November 19, 1996          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY PROCEEDINGS         Vol. XLIII  No. 36

 


The House met at 2:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER (Snow): Order, please!

Statements by Ministers

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

MR. McLEAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in my capacity as Minister Responsible for Labrador to update this hon. House of Assembly on issues of great importance to Labrador and the people who live there.

Mr. Speaker, since the election the people of Labrador have voiced their frustration over outstanding issues, broken promises and the perceived disinterest of past governments in addressing their concerns. Issues such as the Trans-Labrador Highway, health care and the delivery of basic government services remain deep and abiding concerns in Labrador. The government is committed to resolving these.

To that end, our government has been working under my direction and with the support of the Premier, to focus efforts on resolving the inequities facing the people of Labrador.

As Minister of Government Services and Lands, my first priority is improved delivery of efficient and effective services in rural areas, in particular, to Labrador, and to this, Mr. Speaker, this morning, for example my colleague from Labrador West announced, on my behalf, the provision of full motor vehicle registration services for the citizens of Labrador West.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: The lack of these basic services in Labrador City and Wabush has been a concern to residents for many years.

As well, my colleague, the hon. Minister of Works, Services and Transportation is committed to a vision of a paved Trans-Labrador Highway becoming a reality within ten years. The hon. Minister of Forest Resources and Agrifoods is actively pursuing forestry development in southern Labrador and addressing the many issues associated with management of Labrador's wildlife resources. The hon. Minister of Health has assured me that health needs of all the residents of Labrador will be given the same priority as any other citizen in the Province. As Minister Responsible for Labrador, I am confident that this government is sensitive to these concerns.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. McLEAN: In the weeks and months to come, Mr. Speaker, this government will continue to show its commitment to Labrador through action, not words. With the cooperation of my Cabinet colleagues and my colleagues from Labrador West and Torngat Mountains, the interests of the people of Labrador will be well represented within government.

The people of this Province, both on the Island and in Labrador, recognize the great contributions of the Big Land and the spirit of the proud people who call it home. It is clear to me, as a man whose family has lived in Labrador for generations, that Labradorians do not want out of the Province, they want in. They want to be treated as full partners as we move forward into a promising future.

Mr. Speaker, I am fully committed to this goal, the Premier is fully committed to this goal and the government is fully committed to this goal.

Thank you, very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

I would like to thank the minister for his statement a little while before the House opened. First when I started to read it I was delighted that we were going to pay some concern to Labrador, pay some more attention to it. Then the minister gets up and talks about past governments and so on. I remind the minister that it has been seven-and-a-half years now and the people of Labrador are still waiting on some of these very important issues. I would also like to raise something else, Mr. Speaker, and make note of, and that is, his colleague also from Labrador, happens to be the independent for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair who has brought up many of these concerns in recent weeks in the media and who has brought them to the forefront and I think the minister should have mentioned that.

Mr. Speaker, then we look down through the list and I am glad, as a person who lived in Labrador City, I can tell you that I am glad and I will commend the government and where credit is due I will give it to them. The upgrading of services for Motor Registration in Labrador City, good, a fine job. Now, let us look at the rest of them, Mr. Speaker. The ten-year vision of a road - what is the vision of a road? What is the commitment there? We talk about actions; well, we will see what the follow-up on that is, I say to the minister.

Then we talk about Forestry and with our record on the Island. I think the people in Labrador are going to be very concerned before we talk about Forestry in Labrador. Then we go on to talk about Health Care and all of a sudden you hear Air Ambulance. Ask the people in Labrador how they feel about the decision to privatize Air Ambulance and what the final result will be to privatize which will be the landing of Air Ambulance here in St. John's. Ask people in Labrador how they feel about that, Mr. Speaker.

The people in Labrador are going to also be wondering from the minister responsible for Labrador why, why today, in this timing that Voisey's Bay is not mentioned in the Minister's Statement, not even mentioned. The biggest issue in Labrador today is Voisey's Bay which is not mentioned in this statement. Mr. Speaker, all this is, is the calm before the storm. We all know the smelter is about to be announced, we all know from the records that now we are (inaudible) -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. SHELLEY: - will be announced on the Island. This is the calm before the storm and the minister knows it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MS JONES: On a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair, on a point of order.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No.

MS JONES: No, I am asking leave.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. member is asking leave to speak to the statement. Does the hon. member have leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: By leave?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Yes.

MR. SULLIVAN: The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I want to commend the minister responsible for Labrador today for the efforts that he has made in having the issues of Labrador addressed by government.

The minister noted in his statement that the people of Labrador have voiced their frustrations over outstanding issues and broken promises and so on, and I certainly agree. I feel that it is the voices of the people of Labrador that has motivated the issues with the provincial government and demanded the response. I also congratulate the minister today on several points that he raised in his statement. The provision of full motor vehicle registration services for the people of Labrador West, long overdue; the efforts that have been made to deal with the forestry development in my district, I thank him for that, as well as the Minister of Forestry, I feel that we are making a difference in that area. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the minister responsible for Labrador for taking my lead in endorsing the process that I have started in my district in consulting with Labradorians and what it is they want from this Province and I am happy to say that that process is progressing well and I hope to be able to present something in the House on it in the coming days.

Having said all that, I too, I guess am a bit remissed by parts of the Ministerial Statement. I feel that there are some areas that did lack substance and commitment on behalf of the people of Labrador. I cannot see how we can stand here today and say that this government is giving priority to health care Mr. Minister. When I stand here today knowing full well that there has not been any decision or commitment for Air Medevac services in my district. There has been no decision made as to where this service will be based to serve the people of my district and how can you tell us that government is committed to a vision of a highway, we want a commitment to a highway and not a vision. I also have to say that I was taken aback by the fact the Voisey's Bay development was not mentioned in his statement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave?

MS JONES: By leave?

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

SOME HON. MEMBERS: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave.

MR. HARRIS: If I understand that correctly Mr. Speaker the Opposition is denying me leave?

MR. SPEAKER: There is no leave. Order, please!

The hon. member for Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Mr. Speaker, I would like perhaps a clarification from your Honour. I think the member has asked for leave to continue and complete her statement and I am quite happy to grant that leave for her to continue and finish and when she is finished I would like to have - I am not sure who is being denied leave here, whether I am continued to be denied leave by the official Opposition or denying her leave to continue.

MR. SPEAKER: The rule states that a member of a third party when speaking to a Ministerial Statement gets one half the time the member from the Official Opposition gets in responding to a Ministerial Statement and in that respect the hon. member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair - her time had elapsed.

The hon. Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker if the member for Cartwright-L'Anse au Clair needs another sentence to clue up we will not deny her that. Go

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Cartwright - L'Anse au Clair.

MS JONES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I was saying about the Voisey's Bay development, and it was very remiss that it wasn't mentioned in the ministerial statement regarding Labrador. I think this is the largest issue that has faced us in the history of Labradorians. It is certainly a development to which all Labradorians are looking to to solve the economic crisis that we are facing, and it is certainly an issue on which this government can bridge the gap of separation between Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

We talk about unity, and it is unity that we want. It can be solved in the development of issues like Voisey's Bay, and I look forward to the minister responsible for Labrador to stand in the House and tell us that the smelter will be coming to Labrador, that royalties will be coming to Labrador, and that Labradorians will be the first people to benefit from this resource development. That, Mr. Speaker, will be the issue that will unify the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Thank you.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. HARRIS: Point of order, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi on a point of order.

MR. HARRIS: Yes. I would like to ask the House, Mr. Speaker, or ask you through the House, whether or not the Official Opposition is going to continue to deny me leave to speak to ministerial statements, whether that is out of fear or whatever reason, preventing me from speaking to a ministerial statement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order. The hon. member has asked for leave, and leave as I understand it has been denied. From time to time when members ask for leave the Chair can only ask for leave at a time whereat the point when a member stands and asks for leave. I cannot make rulings on what may or may not happen down the road; that is hypothetical.

The hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation.

MS BETTNEY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this opportunity to update hon. members of the House on the government's work to date on the development of an all-weather transportation system in Labrador. The Minister of Government Services and Lands, Ernie McLean, and I, along with local Labrador government members, met with community councils, business associations, other interest groups and the general public in Labrador City, Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Port Hope Simpson, Mary's Harbour and L'Anse au Clair last week to speak about the Labrador transportation initiative. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell you that the people of Labrador are very excited about development in this area and are confident that the project will move ahead.

We have listened to the people of Labrador and are now putting their ideas into action. The people have clearly expressed a need for an all-weather Trans-Labrador Highway which would encompass upgrading the route from Labrador West to Happy Valley - Goose Bay, include a highway linking coastal communities with the highway at Red Bay, and connect Cartwright to Goose Bay. We are working towards a vision for this highway which integrates Labrador into the main links to the rest of Canada.

Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes that the current highway infrastructure in Labrador is inadequate and in many cases non-existent. Accordingly, we have begun negotiations with the federal government with a view towards developing a partnership on this issue. In order to facilitate this highway development, the Province would agree to accept operational responsibility for the Labrador marine services and the associated wharves and facilities now operated by the federal government. In return, the federal government would provide sufficient funding to allow the construction of the highway project.

Our proposal for an all-weather highway is divided into three stages of development. first, we propose to upgrade the road from Churchill Falls to Happy Valley-Goose Bay to a high standard gravel surface highway and at the same time commence construction from Red Bay to Cartwright. Second, we will link coastal communities with the highway at Red Bay. This will mean completing the construction between Red Bay and Cartwright with community access roads. The coastal marine service from Red Bay to Cartwright would then be ended. The third and final phase will involve connecting Cartwright to Goose Bay. The Blanc Sablon-St. Barbe ferry service will continue, and the marine service on the North Labrador Coast would be provided by one passenger/freighter.

The benefits of a construction project of this nature are significant for our Province and, in particular, for the Labrador region. Besides providing a major economic development stimulus for the area, the transportation initiative would eliminate the isolation of many Labrador communities and create many job opportunities in the area.

During our presentations in Labrador last week, the residents spoke optimistically about the potential for growth in the forestry, mining and tourism sectors. Residents of the South Coast were particularly excited about their opportunities for development which are currently limited by the lack of road connections. In addition, the people were quick to point out that other major developments throughout history have followed the successful completion of transportation infrastructures throughout the world, citing the many developments which followed the completion of the railway in Western Canada as an example. We too have taken this into consideration. Government believes that infrastructure of this kind is key to economic growth in the region. Furthermore, I can assure you that we will pay every attention to maximizing employment opportunities for Labradorians and Newfoundlanders in this initiative.

Mr. Speaker, while we have visited five communities in Labrador to discuss the transportation initiative, this is only the beginning of our consultation process. Residents can expect to participate in discussions about the planning of the highway route, economic opportunities from construction, and rationalization of existing services. I also plan to visit additional communities in Labrador including Churchill Falls, Cartwright and Charlottetown to provide the people with first-hand information on this project.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, government is continuing to work diligently with the federal government and hopes to reach an agreement by late December. If an agreement is signed, construction could begin as early as the spring of 1997, and continue for approximately ten years or more until a completed system of paved roads is in place.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for Conception Bay South.

MR. FRENCH: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

First of all, I would like to thank the hon. minister for providing me with a copy of her statement well in advance to coming into the House this afternoon.

I guess again a vision is certainly not pavement. A vision is certainly not connecting up major highways in Labrador. I guess until this vision becomes a little bit more, that is exactly how it has to be looked at.

I am very cautious as to what is going to happen with the operation of the marine service into Labrador. I hope, Minister, before this government signs with the federal government, that we have the opportunity to debate in this House exactly what this whole deal is going to be. Again I find it rather strange that there is no mention of Voisey's Bay; there is no mention of a smelter. One has to wonder if this is not a softening of the blow for things to come a little bit further down the road. I seem to remember back around February 22 that somebody campaigned for a better tomorrow. We haven't seen it yet, and we certainly don't see it in what has been presented here this afternoon.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I am pleased to announce today the appointment of fifteen members to the new Professional Fish Harvesters' Certification Board.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: As hon. members will recall, this new board is made possible through legislation that was passed in the House of Assembly in July of this year. At the time, I indicated that the new Certification Board would be functional by January 1, 1997. With the appointment of members to the Board, we are right on target.

Mr. Speaker, the appointments are based on nominations from industry stakeholders and government agencies that comprise the Board. They are:

Representing the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union are its president, Earle McCurdy, Fr. Desmond McGrath, Bill Broderick of St. Brendan's, Cyril Dalley of Twillingate, Dwight Spence of Port aux Choix, Percy Brown of Little Harbour East, and Bill Walsh of Cartwright.

Tom Best of Petty Harbour is the representative for Fisheries Co-operatives; Bren Condon for the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture; Tom Curran and Ken Carew for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; Les O'Reilly for the Marine Institute; Bob O'Neill for Human Resources Development Canada; Dr. Frank Marsh for the Department of Education; and Sharon Taylor for Memorial University.

Mr. Speaker, I thank these individuals for agreeing to serve as officers on the Certification Board. The Board will hold its first meeting tomorrow, at which time members will, among other things, elect an executive committee and appoint an executive director to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Board.

