level in 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99. Seconded by the Member for Baie Verte.

Petitions

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

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

I rise today to present the first of many petitions which I intend to bring before this House over the next few days and weeks, as long as the House stays in session. I will read the petition first of all.

The petition of the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, known as the 'Fighting Newfoundlanders', ask for the House of Assembly to accept the following prayer; We the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador do hereby petition the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to support our petition to do one of the following; (a) open a food and recreational fishery to all Newfoundland families or (b) close a food and recreational fishery to all other Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, as of right now, and over the last few weeks and months, there is a group that have organized themselves known as the 'Fighting Newfoundlanders' who want to pay special attention to these particular issues and apparently other issues as they come up around the Province but this one in particular with the food fishery.

Mr. Speaker, all of us in this Province, and, I am sure many members of this House have enjoyed being able to go out in Newfoundland waters and jig a fish to eat - for recreational purposes and just simply to be able to jig a fish to eat.

It has been a tradition in Newfoundland for years and years and years, and I am always reminded of the quick story, of seeing a black and white clip one time, of a man who said he would not vote for Confederation back in 1949 because he was afraid he would see a day when, in this Province, you could not go out and jig a fish to eat. Maybe that Newfoundlander, at that time back in 1949, really did know what he was talking about. Maybe he really did know what he was talking about.

There are many people around this Province today, as we hear reports over and over of a man who has gone out to jig - the last time I heard of a man who had nine codfish in his boat, he was arrested, was charged a $2,000 fine, and lost his boat for jigging nine codfish.

Ever since the first experimental food fishery of some two years ago now, many people in this Province have decided that law is one that they will not abide by. Now, we don't support anybody who decides to break the law, but we have to consider why these people, these Newfoundlanders - 'Fighting Newfoundlanders', as they call themselves - have decided to break the law. Why have they decided to go out against the rules of this Province and jig a fish to eat? I guess the first reason you can say is that they feel they have the right and the tradition and a privilege in this Province to be able to do that.

The first experimental fishery, of course, some of the arguments used by the now Premier, then fisheries minister in Ottawa who made that decision, was that first of all there were low catches. Well, everybody knows that when the experimental food fishery was opened, many people in this Province, doctors, lawyers, business people and so on, went out in their boats and decided to try to catch a few fish to eat, for the recreation sake of it. Of course, the argument was used by the then Minister of Fisheries that, of course, they are such small catches and there is no cod.

The first thing a fisherman will tell you is that you can go out in a boat all day long, and if you don't know the berths, if you don't know the fishing grounds, you can go out in a boat for two or three weeks on end and never catch a fish; so that argument doesn't wash with the fishermen. Fishermen say that people went out in their boats for two weeks and didn't catch a fish - those were the reports that were coming back when the experimental food fishery was open - but the fact is that the people who were fishing did not know where to go to fish.

Now, there are all kinds of reports that there are many fish in the bays in Newfoundland and Labrador, and that is not comparable to the offshore amounts of fish - that is why the moratorium was brought into place - but fishermen from all around this Newfoundland Island today, and up and down the Coast of Labrador, will tell you, and I am sure that the Minister of Fisheries has heard it over and over, that there are many bays in this Province that are full of codfish.

Mr. Speaker, there has not been significant strong evidence that there is a difference in the bay stock and the offshore stock of cod, and there certainly hasn't been a lot of scientific research that supports that there is lots of fish off Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island but there is not enough off Newfoundland, and that is the strongest point that these people in this particular petition - and I will have many chances to get up again on petitions on this, and make different points - but it is one of the strongest objections they have, that you can go to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and New Brunswick, and fish cod for your ten fish, but you cannot do it in Newfoundland. For them to think that you can go to Prince Edward Island on a holiday and you are allowed to go out, as a Newfoundlander, or from any part of this country, you can go out in a boat in Prince Edward Island and jig your ten fish.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: Mr. Speaker, could I just have a minute to clue up?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes, by leave.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. SHELLEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member.

I would just like to clue up by saying this is the first in a long line of petitions that I plan to bring forward to this House on this particular issue, and I will be able to make a lot of points on it because there are a lot of points that can be made in support of this petition, and I support a food fishery for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand today to support the petition as put forward by my colleague, the Member for Baie Verte - White Bay.

All of us went around here a couple of months ago knocking on doors and talking to our constituents, and I am certain that the members on the opposite side heard the same stories that I heard, especially members who represent coastal communities and coastal districts. One of the things that came through loud and clear on a lot of doors that I knocked on is: Where are we living? I thought we were living in Newfoundland, a place where we could enjoy going out and jigging a codfish, cutting a bit of firewood, going in the woods and extracting some timber to build our houses.

Mr. Speaker, they were things that we prided ourselves on as Newfoundlanders. We built some sweat equity into everything that we did and it made us proud. That is why I suppose today that many of us can never leave this Province and be happy. Everybody who I know of is just waiting for a trip back to our Province again because they have always been able to enjoy such a thing as going out cod fishing.

The federal government in its wisdom when it brought about the moratorium saw fit after a couple of years into the moratorium to do away with the recreation or the food fishery, as we know it. The amount of cod that was caught in a food fishery when it was last open was estimated to be approximately 2,000 tons. An amount of cod, 2,000 tons, represents probably the same amount that we take today in the by-catches of other fisheries in our Province. You talk to fishermen around the coastal area who go out and take part in the lobster fishery or take part in other pelagic fisheries and they will tell you that the cod stocks in the bays can certainly support a food fishery. It has been pretty well unheard of up until now to go out and pull lobster pots and to find them instead of full of lobster full of codfish. That is a very common sight.

It was only the other day in fact that I had to call on behalf of a constituent of mine who wasn't allowed to put out a black-back net in order to catch bait for his lobster pots. The reason he couldn't put out the net is not because he didn't have a licence or he didn't have a permit; it was because the by-catches of codfish were too high. Here we are today denying Newfoundlanders, our common people out there, going out and jigging a codfish for food purposes.

They are not looking to go out and set fishing gear, they aren't talking about putting out gill nets, they aren't talking about cod traps. They are talking about putting a hook and line over the side of a boat and taking ashore a meal of codfish to put food on the table to help support their family. Always part of our diet, always part of our culture, to be able to go out and do that. I suppose what flies in the face of Newfoundlanders is the fact that up in the Straits of Belle Isle they can look out and see the lights of other boats from other provinces there doing things that they aren't allowed to do, being punished because we happen to belong and live in this Province of Newfoundland. It is a shame that those people are denied that opportunity.

What a perfect sentinel fishery. Right now we are having people in other bays go out and set gill nets and take part in a sentinel fishery. What a perfect way to find out how much cod is really out there, by letting people who know the grounds, who know where the berths of fishermen, be able to go out and jig a fish or catch a fish. Because I think we should do away with the jigger, I think we should do away with that as well. You catch a fish by hook and line and if it is small then we can let it go and swim away and it will survive. We all know what happens when you catch one with the jigger. For the most part it will float to the top and a gull will take it and that is the end of it. I think that we should do away with the jigger and I think we should allow the hook and line fishery to continue and to allow people to go out and take part in a food fishery that they have always been able to enjoy.

What a shame when you hear people working with CN Marine saying that they go up to Nova Scotia to join the boat and they go up a couple of days in advance before they are supposed to go to work so that they can go out and jig a bit of fish for the winter. Not allowed to do it from their own hometown here in Newfoundland but have to go to another province in order to jig a fish. I'm not convinced for one moment that the same fish that swims Bonavista Bay may not end up over in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Fish swim and I don't think they are very particular as to which bay they go in or how far they have to go in search of food. I suppose the same is true for us people as Newfoundlanders.

When you look at the amount of fish that is being caught today in herring and gill nets and the like you will find I believe that we can support a food fishery. I think we owe it to every Newfoundlander to be able to go out and take part in such a fishery and to be able to do -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: - what he has always been able to do and that is, put food on the table.

Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Waterford Valley, on a petition.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

It is my pleasure today to rise and present a petition on behalf of some of the residents in my district, Waterford Valley, who have been listening to the debate on the application for increases from Newfoundland Hydro, and these residents of my district have asked me if I would present their viewpoints to the Legislature.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we have had a lot of debate on this particular issue and considering the comments of the minister, I didn't take great comfort however, from the fact that he has said that his government is not going to take a direct position. However, I do compliment him for standing in the House and commenting on it.

Mr. Speaker, my concern today arises from the Budget documents that were tabled a few days ago, and as the minister is fully aware, the consolidated fund services are a part of the Budget in the guarantee fees there in item 1.3.01, there is a revenue indicated of $19,396,300 and of course, we know that that is really coming from Newfoundland Hydro. In addition, in section 2.2.01 in the Department of Finance estimates, there is here from Crown Agencies - Recovery of $31,800,000 making a total of about $51,296,000 that would be recovered. Mr. Speaker, our concern is that that is approximately $19 million to $20 million more than last year's fees, and we don't take a great deal of comfort from a half a comment made by the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board in the Budget that this shouldn't cause any impact on the application for fee increases being made by Newfoundland Hydro.

Mr. Speaker, when we look at the application that has been made by Newfoundland Power, we know that they have to get the money somewhere, and to find that the Province is taking an extra $20 million approximately out of the system, and then to hear the minister say: well, it should not have any impact, we are asking ourselves: where is that $20 million going to come from, and the fear of the consumers in this Province is that that will come from them through increases and through the regular, you know, system of applications and responses that will come from the Public Utilities Board.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the concern that people have is that this particular corporation, and we are talking about Newfoundland Power, had a profit last year of $27.8 million so, Mr. Speaker, they are not exactly poor, and we are not saying that there shouldn't be adequate return on investors investments, but we are saying that we have to look at the people who have the biggest investment. The people who have the biggest investment are the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Now, Mr. Speaker, we want to make it clear, we on this side of the House believe that we have to give a strong voice to the Public Utilities Board to say that we do not want to see the residents in any part of Newfoundland, particularly those people who have limited incomes, the people who are on pensions, and I remind the Government House Leader that the people of this Province who are on government pensions have not had an increase since 1989, therefore many of them find themselves on very limited incomes. There are people who are dependent on social services for their income, and, Mr. Speaker, these people will be severely stressed if we are going to have increases in their cost of electricity; and of course, we are reminded as well, that many of the people in this Province were encouraged by Newfoundland Power to reduce their consumption and now they are told that if you reduce your consumption, we are going to increase your rate, therefore they are in a no win situation.

Mr. Speaker, our fear is that we are going to be penalizing the poorest people in the Province, the people who cannot afford, the people who struggle from week to week, and month to month to make ends meet. We have had the Minister of Social Services say: do not come to us if you consume more electricity than we are going to be paying for under our allocations.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. H. HODDER: We have had the various ministers say that this Budget is a firm, solid document. We have documentation that says the Minister of Social Services has been very, very firm when she said that her department is not going to be giving any extra money for people who happen to consume more electricity than they would normally have budgeted for.