Newfoundland and Labrador is the first province in Canada to formally recognize fish harvesting as a profession.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Professionalization is intended to protect the rights of fish harvesters who depend on the sea for their livelihood. It will also provide for the setting of occupational standards in a professional manner, and an independent appeals procedure for certification purposes.

Mr. Speaker, with appointments to the new Certification Board, government has again demonstrated its commitment to and strong support for fish harvesters and the fishing industry.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I thank the minister for having the courtesy of extending me the opportunity to read the news statement prior to the opening of the House. I might have knows that the minister didn't do it because it came from one of his public relations people.

Mr. Speaker, I go on to say that this professionalization was certainly a long time coming, even though the minister says he is on target with the appointment of names. As I read through the names, many of the people named there I know personally, and I say to the minister that I think they will do a good job as long as they are not dictated to from the top down, as long as they are not dictated to by the minister.

If I could give one other word of advice to the minister, I would suggest that he take this professionalization one step further and talk to his cousin in Ottawa, the Member for Bonavista - Trinity- Conception, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and have him do away with the core designation, and have professionalization of fishermen consider fishermen's activities within that industry and have them be given a total allowable catch, licenses, boat size, etcetera, judged on their activity in the industry and not the wishes of one or two people who might look at something that they have done in the past one or two years. Go back, Mr. Speaker, and look much further than that. I suggest the minister do that, and I suggest he do it immediately because there are a lot of fishermen out there today who are being discriminated against because of the core designation -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member's time is up.

MR. J. BYRNE: (Inaudible) food fishery either.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

On a point of order, the hon. the Member for Signal Hill - Quidi Vidi.

MR. HARRIS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I am seeking leave to respond to the ministerial statement.

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

AN HON. MEMBER: No leave.

MR. SPEAKER: No leave granted.

The hon. the Member for -

MR. CANNING: I rise on a point of order because I believe I heard the critic for Works, Services and Transportation a moment ago say that a paved highway across Labrador is not a part of a better tomorrow. I would like the member to clarify that for me.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

There is no point of order.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to clear up some misunderstandings regarding the debate and the discussion and the amount of time that we are going to allow, as a government in this House, for debate on various issues. There has been some concern raised whether there is sufficient time during this fall sitting of the House of Assembly to discuss and debate legislation. I want to assure the people of this Province, as a Government House Leader, that this government plans to give every bill the attention it deserves.

Mr. Speaker, there will be less than twenty-five bills presented this fall as opposed to the forty reported by the Leader of the Opposition. The vast majority of these bills are housekeeping and administrative in nature. The two key bills we hope to deal with concern educational reform and GST/RST harmonization and, Mr. Speaker -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Now I have had to teach him a few legislative lessons before.

Mr. Speaker, because of factors beyond our control, these key pieces of legislation could not be dealt with until this time. The Memorandum of Understanding on sales tax harmonization was signed on April 23, 1996 and set out the broad parameters for the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on sales tax harmonization over the following six months; and I would note, Mr. Speaker, that we are well inside that six months. Intensive negotiations were held over the six months following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement, resulting in the signing of the comprehensive integrated tax coordination agreement on October 18, 1996. The signing of the CITCA - are we getting to them over there or what already? - was announced on October 23, simultaneous with the release of a technical document which outlines the operation of the proposed harmonized sales tax.

Since the signing of the CITCA, the participating provinces and the federal government have been working together on the development of draft legislation to implement this agreement. Implementation of the agreement requires complimentary federal and provincial legislation, and considerable analysis has been expended to ensure a seamless legislative package.

Now, Mr. Speaker, in spite of these facts and in large measure due to the efforts of the Minister of Finance, Newfoundland will be the first of the four governments to table legislation respecting sales tax harmonization. It is our understanding the federal government will table legislation in early December. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are not expected to table legislation before the new year.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: What about PEI? Is PEI expected to join the tax harmonization deal?

MR. TULK: I am frightened to death, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Government plans to proceed with its Education Reform Bill, immediately upon passage of the Term 17 amendment in Ottawa. Also, government, again through the efforts of the Minister of Education, recently completed an extensive public consultation process on key elements of this reform. The new legislation will reflect the results of this consultation. We are ready to proceed with this legislation once the federal system decides how it plans to answer the wishes of the people of this Province and it's Legislature. Given that the time of the federal decision is not certain, we, as a government, will ensure that there is sufficient time to adequately consider the legislation even if the House of Assembly has to be re-convened early in the new year and even Mr. Speaker, if we have to sit through Christmas.

Mr. Speaker, to repeat, there will be less than twenty bills presented this fall, most of which are housekeeping and administrative in nature. However, should it be necessary we would be more than willing to open the House of Assembly early in the new year. Thank you.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I feel an obligation to respond to this Ministerial Statement.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: That is not a Ministerial Statement.

MR. SULLIVAN: The information that gives us the impression that from thirty to forty bills are going to be debated in this House. I hear the Minister himself, the Government House Leader, indicate that at least thirty bills in this House. Now he is telling us, I heard it in a media broadcast, now he is telling us less than twenty-five bills are going to be debated here in this House and he is going to give us ample time. He called the House together to deal with education this summer and we had a Kodak bill and we had closure. I can tell you the shutters closed in a hurry on that bill, just like many other bills. He talks about harmonization, when for six months, several months since it was a Memorandum of Understanding, they refused to come into public forum and debate the bill. They signed it in secret. If it was good the Premier would have a news conference with hundreds of people, instead it was signed in silence, the Premier on the mainland and sent his minister to the forefront to announce an HST harmonization bill. We should have legislation, yes on education reform, we support it. The reason we do not have it is because Senator Kirby and the Liberals will not bring it to a vote in the House and I say to the Government House Leader, thirty-six people -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SULLIVAN: - out of the forty-six people in the House of Commons who voted against it, thirty-six were liberals, I say to the Government House Leader. That what has caused the problem and I am still -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, we would be glad to come back in January. We are still waiting for last January's session of this House, when the House was going to come back to deal with mineral and mining tax and education. We are still waiting and we will delightedly be here to do it again, I say to the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

MR. SULLIVAN: By leave, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Does the hon. member have leave?

No leave.

Oral Questions

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

My questions today are for the Minister of Finance.

Currently, Inco is governed under the Mining and Mineral Tax Act. Now, as is common in all provinces, that is the determination of a provinces royalties. Now, it is not an issue regarding smelters, refineries or employment, it is an issue regarding how people share the wealth from their resources.

Now, when do you, as the minister responsible, plan to amend the Act which gives all new mining operations in this Province, including Inco, a ten year avoidance of royalties?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

We have been handling this issue jointly. As the minister responsible for mines I have generally answered and taken a lead when we are talking about mining tax and I have answered this question a number of times over the last few weeks. What we are ensuring is that whatever amendments we make are going to be the right and proper amendments to guarantee, to absolutely guarantee, that we get the appropriate amount for the people of this Province.

We have been doing further assessments since last year. Last year when Bill 43 was introduced into this House, Voisey's Bay was thirty-two million tons and today the companies themselves acknowledge 150 million tons. Voisey's Bay in that sense is a moving target in times of the size, the value, the implications for its development. It is not appropriate for us to do this in a rush. What is appropriate for us as a government is to ensure that we do this right. We are going to ensure that we do it right.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister that in the absence of the Minister of Finance last fall when this new act was introduced here in this House you sat in your seat and let the Government House Leader introduce that bill. You have not been taking a lead on this. It is a diversion, and I say to the Minister of Finance it is your responsibility. The Minister of Mines and Energy was not allowed to stand in his place.

I say to the Minister of Finance that this act forms the basis of the mining royalties for all mining operations in Newfoundland and Labrador with the exception of a couple of deals which have a historical basis here in our Province. Now, the amendments in the act were to encourage, as the minister said, borderline operations and further explorations of smaller discoveries. What does the Minister of Finance plan to do with the other potential large discoveries, both on the Island and in Labrador, which would also receive this tax break?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, our mining tax regime is not something that fell out of the air last December 1995. Our mining tax regime has been in place in this Province as legislation of general application since 1975. We made some minor amendments to that legislation back in 1994 in view of the discovery of Voisey's Bay and the size of Voisey's Bay, the implications of it, obviously for a big, rich deposit there are implications in the amendments that we made that we have to correct, and we are going to make these corrections.

We introduced Bill 43 last year to move towards making these corrections. The debate started on Bill 43 and Bill 43 was moved to the committee stage for public hearings. The hearings were called. In the newspaper, I think, there may even have been an advertisement for late January or February but then the House was dissolved when the election was called. The bill died on the Order Paper and since that time, as I said in my first answer, Voisey's Bay has continued to grow and we have continued to evaluate.

We are not going to do things in a rush and not do this right. We are continuing to evaluate all the implications of all the options. Before Voisey's Bay sees once ounce of ore produced the appropriate amendments will be made. There will not be any production from Voisey's Bay until 1999 based on the company's present projections, not one ounce. We have time, Mr. Speaker, to do it right.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I say to the Minister of Finance that this is a fundamental issue of royalties taxation. That is the minister's responsibility, and that is why your government and the Opposition were anxious to see the changes put through last year. Now, you were so anxious last year, and we all felt it was necessary, why is the minister jeopardizing the people of the Province by delaying the amendments to the Mineral and Mining Tax Act?

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

DR. GIBBONS: I cannot believe, Mr. Speaker, how anyone can say anything is being jeopardized because we are not rushing to do it wrong. We are going to ensure we do it right. We have at least two years before the ore comes out of the ground. This is 1996 and there is no ore going to come out of the ground until 1999. That is three years, frankly. It may not be quite three, but we are not going to be rushed into doing something that is the appropriate thing to do to ensure that we get the maximum amount for the people of this Province in the most appropriate way.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Mr. Speaker, the minister is going to wait until we sell the resource and then decide what we are going to get for it. I again ask the Minister of Finance if he is reducing the Province's negotiating ability by having to give INCO unnecessary tax breaks in a deal on the development of Voisey's Bay because the Mineral Tax Act has erroneously promised a ten-year tax holiday?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker, and quite the opposite.

Inco knows that they are not getting a ten-year tax break; they know they never will.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. SULLIVAN: I ask the Minister of Finance: Is he opposed to Algebra and can he not put in place an equation as is done in other provinces to show the structure of royalties and let the people know what their royalty benefit is? Now, is this government selling out royalties for a smelter? Is it selling out royalties for a refinery? Is it selling out royalties for jobs? I say to the minister, the smelter, the refinery and jobs based on our resource should be a given. Now we need a guarantee of royalties and why are you selling us out again?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, we will have a guarantee of royalties. We do have a guarantee of royalties; we are going to have jobs.

Voisey's Bay development is going to be the most significant mineral development in this Province since the development of the iron ore mines of Labrador West in the 50s and the 60s, and we are going to ensure to assessing it properly and doing what is necessary to make sure we get the maximum benefits for this Province.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, to the Minister of Finance: What will be the use of the reduced clawbacks they are talking about on transfers from the federal government, should the government achieve this, if we do not have satisfactory royalties to begin with? The federal government is not going to reduce transfers if we get nothing from our royalties.

Now, will the government stop playing mind games with the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and do what is right and now change that act?

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. DICKS: We are concerned about the impact of transfers being minimized, particularly equalization as a result of our efforts in the sectors. For example, as the hon. the Leader of the Opposition alludes to, as we increase our revenues in certain areas particularly in Voisey's Bay and areas of personal income tax, corporate income tax, mining tax and so on because if revenues increase, it means we lose monies in equalization. I point out to him that we have a number of saving factors, particularly under the Atlantic Accord which was signed in 1990 and that preserves on a two-tier basis almost - tier one is 95 per cent of the revenues and tier two, adds back 95 per cent, so the minimized equalization loss and it branches down over a period of years, each year it goes down to the former year base under tier one.

So I just point out to the hon. member that there is a system which will minimize those losses in the early years. Unfortunately, as the project continues in duration, the equalization offsets become increasingly large. It certainly is our government's intention to raise the matter and to see if we can extend that protection out over a longer period of time so that the people in the Province get to enjoy the full benefits of equalization to the same extent as they would if this resource were in a province like Alberta where all the revenues accruing stay in the Province.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Minister of Mines and Energy said here today and the Premier has said before, and he has indicated that Voisey's Bay in this specific instance INCO, or possibly other potential large discoveries will not be subject to the current mining and mineral tax that is now in place, that is what the minister said today; they know that. The minister said: Inco knows that, they are not being subjected to the legislation that is in place, so I say now to the Minister of Finance: If that is the case, why don't you amend the act to reflect in law what you are uttering verbally and protect the people of Newfoundland and Labrador in the event of a legal challenge or an interpretation disagreement?

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, I did not say today that the Mining and Mineral Tax Act would not apply to Inco. I said that Inco is aware that they are not going to get a ten-year tax holiday.

MR. SULLIVAN: And that is what that states.

MR. GRIMES: We are going to make amendments. I said that as well today. They know they are not going to get a ten-year tax holiday but right now we have in place a Mining and Mineral Rights Tax Act which is of generic application that applies to and has applied to everybody since 1975. That is still the situation since -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

DR. GIBBONS: Nineteen ninety-four is the amendment of the tax holiday, yes, but the act has applied since 1975. We have made it clear to them that they will not get the tax holiday. There are going to be amendments made. We have made that clear as well. We tabled the legislation a year ago almost to the day last December, but before we come back with our final amendments, Mr. Speaker, before we bring back the bill again, we have said that we want to fully and thoroughly analyze the implications of Voisey's Bay, so that what we do we do right. We want to make sure it is done right.

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

MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister stood in his place and said: Inco knows that it is not getting a ten-year tax holiday. Well, this act that I have here, that was passed in 1994, states that it will get a ten-year tax holiday applied against the provincial income tax; and you standing and saying that is not the case? The minister is saying: Inco is not going to have to comply with this act. I will say: Put your money where your mouth is; put an amendment and change it if that is the case.

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

DR. GIBBONS: Mr. Speaker, how many times do I have to say it? That we are going to be bringing in appropriate amendments. We have informed the company that it is not getting a ten-year tax break. We have informed it and we are going to make appropriate amendments. The amendments will come when we are ready to bring them, when we have adequately assessed it, when we are sure that we are doing it right.

Before we bring them back, understand this, Mr. Speaker, we are going to have public discussion and debate. This is not going to be something that is going to be done in secret. We are going to have some public discussion of it. Last year we had called through a committee of this Legislature for public hearings on the bill. We will have no less than public discussion of what is in it, and there is lots of time to do it. As I said earlier, there will be no mining in Voisey's Bay until 1999, based on the company's present projections. This is 1996. We have time to do it right, and we will ensure that it is done right.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

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

In view of the fact that the Premier, with two other Liberal Atlantic Premiers, is in Bay Street or in Toronto today announcing something about tax advantages, or advantages to business because of the Harmonized Sales Tax, I would like to ask the minister a question dealing with -

MR. TULK: A point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. TULK: I hate to interrupt Question Period to do this, but Your Honour has made the ruling on several occasions. I want to tell the hon. gentleman yes, the Premier is in Toronto, and he will be back again tomorrow. Here is a Premier who, because he wants to be in this Province and do his job outside the Province, took it upon himself to fly to Vancouver and back in one day. But I also want to tell the hon. gentleman that he is not allowed to refer to people being out of their seats in this Legislature, and he has done it again.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. Government House Leader is accurate, that particularly for ministers and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

That from time to time their duty and their responsibility take them away from the House, and members ought not to make reference to the absence of any member in this House.

The hon. the Member for Kilbride.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, if I breached any act of parliamentary democracy I sincerely apologize. I was about to ask a serious question, I say to the minister. In terms of Harmonized Sales Tax, and the impact that it will have on everybody in the Province, will the minister confirm today that as a result of this Province signing a tax deal with Ottawa, HST, that each and every one of us as home owners, electricity users, that electricity rates will rise today, or when that deal takes effect, by 8 per cent, thus - and this is the important point, I say to the minister - putting up the average cost to home owners, electricity users in this Province, about $40 to $50 per month? Can the minister confirm that?

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The whole question of power rates is one that has been under review. I note on the -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) point zero one overall.

MR. DICKS: Yes. In The Evening Telegram today they had a notice of some newer application, or a newer rate increase request, by Newfoundland Light and Power.

Our assessment at the early stage of what the impact of the GST/RST harmonization would do to electricity rates, if my memory serves me correctly, is something in the order of 4.5 per cent. The reason, I say to the hon. member, is that although you do have a 7 per cent GST on there now, with the addition of the 8 per cent harmonized rate, for an effective rate of 15 per cent - what the member is not allowing for is input tax credits, because you have them from two sources. You have people who are supplying Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, which is the producer. Those people will flow through input tax credits on what they procure in service and materials. In addition, when Newfoundland Hydro makes its own purchases and services and so on, those savings flow through to Newfoundland Light and Power which, in turn, is a retailer.

I note two things: one is that the Public Utilities Board, in its recent decision, reduced by 1 per cent the amount sought by Newfoundland Light and Power's rate increase due to the impact of GST harmonization with the Retail Sales Tax. The second thing they did was order a study to determine what the exact input tax credits would be that were indirect. So I suspect by the end of the year, Mr. Speaker, we will have a much clearer picture of what the impact will be in domestic rates, but at this point it is a little premature to say. As I say, our in-house assessment is something in the order of about 4 per cent to 5 per cent.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, for the people in the gallery, what the minister has just said is that he does not know what the impact of HST will have on the Province and the people in it with regard to electricity rates; that is exactly what he said. So let me inform him that if you factor in input tax credits, which he talked about, the reality is that we will not be paying 4.5 per cent, Mr. Speaker, but closer to 8 per cent, about 7.8 per cent to 7.9 per cent, which will be a yearly increase of about $400 to $500 for the people in this Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. E. BYRNE: My question, Mr. Speaker, for the minister is this: Last year in this House a 70,000 name petition was presented by the people of the Province because they did not want to see an increase in electricity rates. Government then appointed a Consumer Advocate, spent $300,000, which we agreed with, which we applaud, so the Consumer Advocate -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

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

MR. E. BYRNE: I will ask the question, Mr. Speaker - so the Consumer Advocate could fight on behalf of consumers not to see an increase in taxes. Yet, Mr. Speaker, government signs a deal that will see a significant increase on taxes. My question is: Why has government undermined their own process?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DICKS: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

In part of his preamble the hon. member said that I did not know what the prices would be. That is not accurate, Mr. Speaker. As the member well knows, the setting of domestic electricity rates is done by the PUB. It hears evidence and is perfectly free to set whatever rate seems appropriate, given the evidence before it. What I said to the hon. member, as the result of our analysis indicates, electricity rates should rise something in the order of - or the additional tax impact should be about 4 per cent to 5 per cent.

The hon. member says, and he should know, that at this point there is 7 per cent GST on domestic electricity rates anyway. The added impact will be 8 per cent at nominal level, but when you factor in input tax credits all the way through the system it will ultimately result in about half that flowing through to the consumer.

The second point is, why we did it is that the ordinary consumer spends money on more than home electricity and oil; that overall the impact on the economy will be $105 million going back into the economy. Retail sales tax which now yields $570 million will be substantially reduced; and although one may pay somewhat more on domestic electricity, one will save on virtually every other product and service that one acquires and consumes.

So across the board it makes a lot of economic sense. It has been well received in the Province, and we think that come April 1 people will have a great degree of joy and rejoice when they see the overall rates dropped from 20 per cent down to 15 per cent.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I am amazed. The minister knows full well that the Public Utilities Board has nothing to do with setting the rates as the Province has dictated with regards to tax. There will be a 7 per cent to 8 per cent increase on electricity in this Province as a result of HST.

Let me ask the minister this: as a result of your press conference, where you admitted there would be a negative impact on low income earners in the Province, will you do the honourable thing? Will you provide an exemption for electricity and home-owners so that they will get a break and will not see a dramatic increase in electricity rates as a result of the harmonized sales tax? Will you do that now and commit to it today?

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. DICKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

On the first point, what the hon. member is not pointing out is that when the PUB establishes the rate to be charged for domestic electricity it has to look at the whole cost structure both of Newfoundland Hydro and Newfoundland Light and Power ultimately. What it has to make allowance for is imbedded tax that is now there. All the utilities, in the manufacturing of electricity, pay GST to the Province, which comes to us directly. They get no input tax credit. After harmonization, all their capital outlays, all their equipment, and all their services on which they pay a Retail Sales Tax now, become the new tax, HST which has all the rules of equivalency of the GST, which results in input tax credits. That will reduce the cost of producing power in the Province for those goods and services. That should reduce the cost to consumers.

MR. E. BYRNE: Will there be an increase, yes or no?

MR. DICKS: Mr. Speaker, that is up to the PUB. In our view there should be a decrease in the rates based on what the cost would normally be, because there should be an appropriate allowance made for input tax credits. That is a very fundamental point in the system, and one that I am sure the hon. member can understand if he takes the time to do so.

On the second point as to what, if any, inputs and allowances we may allow to consumers, that is a budgetary matter. It may very well be that the government may take some action in that regard; but I have to say to the hon. member that it would be impossible to provide an across the board tax reduction of $105 million and then start offsetting everything on which there is an increase.

We believe that although some things will increase, the vast majority of things will decrease to a marked extent and that people will see in their overall expenditures a substantial tax saving at every income level.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Health.

Minister, it is a well-known fact that there is a shortage of medical doctors in rural Newfoundland today. I wonder if the minister would inform the House as to exactly how severe this shortage is, and what his government is doing to correct the situation.

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the question.

There has been a chronic and a historic shortage of doctors in Newfoundland, particularly in some rural areas of the Province, and that continues to exist. The number fluctuates from time to time. There are a couple of things happening in the Province to address the issue, as the member would know.

About a year-and-a-half ago government introduced a significant bonus system that, in effect, significantly enhanced the remuneration package for rural doctors. Most rural doctors who have stayed for the two-year period will be able to avail of that and collect it come April of next year, but probably one of the more significant things that I could report to the House and to the hon. member is that as a result of the restructuring of the health care system the reduced number of institutional boards, the eight boards that now exist, have agreed under the auspices of the NHNHA, the association that represents the institutional boards and the other boards in the Province, have come together in a collaborative sense and they have hired a common recruiter, if you like, to address the issue, in part, of physician shortages in the Province.

What that really means is that rather than all of the boards out there in the future competing individually with each other within the Province and externally for doctors that might be available to come, they are coordinating their efforts and are recruiting on a basis that will, in effect, have one recruiting effort and have a better chance of not only attracting more physicians but in ensuring that when we do attract physicians there will be more of an equitable and reasonable distribution within the Province, through the boards, of these physicians. So there are a number of things happening, as you would know.

One of the other significant things we have done over the past two years, and something for which I have -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. MATTHEWS: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. members want answers to their questions, I am prepared to answer them. If they are not interested in information, as I suspect they are probably not, I know their minds can only take in so much and that is a limited quantity of information, but let me share a little more with them. As a result of our activities over the past couple of years -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. MATTHEWS: You do not want the answers?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period is not a period for debate. It is an opportunity for members to question the government on matters of urgent importance to the Province, and I ask the hon. minister to keep that in mind and to conclude his answer quickly, please.

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The third initiative I just wanted to mention in answer to the question is that we have been refocusing the attention and the direction of the people at the medical school through the rural health forum in particular, and through the offices of rural medicine that we have opened up there, to ensure that they focus more succinctly upon the needs for recruiting rural physicians and for training doctors to go into rural parts of the Province.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South on a Supplementary.

MR. FITZGERALD: I can realize that, I am sure the minister himself does not even understand it.

Mr. Speaker, I say to the minister that his answer to the shortage of rural doctors has been historically predominant since 1989 in the policies of his present government.

The minister will have to agree that his government's programs in getting doctors into rural areas are certainly not working. I ask the minister if he will offer some incentives to have doctors relocate in rural areas, rather than have disincentives to have doctors setting up in urban areas that have taken doctors completely out of this Province and on to the mainland and into the United States?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The initiatives that I have outlined earlier are three of the major initiatives that we have taken over the last couple of years to try and get a better distribution of our doctor population within the Province.

In terms of offering more incentives, I would be happy to hear from the member if he has suggestions that might be reasonable. If he is talking about putting more money into the MCP pot, or more money into the salaried physicians pot, or the fee-for-service pot, I have to tell him clearly that this government, while it increased the health care budget last year, does have a flat line, three-year frozen budget, and we simply do not have more financial resources to put into the Province.

Given the fact that we start our physicians at $67,000 a year as a salaried physician, given the fact that Saskatchewan, the next jurisdiction, starts their physicians at $98,000, and given the fact that recruiters are up here from the U. S. recruiting at $125,000 U.S., it is clear that we cannot compete in the area of compensation alone; therefore we have to use the tools that we have at our disposal, and one of the biggest, one of the best, and one of the most effective and efficient, I believe, if we continue to focus their minds properly, is the use of the medical school to ensure that they take in students who will, at the end of the day, go out and give some service in rural Newfoundland.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I ask the hon. minister to conclude his answer.

MR. MATTHEWS: That is the direction we are taking, and that will be our emphasis on a go-forward basis.

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

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The minister is certainly aware of the medical doctor shortage at Bonavista. Just a couple of weeks ago the Bonavista Hospital was left without an attending doctor for a full day. Even now, today, as we speak, there are only two doctors at this particular health facility when there has been a recognized need for five. Will the minister inform the House, and the residents of the Bonavista Peninsula, what his department is doing to make sure that this very serious situation is resolved?

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

MR. MATTHEWS: Very simply put, Mr. Speaker, through the peninsula's health care board, which has primary responsibility for organizing and managing health care in the region, we are doing all that we can. We have provided a sufficient budget to pay doctors to come and work within the system, based on our ability to pay them on the scales that we have. Through the institution's board, the peninsula's board, through the central recruiting agency, and working with the people in the area, we are maximizing every effort that is possible, we are using every lever that is at our disposal, and we are doing what we can to ensure that we have doctors not only at the appropriate level in Bonavista, which is important to the member from that area, but to all parts of this Province that are equally and equitably entitled to good medical services. That is what we are committed to providing; that is what on balance and for the most part we are providing; and that is what we will continue to ensure is provided to the people of the Province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

Question Period has expired.