So, with that kind of policy we are afraid that this government is going to be condoning the increases that have been asked for by Newfoundland Power, and if they get those increases they are not going to give the kind of support to the most needy people, namely, those on fixed incomes by way of pensions, or those who are on incomes offered by the Department of Social Services by way of various subsidies.

Mr. Speaker, we ask the government to listen to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. We also say to the minister that maybe he would like to rise in his turn and explain how come we can have a $19 million increase in revenues to government but we have not had any real clear statement as to the impact of that on Newfoundland Power's balance sheet and where that money is going to come from.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I stand in support of this petition today for a number of reasons. Just to start, I spoke today to a woman from my district who is on a fixed income. She has a food budget of $51 every two weeks after her other expenses are paid, and with an increase in power utility rates this $51 - her food budget would be even less. It is people like this, people on fixed incomes, who are going to suffer as a result of power increase rates.

When a public utility makes almost $30 million a year, and they look for a further rate of return on their investment, I find that appalling in this type of economy. With the economy in the position it is in right now, I think that public utility boards, as well as other large corporations, should also be trimming as opposed to passing it on to the consumer. There are several facets of the economy today, especially as I mentioned, people on fixed incomes, who just cannot afford to pay a higher utility bill. I feel that members in the House of Assembly should oppose any increase in power utility rates by Newfoundland Power. I feel that the Public Utilities Board should also oppose any increase in rates by Newfoundland Power.

As a matter of fact, I feel, that if public utilities boards have such a huge profit that we should look at the percentage of rate of return on their investment, and there should be a ceiling. Once you get up to 8 per cent, 9 per cent, or 10 per cent, they should not be allowed to seek a rate increase on their investment. So I ask the members of the House of Assembly to give serious consideration, and to please oppose any increase in power rates by Newfoundland Power.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition presented by residents of the town of Elliston and the town of Bonavista. This petition to the House of Assembly reads: To the hon. the House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador - and I won't read all the whereases, Mr. Speaker -

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.

Mr. Speaker, time after time we have heard members from this side of the House get up and present on behalf of their constituents, petitions that have been provided to them. It is not a situation where members went out knocking on doors looking to get signatures on petitions. The big concern that is out there in rural areas of Newfoundland today where you have unemployment levels in some communities, I would suggest, probably as high as 80 per cent and 85 per cent. Those of us who are fortunate enough to have a job, Mr. Speaker, in most cases are living on fixed incomes and I talk of the many seniors out there and the people who are there today either on TAGS moratorium or social services.

When we look at the rate increase in the minimum wage that was put forward by the Minister of Environment and Labour today - and it was certainly a step in the right direction - if you look at twenty-five cents an hour, forty hours a week, Mr. Speaker, I guess that translates into about $10 an hour, $40 a month. If you look at what the average electricity bill is in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, especially when you consider the type of housing that is in some of those areas - many, many houses are older houses without the proper insulation, proper windows, proper doors, etcetera - you will find that their electricity rate, in many cases, with the hike that this utility is looking for, will increase by about $56, $60, $65 a month. So the increase in the minimum wage, Mr. Speaker, will not even be enough to offset the cost of the increase in this one particular bill alone.

Mr. Speaker, a $28 million profit I think is a tidy sum for any company to make in view of the economy we live in today, especially here in Newfoundland. I don't doubt for one minute, Mr. Speaker, I don't think for one minute that this utility will have any problem raising money for new investment or to continue with the status quo in their business.

If you look at the cost this utility still passes on to consumers, Mr. Speaker, it is actually frightening. Not only do we have a utility here that is providing a service, a monopoly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, but in most cases, if we want to access power when we live in, not a remote area but an area that is probably just a little bit removed from the general population, it is not uncommon for this same utility to come forward and charge you $300 and $400 for each pole that they have to erect, the cost of labour for stringing wires, the cost of wire and everything else. Not only do they charge just one person but if there are three or four people living there, Mr. Speaker, the same cost has to be absorbed by all.

I remember an industry down in my district, a very viable industry, a lumber company that started up and employs fifteen to twenty people. At the time that they started in this particular area - that they thought was a viable place to set up business - there was only single phase power there.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Jamestown Lumber, I say to the minister. He is quite familiar with it, we looked at it the other day. Mr. Speaker, in this particular area, they had to take power and put another line down, put some hardware on poles and take another line down to supply this particular sawmill with three phase power in order to make it viable and in order to be able to use electric motors to plane lumber and saw lumber, etcetera. That particular company had to go out and sell shares and raise thousands and thousands of dollars in order to pay for that extra line going down to service their mill. They did not get any breaks on their hydro bill, I can assure you. They still had to pay for the full amount of power they were using. In fact, they had to pay a demand charge. Even in times when the mill was shut down, their electricity bill was still very, very high because the company's argument was that they had to supply power once during the year and they wanted somebody to compensate them for the remainder of the year in order to make it viable. So it is not a situation where you go and pay your utility bill and that is the end of it. Many, many times you will find -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. FITZGERALD: Okay. Many, many times, Mr. Speaker, you will find that not only do you have to pay your utility bill but you also have to come forward and pay the cost of doing business with the company as well. Thank you.

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is with pleasure that I support the petition that has been brought forward by my colleague, the hon. the Member for Bonavista South. Again, this is a very pressing issue which is facing Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. We have seen since commencement date of these proceedings here in the House that it has been indeed an issue that has been on the agenda and has been the subject matter of many a petition.

I am pleased to state, as the member of the House of Assembly for the District of St. John's East, that I will be presenting in due course petitions with approximately 1,500 names of residents of the District of St. John's East who have voluntarily and freely signed a similarly worded petition with respect to their opposition to the proposed rate increases being requested by Newfoundland Power.

It is fair to say, in supporting this petition we feel that this company, having made some $27.8 million in profit last year, is clearly not in need of extra funding. This is an issue that we obviously oppose, and the people of this Province have spoken, when we look at the various numbers of petitions and the various numbers of individuals who have signed these petitions over the past recent weeks and months.

A Consumer Advocate has been appointed by this government, and it is the job of this Consumer Advocate to represent the public with respect to points of interest and points of concern during the public proceedings before the Public Utilities Board. We will recall, a while ago in this very House it was passed by the members on the opposite side that resources would be put in place to allow the office of the Consumer Advocate - resources and personnel and funding would be made available to the office of the Consumer Advocate so that he could do an efficient and effective job in patrolling the issues and concerns with respect to this application on behalf of the public and on behalf of the people of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

My question that I raise at this time is: What funds have been provided by members opposite, what resources have been provided by members opposite, what personnel have been provided by members opposite, to allow the office of the Consumer Advocate to do his job effectively and appropriately in carrying out his office before the Public Utilities Board of this Province? It would be interesting to note what additional resources, personnel and funding, etcetera, have in fact been made available to allow this person to do his job.

I have no difficulty with it whatsoever, and as indicated earlier it is indeed with pleasure that I support the petition brought forward by my colleague, the Member for Bonavista South. We will very shortly, certainly on this side of the House, be presenting many more petitions signed by many more Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who equally oppose the rate increase as being proposed by Newfoundland Power. In due course, it will be shown before this House that such petitions will be brought forward in great numbers.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I also stand today to present a petition dealing with the proposed rate increase of Newfoundland Light and Power: To the hon. House of Assembly of Newfoundland in legislative session convened, the petition of the undersigned residents of Newfoundland and Labrador that:

WHEREAS not having had a rate increase since 1992 is no justification for a rate increase in 1996 - and many others, Mr. Speaker. I won't belabour the point because I've presented petitions on this matter before and will continue to do so.

They say: 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.

Back in March, Mr. Speaker, when the House first opened after the election, we debated this in a private member's resolution. It was amended by the House and agreed upon by all members of the House, and then the petition was passed unanimously. But while we were debating a proposed rate increase by Newfoundland Light and Power of 4.5 per cent, the government of the day was behind the door cooking up a deal that would see the GST and PST harmonized. Now, the impact upon electricity rates is clear. As a result of that deal, people in this Province, all of us as consumers, will see our electricity rates increase by 8 per cent. That does not include the possible increase that the Public Utilities Board will give or will grant Newfoundland Light and Power. As a result, we could see an increase of power rates in this Province to the tune of 10 per cent to 11 per cent. Frankly, Mr. Speaker, I find that unacceptable, and I believe, too, that the people of this Province find that unacceptable.

Government have just presented a Budget. They have outlined where and why they made certain cuts; they have gone at length to determine that. That is what government has to do, and they have done it in their Budget, but government also has the power to exempt basic commodities such as electricity or home fuel from the GST, PST harmonization, and it has to be done. Nobody, especially those who can ill afford it, those who are on social assistance, those who are on fixed incomes such as seniors, single parents, mostly, a fact of our society, are women; these are the people who are going to be hit the hardest.

Last week when I presented this petition, the Minister of Mines and Energy responded to it and floated out the argument that as a result of the GST, PST harmonization, all of us, as taxpayers, are going to pay less, and he was right to one degree. He was right in terms of what is normally covered under GST and PST now, but what he failed to say is that the tax base will be broadened on other goods and services such as electricity rates, such as home heating fuel rates.

Mr. Speaker, government has the opportunity before it to say, with respect to the GST, PST harmonization, that it will exempt electricity rates from the GST, PST harmonization, thereby, not passing on to consumers, indirectly, a 10 per cent to 11 per cent increase in a basic necessity and a commodity that we all use. That is the reality of it.

Government also has the opportunity to demonstrate clearly to the people of the Province that they see this increase in electricity rates unacceptable as well. The House Leader has the opportunity to stand and do it -

AN HON. MEMBER: Does he want it written down, put it (inaudible) or what?

MR. E. BYRNE: That is exactly what I am looking for, now that he mentions it. Would the Government House Leader -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, no; what we are talking about now is not the projected rate increase from the Public Utilities Board. You have provided the resources to the Consumer Advocate; we will let that arm's length board do its work. Nobody, including this member, would like to interfere with that process; but, what I am saying that I would like printed and put in big letters by the government is that the harmonization of GST and PST does not include, or will not be extended to a basic commodity such as electrical rates, and that the 8 per cent increase that will cause -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. E. BYRNE: By leave, Mr. Speaker, just to clue up?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Agreed.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave.

MR. E. BYRNE: That, as a result of harmonization, an agreement between the Federal and Provincial Governments -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: No, that is not true. The Vice-President of Newfoundland Light and Power was on, saying clearly that it would not. You can float all of that out.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: The member can float all of that out if he wishes, but he knows clearly, as all members of this House know clearly, that as a result of harmonization electrical power rates will increase between 7.7 per cent and 8 per cent; and if the Public Utilities Board gives or grants Newfoundland Power the 2.9 per cent increase that they are looking for, we are up around 10.8 per cent to 10.9 per cent. Those are the facts of the matter. We can debate them all we want. Government has the power to exempt it, and I am asking them today to do it.