Notices of Motion

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

MR. DECKER: Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Freedom Of Information Act, And The Privacy Act."

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

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

I give notice that I will on tomorrow ask leave to introduce a bill entitled, "An Act To Amend The Labour Standards Act."

Petitions

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

MR. OTTENHEIMER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

To the hon. House of Assembly in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Parliament assembled, the petition of the undersigned residents of this Province of Newfoundland and Labrador asks for the House of Assembly to accept the following petition:

We, the undersigned residents of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, do hereby petition the House of Assembly to direct the Department of Education to legislate a paid adult bus monitor program for all school buses in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

We find that students are presently being unsupervised and are at risk in their safety going to and from school on school buses. The safety of our children is being compromised. We ask the hon. minister and his government to show compassion, leadership and understanding, to ensure the safe transportation of our children.

This is a petition being presented by approximately fifteen residents of the Province who have expressed concern for the supervision of students aboard school buses throughout our Province. We have had a recent unfortunate incident in our Province whereby the availability of school bus monitors - if, in fact, there was a provision and a program of school bus monitoring, whether it be on a volunteer basis or, as this petition is seeking, a paid basis, if such a program were in fact a part of the requirement of a particular school board, as in response to direction from the minister through the Department of Education, it is quite possible that such similar tragedy could have been avoided.

Mr. Speaker, clearly the protection of young people is paramount in our society. The protection of young people as they travel to and from the schools over the roads of this Province is something which must be given priority by the minister, and the minister's department must give appropriate direction to the various school boards to ensure that young children are protected at all times.

Mr. Speaker, there are a variety of options that may be available with respect to the incorporation of school bus monitors aboard school buses. There is a volunteer system which is an option. This is a system by which concerned parents or adults, in response to government's cry for lack of funding, may very well want to, on a volunteer basis, give of their time and give of their effort in the proper supervision of young people. However, what this petition is seeking is that, as a result of legislation, we have a system of paid adult bus monitors in a fully incorporated paid adult bus monitoring program, whose duty and responsibility it will be to ensure at all times the safety of our young children.

As a critic in the education area, I am pleased to present to this hon. House this petition on behalf of concerned Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who wish to see changes which will, in due course, ensure that our young people are protected and guided at all times.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

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

I rise again today to support the petition that has been presented by my hon. colleague. This is the second day on which we have presented petitions relative to the issue of bus safety and the necessity for us to consider, in this Legislature, the paid bus monitors.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that every parent should feel that when their child leaves their home in the morning, that child is riding on a bus that is safe, that is going to experience conditions that are safe, getting on that bus, while the child is riding on the bus, and while the child is getting off that bus.

We know that the accidents that have occurred in this Province should cause all of us to consider the necessity of having proper monitors. It isn't satisfactory for us to say we have training programs for bus drivers. As I said yesterday in this Legislature, bus drivers have a responsibility primarily to drive the bus. They cannot be responsible for student safety exclusively. They can take some precautions, they can do all that they can, but when you have a young child who is getting off the bus you can't say to a bus driver that you have to do all of those tasks simultaneously, and be perfect with them.

We know that the history of this Province shows that children have been the victims of accidents. We are not here to cast blame. We are here to try to find a solution. The parents of this Province have said they think that paid bus monitors should be considered. That is what the parents are saying; that is what the taxpayers are saying. So we ask the Minister of Education if he would consider it, particularly if he would consider it for primary and elementary students. Maybe there can be some different system for junior high school and high school students.

We know that some of the primary students who go to school are only four years of age. A child can be in school and still not be five until December 31 of the year in which that child enters school. So a child at four years of age, not quite five years of age, can find himself or herself in a rainy situation, in a snow situation, and in just getting across the street from where the bus stops that child can encounter hazards. What we are saying is that if we had some way to be able to assure the parents that their child is protected to the maximum extent, then certainly we are saying here that these parents want this government to consider some system of bus monitors.

It is a worthy cause that my colleague is presenting. We know that there will be other petitions. We are asking the government to listen to what the taxpayers of this Province are saying, what the parents are saying. Let's do all we can to assure the ultimate and maximum safety of all of our young children, particularly primary and elementary children.

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I rise today to present a petition. I will read the prayer of the petition; it is to voice opposition against the changes to the City's act:

We, the residents of Newfoundland and Labrador, wish to petition the House of Assembly to voice our opposition to the changes to the City of St. John's Act, Section 284, which will repeal the funding of $10,000 in funding for Bowring Park and $10,000 in funding for road repair. While this funding repeal may not seem significant, it is our understanding that the Liberal government has cut millions from the municipal budget over the past three to four years, and the overall cuts are quite dramatic.

Mr. Speaker, $20,000 in the scheme of things in a budget of perhaps $100 million to the City of St. John's may seem very petty, and in fact it is. It is so petty I have to question why the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs would even bother to cut this $20,000. Now, to the City of St. John's, it is my understanding from speaking with officials of the City, that this $20,000, while petty, is actually very significant because of the fact that since 1989 the Liberal government has cut somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million to $6 million from the City of St. John's budget. These cuts to the budget of the City of St. John's are not only harmful to Bowring Park, which is a regional park - it is not just a park utilized by the residents of the city of St. John's; it is a park that is utilized and enjoyed by people from all over the region - it is unfair to the taxpayers of the City of St. John's to have to foot the bill entirely for the maintenance and upkeep of Bowring Park.

With regard to the road repair, the City of St. John's gave up the rights to collect monies for motor vehicle permits back in the 1920s and, as a result, the Province had promised them $10,000 a year to make up for the funding that they had collected in motor vehicle permits. Now this money was granted to the City back in the '20s, both for Bowring Park and for the road repair, and it is under a historical agreement that the City receives this funding. I think it is absolutely shameful that the Province is taking from the City, at this point in time, this $20,000, after cutting millions from their budget.

Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

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

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I stand to support the petition presented by the Member for St. John's South, because I think that outside the issue of a decrease in funding, which some people may consider trivial, what really is at stake here is an attitude; the philosophy of how this government deals with the City of St. John's and surrounding areas.

Now let me remind some members in this House that when parts of the district that I represent were amalgamated with the City of St. John's they did not receive one penny for infrastructure development, not a cent. When other amalgamations took place around the Province, around the City, communities, municipalities were provided infrastructure money that would see services increased to a point.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. E. BYRNE: I will give examples if you like, Minister. Maybe you were not in Cabinet that day, but I can provide you with examples if you would like - that provide infrastructure money that would increase the level of services so that when taxpayers in municipalities at the end of the day had their mil rates go up, they received an increase in services on the other hand.

Now in my case, Mr. Speaker, raw sewage runs in the ditches in the Goulds. Streets are in disrepair. It is not only a local access road or a local road for a particular number of people in a community of about 14,000; there are about 22,000 cars a day that travel that highway. What it is, Mr. Speaker -

MR. TULK: Do you know what? They wanted me to run in there the last time for the Liberals, I should have done it.

MR. E. BYRNE: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Government House Leader, that should have been, would have been, could have been. He was a has been; that is all I can say, Mr. Speaker. If he wants to run in Kilbride, come in and seek the nomination in the district of Kilbride, he is free to do so. He is free to do so at any time; but if he is going to do it this time he had better leave the deputy Prime Minister home. He had better bring out some heavyweights. Leave the deputy Prime Minister home and come campaign with the Prime Minister, but that is up to him. The reality is that the small cuts - what is perceived as small cuts - is exemplary of an attitude and philosophy of how this government has dealt with the City of St. John's since 1989. It is not fair, and this Opposition and members from the City of St. John's will stand our ground on issues that are important to the City, important to the people who live in this Province, and let this government know that the City of St. John's, as well as people who pay provincial taxes, deserve services and deserve their fair share as well.

Thank you very much.

Orders of the Day

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of motions 2 to 9 inclusively, if I could. No, first reading, I am sorry. We had hoped to get to first reading yesterday so we could give hon. members the bills and have a chance to do some debate today, in order that the hon. gentlemen on the other side who are complaining about the length of time of this session could stand on their feet and debate bills, and the Member for Cape St. Francis would not give leave. So I would ask for first reading of Motions 2 to 9.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Fish Inspection Act." (Bill No. 21)

AN HON. MEMBER: There was no leave.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

We are under Orders of the Day and there is no leave required. The notice was given yesterday and we are now doing the second reading.

On motion, Bill No. 21 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Health to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Registered Nurses Act", carried. (Bill No. 23)

On motion, Bill No. 23 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Justice to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Jury Act", carried. (Bill No. 24)

On motion, Bill No. 24 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. The Minister of Government Services and Lands to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Lands Act", carried. (Bill No. 22)

On motion, Bill No. 22 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Works, Services and Transportation to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Expropriation Act", carried. (Bill No. 33)

On motion, Bill No. 33 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, the hon. the Minister of Finance to introduce a bill, "An Act To Amend The Portability Of Pensions Act (No. 2)", carried. (Bill No. 28)

On motion, Bill No. 28 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

Motion, that the hon. the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs to introduce the following bills, carried:

A bill, "An Act To Amend The Urban And Rural Planning Act" (Bill No. 35);

A bill, "An Act To Amend The City Of St. John's Act (No. 2)" (Bill No. 38).

On motion, Bill Nos. 35 and 38 read a first time, ordered read a second time on tomorrow.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

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

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I say to the Member for Cape St. Francis, we could have been farther ahead today if he had given us those few minutes yesterday, and his Leader could have had the bills yesterday to debate them today, to get into it today.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible)

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I call -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: There they go again, look. When you tell them the truth they jump up and down. Look.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. TULK: Isn't that shocking, boys? You have a full day wasted now, and the Leader is grumbling about the time.

Mr. Speaker, Order No. 1, Address in Reply.

MR. SPEAKER: Order No. 1, the Address in Reply.

I believe the hon. member -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I believe the hon. Member for Bonavista South adjourned the debate.

The hon. the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am happy today to stand and take part in debate in the Address in Reply. In fact, happy is an understatement, I would say. I am excited, I say; I am invigorated!

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: I say to the members opposite, I am full of enthusiasm! Because this is a great day for the Tories, Mr. Speaker. It is `Tory Tuesday,' I say to the hon. House Leader. When you see a party in one of our neighbouring provinces go from one seat up to forming the government, the people on that side of the House should pay attention and take heed.

AN HON. MEMBER: The beginning of the end.

MR. FITZGERALD: It is the beginning of the end when you see what has happened in Prince Edward Island. When you see what happened

SOME HON. MEMBERS: (Inaudible).

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

MR. FITZGERALD: When you see what happened last night at St. Theresa's parish on Mundy Pond Road it would give you another reason to be happy, to be full of enthusiasm. Over 4,000 people came out to a Tory nomination meeting, with a sitting member from the opposite side, from the government. Mr. Speaker, I went out to vote about 8:30 last night. The rain was pouring down. I had a job to get a place to park.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: No, it's not illegal, I say. We are an open party over here. We don't go out and say you must have this or you must have something else. We welcome you with open arms. We are not afraid of people coming in and taking over our nomination meetings. We are not afraid of electing somebody of the opposite faith. We are an open party, I say to members opposite.

Over 4,000 people, a lot of them were there not to vote like we were. A lot of them were there because they wanted to know how to become a member of our party. "How do we join your party?" was the question that was asked. I knew there was something happening when I got out of the car and walked across the street; traffic going in every direction, windows steamed up, people having a job to see, but very polite. They knew what was happening, and you heard the `burmp, burmp' of the horn, not the long blow when you put your hand down when you are upset and you are cheesed off with what is happening; it was the `burmp, burmp'! In other words, what you are doing is right and how do I become a part of this movement? How do I come in and vote? How do I become part of it? Mr. Speaker, this is happening right across the country. This is happening right across the country today.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know; I think there was a poll done a few months ago or a couple of weeks ago by a couple of Cabinet ministers.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who were they?

MR. FITZGERALD: I think it was the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - the elusive Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology - and the Minister of Mines and Energy. They did a poll. They did not know which one of them could win, wondering if they had a chance, did not know if they should come out and take on their colleague, was not happy with her performance. No, she has to go; no, she does not have a chance. The knives went in, the knives came out. They went in, the two of them, others in the background wondering, what chance do I have if I run against her?

AN HON. MEMBER: What colour was on the knife?

MR. FITZGERALD: All red, all red.

Mr. Speaker, this today is a wave that is flowing across this Province, and I would like to stand and personally congratulate Premier Binns for the wonderful performance that he put on last night.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: When you look at the Progressive Conservative Party up in Prince Edward Island, that came from obscurity, one seat, to forming the party, it tells us with two seats up in Ottawa we will be twice as good the next time. We will be twice as good. I say to the Government House Leader that one seat to eighteen is not two. I remind him of that, one seat to eighteen is not two.

For people over there today who feel that we are a party that is not to be taken seriously, and the Progressive Conservative Party is not capable of forming the government the next time around, I say to you, stand up and take notice.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you what is happening. Sunday, I went out to CBS for a drive. I figured I would go out to CBS for a drive. I knew there was an election taking place there, a municipal election, called by the Minister of Municipal and Provincial Affairs. There should not be half the people running there as there are, because of his doings. That is not to say that they should be denied the opportunity to run. Anyway, apart from that, who should I see out there knocking on doors on Sunday? Who should I see?

AN HON. MEMBER: Who?

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Education, out knocking on doors on Sunday supporting one of his colleagues out in CBS, trying to get him elected.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was he supporting?

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Health.

AN HON. MEMBER: Who was he knocking on doors for?

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Health out knocking on doors.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good way to lose.

MR. FITZGERALD: A good way to lose. I don't know who the candidate was - maybe the Minister of Health might like to tell us - but whoever it was -

AN HON. MEMBER: The Minister of Education.

MR. FITZGERALD: The Minister of Education, whoever it was. Whoever he was, he does not have a chance now.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is what I told him, he shouldn't take me.

MR. FITZGERALD: I don't know why he did it. If he did it under the veil of darkness I could understand; maybe he would get away with it. But the disguise was good. The minister had his hat on, his sombrero. He had his sombrero on, I say to the Minister of Health, out knocking on doors for a candidate in the election. I have to find out who that was, and I tell the Member for Topsail I want him to keep an eye on who it was he was campaigning for, because I do not think the gentlemen will have a chance at winning.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is great to be a Tory. It is great to be a Progressive Conservative in this country and in this Province today.

Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech has happened so long ago that I had to look through it and see exactly what was in it in order to remember some of the points. One of the points that was touched upon, I say to the Minister of Education, if he does not want me to stop, and I will bring that up now, was the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture. I will turn to it in the book here now and just see where I can find it.

The minister went on to talk about aquaculture, and building a new economy, and that sort of thing. He talked about putting new money back in and creating facilities which all of a sudden seem to be forgotten about; and the thing that he touched on was the aquaculture industry down in Bay d'Espoir. The Member for White Bay referred to it the other day. What a farce, what an embarrassment to the government, to see this minister get on television and say what I am saying: Now I want you to keep quiet. I do not want everybody to know it, but there are tape worms in the steel head trout and in the salmon down in Bay d'Espoir. I do not want anybody to know it. We have to keep it quiet because it may go away.

Mr. Speaker, what a thing for the minister to say. From my understanding, if this particular species of fish was allowed to do what they normally do over the winter months, and spend the winter months in the salt water, this particular disease would all but disappear. Instead, the minister went out and played it right around the world. It was the same kind of television antics that he used a few months ago when he was going to run for the leadership. He called a news conference to say he was not going to run, unheard of. He called a news conference to say he was not going to run. He will do anything when you put a microphone and a camera in front of him.

Then he was on a few weeks ago talking about increasing the seal herd, increasing the harvesting capacity of seals. Nobody will disagree with that, I say to the minister. Everybody is in favour of increasing the harvesting capacity of the seal industry, but you do not have to go out and tell the world. You do not have to go out and get all those animal rights activists rallying behind you; it cannot happen, it cannot happen. Let's deal with the people, let's with the fisherman, let's deal with the departments, and if there is a need to do it, let's do it ourselves without going and telling the world. You do not do those kind of things, and the minister should be slapped on the wrist for doing it, I say.

Every time I hear him interviewed, he talks about how happy he is to be the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. It was always his dream. This is what I always wanted to do. When I grew up and they asked me what I wanted to be, I wanted to be the Minister of Fisheries. I do not want a fire truck. I do not want a ski-doo. I want to be the Minister of Fisheries; that is what I want to be.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. FITZGERALD: Now that it is laid in his lap, what has he done? He introduced fisheries privatization. He introduced that the other day, but that was all done by his colleague who preceded him. That was all put in place by Bud, a good minister, I say to the people opposite, who stood in his place here and represented the people. Then, when he is interviewed, the first thing that comes out of his mouth is: You must remember that I am not God. I do not have all the answers. He is brought down a little bit now; he knows he isn't God. He has come down a little bit, I say to members opposite; he realizes that. So he is gradually coming back to realization.

Then he goes on to say: I welcome participation. Then in the next sentence he says he: Put Cashin somewhere, involved in some committee called the Industry Renewal Board, and he came back and he reported to me. Well, I didn't like what he said so I sent him back again! He didn't say that: Me and my officials met with them. `I met with Cashin', were his words. I met with Cashin, I didn't like what he had to say, so I sent him back again.

So, minister, what you have done today by announcing that board, as I said before, a wonderful step, but stay out of it! Stay away from it. You are a has-been. You won't be in the front benches very much longer. You are an embarrassment to the establishment. You will soon be that far back there that the QC from Topsail might even be sitting in your place. Mr. Speaker, it seems passing strange.

Before I go on, it is nice to see everybody back again. We have all returned from our summer retreats and our summer holidays. Some of us spent them in our district trying to help our people. Others have spent them touring other provinces and finding out new ideas, I suppose. But it is nice to see everybody back again. Some people have come back with changes, new hairdos, new ways of doing things. The Government House Leader has come back with a new way of dressing. He wears a set of suspenders now, that he tucks his arms in. I say to the House Leader, if they ever let go - and I thought they were today; you had me worried today - you are going to get an awful smack in the jaw. So be careful, because there is a lot of pressure on them.

On a more serious note, when you look at some of the things that are happening out there in rural Newfoundland and Labrador, it is certainly too long to wait for a better tomorrow. What we want is a better today. When you look at the cutbacks that are happening out there in health care, you look at the cutbacks in education, you look at the cutbacks in social services - we all know we are living in bad times, we all know we are living in difficult times, but it seems like every day the people who are taking the hit are the people who can least afford it.

We all talk about how important it is to be on the government side, that we all should get on the government side because you can get more help that way; you can have more things done in your community. What is happening here in this House today, and up in Ottawa, flies in the face of that kind of judgement and that kind of thought. When you see the changes that have been brought about today in unemployment insurance, and some of the changes that have been brought about especially as it relates to the fishermen's UI, and nobody standing on the floor of the House of Commons to get up and take part in debate and put forward the concerns of the fishermen and the fish plant - not the fish plant workers, but the fisherwomen, I suppose, of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the seasonal workers, it is nothing short of being disgraceful.

I think far too often today when we get elected we lose sight of why we are elected, why we offer ourselves to serve our constituents, why we get involved in politics, and look at following the line and the itinerary of your party or of your government.

AN HON. MEMBER: You know.

MR. FITZGERALD: I say to the member opposite, yes, I do.

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you forget?

MR. FITZGERALD: No, I don't forget, but to the best of my ability, I say to the member opposite, if I see a need in my district then I don't come up and say that it has to be done because my Leader says so, or it is against my party philosophies, or it is against my party policies. I speak out on it because I believe it right here.

My district is no different from the district of the Member for Port de Grave, the Member for Bonavista South, or the Member for Terra Nova.

AN HON. MEMBER: You are the Member for Bonavista South.

MR. FITZGERALD: Bonavista North, Mr. Speaker. The people are all going through the same kind of situation. When you see the people down in my district today not knowing where they are going to find a job, not knowing if they are going to have to relocate to another part of this country, not knowing where the next meal is coming from - and for some people down there it is almost that bad, I say to members opposite, then there is something wrong.

When we look at the wonderful country we are living in and somebody tells us it is the number one place in the world to live, and I believe it is. I believe Canada is the number one place in this world today to live in. When we see the things that are happening around us and when we see what is happening to our people, and when we see them having no hope, having no vision of being able to live in their home towns in the future, sometimes it is a job to continue to be optimistic. You have to swallow a sudden dose of reality because you know what they are saying is probably true.

For many of those people going to Alberta or going to British Columbia, or going even as far as St. John's may not be an option. A lot of those people left school at an early age and went to work in the fish plants of this Province, got in the fishing boats and made a very good living for themselves. In many cases they did not have a choice of getting in the fishing boat or going to school. Many people never had a choice of going to work in the fish plant or going to university. That option was not always available to them, and in many, many cases it is not today.

Mr. Speaker, at one time they found themselves being able to work in their own community and probably work side by side with their son, their daughter, or their mother, go home for dinner every day and make a very good living working in those particular facilities. Now, that possibility disappeared and will possibly never, ever return again. Now, they find themselves fifty, fifty-three, or fifty-four years old without an education, without a job, and having to still provide for their families. Many of them out there today are too proud to go to the Department of Social Services, and I can understand all that. They are too proud to look for a handout, not knowing what is going to happen come 1998 when the TAGS program comes to an end and there is nothing there for them.

There are no more answers out there for those people today than there was in 1992 when they were told they were going to be laid off from their fish plants. Go home. There will be a pay cheque there for you and we will tell you when you can go back to work. They do not have any more answers. We have seen other ministers of fisheries besides the one who occupies that position now come and go. We see them federally and provincially. They all come with a lot of enthusiasm and figure they have all the answers. I do not know if they have all the answers, but figuring they will have some input into shaping what the fishery of the future is going to hold for some of those people, but it seems to me that every day and every minister is just as, I suppose, blank with ideas as the people who were there before. The people who should be involved in the decision-making and the people who should be involved in putting forward their suggestions as to what the fishery of the future might look at, or what can happen in their particular region in order to provide some economic opportunity, the ideas are not there.

I say to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture that if he is going to take full advantage of this particular board, and there is a lot of capability there, good people - I have looked down through the names and there are very capable people who know the industry quite well. If he is going to take full advantage of them then let them go out and do what I think they should be doing, go out and meet with the people there and let the fishermen and let the fish plant workers bring forward their thoughts and their ideas. Even if we generate some hope, Mr. Speaker, it will be a beginning because I can assure you it is not out there today and it is needed in the worse kind of way.

I would like to refer back to the election again in PEI. From my understanding, in listening to the news last night, the reason the government of yesterday in Prince Edward Island lost was probably not a lot different as to the problems that this government opposite is experiencing here today and not a lot different, Mr. Speaker, on what might decide their fortunes in the future. Some of the reasons brought forward I think were the cutbacks in education, cutbacks in health care and the abandonment of rural Prince Edward Island and that is not a lot different of what is happening in our Province here today. When you look at our roads, when you look at our education system and when you look at our health care facilities and our health care systems in rural areas today, you very quickly realize that there is not a lot of sympathy in the government benches opposite for rural Newfoundland and Labrador.

When you look at down in my particular district - and I think of Route 235 leading down the Bonavista Peninsula and it goes right through my district. One of the worse roads in Newfoundland and Labrador - when you look at the way that they have restructured the busing system there where people will be on buses now for in excess of an hour getting to and from school and having to drive over a road such as we have there, it is nothing short of criminal, Mr. Speaker.

In fact, I suppose we could talk about over-crowded buses as well when we throw that in because somebody referred to the situation down in my district a few months ago, as the minister is well aware of, that if you had taken seventy-three animals, if you would, and put them on a bus that size that the SPCA would make enough noise that it would be changed but still, Mr. Speaker, we seem to be content to go - and because the buses are capable or identified as a seventy-two passenger bus we seem to accept that. It does not matter if you are on the bus for an hour or if you are on the bus for ten minutes, if it is capable of taking seventy-two passengers, pile in, get aboard, we will do a head count after and if there are seventy-two or less you are on your way. That is hardly acceptable, Mr. Speaker, because I believe that education goes a lot further than just having students show up in the classroom and teaching for five hours and assigning homework. I think the school day and how the students achieve goes much, much beyond that. I am not going to get into the situation of talking about all the things that might make a difference but certainly busing should be included as one of them.

Now I can see if we are going to bring about some changes first and if we are going to do up our roads and because the roads are now done up that we are going to make some changes, probably if it means lengthening the busing to an acceptable degree then that would be understandable, it would be accepted because now they have a decent road to drive over. But when you see a bus route that was put in place - and the children have already complained that they cannot get up in the morning, eat their breakfast and go to school the same day by being on the bus half-an-hour to forty minutes and then you come back and say that we are going to stick you on that same bus now for an hour and ten or fifteen minutes, there is something wrong, I say to the minister. Mr. Speaker, there is something wrong with that and I think that we should be putting our efforts forward in correcting those situations in order that our students can achieve, and be subjected to an environment where they can compete and be equal to everybody else, not only in this Province but right across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, when you look at the poverty rate I am reminded of a bill that I brought forward and maybe the Government House Leader can refer to this. I introduced a bill here some time ago called the Good Samaritan Bill which dealt with food banks and I think it was a good bill. I still think now the only reason why it wasn't accepted is because it was proposed and brought forward by a member in Opposition. I think it would have been a big help to food banks around the Province. In fact, in conversation with the people who are supervising those banks, and in conversation with some of the store owners who might be expected to take advantage in that particular situation whereby they would be allowed to take part in donating food to food banks without having litigation brought against them should some problem occur - Mr. Speaker, it wasn't allowed to proceed through the House.

The only reason it wasn't allowed to proceed is because a member from Opposition brought it forward. That is the only reason it wasn't allowed to go through the House and brought back to a committee. I think it was supposed to be the Minister of Health, the Minister of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture at the time, and I think the Minister of Social Services. That is months and months ago, and nobody has responded to it since. So it seems like when we get here into the House, and I suppose we make a decent pay cheque, that all of a sudden we distance ourselves from the real need that is out there. We don't want to be bothered with it. We can close our door and we will go back to St. John's or back to our own houses and close the door and block out the memories.