Thank you very much.

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

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I just want to rise for a moment to support my colleague, the Member for the District of Kilbride, and to ask the government if they would begin to listen attentively to the pleas of the petitioners who have been asking this House for weeks and weeks on end, to pay attention to what is being said.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what people are concerned about is the impact on their personal lives. They are concerned about their ability to be able to live a decent life. They are concerned about their ability to be able to provide food, clothing and shelter for their children. And they look upon this particular application before the Public Utilities Board as being a way in which, probably the system is going to cause them economic hardship.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we have before the House day after day and petition after petition, and week after week if necessary, we have a responsibility on this side, to put before this House the plea and the prayers of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador. I would encourage all members opposite whom I know are getting petitions just the same way as we are, but they are not allowed to stand in their places and offer petitions to this House. We rarely, rarely, rarely see a member on the government side rise and present a petition.

Mr. Speaker, that must be so because there has to be a concerted effort on behalf of the governing party opposite to say, no, when you get your petitions, don't present them; please, please don't do that, we do not want to have petitions coming forward that might be critical of the government stand.

Mr. Speaker, we know that there are petitions over there because people have told us on this side that they have presented those petitions. They have said: We have asked the member to stand in his place or the lady member to stand in her place and to put those prayers before the House of Assembly. What we have responsibility to do on this side is to make sure, for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, that their voices are heard clearly in the House, and on this issue, there has rarely been such an endorsement of a petition as there is to this one which is circulated throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The number of petitioners by this time must be into the thousands, into tens of thousands.

AN HON. MEMBER: Pardon?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) whatever comes (inaudible).

AN HON. MEMBER: You will sign?

MR. H. HODDER: Mr. Speaker, I say to the hon. member opposite, I am pleased to hear him say, he supports the plea of the petition. I invite him to stand in his place and to say on behalf of the people of Terra Nova that he supports this petition, but I have not seen the member yet stand in his place. So I am inviting the member and all members opposite who have a concern for those people who cannot pay, those people who are on fixed incomes, those people who are living on minimum wages, although it has gone up now from $4.75 to $5.00, they are still going to have great hardship. I want to say on behalf of those people who are the working poor in Newfoundland and Labrador, who go month to month and week to week and year to year living on very, very minimal amounts of income, these people have fear put into their hearts when they see these applications before the Public Utilities Board.

I say to the Government House Leader, it is for him to stand up on behalf of his constituents, to represent them, and for him to say to his Cabinet colleagues: no way can we ever, ever let this kind of increase be passed or be accepted by the government if it should indeed result in that recommendation from the Public Utilities Board.

So, Mr. Speaker, I say to all members of the House, start listening to the people. We talked about consultation on the Budget. Mr. Speaker, what more consultation can you have than tens of thousands of petitioners - what more consultation can you have than that? Week after week and day after day people are saying: Hear our voices, listen to our pleas and harken unto what we want you to do for us, but we don't hear that coming from members opposite.

I don't see members rising up in their places and saying: I want to speak up on behalf of my constituents on this particular application; I haven't seen one person yet stand up and say, We have heard the pleas.

I say, Mr. Speaker, to all members opposite, when you are talking about this application rise in your place and represent your constituents. That is what you are here for, that is why you got elected, that is why you knocked on the doors in February, that is why you had all this cold and bitterness and wind in your face and you said to these people at their doorways, I want to represent you. Now is the time to put your comments at the doors in action. Stand in your place, do your job, that is what you were elected to do. And when you go back to the people they might even be willing to say that you have done a good job, if you stand up for them. What we have seen in the last little while here is day after day nobody on the government side can (inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. H. HODDER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Orders of the Day

AN HON. MEMBER: Motion 1, Mr. Speaker.

On motion, that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on Ways and Means to consider the Raising of Supply to be granted to Her Majesty.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I have been waiting so long here to get an opportunity - I even had a petition, too, but I said I would leave that until tomorrow.

I am disappointed that the Minister of Finance is not here, we are dealing with the Budget Debate. I certainly had numerous things that I would like to direct the minister's way and hopefully have some answers to particular questions or comments.

I asked questions in Question Period today with reference to our economic forecast. In six of the last seven years, in our economic forecast, we have missed our projections.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, regardless of whether it is twenty-three or thirty-three, if we missed our projections in six out of seven or nineteen out of twenty, there is something wrong and we have to readjust. And we have to take the realistic approach, not the most optimistic approach. I don't care if Brian Peckford did it or whether it was Premier Wells, whoever did it, it is not right. There is something wrong when we keep missing our projections.

I would like to look at the contingency fund. The Premier said this morning he has every confidence that the projections are right. The question I asked was: If you have every confidence, why do you need a contingency fund? That is because you may be off in your projections. Now, 1994 was the only year - and we had tremendous growth in 1994. We had an increase with employment at Hibernia -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) about three-quarters of 1 per cent, seven-eights of 1 per cent will throw you off $30 million.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not talking about budgetary projections, Government House Leader, I am talking about economic forecast, the indicators out there today, GDP, I am talking about the retail trade, I am talking about the personal income of people, those are the economic forecasters that I am talking about.

When you look at the forecasters for the economy, when you look at GDP growth, when you look at the growth in retail sales and personal income, they affect the bottom line of revenues in our Province. I am not talking about missing your budgetary projections; I am talking about the economic indicators. If your housing is down, if the GDP is down, personal income is down, retail sales are down, your government revenues and income tax, retail sales tax and other factors are going to be down. If we miss our projections on economic growth, we are going to miss our projections on income into our Province, and that is where we are going wrong. We are taking the most optimistic forecast in terms of economic growth in this Province. That is what we have been doing. We have been looking at variations and have been overly optimistic as to how the economy was going to perform in six of the last seven years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that is correct, six of the last seven years.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: We will know this next year, I say to the Government House Leader, next year we will know whether those forecasts were right. I am going on past performance, what is factual. What you have indicated and what this Budget has indicated is that we are going to see a decline of minus 4.3 per cent in GDP this year compared to last year. If it comes out to be minus 5 per cent or minus 6 per cent, it is a wrong estimate. Only once in seven years have you hit the target and that was in 1994, due to unexpected and tremendous growth, mostly stemming from the increase in employment at Hibernia. That is basically where it came from. How can you consider those figures and look at an optimistic forecast? My concern is that our decline in the economy this year -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you think we are right?

MR. SULLIVAN: I think you could be wrong, and I am going to state that now.

MR. TULK: You have all the figures. Are we right or wrong?

MR. SULLIVAN: You were wrong six of the last seven and who knows if you are going to be right or wrong until it happens.

MR. TULK: Go on the record now. Are we right or wrong this year, yes, or no?

MR. SULLIVAN: Give me time, I say to the Government House Leader. I say to the Government House Leader, on your projected growth in the economy, I think you have taken the optimistic side.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: I think it is, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: You hope it is.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I think it is. Some economists are predicting that we could have a 5 per cent decline in economic growth in this Province over the next year. I say to hon. members, when you look at a contraction of 4.3 per cent in the economy that is a depression proportion, not a recession, and when government is admitting it is minus 4.3, we will never know. I say to the Government House Leader, next year when we file our GDP, and what it was, it will not be accurate. That will be adjusted the year after as other indicators and factors get reported. They are always adjusted for years after in what the real figure is. That is traditional.

I have the adjustments for the last several years, when they were made and at what points. In fact, we are only now getting the accurate ones from 1992, because each year as we find out the performance of the economy based on factors, it starts to factor in on what the real one is, and as we find out these, government are getting more and more off in their projections when we start getting the real figures.

So, I say to hon. members, that is the concern. If we cannot accurately forecast - and we are not doing it - we are not forecasting our revenues, how much income tax we are going to collect, because we are assuming there is more growth and more jobs in the economy.

Now, I will just point out a figure in real jobs in the economy. In the projections here The Economy 1996 tabled with the Budget, they are indicating that employment in this Province is going to go down by 9000 people this year. Now, if employment goes down by 9000, which people do you think are most likely to leave this Province and look for work? People who have been on social assistance for two or three years and cannot get out of it, or people who have been used to working, have been in the work force and do not want to go to a sustained level of a lower family income. They cannot cope with it because they have debt commitments. They are more likely to leave this Province, thus increasing the problem, because in most of the things the Federal Government is doing today, the population component, and our equalization is going to be affected. We have less equalization.

Also, under the new strategy with Canada Health and Social Transfer, they are now basing it 50 per cent on population and 50 per cent on need. It used to be need based but now we are finding it is population based, and as our population goes down we will get less money in the future. And that is going to cause a very serious problem here, I say to members, in our economy. We are not in, in years three and four, for good years. We are in for a rough period of time in our economy and the projections that people are talking is not just two years. And I will point out to hon. members some of the areas where I see concerns that we have to address, which are not being addressed. I will do that in due course here today, hopefully.

Also, the workforce in this Province is after shrinking. Just in this past year we have a shrinking in the workforce from 241,000, the labour force, to 233,000. In other words, our labour force is shrinking. It is going to shrink this year by 8000 people. In other words, 8000 people are going to give up looking for work and are going to be pulled out of statistics in the workforce. Now, that causes a very big concern, and that is why I question the unemployment numbers that are here.

We are told that the unemployment rate is going to get worse, that it is going to go from 18.3 per cent to 19.4 per cent, only 1 per cent worse when you consider that we have 5 per cent fewer people going to be working and we have a labour force that is 3.7 per cent smaller. When you look at these figures and do your comparisons, I have concerns that our unemployment rate - I would be surprised if it does not exceed the 20-some per cent total, one of the highest unemployment rates that we have ever witnessed and unprecedented in other provinces in this country.

We have Saskatchewan with an unemployment rate down to about 5 per cent. Here in this Province - and I say it again for that minister, I said if you look at The Economy on page 74 you will see that -

AN HON. MEMBER: Page 74.

MR. SULLIVAN: Page 74 in The Economy. If you just look at the figure there, the labour force, down the column, our labour force is going to decline from 241,000 to 233,000. In other words, we are going to lose 8,000 people from our workforce, who are going to leave the workforce. Maybe some may leave the Province or whatever, or stay in the Province and have to depend on either UI initially, and eventually find another job, or join the social assistance lines. There is a certain percentage that does. You look at the next line of how many are going to be employed. It is going to go down from 197,000 to 188,000. We are losing 9,000 people less going to be working in the Province this year than last.

When you look at the unemployment rate it is only going to change about 1 per cent. I'm indicating that the unemployment rate normally for those changes would increase by more than 1 per cent because when you factor - a lot of the unemployment decline you can see is going to come from major lay offs. Just take Hibernia, phased down over the next year; high paid jobs are going to be lost. There is a greater chance that people out-migrating are going to be people who have been in the workforce, who have lost their jobs, had debt payments, and are more inclined to depend upon (inaudible) source of income, rather than somebody who may have had to depend on social assistance for the last three years.

So we are going to have an out-migration I'm indicating that is going to impact on two major aspects of revenues into this Province. Here is how it is going to significantly impact, and I'm sure the Minister of ITT can confirm it. Number one, equalization. We are going to be affected because our population - equalization is population-based also. There are thirty-three factors that affect equalization but population base is one. Number two, another point that has happened this year for the first time, and that is a big concern, is that with the elimination of EPF - Established Programme Financing - and CAP we are moving into the Canada Health and Social Transfer that is going to be roughly 50 per cent population-based now and 50 per cent need, as opposed to an entire needs-based area.

That is going to have tremendous impact. In fact it is going to pull out of our economy directly. Direct payments to this Province are going to go down from last year of $427 million under CAP and EPF, in this year's Budget it is down to $340 million, this year's Budget, $341 million this Budget calls for. Next year if you look at it, it is going down to $281 million. Another $60 million we have to find. Those figures, for anybody who wants to look, are there in your Budget. It is going down another $60 million next year.

We are not in for a rosy time ahead. We can talk about Voisey's Bay and what you will. We are not going to have economic prosperity at the end of two years in this Province. We are going to have more pain. We are shifting the debt from today to the future again. It is unfortunate now the Minister of Finance and Treasury Board isn't here, but I will just point out -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I will remind the hon. Leader of the Opposition that it is unparliamentary - and I refer to Beauchesne 481 (c). It is unparliamentary for any member to "refer to the presence or absence of specific Members."

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is unfortunate the member I would like to refer to is absent because we are dealing with the Budget debate here. The absent-minded member, or the absent member, who I would like to refer to by his position - maybe, Mr. Speaker, I will refer to him as the absent minister then.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I can't say absent minister. Well, I just said it, and, Mr. Speaker, I don't think Beauchesne could raise nay point on that.

I have to say to somebody here, because the minister is not here. I will say it for the record. When you look at -

AN HON. MEMBER: Only the junior ministers (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pretty desperate now. The Canada Health and Social Transfer is going to take $61 million less next year. We have a structural deficit. We had one of $90 million last year. We still have an $87 million structural deficit. It is still there. Which means before we even start next year we have to find $87 million in a structural deficit. Forty-two million of that is allocated to an advanced borrowing this year of $42 million under Term 29, and we also have $45 million coming in increased borrowing requirements in order to balance the Budget; so we have an $87 million structural deficit existing here in this Province and we are passing the burden of debt from today onto the future.

Now, I would like to get back to The Economy, since the Government House Leader was so engrossed and so interested. We are going to have in this Province, a decline in retail trade this year of 4.7 per cent, statistics that you would associate with a depression and the long-term prognosis and plan of this government to deal with those projections in the future is lacking; it is just not here.

Housing declined last year; there were 531 less housing starts. That is one of the indicators of activity and growth in the economy and spin-off jobs, people buying houses, more work for people in lending institutions, more work for carpenters and plumbers and electricians, and all of these people have extra work associated with housing starts. It is a very positive sign when we see housing starts on an increase. Last year we had a decline down to some of the lowest levels we have seen in years.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I pointed out things we can do to address it, and in due course you will see these. On housing starts, your government is predicting this year that housing starts are going to decline even further; they are going to go down another couple of hundred - another 137, to be exact, from the projections here, if we can take that as being factual. In the past we have not, but we will take it with some particular degree of accuracy. So, they are predicting a drastic decline in the housing market, a drastic decline in GDP, a drastic decline in the workforce, a drastic decline in jobs, and overall with the measures that we have taken we are exactly in the same position that we were this time last year before the Budget with structural deficit. We still have an $87 million debt, structural deficit, compared to a $90 million. We have no addressed it. We have borrowed from the future. There is going to be a price to pay if the future is not as rosy as you are telling us it is going to be, and I have every reason to indicate it is not going to be as rosy as you think it is going to be.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will get to that in a minute.

The public sector debt has increased since 1989 by 42.11 per cent. It has increased from an amount, and I will give that to the minister in due course; it has increased from a total in 1989, the public sector debt, the total public sector debt, when you factor in the debt for Crown corporations, and then you deduct the sinking funds and so on, when you look at the bottom total public sector debt, in 1989 it was $4.845 billion. Today our public sector debt is up to $6.885 million, a 42.11 per cent increase in public sector debt.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I went back and checked the public sector debt from the Budget - it usually goes back about four years - then I used the previous issue and went back for another four years and went back to 1989.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I know, but I also went back further

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, the total debt of this Province was $4.8 billion. Refinanced and all, the total debt that we had with Crown corporations in this Province in 1989 was $4.8 billion.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) 42 per cent?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am saying it is a 42.11 per cent increase based on your figures that you provided since 1989.

AN HON. MEMBER: It went up 100 per cent (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, what happened, some of that is attributed to and granted -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I will say to the minister, much -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Basically what happened over all, I looked at it right back to 1960, and right back to 1960 - the debt in 1962, for example -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I don't have it at my fingertips.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. I was just going to mention to the minister, while in dollars at that time, here is where the problem started I say to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology. In 1962, for example -

MR. FUREY: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I went back to each year as Budgets and researched them. I don't know what Jack's leader said -

MR. FUREY: Jack's leader said he (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not sure what advice Jack has for him today, but it is a lot different from the advice that his former leader used to give to him when he was their leader, I can tell you. Actually, in the early 1960s, 1962 I think it was, there was an over expense running at 38 per cent more spent by Mr. Smallwood than he took in, in revenues.

Now we got ourselves into a cycle of high expenditures even though in today's dollars they were not highly significant but when you get into a commitment, some of this is a longer-term commitment and we built in to the situation while the 42.11 per cent today may not be in extra expenditures; a lot of it is in interest accumulating on that debt that we are using from our revenues to meet that debt, that is why the debt is climbing because we are not reducing it. We have never really reduced the debt. This year, what, $3.7 million dollars, we reduced it by not significant on 6.8 so we have never really reduced the debt. We have never reduced the debt.

AN HON. MEMBER: It is the best Budget you have seen since (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I have seen only about four and I am not any more impressed I can assure you, I say to the minister. The Budget, several things -

AN HON. MEMBER: Make up your mind, Loyola.

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I am coming to it and hopefully before the day is out, if not before Thursday, if not before Friday. I am just disappointed that somebody is absent who could be here and I could ask a few questions. Whoever that absent person is -

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you good for the rest of the sitting?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh I might be here for a month. Don't I have unlimited time?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I thought I had unlimited time; I am only getting started I say to the Government House Leader, go out and take a nap.

AN HON. MEMBER: Those are only the introductory notes.

MR. SULLIVAN: I haven't even got to any notes yet, I say to the Opposition House Leader; I have not begun.

I would like to go to the absent minister's comments when he read the Budget here last Thursday - now there is more than one minister absent so I am not talking about -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) we have been listening with bated breath?

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

I remind the hon. Leader of the Opposition that there are in fact more than one minister absent but there is only one minister who read the Budget Speech.

MR. SULLIVAN: I didn't use it in that context, Mr. Speaker, but I am speaking to all absent ministers, not talking about them, just indicating to them so they can be passed on by their colleagues here in the House that - I will quote a Budget Speech; it is written, who ever read it we will leave to the imagination: it said: The mine smelter and refinery will be built in this Province. Maybe the Minister of Mines and Energy - is there a commitment on a refinery? I was not sure if there was, I am serious, I am not just - is there, in writing, a commitment on a refinery to be built in this - We know a mine and a smelter are going to be obviously there but, is there a written commitment on a refinery?

DR. GIBBONS: If there is no refinery there will be no mine.

MR. SULLIVAN: But is there a written commitment on a refinery, I ask the minister?

DR. GIBBONS: I don't know.

MR. SULLIVAN: The Minister of Mines and Energy doesn't know if there is going to be one. Well, how do we expect the people of Newfoundland and Labrador -

AN HON. MEMBER: There is going to be one.

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?

DR. GIBBONS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: But is there a written agreement? Ontario has legislation that says there is going to be a refinery and where is their nickel being refined?... in Norway. They have legislation.

DR. GIBBONS: It will be done.

MR. SULLIVAN: Bring in legislation, bring it in. Is the minister going to bring in legislation to insure we have a refinery? You have so much confidence in the word of Inco that has a budget and expenditures bigger than this Provinces', so much confidence in it that you do not need legislation?

DR. GIBBONS: We have the legislation, we passed it last (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: To say that there must be a refinery?

DR. GIBBONS: Any further processing.

MR. SULLIVAN: What bill is that in?

DR. GIBBONS: One that we did last fall -

MR. SULLIVAN: So it is already in legislation that we are going to have a refinery?

DR. GIBBONS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I know you said we didn't need it at that time and now you said it is there.

DR. GIBBONS: We passed it last fall to say that any further processing has to be done in this Province and (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Does refinery come under that definition?

DR. GIBBONS: That is right.

MR. SULLIVAN: So, we have legislation that states it must be refined in this Province?

AN HON. MEMBER: If economically feasible.

MR. SULLIVAN: If economically feasible or it must be done.

DR. GIBBONS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: If economically feasible. So it isn't an unconditional refining of ore in this Province. So in other words we are right back to square one. Ontario has it specifically in its legislation and it is being refined in Norway.

DR. GIBBONS: There is no question. You aren't familiar with the Ontario legislation in that case.

MR. SULLIVAN: Maybe I'm not. It is only what I read about it. The minister is not familiar with our legislation; if we didn't have one two minutes ago and two minutes later we have it.

DR. GIBBONS: We passed it. I passed it.

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes.

DR. GIBBONS: Amendment to the mineral act.

MR. SULLIVAN: Who did you pass it to? I say to the minister, you didn't pass it to us.

DR. GIBBONS: Last December (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I made reference a few minutes ago, and the minister stated in this book, Budget 1996, that we had a $90 million structural deficit here in this Province leading into this year and they had to take corrective action of course to do something about that. The corrective action we have seen is an improvement of $3 million in the structural deficit. We now have a structural deficit of $87 million, a 3 per cent improvement in the structural deficit. It still leaves a substantial amount of money.

Another issue I would like to talk about here in the Budget, and I made some brief reference to it, is the Canada Health and Social Transfer. I've taken a look at projections under the Canada Health and Social Transfer for the next several years. Last year, and the Budget figures show that, under Established Programme Financing and under CAP - that is the social service payments - we received $427 million into this Province. This year we are only getting $340 million. We have lost $85 million, $86 million this year because of legislation that went through the House of Commons which the Premier of this Province in his place supported and he was a part of cutbacks of $85 million to $86 million to this Province because of the Canada Health and Social Transfer, as the minister representing our best interests; and allowed the Government of Canada to base those payments for health, post-secondary education and social assistance upon the population of a province rather than upon the needs of people within a province.