I think we have to rise above that. We have to reach out and help those who are less fortunate and unable to help themselves. If it takes speaking in this House day-in and day-out, then let's do it. Nobody can convince me that we should have done away with the $61 in emergency care to the Department of Social Services. That was mean. To begin with, you had to pass the test for it. This wasn't something that was automatically passed to you. Bashing the poor. You had to go and you had to appear before the social worker, or your financial assistance officer, and you had to show them where you needed that $61.

AN HON. MEMBER: That is where the Premier pays for his travel (inaudible).

MR. FITZGERALD: Well, whatever the money is being spent for now is wrong. I mean, what greater need because somebody needs a special diet, or because somebody needs special clothes, or because somebody needs a special brace to wear, what greater need out there is there than to be able to provide them with a paltry $61 a month? Not a lot probably to me or you sometimes. Probably not a lot. But a great amount of money to somebody, a family of four that is trying to raise a family on about $600 a month.

Those are happenings that are out there today. I know of an incident just a short while ago where somebody needed a $75 brace, identified by the doctor, in order to go to school because he had - the four-year-old child, and I stand to be corrected but I think that was his age - in order to go to school, the father was afraid that somebody might push him or he would get elbowed on the bus, and he needed the brace. Seventy-five dollars I think the brace was recognized at. The Department of Social Services said: Sorry, it isn't in our budget to cover that.

That to me isn't right. I think we have to be more compassionate than that. I think if we are going to solve the problems in this country today, we shouldn't be doing it on the backs of the unemployed and on the backs of the people on social services, and on the backs of those who are less fortunate. Because this is what is happening today.

This Province today has the highest poverty rate in all of Canada, 20.8 per cent. One-quarter of all the residents in this Province today live below the poverty line. That is unbelievable. Family poverty is the highest in Canada: 19 per cent. Child poverty, 26 per cent. Twenty-six percent of all of our children in Newfoundland and Labrador today live in poverty. Those are the times when people opposite get up and talk about the wonderful things that are happening in their districts, the wonderful things that are happening in their communities, the wonderful work the government is doing.

Where is it happening? This is not unique to any one particular district; this is not unique to a rural district and not an urban district right across the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Listen to this: One-half of all school children in our Province today, will underachieve because they are growing up in poverty. One-half of all our school children will underachieve because they do not have the opportunity to be able to go to school with a good lunch in their stomachs, a good breakfast or to be able to access a suitable dinner or diet, and those people are not all from families who go out and blow their money on slot machines, Mr. Speaker, they are not from families who go out and drink all night, those people, Mr. Speaker, those children whom we are talking about do not have that opportunity because in most cases the families cannot provide for them because they do not have the opportunity to go out and earn a living and work in order to get an income to provide them with a decent standard of living. That is shameful, Mr. Speaker, that is shameful.

Mr. Speaker, nobody here has all the answers to our economic problems. We know that we are living in bad times and we know that Ottawa is there to help us, but let us realize that we too, I think, can play a part. We too can, if we speak out loud enough and if we speak out often enough - maybe somebody will listen to us - when you look at the unemployment levels that are existing in this Province today and we talk about 20 per cent.

We were all alarmed the other day when the unemployment levels, because of the way they were forecast were identified as going from 19 per cent to 20 per cent, a big alarm went up: Unemployment levels now in the 20 per cent levels. Mr. Speaker, the real unemployment rate in this Province today, is probably closer to 35 per cent not 20 per cent, and if you look at the number of young people under twenty-five who are unemployed, you will find it is probably much, much higher than that.

When you look at some of the work opportunities that have been brought forward here and you look at the number of Newfoundlanders who have been allowed to go and work and take advantage of those programs, Mr. Speaker, we seem to be always satisfied when we can get a dozen people in there if they are hiring two dozens. We seem to be happy if there are five other people working. We stand up and say but we have three other people there, but we should never ever be satisfied until we have every Newfoundlander in this Province back to work and to take advantage of every opportunity that exists here today.

Hibernia was a prime example. It is happening out there today where people in this Province are being denied an opportunity to go to work because we brought people in from other provinces and allowed them to come, go to work with their tools, Mr. Speaker, while we send our own people home. Unemployment is good enough for you, Mr. Speaker, but we will hire you and we will keep you and that is wrong. That is wrong I say, Mr. Speaker, it does not happen in any other jurisdiction, it does not happen in any other province, but the first thing happens here, you bring it up, and the minister stands to his feet and says: What are you complaining about? We have 300 people out there, we have 500 people out there.

Mr. Speaker, there is no point in taking great consolation with that when you know that there are thousands of other people capable of doing the same jobs, out there walking the streets today. Those are some of the things that I think have to be done. The people who are out and need an education, who need retraining and want to be retrained - and there is a big difference - we should allow that to happen. We have to get away from the foolishness of training people for unrealistic jobs. We have to go out today, Mr. Speaker, and train people for opportunities that exist either in this Province or somewhere in this country and do whatever we can in order to get them off employment and welfare and get them back to work.

If we have an opportunity we should take full advantage. What has happened at Hibernia, we should learn from, and should be correcting immediately and we should go on and learn from that. When Voisey's Bay comes on, Mr. Speaker, we should make sure that we take advantage of every opportunity we can for every one of our own people here. That is why the Leader of the Opposition when he stands, is asking questions; he is suspicious, Mr. Speaker, and the people of this Province are suspicious. They are suspicious because they don't trust the decision makers and they have every right not to trust the decision makers in this Province for the mistakes, the inequities and the shortcomings that have happened here in the past.

Mr. Speaker, I am not convinced that Voisey's Bay is there today committing billions of dollars in order to put infrastructure in this Province and in Labrador without knowing what the Minerals Tax Act holds. I am not convinced of that I say to the minister. I know you are trying to redeem yourself but the damage is done minister. The damage is done, you have caused it, it is out there, you are an embarrassment. Mr. Speaker, this is what has to happen and like I say I am not convinced, I am not convinced that they do not know. Would you go, I say to the Speaker, would you go and invest all this money into a country or into a province if you did not know what somebody was going to charge you? They know, I say to the members opposite. The little deals are worked out under the table and they know very well what is happening.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. members time is up.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: By leave.

MR. FITZGERALD: So, in conclusion Mr. Speaker, I -

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

The hon. member does not have leave.

Before I recognize the hon. Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Chair would like to rule on a couple of points of order that were raised during the lazy, hazy days of summer. There were a couple of points of order that was brought forward from the summer session.

On July 25 the hon. the Opposition House Leader raised a point of order with respect to the following comment of the hon. the Premier: But the Leader of the Opposition knows full well that what he is saying is absolutely false, Hansard July 25, 1996 at page 1171. In response to the point of order the hon. the Premier said: Mr. Speaker, upon reflection I think it is quite possible that the Leader of the Opposition is not aware when he makes false statements that are false, that indeed that they are false. Therefore, I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition that he has clearly made false statements and I hope he now realizes they are false.

As the hon. the Premier has clarified his remarks to the fact that he was not saying that the hon. the Leader of the Opposition had deliberately made a false statement, the Chair is satisfied that nothing unparliamentary has been said. However, having said that the Chair is of the view that one would be better advised to avoid using the word false in certain contexts since it has several connotations, one of them being according to the Oxford dictionary, deceptive which in turn suggests deliberation.

On July 24, the hon. the member for Bonavista North raised a point of order with respect to the application of the rule of anticipation, to questions raised by the hon. the Leader of the Opposition concerning Bill 19, the Printing Services Act. The rule against anticipation is that; a matter must not be anticipated if it is contained in a more effective form of proceeding than the proceeding by which it is sought to be anticipated. A bill or Order of the Day is more effective than a motion, a substantive motion more effective than the motion for the adjournment of the House or an amendment and a motion for the adjournment is more effective than a supplementary question according to Erskine May, the 18th addition page 365 and I also refer hon. members to Beauchesne 409(12) on page 121; Questions should not be anticipated for a debate scheduled for the day, but should be reserved for the debate. We know that the matter about which the questions were asked were to be debated later that day because the hon. the Government House Leader had so advised the House upon adjournment on the 23. The hon. member for Bonavista North was therefore quite right in that the rule could have been evoked in these circumstances and I would advise hon. members to take note in future.

Thank you.

The hon. the Government House Leader.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, there is one thing that I would ask your Honour to correct in the statement. I know the hon. gentleman was the member for Bonavista North before the previous election and I am now the member for Bonavista North and Mr. Speaker, there is nobody in this House who can do this thing as well as the member for Terra Nova, and his name should be recorded in posterity for what he did for this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The Chair apologizes for the mistake, but I guess after so many years referring to the hon. Member for Bonavista North - it will be duly noted that the point of order was raised by the senior Member for Terra Nova.

The hon. the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to take a few minutes to talk about the fisheries as the future of this Province, the commitment that this government has always had, has today, and will continue to have to rural Newfoundland and Labrador, through revitalization of rural Newfoundland and Labrador - not one minister, but the whole of government -, and to try to correct some of the inaccuracies which the Member for Bonavista South has made.

I never thought I would ever stand in this House of Assembly and agree, and almost applaud a Tory for making a true statement in this House. But the first remark that he made is the absolute truth. He said: The result of the election last evening in PEI was the beginning of the end. Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is the beginning of the end of PEI, make no mistake about it.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. EFFORD: The day a Tory government is elected in any province is the beginning of the end, and he did make a true statement. Going down the tubes. Make no mistake about it.

The other statement he made was some reference to the cutbacks in social services paying for the Premier's travel. I don't know how he was trying to relate or bring the two together, but I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, I will correct it again, the inaccuracy of what he has said.

The cutbacks or the changes in social programs, or the changes in any programs in this government, are driven by one reason only. It is driven by this government having to deal with the very difficult financial position we find ourselves in today. An enormous interest rate that we pay out on our debt owing around the world of somewhere between $585 million to $600 million annually. That is the reason why this government has to get its fiscal house in order. I'm not going to take the next fifteen or twenty minutes pointing out why we owe $6-plus billion in this Province. Why the former government for seventeen years before this government took office in 1989 incurred such foolish spending for seventeen years which drove the debt up over $6 billion, and why we have all that interest to pay back down to get our financial house in order, and why we have to take all these drastic measure to try to get the future of this Province on a stable financial position.

Because the one thing that I've said over again, and I will keep repeating it, is that I would rather be voted out today as a minister or an MHA in this government in making some tough decisions for the present that will lay a foundation of a good financial stability province for the government for the future of this Province for our young people. I do not want my children or anybody else's children, our grandchildren, who are going to be educated and try to get a career in this Province, to have to pay for the foolish mistakes that I as a minister or any government that I'm a part of would be making.

That is the result and that is the position we are in today because of what happened over the seventeen years the Tory government was in power, the irresponsible spending, that now we have to take the responsibility, make some unpopular decisions. Because this Province is going through a devastated economy and a job loss in the fishery and many other sectors. Now on top of incurring that debt, we incurred the moratorium on the groundfish, so we had 25,000 to 30,000 people unemployed in this Province.

But we aren't looking back, we are looking to the future. We are going to correct the mistakes that those people made. The misgovernment, the mismanagement, and the irresponsible actions of seventeen years is going to be corrected; short-term pain for long-term gain. If we have to take some hard knocks, if we have to upset the electorate for a few short years - the good thing about it all is that I have confidence that the people of this Province understand the practicality of the hard decisions we have to make. They know that we cannot continue to spend the way they spent. They know we have to make some tough decisions. They know we have to change our way and have a vision for the future so that we can correct the errors of seventeen years.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. EFFORD: If they keep on, Mr. Speaker, I may be forced to take out the pickle book and show them how silly they were for all those years, and where the money went, but I am trying to stay away from that this afternoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please!

I remind hon. members that it is unparliamentary to interrupt another member when he is speaking, except to rise on a point of order or a point of privilege, and it is really unparliamentary for a member to sit in another member's seat and interrupt another member who is speaking. I remind the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis that he is doubly out of order, and I ask him to refrain from shouting across the House and occupying the chair of the Leader of the Opposition.

MR. EFFORD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I can assure the hon. Member for Cape St. Francis that he will never will be able to fill that role.

Another statement made by the Member for Bonavista South was some kind of a statement that people outside the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador should not have worked in Hibernia. Nobody should have travelled from outside of the Province into the Province and worked on Hibernia.

AN HON. MEMBER: He never said that.

MR. EFFORD: That is what he did say, `while Newfoundlanders were walking around.' That is what he said. Check Hansard. If we stood 100 per cent by that and we did not allow anybody into the Province to work on Hibernia, what happens now that Hibernia is closed down? Before Hibernia started up all of the people in Newfoundland had to travel all over Canada to find jobs in the construction field. If we took that attitude then Newfoundlanders would never find a job outside the Province, so it does not make any sense. While we should have the majority of our people working at Hibernia, we could not bar and close the doors to everybody from another province who wanted to come here, because we would like to have the same opportunity, now that Hibernia is closed down, for the people who worked in construction at Hibernia in the different trade councils, to be able to go outside and find a job somewhere else.