One of the fundamental aspects of federation, of Canada as a country, is its ability to be able to share from more prosperous provinces to less prosperous by dealing with the need situation. We have just made a decision, and it is going to have an impact that is significant in years to come in increasing the gap between have and have-not provinces. We are going to see a broadening. There are provinces of the country that do not want to have to give to other provinces. We have seen a whole fundamental change in the philosophy of federalism as we have known it since 1867, basically.

Next year we are only going to receive $281 million in Canada Health and Social Transfer. Where are we going to get in our tax base another $60 million next year to make up for the further cutbacks in Canada Health and Social Transfer? Put that on top of the $87 million structural deficit we have, and another $61 million on top of that, and we have $148 million to deal with in shortfalls alone just because of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) harmonization.

MR. SULLIVAN: I'm getting to that one. I will get to that one a little later. They arranged that so it won't kick in fully until after the next election. That is the way that has been arranged. I will get to that in due course.

In fact, in the year 1997, which is ending this fiscal year, we are going to get $341 million in Canada Health and Social Transfer. In 1998, down to $263 million, another $18 million erosion. The year after it is going down to $244 million. The year after, $239 million. Down to $235 million, and then down to $233 million. So if you can imagine in a period of six, seven years we are going to see our transfer for health, post-secondary education, and social assistance reduced by one-half, in a time when our Province has a caseload that is almost unbearable in social assistance.

It has post-secondary education getting priced out of existence and one in which the health concerns of people are not going to get addressed. These are some of the major things we are going to be dealing with in next years Budget and the year after that we have to come to grips with.

If you look at other provinces in Canada, the provinces that are better able to afford things - Ontario, for example, even though it has far more people than Quebec, Quebec received more technically in transfers than Ontario for CHST, even though it has substantially more. So it's the push by Alberta, Ontario and BC who are not so willing in tough times to have to share their wealth with other provinces of the country. We are going to have a breaking down of federalism as we know it today. We are going to have a devolution of powers which is going to be needed to a certain extent - but we are going to have a devolution of powers that is going to make provinces have to stand and be able to survive on their own. That is going to be difficult when we have not been given the necessary tools to be able to survive. We have been subjected to unacceptable levels of change in our Canada Health and Social Transfer.

One of the things people in this country take pride in is being able to avail of the same level of health care, whether you are in British Columbia, Ontario or in Newfoundland and that is going to change because now he who pays the piper calls the tune. Now that there is no money specifically earmarked dealing with those needs it is not going to get spent accordingly. We are going to end up with a ten tier system of health care in this country.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) you are never satisfied.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am just pointing out the concerns. The problem is your Premier sat around the table and voted for those changes to the basic Canada Health and Social Transfer and supported it. That is what, and to represent this Province with hundreds of millions and a declining state of the economy in this Province and then he is signing giveaway deals to appease his counterparts. I don't think that is acceptable.

AN HON. MEMBER: Are you going to Ottawa with him on that (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: He said last week he would put it in writing to me but I have not received any letter yet and I am waiting. He said he would put it in writing in the House last week. I asked him to put it in writing and I will respond within a day or two at the very latest. I assured him his request. I've said that, I said it last week, I said it again today and I will do that. I said within a day or two he will have a written response back from me. I am just asking him to live up to his commitment of what he stated here, that he will put it in writing.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Wherever I go I will follow the wishes of the people, that is what I will do and I don't care whether it is yes, no, maybe or whatever. That is the proper and responsible thing to do.

AN HON. MEMBER: The wish of the people (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: What? The wish of the people in my district? Go back and check your figures. I did not campaign the referendum to be honest with you. I did not campaign and did not participate in it. I had one speaking engagement - requested to speak and I put forward a neutral perspective to a rotary club here on both sides on why I was voting the way I was going to. I was, you could say, a bit passive in the campaign. I wanted to hear what constituents had to say and not what I was going to tell my constituents, basically.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did you vote against it?

MR. SULLIVAN: I certainly did. I stood and voted against it here in the House of Assembly.

AN HON. MEMBER: With the people in his district.

MR. SULLIVAN: That's right and now that the House of Assembly, the Legislature of this Province that represents the people, and the results of the referendum brought to this House of Assembly -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I said when the Premier does what he said, I will do what I said. That is what I indicated.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I did not say I needed a letter. He said he was going to give one so I said -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: It is in the House, I didn't ask him. He said he would put it in writing. Yes, and I told him I will do

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure that's no reason. So that means I cannot go. I voted PC in the last election so I cannot go to Ottawa with a Liberal Premier. This is a democratic system I tell the Government House Leader and you have to function under democratic rules; that is what you have to do. I will do what is right and proper.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: You're darn right I believe you should.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) should not?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, you should do it. Yes, you should.

I had a news conference two weeks ago, I have said it publicly many times, you should get on with it and do what you were told to do. Don't be beating around the bush, waiting, trying to strike some sweetheart deals behind the scenes. Get on with it and do what the people said.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, exactly. I stood up as a member of the House of Assembly, and I expressed the wishes of my constituents who put me here, and once the Province speaks, after the fact, I will vote with the majority of the people on what should be done in this Province - I have no doubt about it - and when I don't do that, when I don't adhere to the rule of democracy on which I was elected, and the rules of our society, it is time for me to walk out the door, I say to the Government House Leader.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: It is time to walk out the door, and I will do that if it comes to that. I will walk out the door before I will defy the rules; I will say that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The member doesn't know me very well. I stand on principle.

AN HON. MEMBER: The majority of the people said to you, (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, they didn't.

AN HON. MEMBER: Yes, they did.

MR. SULLIVAN: People in other parts of the Province don't speak to me. People in my district speak to me in referendums, and when the House of Assembly votes and the collective vote of everybody determines where we move I will get behind that, and I have done it from day one. I have never said, from the results of this House of Assembly, and when being asked, that I was opposed to Term 17 going ahead.

AN HON. MEMBER: You did.

MR. SULLIVAN: No.

AN HON. MEMBER: You said it here.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I haven't. That was before it was passed. That was before. That was part of the process. The minister can twist it how he wants to, he can have a bit of fun with it, he can do what he wants to with it; I have been clear, to the point, unwavering, have not waffled back and forth. We are soon going to call the Minister of Education the giant waffle and the Premier, waffle one and waffle two; that is what they are.

Finally, after turning their backs on the people and coming back and not speaking with all stakeholders... I will just say for the record, while we are on this, exactly where I was - I will say to the Government House Leader, who sat in that caucus, if he wants to listen, here is why I voted no, and I will tell him right now for the record. I said from day one that any change in reform to Term 17, or any change in our education system, should only occur when parents and teachers and school boards and churches and government, when all stakeholders were involved. The government of the day decided to turn their back on parents and school boards and teachers, and went to just one group of people. They went to only a select subgroup of the stakeholders to education, and turned their backs on the people, and brought legislation to this House. Then they realized they did not consult anybody; then they went to the people. When the people spoke, as the Member for Ferryland district, I voted with the wishes of the people of my district, and once the House of Assembly voted to change it I said: We have to follow the wishes of the people. I have done that, I have stated it, and that is where I am on it, and if anybody disagrees with that, I just beg to differ because I did what I felt was fundamentally right and proper to do, and I will stand by that.

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't want consultation (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Consultation?

Here is what I have stated, and I will say this also, and I said it at my news conference, and you can have a copy: You can only change the results of September 5 if you go back and deal with all the stakeholders who were involved in rendering that September 5 decision.

That is what I said, and if there is unanimity by all stakeholders from that decision, more power to the government; let's bring it on and get the change. But they decided again, the Premier of the day, and his Cabinet and government, decided just this past couple of months again, to turn their backs on the people and only talk with select stakeholders again in education, the churches - did not talk with parents or teachers or school boards, and ignored those people - that is why they got in trouble. And when they waffled again, and they had to waffle back again, and now they are doing so much waffling people do not know whether they are for it or whether they are against it, until the people held him accountable; that is the major waffler.

Now, I will get on to some other types. I will get back to that later if we have some more time. There are some important things I would like to address. I am getting a tremendous amount of static coming from that side of the House, and I haven't seen anyone stand and ask permission to speak. There has been interference, and continuous heckling and that. I don't mind some sensible conversation. I will give them leave to speak, but I would like them to at least listen when I'm speaking, and I will listen when they speak. I have no problem with that. I just ask for common courtesy and the rules of the House I would be very obliging on my time to do that. In fact, I would like to have had some absent ministers here to be able to answer some of the questions I would like to ask.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: If the Government House Leader can't answer them, if he could at least take a little note and bring it in to the absent minister to get me those answers.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I asked him what are you going to do - last year there was a $90 million structural deficit.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I will ask the question and then I will listen to you, and I will attempt to answer yours.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Leader of the Opposition has asked to be permitted the opportunity to make a speech without interruption. I will ask that he be granted that privilege.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Above all I'm sure, yes, the Government House Leader should be one who sets the decorum and the standards by which the House operates. If the Government House Leader doesn't set it who is going to set it? Who can we look to?

I will get to harmonization now. One of my colleagues mentioned harmonization. If you look at the harmonization agreement, this Province, we have sold out a substantial chunk of revenues on harmonization. I will ask the minister across here - not the one who isn't here; I will ask the one who is here - what are we going to do in year three and year four to make up for the $100-some million shortfall in harmonization? What long-term plan? On top of -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: What are we going to do to make up for the $100-some million shortfall under harmonization? The Minister of Finance and Treasury Board mentioned back there was $105 million, he admitted, and then in a later article he said it could be $185 million in year three and year four of this agreement. Because year one and year two, they are supposed to pick up the shortfall, anything beyond 5 per cent. Anything beyond 5 per cent they will pick up half of it in year three and beyond 5 per cent they will pick up 25 per cent in year four. I'm asking: What plan does he have for a recouping or a generation of those revenues in year three and year four?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. That is going to be roughly $130 million to $150 million.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, the Minister of Mines and Energy will probably say the economy is going to grow in that time, but you are projecting a 5 per cent decline in the economy.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, the provincial government is going to pay the $348 million over four years. But I'm saying that is going to include, I say to the Minister of Mines and Energy -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: In year one, Minister, they are going to make up 95 per cent of the difference, because there is a 5 per cent. In year two they are going to make up 95 per cent. Year three they are going to make up 45 per cent, and year four they are going to make up 20 per cent. When you add all those together that is your $348 million. That is how it is spelt out in terms of the Memorandum of Understanding agreement that they signed.

I'm saying: What about the 75 per cent they don't make up, or the 80 per cent in year four? Where are we going to get those extra $100-some million, I would like to know? On top of a structural deficit of $80 million. That is on top of Canada Health and Social Transfer cutting back next year of $60-some million, another $100-some million, that is $160 million. We are up in the $300 million deficit range. If you think after two years it is going to get better I say you are wrong. After two years we are going to be facing some very tough revenue decisions and a revenue crisis here in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No it won't be rosy. That is why we shouldn't be telling the people it is going to be rosy when it isn't going to be rosy. You should be telling the truth to people. You should be upfront. If it is going to be tough, tell them it is going to be tough. That is what you should do.

The government has indicated that the money we are going to lose in retail sales tax, the $100-some million a year forever, basically, unless we get a new deal after four years -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, the minister said $105 million, difference. Then he said after in a Telegram article it could be $185 million, it could be closer to it. Let's take $150 million, somewhere in between. What the minister stated, or the Premier, when it was signed, he said: We aren't going to need to make it up because - because of harmonization we are going to cause the economy to grow by the amount of increase in our sales, in our retail trade. It is going to increase enough that it is going to make up the difference.

Now, just think for a minute: to get $105 million at 8 per cent, 15 per cent is the harmonized rate, seven goes to the federal government and the 8 per cent - to get $105 million we need more than $1.3 billion in sales of goods and services in this Province.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: What does that have to do with the 8 per cent of the harmonization?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I know, but the point I am making to the minister is, we have to sell $1.3 billion more; at 8 per cent, gives you $104 million; we have to increase sales by about 40 per cent. In other words the economy of this Province cannot possibly grow substantially to the extent that we are going to get back $105 more million in revenues from taxation. It is not possible; it just will not grow because of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. Your government is predicting - I am hoping it grows and we have prosperity in this Province.

MR. TULK: What was that question?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am wondering where are they going to get -

AN HON. MEMBER: Where are they going to get -

MR. SULLIVAN: I will write it down. I will put it on the Order Paper and maybe I will ask him in Question Period tomorrow.

I am saying the economy is not going to grow enough to make up for the shortfall because of the harmonized rate. That is basically in the bottom line of what I am saying.

We also have a big problem besides our debt, our public sector debt of $6.8 billion, 42.11 per cent increase in debt since 1989. The debt in 1989 when, I guess - no you weren't here then, before you took the vacation in '89 and came back again -

MR. TULK: It was an enforced vacation.

MR. SULLIVAN: At that point in time when the Liberal Government came to power, out debt was $4.8 billion. Today, and based on filed documents with the Budget, our debt is $6.886. I have the figure here from your list, I have it right here. In fact, in 1989, just for the minister's information, the total provincial direct debt, that's excluding Crown Corporations, it was $4.3 billion; Crown Corporations had a debt in 1989 of $1.9 billion. When you total that up and you subtract the amounts, like the sinking fund, revenues from that, it brought it down to $4.845 billion in 1989 so it wasn't higher; that is your own document which your member filed.

I mean, if we can't follow your own documents for accuracy, the point I was trying to make in Question Period this morning, you are not even believing your own documents, you are believing in contingencies because you realize you are going to be off in your figures, now you are not accepting your own figures I say to the minister, so that's quite interesting when the government is not even going to be a believer in its own figures that have been tabled and have been there since 1989.

AN HON. MEMBER: You have a question for Paul?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, that was the question.

I have indicated that on top of the $6.88 billion public sector debt, we have a very serious problem with pension, unfunded liabilities; it is a very serious problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: Unfunded liabilities (inaudible)?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, and I would like to know what avenues or when -I know they say: We are resolved to do so with the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association this year - I just what to ask -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. He has indicated, the absent minister, that government and its employees must work toward a solution. I am just wondering, what time frame does he have to start addressing this problem that is becoming a major concern?

AN HON. MEMBER: What happens and when will he address it?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, how soon? I think it needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Overall, it is anticipated that the teachers' pension fund would run out by 2005 at the current rate so, something needs to be addressed before the minister can draw his pension from it, something needs to be addressed.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Boy, it could be. I can tell you one thing. I will go on record as saying: I will never draw one while I am in this House of Assembly, that is what I have said. I speak for myself; I don't speak for other people on personal matters. I won't draw one while I am here.

AN HON. MEMBER: Be careful what (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: My own personal statement. The Premier wouldn't say that, the Premier would not forego his but I will tell you, if I am eligible, I will forego mine, I will state that, that is what I will state and I go on record; and that could come to pass because I am soon due to receive one from teaching after twenty-six years of service as a teacher but I will not draw it while I am in this House of Assembly.

MR. TULK: Why not?

MR. SULLIVAN: That is not them, that's me. I cannot speak for anybody else on personal matters. That is their own decision, but that is something that I think, if we want to lead by example, something a leader should do. A leader should do it, lead by example and a Premier should do it. Anyway, seeing you invited that I figured -

MR. TULK: Clean up your own house.

MR. SULLIVAN: Also, we have a tremendous cutback in job opportunities in this Province, and this government is admitting, they are saying this year that there are going to be 9000 less people working in the Province than last year. You can see how the Premier this morning tried to twist figures on things that showed he did not know what Stats Canada talked about. What Stats Canada said, and I will qualify it now because I did not want to take too much time in Question Period, but I think I got the point across.

Stats Canada indicated that on a year to year basis ending March 31 there was a 15,000 decline in jobs here in this Province, and they also stated that from January to March, the first quarter, there was 11,000. It was not the 15,000 or 16,000 the Premier talked about, it is 11,000. He tried to twist that as if we did not know what we were talking about. In April it recovered 5000 jobs because people normally get back in the workforce in the spring of the year. Unemployment rates usually go down because people get out in the lobster fishery, other fisheries and so on and other seasonal jobs. The Premier tried to twist that back in the Stats Canada figures which were wrong.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure it does. I agree.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, just a statement of fact.

This morning in Question Period I asked the Premier, and maybe the Government House Leader may be able to answer this one because this is a matter of procedure, a matter of House procedure. The $30 million contingency reserve fund that is used, and we are seeking approval in this Budget of $30 million - the Premier said they will, but is this government obligated to come back to this House, even though it is approved to borrow that $30 million, are they obligated to come back to this House with a supplementary supply bill if we are going to over-expend our projected expenditures in each department, are we going to have to come back to get approval of this House in those specific categories?

AN HON. MEMBER: That is always part of the Budget estimates.

MR. SULLIVAN: Normally, it is not in the estimates. That $30 million is not in there. No, it is not. Is the minister stating that $30 million contingency reserve is in the estimates? It is not, I say to the Government House Leader, because if it was there that would be another $30 million we would have to be borrowing to make up for the projected - and if it is there, he said, for unforeseen emergencies. What the Premier said today - I would like to know the answer to that.

MR. TULK: He told you.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, he did not. He said the $30 million is for unforeseen emergencies and shortfalls in projected revenues. Maybe the Deputy House Leader may be able to answer because the Government House Leader has not answered satisfactorily. The Government House Leader said the $30 million contingency reserve fund is already in the estimates and I said, no, it is not in the estimates. If it were in the estimates why would we need to identify that as a source of borrowing? It is already built in. The purpose it is there is in case there is a shortfall in revenues because your projections are too optimistic or because you over- expend in any department because of the unforeseen, like social services.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I did not say twenty-eight. I said six out of seven. I only went back to 1989.

MR. FUREY: We take the best forecast.

MR. SULLIVAN: Why do you take the best forecast? If you are off six out of seven years why not take the middle forecast or the worst one?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, so they are not in the Estimates?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, yes, but they are not in the departmental figures.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, he told me on the third question. The third time I asked him, he told me. I took note, and I went so far as to bring in the exact wording here, which I do have. To be honest with you, I hope we don't have to go to that point, that we have to go back and have to bring it back.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Actually, I didn't come here until 1992. The only person who had anything to do with Sprung is sitting on your side of the House. Three years after Sprung, I got elected.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Also, we talked about, just in this House, since I became a member, the importance, and government put forth -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I knew the answer. It is not the question I asked that did not get answered, but I am going on to something else.

Mr. Speaker, governments over the past two or three years, or since I have been in this House, have talked about the importance of privatizing Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, how the people of this Province can be best served, how it is good for the economy of this Province.

This is a question I would certainly like to have answered, to a certain extent: We are supposed to be receiving this year, I understand, over $50 million from Hydro, $32 million, or $31.6 million in the dividend -

AN HON. MEMBER: Okay, what was that?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, this is a statement of fact; I will get to the question in a minute. I am sure the Minister of Finance is scrambling, writing down all those questions. I am wondering if the amount of money for guaranteeing the debt - it used to be $10 million; it is $20 million this year, I understand - is it an understanding that the amount we are going to get for guaranteeing the debt next year is going to increase to $30 million? In other words, we are getting $53.4 million out of a Crown corporation that this government wanted to sell - $53.4 million. We would need another $53.4 million to balance our budget if we had to sell Hydro, if we had to do what the Cabinet there, and the members of the House who were here at the time, had to go along with it; we would have another huge amount of money to make up for.

If we need extra money from Hydro, why spend hundreds of millions of dollars out to investment dealers - and they already ran up to $10 million in the cost of privatizing it - if you want more money, you ask Hydro to return a bigger dividend, or from their dividend, or to increase the fee for guaranteeing the debt. That is what you would do, instead of having to privatize it, if we want more money from Hydro. If we had to sell it, we would be $53.4 million short. That is why we wanted to keep Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. We want to keep it so we don't run up a lot of legal, accounting, investment costs and that, so that these dollars could stay in the pockets of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. That is why we did it, and now they see the wisdom that we had on this side of the House, the advantages of retaining Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, a company that serves a public interest, that we own, and we can ask them to pay more money to this Province to help in our budget rather than going out -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I agree with keeping Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. I said it is one of the very, very few that I would support not privatizing, I say to the minister, one of very, very few. In fact, I personally believe that private industry can do a job far better than government; I strongly believe that. I have been in private industry for over twenty years, but I did not see an advantage of selling off a publicly controlled company whose rates we can control, that is going to take dollars out of the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador and put them on the eastern townships in Montreal, and on Bay Street in Toronto. That is what privatizing Hydro would have done. It would have been owned 80 per cent by major stockholders.

Nova Scotia, the same thing; there were only so many millions of dollars estimated. There was only $150 million in the Newfoundland economy that could be used to purchase shares in the new Hydro corporation. It would have been owned, 80 per cent or more, by outside the Province, and those percentages could very well increase as our economy got poorer by setting off a shifting of shares. Who would want Newfoundland Hydro to be owned by financial people, multimillionaires on Bay Street and eastern townships and primarily even in other parts of the world? We want it to be owned by the people of this Province so decisions can be made here in this House of Assembly. If we vote on and support a $53.4 million from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, you would have to recover it in a very marginal rate increase rather than going through a pile of legal, accounting and other costs. That is why we wanted to keep it. That is why we see the wisdom in doing those things that government did not see at the time. They had to get their wake-up call. They had to get the wake-up call from the people of Newfoundland and Labrador to deal with that, I say to the minister.