MR. TULK: (Inaudible)

MR. EFFORD: That is exactly what I am saying. (Inaudible) I am trying to make some sense of it. Do we want people to work in Ontario? Do we want people to work in Fort McMurray, or wherever else there is a construction job? Or do we say: No, we will close the doors and isolate everybody outside of Newfoundland. Then we would expect the same thing, for people outside of this Province to isolate everybody in Newfoundland. What sense would that make? This is a country where we are all united, and while the economy of Newfoundland, and the unemployment, dictate that we should have the majority, we should not have 100 per cent total control of it; otherwise we would lose.

Mr. Speaker, it is exactly what I have been saying all along. It is because of the irresponsible thinking and actions of members opposite that we are in the mess we are in this Province today. Then, it surely proves another thing, why the people of this Province voted the party on this side of the House in, so that we would govern the way the people want to be governed, with common sense, practicality, and thinking of the best interests of the people of this Province, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

AN HON. MEMBER: Dream on.

MR. EFFORD: Well, I am dreaming, Sir, and I have a vision. I am going to take five or ten minutes to look at where I see the fishery of this Province playing a major role, the fishery of the future playing a major role in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. I am going to start first with the fishery of the past, the mismanagement of the fishery of the past, and we will take the full responsibility in Canada and in Newfoundland and Labrador for that mismanagement. If we blame the foreign overfishing, if we blame all of the other things that are happening on the Grand Banks and in the bays of Newfoundland, those people who played a direct role, those people who played an indirect role, and those people who sat idly by and did nothing about it, are just as much to blame as those who were involved in it; because if we recognized what was happening and we did not do anything about it, we have no reason to criticize somebody else who is in the field and caused it to happen. We were just as much to blame. So let's make sure when we assume responsibility and we start pointing fingers, we first look in the mirror and find out exactly what we should have done individually or collectively to stop it. And if we did not recognize it we are still as much to blame as those who allowed it to go on. So there is no excuse for pointing fingers at who caused it; but the fact remains, it happened. The fact remains we have lived with it for the last decade, and for the last four years we have had a total moratorium on the groundfish industry in this Province.

The other thing I have to add to that very quickly is that we are on the eve of opening the groundfish and there have been no decisions made on how that fishery should be managed, how that fishery should be caught, what sectors of the fishery should (inaudible). There have been no decisions on the eve of the opening of the groundfish industry, 10,000 tons in 3PS, 12,000 tons on the west coast and the northwest coast, of two other zones here, 22,000 tons, and today there are no decisions made. Tell me we are not going to be making the same mistakes, the mismanagement? Mr. Speaker, I am telling you exactly how it is.

Now, how should we manage our fishery? First of all, conservation number one. That must be the key issue. That must be the key leader, the word that we have to keep using, conservation. You would think conservation is the word that is being agreed upon by all and is being orchestrated - the conservation measures are being implemented and being put in place. Well I have to disagree with it. If conservation measures are the key issues, why aren't we carrying them out to their fulfilment?

I said this to a group of people last Friday night: If I said to you tomorrow that we are going to allow 200,000 people - and the Opposition member should listen because this is not political rhetoric. Probably you should listen if you are really, seriously, fulfilling your pay cheque that you are getting as a member of the Opposition or a member of this House. Probably you should listen for a minute. Probably you would do well if you would listen, and you could probably do something to contribute towards solving the problem because -

MR. MATTHEWS: You might learn something. Listen and you might learn something.

MR. EFFORD: - because if we are going to solve this problem -

AN HON. MEMBER: I am not going to learn anything from you (inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: The problem is, Mr. Speaker, I guess what is happening here this afternoon is a good example of why we are in the mess we are. We play jokes, we clown around, we don't take our responsibilities seriously enough. That is what it is, Mr. Speaker, and the minute anybody makes a sensible statement -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: You don't have the intelligence to listen.

Mr. Speaker, conservation measures must be put in place for the future of the fishery, but what I am leading into is the seal fishery. Everybody in this Province has to understand the importance of the seal fishery, for two reasons: If I said to you tomorrow we are going to allow 100,000 people in this Province to fish 365 days a year, in any manner in which they want to fish, I would be called crazy. In fact, I doubt if I would get out of this Assembly without somebody putting a strait-jacket on me, because it would be ludicrous, stupid for anybody to suggest that. And if I said that at some time this year we are going to allow forty or fifty foreign draggers to do whatever they wanted on the Grand Banks, equally I would be deemed as the most stupid, ridiculous individual in this Province.

AN HON. MEMBER: We would agree with that.

MR. EFFORD: You would have to agree with it. You could not argue with it. But why is it that the majority of people in this Province do not see 8 million seals swimming in the ocean, eating fish 365 days a year, as a more devastating problem than you would have if you allowed every dragger on the Grand Banks, every boat in Newfoundland, and every individual in Atlantic Canada, to fish the way they wanted to fish, and it could not do the damage that 8 billion seals are doing? Why is it that we are not serious in our conservation thinking? Why is it that all we do - do not speak, Efford, because we are afraid of the animal rights groups. Well, I will say, to you know what with the animal rights groups. Who cares about the animal rights groups? They do not exist any more. I care about the people of this Province, and the people of this Province are more important than seals. Pardon me. It is common sense, but the majority of people in this Province do not say one word about it. I have asked Opposition members to table in this House, or to give to me personally, letters that you have written in support of a major seal hunt in this Province. I doubt if any more then one or two members on the other side have taken the time to do it, or to speak to their Member of Parliament, or to speak to DFO, or to do anything constructive to say that we must have a sealing industry.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: Now, on part of that - I said a major seal hunt. I said any more than one or two, and I bet you that is very minimum.

Now, let me ask you this question: How important is the sealing industry to the economy of this Province? How important? This year alone, as we talk here today, companies in this Province now have orders for 450,000 animals, total utilization. Last year we had 250,000, which brought about $20 to $25 million into the Province. This year, with 450,000, we are saying that could mean up to $55 to $60 million to the economy of this Province.

If the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology could bring back tomorrow a business that could bring $55 million into this Province, we would all be out in the streets celebrating. Here we have an industry that is being stalled and stopped because people in DFO are afraid of animal rights groups, and it does not make any sense. How many people in this Province are expressing an interest? How many people in this Province are taking up the charge and saying that we must have a seal hunt to whatever the market demands and beyond?

Let me just conclude on the sealing issue by making this remark. Let's say we did have a hunt this year of 450,000, and let's suppose that the numbers are exactly as signs say - but I think there are more - of 10 million, and only 10 per cent pup this year; we have 1 million seals born this year and we have only hunted 450,000. We have an increase again this year of 550,000, and if they only ate one pound of fish a day, that is a half a million pounds of fish a day.

Mr. Speaker, what I am saying is that if we are expect to get the fishery of this Province back to its full utilization, to the demands and needs of rural Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, we better be serious about conservation; and we are not serious now. This federal government, DFO, is not serious enough about conservation when they say I cannot jig a fish, I cannot trap a fish, or I cannot trawl a fish, while 8 to 10 million seals are out there eating. There is the issue, and we better be aware of it if we think that things are going to happen in this Province without somebody addressing that issue.

So, the question remains: Are we putting people first or are we putting seals first? That is the question that we must ask in our minds; but I am going to tell you, it is going to take an awful lot of talking in this Province before members opposite or the rest of the people in this Province are going to understand how serious this issue is.

Now, how should the fishery be in the future? The fishery of the future should be utilized to the maximum benefit that it possibly can for the individuals involved in the fishery. Simply saying, it must be a multi-species operation. If we allow ourselves to become dependent on one or two species, like we did with groundfish in the past, we are going to fail. But again I have to be a bit critical; we are doing it today in the crab. Our total dependency in the fishery today - I should not say our total - 80 per cent, 85 per cent, of our dependency to earn a living from the harvesting and the processing today is still one species, not the groundfish but the crab fishery. And we are out there trying to get industry to be involved in developing other species, to turn their attentions towards developing underutilized species to a commercial value, and it is difficult, Mr. Speaker; it is difficult to do. It is difficult to get a consensus out of the people out there because there is a big dollar being earned from the crab by a few of the multi-corporations, and they are not investing back into the industry in this Province the way they should be. I have never -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible) cartel.

MR. EFFORD: The cartel is gone, wiped out. I said, Mr. Speaker, very clearly, over and over and over again, that nobody expects the underutilized species being an answer to all of our problems but it is a step in the right direction. I have never ever said that 15,000 or 20,000 people would earn a living from underutilized species, but if only 1,000 earn a living from it, that is 1,000 more who are working today and that is a lot of jobs in any one industry. Whether it is 1,000 or 2,000 or 500 or whatever the numbers are, what we should be doing is developing and working and putting our energies toward maximizing the benefits out of all of those species that we possibly can, and somebody will say: Well, what species are you talking about?

Well let me tell you something that is floating and washes up on the rocks every time the sea rolls in: seaweed, seaweed better known to most of us as kelp. One of the major industries in Nova Scotia today is the harvesting of seaweed. The world market out there is demanding thousands and thousands and thousands of tons of it, and we have an untold resource around our rocks and our shores that we can harvest, and I believe and if I am correct and I am pretty close to being accurate in what I am going to say, I think there is around $2 million totally in this Province. What potential could we harvest in this Province? Fifty, seventy-five, 100 million dollars without any problems whatsoever.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why aren't we?

MR. EFFORD: Why aren't we? We have no harvesting plant in the Province of Newfoundland for seaweed; 1996, there is no harvesting plant. I found that out ten days ago.

AN HON. MEMBER: For seaweed?

MR. EFFORD: For seaweed, for kelp. Ottawa has not yet discovered how to put together a harvesting plant, a multi, multi, multi, multi-million dollar industry in 1996. Clearwater from Grand Bank will invest their own money. Five years of research have been put in by the greater Lamaline Development Association, seven years of hard work, $500,000, all the plans in place and we do not have a harvesting plant and we have 25 per cent, 35 per cent of the people all employed in the fishery of this Province; we have TAGS programs running out, and I am not suggesting that is going to answer the whole of the problems of all of the people in the industry, but again, it is one industry that could be developed in four or five bays in this Province and employ 400, 500, 600 people totally, because again, it is 600 people more than we have employed now.

Let me give you another example. Whelp and sea cucumber, the marine cucumber.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. EFFORD: No, no. Seriously, let us get on to the issue. I had a meeting last Friday night in Grand Bank with Clearwater who developed a major industry in sea clams, fifty-two weeks processing sea clams in Grand Bank. They fish it in the sand banks, on the floors of the Grand Banks right on the edge of the 200-mile limit, environmentally friendly with the piece of equipment they are using. In the process of harvesting sea clams they take up marine cucumber, millions of it, they take up whelp, millions of it. They are not allowed to sell it commercially because DFO scientists do not know enough about it. Throwing it back over the side of the boat into the water because they do not know enough about it. Does that make any sense? We are not keyed in to what is favourable to the economy in Newfoundland.

Now if the markets were not there, I can understand it. If we did not know enough about the resource, I can possibly somewhat understand it, but my question I will ask the scientists is, if we do not go out and catch it and start harvesting it, how are we going to know anything about it? It has been there for millions of years and is not going to come out and send us a fax; it is not going to send us a document to tell us how much is there. We must start taking it out of the water in order to know anything about it and learn about it and study it, otherwise we will never know. But the decision is: don't fish it commercially because we do not know enough about it.

We had another example last year in skate, and for those who do not know what skate is, it is not what you play hockey on if you play hockey, it used to be called a `maiden ray' and for hundreds of years it was caught by fishermen and discarded because it was a nuisance fish. The minute it became of commercial value, stock that we can now sell in France, now scientists won't let you catch it because they do not know enough about it; and we wonder why we have an economy in this Province devastated the way it is; we wonder why we have a fishing industry closed to almost a collapse in its totality and except for the shellfish it would be down.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the problems in the fishing industry. I am addressing them one by one, one step at a time in the right direction, so development and industry can be sustainable to the numbers of people in the industry and sustainable to the communities where the fishery can take place but it takes cooperation from the fisherpeople, from the processing industry and from both levels of government, including the associations, union associations and especially the science community. An understanding of what is important to the industry of this Province. I have said over and again and many, many times in the past we are not Ontario. We cannot depend on the industrial sector like Ontario can. We cannot depend on the forestry like British Columbia. We cannot depend on major industries like Montreal or Quebec. We have to depend on the marine life. The fishery is the backbone of this Province, has always been, must be and we must develop it accordingly so that they can sustain the communities on which the people depend on it.

I will conclude by saying this, Mr. Speaker, in the most sincere way I can express it, can it happen? Yes, it can happen. Will it happen? Yes, it will happen. Thank you very much.

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

MR. OSBORNE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The first time in many, many debates that we have heard some very, very good words from the fisheries minister.

It is my pleasure to stand and speak in debate this afternoon. There are many, many issues that are facing the Province and the fishery is just one of many. There is a social services crisis out there right now where many, many, many people who are in receipt of social assistance are barely able to get by. We hear circumstances all the time being brought forward of people unable to obtain braces, people unable to obtain pillows, orthopaedic pillows or orthopaedic shoes and people unable to avail of false teeth.