Here is another interesting point - here is something I would like to know from the absent minister: We do not know - Term 29 - we have not been told if the extra $80 million is going to be over the next three years or over the next two years. We received $50 million under Term 29. It said $80 million over three years. I am wondering if this year is included in that three or is it going to be over the following three years, years two, three and four?

AN HON. MEMBER: You mean $50 million and $80 million over the next (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, I would like to know the answer to that. I would like to know, in years two, three and four, do they have in their planning - how much is going to be in year two, three and four? I would like to know if the decision is made or is it there again as a contingency in case they need it? I would like to know, and the reason I would like to know is because we do not know how good a deal it is if we do not know when we are going to get the money. If we get it all in year one, $130 million - that is an eighty-cent dollar; but all in year one, if we need it all in year one to prevent borrowing - I heard the Leader of the New Democratic Party make a statement, if we don't need it to borrow - and I would like to clarify this point: if we need it to prevent borrowing, it would be an advantage if we got $160 million up front, but keep in mind, we are only getting $130 million. We are getting $130 million but they have not told us how much we are getting in year two, three or four. Maybe it is all going to be in year four, therefore the costs are not there. If we only need to borrow $15 million it is only an advantage to have $15 million because the debt that we will have on - if we are sacrificing a certain rate of interest in the long term - we are only going to take it if we need it. We are not necessarily going to take it unless we are going to use it to help pay down debt -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, we are only borrowing $14.8 million. So I am saying, $14.8 million could be to our advantage but not $50 million and not $130 million. We will know next year - if next year there is a balanced Budget, as an example, the advantage to take money to put into a surplus situation that we don't need to borrow might be an in-and-out item that might not affect the bottom line. In year two - and I say this for the member because he made a comment on my math being a little off - we don't know on the remaining $80 million - they have not said on the remaining $80 million when it is going to be. They said over three years, and I am wondering -

AN HON. MEMBER: You don't understand what I am saying.

MR. SULLIVAN: He does understand. I am wondering in year three - and I say this for the record - is this remaining $80 million going to be over the three years including this year? Because that is the impression that was given; or is it going to be under the following three years? Is it going to be $20 million, $30 million and $30 million or is it going to be $8 million and so on? All we have saved this year because of that $50 million is borrowing - is $42 million of which $6.8 million prevents us from borrowing and the other $35.2 million enables us to have a surplus situation that we may not be able to invest and get any more than we would have. Only when we have these figures, know what the specifics are, then we have to keep in mind - when we run out we are getting $130 million. Here is something to keep in mind, if you got $8 million a year and you only got $130 million you would run out four years short after 16.2 years. Now, the last four years - well, $8 million a year -

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) $130 million.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I know. No, we have to consider that, too. We have to consider that and subtract what it would cost us by having to call on extra money, and I will use that example. If you have $8 million a year for sixteen years, that is $128 million after sixteen, in the next year we would only have two, we would get the last payment if it is $130 million. I can't tell you now if we have a good deal so that is why I raise the flag. What happens in years seventeen, eighteen, nineteen and twenty? There is $30 million we are not going to get. Now we have to look at the $30 million we are not going to get in years twenty, nineteen, eighteen and seventeen. How much extra - we will have to borrow $8 million in year twenty because of it. If we don't have a surplus, it is going to be sixteen in the previous year and we are going to have to carry interest because that is two years; the year before it is going to be twenty-four and the year before that it is going to be the thirty with tax, so we have to look at the extra cost on those and subtract it from what we will have by having it earlier and what we could, use it to prevent borrowing earlier and you have to look at those total costs. And I am not convinced today; I may be when I see how much is given each year. The cost of borrowing today versus the cost of borrowing it at that time are factors that you can never actually predict but you can have a fairly good idea whether we had a good deal or we didn't.

If they give you the $130 million up front today -

AN HON. MEMBER: What did it cost to borrow (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, we may go through a cycle, up and down in the cycle like we have done in the past -

AN HON. MEMBER: It is not the cycle (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Well, the reason why I am not so impressed right now is because, now, we are at the bottom of the cycle.

AN HON. MEMBER: That you are the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: No. We are at the bottom of a cycle now, in which borrowing is cheaper generally than later. If our financial position deteriorates in the future and does not improve, and we are going to have to struggle to keep us at the -

AN HON. MEMBER: Our costs are higher when inflation is (inaudible) 8 per cent and 7 per cent (inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No. Basically, right now, yes in terms of inflation -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) interest rates are higher now.

MR. SULLIVAN: I know, but the growth of inflation in the economy is not putting extra dollars in the economy on borrowing. If inflation goes up, well, borrowing goes up, and the total cost, the value goes up, there is always a proportion that you can build in anyway. I mean, it is not a reverse process. It moves up proportionately and that is what saved the Federal Government basically on their debt now. Federally, they are going to come in a little under because of the lower borrowing requirements, where they are going to come in $2.-some billion below their forecast. So they are factors we have to consider, and we have to know down the road exactly what these costs are going to be; and nobody can accurately predict exactly what they are going to be.

AN HON. MEMBER: Any more questions?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh I have plenty of questions; I should get through them by Monday.

The next point I would like to touch on: Government has eliminated - and when we talk about no tax increases, while there has been a tax yes in the higher income which is to be expected; and granted, we cannot expect the people down on the lower end to have to pay this, that is only fair.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I think it is the right place to tax. Tax people who can afford to be taxed rather than those who cannot, yes, you will get no disagreement. Yes, that is right.

We have seen numerous cases of indirect taxation. We have seen pressures put on people. Agencies not being funded are having a direct impact upon those agencies and their operation. Another example is cutbacks to municipalities.

Last December, the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs announced that there would be a two-phase 22 per cent cutback to municipalities; well, this Budget again is another 10 per cent, which means municipalities now have been hit with a further 10 per cent on their budgets, which is going to equate into further job losses. I mean, snow clearing budgets, staff - I know people in the small communities had to cut back from thirty-odd weeks for clerks back to fifteen, they are getting to the bottom here to a certain extent; there is going to be a spin-off on jobs other than the ones announced in this Budget because of the cutbacks to municipalities. I think that is fair to expect. Maybe, if they had people on snow clearing they might cut back one, or road maintenance maybe cut back on summer employees. There is going to be impact on the economy that is going to affect our revenues, it is going to affect our personal income taxes coming into the Province, retail sales, less money in the economy besides the impacts of the initial jobs, and I am wondering in the analysis that they have done, and the projections, how much of these have been forecasted, other jobs related to indirect job layoffs because of impacts by the Budget?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. How many have been built into the Budget to deal with that, and have they factored this into their analysis in the decline in revenues coming into the Province? Also, we look at the Marystown Shipyard situation. They will continue to pursue privatization. Well, the Marystown Shipyard has been a strong contributor to the Newfoundland economy, and this government has mismanaged the Newfoundland Shipyard by not monitoring and following it closely. This government has been laissez faire, have not done their duties and responsibilities in dealing with the Marystown Shipyard and the bidding of contracts by the shipyard.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: That is mismanagement, is it? That is probably mismanagement if they put it in unwisely. They had a consultant report last year, and I spoke with Ms Witte; I called her and spoke with her last month - two months ago. She resigned from the board in January. The minister said here in the House that she resigned in December. She resigned in January, and the question is: Why did she resign?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: She was frustrated with the ability of this government to ensure that the recommendations of the consulting group that were released last year were not followed; that is one of the reasons. That is probably the real reason.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what she told you, is it?

MR. SULLIVAN: I cannot tell you what she told me; it is confidential. I will not say. She is a very reputable individual, and I have no intention of divulging the conversation.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible), and if she told you she didn't tell you that, you should correct your statement because you are leaving the impression that is what she told you. You are saying that is what she told you?

MR. SULLIVAN: Does he have the floor, Mr. Speaker?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The Chair has recognized the hon. Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Some people here are hard to recognize. I will state -

MR. WALSH: A point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay East and Bell Island on a point of order.

MR. WALSH: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is right; I should not be making a point without going through Hansard, so let me make the point on a point of order so that Hansard can record it.

If the Leader of the Opposition is saying that Ms Witte told him that she resigned from the Board of Directors of the Marystown Shipyard because of the recommendations not being followed then let him say it; but he should not leave, for the sake of Hansard and for the general public, the impression that Ms Witte resigned for that reason. He is using her name, he is using her position, and the insinuation that is being left, in defence of a lady who is not here, who gave her time freely to this Province, who is not here, to leave the impression that she gave him a reason why she resigned, and if that is not the reason he should not leave that impression.

To finish my point of order, Mr. Speaker, he said that he spoke with her. He said he had a conversation with her; then he jumped to the next level of saying she resigned because the recommendations were not being implemented. You cannot leave that impression unless it is true, in defence of the people who are not here.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Leader of the Opposition is speaking to that point of order?

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In fact, Hansard will show I did not say it. In fact, emphatically I did not say it. I don't see any point of order at all. I would not make such a statement. It is completely out of order. He is only delaying the proceedings here in the House and taking up precious time.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. member took advantage of the opportunity to add some clarification to the debate.

The hon. the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I will ask government ministers - they should certainly know - if a letter was received from Ms Witte, if a letter came to the Premier from Ms Witte last December, and I would ask him to check if that letter stated that she was unhappy with the recommendations being implemented, and would he like to put it on record if that is stated in the letter the Premier received and has refused to indicate it was received?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I have asked that question before. I would like to know if Ms Witte indicated to this government her reason for resigning was because of frustration with implementing recommendations that were done by the consulting group? I would like to know.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: I said that any conversation I had with her was strictly confidential, and I don't care to comment on that at all.

MR. WALSH: Well, you are commenting on it.

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not commenting on the conversation. I am asking particular questions of this government. That is my right and Opposition's right to ask questions in the public interest, and I will continue to do that.

Mr. Speaker, we had an excellent opportunity to save some money for this government this past year. We had the opportunity to reduce the seats in the House of Assembly to forty, and I stated that I supported that the House of Assembly be reduced to forty. The United States has only twelve Cabinet ministers and this government has sixteen. We need sixteen Cabinet ministers to run this Province when they can run the United States on twelve. Employment generation that's what it is.

AN HON. MEMBER: The PC government had twenty-three.

MR. SULLIVAN: Too many. It is a shame. If I were asked to go in a Cabinet with twenty-three people I would resign and walk out. Now, I tell you that. I would consider it an insult. It is an insult to the people of this Province to have a Cabinet with twenty-three.

MR. GRIMES: That's easy to say.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, it is not easy to say, and I do not agree.

AN HON. MEMBER: They paid the price for it.

MR. SULLIVAN: I do not agree. If Peckford or somebody did something it does not make it right. In fact I totally disagree with government extravagance. Members have a tendency to look after themselves and not look after the people of the Province. We do not need any more than forty seats in this House of Assembly with a population of 570 some thousand people and a declining population, the highest, except PEI which is geographically dispersed, the highest per capita of any province in the country with the exception of PEI which is a very rural geographically dispersed province. It is not needed.

We had the opportunity to save millions of dollars here in this Legislature and we would not do it. The judge initially recommended in his first proposal forty until the former Justice Minister went out - I think he was removed from Justice when he went out. He was the Government House Leader when he went out to Clarenville and asked to look at forty-six as opposed to forty. Then the commission still would not go along with it and came back with forty-four. Unhappy with the situation we got a call to sit down with a representative from the Justice Department to put forth a proposal of forty-six, I believe it was. Then when it came back it was forty-eight seats here in the House of Assembly.

If we do not start showing some restraint how do you expect the people of the Province to have confidence in our ability to look after their interests? We should have a more streamlined government. Then the Premier talks about no more business class travel by the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition does not have a travel budget. It is zero. The Leader of the Opposition gets zero dollars in his Budget for travel and communications. Every other minister gets from $40,000 to $100,000 in that category. You can look through the estimates there. We will have to walk. How do you get there, by economy travel, no business class? It is only a token thing at the top, business travel.

MR. TULK: Do you want to know something? You are getting more as the Leader of the Opposition than we got as Tories when we were over there.

MR. SULLIVAN: That is because we are doing a lot better job I say. It is about time you got paid on performance here in the House of Assembly I say to the Minister. I think they should bring in performance. We would have the smallest budget in the history of this Province if we got paid on performance.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible) information on your salary (inaudible)

MR. SULLIVAN: I have no problem based on performance with my salary. I will be accountable I can tell you. The people in Ferryland district spoke in the election on my performance and I put my faith in their hands I say to the minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was your percentage in 1993?

MR. SULLIVAN: I am not sure what it was but it was up there.

AN HON. MEMBER: The highest of any member of the House.

MR. SULLIVAN: I see I got the Government House Leader really worried now. He is really worried. He is like a bull in a china shop over there. He is really worried. If he wants to pay us on performance over here he is going to have to go back to Treasury Board, I can tell him. He will have to go back to Treasury Board for a lot more money unless it could come from that side of the House possibly. There could be a transfer of substantial dollars. That would not go astray I can assure you.

Now I would like to talk about the tremendous plan. I was pleased to hear that the health budget is not reduced. Yes, I was pleased to hear that because the people of the Province indicated that is the number one priority but I would like to look a little further in the health budget. According to figures we obtained within the Department of Health - according to figures I obtained - the absent Minister of Health - I won't say anything about the minister. I will just say about what is located here, there is going to be an estimated ninety to 125 positions eliminated in health according to the analysis I received from people within government here. In the budget lockup I asked the question: How many in health? They told us that within the Department of Health there will be - and I made a note - ninety to 125 people that would be eliminated. Now I am assuming that is under the direct category. There are 500 announced by the minister in direct job loss. The minister announced that there are going to be 500 direct job losses as a result of this Budget and he said another 500 are affected by restructuring initiatives already underway. Now I say to the minister, in health I was told by government officials that there are going to be ninety to 125 lay-offs within health in direct job losses.

AN HON. MEMBER: Where?

MR. SULLIVAN: They did not tell us where. They could not give us a breakdown. That is in the budget lockup when I asked the question: How many are coming in health? It has been estimated that to maintain the same level of funding in health from year to year with fairly expensive equipment, inflationary factors, you need almost a 7 per cent increase to maintain the status quo. Now I don't know if government can confirm that but by maintaining - we have been told that over the next three years we are going to get the same amount of money in health which would equate into 20 per cent real dollars into health over a three year period. Now I am asking are these figures correct with your economic analysis - yes or no. I would just like to know. If you can't answer it I don't have a problem. I won't be surprised, I won't learn anything new.

Here are the figures in direct jobs that I received from departmental officials in Finance and Treasury Board.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, October, hopefully. I believe we have seventy-five hours in total, isn't that correct?

Health care, ninety to 125. In the college system, direct jobs, there are going to be 225 to 250. Other department agencies, 200 to 210. Not counting other areas. Those are the direct job losses as a result of this Budget. In fact, the other 500 they are talking about, like in teachers -

AN HON. MEMBER: Loyola, you are making up figures.

MR. SULLIVAN: No, they are accurate. You can read Hansard and if you can refute any of these figures in Hansard I will stand up here and publicly apologize.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. Already we have seen announced probably the most devastating affects. The Minister of Education. We have seen the most devastating affect we have ever seen in education in the history of this Province. We have seen cuts in the college system; we have seen hundreds of cuts in education. Most of the cuts in fact - over 50 per cent, I believe; the minister could confirm -are within education. Direct jobs in this Budget were 225 to 250, of which there is another 220 to 230 with teachers - 229 was the figure I think accurately used - and 225 to 250. So we are up now in the high 400s, almost 500.

In addition I understood there are forty-some superintendents and assistant superintendents and also, I'm being told - maybe the minister can clarify this. It is my understanding that the program coordinators - there are sixty-two of them I believe, roughly - are going to be retained within the system this year but next year that number of positions is going to be pulled from the system. Would that be my understanding? Because it wasn't made clear initially. They said they were going into the classroom. I'm wondering by going into the classroom - just to make sure the question is clear - are those sixty-some going to be less units this year, are they going to go into the classroom and displace sixty-some other teachers? Or are they going to be in addition to the current teacher-student ratios that are there?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Sure, yes.

MR. GRIMES: I know the Leader of the Opposition wants to hear this answer.

MR. SULLIVAN: I would love to hear it. Yes or no. You can answer it in one word.

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

MR. GRIMES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. By leave just to provide the information. This year it is sixty additional units that will be in the classroom. There will be no other lay offs as a result of the program coordinators going from the board offices back into the schools. So there are actually sixty additional units to be deployed in the classrooms in the Province for one year, and next year how many units will leave the system will depend upon declining enrolments, so it is not a matter that these sixty will automatically go. There were 239 left this year that were removed from the system because of declining enrolments. Whatever the number is, that is a result of declining enrolments next year. We will know that as soon as we get the registrations in September, but there will not be an additional sixty removed because of this; there will just be whatever the number is for declining enrolments is the only plan for next year.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

That answers it. If, for example, there are 229 gone this year, if the amount next year would have been 200, in real job losses there would only be 140-some? Those sixty positions are built into the system to cushion against a dramatic drop in numbers? Okay.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, thank you.

Another particular area of concern is in post-secondary education. Since 1989 we have seen an increase in post-secondary education - I know my colleague here, the critic for post-secondary education indicated 137 per cent. I know back in 1989 tuition was about $500, $500-and some. I think last year it was about $1,200, and now it is going up again. We have seen almost a doubling, more than 100 per cent - 137 per cent - increase in tuition since 1989, and that raises a concern really. Right now we don't know, as of this day, what tuition is going to be for the coming September, and the application deadline has passed; would that be correct? So people have applied to Memorial, the deadline has passed, and they are not going to tell us what tuition is. My fear is the problem of getting the required courses. I know a person who decided to work and go to university, and tried to schedule their courses around their work, and they had to wait over two extra years to graduate because they could not get the courses they needed because they gave work a priority to try to pay their way through.

Now, is this going to result, in not having the course availability we need, and the gap closing in tuition differential between other universities, is this going to drive more and more people out of our Province and into post-secondary institutions across Nova Scotia and other provinces? That is a real concern.

AN HON. MEMBER: You know the difference of that, don't you?

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I am very serious. I am sure the Minister of Education knows that many people today, and some are our better students, a lot of them get scholarships and full scholarships in other universities in Atlantic Canada. It is a concern, because once you go beyond a certain cost level, if you are on the West Coast of Newfoundland, or in Port aux Basques maybe it is easier to go to the mainland if the cost differential is about the same. You have a choice of several universities actually. Several when you look at the Atlantic provinces generally and more people have been going there in the past. The trend has been to go to Mount Allison, St. Francis Xavier and other universities and we don't want to get to the point where we are going to turn people out of this Province. It is acerbating the problem in having to drive tuition up further. We got a spiralling downward trend in students attending university here because I know people who could not access the courses they needed. I know somebody in their graduating year, I understand, are given a certain preference to try to get into programs but I know people have not been able to get into programs because of large numbers of people registering in those programs. That is a concern. Where are we heading in post-secondary education in this Province with cutbacks of another $8 million this year? I think $7.8 million -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: No, I believe we are cut back $8 million this year at Memorial, $3 million next year and $3 million the year after. We have $14 million -

AN HON. MEMBER: That's not bad.

MR. SULLIVAN: That's not bad? That's not good when it is the only university in this Province -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: The reason that people teach nine hours a week, do you tack it on to tuition and force the students to pay it? If there is a problem fix it but don't download it on students where it is getting downloaded. If they have a problem with their administration or with other aspects in there then deal with it. Now they asked for a three year Budget and they got a three year crucifying, they got $14 million. That is not exactly what Dr. May wanted when he asked for a three year budget - $14 million. In year three that represents $14 million out of your budget. It represents $11 million out in year two, that is $25 million and $8 million this year. That is $33 million less in three years, in the university budget. Where is it going to go? It is going to keep driving tuition higher and higher at a time when -

AN HON. MEMBER: What are the solutions?

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I have solutions and I will get to them by Thursday or Friday. I want to address the problems.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SULLIVAN: I have solutions. I will just give you a little advance warning, it is not to sell out on harmonization at a substantial dollar loss to the Province. It is not failing to bring in a mineral and mining rights tax that is equitable for this Province, that represents hundreds of millions of dollars. These are just some of the solutions. When you added up the couple hundred billions we are talking about there, by Friday, I will let you in on a few more secrets on how to address these problems.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Pardon?

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Oh, I don't know, it depends how - I am getting a receptive audience today so, if you stop being receptive I might stop talking. As long as I am getting a good hearing I am certainly going to keep talking about the Budget, because I know the Government House Leader has hardly left his seat, he is so enthused. If the same enthusiasm is shown on Thursday and Friday, who knows? I would like to have the absent minister who brought in this Budget, the person I cannot name, who brought in this Budget, to come in.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes. Do you want me to adjourn or keep going?

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, it is getting to that time of day and the Government House Leader's blood pressure is rising at an astronomical rate I - oh!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. SULLIVAN: As soon as I am ready to adjourn the debate, the no longer absent Minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the visible and highly evident, well-groomed Minister of Finance and Treasury Board makes his appearance this afternoon. With that, I adjourn the debate, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. TULK: Before adjourning the House, I think we should let any member know, who is interested in attending the Social Services Committee, the Estimates Committee that was scheduled for seven o'clock this evening, that that has been now postponed to Thursday, May 30, at 7:00 p.m. in the Committee room.

With that valuable piece of information, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, May 22, at 2:00 p.m., at which time we will debate, I understand, the motion of the private member, the Member for Kilbride.

I move that the House do now adjourn.

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