I had one gentleman actually last year, believe it or not the Department of Social Services paid to have his teeth removed and then would go on to refuse to offer him false teeth. We had written the social services minister, the Department of Health, the people within the Department of Social Services and all of them denied this gentleman false teeth after paying to have his teeth removed. Now that is almost beyond belief but it is a fact. It is a fact and it is something that is beyond comprehension. This gentleman right now has lost almost thirty pounds because of the fact that he is unable to eat properly. He is on a liquid diet for the most part and it is just beyond comprehension. The sixty-one dollar emergency fund was taken away. He cannot even avail of that to take advantage of false teeth on a budget plan. The same gentleman is forced to pay a three dollar dispensing fee on drugs. So one has to seriously question some of the legislation and some of the rules that are put in place through the House of Assembly.

The health care cuts, lay-offs. There have been massive lay-offs this year in health care to the point that we have been told on one day that there are no more lay-offs and the day after there are 120 or 125 people about to be laid off come the new year. The economy right now in Newfoundland and Labrador is at a point that it is almost devastated and people cannot handle any more cuts to health care, education or social services. They are unable to withstand it.

The out-migration of people from Newfoundland -

AN HON. MEMBER: Do you have the fence torn down Tom?

MR. OSBORNE: The fence is down. It is going down, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: That's a fact. We went out in protest on the fence and had a demonstration, wrote letters to the right people and the fence is being taken down.

AN HON. MEMBER: You get that dockyard up and running now and you would be in some shape.

MR. OSBORNE: Oh, I am working on that. No doubt the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology will take the credit but I am working on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: He should have taken me on the trip.

The out-migration of people from Newfoundland now is in numbers we have never, ever seen before.

AN HON. MEMBER: He thinks that if Chuck is gone it is out-migration but he is coming back.

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, he is one of the few people coming back. One of the only mothers' sons coming back is Chuck from Chile.

We have presented many, many petitions and I am sure we will present many more in the House of Assembly from the people of the Province. There have been more petitions presented in this session and more demonstrations so far in 1996 than there have been for many, many years. I think the last time we saw an uprising of this nature was when they marched to the Colonial Building and we all know the results of that.

We need industry in Newfoundland but I am not sure if EDGE is doing the job on bringing the industry here. That is a topic for another day, but the EDGE legislation is now under some hot debate, and some questions, and we are told it needs to be reinvented as a result of the HST, the horrible sales tax. The EDGE legislation has been praised by the Premier and praised by the industry minister. We are told there are 380 jobs, or thereabouts, created through EDGE by the industry minister and we are told there are 1100 created by the Premier. Nobody, I think to this day is still aware of the number of jobs that are actually created through EDGE.

I put in a request under the Freedom of Information and have still had no reply to my request for information under the EDGE legislation, the number of jobs, the number of companies created, and the economic benefit to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. We still have not received word back from the industry department, but I am not at all surprised.

We were promised a natural gas plant in Marystown by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology, and by the Premier. We have requested information on that. That natural gas is probably something we will never see. I think it was an election promise, just something to garner votes to try to win over seats. It is unfortunate that the workers of Marystown, and indeed the residents of Marystown and area, were led to believe that there were great things coming, a natural gas plant with many, many jobs, the leading edge of technology and it was never brought to the forefront, never heard of since. It is very, very unfortunate.

MR. TULK: What?

AN HON. MEMBER: You.

MR. TULK: Seriously, what?

MR. OSBORNE: The natural gas plant and he said, you.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: The chameleon. The natural gas plant today.

Mr. Minister, what do you think of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology going to Chile? Tell us your views on that. What do you think of it?

MR. TULK: Chile will never be the same.

MR. OSBORNE: I do not think so, no, and Newfoundland will never be the same as a result of it. We are told there are great things coming back from Chile and many jobs created for Newfoundland.

AN HON. MEMBER: Chile peppers.

MR. OSBORNE: Chile peppers, that's about it. Maybe he is gone to bring the natural gas plant back from Chile. Many deals signed and many jobs created due to this trip to Chile. Well, I say we have heard that before, all the trips to Asia, the trips to Europe, and the Premier's trip to Ireland. One of these days we are all going to sit back in shock at the number of jobs that they create. They will bring them on all at once, never mind little by little. They are saving them up. They are going to bring them to us later. It is unbelievable.

And the health care cuts, just to get back to that again. I had a lady call me who's sister had been released from the Waterford Hospital and put into private care in a private home and for many, many months was provided a special diet and provided rubber gloves and that type of thing to provide the proper care for this person and unfortunately the diet was cut back, the rubber gloves were cut out completely, the sanitary products that were needed for this lady were completely cut out. Just another example of the cuts to the people who are unable to afford to look after themselves and in many cases are unable to and do not have the capacity to look after themselves and the government are attacking these people and leaving them absolutely helpless.

Myself and my colleague from Waterford-Kenmount attended a meeting a couple of weeks ago where there were relatives and friends of people that were released from the Waterford Hospital and put into private care and it was a very, very disheartening meeting to attend, actually. To hear some of the stories, some of the hardship that these previous patients of the Waterford Hospital have to endure. Very, very disheartening to see how the government are treating the previous patients of the Waterford Hospital and people that are confined to home care and respite care is being cut out, being cut back on and it is very frustrating to see how people are being treated.

Another issue I would like to touch on just briefly and the Minister of Tourism is not here to listen, I am sure she is probably listening on her speaker phone, are the accommodations for the Cabot 500 celebrations. We have mayors from municipalities all over the Province wondering if we are able to handle the numbers of people coming in, the accommodations that are going to be needed for these people, and we are told on a regular basis not to worry about it, don't worry, everything is under control. We have to be worried because we are classifying the Cabot 500 celebrations as possibly the biggest tourism attraction in our Province's history. While there has been planning put into the various events and functions for the Cabot 500 celebrations, I fear that there has been very little attention paid to accommodations and where people are going to stay.

Very little attention given to the provincial road signs. But we hear from tourists on a regular basis that they are probably the worst road signs that they have seen in North America. Very little direction as to how to get where people are intending to go, their destinations and so on. The road map is being privatized for next summer on very short notice. Next April or May we are going to be intending to pass out road maps to visitors and so on. I brought up questions yesterday in the House on the issue of road maps, and the fear that we have that there is a private company going to take over the printing and distribution of provincial road maps, and whether or not they are going to be capable of undertaking this great task on such short notice. It was less than a month ago the tender call was put in the paper, and only a week and a half ago, actually, that the tender was expected back to the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation.

People are going to have to rely on these road maps, the very first time being printed by a private company, and on the eve of probably the most important tourism event that we have ever had. We have absolutely no idea to this date whether or not this private company is going to be able to print these maps and whether they are going to be printed properly without mistake. If they aren't printed properly, without mistake, do we have a reserve of last year's maps to fall back on? What are we going to pass out to tourists? What are we going to send to potential tourists from away who call or write requesting information on our Province?

Yet the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation yesterday responded by saying: This has been in the planning for years. We have been planning to privatize the road map for years. I raised the issue only a month and a half ago and the minister came public and said, regarding the privatization of road maps and tourist chalets, that nothing could be further from the truth. Absolutely untrue, she said. Now yesterday she tells us that it has been in the planning for years.

We also have confirmation from people within the department that the tourism chalets are going up for public tender in the near future as well. Yet we were told less than a month ago, or just a month ago, nothing could be further from the truth. So if this was planned for years, why last month, the first week of October, did the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation tell us that it was absolutely false, absolutely untrue? But yet we were assured yesterday that it is the truth and that it has been in the works, in the planning stages, for years, and that they have consulted with people in the industry over the past two or three years, and that this is under control.

I hope it is. I hope for the sake of the tourism industry, the tour operators, the hotels, and the various functions that are happening around the Province, that it is true, that it has been in the planning for years, but if it is true maybe last month we should have been told by the minister that it was true and not that it was the furthest thing from the truth.

The trunk roads are another issue that I would like to talk on. We have been hearing rumours lately that the Premier is considering cutting out the roads for rails deal that was signed back in 1988 that guarantees us a good highway across the Province, across the island and instead he is going to put the money into trunk roads. He is going to put the money into roads in smaller communities. One has to wonder, is this a campaigning project for the next election? Is the Premier going to go into the various communities and say: Look, we have brought you this road that you have been waiting for for years. When in actual fact it was the federal government money that was promised to complete our highway that brought the road. We need, for the sake of tourism, for the sake of safe travel, a completed safe highway across the Province. Yes, while we do need roads, trunk roads and upgraded roads in smaller communities, we need a safe highway. Our highway across the Province now, in many areas, is two narrow lanes which is far from safe. That was the intent of the Roads for Rails Agreement when they cut out the railway, was to provide a highway and I hope it is not just across the island that this highway is constructed.

One area that I would agree with probably using and utilizing some of the money is to complete the highway in Labrador because that has been long awaited and much needed. I think that is the only area that I would agree and give consent to taking money out of the Roads for Rails Agreement because that is truly justified.

The flags issue is another area regarding tourism in the Public Tender Act that has brought much concern and much publicity. I cannot imagine designing a tendering package that would exclude most of Newfoundland, if not all Newfoundland companies that would give benefit to companies on the mainland and most particularly, American companies. I cannot imagine a provincial government setting up a tendering contract without putting due consideration into what Newfoundland manufacturers can produce and supply so that the tendering project was bid on by an American firm and they got the tendering contract. It got the tendering contract to provide tourism flags and banners for the Cabot 500 celebrations. Absolutely absurd, unbelievable. I can't believe it. I just can't believe that we would allow this type of work to go out of Province when Newfoundland firms and manufacturers so desperately require work and are desperately seeking work. To desperately need work and be denied because a tendering contract was designed in such a fashion that they would be excluded.

Then the gall of the minister to go on the public airwaves and say that the reason they went with such stringent detail is because they wanted materials that were going to last for more than a day. As if to slap local manufacturers in the face, as if to say to local manufacturers: You aren't good enough to produce our materials for Cabot 500. As if to say to local manufacturers: You aren't as good as the manufacturers on the mainland.

How dare the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Recreation, how dare the provincial government, design a tendering package that would exclude Newfoundland manufacturers. Unbelievable. The banners and flags for the Cabot 500 celebrations. If she hasn't been condemned by caucus already, she should be.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible)?

MR. OSBORNE: She should be condemned by your caucus, without question. I would say she has been. The minister of igloos and American flags. Unbelievable.

To talk about igloos, I had a very interesting call actually from a gentleman - and I won't use his name or location - but he suggested that he had a good idea for EDGE. He had a good idea to be accepted as an EDGE company. He wanted to set up a company to design and manufacture tents right here in Newfoundland. I said: It sounds interesting, tell me about it. So he told me about these tents, little pup tents, that when the visitors come next year they can buy the tents, set them up, travel the Province using these tents, and then take them home as a souvenir. He was going to design them to look like an igloo.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: He was going to design them to look like an igloo. So he was going to take advantage of EDGE and the tourism suggestion to set people up in igloos. They can have American-made Newfoundland flags flying on the igloos and if they so choose to purchase a car while they are here they can have a British Columbia license plate and if they want to get a couple of pictures to take home and show their friends they can take pictures of a ship made in England.

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: What is that? Okay the film is from China and the camera is from Japan.

MR. SHELLEY: The Minister of Fisheries would be the first one to buy an igloo tent.

MR. OSBORNE: What is that? That he cannot qualify under EDGE because it has to be re-invented. That is what I told him. So, he cannot make the igloos this year. So, when the tourist come from away they cannot stay in igloos unless they go to Labrador and even that in itself is an insult to the people in Labrador. The tourism minister telling people to come and stay in igloos. I think that that was truly an insult to our native people. You have me in suspense, you should tell me. I was waiting for a response from a certain minister, but as he mentioned in his little talk today we have to get away from cracking jokes and making snide remarks and maybe he is taking his own words seriously and we are getting away from the childish pettiness in such a serious institution as the House of Assembly. If that is the case, I almost hate to say it, but you are to be commended.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Oh, oh!

MR. EFFORD: What did he say?

MR. OSBORNE: I cannot repeat it, it was -

AN HON. MEMBER: Scratch that from Hansard.

MR. OSBORNE: Scratch that from Hansard, yes. That probably should not have even been said. Imagine I must have gone into a state of absolute craze. One of these days we will pull the seat that our recent colleagues in Prince Edward Island have pulled yesterday and if the Minister of Fisheries is lucky enough at that time to be re-elected he can sit on the opposition and -

AN HON. MEMBER: (Inaudible).

MR. OSBORNE: Yes, that is right, for the first time there was an NDP member elected in Prince Edward Island as well. They so hated the Liberals that they even put an NDP member in.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OSBORNE: They so hated the Liberals that they had to resort to putting an NDP member in for the very first time ever but I commend the NDP for that feat in Prince Edward Island but to be more commended were the PCs who came from one seat to forming a majority government. The writing is on the wall. I should have been a hunter.

At this time I adjourn the debate.

MR. TULK: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House adjourn until tomorrow, Wednesday, at 2:00. Tomorrow being Private Members' Day I guess we are debating the motion put forward by the Member for Waterford Valley. Now that we have some bills out, we have gotten around the objections of the Member for Cape St. Francis who has been hanging up the business of the House. On Thursday we will start debating legislation.

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